Most everyone, myself included, considers each new year the blank slate it isn’t. Yesterday, I woke in the afternoon, Green Day’s Dookie playing on loop from my iPhone; I listened to it 4 times through, then turned it off, then did nothing. New Year’s Eve, I’d passed out, listening, apparently, to Green Day’s Dookie, after reading the first twelve months of this book to a muted Zoom room. Moments I’d forgotten, or else repressed, caught me off-guard and I choked with the onset of potential unraveling—then read the next sentence, and the next, until the feeling left. I’d been sipping beers so I burped a lot as I compacted my 2020 into under two hours for the audience—an act I’d expected would be cathartic, an act that was cathartic, but also not. Today, a girl on the bus flicked through Twitter, briefly enlarging a photo of a man hanging a Celtic-cross-repurposed-as-white-supremacist-symbol flag from a column inside the US Capitol, then exited the app to open Candy Crush. It’s terrorizing, how many times I’ve seen this face-painted doofus Viking, versus the video of the journalist yanked and dragged through the murder-eyed MAGA mob, or the photoset of the DC woman tortured on her walk home, both of which, only once. How convenient I enter my worst headspaces on Fridays when therapy’s on Thursdays. An Instagram with an Aahhh!!! Real Monsters profile picture DMed to say they’d figured out how they knew me—it involved a party, an old friend, alcohol, a conversation about writing, a red kitchen, and a cool bathroom. I’m going through something I’ve named The Thought Crisis which, when thought or talked about, only reinforces itself. Perfect communication can never be possible because to communicate a thought needs to pass through at least two points of mutation, one being the limit of language, words are insufficient but they are all we have to externalize the abstract, and another point being the recipient receives their own perception of the string of words applied to the thought according to their history, relationship, and understanding of language. My bank account threatened to dip into the negative, so I pulled Christmas cash from Hallmarks to deposit—in the room with two ATMs (one out of service, the other streaked with bloody vomit) I made a point not to breathe with my nose; a severed head stared up, the vomit was fish guts, a number in my PIN was coated with the stuff, so I fingernailed the edge, mouth-breathing, to feed the machine dollars. Our bathtub is filled almost to the brim with Glacier Freeze Gatorade colored water infused with dirt and hair and skin—my stink called for a shower, so I stepped in, speed-shampooed, speed-scrubbed, and finished in record time, yet the water still spilled over the edge and spread across the tile, almost out the door. I deactivated all social media (because The Thought Crisis concerns, in part, the fact that any individual’s internet presence is inherently a performance, thus inherently inauthentic, and I know I’m not immune, and that scares me) so I didn’t realize when my first, even if just one sentence long, short story had been published on Hobart. The Aahhh!!! Real Monster is named Myene, her dog is named Timber, and talking with her’s been comforting, especially when my other friends have given up on me. American minds are coded with a mental block that prevents them from accepting that Republicans and Democrats do the same bad things—we need to believe we’re cared for. The Thought Crisis remains an impossible rat’s nest but the panic’s much softer—I’ve mostly shifted to sadness and confusion as to why my friends all left. The bathtub was so simple a fix, none of us had thought of it—I plungered it all down. The abandonment got so unbearable, I caved and DMed Troy and Sarah J. and in both cases, I guess, everyone got the impression I wanted to be left alone when I told them the exact opposite. I’ve been miserable, haven’t been sleeping, and, for an hour, a fly buzzed and repeatedly crashed into my face, irritating my eye, but each time I swatted and looked around, there was no fly, I had no choice but to accept it as a hallucination, then I saw it sitting on my sleeve. My boss and I, I’ve noticed, have settled into a routine of clearing our throats so close to simultaneously, but not. Rebecca reached out—we did a long phone call, I explained The Thought Crisis, she understood each point, why they terrified me; she mentioned the major psychoanalytic breakthrough she’d had in therapy, the zeroing-in on the one thing everything stemmed from, and copy/pasted/sent a block of text she’d written explaining it, prefaced with: You don’t need to read it but I want to disclose this to the world and make it real to myself. My high school’s gym transformed into a post-apocalyptic-looking COVID testing center and I stood on taped Xs as each person in the process questioned me. Thought Crisis – /THôt//ˈkrīsis/ – proper noun – the experience in which the individual comes to understand certain concrete truths so unbearably they need to determine how they can exist as a human again. I can give so much of it, but, for now, I cannot receive love—as much as I want to, need to, as far as I reach when it’s given, I can’t. Bright Eyes from my iPhone in the shampoo rack as I sit on the floor of the tub as the showerhead spits on my kneecaps: Every reassurance just magnifies the doubt. Woke up with a lump on my cheek, checked Google, all signs pointed to tooth abscess—instead, I imagined it a sac of baby spiders that would burst when the spiders were ready to greet the world, they’d come streaming out, all at once, then I’d be okay. My therapist told me to jot down when I noticed my thoughts pinballing—“How can I do that,” I asked, “when I’ve already pinballed?” A man numbed up the pink inside my mouth, then sliced it open so a woman could suck the pus from my face with a straw. I don’t alter my coffee, candy, or cigarette habits, but I am more aware of them. It’s been impossible to get up and leave the office at the end of the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…I was all by myself….

 

 

Steven Arcieri lives in Boston. He is writing a sentence about himself every day for a decade. Read em and weep, boys.

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