My first time.

“You lured me in,” he sneered.

“You looked right at me and flashed that smile. I knew I already had you.”

The day I met him felt like the first day of spring. The sun was shining and I was wearing a pair of jean shorts. I remember it distinctly, actually. Though, it was nothing truly spectacular. He smiled at me behind his sunglasses, nodded his head.

“How you doin?” But not in a Joey Tribiani type of way.

It was relaxed. And casual. But for some reason it made the bottom of my stomach tingle.

He made a point to stop by my little dorm room from that day on. My door was always swung open, glitter hearts and my name plastered across its face, letting the whole world know where I was. He would stop by and banter with me. Ask probing questions about my life, my family and my hobbies. It wasn’t long before we were lounging around each other. Hanging on one anothers arms and shoulders, laughing with our feet intertwined and our heads side-by-side.

I didn’t love him, though. I knew that. But for some reason, I kept going back. I kept the bantering. And the giggling. And the unsettling long stares. There was something about the attention he was giving me that made me feel alive. Noticed.

In highschool, I was far from desirable to anyone. I was the girl who got signs taped to her back that read “Big girls need love too.”

Literally. In 2009 people were still tacking signs onto fat people. This in itself should prove the tragic nature of this story.

Nonetheless, I did have a serious boyfriend for the latter part of my four years there. He was older than be by quite a bit, but he was sweet to me, and he liked me. We never had sex, though. He promised me that was ok. That he understood my hesitation and that I wanted to wait. That was until he slept with another woman, broke up with me for suspecting he was cheating, and then their child was born about 8 months later.

Fucking jackoff.

So now, here, with the intertwined feet and the graze of his fingers on the base of my hips, I was ready. I was too sheets to the wind, all caught up in hormones, pent up sexual angst and a long-time need for affection and acceptance.

I let him. I let him peel off my clothes as he kissed me on the lips. I let him wrap his hands around my back as he pulled himself inside of me. I let him feel the satisfaction of me arching my back in pain, tears streaming down my face as he forced himself deeper and deeper.

I thought this was it. I legitimately thought that all sex was like this. Just an hour of squeezing my eyes shut and hoping that I don’t bleed all over the place. It was awful. Not a night to remember. No candles. No tenderness. No love.

It was never good after that, either. It always hurt. It was always for him. I never asked for it. I never initiated it. But I never stopped it, either.

In retrospect, I should have been stronger. More adamant. Stood up for myself.

But also in retrospect, he shouldn’t have been so goddam disrespectful.

There was a weekend I fell and hit my head on a counter at a party. I spent the night in the hospital with a concussion, and I couldn’t even crawl to classes on Monday. My head had a knot the size of a baseball, and if I even lifted it for too long I was sick.

He called me that day.

“Why don’t you let me come over?,” he said.

I smiled. This may be the first time he was actually going to take care of me.

He needed a ride, of course. So I muddled enough energy to get up and go get him.

When I showed up to his room, he pushed a laundry basket at me filled to the brim with clothes that reeked of old sex.

“These need to be washed,” he said.

As he made me carry the laundry to the car, I popped the trunk, sat it in, and unlocked the doors for him to hop in the passenger seat.

“I’ll catch up with you later,” he said. And then someone swooped by in a car and he hopped in and left me there.

With a concussion and his sheets that he probably had some other girl wrapped up in.

I let it carry on like that for awhile. He would call when he needed me. I was always around.

It was negative attention. But hey, it was attention. I needed that.

I needed him.
————————————-
Here we were. Over a year later. No communication. He just fell off the face of the planet.

Who knows where he had been since he dropped out.

I was better for it, though. Because I was afraid I wouldn’t have quit him if he didn’t quit me first.

I felt good about myself- FINALLY. I was in a decent place mentally. I had gotten my swag up, and all that shit. I felt like a person. I felt useful.

He called me and he said, “why don’t you let me come over?”

Something about it made me say yes. I thought I would stand up to him. Let him beg for it and smirk as I threw him out the door.

Imagine my surprise when he showed up and asked to take a walk. So unlike him. I was caught off guard. I let go of my intentions, and agreed to the stroll.

It was late at night when we arrived at the park. It was warm with a slight breeze- just like him. He seemed so different.

We stared at the water awhile and he kissed me on my lips. He rested on hand gently on my neck and gently pulled my lip into his mouth.

As I was lost in his kiss, he pulled me off of the concrete table top where I has been sitting and flipped me around. It was much more hastey than the kiss, and my shorts were around my ankles before I knew it.

It was everything I remembered. It was painful- I cried. He didn’t pull back even through my wimpers.

I felt just like an object again.

As my cheek rubbed against the cold cement, I saw a sliver of light on my forearm sprawled over my head.

I turned my head back. He was texting. Or videoing. Or who knows what fucking else.

One hand on his phone. One gripping my hip.

I tried to stand up. I reached for my shorts.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” I said.

He took his hand from my hip and wrapped his fingers under the base of my throat and pulled my ear to his mouth.

“I was your first. And if I want, I’ll be your last. I can have you any time I want.”

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Cue the Criticism.

I am a fake. A phony. A liar.

I love being in the gym and eating healthy. I talk about it, I advocate for it, I try to inspire it in others.

I am very passionate about my health and body, to say the least.

I post photos of myself after a good gym session, or with a clean-eats recipe I whipped up on a Sunday morning. I promote loving my body, and pushing myself in all the right ways, and fueling with whole foods for the nutritional value.

But I hate my body.

Take the amount of time I spend pushing myself as a healthy-living brand, multiply that by about a gazillion, and that’s about the amount of time I spend scrolling through photos on my phone and scrutinizing myself.

I zoom in and look at my stomach, my thighs, and the shape of my face. I over analyze every aspect of myself, so much so that I forget what memory the picture was even supposed to capture, as everyone else becomes background noise in a frame full of me spilling over the sides.

Perhaps this seems shallow, and it probably is. But when I am doing it, it isn’t about being selfish. Rather, it is about being a bully- forceful encouragement. It is about me, but the driving force is the sheer need to make myself feel bad about my appearance so maybe I will work harder to fix it.

I know someone reading this knows the feeling- the angst, the anxiety that comes along with counting calories, and carbs and sugars. The dreaded NEED to step on the scale every time you see one, even though you promised to just “go by how you feel in your clothes.”

The guilt that follows eating something that isn’t green or full of water.

I wish I could explain it better to the people who don’t understand. It is hard to describe the exact emotion that drives me to do the things I do, and think the things I think.

It is almost like the feeling you get right before you step in front of a crowd, paired with rage. I am in a constant state of battle with myself, and I am so pissed off about it. I am mad at myself for not looking the way I imagine in my mind, and I am pissed off that I am pissed off.

What a vicious cycle.

People always say

“No no no! Don’t hate your body. Love it for all of the things it does for you. Care for it so it can take care of you.”

My God.

I don’t hate what my body does for me. I don’t hate that my heart pumps blood, or that my lungs take in air. I am not suicidal, for Christ’s sake.

But I hate being in my skin. I hate looking in the mirror and knowing that I can never take this body off. I can dress it up, cover it with layers, but it is always going to be there underneath all of that. I am completely uncomfortable in my most natural form- just consider how unbalanced that is.

Our mothers get butt ass naked to conceive us, then get butt ass naked to push us out, and *blop*- we fall right of them, butt ass naked too. It doesn’t get more natural than that.

I actually envy the little kids who just strip down into their underroos and prance around their houses in their bare skin- their favorite version of themselves. Kids LOVE their skin, and we love them for it.

Kids are generally accepted for the way they are- short, tall, chunky, thin, gangly, stout. It doesn’t matter when they are eight-years-old because they are growing. They have an exponential amount of time to get taller, or leaner, or stronger. It seems unfair to judge a child who still has so many changes in store for their bodies.

But once you hit high school, odds are there is only one way you can continue to grow, and that’s outwards.

Cue the criticism.

Let me be clear- this is NOT a rant about societal norms, and how young men and women are taught to shame themselves because they do not look like some over-idolized celebrity in a Cosmo magazine. We all know that, and I don’t need to spend the next thirty minutes of my time explaining to you the effects and repercussions of mass media on our minds. I would have to break out the peer reviewed journals, and cite my sources, and with all of the self-hating I am doing right now, I am just truly way too exhausted to give you that kind of effort. If you really want the educational experience, please feel free to wander away now and delve into another blog with someone far more scholarly than I.

This is a rant, nonetheless. But it is a rant to clear my own mind. To spill everything I feel like I have been holding in for years. To out myself- to hope that I am not some freak, and that someone, somewhere feels this same way.

It doesn’t matter who does or does-not support those of us who feel this way, truly.

Because we are never going to listen to anyone when they tell us we are beautiful exactly as we are.

Because they are biased, right?

Of course they would say that- they love us. They know us. They appreciate our personality, which only adds to their illusion of attraction.

But the truth is, they really DO think we are gorgeous, and that is part of the REASON they love us.

Besides, is that not what we want in all of our over-obsessive calorie counting, and die-hard gym sessions- someone to tell us they find us aesthetically pleasing? And where does it stop? If they are bias because they know us, then must we have strangers cat call us on the streets to feel pretty?

Just the thought of that makes me cringe. I shudder at the idea that I may only be content if I am the object of some strangers’ lust.

How demeaning.

And at all costs, I will deny it.

It’s not like that is my end goal in all of this- like I suit up for the gym thinking “How many sexually explicit comments will I get about my ass after today’s session?”

But if the words of people who love me are falling on my deaf ears, then I must assume my fitness goals are gearing towards superficial achievements.

It is only as I wrote this, right this very minute, that I realized the above statement may be true.

Talk about an epiphany.

Now, here is the part where I am supposed to have some big speech about how we must learn to love ourselves, or we cannot expect others to. We should be working out for the physical health benefits of being fit and well. We should not be dieting, but rather consuming the types of foods that will help us live longer in our lives.

But it really doesn’t matter what I say. We know this. We took health class in school. We have seen about every ‘healthy body image’ campaign ever created, probably. And it sounds like such a good mantra to adopt!

But something in our heads just doesn’t allow us to accept JUST being happy and healthy.

We always want to be doing more, lifting more, running more, sweating more, losing more. And we will do anything in the pursuit, even if that means cancelling plans with others or working through injuries we have already sustained in our ignorance.

The most insightful thing I have to offer is the realization that this idea of what we are working towards doesn’t really exist. Because when we get there, we are going to have already altered that image in our minds, and it will take even more work to achieve that.

And it will ALWAYS keep going in that way – we will fail to acknowledge the goals we DO achieve because we are too busy making new ones, and we end up in this unfulfilling pursuit of perfection.

It is a race we are bound to lose, no matter what. We are putting ourselves in a situation that we can never succeed in.

I don’t have the answer, though. I don’t know exactly how to fall out of this routine that I have put myself in without going crazy.

I don’t know how to feel okay with myself if I am not constantly trying to change who I am.

And that is perhaps the one thing that makes THIS one of the saddest posts I have ever written.

Death, sex, drugs- all that stuff has played against me, and I have been able to lay the blame on someone/something else.

But realizing that I am playing against MYSELF, that I am trying to break myself down to seem like a lesser person than I am, that hurts me more than any past demon could.

Because I cannot just turn away from myself and cut myself from my own life.

I have to wake up every day and look at myself in the mirror, knowing that I am toxic to my own happiness.

And cue the criticism.

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Good Morning, Mourning.

“So… What do you want to do now?”

His words rang out in a room of complete silence. I continued to wind my hands together in my lap, like two tiny nude contortionist putting on an act to distract everybody from what was really going on.

But all of their eyes were on me. I swear to God not a single one of them were breathing.

My eyes stayed glued to the tiny, stale crumbs left behind on the brown countertop.

I swear I had a plan for this, I thought to myself.

Right? I did. I had considered this would happen. I had decided on what to do.

But no, I remember now. I had the idea, then I immediately pushed it out of my head, thinking if I just ignored the notion that I could ever be sitting in this exact position I am now that I could avoid the inevitable.

How stupid of me.

They were all waiting.

My eyes hadn’t moved.

I could hear the clacking of keyboards in the offices nearby- people trying to pretend they were too busy to notice me on my knees in the hallway.

“I have to go get her,” I breathed, so everyone else could too.

————————————————————–

I bust through the door, ignoring the uniforms and the lights.

I grabbed her by the back of the head and pulled her into me tight enough, I promised myself, that she could never get hurt again.

I sobbed my ‘sorries’ into her neck- the first time we had ever really embraced.

I could feel the strands of her hair between my fingers, and the weight of her shoulders against mine- heavy, but almost relieved.

—————————————————————

I picked up an empty pudding cup.

A dirty spoon.

A half a pack of cigarets.

I started cleaning.

They didn’t know what to do, so they followed suit.

Just mindlessly grabbing things and throwing them in the trash.

I put the dishes from the sink in the dishwasher.

I pulled out the liquid and squirted almost too much of it into the opening and slammed the door shut.

I started the heavy rinse, almost as if trying to wash away the remnants of her.

——————————————————————

The window felt cold against the skin of my forehead, which seemed to be burning right off of my skull with the intensity of the lights outside.

Even after they had gone, I could still see their blinking reflections in the glass.

And I just kept imagining it.

There was blood coming from her eyes, she had told me.

Her arm resting over her head, just like when she would fall asleep.

Our own mother.

Dead.

And I just kept imagining it.

Hey lying there on the floor of her room.

Head against the nightstand.

How did she get there?

What had she been trying to do?

Why wasn’t anyone there to help her?

Where was I?

I bet she kept thinking that.

Where was I?

Where was I?

 

And I swore the lights were still there. Burning me.

——————————————————————

I had a plan for this, right?

I did. I thought about it. I knew it could happen.

But wait, no.

I pushed it off, thinking that her voicemail was proof enough that I was being delusional.

“I just wanted to let you know I am okay,” the message said.

“I know I have been freaking everyone out by sleeping so much. I am just trying to feel better is all. I am fine. I love you…”

Her sweet voice repeated over and over as I pushed the “1” on the screen of my phone.

“I am fine. I love you….”

“I am fine. I love you…”

The last time I ever heard my mother’s voice.

—————————————————————–

I sat in in the car. The silence practically deafening.

I wound my hands together in my lap- an attempt at diversion.

I had a plan for this, right?

I looked in the mirror back at her.

My little sister. The spitting image of her. Brown hair and all.

 

“So what do you want to do now?”,

I heard myself say.

—————————————————————-

To my beautiful, sweet mother: I should have known you were enough while you were here. I have kept my promise, though. She is safe, she is loved, and she grows more like you every day than I ever could have imagined. She has your soul- I swear her heart beats to the exact same rhythm as yours.

She is the little piece of you that I got to keep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Smile.

Thankful.

When you have virtually no family to sit down with, it is often hard to find a lot to be thankful for.

Having good friends and a wonderful support system is helpful, but it isn’t the same.

There is no amount of time spent with anyone else that will amount to that spent with your parents.

There is no amount of laughter with anyone else that can create memories quite as vivid as the ones you create bantering with your siblings in good spirits during the holidays.

When school is out, the food is abundant and for the first time all year, you actually get to let your worries go and just laze around in the fullness of the love you feel towards one another. If only for a few days.

Once you have felt that, and lost that, nothing can ever be the same about that time of year again.

Nothing will ever feel quite as right as those days- nothing quite as joyous or relaxing.

I understand the notion of change, and that not everything can stay the same, and that creating new memories with new people and new traditions can be exciting and fulfilling as well.

But for me, and for anyone else who is suffering from the same “blah” that I feel around the holidays, there is no solace in this.

While it is appreciated, it is still not quite right.

I have spent a number of years struggling with this season. And a number of years trying to overcorrect for that.

It’s odd- I get semi-super excited about the time Thanksgiving rolls around. The town always dresses up the light poles with those 157-year-old decorations and the business windows fill with Christmas trees and fake snow.

It is almost magicial- I almost get wrapped up in the nostalgia.

But as quick as I feel it, something inside of me eats it all up and it is gone.

As I am aging, though, I am finding that I am seeking out holiday joy in new outlets.

Instead of trying to make myself happy this year, I have decided to figure out how to do that for someone else.

Picking an angel from the tree to shop for, donating coats and hats to a drive, or simply volunteering to serve a holiday meal to those who need it.

This year, my holiday cheer has come from giving back. And I never, ever would have thought I would be in this position.

I was an angel on that tree not so long ago.

My mom used to call churches every year to get help with food so we could have a Christmas dinner.

In all of that, I never would have imagined the tables would turn as they have.

Nothing since my parents have died has given me this excitement about the holidays.

And for that, I am so whole-heartedly thankful.
————————————————————-

All I could see first was his silhouette against the bright grey pouring in the front windows with the rain- he was tall, lanky. He pulled his hat off of his head as he ducked in and twisted the bill between his hands. His leather jacket jingled a little, or it could have been the leg braces that extended from his thighs to his ankles. The sleek black metal never seemed to end on his long legs, it was almost all you could look at. His black boots cupped up over the bottom of the braces and sported a metal buckle on the sides- that could have explained the slight jingle as well. Nonetheless, none of it took the attention away from his Vietnam Veteran hat that he had placed back up on his head to pick up a Styrofoam tray. It wasn’t just the hat that warranted the acknowledgement, but his eyes. When he looked at you, you could tell that he had been there. You could tell that those eyes had taken in things you would never understand. They looked… weary. But kind.
When I offered to bring him his drink, he called me ma’am and nodded his head down at me. After I made sure he was all situated- his tray full of meat and potatoes and veggies, a buttered roll sitting on a napkin on the right hand side- I smiled at him and told him if he needed anything more to let me know, and as I waltzed away, I stopped to look back.
His head was bowed against his laced fingers. His tattered hat lay on the booth seat beside him, his legs seemed to barely fit underneath the table top. His eyes were shut, and he stayed in that position for 3 minutes or so. Just praying. Devotely. Honestly. Purely.
I watched him for as long as I could without seeming like a total creep, but it was something I never wanted to take my eyes away from. He wasn’t embarrassed, nor trying to make a scene. He was just doing what he knew, and so humbly.
The feeling that welled up inside of me wasn’t sparked from a man displaying his religion, but rather from a man showing humanity and gratefulness. He was neither prideful nor ashamed. He just was what he was- a veteran in need of a meal on Thanksgiving, and just having that Styrofoam box of food was more than enough for him.

When he left, he mentioned his daughter was at work and would miss dinner and asked if he might take just a little to feed her. After I piled a container full for her, I grabbed up some cookies and wrapped them up to-go on top.

“Does she like chocolate ones?,” I asked.

“You’ve made this just perfect,” he smiled back.

And I smiled too.

That’s the best part of having a feeling like that is knowing you get to engage in it- you get to be involved with that happiness. I felt neither above him, nor below him as we smiled back at one another. I felt normal- I felt like we were the same.

What a lovely notion. That two complete strangers could have something so beautiful in common as a smile.

I would never take back the things that have happened to me in my life. If given the choice, I would have everything occur exactly as it did.
Because if I didn’t, I might risk losing that moment with that man.

I have found new things to be thankful for. I have found joy in things I would have never otherwise found, and for that, I am the most thankful.
For the first time in a really long time, I felt the same feeling that I would get when I would wake up and find my whole family together in the kitchen chatting.
In that moment, as he chatted with his daughter on the phone and told her he loved her, I was a little girl again, standing in my pajamas really quietly in the corner, just watching and smiling. Knowing that I was in the right place at the right time.

Happy Holidays my little turkeys.
I am so grateful for you all.

xoxoxox- daria.

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And….Action!

Here I am.
Stuck.
Teetering between all the things my father warned me would happen if I kept my emotions all bottled up like I did, and actually coming to terms with my misfortunes before they have the chance to ruin the rest of my adult life.
I have come off as this person who assumes her glass is half empty and thrives off of painting this negative image of the world all over the canvas of who she is.
The truth is, I am a huge life enthusiast.
Look back at some of my entries. In many of them, there is a recurring theme of passion, travel and joy.
Am I there? Am I in the midst of the joy that I write about? Dream about? Envision for myself?
Well, no. Honestly. Not right this moment.
But I CAN feel it. I can see it. And every damn day I am building a plan for it. My momentum is gaining, and soon, I will be making my way to all of the changes I am posing all of YOU make in my writing. In fact, I am already making some of them.

There are very distinct reasons I cannot run out and start dream chasing right this moment.

Though, in writing it down, it seems quite silly that I cannot just be as adventurous as I claim to want to be…

Maybe my glass is half empty. But let me tell you, that is an leg up from the bone dry one I was handed walking into adulthood. I have had to search and search and work for that goddam water that I have put in my cup. So I have not one bit of shame in presenting this half-cup to all of you.

It does not mean that my cup will never get any more full. I am only 25 for fuck sake. Give me a chance.

So what if I am a little negative nancy-ish?

I never once claimed to be one of those self-help, ‘hug-yourself-daily’ type of authors.

I never promised to wake up and piss glory into your coffee cup.
My outlook isn’t that of glittery unicorn farts.

I am simply trying to be real. To present situations/emotions in a way that is relatable to the majority of you.

If you are breathing, then I assume you have experienced something familiar to at least one of my posts.

The emotion I put into my work is familiar- it is natural, and often ignored.

Most articles that try to cover hardship will attempt to highlight only the most positive aspects of grief, and debt, and monotony.

The “silver lining,” so to speak.

But what about the rest? What about the parts that really drag you down and harness your ugliest emotions?

Those parts are real too, and as easy as it is to say “Take 5 minutes to breathe deeply and list 10 things you are blessed for,” it really isn’t always that easy.

I am aware that my posts aren’t for the warm and fuzzy, but what you may not be aware of is every single one of them is a story of success- Every day you see my words on this page you know I made it past the day before. And I am willing every single one of my readers to do the same.

Even on your worst day, just survive.

Just put one foot in front of the other. Make it to your bed. And when you wake up, it will be tomorrow. A whole new thing entirely from yesterday.

I did it too- I lived every day like yesterday. So I felt all the same things, all the same monotony, all the same stress. And in turn, all of my days began to blend together into one grey blob.

But once I started waking up and saying “Today is Wednesday” instead of “Today is another fucking day,” it kind of got a little better.

We are really lucky in that we get lots of little new beginnings- every single day we will have a chance to try something new.

As super flamboyant as that sounds.

But eventually, when you do this, you won’t have to ‘just survive.’

You will be living! Not just breathing and walking. But LIVING. Experiencing. Creating memories and associations.

That is just how it works.

———————————————————————————————————————————————-

I turned the volume all the way down on the radio.
I put both hands on the steering wheel and took a deep breathe in.
I paused.
Then I exhaled, and sobbed.
Tears fell hard into my lap, soaking into my moisture wick workout pants.
The salt from my snot and sweat mixed together as it rolled down over my lips.
I struggled to see the road because my eyes kept forcing themselves shut and my chin kept pulling itself down and into my chest.
I was willfully crying.
I put time aside that evening to just cry. By myself. No distraction. No guilty conscience. Just a good ol cry.
I know, I know. Me of all people right?
The emotionless Queen- world’s biggest advocate of stone-facing.
It had been a super long day, though. Like, it felt so much longer than most.
I had so much time in that one day for everything to go wrong, and it did.
I was so pissed off at the world. I felt like I was down and getting kicked over and over and over…
There was this feeling welling up inside of me as the day progressed- not one that I liked. It was angry. And forceful. And uncontrollable.
I knew I had to do something to release it, or I was going to turn into someone different than myself- someone much more jaded.
So I cried.

And I only thought it was a little disgusting.

But I wasn’t embarrassed for it- for once in my entire life.

Someone said to me the other day:

“I hope one day you find the will to take care of you first. ..you have to find your center, you have to make yourself whole, you have to be happy and love yourself, or you will be unhappy for a long time.”

I realize I have been doing things the completely wrong way. I have been burying things deep inside and bragging about it like it was the right thing to do. I have spent the past 25 years ignoring things like I will get to go back and live it again and try a new approach- a happier one.
But this is it. What I am doing right now, this is all I am going to have as memories while I am lying on my death bed and shriveling up in old age.

Finally, what everyone has been telling me for years makes sense.

Life is not a dress rehearsal.

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June 2010

” He is just being petty,” my mom said. “He is just mad at me and taking it out on you guys.”

It was Father’s Day and my little sister really wanted to talk to Dad.

“He wouldn’t do that,” she said. “He always answers when I call. He always wants to talk to me.”

My mom was still bad mouthing him as I shut the front door behind me to head off to work.

“He will call,”I heard her say. “He is probably drunk.”

————————————————————————————
I had decided to go check on him well before I clocked out for the night.

I didn’t know why. Checking on a grown ass man.

He probably was drunk. Or bitter. Most likely both.

But he wasn’t going to skate out of talking with us kids because of that. I at least wanted him to say something to my sister. Anything. She was only a kid.

I opened the text I got from him the night before and clicked the little white phone symbol at the top.

RIng. Ring. Ring….Ring……….Ring.

Please leave your message for six six zero….

I hung up. Grabbed my purse and slammed the front doors of the store as I locked up and got in my car.

————————————————————————————————-
What if he is super drunk?

I thought about this on my way there.

What if he is in that state of mind that I hate seeing him in?

The one he was in the days leading up to my mother kicking him out.

The one from the night with the truck.

Doesn’t matter, I thought.

I’m already over half way there.

My heart was racing as I pulled my car into the lot. The light was kind of orangey on my dad’s door. Foggy light spilled through the windows from the rooms on either side of him.

Why was my heart beating so hard?

That type of motel will do that to a person. The type with only seven dingy doors- one right next to the other. And a leaky awning and a red and blue sign humming to you.

I got out of the car.

It was cold out for June. I remember thinking that as I walked up to the door. I wished I had brought a jacket.

———————————————————————————————————
Knock, knock knock.

I started off kind of lightly. I really didnt want the neighbors to come out of their rooms gawking at me. Their wandering eyes and unsettling mouths.

I picked up my phone to call so he would wake up to let me in.

I held the phone to my ear, my hands oddly cold from the June wind.

I could hear his ring from outside the door.

Ba daa da bee da daa. Ba da dee da ba daa.

Please leave your message for six six zero…

Really?

And again. Only this time, as I knocked louder.  Even drunk, he couldn’t sleep through all of that.

I turned the knob on the faded, hollow door as a last attempt.

Thunk.

The chain lock left just enough space for me to poke my face through to the tiny room.

The fan was on high. The phone sat on the t.v. stand blinking a little blue light.

A milllion missed calls.

I called my mom. My hand never left the doorknob.

“He isn’t answering me,” I said. “I called and knocked and everything. He won’t talk to me.”

“He is probably fucked up,” she said.

A musky light spilled from the room to the left as some brown eyebrows poked through the curtains.

He licked his lips.

The wind blew the little hairs that had fallen out of my braid at the front onto my forehead.

It really was curiously cold for June.

—————————————————————————————————
“He doesn’t always snore,” she said.

“Yes, mom. He does. And I can’t hear him snoring.”

She asked if I could see him. Was he even in there? Behind that chain lock that can only be locked from someone inside?

Yeah.

I could see him in bed. The fan facing him.

I could hear the sheet ruffling against the edge of the bottom of the bed in the breeze.

“Go ask the manager for a flashlight to shine at him,” she said.

That would surely wake him up.

I could feel my heart hitting my chest.

Thump thump thump thump.

Must be the many pairs of eyes peeking at me know. Their mustaches pressed up against the water stained glass.

I approached the manager’s screen door just in time for him to pause the two Asian girls fucking on his television screen and fiddle with his belt buckle as he came to the door.

“I need a flashlight,” I said.

He looked at me, hand still on the brim of his pants adjusting his briefs.

“I need a flashlight,” I said louder. “A light. Something so I can see.”

He reached over with his masturbation hand and picked up a red mag light.

I put my phone between my shoulder and my head as I reached out for it, and I could hear my mom in the background, and what sounded like the ruffling of coats.

It was brisk for June.

“Jesus Christ, Rob…. Oh Kristin. Dear God.”

She knew.

—————————————————————————————-
I marched back to the door, still cracked from the chain.

I clicked the button on the bottom of the mag light. Its cool steel pressed against my palm.

“Can you come here now?,” I asked.

“I need you to come right now, Mom,” I choked. “Please come right now.”

“We are already on the highway.”

I cliked off the light and pulled the door shut, letting the chain rest from the tension.

My fingers numbly dialed.

9….1….1.

I knew.

—————————————————————————————————
They never really explain well enough what they face of a dead person is going to look like.

It isn’t like they make it in the movies. All white and smooth.

When I shone the light in, I could see his white phone on the television stand. Blinking.

A million missed calls.

I could see the white sheets ruffling against the edge of the bottom of the bed in the breeze from the fan.

And I could see the outline of his body halfway uncovered against the white matress.

But his face was more of a blue. Half exosed to the room and the other side pressed down against the bed. Perhaps on a borderline of a very cold grey, even. Broken up by the red splotches on his cheeks from where the vessels had broke.

His oversized glasses laid next to him on the night stand. Their plastic factory guards catching a slight gleam my light.

And his eyes were shut. But not a normal shut. It seemed more like the skin on a grape that was on the verge of going bad. It looked as if his eyelids could slide right off at any minute, and the inner corners of them were sunk in a bit with the goo of something rotten.

They were the most grey- the lids. And underneath. So grey that I swore if I kept shining the light on them they would become transparent and I would be able to see right through them to the blood shot sclera underneath.

I could see the skin on his back from the waits up.

It looked cold.

His arm was pulled down beside him, pressed against he side of his torso.

Where I could usually see the definition of the muscle in his arm now seemed a bit puffy. Squishy.

The only thing that looked normal was his hair It was blonde. Just like mine. And still wild against his pillow.

“I need you to come to Belmonte Motel,” I told the operator. “I need you to please come now.”

———————————————————————————————————————
“I need you to try and  get in there,”  the operator said. “I need you to check if he is breathing.

He is dead. I am not going in there.

“Does the motel have a difibrillator?,” she said.

The manager doesn’t even have blinds on his front door. No. I doubt they have one of those.

“I really need you to try and get in there,” the operator said.

“You need to send someone here now,” I choked.

And then I hung up.

———————————————————————————————————–
Everyone was outside.

The red and blue lights painting their shirtless chests.

It was really cold for June. I couldn’t understand it.

It had to be late now. The cars that were left driving the streets were slowing as they passed by.

The manager was buzzing around me, and all I could picture was his tiny dick in his hand as he scrambled to get out of his chair.

“You’re dad a good man,” he clucked. “He going to be ok. He just pay me rent.”

Everyone was outside.

The sound of the gearny wheels reverberating off of their brown skin.

The officer walked up to me. In the middle of everyone.

I could only focus on hs badge. Thinking about how cold the metal probably was tonight.

I remember thinking about how cold all of those brown feet must have been as I looked down at them.

The officer reached his arms out towards me before he even formed the words.

He knew.

———————————————————————————————–
My knees felt squishy, like my dads skin all smashed up against that bed.

I couldnt stand. And I couldnt fall.

I slowly lowerd into a deep squat and pressed my fingers deep against my temples.

I couldnt breathe, but I wasnt choking.

It was the feeling you get right as you are about to let out a huge sob- when your throat gets all tight, and your brows pull together, and your stomach flexes to brace for the impact.

But I never cried. I just sat there. In that feeling. And I couldnt breathe.

“What…wha…what. happened?” I heaved.

He said some stuff, but I couldnt hear him over the sounds the cords of the defibrillator being wrapped up and and carried back to the truck.

I couldn’t hear him over the sound of the van pulling up in the gravel and the coasts swishing in getting out of the car.

My brother was sobbing, saying some selfish shit about how he should have been some hero and found our dead father instead of me.

My sister was lost, wandering the edge of the driveway and the grass. Pickings at the strings on her sleeve.

My mother wrapped me up in her arms and shook her head.

I could feel her tears for me dripping into the undone braid at the front of my hair.

I couldn’t hear what she was saying to me, though, over the sound of thoughts of my last interaction with my father.

———————————————————————————————————————————–
“I love and miss you,” I text him.

Buzz. Buzz.

“I love and miss you too. All of you. So much more than you know,” he responded.

I smiled. It was the night before Father’s Day, and I was going to surprise him with a mini fridge for his motel room and some groceries so he could eat really good for the next week.

I had already loaded the gift into my car before I crawled in bed. I would give it to him after work tomorrow.

Buzz Buzz.

He text again.

I put the phone down on my bed and turned over towards the wall and pulled the blankets up over my shoulders. It was a bit chilly in my room for June.

Dad- 11:48 p.m.: I just couldn’t do it anymore. Any of this. I am sorry.”

I knew.

1995- ? : “The good days.”

There were good days when I was younger.

In general, it just comes off as one big shit sandwich.

But of course, there were good days.

I used to love the summer days we would load up and head to my mom’s friends’ house for bar-b-qs.
We would have all of the windows down in the car and my blonde hair would whip across my face.
I was always staring out of those windows watching the golden fields go by and drinking in the warm sunshine on my face.

I loved that feeling.

Like I was so unkept.

Free.

With my wild blowing hair and sun kissed skin.
We would show up and flood out of the car- boxes of beer, bottles, grocery bags with cigarettes and chips.
I would always run everything inside and just let the screen door slam right behind me.

I just wanted to get to the backyard as quickly as I could.
I just wanted to play. Run, full force, and laugh from my stomach.

Those were good days.

When the sun would set and everything would get all pink and orange.
And I could see the sparkle of the fireflies in the tall grass.

When the music and the sounds of people talking and laughing just melted together.
I can remember that part the most.
I would just sit on the steps and watch everyone. My mom especially.
When she would laugh, she would throw her whole head back and close her eyes.

She was truly happy in those moments.

Those were the good days.

Before I was old enough to understanding everything, the holidays were always good too.

My mom would decorate the house while my brother and I were at school, and we would always race off the bus to get to the door first because there was always some sort of cookies baking inside. Always.
In the winters, my mom would call us in with hot chocolate and cake.
The Christmas tree was always real, and I always got to crawl under there and water it myself.

We had an old record player that we used to listen to Bing Crosby and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Holiday Edition.

My mom would get the candles that made the house smell like pecan pie and hazelnut coffee.

I can smell it still. The pine, the food and the candles.

Those were the good days.

There were the days when my grandma would hold the phone in her hands and smack it against her palm as she paced in front of the glass door.

“You went and did it again, Joyce” she would mutter.
Her nylon pants always sounded like a clock ticking to me.

Swish. Swash. Swish. Swash. As she paced.

“You fucked up again. They wont let you out this time.”

I never knew exactly what my mom had done. But I knew it involved the police.
Probably driving too fast- that’s what I thought.

But before I could finish thinking about what my mom had done or why she wouldn’t be able to come home, a car would pull up and drop my mom off at the curb.

SwishSwashSwishSwash.

“What the hell were you thinking!?”

I would always run and throw my arms around mom’s waist. And she would rest her hands around my shoulders.

Her and my grandma would always be arguing about something. But I was never paying attention.

I would just breathe in her smell- cigarettes, Jack Daniels and marijuana.

I was truly happy in that moment.

They let her go.

Those were the good days.

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Spring 2010

My dad had this truck. An old Chevy I think. It could have been a Ford. Hell, I wouldn’t know the difference.

It was a two-tone gray with two little red stripes in between. The paint chipping off around the wheel wells and spots on the hood where the sun had worn off the sheen.

The interior was a dark color except for the outlines of the little rings where cigarettes had been dropped and burned through the seats.

There was always a distinct smell when I hopped up into the seat- it reminded me just of him.

It was a combination of gravel roads and stale smoke.

A bit dusty and stout.

It was the same smell of his flannel coat I would throw on when we rode in the winter when the heater didn’t work.

The remnants of Nicotine should have burned my nose, but I would always pull it up around my face and breath in really deep.

I found it comforting. Sometimes it had a hint of the Irish Spring he used in the shower.

I think he got the truck from my uncle after they found him in his La-Z-Boy,  knee deep in wild turkey bottles and his own filth.

It never made much sense to me how he could drive around in that truck of his dead brother day after day.

But I think he liked the nostalgia of it.

She wasn’t anything special, that truck. She was old, and beat up, and sported a single-disc player that never worked.

She started up real rough; you could hear her in the house as she warmed up outside.

But she never quit working on us.

 

She wasn’t perfect, but she was there.

Until just one day, she wasn’t.

 

It was after my dad had left. After my mom had found him stealing her medication. After I watched her ball up her fist and punch him in the face.

He was staying in a motel- the dirtiest in town.

The guys outside never spoke English and always had the button of their jeans undone.

My dad left the truck with us- he knew we needed her more than he would. He never had a problem walking to work.

My brother, Travis,  would go visit him in that shit-hole. They would have a couple beers and who knows what else.

On his way home, probably driving her too fast and too fucked up, he said a deer jumped out in front of him.

Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t.

But he drove her right into the ditch. Hard. Threw her on her side. Left her there like she meant nothing to him.

 

I remember that night so well, because for some stupid reason, losing that truck really pushed me over the edge.

Perhaps because that was the only vehicle we had in our household.

But I think the majority of it came from losing a piece of the small connection my father and I shared.

We drove to work together in that truck. And we listened to ACDC at night on her tiny stereo with the windows down on the way home.

The smell of the trees rushing in as the wind whipped my hair in my face and my dad would say “Drive slow,” so we could enjoy the freedom with her before we ended up back at the infectious cesspool we called “home.”

 

Just like her, I broke down that night.

As my mother screamed, and my brother slurred out his empty  promises to ‘fix’ everything and ‘take care of the family.’

I fell down to my knees in the middle of the room. I wrapped my arms around to my sides, pulled my head to my knees and sobbed these heavy, gut wrenching sobs. The kind that make your ribs ache and your throat hurt from strain.

I rocked, and in between sobs I choked out, “I cannot do this anymore… I cannot do this anymore… I cannot be here anymore.”

And all I could think about was the last time I had with my dad and that truck:

 

 

I put my hand on her for support.

“Is this really what you want to do?!” I was half yelling at my dad. “You are going to die. Is that what you want?”

I was waving my right hand in the air at him, scolding a bit, more pleading than anything. The type of uncontrolled waving you do in someone’s face when you are trying to teach them something, but you just want to break down and beg them to understand.

My left hand stayed on the ledge of the truck bed, drawing calmness from her cool steel under my palm and the dew from the plastic bed lining pooling around my gripped fingers.

His eyes looked past me; a bit fogged over and red around the rims.

He looked as if he just couldn’t figure out how to be in his own mind and there with me at the same time.

 

“Yes,” he said.

 

My dad, he wasn’t perfect. But he was there.

Until one day, he wasn’t.

 

 

 

 

GET IN MY BELLY!

Less than 50 carbs.
Under 1200 calories a day.
No fruit.
No coffee.
Only eat eggs, grapefruit and a bowl of ice cream for 7 days.
3 meals a day.
6 meals a day.
Actually, don’t eat anything at all for 12 hours and fast your way into healthy.

We are obsessed. As consumers, we have become obsessed with not only our own eating habits, but those of others.
We are always watching, always creating these pre conceived notions about people based on what type of food they are stuffing into their mouths.
 
There is this general notion that everyone HAS to eat a certain way, and they HAVE to do it to be thin.
Oh sure, we say, “No, no! It’s to be well and healthy!”
And nobody says the follow-up, although everybody is thinking it:

“… and that will lead to being thin.”

When it comes to fat people, food is always thrown under the bus first. Its name slandered, strewn across the floor as the herd shuffles their pudgy feet over it, trying to beat one another to the buffet line to cover everything in hot cheese.

No, the blame rarely lies in the person capable of reasoning or sound judgement.

But rather we slump it off on something that literally has negative amounts of ability to utilize any sort of power or persuasion, saying it is to blame for our own poor choices.

So much so, that someone who would probably be fairly health-conscious cannot even partake in an occasional treat without us crinkling our noses up at them, secretly thinking about how much better we are as we sit and nibble on our lettuce.

It’s not like I am being judgy or anything. Like I’m not over here on my lunch break as I write this, entering calories into MyFitnessPal so I can make sure I don’t get so fat that nobody will ever love me.

I am just saying, this is what it is. For everyone. Because even if you choose to ignore this aspect of society, it engulfs you still. Like when you try to ignore a giant octopus in the ocean – it is still able to eat you up with its million arms and what I assume is a gaping hole of a mouth. Society is an ugly octopus and it’s standards/beliefs are its sticky, consuming arms.

There is a general anxiety that comes along with calorie consumption, and if you don’t feel it while you are eating, you feel it after when people look at you like you are the next 800 lb. woman on the Lifetime channel and they are contemplating which crane company to call and remove you from the house through the roof.

People force this upon you; their general disgust with the love of food. But why?! Why on earth would  anyone want to food shame somebody?!

We all like food. If we didn’t, we would just consume Soylent day in and day out for the rest of our lives and it wouldn’t even phase us.

But it would. We would hate it. And eventually break down and eat something solid. Because while food is merely something we need to sustain, it is gratifying. And delicious. And it provides a platform for us to form long-lasting connections and correlations to milestones in our lives.

It is over the course of many meals that we make memories- so often our “firsts” are preluded with some sort of food. When we look back, we can most often remember what we ate before/during/after occasions. The memories stimulate our senses, and we can even remember exactly how decadent that strawberry cheesecake was at our parents anniversary. Or how rich the sauce was on the alfredo at the fancy restaurant. Or how messy the funnel cake was the night he brushed the powdered sugar off of our cheek.

That emotion that is tied to food is SO powerful, which in most cases, is why people shame it so much.

Because there are those of us who eat whenever we ‘feel’ because we associate the two- food and emotions. But that is our own fault. Our own wrongdoing.

Must we disgrace the reputation of food because of it?

It is true- America, as a country, has a higher-than-most rate of obesity.

But that is not because we love food. It is because fat people CHOOSE to NOT CHOOSE healthy dining options.

Common sense lets us know that while we all love the taste of a frosted ding-dong, it isn’t exactly bursting with the nutritional value that our bodies NEED to operate effectively.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t all raise our ding-dongs high and enjoy them every now-and-then.

But it is not, and should not, be regarded as a staple in our daily diets.

Even knowing this, even being hyper-aware that I am not one of the 47494882 bajillion people in this country that are obese, that understands that I cannot eat every single thing I want exactly when I want it because it would be cake donuts and fried chicken all day every day, and that my body needs the right balance of food groups to manage itself- I still have this monstrous fear of eating.

I am terrified of carbs, and calories and sugar content. I limit my diet so much at times that the only things I consume are vegetables and fish. Period. No rice. No grains. No complex carbs.

Because those things will make me fat. That is what they said.

That is what I read. That carbs in stuff like bread, rice, and sweet potatoes makes me fat.

And fruits, loaded up with their sugars, make me fat.

And carrots, the highest carb count of the common veggie group, I should limit those.

Carrots, people. Carrots.

This is getting out of hand, I think.

This fear of food. This warped perception that we have to be dieting all the time to be desirable.

This idea that food is directly related to how somebody looks.

This notion that food is the enemy of our own piss poor self-confidence.

It is by choice that I look in the mirror and squinch up my face at my thunderous thighs.

I am making the conscious decision to compare thighs to those of Jennifer Anniston or Rhonda Rousey.

Now, some may follow up by saying “But the reason your thighs are so monstrous is because of the food you eat!”

And yes, this is true. Donuts, ooey gooey butter cake, pizza rolls- if I consumed them often enough, they would aide in the size of my thighs.

But I would be CHOOSING to eat that junk.

And I would be CHOOSING to not get enough exercise.

And I would be CHOOSING to not balance my diet with healthy, whole foods.

 

Food is not the culprit here, and feeling guilty about eating is not the answer.

NOT feeling guilty about eating nutrionless crap- this is where we should be laying blame.

And if we learn to love ourselves,  strive to make decisions to be healthier and more active, and moderate our gravy intake, we may just very well find the answer we are seeking.

Love, peace, and chicken grease
Xoxoxox. Daria.

 

 

Hakuna Matata

I have written (and re-written) a post about my fibromyalgia.
I know I have mentioned it various times before- it is no secret that I struggle with it.
This blog IS mainly composed of my struggle-bus-adventures, so I think it warranted its own spotlight.

Fibromyalgia is actually a condition that is diagnosed once all other conditions have been ruled out. It isn’t like a give-some-blood, turn-your-head-and-cough, yup-you-have-fibro type of thing. It is a disorder that slowly drains your money and your soul at the same goddam time. You get poked, and pulled and tested and scanned before they can say “Well, you don’t have lupus or cancer, so we will just stop here and label it this stupid made-up name and prescribe you some narcotics so we don’t have to worry about you anymore.” And with that, they take about $10,000 of your money and give you a pat on the head with a script for Percocet. Meanwhile, while you are wondering what the hell just happened, you pop a pill, and slowly but surely, become an addict to a substance that cures nothing. Period. Dot.

That is how most people understand fibro. And I honestly cannot say they are that far off base with it. I watched my mother go from an active in-home health care worker to a disoriented couch-rider within months. In a year’s time, my mother transformed from the lady who drove me to my basketball practices on weekends to the lady who fell asleep driving on 50 Highway with me and my sister in the truck. Which, coincidently enough,  was my very first driving experience. It is sink-or-swim when you are thrown on a major highway and your instructor is chin-to-chest snoozing. You figure it out pretty damn quick.

Right before my mother was diagnosed, we had an assignment in school to write a paper about a hero we looked up to. I chose my mom. I can remember it so vividly because at the time, she was one of my favorite versions of herself (she had many versions. So many.) I wrote about how she took care of my siblings and I all on her own, and my grandmother who had cancer, and the strangers she worked with at her job, all with the deepest compassion and love. I wrote about how her strength inspired my own, and how I would grow up to be a better woman because of her. I wrote about how I wanted to work really hard in school, get a really great job and buy her a new home far away from here with some mountains to look at maybe.
I remember it so vividly because it changed SO quickly.
I would never write another paper like that about my mother. Instead, I would wait until my mid-20’s and begin to write a book about every phase of her that impacted my life. There would undoubtedly be some ‘ups’, but there would also be downs. And deeper downs. And while I would write about her strength, I would be forced to re-live her weakness, her hopelessness, and eventually, her death.

Fibro does not kill people. The pain associated with it does not drive people to their grave. People kill themselves with their lack of ambition, hope, strength, dignity and self-worth. Any other explanation is just an excuse for lazy, helpless victims to lay down, let their health go and hope that someone else takes care of them for the rest of their lives.

I will not die because I have fibro.

I will cry. Sob even, on my worst days, on the floor of my bathtub as I let the steaming hot water stream down my back trying to ease my discomfort.
I will get pissed off in the gym when my body will not keep up with the pressure I want to put on it.
I will wake up in the middle of the night from aching and spend the following 20 minutes trying to find a position to relieve it.
I will squeeze my eyes shut in the mornings as I swing my legs over my bed and brace myself to support my own weight.
I will struggle with the IBS associated with it. Sometimes I bust a sweat just trying to take a shit.
The amount of prunes and Metamucil I have to take just to roll out a couple gum drops would astound you.

But I will not die. NOBODY dies from this. We just get pissed off.

Unless you have experienced it, unless you are living it, you couldn’t know what this condition is like. It’s like me not knowing what a broken arm feels like because I have never had one. It’s just not imaginable to me.

But yet, I still get aggravated at people’s ignorance. It’s pretty bitchy of me, honestly. To be short-tempered about something that nobody knows anything about.
Sometimes I want to scream at people, “You have no idea! You have no notion of what it is like to live in my body.”
When they mock me for heading to bed early. When I say I am hurting and they brush it off like I am complaining of a leg cramp or something. When I’m quiet and they push at me for being “stand-offish.”

I know that it is not their fault- they don’t understand. They couldn’t. To them, I seem like someone who twisted her ankle in gym class and keeps using it as a crutch for sympathy.

But it’s not like that. I promise.

You know it is funny that at peak of physical fitness, I actually suffer the most ailments. I NEVER felt this way when I was younger, fatter and full of butter and gravy.
Start lifting heavy things and eating salad, and THAT is when  my body wants to lay down and quit. Story of my life.

I know it probably seems like I am just pissing and moaning, and that this is some sad sob story for me to gain more sympathy and guilt you all into buying my book whenever I actually do the damn thing. But really, it is just my attempt at revealing a little bit more of who I am to a group of people, who for some reason, have an abundance of support for me both as a writer, and as a person. People I don’t even know. People who used to change to my diapers. Because no matter who you are, friends/family/strangers, I have always kept huge portions of myself hidden from you. And with this new phase in my life where I am trying to clear my head, live happier and healthier, I need to make more room to stuff in some rainbows, kittens and carrots. So some of this has to come out to free up some space.

I accept fibromyalgia as a part of my story- a part of who I am. It does not define me, but rather it provides me with opportunity to seem like a really kick-ass person when I battle it and win.

I will travel, I will work out, I will run, I will sky dive, I will camp, I will rock climb, I will bungee jump, I will cliff dive- and I will deal with whatever pain comes my way as it comes.

Because why worry today about what I am inevitably going to have to worry about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…

Hakuna Matata, right?

Xoxox- daria.

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