Slouching Towards My Locker

One of the first books I read this year was a collection of essays called Slouching Towards Los Angeles. The essays are all reflections, observations, etc, on different works by Joan Didion (the title itself a spoof of Didion’s own Slouching Towards Bethlehem, further derived from a poem by WB Yeats called “The Second Coming”).

Like many female writers, I love Didion. Cliche-be-damned.

Specifically during pandemic year, I’ve enjoyed the way she writes about location. As the title suggests, she’s famous for capturing a certain essence of Los Angeles through a unique lens of grit/nostalgia/romance/surrealism that I can only relate to the way Lana del Rey sings about Los Angeles.

I’ve never been to California, and while I’d like to go one day, I feel like I’m in no rush, because I’m more than happy living in the Los Angeles that Didion and del Rey have created for me in my head.

It was in those first months of the pandemic that I first read Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and in it, saw myself quite clearly in an essay she wrote called “Goodbye to All That”—essentially, Didion’s goodbye letter to New York City.

Despite Didion and me being vastly different in our New York careers and social circles, she summed up what I’d been feeling about New York City so perfectly that I wished I could have it tattooed up and down my arms:

“…it is distinctly possible to stay too long at the Fair.”

And further…

“All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.”

Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That.” Slouching Towards Bethlehem

I felt the beginning of a peace with leaving that I had been desperate for for a while.

But then it occurred to me—rather, it was pointed out by the inner saboteur we all have and struggle to muzzle—that Joan left New York to live in LOS ANGELES where she became an icon OF LOS ANGELES, (and is, of course, a literary Icon in her own right).

I was in…Syracuse… The thought made me wince. Of course, my family was here, and my boyfriend…coming back here was an inevitability I had felt coming for a while.

And I thought…Syracuse…maybe not as exotic a location as Los Angeles. But still a place with history and proud community and burgeoning artistry. Maybe I could write about my life in Syracuse with the same vitality that Didion wrote about Los Angeles (no simple feat, I admit, since Didion is a master).

Only thing is, along with the history and community and burgeoning artistry…came, for me, a lot of ghosts.

Talk about the power a particular location can have on a person—I just stepped into any SUNY Upstate medical building and felt immediately possessed by a nasty, defensive, up-tight demon, ready to lash out at well-meaning nurses.

And so over the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit in this blog about my confrontations with the “locations” of my past—and reading Joan Didion helped me begin doing that. Walking through my old neighborhood, driving to houses where pivotal “growing up” moments took place…

…Hell, I even parked and sat in front of my late grandmother’s house at 2 o’clock in the morning, feeling what it felt like to be so near to another time. Willing myself to be 12 again, about to go inside for Sunday supper.

I may not yet be able to write about place with the power of Didion and her Los Angeles prowess, but I’ve certainly been able to feel that power.

It’s an intense power, because you feel so connected, you feel such strong, visceral feelings for these places on a spiritual level, but on the real plane of existence, it doesn’t matter a bit. Someone else is living, loving, grieving, eating, shitting, sleeping in that house now, and they don’t give a f*** about your “visceral feelings.”

Visceral feelings.

Yes, “visceral feelings,” are what I’ve always felt whenever I’m home in Syracuse and drive by my old high school. It’s on the main road, and nearly impossible to avoid.

In 2015–before I’d found Didion, I might point out—I underwent EMDR therapy for PTSD that was manifesting in disturbing nightly dreams in which I’d always be told I had to go back to high school because “you didn’t finish right.” “It doesn’t count.” “You were too sick to do it right.” “There’s a cancer in locker B1385.”

If you asked me to explain EMDR therapy, I don’t think I could. But for a while, it worked. No more nightmares.

Gone. Done. Finis!

But then, after a few years, they’d start creeping in again. Not every night, but often enough.

And then move me back to Syracuse? Where I’m driving by that school nearly every day?

Now they were happening every other night.

As I read Slouching Towards Los Angeles, I began thinking about all my little drive-by trips down memory lane, leading me all over Syracuse. It was her writing that had inspired them after all.

And it occurred to me that maybe there was a place I still had to face down.

I’d been inside the school a few times since graduating—visited a teacher, judged a talent show. But only in one particular section of the school, and for a very limited time.

After my cancer diagnosis, the adults really made it so that I never had to set foot in the school again if I didn’t want to.

And I didn’t want to. I’d attend a chorus rehearsal once in a while if I was feeling up to it. But the reality is, one day I was a regular student roaming the halls, and the next day I had cancer and basically never returned. I couldn’t even tell you (nor can anyone in my family) who emptied my school locker, my gym locker, my band locker…

So this week, with the approval of administration and the accompaniment of a school social worker plus Matt, I roamed the halls of my high school, 12 years later.

I went back to the place with the most ghosts. And the night before, I could feel them swirling around me. My friends and me—the ghosts of our former selves—traipsing to lunch, loitering in a practice room, crying in a bathroom, gathered on the bleachers…

…My ex boyfriend, strolling to my locker, smiling at me and my full head of long brown hair.

All of these memories of the “before.” They were the ones that caused the bad dreams and the sadness and the pity I have for my own former self.

I knew she might be there. That she was the one I was afraid of most of all. The one I could sense was trapped inside each time I drove by the school, and the one I wanted to hug and shield, and somehow protect…

It felt epic. As epic as Joan Didion’s Los Angeles, me walking into that school, to confront this demon that perhaps lived in locker B1385 and snuck out at night to badger me in my dreams.

And then truly inside the school…

It was a building. There were classrooms. There were hallways.

The hallways were somewhat familiar. I remembered my way. I remembered staircases and where they led. I remembered certain days, certain specific memories with a friend or a boy or a teacher.

In the auditorium I stood center-stage, where I’d taken my bow as Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie junior year. I exited the stage via the chorus risers in the pit, and the path of my trajectory felt familiar. Not sad. Just very familiar, like my brain could place it as a “former thing we did all the time.”

At my locker I stared for a minute—wanted to reach out and touch, but didn’t know if I was allowed during pandemic-times.

I wasn’t moved to tears as I expected I might be.

In fact, I couldn’t even sense a demon. The only sense I had was the sense that Alissa might run up any second to open the locker beside me. We’d been locker neighbors every year since middle school.

Remembering her helium-balloon energy made me smile.

In retrospect, I wish I had just asked for a moment or two longer, to just stand there at that locker. To momentarily align myself with whatever alternate universe was still locked on September 2008, after home room, retrieving my books. To fill that space one more time as ‘pre-everything’ Jesse.

But who knows? Maybe if I had, it would’ve become too much. Maybe there would’ve been a demon in there after all.

As we crawled into the car after the walk-through, Matt asked how I felt.

I took a deep breath, and looked over at the school again, at the doors we’d just crept out of…and then at a bench, erected in honor of a boy who’d been diagnosed with cancer a few years after I graduated. He had passed away in a matter of days.

”Honestly?” I asked.

Another breath, as I let the significance of what I was about to say wash over me…

“It’s just a school…”

Those visceral feelings…

Those “Joan Didion-visceral-location-memory-based feelings” didn’t feel so powerful anymore.

…because in the actual plane of existence, it didn’t matter a bit. Someone else was living, learning, grieving, eating and shitting in that school now, and they didn’t give a f*** about my “visceral feelings.”

I haven’t dreamed about the school in the nights since.

My Name is Jesse and I’m a Gold-Digger

I have a confession to make, and it’s probably going to gross you out. I can just imagine my mom reading this—the gagging sounds she’s going to be making.

But I need a place to work this out, and where better than a glorified diary that can be read by the entire internet?

I have a strange behavior that has developed over the last year—in the months since I moved back to Syracuse…

I’m just gonna say it…

I’ve become a “sleep-miner.”

As in “gold mine.”

As in “mining for gold.”

As in for some f**king reason I’ve started picking my nose in my sleep.

Like I’ll be mid-sleep, mid-dream…and then the dream will start becoming more and more lucid.

And then it’s just me, awake, staring at the ceiling with my finger in my nose.

It’s very strange and I feel dirty.

I googled “I pick my nose in my sleep” to find support.

The most relevant hit was from a website called (I’m not making this up, I will link below): F MY LIFE

http://www.fmylife.com

There is a place to “submit your FML” and also a place to “moderate the FMLs”.

I am not making this up.

See?

Do you see this?

It is entirely unhelpful. In fact, in case you’ve missed it, Emily in Canada picks her nose in her sleep, and her husband has taken a video to post to Facebook.

Instead of offering solutions to this subconscious/unconscious behavior, the site provides a place for you to vote “I agree, your life sucks” or to vote “You deserved it.”

The comments range from calls for her to break up with her boyfriend, to calls for her to kill her boyfriend, to calling her a “literal gold digger.”

There are not any helpful comments offering advice or insight on why one might pick their nose in their sleep and how to stop.

I’m sure this nocturnal behavior could be explored in therapy, but I’m not in a therapy mood right now. I’ve gone to therapy on and off since I was 10, and I like to think I know myself well enough to decide when I feel like it’s therapy-time, and I’m not there yet. I’m due probably next year-ish.

I mean, therapy is amazing, and I highly recommend it, even for people who have not had cancer or OCD or PTSD. In fact, if more generally HAPPY people went to therapy, they would probably be more likely to STAY happy people, and we could have an overall HIGHER functioning society.

Of course, not all people can afford therapy, which is another issue in and of itself…I mean look at the world we live in: non-white people are getting shot and killed left and right, white people are personally offended that you asked them to stay inside due to a deadly pandemic, and some just feel like they should storm and riot our government buildings because they’re feeling disappointment similar to the disappointment that many of us felt in 2016, but somehow managed to survive without invading the capitol and propping our stinky feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

WE ALL NEED THERAPY.

BUT THIS IS NOT ABOUT THAT.

THIS IS ABOUT ME, MYSELF, AND MY NOSE.

And my boogers.

Okay?

Anyway, nocturnal nose-picking seems like something I should be able to manage myself.

I regret even searching the internet for a solution.

The internet is entirely unhelpful and I wish it could be gone forever.

Of course, then I could not have this blog.

But somehow I think we’d all be okay without it.

I would probably be way more high-functioning and just pick my nose during the damn DAY like a normal person.

A Passage I Love

Finishing up “UNTAMED” by Glennon Doyle this week.

Wanted to share my favorite passage as we creep up on a full year of so much sadness and dying.

The scary part of dying isn’t the dying itself…it’s the question it brings, and I find myself plagued by that question a lot lately as we lose so many humans.

This passage brings me so much comfort that I might just have it printed and folded up in my jewelry box for safe keeping and frequent reminder.

Now it will be here, too:

Tish has always understood metaphors best. (That thing you feel but can’t see, baby is like that thing you can see.)

…I told her that maybe when we were born, we were poured from our source into these tiny body buckets. When we die, we’ll be emptied back out and return to that big source and to each other. Maybe dying is just returning—back out from these tiny containers to where we belong. Maybe then all the achy separation we feel down here will disappear, because we’ll be mixed together again. No difference between you and me. No more buckets, no more skin…all sea.

“But for now,” I told her, “you are a bucket of sea. That’s why you feel so big and so small.”

“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Love,

Jesse

A poem I like…

Pater noster 

Our Father who art in heaven
Stay there 
And we’ll stay here on earth 
Which is sometimes so pretty 
With its mysteries of New York 
And its mysteries of Paris 
At least as good as that of the Trinity 
With its little canal at Ourcq 
Its great wall of China 
Its river at Morlaix 
Its candy canes 
With its Pacific Ocean 
And its two basins in the Tuileries 
With its good children and bad people 
With all the wonders of the world 
Which are here 
Simply on the earth 
Offered to everyone 
Strewn about 
Wondering at the wonder of themselves 
And daring not avow it 
As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself 
With the world’s outrageous misfortunes 
Which are legion 
With legionaries 
With torturers 
With the masters of this world 
The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops 
With the seasons 
With the years 
With the pretty girls and with the old bastards 
With the straw of misery rotting in the steel of cannons.

—Jacques Prevert

wish I could say I’ve always known this poem and didn’t just learn it from HBO’s The Sopranos. But alas…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend ❤️

Trust You to Death

Matt likes to watch chiropractor videos on YouTube.

I get to be the test subject.

I often find my arms pretzeled around my head, insisting aloud that I’m very, very, VERY not sure of this thing he’s about to do, but he says I should really just trust him, and I can’t argue with that.

A good relationship needs trust.

Please trust that I’m really feeling like maybe you’re going to snap my neck” is often what I’m thinking, and it puts me in a real tough spot because I’m also trying to work on trusting MYSELF, and trusting my body.

“I just need you to keep your hand on your hip and push back against my hand, trust me.”

“I just need you to know that my body doesn’t twist like that. Trust me.”

“Just trust me.”

“I’m really, really, kind of completely terrified. Please trust me.”

“I trust you, but you should trust me.”

And so on, and so forth. In circles.

A simple hug likely ends with a warning: “TAKE A DEEP BREATH…”

And he squeezes so tightly that my back crackles like crushed rock candy.

Sometimes there is no warning, and the squeeze makes me pee a little and I wonder if it’s the incontinence before death.

I love Matt very much, and I know he would never hurt me or try anything that he didn’t think he could do.

Still, I often walk into the dark bedroom at night, ready to fall peacefully asleep to the sounds of “Forensic Files,” and can’t help but feel my heart drop when I see the little glow of light from the cell phone on Matt’s side of the bed.

As I creep closer, I can hear it:

“…when you do this, gravity is going to help take it and traction open the upper back into the middle back and shoulder blades region…”

There is a tingle up my spine.

I like my spine. I hope it will be okay.

We’ve had honest conversations about this before. I tell him that sometimes I am afraid for my life. But I know he is a smart person. After all, he has a degree in physics—not exactly an anatomy badge (or a chiropractic license), but he is, at least, a man of science.

So I tell him I am relying on him to please, please, please just never attempt anything that could even remotely go wrong.

“Of course! I love you. I would never, ever do something that could hurt you. Half the time, I just want to try it out so I can teach you to do it to ME!

….You know, Jesse, you really just need to trust me.”

I trust you.

To death.

My death.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Goldfish Weight

OMG Hi. I’m alive.

I survived the end of 2020 and the beginning of its twin, 2021.

I realize it’s been a minute since I last posted…I’ve been so bad.

Like, for real, it’s been two months, and I know, I know. You’re just now realizing what was missing from your year so far:

It’s not socializing with friends…

It’s not going to the theater…

It’s not a genuine feeling of safety and confidence that the world is gonna be okay and we aren’t going to continue being killed off one by one by disease, violence, and hate…

IT’S ME.

I was missing.

What was missing was me.

And if y0u’re wondering why I’m being so repetitive and blocky and short in my phrases, it is because I would literally rather stick a pen into my eye than write in this blog right now.

BTW guess what? I have over 100 gel pens.

I’ve been avoiding this first post back like the plague (too soon?) Cuz I feel bad that it’s been so long and I know that once I start again I have to keep in a good flow or else I’ll drop off again…

So here are my excuses for going MIA:

Before Christmas I was in kind of a sad, weird “Covid funk” where I ate lots of rainbow goldfish and contemplated the meaning of life all day until my boyfriend—I’m just gonna start calling him “Matt” because I feel like a thirteen year-old every time I say “my boyfriend”—came home from work and I cried because all I did all day was eat rainbow goldfish and feel sorry for myself and he has a job.

You can ask him. It’s true.

I’m currently working to shed the goldfish weight.

Then right after Christmas we got a puppy and he’s a dream, but he’s also very needy…because he is a puppy. If you follow me on social media, you’ve seen him. A lot. You probably unfollowed me to get away, and are only reading this new post because you forgot you’re on my mailing list, and now you’re gonna unsubscribe, and then I’m gonna get a notice that you unsubscribed and I’m gonna wonder if I was mean to you in high school or in Target last week, and it’s gonna be a whole thing.

Speaking of high school, I was thinking about my senior year the other day on “World Cancer Day”…where the whole world comes together to…celebrate? Cancer?

I dunno, I’m not really sure what you do on that day so I just posted a pic of me looking pathetic and sh** during treatment and was like “this is me I am strong.”

(And like, don’t worry, you don’t have to be like, “awww Jesse is making fun of herself because at heart she doesn’t truly believe she’s strong”. That’s not the case, though. I know I am strong—I’m a proud carrier of my “cancer card” and I will always lord it over your psoriasis and seasonal allergies).

What the actual f**k was I talking about, though…

Oh. High school. Yeah I was remembering how I heard that this kid, who shall remain nameless—BUT YES, I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND I KNOW THAT YOU DID THIS—

This kid sold fancy lollipops in the cafeteria to “raise money for Jesse.” But I dunno, it must’ve paid for prom or some sh** because I didn’t see any of that money.

However, I am very, very patient. And you—-you know who you are—whenever you would like to a) apologize for using me and get right with God or b) pay the f**k up, I’m back in the 315 watching Cobra Kai, and anxiously awaiting your call.

**(I’m also aware of a similar ruse in the Syracuse community theater scene, although with that one, I don’t have names or specifics)

Also, guess what? I am learning self-defense. Matt is a black belt and is teaching me, even though every 30 seconds I go “owww, my ankle” in a really annoying voice.

Cobra Kai!!!

Cobra. Kai.

2021 has given me a lot of things I didn’t need, but am happy to take.

For example, I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER. Thought. “I wonder what happened to every single character in the ‘Karate Kid’ movies.”

But I discovered the answer in 2021. (I know it is technically a 2018 series. I just found it this year, k?)

And I found Russell Stover sugar free peanut butter cups, too.

Didn’t need ‘em. Happy to have ‘em!

Oh. Oh. OH. And this song about dinosaurs in love that I just heard yesterday and almost cried?

YEAH I DIDN’T NEED THESE THINGS.

BUT I LIKE THEM. I’LL TAKE THEM.

Alright, I’m gonna wrap this up because it’s not really going anywhere. I gotta go watch Sopranos. (Tony just whacked Ralphie for setting his horse on fire, and now he’s trying to pin it on New York.)

So yeah, I’ve been avoiding this post because it is the “band aid post.” It’s the “I’m sorry, I’ve been bad about posting, so now that I’m posting again, I’m gonna be better about posting” post.

Band aid ripped.

I’m back.

And maybe…just maybe

My next post will have a clear, concise beginning, middle and end.

And a point.

HERE’S DEWEY:

Introduction {To My Insanity}

About a month or so ago I had “Hamilton” playing in the car. And while I drove with Lin Manuel rapping on and on about “legacy, legacy, legacy,” I started thinking about what that means for all the lay-people like myself who aren’t fighting a revolution or dueling in Weehawken. Or like, writing the American Constitution.

I was struck by the idea that I don’t really know what I have to leave behind, and I’m due to be 30 years old in March.

Now, I don’t mean to be morbid. I know it’s not typical to really have a legacy until later in your life–but when you’ve been as far out on the diving board of life as I have, you start thinking about that earlier (and, of course, 2020 hasn’t really made us feel like we’re gonna live forever).

I realized, yes, I’d have friends and family who would tell stories about how smart and charming and witty I was.

And I’d have this blog (until the website bill stopped getting paid–more on this later).

But what could I have to truly commemorate my being here on this sad little planet?

Many of you have told me you think I ought to write a book, and it’s always been my intention to do so at some point in my life. I’d always imagined “at some point in my life” being “at some point when the world has discovered my genius and Simon and Shuster are offering me a million dollars for my autobiography.”

And then I thought…

Books. Internet. Electronics.

E-books.

Oh, my god, I could write and self-publish an E-Book.

And so that is what I’m going to do to commemorate my 30th birthday! Not necessarily for you, the reader. More for me, so I can die knowing I left a true legacy of “whiny white girl” behind me.

I am writing an E-Book, and you can expect it sometime mid-spring, likely on Amazon.

I’ll keep you abreast of all the deets.

“Breast.”

Ha.

So anyway, I’ve been working on it, and I decided to share today the introduction to my Untitled E-Book! I am censoring the swear words for this website because this is a family friendly blog (kind of?).

But the book is going to be uncensored and probably a bit SAUCY.

Like, the first chapter so far is mostly me musing about how the first 5 years of my life I associate with getting yelled at by my mom for having my hands down my pants.

Jesse Rose, where are your hands, young lady!?

I’m sure Freud would have something very sexy to say about this, but in all honesty, it was just very warm down there, and I found it comforting.

But I digress.

After this little sneak peak to my E-Book project, I am going to have a button that makes me very uncomfortable.

But, alas, I started this website two years ago when I had a very well-paying job, and now it is “the worst of times” and it’s time to renew my website…which costs a pretty penny.

If you enjoy my writing and find yourself financially capable of kicking in a dollar to help me renew my website, I would be forever grateful, and would honor you with a “thank you” in my E-Book, entirely separate from the page about baby Jesse putting her hands in her pants.

If you are unemployed like me, or having trouble making ends meet, please do not donate.

If you can only afford to help one cause this holiday season, please DON’T make it this one.

End of begging. I promise to never ask again. My shenanigans will always be free.

Until my E-Book is done. That’ll cost ya.

BUT, ALAS, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO:

__*__

Introduction (Jesse’s Untitled E-Book Insanity)

I’ve dreaded my 30th birthday since the day I turned 25.  

It’s, like, the “thing” you do.  

You act like you’re so ashamed to turn 30 because I guess it’s officially when you start being considered “old” by “young people.”

“Ew, don’t invite Stacie…she’s, like…30.”

You know what I mean, right?  As if Stacie had a choice in the matter?

Stacie had ZERO choice.  Stacie is still the same person she’s always been, except she’s probably just BETTER and wiser and OVER your 22 year-old BS because she remembers when she was 22 and stupid. 

But I digress.

I don’t actually know who Stacie is, I made her up and I’m a little irritated with myself for spelling it “ie” and not just “y”.  Something about “a-c-i-e” bothers my eye.  

STOP, STOP, IT’S NOT ABOUT STACY OR STACIE.

It’s about how somewhere along the line, getting older stopped being cool, and we’ve just accepted it as, like, a “rite of passage.”  It’s when you start getting birthday cards that say, “WOW, ANOTHER BIRTHDAY!?” on the front.

It used to be cool to get older.  Like, remember when we WANTED to be the older kids, and go to the school dances, and touch butts under the bleachers and shit?

And like, we couldn’t wait to be old enough to walk around the mall by ourselves and buy copious amounts of thongs even though they’re about as comfortable as a bicycle seat to the vagina? (I have personal experience in this matter and it is not a pleasing sensation).

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, we get this sure sense that it’d be best to just not have anymore birthdays…

I certainly did.  As I said, from 25 on, I felt like a ticking time bomb.  Like I only had 4 more years to become “successful” and “perfect” and “beloved among my peers” before I’d turn back into a pumpkin.

Like, at age 30 I would immediately become fat and matronly and unf***able and dried up  (sorry, Ma).  

Basically, I can only describe it as this overwhelming feeling that I’d better be successful before I start the next decade of my life, because after that, I was no longer going to be beautiful and physically desirable , and therefore, I’d have trouble getting ahead in life.

Really, truly.  That is what I’ve boiled the feeling down to. It’s an old societal belief that runs so deep it’s encoded into our female DNA.

And, of course, there are a slew of other paranoias and psychological traumas that feed into it–and we’ll get to that.  

But what I’m starting to come around to–what I’m really only just starting to grasp…is that I think perhaps my entire twenties were an intricate obstacle course designed specifically to exorcise the demons of my childhood and teenage years.  

Because I started my twenties under the impression that my biggest demon was the cancer that ravaged my body for a year and a half in my late teens, and once I “got over” that, I’d be a fully formed person!  But you know what I keep hearing?

I keep hearing that illness manifests from something else.  Something psychological or intrinsic.  Something often unfelt and lying dormant.  

Like, that cancer demon?  He showed up because some smaller demons were already there, and they were like, “hey cancer, we’ve been haunting this b***h for years, and she still hasn’t caught on, so you should come check her out.  She’s got big tits and no spine–she’ll def let you take over for a bit.”

Yeah…I’m starting to think my biggest demon was propped up by a bunch of little crony demons doing Jets/Sharks dances all over my f***ing cerebellum.

But enough about demons.  Instead of falsely psychoanalyzing your own mind, grasping at straws in an attempt to put together the puzzle of your true “self,” it is widely accepted that therapy is the best course of action to work through the ash-heap of your past.

You should do this.  You should 100% go to therapy because it is amazing and even if you don’t feel less crazy when you’re done, you’ll at least feel like someone else held up the weight of your “crazy” for an hour or so.

I, however, have decided to write this book.  

This book is my new therapy.  This book is me exorcising the demons of my first thirty years, so that I may be reborn like a f***ing phoenix or some sh**, and be a sick-nasty thirty year-old BAMF (preferably one who never wrinkles and stays young-looking forever).

This book is me making it “cool” to be older and wiser again. 

It is me, giving you the weight of my crazy for 200 pages or so.  

Hope ya been liftin,’ betch.

__*__

I Am A Staple in the Nose Hole of America

Yesterday I had a staple in my nose because the night before while I was wiping my face my nose ring popped out and fell into the sink where the water was running…

…and I just kinda stared off into space for a minute or two instead of springing into action and trying to save it. I think I was just so exhausted from literally sitting on my a$$ watching the news all week that I was just like..oh well...if you love something, let it go. Goodbye, nose ring.

And then I said well, better get the stapler. Naturally. As one does.

It’s not the first time I’ve put a staple in my nose hole and it will not be the last.

And no, I didn’t have a back up nose ring.

And yes, my nose hole WOULD start closing up IMMEDIATELY over night if I did not put said staple in said nose hole. (I bruise easily, bruises that take WEEKS to heal, but take out my nose ring for one night and my body is like “REPAIR!!!! CLOSE UP THAT NOSE HOLE ASAP this b**ch too OLD for a nose ring.”)

But I’m not giving up on my nose hole yet, so I put a staple in it overnight as a placeholder. You just clean it and slip it in the hole and then, like, bend the sides around to make a kind of boxy loop and voila! Staple nose!

The next day I went to get a new nose ring and it occurred to me just how funny this world is. Like how funny is it that somewhere in DC or Virginia an exasperated immigrant woman is pleading with the President of the United States to concede an election AT THE VERY SAME MOMENT when, in a mall parking lot in Upstate New York, a 29 year old woman is trying to force a wire hoop through her nose hole while her boyfriend pleads “JUST STOP, THE STEM IS MISSHAPEN AND YOU’RE BLEEDING, IT’S LIKE TRYING TO FORCE A SQUARE INTO A CIRCLE” and she cries—literal crying—“NO I PAID TWENTY DOLLARS FOR THIS AND IT’S “NO-SPEND NOVEMBER!”

One woman’s problem is a little bit more important than the others’ on a more GLOBAL scale, but in our two separate moments, they are both equally real, palpable, and very painful experiences.

I don’t know. Just…how very strange life is. How peculiar. As OMC says,

How Bizarre, How Bizarre.

I promise I’m not high, although I wish I was. I don’t allow myself to get high anymore since the tootsie roll incident of 2019 when I convinced myself Chris Cuomo blamed me for global warming and the aliens were coming for me because I knew too much.

It was just a funny little thought that occurred to me in the midst of chaos and nose bleeding.

I’m sure you’re all wondering, DID YOU GET THE NEW NOSE RING IN YOUR NOSE HOLE?

And you can rest assured, I did. I put the earring from my ear hole in my nose hole until we got home. Then my boyfriend used tools or science or magic or something to fix the shape of the stem. We had to lube the stem up with Bath and Body Works lotion and I can’t say I DIDN’T have pliers unsettlingly close to my eyeballs, but we DID get it into my nose hole.

That’ll teach me to buy a nose ring at a place that sells Jo Jo with a Bow Bow face masks. (Lookin’ at YOU, Claire’s).

In my defense, I was unable to go to Spencers because they (SHOCKINGLY) had reported cases of Covid-19.

This is how I know I could never be an investigative reporter. I cannot simply report to you that Spencer’s Gifts had Covid. I had to pass judgement.

“Whether someone coughed on the dildos or sucked on the edible panties, we cannot be sure. We just know we are not surprised. Back to you Stacey.”

But I digress.

So that’s where I’m at. New prez. New nose ring. Same me.

I think as 2020 goes on, my metaphors get weaker and weaker, but, alas, I am quite like that little staple.

I am a staple in the nose hole of America: misshapen and practically useless, but I’ll make it through somehow.

Fin.

The last photo before we lost this little nose ring down the drain. It was an honor to wear you.

How’s It Gonna Be: Dealing With the Prospect of Another Cancer Diagnosis

I’m a young adult cancer survivor.  It’s a label I’m proud of, but obviously a club I never would have willingly joined.

Diagnosed with cancer three months before my eighteenth birthday, it’s safe to say I was not quite a grown-a$s woman yet. So there were a lot of things I said and did…a lot of ways I responded to my diagnosis that I’d like to think I’d handle differently now that I’m almost…(gulp, inhale, exhale)…thirty years old.

Back then I was hormonal, and angsty, and ALREADY mad at the world.  Add a cancer diagnosis on top of all that adolescent aggression and you’ve got a recipe for a big-ole, bald-headed s**tshow.

I recovered…nicely…from Ewing’s Sarcoma, I suppose.  Some kidney damage here, a little infertility there.  But I learned over the years what triggers me and how to maneuver myself through the bouts of depression and anxiety that occasionally pepper my survivorship.

I do not, however, do well with the prospect of having to face another cancer diagnosis.  Through my twenties, it seemed like it would take a pretty drastic twist of the ole “magic wand” for me to get cancer again once I was clear of the usual relapse timeline.  “Lightnin’ don’t strike the same tree twice” was my creed of choice and I felt so normal with each passing year that it became easier and easier to blot cancer fear out.  

So in the spring of 2019, when my mom tested positive for one of the breast cancer genes, I was…how you say…shooketh.

Thinking I still had at LEAST a few years until my first mammogram, imagine my delight when, at my next check-up, my oncologist said that in order to be smart with the information we have, it was probably time to start mammograms and breast ultrasounds.  

OOOF.  

I don’t need to tell you that I was scared and angry and resentful.  

I also don’t need to tell you that after the scared and angry and resentful phase, I eventually got my s**t together and scheduled the tests.  No matter how many times I shouted “it’s my body, and I don’t have to do everything they say,” I knew I’d never be able to live with the idea that I might get cancer somewhere along the line that could’ve been caught much earlier if I’d been more cautious.

My mammogram was quick and easy and, thankfully, unremarkable.

Yesterday, I had my ultrasound and was anticipating a similar level of ease and simplicity.  So when the ultrasound technician pointed at the screen and said, “see this?  This is what we call a fibroadenoma,”  I thought I was going to literally poop on the table.  

She explained that fibroadenomas were common in your twenties and thirties, and that they were benign.  

“This one here is just a bit darker than the rest, so let me see how he wants to proceed…”

She had eased my worry and then slapped me in the face again with it in the same breath.

I was left on the table while she consulted the radiologist, and for the first time in eleven years, I really, truly considered what it might look like to have cancer again.  

If they say you need a biopsy, are you going to fling yourself to the floor and perform a Shakespeare tragedy in this exam room? 

If this turns out to be cancerous…

How’s it gonna be?”

In those twelve brief minutes, there were many deep breaths.  There were closed eyes.  There were speedy heartbeats.

And there were three clear conclusions:

  1. Nothing about my everyday life would change until it had to.  

In my first bout with cancer, as soon as I was diagnosed as a sick person, I IDENTIFIED as a sick person.  I EMBODIED a sick person.  I immediately got into bed or burrowed into the couch.  And I wasted no time victimizing myself.  

I lived like I was dying in a bad way.

This time, there would be no “sick-person-syndrome” until the results of all biopsies and tests were back.  And after that, there’d be no slowing down until my body truly needed to slow down.  If I had energy, I’d be putting it to good use as often as possible.

  1.  Anyone outside of immediate family and s/o who texted or called my cell phone for “updates” would be blocked.

It sounds drastic, but for me, it would be crucial.  

I truly feel like mine AND my family’s boundaries were not respected during my battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma.  I think my parents were too kind to demand it, and I was not mature enough to ask for it in the proper way.  I think we all would’ve fared better mentally and emotionally if we’d been stricter about “dropping by the house” and “calling to check in.”  

This time around, I would designate either e-mail or Facebook messenger to well-wishers/update seekers, and I would be hella strict.  I’d get back to people as I felt able to, and unless my house was on fire and they were texting to let me know, anyone who could not respect those wishes would have their numbers BLOCKED.  

  1. There would be meditation. Every. Single. Day.

I’m not a perfect meditator.  I’m not even a truly faithful meditator.  I meditate when I’m really stressed and feel like I need silence and calm.  In fact, I probably spend more time reading about meditation than I do actually meditating and it’s something I really want to work on.  But from all that reading, I’ve learned that it can truly ONLY have positive effects on your body and mind.  

It can’t hurt you.  And I’ll take any free, non-toxic, non kidney-killing, fertility-destroying medicine that I can should I ever have to battle cancer again.  

The technician came back into the exam room and told me that they just wanted to keep an eye on the fibroadenomas, and to come back for another ultrasound in six months.  

That twelve minutes of planning wouldn’t need to be practiced.  The world came back into focus.  

Do I wish I had left the building with a completely uneventful ultrasound?  Of course.

But I did leave with what felt like a solid and effective outline for battling another cancer diagnosis.  

I think even if other cancer survivors don’t agree with my list, having a little “coping” plan tucked away for a rainy day can be extremely beneficial.  There aren’t a lot of perks to having had cancer.  But knowing how you want to cope with health crises in the future is one.

For a “scan”xiety worry wart like me, it might be even more valuable than a fibroadenoma-free titty. 

-*-

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can you point me toward the self-help books for people who read too many self-help books

AwWwWwwWWWw sh***********************t….

I didn’t post last week. You’ve all been flooding my inbox and text messages and sliding into my DMs like “omgggg Jesse where you been, girl, what have you been up to you’re so fascinating I need to know what series you finished on Netlix and if you solved world hunger and what you’re listening tooooooooooooo.”

And the answers are Bates Motel, No, and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman.”

Also nobody asked those things.

Nobody even noticed I was gone.

Not one of you.

And so I was like “f**k them they don’t even miss me.”

But then yesterday I got an email from a total stranger via my contact page saying “hey I found your website you’re really funny” and I was like:

So I decided to forgive you all.

I’m still chillin’ over here restyling and re-imagining myself every single day. Last week I thought it might be nice to look for work on a Christmas tree farm, but then I remembered “hard labor” and “cold” and “outside” and “people” and “axes”.

This week I might be a paralegal and next week could be anything from lunch lady to literally Kristin Wiig’s “Target Lady.”

But actually I’ve been thinking “hey, Jess, maybe the rest of fun-employment should be dedicated to establishing good habits and undoing bad ones so that when you DO go back to work you can be the bestest, most functional d**n lunch lady or Target lady or Christmas-tree-cutter-downer that ever lived.

And then I was like “ooooh, that’s good. Write it down in your diary.”

And then I was like “omg you don’t KEEP a diary.”

And then I was like “I’ll START with keeping a diary.”

So I started keeping a diary, and my next goal is to maximize the time I’m awake between 6:45am and 7:45am.

So my boyfriend wakes us up at 5:45am (for his “j0b”, EYEROLL) and then I fall back to sleep until 6:30am, when he insists on waking me up to “chat” for a few minutes before he leaves (for his “j0b”, EYEROLL). Even though sometimes I can be cruel and hurtful and say things like “I want to punch you in the face with pointy blood-diamonds on every finger.

I am very protective of my sleep.

So anyway, he leaves at like 6:45am, and I always decide that while I’m conscious, I might as well check my email JUST in case, overnight, like, someone found my website and wants to give me a book deal…or I’ve been discovered on YouTube and Casey Nicholaw thinks I’m the only actress who can relaunch Broadway…or like, @vintagespadefashion wants me to collab on Instagram to sell their repurposed fiberglass watches (?).

You never know.

And SOMETIMES…

SOMETIMES! I even GET OUT OF BED, GET A GLASS OF GREEN JUICE, SIT ON THE COUCH, AND PUT ON MORNING JOE.

However, from there…I just end up falling back to sleep. I need to find something to do–something enticing to groggy-wake-up-Jesse–that will keep me awake and keep up the momentum.

Momentum (n) the quantity of motion of a moving body, as measured as a product of its mass and velocity

WHOA. Sorry. Dating a physics teacher.

K, so, like, this morning instead of making a cup of coffee and free-writing, I cuddled up on the couch and checked in on the Ryan Phillippe/Ellen Degeneres feud, of which I am obviously Team Ryan because of the escalator in Cruel Intentions.

Then I decided I should follow him on Instagram.

Then I realized he doesn’t have Instagram.

Then I stalked a bunch of Ryan Phillippe fan accounts.

Then I watched the Cruel Intentions escalator scene on YouTube.

Then nssssglkjlrilsdfkglfdjsgo[rwehgowprh….

It was not a process conducive to starting a productive day. That 6:45am-7:45am hour is CRITICAL for me.

So that’s one habit I’m working on.

Or, rather, it’s a habit I’m wishing to change. I don’t know if I can necessarily say I’m “working” very hard on it.

I’m also trying to work on just staying in the present. Mindfulness. Appreciating the fall colors. Appreciating the people around me, the things I have, yadda yadda yadda…

And, see, the thing is, I know that having a stricter meditation schedule would really help with that.

But instead of meditating and focusing on my breath and all that jazz, I seem to prefer READING about mediation and focusing on the breath.

I have read so many books on meditation, mindfulness, and even on habit forming. But instead of finishing the books and then putting the subject matter into practice, I prefer to just read ANOTHER book about the same thing.

Which got me thinking….

MAYBE READING ABOUT MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS IS MY FORM OF MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS.

AND THEN I WENT LIKE

OR! OR! OR! I’m ADDICTED TO SELF-HELP BOOKS AND IT’S WHAT THE SELF-HELP BOOK PEOPLE WANT SO THAT I’LL BUY MORE BOOKS!!!!!!!!

AaaaaAAAAaAaaaAAhhhhhhhhhhhh

aslfkdjslf;hg;jhkjtlsr;mfkdlv;zkvsl;nfkmg;hnbskrt;hjs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

__________________________________________________________

And in conclusion:

I should prolly just focus on getting a job.

PS. I voted! And if Joe Biden gets elected, I might just write us all a self-help book for the end of the Trump Era titled“What the F**K Did I Just Watch”

Also, don’t forget you can SUBSCRIBE to my blog on my HOME PAGE! WHOAAAAA then you’ll never miss a SECOND of the EXCITEMENT!!!

PPS: