I am a nocturnal Schizoaffective on Disability. I create free Internet content when symptoms permit. No job or kids. At 6:30 pm, I wake in my lesbian lover’s downtown studio. She is gone. The sheets are blue and rumpled. Her night shift at Tesla began half an hour ago.
I text her, “Hi love, just woke. All good w/you?” She replies, “Not really. Anxiety. Frustrated.” I text, “Oh honey, sorry. Kiss kiss, hug hug, and a good shag when you get home.” My partner is a butch lesbian. In writing I refer to her as Jasper. She identifies as female. Dresses and presents as male. Gender is a social construct. I am a cis woman. Femme because I choose to be. I rumple through clothes on the floor. Put on black Adidas legging and sports bra. Ivory lace fringed lingerie top. Bahomet pendant on red ribbon. Top Tomato lipstick.
I check my iPad. CNN headlines. My Twitterfriend’s bejeweled yellow acrylics. Adam and Eve strap on email. I emailed my April Entropy Food column last week. Called “Dining with a Cursed Bloodline: The Biggest Little Sturm Und Drang.” I wonder when I’ll hear from the editor.
Search the kitchen for caffeine. Gulp last dregs of a Rockstar energy drink. Pour a cup of coffee in a Duncan Donuts plastic big gulp. Listen. It’s raining. Eight pm. Completely dark outside the cracked open window. Whatever it may bring, let the night begin.
I’m this studio’s “writer in residence,” I joke. If I can’t travel to or afford pro residencies? I’ll DIY one alone all night in my girlfriend’s apartment.
Where to start? Poet Ingrid Calderon-Collins asked me for art and writing for her zine. I pitched one of my NSFW series of oil paintings with queer erotica. Maybe. I feel like making literary videos tonight for my channel: . Video my essay “The Mentally Ill and Guns,” from now defunct mag Queer Mental Health. It drags, dated 2012. Next, I read “Stoned Crow Siren,” flash fiction scantily clad for the camera. It’s a trick, Eye candy snares the the viewer into listening to my words.
I did a fashion interview recently on “Apparel for Authors” Instagram. Thanks to Marcelle Heath. I skimmed the email directions. Instead of picking three questions, answered all fourteen. The full text is on the iCloud linked to my iPhone. I love Apple products. Drape a white sheet over a chair. Sit on the floor. Film the full interview for YouTube in my iPad.
I sit in the claw foot bathtub. Stretch one leg out. Fall in. Begin shooting “Bathtub Bedtime Stories,” an ambitious project. Serializing my many unpublished manuscripts for YouTube. I start with Scaffolding, a nineties punk prequel to my debut Jet Set Desolate. Get halfway through the first chapter before the bathtub hurts too much to sit.
To decompress, I watch Rock of Love. Add a few sentences to another piece of flash fiction. Finish the whole pot of coffee. Listen to the rain. It’s hot on the bed. Cold rain outside. Sprawled nude, I feel like a Nan Goldin photograph.
At 11:00 pm, I take psych meds. Antidepressants: two Prozac and a Wellbutrin. Mood regulator: Trileptal. Antipsychotic: Abilify. Klonopin for my anxiety. I am on day two without my usual PTSD medication: Prazosin. Vlog my lack of symptoms daily. In a black leather jacket unzipped to below side boob.
At two am, I text Jasper, “Hey baby, how’s it going?” She ’s hanging in there. I reply, “You can do it! Go, fight, win!” My iPhone beeps with the motion sensor home security camera. I review Day Brief footage. Two cats pace fast by the door. I put in AirPods. Listen to Cardi B on Spotify: “Washpoppin.” “Stripper Hoe.”
I review iPad footage. List new video titles to edit together on the laptop at home with iMovie. Delete rapid slurred speech. Note pacing. Inflection. Ad hoc sets. Non distracting white backgrounds. Clothing. See my body thicken. Heedlessly devouring quart after quart of ice cream with Jasper. A joy I must stop. Now that I know what does and doesn’t work, I am inspired for more.
I discover the 2018, “Easy Access Poetry,” exchange with British writer Chris Walsh in the iCloud back catalogue. Glow up again. Read poems in the bathtub. Bare porcelain cools off the bathroom. Bedroom hot with an old fashioned heater clunking against the rain.
I finally find the sweet spot for recording video in Jasper’s apartment. Sitting on the floor in front of the built in mirror in the white wall. Camera propped up with books of r.m. drake’s poetry. Filming from the bed. Reading the short story “Board-Box.” The editor at Two Hawks Quarterly solicited something edgy.
I film the first two chapters of an unpublished novel called, “Grieving Through American Horror Story.” It has been seething inside me for some time. “Trying to claw it’s way out,” like witch Mallory claws out of her identity spell in AHS: Apocalype. Presenting this book serialized on YouTube will be labor intensive, high tech art therapy. Coming to terms with the suicide death of my domestic partner. Showing my innermost pain to the whole Internet. To lay that burden down. Perhaps this will give me the closure I need. After seven years of brutal grief and mourning. To reopen my heart to this new love.
“This is how I do,” millennial electroclash trio Fannypack sang. I am spent. Feel triumphant to have had such a huge creative burst while over here. Last week I anesthetized with TV. Forgot who I was. What I could do. Felt like a deadbeat. Wondered when I would create again. What to do next? In this small, dark apartment that has become a different sort of studio. I will definitely need the good hard shag I hope Jasper gives me when she gets home. I wonder if I should forge onward to Chapter Three of AHS: Grief? Or take a bath?
The pale light of dawn peers through the white curtains at five am. Jasper gets home in two hours. I’ve lost count of how many carrots, apples and peanuts I’ve eaten. I wonder idly if Jasper will bring home that cannabis vape pen she promised to pick up. Feel like relaxing for a bit. To put myself in the right mood to hang out. Jasper texts me her friend is driving her home. She will get home in thirty minutes. I am thrilled. Put all the apartment “props" I’ve been using back where they belong. Put my head down on the blue sheets. Close my eyes. I am still too manic to sleep.
At six am, Jasper comes home from work. She takes off her binding shirt shirt and sports bra. Sits on the chair with a beer. After finishing brushes her teeth. So she won’t taste like alcohol to sober me. Puts some Pandora reggae on the Roku. I am nude under ivory lace. Ruffle-butt black panties. We roll around on the bed making out. Her magic hands finally relax my tense body. Tame my creative mania. Finally, she gets up to take a shower. I eat an apple on the bed. Juice runs down my hand.
I can tell the video clips are finally how I want to present my writing. As a scarlet lipped, glowing, blue white haired phantasm. My body aches. Jasper rubs icy hot ointment on my sore shoulders. It feels amazing. She makes each of us a microwave hot three cheese and kale bake. Paper plate. Bowl. Plastic spoon. We watch part of Practical Magic in bed, kissing and fondling. She falls asleep to cartoons. Cuddles up in a blanket like a burrito. Snores.
I sit on the maroon chair under a sheet and spider blanket. Against the open window’s chill. Tired, yet strangely alert. Write this piece while it is still fresh. Check my email. Read Psychopomp Magazine’s kind rejection email to my essay, “Ode to Leggings as a Feminist Act,” for their reprints issue. Delete emails from: Wired, Petco, Yandy lingerie, NaNoWriMo, CVS, The Mighty, Birchbox, Tumblr and Dior. Scan the Inked Magazine email. Just in case.
At nine am I put my head down. Close my eyes. Sleep, deep and dreamlessly.
Andrea Lambert is the author of Jet Set Desolate, Lorazepam & the Valley of Skin: Extrapolations on Los Angeles and the chapbooks G(u)ilt and Lexapro Diary. Anthologies: Impact, Golden State 2017, Haunting Muses, Writing the Walls Down and elsewhere. Her food column “Dining with a Cursed Bloodline.” appears monthly in Entropy Magazine. Writing in Luna Luna, OCCULUM, Grimoire and elsewhere. Twitter: @AndreaLamber.