Take Another Look











{April 22, 2010}   which flash? which time?

“Muzak-haters, on the other hand, are terrorized by the stuff, because it turns everything uniqe about every era into the same homogenized mush, and moreover does so with ease, thus reinforcing their suspicions that there’s essentially nothing unique about their era or themselves; that their cherished individuality is nothing but a merchandised illusion begrudgingly maintained for them by marketers; that when you get right down to it, it’s all the same crapola…

Look around you. How many people can ever experience a great passion, a great love, a great cause? A product can stand in for those experiences. A surface can stand in for the depths most people will never know. That’s what it all comes down to: surfaces.” -alex shakar, the savage girl

This is where I must start if I am ever going to try and talk about how it was that E. Downing took my heart and snapped it like a birds neck. Surfaces. How one maintains the manipulation…how from the one experiencing the passion, the fall is long, beautiful, making cliff-diving seem like safety. But to the other person, the one being loved for more than they could ever understand, you become nothing more than a toy, if only because the depths of beauty threaten the security of existence. His kids never thought of me as a shiny toy, as he told me.

He did.



{March 24, 2010}   more honesty

Mike tells me I’m going to break his heart because I expected the best of people and that it was true love and that nobody else did that. He says I don’t have any defenses against other people.  I’m not a hard person to break. Maybe a long time ago, when I felt I was treated carefully and preciously I would have kept things to myself, or respected Downey’s wishes not to write about him. But he can’t respect a single wish of mine. Not that he would ask what I wish for, or care. Now I am treated like tobacco that needed to be spit out of somebody’s mouth already. I can’t find words for the rush of pain. It is much worse than what happened with B, and I didn’t think it could get worse. I don’t understand this. I try not to understand, and I try to understand, and nothing dampens. I tell Mike that Downey told me he didn’t want to be the guy that hurt me, that he wanted to me my friend, that it was really important. I said Downey respected me, so he said, so it was. Mike sighed and told me that everybody lies like that. I told him it wasn’t true, that it couldn’t be true. I emphasized this and emphasized this. I told him that we slept together afterwords yet Downey told me it was my fault we had sex. I keep thinking that I am more patient because of what i went through with B, but perhaps I am less patient. I was willing to wait for three months of silence and ambiguity from B. But there is no way to wait for that with all of the “fluid” lies piled on by Downey. I thought I knew him. I think I do know him. I think that is what he hates the most. Is it possible some people don’t want other people to know how incredible they could be? Maybe they need to lock it away in a closet so that they can not feel bad when they don’t try to do anything good. That sounds extreme, never trying to do any good. But all I know is I followed what he said. I tried, and I tried. And he failed me more times I thought was possible. And I forgave. And forgiving seemed to be a bad thing. I don’t want to be a doormat. But when I got angry, he responded as if I had become the devil. I believed him when he said he wanted to be friends, how desperately important it was, how deep his respect for me was. I believed him….. I always believed him even when he didn’t come through. I even know I could go up there and show up and he would pretend… you can never know what is happening, but I told christina that I felt like a stalker. She laughed in my face and said how could you be a stalker? He told you that he wanted to stay close with you. He is acting the same way he did in the relationship, which is ignoring all calls. I told B in a text, “thanks for being my friend. I hate how I love. I hate how I love. ” I slept with B because the vortex inside me grew and grew. it was tender and right, but could I handle it?  I love B, he is a perfect friend to me in his own way, which is so different from what I thought a friend was, that our evolution has taken on some kind of supernatural mystery. But B has his own life, and there is no pushing for more. That is part of the built in friendship. I do know that I have stopped fearing that B will kick me out of his life because I will send him an overwhelming email. I might still have a slight fear that I’ve crossed the line, but every single time, he reminds me that it is okay, it is alright, it is “all good.” The problem? I still wanted Downey, who treats me like dogshit. I told him so long ago love meant sacrifice and I meant it, and I would have and did sacrifice so much for our relationship. Am I really such a masochist? I just keep believing that he can be who he was the first three months. I saw something, and everybody says I need to let it go. But friends believe in each other… I think this is getting overboard. I am trying to move on to the next phase of my life. But not receiving a word from him even when I am talking about his birthday present is such a slap in the phase i forget how to breath. Downey said I did nothing wrong. Why can’t we be together again? I don’t know why it is so hard for me to understand, or why I want somebody back that everybody says is so selfish. and I know he acts selfishly. So very selfishly. But I still miss something and I hate myself for that. For caring at all about somebody who dares to treat me like this. Without respect, without dignity, with total and utter silence as if I do not exist. So I keep apologizing to him for my existence. I don’t know what else to do. It is horrible. And he is doing exactly what he said he didn’t want to do. He is causing me more pain than anybody has ever caused me in my life. More than my mom. More than my sister. More than B did in 2003. Much, much more. But can pain be measured? I don’t know. All I know is that the pain only stops for short recesses. Perhaps I am exaggerating. James said I was stronger than him and Martin put together, and james is really strong. But Mike had a point. When mike got off the phone, we sat in silence for thirty seconds and the electricity pulled me. I cried out to Mike that I didn’t believe I would ever be made love to again in the same way. I didn’t use sappy words like “make love” because that isn’t me. I just said I didn’t think I could be physical with anybody again ever because I just didn’t see how it could happen anymore, no more, I couldn’t be touched because it wouldn’t be. It wouldn’t be who I had loved. I had been with many people and I had never felt that way- as if somebody was made to fit inside my body- and so it could never happen again, the rules of physics denied it. But something about the silence gave me hope. There was chemistry in the silence, and for a little while, the thought of Mike drowned out the pain. Even though I would welcome a life of solitude. I don’t care if I never have sex again. I never cared much for sex- (with exceptions like B and Mike.) I know I am biased but I wonder if the only person I really, really cared, more than cared, wanted, needed, and loved sex was with Downey, and he wants me to be dead. Or worse… he wishes I never existed. I feel like the only person who knows the real him… and accepts that he is a total hypocrite to the world. It’s okay.. and it’s not okay. I had something else to add, what was it? I haven’t been doing so well these last eight months, so I think that might be part of it. A lack of structure isn’t good for me. And I told him a million times that being ignored hurts me unreasonably so. I told Mike that me and Downey seemed to leave things at a point where we might get back together someday. Mike doesn’t say things like “Nicole you are breaking my heart.” He told me he was getting more cynical every single day. (Um…He also mentioned meditating.) But he said it the other day. I think somebody understood. It is compensation. Somebody understood. One person. But that is all that mattes. One person understood something. Oh, darling Mike, thankyou for understanding, even if it was for a second.



{March 13, 2010}   Boing

I get so sore when I see that losers messy finger splotches on things, as if I can see the places in the bowl where they took the cake mix from a spoon and had a nice lick and then stuck the spoon back in. They get sloppy, just not with me, it’s okay for everybody else to be sloppy, but not for me, or those who they feel like judging. I thought they were completely gay when I met them with their pretentious hand-mannerisms trying to control everything around me, keep me close enough, far away, I’m dizzy enough now. And maybe they are still in the closet because they keep throwing themselves at their younger idiot friend, trying to be younger, trying to be stupider, and I get yelled at because I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. Just another mid mid crisis amidst crises or maybe just pants that they decided they put too much weight on to keep around, or maybe they just threw them in the trash just because they felt like it. I was just pants that got thrown out. So many weaknesses, things they can’t own up to that I find it disgusting, shatteringly so. It’s the hypocrisy that got me so worked up I needed to metaphorically put my head in an oven to start a new life. I need to walk away from the scene of the crime now but I feel like I’m going to pass out any minute here, and nobody in this ugly toothless house will pick me up, and nobody watching will give me a ride out of this place no matter how long my finger is planted, hello, I need a ride.



{January 27, 2010}   the sanctimonious prick (x-rated)

cant remember what it ever felt like to have the sanctimonious prick’s cock in me. oh, he is one of the very few who needs to pretend he must resist me if he is going to want me. anything worth wanting you have to play a bargain game with, well, this kind of game can be emotionally tiresome, especially after a long day when i just need somebody to wrap their arms around me and say, you are okay the way you are, but no, he told me i was supposed to love myself more, why? because i had a history of people like him. or maybe he said it because he knew that after him i would be so wounded that i would need all the love i could take, that i would become so sick i would need to suck off the love from homeless men. i want to say he knew what he was doing when he resisted me and that it was always intentional because oh, if he had to worry about weakening for one second he might lose his power, the only thing he cares about in the world, besides, he likes to think of a world where people think about what they must not do with each other. oh, my long term boyfriend or husband or fiance or ex, i must think about what we shouldn’t do. i would think now that we have broken up you are so angry at me for leaving that you want to believe that it was your resistance that made me leave, that i didn’t know about it. i knew about it and i tried to build on it but you were too simple to learn. to stuck in old habits. if your ex was a nun in bed, what were you? besides, i banished any feeling of what sex was like with you out of my minds-eye first, they were the easiest to forget because the feeling is too familiar to me, that sickening need to gush their seed into any slit at all, but he acted like he was different, and don’t go on thinking i don’t feel unworthy every moment of the day for believing in a prick like him who cant even pick up the phone, who doesn’t have the courage or character to even say hello to me, for in his head i stopped existing the day he pretended to acknowledge my existence, and if only i had known that then, i could have walked on and over him, not by him but over him, because people like that, they don’t go away if you walk by them, after all, how many other young pretty girls did he send friend requests to, and if i believe he was ever sincere in anything he did, if i let myself believe that he was different, which i do, then i won’t get better. for they tell me to move on and forget but i keep screaming, no, it’s not over, and i’m not going to let it be over, all i have to do is reach him, but they remind me that his heart is dead and i’m pumping on and on for days on a corpse, saying no, no, i won’t let his heart be dead. maybe it was dead the whole time and i thought a person was making love, but now it feels like we are simply paying for a clash between our different previous lovers. i’ll move to his grave and look for some sign that he left something for me, i will get machines and tear open the ground looking for a tiny piece of paper with a number, a name, a sign, even a picture. but his daughter cared for me more than he ever did. she left me a picture to remember her by, but this guy didnt even want to get me a holiday gift, a birthday gift, or an anniversary gift. i must accept i was nothing but a dog for him to kick. a dog for him to kick and kick and kick and kick and kick until my gut spilled out and then that part got boring for him, but for some strange reason sadists like to watch their dicks get long and hard, they like to see somebody else as powerless and just a receptacle for their waste and toxins, and the people who want to get rid of their emotional toxins by kicking me are a lot worse than men who just plant their cock in my mouth. so girls want to give them a taste of their own medicine by saying they can play it loose and fast too, they can kick their head back and treat it like a game, going about the search for instant gratification by any means necessary, but it just comes down to remorse and despair, i dont even have the energy to muster up anger at him, i never did, i only wanted to hurt myself for what he did. after he caused so much pain you wonder, what is wrong with you, can’t you fight back? it was never about fighting, i want to say, it was never about a fair fight, either, nor a crooked one, it’s the fact that i was out of my league the first day, and still i loved, i loved so hard and so good, and i took every kick like it was a kiss because i thought maybe it’s the only way he can show anything, just like i seem to notice criticism more than i notice praise, but why now, why this silence, why this cruel, everlasting taunt, it’s in the air, invisible hardening everywhere, and just like the employee he fired i want to plaster papers everywhere saying, this man is not real, this man is not real, he is lying to all of you right now, but im still hoping that he will show up at the last minute and say it was just a test, im sorry you are so exhausted, but the truth is he was never very nice to me anyway, so why cant i find somebody nicer? plenty of guys let me call them any time of the night, even if it is to hear me go on and on about my problems, so why am i wasting time wondering about somebody who never was very nice? because we fit together, that’s why. we fit together, but we are both so fucked up we couldnt even make perfection work. he had to go and ruin it his way and my way, well, i told him from the beginning it was a long shot, i told him all my weaknesses in our first conversation whereas he told me nothing, shouldnt that have told me something? well, i thought his privacy was interesting, and i like puzzles, but this one is ruining my life, taking over my time, i have t0 look over my shoulder all the time now because i think i am still standing on the grave he sent me to, but he didnt even send me there, he sent me to no mans land, a place where children are kidnapped, because he doesnt want me to get my ending, it is the only power he has right now, trying to hold my ending over me, and i cant stop that, he does have a role in the end of our goodbye or in the continuation of us, but he is too lazy to think about it, he doesn’t want to decide, he wants to decide not to decide and one day he can just crawl over and die, and then it will be decided for him. if he never says goodbye or hello, then the fate decides for him. i hate him for this philosophy, i see how it ruins everything he touches and i cry out, and i do things to hurt myself in front of him to show him how it affects people, but it is too late, he hardly cares about a few scrapes and falls and he is too hardened to soften when he sees a boo boo or a drawing or a little girl by her swing set crying. he is hard. he is so hard, maybe he is made of metal, so why do i care? why do i waste my time with a titanium robot? maybe it is easier than facing my own demons? i dont know. I dont know. I just don’t know.im so tired of thinking “how will he react if oh no he sees that i wrote something unflattering about him when he said i wasnt supposed to write down anything about him?” but he broke so many promises you’de think he of all people would understand somebody else breaking a promise but no. and this one is for my sanity. dear sanity, i do not feel sane. please help me. i feel like i need him to feel sane again because my heart is on life support, im willing to give it to somebody else who needs it. put it on a ventilator or something i cant handle it inside me anymore, please, oh please, oh, i will do anything if you give me that. but it doesnt matter how many times i say please, does it. and what is it i want back anyway?



{January 14, 2010}   The knife is in

The knife is in; does he have to twist it, too?

Magda and I are getting nowhere as usual. All my friends think Downey is something I should take out to the dumpster. I try to stress the complexities, and while I talk, I look for answers.

“You. Hampster. Wheel,” Magda says tauntingly.

“Please stop,” I order, with a bit of desperation in my tone. She reminds me of something interesting after I read her something I wrote seven years ago. In between our talk, I was searching online for a letter that a boy named Joe wrote me when I was sixteen. Magda had heard a lot about Joe, my first love, but it wasn’t about that. I wanted to see if she agreed with me on his ability to use words like a prodigy, not an 18 year old boy.

I wanted to show her how beautiful his lines were; how they had shaken my world of poetry upside down. His prodigious sense of grammar as well as how finessed his artistic aesthetic was, but all I found when I googled “Joe” in my email files were random emails mentioning the name Joe. Apparently Joe’s emails, along with all important writing done before the age of 19 had indeed gotten trashed when my mother threw my old computer into the bin outside without asking me first.

I did find an email I had written to Burdough though. Jack Burdough, my teacher, and one of my best friends, who I’d just happened to have slept with. Numerous but random times over a seven year period. In fact, I used to attribute my drug use to him. For if it weren’t for him breaking my heart, I would never have behaved self-destructively. Using elementary logic, that was true, but I stopped saying things like that because people mistook it for me using excuses. Then they’d start to argue with me. I just don’t like arguments. They upset me. Plus, it wasn’t Burdough’s fault- not anymore, anyway. I used to judge things simply and fairly. Now I no longer believed I could discover what was fair without significant luck, research, and outside intell. Also, I no longer even tried to do what used to come automatically to me- assess what somebody else’s personal responsibility was in any given situation.

“Can you believe I wrote this email?” I asked Magda, truly stunned at what I’d read aloud. “I mean, Magda, what kind of person uses these phrases! If all I had to read was this, I would have immediately assumed the person was crazy!”

“Well…” Magda stumbles, “there was a time when you would get really excited about something, and you would order people around. You would become a bit manic and demand outrageous things of people. It hurt some people’s feelings. I think it’s good that you aren’t such a megalomaniac now.”

“Another trait I lost,” I say as much to her as to myself.

“Before, you probably would have done to him what you did to Raptis.” She changed her voice quality to one of free-spiritedness. “You are pathetic, you have proved nothing, and you are not worth my fucking time you creep! Oh, and have a nice day, like you always say at the end of your emails. Do you know how fake that comes across? One day everybody at Jeff’s party kept making fun of that… Bye!” I believed her impersonation of me, but it still shocked.

“I never said anything like that to him! I simply chose not to be in a relationship with him! I felt bad, and I sometimes regretted my choice, but I never spoke like that to him. Or…. did I?”

“Well, no, not like that. But it was in self-protection or because somebody was an asshole- you used whatever weapons were in your arsenal. It was your masculine side.”

I sigh, feeling doomed.

“Now I don’t use weapons at all. But this email? I actually use the word jet setting? Oh no, I use it twice!” I laugh. “Well, first I told him to guess. He’d asked what was up! The first two possibilities were cleverly written actually. I told him about how the information was classified; and then I described a scenario where I’ve been captured by a white-slavery operation, chained inside the closet of an old black man named Lysol. I told Burdough that infrequently, I crawled out to his computer to send messages. Listen to this part Magda… I actually wrote this kind of shit to him all that time, I can’t believe this. I wrote, ‘Since your sweet lack of love for me was the closest thing to affection that I ever experienced, please rescue me from this drudgery. I believe I am being held somewhere in Tacoma. At least a place that smells like Tacoma.’

“Yes, I remember that email.. I helped you write the first paragraph about how quote the obviously communist source of your information is not a trusted or bonded client, and that any information received by you from such sources cannot be confirmed or denied by this office. Please forward future messages of this nature through confidential if not classified highly-trusted conduits.

“I love that you remember Magda!! So next is the part I can’t believe that I wrote.. I just cannot believe I ever could have been a person that wrote something like this. I told Burdough I was too busy with my jet setter lifestyle- (I was in the middle of reading a rich girl book from the sixties about sexual freedom, a famous book by the way, I can’t remember the author right now but remind me about it later okay) and that I was too busy hustling to deal with him and through my illicit “job” I’d met this contractor named Jeff. I then proceeded to tell Burdough every detail about Jeff, including how after he paid to sleep with me I called him and, in a quote unquote fifteen year old sounding voice, that I thought he was different from the others and I wanted to see him in a nonprofessional way maybe. And then, I wrote about how Jeff didn’t respond for two weeks, then suddenly sent me seven texts that we needed to see each other! But then, my phone wasn’t working so I hadn’t received the texts, so I was waiting to hear when Jeff would get a hold of me again.”

“I have to go soon baby…”

“Wait, wait! I haven’t gotten to the best part! So I finish off the ‘third possibility’ in the email to Burdough by practically yelling at him that he must be assuming I’m a dumbfuck for thinking this guy could fall in love with me but that he is wrong, wrong, wrong, and that- listen to this Magda- Burdough, I just don’t like guys very often. There are normal guys out there that want to date me but for some reason there always has to be an element of dangerous intrigue. And they can’t be wimpy and cry on me when I tell them I don’t like sentimentality.”

I am the one crying and being wimpy now, refusing to pull the trigger. Trigger was the nickname Downey gave me. But he never used it the way he could have. I’ve never seen so much potential wasted until I entered a relationship that doesn’t meet the qualifications of a relationship anymore unless, and only unless, communication is the enemy of all relationships.

“Magda! This is insane! I’ve been stripped of all my confidence!”

“Well, what you had would only be good for politicians… and you’re not a politician. So what did Burdough write back to that one?”

“Burdough wrote back that he was not making a judgment, he was simply seeking clarification. How funny. Let’s see.. this was in 2007. I’ve forgotten how many emails have been exchanged over the years. I can’t believe how many things he has seen from me. No wonder he might be suddenly worried about me right now… These days I have lost all my bravado. But back to Downey, how could he not care when he wants to stay in the relationship? It makes no sense. None.”

“Well, he was drunk.”

“Downey was not drunk! He doesn’t drink! Oh.. wait. You mean he was intoxicated on the moment? After three years of celibacy? On lust? Or something? That makes no sense. He acts like he doesn’t like sex.. It’s complicated, and thinking about him and his silent sexuality gives me a headache. It makes no sense.”

“I’m saying it’s purely physical for him.”

“Nooo! It’s the opposite if anything. Maybe I need to trust Downey on this one… I want to be more physical with Downey so badly… but maybe it’s because I think being physical will solve things that we don’t talk about? I don’t know. But he won’t talk to me. I can’t get us to talk. He’ll just roll his eyes and turn the channel on his TV. Which is always on when I come over. And now we don’t talk on the phone. So I only see him if I randomly show up. And then I am in his territory. It’s all so terribly unbalanced, as if he is making it so we never had a chance anyway. And then, the worst part of me wonders, is he just prolonging this so that his wife won’t be able to say she was right, that this wouldn’t last?”

“Maybe he’s trying for a record. He’s going to be the worst boyfriend ever.”

“I just wish things were getting better, not worse. Just when I think they can’t get worse, they do. So there is this war in my head. Break up, don’t break up. I shouldn’t care- I mean, I don’t mind freedom- but the freedom is on his terms. When I was single for six months and I didn’t sleep with anybody, it was my choice. Now it’s his choice…but I have no compensation. No I love you. No I care about you. He doesn’t ask me to come over anymore. He doesn’t call me anymore. I didn’t know we could backtrack so far that we are way beyond where we started. We would have to drive over state borders just to get to where we started. The blank slate.”

“You. Hampster. Wheel. Who can show they care less? Who can show they care less?”

“Stop it Magda, that is physically painful for me to hear. Also, I already played the who can care less game with Burdough! The thing is Downey showed me reciprocation for the first time. Then he took it away. He took it away! How could he be so power hungry that he needed to do that? Did he just stop caring? If so, why didn’t he just tell me? Tell me he doesn’t like me anymore! Please please please!”

I lie on my bed in frustration, making a loud thump noise. Then I notice that my cat is over on the sofa sleeping. She is so involved in dreaming that my thump did not wake her up. She is making whimpering noises. She must be having a bad dream. I lean over and softly stroke her.

“How can I go to the stupid game now? You know that before Downey, I was willing to drown in my own urine just to feel reciprocation from Burdough. But it was too late and I had accepted that, but we had moved on. I learned that he cared but that situations were complex and that maybe he showed reciprocation the only way he could. But Downey? Now he is showing less reciprocation than a married man did with his mistress!”

“He beats his dog,” Magda said in that taunting voice.

“He DOES NOT BEAT HIS DOG FOR CHRISSAKE! He is disciplining his dog. And I know with all my heart that his intentions are good. What do you know about dogs? You don’t own one. Shut up! And also you know that sometimes the best of intentions end up causing bad, and that bad things sometimes accidentally cause good things. I’m not trying to ruin cause and affect here, but…. Magda, do you think I have learned to justify everything, that I’ve lost all sense of simplicity? You know what’s funny? Downey told me I needed a compass.. I got lost on his street trying to catch the bus.. I mean, I’m a city girl, and those streets were crazy turnaround style, and he was mean on the phone and to me and it made me want to cry, because I felt like he was threatening to leave without me, which in a sense he was if I didn’t make it back in time! So he told me to turn around and I did, then walking 10 minutes in the opposite direction, and then finding a kindly old man who gave me directions, while Downey finally looked up my instructions on his computer, and I went back the way I had come. The irony was I was two houses away from him when I called, but the addresses were such that the street I gave him on the phone he did not recognize. When I came back, my only frustration was that I had not caught my original bus- I would have missed it in any case because I woke up at 7:11 instead of 7 am. But it was because I put his alarm on some water bird chime instead of the annoying BEEP! BEEP! But the road system? Such is the place he lives. Anyway, he said I had ten minutes before he had to leave, but when I got back, he was not ready to go, and it was more like forty-five minutes. I didn’t have to go through all that stress of being lost and thinking he would leave me behind even though I was only a block away!! I guess it shows.. I dunno.”

“What a nice man. Such a fine gentleman he is.”

“Stop it,” I plead with her, the urgency in my tone crystal-clear.

“Magda, what’s funny is the compass comment. It’s like you could put me in a place where it’s impossible to get lost and I’d get lost. I think I need a compass in more than one way. Magda, what makes me sad is I want to talk to Downey more. We never talk anymore. And I can’t point this out. I can’t say anything that even suggests that I have human needs that could compete with his. Months ago we decided that at least, we’d talk once a week and see each other week. But then he broke that promise too. I can’t think of a single promise he has not broken anymore.. except for when he showed up to have dinner. That was so nice. But then he wouldn’t stay the extra hour… and he would have before. In the beginning. I know he would have. I’ll compromise no sleep to see him. I’ll compromise pretty much anything, even my best client. He doesn’t know that and it’s my choice. But he won’t compromise anything. Magda, why aren’t you telling me to just break up with him? You aren’t saying that.”

“Well, you seem to feel pretty strongly about him, even if he is a sadist. But I do suggest you come up with a petty nickname for him. How about buster the mean nine-year old boy who likes to pull girls ponytails and has a frog in his pocket and he poops in his pants and likes it? And he has one missing front tooth.”

“Uh, that’s a bit long for a nickname.”

“Buster. So fat he has to wear his dad’s bathing suit. But why he is so mean? Why is he a mean nasty little boy? Why is he mean? Why is Buster so mean? Why does he capture bugs and burn them under magnifying glasses and pull their feet off? Why? Because he is mean. I don’t know if Buster is the right nickname for such a nasty little boy.”

“Wow. That is awful. You really think he is that bad?”

“No,” Magda says, managing to sound innocent.

“Everything is an exaggeration,” Magda explains. “Think about Irwin. He needs exaggeration almost as much as he needs food. Thank God Buster is only a figment of our imagination, for if he existed he would grow up, and he might have kids, and there he would be, Mr. Buster. I’m sure he would be republican. And a grown up Buster could never exist of course. I don’t know anybody like that, do you?”

“Is there actually a cartoon character you are basing this on or something?”

“No, but a lot of cruel, spoiled, greedy, mean little boys exist around the world, and I’ve met a few of them. Maybe there is a Buster gene.”

“But I’ve seen Downey be really, REALLY compassionate, too. When he wants he is so empathetic…it’s all I can do not to reach out. But that’s all I do anymore. Reach out. To nothingness. To his back.”

“Well, then maybe it’s not fair to call him Buster. Or maybe the Buster level in his bloodstream is not very high. Or maybe it is. It probably isn’t. He is a wonderful man. You’ve seen him be compassionate! That settles it.”

I cover my forehead with my hand. A silent gesture of sublimation.

“Buster,” Magda whispers. “He is the boy who unplugs his mothers freezer so that everything rots.”

I feel a chill go down my spine.

“Anyway Magda, give the Buster crap a rest, OKAY? Downey said things would get better once he moved. It hasn’t. He breaks anything he says. Last week, he said he would call me. I answered, ‘You said that last week.’ Then he said “I know,” and I left. Well, it’s been a week. I tried to call to set up getting together but he didn’t pick up. I can’t keep doing this. And I can’t keep wondering what I’m going to do. Before, during the holidays, he said he would come back to Seattle. He also said he’d get me my birthday present. Why do I wait? But I can’t explain it. With Downey, he makes me laugh.. and-”

“I thought you said Cutright or could make you as happy as Downey in terms of comic relief. But maybe you said that before Downey.”

“I don’t know that- I’m an experiential learner more than anything else. Sometimes I feel like Downey has traits I used to have- the arrogance, the having things his own way… I used to do that. But there is just so much richness… so many memories; so much we’ve shared. It makes whatever the next move is feel fused with so much meaning, even if it doesn’t have any. Maybe…maybe Downey is teaching me how order creates meaning,” I say brightly.

“Whatever you want to believe, dear. I have do go now, my mom needs to talk to me about something.”

“You have to go?” I say, already lost in my next thought about what I should do. “I was hoping we’d reach a progression…an answer. Oh, well, okay.”

“Talk to you later. Bye.”



et cetera