Upset

Yesterday was my third anniversary.

I adore the fact that it’s one day before Valentine’s Day so the pressure is off — we go out to eat a day early, someplace nice. My husband wears his wedding suit, showers, shaves, removes any stray back-of-the-neck messiness, and let me say — he cleans up good.

I put on a dress, which is a rarity — full makeup, beautiful heels. I even curled my hair once, back when I had more of it, though trying to curl what I’ve got going on now would certainly be a fun experiment (any advice?).

This all went according to plan. I looked beautiful, my husband looked handsome, and we hustled our way through the cold and the block and a half to Our Place.

Tapas 177, bar upstairs, restaurant downstairs, dance floor adjacent to the dining room. We considered having our wedding there before we pulled the killswitch and opted for Vegas. Everything is lit up in red, a romantic version of ladies in Amsterdam windows. Usually we sit upstairs, chat with the bartenders and the waitresses while they’re waiting for their trays to fill. They let me smoke my e-cig up there, they’ll let Nate smoke after hours up there. We scoot our barstools together so we can lean on each other, and some of the drinks come for free and we hassle the owner for one of the black and white employee shirts. It’s the first place we ever went on a date — the owner, Demetrio, remembers. We’ve been up on the roof past 2AM, seen the light on, and walked straight in to free drinks and sincere hellos.

It’s Our Place.

I didn’t want to go.

I was exhausted from work and the week, and I felt anxious, edgy. I just wanted to exchange cards, little gifts, and be together — but we went, and we sat downstairs. It felt proper that way.

But we were all the way in the back, next to the wine cellar door, and near enough to the kitchen to hear every shout of “coming in!” and next to a trio of remarkably underdressed Asian kids who kept pulling out their iPhone 6+s to watch YouTube videos and take selfies. We might have been right under a speaker.

I started with a Midnight Manhattan — bourbon, lavender tea syrup, and orange zest — because it felt comforting, classy, a piece of a larger event, and we toasted to three years together, four months married. But as the courses arrived, and we began to talk about our weeks, our stories, the ambient noise became a cacophony and the talk became ridicule, and I couldn’t stand to be wearing a dress, or being tipsy, or wearing make-up and I had to get out of there.

I hated pleading with my husband through the beginnings of a panic attack. Please, I need to leave — he tried to calm me, to focus on my breathing, to meditate, but it was too much, and too loud, and I was about to fly out of my skin, so I left.

I went home and scrubbed off the make-up, but not the shame or the anger and I laid in bed, waiting for him (unaware that the waitress had been watching and offered him a shot for having to deal with that crazy girl — I could kill her), trying to breathe deeply instead of wading through the shallows that never give you enough oxygen, trying to quiet myself, and find solace in Spring Fashion magazines.

It wasn’t ten minutes before he was home, sitting beside my curled body on our bed, and I was so afraid he was angry with me. But, with my head in his lap, he told me he was only upset that I was going through this, and he held me until I could fall asleep on my own.

We didn’t exchange presents, or laugh as much as I would have liked, or even have the dessert-coffee-scotch combination I love so terribly. But we were close, and understanding, and so completely in love that, to me at least, it didn’t matter.

And that, to me, is a happy anniversary.

Galentines

My first kiss was at 15. He was my first boyfriend, but the relationship lasted a month. He “couldn’t do it anymore,” for reasons that are still unclear.

The first time I made out was at 17. I met him at a Zox concert and we kissed in the rain. I saw him once more before that relationship ended — I skipped work, my mother found out, and I was grounded “forever.” In reality, forever lasted a few weeks, but I broke it off anyway; he didn’t have a car, his boarding school was an hour away, and my pragmatic side didn’t see a happy future.

The first real relationship I had came after high school graduation, after we had both chosen where to go to college. We fell in love quickly, but he moved 300 miles away, and we saw each other roughly every three weeks for two and a half years. We were finally in the same city, but he took that for granted, and I broke both our hearts by leaving him.

The first boyfriend I saw regularly came into my life at 20, and we became official shortly after I turned 21. He was emotionally abusive, and I clung to him long after we were officially broken up, letting him use me for sex at his convenience, carrying on a secret half relationship for six months after I finally decided to leave.

Then I let my husband, and all of that came to an end.

—-

Today is “Galentine’s Day,” an unofficial yet-to-be-Hallmarked holiday meant to be spent with the women you love most in life. It also marks the third anniversary of beginning my relationship with my husband, so I won’t be drinking wine tonight with my friends at Solera, or pouring myself a glass at home and Skyping the “friend fam” from my breakfast bar. And, in a way, that’s sad.

I’ve spent most of my life either single or close enough to it, and the people who loved me, each and every day, were a ragtag crew of women, some now married, some dating, some engaged, and some single.

And I wish, especially for the single ones, that I could spend tomorrow with them.

—-

I was never good at being alone. I hated being around couples, save one. They never made me feel like a third wheel to their bicycle; instead, we all rode our own side by side.

Apart from them, though, relationships made me miserable. I so wanted to be loved by a guy that seeing it in front of me was deeply sad. But I always had My Girls.

The girls whose houses I would sleep over so often that their mothers would start to parent me as much as their own child. The girl who would hug me when I cried over these mini-relationship breakups, convinced I would never love again. The girls who would take my drunken phone calls and laugh at my slurring “I love you”s. The girls who would listen to me rattle off my host of bad decisions, and tell me that I was going to be fine. The girls who would split packs of cigarettes with me in high school because we were ‘so badass.’ The girls who planned out my weekends freshman year of college, because I was friendless, and miserable, and didn’t know what to do with my free time. The girls who would call me during American Idol to critique the performances. The girls who always encouraged me to keep writing, who always told me how talented I was, and to never give up. The girls who would pick me up when I fell — sometimes literally — and bring me down when I was off my rocker.

This is for all of those girls, who have been there long before any boy came along, and far before my husband. The ones who I called when I got engaged, who flew to Las Vegas on their last pennies for my wedding, who rapped at my reception (and then collapsed from dehydration — yes, this really happened). The ones who listened to me go through my lowest lows of mental illness, and always promised to be there for me.

And I knew they meant it, because they always have been.

This is for you, My Girls.

The Husband I Never Write About

I have a husband that I never write about.

I write about the ex-would-be-husbands, and the mental illness that I appear to be married to, and about the great love of my short life — writing, but I never write about my husband.

I didn’t write my wedding vows. I had always assumed I would, but instead went with the ages-old words that thousands and millions and perhaps even billions of people have said before me to bind us in matrimony because I don’t write about my husband, or our love, or our life together.

We’re not too precious to discuss in words, too close to my heart to share. Our love story is unique, and impossible, and against all the odds that we placed on ourselves and each other — such is the way when you begin as your husband’s decade-younger intern-turned-mistress. And I have told that story through my eyes, have sold that story for internet eyes. But I don’t write about my husband.

I don’t write about the way he sleeps through the first two hours or more of my days, and when I shuffle into the bedroom in his slippers looking for his oversized-on-me grey sweatshirt because mornings are cold in the apartment, and I need the pockets for my Blistex and e-cig, and he’s laying on his back, sometimes snoring, most times in yesterday’s clothes and his knees drawn up and I smile at him, knowing that flailed somewhere, his left hand has the ring on it that we picked out together, and that, on our wedding day, wouldn’t slide on smoothly; everyone laughed as I shoved it on determinedly, the back-track to part of our wedding video.

And I don’t write about the streaks of grey in his hair that I love, that he loves, that make him sexy and sometimes scare me because one day he’ll still be ten years older, but that will mean so much more — who knows how he’ll deteriorate, my tall, strong man? Who can say if he’ll inherit his mother’s propensity for mini-strokes, or, god forbid, a massive one because I read One Hundred Names For Love and I know how he’d hate to be treated like a child by hospital workers and would become angry about being unable to speak and would probably cry and look at me with eyes that begged me to smother him — he’s told me this before: if it gets that bad, just put a pillow over my face. No! Well, then give me the means to do it myself — and I wouldn’t be able to do it, and not killing my husband would make me hate myself.

I don’t write about what he calls me — my baby — or the cats — BuddyGoodBoy and AwLittleBeebs. I don’t write that he thinks soup isn’t food, or that he designs all of my cards himself, or that he can sing like Tom Waits, fingerpick like Nick Drake, and needs to pick up his guitar again because he keeps his right-hand fingernails long just to play, and he doesn’t do it much, but was made to.

I don’t write about his obsession with what his hair is doing, or his love for well fitted clothing, or how when he smokes a cigarette, it’s the most beautiful thing you could ever see, but I worry about his lungs, especially when mixed with the grey hair.

I don’t write about all the little worries and how they all add up to the most wonderful love anyone could possibly experience, and that counts your love because it couldn’t possibly touch mine — you don’t have him, the husband I never write about.

Beer and Rumination

Last night, I had two potent beers and watched Birdman. This is a dangerous game when your medications are also potent.

Sure enough, when IMDBing how old Michael Keaton is (63), I realized that my father is 65 years old as of last month, and while that might qualify him for Medicare and Social Security, that’s nowhere near old enough for me. Especially since his family line has a penchant for living as close to forever as human beings can reasonably live.

My father is the worst human being I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. If that sounds like an exaggeration, I assure you, it isn’t. Both my mother and my best friend’s mother (who unfortunately chose to date him for a time during my sophomore year of high school) have restraining orders against him to this day. My mother divorced him 24 years ago, and my best friend’s mother broke off their relationship 15 years afterward, 11 years ago somewhere around this time. He raped them both, and was physically violent to my mother on multiple occasions. She’s been in the hospital more than once as a result of his hand.

I’m lucky in that he only hit me once.

I was a senior in high school, and living with him at the time. I had been on the phone with a friend who had to hang up and call me back. It would be a matter of moments between hanging up and the phone ringing again. I was sitting on my father’s bed with the phone in front of me; he was putting away laundry nearby. When the phone rang, we both reached for it, but I made the ‘mistake’ of pushing his hand away, saying, “I got it. It’s for me.”

In response, he punched me above my left knee, on the outside of my lower thigh. It left a bruise for well over a week — I don’t remember how long exactly.

When I backed away from him, and said that he would never touch me again, I remember his laugh, as if to say how ridiculous — over this? I left that afternoon, and went to my mother’s house to exchange music on my iPod — my father’s place didn’t have iTunes. I don’t remember how I mentioned it to her, but it was casual — our relationship then was strained, nothing like it was now, and I imagine I wanted to tell her so she would feel badly about making me leave her house.

She didn’t say much about it, and I left to see a movie with my best friend — Silent Hill. We were cowered in our seats at the sight of various creepily crawling monsters when my mother tapped me on the shoulder (not the best move) and told me I was never going back there again. And I didn’t, save for the day after she got an emergency court order changing my custody — we went into his house during the day, when he wouldn’t be home, took everything that was mine, and left.

For whatever reason, my freeze-out didn’t last as long as I would have hoped. I’m ashamed to say it was probably due to convenience. My freshman year of college was a miserable experience, and I came home every weekend I could make plans with friends, which was often. I needed rides back and forth, and my mother could only do so much, so, eventually, I reached out to my father.

That ended one afternoon in April 2007.

I had spent the weekend talking with my mother about her history with my father, piecing together the history of violence committed by one whose genetics I shared, whose awful temper I sometimes shared. She told me that, when in the Navy, he had picked up a fellow sailor by the pecs and left weeks-long bruises because he had pinched my father. She told me that he had held her in the air by her throat when they were long-distance dating, leaving her in terrible pain on the flight home. She told me that they had had a puppy together — but that he had grown sick of it, and so, one day, shot the dog instead of giving him to a shelter. She told me of the many, many cats he made her give away after promising they would be permanent pets. She told me that he had called her fat when she was pregnant, while he made her pose sideways in a two-piece bathing suit to monitor her progress. She told me that he had anally raped her, many times.

She told me that when she decided to leave him, we ran away in the middle of the day, while he was at work. We had to take the dog, for fear of her life, and, since the women’s shelter we stayed in didn’t allow pets, my mother begged and pleaded until a local vet agreed to kennel her until we found a permanent place to stay. We lived in that shelter for weeks. I was two years old, and they had been married for about as long.

She told me I hated going to see him on alternate weekends as a child. I believed it all, but this I could remember. I remembered staying with him and his girlfriend in the house they shared, and being forced to sleep in the basement because the guest room shared a wall with the master bedroom. Presumably he couldn’t keep their sexual activities outside of the four nights per month I stayed with him, so I cried myself to sleep at night, scared of the furnace, the cold and dark. If I couldn’t sleep, he made me march around the room until I became exhausted, or to stand in the corner, but not lean against the wall.

He did take me rock climbing, to the science museum, the aquarium, and the children’s museum, but more often than not, I spent my father-weekends riding my bike to the local library, stocking up on books, and climbing the tree beside the driveway, reading away the time. I remember playing by myself in the woods for hours, going deeper and deeper into the wilderness, and never hearing my name be called. I remember only being allowed to watch educational VHS tapes about the biomes of the Earth. I hated it there — I remember many things.

She told me these things because I had asked her, knowing he was going to drive me back to college on Sunday afternoon. It had been about a year since he had hit me, and I was ready to confront him, scared as I was. He never drank, never did drugs, but worked out constantly, and was strong, especially for a man in his mid-fifties. I had caught slants of his temper before of course — he would never yell, but his eyes would turn cold, and his voice would sharpen, and you would know to hold your breath and do as you were told, else

I was in the car, calculating the time until we were to reach my dorm, on a busy street in Boston. I knew that once the car pulled up to the curb, I would have to fly out of it and away, and that it would be difficult for him to follow, especially since leaving his enormous Buick on a street that narrow would be almost impossible in the city.

So I confronted him.

I told him everything I knew, with anger and dismay. I told him that I knew what he was, that I was ashamed to be related to him. I repeated back to him the story of the time he had hit me, never asking him to apologize, but speaking in such a way that it was suggested. And then I asked him why.

“You had to know who was in control.”

At that point, the car was at the curb and I flung the door open, grabbed my bag from the back, and hurled my parting words into his face before slamming the door, and racing up the stairs. Recalling it even now gives me a speeding heart. I don’t remember what I said to him, but it was intense — it was loathing — it dared him to take action.

There were no elevators to the dorms on the first floor — you had to walk up to the second first, and then present your ID. I remember there were people in front of me, and I cursed them, sure I was about to feel a hand on my shoulder, and fire in my face at any moment.

It never came.

Instead, I rode up to the eleventh floor, hid out in the laundry room, and — sobbing — called my mother. I told her I never wanted to see or speak to him again, and I haven’t since. It has been eight years.

He has tried to contact me since, calling me every so often until I changed my phone number. My mother told me that when we split from him, he hired a private detective to hunt her down, and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done the same with me. He’s incredibly thrifty, and made quite a lot of money when I was a child. How else would explain the sudden appearance of his mother in the restaurant I worked at in 2012? I pretended I didn’t know her, poor thing, with such fear and sadness in her eyes. She has since passed away. That was the last time I saw her, the first time since I was a child.

I dream of him often, nightmares all. He’s always hunting me, for violence or sex — though he never assaulted me that way, not that I can recall. I’m always afraid he’ll turn up somewhere, and thank my job for it’s lockdown approach to security — no one gets in without a badge, no exceptions. I thank my building for requiring a fob to swipe into the parking lot and building. I thank my husband for being a man that makes me feel safe.

And I wait for the call that will inevitably come, the one where some lawyer somewhere will tell he’s died. That day, I will feel a great deal of relief.

Perhaps it sounds monstrous to think this way about your father, but then again — if you knew a man who had beaten and raped multiple women, who had hurt and neglected you, who savagely killed animals and never apologized for any of it — if such a man happened to be your father, even — wouldn’t you hate him, too?

My Business

I don’t particularly like the gaggle of chatty, gossipy women who are my office-mates. I like them even less when I wake up too late to have coffee before leaving the house. But I don’t show it openly, don’t flaunt my irritation — instead, I wall myself up in my cubicle, put on conspicuous headphones, and there I mostly remain, devouring podcasts.

This morning, I was carefully walking heel-to-toe with a brimming cup of coffee — my first of the day — when one of said coworkers asked, “So when are you going to have a baby?”


My uterus is far from empty. Inside, there is a lifeless object, detectable via ultrasound or MRI — an IUD, my second to be specific, and far from my last, to be even more so. My husband and I do not use condoms  — at this point, what would it matter? — but the hormones secreted by the T-shaped piece of plastic are ten times more effective than the Pill. One in one thousand women using it get pregnant annually, and each one lasts five years. I like those odds. And I don’t plan on removing this on until it expires — in 2019.


I am 26 and barely on my feet financially — there are student loans with five figures, car loans, credit card debt, and on-going psychiatric expenses, including three different medications. He is 37, and has just paid off his student loans, though he has others, of course: a car, a geo-thermal unit — we all have our debts. As it stands, he works for a university where annual raises do not keep pace with the cost of living. We downsized from a four bedroom house to a one-bedroom loft. Buying things involves constantly juggling plastic cards, his and mine, and keeping a steady eye on which ones are maxed.


I would like to be told when my sex life became a break-room-worthy topic of discussion. Of course, no one views it that way — the sex you have for fun is taboo, but baby-making sex is a public affair. If I were to tell this coworker that we’re thinking of attempting pregnancy soon, what would be the follow-up? Oh, that’s so exciting!? And what if I were to say we were already ‘trying,’ which is code for “having a lot of sex at the proper time in the hope that I’ll be impregnated,” what then? How long? would certainly be the next question — meaning, how long have you and your husband been fucking bareback? Even if that image never entered this ridiculous woman’s ridiculous mind, it certainly surfaced in me: a tacky neon faux-pas.


My husband and I have been together for about three years, and have been married for three months and a day. Clearly we must be dissatisfied, and eager to get to the next stage of things. After all, I am 26, and not getting any younger.

Neither, however, is the monster living in my brain. It grows daily, in new and surprising ways. I cannot stand loud noises, particularly if they’re drawn out and high-pitched. I sleep early in the evening, and nap on the weekends, exhausted from relaxation. I cry, and shake, and need my husband’s arms around me to make it stop.

But yes — I’m ready to toss all my sanity-pills in the trash for a child. Thank you for asking.


I had no idea until today that such a question could feel so violating, that saying something along the lines of oh god, no — never would have to be spoken to a stranger whose face I know but whose name I haven’t ever bothered to remember. I couldn’t even look her in the eye — it had to be said, to shut down the conversation for good (I’m certain there was much tittering about the newlywed who didn’t dream of a quiver-full), but being thought of as not a baby person carries a certain stigma.

It’s different once it’s your own.

It’s difficult, but motherhood is a woman’s greatest reward.

Every child is a precious gift.

All of that equates to you are a woman who doesn’t want a child — what’s wrong with you?

Since I put it so bluntly earlier, I’ll repeat the tone now, and say:

I may not want a child, but at least I have the manners not to pry into someone else’s marriage bed to satisfy my curiosity.


That being said, I will babysit for any and every parent I know. Believe me, I do not envy your position so I will set you free, out into the world where you can be human adults once more. Your children will be fed nothing but ice cream until they expend all of their energy being insane and crash hard. If they get a cavity, send me the bill.

You’ve paid enough.