An autobiographical piece about health and the struggle for happiness.
|The Marvin Chronicles
Are these poems?
Or badly written stories?
Yeah, that was the introduction.
What is a Marvin?
You look a lot smarter asking questions than you do trying to answer them.
Guess where I learned that from?
My Marvin is of larger-than-average size.
It has taken quite a while for me to admit this.
And it’s all covered in a poorly phrased metaphor, of course.
My Marvin likes music.
So do I. We just don’t share preferences.
Marvin thrives on the slow songs. Something deep. Something smooth. It echoes within him. Something off of Ray LaMontagne’s Til the Sun Turns Black.
We listen to that a lot.
I like oldies. Pretty much anything will do, I’m not choosy. Obviously it changes depending on whether or not Marvin is around.
Marvin died a couple of days ago.
At first he went softly and I almost didn’t notice. It was like he disappeared for a while. But he never came back.
I miss him.
He left his friends.
I don’t like them at all. They don’t deserve nearly as much affection as I give them. They prey when I’m weak and don’t apologize or bring I’m-so-sorry gifts when they’re finished.
They completely trash the place and I’m left trying to pick up the pieces.
But they never get as rowdy now as they did with Marvin.
I’m afraid of what will happen when I finally realize Marvin is gone.
Right now I’m using the excuse that I’m going through the stages of grief to excuse my behavior.
I like scars.
I have one on the back of my neck from when they sucked a tick’s leg out from a lymph node. I was six.
It’s a far more impressive sounding story than it really was.
I like bruises more than scars, because they are more socially acceptable to show off.
They make me feel like other people; capable of being hurt in physical ways.
Although I’m not.
Marvin makes sure of that.
Marvin made sure of that.
I wonder what other people see in me.
I know what they see in me-hiding-Marvin.
But what about just me?
He’s dead and he might never come back.
Although he has tricked me before.
The doctors took out their eye lights and shone them in my pupils. The med student was fat and the attending wasn’t so light, himself.
I took down my pants before they asked. I pre-loosened the button in the waiting room. No sense in wasting time.
My grotesquely swollen belly flopped over my fat jean top like pudding sloshes over a mixing bowl. I never liked looking at it.
They pushed and prodded, watching my face for tell-tale signs of discomfort.
I knew where to cringe and where to smile.
I didn’t used to.
Then I zipped back up and looked expectantly at them.
You know you should tell your parents if you’re a lesbian.
I didn’t know what that had to do with my flopping belly, but I kept on listening politely.
The mind does wonders to the body.
I know that. I’m not a fucking idiot. Look at me, sprawled on the cold metal bed. What, you want blood and guts flushing out of me before you’re convinced?
I left their office.
They looked proud.
I started planning how to kill Marvin myself.
I sometimes tried proving Marvin existed.
It never worked.
Until about a week ago.
I mentioned him in passing to a doctor.
I was a zombie but the doctor woke me up.
And now Marvin is gone.
I killed him.
He won’t come back.
I didn’t mean to.
Perhaps if I had just a little more time to think it over.
Why do I call Marvin, Marvin?
It’s kind of a ridiculous name, but I sometimes revel in ridiculous things.
It’s a name whose opinion of it you can change depending on your mood.
You can say, wow Marvin is a stupid name when you’re especially pissed at him.
Or you can sit in awe at the brilliant creativity you had when giving him the name Marvin when you’re especially happy.
His flexibility was never his strong suit, so I gave him a flexible name to compensate.
Why am I so sad at Marvin leaving if I have tried to kill him before? If I practically dreamed about killing him and his friends for years on end?
We became more than acquaintances, but not quite friends.
It’s like the kid you see in the hallway everyday and sometimes he smiles at you if you’re feeling especially lonely. Like he can read you’re mind. And you think how nice that is.
Then when you’re feeling great.
I mean really great.
Like jumping up and down skipping down the hallway great.
He comes up behind you and pushes you to the ground. And there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Because you are so caught up in how great you feel you forget he’s coming.
Then one day you don’t see the kid at all.
You wonder where he went.
You find out later he died in a mysterious accident.
A surgeon came in laparoscopically and cut him out, discovered him and his friends playing around innocently.
Now all you’ve got to show for his existence is three teensy-tiny scars.
You wish they were huge.
You wish they weren’t there at all.
I’m sorry I shouldn’t have used the f-word earlier.
If Marvin were here he would have brought around his friends and made me feel guilty for expressing such anger.
What do you have to be so angry about? He would ask.
I never answer him.
I never answered him.
Marvin used to infuriate me with his lack of reliability.
One day he would stick around all day, nag me endlessly, sometimes causing me to stop in the middle of sentences. Or turn my face red while I was talking to some friends. If he did something really embarrassing, like keep me in the bathroom for over an hour during classes, I would go in to get poked again.
Hmm. They’d say.
Push the rim of their glasses to the top of their nose.
Got any medical problems I should know about?
What a stupid question. The file’s right there.
Sure. Just give me a sec.
How about medications?
How about them? I’d sure like some more. Especially that Vicodin.
I buttoned up my jeans.
Vicodin makes Marvin sleep like a baby.
At least, it used to.
When his friends were over and they’d really party down, only sleep would help.
But it’s hard to go to sleep when Marvin would get this attitude.
I mean really, the guy could be a jerk.
And he’d have me puking my guts out and crying and absolutely having a blast in the upstairs bathroom.
Here’s a great story:
I was just getting used to Marvin being around when he had his first temper-tantrum.
I was about 11 and I just made a church basketball team.
Can you imagine?
All arms and legs flailing about on the court, making baskets for the other team?
It was great fun.
I was happy.
We went to a college-level basketball game and all my friends were there, us in our blue uniforms sitting together, looking at the latest coloring book, I guess.
What do eleven-year-olds do?
Well, anyway we were busy when I first felt Marvin tap my shoulder.
I waved him off.
Well, he really didn’t like that.
So he snapped my intestines.
Excuse me, I said.
I went to the bathroom so we could settle this like two adults.
What? I asked.
You never pay attention to me.
You aren’t real. Doctors told me to ignore you. You’re a figment of my imagination.
HA! We’ll see about that.
He snapped my intestines again, and then tied them in a knot.
Let me go. I yelled.
He left me with a smile on the bathroom floor.
The floor tasted like shoes.
I couldn’t get up; Marvin’s trick was holding me down.
I barely made it to the seat before vomiting.
After a while he let loose the knot and shoved what was in there out rather forcefully.
The basketball game was over.
My mother asked me if I needed an ambulance for all the fuss I was making.
I dried off my face with the sleeve of my shirt and walked out the door.
I buttoned up my pants.
Marvin drove me insane.
But we were also lovers.
Because we didn’t have time for anyone but each other.
I fell in love with this girl who had a Marvin of her own. It was huge and crushing her head inside. I was very attracted to her, and, curiously enough, so was Marvin.
Her belly stuck out although she was toothpick-thin.
And her name was the same as mine.
It was like falling in love with myself.
Or my reflection.
I’ve trusted two people with my Marvin secret.
Both made me cry.
The first one hinted at Marvin’s existence then confronted me with the fact I wanted to kill him. He made me feel like a horrible person for wanting to do this.
You aren’t pregnant.
You aren’t being abused.
You have money and a family that loves and cares for you.
That’s what he said.
What could possibly be so bad?
I know now that’s a horrible question to ask someone, but I didn’t know it at the time.
I read up on every book or piece of literature he ever wrote. I revered him.
He would be the chosen one to solve my Marvin problem.
Marvin misbehaved at the most inconvenient of times.
I was trying to grow up, for God’s sake!
I’ve thrown up in my best friend’s tire swing and in her mom’s best cooking pot.
I’ve thrown up in all of her toilets. Every single one. And all of mine.
The second bathroom to the right is always the toilet of choice in public restrooms.
In my elementary school and junior high I christened every single girls toilet on every floor.
In my high school I kept to one. It felt familiar.
Once I peed and sand came out.
I called the doctor.
They looked up my file and I heard the nurse sigh softly.
Have you been taking your medication?
Could the urine just look darker than normal?
It’s possible. (But not likely.) I always doubted my perceptual abilities.
Marvin kept whispering in my ear.
Are you having your period?
Having you been drinking enough liquids?
Is there blood in the urine?
Too many questions, too few answers. It always makes you look smarter when you ask the questions rather than try to answer them.
The verdict: there was no sand.
I looked at the sand, floating to the top of the urine in the toilet.
So I flushed it down the toilet and waited for Marvin to strike again.
And pulled up my pants
I’m not claustrophobic or allergic to contrast.
So why hasn’t anyone stuck my abdomen in an MRI?
I could relate to you all the horrible medical exam stories or horrible questions I’ve been asked by nurses and doctors alike. I don’t think I could ever run out of them. But this is about me and Marvin. Not Me vs. Doctors. Or even Marvin vs. Doctors.
I was a journalist in high school.
All puffy-chested and proud, I was not.
I worked mostly on the computers.
The head computer lady. In charge of design, or production, I should say.
Basically it means make everything go smoothly.
Like a manager.
Not the owner. Those were the editor-in-chiefs.
Was I important?
But others thought I was.
Marvin and I were easy to talk to.
I’m a great listener, and Marvin’s a great motivator.
He gave me all sorts of opportunities.
Having a Marvin makes it possible to see the effects of other people’s Marvins.
The lines on their faces.
The soul-wrenching deepness of their eyes.
The way they pretend to do normal things in normal ways when they are nothing but normal, feeling nothing but normal.
I guess that’s the problem.
The worst thought to think is that you’re alone in the world.
Marvins are especially good at that thought.
Now that I am Marvin-less, I feel alone, which makes me think he could still exist somewhere out there, torturing me.
Mind-benders are wonderful playthings.
Some call them shrinks. Others psychologists.
Mind-benders is the best name, although it sounds rather childish, doesn’t it?
Some people say I write in a conversational tone.
That sounds rather nice.
Are you ready to venture into the deep, deep darkness of the unknown?
I had a doctor who sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Every time he said the words “strangulated bowel,” I pictured him in Terminator II.
A letter to my mother
I’m sorry for so much.
I’m sorry I’ve dragged you around a thousand times to doctor upon doctor upon doctor and taken you back home again without any answers.
I’ll always remember us on the elevators and you asking if I could just rest for awhile.
But I can’t rest.
The ER visits, the urgent care waiting room disasters.
The endless poking and prodding. I know I’m selfish. It’s all for me.
I wish I could stop, too.
It’s not my fault.
I’m not some psychosomatic avalanche waiting to fall.
It really does hurt inside.
I can’t communicate effectively.
That must be it, or else everyone would understand.
I’m caught. Locked-in syndrome. Only able to blink an eye. Once for yes, twice for no.
It grows deeper.
When they said it was my fault, that it wasn’t real, and you believed them, I didn’t blame you. I wanted to believe them, too. I’m sorry I tried to escape. I thought it might make things better for all of us. I realize now that was wrong, but I can’t stop the urges. I don’t think I can take one more person saying that stupid word- psychosomatic.
I promise I really peed blood. I wasn’t lying, although they made you think that.
They tortured me, and you were always there, and sometimes I hated you.
I should have realized.
Colonoscopies are the pits. I’ve had four. Let me tell you.
No, rather, let’s avoid that subject.
How about snakes?
And by snakes, of course, I mean catheters and cameras.
Neurogenic bladders and exploratory laparoscopies.
Urodynamics and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Now I’m just showing off.
I’ll have nine holes in my stomach next week.
Sorry if that turns you off.
I think of my lover someday, us both undressing in that hurried, loving manner, and them being totally put off by the snake holes in my belly. Actually, scratch that, put off by my belly.
My belly button is boxed in by these snake holes. I think of my silent form laying on the cold metal table like I was in the morgue, and snakes hissing up my nakedness, biting and diving inside. Disgusting, isn’t it?
Now I’ve got a scar that’s thick and ugly.
It runs diagonally up from out of my nether regions, like an orc dragged its fingernail across my flesh to open up my insides and feast.
It’s numb and swollen, fleshy and purpled.
It’s this year’s love.
Do I see myself as specially complicated?
It’s the kind of thought that makes me want to puke, to retch like all the sorority girls are doing as I write this.
Retch and heave out the poisonous thoughts creeping ‘round my head. The windows are open and I can hear the whoosh of the city buses late on their Saturday night rounds going past. Every so often the emergency helicopter lifts off the pad and makes a chopping sound in the air.
The ambulance sirens don’t wake me up nearly as much anymore.
Did you know when they first start up they make little chugging noises?
It reminds me of the little engine that could, getting all warmed up inside.
It’s all a part of living next to the hospital. Now I call my damp little cramped room on the fifth floor “home”. It’s odd, but I like it because it’s just me here.
Me and the outsiders.
They come in around midnight, playing “chase” down the hallway or giggling madly about the latest party.
Around my pill time they calm down, usually make a trip or two to the bathroom to remove their attire from the day. I like them in the way that their presence is familiar. If I were to actually know one of them I think I would combust. All they talk about is strip clubs and booze and who did who last night. They call each other bitches and whine about wet blanket roommates. It’s good for me, I’ve decided.
Keeps me grounded.
Marvin’s favorite song was Hurt by Johnny Cash.
A lot of emo kids like that song.
How comforting. How ironic.
I want to turn the metaphor on itself in a very witty manner.
Like Juno from Juno. She always seemed to be very smart.
She was also an impregnated teenager.
Maybe not so smart.
Don’t rush through this.
You’re supposed to pause on the empty lines, take a breath.
Stop going too fast.
Perhaps it’s my writing method that lends itself to skimming.
Go back and read from the beginning again.
It will help.
“This book is written in a non-linear manner.”
I found that on Wikipedia about the book Invisible Monsters.
I’m not sure I could tell anything in a linear manner.
Life doesn’t happen in a linear fashion.
That was a great line.
I promised one of my friends I would mention something especially poignant I said once in my book.
So here goes…
I was driving, or maybe she was.
I’m not sure where we were going.
Maybe to the movies.
And I looked up at the sky.
Especially blended that day.
And I said,
It looks like they let El Greco paint the sky today.
Wasn’t that wonderful?
Now there’s a 4.52 inch scar on my abdomen. I measured it with a tape measure.
It’s grotesquely swollen and numb to the touch.
It’s purple-yellow and brown all around.
They give me pills to dilute the thoughts.
Thoughts of wanting to pull out the stitches or cut the hole wider.
Dilaudid. Fentanyl. Morphine. Oxycodone.
Damn. Showing off again.
Marvin went out with a bang.
I was right; he was hiding after the first secret mission to divulge his whereabouts.
Like the Taliban leaders in their hidey-holes, Marvin hid in me.
But one day he decided he’d go out in flames.
And at five o’clock, like so many other times before, we made love.
Yes, Marvin and I made love.
We threw up together in the dorm toilets.
It was Marvin’s first introduction to the dorm.
He liked it, but too late.
He bulged out from my lower abdomen like a fudgesicle had impaled me.
He yelled out and screamed from our making love. I screamed, too.
Then it wasn’t love anymore- I hated him and his powerful being.
I decided to get poked again.
I loosened my pants button in the waiting room.
A surgeon came in and looked at Marvin’s proof. It was the first time he had shown.
Off with his head, the surgeon decried.
And Marvin cried, too.
Now I have a 4.52 inch scar on my abdomen.
And I am souless.
Stephen’s Lake Park
What happened when I was trying to kill Marvin?
Did I know it would take my life, too?
What thoughts ran through my head
As I contemplated the unthinkable?
I looked over the railing at the icy water. Chunks floating in it.
You know they say your life flashes in front of you when you’re about to die?
I just thought of all the homework I still had to do.
I didn’t yet realize the implications.
I would never turn in that homework
I would get less than an A.
I would never get a report card at all.
There is a certainty that fills me, that knows
Marvin will always remain inside of me
So that the only way to be rid of him
Is to throw away the container, too.
Like the rotten mass of food you just can’t stand to open so you throw the whole thing out.
I climbed to the top of the pavilion of Stephens Lake
Standing on top I yelled “I am woman!”
No, I did not, but I had you going there.
Then I climbed off.
It was that simple.
It’s not that I lacked the desire anymore,
I lacked the strength.
It was too far to jump.
Besides, my rational mind told me, you probably wouldn’t freeze, anyway.
Or some poor soul would try and rescue you and end up dying.
And you’d have two Marvins to contend with.
So I went back to school the next day, worked on the school paper like nothing had happened.
And you know what the disappointing thing was?
Not a single soul.
Because I am the chief hider,
A solitary bag of tricks
Molded by the viewer,
Shaped by their desire.
Don’t blame yourself, that you never noticed.
You had your own life, your own mistakes to make.
I still trust you, just not with my life.
Your powers of perception aren’t lost, they simply weren’t good enough to see me.
When I am alone I am often very uncomfortable.
Who wouldn’t be, with these sorts of thoughts?
You think I don’t know what normal is?
I was normal once.
As a younger person I was like everyone else, going to school and genuinely having a good time playing with life.
Then I got sick and things changed.
Time marches on, as a poetic person would say.
My savior wore a white coat and spectacles.
He had large hands, particularly uncomfortable for rectal exams.
That’s right, my savior did rectal exams.
He promised me I’d be alright.
He was so confident. He’s written a thousand papers.
And he predicted me failing.
He just didn’t know I’d stay failed.
I left him like I left God.
Full of drama, a big to do.
“I hate you!”
But you can’t hate someone and not believe in them.
So here we are, God.
Me, your stubborn creation, glaring skyward.
But you’ve already written all the words that will come out of my mouth, isn’t that right?
My question is why?
Why all endless suffering?
And still we praise you for the good things in our life?
Is it supposed to make me stronger?
For what purpose?
If you were so great, wouldn’t you answer these questions?
See what happens when Marvin’s not around to control me?
I start questioning higher powers.
Not a good idea.
So angry, he’d say.
And for what?
And for what.
For the times I’ve passed out in my own feces.
Yes, I’m smart and witty and funny.
But at the end of the day I’ve still fallen and can’t get up.
How dignified is that?
Why do I take Haldol?
Such a powerful antipsychotic?
Who would think an 18-year-old white girl from Missouri would suffer from paranoid delusions?
Lies…I don’t suffer from anything.
I am strong and unbeatable.
Sometimes things get me down, but I rationalize.
My warped mind allows me to relate to others,
But am I supposed to be thankful for that?
Uh oh, here comes the anger again.
When I was in eighth grade I stopped talking for almost a whole month.
I thought secret cameras would know my thoughts if I started talking.
I never raised my hand in class.
I didn’t talk even to my friends.
But they didn’t desert me. One cried, though.
I guess they knew something was going on.
Selective mutism, they call it. It’s a psychological phenomenon.
Usually caused by anxiety.
I guess thinking your mind will be invaded by alien cameras can cause you to be anxious.
Jesus, I suffered.
I look back at my school pictures between seventh and tenth grade and think how incredibly small I felt.
How forgotten in this world.
I speak with such sorrow, some say.
Look into my eyes and see it.
They aren’t the eyes of an 18-year-old.
Just go with the flow.
I know it’s depressing, but my book is depressing.
I’ll try to lighten it up a little, how’s that?
Just remember to pause and breathe in the spaces. I do.
I have a dog.
His name is Rudy.
I love him very much.
His moods echo mine.
His tails wags so vigorously it moves his whole hind end to and fro.
He’s so funny.
You can see my tears in his fur.
Do I play with your emotions?
Do I sneak up behind you when you think you aren’t being watched and tap you on the shoulder?
Did that part about the dog make you want to cry?
I want to read your mind, just like I am afraid other people can read mine.
I want to know your innermost thoughts about me.
I am insatiably curious.
Is this going too fast for you?
I worry about you so.
Maybe this is just too depressing, something like this shouldn’t be written.
You will wilt under the glaring sun of my thoughts, feelings, actions,
Crumble underneath the burning psychosomatic pyre that is me.
How can this be? You ask yourself.
I thought I knew her?
She seemed fine to me.
How could I have been so wrong?
I hid, dummy. I’m really good at that.
One of my first few psychologists suggested I was too smart for my own good.
Smart people sometimes think too much.
So what? I should go out and focus on lowering my IQ for a bit?
How high is your IQ?
None of your beeswax, nosy.
Oh, right, you get paid to be nosy. I pay you to be nosy. It’s 149. Impressed?
You know, I see lots of smart girls who just get too stressed.
Oh really? Do tell me more…
Do you want to take a walk outside? You seem uncomfortable.
I would rather burn eternally in hell flames than go outside with you. We are staying in this room where no one can see us doing this awkward dance. Clear?
How are you doing, medically?
Oh, for the love of God. Really?
You don’t talk very much. Do you have friends outside of school? What are your favorite pastimes? How is your family coping with you being here?
Why are you asking five million questions? Why can’t people just leave me the hell alone? I hate this.
One day I decided maybe I would open up to this almost-stranger, just for kicks.
I decided to tell her about the night I didn’t come inside.
It’s a sad story.
But you’re used to that by now, aren’t you?
I was around eleven.
I came home after spending the majority of the day bowing to the porcelain god.
I sat next to a tree not much taller than me in our front yard.
I dropped my backpack on the slightly snow-sprinkled ground.
It was December 22.
My parents came home and waved at me.
My mother asked if I was coming in.
Not yet, I replied.
I started crying when the sky fell dark.
I sat on the sidewalk next to the tree and splayed myself out in a snow angel shape.
The sky was clear. I could see the stars.
I scraped my fingertips on the concrete until they bled under my fingernails.
I thought about how I wanted to die.
Or how I at least wanted to see a doctor.
Not long after that I wrote in a diary for the first time.
It was about my most fervent wish.
I wished for a magic pill.
About 4 cm by 4 cm. White. Round.
It would make me be able to use the restroom like a normal person without any pain.
It would make my family be alright again.
Go with your gut, people say.
My gut is an evil bastard.
Go with the flow.
I have no flow. My bladder is a sealed balloon.
I read my journal entry several years later about the magic pill.
I cried tears that have never been cried before.
While other girls wanted ponies or boyfriends, or whatever normal kids want,
I wanted to be healed.
My magic pill would never exist.
There are no funds for unexplained causes.
No attractive 5k runs for the idiopathic.
My last memory unadulterated by ubiquitous pain is during fifth grade
I was the witch in our choir’s production of Hansel and Gretel.
I was green and had a prosthetic nose.
Everyone thought I was wonderful.
All my friends were in it, too.
And they were wonderful.
I was student council president.
That’s what I keep telling myself.
Picture me walking in front, leading the class during fifth grade graduation.
Just picture it, Rachel, shh. It’ll be ok.
Eight years later when I think I will die from the pain if I throw up one more time.
God, I could use some more Prozac.
I never dated anyone in high school.
I tell myself I never wanted to.
But that’s not true.
I am a hopeless romantic.
Someday someone will come and sweep me off my feet.
It’s just that person is a girl.
I’m a lesbian.
Please, if my life has a soundtrack, start I’m In Love With a Girl by Big Star now.
When I came out to my grandmother we were raking leaves out in the front yard.
It was around Halloween.
I had come out to my parents already, and most of my friends.
My grandmother is one of my best friends.
And that was going to change.
She doesn’t hug me the same way, anymore.
There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance.
I have a secret.
It’s not hard to explain, but at the same time, it is.
It’s like there’s always someone pointing at me,
Saying, “she did it!”
And maybe I did.
I’m so naughty sometimes.
And you wouldn’t know it to look at me.
All of the following could be used to describe me;
Submissive, timid, shy, unsure, wary, quiet, witty
But at the same time I am evil.
One of those people whose sins will never be washed away, I’m sure of it.
More sure than ever.
You can try to rationalize it to me,
Say, but you are so nice,
Or, God is so forgiving,
But not this time. Trust me.
So I try my hardest to do right in this world knowing I have done something horrible.
Thought horrible thoughts.
And more than once.
I give blood although it hurts me in more ways than one.
I’m not afraid of pain like that.
Don’t be so, so shallow!
Of course the prick of a needle doesn’t hurt when you’ve been pricked a thousand times.
But the blood seeping out makes me feel like my soul is being sucked out of my veins.
And I deserve it.
I go in as many times as possible.
I’m saving a life, I’m saving a life.
Are you pausing between the spaces?
Good. It makes things a lot easier in the long run.
Just try and relax.
I have read a lot of books about people’s experiences being gay.
But I don’t think I’ve ever had any.
I’ve never been teased or hurt or loved, for that matter.
I’ve never had a girlfriend or a boyfriend.
Does love make you feel funny?
See, the entirety of Rumi is completely lost on me.
If I ever get on to Jeopardy! pray there isn’t a category called Love.
I would probably make it a true Daily Double, Alex.
So what is my big secret?
I’ve jerked around long enough.
The thought of telling someone this makes my heart rate skyrocket.
And I’m afraid it might seem innocent.
In eighth grade I fell in love with a teacher. An old, female teacher.
Ok, see, I already started off on the wrong foot.
I thought I had fallen in love.
It was really just a paranoid obsession.
Doesn’t it seem strange that there is such a thin line between loving and stalking?
But thinking that it was love, every day I would feel guilt.
Every day for two years.
I joined activities so I could watch this object of my insanity.
Make sure she wasn’t trying to kill me.
Why would someone try to kill me? Because they knew I loved this person.
And that was so wrong.
Part of me enjoyed loving this teacher.
And that part of me I wanted to strangle, to kill, and to deal death blows until life’s last whispers escaped its haunted mouth.
But maybe that part of me was the real thing.
I had to die.
I planned it in the wee hours of the morning.
Does it fascinate you how much time I spent planning my own death?
Nearly 75% of my eighth and ninth grade years I suspect was dedicated to this cause.
Yet here I am, writing to you.
I must not be very smart.
Ha, you can laugh. That was a joke. Don’t take me so seriously.
So what did I do?
I planned every single step around where this person was and when they did the certain things they did.
I followed every footfall.
I enrolled in their classes, their after-school activities.
And for that I needed to suffer.
I thought everyone was out to get me.
One day I would turn after walking out the front doors of the junior high and a gang of men in white suits would grab a hold of me and do terrible, unimaginable, un-writable things to me.
And I would deserve it.
Because I obsessed day and night over a perfectly happy person.
I exposed them to my toxic self and stole something from them.
Is this love?
Although I know now the nights I spent worrying
that God would strike his revenge upon my wicked thoughts were caused by paranoid delusions, part of me still thinks some day the clouds will part and a lightening bolt will scar my bare head.
Like I said, death does not scare me in that I am afraid of physical suffering.
The time for fear of that has long passed.
It is the thought of more emotional scars, of more tedious medical trials in a never-ending maze, which keeps me in line.
One night I climbed naked into the upstairs bathtub and got a razor.
I held it against my pale skin and watched the blue veins throb with blood.
But I didn’t cut. Committing suicide was a sin, and I believed in God then.
I was fourteen years old.
Perhaps I haven’t communicated effectively enough the anguish I felt at following this woman, at doing something so emphatically wrong.
I knew it was wrong.
But I did it anyways.
I don’t blame you if you can’t forgive me. I can’t forgive myself.
The song Father and Son by Cat Stevens causes me mental pain.
I will physically squirm if I hear it.
I associate it with premature ejaculation of feelings.
Sorry, not a purely sexual reference.
Should there be more sex in this book?
You would like that.
Marvin liked it every time I had to pull down my pants for an exam.
It was like he was showing his strength.
Below my breasts start the spidery stretch marks.
It looks like I’ve been pregnant.
As I’ve already mentioned, I have scars boxing in my belly button from exploratory surgeries.
Come down lower and the spider-scars mesh together.
Speaking of mesh, in my left groin hides a piece of mesh about 1 by 2 inches.
And there are two more random scars from cameras poking about inside.
Then the king of all scars resides right between the right and left groin areas.
Did you know you have to pull down your pants for abdominal x-rays.
Well, you do.
Wear nice underwear.
One day my breasts started leaking milk in Spanish class.
Perdón, I whispered to no one in particular.
I pretended I had spilt something on me in two very odd places.
I stuffed Kleenex in my shirt in the girls’ bathroom.
I knew I wasn’t pregnant.
I couldn’t be. I’d never had anything close to sex.
But what the hell was this?
Some days I just get so tired.
I’ll sleep for maybe 12 hours.
Sleep is where pain can’t touch me.
I hide and it won’t watch.
I’ll whisper my deepest sorrows into my pillow.
My pillow is a great secret-keeper.
I whispered curse words in there when I was little.
And I still do, now.
Only the thrill is gone and the pain is there.
There are three bright spots in my life right now.
And by that I mean at this very moment that I’m writing these words.
Sure, they’ll come and go, so why not just say
Stop, and take a picture.
These are the good times,
Let them roll.
I have three very good friends: let us name them Friend 1, 2, and 3.
Why? Because they may be hunted down and killed for their association with me.
I’m not kidding, although when I write those words it seems like a little kid’s joke.
I haven’t taken Haldol in a while, and my most important thought is to protect my friends at all costs.
Not taking Haldol makes my breasts stop leaking and my limbs stop twitching,
But it also makes the world a scarier place.
And my writing more interesting.
Am I selfish for wanting to be a great writer, a great artist?
I know others are hurt besides me when I don’t take my medication.
But, ahem, this was about Friend 1, 2, and 3.
Friend one is 65 years old and I met her at work.
I came out to her third out of everyone, after my art teacher and my younger brother.
She is the sweetest person I know.
I don’t think she has ever done a horrible thing in her life.
Her two husbands left her.
At the best times, I imagine them getting their ultimate judgment from God for hurting someone like that.
Whenever I am lonely I sit next to her.
I have a strange habit of hugging her, which she feels awkward about.
She used to be a high school teacher.
Uh oh, you’re thinking. Are you in love/deluded with her?
No, thank God. No wait, I’m an agnostic. Thank nobody.
No is the answer.
She’s not that funny and overcompensates for her inferiority complex by trying to be too funny and too nice.
We make a perfect pair, she and I.
We are always cracking jokes that no one besides us understand in the office.
One time she let me come inside her house.
She lives alone.
No, she lives with a dog. His name is Poncho.
I think she and I could be soul mates, if she weren’t so uptight about our age difference.
I’m romanticizing our relationship, aren’t I?
Friend 2 is a recent friend.
She likes the number 2.
I have never seen her Marvin, but I think it changes inside.
Ever the changeling, Marvin.
We talk on the internet about soul topics.
Soul topics are things very few people understand. Only people with large Marvins.
We are both writers of the past, present, and future.
We read each other’s work, breathe each other’s breath.
I feel like she’s ahead of me, like I walk in her footsteps.
She’s taking me on a trip.
I think I’ve been waiting for this trip for a long time.
Friend 3 has been around the longest.
I feel bad naming her friend 3, because that means she’s last on the list.
Like I haven’t thought about her.
Friend 3 moved away at the worst of times.
Friend 1 has had to bear the brunt of my disasters.
Friend 2 understands more than Friend 1 or 3, but she isn’t here right now.
Sometimes I think I’m going to start crying and never be able to stop.
The room will gradually fill with salty tears and everything will be ruined.
My iPod will sink to the bottom and my socks will float to the top.
And I don’t know how to swim.
Friend 3 has been absorbed by the wilderness.
I have to compete with rocks for attention!
It’s OK. Friend 3 has moved on. Good. I tell myself, it’s for the best.
She’s happy, I’m happy.
Lies. I’m jealous.
She gets to go to far away places, doing far away things with far away people.
I sit in hospital beds getting the pillows sweaty from sleep.
She climbs mountains and likes boys and eats bagels.
I pee blood in cups and give stool samples and get catheterized.
Friend 1 and Friend 3 have both visited me in the hospital.
That’s so nice. I like hospital visitors.
Come, witness my suffering. Watch as I try to make you feel comfortable when there are random tubes sticking out of me.
I watch your faces for hidden signs.
Friend 1 and Friend 3 don’t want to escape when they come in my room.
They’re such good friends.
Mindless Fucking Rage.
Anger and Lies.
They each deserve their own capital letter.
There once was a doctor named Dr. Kabir.
He was an asshole.
He asked whether it hurt when he pushed , or when he released pressure from my belly.
He touched me.
I said both.
He said impossible.
I chose one.
You know, he said.
I can tell how intelligent people are by the way they walk down the hallway.
When people are stressed it upsets their gastrointestinal system.
My God! A genious!
I spit up in the emesis bin.
We think the problem is with your medications. We’re taking you off all of them.
First, let’s go with the psych meds.
Do you know how long I worked to get on those things?
They can’t be the problem, the problem just started. I’ve been on those for months.
I know what you’re going to say, but just trust me.
You’re an obnoxious prat who’s head looks like his rear and who touched me. No.
We’re calling in a psych consult.
This time I actually spoke up.
Things don’t go so well when you take me off of Haldol.
I shivered as I thought of the withdrawl I would go through.
Then he uttered something I will never forget.
We can arrange for a sitter to watch you.
I do not need a blasted babysitter! I wanted to yell.
You are a moron! Would have been refreshing, as well.
Instead I cried.
In front of my grandfather, who couldn’t hear anything but had been studying my face for quite some time.
I hate Dr. Kabir.
In Spanish class we read stories about death.
There was one about a plantain farmer who accidentally chopped himself with his machete and as he lay there bleeding to death, he thought about clouds an d unicorns.
My Spanish teacher also had an especially large Marvin.
And she worked very hard to hide it.
Sometimes even harder than I did.
I could see the Marvin in her eyes, I don’t know how to explain for certain.
I thought she was following me, that her eyes could bore holes into my skull and rip out the thoughts.
She couldn’t just read my mind, oh no.
She could devour it.
It continuously defined my being, avoiding her.
Every time she looked at me in class I trembled and thought about those irises.
I continued taking her classes because at least then I knew where she was.
Then one day it was too much.
We read another story about death.
I thought, why don’t I just go tell her my innermost thoughts, and then see what happens?
I’ll get it over with, I thought. She hungers for my soft, mushy brain tissue like a dementor hungers for Harry Potter’s soul.
I’m such a nerd. Heh.
So I did.
One evening I spilled my guts to her.
And as I gazed up expectantly,
Her face showed kindness.
From that day on I always thought she was mad at me.
Maybe not suck-my-soul out mad,
Maybe just slightly perturbed.
I wanted to return the favor.
Talking to her about Marvin had actually made me feel better.
But I worried it had toxified her.
That I had sucked out her soul, instead.
And so now I had another Marvin