Doldrums

A Retrospect Pt. 1

I thought about you again. In those perfect empty moments past midnight as I lay in bed waiting for sleep’s arms to cradle me, a figment of memory fluttering behind my closed lids. The auditory hallucination of your voice calling me from the other side of my bedroom wall. I checked my phone for the time, the orange glow cutting through the darkness. When will sleep take me? Why do these thoughts run laps through my mind? Why are you always at the center of each of them?

January

I watched the Insurrection unfold as my fever finally settled at a comfortable 100 degrees. COVID made a mess of my lungs while the current president wrecked democracy with his words, motivating his blindly-allegiant followers into storming the Capitol. Chants for the deaths of the leaders of this so-called free nation echoed through the hallways. Police officers were beaten and bruised by the very people who were “backing the blue” throughout 2020, as demonstrations of “defund the police” and “Black Lives Matter” took place. These patriots, as they referred to themselves, erected a makeshift gallow to hang the Democratic leaders and the Republican vice president. They’re motivated by misinformation, fed lie after lie even before election results were tallied. “[T]he only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” For months after the November election, calls for recounts, shouts of voter fraud, phone calls to stop the count echoed through the media. A coup d’état was the final attempt to secure an unlawful win, to overthrow our election system. In the end, no matter their attempt, democracy continued. 14 days after the Insurrection, Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. 

February

The lights went out as Texas froze. Ted Cruz hopped on a plane to Cancun. He left his poor dog to freeze. What sort of man does that? 

My depression increases. The city has implemented a new employee evaluation system. And the aftermath of COVID still wrecks my body. My kidneys feel like boulders perched in my gut. I can’t piss, but is that a blessing? When I do, my sides tense up and the pain crawls up. 

I meet M for the first time. And I am nervous around her. I’ve seen too many versions of her come in and out of this library. Talented, smart, funny and full of ambition only to be turned away. I don’t know it yet, but a change is coming. One volume has wrapping up, and a new story is on the horizon. 

March

I’ve been down this path before, why should it feel different? Still, I filled out the application and submitted it. 

The two of them sit across from me, though I no longer feel flanked. They slide the evaluation in front of me. Give me the goals that I am to achieve each month and what I’m to achieve by the mid-year. I have no plans on signing the form there. Unlike my compatriots, I will play the hand I’m dealt. Secure what little power over my own autonomy that I still cling to. It’s not if I’m willing to agree to these measures, it’s when. I eventually do. 

Afterward, I apply for other jobs. I have no intention of being around by the mid-year. 

April

I entered the meeting early, interrupting their conversation. I am still trying to navigate this new world of social norms. Before Zoom, the interviewee is expected to arrive early at the office. Is expected to wait in the lobby with no distractions. No cell phones in hand, scrolling through social media. Magazines are ok, but books might raise an eyebrow. In those days, I always carried a book or a notebook to keep my mind from reeling. Before the scheduled interview – which took place on Teams – I scribbled a list of possible questions to ask. I sign on to my work-provided Teams and click the link in my email. And there appeared four faces I’ll later come to recognize. 

My only thought is how am I supposed to make eye contact. To look at my camera means to not address the person I’m responding to; to look at my screen means to appear distracted. I fiddle with my loose earbud and do my best to respond. And I’ve come to learn that online interviews are more nerve-wracking than in person ones. 

May

I grit my teeth as she talks down at me. Maybe I’m just angry, maybe it’s my depression. Maybe I’m just sick and tired for having to deal with yes-people instead of freethinkers who stand up for the department. I had campaigned for her to take the role of supervisor of the department, but I finally delivered something the administration wanted. “Why didn’t you meet last month’s goal?” Because there is no communication between departments. Because things change on a dime. Because what is there to deliver? Because I don’t know who they expect me to network with. Because you have given me little to no guidance over this, being too busy trying to address the problem child. It takes every ounce of me not to just straight up and quit on the spot. Takes more effort to nod than it would to break the news that I won’t be here in September. 

I confess to M that there are times when reading the message doesn’t hit me. Tell her that I can read every word of a passage or text aloud and still not understand the sentence. I remember that earlier conversation when a new email reaches my inbox. I turn in my letter of resignation. My time at the public library has ended. 

June

There are days that I’m at home and days I’m in the office. I caught the first year of college bug. There is so much I want to do, so many things I want to learn. After an Ally training, I throw out the idea of building a LGBTQIA+ collection as a long term, ongoing goal. My ideas here aren’t cast aside. They’re not pocketed and kept for another day. While not all of them will pan out, they’re also not quickly reasoned away into oblivion. 

My mood is elevated. I finally feel like myself again.

Intermission

It’s been some time, hasn’t it? I’m always lurking in your history, though my time may have been limited. But I never went away. Never truly. There I dwelled until you remembered me. Until you picked up a picture from your high school days and smirked at the boy you once were. The boy who wore lipstick. Who borrowed his girl friend’s clothing. The skinny, life-like doll looking for some sort of validation. A chronic 15 minutes of adoration. How easily you forget an old friend. How easily my persona toss aside when it never fit your narrative. But I notice. I recognize that need in your eye. That longing for that feminine feel. I know the thoughts you push back, deep inside your mind. The ones that are aching to push through. And that’s how I slipped out after you killed your god. That’s how I remember. 

Photo by charan sai from Pexels
Personal

Zombie Revisited

In the not too distant past, I wrote about a small fenced-in, Texas city called Gospel which played host to several military families after an incident that stole the lives of several children. Now don’t get up and Google that shit as I can assure you that you’ll find nothing on the matter. Since writing that entry, several video games and half-assed written stories have covered a similar plot outline. I suppose it was only a matter of time before somebody connected the fungus and zombie apocalypse to make a quick buck (though, in the matter of video games, the stories are actually, you know, good). Still, with NaNoWriMo on the horizon, old characters shamble out of the woodwork, moaning for me to tell their stories. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don’t partake in NaNoWriMo, or take on long projects.

It’s a funny matter, though. Every time I pick up Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, my mind always revisits Gospel, Texas and the epidemic that swept through the hospital ward, killing several children and adults twenty-one and under. I think about the military officials stationed there, and how they quarantined the hospital. And I think about the fire that broke out and spread quickly, killing all those trapped within. I think about the families of those children who never received on iota of explanation from the government, the CDC, or the World Health Organization. I remember that years after the fact, the military presence, as well as, the medical teams stationed there remain in Gospel like phantoms in the night. And with the border fence erected around the river, Gospel, Texas is a city trapped from the outside world.

I think about all this, and I wish I could just sit at home for a month and just write about it. But homeboy has to work and get the bills paid.

In Other News

The Dangers of Making Blood
The Dangers of Making Blood

Halloween is creeping up, and this year Jeanna and I agreed that Shaun’s costume would be Shaun (as in Shaun of the Dead). I purchased him a plain white polo shirt after giving up hope that we’d find a dual-pocket, short-sleeved, button-up shirt. Along with fabric transfer paper (by Avery, and I don’t recommend EVER buying it), I created pockets (one with a red ink stain) and his Foree Electric name tag, which I kindly borrowed from here. While the pockets worked (sorta) the name tag didn’t. Upset because now the shirt has a jacked-up name tag forever painted above his fake pocket, I racked my brain on what measures to take to solve the problem. Lo and behold, I remember I have adhesive spray which makes pretty much anything into a sticker. I dug through items at work (it’s not exactly stealing if we’re not using them, is it?) and found a rectangle pin. At home, I printed (for like the umpteenth time) the Foree Electric name tag, cut it out, applied the adhesive spray, and applied it to the pin. I taped down the edges because the spray wasn’t catching and pinned it to the shirt he’ll be wearing for the next two days (as tomorrow—being Wednesday in non-WordPress time—is out “Halloween” puppet show at work).

I went to work with the fake blood, which, to my utter annoyance, proved my mother right. While Shaun’s shirt will be stained with the blood, I advised Jeanna not to apply any on his skin as it will stain. The blood is non-toxic and edible (it tastes of chocolate), and you can find the recipe here.

I’m uncertain what Jeanna’s dressing up as, but I’m sure it’ll be sexy and leave me longing for her nice. Me? Well, considering that I work with children, I can’t be scary or anything fun (boo on you!), so I decided on a down played zombie I found on Spoonful. Though, whether I’ll be willing to wake up to actually apply the make-up (which should only take five minutes, according to the title of the post) is up in the air as anything that disrupts my morning routine is looked upon with scorn. I’ll apply a bit of blood after work if I do wind up dressing up.

Writing & Writers

“They Only Want You When You’re Seventeen”

Haunting

There’s a small town in the most southern tip of Texas. It’s a 20 mile drive from the nearest town of Romero. Only four miles from the Rio Grande. The population is 1395. And for the last fifteen years of its history, the town of Gospel has been gated.

In 1992, the town was hit hard by an epidemic that killed several of the younger residents, while sparing adults over the age of 21. For this reason, the media called the virus the “baby flu.” While several of the early symptoms of the “baby flu” mimicked those of the influenza virus, common treatments weren’t capable of curing or stopping the virus in its tracks. Death took place within three days of the virus – though some succumbed sooner than others.

Due to the media sensationalized fear, the US government quickly quarantined the small town of Gospel. The sick were kept in the local hospital – no larger than a common city’s day clinic. The three level building was heavily guarded by military personnel. Parents and loved ones of there sick were not permitted to visit. No one who wasn’t military or hospital staff was allowed in with the building.

In the early morning of Tuesday, 27 October 1992, gun shots rang out over the town. Parents who’d been camping were startled awake as the gun fire grew in a heavy array of crescendo and chaos. Military personnel moved in to quiet the situation – though only those within the hospital witnessed the incident first hand. Thirty minutes after the heavy fire began, one witness present at the scene noticed the bellowing smoke from a third floor window. Following shortly after, several explosions shook the foundation of the building. In the building imploded, spilling debris into the parking lot and the air. While several were injured outside, there were no survivors from within.

To this day, it is speculated that the kills were government sanctioned. No answers were given to the public. And the media, turning its focus on the 1992 elections, buried the story. While the virus was considered eradicated, the military presence still remains within the town of Gospel.