I’ve started to write again. I wrote a lot in my teens and early twenties. I threw many of my pre-New York City, 1998 journals away in a dramatic fury where I also threw away my high school yearbooks and a whole lot of artwork. I was trying to free myself for the next chapter in my life, getting the fuck out of Chicago and moving to New York.
New York, the place I’ve always wanted to be. When I think about my desire to move to New York I imagine myself as a child, staring out the window on a rainy day and singing the 1970’s slow jam “Feelings”
Nothing more but feelings
I look through my window waiting for someone to sing me a song.
I would gaze longingly out that window at the gravel in the driveway and the big tree in mean Mr. Gates’ yard. Mr. Gates had tried to sue my mom after he slipped on some ice on the sidewalk running in front of our house. My older brother, who at the time must have been about 11 or 12 had shoveled the walk and missed the ice. Mr. Gates tried to sue us, but you can’t get much from a single mom on welfare so he must have decided not to follow through on his threats.
I longed to get away from Mr. Gates and the couple who owned Irwin’s in uptown Marion where they sold men’s clothing and Marion Indians High School t-shirts and matching shorts and socks in red and yellow. I loathed them after they snapped at my brother and I to only take one candy bar from the dish on Halloween. We were always treated like greedy, greasy, stupid poor people, but I knew we were smarter than they were. We just did things differently.
But who knows if any of this actually happened? I was watching a show recently on Netflix about how the mind works and It’s made me question nearly every event in my life. The neuroscientists on the show basically said that you can’t trust your memories and that memories are really only there to keep you moving forward in life. They used as an example a man who had lost the part of his brain that kept long term memories when a doctor accidentally removed it during brain surgery. Whenever they asked him if he had any plans for the coming days he would answer in a confused and lethargic tone that he had no future plans. However, I may be remembering this all wrong, so you should probably just watch the show. I think it’s called How the Mind Works.
I can’t be sure about anything anymore so I’m acting solely on my feelings.
I started to write a piece about how when I was in my teens, I was sure I would become a writer and then that piece of writing veered into writing about my mother writing and here it goes again. My mom used to write everything on an email machine because she couldn’t afford a computer. She wrote a newsletter called Happy Housewifery and both in an attempt to sound like she lived on a mountain top in weather worn shack and to save room in an email format that only allowed for a certain number of words, she would remove the letters O and L from any word usually needing an “OUL”. For example, should became “shud” and could “cud.” She did all of this while homeschooling my three youngest siblings making them study by candlelight while pretending to be pioneers in the old west until my dad would finally growl “ok, pioneer day is over. I’m turning on the tv.”
My dad put up with a lot from my mom and my mom from my dad. In fact, he was far worse than her, so he really deserved at least a year worth of pioneer day and no tv for at least ten years.
Anyway, back to my decision to write and most likely my decision to stop writing as well. After a particularly bad acid trip on a type of acid called Death Notes. The name itself should probably tell you that one hit is more than enough and that two will make all hell break loose and your friends disappear into thin air, like my friend who kept coming apart right before my eyes. He would become little particles that would blow away like smoke starting at the top of his head until he was just a lower torso with a voice. Fortunately, if I closed my eyes tight and then open them again I “cud” kind of put him together again. Phew!
My bad trip paired with a recent divorce from a person I never really wanted to marry and leaving my family in Iowa for Chicago really put me on a downward spiral and I began to have constant panic attacks paired with a nagging voice that would whisper “just commit suicide” over and over. I wish my mom would have been there to rebuke the devil in the name of Jesus from my body because I really needed it!
Alas, I was alone with only my asshole brother who spray painted his entire bedroom and then left without paying rent.
Finally, in a desperate moment I called a suicide hotline. The woman that answered sounded like she had just woken up.
“hello” she answered in a weary voice.
“hi, I’m thinking about committing suicide” I squeaked.
Clearly flabbergasted she huffed. “Well what do you want to do with your life?”
“I want to be a writer” I answered feebly.
Her response came loud and clear down the Illinois land line. “Well you’d better get used to it then!”
I had no idea what to say, so I said, “Thank you.” And then went into the bathroom, tied a towel tightly around my neck, held it there for a moment until the feeling had passed and then shuffled to bed and slept soundly for the first time in many months.
Somehow I continued to write after that, but it must have blown the wind out of my sails because I never again took it seriously and I decided when I moved to New York that being a visual artist was so much cooler than being a writer or maybe I just decided that the suicided hotline lady was right and I just couldn’t live like that.