Seven Years Later

By Joshua Blake

3:48 a.m. March 16, 2021

I’ve had this blog for seven years, yet it feels more like twice that amount of time has passed. Now at 27, I realize that my 20’s have been filled with way more ups than downs.

My very first post on this website questioned whether looking back on your life was a problem due to thinking about it too often – thinking too much, in general, was what I was trying to get at. And reading it over now, I realize that I had no scope centered on the issue of thinking too far into futures that don’t exist.

But, if I could go back? Would I tell myself anything about my current life – y’know, anything other than a pandemic that ravaged the world?

I probably would pass up the opportunity. I mean, if we’re going to be technical about it, if I went back in time to talk with my 20-year-old self about my life today, that version of me wouldn’t live the life I do today. That’s because time travel isn’t linear. If you were to tell someone of the past about future events, an alternate timeline is created.

And even if everything were to happen the same way, I’d feel like I ruined my younger self’s surprise. I went on to finish college, write and research really interesting stories – I found the love of my life and traveled to their home country and met some amazing people throughout that experience.

People often say things happen when we least expect them to. But, the older I get, the less this makes sense to me. How can you expect something to happen to you if you have no idea of when it will happen?

I guess the reason I’m bringing this up is because I have a lot of dumb things I worry about – and not abstract things, either. These worries have to do with what a sustainable life should be like for me, and how I achieve that. A lot of my worry stems from my dumb fear of not being “good enough.” Whatever that means.

Most, if not everyone, deals with these kinds of fears – they’re normal. So, why do they feel so personal? Maybe it’s because everyone’s idea of “a sustainable life for me and how I achieve that,” is different just enough to where we feel like it’s a road traveled alone. Maybe it’s the Americanization of idealism – in that we must figure things out for ourselves as individuals and not as a group, in order to have the lives we want. I really do believe living in the United States makes it difficult to break away from that type of thinking. But that doesn’t really make sense, either, because life is meant to be ever-changing, and everyone, everywhere is affected by it.

Seven years later, and here I am, wondering if I’m all the more wiser than a depressed 20-year-old kid who was so worried about his future. Well, kid, if you had any idea…you know I’d still be there. Who couldn’t? Everyone always is, even if they don’t know it yet.

The Constant Theme

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By Joshua Blake

Life’s weird. Lately I’ve been reminiscing on mine by looking back on all of the notebooks and journals I’ve written in. Like any song you listen to, a story unfolds and a narrative appears. I believe the same to be true about life.

So, what about mine?

I started by going back to where it all began for me: writing poetry in an old notebook from when I was in high-school. I was 16 or 17 at the time, and I initially thought that this poetry thing wouldn’t last long. Two-hundred-to-four-hundred poems and a decade later, here I am.

I’ve kept all of the 7-10 books I’ve written in as a way to remind myself of where I once was, and in some ways, where I still am today. If I could condense everything I’ve written down for the chorus in a song, it’d have to be something uplifting, with a touch of doubt. Maybe something like “I always knew I’d be able to get by, but it wouldn’t happen until I passed through time.”

The current journal I’m writing in has been through a longer lifespan than any other I’ve had – about four-and-a-half years. But the last poem I’ve written in my current book from January 31, 2019, really sets the tone of what my writing is all about: Fear of my past and of my future.

“I don’t know where to look,

Or where I should go.

But I’m always pulling you in tow,

Like an arrow fired from a bow.”

[Excerpt from “Now What?”]

The very first poem I wrote called “False Assumptions,” lives somewhere, but the page I wrote it on in my original book of poems has been lost to time. I put it in a word document years ago on an old laptop, but the point is that title is, to this day, something I think of whenever my anxiety or depression flares.

However bad a situation seems, it never turns out how I think it does in my head.

Moving forward, I’m going to break down the last decade of my writings, in an attempt to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve learned, and what I can learn further on my journey through life.

The Formative Years: 2010-2012

My beginning poems centered around love. What it meant to love, how I would ever be loved, and if I would ever allow myself to be loved. But then something changed.

Despair and agony flooded my mind, and I wrestled with these emotions until I wrote about them on March 12, 2011.

“Reoccurring events running through my mind.

I feel as if I’ve traveled back through time.

Who can I trust either than myself?

I don’t want to be stuck by myself.

Fear now runs through my veins.

There’s nothing I can do to stop these pains.

Reoccurring thoughts are coming back.

Reoccurring thoughts make me see black.”

[Excerpt from “Reoccurring Emotions”]


“I regretfully give in to your gesture,

And all I see is that familiar texture.

Are you here to tell me otherwise?

What answers are hiding behind your deceiving eyes?

Can you guide me to my salvation,

Or will you send me to my damnation?

You are the only one I truthfully hate,

Hence your ability to control my fate!”

[Excerpt from “The Eternal Story” October 10, 2012, 2:14 a.m.]

This was the catalyst for my transition into journal-ing about my woes as well. I continued to write dozens upon dozens of poems throughout that year, while also expanding on these thoughts more and more in depth.

 

January 19, 2012, 12:50 a.m.

“Whenever I have any sort of downtime, it plays as my enemy. I believe I am – and always have been – wondering about my future. Where I will be, who will be in my life (if anyone) and when will I get what I’ve always wanted.

I’ve lost my identity. I don’t know who I am anymore. Mental illness? Insanity or helplessness?”

The Broken Times: Dec. 2012-Nov. 2014

Possibly the darkest times I’ve ever been through emotionally and mentally, and it all came to a head in early December of 2013. After years of believing Love was a road I’d never travel down, I knew I was at a breaking point.

December 7, 3:07 a.m.

“I am in a very dark place yet again. I’m not enjoying this cell – it’s killing me – and I’ve put myself in, while throwing away the key.”

Ironically, my only salvation during this period of my life came from writing music with my grandmother – a force like no other, with a voice that could carry for thousands of miles.

The first song we ever wrote happened in June of 2014

“Seeking Serenity”

“I’m stuck in this free fall

Patiently waiting until I stall

It’s getting lonely up here

My only friend is fear.

Serenity, serenity

My greatest enemy.”

October of 2014 was another low point, however…

On the 11th, I wrote “Far From Never.”

“I’m going back to that time and place/ The one that gave my heart such disgrace…If I’m beat enough, maybe I’ll listen/ And your gentle face will start to glisten…I need this now more than ever/ Even if love is far from never.”

On the 18th, I wrote “Everything.”

“Everything feels so broken/ My heart beats, even though it’s frozen…Everything is crashing down/ My head hears awful sound…Everything hurts when I think of you/ My eyes cry at things past due.”

On the 27th, I wrote “Tunnel Vision.”

“Tunnel vision stuck on her/ My thoughts never could deter…Life seems so out of sight/ When will things start to go right?”

The Current Era: Nov. 2015 –

The difference a year makes is extraordinarily underappreciated. In October of 2014, I was a mess. In October of 2015, I met my now fiancee and we’ve been engaged since 2018.

Still, that doesn’t mean my past doesn’t come back to haunt me every now and again.

Four years after I wrote “Everything,” I wrote “Stuck In Between,” on Oct. 18, 2018. Looking at it now, it feels like a successor of sorts.

“Stuck in between something I can’t explain/ Like something in the middle of pleasure and pain…Stuck in between something that I can’t name/ It doesn’t feel real, like I’m playing some kind of game…Feel as though I’m forever maimed/ As if I’ll always live with this pain.”

 

“Inside Out/Outside In” Sep. 27, 2019

“It’s like I’m cold, but on the inside/ Like pins and needles all over my mind…It’s like I’m hot, but on the outside/ Like I can’t outrun what’s been left behind…Shaking inside out and outside in/ I’m not even sure where to begin.”

“Now What?” Jan. 31, 2019

“I don’t know where to look/ Or where I should go…But I’m always pulling you in tow/ Like an arrow fired from a bow.”

“Sleep-talking” Jan. 21, 2020

“Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ Oh you’re so violent/ Starring right through me/ Not letting me be…Sleep-talking but you’re silent/ No longer one of your clients/ I’m lookin’ right past you/ As my memory forever haunts you.”

Going Forward?

As a way to end this little trip back through time, I wanted to end on a entry I wrote nearly a decade ago and a lyric from a song I wrote nearly six years ago.

Oct. 8, 2011

“After I fill the last page of this book, I wonder if I shall have the wisdom on how to move forward – both emotionally and physically…There’s still some holes to be filled, and I’m trying to find the shovel to fill them.”

2014

“Know Me Now.”

“So afraid of where I’ll be/ Cryin’ for you to set me free…Heart beat is out of tune/ Racin’ straight towards my doom. Keep repeating the same old story/ Hoping to find my fame and glory…Will you find me soon someday/ So my mind can break away.

I remember when we met/ You came to me with a bet…Do you really know me now/ If so, show me how.”

 

 

 

It’s been a while…

Life’s kinda weird…

By Joshua Blake

So, I don’t post here much these days, but I’m still proud that I’ve kept this blog running.

When I first decided to make it, it was for a journalism class I took at my community college back in 2014. Though, I think I always intended this blog to be a place where – if anyone happened to find it – it would help others if they were experiencing some of the doubts and fears I was.

Many of those doubts and fears I’ve expressed over the years on this site, still plague me today – while others have dissipated.

Anxiety and depression still find new ways of tackling even my most happiest or eventful of days, and I’m forced to think of a new way out of the mazes they create in my tormented mind.

So many things have happened over the last year…I’m not really sure where to begin.

My family and I moved to a new house after 13-and-a-half-years, I’ve been engaged since December of last year – I visited my fiancés home country of Norway this summer – and my last year of college starts in four days.

Yikes!

I believe that last point is one of true revelation for me in many aspects: I’m getting older and I’m a step closer towards a supposed career in journalism. I have no idea what this life will bring me – so, I try to remain optimistic.

I try to see the forest for the tress in regards to journalism, but I can’t just yet.

I try to remind myself that I’ll find a way in life – generally speaking. But that’s been difficult for me to grasp since I was a young boy. Maybe it’s related to my worries about having cerebral palsy, maybe it’s just anxiety about things possibly going wrong with no way to fix them – cause anxiety is stupid – or maybe it’s both of those things.

I don’t know, and I doubt you do, either.

But life is kinda weird like that. From a very basic point-of-view, life is to be figured out each day in order to live at all. And even though that sounds nihilistic, I do know that there’s more to life than that – just figuring out stuff in order to keeping living. That’s not very fun.

No. Life is so much more than a nihilist’s wet dream – or nightmare, depending on how you wish to look at it.

Life is also about the people who occupy our spaces, which is probably the most important part about human life: connections.

I guess why I’m rambling about all of this, is because I’ve found it difficult to connect with myself at so many points during my life. This has been the case lately, too.

There may be no greater internal conflict than not understanding what you’re going through and how to “fix it,” when you can’t pinpoint what needs to be fixed in the first place.

I think this is where anxiety is at its best. By forcing you to overanalyze and worry about the most minute of issues, you can’t even think of logical steps to solve your problems.

And for me, this is the case, because I have so many things that I worry about. Which one do I address first? Do I address some and not others? Am I stupid for worrying about this? Gee, I wonder if there’s a way that I could not worry about this!

Geez, I’m exhausted from just typing that out. And that’s me on a good day.

On a bad day, depression stops by and knocks on my door, only to come in and moan about how awful its life is. And then anxiety starts to worry if those awful things will happen to them, too.

If there is another friend in my brain that stops by every now and then, it’d be resolve – always stopping by at the right time, to remind me that I’ll be okay, that I’ll figure it out.

Because we all do. Or, at the very least, because we have to.

I can write a song, but not a story

By Joshua Blake

Hi. I can’t recall when I last wrote an entry on this blog, and I’m not intrigued to find out, either.

I start my second-to-last semester of college tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Yeah, that’s not a typo or anything. My Monday morning’s for college this semester start at 1:00 p.m.

That’ll be the only time in my life where I’ll start my week off in the afternoon – though knowing me, who the hell knows.

I’ve been attempting – and when I say ‘attempting,’ I really mean thinking about how – to go on writing this story I thought of last November.

I can write a song, intricately describing what ails me, but not a story.

It’s a damned nightmare. I have a basic idea down, along with a plot and characters. I think it’s a pretty neat take on the tried tropes of sci-fi dramas – if that even is a category – but I’m stuck.

Why am I stuck? I haven’t got a clue. Apprehension? Depression? Subjugation from my own thoughts? Sounds rather bleak, doesn’t it?

And that’s the thing about the characters in this world I’ve imagined: they’re a reflection of my apprehension, of my depression, of my will to keep fighting on, too.

I don’t understand how to isolate my emotions to focus on driving the narrative. Maybe that’s what makes it so hard for me to know how to continue on with my story.

Or perhaps I dont understand how to channel my emotions into my characters, and that’s why my narrative is progressing at a snail’s pace.

Then there’s the part of me that says “this [my story] is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, like life. But then there’s the other side of my thoughts that say “Yeah, but maybe not.”

Do you see my problem, dear reader? Yes? No?

I believe it’s natural to wonder if what we do in life really equates to anything of substance, of impact – not just in our lives – but others.

Everyone wants to have a role to play in this game called Life. But you can’t always play the role you want – and not only with the way we push 17 and 18-year-olds to get a post-secondary education – but how we push college students into this mindset that their degree is “worth it,” borrowing tens-of-thousands in student loans, only to end up paying them back years after graduation, and maybe not holding a job in the field of their degree anyway.

That’s worth all of the stress of graduating college – especially in America? Every adult I know who’s graduated college and has a job has told me a variant of the phrase “not what I started doing.”

My therapist studied to become an English teacher before finding psychology. Hell, my previous college advisor switched majors four times before sticking with journalism…my current major of the last six-and-a-half years.

Is it wrong to tell teenagers “think of a subject you wanna major in at whatever college, cause that’s gonna be your job one day?”

Of course, for some students this becomes their reality, but just because the S.T.E.M. field pays well, doesn’t mean every major in that field is going to have a S.T.E.M. focused career. It’s not sustainable economically.

People used to bash Liberal Arts majors, but at least those students have some versatility in their skill sets, unlike hyper-focused majors.

Johnny Awesome could know all about bio-engineering, or Quantum Theory, but not a damn thing about landscaping, construction, or writing.

And that’s okay. Not everyone needs to know how to do everything.

But we can’t limit ourselves to one-dimensional task-performers, either. That’s just boring. And more importantly, kind of sad.

I wanna be a good writer one day. I want my writing to impact people – whether that be in a good or bad way.

But I don’t wanna just be “a writer,” or “a journalist.” Those terms are subjective anyway. What kind of journalist and writer do I want to be?

I don’t think I’m supposed to know the answer until I get there. But, I do have a couple of aspirations, that maybe with a pinch of luck – and the good fortune of knowing some people – could get me there.

If I could be a columnist, I’d be content. If I finish my book and get it published, I’d be content. If I could play music out on the side once my career’s goin’, I’d be content.

As long as I have friends and family around me, and live with the love of my life for all of my life, I’ll be happy.

And I think this is the problem with people who feel stuck in this world: they think being content will make them happy.

Myself included.

I was talking to my dad yesterday about physical therapy and we both agreed: I should at least do something for my physical health. Having Cerebral Palsy is a huge detriment to every physical and mental aspect of human life.

But I told him that it’s hard for me to encourage myself to better myself physically.

“Cause it’s work,” he told me.

And while I agreed, there’s more to it than that.

“Yes, but does it matter?” I wondered.

I know my depression plays a role in these “does- this-really-matter” scenarios, but I also think it goes back to this idea of being content equals happiness.

Yeah, if I exercised, I’d feel better – even a little bit mentally. I’d be content, but not happier.

And that’s my point. Happiness doesn’t have a price. Not a tangible price, anyway. Robin Williams was an amazingly talented, funny, charismatic actor. But he was depressed and took his own life, because his happiness couldn’t be bought. Chester Bennington was a talented singer, he took his own life, because his happiness couldn’t be bought with his talent or all of the money he made.

Happiness is a desire based out of necessity.

So much of our focus on life is on physical attributes and assets, that we often forget about the mental side of it. It’s just as – if not even more – important.

If you’re just content with life, how can you ever enjoy it? A long time ago, I wrote about how emotions like happiness are finite – they can’t last indefinitely. So, it’d make more sense to strive towards being content – cause that’s more realistic.

How wrong I was.

Hello, Is This Thing On?

By Joshua Blake

Hi, friends! What’s new?

I’ve been trying to think of something to write – anything that’ll fill my time lately. But I can’t think of the words.

Any writers out there that know what I mean?

No? Damn. So, what’s been happening in my world of music? The bar my grandmother and I started to perform open mics at every other week shut down the musical-ness that was ensuing there.

Bummer. I think it’s been a month. The dudes that set up this little music jam were some cool, talented musicians, too.

This past Monday, my parents went into the City – that’s New York City for any of you non-New Yorkers – and my grandmother came by to help me watch my dog, Charlie.

“You wanna bring your geetar,” I asked her in a text.

We hadn’t played music together since maybe late April or early May. I can’t remember for sure.

Once she arrived, she had her music stand, guitar, and music folder in hand.

“When I saw your text I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bring it over,” she said. “But then I said ‘Yeah! Why not?”

I didn’t care what we played. I just needed to play something so I wouldn’t go crazy.

Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and countless other artists filled the next two hours up for us.

Oh, yeah. We played Johnny Cash’s rendition of “Hurt,” too.

It was a fun time. It was a simple time. And sometimes that’s all anyone really needs.

A way to relax.

A Band I Grew Up On

By Joshua Blake

There’s something about a band discovered during childhood that trumps all others before or after.

 I’m left pondering if I’ll ever get to see the one I grew up on live. They’re known as blink-182. 

Despite an album released in 2016, and an ensuing tour, founding member and guitarist, Tom Delonge, left before production to search for UFO’s. 

Delonge’s left before in the past on an ’04 tour before an unimaginable reunion in 2009. I still have trouble understanding that I missed seeing them in concert all these years. My dream of a reunion came true, yet I never saw them.

I’m left wondering why. I’m left asking “how?”

I’ll never forget being six-years-old, watching MTV, and seeing the music video for “All The Small Things.”

https://youtu.be/9Ht5RZpzPqw

The parody of the biggest music videos of the time were just the start of what makes this video a visual masterpiece. 

The “na, na, na, na, na” during this hypnotic chorus is possibly the catchiest tune of all time. Eighteen years later, I still sing along to every word. 

But it didn’t end there. Enema of the State was full of hits. “Adam’s Song,” “What’s My Age Again?” “Aliens Exist,” “Going Away To College,” and “Wendy Clear,” were a showcase of what were to follow in concurrent albums. 

 Then this happened:

https://youtu.be/vVy9Lgpg1m8
“First Date” drops and remains at the number six spot on Billboard for 25 weeks

“Stay Together For The Kids” piles up at the number seven slot not long after. But it didn’t end there.
The trio drops a bombshell of an album. A self titled piece of work that was at the pinochle of their success. 

“Feeling This” peaks at number two on Billboard, and remains on the charts for 26 weeks. 

Up until this point, blink-182 had one number one hit in “All The Small Things” back in ’99. This was their second and only in 2004 

https://youtu.be/s1tAYmMjLdY
“I Miss You” was an instant classic, a timeless tune. 

And like the chorus asks “Don’t waste your time on me/You’re already the voice inside my head,” a six-year-old boy wonders when he’ll see his music heros. 

Me Too?

By Joshua Blake

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In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault allegations by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow and numerous other women, a firestorm of stories about other’s experiences in their own lives has surfaced with the hashtag MeToo

 

Weinstein admits he has a problem and that he wants to better himself – yet it seems that his willful ignorance was the only thing keeping him from making such a statement in the first place.

 

There’s been reports of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon knowing of Weinstein’s behaviour and keeping it hush-hush. There’s been people questioning why these Hollywood actresses waited so long to speak up. There’s political pundits asking what will the Democrats do about their relationship to Harvey Weinstein.

 

These are talking points that miss the actual talking point – or lack thereof. Sexual assault and harassment are difficult to talk about, and they should be difficult to talk about.

 

I saw tens-of-thousands of tweets and posts carrying the #MeToo banner, and I had this knee-jerk reaction against it. Not because of others will power, but of my own.

 

At the same time, I felt an amazing amount of pride and safety knowing that others are brave enough to share those two words. Not strong enough, but brave enough. Something like this isn’t about strength because heinous acts like these rob you of your strength.

 

However, that having been said, I have a story of my own. It’s a story that seems like something the best fiction writers come up with.

 

I’ve been afraid to talk about this for the fear it will cause those closest to me immeasurable pain, anger and sadness. Although this may also affect those farthest from me, and for that, I’m sorry.

 

I also feel like my experience isn’t worthy of such a title. Me too? How so? I always thought of sexual assault or harassment as physically violent – I never knew it could be so subtle-y applied to any situation.

 

And because of that, I still have problems identifying what happened to me. I don’t know how to speak up about it to this day. I’m no longer plagued by nightmares or pondering why this happened, but it’s left a scar since.

 

_____

 

I recall what happened nearly three years ago as vividly as I recall what happened last night. I was at a party and I sat down with a girl, a silver-tongued devil.

We were talking about music – the Australian band Tonight Alive released their second album – and I mentioned a song that made me reminisce about a time long gone. Little did I know that I opened myself up to a sharp bite I wouldn’t be able to escape from.

Now that I let my guard down, this silver-tongued soothsayer knew exactly how to play me, catering to my apparent need for a closeness to intimacy. I knew then there’s no intimacy to casual sex, but I didn’t realize how fooled I was until after our physical act of righteousness.

 

Well, for her it was righteous.

 

When you seduce the broken spirit of a depressed, anxiety ridden 20-year-old at what could go wrong?

 

At the time, my friends didn’t even know how to respond to the benign scenario. Some told me to accept it and move on. Others thought it seemed enjoyable. What followed the months after that night were feelings of guilt and sorrow, pain and suffering, insanity and malice.

I’d cry myself to sleep numerous times a week wishing for someone to save me, while having flashbacks of her legs around my waist, her breathing – her hands pulling the hair on the back of my head – that kiss on my neck that overtook my fears at that moment and turned it into blind passion.

I whispered for her to follow me to which we found ourselves at a point of no return. I asked if she was clean, to which she nodded in confirmation. I didn’t have protection, and I didn’t bother to ask. I didn’t know how to say no, or even ask if she had any, so I let her straddle herself atop my lap as she thrusted her hips and removed her shirt.

And to think that this moment started hours earlier with her sitting inches from me giggling at every word I spoke.  Although I know one thing’s for certain: you never forget your first.

It all still feels like as if it were a dream – a concoction of a teenage boy’s ultimate fantasy – only to be acted out in reality, without all of the “accomplished feelings” and high-fives from your bros. I think I always knew something was going to happen that night – she was flirting like a high-school girl with an engorged crush on the dark, mysterious guy who always sat alone at lunch. Only, she was no school girl, and I don’t eat lunch.

She brought out my fears and hopes all in an equal fashion. She enveloped my desire to feel normal – and normal I had felt – up until the point where my sudden attack of conscious decided to guilt me into fault for what ensued between two morbidly, sad lovers.

 

So, as any story goes, now what?

 

I managed to graduate from my community college and ended up at my state university four months later – to which I withdrew medically from my only semester.

I met with a counselor named Lisa for every week during that semester. The Devil was the source of my fear, my worries. Walking around campus feeling isolated from society, from friends and family and having no self worth, make life pretty unlivable. I hated her. She took something from me I still can’t get back: losing myself to someone whom I love for the first time.

I felt unwanted by everyone and everything. I felt like a freak undeserving of love and affection because of my disability. One day, Lisa asked me if I were a woman if that succubus were a man, would that change the meaning of what happened between us. I said maybe, but I really meant yes. I went through with my actions that night because I was too afraid to say “No.” I thought she’d judge me, too, if I didn’t give in to her advances.

In an odd twist of fate however, that night’s allowed me to reconnect with others and with myself. Fast forward a year after I withdrew, and I met a girl online named Anette. Psychiatry has become my best friend, and I understand my importance to others now. Anette has become my saving grace and without her love, I’d be a body with no shadow.

Anette helped convince me to return to school, and I’ve been back for almost a year-and-a-half. After this current semester, I’ll have been back for two years.

I felt like the most useless life form on this planet for nearly two years, and if I hadn’t met Anette, I don’t like to imagine where I’d be. That scares me too much.

But things do get better – eventually. It just a matter of when and how, not one or the other.

 

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.

 

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.