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Life Is A Series Of Junk

“What the fuck is it?” Sandy asked, chewing her nails as she and Derek stood over a table at the same flea market they hit every other weekend. Her free hand on her hip, her baseball cap shielding her eyes from the sun, she still couldn’t make out exactly what she was looking at. Derek was playing with the sleeves hanging from the flannel over shirt she’d tied around her waist.

“I think it’s what we in the industry refer to as…’crap’,” he finally said, making her chuckle.

“It’s a loom,” the older woman coming out of the camper behind the table said, as she opened her lawn chair and took a seat, “It’s used to weave thread, make blankets, clothes, that kind of shit.”

“Oh, that’s cool,” Sandy said as she moved down the table, continuing to look at things while Derek stood over the loom, looking down, until he heard a lighter flick a few times and noticed the older woman trying to light her cigarette. She was maybe in her late 40s, and had curly blonde hair and oval glasses. She crossed her legs as she lifted the cigarette to her lips and took a long drag.

“So, what, you’re some sort of seamstress?” Derek asked and the woman laughed, shaking her head.

“Hand making clothes in this day and age? What’re you, stupid? No, this is just an amalgamation of my moms and grandmothers crap. You know how it is, you try and work for a number of years but that isn’t enough so now you try and sell the things you never wanted to sell because of the emotional attachment you’ve got to them since the people they belonged to are gone now, simply to make enough money to buy a frozen dinner because nothing in this country is cheap anymore,” the woman said and Derek nodded.

“I do indeed know how it is,” he said, “It’s ridiculous that people older than me have to live the same way that I do, or worse. At that age you should be at least semi well off enough to be able to take care of yourself and not worry, but no. It’s sick.”

“Is it hard?” Sandy asked, coming back and holding a ceramic pug in her hands, “Also how much is this?”

“That’s 2 bucks and the loom is 35,” the woman said, shrugging, “Can’t charge too much or you’re just as exorbitant as the people you’re badmouthing. You just can’t fuckin win anymore.”

“Is it hard? Ya know, to…to make clothes?” Sandy asked, “I teach ballet, and I’d like to maybe make some costumes by hand for some productions in the fall. Is it hard? Does it come with, like, an instruction manual or something?”

“Uh, ya know what, there might be actually, lemme go check,” the woman said, rising from her seat and heading back into the camper. Derek slid his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, glancing at the ceramic pug in Sandys hands.

“The fuck is that ugly thing?” he asked.

“Don’t talk that way about Maurice,” Sandy said, gently petting it, “He’s my child and I love him.”

“Here we go!” the woman said, hauling a small accordion container out of the camper, “I knew there were some instructions with it! God bless packrat grandmothers, am I right? Now I have tons of crap to haul around and sell only just enough of it at a price low enough to just break even on gas money.”

Derek watched Sandy pull out her wallet and start to pay the woman. Her teaching gig was paying pretty well these days, and Derek wasn’t doing too terribly himself, but their funds weren’t anything to be wowed by just yet, not even close. The woman, Pam, said she’d help them carry the loom to their car, since they had no other way to get it there and Sandy was already holding the ceramic pug. As Pam lifted the loom and the three of them headed off through the crowd of people, for the first time in a long time, things felt pretty okay.

“So, you two come here often?” Pam asked.

“Try to every other weekend,” Derek said, “We’re bleeding hearts for piles of junk.”

“It’s why we’re dating,” Sandy said, making Pam smile, “But yeah, we try to buy things on the cheap and even though you’re right, it’s not fair the markdown you have to give your own belongings just to try and survive, it’s still cheaper than a department store. Plus, I don’t know where the fuck I’m gonna find a loom without getting into a time machine and traveling back to Salem.”

Derek stopped, trying to remember if they were in fact going in the right direction to reach the car. Just then as they waited, Sandy felt a tug at her pants leg and turned to see a little girl, maybe seven years old in overalls with braided hair looking up at her. Derek and Pam continued to discuss the direction while Sandy knelt down to the girls eye level.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” Sandy asked.

“I need help,” the girl said, “You’re a girl, so I can trust you. I don’t know where my parents are.”

“Okay, uh…just hold on right here for a second, alright?” Sandy asked, standing back up and tapping Derek on the shoulder, then thumbed over her shoulder at the girl. Pam and Derek craned their necks over her shoulders and saw the little girl, both realizing what they were getting into. Finally, after a few moments of discussion, Sandy turned back around and knelt back down to the girl.

“Okay, I want you to take my hand and we’re going to walk around and see if we can find them, alright? Do you remember where you saw them last?” she asked, and the little girl nodded, smiling, making Sandy feel all the more maternal, “Alright then, take my hand and grip it firmly. We’ll find your parents, I promise.”

The four of them continued walking, now with a different goal besides the car in mind.

“There were lots of lamps,” the girl said, “They were looking at lamps, and there was an old guy with a hat, but it was wide, like my grandpa wears when he’s fishing.”

“Okay, that just about describes every single guy here,” Derek said, making Pam chuckle as she finally tossed her cigarette to the ground and stomped it out with her boot.

Sandy sighed and looked down at the girl. She looked remarkably like herself as a child, and it bothered her, but she wasn’t sure why. See, Sandy’s mother wouldn’t have ever let her out of her sight. Her mother was like a hawk, never letting Sandy do anything on her own, always planning her entire life to a tee; her outfits, her playdates, her meals. For a split second, Sandy wanted to take this girl and save her from this life, but then she quickly remembered that this girl wasn’t her.

Suddenly, in the midst of this crowd, Sandy realized she’d lost Derek and Pam, and she and the girl were alone in the middle of this entire flea market between everyone else. The girl was looking around, but Sandy’s eyes were glued to this girl. Sandy looked around for a moment, trying to see if she could see hide or hair of Derek or Pam, and when she looked back, she found herself staring this girl in the eyes, and the girl had her childhood face.

Sandy start to breath faster and faster. Her chest tightened, her fingers wrapped around the ceramic pug started to twinge. She was having an anxiety attack and Derek was nowhere to be found. Sandy fell to her knees, unable to look back up, unsure if she was scaring this little girl now, and then suddenly, she felt the girls little hand on her head. Sandy looked up and the girl was standing there, her face normal again.

“You seem scared,” she said, “I was scared, but you helped me, so I’m helping you. Don’t be scared, okay?”

And then Sandy felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw a man in a suit looking down at her, trying to help her up. As she wobbled to her knees, the man held her by her shoulders and looked in her eyes firmly.

“Are you okay?” he asked, “Ma’am?”

“I…think so…yeah,” Sandy managed to whimper. She watched a woman approach the little girl and scoop her up, squeezing her tightly as the man smiled at Sandy.

“Thank goodness. We saw you with our daughter from across the crowd because you were on your knees and people were starting to stare. Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked again.

“I’m fine, yes,” Sandy said, “Are you-”

“Yeah, we’re Anna’s parents,” the man said, “I’m Arthur. Thank you so much for staying with her, I couldn’t imagine if somebody much worse had-”

“Sandy!” Derek said, finally reaching her and hugging her, kissing her cheeks, “Are you alright? What happened? I turned around and you were gone!”

“I’m okay…” Sandy said, “Can we just go please?”

“Yeah, yeah Pam helped me find the car, everything’s all loaded and everything,” Derek said. As he took her hand and started to leave, Sandy felt the man slip something into her hand. As she walked away with Derek, she looked back at Anna as she smiled and waved, being carried off in the opposite direction by her mother, and then her eyes wandered down to what Arthur had pushed into her hand. It was a business card. Arthur Portis, Psychologist. Once they’d said goodbye to Pam and paid her, Derek and Sandy got into their car and started on their way home. Halfway there, it began to rain. As Sandy rested her face against the window, watching the raindrops race one another down the glass, stroking the ceramic pug with her hands, she couldn’t get the girls face out of her mind, her own mothers voice running through her head.

“Sandy, do you wanna stop and get dinner on the way home?” Derek asked, “Oh, also, I texted Brittney and she said she has a ton of extra cloth and stuff for you, so…Sandy?”

Sandy was far away, remembering the afternoon she’d gone outside in her ballet slippers for only a split second to pet their neighbors dog, a pug, and before she knew it, her mothers hand was gripped around her wrist like shark teeth, her nails digging into Sandy’s soft skin, screaming at her for getting dirt and mud on her ballet slippers before recital. Because of this, she didn’t let Sandy go to practice recital, and instead Sandy sat upstairs in her bedroom, staring at her slippers hanging from the wall, caked with dirt, tears in her eyes and swore she’d one day succeed at dancing, simply so she could spite her mother, proving that no matter what she did to her, she’d never take dance away from her.

Sandy fell asleep before they got home. When she awoke, she found Derek had carried her inside, made her some tea and put her in bed. She was still hugging the ceramic pug to her chest. She cried, but only for a few minutes, and then she fell back asleep.

Sandy Price was in recovery, and it was slow and it was hard, but she knew in the end it’d be worth it, no matter what it took to get there.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium.

Wanna donate to me directly? You can do that via PayPal! Wanna support me ongoing month to month and get content early? You can do that via Patreon! Wanna support me but can’t do it continuously? You can do that via Buy Me A Coffee! Thanks for whatever you can spare, I really appreciate it!

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Amanda Cries In The Bathroom

technologiesMaybe it’s because it’s where we’re potty trained or where we perform the most self care, but the bathroom had, over time, become Amanda’s safest spot in her life. Granted, it wasn’t because she was taking care of herself in there, she’d be lucky if she managed to wash her hair more than once or twice a week, and it certainly wasn’t an upset stomach keeping her in there either. No. It just was the place she felt the safest. When she was at work, Amanda would pull a book and her lunch out and head into the bathroom to sit and read and eat.

Sometimes, late at night after a bad dream, she’d wake up, covered in sweat and terrified, and head for the bathroom, locking herself in and cowering in the tub like she’d done so many times before as a little girl. She could swear she could still hear her parents fighting outside the door, or the sounds of her mother berating her weight, but no, it was always just in her imagination. Those days were well and gone, even if the trauma wasn’t. But now it was where she went whenever she felt threatened or upset or that she wasn’t in control. When she felt hopeless or lost, the bathroom was her guiding light.

Sometimes she’d cry, sitting on the edge of the tub, still brought down by all the negative things her mother had said to her growing up about her weight, or about her looks, or how she ‘wasn’t keeping up with the other girls, appearance wise’ and that the boys would notice. She didn’t care about the boys noticing. She only wished her own mother wouldn’t be so harsh about it. At least the boys ignored her, while her own mother expended the energy to be critical towards her. Sometimes she’d cry, sitting on the toilet with the seat down, while thinking about her parents fighting right there in the kitchen. They either didn’t realize she was in the bathroom and could hear their every word, or, and much more likely, they just didn’t give a shit that she could hear their every word. Amanda locks the bathroom everytime she goes in now, even if just to brush her teeth. Anyone else coming in while she’s occupying the space would be a serious invasion of privacy.

Everytime Amanda had looked to live somewhere new, it always boiled down to the bathroom. What was the lighting in it like, was the aesthetic pleasing, was the color palate enjoyable? Where was it located in relation to the other rooms was a big one. If the bathroom was right off the bedroom, or better yet, attached to the bedroom, then boy howdy she had a winner there, because the bedroom was the second safest place she’d ever had.

But what was it that made the bathroom the absolute best place? Sure, all those things were good starts, but in the end, it’d probably have to be the fact that when she came home from school one day, her mother, who’d terrorized her her entire life and made her question everything about herself, had slipped on a bathroom mat and hit her head against the sink, dying instantly.

When Amanda found her, she’d only been dead for about an hour or so, and nobody else was home yet, but for the first time in her life, Amanda felt protected…and free. So Amanda did what she did everyday. She took a bag of chips and a few books, sat on the toilet with the lid down and her mother cold and lifeless on the floor, and enjoyed the only place that ever made her feel safe.

The bathroom.

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US”, my podcast “Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality” or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate to my PayPal or support my work at Patreon, where you’ll get access to patron only content and new content early, all for as cheap as a buck a month! Thanks for reading!

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Coping With Tonal Shifts In Reality: Episode 4 “Let’s Hang It On The Fridge”

Having taken last week off due to exhaustion and sickness, we return this week with a brand new episode of my podcast about fixing your brain with robots. In this weeks episode, Samantha may accidentally break USER 147s heart by recounting a story about her childhood, and moving on. If you like this podcast, you can subscribe to my Patreon, where, for a mere buck a month, you can get each episode a whole week early!

I’m Maggie. If you like this thing I made, you might like some other things I make, like my depressing webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, the satirical online newspaper of “Nowhere, US” or my writing over at Medium. You can also donate to my PayPal or support my work at Patreon, where you’ll get access to patron only content and new content early, all for as cheap as a buck a month! Thanks for reading!

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I Almost Saw My Mother Die

When I was about 6 or so, my mother had an allergic reaction to some shellfish in my grandparents house. I was told to go next door and get a neighbor to take us to the hospital, which I did. I’ve thought back to that day countless times, about what would’ve happened had the neighbor not been home, or she hadn’t gotten to the hospital in time. A few years prior to this, I’d gotten very sick and dehydrated, and had to be taken to the hospital, where I stayed for who knows how long because perception of time means nothing to a 4 year old. All I can really recall about my time spent in the hospital was that they played The Lion King nonstop on a VHS and I don’t think I’ve watched that movie since that time because I’m so fucking tired of it. I almost wished I could’ve died just to escape having to watch the fucking Lion King again, but, that’s a rant for another post.

Sometimes, when things get hard, when things get so hard they feel like I can’t go on, I think back to that point in time and wish that I had just died there, in that hospital bed, as a 4 year old girl. Then, I think to when my mother nearly died, and I get mad at myself because I…I sort of wish she had. Allow me to explain. Had my mother died, she never would’ve met my stepfather, they never would’ve gotten married, and my life wouldn’t have become the abusive hellhole it became for 15 long years. Things could’ve been so different. I might not be that broken. Sure, who knows where I might’ve ended up. I could’ve ended up in a foster home of a couple who fuck dead goats in their basement, you never know, but I would be lying if I said I don’t think about it sometimes. But, despite my anger towards a family who turned against me, who hurt me so much as a child, and despite never being in good standing with her, I cannot in good conscience say that I wish she had died, because it was that life that made me who I am today. I’m not saying that I’m happy with what I went through, but it made me into a person who’s faced adversity and abuse and came out the other side, beaten, damaged, but still managing to keep going.

The fact that my mother lived, the fact that she married this man and that my adolescence was as terrible as it was, it made me me. No, “what didn’t kill me didn’t make me stronger”, despite the ever popular saying. I’m not stronger because of what I’ve endured. If anything, I’m weaker because of it, however, that weakness has made me want to become stronger, and keep going. As I said in my medium article, there’s a bizarre attachment to being broken. A sort of “I don’t wanna be fixed, this is who I am!“, but why am I so attached to being broken? Where’s the logic in that? So like I said, no, it didn’t kill me, but it didn’t make me stronger. I’m the only thing that can make me stronger, by choosing to become stronger.

Hey, let’s put it this way. Family isn’t always there for you, but you are always there for you, so at least you aren’t really alone.

Hey. I’m Maggie. If you liked this thing, you might like some other things I do, like my webcomic “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or “Sad Party” where I encourage others to share their sadness so others can not feel so alone. I also write at Medium from time to time. You can also donate to my SquareCash, it’d be very appreciated. Thanks for reading!

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A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Lies

There’s one photo that encompasses my entire childhood (that I will not be posting here).

My stepfather was a professional photographer. He not only made it his living, but his hobby, so much so that we often had to pose for stupid photographs like the one I’m speaking of, which has me sitting, nicely dressed, backwards in a dining room chair, making me appear as if I’m on the back of a NYT bestselling crime novel I’ve just published to rave reviews. Not only this, but we actually had a large framed photo on our wall where my stepsiblings I all got two rows to ourselves to make goofy faces and then smile at the end, because that’s the sort of household I grew up in. Give someone an outside appearance at a happy family to cover up the inner turmoil. That’s the thing I love about photography, more than anything. IT FUCKING LIES. 

This photo irritates me on a number of levels. Not only was I ever a happy or a good looking daughter (hell, I’m not even the best looking woman in the world. I mean, I know I’m up there, but I’m not #1), but it signifies the fact that not only was my childhood a lie…but it’s a well documented one. Having your parent be a photographer means being stuck with photo album after photo album of family photos ranging everything from christmas mornings to graduation. So the photos lie just as much as I was lying about myself to everyone around me regarding my lesbianism and so much more. And it’s all documented. Wonderful. It’s not necessarily that I HATE the photo, but it’s more along the lines of…I hate what the photo is showing. The photo itself is well taken, but it’s presenting yet again a false image. That other one I mentioned? That one with the rows? That was hung literally next to our front door as an instant image to be seen when you entered as a guest.

Oh, what a happy family!

Far from it, lady. Childhood is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you have to deal with declining mental health or a rejected sexuality. I’m certain the difficulties vary person to person, but for me personally…it’s the photos that are the worst. A lie of a lie. And the worst part is that it makes me feel like I didn’t even start really being alive until I came out, so there’s a documented childhood for a person I never identified as. That’s…unsettling to say the least. It also explains my enormous self hatred for having my photo taken as a kid, to the point where I’d leave the room or cover my face. I didn’t want to be documented. I DIDN’T KNOW WHO THE PERSON IN THE PHOTO WAS. Other people look back at photos and say, “What a happy child I was!”. I look back and say, “Who the hell IS this?”

These days though, I take a lot of selfies. It’s not because I’m vain (you have to first have self esteem for that, so I’m safe) or anything, but simply because I finally kind of like how I look. It’s a small consolation for the hell I had to put up with, but at least what I’m working on fixing my self esteem. But, that’s what suburban life is, at least when I was a little girl. Parents didn’t want their neighbors to see how screwed up their family was. Judgment was important to them. They wanted their family to be portrayed as happy, good, people. So they kept trimmed lawns and took lie filled photographs and they upheld to the highest standard an image of excellence and perfection to hide the problems they had. Nobody talked about divorce. Nobody talked about mental illness or homosexuality. It’s amazing how far we think we’ve come from the 50s, when really the only thing’s that’ve changed are our cable packages and how we process our food. There’s still bigotry, and hatred, and total lack of decent humanity, ESPECIALLY regarding treating your children and, a lot of times, often, yourself right.

So yeah, there’s one photo that encompasses my entire horrible childhood.

But there’s a billion that encompass my bettering adulthood.

And that’s kinda cool.

Hey, I’m Maggie Taylor, and this is my blog. If you like what I do here, you should check out my depressing space webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my new site “Sad Party”, where I ask others to revel in their sadness so others can see they’re not alone. If you wanna support me, you can always donate at my SquareCash. I’d really appreciate it.

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A Blue Ribbon In Sucking Less

To clarify right off the bat, I am neither for nor against the whole “everyone’s a winner!” campaign. While I agree that, yes, children should be applauded for their actual accomplishments rather than just being a participant, I also recognize that for some kids, just being a participant is a goddamn accomplishment. I know this because I failed to be one, and the few times I was one I wasn’t told that it was a good thing, so I just assumed “Well, I hate this and nobody else seems to be happy about me being here, so screw it” and became ever more introverted. Then again, my parents never told me they were proud of me about anything, and that hurts. Try as I might, they never once told me they were proud of anything I did accomplish, nor did they tell me it was important for my own sake, so at some point I just stopped trying altogether. Eventually I stopped doing homework, classwork, or participating in life in general. The things I did do of my own accord, like get my film degree or get paid to write, they didn’t say they were proud of those either, which only minimized them to me. Why should I do anything if nobody else is going to care? If it’s only important to me, then how important can it actually be?

See, nobody ever taught me about self worth. When I was in 8th grade, I had to pick an elective class, so I chose art. I hated it. It ruined art for me for years. However, my teacher did see something in me, and picked a painting of a flower that I did to include in the Rotary Arts Show in our town. I got noticed by her, by other artists, and even got a ribbon for it. My parents didn’t care. Oh they went to the art show, sure, because it was expected of them, and my mother still has the painting because it’s something she can show off to others, to lord over them, a sort of “my child is better than your child” situation, because in the end, it’s all she has that I did well in. It’s not that she’s proud of me for painting it, she’s proud of herself for birthing someone who painted it. She’s proud of this extension of herself. At the art show, or even afterwards, nobody told me, “Hey, good job” or “That was a really great painting, well done”. I just got ignored like always.

Self worth. If I don’t mean anything to anyone else, why should I mean anything to myself? If nobody else sees anything worth believing in in me, then why do I even matter? I kill myself to create content, I drive myself to the brink of exhaustion chasing perfection when it comes to what I do, and yet…nobody ever says “Well done” or “Man, I love this!” or anything of the sort. These days, my girlfriend is my biggest supporter, which is so weird to me because if nobody else ever said anything, how can I be sure she isn’t just saying it out of pity? And see, the fucked up thing is, I realize this is all fucking irrational, but because nobody ever said they believed me, or were proud of me, then I can’t help but shake the notion that nobody ever will be, even if they say otherwise. I say that I do what I do because it helps me survive, which isn’t total bullshit, as it does help me categorize and clarify everything in my life, and in the bullshit world surrounding me, but when it comes right down to it, self preservation just isn’t enough. I don’t need admiration. I don’t need adoration. I don’t need a star on the fucking hollywood walk of fame. I just need to be a participant.

“Everyone’s a winner!” is a dangerous motto to bandy about because no, not everyone is a winner, and despite how often you tell your child that, some of them just aren’t gonna be winners. Take it from a girl who was told, when she was very little, that academically she would be great and was then abandoned when they realized she wouldn’t live up to their standards. Take it from a loser. Sure, your child might end up having some talents, but not all talents are bankable, and even the ones that are that they might obtain, you still have to get lucky enough to be successful. Success isn’t just hard work. It’s also a lot of luck. So, to tell your child they’re a winner, and then have to watch them fail repeatedly, all it does is send them the message that you’re a goddamned liar, and you only said that to protect their feelings. I’m not saying to tell your kid they fuckin suck. That’s even worse, obviously, but make sure to clarify to them that they need to find their strengths and aren’t good at something just because they were involved in it. Everyone’s a winner? No. But everyone should be a participant.

I’m 28. I lived through a lifetime of abuse, failure and a suicide attempt. But guess what, I’m still here. I’m still participating, and I think I deserve some fucking acknowledgement for that. Where’s my goddamn blue ribbon?

If you like what you’ve read here, and wanna help support me in my artistic endeavors, and not ever make me put on pants, then perhaps you should consider donating at my Kofi? It accepts PayPal and you don’t even have to give more than 3 dollars! It’d be greatly appreciated and help buy groceries, pay for our rent and more. Thank you.