Borderline Personality Disorder Blog. Bipolar Disorder Blog. BPD. DBT. Cleveland. A Fragment in Orange.


Old guy in ICU today. John. In the bluish shadow of the late afternoon, I'm wiping down his legs, carefully wiping around the towel I'd placed over his privates for um, privacy. 'You can clean that off too', he says in a heh heh heh perverted way. It's not the first time and it certainly won't be the last. We play these games in the hospital. He plays the dirty old man and I play the coy young girl. The old me would have blushed or, rather, burst into flames. But now I'm getting good at these games.

It's not your birthday, I say.
Yes, but it is New Year's Eve he says.
Yes, but I'm not feeling that charitable.
No? You look like a very charitable girl.

Lights go on. Game over. I think I won this round.

'This hasn't been a good year', he says. He continues with the story of his wife's decline. Alzheimer's. How she's now in a nursing home, how it was a rough two years when he tried to take care of her at home. How she starting throwing things at him. Started swearing at him. 'The turning point,' he said, 'was the first time she looked at me with absolute hatred in her eyes.' A happy marriage to that point. Fifty-four years. 'My heart never felt so heavy as it did on that day.' We share silence for a brief time.

We play these games. With each new game we get to wear a different mask. The mask is protection. Without it, everyone would see how we really feel. And that's never pretty.


such a sensitive little girl, they say
the most innocuous comment
can bruise her precious little soul

you must be careful with your words

such an unhappy little girl, they say
and they are right
she herself doesn’t understand the ache she feels
this pain of loss
when she hasn’t even lost anything yet


older now but still so troubled
she laughs when you silly-dance to ali farka toure
and wells up with tears when the dancing stops

she lies face down on the cold tile floor.
you’ve learned not to ask
for she can not explain
instead, you step over her to get to the kitchen
she will get up when she is ready

nights like this, long ago
you might have expected blood and threats
but she is quiet now; retreating within
she does this for you, out of love for you
she never expected you to carry the weight
and is relieved now that you have relinquished it

such a sensitive girl
like a wild bird caught in the house
she doesn’t know how she got here
but she has to get out
and will kill herself trying

when you feel you’re losing her,
at the worst of times
you give her a pen and a stack of blank paper
and then you leave her alone
for it won’t be long ‘til she comes back to you

this wounded little girl
with her big heart and heavy burden

she will crawl all over you
she will creep into the crooks and curves of your body
she will settle wherever you are lacking
(her dark mysterious eyes twinkling mischief)

the return is always worth the trouble
for now

orange peel sweet on his fingers despite repeated washings
orange peel sweet and black smudge from newspaper print
messy like silly putty comic strips kneaded back to plain
he hates it when i ask him to wash his hands before touching me

it doesn't matter really because i love this man
and i'll take him any way i can
he must know that, right?
the power he has over me?


best christmas ever. i’m too lazy to write for real but i want a record here.

i didn’t buy a single christmas gift for anyone — i wanted to stick to my principles this year and not feel guilted into doing the typical christmas mass-giving thing — but i did send my niece a Happy Whateverness ipod because every girl should have music at her fingertips (the down side was charitably loading it up with britney spears, american idol winners and runners-up, and other top-40 bullshit). my folks complied with my request for a simple no-gifts christmas, although they donated some money to zimbabwe relief efforts in my name. that gave the i’m-so-glad-i-don’t-live-in-zimbabwe me the warm and fuzzies.

mom and dad went to mass in the a.m. giving me space for mindless tv-watching and a breakfast/lunch combo of cheetos and heath bars. a long hot bath this afternoon with a margaret atwood book followed by cooling off out back in the desert wind and writing for a few hours. m and d made dinner, all my favorites, and for the first time were sensitive to my food weirdness — like not carving the bird at the dinner table and not talking about the bird and its thighs and wings and drumsticks and everything else that gives me the heebie jeebies.

dinner was followed by deep discussion (each of us explained in great detail what we want done to our bodies following our demise) and me asking my former-catholic-priest father if he really believes in god and him reading, out loud, an essay about the new atheists and fundamentalism, and me confessing how a lot of the time i’m wrong and they’re right (that made them happy and it was no skin off my nose) and how i’m a total instigator (which they already knew of course) and then my dad reading a story he’d written about his reasons for leaving south africa in the seventies and then me asking my dad if, before he dies, he will tell me and my mom if he’d had sex with anyone else before my mom (how can she not know that??) and then dad reading some poetry he’s written and then mom and i agreeing that his happy poems aren’t as good as his sad poems and then m and d going to bed and me following them into their room talking about nothing important and then dad chasing me out because he wanted to change into his pajamas, which are really just boxer shorts and then me asking why he wears tighty whities as underwear and boxer shorts as pajamas and then him saying that 80% of men wear tighty whities and then me saying no they don’t and then him asking how i know and then me stammering and saying ‘i know men’, and then him saying that most men wear boxers as pajamas and then me saying no they don’t and then me thinking about it and saying well honestly i don’t know because most men i’ve known have gone to bed naked and then dad locking himself in the bathroom and mom laughing hysterically. i will miss these times with the old folks. they mean everything to me. and i never would have thought i’d ever say that.

now i’m putting all of my dad’s classical music on my ipod and listening to junior kimbrough and the sad stuff of pj harvey and drinking sprite which i don’t really like and i haven't had a drink for three days now and it’s not so bad and that’s why this was the best christmas ever.


Tonight my parents and I watched a movie they rented from Netflix. My mother is going deaf so every few minutes she would ask What did she say? or What did he say?

Eventually there was a steamy sex scene, which is always a fun thing to watch with one’s parents, and my mom asked Did she say ‘I don’t want you inside me'?.

My father replied, No, she said ‘I want you inside me.’

At which point I decided it was a good time to introduce my parents to the amazing technology of closed captioning.

looking through old photos tonight. years and years. birth. death. family. family no more. old loves. childhood friends. old houses. all of it. i start to cry with some, laugh with others. oh it gets the old soul stirring. but surely never enough to jump off a cliff. emotions come and go. let it come, feel it hit, let it go. this is life. i feel the enormity of it. and the simplicity. it feels good to have lived -- sorrow, joy, and all. i wouldn't change a thing. sweet dreams tonight.


I'm flying to Arizona in a few days to spend Christmas with my parents. "Oh, you're going home? How nice!" -- that from a coworker after hearing about my plans. I was quick to respond with no, that's not my home. "Oh right, Canada is home," she said. And I thought, no, Canada isn't home either. So now I'm wondering where or what my home is. Is it a geographical location? A place with the most memories? A place where I spent the most time? Where I know the most people? I'd gotten used to moving around a lot, never placing roots. Now here I am, in the same place after ten consecutive years. Is this home? Maybe home is not a place, but the people I love. So if home is the people that I love, and some people that I love have left, does that mean I have no home? Maybe home is where my dog is.

Listening to the voicemail my mother left this afternoon, I began to cry. She had called to ask if there were any special shampoos or hand lotions that she could buy so that I didn't have to bring all of my stuff with me. And she reminded me that I didn't have to bring the charger for my battery-operated toothbrush because I could use her charger.

It hit me then, listening to that message, that in a few days I really am going home.
an ache to be known
to be understood without having to find words

one man's trash . . .

goosebumps and tired eyes
clenched teeth and dry lips
like a BB through a tin can,
I am what's left behind.


Day was day. I, like the Incredible Hulk, with my temper — my eyeballs shake back and forth when I get really mad, and I can’t get any words out. Today I hated everyone and everything, which means that the problem with the world, today, was MY perception of it. Great now that I have the insight to recognize what’s really going on; I can’t place blame on anyone else. Insight = responsibility. Boo hiss. I just want to fight. Throw some punches. Kick. Wrestle. Rastle even. I want to kick and punch, to expend all of my negative energy, until meek and mild is left behind. I wonder what it’s like to be meek and mild. I most certainly will never know.


"Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and disconsolate rearrangers of things — anxious malcontents afflicted, apparently at birth, with a presentiment of loss."

Joan Didion


in the quiet of a cold, empty house you come across something you shouldn’t have. there are some truths one should never know. as you have done it to someone else, it has now been done to you. and you realize how sick you really are. sick evil twisted. a hater a demon a mistake. all of the games, all of the manipulation. you lose in the end. alone. lonely. solo. so lo.

it will take many more nights like these, in the quiet of a cold, empty house for you to learn your lesson. maybe.

instead of fighting it, fighting yourself you resolve to do one thing right: you will wake up in the morning.


Sad today. Lay offs at work. Not me, this time, but a friend. I think it's all a big conspiracy. Everyone's jumping on the "bad economy" bandwagon and using it as an excuse to get rid of people, or to threaten people. If I have to hear "well at least you still have a job" from management one more time I'm going to scream. I'm going to have to shut my mouth and stop talking to people in positions of authority, because, well, I shouldn't be talking to people in positions of authority.

I'll stop. It's pointless. I feel beaten down tonight. Beaten down by the reality of the times. And by the reality that I'm 33 years old and I'm not a little girl anymore. Grow up. Settle down. Move on. Won't someone please remind me that dreams do come true, and that it's never all that bad, and that if you wish for something hard enough, well, dreams do come true. Aren't we supposed to believe in miracles, especially around this time of year? I'm not complaining because I have it bad -- really, I'm very fortunate.


My journey thus far has been punctuated with short-lived infatuations, like sprinkles on a cake. These obsessions might make me seem a fool, but how can something be foolish if for a moment one believes in something wholeheartedly, with an ultimate passion? Crazy or not isn't it better to experience rapture than bland indifference? If I were to permanently live in this state of otherness, that might be something to question, because certainly one can't be happy/high/driven/infatuated all of the time. But for a little bit, why not?

Something I think of often, when I question myself, is John Keats' "I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affections and the truth of imagination. What the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth - whether it existed before or not."

These things are difficult to explain.


Yesterday, I overheard a conversation between my coworker K. and her little old man patient. She had spent the last half hour with this guy and he had been quiet and normal. Then she left him alone in her room for a few seconds.

Here’s what I heard:

K - What are you doing out of bed?

Patient - I had to pee. I kept telling you I had to pee.

K - You didn’t tell me you had to pee. Where did you pee?

P - I peed in the sink.

K - You peed in my sink??

P - No, I peed in the cup and then poured it in the sink.

K - You peed in my coffee cup?? I’ve had that coffee cup for seventeen years!!


i try to sleep but i think of you instead. i try to read but i think of you instead. i try to get high but i think of you instead. i try to remember that i'm happy but i think of you instead. i try to find peace but i think of you instead. instead of having you i'm solo. so lo. lo.


When a confused or demented patient gets agitated we give them a big pile of raggedy wrinkled washcloths and ask them to please fold them neatly into a stack. Given a task, a way to help out, to feel useful, they fold away, happy as clams. When the task is completed they proudly hand us the stack of folded washcloths. We say, 'Oh, thank you SO much. I really appreciate your help'. And they beam. We leave the room, out of sight, and turn the neat stack into a big pile of raggedy wrinkled washcloths for the same patient to fold again. And the cycle goes on.

I need a big pile of raggedy wrinkled washcloths.


This is something I wrote a while ago. It's not nice, but it's important.

I want someone to take care of me as I fall apart. To make decisions for me. To tell me what is wrong and what is right. To tell me not to worry. To tell me that I am special. To tell me that they will never ever leave me. To make a promise and keep that promise forever and ever. To tell me that one day I will be the same person that I was before.

I want someone who will not let me push them away when I am scared.

One guy, not important enough or lasting enough to mention by name, listened to my story, THE story, saying nothing, just listening, and when a lone teardrop rolled down my cheek, he wiped it away with his thumb and just kept listening. The most tender moment ever.

One guy, slightly more important and longer lasting, punched my spine, punched my kidney, and rammed his hand into my pussy until I bled.

“Punch me,” I had said.


“Anywhere. My face. Anywhere.”

“I’m not into giving pain.”

“Please, just hurt me.”

And he did.

One guy told me he loved me the first time we met. Later, he was on top of me, his sweat dripping onto my face. I kept my eyes open for the salty sting. “Cum on my face,” I said. “Really?” “Yes. Please.” And he did.

One guy wanted to use a condom. “No condom” I said. “Are you sure?” he asked. “Yes.” And he didn’t. Two weeks later I needed to take penicillin.

One guy tried to get me drunk. He kept handing me my glass saying “you’re not keeping up with me.” I laughed and said “Don’t worry. I’ll fuck you whether I’m drunk or not.”

One guy said “I’ll fuck you, but only if we keep it on the down low.” Fine.

One guy whispered poetry in Arabic as we lay together in the dark. Then he took off his clothes, kneeled over my face, and fucked my mouth, going so deep that semen oozed from my nostrils when he came.
I’ve always needed quiet to be able to think. Let’s try it this way for once. Music so loud I feel sick in my gut. Thinking hasn’t done much for me lately. Just do. Do it like this.

It rained all day. Cool breeze through the house until the rain stopped and rose from the hot ground in steam, streaming through the open windows, laying damp on the wood floors, sticky under feet, laying damp on the bed sheets. Sticky, swelling, unclean. Humidity opening me up.

Homework for the weekend is to have a pleasant experience. Some of the options listed in the book: take a bubble bath, have sex, go shopping, take a long walk, dine out, play tennis, read a book, paint your nails. My pleasant experience is music blasting, so so super loud. Only louder. No one to turn the music down for. No interruptions. I jump on the elliptical for a while to get my heart going, my lungs screaming, my pulse pounding at my temples and in my eyeballs. Then I lie in bed with the dog and kiss his head. Then I smoke a half-smoked joint on the floor of the living room, my legs hanging out the screen door onto the back patio, breathing in the humid pine tree air and thinking of New Hampshire and my great aunt who is now dead and I watch for the slow movements of deer meandering through the woods. I light a candle and watch it flicker on top of the fireplace mantle. I eat a piece of key lime pie, and not a small piece either. I try on a blouse I haven’t worn in years, fingering the buttons that I could never do up, tie the fabric belt in a tight bow at my back, cinching it as tight as it will go and still having too much room, too much fabric. Parts of me slowly melt away – I see a different change in the mirror every few times I look. As there becomes less of me, there becomes more of me.

I’m looking back today. Years back. Years and years and years. Split my current age in half. More even. I’m told I shouldn’t look back so much, but there’s a satisfaction in comparing the past to the present. This is not what I’d expected. Not the me I imagined myself to become. A different version. No better, no worse. Maybe more neutral. I’m throwing out the extremes of me. Finally seeing the shades of gray. Accepting the shades of gray. No more good, no more bad. I do miss the intensity though. The roller coaster ride. The ecstasy and the agony. Ebony and ivory. One for you and one for me. Wha?


unconditional love: an experiment

Throw your significant other and your dog in the trunk of your car. An hour later, open your trunk and see who is happier to see you.


indian summer november night. a fragment in orange. the agora too loud and the whiskey too cold. my hands crammed into the pockets of my jeans -- palms hot and sweaty and fingers minty from the pack of gum that kept changing hands. a fragment in orange.

good times. unusual friends. i'm glad to be back home, alone. sat in the lawn chair out back, listened to the dog piss, and stared at the stars. stare long enough and they shoot all over the place.

this is the new mindfulness. finding the big thing in the now. minute by minute. the new mindfulness. a fragment in orange.


A purge surfaces in a wide variety of ways. Tonight, it's me uninstalling computer programs. It's a benign kind of thing. I've got a country music song playing in my head and the smell of peanut butter on my breath. I just finished watching a bunch of videos of old people falling over and falling down; I'm tickled pink.

Words don't fail me now. Words, don't fail me now. Words (no emphasis on don't) don't fail me now.

I recently stumbled across this thing called existential loneliness. I haven't stumbled across what it feels like -- that's well known to me; to lots of people. But I stumbled across the term. I like how it sounds -- it just rolls off the tongue. I stole this from someplace: Existential loneliness is deeper and more pervasive than any other kind of loneliness. It often disguises itself as longing for a specific person or pretends to be yearning for contact with anyone, but this deeper lack or emptiness-of-being is not really a kind of loneliness at all. Being together with other people, even people we intensely love, does not overcome this deep incompleteness of being. This inner default of selfhood has never been solved by relationships, no matter how good and close and warm our relationships might be.

Previous people have bowed out of relationships with me saying "I'm not enough for you" or "I'm not what you want." It's funny that I stumbled across this thing called existential loneliness post-relationship(s). Maybe if I'd understood this thing back then I could have said, yes, you're enough for me, and yes, you're what I want. I could have said this has nothing to do with you. Maybe if I could have said these things the end would never have come.

From one of my favorite musicians: 'It's a hard thing to love anyone, anyhow.'


I don't want to be around people. Damn all the prior commitments I made. I feel as though I'm sitting back, waiting and watching to see what unfolds within myself. I picture the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Not necessarily angel and devil, but definitely two parts making one whole. Opposites of each other, pulling me in two directions. I should name these two parts, because I'm not supposed to be using the words "good" and "bad" (no judgments). Sarah 1 and Sarah 2 perhaps. Sarah Light and Sarah Dark? I like the latter. Although, Sarah Light isn't some ethereal, positive, happy-go-lucky entity. Sarah Light is the part of me that strives to change for the better. Maybe Sarah Get Better and Sarah Stand Still. Better yet.

I'm watching Sarah Stand Still in action. Resisting change. Creating chaos to overwhelm Sarah Get Better. Sarah Get Better is easily overwhelmed. She can focus on one or two things at a time. Throw a few hurdles in her way and she bows out to Sarah Stand Still.

I'm observing this play as if I'm not directly involved with any of it.

Sarah Stand Still is like a demon in need of a good exorcism. She hisses and seethes. Blackness oozing forth from every orifice, hot like lava, sticky like tar, and sour like molasses.

I watch this. Hear what comes from her mouth. See the faces she makes. Lips scrunched up, brows furrowed, eyes squinting. If she were a snake, you would know she was preparing to strike. I shake my head.


A steady, gentle rain falls. If you listen closely you can hear the rustle of the leaves on the big tree out back as each raindrop lands. All of the windows are open, inviting the cool and damp into this house of dusty air conditioned dryness. The back door is wide open for the breeze, liberating and casual. I've been watching too many serial killer shows on tv lately and I glance at the open door from time to time. In my dreams last night there was sex and music. The ocean. Billy was there, playing in the waves as they rolled onto the shore.

I'm listening to Mali music, watching the dog gnawing on his new bone. I'm swiffering the kitchen floor, washing the dishes. I'm drinking water with artificial berry flavor. I'm organizing my photos, removing the red eye on those I took at the party last night. Forty women dressed in pink, a surreal scene. The Positive Pink Party. I still don't understand the theme. Most women shied away from the camera, irritated by my imposition. I've become more comfortable behind the lens, less worried about the reaction I sometimes get from being the girl with the camera, in your face or across the room. I take a thousand shots of one person hoping to capture their spirit in at least one of them. My one friend has a rehearsed smile, practiced in the mirror since the disfiguring disease that left one side of her face heavy and reluctant to participate equally with the other half. She has a bigger than life personality, a loud almost-fake laugh that I love. I cannot capture her spirit because, when the camera is around her, she gives me the practiced smile of both sides of her face in perfect harmony.

I'm fascinated by the photographs that capture a personality that in reality does not exist. If you take enough photographs of one subject you will occasionally find one that depicts the person as someone he or she never truly is. How do you take a picture of something that does not exist?

Some of us sat around a fire pit out back, not minding the occasional spit from the darkness above. People often let down their guard around a fire. The intentionally projected false personas go up in smoke, people stripped bare. When this happens, I love everybody. There is always a moment in one's adult life that you are lovable, no matter how otherwise you may be the rest of the time. These moments keep me optimistic.


He watches as I put on my fishnet thigh highs. The right leg first, the left leg second. The band on the left leg won’t lie flat. It rolls downwards and becomes a tourniquet. I grunt with the effort of rolling it back up, flat. Two more tries and then Fuck it. He watches like I’m some girly girl with mystical sensual powers.

He got here late tonight and I berated him before he walked through the front door. “Come in,” I finally said, and turned, to let him stew as he followed me down the long hallway to the living room. Sitting on the couch he had a funny look on his face. I don’t know him well enough yet to read such a look. “What’s wrong?” The same funny look. “What’s wrong?” A tear dropped from a dark brown eye and rolled down his cheek.

I am irreverent about death. I’m irreverent about most things. There was a death, close to him, just a few hours ago. “But that’s not why I’m late,” he said. He also uses humor to mask the real deal.

I wasn’t looking forward to him coming over. I invest very little of my emotional self in the people I draw near. I am cold. I’m the proud owner of a big tall wall. The wall is up. Always. A few nights ago I told him I was done. With us, with all of it. It was a misunderstanding, he said. But I was done. No remorse. No hard feelings. Next.

I later played the scene back to a friend and she advised me to give him another chance. You have to stop walking away so quickly, she said. Give him another chance.

I no longer trust my own judgment. If you tell me what to do, I’ll do it. Because god knows I don’t trust myself any more.

Tonight I held his hand. Held him close. Sucked his cock. Twice. Fixed him a drink. Soothed him. It’ll be alright. You poor thing.

Inside, I felt nothing.


please don't reproach me
for how empty my life has become

. pj harvey .


I am anger. Hurt from inward blown outward in hate. Self-loathing turns ugly when spat into the faces of those who cross my path. My brow is perpetually furrowed. My jaw perpetually clenched. Angry me in this blue collar town.

Driving home tonight you said that you've never seen me this quiet. I smile at your remark because on the inside I am screaming at the top of my lungs. I am screaming that I hate you. That I hate everything about you. Go home and go to bed. I hate you.

I am not from this town. It chose me. It defeated me. It beat me down. And here I stay.

I couldn't keep my eyes off of her tonight. Off of her slender fingers and stick-straight hair. The twist of her lips into a sly, shy smile. Steal me away. Take me from this town. Fix me up. Make me whole. Let's cut ourselves up and open, and bleed together.


There is you and me in the dark, and you and me in the light; two separate entities that rarely coexist peacefully.

I try to imagine what it must be like to be loved, fully and completely. Accepted for who and what I am. Loved, in spite of it all. Loved, because of it all. I try to imagine what making love might feel like in this ultimate scenario. Love and sex mixed together, seamlessly. I cannot say with absolute certainty that this coexistence is impossible in real life. I hope for it, but I don’t expect it. The ideal, in practicality, is bits and pieces from this person and that person, at this time, and at that time. Never all at the same time with the same person. This idea doesn’t sadden me. Instead, I am happy to have had the realization. It’s certainly better than chasing a fantasy, to be eternally disappointed with the same lackluster result each and every time.

In you I experience the acceptance of another. I do not need to hide myself. I’m sure I hide some things some times, but it’s not intentional. You never know what tricks the mind will play. I trust you with what you see in me. Good and bad. In the dark you embrace me, seemingly enraptured by all you see, hear, smell, feel and taste. In the light, I don’t trust you at all.

I am not a patient person. I want it all. I want it now. I want more. More and more and more until I have too much and I’m not at all happy with what I’ve got. Are we all like this?

We have tried it many different ways, at many different times. Each new attempt embraced wholly as if we had never failed before. I would like to know what you’re thinking. Something much simpler, I’d imagine. It doesn’t really matter. My perception is reality. As long as I don’t expect anything from you, we’ll be just fine.

But I will expect something, and we will fail again. This is the last time. I promise.
from her, with love:

My answer to every passionless day is to remember you. I think about the first time our tongues met and how for that second I was so swept away that nothing existed but that kiss. I remember not wanting to tell you that I loved you, and I simply couldn't NOT say it because it was too right. I think about how you stopped touching me long enough to say that you loved me too, and how much I wanted to hear you say that. It was like the words went from your lips right down my naked spine and into some part of me that even I can't seem to reach. And I think about how even now, when I remember it, the memory has that same effect on me. If for a second you felt the same way, then this has all been worth it.


Headache. My head aches. Or, my jaw aches. I've been grinding my teeth in my sleep. Head fuzzy, thoughts disjointed, I palpate my eyeballs and imagine what might happen if I removed them from their sockets.

D. came over tonight, his usual spicy vanilla cookie cologne wafting into my house before he had cleared the front door. He is very thin. At work I always stop what I'm doing to watch him walk away, down the long hallway -- his white dress shirt tucked into the too-big dress pants that are cinched tightly, bunched up, at his waist. I often wonder if his wife cooks for him.

At first I was awkward around him, painfully aware of the gold band on his finger and painfully aware of my desire to kiss him. He showed me how to access the pinball game on my computer. He's much older than I (I forget sometimes) and I'm tickled by his excitement when he demonstrates this or that new technology. Boyish wonder. Glee. I see who he must have been as a child. His eyelashes are girlishly long. They splash against the lenses of his glasses when he blinks. At first I was awkward around him.

I am the cute, quirky, friendly girl in the day-glo orange and palm-treed scrubs. I find it hard to believe that anyone takes me seriously. My laugh disguises the real me. My stomach was in my throat when I first put my hand on his. Work would be forever awkward if he pulled his hand away. But he didn't. And it isn't.

The smell of his cologne makes me salivate. He grins when I lick his neck. It's only when I unbutton his shirt that he gets serious. I get goosebumps when he gets serious. Because when he gets serious he looks me straight in the eye, and I cannot hide.

He is in a bowling league with his wife. When he told me that, I laughed. Maybe he is less worldly than I like to think he is. "Do you wear matching shirts?" I ask. I like to ask questions about his wife. At first he was annoyed, as if I wanted to hear him put her down. He seems comfortable talking about her now, comfortable with satiating my curiosity, but he never brings her up unless prompted. Some nights I lie awake picturing the two of them sleeping next to one another. I must make peace with the frustration of knowing that there are sides to him that I'll never see.

Tonight he fucked me as I perched on the bathroom countertop with one foot in one sink and the other foot in the other sink. I still have the imprint of the faucets on the backs of my thighs. I end up with bruises in the most unusual places, and I admire them until they're almost gone -- the yellowing of each bruise marks his imminent return. He raised his head and gazed into my eyes when he came, and I looked away.

Tonight, as I buttoned up his shirt, he took quick, short puffs on his cigarette, in a hurry to get home. "How's seven thirty on Thursday sound?" he asked. I fastened his tie and tried to ignore the Patsy Cline song playing in my head.


Tonight I lost god.

As a child, I was persuaded to believe. I was told that I must have faith. I never achieved faith, but I did believe -- in something. Not in the good and the love and the we are the world way, but instead in the sin, shame and punishment way.

Even with god dead and buried I remain fearful of him. I think twice before I spell his name in lowercase. I am afraid to evoke the wrath of the angry Old Testament grandfather of the clouds, his long scraggly beard chock full of plagues.

To be fearful suggests that I might want to believe again.

I say that I lost god. If only I were truly that brave.


She is not one to stop moving. Up and down, back and forth, her constant activity is dizzying. Now she's searching for songs on the jukebox. Now she's talking to strangers at the bar. Now she's dancing with her toothless neighbor. In the bathroom, a dirty and smoky closet, she kisses me hard, our front teeth bashing together. She laughs, "less teeth" she says, and kisses me again, and she's out the door leaving a trail of energy behind her. I am taken aback, slightly disturbed, and wanting more. This time, a quiet, thoughtful, slow and long kiss. She is now flirting with the racist boy who never looks her way.

She drinks. A lot. When she gets up from the bar stool to do whatever it is she's doing now, I drink from her glass, hoping that it might make a difference in what happens next. Her spirit is both intoxicating and frustrating. I want her to myself. I want her openness. Her passion. Her intensity. I have my own, but it is accompanied by an ugly darkness lurking just beneath the surface.

We were not planning on staying long. One free drink. I haven't known this girl long, but I already know that one is never enough. Nothing is enough.

She wants to take the racist boy home with us. The thought is both amusing and exciting. Maybe he deserves the exposure to this girl and her silent disease. It's a cruel thought and I'm glad when he leaves the bar alone.

I've had too much to drink and want to go home. It's that time of night when a sad and ugly glow is cast upon those of us remaining. We wait for someone to return with her five dollars' worth of cocaine. "I swear I haven't used since August," she says. "I don't normally do this." At ten o'clock the next morning she will be at the methadone clinic. I shake my head in disapproval and she gives me a look meant to manipulate me in her favor.

Back at her place I sit in her room and watch MTV. I'm desperately trying to sober up so I can go home, back to the normalcy of my own life. She is upstairs, at the toothless neighbor's, doing a few more lines. When she returns she is in the midst of a full-blown panic attack. "Do you know CPR?" she asks. "If I die, will you do CPR on me?" I roll my eyes and she gives me that look again.
My patient is a man named Albert. A pleasant man, he asks me how I'm doing today.

I work in the dark and don't notice the blood until I pull the white towel away from his groin. Even in the dark, the contrast between white and red is unmistakable. I pull back the sheet and see the long slit in his belly, lacing like a corset bringing the edges of the cut together. He is eviscerating, intestine bulging out this way and that. I look at his face for clues of pain, death. He remains pleasant.

He has been coughing and frothy phlegm has dribbled down his chin, across his double chin, and now collects in a pool on the neckline of his gown. It is pink-tinged. I wipe his chin with a washcloth, expecting the rusty metal smell of blood. Instead, it's something more familiar. Cotton candy. Sweet. Unmistakable. I laugh at myself.

I change the sheets, throw everything bloody and cotton-candied into the laundry and cover him with clean white brilliance. For a few minutes we sit together in silence.
We tell our stories.
We listen and empathize.
We don't omit details.
We don't tell lies.

And still, no one will ever really know.

There was this woman. The sweetest woman you'd ever want to meet. She was married, to a history professor I think, and had five children. One day, she stabbed her five children to death. They say she gave them something first, a sedative or something. They say the husband was having an affair. The woman jumped from ten floors up. They found her on the ground.

We tell our stories.


The familiar melancholy of your guitar reaches me and tears flow. I have no reason to cry. The familiarity, those sounds, open up a space in me that I did not know existed. Haunting melancholy and I could not feel better than I do right now. Strong. Capable. Real. Fine with it all. I will forever profess my love for you. I give you my soul. I give you my will. The familiar melancholy of your guitar, my twin. I am alright.