She, Part Three

She is used to feeling this:
Happiness is a faster heartbeat, picking up speed
To match the rhythm of her anxiety–
Acceptance at this irony:
That is what it means to be happy.

She thinks she has it all figured out,
All she has to do is match the rhythm
Of her feet to her heart,
And keep herself far apart–
No need for her heart to take any more beatings.

She’s heard (how absurd)
That joy and pain
Have two different wavelengths,
That you can experience one
Without slogging through the other,
That this is not how it’s supposed to feel.
Panic is not a given,
And hope is not forlorn.
And when a heartbeat dies,
The next one’s born.
There’s so much to burn
From what you learned before.
Set your priorities straight, sweetheart,
And the world will start
To form.

Pain and hope,
And struggle and rote–
When she begins to see how different
These things can be,
Maybe she will be able to experience them

But for now,
She’s stuck in the rhythm she taught herself,
Frail and faint,
But hard as hell.
She knows if she slows,
There are those she can match,
Two hearts beating — who knows if it’ll last,
But if it feels like it might be happiness,
Is something she’s not used to feeling.





All Shapes and Sizes

Man. These past two and a half weeks.

I went to Massachusetts twice — first for a funeral, then for a wedding. The funeral was not completely unexpected, but it happened earlier than I would have liked. My grandad was still in the rehab center — the nature of such a place I will still resent for the rest of my life, given past circumstances — and was not doing well. He suddenly was very not well. And then the next day, he was gone.

I took the call at an improv practice. I sat outside in a shaded corner of my friend’s yard, crying and hoping that no one would come check on me. Then I took a deep breath, went inside, and continued with practice. One friend seemed to note the shift, and asked how I was doing after practice. I am grateful for friends like him.

I had the next couple of days off of work, and ironically, it was not at all convenient. I spent Friday doing absolutely nothing — I cried on and off in the morning, and then around noon, I dried up. I watched a movie on my projector instead of improvising onstage at the HIT that night. At various points, two of my friends came over to check up on me. I am grateful for friends like them.

On Saturday, I held auditions for a friend’s film project, and then I performed at the HIT. On Sunday, I hosted Buffy Night at my house. I got my shift for Wednesday covered and rearranged my office hours to be on Monday before my behind-the-counter shift instead of Tuesday. Grandad’s visiting hours would be on Thursday; it was pointless to go to MA early, if I would miss more work because of it. I couldn’t take a full week off of work — I was already taking a long weekend the next week for my mother’s wedding.

I flew to MA on Tuesday. On Wednesday, my mom and sister and I tried on our dresses for my mom’s wedding, and then went shoe shopping. On Thursday, we had the visiting hours. There was no open casket, and it’s the first time that I wish there actually had been one. A bunch of people gave me their condolences, and I smiled sweetly and thanked them for being sorry.

I flew back to PA on Friday, and literally ran to a non-stop night of improv at Gamut’s Improvapalooza. On Saturday, I went to a screenwriting workshop that I was supposed to help run, and then did improv/watched improv at the HIT until three in the morning. On Sunday, I performed with Phlegminism before Down in Front (because how much more improv could I cram into a weekend?), and then went to a game night, in which the company was wonderful and I only hope that I didn’t make anyone feel awkward for being the “new friend”. I am grateful for these new friends, and ever hopeful that they will continue to let me be their friend.

Monday through Thursday, I had extra work shifts to make up for the week before. Friends and acquaintances asked how I was doing — to some, I was honest; to some, I lied. I took two improv classes, resulting in very little downtime. On Thursday night, I ran the filmmaker meet-up and Open Screen. And on Friday, I flew back to MA.

My mom got married on Saturday. I screwed up and left my bridesmaid’s bouquet at home, half an hour from the church, and had to drive back to get it, making the service start late (not too late). I stuffed my face with cookies and chips at the reception. When it was over, my mom and her new husband went to a hotel, and I went with my sister and cousins to the house and drank smoky scotch and played games. I am grateful for family like them.

To put those two and a half weeks in some context, the majority of that time my emotions were all out of whack. I wanted to cry — I felt crying would be appropriate — but I couldn’t cry… I was bracing myself to be sad in the midst of a wedding, but instead I just felt on edge.

When my grandmother died, I cried for weeks. At work, at home, in the bathroom, in bed, by the river. When I was finished crying, I made really dumb judgment calls. But now that Grandad has died, my heart has forgotten how to work properly.

Maybe it’s the busyness. I’ve had so much happening, I haven’t had time to feel. And then the wedding… I wasn’t allowed to be sad. Not really.

A friend messaged me yesterday, and asked how I was — mentally, emotionally, psychologically. He just wanted to reconnect, since it had been a while. I answered: “Mentally, needing to slow down, which I’m not good at… Emotionally, kind of backwards… and psychologically, I guess all right? In that I’m not on the verge of a breakdown… I have contradictory emotions but at least I know why I have them.”

When I hit send, I started to cry.

I guess mourning really does come in all shapes and sizes.

Happy April, everyone.