Category Archives: Real Life

A conversation: Or, being loved and being mad 2013

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I want to tell you what is wrong but words are so flat and two-dimensional and no matter how much I try to explain and describe what goes on in my head it never makes sense to anyone
I don’t even know how to shape it or say it or metaphor or anything
Trying to do so makes me want to laugh because my brain has no way of dealing with it, no reaction to what I feel, no recognisable emotion.
I keep going to people to get them to understand to help or to understand but it’s never there, I can describe all the other things all the symptoms and the side-affects but that one thing that really gets to me it never comes up and is never seen or described and I feel very, very broken.
I don’t like looking at the world and I like being close to you because you shut it all out, the dark shuts it out and I’d go lie down but then I’d not have anything to distract from the things in my head and they’d play over and over and over and over again and get louder and hotter and more pressing until I just want to claw my own brains out
I simultaneously want to exist and don’t because it just taints everything I see and do and feel
There’s a barrier between me and everyone else and I don’t know what it is, I can’t figure out what this thing is that makes me react differently, why I don’t understand or why they don’t understand or why it happens or why I feel like this and I don’t know what to do or who to tell or how
Everything that comes out of my mouth when I talk about these things feels like a lie so I’m typing it because typing it stays true, the moment I hear it it’s fucked.
I love you, you know.

 

I love you too, with all of me. No matter what you think or feel, I love you, Chanel.

 

How are they going to fix it if they don’t even know it’s going on?
If I can’t tell them what it is how will they know? I’m going to be locked inside like this forever unless someone has a;lijgsigjsjkg enough to know anyway and I don’t trust anyone enough to believe them.

 

Trust me. Over time, through typing, verbal or image. We’ll get through it together. And if needed, ill be your voice if or when the time comes.

 


I feel like if I speak or look at you or do anything then all this will suddenly be un-true.
I feel okay though, I needed to say all that and now I want to do something else but I’m kinda a little bit stuck.

 

How about we go lay in bed, you can look the other way and I’ll comfort and snuggle you.

 

Fidgety, nothing to do in bed. Wanna game instead?

 

Sure, what game

 

Masquerade.
Or portal
Or something like that

 

Suck some blood dolls ;0)

 

Okay. Can talk through Steam too.

 

Tea?

 

YES. YESYESYESYESYES
And thankyou for this. I am glad you understand.

 

Anything for you, anytime, my love.

A clunky unedited book review!

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Sacred Band, by Joseph D. Carriker jr.
 
Where to begin? I am emotionally compromised, that’s where.
 
My favourite thing about this novel is the characters. I’ve been thinking about how best to describe them, but then, describing people has never been my strong suit. I describe characters well enough, using the labels assigned to them: troubled, gentle, loving, queer, trans, motherly, a person of colour, powerful, traumatised.
I struggle with describing the powers at play in this book because they’re not characters. They’re people. They’re alive and delightfully complex, each one more than their assigned archetype, each one richly developed with backstories that are not laid bare and tossed in your face for easy consumption. They tell you as much as any person would, and in ways that people do: in action, in small talk, in expression and emotion. Their defining traits aren’t tossed and jumbled into a single paragraph early in the chapter. They’re complicated in the ways I am complicated, or you are, or the ways the people you love are. They’re messy. They grieve. They get scared. They can be irrational and clingy. They can project their insecurities onto others. They also love and feel in a very, very real way, and that is the core of what makes Sacred Band so brilliant. A superhero is a symbol, a representation of a concept, and it’s important that you understand the face beneath the mask before you can begin to grasp the hero. These people are heroes, and not because of the (overly tight) outfits.
 
My second favourite thing about this book is the sheer diversity of cast. Gender, sexuality, race, and background mix and merge to bring people from various walks of life- with respectful appreciation of the reality of their existence- into eachother’s company. Each has different strengths and different obstacles. Sometimes they chafe, sometimes they soothe. Difficult situations are dealt with in unexpected ways, and I’m not just talking about the fight scenes. A friend of mine uses the phrase ‘A balm to my soul’ and that’s exactly what this story has been for me. Familiar struggles (especially the queer kind) played out on these pages are mysteriously lacking in mass-produced media, and although that issue is slowly improving, the representation of queer culture in these pages is so much more satisfying to me than the token gay characters popping up in our standard superhero fare. Here queerness is written the way most of us experience it. It’s every day life. It has events that mark our history, and sometimes they can define our personal narrative, but for the most part it’s just part of who we are. For the characters in Sacred Band, it’s just part of who they are, but within that, they give voice and power to the inherent rage against inequality and oppression common in the queer community.
We’ve all heard about those who are not so lucky as to be born into a safe environment. Those who have been disowned, discarded, abused and tortured and even killed for who they are. The fact that the novel begins in Ukraine and mentions the unrest in Russia hits a nerve. The villains in Sacred Band are real. We’ve all felt their touch, one way or another. From those who fought hard in defence of DADT to those who beat frightened transfolk and post the videos to youtube, we know these villains. The pain and anger in Sacred Band is all too real.
This novel gifts us with the superheroes that Hollywood pretends could never be: the queer, the underfoot, the outcasts, doing what they always have. What we always have. Fighting for our own, for the lives of those like us.
 
When I first settled down to read, I had no idea how sorely I needed that.
So yeah, I’m emotionally compromised. Read the fucking book. It’s worth it.
 

Trigger Warning

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Hunched in the seat in the stains of all who came before to- sex crimes division, glass door, bullet proof, sharp black lettering on the wall behind, locked tight with a bell to ring that only rings if you press it for five, four, three, two, one–  look at the file, the tissue box, the bland bench, the white wall, the Duress Button, red and hemi-circle. Feeling oddly little, well, not oddly, you know this ritual, distance so that you don’t cry. The predictability of that feminine display of emotion is extra humiliation under his blue-eyed stare, blue-eyed like him, like- “You’re a girl, it’s what girls do” when you comment on how many messages you have to scroll through to find the evidence, thick, dripping, distant rage flares and dies and you don’t cry. You don’t say a word. You read the blue bubbles like clockwork for the fourth time, hand the phone over, already violated, privacy is nothing now that you gave them username and password and everything you ever said in the name of evidence, of proof, of please for fuck’s sake someone fucking believe me it was real it was real it was real it was-

He hands the phone back and you exit the screen, flip it closed, flip it open again, flip it closed, and open one more time before clenching it in your fists until they ache. Bite down hard on antipathy the way he bit your thighs before you knew when a chuckle precedes “I hope you’re not into any of that nasty stuff like the cutting, disgusting what we get in cybercrime,” conversational like his revulsion at your being isn’t something you can taste behind your teeth.

Recounting it takes the taste and slips it into narrative, this you know, this you do well. Absence again, watch his face carefully blank as he types what you say, intentionally getting details wrong for later, when he prints it, and you have to read and correct, like critical thought is something anyone can do. Her name doesn’t have an e. That’s the wrong date. Yes, he was naked. No, I slept on the couch. Yes, they knew I was there. No, I didn’t tell them.

He’s typed it all like it’s jealousy. They’re dating again. You try to correct him. They post photos, together on beaches, smiling like he didn’t do it and she didn’t know. He amends some sentences, but the story reads the same. He’s not sorry. You’re exhausted. You don’t try again.

“You have to understand” You have to understand, you do understand, you knew before you made the decision opened the door stepped through and spoke, “That most people on a jury will think like me, they’ll see this-”

Gesture at the file, the statement, flicking through earlier he let slip the photo of her, the closest one, who in one breath said It’s not your fault if he took the bait and in the next said well you brought it on yourself-

“- And they’ll think that you got what you were asking for, it’s what you were talking about after all.”

No it wasn’t no it wasn’t no it wasn’t what about this do you not fucking understand

Sharp smile, practiced, your voice is strained and you hate it. “Well I have to try anyway. Someone else might get hurt.”

He looks at you like you’re lying, and again you feel filthy, and somewhere far away the rage burns in a small glass bottle, growing dimmer.

You go home and have nightmares for the 14th night in a row.

Red Dust Lover

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I wrote this in response to this beautiful post by @inkskinned.
It started off as a comparison between ‘seasons’ for the rest of the world and the Australian seasons. It ended up becoming a sort of therapeutic self-love thing. My healthy self writing about my sick self. Shh.


When they say their lovers are like the seasons, it takes me a moment to remember that their seasons are not like mine. I’ve never thought of her as being like the seasons- but then, I have, I have, I’ve thought it to myself on quiet nights when I watch her sleep, her expressive face stilled, body sanguine, naked, uncovered. Sweat-slick at 3 am we do not touch, the overhead fan creaking with exertion. Our seasons are not divided into quarters. There is no clear winter in her, no autumn, no falling golden leaves.

My love, she’s red dust and blooming acacia. She’s a wide sandy grin on the coast at sunset, in September, when it’s warm enough to swim but not hot enough to coax the cicadas into song. Her laughter is the creaking of the gum trees, and her kisses, her whispers, are the susurrus rippling through their leaves. She is soft and precious, like the orchids we find on our evening walks.

By November there’s a cloying stickiness to her love. She grasps for my hands despite the humidity and overhead the clouds rumble. It’s hard enough to breathe and like the flies she clings to me and I slick her from my skin- I love her, yes, I love her, please, enough, enough already, enough!
The sky flashes and over the crashing waves I hear her thunder, a crack in the depths of her that shakes the windows of my soul. Unbeknownst to me, lightning far away strikes bright the first bushfire of the season.

As quickly as they came, the storms pass, seemingly overnight. Left in their wake is a dryness that yellows grass and leaves me rasping in her presence. Her eyes are hard. Her voice is something crueller than cold. At least cold is wet, at least ice will soothe the parched lips of the lonely and the lost. I seek her but I am blinded by the brilliant light of her; I reach for her and find only vapour. She is a mirage, far from me, beautiful and devastating. The crispness of her conversation pricks me. Her barbs hook and catch and carry with me through the days.
We fall to silence. It’s too hot, too dry, for me to speak.

She burns.
We are taught in summer to clear a boundary around all we hold dear. We strip the land of life, we soak it with water, we plan our escape. We burn in advance. We pray that this year we will be passed over for the inevitable destruction. I follow the guidelines as closely as I can, careful to maintain control as I lay my boundaries before her. The silence is stifling. Across my lonely distance I watch her tremble in the sunlight.
When finally she does erupt, the flames are devastating. She is summer in full swing: the fire in her obliterates all it touches, and spreads, and devours. She rages without cease. Charred scars remain wherever she sweeps, smoke billowing on the horizon, and when her gaze settles on me I am already choking long before I feel the searing pain.

When January comes, and it does quite suddenly, I find her smouldering in the remains of all we built together. Her face is streaked with ashes. She is dripping, almost extinguished, no longer considered a threat now that there is nothing left for her to burn. She looks about herself like a child. She doesn’t know why she razed so much. She doesn’t even know what sparked the onslaught. All she knows is that it began, and raged, and ended.

More fires spark, here and there, as the months cool, but none of them with anything of the devastation of her summer fury. We sift through the remains of last year’s world, listing the names of those lost, salvaging memories. We lift water to eachother’s lips as the cleansing rains sweep in again. The Doctor, that ocean breeze named for the relief it brings, cools our skin. I hold her as she trembles through the shock of cold nights. I braid white wildflowers in her hair with each new day.
Those who survived the bushfires return. They survey the damage just as we did and a few of them leave, finding little worth saving. Those who do remain, however, band together. They help us rebuild.
In March, when the heat finally breaks, she sobs an apology.
They chuckle gently and murmur, “This is part of loving you.”

You don’t live in Australia and expect safety. You take the suffocating heat and deadly summers with the balmy days and sweet blue beaches. I love her even though she is like the seasons because when April and May roll around, bursts of hardy green break the scorched earth. Seeds released in the flames- seeds that are only released in the flames- sprout and bring new life to the ragged landscape. Our autumn and winter are not seasons of death and stillness. They are rich with new life. They are the salve to the aching wounds of our summers. They are resilient beauty, thriving in the chaos.

And there is nothing more beautiful than my red dust lover after the burn.

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11 pm and mulling warm tea, contemplating my perversions – garden variety, darker and richer perhaps than some would be comfortable with but nothing overly problematic- and a hollow-eyed Dionysus comes to me, rising like a marble statue from a black fog. Around his head are living ivy wreathes, straining, dancing as though for the sun. His lips are curled in a grimace stolen from the countenance of Adam, his brow heavy bit still beautiful, his cheeks stone white but growing ruddier the longer I gaze upon him. It’s as though he’s the metaphorical to my thoroughly literal. I am sore from my dancing, and aggressively ignoring as usual my fears of abandonment- he did not come, not when I painted myself red with crushed berries, not when I swallowed the wine, not in the hours I flung myself rhythmically to madness–

But that was the problem, wasn’t it, it wasn’t madness. I could never leave the confines of my thoughts. Locked in my head I may as well have been dancing alone.

But here I feel him, swaying, aching as I ache but differently. The hangover in more ways than one, the greenish tinge to Caravaggio’s Bacchus, a hint of the slouch in Rodin’s bronze, the hands to big, the face too pained. Marble and flesh, this half-born, thrice-born god-man-child. His festivities, his beauty, his rage, but so rarely we see the shuddering breath that comes after. The fall beyond the crescendo. He’s there too. There’s madness in grief as much as there is in ecstasy. I wonder now if we confuse the Dionysian with the Apollonian in our manic golden age. No more the maenads alone: He rides the world. In every city his festival roars to life with the sleep of the sun, on every crackling screen his ithyphallic countenance groans and moans and rolls, rushing, languid, spent.

Alive – The Glut

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I like living, I really do. I’m hopeful. I hope the world learns from history and things are actually getting better and we just can’t see it yet.
I’m hopeful for a future where things are different and good and that humanity is evolving toward a better, kinder existence. I don’t actually believe so, but I hope so, and that’s close enough.

Today is a nice day, it’s sunny and clear and I’m talking to a beautiful woman across the other side of the world who tells me she loves me and has such a big heart and is excited about going to dinner with another beautiful woman

And there are colourful yarns and I’m listening to music, music that is so bountiful I could listen to a new song every three minutes and never ever have to repeat one

And I am healthy, and relatively young, and I have touched and been touched by some of the most brilliant minds ever to be totally unappreciated by the world, and there is art, centuries of art, cataloguing all that the human race has ever done

There is architecture and philosophy and poetry and cooking tv shows and Gordon fucking Ramsay and christmas carols which I hate except for when I don’t and people crying at airports and orgasms and news anchors who burst into tears on live television because they saw a picture of a dusty young boy pulled from the wreckage of his home and

metal rulers and movies about slavery that make me cry at 2 in the morning and memes and stupid articles about Apple headphone jacks and beach breezes and a Cute Pancake Girl who may stay or go but right now she kisses me

And family, blood and found and chosen, and pretzel sticks, and drinking water from rivers and bacteria and very pretty rocks and very plain rocks and wine bottles being recycled into glass walls for glass houses and cruel politicians and the goddamn KKK and whirling planets and songs about Voids and boys with body issues and girls who write porn

And dalmatians and pallas cats and wine and anthrax and
This world is a glut, my loves.

None of it matters, and all of it matters. Everything hurts and there is joy all around. We’re all going to die someday. The whole human race will die someday and all of this? Everything? This is all history that we’ll leave behind, and whether we’re alone in the universe or if there’s some kind of life out there, these abstract passing functions of our existence will outlast us.
Is there a word for being simultaneously hopeless and hopeful?

This is what we are. Neither good, nor bad, just… Alive.
For a brief moment. Alive.

Observation

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It’s  a little cold to be wearing this dress, but I don’t mind the chill. One leg is uncomfortably warm anyway, perched precariously close to the heater. I’m watching waves of goosebumps roll across the skin of my forearms. They tingle. I guess my body can’t figure out whether to cool down or warm up.

I’ve got half dreams and semi-stories lingering on the walls of my mind and I’m not sure what to do with them. I spend so much time sitting at this desk these days, and so little of that time is spent writing. It’s almost like the part of me that wanted to be an author buried itself somewhere in a dusty nook at the back of my mind, never to be seen again. I tell myself that it’s simply because I haven’t found my story yet. Something about being unable to tell a story I haven’t lived, but I know that’s nonsense. True for some, I suppose, but the stories used to pour from me. I hadn’t lived as much then. Why the silence now? Perhaps I’ve done too much living.

Perhaps my well has gone dry. Hopefully not quite as dry as Hemingway’s.

Most of the scenes playing themselves out behind my eyes aren’t new. They’re old tales, brief flickers of love and lust, fascination with other human beings. Sometimes they’re not even human, just beings, sentient creatures, human-like, human enough. Perhaps that’s where things went wrong. I lost that fascination. Now I’m just like everyone else: waiting for someone to come along, to sweep away the bitterness, to restore my faith in what humanity could be. To remind me what love could be.

I don’t think it will happen. I don’t think it ever does, to anyone.

Human enough.

Am I human enough?

Am I too human, perhaps?

Where has my imagination gone?

There’s silence in the other room. Intermittent. Interrupted by brief guitar. He’s good, I’ll give him that. He’s talented. Talented in a true sense of the word, an inborn trait, an innate ability to achieve in almost anything he puts his mind to. It’s an irony that he hates himself quite so much, not because he can’t see his brilliance, but because that’s what everyone else sees too. That’s all anyone sees.

I have that familiar creeping craving for physical contact, comfort of some kind, but I’m not sure if the asking is worth his indignation should he be disinclined. The answer will almost definitely be no and I feel that if he says no too often, I’ll somehow matter less and irritate him more.

Best not to, then, I think, and save the asking for another night when it’s not so much a want as a need.

I wonder if there was ever a time when curling up with me wasn’t tinged with obligation. I’m sure there must have been, I’ve had other lovers, lovers who actually loved me, but such is the nature of my brain that I can’t remember what has been and only what is. What is, right now, is a lot of time spent alone, and a little time spent with someone who would rather be alone.

Perhaps that’s why my desire to write has been so absent. I tend to write love and longing. Cravings for adventure, for the land, for the touch of someone new and sweet to the taste. I don’t feel that much myself anymore. I wonder if writing is a kind of pharmakon, a cure and a poison, depending on the dose. Am I unable to feel these things because I do not write them, or am I unable to write them because I do not feel them? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Outside the night is full and warm and buzzing with noise. It’s only a Tuesday night but the world is still so very much alive, and I still feel the pull to go wandering. It’s not safe alone, I know, but the current is still there, tugging at my heartstrings like fishing line. There’s so much inspiration to be found under the night sky. Is it fear or laziness that keeps me from it, I wonder? When did either gain enough power over me to determine my actions, to deter me from my adventures?

Spring crickets have begun their song, and I can still smell the fresh cut grass from earlier this morning. I don’t know what phase the moon is in, or if I can see the stars. They might be covered by clouds. I could get up right now and go look, just to know, but I don’t. My left leg itches with the heat of the heater. My right arm tingles with the cold. There’s silence in the other room. This is how it will be, until I go to bed.

I could change it. Will I, though?
I suppose that, there, is the question.

Re: Grief and That Painting

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(Painting by Matthew Jackson)

There’s this thing in my head that I can’t quite put into words, and I’m not entirely sure I want to.
I originally wrote this in my journal. It’s that kind of personal.

But I feel now that I have to say something, to explain why I can’t accept… I don’t know. I have to speak.

It’s buried too far in, somewhere cool and dark and private. I want to talk about it sometimes but I can’t. It’s too personal, too raw. Just writing about it feels like I’m glorifying or dramatising it and maybe that’s why I keep quiet about it. I don’t want to soil this truly, painfully raw thing with the dressing of the world. I don’t want it to be seen or heard or witnessed by anyone but those who understand and appreciate it.

There’s this painting dad created, of he and I at the candlelight vigil after Rachelle’s death. He shared it on facebook and I feel exposed- not so much in a malicious, malignant way, but like my tragic superhero backstory is just there for anyone to see.

Except they don’t.

Captured in that painting is the precious aching real thing in me and none of them can see it, can understand. I can’t call it beautiful. I see myself in it in clearer detail than I see myself in the mirror.

A sees it, A understands, but she’s like me. It’s this common thread between us, our traumatised childhoods and our terminally ill parents. L has it too. This thing, this quiet, bleeding thing, but because it’s ours we never speak of it. It’s not done. It’s barely even acknowledged.

It’s like it’s secret, but it’s not. Rather, it’s secreted away. Protected. It’s the core of our beings, an integral component to our makeup, and we carry it in our breasts the way Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne carry theirs: In plain sight, where nobody can see it.

And even with this post, it’s still perfectly, silently mine.

Emotional Landscapes

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Sometimes I feel as though I am blinded by emotion. As though each feeling is a shaft of light, and I have the brightest torch shining directly at my eyes. I find my way through a world I can’t see, as I am seeing too much of it all at once- I let my hands guide me, I knock my shins and stub my toes and stumble at the edge of the stage. I reach out and I grasp on to others as though their movements through a world I cannot see will keep me from the pain and confusion I am experiencing. It doesn’t, naturally. Most of the time I just end up hurting them as well. I’ll either hold on to them too tightly, or pull them down with me when I fall.
I can’t see. That is, I can’t feel the world through my emotions. I feel altogether too much all at once. I can’t even tell what direction the ‘light’ is coming from, only that I am dazzled and overwhelmed. I could close my eyes and block out the light entirely, but then, that would just be another kind of blindness. It would be more comfortable but also dark, a self-imposed impairment to my senses. I am afraid of the dark. I fear it would leave me cold and helpless. I have been experimenting with closing my eyes but they have been open for so long now that doing so hurts just as much. I am not very good at feeling nothing. It’s a little too much like being nothing, and when you can imagine what the world looks like without you in it… things start to get dangerous.
People like me are landmines for those who can moderate their emotions. I understand why we are to be avoided. When every feeling is like an unexpected camera flash it gets tiresome quickly. You have to be ready to be a stumbling block and a makeshift ladder, simultaneously the thing that trips us up and keeps us from falling. I understand, I truly do.
What I am learning now, however, is that it’s not the effort people are afraid of. It’s the exposure. If we can’t see, we find our way through our other senses. We feel everything or nothing. When I am with someone, I have to learn their thoughts and feelings by touch. I can’t keep my distance, because otherwise you might as well not even be there. You are wiped out, just like the rest of the world. To be emotionally involved with me, you have to be as emotionally exposed as I am. Think of an encounter with someone where instead of just looking at you, they have to touch you to identify you. There is no personal space. You can’t maintain a respectable and respectful distance. If they are to see you, they have to touch you, and that is the way it is with me and those like me. We cannot see you, only feel you. We are contagious raw nerves, live wires, wild hands searching in the bright light or the unfathomable dark.
Who in their right minds could stand to be as exposed as we are? As I am?
Who could handle that kind of intimacy and honesty, when it’s so obvious to those who watch us flailing about in our blindness that we are obviously completely out of control?
I wish I could describe the relief that comes with having a piece of the world take shape when I’ve been stumbling blindly for so long. I wish I could describe what it’s like to feel the world through another person, to run my metaphorical hands over their emotional landscapes. How much trust and wonder and joy and fear there is in touching other human beings. What it’s like to have friends and loved ones who dance close and then away again, so all you experience of them are flickers and flutters and temporary brushes against your extended fingertips. That when you’re not directly connected to them, you can’t tell where they are or if they’re even there at all.
Not to mention finding someone else as blinded as you are, and the emotional overload that comes with two people trying to experience eachother all at once. From nothing to everything, or everything to nothing? It’s madness.
Those of us who don’t break our necks navigating the emotional wilderness learn to live in a world so full of sensory information that we lose our senses. We learn to survive. We learn how to guess where someone is in our world without touching them, even though we crave to know them. I am trying to learn. I’m trying to find that strange thing people call self-respect that to me just seems like loneliness. Maybe one day I’ll stand on my own and not have to grasp the arms of those near to me to be sure of who they are.
I have to admit, I don’t want to. I want to touch the minds and hearts of everyone I meet. I want to learn who they are, to feel them, to feel with them.
I hope one day someone will be brave enough to let me.
In the mean time, I’m trying to be okay being alone.