Music To My Ears

By Joshua Blake

It’s 2:51 on a Tuesday morning as I lay in an empty bed, imagining what she might say.

 

The emotions I feel grip my heart like a vice, while it aches for her touch, her scent, her lips.

 

Some people say I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I beg to differ: It’s oozing down my chest in need of her love.  

 

The love I’ve searched for all of my life finally found me at my darkest hour. When I expected it least, she said what I’ve been dying to hear: I love you.

 

The only thing that confused me in that moment was why I was afraid to say it back.

 

I met Anette online. She had a boyfriend who lived in Georgia and my second online relationship was burning up. Perhaps, in that moment, I was afraid to say I loved her because I didn’t feel good enough — as if I didn’t matter.

 

The other girls you wanted never wanted you, and online dating was a tornado that blew my mind all over the place.

 

Is this girl really different? Should I give her a chance to show me what I yearn for? What I need?

 

Conversely, we’d talk everyday and video called frequently. We became each other’s confidants; we attracted like magnets.

 

The days after Anette said “I love you,” I questioned my feelings, and that’s when it hit me: This is what’s causing my angst — my love for her, too.

 

Things turned sexual, even before we professed our love for each other, and even though it was through a screen, it felt not only natural, but appropriate, correct — this is meant to be occurring.

 

It was in October of 2015 when she told me she wanted to fly to New York to visit me. I walked out of my room and told my parents, and they thought Anette staying at a hotel would suffice. It was obvious they didn’t share my enthusiasm, and my brother, Jake, was fearful of her robbing us.

 

However, over time, my parents placated with the idea of letting her stay in our home.

“She’s gonna stay here, with us,” my mother told me.

“We’re not gonna let some 18-year-old girl from another country – who’s never been here before – be by herself.”

 

A month later, Anette mailed me a card for my birthday. That meant a lot to me, because it was the first time that I felt cared about by another in a way I only dreamed of. And she sent this all the way from Norway? I thought “she must care.”

 

In December, she sent a note with a Snoopy and Woodstock keychain. That was for Christmas.

 

We talked about becoming boyfriend and girlfriend, but I wanted to wait until she visited in the summer — another fear of my belief of not being enough brought on by my Cerebral Palsy.

 

Depression and anxiety played into that belief even more, but something in my head clicked. We were already acting as if we were together in an online relationship, so I thought why wait?

 

She visited in June of 2016, flying from Norway to a country she’s never been to, to see the person she loves.

 

Originally, my dad and I were going to go pick her up, but then my mom decided to tag along, which I’ll forever be grateful for.

 

I was an ecstatic mess inside. “I’m gonna see her!” I kept telling myself. It felt like my heart would beat right out of my chest with anticipation while waiting at Newark International Airport in New Jersey.

 

Then I saw her, and she saw me.

 

She fell to her knees in complete bliss, ran to me, embracing me as if we were long lost lovers, and  subsequently knocked me down. It was a great moment.

 

Of course my parents got this on video, and after they helped us up, we went to the bathrooms, and once my parents were using the restrooms, that’s when I held her close and made a move to kiss her.

 

Eyes widened with shock and awe — and even desire — as she then closed her eyes and locked lips with mine, causing time to freeze. When we pulled away and opened our eyes, we were back on Earth.

 

I’ve been with Anette ever since and I couldn’t ask for a better friend, or a better lover.

 

Love was always something I misunderstood, even as a child. I knew I was different because of my disability, but I constantly felt like no one would fall for me.

 

After a sexual encounter at the age of 20 with a woman 15 years my senior over two years ago, I fell into a depressive hole that felt like the size of Mount Everest. I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to the top. Ever.

 

Ironically, the femme fatale that seductive night told me something people tend to say to me, and I had an epiphany.

 

“You’re great, you know that?” Her comment stunned my line of thought as I struggled to comprehend what we just did; what I just did. I always viewed myself as broken.

 

Even the devil knew of my superpower, and it seemed that I seduced her far easier than she had seduced me. That’s when I realized people see right through me.

 

Months later, I graduate with my associate’s and make my way to Stony Brook University in New York to pursue my bachelor’s in journalism, only to retroactively withdraw from my first semester.

 

The culprit? Depression.

 

The devil invaded my thoughts and my dreams and was tearing my heart apart at the seams.

 

I had a journal that spanned nearly two years which was a reflection into the one thing my soul desired: love.

 

I ended it in November of 2015, pondering the devil towards the end of its life and what she did to me. I wondered if I’d ever move past this. I wondered if it was a question of when rather than how. “Then again, maybe not,” I added to end my journey.

 

I believe part of that was self love, which Anette’s helped me conjure. I don’t know where I’d be without her – at the very least, I’d be stuck within the depths of my wallowing mind, constantly thinking in circles – but that’s all I can imagine.

 

I still have my depressive days, but they’re no longer central to the self loathing I once had about my disability. Instead, it’s brought on by a feeling that part of me is missing, my other half – the woman that I love.

 

Anette’s last visit was back in December. We celebrated Christmas, and New Year’s — our first holidays together — as well as our one year anniversary.

 

This was a big moment for us, and it propelled our relationship to another level, and come this June, it’ll reach another level in terms of time spent together.

 

Her next visit will be her longest. We’ve only spent a week and a half with one another during her first two visits. She’ll spend over two months with me next time we meet.

 

We’ve been talking constantly about all of the things we can do now that we’ll have more time.

 

My family’s excited for her, shall we say, extended stay — my brother is not.

 

My therapist asks about this pretty frequently, and I even took my brother with me to therapy before Anette’s first visit in an attempt to dispel his worries.

 

We did this a few times, and it’s appeared to help ease tensions between the three of us and my parents slightly.

 

I don’t think about it much anymore. It’s not worth the mental gymnastics. I just end up back to the countless arguments we’ve had about the person I’ve decided to be with, and how Jake’s the only one who has an issue with Anette.

 

But then again, you can’t win ‘em all I guess.

 

I just hope that Jake is aware of the happiness Anette gives me. I’ve finally found a person who loves me for who I am, and I only wish that I’ve given her half of the glee she’s given me.

 

Although I think I’ve given her just as much, or possibly more, which makes me even happier.

 

It gives me immense pleasure to know that Anette sees right through me, for the person I am despite my disability. The sense of power and openness and freedom it gives me is indescribable.

 

When we’re together I feel like I can live my dreams instead of dreaming my life away.

 

When we’re together I feel like I can run a marathon instead of wishing that I could.
When we’re together my heart thaws out and a fire’s lit inside, and I feel as if I’ll never die.

 

My Lucky Charm

By Joshua Blake
​Slow as molasses, stuck in the mud

Fall face first, make a big thud. 

Earth’s slippin’ through my fingers.

I can’t get a grip as I stumble and as I slip, 

Kissin’ the ground with my chapped lips. 

Try again with all my might.

I ain’t givin’ in, I’ll go all night. 

Earth’s slidin’ beneath my feet.

I can’t stand as I stagger and as I leap. 

Fallin’ down while I start to weep.

Give it one last shot before I rot. 

Try and roll over with all I’ve got. 

Earth’s spreadin’ around my arms

I’ll crawl this time, it’s my lucky charm. 

Screamin’ out loud as a firearm. 

Hi! Care To Read? No? Okay!

By Joshua Blake

The by-line should probably read “By Who Cares” but, who’s keeping score? You? Oh, you weren’t? Good.

Anyhow, WordPress notified me a few days ago — actually, more like a week — to say that it was my blog’s three-year-anniversary.

That’s it, really. I don’t know what else to say about that.

I mean, sure, I could go on about all of the fond memories I’ve had (none) and what my blog means to me, but that’s just superficial.

If anything, this — writing — is cathartic to me. It helps keep me sane, I think.

This isn’t the time for reflection, nor is it the time for me to go on this tirade of self-righteousness and doubt in regards to my abilities as a writer — which I feel are decent at best.

I can already hear people saying “No, you’re really good!” or my girlfriend saying “Shut the fuck up, you’re really good,” or some other variation of the two.

I just don’t see it.

Some think I’m good because they can’t “do what I do,” or write down their thoughts that convey emotion in others. But, the joke’s on them, because I don’t think I do that well, either.

Well, that’s bullshit, honestly. I do think I can convey emotion in my writing, but, which ones?

What you read (or don’t read) before you as far as my feelings about my own writing goes, is about a sixth of how I look towards myself on any given day.

It’s not boredom. It’s not laziness. It’s loneliness.

Loneliness within myself, from myself, outside of myself.

Everyday I try and find out what it means to be me, what it is that I am, and what it is that I’ll be.

But, that’s just it. I’m not supposed to know. Those answers are different on any given day.

Some days, I’m meant to be a student, a brother, a friend, a son, a boyfriend, a journalist. Other days, I am those things, all of them.

But in terms of what I’ll be, what we become? My alter-ego? I haven’t got a fucking clue. Oh, right, I am someone who worries about this constantly, too.

And why do I? Why do I have these corrosive thoughts that plague my mind like a virus on your  computer that you can’t delete?

Is it really normal to feel this way? Like a twister of emotions swirling in your head? The emotions that keep you up at night, but you do nothing about?

My therapist calls this “free-floating anxiety,” which made me smirk the moment he mentioned the term, because, he’s right.

My thoughts and emotions are like oil floating above water while it manages to seep down poisoning everything it touches.

I ponder things that happened five, six, or seven years ago, make up bewildering scenarios in my mind — sometimes tragic ones — that never see the light of day, all for what?

Because I’m not satisfied? Because I’m trying to recover from an illness that’s years past? From a sexual assault that’s years past? Are those the reasons why? Because I still feel sick in the head, sometimes wishing I’d be sick again so I’d have to fight for myself?

Or, is it so I’d have a distraction from my self-torturous thoughts?

Now, do you see my problem? If there’s one thing I can do with my writing, it’s conveying how I think and what I’m feeling.

I can’t do that with spoken word. That scares me too much.

When I’m around those I love, I feel as safe as I can possibly be, but it’s still hard to say things to the people who say “you can tell us anything.”

It’s too easy, which is why it’s so hard.

I Have No Idea What To Name This

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By Joshua Blake

Something about this photograph is hypnotic to me. Therapeutic. Distracting.

I have no idea what to name this.

Something about where I was sitting made for – what I thought to be – the perfect shot.

I have no idea what to name this.

Something about the very words you’re reading make no sense to me.

I have no idea what to name this.

Is this what I’m supposed to feel like when I’m lost in a sea of toxic thoughts? Thoughts that never seem to leave my mind no matter the happiness I experience on any given day? Is it my own insanity?

Sure I have good days – great ones even – but they’re only temporary – like most things.

I know I’ll be okay, I know I will. It’s like I’m staring at a transparent mirror, seeing everything that’s meant to be on the other side, and all I’ve to do is walk on through.

So then, why don’t I?

Am I afraid to fail? To succeed? Maybe I’m just bored. Maybe it’s cacophony.

Perhaps it’s nothing like the times before. Perhaps it’s Satan knocking at my door.

I attempt to sleep. But then I’ll just stare; blankly into the quiet and ghostly air.

If there’s such thing as regression, then what’s the opposite of depression?

Maybe I need a reboot to find a new session.

Maybe then I’ll finally learn my lesson.

There’s no point to this confession.

Uncharted 4: A Gamer’s End

By Joshua Blake

I don’t normally talk about video games when writing, but they’ve been a big part of my life since I was a six-year-old.

That being said, I can’t think a video game – let alone a video game series – that’s impacted me as much as the Uncharted franchise has throughout my life.

From discovering El Dorado, Shambhala, Iram of the Pillars, and now, Libertalia, protagonist Nathan Drake has taken me on quite the ride.

All of the aforementioned places are rooted in actual folklore and their stories are expanded upon in each Uncharted game.

Because of this, and the vast worlds each game has you explore as Nathan Drake, you feel like you’re discovering these places just as he is in real time.

Although none of this would be possible without the help of some of Nate’s closest friends. His mentor and father figure Victor “Sully” Sullivan, who crossed paths with Nate many moons ago – deciding to take him under his wing and show him a few thieving tricks of his own.

There’s also Elena Fisher, a journalist who met Nathan through his promise to find Sir Francis Drake’s coffin. However, no body was inside. Only a journal that leads Nathan to believe Sir Francis faked his death due to his discovery of El Dorado, The City of Gold.

However, Nathan soon realized that El Dorado, The Golden Man was a statue, not a city, and so his first adventure was underway, while attempting to get the treasure before Eddy Raja – an old foe of Nate’s – who held him and Elena at gunpoint demanding help seeking it.

From this point on, the player must fight, shoot, and run his way through Raja’s band of pirates until Nathan and co learn of a tale as elaborate as any real life fable.

And that’s just the first game in this four part series…

Ten years later, game developer Naughty Dog issues their final installment of the award winning PlayStation 3 series with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for the PS4. And my god is it a damn marvel.

A Thief’s End takes place three years after the events of the third installment, Drake’s Deception, where upon finding the Atlantis of the Sands – Iram of the Pillars – Nate, Sully and Elena walk off into the sunset, beatutifully sending off the series.

But behold! There’s more to be told. I wasn’t sure back in 2011 if a fourth game would ever come out. I thought I’d seen the Three Amigos of Naughty Dog for the last time, until a few days ago, that is.

And that’s what makes playing A Thief’s End immensely bittersweet. What struck me first was the start menu. Eerily quiet. Not the traditional heroic Uncharted  score.

All you see is a pirate skeleton suspended in a cage. I knew something about this last trek would be full of twists and turns, and I constantly found myself stumpted playing through the story and discovering new clues as Nate and his friends did.

Then again, following the lore of Captain Henry Avery’s treasure to the legend of Libertalia, a pirate utopia, had me wondering one thing: Is this place actually real?

This story has been discussed and researched for years, and Uncharted 4 does a great job at bringing it to life. This world is huge, rife with vegetation, exreme weather conditions, and beatutifully coreopgraphed motion capture scenes that transition to and from gameplay, completely immersing the player into this place that seems to breathe on its own.

But what really got to me was how the characters have aged, and how they’ve aged with me. Or how the game reminds you of your past adventures with these people, making you go “Oh, yeah!” as if you’re recalling an event you lived.

They’re a little bit older now and they’ve been outta the game for a while – the world of treasure hunting and thieving takes its toll – and just as Nate pleas to Sully, one last time was all I needed.

I’m gonna miss these guys more than my words here could ever describe…

Parasite In My Head

parasite

By Joshua Blake

Parasite In My Head:

Parasite in my head, hidin’ off in my bed,

Makin’ me think that it’s better bein’ dead.

Gotta probe it out, gotta scream and I’ve gotta shout.

Go on and get the fuck out!

Parasite in my brain, running like a freight train.

Tellin’ me how to think, how to feel.

Gotta probe it out, but it conceals.

Gotta probe it out so I can heal.

Get out so I know what’s real!

It’s that time again.

Where I laugh and start to pretend.

I’m fine. Why you askin’?

All I see is a bunch of lights flashin’.

Parasite in my veins, slidin’ up and slidin’ down.

Makin’ me feel like it’s seconds til I dorwn.

Parasite in my legs, movin’ back and movin’ forth.

Makin’ me question my own self-worth.

Gotta get back to the fort, gotta run and I’ve got a gun – no, I’m not done!

This fight’s only begun.

It’s that time again.

Where I laugh and where I cry.

I’m fine. Why you askin’?

Can’t you see me singin’ and dancin’?

It’s That Time Of The Month Again…

By Joshua Blake

I know what you’re thinking: why are you on your period? Well, you can rest easy tonight, because I’m not.

I’m talking about my infusions — y’know, the ones that keep my body from eating away at the walls of my intestines? Those infusions. And boy do they work like a charm. The infusion center I go to even provides t.v. and WiFi — the staple of today’s youth.

So, why am I writing at a time like this? Hell if I know. I don’t even know what’s on my mind, but I just got a warm blanket which is nice.

I’ve actually thought of starting a new blog — ranting about things that I don’t understand.

And speaking of things I don’t understand, Donald Glover has been cast as Lando Calrissian in Disney’s Han Solo spin-off film set for release in 2018. God damn you, George Lucas. You sold your franchise to the Empire, and they’re gonna milk it for every dollar it’s worth.

You bastard…