How not to win friends and grow emotionally

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Hi. Happy Easter.

Easter: a more impressive holiday than Christmas. Anybody can be born. Happened to me, and to you too, I assume. Not everybody can wake up again after being dead for three days. The only problem with Easter is that I don’t get presents like I do at Christmas.

Another national holiday that results in my getting presents is my birthday, coming up Tuesday. Stores are closed today for Easter, but you can still do your last-minute shopping tomorrow.

It’s a little strange: in practice I usually avoid talking about very personal things here. For the sake of privacy, I use a very light tough with topics concerning friends, family, and lovers. Oblique references are usually the most you’ll get out of me. But I’m making an exception to talk about Bobby and the explosion. (For those of you just tuning in, the full story is here. And for bonus reading material, take a close look at the first paragraph from the post that immediately preceeded the explosion. The dream I had was eerily prophetic, I think you’ll agree. Too bad it had to be stingy about the specific details. What good is a prophecy you can’t act on?)

I would like to offer my heartfelt gratitude to everyone for their support and prayers from these past few weeks. Thank you to the folks who pitched in at the library so that I could work from home, the friends and family who’ve listened to me, and the friend who wrote me a letter. And thank you, Jacqueline Carey, for writing some long historical fantasy novels for me to escape into.

One other thing I am grateful for: I am not pregnant. Whew.

Yesterday I had a very long talk with Bobby’s brother. It’s funny, Bobby had been adamant that I not meet his brother, warning that the two of us would not mix. Well geeze, Bobby, if you didn’t want me talking to your family, you maybe shouldn’t have tried to explode yourself in the building next door.

Ah well, nothing like a violent domestic tragedy to forge new alliances—though I advise against pursuing this deliberately. I’m pretty sure there are easier ways to make friends. Be that as it may, yesterday’s conversation was cathartic. It helped me to talk about everything with someone who knows Bobby. The conversation also brought me up to speed on the latest details, to wit:

  • Of the three innocent people who were phsycally injured, everyone is expected to recover, including the man who suffered the third-degree burns; he is in good condition.
  • Some people have been allowed to return to their homes. Others have not.
  • The gas company, the fire marshall, and various other officials had never seen anything quite so destructive. They are amazed that Bobby survived.
  • Bobby is in custody, currently being held on parole violation while the police build a case against him.
  • In Virginia there is a three-strikes law. This is Bobby’s third strike. The length of his imprisonment will see him released when he is in his seventies.

As for me and how I’m doing, well: the phrase “robust mental health” has never applied to me. I’ve lived with chronic depression for… er, for my entire life, near as I can figure. (Do babies come out of the womb with depression?) This latest incident has not exactly improved my spirits.

That said, I am back to functioning. Being able to stay at home this past week to nurse my wounds has helped. Chopping my hair off and dying it blue helped a little, too. I am in a pretty lousy mood, but I am not paralyzed.

Looking at the long-term picture is kind of scary. Having your recently-ex-boyfriend leave you a suicide note, botch his suicide, hurt innocents and destroy property, and land in jail for the rest of his life—not to mention the part about discovering that he is a pathological liar—is not something you exactly recover from. It is something you learn to adjust to, but it marks you forever.

I am speculating, of course. Despite my own formidable research skills I could not find any professional literature on “Ex-boyfriends, pathological—failed suicide attempt via explosion—fire, innocent victims, property damage, and lifelong imprisonment—recovery from, and prognosis for, friends and family.” Was there something wrong with my search terms, I wonder? Surely there is a body of research in this subject area.

But I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that this will shape me in a fundamental way. I am not a mental health professional, but I have gained rather a lot of amateur experience in the field, and anyway it’s just plain common sense telling me that this is the sort of thing that will impact me profoundly.

“Maybe it will make us all stronger,” Bobby’s brother said dubiously, grasping for something positive to say about the whole wretched experience. Guess there’s gonna be some really, really, really strong people emerging from this.

Right. You want emotional fortitude wrought  by trial and fire? I got it right here. If you can overlook the small matter of my tremendous emotional damage, scars, and baggage, I am fucking invincible.

Anyway, now that I’m busy being all emotionally strong and stuff, I have a four-part plan. I already did step one, “Drastically alter personal appearance.” Steps two through four are as follows:

  • Find out where Bobby is being held. Strike up a correspondence of letters.Though I am indescribably angry him, it will do me no good to vent that anger. Instead I will send him thoughts of love and empathy.  Maybe I’ll be able to give him hope that compassion can exist in the bleakest of situations.
  • Refrain from dating anyone else for a long, long time, possibly ever. There is a rather horrible trend among my romantic partners for relationships that end very, very badly. Bobby has set a new standard. I do not want to exceed that standard.
  • Land a new job someplace far, far away. This is a very attractive part of my strategy, because—believe me here—I am no longer keen, at all, on living in this fucking apartment. Traces of Bobby are everywhere. Unfortunately this part of the plan will be difficult to implement, because, and I apologize for the pervasive swearing, there are no fucking jobs out there. The other night I scoured the job listings nationwide, and excluded those that did not meet my three criteria: 1.) The job must be in a physical climate that suits me; 2.) The job must pay a living wage; 3.) I must be at least remotely qualified for it.

“Yes, I’m aware that I don’t meet the position’s minimum requirement of having three of more years of experience at the director level, in point of fact I have zero years of experience at the director level, but I’m hoping to distract you from that by turning your attention to this book I wrote, see? …Oh, you don’t have a copy? You should buy it. You should definitely buy it. At fifty-five dollars it is a steal.”

A final thought, to any library employers in snowy mountain regions who might be reading this: Giving me a job with a decent salary would be an awesome birthday gift. Don’t let the blue hair scare you. I am very nice, and also I wrote a book.

4 responses »

  1. Hey -Just wanted to say "hey." I’m glad you’re going to write to Bobby, and in a spirit of love and empathy and not of anger (though I can definitely understand the anger). I am relieved that the innocent folks blasted out of their apartment will recover, physically. I hope everyone involved in the fire will be able to recover emotionally, financially, physically. What a mess, but it could have been much worse. I like your hair — such a cool blue color. The cut suits your head.Surely there’s a job somewhere cold for you. Most people want to move warm — maybe someone in a cold place will switch jobs with you. I know there’s a library in Wasilla, AK. That’s cold. And far. Don’t know if they need anyone right now.

  2. Nothing is permanent.

  3. the lesbrarian

    Jeanette: In Alaska right now there is an opening for an undergrad shelver at an academic library. That seems to be the only job opening in the state. I like your logic, though, and I hope it proves true. I’m like the only person alive who WANTS to go move someplace stupid-cold. Surely there should be some job openings.

  4. the lesbrarian

    Ianaly– Things that *seem* permanent include 1.) Bobby’s tenure in jail and 2.) my current address.Things that do not seem permanent include 1.) my hair dye (blue doesn’t really come in permanent) and 2.) my rapid weight-loss following the explosion. The three or four pounds I lost in the immediate aftermath have already returned.


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