Sunday, October 22, 2006

Work clothes shmerk clothes

I currently sit at my new desk. It is a symphony of particle board and wood laminate. It maintains its regal shape by a system of dowels, cams, and lusty screws that twist to the sultry dance of the allen wrench.

It is a wonder.

And it's in my living room. Have you seen my apartment? No? Well, it's bigger than the Beacon St. place, MUCH bigger than the hovel on Queensberry Street, but alas, there are no extra rooms yearning to become offices. Luckily, the living room is FREAKIN' HUGE! and my rather large Ode to Laminate fits nicely in one corner without disturbing the natural flow of life amongst my fellow apartment dwellers.

I'm pretty sure I'll feel a disturbance. I'm the one who works at home. From home. IN home. Hm. Can I do this? I already survived the big Benefit Gala Whooziwazzit last Monday evening. I dressed myself up and kept my heels on and shook hands with as many people as possible, gleaning pieces of their stories from my co-workers. I sipped champagne and passed up the refill, ate strawberries dipped first in white, then milk chocolate and decorated to look like they wore tuxes. I made sure everyone had a good time. If they didn't, I let them tell me why. I told approx. 620 women where to powder their collective noses.

And now, in stark contrast to my heels and gentlewomanly ways, I sit in my pj's and pipe information into a big database. Next I send letters all over. After that I get to learn the true meaning of my job, which is actually many many jobs rolled up into one that should take up 20-30 hours of my week.

I'm thinking I'll put a suit on every day for this week. Y'know, 'til it sinks in.

Monday, October 16, 2006

staccato fermata


1.shortened and detached when played or sung: staccato notes.
2.characterized by performance in which the notes are abruptly disconnected: a staccato style of playing.


1.the sustaining of a note, chord, or rest for a duration longer than the indicated time value, with the length of the extension at the performer's discretion.
2.a symbol placed over a note, chord, or rest indicating a fermata.*

panic attacks:

1. staccato fermata

*Thank you

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Now that I'm over myself...

I have to tell you how beautiful the wedding was, how blue-sky 18th century American it was. How amidst opulent surroundings (and food to which I would build altars), there was my stunning Sus in her simple, elegant dress, entirely herself, entirely joyful.

While I dodged social bullets, I got to talk with Liz, my old guitar teacher, for a good long time. I got to catch up with Meredith and Rob, Sus's sister-in-law, various old friends of Sus's... I got to slow dance with my beautiful boyfriend, who, as always, maintained his sparklingly gentlemanlike manners. He watched me and celebrated for me as I was celebrating.

The day after the wedding there was a slightly awkward trip to the Honey Pot Hill Apple Orchard. It was completely slammed with families taking advantage of a gorgeous, summer-like autumn day on Columbus Day weekend. The apples seemed ready for us, waiting patiently in heavy clusters. The first one I tasted was hot on one side from the sunlight, the other side tart and cold.

I walked with my friends, but often couldn't talk for fear of letting something monstrous out.

And on Tuesday I got more time with Sarah and Kristin (and Meredith, who works so close to my apartment that she might as well work in my armpit). I got some good quality SarahandJo time, catching up on all the things a person can't quite speak about in letters or postings.

So, it was a confusing weekend. And because I'm obnoxiously fragile these days, I'm having a hard time sorting out the hurt from the joy. I hate the ambiguity. I hate feeling out of control. I miss my friends so much and we had so little time.

I had some cool-ass shoes to wear for the wedding, though. I'll cling to that.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

TAOTA: The Attack of the Acronyms

DBT: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Thursday nights at five. The idea is to take emotions like “my Dad pisses me off” and keep them from turning into “I’m a jerk for hating what my dad did and deserve horrific punishment.” Also supposed to give me control over: hair-pulling, obsessive cleaning, panic attacks… It’s group therapy, so it sucks.

IRS: Internal Revenue Service. They think I made money last year. They want the money I have now. Boy, will they be disappointed when they see the Sacajawea coin collecting dust in my piggy bank’s pink ceramic foot.

EMDR: No idea what it stands for anymore. It’s a type of therapy that’s supposed to help archive traumatic memories in a safer place than, say, right nextdoor to your fight or flight instincts. The goal is to reduce nightmares, make many of my memories “less present,” remove my hair trigger. I started a week ago and we only got to the “let’s rip everything wide open and stare inside” stage. Didn’t quite make it to the re-filing. Might explain the panic attacks’ increasing frequency, but that’s just a guess. This therapy currently SUCKS MY HUGE MISSHAPEN WHITE ASS.

TCMF: Terezín Chamber Music Foundation. My new employer! I feel like my life will level out a bit once I have more dependable hours. Do take a look at the website I’m hell-bent on renovating.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

and bad dreams every morning

money dwindling. bills gathering. cold seeping. clothes decaying.

i'm so tired some days. I curl myself up tight just to remember my body.

my body seems so pointless. why do I have it? it's just a machine that refuses to shut down when all i want to do is shut down. how silly and inconvenient a body is. i have to cover it and clean it and scratch it when it itches, medicate it when it hurts.

how did this brain come to be in this body? or rather, how did these thoughts get to be in this brain, this obnoxious organ that came with the whole package... i want to extract the thinking. i want it all silent and sweet in there.

i don't want to work on my life anymore.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Remember my friend, Jack Sprat? Whelp, he's getting married this weekend and I'm going to NY to witness it.

He's getting married at Saint Bonaventure. This is the first time I've had to return to the campus since Shane's funeral. I think I'll take a walk around campus on Saturday, along the Allegany/Allegheny/Allegeny River. (Seriously, can't remember which one's the town, which one's the River, and which one's the mountains, but I'm pretty sure they're all spelled creatively.)

The back of the St. Bona's campus goes from athletic fields to woods to river. The woods have these amazing raised pathways and ancient trees, occasionally deer, occasionally bears, occasionally grottoes with crudely and sincerely made altars. It makes sense if you know anything about St. Francis and his love and respect for nature. I plan to walk through the woods and visit those places. I don't think God watches me... Well, I have trouble thinking of God... but I do get this sense of the trees and the river and grottoes opening for me, making room, allowing my presence.

I'll have to go down the river trail to the park, too, of course. Must have a ceremonial swing on the swingset. I won't escape Shane there. It's past time to let him catch up with me.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Facts of Life

I haven't written for a full month.

My hours got cut at the preschool. I now work 2:30 to 6:00. My last paycheck: $47.71. Also, the Brookline classrooms shut down due to mold, mice, caving ceilings and other unfriendly building issues. I have an hour and fifteen minute commute to Watertown to work my 3.5 hours.

I have to go to a wedding on the 19th. My parents have to drive me there and pick me up.

I spent last weekend in NYC. I still don't like NYC. As we rode out on the Fung Wah, we passed a cemetery that went on forever. Most of it was full of tall statues and obelisks. The skyscrapers in the background seemed a cheap imitation.

I've been to three different beaches this summer, three pools, and one pond. I'd forgotten how my body feels when it's suspended by water. Actually, I'd forgotten my body entirely.

A few weeks ago I put aside all the ripped, stained, or otherwise unusable clothing from my dresser and closet. A fourth of my wardrobe remains.

Last night The Novelist and I had dinner with English Jo in Harvard Square. After dinner we walked toward the sound of music. It was a brass ensemble, playing intricate classical pieces, ragtime, jazz... It suddenly felt like I was on vacation.

Within two weeks, I've had a stomach bug, a sinus infection, an ear infection, and back spasms.

Vicious nightmares.

Monday, July 10, 2006

At first, we thought it was laughter. The Novelist and I lay on my bed, on top of the quilt, mumbling about things; how nice the day was, I think. Suddenly we heard it, and we both grew quiet. Then the only sound was that of my hair brushing the pillow as I turned toward the window to hear it.

Laughter? We lay perfectly still, straining to hear.

No, not laughter; hysterical tears. It was a young woman’s voice, overlapping with a strong tenor speaking loudly but patiently. I didn’t realize how tense I was until The Novelist uncurled my hand from his. Show me it’s not violence, I prayed to the noises. Don’t let it be violence.

The sobs jerked out of the woman like each one was a labor pain. She was inarticulate, arrhythmic, sometimes choking and gagging on her own cries. I envisioned her curled up on the floor, hair sweeping the tile, rocking and sobbing.

Was she pleading? Was she angry? The Novelist said, “I thought she was laughing.”

“Me, too,” I whispered. We held our breath, listening.

The man raised his voice again. “You need… settle… be fine… You’re okay.”

“Stop it!” screamed the girl between choking fits. “I have to cry… Stop it!”

We listened for a long while. My ribcage seemed to shrink. I had to remind myself to breathe while I thought and remembered.

That’s the sound I made when Shane died. I didn’t know where the sounds were coming from. I remember those sounds and how much they hurt. It was like dry heaving for hours. I remember the actual sensation… Feeling like my face would crack open in its contortions, feeling the pain in my chest, where my heart was.

Those were the sounds I didn’t make when Grandma died. I started to cry. Someone silenced me. We were in the hospital. I’d disturb people. Those sobs are all the sounds I stopped making.

At some point the cries became a song.

Uaahh huh huh huh huh
Uaaaahh huh huh
Uaahh huh huh huh

“That poor girl.” I had almost forgotten he was there. He turned closer to me and I turned to him, his head below my chin, my hand brushing through his hair to his neck, soothing him. I kissed the top of his head.

“It’s stupid to tell her to stop.” We were silent again, listening.

“It’s a terrible thing to hear a soul being ripped apart,” The Novelist said. For some reason, this angered me. I found my throat clenching and my leg muscles flexing.

“That might not be what it is,” I snapped. “She’ll be… I hope she’ll be fine.”

“It’s amazing how close laughter is to crying, and how laughing can lead to crying and…”

“Crying can lead to laughter, yeah, I know.” Was I being bitchy? Why?

I rolled onto my back again, now holding The Novelist’s hand across my belly. We were still and quiet. Quiet and still.

“I wonder what the purpose is… of laughing and crying,” I said. “I mean, how would crying be a more desirable trait in a mate? How does it work with evolution?”

“It’s probably just something that developed,” said The Novelist. “I don’t know if it’s evolution. Maybe natural selection?”

“Maybe. I just wonder when it started. And whether it’s a trait of a more sophisticated animal. How does it help us?”

“Well there’s so much we don’t know about the brain…”

“I know,” I said. We both took a breath. “I wonder if it’s a trade-off, somehow. Like we get these complicated brains that are capable of amazing things which got us ahead, but there’s a glitch in the system. This brain makes us cry.”


We mumbled a while longer, until I was so mumbly that The Novelist declared beddy-bye time. He patiently helped me out of my skirt and let me lie like a dying fish.

I woke a few times, opening my heavy eyes to see him awake, staring at the ceiling. Then awake, sitting cross-legged, noticing me. He swept my hair back.

“I get so tired,” I said.

“I know you do,” he said.

Ahh, Muse...

I found this photo while I was idly cruisin' around some photoblogs. It's beautiful, and there's more beauty to be had at the photographer's website, linked above.

Seeing this made me reflective (like watah! ha!). I spent my Friday night and Saturday with Becca et al. I was feeling really terrible - each little thing could set me off on a snark-fest or brimming tears. And no, before you ask, it is not that time of the goddamned month.

The thing is, I'm making progress with my best pal therapist, and in case you didn't know, making progress hurts like a motherfucker. Every step I take forward feels like a huge one. I think of tiny 7-yr-old Jo trying to emerge from some darkness, lugging a huge sack of memories. With each step, the sack rips a little, letting out words and sounds and images in a fierce mushroom cloud.

This photo, and my images, are making me think of the terror I experience when faced with a choice. Large or small, positive or negative, I become paralyzed with fear.

On Saturday I went to the beach with Becca. I had brought a change of undies and clothes, just in case the water called to me. I didn't think I'd go in. I contemplated that water, let my toes swivel in the sand, and remembered the taste of a surprising wave. I remembered little jo jumping the wakes as they curled. I remembered swimming, swirling, diving, floating; my body weightless, each sensation gentle and reassuring. And then came the question I fear most whenever I make a choice: what if I like it?

Would I actually enjoy myself then? Is enjoyment allowed when I'm not fixed yet? Will I ever work properly?

The water on my calves felt good, but the water on my knees felt better. The water on my thighs felt good but the water on my hips felt better. The water on my chest felt good but the water enveloping me, carrying me, pushing and lifting me... it felt infinitely better.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ten seventy-four

After two straight days of job searching, I have learned that my $90,000 education matches up to jobs which pay $10.74 an hour.


Monday, June 26, 2006

The metamorphosis

I may have mentioned before that my brothers hurt me most deeply when they compare me to my Aunt. This aunt.

I realize there is family resemblance. She's a cutie - I don't mind looking like her. We have a similar sense of humor, which, again, I count as a blessing.

But we're also both sad. Joanie's been struggling all her life, still struggles every day. I don't want to believe that I'm similarly doomed. I want to believe that I will have this thing in my ribcage fairly tranquilized for large stretches of my life.

I spent a few days with Joanie when I went home to see the new baby. We had fun. She had fun drawing parallels between us. It felt strange. Everything she said seemed familiar and true. I can't stop thinking about the many ways my life veers toward the tracks she laid.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The elephants are coming!

I'm judging myself by my deeds lately, because it's much easier to hate or love myself with some kind of proof. I create character witnesses in my wake, right? In the fantasy court I hold in my head, each witness must be called.

Including the Mom I brushed off yesterday, knowing that if I encouraged her conversation, she would ask me for food from the school kitchen. Knowing that our supplies are dwindling and she may be the culprit.

Then there are the Toddler teachers, one of whom got a stern talkin' to and relocation because of me. I fell into my old job of Parent Liaison, encouraging disgruntled parents to make phone calls and write letters stating their discomfort with the current teachers. They did. G'bye, lead teacher. Her assistant left with her, swearing some kind of fealty. And now I have a steadier job, which was a happy circumstance, not at all the purpose of my rabble rousing. I'm sleeping a bit easier than my co-workers; my name wasn't on the employee list they stole before they left. They've been calling eight to twelve times a day trying to get me on the phone.

Today I seemed to redeem myself. I had to call in to the preschool to tell them I've been sick (the montezumas! eeek!). I was given the day off (by another character witness who can feel free to call me inconsistent), so I took some time getting home from The Novelist's house. I stopped in at Linda's Donuts, a lovely lil place just inside Belmont. I sat myself at a booth, read some Mitford, ate an omelet... Two older ladies came in. They looked around at the full booths with hopeless sighs, then gestured toward the stools by the window. The one lady was so little that the stool could have been a convenient armrest if she felt like loitering there.

I got up from my seat, taking my food with me. "Excuse me, would you be more comfortable in the booth?" The women heaped effusive thanks upon me. The owner/server kept calling me a Dear (or was it deer?) and praised me each time she went past. "It's hard to have a conversation on a stool," I insisted. No autographs, please.

Okay, so there are three character witnesses right there. But... I couldn't help thinking, wouldn't anyone do the same? Why accept praise for something so obvious? To me, it was like holding a door open for a parent with a stroller - incredibly easy and near second-nature. I felt that maybe we shouldn't be so amazed at these tiny acts. They're much more common sense than common courtesy.

And just now the doorbell rang. It was the mailman with something requiring a signature. I took the pen he offered, signed on various X's, chatted while he shuffled through the mail to find mine... He left, I went inside. Good goddamn, I had his pen!

I grabbed my keys and walked after him up the courtyard.

"I'm sorry, I stole your pen!"

He came out of the neighbors' vestibule and gratefully took the pen back.

"You must be a college student," he said in his Caribbean accent. (That's a broad guess, but I'm fairly ignorant about the island accents and can't be more specific, plus I don't think it's a terribly important detail in the story, except now I've made it important by this lengthy parenthetical.)

"A college student?"

"Yes, or work in a business..."

"Oh... because I know how annoying it is..."

"To lose pens, yes. I knew you had to be a student."

I didn't correct my friend Sherlock. "Exactly," I said. We parted with grins.

Now, if I don't fuck up for the rest of the week I may go to heaven if I die in a sudden elephant stampede this weekend. Let us pray...

Monday, June 12, 2006

The ol' switcheroo

So. I have been trying to live my little life without dwelling on things. I've been trying to find a job that does not involve baby wipes. I've been trying, so hard, to be positive. All of this effort goes completely wasted, however, as soon as I pop my pills and fall asleep. Nightmares, of course. They're always about home and my parents. They're always about entropy, to be very general about it.

Home just... I've been trying, I'm telling you. I show up with a smile, with a determinedly happy attitude. I hug my parents and let myself love them.

And then someone breaks my heart. Usually my father. This time... yeah, it was Dad. With a dash of Mom.

Mom: (In Wegman's parking lot.) I just can't believe I didn't know.
Jo: Know what?
Mom: (eyes ahead) How sad you were. The things you believed about yourself. The things you did to yourself.
Jo: ...
Mom: Kids never tell you what's bothering them when it's really important. I should have seen it somehow.
Jo: (throat closing.) I didn't want you to know. I didn't do anything for attention.
Mom: I know, but still... Why didn't I see it?
Jo: (thought bubble: fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck)

That night we got home a little late with all of our dinner ingredients. My Dad had been golfing with a friend. They celebrated Dad's loss with a few beers and a bottle of wine. My Dad was sleeping it off on the back porch when we walked in.

He awoke, groggy, slurry, told us about his game, and hurried for the corkscrew. The table was set for dinner, with red wine glasses. He brought them into the kitchen and filled half of Mom's glass. I was busy getting myself a soda. In fact, it was flat Fresca, which perhaps I should refer to as fresca. Anyway, I was thirsty, not in the mood for wine for many reasons.

Dad: (bottle hovering over my glass) Joey? How much?
Jo: None, thanks.
Dad: You should really taste this...
Dad: What do you have there... want to spice it up with some rum?
Jo: No, no I don't. I'm thirsty, and alcohol is a bad idea when you're dehydrated.
Dad: Good point, good point. Okay, well you should have some with dinner.
Jo: We'll see.

We entered a nicer conversation about the new nephew, Baby Girl, the places my mother and I had wandered that day...

I turned to talk to my mom, and remarkably, my fresca disappeared. The goblet sat in front of me, my dad's hairy gorilla arm tipping a bottle towards it.

Jo: DAD. No thank you.
Dad: C'mon, just try it...
Jo: I want to finish my soda...
Dad: (gesturing to dump the soda in the sink)
Jo: (undaughterly death stare)
Dad: Hahahaha... just kidding, honey.

Again, we managed to talk of nicer things for a while. Neighbors, school friends and their latest adventures...

Dad: What?? (sloshing wine into my glass, my fresca once again slid beyond my reach.)
Jo: I really, REALLY do NOT want wine.
Dad: Well, it's red. It has ta breathe a little...
Jo: I don't want to have to throw it down the sink. I don't know if I'm going to drink wine at all tonight. You just wasted all that wine...
Dad: Ha! Like any wine goes wasted in this house!

He stole the glass away, put it to his lips, bent his head back...

Jo: OKAY. Alright... I'll drink it... jeeze...


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

So nice to see you again!

8:15 am (already late for work): Hello, Kevin D., friend from college who still corresponds with my cousin Laura. How's life, Kevin D., now that you've grown out of your stoner phase and wear sharply ironed shirts on casual Fridays? Miss college, you say? I don't. Yeah, I'm working with kids again. Life is okay... Good to run into you!

8:30 am (don't worry, I warned them I'd be late by now): Hello. No seriously, hello. Yeah, I remember you from when Richie was in the toddler room! Yeah, that's right, I worked with the parents. I heard you have a baby girl! Seven months! Oh I bet we'll have a spot open when she's old enough... so good to see you! Have a good one!

3:30 (on the greentop, which is blacktop made of green spongey stuff): Hey, I remember your handsome face. Are you Jimmy? I worked here two years ago! Of course I remember you (because you were clearly born of a jackal)... Well, this ball is for the little kids. ...You're a big kid. ...No, I'd rather keep it for the little kids. ... Because you big kids don't know yourf own strength sometimes. You can kick it and throw it so far, sometimes our balls get lost. ... No. Thank. You. Bye Jimmy.

6:20 (Anna's on Harvard St.) [Waving to punk boy]

6:24 (same as above) Hey! How you doin', yo? Oh I'm fine... How are things with you? I see you took out the big earrings. ... Ew. Infections suck. ... So I'll come stalk you in the fall when they start up auditions. Another hug... how could that hurt, you huggy, punky boy? Alright, see ya.

6:32 (same as above, with expected company.) 'Kay guys, I'm getting in li-... Claudia! [stooping to hug twelve yr old] How are you, sweetie? I was so happy you came to my concert! I was so surprised to see you! Do you get to see Lil Pea these days? What are you doing for the summer? ... No, tell me about you! MIT camp - sounds perfect for you! You have to let me know if you're in any plays or concerts, okay? Ok, bye lovey.

7:18 (at All Saint's, on stairs leading to choir loft/storage space of rehearsal room, gutting two cabbages with a comrade, who then leaves me.) Just you and me, Shane. You and me and flaming cabbages. [sigh]

9:40 (at end of choir party for which cabbage was wrangled) Hi, Cath. Yeah, I'm gonna miss choir this summer... How do I do what? ... Me? Calm and happy all the time? Hunh. I just... this choir is a big treat for me, I guess. I love coming here. I guess. Yeah, have a good summer.

11:03 (in bathroom and bathroom mirror.) I almost see you, social Jo. Other people do, and I can almost make out your shape. Don't turn off your phone. Don't stop writing. Don't stop talking. Keep coming toward me. Keep coming.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The rain let up

and the rain birds started singing and talking and cawing. Does anyone know which birds I'm talking about? I definitely hear crows, but there are at least four other kinds that make a special kind of cacophony after the rain. I feel like they're battle cries, each bird shoving its way through trees and bushes for post-rain territory, getting ready to spread out their forces after huddling for hours, waiting.

Maybe they fight over the drowned worms. Maybe the crows are yelling at Mother Nature. "Bring it on, bitch! We can take it! That wadn't nuttin' but a sprinkle!" And perhaps the other birds, the sweet-voiced smaller birds, are shouting desperately, "Shut the hell up, Crow! What's your deal, man? She'll hear you!"

If you were my therapist, you'd tell me to get out more.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


There was summa dis

And summa dat

Not so much of this

But a very spicy dash of

A prezzie from Becca and co.! Framed! Matted! BIG!

Aaaand, itsy bitsy sharpies, telescoping pens, squishy hold pens, sketchpad, colored pencils... all from Sir Novelist! Cuz he's the bestest!

I'm not even going to tell you how I got peed on today, then rained on, then abandoned, then to 4 hours of chorus dress rehearsal... That was all just fine, because it all ended with a 80 voices singing Happy Birthday in perfect harmony, and tiramisu and chocolate bomba at Vinny's Testes with chorus friends.




Sunday, April 30, 2006

JoBiv's Best Interaction of the Day

Setting: The Back Bay Fens, where the Walk for Music took place today. I was one of the three women helping the Brookline Chorus to get organized. I stood on the basketball courts on a perfect spring day, the air rife with pollen and sunshine, the musicians of Boston milling about in mass confusion. I stood, looking for Chorus members, directing them to the correct registration tables.

Enter Jerry, a tenor in the choir who looks quite dandy in a red hooded sweatshirt at 73 years old. He has mobile eyebrows and a penchant toward old fashioned dirty jokes that aren't quite dirty enough to be funny or offensive. Despite the symbolic bravery of a red hooded sweatshirt, Jerry looks confused - nay, lost. I wave to him, gesturing for him to come toward me.

JoBiv: Hi, Jerry! Are you ready to walk?

Jerry: I am indeed. What should I... where should I...

JoBiv: Here's what ya do. Proceed to yon table, get a name tag, go waaay down to the end and get a t-shirt, just like this one (points to self), wear it at Tuesday's rehearsal and tell everyone we're twins.

Jerry: (Pause, creased forehead.) BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahaha...

JoBiv: (giggling to self.)

Jerry: I've been told we're hard to tell apart. (Wiggles eyebrows in a Groucho-esque manner.)

I have no idea how to construe that as flattery.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Get the can opener, time to crack open JoBiv's brain...

Love that smell of freshly opened brain...

The following items swim languorously therein:

There are two islands, one of poopiness and one of happiness. While on Happy island, Poop Island looms hugely, seemingly on all sides. When on Poop Island, I can only see the guts of Happy Island - all the gimmicks and props that make it function. It seems very, very far away.

I had a dream last night about a huge boat and a false prophet who led his zombie-like followers off the boat and onto another one - a big ship actually. He prayed into a square mirror that was sometimes liquid. Jersey Girl types worshiped him and were slain one by one. The first boat was full of people with mixed intentions, but they were rallied to come together to track down the ship o' Jersey Girls. They found the boat, attacked it, chased down the false prophet. He tried to kill himself but came to a realization while in a conference of Jersey Girl savers. He doesn't want to die, and if he can forgive himself... something dumb like that. Very involved dream, and I think I was merely watching.

I need a new ID but I can't find my birth certificate, social security card, or my sanity.

My teeth, according to Gentle Dental, are shockingly straight considering I've never had braces, but; I need more of an overbite (seriously?) and my wisdom teeth are causing my bottom teeth to crowd a bit. I have to have all four of them out. Masshealth doesn't care if my teeth rot out of my face, if you recall, and the procedure will cost around $990.

I swim in my bedsheets. I feel like a fishy.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

All's well that ends well...

Not only did my family love the Novelist, he loved them back. He, in fact, had a WONDERMOUS time. He had a much better time than I did, of course, although my experience was not as tragic as previous trips. It was nice to have my anxiety centered on how they'd treat The Novelist, how his weekend would go. It made it a little easier to relax.

Still, the pattern repeated per usual. Get home, say hi to brothers, get to work, ignore comments, ignore comments...

I'm content, stressed, exhausted. Disarmed for a few days. Must aquire reinforcements.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

My family has to love the Novelist because...

1. He quotes Monty Python AND So I Married and Axe-Murderer, avec accent
2. He has the following on DVD (to ensure his pure and lovely geekiness)
a. Highlander: The Series. My brothers and I spent way too many summer nights watching this on USA.
b. Season One of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett.
3. We have gone to the following Favorite Places of JoBiv and Novelist with mutual glee
a. The MFA
b. The Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum
c. The Long Wharf - where he could actually tell me what all the buildings were because he was a reporter in East Boston for a while.
4. He reads! Voraciously! Historical non-fiction, some sci-fi, the news, any fiction he feels he should catch up on... Smarty McSmarterson!
5. He chews with his mouth closed, opens doors for me, is unendingly polite, but can still joke around in a dry, crazy, ridiculous but pleasing manner.
6. He is completely goofily in love with me and isn't afraid to show it.
7. I love him back.

Did I mention he's coming to Victor for Easter?

JoBiv v. Opening Day

I survived, I guess.

Oddities number one and two: My schedule for the Tuesday instructed me to go to the optometrist, do laundry, and go up to Newbury. I got out of bed, showered, ate something, and set out in record time.

As I headed out to the appointment I was forced to walk around a skinny dude putting up huge lights and camera equipment, right outside the laundry room.

"Hunh," thought I, "I hope I'm not in his way when I do my laundry."

I bravely marched onward, made it to the correct floor at the correct time, announced myself to the secretery of the Boston Eye Group. "That's with a B?" Yes. "10 o'clock?" Yes. "With Dr. Moss?" YES. "Jo Hannah, I have you scheduled for tomorrow morning at 10 am." Good God damn!

I trudged back to my apartment with laundry on my mind. As I came up the steps I was surprised by a full cast in full '50s garb, the skinny camera guy busily setting up shots. I had to walk aall the way around our hedged-in courtyard, realizing that laundry would not be an option. SO! I decided instead to...

Oddity number three: Walk to Newbury Street. On Opening Day. Yes, in fact, I AM a dumbass. By St. Mary's I began to realize my blunder. For some reason I'd thought the game wouldn't start 'til seven or so. I was WRONG, I was wrong I was wrong. By Kenmore, I was getting overwhelmed by the crowds, so I...

Oddity number four: Hid by the banks and listened to a pack of old white men playing New Orleans jazz. The drummer caught me watching an winked salaciously. JoBiv + old men = not so mutual adoration.

Now, realize that I then managed to walk all the way to Arlington without dying or buying anything. Proud of me? I went to this Needlepoint shop where I bought some frickin' expensive yarn for a baby blankie for Baby Boy Biviano (due in late June). Since I bought my yarn there, they let me know I was welcome to return for lessons or guidance in my blankie-makin' process. Nice peeps, yo. By the time I was ready to head back,

Oddity number five: the game was letting out, and I couldn't take the T without crying, so I had to walk back. I guess this isn't an oddity so much as bad timing on my part. And of course, walking was nearly as bad because I had to duck and weave through drunk people. Drunk people + glaring sunlight = SAD. But the Sox won, so all's well. I got home in time to eat a quick dinner, fill up a water bottle, and head off to Good Choir. As the rehearsal came to a close, some people from the Concert Committee looked suspiciously organized for 10pm post-Mozart rehearsal. They invited me to join them for a quick meeting regarding concert venues. (I am on the committee - by choice? Unclear.) So we walked out and tried to figure out a place to meet, when finally it was decided that we should...

Oddity number six: Meet in Honor's car. FIRST of all, yes, her real name is Honor. SECOND of all, it's lucky there were only four of us. We sat, cramped, the dome light on, as we meticulously went through pros and cons of about 13 venues. After this wonderful torture, I finally got home by 11:30.


Friday, April 07, 2006

EXPAND. contract. EXPAND. contract.

Tomorrow I have my second drawing open studio with Gentleman Ben. I need more paper, bigger paper, and I need it by ten a.m. tomorrow morning. I will have to actually wake up tomorrow and face the world, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

The first week I was out of the partial program, I was puking. My lounging and self-pity were, therefore, justifiable. Two weeks later...

Okay, I have made some progress. I have:

1. Seen my doctor and allowed her to touch me in awful places (first pap smear. Icka)
2. Found an optometrist
3. Discovered that Masshealth doesn't care if my teeth rot out of my face
4. Moved some writing files around so I can access them on this laptop
5. Researched this editor lady at Roaring Brook so she won't reject me too quickly
6. Jobsearched on
7. Updated my resume, contacted registrars, played with cover letters
8. Experimented with a few gyms in town, imagining a day when I can afford them
9. Resisted the urge to turn off my phone and hide in my bed until I shrivel up into a sinewy mass off gray nastiness

I've left the house once a day, at least! For spans of 4 or 5 hours at a time on occasion!

I've gotten back into reading! I wasn't able to concentrate before. Now I'm zipping along happily (although guiltily, imagining that I could be working for pay somewhere in the world).

I've been able to enjoy the Novelist's company without overanalyzing or denying the positives (until way later, that is).

But then, once in a while I have a day like today. I couldn't quite focus on anything, hated myself for being inside on such a pretty day, hated myself for hating myself, eventually had to leave the house for therapy, was ripped apart (by myself, not the LSW) in therapy, cried my way home, sat back in my Cheap Chic brown chair and watched Gilmore Girls until my eyes buzzed, looked at my phone to see there was a voicemail from my mother which said, with quite a lot of spunk:

"Hi Joey! I'm just calling to tell you we need four tickets for your concert in May. It'll be me, Dad, and the C--'s. We're coming in on the 17th and leaving on the 21st. Everyone's really looking forward to it, and we can talk about it more later if you want to call me. Love you..."

Hmm... 17th, 18th, 19th - Whoa, three days! That's my quota! But no, it get's worse... 20th... 21st!!!

I'm not gonna lie to you; I cried. I had a nice little hissy fit right in my bedroom, threw my phone into the pillowy abyss of my comforter, allowed my throat to close up and my hands to clench. I just let it come. I tried to be gentle with myself, per therapist's orders.

It's okay, Jo. Get angry. Get scared. Get sad. You need to feel all of this now and let the big wave pass. Feeling is NOT self-pitying...

Et ceterAH, et ceterAH, and so forth.

I think it will be good to get out of the house early tomorrow, hike up to the Landmark Center for some art supplies, meet Ben at the open studio, let myself drift and drown a little in the intensity of the world closing in around the point of my pencil.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The curse of the white shirt

It happened AGAIN.

I just searched my own blog for my entries about my demon white shirt, but I couldn't find them. Nonetheless, I want you to reach back into your encyclopaedic memory and recall that whenever I wear a certain white shirt, the rain comes a-pourin' down.

I am, however, getting sharper in my old age. The sky looked clear, the world seemed sunny. But I knew better. I was wearing The Shirt. I had to run errands in Coolidge corner - RadioShack, CVS, hither and thither... I was trying on sandals in Simon's shoe store when I noticed the world outside for a moment. The sun disappeared. People scurried through crosswalks to the safety of awnings. A mist sprinkled the window, tiny specks of water in a huge constellation.

I did not curse my shirt this time. Oh no, I looked upon the gray day with perfect satisfaction. My white shirt has a new, automatic accessory: a blue umbrella. Take THAT, Mother Nature! I am a GENIUS!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Swingin' from tree to tree

Oh how happy I would be
If I were a monkey-key
Swingy-swing swingin' from tree to tree

- copyright JoBiv, thirty seconds ago

I am indeed swingin', from the happy tree to the hopeless tree. Last night at Good Choir, I saw I had a message from The Novelist and went downstairs to check it at our break. The message was an overly dramatic rendition of "You Are So Beautiful" accompanied by his brother yelling at him to shut the hell up. I will save it forevor.

I laughed quite heartily for a minute, then made my way back upstairs to the rehearsal space. And there, near the top of the stairs, my whole body seemed to rock with the swing from that happy warmth into something much more scary. I looked up; there was Gentleman Ben, the 60-something man who attends both choirs and suggested I try out for Good Choir. Ben is a psychiatrist and knows a little about what I've been through, because I knew he was safe, and he worries about me.

Gentleman Ben was shuffling by the door and saw me come up the stairs. He froze, his eyebrows dipping in concern, and I walked over to him.

"What do they have you on? Are you taking Ativan for panic attacks?" he asked.
"No, I told them I was on it before..."
"And they thought you might be addicted."
"Yeah." My eyelids gained forty pounds each. I wanted to close them. I was sure I could sleep standing up.
"You look... like you're having a tough time."
"I do?"
"You look tired."

I could feel the tears rising in my eyes and throat. "Yeah," I said. "It's still tough. Not having the support from the hospital, all my days empty..." I backpedaled then, telling him about the opportunities arising in my life, my plans for getting myself back together.

"Have you seen your friend from Singapore? The Indian girl?"
"Meera? No... I haven't."
"She's doing pretty well, happily married, taking photos..."
"Don't you do something artistic?"
"Yeah, well... Yeah, I paint, draw, collage, print..."
"You paint?"
"With what?"
"Watercolors, acrylics, ink..."
"I use watercolors, too!"

At this point I recognized a few things that I love about Ben. He can absolutely nail things on the head, and then he can ease away from the distress if he causes it. A professional.

Ben told me about a figure drawing open studio in town. $15 to just show up and draw, Friday mornings, ten to one. He expects me to be there.

Swoooooosh... A tree of serendipitous ease...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I used to be able to whip up words for any celebration, tragedy, or current drama. People would call upon me for Occassional poetry, a speech, a few words of advice or pith.

These days... I can't find many words to soothe myself, much less soothe others. I try to push away this feeling that any good thing in my life is just a precursor to a kick in the figurative balls, but honestly...

So, Gary Thomas died. No one can tell me how. His memorial service is next Sunday and I won't be able to make it. Besides pure logistics, it's too much - seeing all the ghosts of my high school, Shane's death day (today), my general state of mental unhealth.

Of course I've had more than my share of self-pitying moments this... year. But add this to the list and let it be a kind of eulogy. I always thought that if I ever got talented enough or someone could possibly risk thousands of dollars on me on the faintest whim and I got myself recorded, Gary Thomas would be numero uno on my dedication list.

Why? It's occasionally easy to explain and occasionally... odd. I mean, there's the obvious fact that he was a music teacher, and I spent half my high school career in his room, learning, singing, letting him watch our small dramas unfold. But then I think of the times he wrote me lesson passes so I could get out of study halls or math class because all I needed to do was cry. He let me hide myself in his room because he caught that look in my eyes some mornings. I would drag my sad body into school with tears encrusted onto my face from the previous night's sleeplessness or nightmares. He would ask, "JoBiv, are you okay today? Will we see you at lunch?"

When I was really, really losing it my senior year, there was a carnation sale for St. Patty's Day, raising money for some club. I remembered that day because it was god-awful. My mother had taken me to physical therapy that morning. I had stayed home for a part of each day that week. I had spent so much time in the bathtub, floating, hating myself, wanting to drown. I got school that day, and Mr. T had bought me a carnation. No one else, just me. The message that came with it was appropriate (surprising for him, really), but showed utter faith in me.

Two thoughts cross my mind now - how sad he'd be that I'm still going through all this, and how proud he'd be of my successes. If he could even hear my voice, how strong I can be remembering his faith in me... Does that sound saccharine?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Little. Yellow. Different.

My tears have broken new ground today. I had to talk about things I have never, never, ever, EVOR had to talk about before. It feels like someone dropped a subaqueous mine down my well, and any movement, any scrape, could do me in. And yet, I feel like I have to wait. It may just sit there. It may diffuse itself.

But that's not how mines work, is it?

I am so tired of fragility.
K and I had talked about how she could recognize all her friends by their hands. I wanted to prove it, somehow, and never got the chance.

K's hands are strong, broad, and elegant at the same time. Not to mention immaculately clean.

jLiz's hands seem to pose, but are actually simply graceful on their own. She handles everything as though she were performing a Japanese tea ceremony, but never so static.

Sus's hands are dry, expressive, and capable, nearly naked of rings and things.

Meera's are small, unnecessarily hidden, and a little dry, too. They are happiest while holding something - a pen, a book, a camera.

Sarah's hands are quick, long-fingered, narrow, and always beautifully self-manicured.

My hands are short and wide, sometimes dimpled, very soft except for the hangnails which I can't leave alone, often shaky these days. They're dangerous to me.

I'm thinking of Sarah's hands, though, and her mother's. I stared at this photo for quite a while, seeing the shape of Sarah in them. I thought of my own mother's hands, and how I don't get homesick much at all, except for missing her hands and the sweet way she used to run her them through my hair just to say, "hello, I'm here for you." I can't imagine. I can't imagine. My God Sarah... I'm aching for you.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Turn and face the strain...

On Wednesday, my clinical coordinator told me that I'm now on half days at the program. I panicked. She said, "Oh no, oh please don't panic..." She's a very lovely woman and we get along swimmingly, so she told me how much she hates telling people they're going to have to leave.

I'm really, really worried. I had half days on Thursday and Friday, which means I missed the morning group and leave before the last group. This is difficult for one big reason - I'm not so good at having time on my hands. Mornings are especially threatening. I'm alone in the apartment, able to sleep in and hate myself for it, able to indulge in my harmful behaviors with no one to stop me. My tactic: I show up early anyway and just sit in their lobby, knitting or trying to read or wandering around the room.

Getting out early is also a problem. I don't really know what to do with myself at two in the afternoon. Usually I get a call from Becca around 3:30, which used to mean I could do some errands and then she'd suck up the rest of my time for three days straight. Now I have too much time by myself, my brain whirs, I think about all the missteps of the day and, surprise, hate myself.

I'm planning ahead, now, with help from therapists. I am going to:

1. join a gym
2. start up my novel project again
3. do something artistic every day
4. join another group for therapy
5. schedule an hour to work on job hunting every day

Only an hour, mind you, so I don't throw myself out my ground-level window. Cuz that would be silly.

I'm trying I'm trying I'm trying... But what will happen when they discharge me next Friday?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ambivalent about my love life? Well, yes and no.

The Novelist and I, in case you were wondering, are now officially involved. This came as quite a shock to me, to be honest. How could I possibly start a relationship when my life is so off-center, unraveling, disappearing... How is he having a relationship with ME when I am essentially not here? Not me. Not anyone.

And how can I let him be this good to me? That's the main question I come back to over and over again.

I will now spew the following sad and stereotypical statements that self-effacing women often spew when they find a good guy:

I don't deserve him
I'll poison him, bring him down to my level
Once he REALLY knows me, he'll reject me
He's only being nice because he wants some fine JoBiv ass
He doesn't deserve sick JoBiv. NO ONE deserves sick JoBiv.
He must be a complete freak if he wants me.
I only like him because he likes me.
Someone's paying him.
I don't love myself enough to give love to someone else.

I could go on...

But when I'm with him, I enjoy him. I enjoy everything; the flutters of anxiety at the newness of it all, the compliments (since when do I get compliments from boyses?), the closeness, affection, the opportunities for ME to give affection, the conversations, the surprising commonalities, the concern for each other on our bad days, the pull of attraction, the sweetness of growing familiarity...

I have to allow myself to be healthy for him. Can I?

Monday, March 06, 2006

bowl of sad

This is my bowl of sad. It looks small here, but it's actually pretty frickin' huge. It is full of nasty sad things.

F'rinstance, I ran into Pea with her new nanny the other day. That's in the bowl of sad.

And then Uly called me up wondering where I've been. I told him. He changed the subject. That made quite a splash in the bowl, I can tell you. I thought we were at least friends. How silly of me.

Last week my temporary psychiatrist asked me about job prospects and I couldn't control my tears enough to tell him I had none. He said I may need to put it off for a while. There was enough for a deposit in the bowl of sad AND that bug jar of self-loathing.

And the staff at the Program keeps asking why I haven't called AL-Anon. I can't tell them that just thinking about it, diagnosing my father so formally... just the thought makes me think I have to get a much bigger bowl.

Monday, February 27, 2006

News. Plural.

New roommate who brought cat for whom I have a
newfound love - didn't know I liked cats, and while we're talking about my ignorance let's discuss
new boyfriends.
New boyfriends? Are you sure about that JoBiv? Not really, have to take it slow, considering
new therapists,
new doctors,
new people in the program who are too much like me and freak me out! As freaky as a
new job search, which hasn't really started but needs to. Speaking of need, I need a
new briefcase for interviews and I bought
new shoes and a
new suit. Yikes. Oh! Also expecting a
new nephew! In June, hooray! But will I be able to go home then? Will I have a job? Love these
new anxieties,
new fears,
new doubts... Even positive things are scary as hell when they're

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Briefly, my Wednesday

10:00 - First time I was asked by many group members, "Whoa... are you okay today, Jo?"

12:12 - Could not control tears. Had to leave the room so I could sob properly. The discussion: What happens when the people who are supposed to protect you harm you instead? That thought is pertinent, but this thought upset me more - What if you don't let your protectors help you; do you then deserve all that's happened to you?

12:30 - Sniffled through lunch and noticed everyone's discomfort with me too weak to entertain them.

3:00 - Booked my ass to Beacon St. for intake at a certain psychotherapy practice. Withstood intake as well as can be expected. Cried s'more. Withstood compliments as gracefully as possible with snot threatening to drip onto my shirt.

4:40 - Made it to Cambridgeside mall to look for interview clothing. Found it, bought it. Decided that I felt grimy and went to a salon to have my hair washed. "Only washed?" they asked. "Yep," sez I. "Oookay," they said. The washer and the receptionist couldn't figure out what to charge me, so I just gave the washer a tip.

7:30 - Walked into English Jo's apartment exactly on time, very proud of myself. We went out to dinner at a place called Orinoco that had lovely food and strange service. Flan = HEAVEN.

10:00 - Wandered to Wally's to catch some jazz/funk fusion. So good. So tired.

10:50 - Slugged myself to the T and knitted all the way home. Except when I was walking.

11:50 - Took cold medicine and sleepy-time medicine. Will pass out shortly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

JoBiv's endless numbered days

Ready? If you need to, take notes or breaks as you see fit.

1. One week of partial hospitalization done! The doctor said something about me being there for only one week. That was untrue. They want me there for three weeks.

2. Yes, I went to Vermont - TO SKI!! J to the Bivvo on skis? Sounds like a bad idea, unless you know that I'm an undercover jock. It's true! After two days of dawdling and blaming the weather for my pokeyness, Mel and I decided to take a beginner's course in skiing. Turns out that I didn't need it. Everything came back to me from when my Dad first traumatized me on the slopes of Gore Mountain at the tender age of nine. It felt so good to swish my way down the slopes, to control my body and my speed, to get comfortable with the chair lift. Mel had a hard time, though, and tried to be happy for my success.

3. Baby Mama asked me to meet with her, remember? I did, in fact, meet with her and the Baby Daddy at Pea's last night. They were awkward, letting me hold Pea and play with her, conspicuously quiet between brief spouts of smalltalk. Pea fairly leapt into my arms as soon as I walked in, and wouldn't let me put her down for a good forty minutes.

Eventually they got up the courage to tell me they're letting me go. This, after all, is a perfect time for a transition for them. Y'know, while I'm sick. They're looking for someone who will cook and clean for them as well as watch Pea. And yes, I did cry right there in their kitchen. I thought I had prepared myself for this... I was not at all prepared for the smack of emotions while I watched the baby move a magnet from the refrigerator to the washing machine - something I taught her.

I'm heartbroken.

4. Today I stopped my tears long enough to make a follow-up call to an agency that has seen my resume and actually wants to talk to me. After a week of phonetag, I spoke to the woman who emailed me. She said, "This is how our process works. We do an initial interview of about three to four minutes on the phone..." And then my brains shot out my ears and I was dead on the floor.

Okay, not really. Then we had a phone interview, which was fairly easy since I'm excited about this agency and had lots to say about how my experiences fit the job. This woman will be in touch with me "soon," which, in non-profit terms, could be a month.

5. The Novelist took me out last Thursday. The first thing he said was, "Wow, you look really amazing tonight," and he blushed. Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

I'm seeing him this Thursday, too, and we have tentative plans for Saturday. Trying to move a little carefully just now, with all the world spinning away from me these days.

And I have to learn how to take his compliments graciously... I'm not accustomed to such flattery.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The bends

I'm surfacing, but maybe too quickly. The weekend and today's group therapy left me dizzy and disoriented, and a bit antisocial. Becca took me out to dinner Friday, then I met up with Norah Saturday, and then I had a date with The Novelist on... er... yesterday. Jenny and I also met prospective roommates Saturday. Action-packed, I tell you!

All of that stuff kept me busy, but the anxiety comes rushing through my body because of a few other incidents. My brother Smacks texted me (I keep forgetting my phone can do that) yesterday, saying, "Why do you suppose you were in the hospital?" What a funny question, as though I might not know. And then there's the disturbing alacrity of the rumors flying between my brothers. Cripps sent me a message Friday demanding an explanation. I don't remember how he knew, if I left a hint somewhere... At any rate, I called and asked him not to tell Mom and Pop. He didn't call back.

So I called Smacks after the text message. He tried not to sound pissed, but I could tell he was annoyed that I hadn't called while I was in the hospital. And worse, that I hadn't planned to tell my family at all. Now I've talked to both Cripps and Smacks at length, and the consensus; I should tell Mom and Pop.

Don't they look happy? Ignorance IS bliss...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Does Johanna exist?

From "Does Joanna Exist?"

... What sort of world would this be if you

(or anyone, surely Joanna herself)

were to find after a lifetime lived

otherwise that Joanna is not the creature

all had assumed, but is in reality

some weird emanation from eternity

sealed up in a mind that thinks itÂ’s Joanna,

a body that lives in Joanna‚’s house?

...Of course she exists, everyone sighs.

And you exist too, Joanna replies.

-Bonnie Jacobson

I walked myself to Beth Israel Deaconess on Sunday evening, having had a terrible epiphany that I would never get healthy on my own, and having no idea how to get help. I walked to the wrong building, which was a little funny. They took me in an ambulance to the correct one, the ER, where I cried my eyes out with unchecked anxiety. I talked to five different doctors and nurses, telling parts of my story, and then I was left alone in a room with a big glass doors looking out on the nurse's station. I was there for a total of 20 hours while they looked for a bed for me in a psych ward somewhere in Boston.

Another ambulance, another hospital... They had me strapped to a stretcher, but let me walk once we were on the right floor. The people there gave me a kit of toiletries, johnnies to wear, and hospital socks. They were frantic to get me something to eat, but I wasn't hungry. I had arrived during snack time, and all the other patients congregated in the TV room, snatching cookies, oranges, pie, milk... I sat there, trying to eat, looking at the people, hoping they weren't looking at me and I wasn't in anyone's way. Someone poked me with a needle and got a blood sample. Someone else took my blood pressure and temperature. I took a shower with my tiny shampoo bottle and hospital towels, tried not to look in the mirror, went back to my room and put myself to bed.

The next four days were strange. I had meetings with doctors, a nurse assigned to me every shift (and different nurses every day), medication to help me sleep, some slight choice in food that I gradually felt like eating, and bizarre conversations with legitimately crazy people. I showed up for every scheduled event. I monitored my reactions to drugs. I managed stilted friendships with the less debilitated. I made phone calls without completely losing it.

I had to call the Baby Mama on Monday morning, early, to tell her I couldn't work. She asked if I was okay, asked if she could do anything. I told her I'd probably be out all week. I told her I'd be in touch when I could tell her more. She was pure sympathy.

I got a call from her on Tuesday asking if I could work this week. I called her back to tell her I couldn't. She, again, offered her services if I should need them. I said, no, no, I'm fine, thanks... She said, "When you get back home I think we should sit down to talk," in a very serious manner. In other words, I may have gotten fired for getting sick.

I'm back now, but not completely back. I have a day program to go to for the next two or three weeks. My symptoms... well, they were aggravated for a week, so I think they can only get better now. But, it turns out they're not just symptoms; I actually have OCD. Awesome.

I didn't have to be honest about this, but how could I leave it out? I'm trying to be more honest with myself. This was a pretty big event in my life. I didn't disappear completely for a week. I do exist, most of the time. I think.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A moment of unexpected boldness

Unexpected, but not unrehearsed.

I wanted to go to Rami's for dinner today. Well, that's probably not true. I wanted to pass by J. P. Licks. He was working. I passed by, proud of myself. But, of course, I eventually went in.

We flirted while I chose ice cream. I sat, he came out and flirted. He had customers, came back out and flirted. I felt this antsy energy fizzing in me. Finally I got my jacket on, wrapped my scarf around me for an extra defensive layer.

"Yo," I said, calling him to the swinging employee door.
"I have to ask you something."
"C'mere, though."
He wandered over, his eyebrows peaked in open curiosity.
"Are we ever gonna make out?"
"No," he said, no hesitation. I wasn't looking at him, for that second, but that was silly. We made eye contact.
"Then you need to stop teasing me," I said.
I nodded.
"I'll try to stop being so charming."
"Was that fun?"
"Oh yeah."
"Tons of fun..."

A block down Harvard I wanted to run back to give him another order. "Don't ever tell me why." Boys like him seem to love to tell me why, and the list grew in my head as I walked.

You're too crazy, too much to take on.
You're too big... my roommates would make fun of me (Seriously heard this one before.)
I can't be in a relationship right now (until the next girl comes along)...

Fuck this list. Nevermind.

Foood is goood

Over the past few weeks, Norah, Melissa and I have gotten into the habit of cooking on Fridays. Chris the Giant often helps out, too, but he's in LA this weekend. Poo on him.

Tonight we attempted dinner in my apartment. This marks the SECOND time Melissa and Norah have crossed my threshold. I've noticed this of late; my lack of guests. People don't tend to hang out at my apartment. But then again, I don't tend to hang out in people's apartments at all, except for Friday night dinners. I tend to see people at choir rehearsals, out for dinner, at movies, etc. Plus, I haven't been too terribly social.

BUT, I'm proud to say that my apartment can be very homey with people cookin' in it. We made a super-peanut-saucy thai-ish noodle thing. It was frickin' amazing. The girls were kind enough to split the recipe so my portion wouldn't burn my tongue out of my mouth. Sweet, aren't they?

It's funny, I haven't quite felt at home here. That's not so surprising, considering the rapid change of venue. Anyway, tonight felt nice, cooking in my place with friends, knowing where all the dishes are, finding a peeler I didn't know we had, lazing around the living room til we got sleepy, tucking away the clean dishes and the leftovers... It's home.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Coats of many colors

The snow of two days ago melted, and most of it dried up as well. Today was a warm day with blue sky here and there. Pea was as eager as I was to get outside. She actually stood still while I put her many coats on.

Here's the thing about Pea's outerwear -- all her clothes are hand-me-downs, and none of them are warm or unstained. Thus we layer. First, of course, is the onesie, long-sleeved for super cold days. Then the shirt, then the sweater or sweatshirt. That's her outfit for bopping around the house. When we go outside, I say, "Pea, get your jackets." She tippy-taps over to the dining room chair where we hang her many worn coats, drags them off, brings them to me, then runs away when I go to put them on her.

Jacket numero uno: actually a fleece from Gap circa 1999. It's thick, though, and big enough to fit over her sweater. It's a deep, sporty blue color and screams BOY BOY BOY, evidenced by the many, "Oh he's so sweet" comments we get as we stroll down Harvard.

Jacket numero two-o: a once-downy, lumpy patchwork with disintegrating cuffs. This coat is probably her warmest, but it's officially ratty. It's also got the Brookline Hippie thang goin' on - androgynous color scheme set off by fairly-traded shell buttons carved into the shapes of little bunnies. I call this one Pea's Starfish Coat because it's puffiest in the arms, which means she can't put her arms down when she wears it. Funny, but cruel.

Jacket numero trio: The Ugly Coat. I have two words for you: color block. Add in a third - NEON. Are we done yet? I actually have a song for this coat. The melody is unimportant. The lyrics are uninspired, but state my opinion clearly.

"S...'s UGLY coat
Let's wear the UGLY coat
Go get the UGLY coat
Zip up the UGLY coat"

Now, the ugliness is offensive enough, but it's just plain disturbing that this has become our go-to coat considering that it's about as thick as two-ply Scott, it has no hood, and it's two sizes too big. Why does she wear it? Because it has snap-on mittens. Yep, that's the whole reason. It's impossible to keep mittens on her fingers, and so she gets the ugly coat instead.

Did I mention the color block? When a certain ice cream scoopin', sex shop hoppin' friend of mine saw it, he summed it up like so: "That's a fly coat."

And the cherry on top? Her hats are hand-me-downs, too. She has a baby BOY blue one with white bears knitted in and a pom-pom. That one's fairly cute, especially when it slips over her eyes and she has to wrestle with it. (Is it cruel of me to think that's cute?) The other hat is from Old Navy. The boy's section. It's navy blue and grey fleece and fits her well, but when I put it on her she is completely incognito. People who know the bright green stroller doubt themselves. "Is that... Pea? I thought that was a boy in there."

Now I'm not one for enforcing gender roles, but it's really frickin' annoying to correct people all day, and slightly concerning to correct people who know the family. I tend to make sure she's wearing purple or pink or ridiculous flowers on the bottom to give people an indication, and they're still confused.

Gah. Anyway, take a moment now to close your eyes and imagine the combination of all three coats. With either hat. Egads! The effect is horrific. Lucky for Pea, her cuteness outshines the egregious wrongs done her by such a fashion faux pas.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Of sex shops and sci-fi

I set out for Good Vibrations with every intention of being a little late. I wondered if he'd artfully choose something to look at so I'd find him with something incredibly sexy... What would that thing be? A book would probably be the least threatening. Ah, yes, I'd walk in and he'd be thumbing through something deliciously erotic, thinking of me.

I scooted down the wide, friendly alley leading to the parking lot behind Coolidge Corner. The entrance, spicily enough, is in the rear. The entrance also had a sign on it: "Private Party, Please come back tomorrow!"

I could see shadows moving behind the fogged glass. I could hear voices murmuring. It was all beyond my reach. Was he in there? Thumbing? Waiting for me? How'd he get in? I stood outside, dumbstruck, until another girl came up and said, "Hey, is this the sex shop?"

"Yeah, but it's a private party, apparently," I said.

"That sucks. I wanted to get something for a friend's bachelorette party."

I thought, is this what women always say to each other when they go to sex shops? Another girl came up and hovered, reading the sign.

"It's closed to the public?" she asked.

"I think so," I said. "I thought it was going to be a big open party. Not so."

A young woman with a logo-emblazoned apron came out of a side door and looked at the three of us, our faces hopeful.

"Sorry, ladies, it's a closed party."


After standing there a little longer, pressing for details on the store's hours, robbing food from the catering trays as they passed us by, the girl got us some freebies and we went our separate ways.

Hmm, thought I, I bet he's in Coolidge Corner, feeling likewise dejected. I checked out his haunts. Nowhere to be found. Eventually I got dinner, then settled into a booth at J. P. Licks to await him, wondering where he could be.

And guess where he was? IN THE SHOP. He got in, saying he had an invitation, and got a WHOLE LOTTA LOOT for free! He came to sit with me and gingerly showed off his goodies. I pouted. I showed him my comparably tiny consolation prize - a pack of creepy-looking condoms and lube I'll never use - and he laughed in my face. I pouted some more. He laughed some more. I got annoyed rather quickly.

"Why are you so upset?"


He suggested we take a walk. We walked... to choir rehearsal. I was looking for an alley to duck down, myself. After choir we had our ceremonial ice cream with other friends, and then he got on his bike and went home, renegging on the drink he'd offered earlier.

At that moment I knew I wanted two things simultaneously: to rip his clothes off, and to punch him in the neck. I did neither.

On the bright side, I had a cozy little email from The Novelist waiting for me when I got home. It doesn't compare to the make-out session I could have had, but it's something.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Just when you thought cupid was dead...

... feeling unloved, ever-so-lonely, did I mention unloved? And then this random screw-in-the-cake guy gets my email address and actually uses it. He didn't send chapters from his novel, bless'im.

And then I had another certain someone tell me about a sex shop opening in Coolidge Corner (Good Vibrations, replacing Grand Opening), on Wednesday. And not-so-subtley tell me he's going. Between the hours of 6-7. Weird? Who does that? "Hi, we've been flirting but never touched, wanna come to a sex shop with me?"

The answer, however, is yes. Because I'm easy like that.

Now all I have to do is find that contractor's number and... Oh, wait, I didn't tell you about the contractor? Two guys were rebuilding a porch down the road from Pea's place, and I'd pass them twice a day, sometimes more, just goin' about my business. One was chatty. He was the shorter, hairier one. He gave me his card. Twice. The tall hot one was flirty but, alas, did not speak English. Or Italian, Spanish or Latin. I was at a loss. Hairy didn't speak so clearly, either, but I comprehended more than I let on when he mangled something like, "Why you no call me?" the other week.

My descriptions are unfair. He's merely Lebanese; the hairiness can't be helped. He was actually quite handsome, despite the shortness. And the big gold chain, complete with overstated crucifix a-danglin'. Hmm, no, actually that's where the handsome part stopped.

And then there's Uly. We're running an abridged version of our friendship right now. It's necessary. He can't know how much I worry about him. And I don't like to think about the little slips he's made about how important I am in his life. We're already ruined. There's no point.

So let's have a vote, shall we?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Death by screw, and not the good kind

Sarah Chessman had a birthday party last night, and I had qualms about going. I haven't been super social of late and wasn't sure if I was up to faking social niceties with strangers. But, I have a rule. Some of you have heard me say it. When I'm asked to go somewhere and have no conflicting plans, I go. It's a rule that's supposed to work against my social anxiety. It forces me to flip a switch in my head that says, "Too bad, you're already going. Nothing you can do but get there." This causes the same fatalistic tranquility I get on Amtrak trains - You're on. You can't get off. Eventually, you have to arrive. What's the point in worrying?

Of course, I still get anxious, and the actual event tests my limits. Sarah had reserved tables at Big City and there were tons of people there on a Saturday night. I have a hard time at venues like this, where people you've been introduced to at prior parties lie in wait like land mines. Each face forces an extended study: Have I met you? Do I remember your name? What do you know about me? My usual knee-jerk reaction includes a few more questions: How do I make you more comfortable in this awkward situation? Who is depending on me to make this easier?

I do have room for enjoyment, of course. That's why I have the rule that I have to go to these things in the first place. I always enjoy myself in some way, even if it's a tiny pleasure. Often the pleasure comes from discovering that I'm still capable of social graces. Such was the case last night. I talked to strangers, old acquaintances, and the birthday girl with surprising ease. A friend of Sarah's even asked for my email (I fear he means to send me chapters from a novel-in-progress, but he was also flirting).

And just as I was nibbling at birthday cake, congratulating myself on a job well done, I chomped on something very hard.

"What the..."

I sucked the chocolate off of whatever it was and, with all possible delicacy, removed it from my mouth.

"It's a freakin' screw!"

The dude who was chatting me up was similarly dumbfounded. I showed it to Sarah, who said it wasn't planted on purpose. I thought it might have been a party game. Not so. It was a 1 inch screw. In chocolate frosting. In my mouth. Hunh.

I wish I cavorted with gypsies more often. They could tell me what a screw in my cake signifies.

Sadly for chatter-upper-boy, it didn't mean he was getting one any time soon. We left as soon as I got the frosting off my fingers and we'd paid our tab.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


(As much as you people must love my lists, that's not the kind of listless I mean. It's pure coincidence that this post doesn't have one.)

My phone showed a missed call. It was Papabiv. Checked voicemail. He's in New England this weekend, the people he's here to see have flaked out on him. He has free time--do I have free time?

I do. Acres of it. None of it is free enough to put myself through another dinner with Dad.

Once I realized this, the tears started coming. That was about an hour and a half ago. Now I can't stop. I spent some time laying on my bed with the music on very loud, my hands uncomfortably pinned behind my back. My bald spot...

Well, I had this literary moment the other day, much like this one, when I thought of my dad's natural baldness, and how my illness is making me more and more like him. Physically. A bald spot.

I have to call him back at some point to tell him I'm too busy to see him. I can't be crying when I call. I've picked up most of the clothes on my floor, sorted them. Played Snood. Back to laying with the hands pinned. Put more clothes away. Sing along with Leela James. Still crying.

My new favorite semi-mindless game

priddy pictures

Thursday, January 26, 2006

24 hrs


10:00pm - Went out for a post-chorus drink with Rickety Split (J.P. Licks boy) to celebrate some person's dodgeball victory. Met roommates. Did not press vagaries of friendship. Enjoyed self.

11:40pm- Remembered I had to work next day.


12:40am - Arrived home, got me ready for bed.

1:50am - Looked at clock, wondered why I was awake enough to read it.

3:30am - Turned clock around so I would stop looking at it.

5:50am - Turned it back around, sure I didn't set the alarm. (I did.)

7:15am - Alarm went off. Michael Bolton singing. Terrible way to start the day. Luckily, I set my clock a good twenty minutes fast and I was able to soothe that terrible start with a wee nap.

8:08am - Miraculously got out the door with wallet, cell phone, coat, scarf, mittens, ke... Waaaait a minute, where are those keys?

8:10am - Buzzed upstairs neighbor and tried to communicate the fact that I could see my keys dangling in my door's lock. She eventually let me in to retrieve them.

8:30am on the frickin' dot - Pea's dad opened the door proclaiming, "Pea, looks who's here!!" Pea looked, burst into tears and buried her head between Dad's knees. I picked her up. She stopped immediately and asked for milk.

9:40am - Cleaning people arrived. Pea refused to eat breakfast because, according to her, the entertainment had arrived.

10:30am - We met up with a nanny friend to hoist ourselves to the Children's Museum

12:00pm - Arrived at museum. Yes, an hour and a half later... Chased lil people around, had some fun, turned them around and got them back on the T.

1:20pm - Pea fell asleep on the T. I swore loudly. Several strangers rebuked me with their eyes.

1:40pm - Rewarded myself and extended Pea's nap with black raspberry ice cream. At J. P. Licks. Shush now.

2:40pm - Got Pea home, put her in her crib though she was partly awake. She whined unconvincingly, fell asleep for another hour and a half.

4:30pm - Susan P. Bloom called me, asked me to meet her at The Huntington Theatre at 7:30. I said yes immediately, filled with absolutely unfettered joy upon hearing that her grandson arrived safely at last! I hung up and wondered if I was conscious enough for theatre.

7:30pm - I was conscious enough. It was Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The set and costumes were amazing, the crowd was unresponsive despite quality acting. Bloomers updated me, asked pointed questions, received vague answers.

10:00pm - Dropped off by Bloomers, tired beyond belief but somehow sated.

11:36pm - Listened to Ben Harper. Thought of my grad school friends. Felt my eyes crossing with exhaustion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh, Virgin Megastore, you cruel mistress

Now in my incredibly tasteful collection (in alphabetical order):

fiona apple, extraordinary machine
jackson browne, for everyman
jeff buckley, mystery white boy
dogs die in hot cars, please describe yourself
ben harper et al., burn to shine
leela james, a change is gonna come
bonnie raitt, souls alike

I usually limit myself to my list, only buy 6, do the punchy card thang and get a free one, but apparently one of the CDs was only $7 and thus didn't figure into the deal, so I HAD to get the Jeff Buckley CD. Really, I did.

How come nobody told me that Ben Harper would ROCK MY FRIGGIN WORLD? You? And you? Why no tell JoBivius?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Oh yes, the perks of nannying...

I remembered the reasons I chose/fell into nannying for work; no cubicles, I get to play outside every day, and I'm laughing all the time. On most days, anyway. Even today, when I had to be there at the ungodly hour of 7am, which meant I had to get up at 5 so as to limit shower schedule interference in my apartment.

So as to. What a terrible charm bracelet of meaningless words. Orwell would be annoyed with me.

As I was saying, even today, when I could barely keep my eyes open, I had a five-minute-straight giggle fit resulting from Pea losing a shoe and peglegging around the house, marveling at her weird gait and the funny pad-tap sound of her footsteps. She kept looking up at me to grin as though she'd just won some kind of prize. "Look how clever I am!"

Also, Pea prefers reggae. WERS plays a steady stream during her dinner time, and she bops her head while she smushes avocado between her fingers.

ALSO, Pea fell asleep in the stroller one friggin' block before we got to the apartment. Usually, she wakes up when I take her out and acts like she's been asleep for four hours, ripping the place apart and making me nuts, so I tried to wake her up immediately. She was out. Limp. Useless. Halfway up the second flight of stairs, she groggily lifted her head, looked at me, smiled, and gave me an open-mouth-on-cheek baby kiss. Then she snuggled into my shoulder and let out an unladylike snore.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

sometimes i feel like i don't have a partner

sometimes i feel like I'm all alone
it's the city I live in...

This past week was much too lonely. The coming week can't possibly be anything like it. I can't allow it. Nope.

I'm feeling that restlessness in between my ribs, like something is trying to stretch me or crush me there, like my lungs are forced to push honey in and out, then suddenly nothing, no air, something too light.

I walked to Comm. Ave today, to Guitar Center. I had driven myself crazy last night trying to tune my guitar, and then decied, duh, I need to buy a tuner. So today that thought served as a beacon. Yes, Jo, you have an excuse to leave the apartment. Go get the damn tuner. I planned my purchase the whole way, playing and replaying the coming transaction with each step. I walked down Longwood toward Kent, turned onto this little street called Marshal. There are brick houses on one side, brick condos on the other. I crossed Beacon and walked up to the park on Amory, walked on the grass that can't decide if it's frozen or not. A little white dog yapped around my legs and I stopped my brain to say hello to her. She seemed to smile and slid back down the hill to her owner. I thought, "You go in, there's a person on the left who stamps the receipts as people leave. You can ask him where the tuners are. Nevermind, you know where they are; to the left. You go back to the counter there, and there are always two people working. They're always just kids. Always boys. Ask one for a tuner for an acoustic guitar. You want one that's about twenty dollars. Simple. He'll be the expert, let him show you the choices. Choose one, then pay with your debit card. You can pay with the debit because you found that check in a card Mom sent in November. You'll have to tap in your PIN. It'll take a bit. It'll take a bit. You'll have to wait. Then get the receipt, but don't put it away. The boy will tell you to show it to the person at the door as you leave. You'll say 'thank you.' You'll walk over with your receipt and the bag with the tuner in it. The person will ask for it. You show it to him. He takes the receipt, stamps it, gives it back. You go out the door, turn left. It's done after that. Go straight home."

It took three revolutions of that before I reached Guitar Center. It's a long walk, but it prepared me. The receipt-stamper was a girl, and I was surprised that I hadn't allowed for that possibility in my brain. The boy who helped me asked if I wanted a chromatic tuner. I said yes, and that I didn't know why they bothered making the old kind. He laughed a little. "You want something simple, right?" I nodded. "This is your best bet. It comes with batteries, they never run out, it's chromatic... twenty bucks." "That's the one." He took my debit card when I handed it over. He swiped it for me, then I used a lil stylus to put in the number. It slipped out of my hand and onto the crowded counter. My heart raced. I felt my skin burning. The words came out slowly, though, like I'm not a freak, "I'm sorry about that." He smiled back, "Oh, no prob, I got it. Okay, make sure you show this receipt to the girl at the door..." I was nodding already; I knew that part. Nodding, turning, there's the girl, she stamps, out... The air was cold and I breathed it in sharply, like a new baby shocked into extra-womb life. There were tears bobbling on my lashes. Fucking tears.

Did I mention I have an appointment with my doctor for the first week of February? This has to stop.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Action indeed!

Yesterday I managed to:

1. Call Masshealth to update my information
2. Call my doctor (yes, I have a doctor, although I've only seen her once) to set up an appt.
3. File away all the extraneous papers in my life
4. Make it out the door for POKEROKE!

What, you ask, is pokeroke? Why, it's poker and karaoke, of course!

Ok, ok, sounds much fancier than it is. My friend British Jo had some people over at her place, and I guess they usually end up either playing poker or doing Playstation karaoke, and decided that both could happen in one night. The boys circled 'round the poker table, the girls traded the mic back and forth. It was a mixture of "we don't give a shit" maturity and junior high gender segregation. It turns out, by the way, that I suck at Playstation karaoke. It doesn't allow for artistic interpretation. Jerks.

Last night was life-affirming for your favorite JoBiv. I forget that I can be happy and social sometimes, that people are charmed by me, that absolute strangers love to tell me all about their lives. On my way to British Jo's, I stood outside the Leow's Boston Common for about twenty minutes talking to a silver-haired Haitian woman about her teenaged kids and their movie preferences. We talked about nannying a bit, her career and how it got derailed, how she hopes she can help her kids focus more than she has. I think my talk with her was my favorite part of the night. I wanted to ditch pokeroke and go have coffee with her, find out more about her.

That sunshine is working its magic, I think. I walked home from the South End today to git me summore.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Sun, quiet, action

It's been a better day.

I met a friend (an ice cream scoopin' friend) for breakfast at a diner in Allston. I told him of my amazing plans for the day, since today is a perfect day for a "JoBiv Really Does Live in Boston" walk. He had chores to do and scampered off, possibly intimidated by my genius.

So off I went. I got on the train, got off at Government Center, walked down the steps, through Quincy Market to the Long Wharf. I was concentrating hard on my thoughts - mostly, "JoBiv, you should be making phone calls and finding a job" type thoughts - when a man in a uniform jacket with a laminated ID solicited me for a donation to help the homeless. I honestly didn't know if he really had anything to do with passing out blankets to homeless people, but I thought, just suppose I give him money and it does help. That would be lovely.

As I dug in my purse, he continued his rapid-fire schpiel, interrupting himself to say, "How are ya today?"

"I'm doing well. It's a beautiful day."

"Yeah it is. So why aren't ya smilin'?"

I wasn't aware that I wasn't smiling, but just then I could feel how much effort it would take to relax the furrow of my brows. Too much effort.

"I guess I'm tired," I said.

"Well you keep walkin', you'll hit sunlight." He gestured behind him, toward the end of the wharf.

"That's my plan."

"You from Boston?" The answer should have been obvious, considering I made eye contact with him in the first place.

"No, but I've been living here..."

"Where you from?"


"OH, so you KNOW we're in for it! Enjoy the sun while it lasts!"

Chuckle chuckle.

I continued down the wharf, as planned and instructed, took a picture for a lone tourista, then grabbed the big square cornerstone that catches the most sun. I sat. I watched planes take off. I squinted into the sky to watch gulls catch crumbs thrown by a man in a sateen Pats jacket. I watched the weird brown/blue undulations of the water shouldering up to the stones of the wharf.

I felt the sun warm my right shoulder, my cheek, my thigh. I tried to pay attention to my skin. "This is your skin," I thought. "Only you are feeling what this skin feels right now."

Some kids showed up with skateboards. I watched them for a while. They wrestled with a big orange divider until they had it on its side, then practiced jumping onto it, using its slope as a ramp. Their energy gave me energy.

Well, the sun did, too. The sun and the water and the planes taking off and landing... they could lull you or spark you into action. I chose action.

The Park Dedication

Apparently, I wrote this when I got an invitation to a dedication for Shane's park. I don't know when that was, but the papers I wrote it on were sort of hidden. I found a few other poems, as well, but this one surprised me. I didn't fudge with it as I normally would before showing it. This, after all, is my blog, where I put my least finished thoughts. So, no, the line breaks don't always make sense. And the word choice could be tweaked and simplified. And it wanders. I'm strangely attached to it despite all of those faults. I'm surprised at how... I guess the right word here would be vitriolic... I had a great sense of isolation every time I had an invitation to join others in mourning.

They must have gathered

On the still-seamed sod—

Sod treacherous to high heels,

Though I can guess who wore them:

His girlfriend, first and only,

Girlfriend of two weeks, carrying her grief

Like a halo, or merit badge, surely

In high heels. His mom, a nurse,

Would have more sensible shoes—

Flat sandals, very likely. But the

College friends, the girls, all the

Fake flirtations, the girls who pulled

Him closer for effect, to be able to

Say, “you know that heart transplant kid?

I’m tight with him,” not knowing his

Mal-nourished, underdeveloped body

Produced hormones, too, for them.

I’m glad I didn’t go. Two years

Since the first eulogy, why are we

Addicted to mourning Shane? His

Death day, his transplant day, his

Birthday, his favorite holidays, we

Send each other yet another eulogy.

Maybe we feel collectively cheated,

Having listened to the priest glorify his

Christianity (which, in truth, was incidental)

And talk of his love for school, his

Academic dedication (which was

Mythical or errant). We, who knew

Him, fight his canonization, argue

For his sins and transgressions, tiny

As they were. Confessing them

For him—does it cleanse us,

Make us more holy?

I didn’t go this time. It’s unnatural

Anyway, to force this fraternity

Which, had he lived, would have dissolved

Three months after graduation. This,

The sod, is all we have in common—

The compulsion to eulogize, the feel

Of our heels piercing through, sinking

In, it’s such a comfort.

If he’d known about the park, I think

He would have rolled his eyes,

Huffed about his mom, in the familiar

Loving way we huff when moms

Straighten ties or tuck a shirt tag in. He knew

The ramifications of dying young, the hopeless

Gestures of community to shift out of the terrible

Embarrassment of having seen this coming.

So I chose to stay away as he

Chose to die—out of laziness?

More like exhaustion, too-thorough knowledge

Of how all these things unfurl if one goes forward.

The initiations, the pain of each step,

The explanations, and wondering when

The morning will come, if it will ever come,

The dawn of having all of it gone,

Behind you. I think of each of us

Like gear-work clocks haphazardly engineered—

Each gear creating new problems, each

Solution too quickly executed, filling

Us with redundant movement, the

Original problem eased infinitesimally—

Throw it away, he thought. Throw

The goddamn clock away.

I assume the mourners function better,

Cloistered against this truth—his willingness,

I mean. And I keep trying to allow all things

At once: grief, nostalgia, entropy, whatever.

Oh, I should also say relief.