Friday, August 18, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I've done some things I'm not proud of. Actually, I'm not proud of most of the things I've done. I did them under duress. I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to find a chemical that made life bearable. Which is doing something to do nothing. Stupid? Yep. And it didn't work. The chemicals turned on me. Now, I read books like I'm drowning. Like ideas will save my life. Like pretty words will calm the riot in my brain. 

I'm not proud, but that doesn't mean I haven't done anything to be proud of. I don't trust people who go around feeling proud. I don't vibe with people who wrap themselves in self-congratulation. You're a human. Part angel, part devil - just like the rest of us. I'm gonna look at myself honestly, even if that means I hate me. 

I don't understand the folks who go around feeling proud for no reason. It's toxic. It's not conducive to conversation. It doesn't make you a good member of the pack. It's not all about you, see, it's about all of us. 

Some people live lives of quiet desperation. Not me. My despair is loud and clear, though I try to keep it to myself - I know you have your own heartaches to deal with. 

You gotta do what you gotta do, but not if it hurts others. That seems like basic common sense. That's what my parents taught me. What their parents taught them.

Who raised you?


  1. Who? Two misfits that never should have borne children. I'm surprised I'm not a serial killer—at least I tell myself I'm not. Who the hell knows when the chemicals take over.

  2. “That’s when I woke up, doctor.” Irving pulled at his collar. “I brought the pillow down on her face, then boom. Like a TV show going to commercial. You don’t suppose that means—”

    The psychologist’s expression was as unreadable as Miriam’s lithium stare. Finally, he tapped a pen against the yellow legal pad in his lap, but still did not answer.

    “I know.” Irving sighed. “You’re gonna ask what I think it means. Well, I’m not so sure lately. I love Miriam, we’ve been married fifty years for Pete’s sake, through better or worser, as they say, and it’s definitely been a whole lot of worser since… Well, since this last little accident, particularly.”

    The psychologist shifted in his pleather chair and cleared his throat. “And how is Miriam managing, now that’s she’s back in the facility? Are her doctors…more optimistic this time?”

    Irving’s mouth twitched as if the words tasted bitter on his tongue. “They say that in the rehab ward, you get out what you put in.” This is what the director told him after Miriam was admitted, when they met in that tiny box of an office that smelled of sawdust and stale urine. “You put in the work, they check the boxes, you get to go home.” But Miriam wasn’t putting in the work. The staff wasn’t checking the boxes. Which meant—

    “I tried everything to get her to put in the work,” Irving said. “Get out of bed into the wheelchair, at least. I tried everything. Begging, pleading. But she doesn’t seem to want to do a damn thing.”

    At the sharp ragged end of his patience yesterday, he’d even demanded her compliance, which, as always, only made her more defiant. She swore at him, vowed to get better only so she could leave him. She took a swing at him, he’d thrown his hands out, she went silent. Then he’d ducked his head and shuffled as quickly as his old feet could take him out of her room, out of the building, and back to the all-too-small home the two of them shared where he sat, for a long time, in his armchair, ignoring his ringing phone, holding a gin and tonic until the ice melted and he lost interest and he turned the phone off and went to sleep.

    “Irving?” The voice was soft. A box of tissues wavered under his chin. He hadn’t even been aware he’d been crying.

    He took one, two, mopped himself up, blew his nose loudly, stared into his lap. “There are so damn many pillows in her room. She’s always carping at the nurses, not enough pillows, why can’t I get more pillows?”

    The psychologist took a professional beat, letting silence fill the room. Irving swore he could still smell the urine and sawdust.

    “That’s our official time for today,” the psychologist said, his voice softer than usual. “But if you’d like to talk more, I can make space for you.”

    Irving drew himself up as tall as his stooped back would allow him. “No, that’s all right. I think it will all be fine now.”

    1. This seems like a piece of something larger. The pacing of this is spot on, and I would definitely keep reading. - JD

  3. Who raised me? Two kids playing house because their parents and their parents and their parents did. Bullied bullies who stuck their shivs in and twisted. Words raised me and razed me, their hope and glitter and fear and company. Food was my drug of choice and we’ve been doing a drunken push-me-pull-you dance ever since. Loved your piece. Truth.

    1. sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to JD’s piece. from Laurie’s iPad.


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