Happy 40th Birthday Val

Friday would have been my fiance Valerie’s 40th birthday. She passed away suddenly on January 24th, 2013.

It still haunts me. I don’t think that you ever get over something like that. I don’t think you should.

I visited the grave, as I do every other month or so. I brought her a cake. I sang Happy Birthday and left a toy on her grave, this time a Wonder Woman figure. It suits her.

I know that it means nothing to her. How could it? If she could talk, she would tell me to stop. She’d tell me to let go.

Fuck letting go.

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My Gramma

Today my gramma turns 100. While that’s amazing and rightful deserves a party, my gramma isn’t the woman that I remember. Ever since my mother died a few years ago, she’s gone downhill, like she lost the will to live. And yet her body refuses to let her. She has been in constant pain for years from diabetic neuropathy. Over the last year, a series of blood infections have done a serious number on her brain. My gramma was also a kind person, very involved in local charities and organizations. Now she does none. And she’s no longer kind. My aunt gives her nurses weekly tips because she is such a handful.

We’re having a party, and I am very worried about this. My gramma lives in a Bronx apartment. Small and awkward. And the entire family is coming in. I expect about 30 people and decades of family feuds.

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On Turning 40

(This is a bit introspective, but it’s my party and I’ll kvetch if I want to).

I keep telling myself that it’s just a day. I’m one day older than yesterday, no more, no less. But that’s not true. A birthday isn’t a day, it’s a milestone, a click in you lifetime that doesn’t mark time, but experience. It’s a scenic rest stop on the highway where you get out of the car, stretch your legs, and look at where you’ve been.

I have experienced 40 years on the highway, and I’m looking back. And the road behind me is not impressive. It’s gunk and potholes and endless, endless construction. It’s like driving through Northern Jersey.

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When you’re young, you love birthdays. They’re about excitement and joy and parties with friends. I’m not having a party. I have panic attacks when there are too many people around, and I don’t have many friends any more. I don’t really like bars. I don’t have room to have people over. When my dad turned 40, we threw him a big surprise party in our house…we had a house! I only know a few people my age that have houses.When my mom turned 50 we threw her a party at a hotel. I always thought that I’d have the same. I wanted what my parents had. Family, friends, and a place to celebrate with them.

Anyway, when you’re young, it’s about celebration. When you’re old, it’s about introspection. I think about my life: where I’m at, my successes, my failures, my flaws and things left undone. I think about the roads not taken, and whether they would have made a difference. I think about “what ifs” and whether I can back track with what I know now.

It’s why people have mid-life crisises. They’re not about “oh my god, I’m getting closer to death.” It’s about “oh my god, why didn’t I make the left turn at Albuquerque?”

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I have a lot of regrets. I wish that I could’ve been there when my mom died. I wish that I was able to save Valerie’s life. I wish that I didn’t waste so much time. I wish…I wish the world would slow down so I can catch up. But I don’t wish for a sports car or anything cliche like that. I wish that I could’ve done more Good. I wish that I made more of a difference. I wish that people didn’t suffer because I didn’t act. I wish I had the power to make a difference.

I don’t. I can’t even help myself.

I can’t say whether I’ve had a good or bad life. There are hundreds of millions of people who have it far worse than I do, and just as many who have it better. I wasn’t dealt the best hand, what with all of my medical problems that keep me from living a “normal” life (whatever that is). But I haven’t been homeless in a few years, and I don’t have to beg doctors for medicine anymore. Whether that changes in the future, whether the bottom drops out and I live out my life in a group home or a cardboard box, I don’t know. Whether I’m dead in five years, I don’t know. But right now I’m alive and in a good place. 40 is not an age that I ever expected to reach, so I’m ahead of the game.

I hope that on the road ahead, I can do more than the road I’ve left behind. But the car is getting old and rusty. The shocks are going, the radio doesn’t work, and a dog peed in the back seat. And that road goes on forever, with or without me.

But I’ll have some cake. Cake will make it better.

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She Smoked Menthols…

She smoked menthols. Newports, I think, but they might have been Newport Lights, or 100s. It’s been almost four years, and these details have faded away.

She liked to wear black, but she had this tan, plaid skirt that she wore a lot. It looked good on her, but everything did. I loved how she did her makeup: dark eye shadow against pale foundation. It made those dark eyes stand out, but even on sleepy mornings, makeup free, long hair a mess, yawning and staggering out of bed in her Pac-Man pajamas that said “Eat Me,” her eyes always stood out. Maybe it was an illusion because I loved her so, but I don’t think it was. She was real, and her love held me together at a time when I was crumbling apart.

Tomorrow is Valerie’s birthday, and she will not be around for it. Val died in January of 2013. She is forever 35. She will not grow old like me. She will not grow old with me. She is permanently young in my memories, getting smaller in my rear view, details fading away.

But I know that she smoked menthols.

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Technical Difficulties

I might be out of commission for a while. My computer has a “known issue” and will have to go back to the manufacturer for recall. I’m not going to send it until I get an external hard drive to save my work on. I’ll try to blog when I can.

BTW: I really wanted to post about Powerball. There’s a lot of stuff going around about how people are stupid for playing and don’t understand math. I get math, I still played. It had nothing to do with winning, it had to do with dreams. For two days I got to dream about winning 1.4 billion dollars. Isn’t that worth two dollars?

Also, it was my birthday yesterday. I turned 39. I’m fucking 39.

I’m also in a depressive cycle. I know that I am, because I’m spending my time lying down, staring at the ceiling, and sighing like a heartbroken teen. I suck.

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Happy Birthday Valerie

Tomorrow would’ve been Val’s 38th birthday. It’s still her birthday, even though she’s not around to celebrate it anymore.

It’s been a while since I talked about her. It’s still hard.

Valerie was my girlfriend, serious enough that we both knew marriage was our future. She died suddenly on Jan 24th 2013, due to complications from medicine. I was the one that found her. I was planning to propose that night.

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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.