Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Private Benjamin.

(By request, an esoteric explanation.)

We're alright. Really. Sometimes downhill is an abrupt direction, don't you think?

Ben did indeed come home about a half an hour after I talked with Daniel. He brought me flowers (!) and painfully-found apologies, proving to not do so well after all when faced with the spectacular freakouts and ultimatums I put forth as hallmarks of whatever personality I have left.

The lesson we learned? We can't walk away from each other if we're going to do this properly.

It's a hard one at that. He's as vulnerable as I am, he's lost more than I have over the past two years and we both know by far that we're bringing far less than we both have to give to the table, showing each other our worst sides, almost daring the other to give up first but no one's giving up. I waited and got my act together and he went off and took some deep breaths and came back ready to work through it or at least figure out how to weather it. Facing his fears even though they're the scariest thing in the world to Ben.

Last night he rode the darkest hours holding me tight in his arms, his chin painfully pushed down onto my head, his fingers digging into my skin for purchase from his nightmares and this morning I had some more surprises.

He went running with me. He didn't hate it! We came home out of breath and covered with mud but it felt so good you have no idea.

And then he delivered his ultimatum.

This time I was ready for it. I could meet his eyes and I didn't flinch or anything.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Little brothers as go-betweens.

Bridget, he wants me to tell you that this isn't a dealbreaker. You have to understand-he was upset. He comes home to find you hysterical and there's ashes all over the kitchen and he didn't know what was going on. He flipped out. He does that, you know this. But he wants you to know that he'll be home at dinner time.

That's in fifteen minutes, Dan.


Oh my God, he wants you to soften me up or see how receptive I am?

Oh, probably.

Where's the box?

Sam has it.

Why didn't Sam let me know?

He left it up to Ben.

And Ben dumped it on you.

Look, Bee, I'm just helping out. He loves you.

Right. Everyone loves me, no one can take it.

It's not like that.

It's exactly like that, Danny.

Do you love him, Bridge?

Yes. But there has to be room for those setbacks he was so 'healthy' about.

And ashes-all-over-the-room doubts?


I'll let him know, then. And I want to hear all about the make-up sex.

No, he's your brother. That's disgusting.

I imagine sex with Ben is disgusting.

Not a chance.

Love you.

Me too, Dan. Tell him to come home. The kitchen's in much better shape and so is the girl.

K, will do.

And thank you.


On leaving well enough alone

Here, please, learn from my mistakes. You probably would do better anyway. Give me a choice and I'll make the wrong decision every time.

Fight #34573623845358359348734 was probably the dealbreaker.

For the record, as of this morning I don't have the ring, hell, I don't even have the box. I don't have Ben and I don't have a plan. You can blame him, maybe. As Sam stood there last night trying to tell Ben it was normal and Ben screamed at him that Bridget wasn't fucking normal and never would be and he couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't stand by and watch me get hurt anymore by Jacob.

Ironic, that. This from the guy who saw almost everything Cole did to me and never said a goddamned word.

And whether he took the box with him to prevent any further accidents or just to make sure I couldn't get my ring back, I don't know.

I only left him one message and that was to remind him that he pinky-swore that he would never leave and that he promised to have the patience of a thousand men, that he would do whatever it took, even though I warned him.

Everyone warned him and then encouraged him when he said he could handle it. That he somehow thought he could handle Bridget, with death under her belt and a tenuous grasp of reality as it was.

I warned him, I told him not to fall for me, not to get mixed up with me, that I was fucked up and nothing would ever be better than the occasional short stretch of happiness and otherwise life would suck.

He didn't believe me. Said he didn't care.

I bet he does now.

How am I, you ask? I'm marginally pissed off. I couldn't get this right if I tried. I goofed. I wanted to do the right thing and put the ring away permanently and failed epically, to the point that I'm sure Jacob is still on the kitchen floor to some extent though Sam said he looked after everything. Sam told me just to have patience with Ben and that he wanted to talk to him a little more but we always seem to come out swinging anyway.

But I don't blame Ben. How could I?

It's fine, everything's fine. It appears to have been an emergency only to me.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Oh, I've fucking done it now.

The guys are at Nolan's, all of them, playing with their motorcycles, barbecuing dinner. The kids are in bed and I decided I wanted my ring back.

There's two little screws holding the box together and my hands are too jittery and the whole thing dumped out on the kitchen table. Jacob is dumped out on the kitchen table, which is too much for my head and I may implode here any minute. I had to come out and shut the doors and leave him there. On the table. He's on the table and I can't touch my ring, I can't even go into the room.

On. the. table. Oh god. I've messed up.

I called Sam but he's at church, not answering his phone at the end of the evening service and I'm just about too embarrassed and panicked to call anyone else so yes, googling the best way to ah, Christ, get the ashes back into the box is not the way you want to spend your night especially when you know you can't even touch them. I can't bring myself to and I don't know what to do. Jacob would know what to do. But I didn't ask the table because the table won't talk to me. The table gave me up. I briefly thought I would get the vacuum but oh my God, no.

Freaking out. My God, why didn't I just not wake up today?

I can't call Ben. That would be dumb. I don't know how he would understand. I think he was relieved when I left this morning because he knew I wouldn't be wearing my ring anymore, how am I supposed to tell him I wasn't up for it after all? Better yet, how am I supposed to ask him for help in getting Jacob's ashes from the table back into the box?

I'd laugh but this is not funny. It should be but it isn't. And I thought I was strong but I'm not.
This morning, I went to Sam, the bluebird box clutched in my hands.

With his help we broke the seal and I slipped my wedding ring off my finger and put it inside. Sam resealed the box for me and then gave me a hug and said a few words that would have been comfort had I been able to feel anything with my ring removed.

I wasn't ready for this. I should have left it on.

He asked me to stay for morning services but I took the box from him and fled.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

A life in words (Bridget is rambling, please ignore).

Ben is not forthcoming with his writing. He's encouraging but he won't share. He never shares until the public gets to devour it first. I let everyone I know have first dibs. Even though it's two different things altogether, the process is still the same. Be inspired, fulfill the steps, be happy with finished, working product.

Like two mechanics side by side, each working on the same set of identical brake shoes, he'll offer up help or advice or stimulation but never once tell me how his is going, or show me his already-long-finished wheel. He's moved on to the exhaust and I am still struggling to get the shoes bolted on properly.

Yes, that's my complete and succinct knowledge of car repair from years of sitting in cold garages polishing chrome with the Never-dull can beside me while the guys put cars back together. Wait, I can refill oil and washer fluid and I know how to jump start a car. I can't be the pusher but I can drop a clutch.

I'm so happy the days of cars that we couldn't afford to fix are behind us, for the moment.

Though that doesn't stop the tinkerers and I was left to my own devices today because bike season is just around the corner so I will not see many of the guys on the nicest days, they'll be out on the Open Road which is where you go on bikes, and Sam will be back entrenched in the fray and Ben will be the daredevil but maybe that will be interesting, for he says he feels less inclined to break his neck trying fruitlessly to impress me now.

Ah. Isn't this where you begin the rapid descent into being comfortable not brushing your teeth before bed? I hope not. I like holding out on him and doing my very best to have brushed hair and a cute outfit on and be conversational.

It beats the wrapped-in-a-sweater, hostile, brittle writer-girl who only comes out of her turret for food and sex.

Or maybe it doesn't. I'll have to ask Ben.

I'm having a very hard time with said third novel and I only took the gig because it meant a payday down the road and I'm not one to burn career bridges because I find life as a writer tenuous at best. My style is hard to swallow, but easy to read. I take people to uncomfortable places and sometimes, on weeks like this, my heart isn't in it.

When Jacob and I got together I had just come off finishing up the second book. I was down to easy editing and a few changes and then I wrote a bunch of short stories and sold a few things and dabbled in some other stuff and put forth a lot of effort into Bridget. This. Saltwater Princess, the journal, giving it attention I hadn't before and it surprised me, never having written as myself or for myself, never having given any sort of voice or importance to a female character of any regard.

I have voiced many audible doubts over the past week that there is even a third book inside me at all, or maybe I'm just tilting at windmills. I began with a female protagonist. Only she's me, Bridget. But she isn't. But she is. Try telling her she's not and she clams up and marches off. I'm getting nowhere fast. I tried to let go a little and give her some growing space and she held up a mirror.

I feared this would happen, I really did. Writing is an incredibly personal experience, your characters wear your blood on the outside, it's almost painful. We'll tell you they are inventions and we lie when we do it.

Ben suggested I just keep plugging away doggedly. Keep working at it, eventually it'll fall into a rhythm and I'll return to the cold-turret girl that I am, when I can't even pry my head out of the story long enough to make dinner and we order in for weeks on end. When it's on my mind night and day and I'm preoccupied and miserable with glee over how I can make these people do whatever I want instead of waiting for fate. I am God in my novels.

What I'd like to do instead, is turn Saltwater Princess into a book. Maybe the general entries, weed out the useless ones, maybe add in some essays from my handwritten unpublished journal that lives under my bed. Maybe spruce it up a little so it makes more sense, replacing every place I called Cole by his nickname, Trey Anastasio, maybe replacing some of the harder parts or the drunken parts with better explanations and clearer intent.

Maybe take this down and make you buy the books. How evil.

In a perfect world, that's how this would end, a perfect set of volumes maybe categorized by year, because there is far too much for one lousy paperback here. This is a life you're talking about here, not a year in Provence. I would have to start with pre-2006 and then lump in 2006 and most of 2007 and then hold out for a while and see how 2008 and beyond pans out. Maybe there would be a comeback bestseller years from now to bring everyone up to speed on how the princess (hopefully) gets her happily ever after. I don't even know because it's autobiographical and I'm only thirty-six years old. No one is that egotistical as to publish their entire life story before middle-age, are they?

I'm not. Be grateful. All of you would get angry and boycott having to purchase a book after reading the daily segments for free, at your convenience. I know. I would, too.

I'd hate to see it end. I've grown fond of public-me. I didn't hate her as I feared I might several times. Nothing is a mirror like black words on a white screen. Nothing says accountability like real names and real events and real violence and really bad decisions. I got comfortable writing under some guy's name that doesn't stand out but you think he's a creep because only such horrors would come from the mind of a monster when in reality it's a somewhat fragile young blonde mother who has known a few monsters but otherwise has a weird tactile addiction to affection, bobby pins, Mexican food and being scared to death.

Only maybe not to death, because death is final. And I know I have more words in me, and more stories and more to show to you, but those words are about me, and maybe there's a reason for that, just like there's a reason for everything, even death.

I know you're disappointed, you expected this post to be about a lapdance and an epic one at that. No worries, it's still in the queue, I just needed to unload a whole jumble of professional self-doubt first. Sorry about that.

Wait, no I'm not. I'm not sorry. It is what it is-just me again, breezing through with another litany of fears and hesitation while Ben ignores my pleas to let me in just a little, to see his madness so it would make my own that much less glaring.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Outrunning the cortisol.

I'm typing today from the outer edge of wakefulness, where I hang by my fingertips, thanks to a heaping dose of Nyquil last night and the sleep of a thousand princess-comas. I daresay a freight train named Ben could have barreled through the bedroom and I wouldn't have opened one very heavy eyelid.

It's almost three in the afternoon and I really have no recollection of buying groceries this morning or of waking up at all. I don't recall picking out this outfit, and I swear someone else is keeping this house clean, though I do remember watering the plants because I did that like, twenty minutes ago.

I'm making banana bread now because it makes me feel productive. I'm doing little else, at this point but waiting out the hour until the kids are finished school for the week. It's snowing out and that's making me cry, and I should be cleaning a little more but really, the dust can wait a bit. I'll get it next week. I really don't even care right now.

I asked Ben what he wanted to do this weekend and he said he'd really like to have a lapdance because he's heard about them and read about them but he's never actually had one.

From me, he meant.

I was all for it up until he said that. Now I just wonder how I'll rate. I mean, some of the ones he had before were from professionals (at a strip club). As in, they get paid to do that. And the customer isn't allowed to touch them, either.

Sounds dull.

And if that's the case, I will totally come out ahead.

Pun intended? Maybe. I'll let you know tomorrow, when I'm actually awake instead of just pretending.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures.

This morning I went somewhere new.

Ben took me to see someone he knew of, he cashed in a favor the likes of which he'll never see again, it was worth that much and he offered me a simple sort of help that feels promising. Not a therapist, but someone who takes all the standard therapeutic platitudes and boils them down into a simpler stew from which you can find your nourishment. An approach that is about as natural as it gets and the one used to get Ben to stop drinking, after a year of him trying virtually everything else.

And as private as Ben has been about his recovery, this was a very generous thing he did in taking me to maybe see if it might work for me. I left feeling drained and I have a headache now but inside I have those quietly excitedly-jumpy feelings you only get when you're afraid something might be too good to be true. If it works I'll eat my own leg.

So for now, I'm not going to say any more about it. I go back in a week and then the week after that. Ben made me pinky-swear promise that I would give it two whole months before I started complaining, and that I would try really hard to get to the spot where I am happy in my own skin but otherwise he won't be going again with me and he won't talk about it with me any more than he talks about his own sessions with me (he doesn't) and so we can run parallel, intertwined races that have no finish line but, as he said earlier, the view gets nicer the longer you run.

I'm also not going to say much more about the parallels of life with Ben from life with Cole and how things are always what they seem. Ben going back to being an artist is simply a way for him to not dread going to work, to have more money and more fun and less responsibility and as he says, the grass was definitely greener on the other side. And then he laughed maniacally like the freak that he is. He isn't stupid, and he readily points out that he's always been jealous of Cole and what the fuck is the difference if he was, because he's not any more. But he stops short of saying he has everything because that's when the curse begins.

Oh, and I asked PJ what he wanted in return for showing up to babysit at six in the morning because he is the best friend ever, he told me just to post a picture of the damned tattoo already because it makes no sense to talk about something (here, here, and drunkenly here)when no one knows what it looks like.

(*poof* since I never leave certain photos up for long, sorry.)

He already got his payment besides, he ate all of the eggs I had in the fridge. I believe there were eleven. He'll be sick the rest of the day. He's a curse unto himself, that one.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Change is good but consistency is better.

Things are better today. I woke up smiling.

Oh, please, you're all as perverted as Benjamin, aren't you? Okay, fine, I woke up smiling for two reasons then. Somehow it was relief to hear from more objective sources that a few rung drops on life's ladder aren't the end of the world.

If you've emailed with an I told you so, I'm not venturing into emails today. Bawk, bawk and all that. Don't tell me you told me so, I know. But overall I'm still standing firm that I do better when I ignore it all rather than focus on it. Short term gain, long term pain. Why is it easier? I don't know. Someday I will know and I'll tell you.

What I haven't told you is a long list at this point. There is so much on my mind today. I never ever told you about Cole much, really. I've never told you about the Movie Star. I've never told you about my all-time favorite blog. I've never told you that in the past few years my friends have gone through things in their own lives and I didn't share it only to give them the privacy they needed and they feel as if they are given too much credit here without me ever telling you what I did for them. I never told you my plans for this journal or for life after death. Life from here on out.

I've never told you things that would probably make a difference in how you see me. I barged in here one day in 2006 and just decided to stop writing bullshit like I did for the first two years and start to tell you how I feel and it works and it resonates and by gosh, it HELPS me and yet you don't even know me and if you did you would love me and since you don't you hate me sort of and you sort of care and maybe you just read to kill the time and maybe you read because you need help, I don't really know and I could have had a private blog but if two people out of thousands feel better about their own lives than who's to say it isn't worth it? So maybe I do write for you as much as I write for the princess.

Kind of like the time someone stole Ruth's umbrella stroller and I was eight months pregnant with Henry and I wound up carrying her seven blocks back to the car in the pouring rain after a doctor's appointment. I wasn't angry or disappointed, I was glad. I felt as if someone needed a stroller that badly that they would steal it then I was happy it was there for them to take.

Yes, I'm strange like that.

But maybe I'm also just like you.

In news closer to reality Ben is home today. Ben is actually taking a leap of faith today. He's going back to work for the little company that could, he'll be going back to making art. Said company has been asking him back ever since they lost Cole, and then when Loch jumped ship the offer doubled and Ben has decided that before he turns forty (this December. He is sadly not allowed to forget it, and will be the first of our friends to make it to forty which is so incredibly poignant) he wants to do all kinds of things and one of those was to be happier in his day job. It's funny too, he left the company originally because Cole and Loch got all the best gigs. He'll be coming back into Cole's position. Life makes me laugh.

And so he has a few days to breathe before going back to a familiar haunt and in the meantime he took me to the new bookstore and he's such a calming, happy influence to be around. He would prefer to be all hardcore and coolly standoffish about it but really he's happy I didn't leave him out once again and he's secretly happy he makes me so happy and he's really happy to have gotten almost all of his own shit together at last in the meantime so we can be here for each other instead of me always being here for him and him always being shielded from me when I need something.

So, yeah, it's a good day. Just quietly good. The best.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Co-morbid princess chainsaw massacre.

I keep trying to edit this down. I'm having no luck.

Emotional setback. Compounded by personality disorders a through c. Coupled with denial in heaping spoonfuls and a failure to exist as a zombie in the world of the living. I'm one hundred percent convinced that that's what they put on my chart this morning. Oh, and runs with chainsaw, because scissors just aren't destructive enough.

They don't know what to do, no one does, because there's no one else like me. Humans with spirits this broken usually don't survive long enough to get help or keep going.

I am still here (whispered quietly and with determination).

But really, other than the massive denial and running around unmedicated and untherapied they all think I'm doing 'well' to still function like a human being at all. Naturally I could do a whole lot better if I went back to life where I was a walking fog who went to therapy five times a week so that I could spend one hundred percent of my days focused on pain and not even be able to look after my own children. Instead I face this...unpredictability. Never knowing when the other shoe will drop. Never ever getting back to one hundred percent of anything, because there was never a hundred percent to begin with.

So what's the point?

The point, in this case, is sharp and it draws blood and I am most definitely not allowed to make jokes about it anymore.