I don’t know where this relationship is heading but you’re always there when I need you and that’s the most important thing. I like to think we’ll always be special to each other even if I don’t need you to keep weird Dylan away from me in the lunch line anymore. Of course, now he constantly asks about you so if you run into him bring up how much fun you had when we went to the park and you pushed me on the swings.
Dear Taylor Hanson,
Good morning, sweetie! Don’t forget to pick up your brothers for band practice. I’ll be home later after I get out of 8th period. How about we go roller skating later and then map out my complex feelings about my desire to have sex but need the construct of marriage to feel more comfortable about it?Maybe we could just lie around and talk about that for a bit? I showed your picture to the guys who block me when I try to get to my bus. They had no idea you were a famous boy band guy and a couple think they know you from Stowe High School.One of them mentioned there was no way you would be interested in me but he still fucked off so I think he got that I would rather have a made up boyfriend than have to navigate him yelling at me to show him my boobs.
I know we’re going through a rough patch right now with this being long distance but I just want you to know I’m committed to you and I’m all in with this relationship. I know I got really teary on that phone call outside that bar and you couldn’t hear me very well which is why I repeated over and over, “I love you and I don’t care that you’re incredibly JEALOUS and also are an MMA FIGHTER, we can work this out.”Thank you for staying on the phone with me while I loudly talked to you as I walked down that dark streetuntil those guys finally stopped following me. You’re my prince charming.
Dear Picture of My Cousin I Used One Time,
Sorry, Jeff. It worked though! Say hi to your fiance for me.
I still cannot believe this worked but that guy was super drunk and when I showed him that painting of you he scoffed and declared he couldn’t be intowomen who were into Burners.I put a $20 in the local collection plate so I like to think we’re even.
Hi! If you like my work please support my Patreon. You can also hop over to my website if you want to read more of my stuff.
Pledge to my Patreon and read my new weekly Flash Fiction Friday pieces! I’m trying to write more fiction (and also chip away at this stupid novel) and patrons get to experience my raw and uncut creative mind and general imposter syndrome.
This Friday’s story is called Peel.
“It started with a hangnail on my right thumb.
I noticed it one day as I walked back to my dorm room from the library; a little tab of skin that was stiff and spiky. I pulled it off and it bled a little. The skin was raw and pink.
The next time I noticed it I was in a sociology lecture. I had been told to stop tapping my pencil by a girl in neon green sweatpants and the guy sitting to my right had begun to spit chewing tobacco into his Gatorade bottle. There were no windows, just seven hundred other barely awake bodies and a History adjunct with his khakis tucked into his loafers.
The hangnail was still there.
It had formed a few more starter tabs. I began to bite at the little bits of dry skin and more red, angry skin showed. It was the color of the tights I used to wear as a little kid, the ones that always had runs in the knees from falling off my bike. I chewed a crimson crescent moon from the base of my nail bed down to the first crease of my knuckle.”
I’m starting to become alarmed at the amount of misandry I see present in the men of today. That’s all that I can diagnose the current state of affairs in regards to the defense of Pissbaby’s recorded comments boasting about sexual assault. Billy Bush has come out to assure us that as a 33 year old man he was unaware that rape was wrong because he was just a “boy.”From the sea of support and assurance that “locker room talk” is something that 1) happens in locker rooms and 2) is excusable because it’s just how men are,I can only assume that “boys” are asking to be destroyed.You clearly are engaging in some sort of cry for help.
This poses an important question: if “boys will be boys” and “boys” think it’s acceptable to rape people or to try to impress people by making them think they rape people, why wouldn’t we just kill boys?
Go with me here, women have to live defensively. Even more so if you’re not a White Woman.And a lot of men assure me that the reason anything bad ever happens to women is their fault for attire/presence/state of sobriety/not leaving/not leaving fast enough/not getting help/expecting people to help/not fighting back/not taking elaborate martial arts classes/assorted other reasons that involve backbreaking, acrobatic logic. So if it’s the fault of women that Pissbaby and assorted other “boys” feel entitled to harass us, shouldn’t we just do a control kill? If you want women to take responsibility of the situation, isn’t this the most effective way to do so?
We do it with deer, raccoon, rats and other vermin.And the phrasing “boys will be boys” is clearly some sort of internalized self hatred where you have reduced yourselves to bestial, criminal impulse, why wouldn’t we profile you and exterminate those of you that are a harm to yourself and others?
I can actually answer this question: because as much as you all complain about how you have it so tough, the humanity of White Men is never questioned or challenged.People are mean to you, sure, but you’re still people. That’s why we haven’t organized a massive uprising against you involving drinking your blood and casting every John Updike novel into the sea.Even in cases of class, the humanity of poor White Men remains intact in a way that isn’t present in other marginalized groups.
So “boys,” here’s the real talk, it’s not acceptable to rape women.It’s not acceptable to grab them by their pussy.It’s not acceptable to talk about grabbing them by their pussies.It’s okay for you to lose your job if you do these things.
If you cannot meet this incredibly low standard of human decency, you might consider what happens to other types of overwhelming and toxic infestations.
For all you writers out there who are trying to find your path to publication I would like to assure you it’s a whole lot weirder than you realize. My first book credit is in the erotic humor book Loose Lips! If you are looking for a birthday or holiday gift that either brings your family together or gets you cut out of the will, this will do the trick.
I’m on page 75 and if you are interested in my signing it (this is apparently a thing?) pledge my patreon and send me your address and I’ll mail you a signed book plate with a funny inscription and a kiss print in fun lipstick colors.
I am an angry feminist. I know. Shocker. I’m sure you all dropped whatever you were holding and it was probably heavy and it landed on your foot and then broke so now you have a broken foot and a broken whatever-you-were-holding and it’s sad all the way around. But at any rate I’m glad you heard it from me and not some other source.
So a couple of months ago I started selling emotional labor? Why? Well as a feminist and a woman who has met…men, it’s been my job for a while. Since my days of yore including with my emotionally unwell father on up, I’ve been holding the hands of strangers, church members, and drunk men at parties for a long time. I have a PhD in cleaning emotional sputum off of whatever outfit I have on. Emotional labor has been a bit of a hot button topic in the news lately because women are invoicing it as labor. We’re defining it as the work that it is. In the dismantling of traditional gender roles, men are now being held accountable for all the invisible hours women work to sustain the people in their lives. In the spirit of that notion, I started advertising on craigslist, and on fiverr, and in a couple facebook groups.”
So I’m sure many of you have seen the gorgeous and lovely feline I get to call my soulmate. For those who haven’t somehow seen her (which is amazing because I have been waaaaay less than subtle about our relationship) this is my amazing cat, Zelda.
This is going to get more personal than I generally get because I feel incredibly guilty about this request and so I want to provide context. A year and a half ago my beloved cat, Fred Astaire, had to be put down. He was a tuxedo cat (see? the name is adorable right?) and he was a cantankerous old man who I was madly in love with. Now I am an adult lady who gets how pets work. There is no farm where dogs and grandpa’s go. I get it. And Fred was 15 and I got to spend 5 amazing years with him as my partner in crime. He moved to New Hampshire with me and got me through a really important break up (granted he mostly extorted pets out the situation but ya know, cats right?) and then spent 5 days in a car with me in January as I blazed my trail to the Bay Area and got to discover myself in a whole new way. He spent 15 hours a day in that cat carrier. I will say that on day three he was about ready to start shopping for new families but he forgave me once we came to Oakland. He helped me through my first year here and he was just an amazing cat.
I started my writing career in a really palpable way here, making amazing friends, working a day job I liked and provided health insurance, and putting myself and my writing out into the world with new perspectives and exposure.
In January of 2015 he got sick. Not running nose sick. But the sort of sick where you know the end is nigh but because I was just a person, and just a 24 year old madly in love, this was brutal for me. I took him to the vet where she basically yelled at me to put him down (shout out to the vet tech for being extra nice to me). I had 5% battery on my cell phone and I called my mother, and then my sister, and then my best friend Nathan, open mouth crying. It’s not that I wanted him to keep living, but I felt like such a failure that he was dying. In the end, my mother was generous enough to give me the money to put Fred down. I had to ask my mother for money to kill my cat.
I held him as he went and then I walked back to my car, sobbing, holding an empty cat carrier.
I planned on waiting 6 months before getting a cat and it worked out like that. I put out into the ether (facebook) that my womb ached for a feline.
Or Zaza as she was known then. A friend of a friend had a cat she was trying to rehome. I was sent two pictures of the most beautiful cat I had ever seen (sorry Fred) and told that she was friendly and sweet. Sight unseen I said I wanted her.
Zelda came into my life in August the Monday before I was laid off from my non-profit job. Depending on your appraisal of the glass she either came just when I needed her or brought upon me a plague of terror. But when I was hunched over my computer spamming my friends and network with my resume, she was there. When I worried my friends were avoiding me because of my stench of failure, she sniffed me anyway. Her paws on my left arm as I sent out cover letters, letting me know that I could do this…but I had to figure out how to do it with just the one arm. Cats, right? For reference she is currently tickling my nose with her tail.
I named her Zelda after Zelda Fitzgerald because I wanted Zelda Fitzgerald to finally have a home that loved her and where she would be cherished and not die in an asylum fire.
This is the part where I probably qualify for a public stoning and I’m sorry.
Zelda was there to snuggle me and require that I play with her and keep me relatively functional. I had to keep it together because my cat needed food and a place to live. I’m an adult woman with ADHD and before I was laid off my medicine stopped being covered by my insurance. Before I could switch my health insurance was cut off and I had to try to apply and interview without meds. Operating without medication meant that I was in a constant state of panic. Trying to keep track of everything and knowing there was probably something I was forgetting and worrying it would make or break my ability to be hired or pay bills. I felt, and in many ways still feel, that when my illness is untreated that I am not succeeding as an adult. That I don’t have the tools and abilities to function. Sure, you can hold my face in your hands and insist that disorders and disabilities shouldn’t chip away the meager identity that I have around being a successful adult but it’s not going to work. I fought too hard to get here and I worry every second of every day about blowing it. Living without medication just reinforces that. I realize that is, in many ways, privileged because I have been lucky enough to have a supportive family and grow up with insurance and regular treatment. I hadn’t been without drugs in years and I had forgotten how severe my disorder is. It’s pretty bad. And so I was constantly worried I would, through neglect or stress, completely forget something that would get me evicted, keep me unemployed, or not be able to provide for myself. Getting my dishes done was a victory most of the time. In anxious frenzies I would send out 10 resumes in a day. I would worry that I hadn’t done the math right about food or forgotten about a bill that would overdraw my finances.
In the middle of that my car needed new brakes and spark plugs.
It probably still needs more work but I’m doing that thing where I’m just pretending it’s fine and hoping that’s good enough.
Zelda, having had many owners, treats every person who enters this apartment like a job interview and so she’s super social. HELLOOOOOO WELCOME TO OUR HOME! She has been spoiled and loved by all of my friends who have also been having a shit 15 months. We all got drunk at my place and pet Zelda because she loved us despite all the ways in which we felt like we hadn’t succeeded. She was always there with a belly to rub. This cat sleeps with my every night and is always happy to see me and sometimes, when I don’t love myself, she’s there to say “in addition to feeling like a loser you are not doing a good job petting me so it’s time to get our act together.” Which I think we all need to hear sometimes.
In July, after a long time of unemployment, temping, freelancing, and trying to piecemeal a life without health insurance together, I got a day job again. It’s going really well, despite me worrying that every single meeting I get called into will result in me being fired. I have health insurance again. I got to buy meds again for the first time in months. In fact, I feel incredibly luxurious because I can now afford the copay so that I can take my medicine on the weekends. That, to me, is a lavish life. I make enough money to afford my rent, student loan payments, and gas bill while still saving roughly $50 dollars a month. It’s actually really amazing and I am so incredibly happy and grateful.
My darling Zelda, apple of my eye, warmer of my face while I sleep, distracter from constructive work needs dental work. My vet originally quoted me a baseline of 600 dollars but warned me it would be more because of course. For that she could probably get dentures. I went to the low cost tooth cleaning people and they informed me that her gum recession and inflammation needs veterinary care. That was not what I was hoping for.
Now comes the part where I plead. My vet doesn’t really have payment plans and I have asked around at vets farther away for better prices and it’s all about the same. Even vet colleges. I’ve been warned it’s only going to get worse and now is the time to deal with it. Since I’m in the middle of paying back debt that I had to accrue while I was unemployed and moving out here, I don’t really have much to throw towards Zelda’s mouth health and I’m having terrible dead cat flashbacks. Having a flashback of walking out of the vets office holding the cat carrier and sobbing is like having two Tom Waits songs play at the same time. This one and this one. That sound you are experiencing is my feelings. Dear God, turn it off.
So here’s what I’m asking you all, if you aren’t my regular patron where you help with my writing, that’s fine. But if you have been meaning to become a monthly member, now would be an amazing time to do it. Also if you don’t really have a bunch of money to toss around every month (I get that. Free content got me through almost a year of unemployment where I was constantly trying to find work and failing) but could make a one time donation, Zelda would really appreciate it. I didn’t want to have to knock her out (for a multitude of reasons) but she’s exhibiting symptoms of it impacting her and I want my cat to live 15 years at least before I become a grizzled, whiskey voiced piano player singing about her loss.
Anything would be really helpful and I honestly hate doing this. I do understand it’s a really ridiculous thing to ask for funds to help a cat’s teeth when we live in America which means just 2 months ago I could not afford Obamacare. Trust me. Guilt level unlocked and large house built there. But if you enjoy Zelda and if you had some cash to throw at her teeth, I would really appreciate it.
So anyway I wrote this piece for a Write Club bout in San Francisco in January. Basically I walked away patting myself on the back for making city people give a shit about country music but this piece has stayed with me. I’m currently reworking it so that it’s less of a performance piece and more of a memoir essay that I’ll be pitching to places but I thought you all might enjoy it, even if it is a little rough.