FRESH HERBS

Pity filled the air as you announced to all of us that you were leaving that night.Your mother cried on the couch as your father slammed three doors. Your best friend from seventh grade asked me what I thought it might be like to hate myself so much.

I said I didn’t know.

You thought you needed to find yourself but I thought I’d already found you. I am looking after your herb garden like you asked. I’ll have you know it’s flourishing. I’ve never seen basil so plentiful. You also appointed me to hold onto your record collection and urged me to play my favorites as I pleased. I do. I get up to turn them over when the music stops. I dance in my black satin underwear in front of a space heater on the colder nights. I know that you aren’t coming back.

But every so often – when my bones begin to ache and I have far too much parsley for one person, right about the time that song you think you know all the words to comes on –

it’s fun to pretend that you are.

EMERGENCY CONTACT

I was a grown woman once you found me but I acted like a child. You kissed me on that cracked and oiled concrete staircase when I led you to believe that you were the first and that was only half a lie. The upstairs neighbors heard us fight more than they heard us fuck. My dog growled at you the day you moved in. I should have listened to him then but you rubbed my shoulders when they were tight and you said you were sorry when you weren’t. I was terrible at math but worse at loving you. The walls were stark white and there were too many candles lit. Condoms were disguised as party favors in bright blue bowls. I was surrounded by fire hazards and loyal wives. I rid my body of your child before you knew it existed. It seems silly to me now that I still put you down as my emergency contact. Even the greatest sex will not cure 

loneliness

and anybody who tells you it will has never really been 

alone. 

MEET DEPRESSION

Depression does not discriminate. Depression doesn’t care who you are or what you look like. It doesn’t care where you grew up, or where you live now.  It would like to live there too. Depression will find you, and it will cling to you. It doesn’t care how much sleep you’re missing out on. It’d rather you stay awake with it. It doesn’t care if everyone who knows you thinks you ‘should’ be happy. It laughs in their faces when they tell you to ‘choose’ happiness. But they can’t hear it laugh, only you can. 

Depression doesn’t give a shit when good things happen to you. Depression steals the smile right off your face and threatens never to return it to you. Depression does not care how much money you have or what you choose to do with it. Depression doesn’t see how well or how poorly you fit into your societies beauty standards and it could care less how many people fantasize about having sex with you. Depression doesn’t care how many followers you have on Instagram or how many people genuinely love you and wouldn’t know what to do without you in their lives. Depression doesn’t give a damn how clean your bill of health is or how sunny it is outside your window. Most of the time, depression won’t even allow you to look out that window. 

Depression takes hostages. It transforms your very own mind into a prison and it will not let you leave, even for a second.  It makes you feel lonely, yet keeps you company. It follows you everywhere you go, even when you ask it kindly to leave you alone. Depression wakes up right next to you every morning and begs you to stay in bed with it all day. It tries to convince you to forget about your other friends, that it’s the only one you’ll ever need. But depression is not a very good friend to you. 

Depression gets to know you. It reminds you of all of your bad memories and points your flaws out to you every chance it gets. It makes you cry for no reason and then refuses to help you dry your tears. 

Depression doesn’t care how famous you are or how good you are at making people laugh. Or cry. It is an equal opportunity illness. It doesn’t care what kind of car you drive. Sometimes it will go out of its way to make sure you are unable to drive at all. 

Depression moves into your home with you, but it will prove to be the worst roommate you’ve ever had. Worse than the ones who never did the dishes, and even worse than the ones who had loud parties on weeknights and sketchy drug-addicts coming over all the time. And on top of that, it doesn’t even offer to help pay your rent. Depression isolates you. It won’t let you have anyone over but it won’t let you leave to go someplace else. Depression goes to work with you as well, but it doesn’t help you with your job. 

Depression makes you sick to your stomach and it causes your bones to ache. It forces you to take sick days, but doesn’t help to take care of you when you’re laid out flat on your back, unable to move. Depression closes doors, locks them, then hides the keys from you. It makes you want to sleep and then it jumps up and down on your body when you try. It causes you to forget the lyrics to all of your favorite songs and yells at you to shut up when you begin to hum their melodies. Depression tells you lies and then asks you to lie, too. 

Depression does not try and explain itself. It doesn’t want you to ask for help when help is the only thing you need. It convinces you that no one else has gone through it the way you are right now, and it convinces the others who are of the exact same thing. Depression is not your fault, but it will always try its hardest to make you believe that it is. Depression might scare your loved ones away. It might make you a little bit scared of yourself. Depression will make you feel alone when you are far from it. Depression will affect seven percent of American adults this year. Depression wants you to think it cannot be treated, but it can. It wants you to think that there are no options, but there are. It wants you to think it will never end, but with help, it will.

Depression is a dirty, selfish little liar. Rotten to the core. Insane even. The most important thing to remember though, is that there is one big thing that depression is not, and will never be no matter how hard it tries. 

Depression is not you. 

THINGS THAT AREN’T ALLOWED ON AIRPLANES

Sharp objects. Shoe bombs. Other types of bombs. 

Quiet children. Unidentified liquids. 

An overwhelming sense that something 

is about to go horribly 

wrong. 

Paranoia. Drugs, 

the kind that would calm you down right about 

now.

Self doubt. 

Books too thick to fit in your carry-on. 

Insomnia. Anxiety. 

Pepper spray.

Stainless steel flasks filled with red wine. 

Belt buckles with the word ‘cunt’ on them. 

Women acting like cunts. Big dogs, 

even those wearing vests 

proclaiming their coveted  ’emotional support animal’ status. 

Me, 

if they knew what I’m capable of. 

Honey from Portugal in handmade ceramic pots. 

You can bring the pots, I think. 

 

Just not the honey.  

HE NEVER TOLD HER HE LOVED HER, NOT EVEN WHEN HE FELT IT IN HIS BONES.

IMG_3820

It was sunny for most of September, but when the rain finally came he felt much better. Grey skies better suited his regret. His apartment was darker than it was outside, day or night. Too much sunlight gave him a tension headache and the steady, artificial glow of the lamps in his apartment was too unfaltering for him to trust it. Nothing in his life had been constant or reliable since She had gone away, not even the weather in Los Angeles. Candle light was acceptable. It helped him to trick himself into thinking he was almost still good-looking when he passed the only mirror in his home. He liked the way it flickered, too. With all of his candles lit, the small and airy apartment was bright enough for him to get around and accomplish things, but dark enough to keep him from having a full on panic attack. In week four of therapy, Dr. Gardener told him to get rid of the Virgin of Guadalupe candle She had left behind, but he still kept it at his bedside. He told him he needed it for the light it provided. It was the brightest of them all. Its reds and greens reminded him that he hadn’t always been alone. The well-meaning therapist hoped the wax would run out soon and he would throw out the colorful glass which housed it, though deep down he knew he wouldn’t. He might keep it forever. It was one of his last remaining pieces of Her, long after the boxes on the sidewalk had been picked up and the cards and letters had been burned over his Weber Grill. The other piece of Her he still had left was the Polaroid photo of him, placed carefully on his windowsill, which She had taken exactly three months before their demise. In it, he was smoking a cigarette in the parking lot outside of the second best Philly cheesesteak place in LA. The first best had been too far. He wished now that he’d just driven the extra fifteen minutes in traffic to get them there. He also sometimes found himself wishing he hadn’t referred to Her as the most beautiful woman in the world so often. Even if She really was. When he stared at that photo, he could hear Her sharp little giggle as she snapped it, the cheesesteak in Her other hand dripping onions and Cheez Whiz. How could it not have been true love? 

ROCK BOTTOM

sheetbutt

Rock bottom is not always a messy divorce or a half-empty bottle of Jack. It is not always a custody battle or blacking out with your arms wrapped tightly around a toilet in the beginning stages of overflow. It’s not always your first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in a less-than-trendy coffee shop or abandoned church basement where you can’t help but feel like the walls are closing in on you. It might not be the first time you stick a needle into your vein or the incredible calm you feel immediately afterwards. Hitting rock bottom does not always mean losing friends. Or jobs. It is not always burning bridges. It doesn’t always happen when your bank account is severely overdrawn or when your body is shaking from withdrawals before you even recognize them as such. Rock bottom is not always obvious to those around you. An intervention is not always being planned. It is not always a definitive moment or a specific day. Sometimes, rock bottom sneaks up on you. It can come quietly and without warning. It can creep up on you for a long time before you even realize what it is. Suddenly, you just know. You may not quite remember getting there, but you know you’re at the bottom now. Rock bottom might be a text you know you shouldn’t be sending, or a call to someone you know you have no business calling. It might be hitting a curb, driving home from the bar, even if there is no one else around to see it. Rock bottom could be a conversation with your mother or your lover or your boss. It could be a conversation with a homeless person on the sidewalk or a man in line next to you at the post office. It might come in the form of booze, and it might come in the form of illegal drugs. But remember, it might not. It could very well be cough syrup, porn, or video games. It might be your ex-lover – or, and pay close attention: it might be your current one. It might be hamburgers and pizza and nachos. But it is important to remember that it also could be kale salad and quinoa. It could be the internet trolls or the real life bullies. It could be the politicians or the celebrities, but it’s just as likely that it is the average Joes. You can blame whomever or whatever you want. But here’s the kicker: you don’t need to. Your rock bottom is different than mine. Or his. Or hers. You might never hit it, you may never find out what it is. But I hope that you do. Your rock bottom could be yourself at three in the morning with makeup streaming down your face in a grimy bathtub or at three in the afternoon looking your absolute best into the bathroom mirror in a Banana Republic or into a Macbook screen. The decision is the same. The decision is that this ends here. ‘This’ can mean many different things, and there’s no use for a metaphor now. Rock bottom is when you are done. You are done pretending, or trying, or using, or crying. You’re done staring or looking away, talking or being silent. You are finished with the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning or the last thought in your mind before you fall asleep. You are finished with the life that you have lived so unhappily – or perhaps happily – up until this point. Rock bottom is the moment when you die, or when you start over new. Rock bottom is that moment, sometimes quite brief, that sets us apart from them. Maybe they hit theirs years ago. Maybe they haven’t yet. Maybe they never will. Good for them. It doesn’t matter. Rock bottom has a different affect on everyone. Yours might make you change. It might not. Use your rock bottom. Use it however you want. However you choose. Tell everyone you know about it or don’t tell anyone at all. Scream it or whisper it. Thank it or curse it. Sing about it, write it down, or paint a picture of it. But fall, fall, and touch the bottom when you reach it. Touch it, feel it – really feel it. Decide whole-heartedly and without doubt that it isn’t what you want. Now or ever. Then, and only then, begin to climb back up again.

DAVID IS DRUNK AGAIN

DAVID IS DRUNK AGAIN.

I know it because of the way his eyes have already turned into shards of glass and are looking straight through me to the wall on the other side or at whoever is standing behind me, as if I’m invisible. Maybe I am. He is looking at me but can’t see me. It wasn’t even midnight yet when he started rambling about how nothing really matters and I caught him looking at crystal clear photos of his hottest ex on Facebook shortly thereafter. He claimed they were blurry. He isn’t an angry drunk. He is madly in love with me when he’s hammered. He tells me he thinks I’m pretty and sometimes puts his arm around me in public. That’s another tell-tale sign. He graciously thanked me for cooking him dinner this evening. I made lasagna. It really didn’t turn out well, but he liked it. Good thing he ate something or else he’d be yakking in the sink by now, I thought. “You’re drunk.” I said. “I’ll show you drunk”, he threatened. But I wasn’t scared. That’s the problem. I was bored. Ah, here we go. His speech is beginning to slur now, but not in the the cute-blonde-twenty-two-year-old-affluent-white-girl-with-doey-eyes way. More in the depressing-forty-five-year-old-man-who-still-has-roommates-and-loathes-himself way. If his license weren’t already suspended from his two previous DUIs, he might try to drive tonight. At least I don’t have to worry about that. Back at his place, the fridge is stocked with IPAs and there are at least two not-so-empty bottles of Johnnie Walker Black under the bed. But he doesn’t know I know about those. Mostly, I can tell he’s drunk again because he forgot why he was so mad at me. I’ll still stay the night with him though. He’ll remember in the morning.

THE COYOTE OF ECHO PARK

coyote

 

 

          The first time he found me walking quickly up a driveway to a swanky condo I simply had no business entering. He was a scrawny little fucker with oversized ears pointed straight up to the smoggy sky, on constant alert. His fur was wiry and coarse, the same color the water in the sink is when I wash my hands after a late night oil painting session. It was 2:00 AM. Maybe even later. My phone had died on the way over so I wasn’t quite sure. I had a habit then of not keeping my phone charged. I’ve gotten better about it since, if only because I like to know what time it is.

          That coyote was smaller than my dog, but I have no doubt that he would win if a fight between the two of them were ever to ensue. He had seen some shit. I could just tell. I guess it could have been a female – I didn’t ask – but I’m going to call him a ‘he’ for the purpose of this story. I’ve always had an affinity for male creatures anyway.

          So, there I was, walking up that earthquake-cracked and oil-stained driveway sometime around 2:00 AM on a Wednesday to have sex with a complete stranger, and for some reason this little coyote decided to follow me. He was walking beside me for awhile, brushing up against my leg. For the first ten minutes of our relationship I thought he was a stray dog.

           “Hey buddy”, I kept saying. “Go home buddy. Where do you live?”

          Only once I got into the dim yellow light of the driveway, I realized my new friend was certainly no stray dog. The tall and sandy-haired stranger was standing in his foyer as I walked up his steep drive. He must been doing quite well for himself. In my experience, only rich people had driveways that steep. Mine was perfectly level. The moment the motion-sensored light came on, the stranger shouted down to me. It was as if I were his minion, or a mere one time visitor to his castle. I had come from a far away land. Perhaps he would advise me how best to cross the moat.

          “There’s a coyote next to you!”

          He pronounced coyote the obnoxious way, with ‘oat’ as the second syllable. The way I would expect someone from Texas or Missouri to say it. He wasn’t from either of those places. He was from New Jersey just like all of the worst things are. Every man I’d ever slept with from New Jersey had fucked me. No pun intended.

           I should have stayed with that scrawny coyote even at the risk of rabies. Rabies might’ve killed me quicker and more painlessly than that handsome stranger and those of his kind eventually would.

           Once inside, my suspicions were confirmed. There was a god damned chandelier. A garganchuan, crystal-encrusted chandelier hanging in a presumably single man’s entry way. Ladies, if you walk into a bachelor pad and the first thing you see is a chandelier worth more than your car, run in the other direction even if there are coyotes. This chandelier was the type which serves no purpose at all other than to notify visitors of one’s wealth. I had seen a lot of chandeliers of that sort since moving to Los Angeles, but none quite as extravagant and sparkly as his. Big chandeliers like that are never indicators of the beautiful love story or even the great sex to follow. And yes, of course, the sex was great.

           For the record, I was not always this way. I was not always willing to drive all the way from West Hollywood to Echo Park after a few too many Coors Lights to have unprotected sex with someone who flattered me juuuust enough in a twelve minute conversation on Tinder. I was in love once. From the outside looking in it was probably disgusting. Sure, it may be hard to picture now. But it’s true. I slept with the same man every single night. I let him see me without makeup. We laughed and we played. I called him ‘honey bear’ and he called me ‘cookie’, never once with a trace of shame on my part or his. We wrestled and had pillow fights and gave each other deep tissue massages for fuck’s sake. I used his toothbrush once when I forgot mine at home (sorry, Jerry Seinfeld). I thoroughly enjoyed waking up quietly and cooking him breakfast so that the smell of extra crispy bacon would slowly stir him awake. We took long showers together in which we would always argue about the water temperature and we scrubbed each others backs on a nightly basis. He popped my zits. I ironed his shirts. I was one hundred percent myself around him and that notion both completely terrified and absolutely delighted me all at once. I was done. I never saw another man when I was with him. They did not exist. There was a time not long ago when I could not imagine what being attracted to another might even feel like, let alone having multiple orgasms from one.

          So before you are so quick to judge, this lifestyle was not my first choice. I would genuinlely always choose the back scrubs and pillow fights, the lack of makeup and the overwhelming scent of practically-burnt bacon, the visits at work, the wilted flowers and cards with misspelled sentiments, the stupid emojis in text messages laden with grammatical errors, the missing out on my precious time alone, the sharing the last bite of cheesecake, the instant photos with filters to make us look like something we most certainly were not, the tags in the admittedly ridiculous “woman-crush-Wednesday” and “man-crush-Monday” posts, the cliché trips to local museums, and the naked crying in the bathtub, smudged black makeup running down my face with him by my side comforting me – over feeling so cheap, sad, and dirty. Even still, I will forever choose cheap, sad, and dirty over feeling nothing at all.

          I escaped the coyote, and together the stranger and I watched him skitter away. He stopped once in the middle of the driveway to look back at us. I could swear I felt him lock his refletant yellow eyes with my boring human ones.

          The stranger wasted no time in “getting to know me”. His calloused hands were promptly on my Taco-Bell-sponsored waist before he even asked me how I was. It dawned on me then how silly we are for constantly asking that dreaded question: “How are you?” to fuck buddies, acquaintances, and complete strangers when we don’t actually care how they’re doing at all. I realized then that I didn’t care that he didn’t care because neither did I. I allowed him to continue to touch me in whichever ways he wanted for a little bit before asking him the question I really wanted an honest answer to: where the whiskey was.

           The strange man’s kitchen was impressive. Uncharacteristically clean for a bachelor pad, with updated appliances and a motherfucking herb garden on the counter. I wondered how he’d gotten so wealthy. I didn’t know what he did for a living, which was odd for L.A. It is typically the first question people ask one another here. This one didn’t strike me as a trust fund baby but he didn’t seem much like a film industry type either. Handsome but stupid. Surely too stupid to have earned that much money on his own. In the end, it didn’t really matter. Financial stability is not sexually transferable after all.

          Three glasses of Irish whiskey on the rocks and I would have stopped him and made him use a condom, but pouring that damned fourth and touching it to my lips might as well have been the same as me consciously consenting to him fucking me unprotected. There was no foreplay. There was no kissing. There never was. I had fucked several men since the break up but had not mouth-kissed a single one of them. I’m not sure if that was my issue or the men I was so carefully choosing, but either way I found it increasingly difficult to recall what the sensation of touching someones teeth with my tongue might feel like.

         The journey to the stranger’s bedroom was a whirlwind. His place was large with several unnecessary rooms and the bedroom in which we ended up was far, far away from the kitchen where our rendezvous had begun, but I can’t remember a thing about what the halls looked like or even if there were stairs.

         His bed was large, soft and white with the type of thick and heavy comforters you could lose your iPhone in. There was nothing taped or nailed to the ivory walls. There were no books, no dresser. No lamp, no nightstand. No clock, no decorations, no clothes piled on the ground or in a laundry bin. No windows. There wasn’t even a scent. Come on, everyone’s room has a scent. Did anyone live here? Maybe one of the other bedrooms was where he slept and this was just the room he brought random women in to fuck them. This was not the first time that night that everything inside of me told me to stand up and just leave right then. But shit, I didn’t even know if I’d be able to find my way back to the front door.

         He was courteous enough to help undress me at least. Some weren’t. My boots and bra had been carelessly abandoned in the kitchen. That particular bra was expensive and cute. I hoped I’d be able to recover it upon my departure so that some other stranger might have the prividlege of slipping it off of me one day, perhaps more gently than this one had. His lips met my collar bone immediately upon our arrival in the stark room and continued moving lower, but never became aquainted with any part of my face. My hips writhed, not from passion or anticipation but from nervousness. I had no idea what I was nervous about. It wouldn’t be my first one night stand. But that’s just it – that was exactly what felt different. I knew before it even began that it was a one night stand. This fuckstick had no intentions of ever speaking to me again after that night. I was more likely to see the coyote again. That’s why we’re here now I suppose. Most everyone fucks a total stranger at least once in their life. But not everybody gets to meet the same coyote twice.

          It must have been five in the morning by the time I left his place. My small one-hundred-and-two-pound frame had consumed twice the amount of whiskey he had, yet the stranger seemed much more drunk and disoriented than I was. He was beginning to drift off to sleep after cumming inside of me three glorious times when I finally snuck out, not before rescuing every article of clothing and accessory belonging to me.

         For first time sex, it was great. Almost as if he’d done it before. He knew just the right ways to touch me, cared that I got off too, and had a Pringles-can-sized dick. He had no trouble keeping it up either, even after drinking. He lasted as long as I wanted him to, and was able to get hard again not long after cumming. Sex is important to me. A man is only as great as he is in bed. My ex and I had an incredible sex life. It only got better and better as our fights got worse and worse. Unfortunately I don’t get to have that anymore. So now, I get sex where and when I can. That drowsy Wednesday I happened to get it from a stranger with too much money and not enough whiskey in a pretentious condo in Echo Park with a big ass chandeleir inside. I did not feel shame for what I had done, but walking back down the same steep drive I had walked up a few hours earlier, I’d already forgotten how good the sex had been. I wondered where my little coyote was and what he was up to.

          The second and last time I encountered the coyote in Echo Park, I was inebriated and crossing a busy street without looking both ways. If I wasn’t going to bother using condoms with perfect strangers, why should I? A man I had slept with several times but whose last name I couldn’t recall and I were walking to the third or fourth bar of the evening, some spot I had never been to before. Apparently it was an old cop bar and there was a documentary on Netflix about it. I made it a note to check that out later. I can’t remember what the name of that documentary is. A lot has happened between then and now. The coyote once again seemed like a stray at first. The two of us realized at the exact same time that it wasn’t. I silently wondered to myself if it was the same coyote I had seen weeks earlier, just blocks away in the handsome strangers driveway. My gut told me it was but I was skeptical then. I know better now.

          The small, scrappy, taupe creature seemed much more interested in me than in my tall, handsome partner. He told me not to get too close. “Those things are vicious!” warned my ‘friend’. But this time, I wasn’t going to let the little fella get away without delivering his undoubtedly important message to me. After my sexual encounter in the same neighborhood a couple of weeks prior had left me feeling gross, I had forced most of the details of that night (aside from the extravagent chandelier, of course. I can still remember now exactly how many crystals it was encrusted with, if you care to know) out of my mind, but the memory of the ki-oh-tee had remained vivid.

           The critter came up to me and brushed up against my leg, just as his brethren had, while my frightened fuck buddy groaned and backed away. He threatened to go on to the bar without me. It was nearly last call.

          “Go ahead” I spoke softly, so as not to startle my four-legged buddy.

           I wasn’t scared of him even if I should have been. I have an affinity for not being afraid of things that can easily hurt me. It is a curse more than a gift most of the time.

           I was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming urge to pet the meek animal. I knew how wrong it was. I had learned from a young age how to treat wildlife. You are definitely not supposed to pet them even if they come up to you, no matter how frickin’ adorable they are. But with my friends gone and no one else to see or judge, with the moon as our only lightsource and those damned yellow eyes which positively refused to look away from me, I had to reach down and feel him. It was no longer a choice. There’s no other way to explain it. When I did so, he did not move an inch. I thought this is it. I knew I might get snapped at. I was fully aware that other coyotes might be in the bushes and would jump out, ready to attack at my slightest touch of their comrad. I took a deep breath and lightly, slowly brushed my hand over his coarse head. His eyes immediately began to shut. They were usually open so wide that he looked eerily different with them closed. He scooted closer, his entire thin, stiff body now nestled between my calves. He trusted me and he wanted me to know it. But why? I hardly trusted myself.

           Next, something remarkable – which I still do not understand and do not expect you to either – happened to me. Touching the coyote like that had somehow caused me to experience a phenomenon I didn’t even believe in: an out of body experience. Suddenly, my body no longer existed to me but only my mind, watching my every move from afar. Almost as if I were watching a film, I watched intently as I consentually fucked stranger after stranger, voluntarily deep throated dick after dick, each time going home feeling blank and dissatisfied. These scenes were playing on a screen behind my eyes and I had no control over the remote. The volume was turned up all the way. There was no mute button. I heard myself quietly crying myself to sleep after a particularly damaging encounter with a stranger. The strangers in these scenes were not strangers I had slept with in real life, but they may as well have been the sandy haired stranger with the big chandelier or any that had come (inside of me) before him. That was the first time I had ever even considered that I felt used after having empty sex. All that time, I’d thought I was the one using men for sex because I wouldn’t give them any type of commitment. I wouldn’t go on dates with them even if they asked. I had deemed myself emotionally unavailable.

           It was hard to watch myself like that. If a friend of mine lacked respect for herself the way I clearly seemed to in those scenes, it would make me very sad indeed. I would surely talk to her about it. I would notify her of her grandoise beauty and enormous value to this world. I would urge her to perhaps masturbate more and learn to only sleep with men who treated her like a human being and not a plaything. If she had to sleep with strangers once in awhile, I would force her to always use protection. I would make that bitch get a birth control perscription and then, and only then, I would hug her and hold her and force her to talk to me about whatever it was that was hurting her inside so badly that she was trying to cure by having lots of sex with lots of different partners. That was when I realized that I did have a friend like that who needed me to do just those things. Her name was Myself.

           I can’t say if I was dreaming, drunk, dehydrated, or what, but I was certainly dizzy. I watched these scenes of this person I had gradually become but barely recognized making bad decisions for what seemed like hours. There was no end to the foreign film I had been forced to watch. No closure. The last thing I remember watching was a bigger-boobed version of myself showering off after yet another promiscuity-filled night. Then everything went black.

           I don’t remember falling down or sitting on the ground intentionally, but once it was all over, I was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the street with a dead coyote curled up in my lap.

          I think it is of importance to mention that I do not believe in fate. I don’t believe in a higher power. I do not know what happened to me that night. There is probably a reasonable explanation, I just haven’t come up with one yet. But then again, I don’t think I need to. Although it is a nice thought that the coyote was sent to deliver a message to me, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t believe it possible that he was put on this earth by some creator to open my eyes and teach me to love myself again. But I will tell you one thing: I have not had empty sex since. And now, when I find myself with an attractive man in Echo Park, I always demand to be kissed.

CHAPTER SEVEN

You loved me

the way you loved your favorite book

you read other books, of course

caressed their pages in your hands

carried them with you

discussed them with pretentious people in coffee shops

but still you remembered the sentences filling up my pages

the ones which made the blood

flood straight to your heart

you often thought of chapter seven

even months after putting me down

my cover art was pretty

I looked good on your nightstand

where I slept each night

the other books

which you stayed up late reading

could never quite understand why

you would not return me to the shelf

where I belonged

But

I loved you

more like I loved my favorite song

always stuck in my head

often hummed under my breath

while in line at the bank

or belted proudly, naked in the shower

rinsing the shame off of

my body once again

one time I got so into you I almost slipped on a bar of soap

if I really liked someone

I would show you to them

but mostly I didn’t want to share you

at all

you were not a physical object like I was to you

I could never hold you in my hands the way you could hold me

but there you were in my music collection

alphabetical order

next to all of my other favorite songs

isn’t it time you put me next to your other books?

I promise you won’t forget me

even if I burn

you’ll still see my words in your mind

the way I hear your beat

BLANKETS

Your fallacies are my fortress

I hide within your lies

disassembled 

from the ass up

I feel alone on top of you

 

the mask you wear doesn’t fit you 

it slides off 

as you slide in

distracted 

by the warnings tacked 

to the walls of my skull 

empty with you inside of me

 

if I am my ugliest 

as you whisper that I am beautiful

what would happen if you shouted it?  

 

wrapped up in your favorite blankets

my bones are freezing cold