Therapists Office

The room is dusty and cramped. Therapists on a budget. They obviously start out at the place where the poor need help. They come here out of school and are handed some cheap pamphlet of guidelines and a $30,000 salary from money the government managed to take away from corn crops. People who wear cheap suits always puzzle me; why do they bother to dress up at all? Might as well wear something comfortable because that fabric is not doing them any favors.

I showed up. I know the drill by now. Sign in is over there. I, Zoey Paxton, am here, 4:30 on a Wednesday…

I no longer feel like I’m doing something special by coming here. I’m not unearthing a new hidden place or discovering a new way of interacting with somebody. I used to only want my therapists to be men. Perhaps I felt that kind of relationship would be a great gateway into a romantic involvement. I know, it sounds crazy, and it’s a catch-22 because for me to like the guy he’d have to find breaking the rules ethically loathsome, but want to do it anyway… I have this desire to be seen as an exception to rules a lot of times; to see the situation as extraordinary because I don’t want to miss a beat. That could be wrong.

I’ve been seeing Laura for a few months now.. She’s pretty cool, like somebody I could see being my friend, but I don’t know if I make progress.. A lot of the time I don’t believe therapy can really do anything, unless the therapist is one in a million, somebody with really rare abilities.. And if that were the case would they be in a government paid building with paint flaking off the exterior, pipes that are rusty, and air that always smells stale with a twinge of factory chemical solvent in the air?

As usual, her door is open. I plop onto the small sofa chair and start talking.

“So- this friend of mine, he’s a writer I respect, although he’s not published or anything. I guess I feel he edits his stuff a lot more than I do? Anyway, he sometimes comments on stuff I write- I um tag him? on Facebook? Well, he likes some of my stuff and usually his comments are constructive. But the last time, he labeled this piece I wrote about my friend Kristen as male bashing. And.. it wasn’t male bashing!”

My voice gets higher, more feverish, frantic. I take a deep breath, It’s always so important, all these details. I have to convey what happened accurately or she won’t be able to help me. 

” I was trying to capture her world. But he said I was bludgeoning the reader. With my intent, but, what intent? Not that I write things that don’t have a point, but… I figure it out as I go, you know? And what I wrote was about getting down my anger at Kristen for her willingness to sacrifice everything for a guy that mistreats her AND her two kids. I mean, if it was just her, being destructive, well, okay.”

Laura nods.

“Where does the anger at Kristen come from?”

“I feel very protective of other peoples innocence. Because, I guess I feel my innocence was taken away.. and it wasn’t fair. And it shouldn’t be something that’s ripped off so harshly. Okay, this might sound weird, but there’s many ways of going about something. For instance, um, some people get away with cheating on their wife all the time, and everyone knows about it, even the wife, but they still love the guy. He doesn’t break hearts!”

I pause, think over the implications of what I just said. How do I explain how he manages not to break their hearts? How is it even possible? I know, as I’m speaking, that I have somebody very specific in mind..

“Okay, I mean, if he does? It’s the most gentle way that there is! Maybe… somebody gets let down, but he doesn’t let people get serious. He just.. knows how to be affectionate without going there. It’s weird! I don’t know how they do it! He lets people down so gently I guess? It’s some kind of gift in a way. Maybe he just sees the best in people AND doesn’t get disappointed? Which I think is a rare combination? So, he sleeps around, and he is emotionally engaged, but it’s not about them.. not really. He makes them feel like they are playing hooky with him. He wants to feel loved and show his love all the time. Maybe you’d say he had narcissistic personality disorder, or maybe just borderline.. But with that comes low self-worth, and it’s so obvious. But then his contagious joy and love is as obvious as a puppy.. You know? Although maybe he’s wearing down his wife, maybe her heart is breaking. Which is sad. Really sad. But I’m getting off track.. What was your question? Kristen? God, I used to be able to remember everything.. I hate that I don’t anymore.”

God, I’m always interrupting her.. I’m always interrupting myself…  

“You were talking about being angry at Kristen? Angry at innocence being stripped away? Who took your innocence away?”

As every second goes by, it feels so long. When I pause to answer her question I feel like I’m taking forever. Like if I don’t answer right away the moment will slip by. Like it’s paramount I find the words right now. Is it true that as adults age time starts slowing down? I read that somewhere recently. It was in an article about the downsides of living forever- if we could. Like we can even imagine that! One of the downsides was that it would feel like our cellphone was always being interchanged with new numbers, but that would be our life, and who knows if we’d fit in in an evolving world? Would we become a monkey walking upright among humans that were so much more evolved?  And, we’d have to keep it secret or else. But the main thing was time… How time would become so fast. That doesn’t seem so bad. I mean if we had all the time in the world, wouldn’t we want a decade to seem faster?

“Um.. I guess… So, why is innocence so important to me? I don’t know who took my innocence away exactly. I was over-sheltered one moment, totally unprepared for the real world, and then.. it was like those dreams people have where they are naked in a crowd? I don’t have those. I have these reoccurring dreams involving packing luggage. But um, yeah, it was like I was stripped and I realized I had always been this exposed, only now I knew it. But I couldn’t do anything about it. And the shock was terrible. Not that ignorance was better but.. I feel like I live under my own magnifying glass of reflection  Analysis over analysis. And then I’m here. Is that bad? It feels kind of escapist in a way.”

“I don’t think it’s bad, per se.. Do you feel like you analyze everything?”

“No, that’s the extreme part. I’m all extremes. Either totally out of control- which was why I went for Snow, in a way, he was so into his control- or I’m so over-aware of everything I’m doing. Hyper-vigilant. I was comfortable being out of control- but not when people try to put me in control. I don’t like it. But my parents were kind of control freaks.. I don’t like that word freak. They wouldn’t like me calling them freaks…”

“Who is Snow?”

Impatience rises in me. She should know who these people are. 

“Snow, my ex, the architect, he runs his own company.. he and Jack are the only two people I feel like I’ve felt serious about. Jack was a college professor. I mean, my friend Lisa thinks there have been a lot of guys? But.. I don’t see it that way. She’s only been with one guy, ever, and I guess had one boyfriend outside of that. My old friend Sasha has dated so many more guys than me? I mean, I’ve had experience, but it wasn’t the relationship kind. It was the adventure kind or something. There was Oshima, the prodigy who tried to kill himself by jumping over a bridge onto a freeway overpass? He hooked me up with opiates… I mean, he secured them for me! Without him, so much would be different. A lot of people would say for the better. But the blame game thing- I can’t think like that. And while I am the only person Oshimas ever been with? And sometimes I miss him? He can turn on this cold switch so fast…. I mean, he can be so gentle, and then… so cruel. I guess all three of them can be like that. So gentle, and then.. it’s gone, like I’m a stranger and why am I talking to them again? And I wanted to be able to be like that. But now I sort of am and… I don’t know. I guess it’s a little lonely.”

The inflections in my voice are melodic, the rising and the falling, like a Bjork melody. Friendly on the surface, dark and anxious on the inside. 

“We’ve drifted. You were talking about Kristen?”

“Oh yeah. My friends reaction to my story. And the point of it was.. well, Kristen’s husband took advantage of her, but she’s willing to give up her whole life to be with him, even though he doesnt pay child support, doesn’t do anything! Nothing!”

“You identify with Kristen too, don’t you? You feel you’ve been mistreated as well?”

“Well of course I did, but I was fooled! She led me to believe she was getting over Tim! I related to feeling suicidal, to feeling like nothing without them there, the feeling of being heartbroken- it’s sorrow is unmistakable! I can see that feeling a mile away. I just do. And I related to those FEELINGS. But.. But I would never give up my self, my life, my kids for some horrible person just so I could feel wanted.. When I realized that she was willing to undo all her progress? I felt kind of.. betrayed.”

“It was a smart thing you did, writing down that story…”

“You think so? I mean if I hadn’t done that, I would have been another emotional person in her life screaming how could you? How could you do this to me? And she wouldn’t understand. She would think this doesn’t have to do with you, this is about me and what I’m going through.

I suddenly remember that I am wearing my sunglasses, and wonder if Laura will think I am avoiding eye contact, so I make a point of setting them down, fingering them, and looking at her in the eyes for a moment. When I look at her in the eyes sometimes I wonder, is that what my eyes look like? She has kind of big eyes, and she wears dark eye make up like I sometimes do, and I wonder if it looks a little dated and, well, obvious, on me too. But ever since Laura cut her hair, she looks so much prettier..  The difference is amazing. It makes me wonder if I also would look better with shorter hair. When my hair is blond, i seem to want it brown, and vice versa.. I guess it’s restlessness of a sort. 

Would Snow fuck Laura? Under the right circumstances he’d probably even date her… Not now, not that he’s dedicated to being some kind of monk. He is extremely picky about who he ever sleeps with, he’d rather go a decade without having sex than sleep with somebody he didn’t completely choose or want, but yes… I think Laura is his type.  So. THAT could be his type? It leaves me feeling unsettled. Laura: youthful but nice. Analytical but sweet. Cheerful but interesting… Like that Israeli pop singer whose fan page Snow joined out of nowhere…  Is it okay to have a lot in common with your therapist? I doubt Laura sees me as her physical equal though..  A therapist can’t see a patient as an equal, can they? What does she see when she looks at me?

“Kristens husband or future ex-husband has mistreated her and manipulated her, and.. she will do anything to get back together. I know Kristen, you see? So.. the story was nonfiction. Creative nonfiction. And okay, I feel weird because if Kristen saw the story she would probably be really upset that I wrote all the stuff she’s told me down. But, if this wasn’t her life? And she was somewhere else? Like, married to another guy, or without kids, and she read the story- she’d probably be the first to tell me how much she liked it!”

“Anyway- the point is- I don’t understand why La Forez- my poet friend- said what he said. I forwarded his response to my friend Simone- even though he specifically told me not to- probably because he thinks she’s against all men or something? Which is really not true at all.. she’s like a best friend to me, although there is some distance there, she lives across the country, like a lot of my closest friends do.. Which sucks.. I guess I feel like it’s not totally reciprocal because she holds back on me? I don’t know. I feel like I talk too much about myself to her, that I’m probably hogging the relationship, like I’m self-centered and I am constantly apologizing to her…”

I trail off. Suddenly the silence feels like it’s threatening to eat me alive. I need to say something, anything.

“What do you do if you have a narcissistic patient?” I pick up my coffee cup for a sip but it’s empty.

“Well, I would not feed into their delusions.”

“Right. I want to talk about narcissists more because I feel like one of my best friends is like that and I don’t know how to deal, I can’t seem to make boundaries. But um, back to La Forez, well, La Forez likes fiction because he says why write about things that are real when you can make something up? But I feel like reality is better. It’s perfect in its detail. And I just want to get it down, like a journalist. And sometimes what he says is so interesting. But this time.. well, before he even responded, Simone thought he might have ulterior motives, which totally puzzled me. La Forez lives in his head, what motive could he have? And then Simone thought I was upset with her, which was not the case. Maybe she was upset with me? But anyway, Simone wouldn’t tell me what his motives were. Maybe she hadn’t though it out carefully enough, or she didn’t feel like sharing, I don’t know. But usually she gives me all this feedback, and I even went behind a friend back which I did not like doing to get her opinion and she holds out on me. And this probably sounds paranoid, but I wondered if it had been a test that I had failed, me sending her something I wasn’t supposed to share. Maybe it proved I was untrustworthy to everyone so she doesn’t want to tell me anything. But… I don’t know. I do feel bad about stuff like that but it seemed like an unfair request because usually La Forez is all public about stuff, and he wasn’t here, which was not normal for him.”

I look at my watch, to let Laura know I’m aware of the clock, I know I’m talking a lot.

“Then I sent Simone my reactions to La Forez’s reaction.. which was also weird he tends to be kind of.. rigid in his thinking? And in his reaction he said I COULDN’T react to criticism, I HAD to just hear out what he said with no defenses.”

“And.. the worst part was he used stuff on me like…’i didnt have enough sleep when I wrote this-’ as if I would use that excuse on him? No way. I didn’t have any excuses, I stood behind it! What the hell! It was like he didn’t hear what I said! He read what I wrote, but he didn’t get it and that makes no sense to me. How could he not get it? And he said he felt strongly about the Kristen story… as if he was being ethical. I think he was just being decisive. But a strong reaction could be good.. Even if it’s negative. It means there’s something there to get upset about.”

I pause, my elbow resting on the wall panel underneath the window. holding my head up, like I’m holding my thoughts together.. 

“He did say one thing that I thought might be accurate though; that I was all hyper-focused on content and subject. And I guess that can be a problem if you ignore style and grammar. But sometimes I think he could be such a better writer if he just.. wrote instead of editing everything he did so much. And when I try to give him constructive feedback, well, this one time he was just so surprised that I spent the time thinking about it, like it’s not something people DO. I guess people have let him down a lot or something. He’s older, and unlike other older people I know, he’s often prefacing his experiences with his age. But the point is- there La Forez is, putting his work out there, in the world. And how he does it seems kinda professional. Of course I want to react and be helpful, he’s my friend!”

My hands are raised in an exasperated ”of COURSE” gesture. 

“What I wish I could do was.. not feel like every time I make my writing public feel like I am exposing my utmost private thoughts. He does this, of course, but it’s okay, it’s like he has some professional facade I don’t? But.. I am professional, why do people act like I’m not? It’s such a slap in the face. They might respect my talent, my abilities, but they treat me like I have no ability to act professionally. It hurts. I’m totally sick of it.”

“Why do you think they act like that?”

“Well… everyone seems to have their own rules these days.. Some people treat Facebook like a résumé. I don’t treat it like that but I DO try to manage stuff on there, or delete something if it’s too outrageous. I try to keep things in synch with my aesthetic, I guess, and my honesty. I feel like I DO have integrity, but in today’s world it seems like character and integrity can oppose professionalism. I just don’t know. And I have no idea if it’s appropriate or not when I put my writing out there for people I KNOW to read. Is it okay for other people to read this? But they will judge it, I think. The people that know me from other areas. And that.. I hate that. But La Forez does it. And he is respected, or at the very least accepted. But then again, his writing is different. It’s shorter. And… the writing comes across less.. confessional, I guess. Confessions make people uncomfortable.”

“Maybe I have to take emotional risks in everything I do… It’s just that expression is so important to me. “

“We are out of time. But I want you to think about why you feel you don’t measure up. Is that really how others feel, or is that how you feel?”

“Okay.  So.. what should I write about for next time? I like being given assignments.”

“Okay… write about other peoples doubts and what they sound like.”

“I don’t know if I can do that really, but I’ll try. Have a good weekend.”

“Bye Zoey.”

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Your clinginess…

Your clinginess follows me like an afterthought. Really bad cologne. A bad song that won’t leave my head. Didn’t used to bother me as much before, but you just had to wave a flag and bring it all out into the open. You ask me about my mood. I don’t say anything because that last stunt did things. It set the world back. You can’t just say things and then wish them back. Believe me, I’ve tried. I send words out the way the Unabomber sent letters out. Okay, not exactly. You are the voice at the séance I wish I wouldn’t hear, but that doesn’t diminish the importance: a ghost tried to communicate. That in itself is more important than your childlike antics. I used to consider a certain childlike quality to sometimes be bait I found palatable, even enticing. But with you it’s attached with the cold rage of a fairy caught in a heterosexuals body that bangs his fist on the table, lashing out at mommy. Oh wait, but you didn’t get to do that during your life. Is it her afterlife that consumes you? So caught up in relishing what enjoyment you can and denying the sights that frighten you.

It’s like people can’t have room for space or themselves because by accepting themself they must be rejecting you. Any time spent alone cannot compare to how you will make them feel because you will do anything they want, anything except leave them alone.

Then there’s the matter of hygene. Pretty key for somebody like me. I spend enough time living in my head, so I really need somebody that takes me out of it. Somebody that dresses well and always smells nice. I’m pretty particular about people close to me. I’ll let a lot of things slide that other people won’t, but then things most people would overlook- it’s like I can’t overlook it. Because if I did you’d be sitting in my blind spot waiting for me to hit you, or worse. That’s just an example.

We’re the ones that need to know what it feels like to be saved before we can rescue everyone else.. Rescue this damned place we don’t know if it’s worth rescuing in the first place. Well, I hope most of us do but think of the future, a future without trees or worse. Although I’m sure there could be synthetic this and DNA-altered that… a place like the Hunger Games where existence is only beauty when entertainment is near, and the entertainment is functional because it stops people from protesting and reminds them of their place.

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Love Addict


Kristen Dushong; 27 years old, two boys to take care of. She is the girl next door who sneaks a smoke outside your garage. She is simple and beautiful with a (small) hint of exotic. Long natural hair, never colored.  Friendly and sophisticated.

Kristen: one class away from a college diploma. One step away from gracing her way into your heart with her easy smile and hot bod.  She will always be one class away from a degree.  It’s so not her fault. It’s about a boy. (Isn’t it always about one or the other, boy or girl? Cutthroat heart-stomping bitch or abusive slusband? Choose your favorite in the panel above! Will KStew and RobPat survive this rocky path?) Kristen (Dushong, not Stewart) chose to give her career up so her childhood sweetheart could join the Navy while she raised their first kid. At the age of ten, Tims family moved in next door to Kristens. He spent more time with her family than with his. In high school she saved him from a life of crystal meth. He stood in the shadows watching (waiting!) for her to be done with other guys. She was giving them emotional lap dances.

Smoking behind the bleachers he ruminated on that irresistible force, beauty. The most captivating and mysterious alien. He watched how the boys were around her, and realized it was best to play dumb. I will let her have this moment of arrogance. Watching her, he became certain he was destined to own her. He was to tame her, then show her men were the superior sex. He thought of this with a silly little sneer. Imagining her drinking his sperm as if it was wine was his favorite fantasy. looking in the mirror at his pock-marked face gave hin no pause.. he continued to imagine his greatness being celebrated by her.

Kristen felt a kind of raw power sliced with innocence in those days. She was high off her own image, the way she saw people visually adoring her. The boys did what she wanted with little prodding..  she was great at mind games and she liked feeling like an ice queen. Tim went down the line between awkward and slick, not choosing one for the other.  It felt like she could tell him everything. It was a huge surprise (to Kristen, anyway) when the feelings of friendship developed into more. In Tims eyes she felt like the relaxed but assertive self-supporting girl she had always been.

Present day: Acme stinks up Tim’s face like Gods marked it. At 27, he still doesn’t take anything to make the huge, blotchy swells go down. He has grown to like it, to be defined by the red scratchies, those bloated marks of his inner rage. It bothers Kristen that he won’t take Accutane, which would easily cure most of it. It is the one thing that still resembles his insides and other women must stare at it! He finds ironic satisfaction in it for while he gets drunk off their loveliness, they stare at those marks on his face- an apt metaphor for unfulfillped promise if you ever saw one. He feels the silly vain women deserve it. Flaunting their beauty everywhere- it only diminishes their power. Just stupid.

Self-centered Tim expresses interest in others only when they serve his ambitions (whatever those ambitions are, for people don’t consider him talented, and Tim feels best when he gets ahead by sticking his foot in between other people and their opportunities. He’d be better off in another field, the Navys way too uptight for him. He has found a crowd that accepts him, but he walks alone. (They’re rowdy, they like violence; they make deals behind closed doors. They get to sleep with the whores at every port! They know to say yes mam to the wives, the mothers.)  He’d choose strategic partnership over genuine friendship any day.

Unfortunately, the calculations behind Tims scheming have never been anything but transparent… And as everyone knows, he will fuck anything- especially if it has fleas, for cheating on Kristen was good proof of how much other women wanted him. He had to punish her for flaunting her good looks, her easy smile. Cheating on Kristen was something he can brag about. Now he is getting her back. The bitch hasn’t picked up her phone in weeks, ever since that lawyer filled her mind with bad ideas and sent her going to TANF to filed papers to steal his money. HIS money, not hers. The nerve of those stupid women. He knows it must be women who convinced his brother to yell at him. Why should his own brother stick his nose in his affairs? Because his brother secretly covets Kristen, of course. Well why doesn’t he go help the damsel in distress, he snickers?

Tim doesn’t have enough charm to cover up his deficits, but Kristen taking him back will do the trick- further evidence of how amazing he is! He can really get away with anything!

He abandons his children because he’s already turned into the parents he hated- they are better off without him, he thinks, and so they were. He’s been taught that people should gratify him unquestioningly, and when Kristen first gave birth to a boy, it infuriated him. She gave the screaming infant his attention. In Tims world there’s only room to satisfy him. The baby cried with way too much zest. Baby Timothy Jr. was against him from the start. And then, more than a year later she tricked him! Got pregnant a second time! There was no way he could deal with another screaming brat that felt entitled to have its cries met with a bottle, a diaper, a phrase, a coo. He has never changed a diaper in his life and he is determined to keep it that way.  The entitlement of babies disgust him to no end. So, he patiently bided his time until about one year later. Now it’s different; she wants his money, the children are older; she is more desperate for his attention. He can have it. Kristen acts like she can’t give in to him, but he knows she will. He doesn’t know if he still wanhts her, but he is going to get her back just in case. He doesn’t want to have to pay alimony, and he misses her making his lunch and doing his paperwork. So he arrives in Washington to go get her. Surprise! You weren’t picking up the phone, you stupid wife!

In private moments he laughs at Kristen; how pathetic she would be to take him back! Freakish, even. Buckets of praise continually poured into him would still not mend the hole inside his greedy heart, but… it is a useful balm for his rage. Anyhow, what Tim lacks in charisma, he ratchets up in points using snarling contempt and self-pity to motivate. Kristen mistakes his hang-dog look and reckless behavior for stupidity; she has always underestimated him. It’s her most attractive quality.


Kristen thinks back to when she was 26 years old. Crying her eyes out. Saying enough is enough. Standing outside in August on the lawn that never gets mowed.  Omaha Nebraska. One year ago. So many cracks in their marriage, if what they shared had been a building, their building would have been condemned. Desperation, humiliation drove her to crawl her way out of the marriage.

She thought it would just be for a short while, as Tim came to his senses. She left most of her stuff with Tim (a mistake, as Tims girlfriend Kaylie would recklessly use and steal the stuff she liked, a thought that made Kristen not want to get out of bed in the mornings. The care she had lovingly taken in assemling her things, leaving behind a bra here and there for Tim to linger on in moments of despair. A well-hidden toothbrush, a magazine from that beach cottage they’d stayed at for their honeymoon. She did not expect some hoe to move in on her territory.)

Kristen wasn’t in the city, where her best friend Zoey lived. Zoey would be happy that she’d finally left Tim. Maybe Zoey would let me live with her, she thought dizzily..

Kristen was stuck in Bainbridge Island, Washington, at the house she’d lived in since she was ten years old. Her mother, Karen, took up the large upstairs room on the right and her grandma took up the one on the left. Kristen and her boys was delegated her old room, the size of a small walk-in closet. Kristen, always the martyr, refused to move into her sister Sophies room, for Sophie was away at school and might want to visit her old room. Sophies room was a bit larger and nicer than the walk-in closet Kristen lived in. Maybe Sophie would come live here now that Kristen was in trouble.. As long as her guest room remained unchanged..

Karen, the drunk, the nuisance, had a birds nest of bright frizzy red hair sticking out in all different directions. As usual, she wasn’t any help with the boys. When Kristen was five, her dad tried to molest her; Karen was ruined. It took all of Karens strength just to leave him, driving for days on end to take her three little girls to a place where they could be safe. Karen was dependent on her mother now for her living situation; Kristen was dependent on them both. Karen and her mother didn’t agree on much, but they both agreed being a single mother was not the life they wanted for Kristen. Karen, the drunk, was too tired and too wasted to be trusted with the boys. As for Grandma Barry- she was too strict, too religious, and too strange for Kristen to ask for anything more than free rent.

Kristen had just given birth a few months ago and was now living in the basement in a room smaller than most walk-in closets. She was literally penniless with Timothy Jr, now almost three years old, and baby Logan. She didn’t feel welcomed at all. Sometimes fights broke out and she was threatened with eviction. Her grandmother tried to force bibllical  principles Kristen didn’t agree with onto Timothy Jr, including spanking, interfering with toilet training. Grandma Barry insisted she let Timothy Jr. run around like a wild indian. Kristen shouted back that after being deserted by his father, he should be allowed to run around like a wild indian.

Even the younger sisters (Sophie and Emma) who visited in between college and partying had their two cents, and Kristen found the lifestyle jarring. She could never get a break. At least with Tim they sometimes hired a babysitter! Emma, the baby of the family, was in a relationship with a guy who hit her, choked her. When Kristen couldn’t convince Emma to leave, she considered it a personal failure on her fault. She did not see any paralels between Emmas choices and her own. If anything it made her grateful for Tim.

Tim never calls to talk to the kids, not even for birthdays. When asked, he says calling is a waste of money. When she begged him to write them letters, he said it wasn’t worth the stamp money.

When Kristen spent months scraping together 25 dollars to put into a savings account. Tim found out and took the money out of her next check, which was one hundred dollars less than he promised. Often the $150 or, if she was very lucky, $200 check came late, and she would have to call him frantically. She applied for food stamps, but because Tim was in the navy she was not eligible for anything more. They told her they could go after him for child support. She could have filed papers that would have forced Tims hand, but she told everybody it would get Tim sent to jail. If the Navy found out that Tim wasn’t paying child support, they could kick him out! She claimed she didn’t want to kill the golden goose and that the situation was extremely delicate. She remained in this delicate state for a year. Licking her wounds.

Tim spent his money on food for his skimpy dressed girlfriend Kaylie and his girlfriends kids. He took them out and spend 50 dollars at the Pancake house. It made him feel appreciated, something he decided he hadn’t felt in a while. After the homeymoon period ran out, Kaylie began to call Kristen for advice, wanting to be consoled, for Tim slept with so many women! And Tim had stopped calling Kaylie back! Tim was ignoring Kaylie! Why?

A few of Kristens old neighbors from Omaha would call to ask her to get Tim under control! Come back Kristen, come back! Without Kristen around to pacify them, he had become the neighborhood nuisance. He was throwing parties, making noise, rousing husbands anger. Since Tim was always on the make for sex, he was a threat to any guy with a wife that had a wandering eye.

It was the idea of Kaylie that really upset Kristen. More than the lack of money, more than the indignity of it all, even more than living off food stamp! The idea of him with this skank– it suggested he was moving on. She spent hours online looking at the girls picture trying to understand what he could possible see in her.

“She’s white trash,” Kristen decided haughtily. A much lesser version of me; she’s not anywhere near as pretty, so that’s that! Always a competition between the sexes. A struggle to be seen.

Whenever she saw it was Tim on the caller ID her heart raced, only to find out… well, Tim wanted to know if Kristen had any ideas on how to calm Kaylie down. Kaylie was hysterical, and how could he make up with her?

“Please Kristen, I like talking to you. Help me,” he said, and Kristen didn’t know how to react. She saw the irony in the situation, made fun of him with Zoey, but couldn’t stop taking his calls. Couldn’t stop being his friend. Couldn’t stop wanting him back. Things didn’t look so bad from far away… He hadn’t been that bad, had he?

Compared to this situation, where grandma Barry was always hounding her for not doing something right- well, what was a few extramarital affairs? So what if he demanded she be a swinger and engage in three-ways; the other guys hadn’t been too bad. There had been some violent behavior, but it was rare, and it really wasn’t Tim’s fault, it was the booze, the pressure, the challenges of being married young.

She was surprised that Kaylie lasted as long as she did! Kristen felt a twinge of satisfaction when Kaylie called her up sobbing: it meant Tim hadn’t been serious with the skank after all. When he broke up with Kaylie, she wanted to get back together with Tim.

In the meantime, her friends and family were yelling at her to move on, get over him!

Zoey was adamant. “Yes. Sweetie, I know you are heartbroken. I can feel it. This sounds cheezy but.. time really does heal. Or blunt it anyway. You will recover.. It will take time, and you need a break. Just one week to think your own thoughts without the responsibilty of the kids.” Kristen couldn’t get time away. Zoey was shocked to find out that Kristen still hadn’t filed the divorce papers.

“He’s scum! No, no, Tim is lower than scum, lower than toxic scum, lower than the bacteria that feeds OFF of toxic scum! That slusand.. Rabies would be too merciful for him!” Kristen laughed at Zoey, but when she got off the phone her worries about surviving flooed back. She was expected to raise the kids when she didn’t even feel like going on living. Killing herself would be retribution, wouldn’t it?

Tim knew how to hide his assets. The navy is supposed to kick out anybody who cheats on their spouse or refuses to pay child alimony. The navy lets you pay the child-support or takes you to the slammer. But Kristen was emotionally trapped.

Kristen needed a year to summon up the courage to call the Navys phone number. She only called when she felt there was no way Tim would try to fix their marriage. Even then, her heart wasn’t in it. She took her anger out on her friends, not Tim.

She couldn’t get a hold of the right branch. So many numbers. Overwhelming. Made her feel like she couldn’t breathe. Made her remember picking up Tims socks. Tim leaving the first time. Tim proposing the first time.  The day he told her he had done everything wrong and his eyes leaked shame.  The way his chest had been a pillow for her head.  She wanted the memories to go so she could forget, but then… No, she doesn’t want them to go anywhere. She wants to be able to take them out whenever she wants, an old map with creases that tell the stories behind their fights, their making up… They had married awfully young, hadn’t they? That wasn’t his fault..

And calling to beg for money was embarrassing! If Tim didn’t want to pay she would make it on her own. But she couldn’t get money from the government.  To even ring anybody out there up there to talk about it, to use that awful word, DIVORCE. It took Kristen a year to feel ready to do anything about it. She was heartbroken and alone with two kids asking her questions and needing the edges of their peanut butter sandwiches cut off just right. At least she could do that right, if nothing else.

At night she got drunk, ran around in the forest-like trees that circled her neighborhood, good Eastern Washington, and in her darker moments thought about leaving her youngest son to be adopted, or even worse, just killing herself. She had to, there was no other way out. There was an albatross on her neck at all times. She was in chilling pain, and when an animal is in pain, it sometimes forgets about survival. Not all trapped game will chew their foot off to get out of a trap. Some hope death hits them soon.

Kristen knows that during the marriage Tim did horrible things to her, even unspeakable things, like the time he left her at the bar to get raped, or the many times he manipulated her into participating in threesomes, threatening to take the kids away if she  wasn’t into it. The many times he just got up and left her crying on the floor. That was basically every other night even though she had done everything to get his lunch perfect, copied out notes for his exams, made it so he could make it to level 2 in the Navy, something that he lost when she left because he got a DUI. Strangely enough, he did not lose his job, he just got taken back.

Kristen was sure he would ask her back after he got the DUI but he did not. Didn’t it prove he was helpless without her there? She didn’t think he could keep his job without her reminding him to get gas, to pay the bills on time. She told her friends how stupid he was, not to write angry letters on her behalf, because he was dim-witted and wouldn’t understand the words, but… He was smart enough to get her to do all his work, wasn’t he? He was smart enough to get her to marry him, right? And then she found out he had another kid- a kid that had been born when they were together, together- and she shoved that knowledge away into the corner of her heart, a place blackened by the soot of his crimes, so black that not even the salt from a thousand nights of tears could touch that corner. Her tears, coming so easy, so ready, just made it sting all the more.

Kristen didn’t really believe there could be another kid out there until she saw the picture. There had been talks of getting back together but when she saw the picture something inside her gave way and she told Tim no, she could not get back together.

While Kristen lived in Bainbridge, guys threw themselves at her, just like they had in high school. One guy even offered to buy her a house and marry her. But she was not materialistic enough or hardy enough to look at another guy and think about being loved.

Her heart wanted only one thing. Tim was the one who had gotten her to break down her walls. She was not strong enough to take back what she shared. A lot of bad memories went where Tim went, but Kristen could only see what she was without him. Incomplete, pathetic really. Her family was always bothering and hassling her! She couldn’t stand it! How was she supposed to get anything done with their grumblings? She was desperate, always desperate. Desperation had become the emotion she was most familiar with, and she didn’t know any other color.

She filled out 369 applications for jobs, but by the time she did get offered a job, she didn’t have any money for day care, so she couldn’t go to the job!

The youngest, Tony, hadn’t even been around to meet Tim unless two months old counts, so he didn’t know any other life.

But the older one felt very hurt by it, and seeing that his mother cried all the time, he felt the need to act tough and extroverted, to protect her. He created his own imaginary world and was fastened to it. But still, when Tim promised to call and didn’t, Timothy Jr. insisted his mommy call the police to get a hold of him. The fact that Tim was not available by phone did not make any sense. if he wasn’t calling then his dad had to be someplace horrible, for his father would not do this on purpose. What had he done wrong? He would never again yell at Tony, he would eat his green beans. The idea that his father would forget about him was not possible, was it? How could he be so forgettable? He would be better, he yelled! Still, no call came. Kristen tried very hard to reach him, texting and cursing out Tim for not calling his son, but nothing good came of any of it.

They were just as important as the other kid from the other women- the kid from the woman Tim didn’t acknowledge.

Turned out Tim had another kid, too.

After a year of Tim seeing any girl he wanted to, partying, and never being nagged, Kristen resigned herself to the fact that Tim only called for three reasons. When he wanted something- no, needed something,  to manipulate her, and to get her off his back about filing paperwork for money. And the money reason could be put into the needed something category. It wasn’t until a family lawyer friend filed the papers for her that Tim started calling Kristen hundreds of times a day. Kristen was good, she didn’t pick up. But when Tim flew to Washington…

She lasted a day. Then he kissed her, the pressure so apologetic, the weight of a thousand redemptions were promised in that kiss. A sudden exuberance that had been empty from her entire being filled her in that moment and she would not be denied.

Zoey, who had only seen her twice since she had been in Washington was aghast. Kristen lived a ferry ride away, and the Zoey did not drive, nor did she like to travel. But she decided enough was enough, she really had to come out there. She would have come out the day Tim showed up but she did not get notice, her schedule did not allow for that luxury. She could only come up a few days after Tim showed. By that time Kristen went from begging her to come up to begging her not to come. And then Kristen started ignoring Zoeys texts, for she did not want a reminder of all the doubts she had spent a year living in. She did not want the euphoria she felt to fall down. No, she knew what her friend would do, and she did not want Zoey scaring Tim away! No indeed! Her family was being rude enough!


To the mother of the next generation:

I hope you can look at yourself in the mirror knowing what you know now. You chose a man who doesn’t respect you or his children over your childrens well-being and love. Clearly your goodness of character has been overestimated. A jellyfish has more backbone than you do. You are worse than a pussy, you are sauteed jelly. You hide behind your own cowardice, as if that’s an excuse. You’ve spent a year crying “what a scumbag!” Now you are ready to come back the moment he wiggles his finger. You chose him over good friends, family, self-worth.. You make women everywhere sick.

You are worse than the wife of the child molester who sits back idly and watches and tolerates the abuse. Calling yourself a victim does a disservice to other victims. Your father wanted you to do strange funny feeling things you did not understand, then he left, and it was all your fault. If that damaged you, think how much more damage it does to have a man leaving whenever he wants, the kids thinking their behavior can influence whether the door swings shut or open.

Oh wait, you have proven that you cant think with your head.

You think you are using your heart, but it’s something rotten to the core that’s being worked on here. You are the scam, and he is the con artist. He lost control, so he came to take it back. Once he’s gotten the reigns (which were really quite easy for him to grab) he’ll do all the things he did when you were together. You haven’t bargained. You haven’t forced him to go to sex therapy (and we all know he is a sex addict, as he’s sought out sex with other girls openly on nights you denied him, he’s even raped you when you denied him.) You feel sorry for him.

My heart, usually filled with forgiveness, can only feel revulsion because when I look at you I see the innocent being forced to handle what they should not have to handle. Hardships that destroy the purity of their hope. 

It’s quite personal for me seeing as you dragged me into your personal business, made me part of your personal life, and then you kicked me out the moment you no longer enjoyed the truths I had to give you. It feels… personal to me. Do you know how my innocence was taken away? Do you? Do you really? Because again, I feel very protective of other innocence. Nobody should have their innocence taken away like this.

  Your children are being attacked; you are NOT the innocent party here anymore, your children are. The moment you let him back into your arms you went from being a sympathetic victim to somebody complicit in a crime. At least the wife of a drug dealer does not tell herself her husband works in sales.


I’m angry at the energy I put into trying to protect you. What a waste!

You acted as though you had your hands tied behind your back but as soon as Tim enters the picture, you demonstrate an amazing agility- as if you’ve known your whole life how to get by without even needing your arms or hands.

You could have tried harder to tell me how entrenched in his grasp you were instead of trashing him with me. We called him Mr Slusband. He went from a noun to an adjective of a terrorist strike. He became something that happened to people… But he was not a person anymore. The idea that you can switch to the other side so easily.. I feel as though I have been living next to a double agent, and the betrayal stings. But you don’t have time to apologize- you need me to be there to pick up the pieces the next time he hurts you. Right now you can’t think about anything outside of his touch. 


You were so close, my dear. Didn’t you know this was his Hail Mary? Do you have any idea how good it could have gotten? You were a few inches away from celebrating a new life. The independence you see in me that you envy, you were so close. And now, sucked back into his grasp, it will take more energy to get back to being a victim than one year did to move you one inciment closer to feeling better. Seeing how hard it was this time, I don’t think you will have it in you a second time. 

Why? We fought for freedom. And you…. you are a slave, but not just any slave. You are a slave that cries to everyone they meet, I don’t want to be a slave! So I cared. I tried to get you free! but you keep walking back to slavery, again and again, and everytime you do, you get less food, less care, less medicine. Less protection. You lose the protection of those who gave so much to free you; you lose the respect of the master who thought he could lose you. When you go outside of that protection, you have to deal with not having that protection to come back to.

Posted in abandonment, bashing, cocky guy, conflict, criticism, generation, having a hard time, helpless, hurled, lies, Shame, sick, trying to combine the chatty with the poetic, unattended needs, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

kidnapping letter 3 or 4 etc..

I’m still here is what I can’t believe. Poisoned by your lies? You are keeping me from experiencing life. The whole time I’m sitting here life is going by, and I get whiffs from the times you leave and come back. In fact, you are my only connection to the outside world anymore. Is that what you wanted? I know. I ask all the time. It’s just a quirk- don’t take it too seriously. I can’t believe you don’t narrow it down for me further. That doesn’t make much sense. What I mean is really that I fear my personality is leaching into the water and becoming less and less interesting because there is no order to sustain me beyond your comings and goings in and out of here, bringing some kind of book if I’m extremely lucky, but also bringing your phrases and ideas as my only source of stimulation. Oh, I have my head, yes, don’t I have my head. And there is enough for me to go around as long as I want on my merry go round of learning, noticing different patterns, enforcing a mental cloud. You have no idea what it feels like because you are on the other side. 

Why do you expect me to do all the talking and then when I do talk you pounce on it so suddenly for being too whatever I’m being in that moment? I’m sorry we all aren’t as perfect as you are. And then I’m so surprised every time you come back looking for more. The pressure to continue entertaining you is on and it’s dreadful. Like you could understand. You are all mask and all shell and all walls and all cagey as shit, with your soft and sadly mechanical voice and it’s wanderings and tidings. It’s a hesitant voice, not so much monotone as it’s lilting quality is drawn out for much longer periods of time than other voices that are put in the melodic category.The action everywhere else is startling.

You hate me, oh, you hate that I symbolize needs you can’t have without breaking every law, and so the physics of who you are has to be built on constructs all the time in order for your survival. Maybe it’s how lots of people survive though. In order to have certain things they have to interact with people and perhaps there is some equation that will help you to determine how to reach the most number of people with the easiest social farce.

This is the last time, isn’t it? I should have done more, never said a single thing to you, maybe that would have served my purpose better. But If I hated everything that happened.. No, that’s not right.


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She is their crime of passion. Soundless screams escaping from her wilting luck. Can’t imagine what doesn’t reach her. Then again, she has more than enough imagination so she probably raises her head and pictures the closed doors that won’t open. Spins, blurs, and muffles the expanding horizon of streaming information; remembers shooting kaleidoscopes down from the stars, and dangling them in front of a howling cat- except that you could see angry sights coming from behind her reputation, drugs, prostitution- secrets.

They weren’t hushed up for long: foolproof blackmail was flung at anyone who bore a shred of recognition to transports in recent memory cast on the image of the day. Feeling a shiver of foreboding, she swept the unfamiliar sensation under the rug. The unfamiliar was nothing compared to the pressure felt. There was an insane idea going around that she couldn’t make it. The rumor was that instead of holding something dear, she carved up multiple selves and held them up to her sex-fueled bodyguards, taking scars away, choreographing them into a ritual that became part fate part inclination. Expectations were a prison, perfection just a gateway, pale as the dead, to appear comatose on so many occasions. How to know how enough was ever enough. She made bold statements, then expected people to just.. get over them. The statements were wild birds flying in rushed zigzags up the sky, and with the speed of time being so exponential these days, why did anyone feel they needed to protect their students from her?

Encountering  snooty brush offs at certain affiliations- school and work- made her prematurely regret the last five years.  Listlessly she’d watched as people in positions of power relative to her in competition and power inspected her openness coldly, then used it as a torch to burn down the plank on which she stood. Her days of hiding in plain sight felt very over. Didn’t they have a duty to say what didn’t work? She could guess without bullshitting relatively easily. Did they have a problem with explanations? Was registering the truth a stifling place for the weak or just all those willing to clobber to get ahead?

Damn that grim circling vulture of a musician- he was in all the dying reputable music circles, the ones with big American names that sounded as common as Mcdonalds in this town.  He’d played her music… and now he was looking down at her as if she was a housewife with an apron covered in flour and a hand in the cookie jar. As if her mind was charred beyond recognition and her deaths all false. He filled his calculation with avoidance, using the usurped powers of perception of those always casting a stone of judgment to wrench her history into a revisionist pity-filled party of scandal. Just enough seriousness to the charges that those hearing would whisper under their breath.

It wasn’t as if she had lost her talent- that would be one thing. But for them to care about things like what she wore? Silk camisoles and fish nets over jeans with loose-fitting hoodies smelling of fresh laundry clung to her like protection. The perfume was sweet but never cloying, like being underneath an orchard of apple blossom trees. Her eyes were swimming underneath the war paint of black eye makeup. Wide and circular earrings- the design modern but the pattern classical- dangled from her ears. As if provocative clothing would evenhandedly bring learning to a revolt? Wasn’t provocation a way to get people to think?How could a shirt corrupt an entire populace? She was on a mission to understand things, not ruin! Any destruction she had in her would go in hurting herself, never them. And then, there was another thing. She was in part their product. She was a part of them now, as their education shaped her. She’d been going there since she was a child, only now she was left unclaimed in the lost property box. Except she had once belonged; that wasn’t her delusion. There was violence in belonging…But there was also violence in separation. If there was any harbinger of blame going around, then why weren’t they looking at themselves?

Parents lovingly abolish their children out of a sense of pride. Or they try so hard they will get down in the mud and mole a tunnel into the future for you only for the authority figures they entrusted with your well-being to reach down and knock the revelations under, until you are wandering through the underground transportation system trying to find a gutter hole or ventilation shaft to climb up through.

There’s so much lost ground to cover and that school won’t hire people whose past they don’t admire more than anything.  A lot of people treat life like a race to the finish line by refusing to accept forms of human suffering. In order to win their race they’re inclined to invent their past to white-out suffering from prying, leaching eyes. There’s a startling thrust of motivation after reinvention. The penalty for getting caught depends on the uniform you wear. There are ways to bypass privacy and just because you can appear respectable doesn’t mean you can change your social security number.

“I guess I could change my name.” The red tape was gone, she was laughed out of their dumb graces. Motives like braces adjusted to fix teeth. Faith averted as a drunken girl hung up on her… so sudden. Felt sheepish for telling the girl to stop drinking and take care of her kids.

Security went undisguised, respectability diminished. She’d explored the dumpsters, cradles, blistered hearts, dirty needles, useless begging, and finally, the violence of the unlovable. Upon staring back at all those judgmental fishbowl eyes, she realized she was not prepared for the bitter-sweetness tainting the flavor.

Let there be no final roll call.

Young faces peep in and out of her phantom longing. Power might just inform this confluence; if they fear her they just might pretend to respect, and pretending could take on a shimmer to those who bought truth as the life-size artifices adults wear. Saints arrive in all different forms. Angels can come shrouded in darkness. Redemption… a white noise from a television. Suppose she’d traded in on her feelings of powerlessness, and it’d been mixed as the real thing. She had wanted people around her to know all the horrible things about herself, but she had made her workplace into a church and these people were not priests. They went for the jugular.

Posted in Blast from Past, conflict, criticism, generation, no system, Uncategorized, unfinished | Leave a comment

Kidnap story

On or off, what’s the difference? Extended time delays turn into a postcard. That’s all anyone cares about, the postcard. What looks like confidence is way more important than the actual thing. All those hundreds of people in line were waiting to get married.. but people were robbing them of their vows. Where was I?

I found a book in here to read. I reread it over and over.It says that it’s a new Family Original Series. Something that is connected to the outside world!  Finally Mr. Tibbit left me something.. That’s the name I give him. If I’ve been silent for a while, well.. tell it to the pigeons. I lost my sense of words, of knowing what to say and why. Then he gave me something to do with GHA (yes, the supposed date rape drug) some cousin or something of the actual thing. I guess he switched things up, you know? Something clicked, like a metronome starting.
Anyway, I never did like newspapers. I wonder what is happening out there. Maybe a war has happened, a bomb, and that’s the real reason he put me in here, to save me. I know it’s unlikely, but anything could happen. Especially when it’s just you and your mind. Monks live in this space, right? Except they get to breathe the open mountain air which just slaps you in the face with its liveliness. Personally, I care more about animals then people.. We have too many people on the planet. Maybe that’s why I was put here.

I’ve started losing the past. My mind no longer goes to what I had before this. I saw some early scrawls of mine hidden in a secret place and it was like reading what somebody else wrote.. except I felt things. Like, pain and loss and all that boring stuff. (I’m just kidding about the secret stash Mr Tibbit! I don’t have any secrets places! you get to them all anyway, you just pretend that I still have secrets to keep me calm.)

I’ve developed my own way to tell you things now.. I’m going to get them out to you even if it takes all the time I have. I hope there’s a point.

I’m back. Who knows how long this time will last? Better have some fun this time around.

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my generation

I might do a redo with it being more choppy, diced, for when I read it out loud I have ideas about cutting stuff out- just the filler words. making it less accessible in some ways faster flow in others. Some of the best lines or ideas arent supported by the piece overall.. but it’s a bit weak of me to start with a list of this pieces potential problems, so, read on reader.

sometimes i think my generation is like a bunch of lost children on a ship in the middle of the sea with nobody steering. so i tell the adults “there is no adult to steer” but they dont believe me. they say there’s no way any “adult” would leave a bunch of kids to fend for themselves and that there is NO WAY an adult can act like a kid (only worse as adults have responsibilities and enormous pressure on their shoulders so when the blow stuff off the repercussions can be catastrophic….) Adults don’t believe me that people from THEIR generation could act crazy. They don’t think it’s possible. They hide their sins very well. But my generation does not. We display our taboos in every way we can and get in trouble for it. We don’t know what to do with all the rights not to mention the wrongs. Then there is empathy getting in the way. Is it rescuing us or making us toss more people overboard. The wind won’t let up and the kids are in pain because they’ve never steered a boat before. They want something to take for the seasickness. They don’t know how to scrub the boat or change the wind panel. Some find the trip boring so they junp over or drill holes in the wood. Others take out their iphones- look at the ratio on that wave dude! Every day the crew faces the ocean taking us for breakfast. We don’t need redemption, of course, because we’re going somewhere, if somebody could remember. Some put on great fronts, shaking our fist and acting as though we are a leader and know what’s going on out there. What would we do without the fronts. The cold front especially. We do have a lot of information, it’s true. But it’s not firsthand, it’s thirdhand or fourth hand and when we tell the adults what we know they do not believe us. We must be lying as we don’t know how to cover our exposure. No, we won’t die from not knowing how to steer but from the exposure. We didn’t consider that. Not really. We didn’t want the adults to be mad at us. But whatever, there’s no adults left.


Shipwreck by *oO-Rein-Oo

Photography / Conceptual (

Posted in conflict, contagious emptiness, criticism, generation, helpless, lies, parents, Uncategorized | Leave a comment