Constant Reader

WordPress recently informed me that my blog is getting a new follower practically every day, which is interesting.  I mean, this isn’t Twitter, where a few characters grab your attention and you hit that follow button.  You have to actually read my article to want to follow me, and most if not all of these followers are fellow bloggers.  I am starting to push the 350 mark, and these folks are from all over the globe, which I just think is so cool.  Like, I’ve had a reader in Malta for several years and I don’t know if it’s one person or a couple, but either way…Hello!!  I think about you all the time!

I do.  I think about my readers a lot.  And so…

Dear Constant Reader (as Steve would say,)

Hello again, friend.  I see you.  I see you each Monday and Thursday when my page views skyrocket and I get the little list of countries across the world that are reading my words.  I see you each week when I get my rundown report from WordPress, and it tells me how you found me or where you went, and if you liked what you saw.  I see you.  (But not like…in a creepy way.)

I have kept this blog for a few years now, maybe four I think, and I have been growing it in my head for so long, that it is beautiful to me that you would stop and give a portion of your day to my thoughts.  How selfless that is in its way, and how much it means to me. 

I can write books, and I can publish poems, and I can Facebook and tweet and TikTok, but I don’t get the love from there that I get from here.  I don’t have randoms stumbling across a post they connect with and then suddenly following me and devouring half my work in one sitting.  That only happens with my blogs, this one especially.  I have been keeping blogs for over 20 years now, and I have never seen the successes I have with this one.  That is because of you.

I write for you, in here.  Not for myself even, or any kind of notoriety at all, but because there is someone out there who likes what I have to say, or at the very least, wants to hear it; wants to listen.  I write conversationally here, because I feel I am conversing with you, doing this with you, not alone.  And I thank you for that.

Lately my posts are a little short, because I am going so hard on my novel right now, which is just swimming right along, but my blog is still the most important thing I write.  It is my soapbox that I pull out and stand on, it is my diary where I divulge my secrets, it is my old friend who knows me better than I know myself.  And you, constant reader…it would be nothing were it not for you.  So…thanks.

Always, Brigid

The Next Verse

So, as you may know, earlier this year I released a chapbook of poetry regarding chronic and mental illness.  I like chapbooks, because usually they revolve around a topic of some sort, and I like poetry that speaks to a certain thing.  They’re smaller than your regular collection, but if you’re looking for a certain area to read about, you can find it easier.  A friend asked about a month or so ago what was the next for me on the poetry front, and I said I was composing a chap of love poems.  Not the usual “shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” sort, mind you.  I don’t write like that. 

This book will actually be about love that is obsessed over, brutally mismanaged, and often unrequited. 

Then the other day, I was sitting on the couch watching the news and Hubs was playing his phone game, and I thought gee…maybe your husband might not like it if you publish a book of poetry about other dudes.  Maybe he will feel threatened, or jealous, or betrayed somehow.  “Babe, how would you feel if I published a chapbook about other men?”

“I honestly do not care.”  He didn’t even look up from his game.

After he won his round, he looked up and went on to say that he felt himself to be the winner in the situation and as such was not worried.  He didn’t really need to explain though, because when he said he didn’t care, I knew he was telling the truth.

I have been writing poems since I was fifteen years old.  I have been with Mark since I was 27.  That is over a decade of angsty poems about various guys I encountered during that time, and my husband is not so simple that he thinks I was just waiting around for him. 

Some of the poems are crap, but could be well-fixed with edits.  Some are good.  A couple even rhyme, something I used to do all the time but rarely do now, as a lot of mags won’t accept rhyming poems.  Which I think is crap…it’s harder to write a good rhyming poem than a good free verse.  But I digress…

Anyway, I’ve got all these poems about these men.  Some are wonderful dudes that I am proud to have  known and loved.  Others are not.  Now, when I edit, I try to read though once from an outsider’s perspective, as best as I can.  How would I relate to this poem were I not me?  Could I relate to it, even?  Sometimes the answer is no, and I cut it from the project.  Sometimes it’s a resounding yes.  Sometimes it’s a maybe, and I edit it to make it more adaptable.  I’ve done this with twenty poems so far.  I may be able to scrounge up a couple more, which would be nice, but that’s a decent length for a chapbook.

My first book was about chronic and mental illness.  All the poems in it were a reflection of myself at my most vulnerable.  Having succeeded in overcoming my fears regarding such things, I am ready to tackle another vulnerable side of myself, the part of me that gives permission to love.  And who on earth can’t relate to that, in some form? 

Anyway, this is just my brain working.  It’s a ways off before I send it out to folks, but I’m thinking of it today.  My next chapbook out will actually hopefully be a mini-chap though Pen & Anvil Press, but I am still waiting to hear back from them regarding editing and publication dates.  But this guy, this little book of love and hate and loss and lust, that’s what I’m working on next, poetry-wise.

But probably not until December.  Because, you know, 10 days until NaNo. 

New Car, New Life.

Summer, 10 years ago.

I worked at a day care.  I had just bought my first car, an old blue Explorer that I named Betsey.  I was enjoying the freedom she provided, being able to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted.  I think, really, that were it not for that old car, I would not be where I am today.

One July afternoon, I was sitting at my computer and I received a Facebook message.  It was my ex-boyfriend, Mark.  Now, we had dated briefly back in 2003, and he, in his 20-year-old stupidity, totally messed that up.  So, for seven years we did our own thing…he went and had four kids, I threw myself into my theater work, and we didn’t think much of the other except perhaps in passing.  Yet, to say that our business was finished would be incorrect.

He messaged me occasionally over the years, friendly-like.  He was in a relationship with the kids’ mother and I respected that.  But then came that July afternoon.  I asked after his relationship-he said they weren’t together anymore.  I didn’t think much of it in the moment.

He asked if I wanted to hang out.  I told him I had the car now, so I could come pick him up, and we drove down to the marina where we went for so many walks back in the early days.  We caught up, told each other about our lives, our families, and such…it was nice.  I drove him home, and we had a couple beers with his roommate.  I got ready to leave, and he kissed me goodnight.

We hung out regularly after that, but neither of us were keen to put a title on it.  He had just ended a big relationship.  I was busy beyond belief…I had two jobs, one at the day care and one at the theater, and no time.

Then one night he decided we were going to go on a real date.  He took me to an Indian place.  I had never had Indian food, and he was excited to share the experience with me.  We were all dressed up because after we planned to go downtown to Curtain Up.  It was a big night, theater-wise, and I had never brought a date.  He reached across the table and took my hand.  “So…I guess you’re my girlfriend now, right?”  I smiled.  I guessed so.

As we drove downtown, I expressed that I was a little nervous to tell my parents we were seeing each other again.  My mother held little love after our breakup, even though I never said a harsh word against Mark during it.  She just took on the Mama-bear role, and who could blame her?  He assured me that while he was also nervous, it would all be fine.

Then we pulled into the parking lot.  Right next to my parents, who were getting out of their car.

Thrown headfirst into our fears, Mark greeted my parents warmly and my mother was surprisingly excited to see him.  We had a lovely time walking around downtown with them and enjoying the night.  When I got home, I was exhausted, but I was happy.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you.  The next six months of our relationship were difficult.  We made mistakes.  We spent time apart. We considered the cut-and-run. 

Mark moved to Amsterdam, NY for a bit.  This was particularly hard.  During that time, my trusty blue Explorer because less trustworthy, and died on me.  So, I went and bought a white Buick named George, and that is what I was driving when I picked him up at the train station.

We’d had a talk. He needed to come home.  He missed his kids.  He couldn’t find work.  And, he missed me, too.  So, I sent him the money for a train ticket, and he came home.  “I miss Betsey,” he says, as we drive towards the next destination in our lives.  I miss Betsey, too.

It is ten years later.

So much has happened.  We have lost and gained jobs.  We have been broke.  We have been homeless.  We have changed career paths.  We have moved apartments.  We have dealt with illness and depression.  We got married.  We have lost people we loved, and reconnected with people we lost.  We have been through SIX cars.  I don’t know that I would change any of it, though.  This September will mark not only 4 years of us being married, but ten years of us being together.  A whole decade.  It seems remarkable to me, given all that we have conquered.

So much has happened in ten years, all because one day I bought a new car, and Mark messaged me, and I went to show it off.

The early days vs. now.

The Love Remains

I’ve only really personally known one person that killed themselves.

(That’s a harsh way to start a post, huh?)

I’m not going to share his name, because we were only friends for a short time and because of that I somehow feel that his death is not really mine to mourn.  Still, when I logged onto Facebook one day and saw all our mutuals posting tributes on his wall, I cried.  I thought, as I’m sure everyone did, that if he had just reached out…maybe I could have done something.  But we weren’t close.  We worked together for a while, and I was his Secret Santa one year.  Hung out a couple times.  What could I have possibly done, except point him to a suicide hotline?  But maybe that would have been enough.  Who knows? 

(That was, completely coincidentally, the year I started doing the AFSP Out of Darkness Walk.  They read a list of names, and his was on it…I felt my heart drop to my shoe.) 

Last summer, I saw a guy in a crowd that looked like him.  For a second, I thought it was a ghost, that’s how close the resemblance was.  I remembered how I felt when he died…that I lost someone I once called “friend,” and felt powerless.  I don’t feel as powerless now.  I do the walk every year and raise funds to save lives, lives like his.  Lives like mine. 

That helps.

Anyway, after I saw this ghost it got me thinking of people in my life that I have lost contact with.  It’s a lot.  Like…a hell of a lot.  And it is all depression’s fault.  It went and convinced me these people didn’t really care about me in the way I cared about them and kept me from reaching out to maintain friendships that were important to me.  I thought to myself, that if one of these people committed suicide, I would be heartbroken.  I wanted people to know that despite my mental health keeping me from being present, the people I love will always be with me, and can always call on me when they need to.  So, I started sending messages.  About one a month, to people I loved and missed.  When I would see a meme or something that reminded me of someone, instead of just thinking “Gee, I miss so-and-so,” I would send it to them with a message. 

And so, I talked to my college buddies.  I had coffee with a friend I hadn’t seen for three years.  I reconnected with one of my besties from high school.  At Christmas, I sent messages to people I did Xmas shows with when I was in my teens.  I just so happened to message my middle school best friend the night before she got engaged.  Yesterday, I messaged a friend I haven’t seen in at least a decade AND my former therapist.  My point is that I tried to reach out, and good things came of it.

And…

I hope these people know.  I hope all the people I have ever met in my life know…that I am here.  If I loved you before, I have not stopped.  I wrote a play once, and the premise was that love, in all its forms, does not dissipate.  Take a relationship…you may break up, it may be awful, but you loved them once, and that love lives on in your subconscious whether you acknowledge it or not.  Or, someone you’ve had a falling out with…for instance, there is a woman that I’m pretty sure doesn’t like me.  And that’s fine.  She doesn’t have to.  We had a falling out many years ago, and I personally don’t think she’s ever forgiven me.  Again, that’s fine, it’s her prerogative.  Still, if she called me in a panic, I’d summon the part of me that used to be friends with her and run to her aid.  It’s just the kind of person I am, and why I believe that the love remains.

I do not give up on people.  It may seem that way at times, because I fall into depressive episodes that can last anywhere from an hour to five years.  I hate losing my people, be it to distance, time, or circumstance.  I will always, always be here.  Do not hesitate.  I don’t want to hear them read your name at the suicide walk, guys.

And also…maybe I just miss you.

My point is to reconnect.  To try to do something to maintain the relationships that mattered to you, even though the world seems to have gotten in the way.  And if you’re in a really dark place, all the more reason to reach out.  And if you need me, I’m here.

Mark and Me, Condensed

  • Boy meets Girl at Spot Coffee on Elmwood because Girl is being loud and Boy is an eavesdropper. They have dinner the following night.
  • Boy and Girl date for two months, until Boy cheats on Girl because Boy is twenty and stupid.
  • Boy goes and has four kids. Girl marries job. 7 years pass.
  • Boy IMs Girl, asks to hang. She does.  This becomes regular.
  • Boy takes Girl out to dinner and to Curtain Up and asks her to be his girlfriend. Girl thinks this is cute, says ok.
  • Boy loses job and apartment and moves to Nowhereville USA. Girl visits once, uses trip as opportunity to decide if Boy is actually worth it.
  • Girl buys Boy a train ticket home. Boy lives in motel and works shit jobs.
  • Boy loses room at motel, is homeless, is saved by Girls aunts. Boy and Girl decide they are inseparable.  Boy gets decent job.
  • Boy gets apartment and Girl moves in. Boy and Girl move out a year later because their landlady is bananas.
  • Boy and Girl move to Lovejoy. Two years pass.  Boy asks girl to marry him.
  • Boy and Girl move to South Buffalo, but are evicted by asshole landlord. Three months before wedding Boy and Girl are living in motel, Boy in dead end job, and with a car that has been totaled in a recent accident.  Some sort of miracle occurs and…
  • Girl gets apartment from very nice landlord. Girl gets good return on car and buys new one.  Boy gets new job.
  • Boy and Girl get married. Nothing changes, but everything is different.
  • Two years pass. Girl writes this blog post on anniversary, grateful that she and Boy have made it through so many ups and downs and come out together and on top of it all.  Girl is glad she was being loud at Spot Coffee fifteen years ago.

Happy Anni, Hubs.

mm42