On One Hand

May 23, 2006

A Philosophy of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:33 am
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Clay. I will always remember you as the one with the big, sky blue eyes always brilliant under that wavy shock of brackish-blond hair. I will always remember you as the one whose voice had the exact resonating frequency of my chest. I will always remember you as the one with the lanky, boyish grin, as the one whose arms went all the way around my back and made me feel safer than I’d felt since I was young. And most of all, Clay, I will remember you as the boyfriend who dumped me on my twenty-first birthday.

I know, it’s dramatic – how such a thing can come to dominate an entire seven-month relationship filled with countless experiences of both bliss and heartache. I don’t care much for birthdays anyway, so I shouldn’t have thought much significant about Clay’s choice of the day, but this one birthday, being my twenty-first, being my twenty-first birthday on the twenty-first of May, the Golden birthday, the College birthday, the intoxicated birthday, the thing that all decent American teenagers yearn for from their first forbidden sip of alcohol, makes that birthday into a thing that social convention implies – no, convention insists – should be great. And that was when I was dumped. All things are judged not by the way they were, but by the way they end.

To be fair it didn’t happen on the birthday itself. I got the email that closed the deal on the morning after my birthday, when I was still hung over from fourteen free birthday drinks I accumulated at the bars the night before and the lingering toxic residue of the seven drinks I downed after midnight on the night preceding, the moment the actual legal birthday began, and on the first night Clay was there with me. But I read the breakup email right before that post-weekend reflection hour, and you know what I’m referring to: it’s the hour when you sit back and consider all the events that just took place and decide how to rank your happiness those days among the abstract records of all your long-term memories. The breakup was now an intrinsic part of those memories, staining their colors irreversibly dull and gray.

And it may as well have happened on my birthday, because that debaucherous evening was the night I committed the crime that initiated the breakup. It all started with a text-messaged invitation to the boyfriend who recently declared he, quote, “needs his space.”

“Come to the bar,” I said, while my boyfriend’s excuse was that drinks were too expensive. “It’s happy hour,” I argued, “a pitcher of beer for six dollars, and I’ll pay for yours.” I eliminated his excuse and insisted he come. He responded that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go out, and I replied, exactly as follows, “Well it’s free for you and I’d love to see you but if you don’t want to come, don’t.”

That’s when I was called “the king of guilt trips.” I didn’t think the accusation was a big deal then. I found it a little off-base, in fact, and I put it away to continue my night of chaos, abandoning any expectation that I would see my emotionally-exhausted lover that night. Only the next day did I realize I had somehow broken the last straw and would be duly punished.

There are two sides to every story. I make Clay sound cruel, but there are unmentionable things going on in his life unrelated to me that are tumultuous and heart-wrenching enough to excuse any moral turpitude that ends a relationship. And I, as I was first told by Clay in a text message just before the terrible email was sent my post-birthday morning, am a, quote, “dramatic person.”

I am hard to break up with in person. Clay tried to do it a week before, on the night I cooked him a crab dinner and he started speaking of us in past tense, saying we’d be better as friends because he feels so much guilt when he can’t fulfill my needs. I threw such a fit that night that Clay had no choice but to recant, and soon after our argument we took off our clothes and fooled around. I was savvy, I knew how to play my cards, and that night I won.

Yes, I am dramatic. It’s not my fault, mind you – weeks before the breakup I was sent to the hospital with chest pains, psychological, yes, but seeded by a real, diagnosed accumulation of fluid around the heart and brought to searing emergency when anxiety, in the form of panic attacks, drove me to the doctor’s office to complain. The doctors made me stay under observation that night, against my will but without much protest, and released me healthy the next morning after more tests and said I had an anxiety problem. Essentially my heart hurts bad when I get upset – it’s causes are psychological but its sensation is as real and physical as an anaconda gradually tightening around my rib cage. And that sort of thing can be hard to deal with in a partner. Imagine this; Clay telling me something I don’t want to hear, and then suddenly me, clutching my chest, gasping in a way that the movies insist should mean I am about to die. Now we understand the meaning of Clay’s comment, that I am, quote, “the king of guilt trips.”

There are two sides to every story. Our two sides faced off regularly in bi-weekly, charged heart-to-hearts that were supposed to fix all our many conflicts but almost always ended in me pleading and one of us giving in. And suddenly our two sides were cut apart, Clay’s side spinning off into increasingly-distant space, and my side alone in a darkened room. I no longer had an excuse to demand Clay’s attention, no longer had the ability to say, when Clay wanted out, “can’t we just wait until they give me Prozac and see how things are different then!?” I’d never been to a psychiatrist before, but I was sure they’d give me something when I went, considering my hospital experience still so recent and the declaration that much of its cause was in my mind. Clay was under no obligation to help me now, which was why he broke it off – to be free.

There are two sides to every story. And after the break my side was left alone in bed at nights in the midst of the suffocating darkness, the quivering, the relentless unlocalized body ache, the soon-to-be-diagnosed clinical depression that Clay didn’t want to be responsible for anymore. When you’re alone like that you have only your own two hands and shaky breath to soothe you. When you’re in that place you scream apology for everything you did wrong to mess the relationship up, you scream apology for everything you did right but got punished for anyway, and you scream apology for everything about you that anyone wouldn’t like; any time you stuck up for yourself, any time you made your thoughts known, anything that makes you a real human being. You demean yourself to absurd levels, and you’re willing to beg and plead for mercy from any person, as long as it comes this moment. No attention is paid to consequences – you ignore the fact that your incessant pleading might be ruining the future of the relationship that soothes you. Anything to quell the searing, agonizing pain of depression right away, when only the present matters.

“No one can make you happy,” Clay told me many times when we were still together, “I can’t do it for you. You can only do that to yourself.” But he had made me happy, for moments, I was sure of it, and I thought I knew better than he did that I felt good when I was with him.

Well, I thought to myself smugly after reading Clay’s email, then teach me how you manage to make yourself so happy. Because during the months I knew Clay, he clearly was not.

He said he loved me in the breakup email, many times. I love you I love you I love you I love you – if I’d counted the phrase as it had appeared in the lengthy message I’d have run out of fingers and toes. It was something he rarely told me before, indicating a degree of guilt and the moment of my final weaning from him. It was sweet to read the kind words, and when I first read Clay’s message I was overwhelmed with joy and acceptance by the soothing and compassionate tone, in spite of the awful conclusion. I needed the breakup as much as Clay did and phoned him right after the email to let him know I felt ok. But hours after my last love-fix, the crush began to build around me. Too late to do anything about it, this time I refused to beg for return. It’s time to get back to yourself, Matt, live in your own head again. I finally admitted that Clay was right. There was nothing to do but step into a new world and move on, to slowly begin to paint the dingy, faded colors until they looked, again, brilliant, like they were during those few good moments, when our love was perfect, when Clay was standing beside me.

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May 5, 2006

Tumultuous Times

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 5:33 pm
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I guess the chest pains I’ve been feeling over the last week are more than anxiety, because after the symptoms got much worse yesterday I went to a walk-in clinic complaining about chest pains and breathlesness, and they found an enzyme in my blood that singifies heart trauma. While they were hooking me up to the monitor I told them I’m probably a hypocondriac and need a psychologist more than a doctor, but I guess this time I had a good reason to be worried. They admitted me to Boulder Community Hospital overnight to monitor me and do several tests (the case was so minor that I was allowed to drive myself to the hospital), and found, over twelve hours of x-rays, echocardiograms, vital sign measurements and blood tests, that the signs of trauma were subsiding. My heart is perfectly healthy, I am told, but the problem is that irritation of the heart muscle has caused some fluid to pool around my heart (pericarditis) which caused pain and weakness. I was released with the hospital but need to go back for a follow-up exam in two weeks.

I’d just talked to the Christian minister of my religious group (the other minister is Unitarian) for three hours about what I need in my life, and she assigned me a spiritual exersize. The conversation started on problems with Clay and drifted to myself, and we wondered how I could improve myself for myself rather than for Clay. I said it shouldn’t make much difference because the actions are the same, because to get my focus off of someone I love so much seemed impossible at the time. But I recognize Tamara’s good sense behind her comments.

Being in a hospital overnight was a perfect way to finally look at myself. No one visited the first night and only my parents came in the morning (I told everyone I was fine and that they didn’t need to visit), so I had some time to think and realize that I do really want to live. I got a little scared for a while, but Clay answered the phone when I called at 1 am and helped me out. Ironically, having a potentially serious medical problem was exactly what it took to get my focus off of trivial things.

Looking back in time, I realized that the last week has been a tremendous process of change for me. On Monday I decided that since Clay and I had been dating so long, it was time to let him in on some issues in my psyche that few people are aware of. I talked about what I want our relationship to be and why it’s connected to my faith, and how my faith (and sense of security) has crumbled. I would never have said it if I didn’t trust him completely, and I was letting him see into my very depths.

On Tuesday night I briefly thought Clay was dumping me and broke down. I gushed to him how much I care about him and how much I can’t go through this right now, in the middle of finals, and he said I might have misenterpreted his email; he said he needs a “break,” which most people interpret as one thing but Clay interprets as “needing space” and that everything will be normal except that we don’t sleep together all the time. But in any case I opened up to him, no matter how much it woud potentially hurt me. In the mean time a growing pressure in my chest, seeming neither entirely physical nor entirely emotional, seeded the consideration that something serious could be wrong.

Then on Wednesday I talked to my pastor about my relationship with God, and she said, among other things, that she’s glad I have such a good understanding of why I feel the way I do and what my drives are. I was once again letting someone see into me. And I felt awesome after the night was up, with a better sense of what I need to do to put my life together. My heart felt great that night but I stayed up until 4 am studying, and my chest was soon aching again, more than ever, the next morning.

So on Thursday I talked to my parents about how I was feeling about life, telling them that I was scared about my problems and about losing Clay, and I asked my mother to pray for me, which is something I’ve never done. (I used to hate when my mother prayed for me). It was an intense conversation with my mother, and she responded by telling me things I already knew: (“You have to give him space if he wants space. It will work out if it’s meant to be, but if not, you’ll be ok.”) There were annoying moments in the conversation but I think the result was good.

Then I called my sister and had a talk with her about her life at CSU. It’s rare that I talk with her for a long time, because, though we were very close when we are young, there is a profound awkwardness in our conversations now that started when we were teenagers. I hope I’m breaking through that.

And right after I talked to my sister I went to the doctor and ended up in the hospital. Machines were hooked up to my body so that someone I didn’t even know could watch my pulse, and I watched as an ultrasound machine and X-rays showed doctors the exact anatomy of my heart. For the last week I’ve had so many people looking into my heart, trying to see where it’s broken.

The conclusion has to do with my anxiety and need to take care of myself. A doctor said she thinks I’m suffering from “mild depression” and anxiety, and that my chest pains and sense of exhaustion were a result of that and other things. The pericarditis likely results from alcohol or a viral infection, and a viral infection would indicate, as I assume, that I have not been taking care of my body. The doctor reccamended that I see a psychologist, while others gave me advice and prayers.

March 24, 2006

Cabaret

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:06 pm
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I am so proud of my boyfriend right now! He just starred in a CU student-produced version of the musical Cabaret, and his performance made me tingle in ways I never have outside his bedroom. The show was awesome, Clay’s voice was awesome, Clay’s acting was awesome, and it’s been the talk of the campus (at least the portion of campus that I interact with) for the last few days. The show opened on Tuesday and the seats were only half filled, but by Thursday word-of-mouth acclaim boosted the performance so that tickets sold out just as the show opened, and on Friday, the last performance, tickets sold out around 2 pm. That Friday is the Friday that spring break starts, so on a campus where the majority of students are flooding out for ski trips and week-long escapes to the Bahamas the show has managed to be enough of a draw that person after person is being turned down for lack of space.

Unfortunately the Campus Press, the paper I write for, didn’t publish an article about the show until the fourth day, when tickets were already sold out anyway. I begged my editors to assign a story to someone, saying it was good news because the student-produced (and highly controversial) show was unique, but no reporters volunteered to take the story. I couldn’t take the article myself because of the conflict of interest, seeing as how my boyfriend is the lead actor and I know the director and producer, Ira Spector, and many of the actors through Clay. So finally, since I would not let it go, and also because, as I would argue, the article was very worthwhile to begin with, my paper’s editor-in-chief wrote a review of the show when he saw it Thursday night.

The online review of Cabaret was glowing, which is not only good for the people who struggled to put Cabaret together, but also gives me AWESOME BOYFRIEND POINTS for getting my paper to do the review. Clay will be leaving me for Mexico tomorrow, but now goes on a high note and I’ll hope it carries until he gets back.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cabaret, it’s about a risque strip-club/brothel in Berlin in the early 1930’s, when Nazi politics were gathering power in Germany before World War II. As the characters take their seemingly unpolitical roles, a frightening political energy slowly begins to build and is eventually looming over every personal relationship. Frequenters of the nightclub form a tight-knit community, sort of like a pornographic and historical musical version of the sitcom Cheers. The main character, Cliff (who Clay played) is an American writer who travels to Berlin to write a novel, gets tangled in some pretty deviant sexual relatoinships, and eventually has to choose between staying with the girl he falls in love with and fleeing Germany as the Nazis gather strength. He is also forced to choose to stay with or disown friends when they announce affiliation with the Nazi party. Everyone is slutty as hell, engaging in twosomes, threesomes, prostitution, abortions, same-sex love, heterosexual love and an especially poignant relationship between a German Jewish man and an older German woman who, as antisemitism becomes a serious movement in Berlin, has to choose between facing ostracisation by marrying a Jew and dumping her fiance. The show is funny, cute, sexy, lascivious and poignant in today’s world where people are saying, just as they did in 1930s Germany, “yeah, shit’s happening but it will never go that far, it can’t, this is Germany.” Cabaret is an extremly powerful play and Ira Spector (the producer and director) did not spare any controversy, re-adding some of the originally-intended homosexual energy that was omitted in the Hollywood version from the 70s and arranging the play’s title poster collage into an ominous swastika.

I am standing in awe of Clay and falling for him more every day, hoping and praying that it works out between us. We’ve been having a lot of problems that tend to sit on his side of the situation and there is little I can do to help him overcome his turmoil. But we’ve had a wonderful last few days: we fought a lot but it turned out good because we got some things out in the open where they could be more easily worked out. (That always happens when we fight.) We took a shower together this morning and Clay turned off the light and lit some candles. I hummed Cabaret songs to myself while he washed my hair. We’ve had a few awkward moments. I had to watch Clay kiss four people on stage, and I went to see the show twice so it happened twice, and on Tuesday night our date that I asked for got canceled. There were problems with condoms being too small, problems with me crying and not being able to stop, and finally, a problem with us getting walked-in on by Clay’s roommate. But if we work out it will be worth it. I am nervous but happy.

July 4, 2005

Another Wonderful, Manic Weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 10:46 pm
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– Friday night I went to Nicole’s 21st, the most debaucherous party I’ve been to in weeks. Wine bottles forced to my lips after beer pong and shots, people blacking out and waking up sticky. Naked hottubbers and random sex, EVERYONE in the house hooking up except for me (I spooned with a straight guy and a straight girl all night, absolutely no ejaculations between the three of us). Quote of the night: “If you can’t tell if it’s a guy or girl’s hand [touching you], what difference does it make?”

– I spent Saturday night at a random party I barely remember; I was too stoned and drunk to perform well, plus I was still out of it from the night before. I went to the party with the same group of girls and stuck by them through most of it. People spoke to me and I was incoherent, didn’t score with any guys, and went home empty handed. I slept at the same house I slept in Friday night, this time in the empty bed of a lesbian who was over at her girlfriend’s apartment. The other girls brought home frat guys who I shook hands with in the morning when we all got up.

– Sunday night was a smaller party at the same house where the girls live. This guy came from Fort Collins to chill with us (not my ex – a different guy – but he knows my ex) and he and I got to know each other over the course of the evening. I made out with him on the lesbians’ bed while they made out next to us. Got stoned, snuck away periodically to fondle my guy friend until people started whispering about our retreats and we laid off it for a little while. Somewhere over the course of the night I lost my shoes and socks. Nude hottubbing with the guy after the party finally ended, then I fell asleep in his arms on the couch – discovered that he has the most comfortable body I have ever touched. Every angle I lay on him we somehow fit together and I had the best sleep of my life. We got off twice in the early morning, grinding on the couch under a blanket while the girls periodically walked by and commented on how cute we looked cuddled up together.

– Monday morning I decided I prefer not being in love to being in love. The potential for new love is fun but once the love is real the shit hits the fan. I have a crush on the new guy and can’t wait to fall asleep in his arms again. But I still love Matt, too, and realize now that he and I have great chemistry when we aren’t too serious, but once we get there someone freaks out and it goes bad. I’m having so much fun, I hope this can be sustained without heartache.

– After work I came home to my parents’ house for the first time in three days. Extended family was there, and my sister and her friends met up with me. My sister and I walked to this girl’s house to smoke a bowl. I went barefoot. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen my sister smoke pot, and the first time she’s ever seen me. Then she smoked a cigarette and I lectured her about tobacco. We walked home stoned and watched the fireworks, which are set off from the park behind the house. I ate a lot of fucking food. I hope my aunts and cousins didn’t notice my bloodshot eyes or the fact that I had the munchies.

– Monday Night I had great sleep, but I wish I was in Boulder still, and I want to see that guy again.

I need to get my fill of this stuff because I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to pull it off when I’m thirty. I might still drink and party but it won’t be as fun and chaotic. It’s my natural desire, if I want to be a good writer someday, to gain experience now. I wish experience didn’t cost me so many brain cells, which I’ll need for writing. How ironic. My memory of the last few days is so hazy and broken up, as if it happened months ago, that I worry if I’m wasting my unusually sharp memory. But on the other hand, I had a ridiculously good time, and that’s worth something.

June 29, 2005

Muse

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:57 pm
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I’m beginning to think that my writing is better when I keep it casual. Odd what a digression a poetry class can cause, though I met a lot of great people in there so it was worth it.

For the first time in months I am on good terms with Matt, after an hour-long phone conversation that had us both on the brink of tears for a while. He’s complaining that he fucks up the best things in his life and can’t get it right, and I’m resisting agreeing with him. I understand now that being bisexual is harder than I thought, with so much confusion as to what is needed or desired. Add to that a manic-depressive illness and borderline tendencies and the whole world is vague and undecipherable. I’ve mused that being bisexual is an ideal, the best of both worlds with unlimited options, and have said that I wish I had that. The problem is that love collapses the whole world to one person who is going to fall on one side or another, while your mind continues to waver or alternate against your will. I’m sure most hetero-flexible people work it out sooner or later, reaching an age or maturity where they don’t let their confusion hurt their loved ones (there are, after all, more bisexuals than non), but Matt isn’t there yet, plus he has much else to deal with having bipolar and all. Perhaps he could have done better but from my angle it makes no difference what his motives were. All I know from my mangled perspective is that the driver who hit me with that white Volvo didn’t mean to.

I got the upper hand today for the first time since the beginning, telling Matt I can’t get back with him. I said he needs a while to figure out who he is, that I’ve been hurt too bad to put myself at risk again. He seemed sad, but I think he understood. After work I sent him a text, saying “I want you to know, that at this moment I don’t regret a thing I ever shared with you.” In this place I’m neither lovestruck nor bitter and angry, and my mind is very clear. I forgave him; I had to. I love that guy so much. So fucking much.

June 23, 2005

Hump

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 8:18 pm
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I feel so fucking hyper right now. I have been getting this way on and off for the last 3 days; very motivated. Not much sleep, meeting a bunch of people. Pacing around frantically and calling up a lot of people I haven’t talked to in a long time, saying hi to people I’m normally shy around. I should take advantage of the rush and try to do something creative, because I get so many more ideas when I’m this way. But I really want to just go out and party. I need to. I want to get drunk, I want to make friends, I want to make out with a stranger, I want to hook up, I want to do drugs, I want to go insane. I feel like I’m so hot right now, like people actually want me, and I need to take advantage of it before this wave of confidence goes away.

June 8, 2005

Today’s Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 12:52 am
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On an uneventful Tuesday, this is what I think about.

Pounds. Wanting to gain weight used to just be something to talk about, because I was secretly proud of being skinny. When you’re a teenager, being the thin, twinky punk kid is cute. The moment I turned 20 I knew I was in a different ballpark. It looks unhealthy on me now – visible ribs are not the equivalent of a six-pack. I desperately want to pass 140, and there’s a scale right next to the toilet so I can frequently check. The fact that I can lose two pounds just by taking a piss is discouraging. At five feet eleven inches, my weight usually hovers around 135.

On a partially-related note, I would like to visit Great Britian because they’re all about the skinny guys there. It seems that in the UK I’d be really “fit.”

Beets. I like how when you eat beets, you can actually taste the dirt they grow in. Even when they’re washed, even when they’re skinned and sliced, even when they’re canned and cooked, you can taste the dirt. The taste is right in the flesh and juice, faintly presenting itself the moment you bite down but really rearing up as the bitter aftertaste. If you ever want a safe, bug-free way to remind yourself what dirt tastes like, eat beets.

Drugs. I sometimes complain about people who drink too much or do too many drugs, because I hang out with those people a lot and it’s hard to watch someone I care about risk health or sanity doing many more drugs than I ever would. But before I get too frustrated with the guy who drinks every night, I hear from someone at the other extreme, who is unexperimental and moralistic about the topic, and I realize that I have no choice but to identify with the drug users’ side because the people on the other side are just as irrational, but in a much less consillatory way. Plus they have no fun.

Penis. I’m developing a serious case of foreskin-envy. A penis without a foreskin is like a breast without a nipple; it might still be hot but something has obviously been left off. I don’t want to call circumcision evil, disgusting, or barbaric because that seems to inslult the huge group of men and boys who have had it done to them, and that group includes myself. But I personally find it much more appealing to go down on a cock left in its clean, unamputated state. I guess I just need to find an uncut guy who thinks circumcized guys look better, and then we’ll be perfect for each other (as far as cocks go, at least).

June 2, 2005

Class of ’03

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 4:02 pm
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I went back to my high school to visit my old teachers today, which happened to be the last day of school. I sat and chatted with an English teacher for over an hour. Most of the teachers said things like, “Was CU the right choice for a college?” or, “Have you been published yet?” or, “have you found a good group of supportive people in Boulder?” or, “I’m so glad you’re doing well!” But the comment I recieved more than any was, “Wow, you look so good!” Come to think of it, every single one of them said something about the way I look.

One teacher told me to give him a call if I’m ever in Denver after saying “you really do look good,” another gave me an email address, and others told me to keep in touch or look them up. It was a little creepy to hear that from teachers, but I’m happy. Most of my old high school teachers are genuinely good people. And if anyone wants to tell me I how different I look than I did in high school, I’m more than eager to hear it. God, I was such a nerd back then.

May 28, 2005

This is Who I Am

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:44 pm
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resolutions

April 23, 2005

Protected: Lithium

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