winter, year, life? of discontent

When someone tells you that they are depressed, that they have depression, they are usually not telling you when they are in the throes of it. Usually they say it in common conversation because the topic came up, or maybe they are commiserating with you over one of your friends that has depression too. The admittance seems light in the moment because it is light in the moment. 

The reality is that it’s not.

 Light, that is.

We, the forever depressed, are ashamed of it our searing, emotional weakness. It is brave for anyone to admit it but it is not like we are proud of the bravery of admitting it out loud. Some hero.

It’s also not like I want to, that we want to, admit to anyone that we are taking medicine, but sometimes it comes up. And so we admit it. Oh, you don’t believe in pharmaceuticals? Oh, you don’t? Cool, well I don’t either but if I don’t take this here pharmaceutical I would be pounding my head against the counter of bar/window ledge/your kitchen table.  If I don’t dose myself daily with this placebo both of us don’t believe in, I would just lay down in the snow, in the road, and let the 80 bus take my soul to the heaven we both don’t believe in either. 

I know there are worse things than living with depression. I know that people are dying, starving, living miserable lives in threatening situations, burdened by husbands that would kill them, or lying sick in a hospital bed somewhere dying, sucking on ice, or watching beasts of men rip away their mothers, brothers, children. Jeez, am I making it any better?

That’s one big element tho. Shame. We, the depressed, know things are worse for many many others but it doesn’t take away our sensitivity to every insensitive thing that comes out of your stupid mouth. It’s not your fault either. So sorry for saying your mouth was stupid.

It’s an ugly thing. The few people in my life that have seen me in the depths of it, well I probably scared them. So there’s that too. Someone that I love that I want to keep close to me, for them to see me wild- eyed, snot cascading, teeth clenched- hey- maybe they will run away from me. Maybe they will back out of this relationship, this best friendship, this mommyhood. I have seen the look on my dog’s face when I am crying and hurling myself around. She looks like someone who noticed someone shit the bed. And the shit is blood. And she tries to act like she didn’t see, but she saw and could you please open the door and let me out, it has nothing to do with your blood shit, I’d just like a lap of water for a few hours while you clean the sheets.

Once someone sees you fall apart, you can’t take that back. Luckily Lillie’s loyalty can be re-won with a slice of meat and hug pat, but people aren’t dogs. Unfortunately.

I’m just saying all of this because sometimes it is very hard for people like us to get through the day. It’s not your fault, it’s not our fault, it’s not anyone’s fault, but sometimes we feel like helpless children abandoned in a foreign orphanage, when in fact, we are thirty one with jobs and families, or thirty five, or fifty six, or ten, or seventy. And it takes all day for us to get moving or pick our heads up. And it takes all the tiny spurps of energy we have to hold in tears and tempers but we do. And we make it out of bed, and we try to push our hair into place and go out in the world and act like a normal being. But then some Prius sloshes snow on your carefully chosen snow-outfit, and some insane person makes eye contact with you on the train and spits in your face, and some egomaniac at work calls you a stupid bitch and it would all be funny ordinarily, but today you barely made it out of bed without wishing for sleep death, so it feels real heavy.

Maybe someone that knows about your depression notices your downness and bluntly asks if you forgot to take your medicine or gingerly asks if you have your period. You very well could have forgotten your medicine (how astute of them) or very well could be in mensus (lay off) but jesus, can’t we just pretend I’m normal and having a bad day, you rainbo fucking brite?

There was some bullshit on Facebook a few weeks back about that Marilyn Monroe quote that goes something like, “if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best” And some perfect overachiever accountant or always in control computer programmer answered the meme with one of their own that was like, “if I have to handle you at your worst, then you have a problem, you crazy child.” That’s sweet but I don’t think that’s capturing the point. Monroe was a shining bright charming people lover, who had some emotional problems that led to her feeling ostracized and like she didn’t belong. So she killed herself, Meme. Get it? It’s inspirational. Motivational. Like that kitty clinging onto a tree sweetly mewing to “hang in there.” You wanna shoot the kitty from the tree?

Sometimes, most times? People are flawed. Sometimes, most times? People emote and can’t hide behind the masks that we all craft for our public personas. Sometimes, I step on a spider by accident and I can’t not think about it and so I try try try to distract myself until I end up yelling at a roommate over something totally unrelated because I bet that spider had relatives.

I guess I’m just saying, I’m just trying to say, that a lot of times we who feel too much give up the hiding of feeling too much and let it out and it doesn’t go well. But at least we let out feelings. At least we aren’t still hiding in bed. At least we get out of bed and into the world and try again. Even if we just do it for today. Sometimes a little day is like a season and we survive the cold. 

Long Time Gone, Pig

Jesus, I don’t know where to start.

Don’t start like that, it’s not nice.

Okay, Jilly.

Start this way…

Well, it’s been awhile. I have moved back to Chicago and am pursuing my dreams again. I think I stayed away from the blog so long because it was excruciating to write about my life as a loser while living it. Shit was difficult, yo. Very difficult. The break up that moved me South devastated me and I had to learn to be myself again. I don’t know if this goes for everyone but re-self-discovery leads me down a lot of roads that aren’t me, never would be me so that I can realize, through paws-on experience, that I am not, in fact, that person. A kind of process of elimination, if you will.

Down South I reconnected with old friends who had 9-5′s and big empty apartments. I drank margaritas out of cans in the back of broken down cars. I fancied myself an athlete (shut up!) and ran daily on a tread mill beside my elementary school lesbian gym coach who called me “Hollywood.”  I brought the party with my dance moves at a local saloon and befriended the bartender til he gave me shots!shots!shots!shots!shots!shots! and I woke up hours later locked in the empty saloon. I tried to draw murals in parks, but Lillie bit a black Republican and we had to nix the project. I wanted to teach kids theatre, but the director was a half wit and he scorned me.

I was lonely too so I scoured the gravel parking lots for boy friends. I hung with the toothless, the recently incarcerated, the lonesome alcoholics who drove huge trucks with balls hanging from the bumpers. I danced in pool halls with old men with dip in their lips, much more fun than the young marines who were a taaaaad over zealous. I tried on the skins of many friends, dating several just for shits and giggles. After a little while of seeing various Timmy No Goods and John Baby Mans, and deep talks with a very soft- talking therapist, I’ve realized that I am woman who loves too much. (A little vomit inducer for my male friends.)

But it’s true. And though I knew in every micro-wrinkle of the animal- spirit-love- heart part of my brain that I was not meant to mate with an obsessive-compulsive, deer-hunting, Libertarian divorcee, I had to give it a whirl anyway.

What happens to a frazzled thirty year-old Liberalace (pronounced like the Michael Douglas icon) on a soul excursion down south? She tries to become one with her environ. So she does. So she makes house with Libertarian at the end of a dirt road (literally called Dirt Rd) and helps set up pig traps and clean turkey bodies. I did mention I’m vegetarian?

It wasn’t a good move peeps. This was not a match made in heaven, just a match made in Spartanburg. The camo combination of leaves on leaves jacket paired with sticks on leaves pants that I once found sexy, soon made me queasy. Our lifestyles did not match. At some point Daryl, let’s call him, was shop vacc-ing a mouse body that he had caught in the car port, the whole living room filling with the exhaust from the shop vacc, while I waited for him to take me to a bar that he promised had a stripper pole on the dance floor. How hilarious my life had become, I thought But it was that sad kind of funny that you can only laugh at afterward. Not now. Not when I had these wedges on, slowly breathing in gas, waiting for Daryl to take us to “Libby’s.”

I made it through the pig trap. This little sow did not get stuck there. This piglet went through hours of intense therapy, miles of hikes on trails, and notebooks full of wailings and frustrations til her heart near imploded and she packed her sty up and came home. To Chicago.

This is not to say that I was discovering myself through who I dated. That would be girl-weak and petty. But I did think that for awhile. And I thought I could make myself something unnatural to me. I hung around different friends. I tried different jobs. I willed myself to transform into the body of a soaring red tail. But I when I tried to fly, I saw my little hooves splay out in front of me. When I tried to regurgitate nutrients to my young, I just threw up.

I am not John Man Boy or Daryl Republican. Try as I might’ve, I’m not June Carter either. I am Jill B Swine. And I have come home to myself.

loyalty like royalty

hi friends.

a few summers ago, i found myself coaxed into a girl wrestle in the midst of a sweaty crowd, on the floor of a theatre in nyc. 

i didn’t meant to find myself there. it just kind of happened, like joining a sorority or getting kicked by a mule. you put yourself in the proper circumstances and you don’t even have to try.

it was an improv festival and there was a lot of day drinking going on. 

my roommate at the time and renowned thrower-under-the-bus- er was dannielle owens-reid. you may recognize her in such blogs as “lesbians that look like justin beiber,” and from such films as “not another celebrity teen movie,” where she played justin beiber. anyway, dannielle volunteered me before i knew what was even happening. i moved to the front of the crowd, blindly accepting whatever was about to happen.

the girl i was face- offing with had demons in her eyes. seriously. 

ask anyone who was there. 

this girl, crouching on the matt in front of me, crouching like a peeing drunk in the wild, this girl had swallowed some anger in her life and she was looking for a release. i was in a bad way. i wanted to take it back, to laugh this off and sink back into the people behind me. at least kick her in the teeth and run. but i felt the pulse of the crowd. people drinking. people having fun. people here, palms open, gifting me with the opportunity to perform for them. be a star! be a star! so i took off my shoes and crouched into fighting stance? ( i think? do fighters crouch?)

emily rose was killing me. k.i.l.l.i.n.g. me. i did expect this to be aggressive. i did not expect her to lunge at me like a cat out of cage fire. she was skinny but strong. her bones cut into me like steel beams into soft calf skin. 

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i think we fought for two hours. had to be. she kept pinning me and flinging her hair in my face and mouth. at some point, breathless and limb-weak, we broke apart and someone who was delegating this wrestle, leaned in to check our pulses or whatever.
 

it was at this moment that time stops. in a panting, look- sweep of the crowd i find the eyes of a friend. kneeling on the ground next to me, keeping his hands out, as any good spotter would, my friend matt. sweet, kind, baby- headed matt. matt with a war past. matt who had seen a thing or two, but you would never know it because he was as gentle as any pop pop i know.

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i was exhausted and kind of scared. i had to win, had to win, or at least not lose and i could see that he knew that. in his eyes i could see he understood my need to be liked, loved, adored. he could see i was a duck in a swirling pond about to go under. he looked at me, his eyes strong and steady, and with a nod, just lipped “now!”

old demon eyes was distracted. i leapt! sneak attack! she went down, hair like streamers backward. in less than a second she was on her back, a crab flipped over. the crowd actually screamed in happiness. it might have been my proudest moment.

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i mean, it didn’t last.

i don’t even think i won.

i think we fought some more and eventually someone called a draw. but for an hour afterwards, i was a hero. local improv legend matt besser who had been an on-looker (and pressure to the cooker, honestly) told me later that he admired my fighting style. i will never forget those words.

but here’s the thing: it wasn’t my fighting style. i’d like to claim it but it was quick advice whispered in an olympic second. it was a word from a friend that gave me the courage to spring forth.

matt ulrich was a friend, indeed, a friend i had known for many months. and trusted in a way that you begin to trust people that you go on stage with, without any preparation. (i speak of improv)

but he was not a close friend. we had not spent summers growing up together building sweat lodges, or roommates in college pulling the best pranks everrr! we were just casual friends. and this is the idea that i just can’t forget. one of those things that just burn burn burns in my mind, something i will never shake and always remember. why did he do that? why did he help? had i ever done anything for him?

i have had great friends in my life so far. best friends in boarding school, lifetime friends from college, friends like families that you develop away from families in the cold of the greatest city on earth. but i am always always happily blown away by the friends that you make that you aren’t even really aware that you’re making. 

in our youth thru thirty while searching for life partner, a lot of time is spent contemplating loyalty.

is he faithful? can you be faithful? will he stand up for you when someone is talking down to you? will you stand beside him when his world crumbles around him?

all this time and energy looking for loyalty, expecting it, from a partner. but how loyal are we to our friends? how good are we to them? even the ones that just brush against the outside of our lives?

being back in spartanburg, the town of my adolescence and early teen development, i am running into old friends. friends that i lost touch with, or thought hated me, or that i thought were too dumb to get out. (what a deep deep asshole i am.) i find friends in bathroom stalls, friends behind counters of bars, friends thru facebook and then phone calls and then staying up all night listening to records.

i am finding people who are not against me. not judging me. not ready to crouch and spring for my throat. there are a lot of friends that i let go when i left here. i guess i had to at the time. life happens and you keep your eyes forward so you know what you’re next move is. but that doesn’t mean you can’t pause sometimes and just be really kind to someone. help them out just a teeny bit. get in their corner for a little while.

i feel very wonder years here but. i’m going to try to start being a friend to everyone. it’ll be hard because so much of my time is taken up with eyore-ing around, but i’m going to try.

thank you to all friends, close and not so close.

thank you for kind words.

thank you for sending me that thing in the mail.

thank you for late nights on back porches and front porches and talking under the stars.

thank you for just smiling at me.

and eye contact while toasting.

thank you for picking me up from the airport and going with me for coffee.

thank you for getting me back up when i trip and fall hard and break my teeth on the pavement.

thank you, matt ulrich, for helping me not get my ass kicked.

i got your back, ninjas!

clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose! 

 

trust me, i’m trying.

well, i am.

i am also whiny and slow-moving. i have started my first blog three times. i don’t know if i think i am attempting some great feat here. am i tricking myself into believing my very first post will be read and reviewed by millions after dinner tonight? the whole family gathered around the computer like it’s a radio? i am orson wells and it’s entertainment hour? i am full of delusions.

ever heard of spartanburg, south carolina? no?

ok.

well, i live here now. here. in spartanburg. south carolina.

i moved here recently from chicago where i was pursuing acting. and now i am at home. with my parents. and i’m 30. but i’ve got the sensitivity of a child allergic to the sun. i am the center of my world. i cry at the drop of an iphone (frequent) and i have already screamed at my dad that i need my privacy. i am a bucketful of sloppy emotions. all of them. but i am trying to paint this fence called life.

nothing much happens in spartanburg. here are my top three:

1. arm stung and the swelling of the arm-

i got stung by a yellow jacket when i went out to look at the roses. i found this very symbolic. i am still reliving the image of the poor bee wriggling off of his stinger, my wrist already red and starting to puff, but the bee. the poor bee. why did he do that to himself? i vacuumed his carcass up today. he has given his life for what? was i a threat? was i? stupid bee.

2. discovery of temperature-

it’s very cold. outside the temperature is hot and sometimes the pavement is actually mushy. but inside, where i do my very important 30 year old work, it’s freezing. i dress in sweats like a nana. my bones actually ache. i’m not used to air conditioning, parents! i have been living the life of an artist, struggling to feed myself and stay on track, and there was never any time for central air. only time to complain about it. now it’s too cold. too cold!

3. insulted by the ignorant-

a lady in a shop asks me if i got my hair cut because of miley cyrus. i don’t know what she was talking about but i can only assume miley cyrus cut her hair and it looks like mine. three breaths later she offers that i move to atlanta, to midtown, where there are “no blacks.” she mouthed that part, but i heard her plain and clear. she couldn’t see what color my heart is.

those are my top three. so full of life, my life now.

i am trying to change my life around, ok? i am trying. i know the things i don’t like about myself and i am doing what i can to stop those behaviors, relearn positive,  and go west to my destiny. i am taking some time away from boyfriends, and social events, from seeing plays, and auditioning and from getting swept away in my former coffeehouse social club. i am trying to strip all distractions away so i can stare myself in the face, my wrinkly cherub face and say, ” this is what you are doing now. you are alone. you are ok. just please make something of yourself so we can say it was all worth it.” and i know it will be.

it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it.

say it in the car, driving just to drive, just to have something to do. say it. it will all be worth it.

say it on your bed, in between tears, the phone ringing on the other end. no one answers. you’re alone. say it. it will all be worth it.

say it in a bar, to the old guy who is listening to you, your for-now only friend. he fought an actual war, but he still sees your personal one as significant. say it. it will all be worth it.

sometimes life is a pile of shit. sometimes we don’t even know ourselves. but we have to hold on, keep going. it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it. it will all be worth it.