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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 12:57am on 31/03/2009 under , , ,
I had a dream about my ex girlfriend last night. We passed each other in an office hallway as if we didn't know each other. I turned and held out my arms and she turned and saw and walked back to me.

She has no internet presence. No MySpace, no blog, no twitter, no Facebook, no Friendster, no LJ. Evidence of my current life and loves is all over the net but she's a virtual ghost.

We were always different in that way. I am an open book. She demanded privacy. Two ends of the spectrum, both strange in our extremes.

But now we haven't spoken in a year and a half and she's not holding up her end of the arrangement. She can view my triumphs and setbacks from a safe distance but if I want to know about her life, this woman who I shared the darkest parts of me with, I have to call.

I'm not going to call.

We have been apart longer than we were together. She moved on before the ashes were cold, leaving me railing and frothing about Staten Island gym teachers. She might be a half dozen women past that one by now. I don't know.

I am still sad about it. I don't want her back. I don't want to hit her or poison her dog or key her car. I don't want to ask why, because the why is simple: sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes what you are feeling and what the other person is feeling are different.

Sometimes you can make yourself into what the other person seems to want only to find that she liked what you were before better.

I was a child in that relationship. I let her dictate the rules and the boundaries. She wanted someone she could mold and teach. She needed to be smarter and wiser and more worldly. She needed to be more balanced. She wanted an urban-trendy professional girlfriend so I bought gold slip on sneakers and wore khakis and blazers.

I am wearing a blazer today, but it's over a Battle Circus t-shirt. I pitched the sneakers for Doc Martens. Tattoos-- which she didn't like on me, she said-- have been revealing themselves on my arms like bruises and I love them because I finally feel real.

I say that no one dies. I calm my inner spastic freak-out princess. I breathe. I open my heart to as my people as I can stuff in it, I open my home to most who ask, I go to yoga when I'm not being lazy and I don't shower every day anymore. My ex showered twice a day most of the time and I got in the habit too, but honestly? I like being dirty sometimes.

In the dream, when I held out my arms, I saw the tattoos and wondered if she would still know me. Not recognize me. Know me.

I don't think she does. No matter how much of myself I toss out into the internet, no matter if she sees every photo of me flashing my panties at the merch table, no matter if she reads this blog, that girl doesn't know me any more.

I don't know her anymore either.

I don't think I want to.

But I want to know ABOUT her.

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 12:04am on 27/12/2008 under , , , ,
I did an interview of sorts with Upstream of Consciousness.

It was a lot of fun.

I actually don't even remember writing this line: I find often that the more complicated my feelings for someone are, the more interesting the photographs I take of them.

I answered that one on the train, on my Blackberry. I think I had been drinking.

Nonetheless, it's very very true.

Cut for complications. )

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 08:53pm on 23/11/2008 under ,
I am tired.

Tour is no basis for a system of government. Thanks, Dan. It's true. Everything is accelerated, heightened, intensified.

I bonded with the girl with the umbrella tattoo. We told stories and shared food and she slept in my bed. She is nothing like what I imagined. We became friends. It was what was supposed to happen.

So many stories. So many ups and downs, so many winks and drinks and playing cards and rock stars and hugs and kisses and keys.

But now, exhaustion. Sleep. Just wanted you all to know I am still among the living, breathing, thriving.

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 01:13am on 01/11/2008 under , ,
I believe in anniversaries. That a mood can be repeated, even if the event that caused it is trivial, or forgotten. In this case, it's neither.
-Crave, Sarah Kane

Dear Princess,

Our last anniversary passed just now. It's been a year since the last time I kissed you.

With the ex before you, it ended abruptly. I remembered the last time I'd kissed her and I regretted that I didn't hold it longer. Had I known it was going to be the last, I would have made it memorable rather than mundane.

But with you, I made them all count. I never knew which one would be the last. When the end came, I had no idea. I left that morning while you were in the shower. I left a note on your table. "I love you. We have more journey to take together. This is not over."

You texted me, "I love your note" and the next day you met someone else.

That part you denied for a month, but I knew.

You said she was brave and confident. She made you laugh. It was fun. We weren't fun anymore.

Our last anniversary passed. I got through every one of them just fine. The Christmas party where we first connected. Your birthday, my birthday, the fourth of July. The day we broke up. The day you first kissed me. New Year's Day, the day marking OUR beginning, became, without my even knowing it, the day marking MY new beginning.

What I'm saying, darling, is that your ghost has been officially evicted. She was my unwelcome tenant for the year it took for all these anniversaries to pass, but it's time.

Princess... I met someone. I don't even know if she likes me, but I made her laugh once and I'm determined to do it again.

So this is goodbye.

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 03:40am on 18/10/2008 under , , ,
My fever broke yesterday. It had been a year.

My heart has a specific rebuilding process when it's been broken. First, I stop eating. Not on purpose... I just can't stand the feel of food in my mouth when my heart is broken.

After a while, I start eating again. That's about the time I stop crying. By then, a dull calm has descended over me. The heart stops aching and is simply comatose. A low grade fever settles in. I resume normal life. I look normal. I act normal.

Something is missing. At that point, I am five steps back from my life. I can see it and hear it, but it doesn't touch me. I am uninvolved in my life. I eat, but I cannot sleep.

The heart coma lasts as long as it needs to. The swelling goes down and the heart wakes up. The trauma and coma have left a thick crusty layer of scabs around the heart. Nothing gets through. I am then two steps from life, surrounded by a thick membrane of protection. It's warm. The fever grows.

By then I am close enough to normal that I can play act at connection. I kiss. I have sex. I go home and lay awake, wondering what is so broken in me that I cannot get out of my head when I do these things.

The heart, of course. The scabs fall off. The membrane thins. The things inside me and the things outside me almost have a chance of meeting. They see each other, doh see dohing on dark street corners.

At this stage, I get frustrated by the membrane. The fever makes me restless and achy. I miss love. I itch, like the skin under the cast you're getting off tomorrow.

Then all of a sudden, something shifts and the barrier between me and life bursts. The world rushes in.


My hands are covered in paint.

I've spent the past six hours creating a... thing. For a person. A girl.

I don't do this normally. Arts and crafts are not my thing. I typically follow a pattern of getting VERY into something, buying all the stuff to do it, and then giving up when my product is lackluster. See also: jewelry making, stained-glass, painting, sculpting, sewing and silk-screening.

Yet somehow I am not deterred. It occurred to me earlier today that I wanted to make ART for this girl. And so I am.

This is an impulse I haven't felt in many many months.

It makes me happy and hopeful.

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 10:33pm on 25/09/2008 under , , ,
A year ago, I got my heart broken.

I ran away to Provincetown. I rented a bike.

I was surprised to see that entry, because I'd omitted something important. But its significance comes clear only in hindsight, I suppose.

I'd started to write about it back in January, in a post titled "Four Meetings with the Dresden Dolls". I had an image in my head of tying my three major encounters with their music into a post about the first meeting I had with Amanda (and eventually Brian) in January.

This was meeting number three:
I fled to Provincetown. I rented a bike, I ate dessert every night and I answered the phone every time my ex called.

I still have the mix I played on an endless loop that week, anytime I had solitude. The usual suspects-- Wake Me Up When September Ends (Green Day), If I Didn't Believe in You (The Last Five Years), and Hallelujah (covered by The Dresden Dolls).

I locked the bike and climbed to the top of a dune. I could see the rolling hills of Provincetown all around me. The ocean was close enough to smother me. I sat down and dumped the grit out of my shoes and wailed, sobbed, pounded my fists into the scrubby grass. I had an epic fucking breakdown where no one could see or hear me. The wrenching began and I laid on the ground, shuddering until everything in me dried up and went cold. My breathing stilled and I realized the music was still playing in my ear.

I took a deep breath and I started to feel better.

A year ago the sad, pathetic, doormat of a girl I'd become evaporated on a hilltop in Provincetown. I fell down one person and got up another.

This life is not all fun and laughter, but it is more fun and laughter (and love) than the life I left.

Tonight I am very grateful.


Dear Universe,

I am letting go. Send love, please?


I believe in anniversaries. That a mood can be repeated, even if the event that caused it is trivial or forgotten. In this case it's neither.
--Crave, Sarah Kane
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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 04:24am on 14/08/2008 under , ,
Is it terribly wrong of me that, upon stumbling upon the MySpace of the woman my first girlfriend dumped me for TEN YEARS AGO, I am kind of happy that she got fat?

It's not like they're even still together. My ex ended up getting married (Canadian, yo!) and then divorced. We used to email once a year or so, but that stopped three or four years ago. We didn't really have anything to say to each other. All old hurts forgiven, no real connection remained.

Nevermind the fact that, at fifteen, I was convinced I'd found the love of my life.


I was thinking about love, darling. I was thinking about love because I met someone I could see myself falling in love with. Our mutual friends tell me she'll break my heart.

They are probably right.

Girlfriend number one was a year older and Canadian. We met online. She left me for the woman who has now gotten fat and I went crazy and didn't eat and cried and watched The X-Files movie over and over and over again. It was four years before we communicated again. At age 19 I sent her a four page, rambling note written in pink pen on notebook paper. She said she knew it was me as soon as she saw the handwriting on the envelope and the US postmark.

Girlfriend number two was married. We were precisely wrong for each other. I think she admired my spontaneity and freedom as much as I coveted her roots and clear sense of purpose. There were moments of bliss, I'm sure I remember them. I think she got in too deep and didn't know how to get herself out. I do that to people, I think. I think she had enough of my impulsiveness and I had enough of her habit and routine. We no longer admire or covet. But things are okay.

Girlfriend number three wasn't my type. She was loud and pushy and people rolled their eyes behind her back. She was on an endless search for enlightenment. I am in a very different place than I was when we broke up; our mutual acquaintances tell me she is much the same. We do not speak. Our breakup was bad enough that I think there is nothing left to say.

The sum total of my romantic history in three paragraphs. I've never had a boyfriend.


Sex with a new person is like getting a tattoo or doing drugs; the first time, you're nervous and you wait a long time to make sure you want to do it and you want it to be perfect. It gets easier every time.


I slept with a girl who keeps a list of her lovers in the back of a journal.

I sat down to write a list of mine. The list seemed too short and then I realized that I'd left off the names of the three women I was actually in love with.

That seemed telling, at the time.

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posted by [personal profile] bethofalltrades at 03:09am on 06/08/2008 under , ,
Whilst searching for an email from my boss, I happened upon an email from two (is it three?) exes ago.

I read it. I shouldn't have, because now I sit, wide-awake and with heart in throat. Over the words of a woman I haven't been in love with in years.

That email prompted me to seek out an email from the last real ex ago. We broke up last September. People who have met me since then note how anti-romance I am. I hesitate to tell them that I am, in fact, one of the most utterly-in-love-with-love romantics that exists today. I'm just still bitter.

Reading these emails caused a realization for me:

I am really hard to dump.

Every time it happens I say I was completely blindsided, but every time, when I go back and look, the clues weren't just clues-- they were declarations.

In the case of both my most recent exes, their emails to me, months before we actually broke up, are full of things like, "I love you but I don't think we should be together," and "This is too hard, it's not supposed to be so hard," and "I don't think this relationship should continue."

I, of course, counter every move. You don't want to have sex with me anymore? Well, it's fine with me if we just cuddle. You need some space? I'll spend a couple nights a week at home! You want to be with a six foot tall, blonde man? I'll get the hair dye and stretchers and place a call to the surgeon.

Desperation isn't sexy.

The next time a woman says point-blank that she does not love me, God grant me the balls to tell her to fuck off and walk out the door.


ETA: Get in on the action... tell me your worst break-up story in the comments.
bethofalltrades: (Default)
There is a constant war inside me, between the way I want to feel and the way I actually feel.

I have an acute sense of the dramatic. I'm a storyteller and I know how the story is supposed to go.

I heard a new song today and, if my life was a movie, the tears would have started running down my face as I stood there on the platform. I would have pulled out my cell phone-- because cell phones work EVERYWHERE in the movies-- and I would have called you and I would have held the phone to the earbud of my ipod and then once you heard it you would have cried. And the music would fade as I told you that I still love you and you'd say the same-- we wouldn't be together, because it's not that kind of movie, but we'd make our peace and then the music would swell as I walked up into the bright, shiny day, finally free of us.

I want to feel those things, because it's beautiful and cinematic.

I want the movie.

What I actually feel is a lot messier. It's not just anger or grief or longing. It's nothing true anymore, just lopsided echoes of things I used to feel. Or wanted to feel.

I used to get into trouble, because I did what I thought should come next in the film. Oh, it's been a month, it's time to extend the olive branch. I should be able to sing along to Indigo Girls' songs about friendship with you, because if Mary Louise Parker were playing me, that's what she'd do. Even if two days later I'm back to daydreaming about burning your house down because I am still so goddamn hurt. It wasn't mood swings, it was my inability to stick to the script.

They don't make movies about girls who love, get dumped, leave town, get careers and friends and then have messy feelings about the whole thing.

bethofalltrades: (a box of candy smoke in your hair)
I used to write more things down.

I remember, last night, thinking how much I wanted to be able to remember whatever it was that was happening.

I don't remember.

My memory has become a casualty of participation rather than witness. I try to reconstruct.


"I love this song," she says. I strain to hear and catch a few notes.
"What is it?"
"It's called 'Nightswimming.' By your boyfriend, Michael Stipe."
We listen for a few moments as I try to put into words what we both need to hear.
"You know," I say, "I've found that, after a while, I started to reclaim things. Things that were 'ours' were mine again."
"I can't imagine that."
"Neither could I. But one day-- you know, we used this song in Crave rehearsals. Julie's suggestion. She really liked-- likes, I suppose-- REM. But now, I can listen to REM and my first thought is, 'Wow, I can't believe that I didn't recognise Michael Stipe' and not 'Julie likes this song.'"
"I miss things being 'ours.'"
"Yeah. I think I learned not to share so many of the things I love. That way next time, I'll have less to fight to reclaim. Less new memories to make."
She leans back, searching for some appropriate response.
"I can't wait until we find people who deserve us," she says after a long moment of silence.
I smile. "I can't wait until we have money and gorgeous clothes."
"That too. I want that too."
"You know, we could just deserve each other," I offer.
We maintain our serious faces for .05 seconds before bursting into laughter. I am grateful for good friends and order us another round.


I smile at her and she curls her fingers into the shape of a gun and sharpshoots me from across the table. I love her very, very much. I think she knows, if only because I keep telling her that my home is her home. Whenever she arrives in the city and finally decides to stay.


In the cab to Brooklyn, 1AM.

KT: Beth?
Beth: Yeah?
KT: We live in New York now.

I looked out over the East River at the glitter of the lights. Some things need no reclamation.

Beth: I think so, yes. Williamsburg Bridge, please.


I had my palm read on my first trip to New York. The psychic told me I would be very happy here. I explained I was only visiting and she nodded, smiled enigmatically and tried to convince me to pay her $40 to look into her crystal ball.




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