Jess Party
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astillar
Friday we were supposed to cook our Indian meal. I stopped at a Kroger to get the last few ingredients but I’d forgotten my wallet at home or school. Running around to find that wallet cost me over an hour in rush-hour traffic. That put me in a grumpy and it was getting late so we dropped the idea of cooking that night and just drank instead. Anna came over and we all stayed up till four in the morning. The girls took the bed and I tried sleeping on the floor. Inebriated and tired as I was, I couldn’t really sleep down there.

Sometime during the night I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed how Brittney was curled up almost fetal-like in Anna’s arms. I felt a fierce pang of jealousy at that sight. I was severely displeased. And yet I knew I had no right to be jealous. That’s when I realized that I’m getting too attached to her. I really need to back off.

Fortunately Anna had to go to her shift at Jack-in-the-Box at 6 am so after I dropped her off I could relocate to the bed. That gave me a few hours of sleep, but none of the coveted cuddling. We had breakfast tea together before I headed out Saturday morning. That afternoon I mostly napped to make up for the night before.

Saturday evening one of our science teacher colleagues hosted a Christmas party. Gale has a pretty nice house; I wonder what her husband does. It was a random assortment of science teachers. Brittney and I were the only ones who brought booze, which was a bit awkward but after a couple beers I didn’t really mind anymore. Gale’s husband was the highlight of the party. A few of us (the drinkers) wound up in the ManCave, where Jim regaled us with random stories and general orneriness. I’m not sure if I believe his story that he invented the maxi pad, but everything else he told us seemed plausible. Brittney was officially/unofficially adopted into their family when Jim began to refer to her as ‘bitch,’ his term-of-endearment of choice. I continue to marvel at how easily Brittney acquires new friends at every event we go to. She makes it look so easy.

The other teachers headed out early and we were the only non-family members there by the end of it. We left just before midnight and Anna re-appeared once we were back at Brittney’s. This displeased me. Not because I’d have to share Brittney’s company, but mostly because it boded that we’d be staying up late again. I don’t have the stamina to do that night after night. I tried hanging with them for awhile but soon enough Brittney was on the phone with a friend(?) who was causing some drama. So she disappeared and I presumed that it’d be a while before she got back. I told Anna as much and stepped outside. I went to my truck, turned on the heater, and dozed off. About half an hour later I roused and checked my phone. There wasn’t anything from Brittney so I assumed she was still preoccupied. I decided not to bother returning to the apartment so I bid farewell and headed home. It took another 15 minutes for Brittney to respond, so a total of 45 minutes that she hadn’t noticed my absence. I took that as proof that she wouldn’t mind my absence; she had Anna’s company after all and I didn’t want to attempt sleeping on the floor again anyways. Of course that displeased Brittney but I learned after the fact that she and Anna still had a fun night without me.

I went out to pho for breakfast with Brittney and then returned to her place to work on school stuff until we headed out to Jess’s holiday party that afternoon. It started at 3 pm, which felt a bit early to me, but I was optimistic that we’d be heading out at an early hour, so I could catch up on rest and the schoolwork I’d been ignoring all weekend.

Jess’s party turned out to be pretty big. Their house is decently sized, but soon there wasn’t enough room to sit. And she’d taken a week off of work (alleged) to clean house, so it was a vast improvement from the last time I’d been there. And the spread of food was staggering. She really went all out. Brittney and I’d only brought snacks because the food RSVP list had already covered all the bases. Of course I didn’t know anyone there besides Brittney, but there were some kids there so I played with them when I couldn’t find a conversation to invade (which was most of the time). We ate till we were stuffed and then there was a white elephant present . . . thing, which I’d been unaware of. Brittney was keen on me meeting Jess’s dad, Paul. He seemed to be a stoner carpenter, so I was like, “Ah, I recognize this creature.” He was a fun guy. Even though I told him Brittney and I were friends and teachers at the same school, he was all, “You have a beautiful wife.” Just a joker.

The bulk of the festivities were over by eight and I was honestly ready to go by then. Most of the attendees left over the next hour until it was just us younger people who were still chatting and nibbling. Brittney was toasty so she didn’t quite hear my suggestions that we head out. If it wasn’t a school night I would’ve kept up with her but my Monday was going to be difficult enough without a hangover. When she disappeared around 9 I started to get grumpy. I’m used to being ignored by her after she reaches a certain point, but in this case I had no choice but to stick around. Jess told me that she was getting high with David. If I was going to have to stick around I didn’t want to be excluded from the fun.

When Brittney and David emerged I told her as much and David was generous enough to offer me a dab. Half an hour later I wasn’t feeling anything, only to learn from Jess that he’d made me a small one on account of how many friends they’ve had overdo it on their first time out. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful, so Jess relayed my disappointment to David and he made me a regular one. I nearly coughed up a lung that time. Shortly thereafter David turned in for the night and that signaled that it was time for us to leave.

I drove home of course. Brittney was all sorts of happy and she kept commenting on how high I was, but I doubted she was able to objectively/subjectively(?) appraise me. I’m pretty sure it was just her skewed impression. I felt more relaxed, but was in full command of my faculties. I did miss a couple of turns on the way back, but that was mostly because it was dark and my navigator was incapacitated. David had said this stuff would be more “expansive,” so maybe it was just that or I didn’t get enough. Either way, it was pleasant. Brittney was visibly happy that I’d ventured into her hobby. She mentioned that she would gladly give up booze in favor of bud and I replied that maybe it’s something we should do. It’d be a lot less calories I’d be ingesting, at least.

Brittney hit her wall within a few minutes and conked out. I don’t know if it was my fatigue or the THC, but that drive back from DeSoto seemed to take forever. Even though the effects were underwhelming, it was interesting to discover that I wasn’t completely immune to the stuff. All the other times I’d tried it I hadn’t felt anything. Same thing for tobacco and hookah. I was starting to wonder if I was just immune to all types of smoking. Not that I’d want to get into it seriously, though. But still, it’s good to know that it’s an option for fun.

Nonna
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Monday I’d gone over so we could brainstorm on this week’s dinner. That turned into beer and hookah and Anna again. Since it was Monday, I held myself to just three beers. Anna and Brittney proceeded apace. Nothing of note happened that evening.
Monday night I only slept three hours before waking up. Apparently even just three beers was too much. Either I need to figure this weeknight drinking out, or just give up on the idea altogether. I gave up on sleep around 3 am and went in to the school to at least get some work done.
We didn’t have any occasion to hang out Tuesday evening. Or so I thought. We’d both gone to our respective homes. Cameron and Katherine were doing their own thing so I was left alone for a couple hours. I tried picking up my recent video game again, but wasn’t really into it. It felt weird, having this free time here at home. I would’ve napped if I hadn’t had a late afternoon soda. Then Brittney texted me.
Today was her late grandmother’s birthday, who passed back in March. As they had been especially close, Brittney was all sorts of bummed out and lonely. It hardly took any prompting for me to head over there.
She’d had some beers but still was perceptibly down in her mood when I arrived. She was fielding all sorts of texts and calls from well-wishers who were responding to her SOS. Brittney continued with her beers, I limited myself to 1. We also had hookah. Between the beer, my company, and the continued messages of support, Brittney’s mood swung up towards its usual level. She warned me that she’d be taking a lot of messages and didn’t want to be rude. I told her she would get “a pass” for tonight on that matter. We kept talking about her memories with her Nonna and I nearly peed my pants laughing when she showed me a birthday video she'd made for her years ago.
I actually found myself growing a bit wistful. Is it possible to miss someone you've never even met? I would've liked to have known this person who was such a big influence on my best friend's life. She seemed like an awesome person.

Tire Weekend & Courtney's Party
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I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time with Brittney this week. Days are school, evenings are often spent ignoring my responsibilities to hang with her. Tuesday evening we “snuck out” of school early at 5:00 so that we could go buy groceries for our inaugural weekly dinner cooking. Wednesday … why was I there again? Oh, we made tacos just on the spur-of-the-moment. Of course that eventually entailed drinking beer, which led to vodka. I was really tempted to stay the night and I’m sure Brittney wanted me to, or at least not leave as early as I did (10), but I had stuff back at school that I HAD to do. She wasn’t pleased to see me go.
Normally I don’t drink on weeknights and I paid the penalty the next day. I went over Thursday because Brittney had had a shitty day plus we needed to figure out what she’d be wearing for Saturday’s “Winter Wonderland” party that Courtney was hosting. We had drinks again, but this time Brittney invited over her favorite student Anna, who brought her hookah. That changed the dynamic. Anna reminds Brittney of her younger self so they were clicking in an almost sisterly way, listening to their reggaeton music, and talking about students in their class, etc. I felt a little excluded, but whatever. I was still pretty tired from the night before so I was holding back on the booze; trying to drink just enough to be fun, but not so much that it would compound my fatigue the next day. Brittney was going strong and having fun though.
We headed out to find coals for the hookah or something. Brittney let me drive. The tires on her car were seriously low. When I’d arrived that evening I’d noticed and told myself that I should air them up before I left. Brittney needled me a bit about my driving, even though she was getting us lost on the way to the head shop. As we pulled into the shop’s parking lot, we heard a distinct pop. We bought our stuff and came back out. I could tell the tire was dead flat and that we should fix it then and there. Brittney still wanted to get booze plus she needed to pee. I told her that she and Anna should walk to the nearby RaceTrac while I fixed the tire. She said it was driveable and since it was her car, that’s what we did.
By the time we got to RaceTrac, the tire had come off the rim so there was no hope of a quick fix. That’s when my mood officially soured. Brittney wasn’t dressed properly so she stayed in the car with the heater and her phone and the beer while I struggled with the tire. Her tools were all messed up and cheap. I was pissed because I was having to deal with the problem she’d been ignored for who knows how long, tired and cold, while she was in the car texting and drinking. Eventually we had to enlist the help of three other drivers to assemble the necessary tools to get the tire replaced. It must have taken us at least an hour to get the spare on. Brittney was good at approaching these strangers and getting them to help. She thanked them all as they left, even offering to share some of the beer with them.
We drove back. I knew I was in a grumpy mood and so did the girls. Brittney told me to “loosen up.” I was aware that I was being a grump, but I couldn’t let go of the fact that Brittney had thanked everyone EXCEPT me. It annoyed me that her main focus was on maintaining her buzz and enjoyment. While walking through the parking lot to her apartment I made a clumsy joke as I attempted to get back in the mood of the evening. Brittney snapped at me and that exhausted the last of my patience. When she told me to use the keys to open the gate, I told her I would if she would tell me thank you for working on the car. She replied with something like, “Fuck that, just open the gate!” I replied, “Okay, I’ll remember this,” to which she responded, “Yeah, I’ll remember this too.” I don’t know if she was replying in kind to my budding anger, or just drunkenly echoing my words. In either case I knew my fun was over for the night.
I left a few minutes after we got inside. There was no way I’d be able to get back on their wavelength. I don’t know what Anna thought of the whole thing, but I didn’t concern myself with her too much. I hadn’t brought her into our evening. Brittney tried calling and texting after I left but I really wasn’t in the mood to talk to her. Despite being very fatigued, I wasn’t able to sleep well that night. The after-effects of drinking plus my mood kept me from resting. I couldn’t figure out if my emotions were warranted, or based on fatigue and booze and were out-of-line.
Her first text Friday morning was to thank me for my help, but I was no longer interested in hearing it. It’s easy to do the right thing when you’re sober, but your real personality shows when you’re drunk. Eventually she dragged out of me the condensed version of my side of the previous evening. She didn’t get defensive or anything, which surprised me. She sincerely apologized and although normally I hate telling people how they’ve hurt my feelings, I really did feel better after I’d gotten it off my chest. We didn’t talk about it any further. Although I still wanted to make sure I’d explained myself clearly, I was also pretty self-conscious about having this sort of conversation. And after Brittney’s humble apology, I couldn’t in good conscience push the matter any further.
Our planned cooking had been pushed back to that Friday night. I was still pretty exhausted and when I got to Brittney’s place it appeared that she was pretty tired too, but we stuck with our plan. I think we both would’ve liked to have taken the evening off, but I think we both felt that we needed to patch over the misunderstanding from the night before. So we didn’t have as much fun as we might’ve normally had. Brittney barely touched her beer at all, which was atypical. We messed up the recipe a time or two, but overall the food came out nicely. It took us a long time to finish because we weren’t at our best.
When it came time to eat I was all, “I’m more tired than hungry.” As delicious as the food was, my appetite was significantly dulled. I asked Brittney if I could stay over tonight because I was sincerely exhausted. She declined. As tired as she was, she wanted to sleep naked that night. That comment managed to kick my hibernating imagination into high gear. She said, “I know you, but I don’t know you THAT well.” Ha ha. Yeah, I wouldn’t trust myself either.
Things got weird for her after I left. She soon discovered that her wallet was missing. After searching her apartment, she even drove back to school to see if it was there. Not there. She came back home and cracked open the vodka and smoked a bowl of hookah to calm herself. But she didn’t open the window so the fire alarm went off. She climbed a chair to try and turn it off, but between her short height and the booze, she fell and hurt her ribs.
So Saturday morning after she’d told me all this, I offered her any help I could provide. She asked for “a ladder and company.” Done. I fixed up her fire alarm. Apparently she’d even hit the doorbell box on the way down. It would’ve been funny if she wasn’t hurting as much as she was. Mostly I think she just needed someone to commiserate with and listen to her plight. Between the blown tire and the missing wallet and her injury, things weren’t too pleasant currently.
We sat and had tea and talked. We even got onto the topic of her drug-abusing parents. She’d skirted the topic before but now she was willing to share. I offered what anecdotes I could about my dad’s drug problems, but it was like comparing an anthill with a mountain. I marveled aloud at how she could have endured all of their shit and still come out as wholesome and healthy as she seemed to be. I would expect someone with that history to come out with visible flaws or defense mechanisms: anger, insecurity, fear, evasiveness, etc. But she’s always been 100% candid and open and gracious. I still don’t understand how she could’ve kept those traits intact.
Anyways, while I cherished the fact that she was sharing with me, the atmosphere was getting a bit heavy so we decided to head out to get some painkillers from the store. As we got into my truck, we noticed a familiar looking black leather wallet in the back. Ha ha. Apparently it’d been in there from when we went to buy mixers on Thursday. Wow. Brittney was relieved to have it back and that discovery turned the day’s mood around. I wish we’d discovered it the night before so that we could’ve avoided the injury, but this was the next best thing.
I left Brittney on that good note so that I could go get prepared for the evening’s party. I grabbed some last minute costume items and ran down to the hotel to check-in and try things on, etc. A few hours before the party Brittney began texting me about how she was undecided about the party. She wanted to go, but still had no idea about what to wear and she didn’t want to disappoint me or something like that. Part of me thought she was looking for an excuse to not attend, but I know she’s not oblique like that. And she was also hurt, so I tried to be considerate and told her that whatever she was comfortable with (physically and socially), I would be in support of. Eventually she decided to go through with it.
She wore a cute little wintry outfit. (I still don’t get why she won’t let me take any pictures of her :T, but whatever.) I was in my white and blue jacket/dress shirt combo. Despite the big RSVP list, the turnout was closer to 15 people, I’d say. I was worried that I’d be a poor mediator to introduce Brittney to my friends and I think I lived up to that promptly. She did well at mingling on her own but didn’t seem to click with hardly anyone. I wasn’t quite sure how directly I should try to get her introduced to people. If she’d been my girlfriend it would’ve been mandatory business, but as she was just there as my co-worker, the stakes were much lower. Trying to balance my own desire to shmooze while keeping an eye on how Brittney was faring proved to be ineffective at both. She did click with at least one other girl there and I made damned sure to introduce her to Mark and Katherine, who she liked, thank goodness. I had suspected it might be hard for her to fit in amongst this circle of nerds, but I wasn’t aware of how clique-y we were until tonight.
When we ducked out to go get cigarettes, Brittney remarked how she’d never been rebuffed by nerds before. It prompted me to observe that even I remain on the fringes of these social bubbles and I’ve known these people for years. But for someone like me who isn’t social, I don’t mind not being involved. Just being included is enough for me. For someone as universally amiable like her, this was odd. When we got back, the party had been kicked out of the room due to noise complaints and now we were loitering in the lobby. That really killed the fun. Brittney had the idea that we could offer our room as an alternative. I wasn’t too keen on the idea since I wanted to remain in control of when I quit for the night, but Courtney was teary-eyed over the turn of events so we made the offer. She declined and the group set up camp in the main lobby while Kevin began smuggling our booze and snacks downstairs.
If this were an anime con, I’d be okay with loitering and drinking in a public area. But we were all either in costume or nicely dressed and although everyone was trying to make the best of it, I wasn’t feeling it. Maybe that makes me a jerk for wanting to bail on the situation. It looked to me like Brittney wasn’t too thrilled about hanging out in the atrium lobby either. After she said goodbye to her one new friend, we went back up to the room and crashed.

Slender Path
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We were almost giddy as were we trying to get out of school ASAP on Friday afternoon. I’m sure it was obvious to the few straggler students that we were up to something. That night we went out to dinner for sushi because it’d been on both our minds. We pre-gamed a bit at her place and then had a good long dinner. Sake, beer, and sake-bombs were had. Back at her place we kept going with the drinks and listened to all sorts of old 90s music. I nearly killed Brittney with laughing when I was karaoking/dancing to Salt n’ Pepa’s “Shoop.” She was losing it and I had no fear that she was laughing AT me. Eventually though Brittney hit her wall and ordered 6 scrambled eggs (a full dozen actually, but I refused to make that many). After dinner she was apparently gravitating towards her bed and I was prepared to make my exit when she asked (told?) me to join her in bed for a few minutes of cuddling.
Of course I was game. Given how direct and honest she is, I knew that she meant exactly what she said and nothing more. I could see that she was wobbling a little as she closed up the apartment for the night, so a small voice in my head said that maybe I should decline her offer, but I couldn’t deny how much I wanted to join her. I figured she just wanted to company, so I held back a bit. But she pulled my arm around her and intertwined her fingers with mine and then she was out like a light. I, on the other hand, could not sleep for hours (I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep at all). I was dying with happiness. After being single for over a year and a half, I was starving for this type of close, intimate, comfortable contact. And she was so warm, and soft, and smelled good … my mind simply couldn’t relax and fade out to sleep.
As I laid awake I perpetually marveled at the fact that I was here. Less than a month ago we were strangers who worked in the same building. Now I was holding her as she slept, in her bedroom, and it hadn’t involved any kind of trickery. It had just happened. My thoughts stumbled as I attempted to fathom how she could be so open and honest and trusting and … secure. And of course I kept pondering what this meant for our friendship. It was platonic cuddling, sure, but this was right on the border between platonic and intimate. I know I wanted more, but the ease with which we’d come to this point almost seemed to say that this was nothing significant at all.
I had presumed that once she became sober she might regret or be embarrassed by me staying over. But that morning after a false waking, she went back to sleep, with my chest as her pillow. I died again. When we finally got up, she was perfectly at ease with the situation and I continued to marvel at her poise.
I spent my Saturday attending to various chores and tasks, but my thoughts were constantly returning to Friday night, trying to make it fit into my schema of relationships. When I told my brother I’d be going out again that night, he joked that I was dating Brittney, considering how much I texted her and hung out with her. We’re not dating, but his clumsy remark held a grain of truth. That led me to wonder if maybe I’m getting too smitten or … I don’t know. It just kinda underlined my confusion concerning what we’re about. Although I’ve only known Brittney for a month, I can see that she’s ‘universally compatible,’ capable of clicking with a diverse swath of different personalities, with what appears to be great ease. I’m also fairly certain (but less so than the previous statement) that she maintains a host of friends and relationships of varying types and levels; she can give her trust and caring and heart to many many people, without actually giving it away to any one person. This is more of a vague theory of mine, but it’s the best idea that fits all that I know about her. These two ideas explain how we became friends so quickly: because she has that ability. It also forecasts the odds of this friendship turning into what I want: essentially zero. It’s going to take real effort not to misinterpret this unique friendship.

Thanksgiving Week
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This week was Thanksgiving holiday break. I didn’t have anything planned; it just sorta snuck up on me before I knew it. I told myself that I’d spend the time off planning for school and getting ahead of things. For the first few days I worked towards that goal but my motivation dropped off as I started to get bored with the ample free time. We didn’t have any family coming over so there really weren’t any demands on my schedule. I killed time the first few days by playing games and going to the movies, but that started to wear thin fairly quickly.
Earlier this month I’d gone to a science teacher conference in San Antonio along with a handful of colleagues. I don’t know if I’d say the trip was worthwhile, but the highlight was the last night we were there and we went out to a comedy club and drinking together. The girls had been drinking it up evening. Unbeknownst to me, my male roommate had been turning down their invites on both of our behalfs. That sucked. But the last night was fun and I got to know those teachers as people. They’re chemistry teachers so our paths don’t cross too much, but it was still encouraging.
So this week I texted Brittney, the teacher I’d gotten along best with, to see what she was up to. If our convention trip was any indication, I figured she might be game for hanging out and drinks or whatever. Sunday we texted, Monday we met up for drinks at her place. Since she’s only recently moved to DFW, her local friends-base is virtually non-existent, which works out in my favor I suppose. And since she’s only moved in a month ago, she didn’t even have any furniture. We drank and went over to her neighbor’s place, where they were grilling. They were kinda an average, almost country bunch, but after a few drinks I talked the talk and walked the walk as well. Brittney joined them in smoking. It amused me that she seemed almost embarrassed to smoke in front of me, when in fact I was glad she felt she could just be herself. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d met someone brand-spanking-new and had the pretenses drop away so quickly.
Wednesday we did it again. This time she’d acquired a table and chairs so we stayed at her place. We drank, listened to music, played Gin Rummy (which she taught me and I won at), she smoked, etc. In this somewhat more intimate setting I had to be continually remind myself not to optimistically misinterpret the situation. As attractive and fun and cool as she is, I had to keep in mind that attraction is not the same as chemistry. Plus, we work together so that’s a whole other reason to refrain. Maybe I’ve just been single too long and now I’m prone to over-react to any gestures of friendliness. But I behaved.
By the end of the night, either Brittney had had too much weed, or booze, or was just tired, but she reached this point where the conversation stopped dead and she was fixated on her salsa and chips. I figured it was just the munchies and would pass, but after a few minutes she went to her bedroom and passed out. We’d been having a great, relaxed conversation, but it was like she hit a wall and was done. I was kinda bummed that the evening ended so abruptly but I understood what it’s like when your body just tells you that you’re done.
Saturday I went to a French-themed Friendsgiving party. I made a quiche which turned out surprisingly well. We ate and ate and ate. The only booze there was wine, which I’m not really into, so about 9 I was still sober and kinda getting bored so I headed out. It was early and this was the last night of my Thanksgiving holiday week, so I felt restless. I texted Brittney and we decided to go out and do something.
We ended up at a “hookah bar” near her place. I use the quotes because it was unlike any hookah bar that I’ve been to, and not in a good way. It was like part sports bar, part restaurant, part dance club, with hookah service. I wasn’t a fan of the flavors we smoked so I focused on my booze instead. Brittney got up and danced a bit, enticing other ladies to join her. It was amusing to see how people just gravitated towards her. Eventually the booze made up for what the atmosphere lacked and we were laughing and having a fun conversation. We gave the place a shot but after an hour or two we were bored and there wasn’t much point in continuing to waste money there so we headed out.
Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot, Brittney said, “I have to take this call.” It seemed to be an ex-boyfriend. It was interesting to hear Brittney’s vocabulary and demeanor change so strongly. Every other word was “bruh.” I was laughing on the inside. She talked the whole drive back, then when we got back to her place she excused herself to the patio and kept talking. I tried to keep myself pre-occupied for the next hour and ignore the conversation but Brittney was loud and animated. The snippets I heard sounded like they were dredging up ancient history; stuff like, “we didn’t work out because …”. That’s not anything I wanted to eavesdrop on. I didn’t like the feel of that conversation at all. What kind of married guy calls up an ex-girlfriend late on a Saturday night to talk about their relationship? It made me uncomfortable and also I felt a bit grumpy. We’d been having such a good time and now I was completely being ignored. After an hour of trying to be patient, I left.

My April cactus attempt
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This is essentially the transcript that I wrote down during my trip. At one point handwriting became too difficult and I switched over to typing on Tumblr, which was marginally easier. Anything in [[brackets]] are details added from after the trip, to try and make the timeline more coherent. References to "Cottonwood" are a campout where I had a low dose of acid.

From Start.
Approx 2175 g (264% of previous dose) minus trace remainder in bottle
3:40-4:20 – ingesting. Elevated HR, agitation, alertness (due to the adrenaline from gag reflex?)
4:40 – calm, waiting
5:55 - ?
6:00 – 6:15 – restless, uneasy
6:20 – occasional tactile ghosts
6:40 – calmer (still restless though) minor visual swiminess (swells/breathing?)
7:00 – nervous energy, swells of , light-headedness?
7:15 – swimming both visually and in thoughts, dizzy (but in a good way)
7:40 – swimmy perception, balance, and thoughts.
7:50 – effects essentially the same as Cottonwood. Visual, emotional swells. Heightened perception of physical/tactile connections and intangible interpersonal connections
7:51 – colors shifting (hues upon the world)
7:56 – even normal, mundane perspectives, settings, and impressions seem foreign, like they're coming from someone else.
8:03 – empathetic connection/yearning. Intense need/imagination of being in contact/intertwined with someone
8:06 – dizzy whippet feelings (how is the entire world not fucking right now?)
8:10 – feel like zenith experience at Cottonwood. I can be equally spacy or grounded.
8:12 – fading in and out at whim. Sensual interconnectivity (but not carnal)
8:15 – vivid and deep. Effects made more vivid by lack of external stimulus (closing eyes)
8:17 – I really thought those dreams were happening.
8:18 – insanely immersive (dream) within the space of a minute
8:21 – wow it's deep
8:24 – I can bring myself back as much or as little (as I want), And I'm finding that I want it as little
8:25 – much more fun with my eyes closed. That's where the real show is hiding.
8:26 – this is wasted on just me.
8:28 – why am I killing the experience by trying to think about it?
8:30 – there are so many ways to finish this experience and I'm sad that most will be instantly forgotten, but
???? - stop writing
???? - I'm glad you wrote it
???? - I love you too
8:45 – this was so worth it (the money, effort, gross taste, etc)
???? - while I'm trying to explain it for you, I'm losing it for myself
???? - now I'm starting to understand what (the appeal is of these excursions)
8:50 – It's (the trip) all internal for me. [[It was playing behind my eyelids, not before them.]]
8:52 – best dream
8:56 – so fucking hilarious (because no one will remember it)
9:00 – amazing euphoria
9:02 – officially wasted/gone
9:04 – still happy
???? - feel beautiful towards everyone in my dreams
9:15 – forfeit any attempts from this moment forward (to try and capture this experience)
9:33 [[tumblr post]] - There are so many streams of consciousness right now. I’m both laughing at/with myself. 

Third attempt with cactus. Slow start but great successs. May be a little bit strong. Um yeah. So I was writing. Here because otherwise I’m going to be texting girls and yeah they’re beautiful and wonderful. But this was my experiment, not theirs.
I started off in a jornal because i’m a friggin’ anal-retentive nerd science thing. Anyways. But like I was saying before you distracted me. Maybe tomorrow I’ll upload photos

The only thing I really regret is that I can’t share it with you.
10:02 - good luck describing how this is when/where you lost your mind.
10:15 -
10:44 – moment of clarity. Very lovey dovey, visuals still fluctuating, swimmy, thoughts too. So hard to form a continuous single thought.
11:15 – it's almost like Flowers for Algernon – 1)trying to quantify and dissect 2) yet feels “something” slipping away
11:16 – oh thank goodness. A couple minutes ago I couldn't even form a sentence in my mind. Now I remember . . . knowledge things
11:23 – not gonna lie: still pretty far gone but I think I'm coming back
???? - rainbow shifting, [[late reports of feeling gassy? Full? Something in the back of my throat?]]
11:42 – Lexia is still fitful for me. But is all essentially there. It helps to borrow someone else's sobriety (scaffolding) [[Cameron had just returned from the gym and talking to him helped me to momentarily feel/sound coherent]]
11:58 – things are definitely more coherent now

Shit. Where was this hours ago?
I've bene trying to transcribe this experience via every form of communication I know. Not to publicize. Just so I can understand what is happening to me.

My thoughts are still very disjointed. By definition, it would be hard to quantify such a state. And as I wrote in nmy longhand journal, “In taking the time to explain it to you, I TAKE THE TIME(EXPERIENCE) away from myself.


That being said, I'll come back in a bit, I suppose?

Okay, I'll see if sleep is in the cards tonight. Because as of this writing, it's 12:03 am.

I just got the joke now.
It's amusing because I just realized.
The reason i'm trying to record this is because I'm hoping I can capture it and relive it at my disposal whenever.
And I recognize that that wil/ fail.

12:24 – still pretty random across the board. Gonna turn off ext. lights, etc // See how that goes.

Update (8:01 am) Yeah sleep was not possible. I'm not going to mention any further the guillotine message I received from Zy at 3 am last night. That gave me plenty of fodder to dwell on. But even if that hadn't happened, I was still too alert and aware to sleep. I mean, I'd yawn every now and then and maybe close my eyes. But there wasn't sleep behind them. To borrow Fallout4 terminology, it was as if my Perception had been boosted by two. I could smell my unwashed pillowcases, feel the stray potting soil clumps that had infiltrated my bed, etc. Or maybe it was the same as the precursor feeling of restlessness.
Tags:

Spring Break 2016 (Big Bend National Park)
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I didn't start planning an actual Spring Break trip until like 4-6 weeks in advance, so even though some of my friends expressed interest in joining me, they weren't able to get the time off. So I headed out on my own. I'd always wanted to go out there to see what kind of starry sky a “certified dark sky” locale could offer me. And back when I'd been working up in Canada, Matt had been going on and on about his trips to Terlingua (the nearest 'town' to Big Bend) where they'd go drinking and star-gazing and mushroom-tripping. So I thought the national park would be a fine backdrop for trying out some mescaline. And the third thing I wanted to do was try out my newly finished Man Cave, an 18' tipi. It was a bit excessive for just camping out a few nights by myself, but it seemed like the occasion called for it. So those were my 3 goals for the holiday week. Stars, trip, and tipi.
My sewing machine blew up the night before I headed out, so I was able to exactly 'finish' the tipi, though some safety pins shored up the last few stitches well enough. But that snafu delayed my departure by a day and I didn't know it, but that delay made me miss the last clear night of the week. I got out to the park Tuesday afternoon and the ranger that was issuing the camping permits wasn't exactly the friendliest. Since all the regular campsites had been reserved long before I'd made my plans, the only option left was to go 'zone camping,' where you just go pitch your camp somewhere in some general area. She got on my case about how zone camping wasn't just overflow camping and how last year we zone-campers had caused too much damage and obviously I hadn't planned my camp-out very well, etc. I think she realized she was getting carried away, because she excused herself and some other ranger helped me out. There were a couple regular sites still available, though they were extremely remote and on the river, at the end of a 4-wheel-drive road. He was warning me about how there was a chance that the road might wash out from that night's incoming thunderstorm and that it'd probably take me an hour and a half just to drive the 16-mile-long dirt road. With me driving my poor overloaded 2WD truck and camping by myself, I wasn't too pleased by his outlook. But I didn't have any other option, so I took it.
I was able to make it out there in my truck, but the winds were gusting up to 40 mph due to the incoming storm, so I didn't even attempt to erect my big heavy tipi. It was all I could manage to pitch my regular tent and arrange things so that it wasn't being flattened by the wind. I did go cycling in the late afternoon and check out the river and rode to one of the trailheads. Back in camp, after sunset, I realized just how complete the darkness and silence was. With an overcast sky, there was absolutely no light in any direction and there was no sound buy the wind. And then it started raining. I ate dinner and attempted to relax in my tent but the constant pattering of raindrops on my rainfly had me constantly wondering how bad it was going to get and if I should bail on this campsite, or the entire trip.
I must've been awake until at least 2 am, too anxious to fall asleep as long as it was raining, but I eventually did. Although the rain had been constant all night, it hadn't been heavy and the roads were in good condition. I drove up to the Chisos mountains in the center of the park and although I just intended to take a quick look around, I ended up spending my day there. It was amazing. Most of Big Bend is either the river valley or the desert floor but going up into the Chisos was such a change of elevation that it was 30 degrees cooler and wetter and it was literally and island of forest surrounded by desert in every direction. It was amazingly scenic and immediately obvious why they made this place a National Park. The mountaintops were shrouded in clouds and in the basin near the top was a picturesque lodge. I have to stay there next time I come. After a day of hiking through there and taking so many pictures that I exhausted my camera's battery, I relocated to a desert campsite that evening (considering there was an 80% chance of thunderstorm that night).
I had some college-age neighbors at this new campsite and I made some small talk with them as I set up my camp before the sun went down. I thought I'd be sociable with them so I made a quick trip into town to buy some liquor and mixers. When I got back though, they'd retired to their tent even though it was only 8 pm and didn't seem too keen on mingling by the campfire. So I tried having a drink myself. I don't know if it was because I was drinking a different brand of rum, but my drink tasted awful, no matter how much mixer I added. I wouldn't realize till the next day that the mixers I'd bought in town had expired back in February 2015. So instead I drank my cactus juice, optimistic that I'd be seeing the Milky Way that night. I had played it safe and made a moderate dose of juice, so the effect was more mild than I'd hoped for. Still, at the peak of its influence, it was starting to feel pretty amazing. I can only imagine how phenomenal it'll be when I get the dosage dialed in just right. Although there was no longer any rain in the forecast, the overcast sky still lingered. Occasionally I'd see a random star peek through for a few seconds or a minute. It was a long night of star-gazing blue balls.
Sometime around three am, some howling coyotes woke me up. I could make out Scorpio overhead, but it was still hazy and obscured. That's the closest I got to seeing my stars. :T
I broke camp before dawn since I needed to be in Terlingua early to join my rafting trip. Since I was just one person, I couldn't pick my own trip. I had to join some other group's trip. The only one available was the Hot Springs route, not the famed Santa Elena Canyon trip that I'd been hoping for. It was me, the river guide, and a family of three. Although the hot springs trip wasn't all that scenic, it was fun to make multiple stops to enjoy the hot springs along the Rio Grande. And now I know which campsite to reserve so that I can have a private hot spring at my disposal. After a pleasant picnic lunch near the (???) homestead ruins, we did enter a small canyon which partially satisfied me. We got off the river around 5 pm and I momentarily considered spending another night in the park on the off-chance that the skies might clear that night. Although there were some breaks in the clouds, it didn't look like they'd be leaving any time soon. So I packed up my gear and left the park, heading up to Abilene to stay in a hotel and take a hot bath and re-acclimate to modern convenience.
I didn't accomplish any of my three goals for the trip, but I'm okay with that. I still was amazed by the park and now I know exactly how to plan for next time and make it awesome. So it was actually kind of good that I went alone, it allowed me to work the kinks out and get an idea of what expectations are realistic. I certainly do hope I can convince some friends to go, or better yet, take a special gal with me. The grandeur of that park has a undeniable impact on your thoughts and perceptions; you can't help but feel that you need to share those thoughts with someone else.

2-1-16
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A year ago today Jane and I started officially dating. We'd started a couple weeks before, in truth, but it was one of her idiosyncracies that we wait until Februrary 1st. Losing her was easily the biggest disappointment of the year and the fact that it took me an unusually long time to get over her speaks to the depth of what I felt for her. Of course, in hindsight I realize we were not compatible. Neither of us could/would adapt to the other. Me because I believed I was right and therefore stubborn, she because . . . she couldn't. One of the big lessons I take away from being with her and corroborated by my first semester of teaching is my real need to grow in terms of empathy. Simply because I'm right doesn't justify being inflexible. Oftentimes human life doesn't submit to one standard and frankly, it's not always worth it to stick to that one 'right' path. Occasional detours into irrationality or weakness aren't the end of the world and spending that time and effort to accommodate others will help me to begin to understand perspectives that I would normally dismiss or judge out-of-hand.
I really thought we would've lasted more than six months. It felt to me like we had something strong enough to sustain us for longer than that. But it doesn't matter; the outcome would have been the same either way. At the very least I wish we could have salvaged a friendship out of the rubble of our relationship. I can't help but wonder why that didn't happen, seeing as how Jane is friends with so many of her earlier exes. I wonder if I did unknowingly hurt or offended her so much that even a platonic friendship was inconceivable. I guess I'll never know.
I hope she's found someone that makes her happy and satisfies all those fears and doubts she had. I could never tell if unhappiness dogged her or if it was I that created that feeling.

Two month autopsy
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I've finally gotten past the proximate issues and can see the ultimate issue. I don't believe that Jane was really that into me to begin with. Everything makes sense once I consider that possibility. As I had been trying to conclude my thoughts on our relationship, I was continually stumped by a few facts. She'd said I was only the second man she'd ever thought of living with, she'd strongly wanted me to tell her that I loved her, she wanted to look at houses and think about baby names together. All of these indicators of strong feelings, how could they completely vanish within the space of a few weeks? That's what confounded me. At first I assumed that I'd done something terrible that destroyed them but after continuous review, I couldn't see what that could have been. Only recently did I consider that maybe those strong feelings weren't actually there to begin with.
It makes sense though. She wasn't initially interested in dating me, wanting to just be friends at first. And then once I'd somehow changed her mind on the matter, she was temporarily excited and enthusiastic. But her feelings were still somewhat shaky or uncertain. I think that's why she insisted on receiving so many romantic gestures and constant re-assurances from me. As long as I was feeding her this emotional support it would be enough to reinforce her lukewarm feelings for me. And that might've worked for a while. But a mere two weeks into the relationship she was already expressing fears that we'd break up. I was confident about us but she already had some unspoken reasons to believe this. The seeds of our end were already sown in her.
Despite my efforts to change and be the type of man Jane wanted, I could not provide enough romantic support to make up for Jane's doubts or insecurity. As things went on, I tried harder but Jane became less and less satisfied. Her requests increased in quantity and magnitude as she needed more and more to make up for her growing dissatisfaction. The relationship became unbalanced as it began to focus more on her needs and desires while mine went ignored. I was being asked to do more and was receiving less in return and I grew frustrated. Once my frustration began to influence my behavior towards Jane, it began to reinforce her unhappiness and we entered a cycle of discouraging each other. That marked the end, though it took a few months to finalize it.
Compared to the list of requests Jane had of me, I only truly had one. My request that she change her sleeping schedule got to the heart of the imbalance between us. I was struggling to change who I was to suit her and the one simple request I had of her, she would not bother to attempt. I don't know whether she was incapable of it due to her OCD tendencies, or if she chose not to out of selfishness. It doesn't matter though. The consistent theme throughout our relationship was that I, with my own desires and needs and hopes, was always second-place to her own comfort and convictions. The list of instances that illuminate that fact cannot be denied. We weren't partners who equally took and gave to each other. I naively thought that we could grow into such a couple; I thought we could build something permanent but Jane's emotions weren't sufficient to give us a strong enough foundation for that.
I think I understand why Jane wants nothing to do with me now. Even though she proudly claimed that she's friends with most of her exes, she essentially no longer acknowledges my existence now. That hurt me, but I think I understand why I warrant this exclusion. The demands that I placed on Jane revolved around making her healthier, physically and emotionally. To take control of her sleeping habit would have opened up so many more activities and opportunities to her, it would have allowed us to have a more mutually satisfying relationship, it would have reduced the threat of losing a job due to oversleeping or napping or tardiness or working from home, it would have increased her metabolism and reduced the incidence of migraines and other miseries related to her sedentary lifestyle, it would have . . . allowed her to take control of her life, rather than just surviving at this ebb. In asking her to grow, I was compelling her to face the deficiencies in her life. If I'd provided more emotional support, she might've been able to tackle them, but without seeing any initiative from her, I wasn't about to stretch myself further to undertake that task.
After two months of being ignored my her, I've de-friended her on Facebook. It was beginning to feel like a repeat of the last half of our relationship; one-sided affection for someone who wants none of it. I still care for her and wish I could help her, but I have to conclude that I'll get virtually nothing in return aside from some diplomatic words of thanks. I hope that she finds peace within herself and happiness with whoever she eventually finds to be with but I can't continue to let myself care for her. I can't continue to invest so much thought and emotion in her. I have to get past her. Although I can't control my dreams about her, I can close my thoughts about her.

I had the good luck of starting a long-term substitute teaching job last week. The principal was in a pinch, as a pregnant teacher was going on bed-rest earlier than expected. That was in my favor as the principal only had one day of warning in which to conduct candidate screenings. I've been teaching chemistry these past couple of weeks. It's not my ideal position, but I'm beyond grateful to have this opportunity. It was remarkable how quickly my mood improved after a couple days. Knowing that I'd now have a regular full-time paycheck coming my way banished the ever-present worry of my mounting debt and even two weeks later, I can still feel the palpable relief.
I entered the school year five weeks in, so once again I'm at a disadvantage of the students and other teachers having found their groove while I'm scrambling to learn names and the culture of the school. Since I'm only a substitute I don't have quite the authority and privileges that would help me fully commit to and integrate myself within the school/department; it's like living in a hotel room. I know it's not permanent so I don't commit myself 100% to it; Honestly I'm not capable of it even if I wanted to. I know I need to try, to impress my colleagues and superiors so that I can parlay this opportunity into a future career possibility. It's just a bit of limbo I guess.

(no subject)
building
astillar
Once again, I can't sleep. I continue to swing between two trains of thought. I look back on my mistakes and wonder what I could have done differently, how could I have avoided losing her; avoided driving a wedge between us. I have many regrets about how I behaved. The weekend Layla died was a big one. The botched week we spent house-sitting together. How I made a point of resisting as she pushed me to say I loved her or to join her in daydreams about living together or the possibility of kids. I look back at moments like these and see how easy it would have been to have done the right thing but I was stubborn and did what I thought was 'right'. I agonize over these failings.
On the other hand I take the bitter medicine and try to convince myself that even if I'd made the best choices, our relationship would have collapsed eventually anyways. Jane is a slave to her psychology and her medication (willingly or unwillingly, it doesn't matter). Even though she cared about me so much that I was only the second man that she'd ever wanted to live with, that wasn't enough to overcome her biology. I loved her when she awake and truly present (her goofy antics and witty sass and intelligent sparkle) and I began to hate when she was asleep. Not only did it make me feel unimportant and interfered with so many of my aspirations for us, but it would also cast a long shadow on our waking time together. The migraines, her aches and pains, the nightmares, her slow metabolism which only served to further extend the effects of the medication; to me it seemed so obvious that many of her troubles were rooted in her dependence on these drugs. I wanted her to be healthy and alive and alert with me, not constantly narcoleptic and unhealthy. I could have educated myself on these matters of her psychology and these drugs, that might have made me more considerate and forgiving. But even if I had come to understand and accept that aspect of our relationship, I know I would have been unsatisfied with the type of relationship it was beginning to dictate. It would have closed the doors on things I wanted us to be able to do and how I wanted us to be. Even if I could have learned to live with it, I would have had to sacrifice much of what I wanted in order to keep her. Sooner or later, that would have ended us. As this relationship was nearing its end I thought that if we could just hang on until we were employed again, that would force Jane to assume a normal sleeping schedule and that would resolve my biggest concern about us. But then I think back to when we were both on a 9-5 schedule and realize the problem was still there. The rationale and the excuses were different, but it still came between us. So job or no job, the outcome would have been the same. I couldn't have accepted the life that would come with being with Jane and she couldn't change who she is.
When I can convince myself of that conclusion, it seems irrelevant to wonder if I could have truly become the man she wanted me to be, communicative and emotionally supportive and effusive. I don't think I could have ever satisfied those needs of hers. As I look at our relationship I realize that it placed an emphasis her desires and needs. It wasn't quite as severely unequal as the relationship I had with Liz, but it was unbalanced. From minor mundane matters such as whose music we listened to to larger decisions such as whose house we stayed at or whose family and friends we spent more time with. Granted, this imbalance could have stemmed from the possibility that I simply needed less than Jane. I felt at least that my demands were modest, consistent, and few. Also, the imbalance may have been my own fault. I was too eager to please Jane and make her happy so I may have prioritized her needs too much. To this day, I don't understand Jane's disinterest in me. She always said she wanted me to open up more but whenever I'd venture to share something with her that was important to me, she would take no interest in it or disparage it outright. She said my music sounded like women orgasming (while we always listened to her NIN and 90s playlist), she never read any of the books on my shelf (though I read multiple books of hers and her articles as well), she never wanted to watch, let alone play any of my games, even the one I said was the most beautiful one I'd ever played and had inspired me to put 40 hours into sewing a costume of. We watched her movies but none of mine. She declined my invitation to go to the theater to see a movie that reminded me of her. When Lilly and I cosplayed, she didn't once rouse herself to see my project as I was working on it or join the family on the day we wore them. The books I bought when we went to the bookstore she dismissed as being 'depressing'. It was like she was always apathetic or negative about what mattered to me. Is it any wonder I was reluctant to share with her?
She always wanted so much emotional affection and reassurance. Notes, texts, phone calls, emails, instant messages, presents, flowers, gestures. I didn't ask for any of that. I was touched by them and cherished them, but that's not what I wanted from her. I wanted to feel that I was important to her, that she was interested in me and respected me. But most of the time I felt subordinate to her needs, unrelenting as they were. I felt like I wasn't an equal partner in this relationship. I think that was the true root of my recurring frustration. We built the relationship to satisfy her. I'd sit through the painful nightly ministrations for her quirky satisfaction, I reduced my expectations in order to accommodate her minimal sex drive, I worked to incorporate her rational and irrational requests into my own behavior; the focus was on what she wanted/needed. It became more unbalanced in the denouement of our relationship as she began to pull away while I increased my efforts to woo her back. I could never dispel my frustration though, because subconsciously I was aware of the imbalance of effort and affection and respect. I wasn't consciously aware of it during our relationship and I'm kind of surprised about that. I would have thought I'd be keenly sensitive to such a situation after going through it with Liz. But I wanted to be with Jane so much more than I wanted to be with Liz and our good times together were so much better too, that I think that changed my perspective and heightened my tolerance to any inequity in our relationship. I don't know if I would have become consciously aware of this imbalance if we had stayed together. Perhaps so. That frustration was probably my coalescing awareness that this relationship wasn't fair. I helped make it unfair.
Jane made the correct decision when she asked me to stop coming to her shows. Her reasons are different than mine, but I agree that that was the proper course to take. Despite all my efforts to convince myself that this relationship was not sustainable or fulfilling for me, I still want to be with her. And that's why I shouldn't be with her, not even as a friend. Not now anyways. But I still can't help but wonder, What would have had to be different about us, for it to have worked? I can't help but feel that we were so close to being just right for one another. I feel that we almost had it and not knowing the answer keeps me from getting any rest.

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