The International Sad Players Anthem

I’ll be very honest with you.
Keep it very 100.

I’m chemically, botanically, deeply Spotify radio of songs that sound like Mitski’s-“I Bet On Losing Dogs”-when-Puberty’s-played-through unwell. Fr fr. Such a pathetic fuck or so I am tell myself on nights I feel like Pluto finding out it was just a cold rock and not a glimmer of hope, a real big deal. Sometimes I can feel my ssri start turning verbs into gerunds and oh no’s to goddamn. I am sad I can’t time travel. I am sad that people say one thing and then do another. I am sad I did one thing and said another. I’m sad because of other people and myself and the fact someone can own the stars and my body and my time— there’s inside and outside stimuli and I can’t seem to just reach for the switch to turn the light off when I’m tired.

In an alternate version of this, I am the handful of dust” in that one T.S. Eliot poem, the earnest way Tracy Chapman promises to get her lover out of the city. I am her swollen feet after taking that job. I am the guitar on Outkast’s Gasoline Dreams” but also the arpeggiated twinkly chords in your favorite midwestern emo song. Sad fuck feels right though. It’s less clinical and considers the plosive air on the tongue to scream. It’s easier to understand myself in songs I could put on repeat than the generic version of drugs I have to take to get through the day. It’s just been a while since I’ve been callous about it. I couldn’t be soft this time. I am fighting for my life. I don’t need self-care tonight. I need self-defense. Protect me from what I want.

Today’s a low day. It’s a sad day. It is some days but then it can be all days. Sometimes it’s a sinkhole and others it’s an ethical pest trap. Today I’m a sad fuck and I’m alive at the same time as other sad fucks and we are so sad that we are sad-fuck, fuck, sad and are so big F— We’re not a bad lot. In fact, sometimes, we’re beloved and I know sad fucks who get invited to parties and asked to hold babies.

I’m not a prize-winning pony, can’t imagine being a horse girl’s favorite personally but maybe I’ll have a good pony name like Sweetwater or Swampdonkey. Despite the good deeds I’ve tried to do, days like this never outweigh my heavy heart. How relatable it is to be aging and hurtling towards irrelevance; how embarrassing it is that I wish, I hope, it does, get better than this.  

There’s functional sad fucks and there’s dysfunctional too. Everyone wants sad fucks to be hideous or to make sense in what they think would cause such a depletion of desire. I’m here to tell you that some sad fucks are beautiful and some are hideous. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense– how can you have everything, do everything and still feel like no one. Some of sad fucks hold keys to cities, nobel prizes and incredible wardrobes. Sometimes we have nothing and want it all– I want the world to burn and the world to yearn for my existence all at once. I don’t dream of labor or being perceived any given day.

Like Neruda on some Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche” but with a Billy Corgan whine– Tonight, Tonight, I’m sad.

To be fair, it’s not so simple chemically or short of words but tonight I will write to you simply. Sometimes sadness is a part of you. Sometimes it is you. Like in a psycho-thriller, where the nerve-wrecking instrumental music leads you to the final reveal: you’re the killer, you’re the ghost, you’re Jude Law at the end of Gattaca. Sometimes sadness is a birthmark. Distinguishing but not wholly defining who you can become. Sometimes it’s like impacted wisdom teeth. It’s a day that keeps repeating seemingly without consequence.

Sometimes it seems like a beautiful, broken antique watch — one of those fancy ones where the numbers are marked by roman numerals or just precious stones. The kind of watches I hate – — I’m depressed, not a scientist. What do I look like carrying a sundial in my pocket — I digress.

It’s a beautiful watch. It’s a stupid watch.

Time’s a construct, I say, as I try to throw the antique into the harbor, not caring that it could end up in the Chesapeake. It’s only a matter of time before the watch is back in my bedroom; it’s falling out of an envelope or literally being delivered by an angry blue crab that says stop littering, you sad fuck.”

I wrote and re-wrote I’m a sad fuck” in the same way that every day I wrap my hands knowing I’ve got a fight ahead me every single day. I fight it like I hate it. I fight it like it owes me money. I’m Don Corleone and wondering how Depression came to me, on the day of my daughter’s wedding. Depression is gonna catch these hands before it catches me and yet I deactivate social media accounts and it appeases a part of me that wants to permanently slip away from the world like Orpheus grasping for Eurydice, at the mouth of hell. Joy slips away so quickly and leaves me gasping, wondering how it got so bad and how it all got so far beyond me.  

A lot of systems have failed me in my lifetime. I called a suicide hotline and after being on hold for a bit was received by a condescending voice. It heated my blood that she’d make me feel so stupid for wanting to die and she didn’t know one damn thing about me, what I survived. She was dry and sounded tired. I want to scream in her face. I swore I’d kick her ass and luckily it made me so mad I had to live another day just to tell my friend about wanting to kick this woman’s ass. In a way, it did work, so cheers to you, Hotline. The reality of what keeps us here isn’t always idyllic.  

There are days I wake up craving a punch to the face. Nothing horrible, just a sting to my cheek, a bell in my ear.

You know, I used to box and recently I’ve got back and pulled the gloves back on. It felt eerie hearing Coach refer to me as a fighter and he’d say show me the real grit, show me the ugly.” He gave me permission to be as ugly as I wanted to be and I’d go home feeling more proud of the work I did there than in therapy. I’ve never identified as a poet or a writer but baby, when he said you’re a fighter, kid,” it felt so right.

Felt like Marty McFly sliding into a pair of Nike’s. It felt like the right ID for once. I’m a fighter. Maybe I should’ve always known. When I stumbled upon local boys on top of my sister and I only had a moment to think I’m so small, I could die” but it seemed just another exit and I curled my fist and smashed my wide screen forehead into a nose. Mom said later that it wasn’t lady-like but she’d spent time in county jail for punching a pastor and she’d tell me that story when I was older.

What’s right is right and even if they win, you’ll have their ear and they’ll never forget.

One of the older boxers of the joint I used to go to would help me out in the ring. He’s blocking my punches and throwing a soft one and I would fall and he’d say that’s me helping you out, you were thinking about the after and not right now.” He would lecture me on damage, on hurt. He said Do you feel uncomfortable? Good, now hold that for 12 rounds but call it your life.” The thing is the fighter is always hurting because fighting is the most unnatural damn thing in the world but you were built to do it.  

Used to come into the ring with my shoulders to my ears and without smiling and Coach would ask Why are you here? To just look tough, huh? Shake those shoulders out and stop looking so mean.” Part of me thought that’s how a fighter looks; part of me thought that’s what I gotta do to protect myself. He’d ask You want a good work out? A summer body?”

Honestly, maybe. I’d say quietly I want to learn how to fight.” He said you got this far, didn’t you, what do you call that?” For a while I thought it was just a struggle. Everyday I struggle. I see you too. Maybe we are fighting. You and so many others too. I see you in the ring. I fall down and get back up and it feels like I am rehearsing surviving until the end of the horror movie but it’s just my life.

Got regret and guilt and shame. Rinse, repeat. Spend a lot of time wishing and reliving moments with loved ones, hoping the fabric of time and space will wrinkle and give me a chance to iron it out. I want to yell at you that we should all be better and more vigilant. I’m doing the math and with the rules of progressive overload, I’m bulking during seasonal depression. I’m dry scooping creatine and telling you to keep your grip strong. I want to say that I got you but you know that I don’t get my damned self. All I can actually tell you is that I’m ugly as hell too. You aren’t alone.

It’s never easy hearing someone tell you that they can’t see into next week. I check books out and get excited to reach the due date. It’s hard to know the exact amount to reach out to someone who has confided in you that they are over-related when a character on the hit NBC show Heroes literally exploded because he had absorbed too much. Just do. Make plans, hover, and orbit. If I were to make a dating profile, I’d be seeking someone with strong hands: I’ve taken too much in and require strong but gentle hands. I am yearning to yield, to be wrung out dry.

It’s hard on the gut flora to learn someone close to you is waning faster than some of the oldest stars in the sky. Unlike these old ass balls of gas, there’s not a bunch of nerds constantly checking on them, securing funding to make sure the stars are doing all right. We are doing our best on Earth. We’ve got so much to contend with and everything is too much and inflated. I love space but sometimes too much. I love the void too but sometimes too much. We’ve gotta build better telescopes and algorithms but for people. We’ve gotta give each other better ways to cope with the loss, to cope with the living.

Be my stargazer and let me be my brother’s astronomer.

Check up, check in.

Kelly Xio

IG: @ohgeography

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