The literary process of falling in love.

In the movie 500 Days of Summer, Tom, the protagonist, is crushed by the girl of his dreams. In an attempt to help, his best friend suggests he should write a book because “Henry Miller said the best way to get over a woman is to turn her into literature.” Although McKenzie, the best friend, had good intentions and overall a good idea, Miller in fact said, “There are only three things to be done with a woman. You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.” The point, however, that I’m trying to make is that regardless of quoting someone correctly, turning a person you once loved who is now nothing more than a mere stranger into literature, is the only way to get over a broken heart.

Two years ago was the last time I got my heart broken. I technically could go into detail over every mundane and pathetic heartbreak prior, but for the sake of your attention span, I’ll keep this focused on one relationship. I wouldn’t say this relationship was one that stands out or continues to stay with me after years and years of wondering if I let the love of my life get away, but nevertheless, this relationship was it. The heartbreak felt from this relationship broke me. Prior to this one, I had been single for two years due to being cheated on and overall controlled and mentally abused by a bigot, white-power imbecile. One would think that a relationship as terrible as that would have broken me first, and in a way I suppose it did, but the most recent one was more prominent.

The relationship was a mistake from the very beginning. Friendships were destroyed, leases were broken, money and time was lost, but most of all, I was made to hate myself more than I ever had in the past. This isn’t to say the guy I was dating was any worse than the others (definitely not worse than the bigot), but he also wasn’t anything more than a child and he probably never will be. In three short months my life fell apart. It would be wrong of me to blame it all on him, but he did have a huge hand in the mess of things. From fighting all of the time, to being compared to (and losing to) his ex-girlfriend, to being turned down on a daily basis, to being avoided and ignored, this relationship was on par with an immature relationship one has during high school before the prefrontal cortex is developed.

The actual break up lasted for twenty hours. It started with a text message that lead to more text messages, that lead to an awkward lunch, an awkward dinner, an awkward trip to Best Buy, and finally an awkward car ride and an “I love you” that was and still is ignored. For someone who never gave a shit about anyone he dated, he sure does drag them along. Maybe it’s a sense of not wanting to feel guilty or not wanting to be alone, but whatever the reasoning, nothing he ever did was handled the way a decent human being would handle things and that is why I decided to write a book.

I remember him calling me a few weeks later and after dragging on a meaningless conversation for far too long, he stated, “So you’re upset because you don’t have a boyfriend?” Much like all the other pieces of shit I dated, he never understood me or what I was trying to say. I often felt like I was speaking to him in a language he couldn’t understand. Was I being too articulate or confusing? It’s unlikely. It’s that in the end, despite all the things we both did wrong, we just weren’t right for each other.

So how was I supposed to prevent this from happening again? How was I to protect myself from getting my heart broken by another guy who didn’t understand me? I can still see myself sitting in my tiny little room with plain white walls and crying, wishing, hoping that the pain would all go away. My heart wasn’t just breaking because of this one guy; it was breaking because of all of them. When I date, I don’t just date, I fall. Maybe I’m an idiot or maybe I want to believe that you can love many different people, but why waste your time if you aren’t serious? Why share yourself with another person if you honestly don’t give a shit?

I have never been quick to sleep with people. In fact, I’ve had relationships with men that resulted in only us sleeping together once because it never was and never has been about sex despite this generation being obsessed with it. I was searching for something full of meaning, something worth a damn, but I realize now that not many people care like I do. In retrospect, I can’t even really blame these people because it was my fault for loving them. But I digress; I began reading, re-reading, and re- re-reading years and years of writing. I had poured my heart and soul into so many words about these men and here they were, just sitting in journals and doc files on my computer. My love life was comprised of these sad entries that were just waiting for me to pass over them when I felt lonely. I didn’t want these entries to be hidden away any longer.

I compiled, edited, revised, and edited again, each and every entry. I made chapters, I chose a title, I even wrote a goddamn epilogue in preparation for self-publishing this terribly sad and wearisome collection. It was to be called “Used To Be” after a Beach House song and it would entail each and every man I ever loved, thought-I-had-loved, and denied-I-had-loved. With each chapter finished, I was given the chance to finally move on and forgive myself for the heartache. I was able to get out of bed in the morning and look forward to living again, even if that meant I was to be living alone and out of love. Once the book started to take shape and the momentum began to move on its own, I felt normal again. Writing gave me a second chance not only at life, and as cliché as it sounds, at love. Turning your past relationships into literature is the only way to mend a broken heart.

And so during the process of writing the book, I ventured out of my tiny room for the first time in months and unknowingly found the ending to my book. I found B. Once we fell in love the book was put on hold because I didn’t need it anymore. Now it sits on my hard drive waiting to be finished, but does it even need to be? Should I venture back into the dark recesses of heartache in order to compile more thoughts, feelings, and memories about guys from my past? Or do I just move on making my book as distant of a memory as the men I once loved?

Here is where I need your help: Is the integrity and the existence of a book more important than finally burying my past? You decide and help me to figure out whether “Used To Be” deserves to live or die.
-Stacey Renberg

extra heart valves.

This is true, elaborated a bit, but true… dammit.

You know, come to think of it, I never knew heart break in high school. Twenty years on the earth and I’d avoided heart break at every turn. I was always doing the dumping – in Starbucks, over the phone, in the mall, before Val Kilmer movies. I was the ultimate ex-boyfriend because I never gave a reason or cheated, I just kind of left. I was a cell, singular and without antioxidants. I felt the mutations, but never thought anything of them. I thought I was evolving but I was just using up healthy people.

On an unimportant Friday, in a November I forget, my heart first broke. My early-twenties were a waste, spent in a cigarette-box office. A cigarette-box office at the deadest end of an industrial park in Secaucus, New Jersey. At my 7pm winter desk, after everyone was home and dark, I’d imagine my poor heart. I had surrounded it with smoke, made it work harder for a pump, monitored it with a doctored-issued, blood-pressure cuff.

Thinking back on that November, it’s not important how my heart broke. I had made my career out of leaving, like a LinkedIn page with ellipses for every field. Girls had come and gone with their baggage and their faults. At first they seemed endearing, but then they became too much. Finally the faults in me were left instead of leaving. I couldn’t fold my clothes or listen to a song without thinking of every single different thing I could have ever done. If I had only stayed home, watched a movie, played guitar, I would have never partied, got drunk, fell in love.

I remembered the cell, before it craved attention all to itself. At the very top of a pile of ruined friendships and loves, I could see a vast expanse of moments. Moments that I could have never avoided, but that I’d failed in the midst of. My heart had been breaking the whole time, a product of the wear. I could see every relationship, different endings to each one, or so I thought. See, from my new vantage point, every ending was exactly the same as every other one. It was my weak heart, made up of selfish, ruined cells, that pushed horrible words out of my mouth. Determined words that would never stop until every single tie was severed.

See, the condition of your heart is not determined in an instant, it’s always on a path. I’m thankful for the love I can give now, and for the friends who took me back. I know that consequences are not karma, they’re the bricks I placed myself. I could have stopped that killer cell before it started, and because I didn’t, I’ll owe apologies forever. But you know, I threw away that blood pressure cuff. My heart murmur healed itself. I stopped smoking (for the most part). Pieces of my heart will be gone, never coming back. I’m thankful for all the love I hold, and all the pieces I still have.

-Nick Orsini

just one moment.

we notice the empty spot beside us
the cold draft our hands feel as we recall the warmth that once engulfed it
the way they look at us differently
the vacant seat in your car
silent rooms that once filled with their laughter

these nights.
these tidal waves of tear streaked pillows
memory clenching & silent sobbing

you’ve become a victim to your emotions
your heart exposed
naked & vulnerable
your eyes refuse to hide the sadness any longer
dark circles
slouching posture
your body will not lie anymore

but, my dear, it will pass

Take it   one.
day.
at a time.
Remember how to breathe again.

how to have your heart beat to its own rhythm
without matching theirs
how to smile

for a moment every night
just for one single moment

make the city yours
when everyone is asleep
you are the streetlight illuminating the dark street
or be the quiet nightlight in the corner

the soft breeze in the grass
you are the colours of the sun rise
the open field of wildflowers
rooting themselves deep in the cold earth

the words that fill the mailbox
unwritten letters
a hot mug of coffee
you are the jolt of energy
you are the laughter at the table
the muse to a birds song
you are what makes the moon come out
you.

just for a moment
one single moment
you will forget the void in your heart that once chained you

& soon
you will have the strength to take on another day.

senseless acts of violence.

The new year is usually the time for rebuilding yourself – or “rebranding” yourself if you’re a douchebag. We say that we will change, but most of us end up continuing to make the same poor decisions year after year. It’s quite common, I do the same thing. On January 1st I told myself I would quit soda, yesterday I had Dr. Pepper. For me I can’t change at the turn of a calendar page, I just can’t. There’s nothing behind it – it’s a false start. The only time that I am actually able to make some positive changes in my life is after heart break.

I’ve now been with my wife for *almost* ten years, so I haven’t romantically had my heart broken in quite a while. However, romantic heart break isn’t the only kind out there, folks. Sadly, I get my heartbroken every day, just about.
There has been a school shooting every other school day this year. Seriously.(http://billmoyers.com/2014/01/23/there-has-been-an-average-of-one-school-shooting-every-other-school-day-so-far-this-year/) It’s absolutely heart breaking. Obviously every senseless act of violence is always heart breaking, but the shootings that happen in schools are particularly poisonous to our souls. Schools are full of children, and innocence and teachers and dedication. I have worked in schools and can honestly say that the teachers that go in every day are god damn heroes. For something as idiotic and selfish as a shooting to occur in this place of learning is enough to break our hearts for decades.
These acts, as terrible as they are and as difficult they make it to maintain a sense of normalcy, make me want to be better. After heart break like this you have to – you can’t throw in the towel and say “That’s all I got”. You have to be better. You have to want to be a better person, parent, leader, citizen, teacher, friend, stranger, neighbor, brother, student. But how?
We’re only as knowledgeable as the world makes us – so it’s about time we start with education. Yes, understand that guns are an issue, trust me I get it – but it’s also and issue about education. Most of the world’s problems stem from poor education. Some may be thinking “Wait. What? You think if kids learn math then they won’t shoot?” No. I don’t think that. Education isn’t just about books and calculators. It’s about people. We could be teaching kids empathy and compassion – helping them to understand the feelings of others, their own feelings, handling when others can’t.
That’s what breaks my heart and that is how I deal with it. I imagine a future where we all understand that no one wants to be shot at. Sure, this is very much a rambling of words, but it’s because when you’re heart is broken you lack the emotional power to compile your thoughts in a coherent way. You express you’re feelings with your words and work through it – you don’t buy a gun.
-Dylan Wise.