just words

i never wanted
perfect
i would have been
happy
with
kind
i would have traded the world
for someone
who
loved me
best
but…marriage vows
are just
words
really
no matter
how pretty they sound.

there is this thing dusty says to me whenever he feels the need to shut me up. he mentions this mysterious thing he whispered into my ear during our wedding ceremony. he brings it up knowing i have the memory of a chipmunk on mind altering drugs. he brings it up knowing i was so stressed out on our wedding day that i barely remember being there. he brings it up knowing i will feel bad for not remembering his great declaration of love.
or maybe i’m wrong.
but i’m not.
he brought it up recently when we were texting back & forth.
he texted, “i meant what i whispered in your ear that day.”
so i asked, “which day?”
and of course it was our wedding day to which he referred even though that was no where near to being the topic of our conversation.
yes, dusty, you are one up on me. i don’t know what you whispered. i just don’t fucking remember.
so i texted him back to confess that i was too hopped up on anxiety to remember anything from our wedding day.
so he finally told me those magical words that he has held as proof of his good intentions all these years:

i may not be perfect, but i will always love you.

so of course my response was what the fucking fuck? who asked for perfect? i would have settled for a dude who didn’t escape into a pot-induced video game haze instead of being present in our marriage. i would have settled for a dude who didn’t insult me on the day i buried my brother. i would have settled for a dude who helped change the diapers & got up at night to help me with the babies…or who fucking didn’t berate me for being pregnant. i would have settled for a dude who didn’t fuck around on me to punish me.

sigh.

so i told him, those are just words. anyone can say words. without the action to back them up…just..fucking..words.

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the queen of swords

when i was doing the pages, killing off dusty, a friend commented to me that it was strong magic i was doing–that it would have an effect on me.

i thought it would put the last nail in the coffin…however, it seemed to cause me to look at my dusty differently. like i had killed off his evil doppelgänger and the curse was lifted & we would live happily ever after.

what?
where the fuck did that come from?
so dusty came to visit when he returned the minions and i was all warm & fuzzy towards him….

what?

it’s true. sad, but true. i started letting myself fantasize the easy fantasy.
what it the father of my children wasn’t a narcissistic asshole? what if he could return to us and be there for me every day and help with the kids and help with the homestead and i wouldn’t have to be alone anymore and i would have someone to talk to…to laugh with…to cuddle and have delicious sex with….

so after he was gone away again, i kept trying to think of ways of making it work out. ways to invite dusty back into my life again. i didn’t want to make the same mistake i had made
over
and
over
and
over.
i would take it slow and think it through and make the right decision.

so i texted him asking if he was dating anyone. i thought this would be a good first step.
he texted back “well psychotic hello kitty cunt-face (not her real name) wants us to be dating but…”

holy fucking christ in a toaster

quick timeline for clarification
2013-2015 –cheating on me with phkcf behind my back while i am pregnant with his fourth child, giving birth to that child, and taking care of an infant & 3 other children.
2015-2016 –telling me he is going to break up with her/refusing to break up with her/ she meanwhile is stalking the both of us and leaving weird little notes, graffiti, presents all over the neighborhood we live in
2016 –i move to fucking manitowoc, wisconsin to get away from the two of them because he won’t break up with her. he immediately breaks up with her (after i have moved away) and supposedly breaks ties with her.
2016-2017 we move to illinois together & try to make another go of it but fail. he goes back to wisconsin where i realize he is back in touch with her & i tell him he cannot be friends with me while remaining in contact with a person who did as much damage as phkcf did.
2018 –i realize he may still be in touch with her because all of a sudden the kids are talking about max the cat whom last i knew he had given to her (in 2013) probably so he would have an excuse to see her. so he got his cat back from her. which means there was definite contact. he says nothing to me. then he casually name-drops her as someone he could be dating?????????????

does he not get it? does he not understand that i do not want this person anywhere near my life? if he wants me in his life in any capacity, she cannot be in his life. why does he not understand that? or does he just not care? he says she means nothing to him & that he wants nothing to do with her…and she is ruining his chances of having any kind of friendship with me…yet he still corresponds with her (at least–he could be doing more–it’s not like he tells me the truth about anything.)

fuck a duck.

so here i am.
i let myself have the fantasy. i let myself go there.
now i am hurting for it.

i should have known better.
why the fuck didn’t i know better?

is it hope or stupidity or human nature or a damaged soul that lets me think he could change?

without feathers

without feathers
i watch the snow fall
around me
“i love the snow,”
i say quietly
and try to keep from
crying
without feathers
i battle the demons
inherited from my
father
mother
relationships taking
wrong turns
down one-way streets
“i want to live,”
i try to convince myself
i feel in my heart
intense hope
and bottomless
sorrow
and i continue my journey
without
feathers.

to keep my heart safe from dusty, i find i have to remember things i would rather forget.
some of you were with me during the really really awful bad terrible fucked-up hello kitty catastrophe.
you know, when dusty started dating a 30 year old in a hello kitty backpack while he was living with me?
how she would come to our apartment & hide in the bushes & wait for him? how she would write graffiti about the two of them on the bike paths around where we lived?
how she gave him a phone so they could “sext” each other?
how he would sneak off to see her & leave me alone pregnant…with a newborn…and his three other children?
how i would happen across the two of them…how i developed an anxiety whenever i left the house that i would see them somewhere, together?
how i would constantly find fucked-up little gifts & notes from her to him on our front step or hanging from the trees around our home?
how he refused to leave madison with me & the kids because he wanted to stay near her?

sigh.

this is what i have to replay in my head.
the cold way he would look at me when i happened upon them somewhere near our house, embraced.
the way he shoved me when i tried to find out what was going on between them & behind my back.
sitting alone in a courtroom waiting to find out what would happen to me for having a public & profane breakdown.
finding out, too late, from people i thought were friends that this had been going on when i was being told it was not.

this is what i am trying to recover from. among other things. meanwhile, dusty keeps trying to creep back in. still blaming me & telling me what a cold heart i have for not loving him.

i’m tired, y’all.
i’m tired of doing everything alone as he watches & complains that he isn’t being included when i would love to include him–but instead feel it necessary to protect myself from him. i never wanted to do this alone. every day as i struggle to take care of four kids & homestead & have time to myself to do art & to try to keep from losing my mind but losing my mind because i never seem to get time to re-charge because there is always something that needs doing…someone who needs me….

sigh.

i really like this self-portrait.
i think i should take the ones i feel strongest about and do them on a good watercolor paper. this one…i really like it.

ps. so i worked on this last night while watching the netflix original movie a futile & stupid gesture based on the life of doug kenney (who founded national lampoon)…. i totally recommend it. it made me both laugh & sob–which is my criteria for a good story. it also made me think that maybe it is a good thing that i am largely unrecognized for my art, etc. i mean, these depressed & damaged people who make it big & realize that it fixes nothing & end up killing themselves because they still feel like failures….

so today i am thankful that i have never been successful enough to feel like an utter failure.
yay.

in my dreams

he is still in my dreams
& i want him so badly
it is pure pain & longing
something i used to feel
when i was awake
with him
without him
that crazy desire
my skin on fire
willing to do anything
anything for him
…but what he asked of me
it killed me on the inside
killed my burning desire
leaving me empty
& new
but still feeling the pain of it
when it shows up in my dreams
& i wake up crying
for love lost
& cruel reminders

split-apart

it was new year’s eve 1992. i was 22 and running away from my life, en route to washington dc from iowa city, ia. i went to my parent’s house in illinois for christmas. my younger–very straight & conservative–sister suggested we go out to a bar in the nearby college town of normal. i think she was trying to impress us that she could be cool. it was a grunge bar (before grunge was really even a thing) with a purple mohawked & tattooed bartender and all the hip college kids as clientele.

i woke up the morning before we went there with one thought in my head, “today you are going to meet the man you are going to marry.”

it was a strong thought. this had happened to me before–and come true. the strong waking premonition. so i did not doubt it.

at the bar, the gallery, i was amazed at the number of hot guys. i had bad luck dating in iowa city, everyone thought i was a lesbian–and i had plenty of those opportunities…but very few straight ones. and all terrible in their own ways. so i felt i had stumbled upon an oasis in my romantic desert.

of the sea of hot guys, i was informed by one of the bartenders that her good friend thought i was cute. he was–sadly–the least attractive of the boys there…not at all my type. large & hairy. but due to my premonition, i thought, what the hell. let’s see what happens. so i started dating him. started having feelings for him. scrapped my plans to move to dc & (with the help of the tattooed bartender) found a job & a place to live in normal.

then the mountain man dumped me.

in retrospect, i think i was just the person he needed to feel confident enough to go after the woman he really wanted to be with. and, his having me doting on him, gave him that attractiveness credit with the would-be girlfriend. all of a sudden, because he was my boyfriend, he was a guy worth looking twice at.  i was a tool. they are happily married now. i never got a thank you card for that…oh well.

i spiraled as someone with low self-esteem is bound to do once rejected. i dated & flirted & messed around…a lot. seriously, so many cute guys! there were parties where all these hot people would sit around & play “spin the bottle.” i had so much fun that i can never tell my kids about.

anyhoo!

there was this one bouncer at the gallery. okay. stop. erase your mental image of “bouncer.” at this bar, the biggest & most threatening bouncer employed there was a woman. none of the bouncers could have probably bounced. mostly they just checked id. and in the case of the 6 foot woman bouncer–deep throat kissed everyone who came through the door. ah…the early nineties….

so there was a bouncer who when i first saw him he was cleaning his brand new belly button piercing behind the bar. (it later got infected and was impressively pus-filled enough that the piecing was abandoned.) i had also just gotten my belly button pierced–so i was like, “hey, me too.”

here’s the thing though. this boy was so incredibly good-looking that my mind literally did not entertain thoughts of him for even a second. he was quickly filed in the “out of my league” category. also. he was in one of those epic romances that everyone references when they are talking about perfect couples. it was always him “&amy.” they were a fixed point in time.

and i was a paradox.

but we became fast friends. fun friends. he was great to goof off with. funny. so funny. i can remember my face hurting from laughing when i was with him. and so laid back. i would find him at parties (there was always a party. seriously. weekend parties. after-hour parties. so many parties!) and we would have long conversations about everything & nothing.

then one day i was at his going away party. he was moving to montana. and he was gone. my life went on. i continued living a strange life full of drama & dating.

then one day he was back.

i was walking down the street, and there he was. he told me that he just got back into town, and from that point we were inseparable.
he later told me that he moved to montana to get away from his girlfriend–it didn’t work.
he also told me
that he came back
because he had a dream about me.
i continued to resist it as a romance…especially since he seemed unable to break up with his girlfriend. but we were the best of friends. we plotted ways to make money. we went on crazy road trips. we even became roommates.

i would lay in his arms every night…you know, as his roommate, and feel like i was home. he made everything okay.

we eventually did date.
and break up.
and get back together.
and get engaged (with tattoos!)
and move to an all girl college together.
and move to austin, texas together.

and…

i fucked it up. as hard and terribly as i could. i mean, it’s like i put effort  into fucking it up. i destroyed our relationship. i destroyed everything.

and i have spent the past 20 years trying to forget him and get past him (when i’m not missing him & imagining what would have been).

but i can’t forget him. i remember him better than i remember what i ate yesterday. he is etched in my brain…my heart…scattered across my soul.
i no longer believe i am able to forget him. or that i am meant to forget him.
back then & still today, i believe he is my split-apart.
the other half of me.

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