My brother called.

“Autumn. I’ve made a huge mistake. I need your help.”

All of my previous drama is drowned out, the very volume on my life going down as I press my ear to the phone.

“A girl lured me online to Detroit I came down here and when I got to the house I was concerned because it looked boarded up but she was outside and she said ‘hey C’mon In'”…

The idiot, he actually got closer, still wanting to cling to the idea that his online soulmate was just feet away…

“And then this guy tried to get me to go down to the basement…”

He ran away. My brother got away.

Daniel stopped me several times from bolting from the house to pick him up. He said they could be trying to lure me too… that my brother might have been forced to call me…

He made it to a greyhound station just across the way from Windsor, where I got him a taxi to me, then we made the hour-and-a-half drive from my house back to my hometown. But that time in between almost killed me.

It’s over. It’s over. It’s over. He’s home. I’m home.

He had to struggle to figure out where he was. I had to struggle to understand if he was really free, if he was safe…his phone died before his ride made it to him and I just had to hope…hope… I can’t explain. I’m too tired.

My brother peered in to a boarded up building in Detroit and certainly saw death waiting in the dark.

I am hurt, in a panic, shaking even now, at the very thought.

 

 

 

 

 

No Problems Here.

I am NOT having a Christmas eve day episode.

This laptop isn’t even really here. I never think about the time I was on my laptop and Brad came in the room, tripped over the cords and wrecked the aux port on it before he bought me this one. I never wonder if any random troubleshooting need would be necessary if I had never gotten this device, or feel guilty for wondering those sorts of things.

It’s just, not really here.

My brother didn’t recently leave his girlfriend in tears, having broken up with her for someone else and reasoned that it was no different than what I did.

He says, he had to follow his heart. Maybe we never fought about it. I might never have blocked him on social media after reading nasty things he wrote publically, about our mother, who had lent his girlfriend hundreds and hundreds of dollars that will probably never be paid back.

Which means, he never went to jail. Was never told he’d be there without bond. I wouldn’t struggle with the idea of knowing he’d miss Christmas in the state’s attempt to punish without any means to correct. I didn’t send him a friend request in sadness…

Never saw that he had accepted it a few days ago. Never failed to understand why someone would be given a literal ‘jail break’ before having to serve the rest of their sentence at the end of January.

I didn’t struggle with mixed feelings about knowing he hadn’t stayed there long enough to receive the Christmas card I’d sent with the little picture of my dogs wearing ridiculous holiday clothes.

Maybe I kid myself about how much thought I put in to making sure there were good presents for my boyfriend to unwrap tomorrow. It probably didn’t take all month to figure out more than seeing something and asking whether or not it suited him and if I could afford – ahem, if Hello Kitty – could afford it.

And it’s no big deal how upset he sounded, realizing gifts existed and that my previously announced “absence of Christmas spirit” only meant no decorations. He didn’t try to figure out how much everything cost.

I wasn’t annoyed that he was the guy who wrote “gift card” on his secret santa profile at work.

“We could just stand face to face and exchange hundred dollar bills, but that would be missing the whole point of giving,” I never tried to explain (in the car on the way to Costco because he needed something and where ‘maybe [I’d] find a gift’-

“In BULK!” The sarcastic remark never escaped my lips.

I hardly struggled to keep Christmas in focus. It wasn’t hard, planning the meals or making sure chores were done. I didn’t seem to have depression or shrug it off as holiday stress. They were all just any other day.

Confusion was not my reaction when his friend asked him to visit on Christmas. I didn’t wonder why he was leaving me tomorrow to pick up his mother (who still refuses to acknowledge me) and drive out of town to see his old neighbor for the afternoon.

It was because his friend was in remission from cancer and just wanted to see him, so it didn’t hurt my feelings. I never wondered what I would do by myself on my one day off that had orchestrated the entire ordeal of December. I didn’t think it was weird that he was suddenly visiting his past life on our Christmas Day, cause Cancer is the magic safe word.

I never wished that I…had cancer, too. I don’t need his attention. There’s no need to pick any other day for a visit. My countless, willing sacrifices made on the daily have totally added up and I see enough of him as it is.

He didn’t feel obligated to go out during my work shift to find gifts, so it never made me feel bad. There was no need to wonder why he honestly had never thought about it, to ask myself if he really wouldn’t have gotten me a single thing if I hadn’t set out his presents. It’s just stuff.

The day didn’t suck before I made it home, landed in a chair and called him to ask for some chocolate covered cherries on his way back. I know better, because that would be sharing my thoughts about something that I want. He wouldn’t start asking jackassy, objectional questions with disapproval before I hung up on him and drove off to get them my fucking myself.

I didn’t call him back and bitch him out over the phone, apologizing for the burden I must be…never tossed his clothing off the banister and on to the floor because JESUS CHRIST IT’S NOT A PERMANENT COAT RACK.

I mean, it IS. It’s totally cool, not taking your shit with you when you go up the stairs. FUCK it. Fuck all of it.

It doesn’t matter.

We’ll Have To Get Together The Next Time We’re Both Free.

If I could just sit down and write for a while, but the while is never convenient. I suppose the upside to that is realizing how the upset, passion-fueled mind has not been roused for While.

While,

I had a moment between chores today when I realized that I was enjoying my life. I like where I am, I like what I do, and I hold a hopeful frame of mind. Thanks for that.

Sincerely,

Your beloved victim of time.

The holidays are here, ya’ll. I know you know. How are you holding up so far?

This year I joined Reddit’s holiday gift exchange which clearly states a $20 gift minimum for all secret santas, so I assumed it meant “around a twenty dollar gift”. I found star wars electronics on clearance, bought gourmet food, dog toys and crammed a good $60 value in to a box that was ten more dollars to ship, hoping it would suffice.

Today I got an e-mail that ONE of my gifts is a Vinyl Me, Please membership. I was stunned. I cannot keep up with these online merry makers. I had that on my BUCKETLIST as a LIFE goal, not as a gift idea. Anything fancy like that tends to be taken care of by my Hello Kitty credit card, for me to deal with over a long period of time with interest. I can’t afford Vinyl Me, Please. That’s why it was a goal.

Hello Kitty has been paying for more than I like to admit, with things like “tax rebate” in mind. It doesn’t help to have my finance ambitions taking hold during the freaking holidays when I just want everyone to have something nice. Those two things are opposing forces. I’m trying to leverage with stuff like baked goods and mix CDS. Personalize and mass-produce, another contradiction now that I think about it.

My family is stable. I get along with everyone and recently added more family members to my HR-Safe virtual home of Facebook. It’s a place with sprinklings of me, finely filtered, just bland enough to go with everyone’s feed. I can add my doctor, my lawyer, the defendant, the suspect, the mom, the coworkers, the real friends, etc and they can all gel together like an amazing 70’s gelatin mold: Gets the job done with something left to be desired.

The fun stuff doesn’t always have a showcase. That’s precisely why I am hoping to get the chance to sit here more and empty my brain.

If you’re out there, if you’re reading this, I want to invite you to my annual Christmas card exchange. A chance to build rapport or just participate in something fun, please leave a comment if you are interested or shoot me an e-mail to autumnmay@gmail.com. I’ve got cards and I wanna send holiday cheer, dammit. So do it. It’ll be good for you.

Now that I have an Xbox One I am afraid several titles are calling my name. New gamertag, needs to develop a decent gamer score. I’m thinking of racing through Rock Band to rack up some achievements. If you’re on there as well, give me your Gamertag. I’ll add you back. Warning: I like taking screen shots of pretty CGI parts and posting them to my activity feed.

Although it may seem a run of the mill posting, this is actually a wall coming down. I don’t think I have ever successfully linked myself to other realms. Enough people in the waking life find you online, enough online people stalk you in real life, it all starts to blur for me. No one likes to live in the dark, anyway. So this is my house. Here are my windows.

If you throw something, please use heavily-weighted chocolates, fruit cake bricks and graphic novels. I’ll clean up glass all day.

Happy holidays,

Autumn May

Proving It.

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Rose pruning. Plant IDs. You can never have too many friends.

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The front porch is lit. Crap is climbing out of everything.

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These are the hostas left in the ground. Animal and bug deterrent is working. No more cracks, no more holes. I see a pine cone I’m throwing it across the yard. Don’t fuck with us.

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I mean, goddamn. Beautiful.

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You know what, St. Franky? You’re welcome.

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No scraggly shit on my watch. Ugh, visible base block for the angel? Bitch please. Fixed.

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Some flowers, some shit in the middle. Like it’s easy. Because it is – ON THE EYES.

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Can you BELIEVE I posted that pic of the scraggly hostas? Well LOOK AT US NOW. WHAT NOW? COME AT ME. Is that VULCAN with the white???? Of course it is.

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Solomon’s Seal is ringing the choral bells. Cheer for the joyful sound until the license plate rattles AGAINST THE CAR SMASH A GUITAR FUCK SHIT UP.

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Still one of the best things ever. Not going anywhere. Birds can shake off their mites somewhere else.

 

Now hush. I ain’t even done.

It’s All Going Down…

liliesreadyI’m telling you, these lilies are in showcase shape and will be blooming any day now. I babied them with every trick I knew and they are going to explode on to your feed in the form of a million lily photos that will make you wanna unsubscribe, they will be hitting you so hard.

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What? Hostas were failing? I just potted them up and treated the hell out of them. Once they’re stronger and better, they will go right back in to the ground and be the ultimate collection they were intended to be.

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Yup, all of this is happening. Blue. yellow. Muthafuckin polka dotted, who knows. They will not be stopped.

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Little Henry isn’t so little anymore. He’s going to kick some ass.

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Whaaat? I’m cleaning all the other beds and taking care of everything else too?!? Yup. The shittiest plant is my weakest and I won’t run a shitty empire. This is all getting fixed.

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Groomed golden doodle overlooking the transition. Duchess, you take a shit wherever you like. This is ours.

You’ve Always Been

An annual conference with the queen

Third summer since new root

New neighbors, needles evergreen

A strange land to dispute

 

We are the crown, we drink in reign

And raise our brandy glass

We give our thanks in memory of

The boy who mowed our grass

 

No matter what for each farewell

We wish we’d kept them all

Divided we sing, united in dreams

Of old Carnation Hall

 

We pay respects to grapevine

That grew along the fence

Goodbye, forsythia in the spring

Our meeting must commence

 

I have been working very hard outside this year. With each plant strategically repositioned last year, we conquered. Lily patches have become focal points, two massive armies of pinks and warm colors that are coordinated and multiplying rapidly. Hostas that were lifted from poor soil are thriving in their new spots. They’re also making friends, learning to pair with the natives and are stronger for it.

Today I went back to the garden bed where plants weren’t looking like they had in the past, and I approached with a heavy heart for every broken leaf and hole. I didn’t know where anything could go if it wasn’t doing well where it was. But as I began to dig, I realized that the items in question had heavily multiplied….

Each seemingly suffering plant was easily trimmed and became three plants. It was like magic as I pulled each section away from the main root ball. It was like Christmas. I ended up dividing everything and lopping off weathered parts that wouldn’t be missed. I even took samples of everything and potted them so they could grow on the porch like extra copies.

All I had seen earlier were the imperfections and I totally missed the fact that everything was so much bigger – that being crowded was a compliment to progress. I wasn’t losing anything. I was winning. Gaining.

I was queen again.

Saint Patrick’s Massacre

Daniel came up to me at my workplace to buy a video game and he said, “There sure are a lot of St. Patrick’s Day events…I was hearing them over the radio. Maybe we can do somethin’ comin’ up…”

What I took away from that was, “I’ve never really celebrated Irish heritage or gone out for that occasion. And maybe I haven’t been feeling well. It would be nice to have a good time.”

So even though I didn’t feel very good when the day came (bloated, bad day at work, ghostly tonsil pains and other stupid shit), I “started over” after work with a fresh shower and “built myself back up”, telling myself to be psyched for my boyfriend. Once I was ready I took us to an Irish dive bar just 20 minutes from the house. I figured he could get the green beer, silly costumes, elbow-to-elbow comradery with a live band and decent food. Those were my goals.

I let him drive my car.

Of course the place was packed by 7 p.m. I asked a more conservative-looking couple if they would share their table, asked a waitress for the chair she was using across the way and hailed Daniel over. We happened to be front seat to the band and had a great view of the walkway where everyone paraded in their green gear. Once Daniel was handed a menu of Irish specials I really, really thought I had done a good job.

Well. I had just set us up for disaster.

Over the course of the 3 or so hours we were there, the woman we sat with became increasingly drunk and loud. Daniel would look at me as she raised her arms and screamed the lyrics to classic rock songs and I gave him a look back that said: just appreciate the enthusiasm and laugh. The couple seemed to really like us, wanted to talk with us, thought we were great together and yadda yadda. Then the woman (Maureen, I learned when she showed me her Facebook), started calling to other gentlemen to approach the table – young men walking to the restroom, waiters, other customers… she always had something flirty to say and I held my breath, giving sympathetic looks their way although everyone mostly obliged by accepting the attention and hugging her or what-the-fuck-ever.

I shook their hand every time, nodding, trying to excuse them from the table. It worked pretty well aside from the guy who had a green hat painted on his face. He asked us, “Would you ladies like one too?” and re-appeared with big, tacky temporary tattoos. Ecstatic, Maureen fetched a glass of water and I applied the tattoo to her cheek and then she did the same for me. I didn’t want to admit that I was appeasing a drunk, trying to salvage my night, and I downsized the threat of Maureen as I clapped along with the songs and tried to keep my eyes forward on the band.

The guy Maureen was with had a sophisticated green hat. He was older and seemed like a decent, relatively quiet counterpart. He would routinely remark that he “loved us” and he had to get right in Daniel’s ear in order to be heard. What I didn’t realize was that Daniel was not happy with the seedy atmosphere. He didn’t like the noise level. He didn’t like the common people (he would refer to them later as “blue collar”). He didn’t like the band and had somehow talked with the bass player who made a remark that he didn’t appreciate…

“I used to be in a band,” Daniel had started to explain. The bass player proceeded to insist that there was a successful, much bigger band out of Detroit with the same name. He basically called Daniel a garage copycat and I would have to hear him screaming later, “FUCK those guys, and we NEVER would have played a fucking place like THAT. If it didn’t have a stage, we didn’t go on…”

I am always pursing my lips, asking for a kiss. I try to take photos of us together, sometimes, using my phone…Daniel either looks away or doesn’t smile. I chalk it up to his complex over “glory days”, his dread of a bad photo…I wish he understood the power of not looking your best but smiling really big and looking happy and winning, anyway.

Eventually Maureen grabbed me and pulled me to the few feet of dance floor between the band and our table.

I had to smile big and prance and turn around like it wasn’t a big deal. Play the part. After about thirty seconds there were two or three more people pushed right up against us. Then I realized this guy in front of me had his hand on my hip and started to grab harder –

I grabbed his hand, pushed it back over to his body and patted his shoulder in order to show no hard feelings. The advancement caught me off guard and was definitely not invited. A little more saving face, big smiles and I went right back to the comfort of our table.

As I put the credit card in to my purse, Maureen caught on that I had just paid our tab. She shot a look across the table and said to him, “We have to talk.” And from then on, she eyed him differently…like she was cautioning me… They would never talk. We promptly left.

What I learned later – what Daniel drove us all the way home before revealing – was that in his mind, he looked over and saw me “dancing with another guy”, so I got an earful about how “disrespectful that was” to him, how inappropriate, how I should have “ran right over to my man”…

There was some silence as he sat on the edge of the bed looking out. He said, “I don’t think you should be with an older man.”

Every time he said something, I had no idea where it came from. It was like poison from his mouth to my heart.

The other part I couldn’t believe, was that he claimed that nice-looking older man had gone up to Daniel’s ear and explained through the blaring noise that he liked to “dominate his women like in 50 Shades of Grey” and that if Daniel ever wanted to “explore the dark side, to give him a call”. No fucking kidding. And whether it was made clear or not, Daniel perceived that as the old man proposing that we all leave together and sleep together.

Eventually he said that if I was “one of those people” I should leave and not come back.

“I don’t make an effort to keep someone like that. Bye.”

After two years and everything I’ve done he said, “Bye.” With a dismissive, purposeful southern accent. “Baaaah.”

Baaaah.

I was in shock. This was not the first time Daniel had lost his mind over something he heard or saw while we were out together. There was a couple at an Applebee’s bar a year ago…I was talking with them, being friendly, and Daniel had blown up and told me that they hoped I would “leave him and go home with them”… the time we went in to the furniture store and he saw me talking to a male salesman, accusing me of flirting with the guy… little things that told me had issues with jealousy and some delusion from trust issues…

Were these episodes worth it? What if he threw me out one day, over one, and I lost everything? Do I really want a relationship that teeters on his emotional stability?

Maybe I should just wear a burka.

Maybe it’s time to make some new resolutions…

When I grabbed my purse he was almost certain I was going back to the bar…that’s how messed up he was…

“I’m taking Duchess and I’m going home. I’m going to see my mom. She knows…about your fits. Everything I’ve done done for you, everything I do, and you’re throwing it away over 30 seconds when someone jumped in front of me-“

I broke down, started bawling, and started talking about how I should have known better.

“Only, always only, without other people. No one else can be around…you get crazy…” Now I’m freaking out, doubled over, gasping, tears running down the ugly tattoo on my cheek. I don’t know what to do and the person I love is breaking my heart.

“Why do you hurt me so much?”

Daniel changes, like night to day. Something about my reaction, the things I’ve said…for some reason my mother has a sobering effect on him. He stood in front of me and asked for a kiss… I couldn’t do it. But I hugged him and felt my tears fall off my face on to his chest.

I dreamed of Billy Joel.

I was holding glasses like he wears, a concert souvenir, but they had broken. I was walking through a plaza looking for him after a show…I found him twice and both times I could only stop twenty feet from him in fear that I would burden him with the usual OMG SO I LOVE YOUR MUSIC AND YOU ARE JUST SO AWESOME fan gush… being so close, before someone so great, afraid to lose him and unable to approach him. Billy, why have you stopped writing lyrics?

Today I was sending these digest texts of this very passage to Daniel’s phone. I know he had started reading them because he called me despite being in class. The first time I didn’t answer because I was afraid. He called again immediately and I answered.

He was acting super nice. Suggested I go to his desk and grab a Starbuck’s gift card so I could start my day with a cappuccino. I mean just real off-the-wall nice.

Maybe he knows he’s crazy.

Maybe he knows that I know.