Sunday, January 27, 2013


When I first caught Kyle's attention, I was sitting on the employee bus after a long Horror Nights shift, rubbing my eye and apparently so very into it, he thought I was experiencing orgasm.
"...You OK over there?" he asked, hesitantly.
"Shh! Keep still," I said. "Don't ruin this for me."

The nerves in my eye (not EVERYONE'S eye, but many people's and most definitely mine) are connected very close to a pleasure center in my brain. So, whereas I was not having any sort of sexual experience with myself on the bus (this time) I WAS having a moment. At the end of a long work day, no need to worry about mascara and eye liner.

I know I'll look like some bizarre crack whore / raccoon hybrid (crackoon) when I'm done, but in that moment there is bliss.

100% totaly eyegasm.

The eye is the Window To The Soul, and made of squishy goo housing millions of photoreceptor cells. These cells transmit light and images (upside down) to the brain, which flips it and makes up a story about what it is we think we're seeing. There's an iris, which expands and contracts, and a pupil, which is sort of a gaping black hole. It's a Lincoln Tunnel of information to our brain. I like to think cells have some sort of individual capacity for memory- they have to, because they replicate.

I'm telling you this because: Three days ago I was rubbing my eye, and really getting into it. Again, it's not sexual, but instead a "shh shh shh-just let me have this- open mouthed moaning ahhhhhhhh" kind of pleasure. And there's no need to immediately pee afterwards.
Anyway, I rubbed for a good moment, again inspiring the curiosity of my nearby friend.

"Are you...?"
"Unh..." I respond, holding up an index finger with my other hand as my head tipped back in exctasy.

Usually, while this is happening, I see lights and colors and shapeless bursts of firework-looking things behind the lids of my tightly-closed eyes. (OK, so maybe it IS like orgasm.

Shh- stay still. Don't ruin this for me.

This time, though, something very different happened: Instead of many, I clearly saw one color- the hazy golden orange of a Los Angeles sky in the evening. There is no other color like this in the world- the smog and disspated shattered hearts collect in the atmosphere and refract the dying light in one last-gasp burst of beauty before the darkness sets in and the monsters emerge from the shadows.

One and only color like this, and I was seeing it now. I also had the intense sensation I was looking up- up from beneath the ground at this sky. I could feel earthen walls around me. I knew I was in a hole, in the ground, looking up. There, sillouetted by the amber light of broken dreams in the sky, was a palm tree, and a tall, thin man (kind of Rod-Serling-esque) in a suit leaning over to look down at me.

Holy shit I was in my own grave. I could "see" so clearly in this closed-eye vision- the tall man in the suit, leaning over, the palm tree bent against the fading light. I knew unequivacably that I was dead, in a grave, in Los Angeles, and here was a friend looking over at me. A strange calm set in as I realized what this meant: I can very clearly see myself dying in California. AND YET: there was no fear there. There was no sadness. If anything, in that moment everything felt right, like it made sense.

I could not tell who my friend was, or what period in time I was, my age or anything other than a profound and easy sense of Destiny. "This is the way it will be." "OK. I'm listening." The French, who are assholes, call orgasm "la petite mort," which means "a little death." They saw it much like Medieval people viewed a sneeze- an intense moment of danger where your heart stops and perhaps your soul leaves your body for an instant. (It's a wonder no one says "bless you" when people come.)
But the point is, in that moment, we are fragile, vulnerable, and closer to god, more attuned to our bodies- there's a whole lot going on in that one split-second. So why not a precognitive vision? My eye cells, which have seen that sky's light before, chose that opportunity to recreate it for me, and were kind enough to throw in a palm tree so I'd know exactly where the fuck my grave will be.

(Jokes on them- I want to be cremated.)

Anyway, whether it's a trick of the eye, a vision, or an unprompted burst backwards, against traffic, up the Lincoln Tunnel from my imagination, it was eerie and soothing at once. A moth to a flame, I know what waits between that golden light. And I'm not afraid. Eventually, the Tall Man in a black suit merged with the palm tree and left me with a residual "Sauron" image which I could see even with my eyes open. I fuzzed back into reality and rejoined my stunned friend, explaining what I'd seen. (For two completely sober people not on drugs, this may seem a little weird.)

I am not afraid of Los Angeles, and whereas I'm not ready to die, I do want to go back, even if it means facing my own mortality. I want to die fighting. Or perhaps, fight, WIN, kick all the ass, and leave this planet at a ripe old age, confident and at peace knowing I stood up for what I wanted- for what I believe in. I know my life will never be easy. I simply won't allow myself that luxury. But if I have to go, I want to go under a golden sky, with a tall slender friend staring at me wondering if I'm having an orgasm.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Burning Butterflies

About a month ago a great friend invited me to go camp out under the stars in his backyard and make a little campfire. I was promised marshmallow roasting, so, done deal. If you want to guarantee I'll attend something, offer me any food on a stick; it is my kryptonite.
Knowing there would be fire, I took the opportunity to get rid of some old paperwork I had sitting around.

This was not just ordinary paperwork- this was 16 years any written word my ex had ever given me: notes passed in school, letters, slips of paper with a simple heart left on my windshield, anniversary cards and eventually marriage vows. "Treasures" I'd hoarded over the years, relishing any line penned by the man I loved. I worship the written word, and I worshipped him- I thought if he wrote it, if must be true. He didn't care much for writing, so there wasn't that much in the stack.

He would often draw a creepy "The Crow" face at the bottom of his correspondence in his early work. His spelling and grammar never improved beyond that, but I oh-so-lovingly lowered my standards and became ecstatic with any inked "proof" that he was thinking about me. That night at the fire, I re-read the words he'd left behind as cheap red wine coursed through my system. My friend kept stoking the fire, keeping it orange and bright and eager to cleanse.

Another pal kept us all chatting amicably to keep the mood light.
"Look at this one," I'd say, on the verge of tears. "This is the one where he promised to-"
"Ah, that's so cute," she'd cut me off. "Throw it in the fire."

Glistening liquid eyes and Blood-Alcohol Content made focusing hard, but I forced myself through every letter of every letter, chastising myself for reading so much into so little. I never wanted him to spend money on me- I'd even made a big deal out of not letting him BUY me anything for Valentine's Day, instead asking that he write me a love letter. My grand plan was to make a book to chronicle our affair for our kids to see one day.

Instead, this is the one (and only) Valentine's Day missive I ever received: "Roses are red, Violets are blue, let's get a philly cheesesteak - ..." The last line of the couplet didn't rhyme. It was a request for a oral.

I'd watched on Feb. 14th from my mother's kitchen as his car pulled up in the driveway. He'd forgotten it was Valentine's Day, but suddenly remembered my request, and had scribbled this out on a page torn from his notebook. I'd been disappointed and kind of offended at the time (I was 19,) but I convinced myself that he'd get it right next year, and I'd leave this one as a private "sexy" letter, just for me.
Evidence that I was wanted.

I didn't know at the time it'd be the only Valentine's Day letter I'd ever get. (He chose not to participate in the rest.) I guess it was too much to ask from him. Later he would leave me on a Feb. 12th and file for divorce on Feb. 14th, then lie about it for four weeks and "suddenly decide" after I sent him, of all things, a love letter.

I emailed him a list of 100 moments I loved in our lives together. He came to where I was staying that night and told me he was going to leave me anyway. Such a softie. He'd written me a few attempts at steamy pages over the years, but they were all thinly disguised requests for one act of passion or another. He'd start off musing and objectifying my body with all the literary craft of a 14-year-old, then eventually sort of start whining for sex.

There were letters explaining actions, there were letters of excuses, there were letters shaming me for being upset about him cheating, then shaming me for being jealous or suspicious. I'd kept those letters too- he so rarely put ink to paper... I just wanted a record of some sort.

"Look at how hard he tried."
"Throw it in the fire," my friend says, rubbing a soft circle with her hand on my back. "Let it burn."

Never was there an apology. Never was there an answer- just...bullshit. As the flames turned the paper to ashes, I felt a sense of relief- like in destroying these lies I was released from the hold they'd had over me. Knowing now what I know about this man and seeing 16 years of collective ego and falsehoods formed a more cohesive view of the writer. He'd been the same person all along- I just wanted a love story so badly, I pretended a last-second request for a blowjob was romantic.

Finally, the heavy-hitters...
The bottom of the pile of my inverted life: the wedding papers. I burned the cards first. All the glitter, jewels and ribbons melting into black char and unrecognizable carbon.

Then the vows. Oh, I cried hard when those went up in flames. Such pretty promises- I'd kept every one of mine. Reading his broken word again hurt me hard- I had truly been veiled, covered in a pretty snow job of white pure gauze and chiffon. The veil burned too. And the garter. And the ring box. And the paper I'd saved and been using to wrap his anniversary gifts in each June 19th. I even burned the Grinch Nose he'd been wearing when he proposed- the latex and paint burst into flame, and melted away like a melting green glacier. A tiny iceberg.
(NOTE: Ladies, if a man is hiding his face when he proposes, RUN.)

The last things to burn were the gifts we'd exchanged on our wedding day, which without any prior planning, had coincidentally both involved butterflies. I'd found a wind-up butterfly in a crafts store, and wound it up so when he opened his envelope, it would spring out into the sky and flutter away. I instructed him to open it outdoors. When he did, and he read the card, I'd inked my promise to him (to never bring up his cheating again): "With this butterfly, I am forgiving AND finally forgetting. I am letting go of my anger, fear, suspicion, and jealousy. When you see me again I'll be in a cocoon of white silk- a butterfly waiting for your release. Tonight we'll say goodnight to our friends and our family, and when it's just you and me we'll slip out of this chrysalis and into a new life together. I love you and I can't wait to start life anew with you as my husband."

He gave me a video game.
"Fatal Frame 3: Crimson Butterfly."
(It's a Japanese Horror game and it's actually pretty cool. I enjoyed it.)

I loved our dual butterflyship. Our wedding was beautiful. We cried together as we read the vows he'd later throw away and I'd be forced to burn.

A friend had retrieved and saved the wind-up gift, and I sobbed as it went into the fire.
That was the last thing I had to let go of: my own eager willingness to turn a blind eye. I didn't explain the significance of the winged messenger to my friends, who held me and kept chatting like people do when they're distracting a child from a booster shot. The yellow and black wings went up in flames, and it charred into nothing more than ash and wire.

I didn't want to burn my butterfly. I fucking LOVE butterflies. I wiped hot tears away and spoke instead of trivial things until I laughed again.

Eventually, the coals died down and we went to sleep on the pool deck. My friend made himself a stack of blankets to burrow under, and I slept in my clothes and my wolf hat snuggled tight in a nearby sleeping bag.
The chilly night passed and the sun came up.
The next morning I opened my eyes and FELT the day. I had no headache. I felt clear. I felt lighter.
The haze and smoke of the night before was gone, and only the faint smell of smoke lingered in my hair.
I breathed. I was breathing. I was OK.

I sat up and smiled at my friend, who grinned back at me from about 6 feet away as I slid slowly out of my silky sleeping bag.
The first words spoken to me that day were these:

"Good morning, Butterfly. Time to come out of your cocoon."

I will never know how I've wound up so lucky to spend my life with these incredible friends. The friends who let you burn when you need to, cry when you need to, and without any explanation, see you clearly first thing in the morning as you truly are: a singed-but undamaged, free Butterfly.