Let’s go find lunch.
Like it’s hiding in the bushes,
Like it will appear if we can seek it out.
If we say the right incantation, poof, it appears.
Only a few of a restaurants have it.
This lunch thing.
You must find it first.
Find my lost lunch.
Is it in my bag?
On the grass?
In my hat?
I don’t know. We must seek it out.
What is this hope of new romance?
Aren’t we too practical for this nonsense?
Here I am talking to my friend on the phone while I’m wandering my room,
Folding laundry, cricking my neck, friend in my ear,
What are you supposed to do on a third date?
She googled what to expect.
She says it’s going well.
That he’s shy, so each time she learns something new.
And she likes him.
And he likes her.
I tell her that’s great. I’m so happy for her.
Even if they can only meet at weird times because he works the night-shift.
I tell her I went dancing, and ate pho with a new boy.
I like him I think.
Like the nervous you get when you know a painting is going well,
You don’t want to ruin it.
So you proceed very slowly,
And try and shush down the hope and the future plans your brain has decided to spring on you.
I play a video and get told to use headphones.
But they can talk and make tea unencumbered.
I am the one to subdue because I am the interloper,
The quiet person who pays rent, and won’t be staying,
Don’t make room on the bathroom counter,
Or in your daily routine.
Let us find a box for you and your things.
I haven’t applied for new jobs.
I think about it, and chicken out.
I get home and cry because I have no energy left.
I can do it on the weekend.
Yet here I am.
Trying and failing to make a list of what I need to get done.
Here is this woman,
This wonderful woman,
Sitting across from me, sipping her cider with spices,
In a black coffee mug,
Snacking on Norwegian wreath cookies,
Telling me about what she studies,
With passion in her voice, and no shame.
She’s telling me engagements are different in Egypt,
In her culture,
Because there is no premarital sex,
They are often shorter,
But also less serious.
It is not a sure thing, once you’ve been engaged.
But the man is still expected to provide financially,
Basically afford a flat,
So the time engaged depends on money more than anything else,
And the expense of the wedding.
She doesn’t get to tell me more,
I have to drive the people who invited me along home,
And I think,
We could have been friends.
Those funny, subtle shifts, of timing, friends, and circumstance.
We should be friends.
I want to hear about her fiancé, who cannot see.
I want to hear about growing up in Britain,
I want another chance from fate, to sit down in a green plush chair caddy-corner to her,
And hear more about life, from someone else.
The boys I meet now,
I cannot just trust my own opinion,
I use the other people’s voices in my head as counterbalance.
What would my mom say of this person?
Would my best friend turn up her nose?
If I introduced him to my people,
Would he fit in?
This is what I ask myself,
Because, suddenly, my own opinion needs bolstering,
And my own thoughts need support braces.
Here I am in the car again, so I can talk privately.
Yes, I’m cold, but I can’t be overheard.
I made it home from the party okay.
I got pretty claustrophobic, but I made it out.
No, I don’t know why I still talk to you either,
I think you’ve always known you liked me more than I liked you.
I’m hanging on now because of my abandonment issues.
I will leave you once I find someone better,
You know it. I warned you. I gave you a chance to stake a claim.
I think I’m your out too,
I give you someone to think about when you’re tired and lonely,
Which is better than nothing from afar without your glasses on.
Hello, it is I,
The person hiding in the tread of your shoes,
Congratulations, I have finally shrunk to the size you think I need to be,
Leave me alone now please.
Let me do things wrong or right in my own way,
Way down here,
Out of your notice.
Let me fail, please, without commentary,
It’s so hard to keep my shields up at full maximum for so long,
To repeal all the insults, jokes, teasing, and jibes, that I can and could do better, if only.
She says she only wants to date,
She’s not taking care of anyone.
So many men, she tells me,
At that age, are only looking for someone to take care of them.
She’s done that already.
But who will take care of her, I wonder to myself,
But her mind and body are good,
So maybe, she takes care of her.
A nice thought.
I can think to myself,
People are all the same,
As often as I want.
But when I was driving in Texas after the snowfall,
No one slowed down over the bridges.
When I called my friend to tell him how to steer out of a fishtail,
He ignored me,
I have front-wheel drive he said.
No one here knows how to use defrosters.
And again, I had those stranger’s thoughts.
I don’t fit in.
I have no home to go back to.
I used to tell myself,
When I talk to myself, which is frequently,
That all I needed was one person to care about me, right?
I’d tell myself, just one.
Who cared if I was dead.
But I have that now,
I’m still unsatisfied.
I want someone true, and loyal to worry about me.
To love me.
And I worry this is escalating.
That maybe I’ll get that, find a perfect relationship, from the books,
And I’ll want more.
I’m worried I’ll never be satisfied.
That my only moments of peace will arrive in two second snippets of peace I find sometimes when I’m driving on the highway, and the sky looks more orange than usual.
I worry that I should have been a stoner, at least, at last, at peace with himself.
The meaner I am to him, he closer he pulls.
Because no. He doesn’t understand me.
Do you have to understand someone to love them?
I don’t think so,
In fact I think the opposite is true.
What do I tell him?
Would you please fuck me in the car so I can get it over with?
Doesn’t strike me as having a high probability of success return rate.
How do I say,
I’m not sure if …
I missed that boat in high school and college,
That no one ever made out with me in the backseat,
But instead people fucked me over in other, more fun ways,
That I don’t know how to do anything,
But I’m tired of having people make fun of me for it,
I shouldn’t have told him I was sexually assaulted, maybe he’s nervous now.
Maybe he just doesn’t care one way or the other, and is along for the ride like the rest of us,
Coasting until you find you care.
I’m all at odds and a mess with myself,
Unsatisfied, angry, and mad that I’m angry.
I can’t seem to think in a line without a minute of self-doubt and stubborn focus on something useless.
I want attention and loneliness. I want a friend, companion and perfection.
I want my hair to look as beautiful the day after I wash it.
I want to make sense.
I want to know what it is that I want.
A cardinal hits my office window everyday.
He makes it up higher on the window some days than others.
You hear it hit, reverberate, then scratch again.
I feel like that damn bird,
Trying to get to where I wouldn’t fit in,
Hitting the glass, thinking they look like me over there,
And bouncing back,
Getting brain damage,
And trying again in twenty minutes, hoping maybe the glass has changed.
Forgetting I’ve tried before,
So excited someone looks and sounds like my reflection.
I pull down my bottom lip in the bathroom mirror after I brush my teeth but before I’ve showered to take a look at my skull.
It’s supposed to remind me of the shortness of life, and quick approaching death, look, see your skull with your own hands.
Instead I become obsessed by my plaque. Hoping I’ll never have to get dentures,
Dreading when my gums never shrink back into my brain.
Live your life, live your life, look what you have left.
Instead, I become more obsessed with my future.
Will my teeth ever be straight?
What would they look like if I got braces?
Does anyone remember when I got that crack?
Oh my one baby tooth is still there. Isn’t that nice.
Watch my desperation for topics, once the dread of life sets in.
I went to a neon art show.
I went to a local fair trade gift fair for local artists.
I went to a park with fishing next to the Colorado river.
Look at all the things I did.
Look at my pictures as proof.
What more do I have to do to prove myself to me?
Why can’t I be good enough for me?
I’m worried I’m picking these fights,
I’m worried that I’m not as smart as I think I am,
I’m worried I’ll never find a pair of boots that truly fits me.
I’m worried that I’ll lose my home and my job at the start of the year.
How I hate applying for new work.
Have I written this already? I worry about that all the time.
Let’s try this again.
I’m getting ready to leave here again,
To find another job in another new place,
Find new coffee shops to type in,
Different stressors to wake me up at night.
New people to forget,
New memories to hurt,
But away from here, away from the heat.
I want to leave because I don’t feel at home.
I think I’m looking for community.
For beauty, friends, and lovers.
And I think I’ll always be looking.
She told me to be careful about sending mail here in my name,
Because I’m just a guest,
They might get in trouble with the apartment company,
She’s made fun of me for it.
I’m living boring,
Off the kindness of family,
And a lucky office job until the end of the year.
Then I’m free of commitments.
To become that person who leaves again.
People forget to remember.
I can’t be honest with you,
I got enough sleep last night.
My usual self-medication hasn’t worked. My brain isn’t foggy.
All I can do is sit here and calculate all the ways in which I made mistakes are wrong,
And be hungry even though I just ate.
I can’t seem to write.
So I’ll just tell you what happened to me this week.
I broke down in my sisters kitchen chopping vegetables on a black floor tile counter.
I called my mom.
I’m not good enough mom,
She said, have you tried painting? Or buying something for yourself?
I needed someone to sit with me while I coped.
The things I thought were all I needed to be okay turn out to not be enough.
I just want someone to care about me.
I just want to do something in an office.
I just want space to cook, and enough heat to not be cold.
I want enough jeans that fit without holes.
But I’m still not okay. And it’s not fair.
I planted plants.
I paid too much for the bag of dirt.
If I can keep something else alive,
I can keep myself alive.
My friend got a cat even with her allergies.
Homeless people with dogs tend to be better off.
Something about dirt and full circles,
But really, it was the first time in a while I’ve wanted to do something,
So I did it. Hoping I’d want to do more things in the future, instead of just more sleep.
My Dad’s slipping.
He says I’ve told him that before. He didn’t know it was getting worse.
Of course it’s getting worse. This kind of thing doesn’t get better.
Am I not important enough for him to keep details straight?
Or is part of his brain dying?
He doesn’t understand how to tell me it will be okay.
He doesn’t understand how to comfort.
I don’t know which one of these will break us, but it’s around one of these corners.
I met someone off an app for coffee at my least favorite coffee house.
We both get bored at live music.
He seems nice.
Not attractive, but nice.
And now we play my favorite game called,
What will I do to eff this up?
Text too early?
Sing along to songs?
Be ugly with double thigh dips?
Forget to drive you back to your car?
How will you Seinfeld me out of your life?
Go give me something small about myself to mull over for a couple weeks.
My sister says I don’t need a lot from other people.
I’m pretty self-sufficient.
That can intimidate some people.
I bought life-insurance today.
Is that what she means?
I monitor my credit score, and don’t have debt, so one will love me.
Here you can have my paid-off car and my healthy relationship with my brother.
Can I have a date for my work Christmas party?
I love romance novels.
I have to read them on a half-empty brain or I get mad at the sexism and assaults.
A refuge is predictability. It’s calmness because nothing will go wrong worse than you can imagine.
There’s so little secure in my life. I want someone else’s love to have a plotted existence.
I want structure to give me meaning in what I see everyday, so I find that in trashy books.
I misplayed at cards on Wednesday night.
I shouldn’t have been cocky or smiley happy because we were winning.
He huffed away mad.
I forgot to hide myself, and I was shot down for it.
It’s not unusual.
I’m always mad that they’re people.
I want them to be people I already know.
And I want them to like me because I’m perfect.
I made a pineapple upside-down cake.
That was the highlight of things I did I’d never done before last week.
I remember when I tried to do something new everyday so that I could tell the days apart.
I see people, and naturally compare myself, and say, wow look at that. They’re experiencing life. I want that. And instead, I arrange pineapples on brown sugar for my brother-in-law.
I cut cherries precisely in half, instead of falling in love.
I change the recipe just a little bit because you should mix the butter and sugar together before adding the flour.
I don’t take a road trip. I don’t spend money.
I save money for later in life when my back will hurt worse,
And I’ll feel guilty for not having lived while I was young.
I only lived there a year.
My sister reminds me, like somehow I didn’t earn anything.
Like experience is something to earn.
Like she knows I can’t claim a place because I was there a little less than 400 days.
Don’t be dramatic, you’re just the same as me, she says.
You’re life doesn’t have my value.
Look what I’ve done in that time instead.
I live with accidental consequences of the things I did right.
I cleaned the wood paneling along the floor,
Now I clean along the chip on the wood paneling on the floor.
I didn’t have that relationship, I didn’t move to California with him.
But I never met his friends, never did something stupid,
Never tried to save something I knew would die.
I know you live with your mistakes,
But you live with the successes too.
I wish she would be clear with me,
But I don’t have the courage to be straight with her.
Isn’t that just the way it goes.
I met a German
I think, maybe I’m too silly for him.
He did not laugh,
But he sort of chuffed once.
He was not handsome,
But he was safe, and wanted me to like him.
And he’ll beat himself up later about the silly things he said.
How did I get myself up this morning?
More importantly, when will that will give out?
And it’s always a just barely,
So close to a not.
That’s why I always felt guilty of my accomplishments in college,
They were just barelys instead of easily and because of hard work.
I want to have done something I’ve never done before.
To have an experience, another story,
To keep me warm.
Maybe I’ll poach an egg.
And bake a new cake.
To stop this wanting to have a place of my own, with a person of my own.
I don’t know what I’m doing.
Here. Now. With this life.
I’m so aware of how precious health is,
Because I’m coughing up a storm.
But now what do I do with this awareness?
I ask the question we all ask,
He talks to me in the morning,
And he’s like a brother.
He was raised with sisters, I can tell.
He makes faces at me when we both try to stay awake at work,
He sends me silly gifs in gchat,
He’s human and honest in my little machine corner.
And he’ll play catch, whereas no one else will run with the sarcasm stories of,
Of yes of course I took my pony into work.
I cannot make you love your body.
I am sorry I do not have this power.
I cannot rearrange the features of your face to make you happy.
I can’t make you look good in leggings.
I can tell you that all your parts work, that you are you. That if you weren’t you, you wouldn’t be you. You’re the youest you around.
I can tell you that your whole line of ancestors has produced a human that is capable of achieving in this world. That the vehicle for doing this is your body.
But you don’t care.
I don’t know what you want.
To be prettier?
To be thinner?
To be less chubby?
I can tell you how to accomplish these goals. But if you are not happy with who you are, no matter how the outside changes, you will never be happy.
You can always start over, but you bring yourself with you wherever you go.
The doctor doesn’t say you’re fat.
I don’t think your fat.
Who says you’re fat?
Your husband does not care. He says you look good.
Your mother would think you were fat if you were a sheet of paper from the side.
It is only you.
I cannot help you with this.
God I would love to be thinner than her.
It would somehow be divine recompense for the years she yelled at us, took out her anger at us,
For not looking the way she wanted.
For the puking, and the food judging, for the snide remarks about bowls of chips.
It provokes the cat smile, doesn’t it? I could finally do something better than her.
Because she always has to be smarter, prettier, with a better looking man.
Just the one time, wouldn’t it be nice, to be first in something.
But I’m sure she could make me feel guilty for being fat in the first place.
And I’m equally positive I’ll never get in that good of shape.
I call my mom for support.
I needed that support, and my sister cannot offer a shoulder to cry on.
She’s too harsh for that.
Harsh is a good word, I think.
I’m sure the love is there, but it is regulated, and used with a purpose.
My mom will tell me about all the suns and moons I am,
And babble at me when I need it,
To feel at home.
my mother came to visit. expect general family analysis.
Look at my sister with her husband, and her hobby,
Those degrees and prospects.
She deserves it, of course,
I’d like to say, look at the support she got that I didn’t,
Look at the personality she got.
But I can’t shift blame away from myself.
I’m told, everyone does things in their own time,
But I want my timeline now.
She’ll never be an understanding person,
She’s never been friends with the rapist, instead of the assaulted.
But qualities of character don’t matter much,
When eight hours a day you get to spend doing something you like,
And I sit behind a combination sitting-standing desk staring at excel spreadsheets.
Let me tell you how I’m doing.
I’m reading illegally downloaded romance novels on my macbook and changing the pages with my pinky because the rest of my fingers are Cheetos stained.
I’m hoping he texts me back.
I’m not applying to grad schools because I don’t have three people who would give me recommendation letters. It’s all my fault.
I’m crying all the time.
I’m dodging the volunteers lady from the community center because I had to watch the worst 2nd graders in the world for three hours, and I hated it. I’m not man enough to say I won’t go anymore.
My hair feels greasy.
I’m actively avoiding the boy who likes me because I think he’s ugly. Everyone needs a fallback right?
I can pay my bills.
I’m sneezing out pieces of dead grass from the music festival I went to. But I can say I’ve been to a concert now.
I’m so lonely. I want an adventure again. Or at least someone who lets me rest my head on their shoulder.
I went to dinner with my mother, her husband.
My sister, her husband.
There was no one on my side. I wasn’t first for anyone at the table. Unless I made a fuss, then I could temporarily get bumped to the top of the list, ahead of my dying grandmother.
I want to be the reason someone else is there.
I’m not an afterthought. I’m important too. She tells herself quietly in her own head.
I need help to wake up tomorrow. I’m tired of my mother being proud of me for making it on my own.
What am I doing wrong?
I should blame you for making me doubt myself. I’m told.
I must have done something wrong, that you won’t text me back,
You won’t try and make alternate plans when you tell me you’re busy.
I should drop it right here.
But I liked you. And I don’t meet hardly anyone I like.
And I thought?
But you never touched me. Maybe I confided too much? I shared too much of myself.
I should have planned better dates?
It’s just a difference in character. It’s nothing against me personally, I’m sure.
Even if he did set something up, maybe you would be the one to draw back.
He wouldn’t change just because you got what you wanted.
He’d still be this inconsistent.
But I really liked him.
And I can’t seem to stop myself.
Why does it hurt so much? It shouldn’t. It’s silly.
I’m being silly.
Suddenly I’m relating to jazz songs.
He probably has lots of plans. You can have lots of plans too. I bet. If you wanted. Not that you’d have anyone to go with you to them, because you can’t seem to find anyone who isn’t a ghost.
I can fix me, just tell me what to do. Well, damn, that’s pathetic. You don’t stand for this kind of nonsense. Men should treat you better than this.
Nod your head and move on.
I should never have told my sister our mother pressures me into having children.
Now my sister thinks our mother thinks she’ll be a bad mom.
Not just once has she brought this up.
It was my mistake. Sharing. Sharing anything at all with my family.
It’s the thousand little winces that build up when you’re around them.
And I can’t do anything with them. They’re just piled on top of old wounds.
It is not wrong to put feelings on a shelf.
My way of dealing with things is no worse or better than yours.
Please stop making me feel guilty for the way I process emotions.
I’m quiet dammit. I don’t like to explode. I don’t like to get angry. I want to think about it first.
I will resolve the issue when I want to.
It is possible to feel things later.
I don’t like your way of doing it, because somehow, it’s always me that ends up hurt from your blast radius.
I don’t think I’m sulking. I just need a minute.
Or I’ll let it go.
Please stop it. Let me be.