Put on a fucking shirt, Marvin

What’s Marvin got to do with any of this? Let me explain.


It all started on Thursday afternoon. Mid-conversation, a friend grabbed my phone and stated: “You NEED to get on Bumble.”

“And this is a dating app?” I asked, assuming – because of the nature of the conversation we’d been having – that it was. Suddenly, as I gazed down, something struck me.

“Hang on a second, Sally — I’m actually wearing BUMBLEBEE corduroy pants today… and you said this app’s called Bumble? Like, BUMBLE-bee?” I repeated, incredulous.

“Yep. See? It’s destiny,” she murmured absentmindedly, doing things with my phone. And then, she was giving my phone back to me, and it was asking me to select a profile picture for my new Bumble account.

Holy shite.


When my mom offered to pay for a dating website subscription months ago, I immediately declined. Friends have encouraged me to use dating technologies (both before and after Sierra’s offer), and I’ve always responded with a solid and strong no.

But the fact that I was wearing orange bumblebee pants at the time that Bumble was suggested to me did seem rather uncanny… after all: BUMBLEBEE PANTS?! How obscure and unlikely! Charlie’d gotten them for me at a consignment market Whole Foods had put on in their break room once, years ago. Super random.

I was busy for the rest of the day (w/work + school + a group bike ride in the rain) after Sally’d downloaded the app, so I waited until the next morning to upload a picture. And I uploaded six pictures, actually, as there were six grey circles requesting pictures during the enrollment process. I also answered lots of questions, like “what’s your sign?” and “what’s your height?” and “mountains or ocean”? (Btw, I chose mountains — DUH! Rivers usually come with them and rivers are just as cool as ocean waters. Anyways.)


So I completed my profile and then went about my business, which meant going to work. On my lunch break, a thought struck me: I hadn’t specified that I was NOT a hookup kinda gal!

So I pulled up my profile and added, at the end of my bio: “Full disclosure: I am NOT a hookup kinda gal.” Whew.


Then, pleasantly consumed w/projects and meetings, I mostly forgot about the dating app for the rest of the day, remembering its existence again that evening. I told Charlie I’d finally downloaded one of the damn things while he was cooking dinner (yummy tacos that he calls “turtle tacos”: salsa verde, sour cream, corn tortillas, veggies and black beans!).

“Want to do the thumbs-up, thumbs-down thing with me?” I asked hopefully, because I was apprehensive to do it on my own; I didn’t know how this kind of thing went, and the idea of being superficial and judging a book LITERALLY by its cover made me feel extremely uncomfortable. And shitty. I’ll just look at the eyes, I told myself. Eyes are windows to the soul, right?


Charlie participated on the sidelines (walking over with a spatula now and then) for about 15 minutes and then said it was also stressing him out, and too much — that he was beginning to feel worried over my safety.

I can say, after thumbs-upping and downing (aka swiping left and right) on and off for the last 24 hours, that these kinds of things would cause me to make the decision to swipe left (which means “no thanks”):

  • The guy has an unhappy fish or dead deer in his hands/arms OR is wearing camo OR appears to be in a football stadium.
  • The guy isn’t wearing a shirt or is sticking his tongue out or is otherwise posing suggestively. #classless
  • The guy has pictures of themselves @ the beach w/lots of pretty girls. I know — I’m assuming the dude’s a player, but what else could I possibly assume?! That they’re his sisters and cousins? Oh wait…
  • The guy looks like he stole this pic from his LinkedIn profile. A suit and tie? Financial adviser @ blah blah blah? Yuck. “But you work in finance,” Charlie objected from the kitchen, overhearing my mumbling at the table. “Yeah, I know — but BOTH of us can’t be boring,” I explained.
  • The guy lists that his career is “artist” or “self-employed.” Been there, done that, WAY too many times. I’m also an artist, amigo, but you’ve gotta be able to bring home the frickin veggie bacon.
  • The guy says something stupid or chauvinistic in his profile, like “go dodgers! lookin’ for a southern gal who can cook real good” or “why you ladies be ghostin? is it cuz it’s halloween?!”.
  • The guy mentions Jesus and wanting children in his bio.
  • The guy’s name is Christopher or Chris OR he has a reddish-orange beard OR he’s a Gemini.


So — with all of these firm dis-qualifiers in place, plus my innate sense of attraction, I find that I’m swiping left the majority of the time (we’ll say 29/30 times).


On my way downtown this AM, I ran into a friend (one who’s been wanting to me to download one of these apps for a while now) and shared the (good?) news with her. I also mentioned that I was feeling a little overwhelmed.

“Bumble says 50-plus guys have already thumbs-upped or swipe-righted me — I don’t know who they are, and I’m already trying to carry on so many conversations, remembering who’s who and what we’ve talked about…”

“Don’t feel like you have to respond to each person right away or ever,” she said. Another helpful thing she said: “This is your opportunity to figure out where your lines are.”

Lines. I recently learned how important it is to draw (and enforce) those.


So, being only 24 hours into this business, I haven’t much to report, other than:

  1. What I like about Bumble: After you and the other person have mutually thumbs-upped or swipe-righted each other, the woman gets to make the first “move” when it comes to messaging. I appreciate this because I’ve heard friends mention getting icky, unsolicited pics from dudes and, so far, I haven’t had to deal w/that nonsense.
  2. I’m enjoying talking with people. Currently, I’m conversing with a guy who does coding, a guy who loves hiking (he was just in the desert for 10 days!), a guy who’s doing liver cancer research, a guy who manages a jewelry store, and a couple of musicians. Interesting folks! Something funny: One guy said I had a “severely cute mug”, and because 1/6 pics I’d uploaded was of my infamous pumpkin spice mug, I naturally assumed that’s what he was talking about. I told him all about how I’d found it @ a thrift store and how I carry it with me every single weekend, and then he was like “I meant your face” — looking back @ his pic, he appears British, so it makes sense now.
  3. The liver cancer researcher invited me to coffee tomorrow morning and I said yes. So if you never, ever hear from me again, it could be sweet-looking, smarty pants Sam…



Still here (for tonight, anyways),

Aun Aqui


PS: To clarify this blog’s title, Marvin was one of many shirtless men who I swiped left on. Smh.



We hadn’t seen each other in months. I was studying Spanish at the park, sitting solo on a bench, when I heard a bike brake in front of me. I looked up.


He invited me to lunch, and then bought us tickets for the Tall Bike Joust that evening, and then invited himself to hike with me the next day. I was surprised but glad. “Sure! Of course…”


He’d said something about noon. I’d originally (when it was just me going) wanted to get an earlier start on Sunday but agreed to noon. I waited until one to reach out to him and texted that I’d wait another hour. Two rolled around and he still hadn’t said anything.

“I’m heading to the hiking spot now… enjoy your day!”

Then, fifteen minutes later, he called me; he’d been out drinking all night, listening to live music and hanging with his friend, and just woke up… was it too late to go? 

“No — it’s fine. I’m only ten minutes away from where you are.” I turned around.


So we went hiking at Turkey Creek, up and over in Pinson. I’d never been. It was beautiful.

I took my sandals off and waded through the water. When we made it to the waterfall, I knew I had to get in it. It was somewhere around 75-80 degrees that day and it was windy. Since the water was more cold than cool, Audio decided to sit on a rock, but I slipped and fell and spun and grasped my way over to the cascades, the slippery moss on the rocks making my journey hazardous. But I made it! I touched the waterfall, and it was cool.

“Am I the most awkward girl you’ve ever known?” I called out, halfway submerged in water and grinning. Perched up on the rock, he looked like he was thinking about it.

“Yeah… you are, actually,” he said eventually.


The problem with Audio is he kept trying to do too much: hugging me close to him and then slipping his hands down my waist; going to kiss me when I specifically told him no, not right now, not like this. We want two different things, you see; one person wants relations while the other wants a relationship. Guess which person I am?

So I steadily blocked the kisses and continually relocated the hands. It almost felt like we were playing some sort of game, or sport… like he was offense and I was, out of necessity, defense. [I’d like to play ice hockey sometime, btw (since we’re talking about sports now).] But in all seriousness, the truth is that I didn’t want to play any games or field any advances. I just wanted to figure him, and his intentions, out… determine whether or not there was anything real there.

“I don’t know you well enough yet to commit to being your boyfriend,” he said, when I voiced my concerns.

How the hell do you know me well enough to want to SLEEP with me and yet NOT be my boyfriend? I thought to myself. It didn’t make sense then, and it still doesn’t now.


Still, we continued hanging out together that day and drove to another spot for night hiking. Watching the sun set from Ruffner Mountain was incredible — it was a sweet pink-blue and then a glowing red-pink and then a fiery red-orange — and side-stepping a tiny, coiling snake during the trek back gave me quite a thrill.

I tripped and fell, hard, on our way back to the car, just two minutes from the park’s entrance (go figure!). It fucked my foot up pretty badly.

Only took him three days to text me and ask how I was doing. Sweetest non-boyfriend ever. ❤




Still (because hope never dies!), I texted him something interesting yesterday. Online, I’d read that your experiences as an 8-to-10-year-old shape your mental landscape and beliefs as an adult — things like how you viewed your parents and your relationship with them; how you interpreted the world and your place in it; etc.

When I look back on being 8-10ish, I remember cooking chili for myself with a full can of pinto beans and half a seasoning packet; staying home alone while my parents went out for groceries or gadgets; teaching myself about plants and algebra (home schooled) and figuring songs out “by ear” on my keyboard; learning to boot people off of games.com and toying with HTML lettering on nickelodeon.com and feeling really cool because of it; looking at my brother sometimes, often, and wondering what he (and we) would have been like if he was different; hopping onto my bike and riding to the library up the street where I’d check out thick books and bring them home, devouring them (as well as snacks) on my carpeted bedroom floor…

I remember feeling as if I was mostly alone — taking care of myself, improving myself, amusing myself, and observing the world. And I think it’s very interesting that this is still how I operate today.

“I’d love to know how 8-to-10-year-old Audio thought, acted, and looked…” I texted, trying to get in his head a little, deepen that non-relationship of ours.

That was roughly 24-hours ago. And guess what he said? Nothing. Guess what else? I’m done passively waiting for that dude to change, because A. he doesn’t and shouldn’t have to, and B. I don’t need to wait for him. He’s simply not the one for me. I want a guy who likes talking with me as much as they like kissing me, and I’m proud of myself for withholding kisses from this guy, this time (bc I royally messed up this time and that time).



I opened the front door to the building when it was still dark out, passing through a second set of double doors on the right and then entering a room packed with tables and chairs and dudes.

“…and as long as you have a BOWEL movement, you’re FINE,” one guy was saying to another, very emphatically. “If you do NOT have a bowel movement, it is an emergency SITUATION.”

Yikes, I thought to myself, hobbling past the uncouth conversation as quickly as I could. I spotted someone I knew and smiled. We washed our hands, slipped on gloves, and then waited for the others. Soon, I was standing behind the kitchen bar, spooning yellow gravy over white rice and telling each man who walked through the line hello, and bon appétit, and enjoy your day.


Remember the dude talking about bowel “danger”? Danger’s been on my mind, too. Because of Audio, yes, but also because I’ve dreamt about it twice in the last week.

When I finished reading a journal entry aloud on Thursday night (a short passage about one of these danger dreams), my professor shook his head in an approving kind of way. “You need to write a series of these,” he said. “Vignettes.”


So here are the first two: Elements and Making Friends. 



There was a fire in the city, so I went to the coast. I could smell salt, and as I made my way to where the earth sloped and the water rose, I found myself standing suddenly on a giant, blubbery beast — a whale? I hadn’t even realized the terrain had changed until I looked down.

I went inside of an old brick building then and woke up with the most interesting pictures in my hands: candids of a friend sitting on a stool, off center; everything in focus but their head, a fantastic flash of light. “Be careful,” my best friend warned when I said that I couldn’t remember anything.

Making Friends

We’d moved to the country to get away from the darkness.

We looked out our windows early one morning and saw it: the darkness, coming to find us. The darkness was a lion, several rhinos, a tiger, some goats… all kinds of animals. They left the woods to fill the field and then take the porch.

And then, they were people. It was literally as if the animals had just become people.

Do we have to shoot? I thought (when they were still animals). I couldn’t bear the thought.

So we pushed couches toward walls to hide behind them, but I knew the animals – still in them – could see over the couches, could smell right through them.

So here’s what we did: We opened the doors, the main one and the one on the side, and said: Hello friends! We’re live-streaming our happy reunion from different spots in the house… please come in.

And they came inside as friends.

my purple sweater

Still here,

Aun Aqui


“You’re doing great!” said Random Old Guy. He was standing in line behind me, wearing curly gray hair, boxy orange glasses, and the cutest smile. He even offered me a double thumbs-up.

“Thanks!” I mouthed (and sort of whispered) back at him, returning the smile. I think HE thinks I’m a teenager, snagging her first license… I thought, amused.

And then the office lady said it was time to take my picture. I stood up straight in front of the camera and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. One, two, click. 

“Oh, that’s a GOOD picture,” she said approvingly, nodding at her computer screen.

“Aw, really? It may be the first one I ever like… ha!”




Words have always mattered to me. So spending yesterday hopping around town, engaged in the endeavor of dropping the last name that no longer held anything real, gave me a 24-hour migraine in the best kind of way. More on that here.


The story I’m sharing below is the second one I’ve written this semester. It is, like the last one, 95% nonfiction.

Sidebar: I revisited this post on 12.11.18 to delete the short version of the short story and replace it w/the updated copy I submitted as my “portfolio” for this semester. Enjoy!



by Jace Rose


“I mean, it’s been what — three years now?”

“Yeah. Yeah… I know.”

This was kind of awkward, so we took a minute to sip on our drinks. I watched the bartender, a middle-aged blonde wearing tight everything and a shit-ton of rings, shake ice into a glass. Further down the counter, rogue beer rushed out of a spout. Voices yelled back and forth in the kitchen and an indie song played near the walls; something in my brain twitched a little.

“And you still think about him? Like, a lot?”

I turned to face my friend. “Yes. And I hate it.” I took another brave sip of bourbon, a real mood drink. “I don’t WANT to think about him anymore. I hope you know that. I don’t want to love him or care about how he’s feeling or wonder how he’s doing…” feeling disgusted with myself, I took another pause, shaking my drink slightly so that it sloshed against glass walls. I watched it raging freely and envied it. “I’m honestly open to any advice you have,” I said finally.

She pressed her lips together: pink, pretty. She was wearing a peach blouse underneath a light denim dress, a girl from another era. She’s sensitive; I’m telling you this, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s a Pisces, so good luck getting a clear idea what’s going on underneath her waters.

“You clearly know your feelings, but you don’t really take reality into account,” she said. “So, three years later, you need to put the feelings that won’t change and aren’t reciprocated SOMEWHERE… wherever you want, really. Just — find a way to contain them.”

Contain them. Despite being extremely punk rock, I work in a corporate office, so I immediately imagined a filing cabinet; cold, yellow, metal. I could cram files for the last two ex-lovers into one drawer, easy, but the first would need a drawer all his own. Ridiculous. It’s basically like the ass-hat murdered a whole damn tree, I criticized silently.

Or, instead of a filing cabinet, I could throw him in a cage — this seemed more fitting. More punk rock, for sure. Steel bars could reliably contain the king of the show… the silly cat parading about as a lion. Fucking Gemini.

“Or maybe try to picture him as an itch you aren’t supposed to scratch,” she suggested, interrupting these scenes, “because when you do, it–”

“It just gets worse,” I finished. Basic and cliché as the tactic sounded, it could prove effective, as I’d just noticed a red bite on my left ankle that morning and it had been ruining various moments of the day.

“Right,” she said.

I smiled over at her. Sighed, shook my head. We were at a bar. It was Friday night.




We, he and I, used to play in bars on Friday nights and Wednesday nights and Monday nights and Tuesday nights…

Pale Eddie’s was our first main place. It was perpetually dark on the inside — you know; a typical bar. You walk in, bump into some sticky, beat-up tables here and there, and then further ahead, there’s a bar on the left and a stage on the right. Or whatever. Something like that.

It was so cool. My first real bar. And because my grandma had always warned that angels don’t follow you into bars, the place naturally possessed even more mystique. More than it actually deserved, maybe.

Anyways, the five of us (me and him, the electric guitarist and bassist, and our sometimes-drummer) would walk in with gear weighing down our hands and arms. After taking about fifteen steps forward, across acid-washed concrete, we’d deposit everything beside the wall that extended beyond the stage: mics, guitars, amps, cables, saxophones, keyboards, capos, tuners — all of it.

And here’s the thing we hadn’t yet realized: You play first, hardly anyone’s there to hear it, other than other performers who are really just waiting for their own time to shine.

So you learn to play third, fourth, eighth, last — because the longer you wait, the bigger the crowd gets, and the longer you wait, the drunker the crowd gets, making you sound (whether this is real or imagined) the best.

And when it’s go time and you’re finally up on the stage, the whole place becomes elevated… like, okay; instead of your angel not following you in there, he tagged along and brought a whole host of friends. Like that. It’s insanely bright – white, blurry, blinding.

And whether or not they’re supposed to, people smoke inside, blowing cancer and magic into the air. The magic makes you believe that things are going to change soon. That they’re destined to change. And that when they do, things are going to get so much better for you. He’ll stop doing things; you’ll start doing things. You forget about the cancer mixed in with it. Easy mistake… you’ll make it more than once.

So you’re strumming and singing into the mic, closing your eyes so you can see straight, when bam; before you know it, you’ve played three songs. And when the people get loud, hollering out words and cheers, you want to play another song, but your ten minutes are up. That’s how it goes, every time. You’re beginning to feel it, you’re just getting into it, right as the whole thing’s over.

So you ride home feeling cool and feeling excited to eat because stage fright made food a non-option all day, but when you get home, you realize that you’re actually really tired, so you don’t eat. Instead, you and that guy you’re obsessed with collapse into the bed that you share but he won’t cuddle with you anymore; it’s summer, he says, and the AC’s only just kicked on.




Cut that last part; that’s the kind of thing you don’t like to remember. You prefer remembering his green eyes when they were on you; the prickliness of his fiery beard – red on orange – when he’d tip his head down to kiss you; the spicy meals he’d cook in that tiny little apartment when he was feeling good enough, better than usual; and the goofy things he’d say in that silly tone of voice when it was just the two of you around and he could forget about looking cool and being right all the time.

You forget about the secret email account. He never did anything with it, true, but there was one, and he thought about using it.

And you never seem to remember the mean things he’d say when you’d push past his patience — the drastic change in tone, the shittiest choice of words.

The electric guitarist’s girlfriend had said something about that once, leaning in close during the guys’ smoke break at band practice: “I don’t know how you take it. I’d have slapped him across the face by now.”

“Yeah,” I said, unsure about what she’d said and what he’d said and everything. I watched him from where I was sitting on the living room floor; he was bending over a bong in the kitchen, and then blowing out smoke – so much smoke. I observed him through the haze.

Sometimes, you do remember how he found interesting ways of letting you know that you were a real disappointment to him – as a woman and a wife:

Guess all that make-up’s probably expired by now, huh?

Please do SOMETHING with your hair… I bought that curler for YOU, you know.

Could you maybe wear something sexier than a dumb NASA t-shirt to the show? AGAIN?

Why can’t we try this? Why are you like this?

Why are you such a PRUDE?

Maybe that’s why you chopped all of your hair off in the summer; so he’d quit bugging you about it.

Maybe that’s why – partially why – you changed genders, in your mind, for a while there… because it just didn’t seem like you were doing an even halfway-decent job of being a girl.

And maybe that’s why, in the fall – with a shaved head, skeleton body, and ghost eyes – you began turning away when he’d go to kiss you…

Why you stopped wanting him to look at you and your plain, disappointing face at all.




“Look, you still need to come up some more,” he said.

“I’m trying,” I said.

“Like, WAY more.”

“I’m trying, Christopher.”

Some days, I really hated him.

We were recording in the studio again — an upstairs bedroom we’d cleared out, painted

brown, and then stuck a bunch of gear into. This was where the guest room used to be, where the band practiced now, and where we’d pass entire days — sweating in the summer, shivering through the winter — laying down tracks like this one for no one but us to give a damn about. We hardly ate on days like today.

And while I wrote, strummed, and sang, he did all of the bass, sax, and key work. I’d include drums here, but his “beat” was just an electronic loop of some really basic shit. Don’t think those kinds of drums count.

Anyways, I’d been trying for lead vocals on this new alternative rock song of ours and he kept saying they weren’t loud enough. 

“Sing LOUUUUUDER,” he said, drawing the word out slowly.

“I’m TRYING,” I said, squeaking it out like I was about to cry. And then I was crying.

“Christ, Rose.” He threw his headphones into the chair and left the room. I watched the white chair spin after him and then waited a few minutes to make sure he wasn’t coming back. I drank a few sips of water, walked over to the computer, and sat down in his chair.

I hit record once and sang the song once and got it. 




I can remember most of our firsts; holding hands, kissing, going all the way. Or trying to, anyways; I was really scared the first time. He was understanding; made me laugh, let it go. We tried again, a few times, and I was still too scared. Finally, one time, he couldn’t deal anymore. Check.

But what’s weird is I can’t remember any of our lasts. The last I love you or time his hand or lips brushed mine… I can’t hear or picture it at all. More than his lips, even, I wish I could remember the last time I felt his hands. There’s something about another hand holding yours. You can infer a lot about a person, and about how they feel about you, from their hands — the look and feel of them; the lace and strength of their grip. How long they hold your hand. How often.

I dated lots of guys after he and I broke up, and none of them liked holding hands. They liked playing games, though, and they played it like they loved me until the games were over.

It’s like… once they’d had me, they didn’t seem to want me anymore. The light in their eyes would change right after the dinner ended, or I could see their jaws tightening over breakfast. And I could always see it, always — the check, coming.

Every time one of them didn’t work out, I automatically went back to missing Chris. Suddenly, I could only remember the very best things about him — the things I’ve already told you. I wouldn’t think of him pressuring me into clothes that didn’t fit right and vocals that didn’t sound right — no, I’d never think of these things. Memories like these were bottled up like strong wine; corked and then placed high up on a shelf somewhere… a shelf at one of those old bars, maybe. One of the ones I don’t play at anymore. 

At times like these, I’d only remember the strange light in those green eyes. I’d relive the day he first told me he’d die without me. He made me feel so needed then, so central and crucial to his existence, that I eventually believed he really would die without me. And then, what I wanted more than anything was to keep him there with me… alive, smiling, satisfied, happy.

He made it so much easier for all of the guys afterwards to get what they wanted. Every one of them: so sad, so broken, so inexplicably bummed out over everything. I only wanted to make them happy. 

I never even guessed that I was the sad and broken one.




“I know he wasn’t the best,” I said. “I mean, duh… neither was I. We were young!”

My best friend and I were drinking red wine at home.

“Then what is it you’re missing so much? What’s the real hang-up?” He asked this and then disappeared from the kitchen, lugging a trash bag out into the garage. I tucked a strand of honey-blonde hair behind one ear and set my glass down, covering it with a paper towel and a rubber band. Flies like to hang out with us in the kitchen; the alcohol, the lights…  

“I think I mostly miss taking care of him,” I said, walking over to the stove. Stirring the sauce, smelling the sauce, having cut and diced every vegetable simmering in that sauce, I could already taste it – cherry red tomato, bitter vodka; sweet bell pepper, bold garlic…

“He was so unhappy,” I continued. “His baseline was being discontent. And I loved being the person who could make him feel better, make him smile.” I paused to watch noodles wage war in saltwater… whether it was on each other or on the water, I couldn’t tell.

“And I don’t know how to stop doing that, I guess – how to stop being that person.” I removed the steel pot from the stove and strained the noodles over the sink, instantly feeling their steam on my face and fingertips. Then I turned back around to combine them with the sauce.

“But you HAVEN’T taken care of him in three years now,” my best friend said, suddenly reappearing in the kitchen’s doorway without the trash. “You already aren’t that person, because you haven’t been…”

I turned my head to look over at him, to confirm that he was smiling. He was.

And suddenly, I could remember.

Noodles hit sauce like that and I felt a warm splash on my face.




The mic smells tonight.

Your shoes make slapping sounds as they cross the concrete, and when you get up there, you notice, before anything else, that the mic smells.

The air smells, too. Like Amber — and that guy, Jack Daniels. Like a green margarita; apple, lime, a pinch of salt.

The people here now look different, but they’re basically the same as the old ones; sitting at the bar with such ease it’s like they’re in their living room chairs. As you lift your guitar from its case, you hear these people talking to the girl behind the bar like she’s Heather Locklear; so gorgeous and witty… so beautifully alive on their television screens. And there’s the smoke, still. Everybody still smokes here.

You put some reverb on, adjust the mic’s volume, tilt it toward you. The stage feels roomier than you remember. You discover you can’t change the stage lighting – a queasy yellow that makes you think of flies. That’s alright. You gingerly step over an XLR cable and notice someone’s stuck a fake plant in the corner. It looks alright, too.

In your mind now, you can hear someone counting down from five and see one of those floor cameras creeping toward you… we’re rolling, they say. You place your fingers on your fretboard, in the familiar shape of a bar chord, barely feeling the nickel underneath your callouses, and then you look over to your right, because you can’t help it; the saxophone’s still gone. Of course it is. You, personally, kicked it off of the stage three years ago… I mean, Jesus; do you ever really know what you want, who you are, what you’re doing… anything at all?


With a buzzed amplifier behind you and a wasted mic in front, a different and lucid version of you turns on their radio. You sing a song, and another, and another, and another, and another…




Still here,

Aun Aqui

flow, creep, drip, crash

“I’m 28 now — do I  wish  I had a husband and kids? Yes, of course, but I don’t. It does bother me, because I really want it, but I also realize that I have a lot of talents and things I’m doing right now and that I travel a lot and that maybe, I’ve got some things I still need to accomplish before we meet each other…” shrug.


I wanted to stand up, on the other side of the class room, and wave both arms at her, this visiting poet. “HEY! Hey, lady —  me too!  I just turned 27 and I’m in the  same  freakin boat as you!” Instead, I nodded my head up and down, very enthusiastically, like: Yeah… yeah. Exactly.


I talk about loneliness a lot because I am lonely, and I talk about missing people because I do. I try to keep myself busy (like the guy pictured below), and I’m successful with this to such an extent that it’s probably unhealthy.


never stop parks and rec


I eat a lot and then don’t eat enough; get tattoos as a socially-acceptable way of replacing bad habits but still miss seeing the blood; buy old scarves and dying plants to feel a little warmer, inside and out; drink a latte seventeen days in a row and then get off of them for a while; give a Chipotle gift card to the homeless man I see so often he feels like a friend and then worry over whether or not the bar code will malfunction when he goes to use it; still praise the boy who used my body for doing better with his finances; and try wearing sandals so that the fresh, flowing air can somehow invigorate me — change me,  transform me,  from the feet up…

But I’m not changing the way I want to… and what I mean by that is, the great depression isn’t relenting. You can’t blow it away, sweat it out, fill it up or dig past it. I’ve tried. It’s deeply embedded in me — tall, taller than me, and seemingly bottomless. I can’t bike fast enough for it to do anything other than trail behind me for a little while and then catch up quickly. It’s insane.

And it makes me feel insane, because I watch other people watching TV and dining out and playing on their phones and they seem happy enough, but those things don’t make me happy. I feel I’m missing something extremely important that I can’t place, although I call it companionship, and I say it’s love.

My mom’s going to text me after reading this and say that I need god, and she could be right, but I don’t (and won’t) have one. I think it’s great that some people do, but at my core, the capacity for belief just isn’t there. Fairy tales are lovely to read and think about, but they aren’t real. God and eternal life and perfect health and reunion with the dead souls we loved sound a lot (too much) like fairy tale components to me — nice, but unreal.

Honestly (and I’ve said this before), the whole “hope of heaven” thing sounds like a grand coping mechanism; the supreme delusion. I’m not trying to be mean, or rude; this is just how it is for me, and for me,  that’s just how it is. 

My mom likes to think this will change someday — that things will “click” back into place. I’m really sorry, mom. My lack of belief is fundamental — living inside of me, manifesting as me, tangible as a bone. It’s not a phase or an election so I can “live however I want” (btw, living “however I want” isn’t very crazy: I’m hyper-productive, go to bed at 8, drink coffee, and write stories).




There are so many days where I just want to end this — you lose a brother, husband, dog and your old god and it happens. Shit happens. You’re only 27 but you’re already ready to go, but the thing is that you know your mom’s already lost a child and you’ve got two dogs at home who are still alive and they like you,  they depend on you,  so you can’t – with a good conscience – leave while all of them are still around…

One consoling thing is that you can still sense the magic out there — you’re still getting some sparks: you feel them inside the cafe, down at the river, when you taste avocado; they just don’t stay with you.

You feel like throwing up, you’re so anxious; you feel terrible about yourself because you can sense the way other people (you believe this) look down on you for your instability, your wildcardness. Like: You’re here, we see you, but we don’t care for you very much. We’d really rather you not be around. I get these vibes, some places. Distinct vibes.

It’s the way they do, or don’t, look at me; the things they will, or won’t, say. People have this incredible ability of making you feel absolutely worthless without saying a damn thing, and then, you feel indescribably shitty but don’t know how to fix it, because you don’t know  exactly why  you’re shitty — you simply believe them and their crock of shit (perceived or real) instead of trusting yourself. You want so much to be at peace with everyone and to be accepted by the world and you feel like everything you say and do indicates this, but they’re just not having it…

I say I’m shaking it off (like Taylor); I say I’m trying to be like water (like Bruce); but the judgment of others (again, real or imagined — it still feels the same) seems to flow with me like leaves that fall and flow with the river. I love leaves, and I generally love people, but sometimes, they REALLY suck.


I told my best friend I was doing better this morning (mentally and emotionally). We were sitting at the table, talking; our other roommate padded softly down the stairs and then leaned back against the kitchen counter, facing us and combing his long hair with his fingers.

mmmmmbullshit, my best friend coughed into his hand. Our roommate smirked at the floor, and even I smiled. We’re all missing someone right now, so we all get it.

Ha-ha, I said. I really am, though — compared to the last three years, I AM doing better. I’m dropping the name, doubling my class load next semester, baking a casserole later today… I felt like crying until I couldn’t breathe, like when I was a child. I felt like not breathing for so long that I passed out. I just wanted to not carry all of this weight for a little while, however long, I don’t care anymore.


I played music at the University of Montevallo last night; a short four-song set. I had turned some reverb on, the mic was set-up really well, and the stage lighting was great. They’d let me pick the color: rose. One of the AV guys had even snuck a fake plant out of the nearby post office, placing it onto the stage as a prop. It was cute.

I heard someone counting down from 5 and then saw one of the floor cameras creeping toward me… rolling. I placed my fingers on my fret-board, barely feeling the nickel underneath my callouses, and then looked over to my right, because I couldn’t help it; still no keyboard. I sang a song, and another, and another, and another.

I don’t know what to do. Anyone reading this work with magic? Know how to set a person,  some heartbroken-loser-girl,  free?




Thoughts we both might like:

  • “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” Carl Gustav Jung
  • “How can you change when you think who you are is what you think and what you think is what others made you think?” Sangram Lama
  • “If you can’t climb it, why not go through it?” Lifehack.org 
  • “Don’t make a plan of fighting. That is a very good way to lose your teeth. If you try to remember, you will lose. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle; you put water into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow, or creep, or drip, or crash… be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee



Still here,

Aun Aqui