Our eyes are closed, America.

In keeping with a father-daughter tradition, this morning my dad and I went to the Westside Market to buy things that most of America would consider the gory bits of animals, but we in Cleveland call food. Saturday morning trips like this are one of my better childhood memories with my father, even if they are also the reason I wear glasses and need an inhaler (a story for another time).

Anyway, outside the produce sections of the market there is always a man or woman selling a newspaper, whose name I can’t remember right now, that gives its money to the homeless. My father of course would never buy the paper, as wouldn’t most people who shop there. Hell, neither would I, but this time he wasn’t the only one there.

On the way out of the square there sat a sixty something black man on an overturned crate, playing “Glory Glory Hallelujah,” on the saxophone. In front of him, to collect any possible change he might get for playing, stood his prosthetic leg.

Now, seeing as my father is a republican and a bit of a racist, he didn’t give the guy a second look. And seeing as I was with my father, and thusly didn’t bring any money of my own with me, I couldn’t give the guy anything. I felt a little better when I heard him shout “thank you,” between notes on his sax, to two women who gave him bills of some kind.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him since I saw him though, with the bare plastic calf the color of crayola’s “flesh” crayon, attached to a walmart tennis shoe. It made me think of the statistic shouted in Andrea Gibson’s poem “For Eli”:

One-third of the homeless men in this country are veterans,
and we have the nerve to Support Our Troops
with pretty yellow ribbons
while giving nothing but dirty looks to their outstretched hands.

Who knows what this guy’s been through. Had I been alone I would have loved to have a conversation with him, but I wasn’t.

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I know this god damn life too well.

I’m in one of those “I hate everything and everyone” moods. I hate it, and it makes me feel like hiding from everyone because I know in a month or two the feeling will be gone and I’ll have burnt some bridge with someone I would rather not lose. I’m in a very angry place. I want to go back to EC and smoke a djarum black cigarette on the swing in the little alcove under the art building stairs, by the pond across from the church that looks like a spaceship. I want to lie down on the bench in the middle of the music center and listen to the bands practice. I want to listen to the sharks thrash while I lie in the sand looking at the stars. I don’t want to be here, thinking about how little I matter to Dinosaur or Alex. I don’t want to be here at all.

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It’s been so long and I’ve been putting out fire.

Feel my blood enraged
It’s just the fear of losing you
Don’t you know my name
Well, you been so long

You know that guy I call Dinosaur on here? Well he’s hardly spoken to me since September. He kind of talked to me for a couple days in December but I could tell it was hard for him and it ended really fucking quick. 

It’s funny how it’s entirely possible to love someone without talking to them or even knowing if they’re alive. I don’t know how he’s doing, but as usual I have theories about his disappearance. Last time he and I talked on the phone he told me that since he’d been diagnosed HIV positive no one wanted to be in the same room as him. That was before Jesse got out of prison.

In the past, when Dinosaur would go a couple weeks without talking to me, it was usually because Jesse was being an abusive mother fucker. It’s been three months off and on now. What the hell am I supposed to think? 

I wish I could do something but I know I can’t. I had planned to send him some immune system vitamins for Christmas, but that fell through because now he isn’t just ignoring me. I can tell he is also shutting anyone else out that he talks to, because I’m not the only one writing “I miss you” on his facebook wall. I’m scared he’s dead. I don’t even want to think it but he could be.

When he told me about the diagnosis in August, he told me that they told him that a person in perfect health could survive untreated for about 9 years. Dinosaur is the opposite of that. He has ridiculous stomach problems from stress and from being made to drink bleach as a kid in foster care. This means it’s usually impossible for him to hold food down, which means he doesn’t eat most days. Naturally, a person who doesn’t eat is more likely to get sick than a person who does. This puts him in the bracket that “the lady at the clinic” (doctor? nurse? I don’t know), called “minimal health.” She gave him 6 months to 2 years.

I’m scared shitless, and at this rate I may never know how he’s doing. I promised him I’d help him through it, but how the hell am I supposed to do that if he won’t talk to me? 

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Bad news

I don’t know what it is about me that attracts ridiculously good people, but it sickens me. When I can see a person and their innocence hovers in front of their eyes like a vale separating the two of us, I can only reflect upon the ugliness within myself. It makes me hate them, because I know to spend too long with such a person would poison them.

Fight or flight? Everything in me tells me to run away. Everything, but that stupid little fucker within me that tries with all it’s might to look on the bright side. Maybe this time I won’t have to crush anybody.

But I’m a cynic, and I know that isn’t true.

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Simple Beauty

As the sun set this December evening I found a kite wrapped around the three trees in the back-left corner of the lot on which the hotel, where my family and I are staying until tomorrow, stands. It was a small, cheap kite. The kind of kite you buy in a tube and then assemble yourself. The string that I tugged loose from around the tree trunks had knotted into a section only about 30 feet long with two rabbit ear like loops for my left and right hands. 

It excited me with a kind of simple, childish giddiness that I don’t think I’ve felt before. My father took the kite end and held it up so I could run with the string end and make it hang in the air above me. 

The kite, that looked like a giant green, blue, and black moth rode the air like something magical. Like it was surfing on wind. It flew in lunging and undulating semicircles and waves, flirting with me like it was possessed by the spirit of Hermes himself. I lay down on the sand and held onto it, making it dance with gentle tugs on the left and right hand loops. 

As I lie there it struck me that I’ve never really been able to be somewhere without thinking and be at peace, because staring at that kite making arcs in the wind my mind was allowed for a moment to just rest, without agitation at the lack of static or conversation. I decided that I’m bringing the little angel home.

The kite and I stayed like this, me lying on the sand while it danced above my head, until the stars came out.

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Someone to save you

Stepping into the shower I felt my arms wrap round myself,  like it was you whose body I cradled and not this flesh, so unlike yours. These arms tremble, arms who have not known the needles kiss, the sting of steel. Flesh. My flesh does not know starvation. It does not know hot, rough hands, panting and blood.
My flesh, even before washing is so clean. My hand grips round a sponge I wish was rougher, squirts on soap I wish was stronger and I scrub myself raw like, I can only imagine, you do.
If only with these hands I could pick up your broken body. I would spread it gently over a work bench and search for the edges and corners of your form, this puzzle of skin and shame.
I think of the ordeal mothers make over knee scrapes and bruises, and it makes me want to rip the arms off teddy bears.
Tell me: Is there truely no justice?

Dinosaur is using again.

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Animal House

So… I had an interesting weekend. My life is gradually turning toward the cliché movie version of college that we as Americans have been drip-fed our entire lives. Friday night I went to a party at Kappa (Eckerd’s most notorious party dorm). It was alright. Maggie and I pregamed a beer in my dorm and then went to Kappa. There we met up with this guy Davis (mmmm…. Davis) and we smoked hookah in his room. He has a couch in there! What the fuck? I want a couch!! It was the first time I smoked hookah and it was pretty fantastic. My friends here who I actually hang out with are way too straight edge to try it. I had a good time though.

Saturday night… was where the real fun started. Omega and Nu (the upperclassmen dorms) had this ridiculous cross-parking lot, cross-dorm water war called “Cowboys and Indians.” Basically, you pick a side (I was a cowgirl) and get the other side soaked by any means possible. This being college, the party wasn’t nearly as innocent as it sounds.

Omega was overrun with Indians, armed with Wal-Mart, suction cup bow and arrows, water balloons and smeared with war paint. Most of them were wearing next to nothing and barefoot. They howled and screamed and clapped their hands over their mouths like the natives in Peter Pan. Signs on the doors to the dorm rooms read “Cowboys will be scalped.”

Nu on the other hand was cowboy country, but I, being a freshman, showed up at Omega first. My friends didn’t want to be there sober because they found it childish but I love childish things and instead ran off with Zack and Eli who are two guys from my dorm complex. We didn’t have guns, so instead we took empty milk jugs from the recycling and filled them with water. I actually think they worked better than a squirt gun would have. Eventually Eli disappeared as well and Zack decided it would be a good idea to stash our phones in his room so they wouldn’t get too soaked. He had some Bud Lite Lime in his fridge and we each drank two before we went back.

We went to Nu instead because we hadn’t gone there yet. It wasn’t nearly as hostile as Omega had been but I kind of liked the hostility. We stashed our milk jugs behind a folding chair and went into someone’s dorm who had a strobe light and heavy dance music. We danced for a while and sort of made out on the dance floor. I still have a tiny hickey. Then some douche bag decided it would be a good idea to spray a fire extinguisher into the room. Gotta love drunk guys.

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a fire extinguisher, but it hurts. A lot. You breathe it in and your nose instantly burns. Another breath and your lungs are on fire with coughing. The guy whose dorm it was yelled for everyone to “Get the fuck out!” and we did. We ran out just as the Indians were coming for an attack but we felt too sick to fight them off. We went back to Zack’s room and drank another beer each. He let me change into some of his pajamas and we talked on his bed for a long time. He’s a jock, but he’s a smart jock so it’s okay. He was telling me his scar stories and how he broke his elbow falling out of a shopping cart.

This is where it gets weird, because no, we didn’t fuck. And we hardly kissed again that night. He offered to let me spend the night and I was way too tired to say no to that. So we snuggled all night. His room-mate came in, saw us there, and left again, assuming he was sexiled. We both kind of snickered at that and went back to sleep. For some reason, I’m really comfortable around Zack. I still have his pajamas.

The next morning I noticed at Gamma that there was a couch in a tree. I fucking love college.

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