you shall love your crooked neighbor

to my oldest friend, whose silence is like a death | lloyd schwartz

In today’s paper, a story about our high school drama
teacher evicted from his Carnegie Hall rooftop apartment

made me ache to call you — the only person I know
who’d still remember his talent, his good looks, his self-

absorption. We’d laugh (at what haven’t we laughed?), then
not laugh, wondering what became of him. But I can’t call,

because I don’t know what became of you.

— After sixty years, with no explanation, you’re suddenly
not there. Gone. Phone disconnected. I was afraid

you might be dead. But you’re not dead.

You’ve left, your landlord says. He has your new unlisted
number but insists on “respecting your privacy.” I located

your oldest son, who refuses to tell me anything except that
you’re alive and not ill. Your ex-wife ignores my letters.

What’s happened? Are you in trouble? Something
you’ve done? Something I’ve done?

We used to tell each other everything: our automatic
reference points to childhood pranks, secret codes,

and sexual experiments. How many decades since we started
singing each other “Happy Birthday” every birthday?

(Your last uninhibited rendition is still on my voice mail.)

How often have we exchanged our mutual gratitude — the easy
unthinking kindnesses of long friendship.

This mysterious silence isn’t kind. It keeps me
up at night, bewildered, at some “stage “of grief.

Would your actual death be easier to bear?

I crave your laugh, your quirky takes, your latest
comedy of errors. “When one’s friends hate each other,”

Pound wrote near the end of his life, “how can there be
peace in the world?” We loved each other. Why why why

am I dead to you?

Our birthdays are looming. The older I get, the less and less
I understand this world,

and the people in it.

When you hate yourself and feel terrible, it makes it more likely that terrible things will escape your mouth. But at the end of the day, being depressed does not excuse being mean. Mean is a choice.

…

Nobody is all good or all bad. We wouldn’t put up with crappy behavior from people if they didn’t have good qualities, and crappy behavior can come in very charismatic and appealing packages. So our sense of fairness and loyalty and what it means to be a good friend gets turned against us while we work hard to see the whole person, but they keep right on being mean. “Why are they doing this?” doesn’t matter. Their depression doesn’t matter. If someone is treating you badly, and you make them aware of the problem and ask them to stop, and they keep going with what they were doing before? That is a strong indicator that you should re-consider having them in your life at all.

…

Please do not sink all of your time and energy into figuring out mean people. Your kindness cannot fill them up, but their unkindness can drain you dry.

Maybe this person will get better, eventually, and maybe they’ll stop being so mean. You do not have to hold out for that day. You can waste so much time waiting for that day. It is okay to say “I hope you feel better, but I can’t be around you when you make mean comments like that, so let’s take a break.” It is okay to hit the “block” button on your chat program and your phone. It is okay to make that a unilateral decision. “I’m sorry, my feelings have changed, and I don’t think it’s a good idea if we are involved.” You are not responsible for knitting anyone back together or waiting out the mean times or spending these precious days worried about someone else.

When you hate yourself and feel terrible, it makes it more likely that terrible things will escape your mouth. But at the end of the day, being depressed does not excuse being mean. Mean is a choice.

Nobody is all good or all bad. We wouldn’t put up with crappy behavior from people if they didn’t have good qualities, and crappy behavior can come in very charismatic and appealing packages. So our sense of fairness and loyalty and what it means to be a good friend gets turned against us while we work hard to see the whole person, but they keep right on being mean. “Why are they doing this?” doesn’t matter. Their depression doesn’t matter. If someone is treating you badly, and you make them aware of the problem and ask them to stop, and they keep going with what they were doing before? That is a strong indicator that you should re-consider having them in your life at all.

Please do not sink all of your time and energy into figuring out mean people. Your kindness cannot fill them up, but their unkindness can drain you dry.

Maybe this person will get better, eventually, and maybe they’ll stop being so mean. You do not have to hold out for that day. You can waste so much time waiting for that day. It is okay to say “I hope you feel better, but I can’t be around you when you make mean comments like that, so let’s take a break.” It is okay to hit the “block” button on your chat program and your phone. It is okay to make that a unilateral decision. “I’m sorry, my feelings have changed, and I don’t think it’s a good idea if we are involved.” You are not responsible for knitting anyone back together or waiting out the mean times or spending these precious days worried about someone else.

(Source: captainawkward.com)

some fan-freaking-tastic advice about toxic relationships for your wednesday: part V 

This isn’t comforting, but I think literally anything that you do here is going to cause a fight. “Hey, can we take a break from talking about Bob tonight?” to just changing the subject “I want to hear about your research. Or that TV show we like. Or, what are you reading lately?” ==> you are challenging Bob’s place at the center of her life ==> You are activating some triggers that Bob has planted about how other people will try to control her and no one can control who she loves !!!!!!!!!! (except…Bob) ==> It plays into Bob’s hands and isolates her further from a voice of reason.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do these things. Someone who can literally only talk about one subject to the point of repeating stories over and over during the same party and relating literally every other topic to that subject is irritating to be around. As another person at that party you’re within bounds to say “That story is as hilarious the third time as it was the first time! Actually, not really, though. Let’s get your drunk ass home!” In the day to day, it is okay to set boundaries like that and continually enforce them. You don’t have to talk about the Bob thing as a whole, maybe just keep it focused on her behaviors. I try to maintain a two-or-three-redirects-and-we’re-done-for-the-day rule for boundary tromping conversations.

I want to address the thing you say in your letter about your own past with a relationship like this. “Am I just reading into things too much, possibly because of my own bad past relationship?” People always want to write off a past history of abuse as unfair “bias”, like, “Well, she’s just saying that because of her own history, so she’s biased and unfair, you can’t expect her to be truly impartial.”

Like “impartiality” and “fairness” is the greatest thing we owe one another when we witness a friend being harassed and browbeaten by someone.

Like abuse doesn’t follow recognizable & predictable patterns and our perception of it must be reinvented from scratch each time we see it happen.

Like our own experiences as witnesses to those patterns somehow make us less believable, less reliable.

Like all of this mistrust of our experiences and pressure to be impartial isn’t deeply, deeply gendered.

I don’t know what will happen to Alice and Bob, but I do know what what you survived made you more able to see what is happening to your friend and gave you more insight and authority. I need the idea that someone who has survived an abusive relationship is somehow less able, less likely, or less reliable in recognizing abuse when it happens to others to die. In a fire.



Come ride my horse made of equal parts fury and disdain for abusers and the culture that enables them by trivializing the experiences of victims.

some fan-freaking tastic advice about toxic relationships for your wednesday: part IV (buddy wakefield edition) 

what happens is, people mistake passion for love. and sometimes, one person falls in love with another person and the person that loves the most, they feel like they’re at the mercy of the person who loves the least. and it causes this person to sit on the edge of their bed for months at a time with the wind knocked out of their heart, dealing with rejection and not knowing what to do with this all-consuming feeling that is overwhelming. this obsession, this infatuation, this burning, desperate thing that some people call love when in fact it’s just a burning desperate thing.

and here’s the deal - you don’t have to do anything with it, except observe it. this fact that you love someone or you want someone, this is not a tragedy. this is a part of the law of nature. but do know that for things to ever get better, you must pass through it. you don’t have to judge it as pain or pleasure, or hate or love, but you must observe it. let it get as big as its going to get, as overwhelming as it may seem. you’ve got to pass through it. 

you don’t give love in order to get love, you give love in order to become love. and it’s okay to keep loving that which you think is rejecting you. i promise it’s for your best. i know how of little worth that statement sounds. 

i know the last time i was in it, my heart got really bruised, worse than ever. somebody in my family said, “buddy listen, you have got to forgive and forget.” and i was like, “ohhh, suck a dick.” 

because i find forgiveness to be the most phenomenal of concepts, but no one in my family ever modeled it so i didn’t know how to implement that tool. in fact, no one in my community was modeling it and as i look further, no one in my government actually models it either. 

and so, forgiveness. what a fantastic concept, right? 

i saw a therapist during this time. the only one i ever paid to see - there were two in college who were free who i was determined were gonna make me straight, but they weren’t helpful. kind, but not helpful. but i did pay to see this one.

i was like, “there’s got to be, like, textbook 101: how to get over this shit.” and i went and saw him and said “listen, boss man. i am in pain. i am deeply in love and it is not reciprocated and i want to die. every day, i think about eating a shotgun and i need to know an effective way to cope. right now.”

and he said, “you are in love?” and i said, “yes.” 

and he said, “who taught you what love is?” and i said, “i guess my parents did.” 

and he said, “how many times did you say they were married?” and i said, “eight. four each.”

there was a long moment of silence and i went, “touché.”

this poem is about forgiveness.

______

listen

______

"forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past."

(Source: m.youtube.com)

some fan-freaking-tastic advice about toxic relationships for your wednesday: part III 

this world is not my home, i am only passing through | charles wright

The more you say, the more mistakes you’ll make,
                                                  so keep it simple.
No one arrives without leaving soon.
This blue-eyed, green footed world— 
                                               hello, Goldie, goodbye.

We won’t meet again. So what?
The rust will remain in the trees,
                                            and pine needles stretch their necks,
Their tiny necks, and sunlight will snore in the limp grass.

(Source: NPR)

some fan-freaking-tastic advice about toxic relationships for your wednesday: part II 

It’s nice to be in love. The stakes are really fucking high, though. You can’t align yourself with an emotional terrorist. You can’t. It’s too hard. You might ALMOST be able to pull it off for a few months, from a distance. But once you’re in deeper? You’re living together, you’re thinking about marriage, the wedding is being planned, you’re pregnant, and he’s freaking out over something tiny, and you feel like you can’t back out anymore?

I hate to discourage two people in love. But the stakes are really high. You know something is wrong and you need to trust your feelings and be brave about this. Being in love is really nice. But being in love with someone who makes sense, who is calm and supportive and confident, who accepts exactly who you are right now, who doesn’t want you to change a thing, who doesn’t blame you for being a regular, flawed human being with a rich past and rich future? That feels amazing. It’s a love that includes feeling GREAT about who you are, with all of your little dents and shortcomings, with all of your big thoughts and dreams and insecurities and secret fears.

It’s smart to say no to something that doesn’t feel right, that can’t feel right, no matter how hard you try. You need to show yourself that you won’t sell yourself short and settle for someone who can never accept you, flaws and all. Being strong will be tough, but it will feel good. You might be lonely, but you’ll know from now on you won’t settle for anyone who isn’t good to you.

If you’re apologizing like crazy and it’s still not ok, that tells you a lot. Stop apologizing for yourself. True love doesn’t demand an apology.

wait, what?

shoutout to those of you who started following me way back when this was an actual blog full of posts about my day & slightly-out-of-focus flickr photos of trees & quotes from books i never got around to reading & songs that made me feel all the feels, loudly and all at once. i love/hate/occasionally cry about being able to go back and read those memories i’ve long since forgotten & it’s certainly interesting seeing just how different i am (weirder? definitely. more sure of my self-worth? yes and no. less naive? god, i hope so).

sometimes i miss having somewhere to shout into the void. maybe i’ll come back after another 7 years.

whatever, rambling, bye.

loveandeloquence:

He’s Counting Down From 21, And By The Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach Is In Knots

on the pulse of morning | maya angelou

5

Across the wall of the world,

A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
Come, rest here by my side.

6

Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sang and sings on.

(Source: thehairpin.com)

litany in which certain things are crossed out | richard siken

Dear Forgiveness, you know that recently
we have had our difficulties and there are many things
I want to ask you.
I tried that one time, high school, second lunch, and then again,
years later, in the chlorinated pool.
I am still talking to you about help. I still do not have
these luxuries.
I have told you where I’m coming from, so put it together.
We clutch our bellies and roll on the floor …
When I say this, it should mean laughter,
not poison.
I want more applesauce. I want more seats reserved for heroes.
Dear Forgiveness, I saved a plate for you.
Quit milling around the yard and come inside.

(Source: poetryfoundation.org)

some fan-freaking-tastic advice about toxic relationships for your wednesday afternoon: 

"And THAT guy doesn’t exist, without your poison. Right? That’s the key, base-level, fundamental thing that you believe right now. You CREATED that motherfucker. It’s ALL you’re fault. ALL OF IT.

So that’s where the inability to move on comes from. You don’t want to face him and have him be mean to you and set you back even more, because looking him in the eyes means facing the fact that you loved this sick person, and married him and accepted him and he’s still out there, this fucking destroyer of everything. You made him and he’s still out there.

I want you to think about how much you imagine that you created him, that his poison is your poison, that his shitty story is your story. Because in order to let him go, strangely, you have to look at how much you blame yourself. I blame myself when someone backs away from me. Some piece of me is sure that, in the end, it will just be me, telling everyone FUCK OFF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING.

When you feel that way? You have to try very hard to stay vulnerable and let people in. Even though you feel so unprotected, so defensive, so angry. ‘Fuck you, I’m crying every night,’ you’re thinking. But you’re also pissed and prideful and you won’t let go of your story. Whenever anyone tells you a specific, very detailed timeline – he did this, so I did this, then he did this – that almost always means that they want you to know JUST HOW MANY TIMES they were innocent and the other person was guilty and bad, and that means that they suspect that THEY CAUSED EVERY FUCKING THING on that timeline.

I know because I do it, too, whenever, deep down, I suspect that something is about me and my rottenness. I can’t tell the story often enough. ‘See? See what happened? Can you believe it? Is that nuts? How did I get here? I’m good, right? I’m kind and nice, right? So why am I here?’

YOU KNOW WHAT? SHIT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOOD.

It’s not your fault. You are not some toxic cloud that he gets to step out of. It’s hard to feel that way when you look back and ask yourself why you accepted so little, and yet HE’S THE ONE who paints you as some festering crazy volcano, he’s the one who’s the child, telling you not to be childish.

Don’t give too much and resent it afterwards. Get a used copy of ‘Codependent No More.’ Read the whole thing. You want to take care of people. Don’t fucking do it, unless it’s an actual child. You like half-interested, wishy-washy types who seem tough. Fuck them. Find someone sweet who really sees you and needs you. To find that person, you have to be sweet and child-like yourself. You have to love yourself, damaged and sad, exactly how you are right now. You put yourself last. From now on, you are first.”

April 12, 2014: I Don’t Miss It, Tracy K. Smith

april-is:

I Don’t Miss It
Tracy K. Smith

But sometimes I forget where I am,
Imagine myself inside that life again.

Recalcitrant mornings. Sun perhaps,
Or more likely colorless light

Filtering its way through shapeless cloud.

And when I begin to believe I haven’t left,
The rest comes back. Our couch. My smoke

Climbing the walls while the hours fall.
Straining against the noise of traffic, music,

Anything alive, to catch your key in the door.
And that scamper of feeling in my chest,

As if the day, the night, wherever it is
I am by then, has been only a whir

Of something other than waiting.

We hear so much about what love feels like.
Right now, today, with the rain outside,

And leaves that want as much as I do to believe
In May, in seasons that come when called,

It’s impossible not to want
To walk into the next room and let you

Run your hands down the sides of my legs,
Knowing perfectly well what they know.

On this day in:

2013: Hotel Orpheus, Jason Myers
2012: Emily Dickinson’s To-Do List, Andrea Carlisle
2011: Now That I Am in Madrid and Can Think, Frank O’Hara
2010: The Impossible Marriage, Donald Hall
2009: The Rider, Naomi Shihab Nye
2008: from Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, John Berryman
2007: This Heavy Craft, P.K. Page
2006: Late Ripeness, Czeslaw Milosz
2005: A Martian Sends A Postcard Home, Craig Raine

April 6, 2014: For the Dead, Adrienne Rich

april-is:

For the Dead
Adrienne Rich

I dreamed I called you on the telephone
to say: Be kinder to yourself
but you were sick and would not answer

The waste of my love goes on this way
trying to save you from yourself

I have always wondered abut the leftover
energy, water rushing down a hill
long after the rains have stopped

or the fire you want to go to bed from
but cannot leave, burning-down but not burnt-down
the red coals more extreme, more curious
in their flashing and dying
than you wish they were
sitting there long after midnight
 

==

Also by Adrienne Rich: Song | Miracle Ice Cream | from An Atlas of the Difficult World

On this day in: 

2013: Miracle Ice Cream, Adrienne Rich
2012: 
The Soul Bone, Susan Wood
2011: Pluto, Maggie Dietz
2010: Slant, Stephen Dunn
2009: Distressed Haiku, Donald Hall
2008: Question, May Swenson
2007: Song, Adrienne Rich
2006: Scheherazade, Richard Siken
2005: What the Living Do, Marie Howe

sonny’s purple heart | adrian c. lewis

But it’s too late to say you’re sorry. — The Zombies

                                   I

Man, if you’re dead, why are you leading
me to drink after five sober years?
Sonny, can I get a witness?
I had a Snow White vision of the prodigal
son returning to America
that day of my final hangover.
I tried to clear the mixture
of cobwebs and shooting stars
from my brain with spit-warm
Budweiser, but the hair of the dog
just was not doing the trick.
I ended up pummeling myself
seven times that day and named each egg
white load for a Disney dwarf.
The first was Dopey.
The final was Sleepy, I think, or Droopy.

Read More

(Source: poetryfoundation.org)

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