Today I admitted that I was wrong in the things I had been fighting for. My goals, my thoughts, my beliefs, just a whole swarm of fucking buzzers resounding in my ultimate wrongness. Formerly the Girl Who Knew Everything, even Formerly the Bitch Who Thought She Knew It All. I. Fucked. Up.

And I brought people in to this earthquake with me, luring them, making them believe in solid ground and then I shook the foundation. Changed people’s lives in all the ways I used to be so proud in being influential. All so I could say, “Stop. This is the wrong way.”

My foundation is brittle and we could all fall through.

I’m sorry. Everyone, be careful. Slowly, slowly make your way… well, uh… I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I want to go home.

I just want to go home.

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Choose Your Own Adventure

I’m not looking forward to Halloween. Dan wants me to dress him up as the Mad Hatter and as fitting as that may be, it’s also half of the contest he won with his wife when paired with none other than the Queen of Hearts. I feel like he wants to be half of a different twosome.

I’m a skeleton. I got one of those Spanish headbands with the skull and the roses, and I’m dressing in black with face paint. I bought him a black shirt with skeleton bones on it so we could be similar, and we did go out earlier to a haunted house as such:

skellies

But this weekend is children and candy and the marital house and having to go out in to the massive garden planted by another woman so that it can be weatherized for winter. In short, lots of work and emotional landmines.

We were at dinner on Friday and he showed our waitress that he was the only one wearing a wedding ring. Insta-whore sitting on the other side of the table, I gave a humiliated look and wondered if things were ever going to seem like Dan and Autumn.

There was a fight because I had taken some of the Halloween candy and stashed it in a drawer. He woke up from his nap (which he invites me to sit with him and accompany him for, resorting in his snoring and my staring ahead blankly at whatever awful thing he cued up on television) and caught me eating the candy before he emptied the entire drawer in a fit, declaring that Halloween was cancelled. As if he had the power to nix national holidays at his whim.

“You owe me a bag of candy.”

I wasn’t cool with that. I left the house without a destination. He called and apologized about candy.

“It’s just candy. You’re right.”

I reasoned it as a much needed “time out”, a session that can’t be had in a place that embodies the entire problem itself. So I stayed gone for a few hours and he texted about possibly having a fire, something we haven’t done.

Later on that night we sat in front of a starter log, each with a glass of the wife’s favorite wine, and we fought by the fireplace, shouting and crying. I started sleeping on the couch and some back pains later I hiked back upstairs to find that he had locked the bedroom door in his own communicative stint.

“It sounds like he’s got candy at the end of a stick, and he’s poking you with it,” my co-worker sympathized. I laughed an awful laugh.

I wrote Dan a letter in the convenient form of e-mail explaining how inappropriate it is for me to hear every other word about his romantic relationship with another person. He had cast her shadow at the cider mill we attempted to enjoy when he guided me to the entrance and declared, “Me and my wife would always sit over there”. Totally spoiled. It wasn’t our moment; it was theirs, and mine never happened. The e-mail goes on to explain how much I need for him to deal with his past, find additional support, and try to move forward while giving me occasional consideration. All in the form of an ultimatum that merely points out the fact that we either continue to sink slowly and die, or find a way to change.

Dan calls the e-mail a “book” and indicates that it was probably too long for him to read.

“So he’s either ignoring it or he read it and won’t admit it,” someone de-coded.

“He took a napkin at the end of dinner, twisted it in to a ghost and dipped his fingertip in spilled salsa to make eyeballs. That was charming. I took it home with us.”

“That’s not taking a turn for the better. That’s a brief plateau before another plummet in this relationship of yours.”

It was suggested that I print and read my letter out loud, but it has its own snarkiness that may be ridiculous all the same.

“It has the line ‘you can’t have your dead cake and eat mine, too’ in it. I’m not sure it maintained decency or understanding.”

“But being in-the-moment offers you the blessing of improvisation,” Kyle pointed out. “I dunno, Autumn. It’s time for you to figure out how this terrible Lifetime drama ends.”

I just know that Halloween happens next. And that I owe Dan one bag of candy.

I Would Write One Thousand Words.

Baby, it’s 3 a.m. I must be lonely.

There is something all too cliché about the “middle of the night” publication, but I honestly couldn’t sleep. Daniel does this thing when he goes to bed – he turns on the television. And it will take a while to wake me up, but it always does. This time the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ were having a blowout, gunfire ablaze, bright lights flashing like crazy. This would send any normal person into seizures, but not Dan – to him, it’s a lullaby.

He’ll say the next day, that he had to work all night and how by the time he finally made it to bed for a few hours rest, I was fast asleep. Snoring.

What little does he know.

I swear to God, sometimes I look over at him and his mouth is open and this old man sound is escaping from it and it scares me to death. I’m not ready to take care of an old person; I’m not exactly doing a stellar job with my own self. I get worried that I’m going to wait for him to come round long enough to look over and find that he’s using a walker with little tennis balls on the bottom.

Of the 120 indoor plants I have been nursing, one of them started to look unhappy once I removed it from the bathroom I use. It is by far, the ugliest plant I think I’ve ever seen from the succulent family of cacti-looking atrocities. I didn’t want the damn thing in my personal space, so I took it from the room that was always bright and sometimes humid – and ultimately removed it from its climate of survival.

He says, that was his wife’s “favorite” plant. But I think I’ve heard him say that before, about some goddamn thing growing outside or whatever else we happen to be talking about. So I have been killing her favorite thing as long as I’ve let it slowly petrify in front of the fireplace. Recently I summoned the last remaining charitable bones in my body and divided the two living stems in separate pots and fertilized them before I set them by windows.

One of the things is here with me, now, in the room I moved all of my furniture in to. A ticking clock of a plant that will either sprout something new in the next few days or give up the ghost. These plants, these step-children of animals that puke and shed and shit everywhere, I find myself so sadly out of love for them. It’s just not the same.

The chaise I’m sitting on now to type is just here, the blanket is the blanket I found lying over it. I pulled the fabric over my lap, so foreign to me but instinctive, like a hotel lounge I never leave. Like a woman who must have stayed here and then lost her memory. The little sign in the window that I’ve carted from one place to the next says: Home is where your story begins.

Home was where my story began and there is truly, truly no place like it.

I decided to come in here, put a record on and write over the little cry fest that has started to become routine. It’s simply exhausting, when your breathing is all restricted and you’re trying to maintain the level of snot coming from your nose. I’d rather be here, away from the anarchy and all of its sons, doing something that I enjoy.

Some days, as I’m backing out of the driveway, I remind myself of something Daniel said to me.

“You can’t let yourself be happy.”

All of the bullshit, the struggle that is so hashtag real, I tell myself that it’s my personal syndrome. My refusal of satisfaction. And then I tell myself to get over it because that broken record gets awfully repetitive and annoying after some thirty years. Everything is okay, it just seems like it isn’t because that’s the only thing I believe in.

I gave the dogs a bath last night. Duchess was jealous when Tess was in the tub and she kept trying to hop in with her. Silly pug. She’s next to me, sharing the blanket and pillow because I always have a place for her, always. The big dog is lying on the cold, hardwood floor and when I tell her she should go to bed she just gets up and nudges me with her cold nose.

I’m looking at her, messed up haircut and all, and I’m thinking: this was someone’s family dog. This dog was loved like I loved Lacy, the girl who accompanied me growing up. But the woman died and those kids left and didn’t take any animals with them. So she’s here, half-stupid, looking back at me with a little of that frustration of having to deal, day in and day out, that I can relate to.

I’ve always had my own room. Home, college, home, apartment, house – even when I was living with someone else I felt a sense of ownership because I had full control – and used lots of it. My bed, my closet, my decorative boxes filled with My Little Ponies and everything always black and pink. Well, once Daniel loses the bedroom set in there as part of a pending court bargain with his step kids, he is turning that in to his gaming room: fancy seats that vibrate, cords galore.

I realized yesterday that for the first time, I’m losing my room. I have to consolidate. Say goodbye to the little box I’ve been coordinating my entire life, the color scheme I’ve loved for so long, the pink room that contained all of the cutesy shit I always refused to let clutter up the rest of the house. I have to figure out where my clothes go. Where I’m doing my makeup. That space I’ve always had…is going away.

Daniel’s bedroom is not an option. He took the liberty of filling every closet with his own clothes once the space freed up. My queen size pillow cases don’t match his king-sized Waverly bed set. The vanity in there is two feet from the ground, in the darkest corner of the room, and that flimsy little stool would ruin my knees and my back. And her pictures are still on the wall.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever really had my own room, anyway.

The illusions we keep.

This blanket, this pillow, this seems like it will be just as well. Nice and quiet, too.

Good night.

A Little (Too Much) Off the Top

I’m just a big ball of hormones, I’ve come to realize. Granted the stress has left me on edge, always on the brink of tears, but my moods have been drastic and my perspective, ever-switching. I picture my predicaments and people one day and see it all accompanied with a golden glow, just to have the same scenarios and relationships in a totally different light some hours later.

In short, I am crazy. And I just typed “perdicaments” because that’s how I say it when I get this odd southern accent going from unknown origins. Spell checkin’ this bitch.

If it is possible to be a desperate whore by food, then I have accomplished that these past few months. I found myself jetting from work over to the local McDonald’s, stress eating on a very restrictive lunch period, stuffing my face with fries just so I could handle going back to whatever the hell I was doing before – an odd combo of absolutely dick, and tons of shit. It wasn’t enough old habits to actually go up a clothing size, but let’s admit it – jeans stretch.

Does anyone remember that old animation for Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat goes on an eating rampage at the fair, drowning in lemonade, swallowing entire foods whole in a colorful kaleidoscope of culinary delicacy? Yeah. I did that. From like, May to October.

I’m back on coffee and electronic cigarettes, today. Because I’m crazy, so extremes are the only thing I understand.

Daniel is incredible. An incredible piece of fucking work, and a work of art. He thinks he’s waking me up with a ‘hey, Autumn’ when I’ve actually been listening to him running around, groaning and growling, and he’ll say something about how I could help him, or something that needs attention, as he continues to dread before work. Once at work, he hates his job. Then at home he enters grades and works on teacher stuff until the early morning, cursing and screaming all the way. I have prepared a meal, made his lunch for the following day and set out the next day’s clothes to crawl in to. We see each other briefly, long enough for him to tell me that his day “sucked a big, black dick” and for me to “take care”, then the cycle repeats.

In between these days when he swears there is no time for anything else, I try to get him to do things. I took him to a fundraiser walk for the Michigan Humane Society last weekend. During our stroll along the river he kept complaining about how he had to get home and work – and he wouldn’t stop bitching about the dog.

Oh, the dog.

His dog is one of those mutts-on-purpose, a poodle crossed with a retriever. So it has shit all over its face: long whiskers and chin like some kind of schnauzer, and hair growing over its eyes. Its chin is constantly dripping from lapping up water, which gets smeared all over you when the dog is nudging its snout. During a grooming session, I took a little too much off the top and turned this:

start

In to this:

end

Which he will simply not forgive. He kept saying how bad he felt for her…even though she had no idea what she looks like. And you know…can actually see things, now.

Everyone swooned over my pug. A cameraman came in for a close up when I was holding her, and Duchess took her paw and put it to the side of her face in this totally perfect model dog moment, because my dog is the people’s dog. She can’t help being perfect.

When we got in the car to leave, I was wishing we could have stepped off the path on Belle Isle to admire the other dogs. I felt like everything was cut short. And I thought about how Daniel was just going along to appease me even though I had set the whole thing up to stay involved with him.

I started to cry on the way home when he said, “You’re not happy.”

After I told him why, he made me look at him by turning my chin, and he leaned over from the driver’s seat and kissed me.

We attended a Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert recently. His school is affiliated with a church that DTE funded the community event for, which meant free admission. Which meant sniffling children, clapping along, crying babies and everything else. But it was still beautiful. I had been wanting to hear an orchestra play, to which Daniel reasoned that we must have been “thinking alike”…

It was the conductor’s birthday and the playlist consisted of his favorite pieces. They opened with the ‘Wedding March’ and I fought back tears a good five times. The whole thing made me think about how Daniel says he “can’t get married for at least ten years” because of some social security he will inherit on account of who I have lovingly been summing up as ‘The Dead Wife’.

“How’s Dead Wife Guy doin?” someone will ask me. “Hey, are you bringing ‘Dead Wife Guy’ to dinner?”

It’s a dead wife thing.

Have you ever seen a cartoon where two super figures are fighting, each having shot out a beam of light from their palms that clashed at their center point? The opposing forces, the streams of energy are going back and forth, one trying to overtake the other… that’s how I feel a lot of the time. I get to mediate that, to fight for every little thing I want to do, for every little moment I want to have. It’s exhausting.

Sometimes I don’t know why me, Daniel, The Dead Wife and those awful fucking curtains can’t all just sit back, tip back a beer and have a good laugh together…then I remember it’s because there’s nothing funny about it. And because neither dead wife nor curtain can drink.

It sucks to be all of us, right now.

But enough of the trivial shit (too bad it’s all trivial shit). I gotta get ready for work. This weekend I get to drag Daniel from his study to carve a pumpkin with me, which he is already not looking forward to. Then I cart his ass to a haunted feature that’s outdoors; it takes a good half hour to walk through. I know it will all be good for him. And I have to remember that for everything he swears up and down that he detests, I will often look over and catch him not-so-secretly grinning about.

Like a circle through a square peg hole, we’re working.

Like A Wrecking Ball

The last time I finished free writing, I looked at my entry and said, “Shit. This is totally a break up letter.”

The following morning I looked at my undelivered break up letter and refused to give up. I dropped a ridonkulous amount of money on plush bath robe replacements by Ralph Lauren, tackled the 27 piece Waverly bed set from hell by toning it down with neutrals, and when I asked Daniel, “Tell me something good that happened today” and he answered with something negative, I repeated myself.

Yeah. I’m not fucking around.

We attended a Tigers baseball game last week, which he seemed to enjoy. I had never seen Comerica park before and I swear to God, the moment I sat in my seat and realized he was appeased, I just about collapsed with a much needed exhaling.

“You’re no fun. You’re like an old lady,” he remarked, bouncing around. It made me think of when my mom would take me and my brother to the mall and she would rest in chairs out in the hallway.

This week I sent him flowers to his school. The ‘Golden Autumn’ bouquet, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, “Love is an education in itself”. Maybe he’ll learn something.

Last night his Xbox suddenly wouldn’t power on. All he could do was look at me like it couldn’t have possibly been because of him and his lifestyle patterns – it had to be me, the disruptive force, that broke it. I informed him that his beloved, always shedding, always jumping up in the most disrespectful ways and champion chipmunk murderer cat Dink, had been chewing on the cords. He didn’t want to believe it. Even after I pointed out the chew marks on the cord – which I wondered if he thought I had created with my own teeth – he insisted it was because I kept the cat indoors.

I figured it was a good time to point out that Dink had also been pissing on his school papers that he had set aside on the basement floor.

“This is a goddamn petting zoo. I need to just sell this fucking house.” And it’s not that I wanted him to break; it’s the realization that his elaborate shit mess was no paradise, that I had been hoping for. It’s hard, living here. He needed to admit it.

Yesterday I rearranged all of the shit on the porch, taking his tall plant urns and putting them to the back, so my things weren’t totally blocked behind them. Now the front of the slab is clear for real-deal jack-o-lanterns and not just the gaudy plastic ones he’s waiting to unleash on the yard. Yes, I will show this man what beautiful is. Yes, I will find that autonomous space if I have to make it myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue being wonderful.