Category Archives: breakups

The Closet Door by Joanie


The Closet Door by Joanie

‘Oh no! God – not another test-haven’t I had enough already? Oh well, I take a deep breath, shoulders back, pull up my boots and march forward!!! Let’s get on with it and over with…

I remember so many things  but I’m always saying, ” I can’t remember that”, “When did that happen?”…”Who was there?”, “How old was I?” So I’ve forgotten a lot of things, but oh! What I can remember…

Mother: shiny blue long evening dress, that special sweet good smell, loving arms, her smile, her reassurance and her giving… Her unconditional love and patience… Her utter belief in me. I will miss you and take you with me all the rest of my life; my best friend.

She doesn’t hear me very often anymore, she doesn’t even see me… Not even when I sit right in front of her and call her, “Mom, it’s me your daughter, Joanie… I love you.” Sometimes a soft, “I love you too, honey” ; maybe a little smile will follow.

Sometimes I want to shake her and say, “Hear me! I need you! Be there for me again,” but I don’t….and she won’t be there for me again.

Just before she really went away, she did hear me and I didn’t even say anything. She she just started telling me that we had to accept the things life sent us and that she didn’t like it anymore than I did, but we had to keep going…

Even though I know she’ll never truly be herself ever again, every time I go to see her, there is a little hope that whispers to me, “maybe today…”

Aw, but she’s free from this veil of tears – I hope- sometimes a smile hovers on her face and I make myself believe wherever she is, she’s happy now.

She shared her first loss with me and my sister, when Daddy went away. There was a redhead (strange that I used to color my hair auburn) he became enameled with and I remember my sister and I watching him the day he left – packing his clothes. We begged and begged him not to go. But still, there he was driving out the driveway…. And suddenly I dashed out in front of the car. He stopped and said, “What’s the matter Joan?” All I could do was cover my eyes and run back in the house.

Could I have ever done that to one of my children? No! No! Afterward I blamed myself for not asking him to stay with us.

Mom cried for months it seemed, then went to work selling yardage or dresses or something like that. We had become ‘latch key kids’. Nothing worse than a silent, dark house when you came home from school. When Mom was a bit sick and stayed home from work – oh the joy of coming home finding her there! Even the house smelled better.

I never forgave my Father, I know. Although, when I was going to get married I tried to find him through my aunt. He finally contacted my sister – not me….my sister.

But I got even when I was pregnant. Once he called from the bus station- but I didn’t want to see him so my husband went down and talked to him. So who got even with who? He did spend some time with my sister and her family but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t go there then.

Then came the time when he drank so much even my sister wouldn’t let him come into her house….and then he punishes us all and took his own life. In a dingy little apartment he hung himself on the closet door. He left an inheritance for my sister and I: 800 dollars partly hidden in some dirty clothes and partly in a pair of bedroom slippers on a closet shelf. The rest of his legacy is a feeling of horror for what he did, partly for an old drunk, regret and a loss that can never be found ever again.



Fresno Times Chronicles by matt carlson

Lily Bean – (Part 2) by matt carlson

The children had been manic that day, so had she. They’d laughed and sang : giggling like crazy! Such a fun day at the San Francisco Wharf last March. They’d eaten fried fish and chips, sodas and cotten candy. They’s walked along the water (Lily more slowly due to her increasing weight) and watched the seals play on the rocks down below. The boat trip to Alcatraz so scarey  too – and beautiful. Now it seemed  so long ago.

Patsie Bean, 14 her overweight daughter was still at home, the spitting image of a younger Amie Winehouse but without the drug problems. She was a sensitive girl, an artist. Open to the world, but only on her termes. She was reclusive in nature, an introvert most of the time and tried as best she could to deal with the world. Her new bedroom at Creek Haven in Fresno California was a protected space, her ‘away space’. she loved stealing away Snickers bars and Gummy Bears in her secret drawer of delights.

Her skinny, pot smoking  younger brother Bernie was in Juvenile Hall. He was 17 going on 30. Already a Father to two little girls who lived with their mother hidden away in Dinuba. He hadn’t met them yet, hadn’t told his own Mother about it either. He felt shame. Adding to the growing list of problems, his stay in Juvenile Hall wasn’t all wine and roses. He’d been picked up for stealing a second car and was paying the price.  Plus he had had marajuana on him when the police arrested him.

Lily sat at her small table in the den, munching on a Gummy Bears (her favorite along with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) while looking out the window towards the courtyard. She scratched her left arm while watching a young mother play with her daughter. It was a special moment for them and while observing the two was thrown back again into her past, when raising her young children had been fun. It wasn’t the case anymore, aside from Patsie of course. Patsie was her rock. So solid that girl. They’d developped a close relationship, much more like  two best friends than daughter and mother.

She ran her fingers through her brown hair and remembered her very short ex-husband Bill with his wavey brown hair; he too had been a part of that little family once upon a time. They had grown apart, wanting different things. He had suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder – this had created an enormous division between them as well.  She had sincerely tried to help him up to a certain point, but to no avail. His being almost dwarf-like had pleased her, at times she could imagine he was her little boy as they walked the aisles of the grocery store. But he had been all man in bed, his endowment below the waist making up for any short stature elsewhere. ..

Besides being alone suited her best. She liked being single. She could just fart in bed when she wanted, instead of leaving the room with a pretext and having to pass gas down the hallway. That and nobody stole her candy or raided her prized refrigerator. It was a european brand called SuperCOLD 5000 and she had gone through a lot of trouble to get it here in California. That was partly thanks to her husband who still sold appliances and had contacts over there. She smiled to herself while looking dreamily at her beloved grey shiney colored refrigerator and its unusual cucumber shaped door handle…With a sigh she breifly remembered Bill’s below the waist attributes…

Suddenly, she briskly pulled a package of hair color out of her purse:  was she really gonna become a blond? Ted had often asked her to do it – now she would do it just for herself. Now that ‘Tampon Ted’ was out of her emotional picture, she could be herself again. She still missed his long blond curls; loved playing with it, brushing it. He had wanted something more from her, something that she was unable to give. Now she wanted to answer that eternal question : ‘Do blonds really have more fun?’ by herself. Patsie would of course, be her hair assistant.

“It looks great on you! I can’t believe it,” claimed her daughter. “You look soooo different!” Her eyes bugged out of her head, her mom really did look terrific.

“Really? You’re not just saying that are you?” Asked Lily. She looked in the mirror, squinted hard at her reflection in the mirror. She kind of liked it, kind of didn’t. But she was going for different and different it was! She smiled at herself, “You’re right it does look pretty good.” Now if only I could get rid of these 20 extra pounds on my ass! They laughed in unison. Mother and daughter where a bit chunky, both with consequential behinds – very popular with black men….

She stood up and looked at herself fully in the hallway dressing mirror, Patsie standing next to her, twin-like, one blond, one dark haired. They laughed together at their image. These little moments were what life was all about.


“BE HERE” & Life At Le Pin Pastèque

BE HERE  (& Life At Le Pin Pastèque)


May 19th, 2014. Approximately day 3,328 at Le Pin Pastèque (the watermelon pine tree) in the south of France.

It was a blustery day: the wind rattled so much that even the screws safely secured in wooden posts trembled. Branches bended & leaves sang. Squirrels and birds huddled safely in their nests; cats in their country hotels slept, dogs too on their masters or mistresses beds. Outside hanging on the home made wall of a wooden veranda – a small square mirror. It had been rescued from the trash. Tiny red tiles framed it – though a few were missing. It went “bang, bang” and then “scrape, scrape” :  a  dance of wind & an old mirror.

A large grey  barrel sat on the dirt nearby pushed up against the wall beneath the mirror. “Gloup, gloup, gloup,” went drops of rain into the barrel. The wind had freed the drops from their pine needle prison on the plastic roof. There were always a lot of pine needles on that roof.

The barrel didn’t mind more drops joining the party, it just sat there full of water. As a matter of fact, the barrel didn’t think at all: it was only a container – left there in that exact spot to collect rain water. But it was steadfast sitting and a comforting sight. The ensemble : an outside bathroom of sorts. There was an old iron brasserie stem too (next to the barrel) used as a small table, though the marble had been broken long ago, with enough room to put a glass and a few tooth brushes. Tooth brushes that were now laying in the dirt.

With the television off, I could attend my ears to those sounds around me. An instant ago, they had been mere background noises, but now I could hear them. Joining the mirror dance, the thin door of the laundry room banged too as the machine inside shook my clothes angrily in its ever revolving mouth of plastic and steel. Outside: waves of air rolling, twisting & crashing into inanimate objects. A dog barked in the distance. Someone whistled.

Each time a new noise sounded, Foebbe and Fender (2 white Jack Russel’s) jumped down from the couch and ran to the glass front door. They jumped onto it excitedly with their front paws or in realizing an absence of anything worth discovering, would return to lie down, each in separate corners. “Of course”.

I took a deep breath. Aside from the dogs, I was alone. Of course Truc (Thing) the cat was there and the fish in the pond, but for all practical purposes, I was alone. And I desperately wanted to bring myself back to me! Back to my own thoughts – not those that were once again clamoring at my brain’s doorstep. Those were NOT my thoughts.

It was as if I wanted to read a book, but instead of the first page of a book I’d chosen, there were 1st pages of other books opening at the same time in my mind. Books from other people. “Read this one!” They yelled simultaneously, or almost. Similar to one door opening and suddenly shifting into perspective:  another door! Way the fuck too many doors- or books! I took a deep breath and with impatience yelled at the dogs to go and lie down again.

“Breath in deeply,” I told myself. “Count to four.” Wait four seconds. “Exhale,” and I did while still counting “1, 2, 3, 4″… There was no need to be anywhere. I mean, I didn’t have any obligations outside of the house, the animals, taking care of the home front kind of stuff. O had left a couple of months earlier and I had had little news.

Today I would just try and exist. To breath. To listen to the wind. I would not even try to focus on that first page of any book. I would not sing. I would not write. I would not try to figure anything out.  I would just sit here with Foebbe and Fender. Together we would listen to the wind.

“Be here,” I said .


The House That’ JACK’ Built by Matt Carlson

I’m looking again at this picture of a wooden house, the one you see there with the trees and the garden. That wooden structure is actually sitting on what was once a very big cement terrace. I built it myself with my two little hands; it’s insulated, has a see-through roof (though now that’s covered with a special material to keep the warm air in); it has two rooms (a living area and a half office/half entry way. It has a glass door (recuperated from Gréasque) has a front door and one window (from the ex brother in law) and a large bay window (from the ex mother-in-law). It is attached to the original stone house. which is about the same size. It’s sitting in the middle of a forest.

I began building this structure when O. (now my ex-compagnon) was hospitalized for BPD (Borderline Personality Order). I actually built it for him : an act of love. I went and chose the wood, paid for it and hauled it back to what we later called, ‘Le Pin Pastèque’. I emptied the truck and stacked all the wood, put a tarp over it when it rained, bricks too, (on the tarp) when the wind was strong; I bought too the necessary tools and materials in order to build ‘our future cube” : nails, screws, a hand drill, an electric saw, a ladder, a measuring device, big plastic plaques and systems of attaching them for the roof, etc, etc. The list is so long… and I don’t remember the names in English right now… But you get the picture.

At the same time, that O. was in the hospital (and he was in very bad shape): he’d been trying to hurt himself by mutilation, strange epileptic type episodes, stating that he wanted to end his life – he said that he almost drove the car into a ravine. So I had him hospitalized.There was no other choice and he accepted it. My Mental Health Worker experience from 20 years earlier came to life in an instant –  though this was not in an enclosed facility with a close knit team…I was on my own & at that same time, I too, was going a little bit crazy. My Father ( a recovering alcoholic) had just recently passed away and then suddenly O. took a turn for the worse.

We had  been together for five years, initially I hadn’t known that he was suffering from BPD – didn’t really understand what that meant either at that time. I did understand that there was something wrong with him; I remember our first disagreement: he just sat on the couch across the room with this strange blank look on his face. As if, he had become a zombie in the twink of an eye….My days were quickly filled with visiting O. at the hospital, dealing with the administrative problems that went along with that, and taking care of my own health issues. Working on the house gave me a focus – thinking that it would help make things better somehow. Knowing that while you battled with your mind in a crazy house, a physical nest of love and support would soon be opening it’s doors to you? It was not to be so…

O’s Mother and brother showed absolutely no assistance, or moral support whatsoever. Not even one phone call to inquire how I was doing. This was not very surprising, though the initial reaction was to ‘O’s’ being hospitalized. There had always been a strange love/hate relationship going on between O and his family, that I didn’t understand. I continually encouraged him to work through it, to stay in contact with them on some level, even though he stated his hate for them.

O. had specifically asked me to call his Mom  and tell her not to visit for a while, including the brother in that scenario – that he needed time to think, to not be in contact with them. But upon calling her and relating O’s wishes, she hung up on me! Then proceeded to tell O’s brother that I wanted to “control her son” and the situation. I know this because the brother wrote to me an email relaying this information and telling me to ‘stop telling everybody what to do’. I was amazed as it was so far from the truth. Of course, I quickly defended myself by clarifying what had been actually said and by whom – in a very neutral tone yet feeling obliged to make him aware of the inappropriate reaction from his Mother….but to no avail. I wouldn’t understand until several years later the strange reaction from Gigi (the Mother)…. that she was also suffering from BPD! I was surrounded by a family with BPD and didn’t know it!!

Then, suddenly (shortly after O’s being hospitalized) I received a direct message by a young man (via email- oh the joys of Internet, right?) that O was having an affair with someone! And that ‘someone’ was telling me what a terrible person I was (this time O was fabricating stories about me)….Of course,  I told the guy off and NOT gently either. I was furious and went to see O at the hospital, only to find the same person physically present – though he quickly leaves upon my arrival)…Visions of kicking his ass briefly flashed in my head… O tries to explain at first that it’s his ‘barber’. Instantly, I tell him about the message I’d received earlier and it is CONFIRMED with apologies (“I’m a worthless human being – I don’t deserve you” etc) and that the barber and the email sender are the same person – AND that he lives in the same village (Fuveau) AND that the guy is in love with O!…. Of course, O tells me he had only gone a few times over this guys house to get a hair cut and drink coffee. Uh huh, right….I don’t kick anybody’s ass, but driving home I am wondering how the hell to get out of this sticky situation, or to fix it somehow. And wouldn’t I have noticed those hair cuts??

Of course, infidelity had been a serious problem with O from the beginning – that and his drinking. Only my music was saving me, therapy through songs, and the building process of the house, but I was being pulled down by outside forces way beyond my control…. The good news was that a new treatment had been found for me – the famous cocktail of three HIV drugs was actually working. Physically, I was slowly becoming stronger for the first time in 19 years. Why was I staying with this guy? What was wrong with ME?

Solitude & Other Emotions in Paris by Matt Carlson

Fortunately, the sky has become overcast. One more day of hot, insisting sunshine and I would lose it for sure. I hadn’t moved to Paris, the city of lights & culture for annoying hot weather. Of course, many of my friends, especially in the south are ‘cloud-a-phobics’ or ‘fog-a-phobics’…the sun is their god and if it isn’t sunny, it isn’t a nice day with : “Il fait pas beau aujourd’hui” …well, excuse me, but fuck that! I love clouds, cool weather AND fog AND when the sun is constantly blinding my green eyes with it’s light, or melting my skin while trying to win a tennis match, let’s just say I can get pissed off, in spite of what people may think. Don’t poke the nice bear too often….

Add to the fact that I have to wear gawd damned sun glasses and a hat to protect my bald head pisses me off even more. Don’t I have enough crap to carry around with car keys, castle beepers (for the doors) plastic bags for my dogs and their shit (yes, here you pick it up!), money, my occasional MAN BAG:), a credit card to pay for the parking, a hanky in case my nose starts going haywire on me (thanks to indiscriminate pollen sessions by trees and car pollution)… And before going downstairs, make sure you’ve done your own ‘business’ because once out, well its’ the dogs’ turn to ‘go’ and running back upstairs with all those stupid security doors and an elevator (with jack russels in tow) – let’s just say, it’s complicated and “pisses me off”…. So, I am glad that today there are some clouds, makes me feel like I’m back in San Francisco – once upon a time, a home: before I fucked that up.

SO, this blog post is supposed to be about solitude and I see now that only anger is rattling my cage here in my half functioning brain. Well, I prefer anger over sadness and solitude (not to be confused with being alone – something i need every day). I did one of those personality tests before yesterday (even redid it once to make sure the result corresponded) and I got the same result twice! So, I guess it must be accurate with ‘their’ concept of personality “measurementing” lol – a continuous form seems appropriate somehow… I think it said I was a INTF? I’m not sure anymore…and that pisses me off too! Something about introverted, intuitive and ‘feelings’ oriented (woh, woh, woh feelings…) with a healthy slice of mentle analysis, everything was rather balanced (thanks to the gods).. Starting at 50 years of age, we need to do a computerized ‘update’ to our brain pathways cuz they get real messed up…too much bullshit memorized and classified….Have I gone off track here? Apparently, when you go into another room because you have decided to do something, and you arrive, having forgotten what it was you came in there for, well, going though that door clicks off some type of organization in your brain, and it’s normal! WTF? Well, just do stuff in one room, I guess, because you will continue getting up, going into the other room and forgetting why you went there. Accept it…well, unless you’re reading this and you’re like twelve or something…

I wanna bitch and moan about solitude, now. I hate it. AND I hate admitting to myself that I’m alone and feeling lonely. That is my pride, which has no place in fixing this particular problem. And I guess that personally,  my feelings of solitude are related to my anger. Anger about the recent break up and HOW it transpired. That my 10 year relationship with “O” (who turned on me), having been a real* as&=hole (to put it mildly)….really pisses me off.  I have not gotten over being used and the keys to my house being stolen to the glass door I hung, myself. To the door I recuperated and brought back to our ‘home’. A home which was ‘ours’, paid for by two people, now being kept at bay from me….And there/were/are other things too, important issues washed over with nastiness, lying, selfishness, pettiness….to sum it up, my being here in Paris, displaced, feeling this heavy solitude (with a touch of anger) is a direct result from what transpired between my ex and I…

So, “deal with it” – right – “get over it” – right…”turn the page” – of course….but maybe the most important thing I haven’t done is: allow myself to feel those true and deep emotions without judgement….This is most certainly the biggest key to moving on after an important break-up, whether it was six months, ten or twenty years. Allowing oneself to feel. Instead of pushing it away with, “He’s/she’s no worth it”, “I’m not going to bring myself down to his/her level” and so on. Those scripts are not going to help you heal your pain. The only way to heal is to first allow yourself to feel your loss, your tears, your anger, your frustrations….all and any of it that needs to come out, to be expressed. If you do not have the possibility to directly express those emotions to the person who ‘needs’ to hear it, then use your friends, your family, beat up the pillows on your bed, burn his/her pictures (maybe even make a voo-doo doll in their image..) whatever, be creative and get that pain out!

Once that is done, you can begin picking up the pieces of your new life….

Hit me up and leave a comment – I’m feeling lonely… ;((!