Rest in Peace, My Valerie (1977-2013)

I buried my soul mate yesterday.

Last Tuesday (Jan 22), I went up to Binghamton to visit Val.  She was up there to begin her PhD candidacy in English.  I climbed the stairs to the back door and knocked.  I looked through the screen, and she was on the floor.  I don’t think that Val would want me to tell the final details of her life to strangers, so I will refrain.

Val was pronounced brain dead Thursday morning.  She died that evening.  She was my world.  She was the most brilliant, caring, gifted, loving, person that I will ever know.  Her writing is some of the best that I have ever read.  I only wish that I could write like her.

Her obituary is here.  Her website is here.

If you read my blog, you know how much I love her.  We just celebrated our anniversary.  I went to her mom’s for Christian Christmas (as opposed to my usual, Jewish Christmas.  We just didn’t have enough time together.

I want to tell you all about her.  I want people to know and love her the way that I love her, the way that she deserves to be loved.

This is what I told the Binghamton reporter that is writing her memorial:

She was about as warm and giving a person could be.  She cared very deeply about her students and would always go the extra mile for them.  Her favorite writer was Oscar Wilde, and I am sure that she could go wit for wit with him and come out the victor.  On her wall there was a picture of Oscar Wilde next to a picture of Malcom X.  I asked her about it once, and she said “I’d like to think that they are lovers in Heaven.”
Val loved so many things:  Joss Whedon (especially Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Rancid (for the past year she has been keeping a tongue-in-cheek photo journal updating the status of Tim Armstrong’s epic beard.  That was just her sense of humor), action figures (she had a massive collection of action figures, she would sometimes use them as writing prompts for students, but mostly they just hung around the house).  She loved to write, she was constantly writing, but even more than that, she loved to teach.  She loved the Oxford Comma, if you could love punctuation.  She had a passionate affair with Semicolons.

She was a strong woman: independent but not distant, tough but not hard, witty but not cruel.  She was brilliant, the most intelligent person that I have ever met.  She loved Grammar.  She was very excited to be taking a Grad level Grammar class at Binghamton.  She felt a great sadness for people that couldn’t use “there, their, and they’re” properly.

Her writing was incredible.  When we first started dating, I asked what she wrote.  She said something like “I do mostly short stories, mostly humorous, but when you say you write humor people think you write bad stand-up or something. I love the type of short story that can make you laugh and feel sad within like five pages so that’s what I try for.” 
If you read some of her writing (on her website), you will see that she succeeded everytime.
 
If you would like, I can recommend some of my favorite stories. 
 
I don’t know what else I can say.  She was the most perfect person that ever walked the face of this Earth.  She was too perfect, too gifted, too gentle and loving for us.  I would say that she was ahead of her time, but Time will never catch up to her.
This is what I said, but there was so much more to her.  She wrote erotic fan fic  as a hobby, and helped form an entire community for it.  Her frank talk and writing about mental illness was inspirational and life saving for many people.
On our first date, she gave me a toy for my turtle.  Who does that?  Who is that thoughtful?  Val was.  On our second date, I spilled an entire move-sized diet coke in her lap, and she didn’t walk out on me.  On the contrary, after the movie, she still made out with me.
She did all of this, but I knew that she was the One when I first walked into her apartment, and there was a giant Godzilla doll on her refrigerator.
I am concerned with her legacy.  I want the whole world to know how gifted a writer she was.  I want her name immortalized the way that it should be.  She was everything that I could ever want, or want to be.
I love you so much, Valerie.  I will love you forever.
The two of us, late December, 2012

The two of us, late December, 2012

Birthday: Reflections, Refractions, and a Serious Confession

Last week was my 36th birthday.  I just getting around to writing about it now, mostly because I don’t know how I feel about it.  One thing is certain:  I feel old.

I broke a rib on New Years . . . Coughing.  I broke it coughing.  Who the hell breaks a rib coughing?  I have saggy man tits and a jiggly belly.  My back hurts.  My blood pressure is up.  I suppose that these are normal things, but there is a lot more on my plate.

Lifewise, I like where I am right now, but it’s not where I expected to be.  To be honest, I expected to be dead by now.

I have a serious confession to make.

I have severe Bi-Polar Syndrome.  I was diagnosed when I was 14.  I spent much of my teenage years in and out of hospitals.  I went to a special school for the “emotionally challenged.”  The side effects from the various medications are torturous, to the point where I no longer know what it’s like to “feel good.”

As an adult, I have never been able to hold a full time job for more than a year or two.  No matter how extraordinary I am at the job, I inevitably have a manic or depressive cycle and lose it.  I ended up working low paying odd jobs and resigning myself to poverty.

Last year, I ended up homeless in the middle of Winter.  I was living out of a ’97 Saturn, which I would park in a park or parking lot and hope that I wasn’t carjacked.

Through most of my adult life, I suffered without help.  I didn’t know that there was help out there for people like me:  mentally ill, but not ill enough to require a group home.

Thankfully, I found help.  MHA found me a place to live, and helped me to apply for disability.  So yes, now I am a drain on society.  I am ashamed of this, very ashamed.  I hate myself for it.  I wish that I could stand on my own, but I tried and failed at this for 36 years.  I still live well below the poverty line (you don’t want to know how low), but at least now I know that I will always be able to pay the rent and have food to eat.

This is not where I expected to be.  I still work towards getting off of disability, but the only thing I am able to do, even when I am having an attack, is write.  It’s the only thing that I have ever wanted to do, and oddly enough, it’s proven to be the only thing that saves me.

I don’t know why I am confessing something that I am so ashamed of, especially when there is such a public stigma towards it (no, I don’t own a gun.  If I did, I would’ve turned it on myself a long time ago.  It worked for Hemmingway, right?)

I am ashamed of being ashamed.  Ashamed of hiding who I am.  I just turned 36 years old, and I don’t care about being stigmatized anymore.  I don’t care if you judge me.  I don’t care if you are revolted, scared, or made uncomfortable by me.  I don’t care if you think that I am melodramatic and think that I should just “suck it up.”

I just turned 36 years old.  I have bi-polar syndrome.  If you have a problem with that, you can go to Hell.

That’s what I tell myself.

Thank you for reading my blog.  If you like it, follow me.  And don’t forget to check out and vote for my serial “The Watchmage of Old New York” on Jukepop Serials.  Chs. 1 & 2 (of a planned 6) is up now.  Registration takes a minute. 

And of course, you can look at my fiction and nonfiction right here on this website.  Writing is the only thing I do well.  Help me to keep doing it.