Monday, December 31, 2012

The Insomniac's Dream: Resolution

Nearly five years ago I wrote a photo letter to a special someone named Justine.

I titled it The Insomniac's Dream.

It was an incredibly ambitious project that ultimately received a lukewarm response.  Since then, she and I have remained good acquaintances who infrequently catch up by way of sporadic IMs, impromptu dinner parties and midnight screenings.

Then a few days ago I received this e-mail:


so I just reread your picture letter, 'cause I needed a refresher.  and I have to say I got much more out of it this time than the first.  I was so overwhelmed by all the time and attention you were giving me, and the thought and work you put into making that happen, that I shut down and ran and hid.  so, now that I know you better and am at a better place in my life I see how totally awesome that letter is.  you are such a romantic, you get to drag the rest of us along in your beautiful world.

-- J.

What does this mean?  I really don't know.

Will she be mine?  Probably not.  No.

But all these years later, it seems that my words, my efforts, still left an impression -- a positive one.

So it wasn't for naught, or solely an exercise to reconcile myself with the Grand Romantic Gesture, and I guess that's something.

No, it really is something.

It's everything.

Friday, November 9, 2012


"Please be nice," he told her.

"I don't plan on being here

                                 much longer,

                                                 and I could use

                                                               a bit more kindness

                                                                                         before I go."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Time & Perspective: A Letter


I have this fantasy where I greet you on your doorstep for your birthday, and much to my surprise you hurry me inside to join you and your family and friends to celebrate the occasion.  Years have passed since I’ve seen your face, years since I allowed things to end so poorly between us, yet you somehow dash away all those lost days and unspoken miseries by eagerly – gleefully! – taking my hand and leading me down the hall to where the rest of the party awaits your return.

To be honest, I don’t know exactly what happens next in this scenario, but there are enough snippets of imagination in my mind to form a vivid moving reel:  Your eyes and smile alit by the glow of birthday candles; your cry of “Duuuder!” in mock protest over some quip I make; that sweet and gentle smirk of yours that always makes my heart swell with pure, unadulterated joy; feeling your hand slip into mine underneath the table; standing outside with you as I’m about to leave, your arms wrapped around me through the inside of my coat, your face pressed against my chest like you used to; you wordlessly climbing into the passenger seat of my car so I can steal you away for the weekend, take you home.

And so I do.

It’s been nearly four years since I’ve seen you.  That’s such a long time – a high school diploma, a presidential term, a leap year come and gone – yet not.  ‘Cause while there have been many struggles, more than a fair share of defeats and far too few victories since then, the love I feel for you still remains as strong and vital as the last time I saw you.  And while the hurts inflicted by you and, worse, by myself, to us, have healed as best they could, there’s an ache that lingers just under the figurative scars that bear your likeness on the bruised and battered heart that stubbornly, defiantly beats away in my chest.  So while a lot has changed, it seems that I have kept true to my word that my feelings would not.  It’s both funny and fitting how what hurts the most – and goddamn if love lost is not the most relentless of all heartaches – also holds you most accountable.  Years later, I have plenty of new wounds to lick and injustices to howl about (or outright wallow over) – not to mention a few more worry and laugh lines in my face – yet I still find myself turning back to thoughts of you and how I could have done better.  And for that, Meli, I am sorry.  I am so, so sorry.  I know now that a lot of my anger was a protracted response to my frustrations with my previous relationship, which unduly ended in a lot of manipulative behavior from my ex and the loss of several close friends who chose her over me.  More importantly, I’ve come to understand that I was also suffering from post-traumatic stress brought on by my terrible experiences in West Africa.  I had just barely gotten a handle on myself and my emotions when I first met you, and then I went and made things even more complicated by trying to pursue an open relationship – a radically different lifestyle than any I had previously experienced – without having the understanding or patience required to make it fully work.  And never mind the fact that, monogamous or not, you simply were not ready for a serious commitment in the first place!  Still, I treated these things as little more than minor obstacles and pursued you with all the zeal, passion and persistence I can possibly generate for that someone who captures my heart.  In time I wore you down, and then finally won you over – but by then we had put each other as well as ourselves through the wringer.  And I’m sorry for that, too.

Not surprisingly, you continue to weigh heavy in my heart and mind, and I feel that I have still yet to find the words that might convince you to forgive me.  And that’s likely because I’ve yet to figure out how to wholly forgive myself – for my lack of patience; for not making you feel like you were more important than my impulses and desires; for my unnecessary (and frightening) flashes of anger; for demanding definitive answers when I could have just as easily been more diligent about helping you find them; for not knowing when to hold you closer (or let you go once and for all); for giving you any and every reason to cut off contact with me.  I feel particularly awful about that last one; it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why you changed your phone number or blocked my e-mails.  Whether or not I felt my anger was “justified” – the fact that I even have to put that word in quotes makes me wince – due to your (perceived) lack of compassion in the aftermath of our break-up, no matter who had the longer tally of grievances to hide behind, no one should have to endure such harassment.  Honestly, even if you have found – or one day will find – a way to forgive me for such despicable actions, I doubt that I ever will.  As it stands, much of my behavior toward the end still haunts me to this day.

However, sorrow and regret are not the reason why you remain a constant in my thoughts, why not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on you – on us – even if it’s little more than a passing reverie or a tiny snowflake of memory melting your name on my tongue.  Simply, I am still in love with you, Melissa.  Maybe not as madly or desperately as I used to be, but it is very much a love that has remained honest and true these last four years and counting.  (And, really, I’m all but certain that the intensity of such love smolders just below the surface, awaiting a grand and miraculous – and, yes, utterly ridiculous – rebirth.)  It is a love that has for better or worse set the bar for all future relationships.  It is because I lost such a love that I know better what I need from a relationship and how to pursue it with more caution, consideration and care.  It is because I lost you that I became determined to be even more vigilant about communication and commitment.  Anything less is a slap in the face to what we shared (and, alas, suffered) during our brief time together, and I simply cannot have it all be for naught.  You mean(t) far too much to me to do such a terrible thing to our legacy.  ‘Cause aside from a treasured collection of photographs and memories, that legacy is currently all that remains of us – and it’s very important for me to remember both the good and the bad.

If you asked me why I’m reaching out to you after so many years, I guess I would tell you that it was simply time.  I have been working up the nerve to do this for quite a while now, but something repeatedly told me to wait, then wait a bit longer . . . and then wait just a little bit more.  I once read that time doesn’t necessarily heal wounds but rather gives us perspective.  What could we have done differently?  What could have I done with the knowledge and experience I possess now?  Would we have had a better chance if we both weren’t so weighed down by our previous heartbreaks?  Can we move beyond our own past – our own heartbreak – and start anew?  That last question touches upon a notion that might be too ambitious (and/or terrifying) to even consider.  Maybe you have no interest whatsoever in even entertaining such a thought.  I can only hope that time and perspective might be on my side – at least enough to warrant some kind of response.

(How I would love the opportunity to tell you in person just how much I’ve missed you, Meli.  Madly.  Desperately.  I realize that now as I commit these words to the page.)

We had something good once.  Hell, judging by our rate of breaking up and getting back together, we had something good several times.  And I would like to think that if we could find such harmony despite the continuous upsets brought forth by the mountains of baggage we both brought to the table (as well as the inherent risks of navigating a relationship dynamic that was always going to be a tall order), I believe that we could still have more good times together.  I believe in reconciliation.  I believe in us.  Maybe not in any predestined way – we’d first have to take a leap of faith getting to know each other all over again – but I do believe that we’re not finished just yet, that something splendid and meaningful can still come from the ashes of what was.  And maybe such an idea belongs in the realm of fantasy, that strange and wonderful place where I’m heartily welcomed back into your life by simply ringing your doorbell . . . but I’m a man of possibility, Meli.  I excel at turning fantasy into reality.  And when it comes to you, I still have the will if you dare to show me the way.

And if not – if you just can’t bring yourself to bother, to try – I truly do understand.  And I begrudge you nothing.  Maybe you need more time.  Or maybe all the time in the world will never be enough.  This thought saddens me deeply, but I understand that, too.  I understand all too well the consequences of my actions; I live with them every day.

(It seems I’m burdened with far more regrets than I ever thought possible to accrue in my thirty-one years.)

Overall, what I want to say most is something that I cannot convey enough:


I am sorry.

Please forgive me.   Someday.

I miss you.  Madly.  Desperately.

I still love you.  Something fierce.  And true.

And it’s about time I told you so.  With all the heart I can muster.

And so I do.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When You Laugh

Velander: I understand that you're hurting from everything you've been put through.
I'm hurting something fierce, too.

Eve: I know.
It's written all over your face.
Especially when you laugh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I want what you did for me last April. I was pathetic, you took care of me -- and that one hour did more for me and how I feel about us than anything else these past two years.

I want you to make my hurts go away.

I want you to make me feel like I'm worthy of your affection.

It's not just about fucking. If it were that simple, I would've been over you by now. You wouldn't have weighed on me when I was fast and furious with Beth. But I'm not over you. I never will be. Your memory lingers every morning I wake up. And I've accepted that. I've accepted that and the fact that you don't want me. I've accepted the fact that this other guy bested me, and now all I've got are a bunch of a photographs and memories to help me recall how wonderful it was to be that madly in love.

So, please, if you can't give me your affection, leave me be. I'm about to burst out crying at work. You win, okay? You win.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just Be A Person (Exhibit #102334)

Nicole: It took you so long to get here that I was beginning to think that you were getting back at me by saying you'd come over and then not.

Velander: I would never do that to you.

Nicole: I mean, you'd have every right to.

Velander: That's not true.  At all.

Nicole: Yeah, it is. The way I've treated you when you said you needed me . . .

Velander:  No, you don't understand.  No one has the "right" to do that to anyone.   No one has the "right" to be so petty or mean.  If I wasn't going to come, I would have told you so directly.

I said I would come.

I'm here now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Once more into the fray . . .
Into the last good fight I'll ever know.
Live and die on this day . . .
Live and die on this day . . .
-- Ottway, "The Grey"

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Be Good Until Then

Always know the road you're riding on
Always know the words to your baby's song
Try to make the most of Friday nights when they come

Maybe turn a stranger to a friend 
Never break a heart that's on the mend
Never let the romance ever end like I've done

Never judge a color of a skin
Never judge a person by their kin
Never follow leaders that begin behind some wall

Always help your mom across the street
Always wash your hands when you wanna eat
Always keep 'em dirty enough to see where you came from

And its OK to cry
If you feel it comin' on
It'll let you know you're human in the end
All these things will mean more when I'm gone
Just be good until then

Try to see the best inside the bad
No matter how many drinks you had
Never make a promise you'll regret come sunrise

Try to rarely ever oversleep
Always keep your ego at your feet
Maybe try to practice what you preach once in a while

It's OK to cry
If you feel it comin' on
It'll let you know you're human in the end
All these things will mean more when I'm gone
Just be good until then

Everybody loves a hero
Not so much when they fall short so
Try to keep your cape on underneath

You don't have to try so hard
To be the best. Just know you are
And that's all that'll matter to me

It's OK to cry
If you feel it comin' on
It'll let you know you're human in the end
All these things will mean more when I'm gone
Just be good until then

-- Butch Walker & The Black Widows, "Be Good Until Then"

Monday, May 21, 2012


I think about you every day.
I miss you every day.
I wish you would talk to me.

My birthday's this week.
I wish I were able to spend it with you.
. . . But that's enough wishing for today.

Wherever you are, I hope you're well.

JVH (via text)
2012/05/21 (10:08 a.m.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

So Much More Than This

Original Link:

I truly believed we were so much more than this.

(Sadly, I still do.)

But maybe that's all we ever were:

A disaster.

A hurricane with the smallest eye.

A burning building that never stood a chance.

Still, we deserved a lot more than what you gave.

(That's the real tragedy here.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Letter Never Sent: A Bright New Day

   I'm still not doing well.

   I miss you, too.  Dearly.

   But I can't be your friend.

   If you were seeing anyone else, it would be a different story.  But it's not.  Unlike with Nicole, I told you before you did anything with him how much that would hurt me.  Unlike with Nicole, I was trying to repair my relationship with you, not looking for a way out every chance I could get.  I told you explicitly that it would prove my point that he was only vying for your affection.  It turns out I was right, even if neither of you care to admit it.  Furthermore, I find it incredibly hurtful that he gets all the benefits that I had to work so hard to obtain with you.  You could have had the exact same freedoms that you have now, and all you had to do was communicate with me.  But you didn't, which means I never got a fair shake to truly give you what you needed, and you seem completely cavalier about this.
   But I guess that doesn't matter anymore.  It's you're life . . . and I'm no longer a part of it, so my feelings don't hold any weight here.

   If something changes, I might be willing to discuss our friendship further.  But it probably won't, and I've slowly come to accept that.

   I miss you every day, but the hurt I carry in my heart knowing that I got cuckolded by someone who both satisfies petty revenge (on both your previous ex and me) and is allowed to get a true glimpse of who you truly are/want to be -- it's obvious now that I was simply the outsider who kept you entertained while you were waiting to get back in the good graces of your old friends -- is simply too unbearable to pretend that everything will be okay.  'Cause I'm not okay -- and I'm not sure what it will take for me to get back to there.  You were always the best at making my hurts go away.  Alas, you can't heal me when you're also the source of this particular wound.

   Please don't respond.  I am fucking miserable and weak and all I want to do is beg for your comfort.  Please, have mercy on me and pretend I never existed.  As long as you're with him, just think of me as a bad dream and now you're awake and it's a bright new day and you're next to the person with whom you truly belong.

     I miss you the most, Kell Eno.  I wish you the best.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Full-Tilt First Date Bailout: SMS Edition

Quick back story: Meredith is a woman who I met at late-night Karaoke a month earlier and had since confided that she a.) lives in Wisconsin, b.) has a three-year-old son and c.) is currently going through a messy divorce.

We had a date planned for the next time she came to town.  Something simple and fun - dinner and a show.

The following conversation takes place completely via text.

May 5, 2012 - 11:25 a.m.
Meredith: Justin, I'm really sorry to this to you, but I'm going to have to bail.  My best friend showed up, and I haven't seen her in a year. I can't not spend time with her. And . . . in all honesty, I don't really see much point in going on a date with someone that you know would not work out in the end.  Between the threesomes and the vasectomy . . . well, they're both pretty much deal breakers for me. I'm sorry for doing this to you so late in the game.

May 5, 2012 - 11:29 a.m.
Justin: Ha. I love how a reasonable cancellation required a complete overview of why we wouldn't work as a couple.

It was just a date, Meredith. It's okay. Have fun.

May 5, 2012 - 11:31 a.m.
Meredith: Thanks for understanding. I just wanted to be honest with you.

May 5, 2012 - 11:32 a.m. 
Justin: I didn't know you were looking for something so serious.

13 hours later . . .

May 6, 2012 - 12:52 a.m.
Meredith: Justin - I'm really sorry about earlier. I was a total bitch . . . I was actually pretty excited about going on the first date I've gone in years. It was my brother that convinced me otherwise. It's true that my friend came into town . . . but I really was looking forward to spending time with you. I wish I would have trusted my gut in the first place. He and I actually had a pretty huge argument tonight. I'm sitting at The Owl by myself . . . analyzing everything . . . and feeling really horrible about earlier today.

May 6, 2012 - 12:53 a.m.
Justin: Karaoke?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

For Love, Lost: A Mixtape

I made this mix for someone special, someone hurting far more than any one person should have to hurt.

But just in case there's someone else adrift out there . . .

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Own Side Now

I’m goin’ out on the town
Said I’m tired of chasin’ you down
And it’s not my right to always push you around
I’m on my own side now

Who’s gonna take me home?
'Cause I don’t wanna go it alone
Who’s gonna want me when I’m just somewhere you’ve been?
Who’s gonna want me now?
And who’s gonna take me home?

I'm gonna find me a true love
Said I'm through asking you if you knew, love
How much it meant to me
How it was meant to be
And how it all feels empty

Who’s gonna take me home?
'Cause I don’t wanna go it alone
Who’s gonna want me when I’m just somewhere you’ve been?
Who’s gonna want me now?
And who’s gonna take me home?

And who’s gonna take me home?
'Cause I don’t wanna go it alone
Who’s gonna want me when I’m just somewhere you’ve been?
Who’s gonna want me now?

Oh, who’s gonna take me home?
'Cause I don’t wanna go it alone
Who’s gonna want me when I’m just somewhere you’ve been?
Who’s gonna want me now?
And who’s gonna take me home?

I’m goin’ out on the town
Said I’m tired of chasin’ you down
And it’s not my right to always push you around
I’m on my own side now


-- Caitlin Rose, "Own Side"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Something Terrible

Isyemille: And for the record, I don't think there is such a thing as a terrible sex drive. Unless terrible is inferring to lack there of.

Velander: My sex drive eats worlds.

Isyemille: Maybe there are too many worlds anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Think It Over

"Just remember what I said: you owe it to yourself to respect yourself enough to stay away from something that you know is harmful; work harder on maintaining the relationships that honor you and are worthy of that loyalty. All that shit needs to be earned, not given away."
-- David Cameo

I'm trying.  I'm really, really trying.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Here's the simplest truth:

I didn't start out angry.

And after what you did,
After the lies you told,
After the promises you broke,
After the shit you pulled,

I have every right to be angry.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


We can split the rent on an apartment overlooking the water.  Someplace we can hang a hammock for two on the balcony.

We'll make our money diving for change on the malecón and washing dishes at Gran Café del Porta.  You'll learn the marimba. I'll learn how to pour a perfect lechero.

You'll wear summer dresses in February.  I'll dress like Ritchie Valens and serenade you whenever you get homesick.  We'll stroll through the Zocalo in the evening and admire the dapper old men playing dominoes.  Every once in a while we'll break into the Carranza Lighthouse and camp inside the lantern room.

We'll scour the city for months in search of the best arroz a la tumbada in the world.  Only then can we rest.

Years later, my Spanish will still be rusty.  You're already fluent, though, so I'm sure we'll get by.

With all that sunshine, of course we'll get by.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

you. again.

You can.

You could.

You won't.

I guess that's it.  Good night.