This is the Sound of Settling

“I’ve got a hunger twisting my stomach into knots
That my tongue has tied off
My brain’s repeating, “if you’ve got an impulse, let it out”
But they never make it past my mouth.”

Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands of all time – in fact, if you took Fall Out Boy out of the equation, they would be my favorite band. And despite how much I love Pete Wentz, the lyricism of Ben Gibbard is absolutely unmatched in my opinion – and it honestly sets the bar for the level of imagery and metaphor that I would someday love to reach. As I write, I’m listening to ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’, an excellent song off of an album of theirs that I once considered my least favorite, but love dearly now.

But I digress – for this isn’t about my love of Death Cab and the poetry of their lyrics.

I’m twenty years old. I have, with any luck, three times my life yet and if I really get what I want, more than four times. Yet for some reason, I constantly go through life with the fear that I’m running out of time – and I’m not doing anything with it. I currently work as a phlebotomist for a plasma donation center, and for people who know me they’d know that that is something entirely out of left field for me – and something I have no passion for. I can’t bring myself to devote any time to the novel that I’ve been writing since the eighth grade, I’m currently not doing anything to further or utilize my skills or hobbies, I have approximately zero friends, and sometimes I feel like my girlfriend and I are just sort of in auto-pilot without much emotion.

I’m not doing what I want to be doing, I don’t look the way I want to look, and I still have the terrible feeling that I need to do something soon or everything I do will be for naught.

But what’s even worse about it, is that I feel like I don’t know exactly what I want to do, either. Am I settling? IS this what I want? Is there something deep inside me that I haven’t tapped into and I won’t feel fulfilled until I experience it? I have no clue.

I’m lucky enough to have things that I’m passionate about – because some people don’t have that. My girlfriend frequently feels melancholic because she says there really isn’t anything she feels that way about. I have writing, and acting, and film, and politics, and… she just sort of, does.
I can understand the frustration that comes with that – but on my side, I worry that I’m interested in all of these things enough, but I don’t know what I would love to do, or love to be.

The point I’m trying to make is this – I know what I don’t want to do, and what I don’t want to be. I feel that I have the general jist of where I’m heading, and I’m unsure if that’s what I want to be.
All that I know for sure is that I want to be happy.

But I’m not quite sure how to accomplish that just yet. School? People? Activities, hobbies, places, things? It isn’t clear – and I think my main obstacle is my lack of direction. I have no clue which way I need to go and I feel like I’m flailing. I have no plans for school – I have no goal set for what I want to be, other than a writer – and I have no support system in place other than my girlfriend, and as dearly as I love her, you gotta have friends.

I’m standing in place – stationary – as the world goes by around me.
Like a moment trapped on the event horizon of a black hole.
And I’m gone in one instant – yet there as everything goes by.

I feel like I’m settling for settling. I feel like I have options and a way out but I’m settling for this.

I sit in front of my computer alone in my apartment typing and listening to music play while I debate if I want to cook dinner and wait for Cel to come home and rant to me about her day. I’ll take my medication at nine PM, go to bed around ten or eleven, then wake up tomorrow and drive half an hour to a job I hate and day dream about other places I could be and other things I could be doing.
Then I’ll drive home – hit some of the traffic at five – then come home to an empty house and sit in front of my computer and feel like I’m not doing anything.

And wait for the days to pass me by.

This is the sound of settling.

– Brandon, 6:46 PM

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Little Blue Pill Blues

(NOT A POEM)

I’ve struggled a lot with how I felt about taking anti-depressants. There is no doubt in my mind that they work – and they help and safe millions every year. They are incredibly important and without them, I can’t say whether or not I’d be here today.
I started taking them when I was about fourteen, and I stopped when I was around sixteen/seventeen.  As I’ve stated before, I stopped taking them because I didn’t feel like they were necessary anymore, as my depression had weaned away quite a bit and didn’t feel like such a constant presence to warrant taking them everyday. I didn’t want to take pills that changed how I thought and how I felt – once I felt like I was stable, I simply wanted to be me with all the feelings that came with it, even if it meant the occasional spell of depression.

I didn’t want to be defined by my pills. I didn’t want to be that person that took anti-depressants – stupid or not, as that may be. I know there are people out there with depression and bipolar disorder like myself that simply can’t function without medication – and that’s just fine. That is completely understandable, and I feel incredibly lucky that despite having this mental illness, I was able to ever be stable enough not to take them.
And I didn’t want to have to take them forever. I wanted to be able to utilize them for a time, bring myself together, and move forward. And I did, for a time, as I got better.

But as I stated before, the depression came back, and it hit hard.
It took a long time before I even thought about getting back on my medication. I waited for weeks for the illness to go away – I tried doing things that made me happy, I accomplished things that I had waited for years to do, I lived round the clock with the love of my life – but a lot of the time, when it cuts this deep, there really isn’t anything that can be done to temper the effects. And it’s difficult, for yourself and the people around you that maybe can’t understand what it’s like, and expect you to be a certain way and aren’t sure how to take it when you aren’t.
And when it affects so many aspects in your life, you have to really sit back and consider what would be best – and that’s what I did.

I could,

A) Try and wait for the depression to go and hope for the best
B) Get back on my medication and do something about it
C) Wait until it completely engulfed me and something even worse happened

With that hand of cards and no end in sight, I knew that something had to be done, and after a great deal of time thinking and considering, I went to my doctor and was given a new prescription of a medication that I’ve had a long history with, Zoloft.
It was the first medication I started taking way back when. Young, angsty me even wrote a poem about it called ‘Zoey’ when I was fifteen or sixteen.

I don’t like that I have to take them, but I understand that I need them. There are somethings that can’t be solved with fresh air and meditation – somethings that can’t even be solved with love, attention, and care.
Sometimes you need the extra help, and I certainly do. It’s not anyone’s fault that I can’t produce happiness the way other brains do, but it’s my responsibility to myself and the people I care about to make sure that I do what I can to make myself better.

At this point in time, I’ve been taking them for under a week. There’s no signs yet of whether or not it’s going to help, though I already feel a little better knowing that I have them. Anti-depressants usually take four to six weeks to kick in to full capacity, so I suppose we’ll see where I’m at at that point in time – and hopefully there’s nothing but good to look forward to, with any luck.

Hope the last few months of 2017 are treating anyone that reads this well.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 5:31 PM

I Don’t Know Why I’m Sad

(NOT A POEM)

If has not been made obvious yet, either through the content and themes of my poetry or the few and scattered journal-like posts, I have depression.

I’ve dealt with serious depression since I was roughly fourteen years old. I remember vividly being younger than that – perhaps around ten – and writing in my journal something along the lines of :

“I feel sad a lot for some reason. I feel depressed – not the medical kind, but I don’t feel too happy.”

Little did young me know that it was, what I had called, the ‘medical kind’ of depression. Inherited through my mother’s side, it kicked in hard when I was in my early teens and I started taking medication. My depression was a very key factor in my growing up and a factor in my personality, for better or worse. I started writing poetry and short stories as catharsis for my many sad thoughts, my lack of a social or love life, and just the constant feeling of being alone. It helped me feel better. It helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, even though I was just reading my own writing.

When I reached seventeen or so, I stopped taking my medication. I had reached a point where my depression was no long a constant roommate – always looming and poking at me and being an active part of my life. It had been relegated to a recurring character in the story of my life, hitting me in small bouts every so often through out the year, and kicking in with my Seasonal Affective Disorder in the second half of the year. But it was no longer a big part of me – and being able to function and be me without the medication was a worthwhile trade.

I was okay. Maybe not happy, because I have only felt truly happy a few times in my life – but content. And okay.

And it stayed like that for a while. About two and a half, three years. I even stopped writing poetry, for the most part. I was a changed person, and I mostly embraced it – sometimes I would worry that my depression was too much a part of me, and that something was missing in my life without it.
But ultimately, I knew that that was a ridiculous notion and I continued moving forward – and mostly had a great deal of fond memories wrapped around it. I was in the first serious relationship of my life, I had entered theatre in my junior year of high school and after trying a handful of various activities I finally felt like I found the place I belonged – I had friends. I had people who liked me. I was as happy as I felt like I could’ve been, and I didn’t want to let it go.

That’s why I ended my first relationshjp – because I felt that as I was attempting to rise above the confines of my depression that I had let define me for so long and finally become someone new in of myself, the woman I was with refused to do the same. I felt that she wanted to stay depressed and I felt like she was pulling me down with me – so I ended it after nearly two years, and I went back into my life with confidence and by god… I was actually happy. For about three months, I felt truly and completely happy – I was popular and liked and I felt attractive and wanted and talented and I fell in love with someone new who didn’t compromise my emotional growth and I. Was. Happy.

It quickly faded. I jumped out of theatre to work more hours at my job to pay the medical bill I had been given after a car wreck, and that stands as the biggest regret I have so far. I faced a lot of those little bouts of depression off and on as the year went on, and I hated how things regressed so quickly.

A couple months later, something happened and then my depression showed up on my front door with its suitcases full of sad songs and tattered clothing and anxious thoughts and reminders of my mortality.

He lives with me now, full-time, a constant companion again for the first time in years – but in those years we weren’t together, he went to the gym and ate well and came back as some sort of jacked up mother fucker who not only made me sad, but gave me more anxiety than I have ever had before – done in such a way that I am never out of their grasps. I get anxious, and it makes me depressed, then I’ll get anxious about why I’m so depressed, and it’s a vicious cycle that shows no signs of relenting.

I have many of the things that I always thought would make me happy, back in the old days of being depressed. Not all, but many of them – and yet, none of it makes me any less depressed.

I don’t know why I’m sad. Sometimes I feel sad about things that I know I’m not sad about. Sometimes I just sit and soak in a pool of black – and nothing is real to me except for the fact that I feel terrible and it’s who I am right now.
For god’s sake, I wrote a whole new poetry book in just under a year dealing with a lot of it.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what to say. Would theatre make me happy again? Would actually having some god damn friends make me happy again? I have no fucking clue. Things have passed that I thought would mark the end of my depression, but surprise! It’s still there. So for all I know, none of that would make it go away, and that’s the scary part – I just don’t know what to do.

I feel helpless. I even considered rethinking religion because I feel so damned lost, but I can’t bring myself to do it because it’s so damned ridiculous.

At the beginning of this year, I asked myself and whoever the hell reads this if I was, and if you were, happy. And here at almost the end of the year, I can say – I am not. I don’t know when I will be. I’ll ask the same question next year just to check in, but things don’t seem to hopeful.

Though I am always hoping things get better. Every day. Because no matter what I sometimes feel, I am not depression and depression doesn’t make me who I am.

Also – “The Rubble Before Us; Fleeing Dreams and Other Things” will be out sometime in the next six months, hopefully, maybe. You can read all of the poems in it on here, anyways.

Well… we’ll see.
See you next year.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 8:45 PM

Edge of the Overpass

Floating in the overpass
I see your city through the fog
And I wonder if you see me
through pictures colored rose
or in some dark, corporeal dream
Just like you do.
Am I in your thoughts
or even in the shadows at your bedroom at night?

I wonder if anyone has over fallen off the edge –
of the overpass –
or of their thoughts.
Wanting a dream so bad
they forget the rest.

Through my windshield wipers
I can see your exit
But I’m sure the town
is as empty as you
So the rain pours on
as I drive forward

Winter, the Lover

(Open to Close)

It’s been cold for days
But that’s fine by me
I’d be numb anyways
I yearn for the violent wind
the punishing slaps to my face
the feeling of a thousand needles
I never get sick of the taste
I don’t want to walk
I don’t want to find a flame
Because I’ll just grow hot
And miss Winter my lover again
Her chill is so sweet
shattered glass on a carpet floor
blood stains the fabric
until you can’t feel anymore
She has me run to her
to feel her embrace
the flurries of dark wind
highways of empty space
no light in the distance
cities miles from the rearview
The windows rolled down
so she can tell me what to do

Two hands turn to one
one foot turns to two
as I pass eighty miles
just like she asked me to
I’ll only stop running
when I have a place to go
Alone in an empty apartment
or face first in the snow

I was never meant to make it
She told me that from the start
Warm from some other man
Because she got tired of a cold heart
No more anxiety, or worry
No more wondering left
She was like Winter
and I was, at best, blue
As I slept alone she told me
I should look the same on the outside too

One hand turns to none
Dim headlights turn to empty night
She howls from the window
“I’ll be yours forever – you know that it’s right.
Let me hold you on these empty roads.”

Winter was always there – the only lover I had ever chose
From the beginning to the end
Open to close.

 

Turn Right

Stuck on the highway between a semi and an oversized truck
Nothing left on the radio besides the terrible
and the so over played it sucks
I’m going twenty miles more than I should
Though my exit is only five away
And it kills me knowing that even though I’ll turn right
I could so easily drive right by

Wait until I find a better station, find a better song
Maybe just drive until I can admit to myself
that I know something wrong.
But you know as well as I
try though as I might
hours of miles or states away – I’ll never feel the same
All I do is turn right

I don’t know what it would take
After nights of rushing thoughts
and written admission a hundred ways
It doesn’t matter the time or place
It’s just not the same
I could run and hide and change my hair
Write a million words – no one would care
I’ll never go fast enough
to not still be me
and there’s not enough gas in the world
to change what I’m meant to be

In the Dim Red Light of a New Mexico Dive Bar

See through the smoke and spot those hazy Autumn eyes
Every fallen leaf is another year gone by
Trying to turn back time and forget about the lies
But the world refuses to forget
The seasons change
But the world, it won’t forget.

Neither do I.

See you through the mirror
Looking just like the photographs you showed me years ago
Just another reprint of the imitation
Like everyone else in the room you know
You bring the cigarette to your lips – pale pink from rubbed off lipstick
Knees vaguely wobbly
Face wondering if you’ll be sick

“I thought I’d never see you here.” You mutter, to me or not at all
Perhaps it’s just the thick nicotine perfumed air
You stumble once, then twice – and I reach to grab you before you fall
“Do you know how many times I tried to call?”

I look down at you and realize I don’t recognize the hair, or the piercings, or the clothes you wear that you used to hate
I don’t recognize the beat poet friends falling out the front door with men smoking cloves and wearing turtlenecks even though they promised to wait
But still the same are those Autumn eyes I always knew, still perched in the same still silent sadness
crying tears that roll down your cheeks
to the floor beneath us
It never changed – what you were running from never left
For the world refuses to forget.

I held you for five minutes
No longer
before I returned you to your chair and I walked out the backdoor
to rid myself of the angsty overly introspective menthol air
I didn’t know if you were drunk
or if you’d even remember me in the morning
If you’d recall me crying softly
and telling you I was sorry.
But you are who you are now
And I’m all set to go
You may forget me in the morning
Yet I remember your eyes – cursed to always know

The Sun at 8 PM

Reaching, outpouring
Wanting to forget about never knowing
Falling or sleeping
Or dreaming of being awake
I can’t find someone to give back
All this regret I continue to take
Wake me up
Before I go under
I want to remember the way
You looked up at me in wonder
There’s silence in the trees
And a lack of air at night
And no matter what medication i take
Nothing I stick inside me feels right
All the depressive
Without a manic to be found
I reach for your hand
But i’m not safe
when you’re around
And across my eyes
There’s a forest burning
They all cry for help
Because the earth keeps on turning
I don’t think they get the monopoly
Humans have on hate
Because even with loss
They just want to get away
So the sun melts
And you walk out the door
And at long last I remember
That you weren’t there anymore
There’s been years since your touch
And the trees are now ash
And when I get a little better
I’m just close to another crash
But in the cinders and dust
From that old wood
Life will rise again as it should
Yet only in a dream
Will you come to me
And my life is always fleeting
Just as it should be

Circular Anxiety

Sitting idly
No silence in the air
So I’m left in my head
Thoughts in rotation
Every word I’ve said
Autonomously moving
Like the changing of the clock
Tick tock
Tick tock
Why did I?
Why did I not?
If there’s reason for the Viewmaster in my head
Constantly changing between the scenes
Of fixated regret
I can’t make it out or try to get it to change to a different reel
There’s no choice or chance or change to American monuments or creatures of the rainforest
Just monumental fuck ups
And the list of people I’ve made dislike me
I wish I could stop the flash
The fleeting thoughts
But they come and go and tick away
Tick tock
Click of the reel
Constantly in motion and when it stops it begins again
Circular anxiety

Glaring Omission

(red curtain)

don’t forget
we all fall
and there’s nothing left
at the final call
to leave behind
or store away
because we can apologize
some other day
i won’t please you
you can’t speak to me
we don’t understand
the language of being
softer words
than the touch of your tongue
and my mouth writes monologues
that your lips haven’t sung
yet despite the lack
of oxygen
between you and me
i still find far too many allusions

to our own soliloquy