Climbing the Mountain 2019.10

1. Born in Black – Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers

Dancing towards the abyss
You and me, swallowed up by a black hole
In perpetual concession, infinite distance, eternal displacement
I cannot escape the pull
Fall into the collapse, let the time stretch
Doorways to the unknown
Where hurt becomes love, and pain is happiness
Born in black
We’ve only ever wanted to go back”

2. Jenny – The Mountain Goats

On the second bike trip Big S told me that she gave me this song because it was about me. That I’m a pirate.

How much better, how much better can my life get?
900 cubic centimeters of raw, whining power, no outstanding warrants for my arrest
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, the pirate’s life for me”

My memory is riding with Big S along the C&O trail, on the right ponds that made up the old lock system, on the left is a line of trees. This song is playing and every time after he says “pirate’s life for me”, I would ride frantically to the song weaving from side to side of the path, in and among the grass line with frantic excited energy. I am a pirate, a joker and a free spirit, apparently I forgot.

3. Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton – The Mountain Goats

When you punish a person for dreaming his dreaming
Don’t expect him to thank or forgive you”

I mischievously enjoy singing this song when the lyrics “hail satan” come on. Whether I am walking or biking it is such a hoot to think someone would hear and misunderstand why I was saying it.

4. Southwood Plantation Road – The Mountain Goats

I am not gonna lose you
We are gonna stay married
In this house like a Louisiana graveyard
Where nothing stays buried”

I think a lot of these songs were me still getting over and moving past feelings surrounding Clarity. I listened to the Tallahassee album hundreds of times over. I can’t say much more about this song other than the lyrics above.

5. No Children – The Mountain Goats

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it’s darkest before the sun rises
We’re pretty sure they’re all wrong

I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn’t over
And I hope you blink before I do
And I hope I never get sober”

Oh I sung this song with so much glee, everywhere I went. The lyrics to this song are so great and disheartening. This is a song I listened to in early summer. I hope you die! I hope we both die”

6. Oceanographer’s Choice

I don’t know why I’m so persuaded
That if I think things through
Long enough and hard enough
I’ll somehow get to you
But then you came in
And we locked eyes
You kicked the ashtray over as we came toward each other
Stubbed my cigarette out against the west wall
Quickly lit another”

My memory is of listening to this walking in the strip district. I tried my damnedest to walk off my demons of my past relationship.

7. Broom People – The Mountain Goats

I often didn’t feel too great and in early spring. I mostly just walked around a lot and didn’t talk to many folks about what had occurred just a year prior. The previous two years haunted me quite a lot on my walks and alone in my room. It’s why I watched so much tv, it was why I would drink (not that I drank very much I just normally don’t drink at all), and why I would walk.

Big S was where I could become a babbling brook. I’ll forever be thankful for that.

8. The Mess Inside – The Mountain Goats

We went to New York City in September
Took the train out of Manhattan to the Grand Army stop
Found that bench we’d sat together on a thousand years ago
When I felt such love for you I thought my heart was gonna pop

I wanted you
To love me like you used to do”

I’m certain this song is about Clarity as well.

9. Black Coffee – Mal Blum

I got so high that I forgot
That I’m no better than I seem”

I saw Mal Blum with Big S and their coworker. I didn’t know Mal’s new album but I got into it once hearing it live. This is the song that caught Big S the most when it was playing. It felt too close to home for both me and her. I definitely was a hot mess when I met Big S and was no better than I seemed.

10. You Or Your Memory – The Mountain Goats

St. Joseph’s baby aspirin
Bartles and Jaymes
And you
Or your memory”

Cheap high, cheap alcohol and complicated memories of his abusive step dad who just passed. The complicated memories and mourning is certainly what I relate to.

11. Painter In Your Pocket – Destroyer

Where did you get that line?
Where did you get that look?
Where did you get that penchant for destruction in the way you talk?”

Big S is a big fan of this band and for some reason this song from the album caught my ear one time spotify was playing random music for me.

12. Dance Music – The Mountain Goats

I’m listening to dance music
Dance music”

So nice and upbeat, am I wrong? So this is what the volume nob is for.”

13. Dissatisfactions – Onsind

There’s something wrong with me
I don’t think I’ll ever be okay
I just take it day by day (by day by day)”

Big S has been called inconsolable by several partners and friends.

I sung the lyrics above over and over again. While I was caught up in this song I was convinced that was true for me, that I don’t think I’ll ever be okay, I’m happy to say I feel like that is less true today.

14. This Year – The Mountain Goats

I am going to make it through this year
If it kills me
I am going to make it though this year
If it kills me”

This song caught me one day when I was biking to Heart’s house where I was cat sitting. I biked as fast as I could to out run the feelings of this song. I don’t know where that feeling came from and I don’t really care to think about it but I biked so hard and fast trying to escape it.

15. Riches and Wonder – The Mountain Goats

And I want to go home
But I am home”

Memory: I was cat sitting at Heart’s house for 2 weeks. I was there because the previous house I was living in was being sold so all of my things were shoved in a closet in a room that wasn’t mine, not to mention that Librarian was making me increasingly uncomfortable. At Heart’s house they have a “anti-inspirational quote board.” I wrote a play on these lyrics as my quote for the wall. “Sometimes you want to go home, Sometimes you are home, Sometimes you have no home.”

I wrote this because to celebrate my year anniversary of not having a home for a few weeks I once again didn’t have any place I could call home, luckily it wasn’t as traumatic as the last time due to the support of my friends.

16. Fall of the Star High School Running Back – The Mountain Goats

But selling acid was a bad idea
And selling it to a cop was a worse one”

17. Going to Georgia – Laura Jane Grace (Mountain Goat’s Cover)

The house I was living at was being sold, I had to move all of my possessions from my room into another and then shove them into a closet. People came daily to look at my room, and everything in my room was up for examination or to be moved (and it always was moved). Every time I would leave my room I’d play this song, I was just looking for the cozy home and I had it in my old room but I had it no more. This lasted for a month.

I would alternate between John Darnielle’s version and Laura’s version. Laura’s clear loud voice cuts through me like a knife.

18. BA77 – Onsind

Sick of ‘borders’, sick of ‘nations’, sick of racist immigration policy
Disregarded pleas for solidarity.”

This song is about Jimmy Mubenga an Angolan immigrant who was murdered by 3 guards from G4S security services while being deported from the UK.

19. New Year’s Eve – Mal Blum

Hey, did you know you can check the time
Your call reaches the other line?
Hey, did you know that I know you lied?
So board it up and don’t even try”

I mostly understand this lyric but I really like the build up for when they sing these lyrics.

My memory from this song is this song playing on the Northside while I’m wandering around with Big S, and when the build up above happens I can’t help but sing along. Only to ask Big S if they know what that means. Resulting in Big S poking fun at me for being a sucker lyrics based on the way the song builds them up. Yes, that is true.

Looks Pretty Hopeful 2019.6


1. Temecula Sunrise – Dirty Projectors

Big S shared this with me on the bike trip, they said it’s written about folks squatting in new construction houses built just before the housing bubble. I’m always reminded of Big S’s commentary appreciating the responsible drinking lyric – drinking Gatorade to prevent a hang over “I live in a greenhouse and I am getting wasted, yeah. Temperature rising. I can feel it all the way down. And what hits the spot, yeah, like Gatorade?” I also texted Majesty about this song and asked him if he’d move to Temecula Sunrise with me, he responded appropriately.

Memory – Dancing my way from work to Trader Joe’s listening to this song on repeat. Jumping from and balancing on benches and planter edges while spinning around. It felt like freedom – the whole idea of living there and feeling some good feelings.

2. Benton Harbor Blues – The Firey Furnaces

This song is also from Big S, they know the best music. This song was on repeat for both of us for a week or two. The music feels like video game music at times and is upbeatish despite the melancholy lyrics.

Memory – Probably of the first few times I listened to this song with Big S. Sitting on the couch in my living room at opposite ends facing each other, our legs pressed against each other. We shared music like this for a couple of hours, it was great. Big S is reminded of riding their own bike in a snow storm to the mini mart in Chicago, “I rode a bike in the snow to the mini-mart”. Sometimes I imagine that.

3. Pais Nublado – Helado Negro

Big S played this at their house one time I was over, it felt calming and chill and I wanted more of it’s soothing words. I spent weeks listening to the album, This is How You Smile. When I was listening to this I thought I was finally breaking out of folk punk world.

Memory: Getting into work after a cool morning bike ride and warming up inside while listening to this album over and over again every morning. This was one of the first albums that I frequently listened to that was work appropriate.

4. Nothing Came Out – The Moldy Peaches

At our furthest point on the bike trip before going back sitting in an adirondack in Connellsville trying to find the motivation and desire to go back towards Pittsburgh. Big S played several songs on the speaker, I immediately asked that this song be replayed. So sad and whiny, I had to have it again. I spent the next couple of weeks whining these lyrics.

“And besides, you’re probably holding hands with some skinny, pretty girl that likes to talk about bands,
And all I wanna do is ride bikes with you and stay up late and maybe spoon.”

5. In a Diner In Poughkeepsie – Quinn Cicala

My morning ritual consisted of waking up, showering, meditating, making an egg bagel sandwich and a fruit smoothie while singing along to whatever songs have caught my ear recently. I asked my one roommate that was home if it was annoying and she said she really liked it, she liked hearing me sing and express emotions like that. So when she was off pet sitting for a week and this song was in my ear and I recorded myself singing it and sent it to her. Turns out she very much appreciated that clip and has since replayed it for other people.

I think this song had my ear because of his longing to be laughing at a joke surrounded by all his friends, his somber longing and fear of death.

6. I’m not a good person – Pat the Bunny

This song became my motto for a little while. It honestly felt liberating because I’ve been trying to be a good person for my whole life and I am tired of trying. I just want to be enough (to paraphrase another song by this musician). Big S also took this song on as a motto, citing the lyric:

“I try to keep up with everything I know I should do, but then I fall to pieces anyway.”

Memory: Playing this song at work. I had just told my manager that I was going to send back my warranty parts to a company I was annoyed a but only after covering them in grease. He tried to tell me not to do that, I couldn’t oblige. Instead I covered everything in grease and played this song for him and said, “Sorry [manager’s name] I’m not a good person.”

Also I know this song on Ukulele and love singing it.

7. Ten Things – Paul Baribu

I thought often about this list he asks you to name, and I did my best to write it down. This was one of the few motivators in my life to get me out of bed, to get me to move forward and get up an out. At the time I wasn’t spending any time with anyone outside of work and bumping into roomies at home. My favorite part is:

“Name ten thousand reasons why you never wanna die, go and tell someone who might’ve forgotten”

8. Oh, Right. Damn It. – Sledding with Tigers

I found this song on spotify when I was first playing ukulele and easily learned the chord, got the song stuck in my head and around this time I realized how much I related to this song and how much I hated relating to it. I wanted to be over Clarity and didn’t like the way she treated me. But a part of me heard this and related. And it is one of the less than a dozen songs I know how to play on the ukulele.

9. Goodbye Lulu – Days N Daze

Despite my best efforts to break free from the folk-punk genre I couldn’t escape it, I did for a little bit because of Big S, Helado Negro, and Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers but was quickly brought back by Days N Daze and have been entranced by Pat The Bunny.

10. Never Coming Home (Song for the Guilty) – Ramshackle Glory

I appreciate him saying, “I’ve been smoking too much, because I am no exception.” I constantly think about being no exception when I give advice – wishing I could take my own advice, acknowledging that I am no exception.

I think I sung this song, especially in front of Big S to try and tell everyone that “I’m not here, I never am.” Because especially when I was listening to this song I didn’t feel present I felt lost in thoughts and hurt, constantly in “battle with the… way that I think”.

I sung this song over and over again. I sung this song on the bike trip. I played parts of this song on my ukulele. This song makes me feel so sad and distraught.

I sung this song so much on the bike trip it got to a point that I started making funny alterations on it like, “No room is as dark or stinky as ours is.” a commentary on the constant farting going on in our tent. Big S both laughed and bemoaned my singing this. But I remember my silly song catching their attention and distracting them from their own thoughts they were battling with.

11. We Don’t Get Tired, We Get Even – Pat The Bunny

The song caught my ear because of it’s hopelessness. At first it made me sad thinking that, “And I’d still be on the outside. Of the world we dreamed of building,” which honestly feels true. The first verse is so strong-willed we’re gonna fight even if we don’t sleep. The second part immediately acknowledges that “I can’t sleep anyway” and then confesses that he knows he’ll never belong. I asked Majesty about this and he concurred, that we’ll never belong – it relieved me a little to feel like I wasn’t alone in not belonging, it just feels really lonely out there. I often feel isolated from everyone and feel very little connection to others. Everyone seems to connect to me but I suppose because of my trauma I currently (nor possibly ever) will connect to the vast majority of people I interact with.

Memory: This song first caught my ear when I was biking around on this closed off bike path on duck hollow. If you go to a certain point you can climb on old equipment for loading things onto boats. I sat at the top of this perch (one time even with a hammock) and listened to this song on repeat and felt hopeless.

12. I Hate Chicago – Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers

This song was especially funny to me because Big S lived in Chicago, specifically Bridgeport too! (where Laura’s ex lives). Also my district manager at work moved here from Chicago and I jokingly threatened to play it when he came in for the first time.

I relate to this song because I felt/feel similarly about Philadelphia. I hated Philly so much, I hated every part of it, but I most hated that I went there specifically because my partner, Smiles, wanted to move there (not me). I have felt that same feeling Laura describes when she says, “Oh, when I head north on Lake Shore Drive. I fly and I close my eyes. And I reach the magic point. And I run for magic miles.” When I drove North on the Schuylkill Expressway when I was visiting Pittsburgh in preparation for moving here I left Philly and flicked it off and screamed at Philly. As Laura has realized and as I know, “this is just another divorce song.” That’s how I feel about Philly as well all you philly readers.

13. Some Rotten Man – The Taxpayers

This song makes me hurt. When I sung it I imagined singing it to Clarity, I imagined I was the some rotten man, I was nobody’s savior. It made me feel like I was being stood on, it reminded me of all the things I thought I did wrong and filled me with self-loathing, but at least I was “[her] oldest friend.”

“I know you could’ve done much better
I know I must’ve been a real fucking nightmare
Some rotten man
Nobody’s savior
Your oldest friend.”

14. Screamy Dreamy – Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers

I couldn’t listen to this album at all until I saw her, and let me tell you this is much better live than it is on the album, but it got me listening to the album. I listened to it over and over and over again.

This song caught my ear one sleepless night. I wandered on a wet fall night trying to find out where a path went, trying to make sense of what was going on in my life. I couldn’t stop listening to this song, over and over again. I was super out of my body and I didn’t really know how to come back down so instead I sung this song to myself over and over again hoping I would come down. I cried on the benches surrounding the baseball field on Heth’s playground.

This lullaby felt appropriate because just like lulling yourself to sleep there is no easy way to lull yourself into your body, you need some real patience, patience interrupted by frustration and agitation, or as manifested in this song, drums.

15. Riding For The Feeling – Bill Callahan

Big S played this song for me on the bike trip and they sung the lyrics, “again and again and again and again” to me, which made me smile and blush.

I relate a lot to the distance he is feeling with other people, wishing that someone would say, “who do you think you are?” It just feels very lonely, lonely with people, which is the worst type of lonely, there is nothing more lonesome that feeling alone with people – it is the most lonely you can get, lonely with no antidote.

My memory is one day at work when I stayed late this song came on I literally broke down and started to cry, I feel down on the ground and cried for the whole song, I only stopped because the song that follows it was just too upbeat.

16. Sink, Florida, Sink – Against Me!

I was learning this song on the ukulele when I first started hanging out with Big S, I was obsessed with the song and getting all the nuances of it right. We went biking on our second hang out and I sung this song for them, half way thru I got anxious at what I was doing and I abruptly turned off the path and took a shortcut. That break helped break the connection that I felt myself forming with them and then I finished the song when we rejoined 10 seconds later.

On day 3 of our bike trip I started to feel like I needed a break, like I needed to hurt and feel bad, so we rode alone for a while. I sung this song several times and felt sad. It makes me feel sad and reminds me about how much I miss the littlest one, I hear the lyrics, “Put a distance the size of the ocean, so now this heart can beat a skipping rhythm.” I used to think I took space from them because of shit I needed to do and that it was my fault. I understand the complexity of the situation more now.

I sung this song over and over again and felt sad, I just really missed the littlest one, and couldn’t shake her face out of my head. I cried and then I got off my bike and threw my bike down, I ran up into the hills where the old “coke ovens” were and laid down in the wet undergrowth and cried uncontrollably. Big S stopped and waited for me. When I came back to my bike laying on it’s side I felt so distraught and tried to kick it as I cried, I missed. My bike for a moment became the symbol of my distance and misplaced priorities. I love those kids – I also have very little way of showing them that, that also makes me feel good.


Photo Based Update


I’ve been working to get out and about and go on adventures, this is one of my favorite spots to adventure. It’s on the Duck Hollow Trail and is an old dock for loading coal or something else into barges. This is a picture of the first time I made it out to the far end, most times I visit now I just go up to the highest place and just sit up on my perch looking over the river. I love bike adventures and I love abandoned things and this is the best mix of both and some terrifying heights to boot!

As you can see here is another photo from a bike adventure I went on, here I’m crossing over the bridge from McKees Rocks to the Northside.

Sometimes I go on bike adventures with this super cool person, this is Big S. They have been my main companion recently, whether it be bike adventures, or lazying around the house. Here is a photo from one of our bike adventures where we made our way to the Mattress Factory, ate June berries and explored some installation art.

I’ve ended up in a new job position at work. I’m the Service Manager, that means I’m in charge of the service department, the mechanics and the bikes getting fixed and built. I’m enjoying the new position and the raise that came with it. Also I have access to bonuses assuming we meet our goals – which we have been doing. I have noticed the jobs has led to a shift from working on bikes to managing others working on bikes and ensuring parts are in stock and dealing with customers. It’s definitely a different job but I enjoy it. On most days I love working with customers and my sense of ownership over the shop makes more sense now. Above is a photo of me late at work one day, trying to get the scheduled repairs done. We’ve been understaffed recently and I’ve ended up working long tiring hours. I’m starting to once again understand you can’t work all the hours and need to enjoy your life – I’ve been taking more time recently.

At the end of May Big S and I went on a bike trip down the GAP trail. It was super fun, I like her and the way they travel/experience the world. We only made it to Connellsvile and back on our 4 day trip but it was quite fun. Pictured above is one of the fun experiences I had on the trip, I crossed an abandoned rail road bridge found a pikachu hat, and then jumped on and road that train for 30 seconds. That’s me immediately after riding it.

Necessary picture of our bikes. Mine is on the left and Big S’s is on the right. with the delicious Trail Side Cafe in the background. We have another trip planned for the end of July with her roomie, we’re gonna start at D.C. and bike out 3 days before someone trains back to get the car that brought us to D.C. and drives us the rest of the way home.

Each day of our bike trip was filled with fun happenings. One day we were in a abandoned building in the enormous coal funnel, another day we jumped into a very cold stream near us, this day we got to play by this white waterfall.


Dreams When We Were Much Happier

I started playing the ukulele a few months ago and after learning a handful of songs I felt the urge to write some of my own, here is the second song I’ve written. I also performed it on the ukulele for ya’ll –  and have attached the video.

I used to spend everyday typing at a computer
I used to spend everyday inputting data
I wasn’t happy but it paid the bills
Then you came into my office and asked me for food
I handed you a jar of peanut butter and you shoved your hand right in
Those were the days, when times were simpler
Those were the days, when I’d dream of being happy with you

When all I would dream of was you coming to ask me to borrow my lighter so you could light up your cigarette
Dreams when you would smoke a lot
and I would take breaks in the middle of the day

I used to spend everyday alone with the kids
It was exhausting but I loved them
Then you’d come and ask me to chat
I would come and talk with you till early morning
Those were the days, when times were simpler
Those were the days, when I’d dream of being happy with you

When all I would dream of was you coming into my room and asking if you could chat about the kids and life
Dreams when you wouldn’t sleep much
and I would take naps in the middle of the day

You would dream of mightier things
every time we would talk you’d sell me a dream
sometimes I’m a writer
sometimes you own a business
Sometimes we have a nanny
She cares for the kids so we can do something together in our free time
Sometimes we’re both writers and we’re on a book tour.
And I hang out with the groupies
and you hang out with the kids
and I got to parties to talk about the book we’d written together
thinking about how I wish were were just chatting together

Cause in those dreams all I was really dreaming about
was you coming into my room and asking if you could chat about the kids and life
Dreams when you wouldn’t sleep much
and I would take naps in the middle of the day

Now I hardly see you, and I hardly see the kids
But I can’t say, I’d have it another way
But that doesn’t mean I don’t dream of
The days we worked together
the days when you would come down to my office and ask me to borrow my lighter
the days when you would come down to my room and ask me to chat
the days when I would just sit and watch you smoke your cigarettes
the days when that was enough to dream about

Dreams when you would smoke a lot
and I would take breaks in the middle of the day
Dreams when you wouldn’t sleep much
and I would take naps in the middle of the day
Dreams when we were much happier
and it felt like it was us against the world
Dreams when we were fighting for one more smoke break
Dreams when we were fighting for one more smoke break
Dreams when we were fighting for one more smoke break

Looking back on what happened

I’ve tried to spend the last few weeks actively reviewing what happened in my life over the past two years. What happened when I was with Clarity and the kids. It’s hard to read my journal entries or archived text messages, I don’t want to know that I had a good time with them I don’t want to remember that. I also hate remembering all the bad that happened and the treatment I allowed myself to accept. Seeing how I interacted with my emotions and own well being is horrid. I fought suicidal thoughts and self-harm tendencies for years in both therapy and my life only to ignore those same symptoms for over a year before I got so close to death I had to do something about it.

The thing that drew me to the kids at first was Clarity, she was my people and I hadn’t been around my people in so long. She listened and saw what was going on, she was a real person of which I feel like there are so few. I was so drawn to her that I didn’t care what I had to do to get her attention to get to spend time with her. I went on many smoke breaks with her at work just to see her for a few minutes. I saw what she was doing with the kids and wanted to help out, it was so obvious that there was a lot of need. I always knew there wouldn’t be money in it, at least up front.

As time went on I started to see that all the progress they all seemed to make would be undone almost immediately. They needed me to be around them all the time or any effort I put in felt pointless. Their need kept drawing me closer that and the reward I got when I showed up for them. I was good at what I did, I liked the challenge and felt in awe of my ability to be so good at showing up for the kids, at first the middle child, then the younger child, it always felt like a challenge I could take on, but I lost almost all of my energy and couldn’t figure out how to crack the oldest one. He knew what I was trying to do and would tell me I wasn’t his family.

And there I was in a weird in between. I didn’t want to be forced into their family but I wasn’t part of their family that was clear. Clarity treated me like family but it only felt like I was family to her. At first she called me her wife or her platonic femme-dyke partner. But the words and explanation got to be too much and I just became a nanny. Erasing so much of the work I did, care I gave and the fact that I didn’t have any life outside of them. Within 4 months of living with them I had begun to almost never see my friends. Clarity became scared of me not being at home with them and tearing myself apart from them to visit my parents for only a day felt impossible for all of us.

I ground myself in other people, I know that about myself. And I grounded myself and my self worth and my meaning up in them. In January a friend of Clarity’s asked me if I was going to stay in their life for the long-term and if not I needed to leave. I said “yes” as though “no” was a preposterous answer. In return Clarity agreed to make space for me to live my life so I could have friends and not have my only experience be with her and the kids. My promise hung over me like a contract, to me my word means something and I stay true to what I say I’ll do. Sadly in return I never did get time to see my friends.


When living with the kids I started feeling overwhelmed before I officially moved in, we would try and take turns decompressing, though at first I gave most of my turns to Clarity for she had been through more. By March I was having constant suicidal thoughts, that’s 6 months into meeting this people. A month later I cut myself on my forearm. I stayed because I thought it was going to work out I thought it was all temporary and it was gonna get better. I began looking at my growing debt and shrinking bank account and began to feel trapped. At first I would think about leaving and spending my remaining money doing whatever I wanted, 16 months in I no longer had access to any money, not that we had any money amongst the two of us to access at that point.

Clarity grew apart from me pretty quickly. I’m not certain exactly when but it’s around the time that she starts working fulltime, probably 6 months in. She doesn’t have the time for me. That and she knew I’d stay. I began to feel like a burden to her and she tried to avoid me or at least I imagined that’s what was going on. I tried to hard to get her attention, cleaning, buying random helpful things from the internet, being really nice. I would desperately try to get her to talk to me or like me after she comes home from work. She would just goes into her room. She only talked to me when I do things wrong, when the house is messy, when I fuck up something.

There was always a corner we were gonna turn and it was always going to work out. The kids were gonna be back in school, we were gonna move into a new house, she was gonna switch her position at work, she was gonna get a new job, we were gonna implement a new system. It was always on the upswing but never really swung upwards. After holding out for things to get better for months it became clear to me that it was never gonna get better and I was going to die if I didn’t leave. I waited 22 months for it to get better and it did, we lived in a home we rented, had 2 cars that were legal. But I was miserable and not treated well. I was never good at setting boundaries but I began to realize it was because I knew they wouldn’t be listened to. Oh my last day I set a boundary for Clarity’s new boyfriend to not come over, and then he did. So I left.

It was the beginning of a new story that has been really difficult thus far but is finally going to be my story. Not anyone else’s story, not a story where I’m a side-kick but a story where I am the one leading it. It’s great, I’m doing things I only dreamed of. I’m standing up for myself in new ways, and since digging through a good chunk of what happened I’m excited to begin figuring out the question I’ve been wondering forever, Who is Jenny? I don’t know the answer yet but she definitely likes riding bikes still and she likes music a lot and can play at least a few songs on the Ukulele (even singing along to them while she strums). I’m anxious and kind of excited for the future. I think it’s gonna be an alright place for me.

What The Folk Do I Do Now? 2019.2

1. From Here Till Utopia (Song For the Desperate) – Ramshackle Glory

The entire album, Live The Dream, is great as far as I’m concerned. I exclusively listened to this album from September to November.

I don’t know where I fit between the vegans and the nihilists
That might be the first thing I’ve said that wasn’t a lie tonight!”

– This has described me for the last 8 years. I still don’t know exactly where I fit between the vegans and the nihilists, though I know I’m not a very “good” vegetarian so maybe I do know where I fit.

This song feels like having too much free time and not knowing what to do with it, it looks like grey, dead grass, lifeless trees, and decay as I walk for walking sake.

My friend William came to with a message of hope
It went: ‘Fuck you and everything you think you know
If you don’t step outside the things that you believe
They’re gonna kill you.”
He said: ‘You think no one’s gonna stop you from dying young and miserable? You’re right!
If you want something better, you gotta put that shit aside.’”

– No seriously, fuck you and everything you think you know, if you don’t step outside the things that you believe they are gonna kill you, they almost killed me.

2. More about Alcoholism – Ramshackle Glory

I can’t tell you the number of times I rode down the street on my bike screaming these lyrics. At the time I didn’t have a boss. I thought twice about singing these lyrics when I had a manager, though he sung the lyrics out loud which just felt insincere.

Aw, shit, I wish I had a job to quit
I wish I had a boss that I could tell to fuck off
Give me the satisfaction of a dramatic exit, and not just a long car ride and a short goodbye in a parking lot.”

3. Day Gaunts – Days N’ Daze

Started listening to this at work per the suggestion of a customer who heard Ramshackle Glory playing and said he can’t stop listening to Days N’ Daze.

Bugs in the kitchen and mold in the sink
Chuggin’ down the whiskey and you never stop to think
What do we do tomorrow?”

4. Urine Speaks Louder Than Words – Wingnut Dishwashers Union

I found out when I was writing this that it’s commentary on the inaction within activist communities and how meaningless their action-less words are. Stating that instead urinating on authority figures will cause more change.

But will somebody say is this resistance or a costume party? Either way I think black with bandanas is a boring theme.”

5. We Are All Compost In Training – Ramshackle Glory

I eat meat and drive trucks and shoot guns and don’t trust in the federal government to solve our problems. You might think I’m joking, but I’m not a republican”

So I’ll dig up the dirt and I’ll throw down some seeds, because the world needs more spinach, not more motherfuckers like me.”

I’ve song this song dozens of times riding along on my bike. All the while motioning like I’m digging dirt holding a shovel with my two hands. And then throwing down seeds with my right hand, as I bend over closer to the ground. I agree.

6. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist – Ramshackle Glory

This song helped get me through the hard times at the beginning of being gone. With my right glove-less fist thrust in the air I’d sing, “Your heart is the size of a muscle the size of your fist, keep on loving, keep on fighting and hold on, hold on, hold on for you life.” And I’d stare at my first, realizing how small my fist and therefore heart was and how I needed to keep on fighting, keep on loving and hold on for my life.

Like the time that our friend Chuck came over to our house
He said he needed somebody to take care of his pets
‘Cause he was going out of town
I asked him, “Where,” and he said “New Mexico”
I asked if I could get a ride
He said: “No, you don’t want to follow me
Where it is I’m going”

He backed out of the driveway
That was the last time we saw him
Cause he drove straight to his parent’s cabin
And put a bullet in his head”

7. Misanthropic Drunken Loner – Days N’ Daze

Cause relationships are overrated
Maybe I’m just tired and jaded
But I’m sorry I just like myself more than I like you”

After burning out, I spent a lot of time by myself and I’ve hated a lot more people that I’m used to. At the beginning I’d agree that, “I’m just far more comfortable alone.”

Human beings are a waste of breath and
Don’t think I exclude myself
I’m an asshole just like you

Cause people are ugly and people are hateful
Destructive and greedy
We’re proud and ungrateful
The world would be so much better off without us”

8. I Listened – Apes of the State

This song is the first of Apes of the State that caught my ear. I love the earnest hopelessness that it contains. I have felt in increasing inability to listen and remember about other people and would adore singing this song to someone else – this is totally a move I’d do. I exclusively listened to them for a month or two.

And how you make poor decisions with the people that you choose to date
And you’ll probably think I’m crazy for this and I’d tell you that I don’t give a shit but that would be a lie because I care
What you think about me
And I just really, desperately want to be your next poor decision
Your next poor decision
Your next poor decision”

9. My Idea of Fun – Wingnut Dishwashers Union

Like if you don’t want to work, then that becomes your job
There’s a lot of overtime, there’s not many days off
I hope you know that I’m not trying to complain
It just gets hard to explain to people that I know, or kids who come to shows

That I just don’t want to talk about the office today.”

– It’s nice to hear this because I relate to it a lot. And have in multiple points in my life.

And the cops say its a crime for people like me and those friends of mine to want to die
Like my neighbor in St. Pete
She’s been on house arrest down here

If she tries to leave her yard they’ll lock her in a cage for years
‘Cause sometimes she wants to die

And she shoots dope when she thinks she could die
And the law they caught her one too many times
Shootin dope when she felt like she could die.”

– The fucked up way we deal with mental health in this society. She can’t kill herself because that’s illegal so she self medicates by shooting dope when she feels like killing herself. But then she gets thrown in jail for doing that.

Please help me be, please help me be
Please help me be enough

Fuck the law, because we’re enough…”

We’re enough.

10. Plate Glass Apology – Apes of the State

I feel this song so much. After obsessively listening to Apes of the State for over a month I realized what they were singing about and why I felt so drawn to their music, cause they are angry, hurt, breakup songs. The best part of this one is that it’s angry, it’s angry, and then it’s honest, apologetic and sad, but only for a few seconds before she gets angry again. Also her craziness of jumping through a plate glass window and stopping a car in the middle of the road feels so close to something I’d do.

You broke my heart I hope you die, emptier than how I feel inside
And when you lay your head to rest at night I hope that you never fall asleep when you
Think of all the things you do I wish I could just hate you oh I wish all of
These words I said were true”

11. Tonight We’re Gonna Give It 35%– Against Me!

For months every time after I’d hang out with the kids I used to live with and co-parent I’d sing this song. As soon as I’d leave after visiting them, I’d put the song on and I’d shout, “My heart is anywhere but here!” I’d write it on my arm, I’d write it on my chest, and I would stare off into the distance, looking at nothing.

I can’t believe how naive I was to think this could ever be so simple.”

My recent memory from this song is biking while singing along to this song. I was biking down Penn ave, without my hands on the bars as I often do, as I was crossing Main St the following lyric came on, “Dear Jesus are you listening.” I put my hands together like I was praying, closed my eyes, and turned my head towards the sky as I suddenly screamed those lyrics

12. Olde Tyme Mem’ry – Mischief Brew

Branching out from Ramshackle Glory and Apes of the State this song grabbed me. It’s a song I just want to sing along to, it’s not the lyrics so much as it is the way they are sung. The song is somber, lamenting the past, while at the same time these lament-ers who “settle for white rooms and hollow doors, paper ceilings, padded floors….”

13. Strangers – Apes of the State

Cause sometimes the people who don’t know the things you’ve done are the only ones who will bother talking to you
Sometimes strangers are the best people to tell your secrets to
Cause they don’t know you”

– So true, I often tell all my secrets to people I’ve just become friends with – often the people I’ve been friends with longer don’t have the patience or the attention span for the secrets I want to tell them – that and they know the importance of them.

And today I wish that I could put new glasses on your eyes so you could see the world the way I do through mine
Cause then maybe you wouldn’t wanna die you wouldn’t have to stick a needle in your arm
Just to survive!

Cause I see myself in every single part of you and I made it through
So I can’t just sit back and watch you throw away your life”

– This line hurts me because of how much I relate to it. It’s why I don’t have any energy for anyone these days. I used it all up, with a lot of it going to trying to put new glasses on her eyes.

14. Wherever is Your Heart – Brandi Carlile

This was the song playing in the kids car in September. Clarity told me so. I listened to it very briefly and never again. That’s until I heard the littlest one was listening to a song on the album and replacing parts of it with “Jenny.” I don’t know what song that is but I think that it is this song.

I listened to this song on repeat, over and over and over again as I started to regain my emotions, sadness was the first one.

Even when you’re high, you can get low
Even with your friends you love, you’re still alone
We always find the darkest place to go”

Caught me and made me cry. It felt like it was right, like I had left my home and despite the fact that your feet may take you far from me, I know wherever is your heart I call home.” I was alone in this world, wandering around by foot. I’d hear these lyrics and stare down as my feet as I walked. Miles I’d walk just to deal with my emotions, one night I walked 13 miles on a whim and never did I find home.

Eventually the song got to me, I pulled up my left sleeve on a cold autumn night, flicked out my blade and waited. I knew like so many times before I’d wait for days, putting off this feeling only to act upon it. It had already been a day and I didn’t have the stamina to outrun it. So after my arm had been chilled I heard the lyrics, “Oh god forgive my mind, oh god forgive my mind, when I come home, when I come home.” And I did 3 quick cuts on my arm. They all drew a blood that I regretted slightly when I was later in a convenience store restroom shoving paper towels in my sleeve so I didn’t get my hoodie covered in blood. This was the last time I cut myself.

Since then I’ve figured out how to deal with my emotions in a more productive way. My new favorite coping mechanism is singing. I sing all these songs all the time. That’s where my emotions go. Having never experienced a normal childhood and therefore never learning how to cope with existence, I now am experiencing being a teenager for the first time. It’s odd, but it’s going really well this time – even if it’s 15 years after it should’ve happened.

New Work, New Me, New Year

Sorry for the distance between posts, recently I’ve been considering deleting this blog. Turns out more people read this than I thought. This feels odd because it is where I share lots of deep emotions and inner thoughts. I’ve received pressure from my family who have had people directing concern for me at them. I don’t want to be pressured to take this down, this blog means a lot to me and has been a great coping mechanism in the hard times in my life. I do want to let all who read it know that this is NOT a blog I use to update folks on my life, in fact the opposite probably happens. I normally go on here to process deep and difficult emotions. When I’m having a good time I just feel too busy to write (this is my main reason for the distance from the last post) and therefore you will primarily see bleak things being expressed often months after they’ve happened. Frankly it’s odd to hear how many people are reading this as it used to be an anonymous blog that few read. But until I decide it’s time to shut it down it’s gonna stay right here. I hope you enjoy.

Picture of the service area of the bike shop after being thoroughly cleaned.

Picture of the service area of the bike shop after being tidied up.

This past month has been a roller coaster I didn’t expect but it’s been a great ride. Lots of things changed at work. Trek Bicycles, one of the largest bike brands, bought out our struggling, underfunded store allowing the previous owner to retire and us to get the finances and support we need. I’ve also come to better understand my personality and how it has changed as I’ve come into myself. I’m not the introvert I thought I was, instead I’m an emotionally intense extrovert. I’ve been having a grand time extroverting around, going to shows, and just having a good time being me.

So first, comes first, the good news at my work. The previous owner of 5 bike shops in the Pittsburgh area let go of the stores that he had long prior stopped caring about. I’ve worked in this shop for over 2 years, 6 months recently but I also worked here about 5 years ago before I transitioned for a year and a half. The descent from good bike shop to chaotic bike shop started happening shortly before I got there. The well-known service manager stopped caring and eventually left to pursue another career, I left a few months later to transition. Since then it was understaffed and I was brought back into this chaotic scene that needed some serious organizing and was filled with shitty attitudes because of what the staff had experienced.

Trek has come in and turned that around – we cleaned up the shop, reorganizing and reduced the clutter everywhere. We got rid of lots of products that simply weren’t selling and got in new products, new bikes and generally got the place looking a lot nicer. We are all working full-time, which is absurd for winter and really exciting. The three of us who remain at the shop are learning and adjusting to the expectations that Trek has for us and are generally excited for the change I think all of us are. From what the Trek folks say to us we are the store most excited for the change. Being able to switch to positive, hopeful attitudes is really really nice. As is getting new cleaning supplies, tools and soon new work benches and training. I just gotta navigate getting myself a raise too.

They also are employing all 3 of us full-time. This has me excited and kind of dumbfounded. I’ve never worked full time in the winter in a bike shop, that’s a privilege afforded only to management. But here I am trying to adjust from working 16 hours a week to 40 while having to figure out my company health benefits. I’m really glad for the increased hours, while I was starting to figure out how to deal with working so little now I feel more productive with my time and I don’t have the luxury to constantly analyze and second-guess myself. This combined with the positivity of Trek and helped me break out and be more my authentic self.

Being myself didn’t start just cause of Trek but it certainly pushed me along in the process. The first time I really noticed it was on New Years Eve when I was at a party with my friends. The venue was some rich guy’s flat with an eclectic group of queers and friends, music profs, and generally fancy people. I disliked some of the people there but acted as though I liked them. Even engaging in polite conversation with some of them. This got to me and just before midnight I lost it and felt a strong desire to flip tables and destroy things. Instead I went on a walk. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized that I was frustrated because I was holding myself back from being myself. This led me to more realizations about exactly who I am.

The first thing I stumbled upon was a webpage talking about people who are emotionally intense. I realized that I am emotionally intense. Not long after realizing that I took the Meyers Brigg’s Personality Test. I hadn’t taken one in years but for the longest time I was INFJ, or Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. I had even read the book, Quiet by Susan Cain about the power of introverts. I strongly identified as an introvert one who got energy from one on one conversations but still needed to retreat and be alone. The test revealed that I wasn’t INFJ anymore instead I’m ENFP. Stunned that two letters changed I discovered I’m more extrovert than introvert and I’m not judging, or structed to perceiving or open and flexible.

While I was always on the cusp, especially for introvert/extrovert, embracing that I’m an extrovert (and not just a cusp extrovert) felt terrific and made so much more sense. I have noticed that I love being the center of attention, I’ve noticed that I’m high energy and I don’t need as much time to reflect as I ended up giving myself. Instead the alone time would make me feel bad, as a thirsted for interaction. It’s so relieving to come more and more into myself. I no longer feel the need to ponder over my actions and to have a 1 or 2 second delay before responded as a figure out how I feel. Now I just respond. I’m certainly not as calculated as I was but I’m so much more authentic than I’ve ever been.

Two weekends ago I really thrived while being one of the most authentic versions of myself I’ve ever been. I went to an after party from 1am to 4am and danced and partied in ways I never have before. I felt free – I lacked the normal self consciousness I have. Instead I felt like I was care free partying like I was in my early 20s. After the party me and my friend, PunkRock, had brunch at 5am at the 24-hour diner. We were both in awe of the previous few hours and that it was 5am. We lost most of the next day as we slept until noon and avoided the light in favor of chatting in the dark and watching Face/Off. I think we both just felt like we were truly living our best lives. I still feel like I’m living my best life 9 days later. Here’s to 2019, as I’ve said to myself for the last several years – 2019 is looking to be the best year of my life thus far.

Against Me And Myself 2018 Mixed CD

For about 8 months I primarily listened to Against Me! It was a hard time, and it’s hard to touch all of the emotions that were present in that time. Music is the easiest way for me to have a snapshot of an emotion and this is a snapshot of that time.

Against Me and Myself 2018

1. We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules) – Against Me!

This song is screamed at the top of my lungs in the car, so loud that a friend heard and saw me jamming and texted me to send me her approval.

It also inspired this line in a poem from May:

Screaming punk lyrics in the car dreaming of being homeless. Wondering what the future smells like searching for convertible tights in the kids section of target.

“Mary, there is no hope for us
If this GM van don’t make it
Across the state line
We might as well lay down and die
Because if Florida takes us
We’re taking everyone down with us
Where were coming from
Will be the death of us”

I feel those lyrics. While I can’t relate to those lyrics anymore I know I did in a way that startles and terrifies me. “Where were coming from, will be the death of us” It feels odd and scary to me that I would feel suicidal feelings in such a way. People congratulate me for leaving the situation with the kids but I have to tell them I left because I knew the other option was dying. I knew those feelings would only get larger and larger and would end in an inevitable way. I didn’t decide to leave so much as I decided I didn’t want to kill myself and the only way to prevent that was by leaving – something I had been considering for many months.

2. Walking is Still Honest – Against Me!

“Can anybody tell me why God won’t speak to me?
Why Jesus never called on me to part the fucking seas?
Why death is easier than living?”

Walking over homestead bridge, walking through squirrel hill for hours, walking for hours and hours, every time I need. Walking until 2am because I can’t fall asleep.

I relate a lot to her, with spirituality calling me the Christian concept of god felt like it was constantly rejecting me. I spent years reading the bible, I went to several bible studies and studied an Evangelical Christian group for a class. It never felt right, and now I am rejected by most of them. which is pretty alright to me. I found my spirituality in Buddhism, it’s sufficiently empty and non-judgmental.

“Dear mother
This is just survival
Cannot promise your children everything
But you would lie so they can sleep tonight”

I didn’t listen to this song at first because of these lyrics, I didn’t hear them for a while or think about them because of how they may or may not reference Clarity and the kids. I continue to not really look into it while feeling it relate to me and my life with the family.

3. Cavalier Eternal – Against Me!

This song caught my ear and made me laugh, I sung this in the car, I sung this in front of the kids. I hid this from Clarity and I told my therapist I knew why this song spoke to me – because it was about Clarity, that was probably April that I told my therapist that, wasn’t but a few weeks later I told her I couldn’t do it anymore.

4. 1-800-237-8255 – Logic

“I’ve been on the low
I been taking my time
I feel like I’m out of my mind
It feel like my life ain’t mine”

I hated the second half of this song for a while, just like I always re-winded Blink-182’s song “Adam’s song” half way through every time.

5. Because of the Shame (Black Crosses Version) – Against Me!

I found this song after reading Laura’s book, I didn’t believe her at first that she didn’t write Thrash Unreal about CC. But after rereading it and listening to both songs, I believe it. The White Crosses version reminds me of Queen’s Album Made In Heaven, the Black Crosses version will make you cry with very little to separate you from her words.

6. Searching for Former Clarity – Against Me!

The first time I really heard this song was late April and I was at home in the basement. I played it at again and cried on the floor the type of crying that is angry and hurts. I cried and flailed about kicking random things in the basement, it was the hardest I’ve cried in years.

The second memory is a 9 days after I wrote the Poem, “Today’s The Day”

The day I want to kill myself
it isn’t the day I have a crisis
it isn’t the day I cry for hours
it isn’t the day I cut myself
it isn’t the day I am angry, miserable and filled with rage and hurt
That’s the day I want to scheme
to tie a noose
to make sure it fits over my head
to find a spot
to make sure it’s hidden from sight
to find a stump
to make sure it’s easy to knock over
to write a note
to cry and scream in frustration and hurt when I realize today isn’t the day
The day I want to kill myself is
when I feel the cool breeze over my face
when I can hear the birds chirping around me
when I feel calm and present in my body
when the day has gone well and there isn’t a thing in the world making me knock over that stump
That’s the day I want to kill myself
a good day a happy day
a day where I say that was a full life
a day where I say that was a good time
a day where one tear escapes my left eye and runs all the way down my cheek until it reaches my chin and then it hops off to land on and be absorbed into my shirt
a day where that tear has to run past a smile before I knock over my stump.

I went to Schenley Park, parked the car, called my therapist and left a voicemail as I had promised myself the night before. And I put on this song. I felt calm and collected. I smiled, I smiled as tears rolled down my cheek they were happy, relieved tears. “Not yet,” I told myself – fearing that I’d get too emotional and threaten the certainness that today was the day. I played the song over and over again as I searched the park for a rope, any rope to hang myself with. After walking for 2 hours I found a tent held together with ratchet straps and as I was surveying which one would be best to remove my therapist called back. I was fucking pissed and I told her so, she made me talk about it over and over again and eventually I tired of trying to kill myself.

7. 8 Full Hours of Sleep – Against Me!

“When you sleep no one is homeless
When you sleep you can’t feel the hunger
When you sleep no one is lonely in a dream.”

This song is my first week out of the house. No where to go, uncertainty around sleeping spaces and what and how I would eat food, with my main goals being meeting basic needs. Biking around listlessly in the morning before anything opened trying to find a place I could go, trying to find a place I could sleep following a hot, miserable, sleepless night with rain, mosquitoes, trains, and a fox barking. I found myself at the Cathedral of Learning on Pitt’s campus and chatted with a new friend on text as I tried to figure out how to survive in this new world.

“The sun’s always rising in the sun somewhere.”

8. The Disco Before the Breakdown – Against Me!

This song is about dysphoria

“And if you follow the jawline down over the heart. Because of your bone and muscle that make up your head to toe. it’s just skin and threat stitches and ligaments.”

9. Creature Comfort – Arcade Fire

This song is driving fast in the silver car, faster, faster! Maybe you can outrun these feelings, vooRRRRR, vooRRR, vooRRRRR. Or if not maybe I can crash into a median and die trying.

“Assisted suicide
She dreams about dying all the time
She told me she came so close
Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record
Saying God, make me famous
If you can’t just make it painless
Just make it painless”

This is a song I put on repeat, over and over again, this is a song that I would cut myself to as soon as I heard it a nice quick slice on my almost unscarred inner forearm – shit you are supposed to cut under your underwear, on your left lower abdomen the equals sign you’ve been etching in over time. What will they think at the JCC, what will the other parents think!

“It’s not painless
She was a friend of mine, a friend of mine
And we’re not nameless, oh”

10. Tonight We’re Gonna Give it 35% – Against Me!

This is my favorite song by Against Me! right now. She wrote it in Pittsburgh while Anti-Flag was trying to court her to sign onto their record company. “On a balcony overlooking nothing”
First I caught the beginning and I laughed at the lyrics, and read how much she despised bottled water and thought of how much I did esp at that time (2002) (not that it doesn’t make me uncomfortable now).
“We drank bottled water together, and talked business, I think I played the right moves.”

“My heart is anywhere but here”

“How tired I was from the past couple of weeks from the past couple of years, but it hit me all at once.”

I relate to so many parts of this song and I relate so hard to it.
My memory associated with this song is on a sleepless night, one I knew all I could do was walk if I ever wanted to sleep. So I drove the silver car fast as a rocket through the tunnel and over the bridge, eyeing up the Jersey barriers for future spots that I could crash with our crappier car. I parked the car at the top of the Homestead Gray Bridge. And walked over to it and dreamed of jumping, instead I just walked it. With this song on repeat. Tonight I was stealing hours from my sleep time so I could live for a few minutes. But I didn’t know how to live anymore. I only knew I wanted to die. Tonight wasn’t the night, I was to frustrated. Tonight was a night I had to walk down the bridge.

These were some of the first nights I lived in so long, one of these nights I walked across a long railroad bridge while a cargo boat past underneath me. I ran the final bit worried cars would see me, no longer scared I would fall through the rickety floor, I was more worried I would die before I was able to do this crazy shit again. I finished the night by burning a small American flag on the middle of the bridge as I walked back to my car.

“I can’t believe how naive I was to think this could ever be so simple.” (how I feel about the family)

11. Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart – Against Me!

I found this song on another night I stole the same night I was walking on Bigelow Boulevard past the french fries trying to finally find out where the sidewalk along it goes Something I’d been wondering for 4 years.

Packaged between, “Problems” and “Even at Our Worst We’re Better Than Most” This is the soundtrack of that night. As I walked on the sidewalk I found where I would hang myself. A quest I had been on for over a year. In one of the parts of this sidewalk near the strip district there weren’t any businesses but instead there were trees that would hide me, hide me from anyone seeing me. I would simply tie my rope to the fence and dangle against the concrete wall attempting to scurry up it until I could no longer breathe.

12. Even at Our Worst We’re Still Better Than Most – Against Me!

“You can have it all, I ain’t got the heart to fight, no.
Total exhaustion, complete breakdown. For the asshole I am,
apologies in full, please leave me alone.
Pull over the van, let me out.”

Exactly, that is exactly what I wanted to scream every day after every conflict with Clarity for the last few months with the kids, I was just truly exhausted.

13. Problems – Against Me!

“An inventory has been taken of every belonging
An estimated value sold in event of emergency
The only back up plan in case it doesn’t work out
While losing semblance of coherence to a former self
You know I am becoming the choice’s we’re making”
This was my plan. I had a car, I had a no obligations. I was going to get my shit sorted out a little bit, sell a bunch of bikes and bike parts and then go on my road trip. Then my partner never changed the oil in my car that she drove all the time and it imploded.

14. What We Worked For – Against Me!

“May the likes of this song never make one fucking dollar, leave it for a demo tape to be played until it’s broken and be remembered for only what it was, that we gave ‘em hell”

“There is a distance beyond the freeway” was going to be the motto of my road trip

This song so much reminds me of who I was in college and what I believed and what moved me. And what is moving me once again, I understand that you give up on the idealist things that you believe, but I don’t want to, not yet. I want to live them for a bit more time, I still want to be a child, because it’s more fun that being an adult, because it’s what makes me glow.

“Sleeping under plastic stars glued to the ceiling…. But we gave ‘em hell”

15. Burn – Against Me!

“Burn burn burn, like they did to the anarchists at the stakes
Burn burn bun, like the histories they stole from us”

Laura said they never finished the lyrics of the bridge, which is why it sounds weird and she sings hurriedly, “One day patriot thugs will dance to songs of justice, and cringe and rack guns of shame.”
All I hear when I think about this is this famous picture of a Nazi book burning. This isn’t just a library this is the Library of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science. Hirschfeld was the founder of modern transgender theory, and it was his students who fled the Nazis and founded transgender advocacy in the US. This book burning was a theft of transgender history a theft of my history, a history that if played out differently could’ve easily drastically altered my life. #fuckfascism #noplatform

16. White Crosses – Against Me!

“I wake up in the morning and I drink from the fountain
I wake up in the morning with the same unanswered questions
I don’t know what’s going to cure my unsettled stomach”

This song feels like walking through Squirrel Hill, wandering around after dropping of the kids. Loud head banging music to forget my woes and softly head bang as I walk though the quiet streets of Squirrel Hill.

17. Thrash Unreal – Against Me!

“No mother ever dreams
That her daughter’s gonna grow up to be a junkie
No mother ever dreams
That her daughter’s gonna grow up to sleep alone”

What came before

The way I process large life changes and difficulties is by looking back. As you’ve seen I’ve been processing what happened in the days around my most recent transition. I’ve found myself wanting to understand more though, understand not how it ended, but how it all happened. How I found myself drawn into being apart of this family. How I found myself isolated from everyone I knew, rarely interacting with any adult including Clarity. As I read through my journal entries for 2015 and 2016 it becomes clear. I was struggling with both who I was and who I was friends with. I had a series of short, close friendships that fell apart and I had outgrown most of my older friendships. I was trying both to run away from myself and figure out who I was. All the while being terrified of anyone shattering my fragile little trans ego.

The first major thing I did in 2015 was starting hormones after being out as a transwoman for 5 months. I didn’t work for the first few months of 2015 I was struggling with depression and how to get much of anything done. The free time did help me process what had happened and make sense of who I was and how to move forward. Through the help of a therapist I delved into this much deeper. I worked through some feelings I had around self-hatred and internalized transphobia that made/makes me loathe my body and want to change things about it. I was so anxious to have the hormones feminize my body and consequently frustrated by how slow they take to affect your body and when I found out that there is only so much effect that have taking them post-puberty.

In March I got a job working for SEIU for some time and then a city council campaign before returning to SEIU. When I was working at the city council campaign I had a dream that made me realize I was molested and proceeded to struggle a lot around that realization. It haunted potential and actual physical relationships and I realized it had been haunting and affecting my past relationships, even causing a traumatic sexual encounter I had years before. I began meditating and eventually started to go to the Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Center a place I have recently returned to. I made some new friends there and happily found myself in their friend circle.

This was the first friend circle (Spaced, Chem and Hair) I had been in while being a lady and I felt like I was living a high school fantasy. I became completely intertwined and dependent on them as soon as they let me. They became my world, my reality and I became emotionally dependent upon them. I would try to hang out with them every moment I was free, spending time with them whether I enjoyed what activity we were doing or not. I just wanted to leave the reality of my constant thoughts, I wanted to be away from glitter gardens, the house I never fit into and had recently outgrown. I told them everything, I trusted them completely, even when I didn’t. I tried to heal them, and they tried to support my healing, we became intertwined and codependent.

Myself in the back and from the left Spaced, K, Chem and T ice skating downtown.

Myself in the back and from the left Spaced, K, Chem and T ice skating downtown.

On the good days Spaced would be happy and suck me up into her reality where I was an amazing person to her. We would frolic along, maybe Hair would join, maybe Chem. On the bad days I was full of jealousy and Spaced would ignore me, be rude to me and give me “bad love,” as she called it. It all unraveled in early 2016 when my coworker and new friend, Heart, started dating Chem’s ex and Chem and Spaced turned on me. This wasn’t the first time I had been hurt or hurt people in this relationship, but it was the last one I felt like taking part in. Those 8 months were hardly blissful, though I did enjoy many moments of them. In the end I felt lonely but overall more content without them.

I now had the time once again to focus on me, fixing myself, understanding myself, loving myself. I had grown a bit from being friends with them and I had conquered some things things I was struggling with but I was having a hard time. I’d have anxiety attacks at work, on bike rides and at home. I was terrified about what others thought about me, I was terrified of being judged and stared at. I was the tall translady, I stuck out like a sore thumb. And while I knew everyone was stared at and judged I couldn’t handle the degree I was and that I was being stared at for being myself. This wasn’t something I was dealing with because I lost my friends, I just was doing it alone now. I had tried desperately to control most social situations with Spaced and Chem ensuring there weren’t any people that were transphobic or even ignorant of trans people. I was worried about every transgression that could happen. Being without friends and feeling this paranoia was was very isolating. I would go on long bike rides, longboard rides, and long walks. No matter how long I was out the feeling always caught up to me I’d run out of energy and I’d cry. Lamenting the running I had just done. I wish I had the courage to just face myself, but I was running from something I had been running from for 25 years, myself and the trauma I’d experienced over the last 25 years because of living as a boy and because of being molested. I didn’t know how to face it, I knew how to keep running from it.

Despite all of this hurt and pain I wrote in a blog post at the end of 2015, “I am reminded that 2015 was the best year I’ve lived, and 2016 is looking like it’s going to be so liberating.” And 2016 ended up being a even better year than 2015, despite how horrible it was. At the beginning of 2016 I really started to look into my pattens of running, patterns of codependency and patterns of finding refuge by losing myself in others. The same patterns that I’ve just been talking about. I finally saw them and I started working to change those patterns. With the extra space from having very few good friends I resumed working on myself and taking classes through the Shambhala Center. I worked to notice my habits and to break them. It was exhausting and rewarding work. I still remember leaving the Shambhala Center following a weekend long meditation retreat (Shambhala level one training). I went to the cool, dark Allegheny Cemetery near my house and I was just present. I took in what there was with a giddiness I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before. It’s what is known in Shambhala as “basic goodness” or the experience of reality.

My months of self work came to an end again when I met Half Elegant (previously known as Elegant Butch). She was a friend that could distract me from my constant anxiety, someone I could walk with for hours. And I did. It was nice to have a friend like that, it’d been a while. It only lasted for a day before she started making out with me. She was into me and it caught me off guard because I was sure she was straight. We dated for a week before I told her how I was struggling with my feelings about her. She had swept me off me feet and filled up all my time. She liked me, she thought I was hot, and being around someone that thought that way about me made me feel truly amazing. I had to tell her though that I didn’t like like her and that crushed her, but she didn’t give up home.

Picture of Elegant Butch

Elegant Butch

We proceeded to danced that dance between friends and lovers for 4 to 5 months. We became totally enveloped in each other, spending most moments of the day with each other. We had amazing sex, went on great adventures. She protected me like no one ever has by glaring at anyone who looked at me for too long and making sure no one gendered me wrong. Her protectiveness made me let down my guard and be free and live like the playful child I am. Our relationship was not good though, it was filled with chaos, confusion, fighting, jealousy, and hurt. She was so into me and I was not into her at all. She worked tirelessly to make me into her and I racked my brain for hours each day trying to understand why I didn’t like her like that, trying to force myself into having feelings I didn’t. As quickly as it started it ended, over and over again until I saw her through Jamie’s eyes. I saw her drunk, belligerent, careless and self-absorbed. I had only spent time with her alone and seeing her with someone else there made it clear, it wasn’t me that was problematic, it was her. I cut off all communication shortly after that and was once again alone.

About a month later I met Clarity. I liked spending time with her immediately. She was real and she would really listen and see things and people for how they were, or as she called it, she was a “knower.” I befriended her at work and only really saw her there at first. She made me look forward to going to work and the possibility of a brief interaction with her. She knew who Against Me! was and got jealous when I told her I went to see Against Me! in concert. I followed Against Me! to Philly and hung out with my friends there only to realize I had outgrown them as well. While they talked about what wine they like and their fancy jobs I felt alone and like an outcast among people I had called best friends. I came back from the trip and had dinner with coworkers and friends that I’ve had for years, an old lead organizer, Heart, Red Beard and handful of others. But there I was yet again, alone, a freak, an outcast.

I have felt like an outcast for most of my life with the exception of a few people who make me feel like I belong. I snuck out from the dinner with my coworkers and went over to Clarity’s house. I wrote of that night in my journal as, “I need to talk to Clarity right now because I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I can’t handle feeling this anxiety anymore, feeling like an outcast anymore. I just want to feel at home.” When I got there I did feel at home. I felt like it was all better, she’s a freak and an outcast too. She’s a dyke who dated transmen in a time that this got her exiled from the queer community. She fought for her kids to wear dresses whether they were a boy or a girl, or both. She fought to protect them and to live how they wanted to. That night she told me I was a knower too, and that being able to see through people’s lies and bullshit threatens people. Living your truth threatens people too.

I loved feeling at home, and when Clarity got let go from our work I was furious and stopped going there. Instead I started to work for Clarity as her nanny to care for the kids. I was good at this job and Clarity made me feel like I was home. She had the same protective attributes of Elegant Butch that I loved and saw me for who I really was. It didn’t take long before I fell in love, with both that feeling and her.

My First Few Days Alone

That first night, I felt free, I felt liberated and proud. After my phone call with Majesty I ended up wandering through a street fair in Bloomfield called Little Italy Day’s. I didn’t find anyone I knew but as I walked my bike through it I felt powerful and so few worries. My tank top was baggy and long and my tights were short, so short you could hardly see them under my tank top. I didn’t care. I was excited for what the world had for me, for days where I could live and experience my life instead of running through it too fast to even notice much less process what occurred. The first night was full of socializing as was the following day. I tried to keep up the momentum but quickly I found it impossible. Instead I was left with nothing to do and nowhere to be. The novelty of free time turned into a burden of what to do. Time went by hour by hour and the first few days felt like weeks.

When I got to Grease’s house that first night they let me spill out my whole story. I felt like I was overflowing with feelings and thoughts and trying to make sense of what had happened in the last 4 hours that had altered my entire week. My plan was to stay at the house with the family until Thursday night. Now I was suddenly free 5 days early, having not packed or prepared. The following morning Grease skipped work to hear more about my story and my life over the past couple years. We chatted about life, bikes, gender, and how to live out of a tiny home built in the forgotten woods of Pittsburgh. I had been stewing over building something in the woods to live in for weeks, they told me their partner’s friend had done just that with a wood stove for heat/cooking and all and had been living in their little house for a couple of years so far.

The fact that their friend already had built something really excited me. My original plan after leaving the family was to live out of my car for a couple of months. In those first few weeks on my own I had wanted to sell possessions to fund my road trip to Philly, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado and maybe even Vermont. I had talked to Cook about this and he referred me to several webpages on how to live out of your car. I was prepared for the trip to fail at some point, but I expected it to fail when I was on it with my car breaking down, or running out of money. Three weeks before I was supposed to leave the family my car broke down. At this time Clarity was using it as her car. It needed Power Steering Fluid, and snapped a belt because it didn’t have any, turns out there was also no oil in the car so there were metal shavings inside the engine. The engine was shot, the car was shot. I figured Clarity would fix it, but she made minimal effort to.

As that reality set in for me I realized I wasn’t going to be living out of a car I was going to be living off of my bike, and that’s not really a thing, that just called experiencing homelessness. I kept trying to wrap my brain around it and it made me feel unsettled, I’d have no space of my own, none at all. That’s when I stumbled upon something I’d viewed years ago, a post about a guy building homes for the homeless people out of garbage. I became inspired because it gave me something to do when I was free in the world, somewhere to put my things, and a possible back up plan in case I couldn’t stay at a friends house. This worried some friends I told about it but I reassured them this was temporary. After this conversation with Grease I was excited to know that someone else had already done the crazy feeling plan I had. I planned to retrieve materials for my project in the coming days.

A tiny tiny house, I wanted to emulate the basics of this and especially the rain barrel roof which lit up the interior.

I left Grease’s house at 4:30 and called some friends to check-in with them and talk more about what had just happened. No one picked up. But that was okay, I had some time to just chill before going to Librarian’s place for sleep around 9:30. I ate some food, rode around and just waited. It was Sunday so the library was already closed, and most things were about to close meaning there was nowhere for me to really go. I ended up sitting in a park most of the time. Eating and sticking my feet in the water fountain as I waited for it to be 9:30. When Librarian got home she was worn out from the day. We talked briefly, which was alright because I had to wake up early to get to the kids school so I could see the kids off for their first day of school.

When I awoke in the morning I got ready real quick. Librarian made sure I had something with me to eat before I left, I was too filled with anxiety to eat then but I took a snack bar with me. I got to the kids school building super early not sure if Clarity would be early or late and I waited outside of the school. After about 30 minutes of waiting they all arrived. The kids showed off their new shoes and first day of school outfits. The oldest hurriedly went into the building with Clarity for his first day at his new school building. I stayed outside with the other two, they go to a different building. When Clarity came out we all got in the car for the half mile drive. I sat in the back shoved in between the little two happy to be in their presence and doing my best to avoid any encounter with Clarity. After the middle one was dropped off I left Clarity and the littlest one (whose first day of Kindergarten was Wednesday) and walked back to my bike.

After hemming and hawing I decided now would be a good time to bike back to my old house in Brookline to get some things. Clarity had already said that she had to go to work so I didn’t need to worry about her being there. I talked to Amber on the phone on the way there which felt great. I ended up walking most of the hills causing it to take me 3 hours to get there. When I got there I settled in and enjoyed myself. It was nice and cool in the house. I drank some apple juice and cooked some pot stickers, I even watched a show. This ended up being the last time I was at this home when it felt like home. After eating I gathered the things I needed, extra clothes I neglected to bring, more stuff sacks to organize my things, my camera, a replacement rear wheel for my bike. And shoved in a backpack all my equipment to build my tiny little house: Screws, screwdriver, saw, hand drill. I loaded up everything and went to attach the bike trailer and realize I couldn’t find the mount to put on my bike. I searched all around and still couldn’t find it.

“Fuck!” I said under my breath. I had to go, the kids were coming home soon, I wanted to be as far away as possible. I put the trailer in the basement and shoved everything on my bike, attaching it with string. Half way through my ride the wheel got loose and started wobbling around, making the whole rest of the ride unsettling as this wheel flopped from side to side shaking the entire bike with it. I biked to the bike shop I used to work at with plans to fix up my bike including installing my new rear wheel.

The shop was in the same state of disarray as the last time I was there. My old coworker and one of the new guys talked about being understaffed. I said I’d be interested in a job. He talked in circles a little bit about having someone hire me. There was no manager so technically no one was in charge and no one was able to hire me. The new guy said something like, no one would stop you if you came in and punched in on Saturday. Eventually I just said to him, “When should I start? Saturday?” After that he tried calling the owner, who didn’t answer. I got a text later that evening from the new guy and he said I could “start anytime.” I asked if Wednesday would work, he replied, “totally.” Day 3 I’ve already got myself a job, 3 days before I was even planning on leaving! I was stoked.

Me biking over a bridge one cool summer morning

After I left I got some food, ate by a fountain in the park. I got ahold of my friend Boots from Philly and chatted with her for a while, which felt really nice. It started to drizzle a little and looking at the forecast it called for rain. I went over to Target and spent $10 of my 110 dollars on a tarp. I hadn’t found a place to sleep tonight, so this was my first night trying out the good old outdoors. I had a hammock, a sleeping bag, string and now a tarp, I was ready to go.

I set up my hammock and tarp and tried to get some sleep. The cloudy sky had made it not cool off at all from the day. Instead it was hot and humid. Too hot for a sleeping bag, but I hadn’t a choice because the mosquitoes were out with vengeance. It took me a long time to fall asleep, As I walked the line between overheating my body and being bitten by mosquitoes. When I finally fell asleep I kept being awoken, by texts from Clarity, a passenger train passing, foxes barking (which scared the shit out of me until I found out what they were) and finally a steady rain that made the loudest noise on my tarp. I slept for only a few hours until the sun came up and I was finally able to have some uninterrupted sleep.

Eventually the sun was too bright and my body was somewhat rested, I woke up. I packed up all my things and shoved them on my bike. I wandered over to Pitt’s campus and found a single occupancy bathroom that I could shave in and try and clean myself up. I felt filthy from all the sweat, and had gotten a good bit of mud on me from the trek out in that rainy morning. I vowed to buy a mosquito net so my back up plan of having somewhere to stay if no one would have me wouldn’t be as horrible as that night. I had already made plans to stay at Red Beards house the next night, something I was very happy about.

That day I had nothing to do until 3:40pm when I picked up the kids from school. I waited with anxiety for that time to come. I didn’t have anywhere to go so I hung out near a water fountain while I read about what to eat while you’re homeless. I settled on cheese and refried beans burritos. I made them myself and ate trail mix for snack/lunch and oats and brown sugar for breakfast. Food was so uninteresting to me so eating food as unpalatable as that didn’t bother me. As I waited I began to realize the most unsettling thing for me about not having a home or a space of your own is that you can never relax knowing your stuff is safe where it is. Both you and your stuff are always loitering, always unsecured. It leads to a constant anxiety a constant thought in your mind about everything you own/have access to being stolen and suddenly not having the luxury of a change of clothes, or a sleeping bag.

The days I’d experience went so slowly. There seeming to be no point or purpose, I began to just wait for the next thing to happen. Wait until 3:40pm to see the kids and then wait until my friend came home so I could talk to someone and eventually go to sleep. I didn’t feel particularly driven to do any of the things I had wanted to. I just wanted human connection, I wanted something to do some purpose. But I had very few. I picked up the kids on Tuesday and Thursday from school, and I started work on Wednesday. Life felt empty, like a wide open space with nothing in it, nowhere to go nothing to do, just wide open space.