Monday, November 5, 2018

Careful, my Cadaver

Also by Jennifer S. Chesler, this is in the second edition of Fragments. The first version is still here at Amazon.

Careful, My Cadaver 
I am still mad. No one asks about my health because of this. My head is somewhere other than on my neck. It floats away from the shelter. It's been three days since I moved into the squalid apartment I now call home. Garbage bags litter the living room, filled with clothing and shoes that I don't wear. Cockroaches scuttle across the bed, up and down the walls, in and out of the stove burners. I wear the same thing every day. I saw the coat T. had bought for me hanging on a rack in her living room when I went to get my cat, Rex. He is mostly under the blanket. There is a small, light brown cockroach on his gray fur. Sometimes Rex comes out and walks around, but he is traumatized by the month we spent apart. I do not know what to do with myself. There is great pressure to work. How are you going to make money? That's what everyone asks me. I don't know the answer to this question. I continue doing nothing. Running an errand – say, to the bank, is difficult and requires hours of preparatory mental work. I struggle to take a shower. There is nothing in the mail for me yet. I wait for money and gift cards. I live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I am a pauper. I am a charity case who does not receive charity. I had no clue this was going to happen to me. I am at a loss to explain how I ended up here. The only thing that shows strength of character is that I'd rather be homeless than live with T. I admire that about myself. I am supposed to be grateful for every scrap I receive. I am not grateful for anything. I am an ingrate. Let's talk about reality, says my mother when confronted with my goal of being published. Let's talk about reality, she says:  maybe you should be institutionalized. Oh, fuck off, I tell her. I hang up the phone. The same thing over and over again. As though it's an option to get institutionalized willy-nilly nowadays. As though the homeless are not by and large mentally ill. These homeless people live on the street as a direct result of deinstitutionalization. The mental hospitals set them free. Now they live on the street, peddling their pills for scraps of food. I am full of hives without a buffer against reality. I do not know how I am supposed to deal with existence and the slow passage of time, no matter how accelerated it becomes. I am relieved to be out of the shelter. I thought I was going to have to stay at the YWCA. I saw T. the other day to get Rex. It made me sad. She has another woman's cat. I need to get far away from here. I need to flee again. I signed a three month lease. That's it. C'est tout. All in one go. We break right through. I am not the same person I was before. Oh, grow up, Phoebe says. The only sign of immaturity is that I was not wise enough to be successful. I do not wish I was dead now. I only wish that time would grant me a reprieve and that this month could be extended. I don't want to run out of money again. I am lying to everyone about everything. The only truth is that I want to be published. I am deeply disturbed by what you said to your mother, says my father:  you said you just want to write. T. says you sit around reading and writing and not giving her your paychecks. Yes, that's right. I don't care what T. says. I do not know why more homeless people don't die by their own hands. I don't understand how someone maintains a will to live when confronted with the elements blowing upon them. I know I make little sense now. I write anyway. So the YWCA would have told me the day before my time was up at the shelter whether or not they had space for me. I am being ignored by my old friends:  nothing to do with being mentally ill and homeless, the surefire combination to ensure excommunication. Yes. I will them away from me. I am at a loss for words to write down. I don't know what to say. Careful, my cadaver. Do not let your insides become visible. I am going to shop for a new identity as a hermit crab takes a new shell. I am a lover of nothingness. I am the void within me, asserting this as my ego. Nothing can help me but this. Therapy is a joke. My therapist is a spy in the house of a better way. I know that he tells others what he writes on his notepad, if not letting others read the notepad itself. I wanted to cry the other day at T.’s house. I kept up a front. I obscured myself from view. I got Rex into his carry bag after a good hour of following him from one hiding place to the next. There is no end to this. I would like some hiding places for myself. I would like to disappear completely. I am starting over. That's true. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Being crazy is a good way to get people to leave you alone. There is no quicker way to solitude. No one wants to have someone mad in their lives if they can help it. No one wants to get in a fight with you either. They don't know what you are capable of. It's good to keep a stiff gait and shuffle your steps, wear a hospital robe. This is all good. Those fuckheads are asterisks. I am starting to wish I'd been crazy all of my life so that I might have developed unmolested. My father thinks I'm smart enough to work despite my illness. Intelligence only leads one who is mad to know better than to subject him or herself to labor. Labor is the kiss of death, the bell that rings for one to kill oneself. Sex is no longer something I have desire for. It is unappealing in every way. I cannot think of a circumstance in which it would appeal to me to be touched. I want to masturbate though. I want to have one of those quasi-orgasms possible with the medication I take. It's only a contraction of muscles, no pleasure, but it provides relief. I am a mess. I don't even know why I'd want to give myself any pleasure.