New Soul

There’s this voice that sometimes speaks to me and says, “Vene, what do you think you’re trying to accomplish? There are so many healers and thinkers and artists better than you who are already much more successful than you.”

But a new voice has come back to rebut it recently, and it says this:

“Vene, there is so much suffering out there. And yes, there are other people already saying most of the things you say. But we need as much art and as much healing and as many good ideas as we can get. And if all you do is pass on what you’ve studied and assimilated to a few people, you’re contributing. You’re doing something. You’re not just complaining or sitting on your hands and feeling powerless. Even if not a single one of your ideas is original, if you are touching people and amplifying good there IS NO downside. This is not about you or your ego or your legacy. This is about purpose and fulfillment. You are not a charlatan. You’re a radio with an antenna and a speaker. Do what you came to do.”

The Deadbeat Club

Not every day is peachy. Some nights you’re in a cold sweat, staring down the barrel of the not-to-distant future with perfect clarity, knowing it could all end abruptly and you have no real plan B.

And then some days are like today. Not too cold. Not too hot. Your room is clean. Your friend, the musician you met on the set of a music video, texts you because he’s going to be down the block filming a scene in a movie and he wants to know if you’ll be around to hang out after.

Tomorrow you’ll tell a story in the city. Hopefully well. Hopefully someone will hear it and something unexpected will happen.

This isn’t a forever. It’s a now. But I know what it’s like to sacrifice the now for the forever. I’ve picked my poison.

Latest doodles:

I don’t know where I’m going

It’s not going to be easy
I wish I could spare you that
But the road will rise to meet you
And we will be beggars at the feast
On the other side we will marvel
At how we came through the darkness
One day, one shift, one drink, one joke
Oh my darlings
All I can do is straighten your collar
Wave the bangs out of your face
And repeat to you the words
Someone once spoke to me
That gave little solace at the time
But now give me comfort that someone
Had already walked my path before me
Patience, Trust

“This, too, shall pass.”

Interlude

From three days ago. I’m still COVIDy. My hearing’s been off since Spring allergies came along.

It’s foggy and misty today. I could tell you that blindfolded. You can hear this kind of day before you see it.

They’re quieter. You don’t hear sirens in some other neighborhood. Or music coming from open windows. Or conversations down at the bodega.

All you hear is the delivery truck downstairs opening up. Tires shedding water. Hydraulic breaks hissing. Planes overhead roaring on their way to LaGuardia. Maybe one lone bird cheeping in a tree.

You wake up a little slower. Not even later. Just slower because the sun that shines into your east facing windows on clear days is diffused by so many particles of water hovering gently overhead.

And today, it’s not only quiet, but there are no smells. Not because of outside world, but the one inside. The one in which a tiny virus has taken hold temporarily and humbled you. Your lemon ginger tea has become spicy water. Your peanut butter and cherry jam on whole grain toast is sweet, sticky, smooth, rough, crunchy.

You can intuit the rest. The sunlight. The taste of peanuts. All that is missing today because you’ve had it before so many times you’ve lost count. Today is not for lamenting what isn’t there. It’s a day inside made more bearable by an inclimate outside. Not sorrowful. Not pitiable. But soft. Like an interlude. Or a dream.

I made soup

I made soup.

I made soup when I am sick with COVID.

I made soup because I had the ingredients. Because I’ve been taking care of myself when I’m healthy so that when I’m sick there is a margin for error.

I made soup because I’ve learned to cook. And because I have things I’m looking forward to doing and that means being healthy.

I made soup because I love myself and there are lots of people out there who love me and don’t I want as much time with them and with me as possible?

I made soup because I’m not sitting here pouting about being sick. Or blaming myself. Or hurting someone else. Or hurting me with resentment and bitterness at what I’m not doing and who’s not checking in on me.

I made soup because there are people out there I’ve yet to meet who are going to rock my world and change my life. And I can’t wait!

I made soup because I’m a little scared.

I made soup because I’m only human and I can’t cast spells that will make me well. I have a red Le Creuset Dutch Oven instead of a cauldron.

I made soup.

Nothing at all

This boy
This boy
This boy
This boy
This man who pauses
And says “No one can pull off blue like you do,”
when he sees my hair.

This boy
This boy
This boy
This boy
This man who pauses 
And says, “I’ve never had a conversation fly so fast”
when we’re on the phone.

This boy 
This boy 
This boy
This boy
This man who pauses
And says, “Maybe I should learn Spanish” when he hears me speak it.

This boy
This boy
This boy
This boy
This man who pauses
And says, “You have such great taste in music and you have such a sense of rhythm” when I clap triplets on my thighs to Mozart to show him how to swing it. 

This man
This man
This man 
This man
This boy who pauses
And says nothing.
Nothing at all.

Autism Speaks Speaks for itself

In preparation for my panel later this week I’ve been combing the interwebs looking to see what’s out there in terms of assisting autistic adults with job placement.

And then I have to take breaks because it’s not great.

I’ve been reaching out to autism organizations that claim to help autistic people get jobs. From one organization I got an email setting up a one on one meeting to talk (yay). From another I got a boiler plate email saying I would have to sign up for a waiting list for some acronym organization with no link or further instructions (meh).

From Autism Speaks I got this, which is the most Austism Speaks thing you could possibly get. A solicitation to purchase a blue bag with a puzzle piece. The blue represents young boys. The puzzle piece represents what’s wrong or missing with autistic children. The bag represents how Autism Speaks loots a big issue for personal gain.

Shout, sister, shout

He turned mean

I turned cold

I grew numb

And he grew old

I was able to tell him how mad I was. How I couldn’t believe him. I couldn’t tell him though that any passion that ever existed was gone. Any intimacy had died for lack of nourishment. I couldn’t say that the sex was so terrible. That it felt like nothing. That he didn’t care to please me. That he must have known it was exasperating, overly drawn out, frustrating, pointless.

He has to have known how fake everything was on my part. I’m pretty sure he was faking everything on his. Things used to not be that way.

That wasn’t the natural, inevitable ending. It didn’t have to be. It still might not be. But it couldn’t get more debased. More stripped of any good intentions.

He said something at the last bar. Right in my ear. He said, “Write something. You are so brilliant. You are so unique. That mind is capable of anything. Just write something. Not about the everyday this and that. About where you want to be in five years. And then become it. Because you’re not who you were. You are not that girl who was so scared of her parents. I don’t care if it’s a screenplay or a novel or a poem or a haiku or economics or whatever. Write your future.”

Is that how things end? With disillusionment and a bad taste in my mouth? If it’s up to him, then yes.

I don’t think this is who he is for the rest of his days. He could return to softness. To vulnerability. To seeking wisdom instead of wealth. But for now he is small, smaller, smallest. Mean, meaner, meanest.

The final gift might not have been channeling wise words about my future. It might have been the way in which he shook me loose so I wouldn’t look back and feel free to look forward.

May you grow up to be righteous

Vene, stop confusing someone seeking out your attention with someone giving your theirs.

You’re very good at making people feel seen. Everybody wants that. The ones who want it most are the ones you need to watch out for.

Just remember that.

Samy was right. This attention is a drug. This guy hits me up when he’s jonesing.

The Israeli is an artifact of 2018 me. Current me doesn’t have a role for him to play in my life. But 2018 me had very little to ground her. She was in upside down backwards land trying anything and everything to see what worked.

I turned him into folklore. It wasn’t that hard to do. He lived in a world I didn’t have any familiarity with. My imagination filled in the details. I have a really great imagination. It’s one of the things he loved.

Thank god he came along. He let me see myself in a new way. He let me be bold and take big chances. All of that led to me being here and now. And actually brave and actually bold.

And he does know who I am, to an extent. But it doesn’t mean that familiarity, intimacy and gratitude mean I owe him anything going forward. That me doesn’t exist any more and the me that I am now doesn’t want what he has to offer.

I have all the big, juicy loves in my life now. They make my heart ache at how good and vulnerable and messy and complicated they are. It’s tangible. I don’t disappear to people when I’m not there.

The other night I left Emily in Bushwick after going to a play about the history of American trains and dinner in the west Village. I took a car to King Tai. I walked in that door to a queen’s welcome. My entrance was heralded. The night went swimmingly. I brought the joy to the party.

I’ve written him a hundred obituaries. But the truth is he will succeed or fail. And it will be completely at his own hands. I’m not interested in being a part of his story going forward. I do wish him well. He’s not a scoundrel with a twisty mustache. He’s a messed up kid who never grew up. He just grew older.

In my imagination, I run into him in ten years. He has a couple of kids. They’ve changed him. He’s happy. Settled. His wife is utterly unremarkable in the best way. She dotes on him but she doesn’t let him get away with anything. And he’s eternally grateful to her.

La mala vida

When things get confusing I have to ask myself, “What do I know to be true?”

As in what can I rely on? Even if I assume selfish motives and faulty logic and lack of self-awareness…there are some things that are irrefutable amongst the mendacity that pervades the world. That is inside of me even.

And then I can extrapolate what else must also be true for this universe to hold together.

It keeps me from falling into that void I stare at.

My grasp on reality is always a bit tenuous because I was raised to be blindly obedient and because my value as a human being was tied to what I could give to others. And because I lacked social awareness to discern when people didn’t have my best interests in mind but acted like everything was done for my benefit.

When that is your coding, reality isn’t grounded. It’s whatever other people want it to be and you just keep having to adapt continuously as the very laws of physics change to suit narratives and mood swings.

Like a video game. Keep you head on a swivel. Feel the changes in barometric pressure for any signs of danger. Figure out how to survive and deal with the emotions later. Get ahead of the damage. Put your needs at the back of the queue. Make everything look perfect.

It’s Mexican flavored toxicity. The love in my house was filled with as much poison as Mexican candy was filled with lead.

So many warped narratives.

I deleted WhatsApp to get rid of the Israeli. I deleted all of his phone numbers. His message archives. His photographs. And he still managed to get a hold of me. Is that care? Is that persistence a measure of love?

I reduce everything to essentials. One, I am beloved. Two, if someone wants you around they will leap over tall buildings.

And I come back with this: he wants me around when he wants me around. Unapologetically. Selfishly. Messily. Half-assedly.

I’m amusing. And I will trade all of my value cheaply. I will fake everything to let him think he pleases me.

No more. No more. No more I say in all six directions. No more. I know what real love tastes like. I won’t settle for substitutes. I won’t pretend to enjoy something. I won’t acquiesce to evasive answers. I don’t need to fill an emptiness with more emptiness. A negative times a negative does not equal a positive.

This manifesto slowly builds. I will not be made resentful, brittle and frail by any of this. That some of what I perceived to be true wasn’t doesn’t make the entire Jenga tower crumble. It wasn’t my foundation. It was my Dumbo’s feather. Grasping it allowed me to fly. Me, so unaerodynamic.

I don’t need the feather anymore. I can fly without it.