The Outbreak: June 2005

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

There and Back Again

Made it to Boston, made it back home.

I can't really believe it either. But eventually we were just like, "How bad could it be?" I wonder if everyone is now borderline suicidal, in the not buckling your seatbelt, smoking even though you know you'll get cancer, anorexia sense. Maybe people are just shocked past the point of giving a shit anymore. I didn't feel fatalistic when we caravanned up, though. Not at all. I felt brave. I felt defiant and good. I wanted to be there for my family, and I wanted to show Amy that life was going to get better. There's no other way to interpret the fact that we made it to Boston and back.

The army/guard/whatever they are is crawling all up and down the major highways. I think that the initial crumbling of authority structures resulted in a lot of individual initiative that proved successful; now that individual initiative is being extrapolated upward. (I would also not be surprised if we've pulled nearly every soldier from overseas home, though you'll never ever ever hear anything about that, I'm guessing. Also, when was the last time you heard about Korea? Anything? I'm really just morbidly curious, as I'm reasonably sure North Korea is one of the only countries that's completely lost.) Things moved slowly, but they moved.

I don't want to talk about the service. No, no thanks.

Every time something happens to us, I think "well, we're not the only people this is happening to. We're part of a trend." Travel of this magnitude is a good trend. The trucks are coming more and more frequently. I haven't seen a revenant in a long time. I'm growing more and more incredulous of the "horror stories." Communication and news media are improving.

I'm probably just putting an overly optimistic spin on things because me and my family (and our cats, god bless their furry chins) were able to take what should be a 10-hour round trip journey over the course of a four day weekend without being cannibalized by a dead person or shot to death by a live one. But can you blame me?

Amy didn't like dragging Lucy along. It was tough on the little lady, poor thing. She's over there on the catbird seat by the window, with her little paw over her face, sleepin'. Shhhhhhhhh, baby's sleeping.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

My grandparents want to drive up to Boston for my cousin's funeral. My parents think this is crazy, and I really do to. It's a miracle that Grandma and Pa-Pa were able to make it from Florida to here as it is, and there's no sense in pushing their luck. It's not like my aunt and uncle wouldn't understand. On the other hand if you're at my grandparents' age and this is the world you find yourself in, maybe you just say "to hell with it--we're going to do what we want to do." I don't know what I would do in their shoes. These situations are supposed to bring out the best in people.

I really didn't know my cousin anymore. We always saw them least of all our family members. It's family love. I don't know. I remember when I went to college and a former friend of my best friend there was murdered. They had had something of a falling out and I didn't really like her anymore, but I was still "friendly" with her of course. Then one morning we get a call that she was stabbed to death the night before. I had such a bad headache for no reason at the time she was being murdered, isn't that weird? The next few days were spent grieving for a person I'd learned not to care about anymore. But it was grief, oh you bet, was it ever. Another body murdered.

Monday, June 20, 2005


It has been decided that my cousin Christopher is dead. Or whatever. They will be having a small service for him in the now-outdoor church in Newton next Saturday.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

It was a beautiful day today, so do you know what we did? We went out on the deck and fired up the grill. And as we looked around we saw that half the neighborhood was doing the same thing. People were even running food up to the crews at the intersections of North Jerusalem & Newbridge and North Jerusalem & Bellmore. It was like a block party almost.

Which still isn't normal. It's just abnormal in a nice way.

On a not unrelated note, some people are going to start needing to make money again soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I don't wanna get into it too much. We've all got better things to do than police comment threads. The people who are full of it know who they are, and the people who aren't also know who they are. It's not too hard to figure out.

I told my parents about the boozing situation yesterday. It did not go over that great. Mental illness of any kind is always going to be a failure to them, no matter how much they are educated about the reality of it. This is the stigma Amy had to deal with for all these years I guess. I only experienced it once, when I briefly went on medication for ADD. My mother reacted like she'd found out I was being sexually molested. Same way she used to react about my hair, my clothes, the hours I kept, my job, how often I saw Amy, blah blah blah. What the fuck, man? When I was in high school she was always so accomodating about that sort of shit. (Not Amy, but everything else.) Only after I graduated college and moved back home did she start having these twice-annual freakouts. I guess in high school she was okay with it because she assumed it was a phase I was going to grow out of. Never grew out of it. Tough tootles, Mom. As for the ADD medication, it made me feel gross in the middle of the day so I stopped taking it. Score one for the anti-psychiatry contingent here in the Collins family.

I don't know--am I really? I don't see myself twelve-stepping anytime soon. I had a problem. I'm dealing with it. I stand a decent chance of losing my wife and getting thrown out by my landlords if I don't, after all.

Sometimes I get resentful because it's not like I threatened shit after all the sexual problems, going on so long with no end in sight. But there's a lot of stuff I owe her for anyway so I probably don't have a right to. We'll just keep adding dysfunction onto dysfunction until we're square. Even steven. You know there was a time where I figured that if we were together and I was faithful to her for as long as we were together and I was unfaithful then all the problems would magically disappear? Hell, I thought just getting married might do it, did you know that? Amy says she doesn't want my apologies. I don't think she has choice and she never will. Sorry Amy. Shit, there I go. Never will.

All you people who are legitimately in dire straits, if it's even remotely feasible, come to Long Island. It's not that bad here. Stay aware of the disposition of those close to you, stay home unless you need to leave, stay in at night and you're okay. The bridges are fine, the roads are decent, the crews are in really good shape. Avoid Manhattan and the Bronx if you can, because as you can see things are the kinds of things you want to avoid there, but yeah. Strong Island represent.

Monday, June 13, 2005


I've got to come out and say this now, though I've been putting it off, figuring shit, people have worse things to worry about, and if that's how they need to blow off steam, then that's how they need to blow off steam so whatever, but now I'm sick of it, so here: STOP POSTING MADE-UP BULLSHIT IN THE COMMENTS. Everyone with a copy of 28 Days Later that they looted from a Blockbuster is suddenly writing apocalyptic fiction with themselves in the Mad Max role. No, this is not directed at everyone in there, because I know there are pockets in the Northeast and New England and throughout the whole country that are out of control, and of course there's the West Coast, but when I see things about how the South is lost and how cities and towns in upstate New York are totally overrun, I'm like, "I know that's not true." My grandparents are living proof. Shit is awful everywhere, God knows it's awful, but we're not at Game Over yet, and spreading disinformation about it isn't going to help anyone. If you want to be an outlooker be an outlooker. Don't do it on my page.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I've got some good news

(I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico. Jeez, remember that? The gecko doing the robot, too?)

From the comments around here nearly everyone's news seems to be at least as bad as mine, so I thought maybe letting you know this might help, in the sense that it's never gonna be ALL bad: My grandparents showed up at my parents' house last night, around 4 in the morning. I'm told they look worse for the wear, exhausted and dehydrated; that they were in a different car (an SUV) than the one they started out in; that my grandma has finally let her hair go gray; and that they're alive, alive, alive alive alive!!! My Grandma and Pa-Pa--I love you guys!!!

What a couple of tough hombres they turned out to be. I've yet to hear of anyone covering that sort of distance since this really started getting bad so I'm going to try and grill them on things as much as I can. But wow. I'm surprised to discover just how much I really DID expect to see them again. Which is incredibly naive when you think about it, but I really don't care.

PS: My thoughts are with you, Dr. John, Mister Mind, Jeff, Bill, Davey, everyone.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

My name is Sean and I'm an alcoholic.

I debated for a long time how I'd start this post. Should I get to the point, or would that be too melodramatic? In the end I decided to split the difference. So, yeah. Alkiehaulick.

Then there's the other question: Would people be pissed off because I worried them for no reason with that abrupt cut-off and incoherent follow-up, or would they just be happy that I was back pretty much safe and more or less sound? Normally I'd think I'd be being egocentric to ask a question like that of myself, but I've looked at the comments for the last few posts. Total strangers want to know if I'm okay, which is both--what's the word--flattering? comforting? surprising? pleasing? well, it's both that and embarrassing considering how shittily I've been acting. Looking through those comments I can also see that some of my oldest and dearest friends want to know the same thing, which is all those things I just listed, only doubly so. Humiliating. And then there's Amy, who--I can't even begin.

The long and the short of it is that nothing "happened" on Thursday. I just got tired of writing, tired tired tired as Chris Rock used to say. I was also more than a little exhausted by the issue about which I was writing, which I hope you'll understand. So I gave up on trying to wax eloquent about it and slapped the little orange Publish Post button. And then I grabbed a beer. That's it, that's all, except I'm not sure if I was without a drink for the rest of the weekend. Drinks and pills, too, might I add. Mild enough for a while. After all there was only so much to go around.

What really set it off was when I went out on the deck on Sunday morning at dawn after waking up to use the bathroom and saw a half-eaten golden retriever in my neighbor's yard.

Have you ever seen a black explosion? Like a big burst of dark like the Death Star exploding in reverse negative? Like when you press against your closed eyes with your fingertips and you see those big black blobs--that kind of blackness, only bursting. That's what I saw then.

After that--fuck it, I'd be lying if I said I didn't remember much. The part of me that could still formulate coherent and complex decisions decided that I didn't want to let Amanda know about this, and I didn't want to run the risk of her spotting the body when she woke up. So I slipped on my sneakers, crawled down the side of the deck, swung against the side of the house, and dropped down. I grabbed a shovel from the shed and hopped the back fence. Immediately you could tell that our neighbors weren't around anymore, at least in the traditional sense. The sliding glass doors from their deck were broken and the boards were torn down on one side. My guess, which as I'm sure you all have experienced is no longer just a guess but instinct from your solar plexus, was that the family had taken care of whatever had happened and split, not that they had all been slaughtered and were wandering around in there someplace. Four or five revs a few yards away from us? We'd have heard about it by now. Fuck, I probably would have heard about what DID happen that night if I didn't go to sleep pretty much toasted. No, that's not fair. I slept with earplugs in as always. Maybe that's dangerous, but it's definitely the only way to get a good night's sleep without waking bolt upright every time your sleeping self hears a noise.

Anyway, my hunch was right. I peeked through the hole and there was one on the floor face up with its forehead bashed in, the skull shattered and cracked like an eggshell where the skin was torn away. As usual lately it was old, an old lady. I tried to ignore the fur gummed to its lips but obviously I couldn't pull it off.

It didn't take too long to dig the hole and bury the doggie, poor doggie, poor man's best friend. I'm sure I overexerted myself because my arms still ache. (Remember Ronnie Cox in Deliverance?) The bright idea came after I filled the hole back up and slid the table back over it. It was difficult to do all that climbing against the force of gravity with the bottles and the cans, but I managed. When I was rummaging I found a backpack they'd left, so that helped.

It was pretty much downhill from there. I already have a tendency toward bouts of extreme self-pity and nihilism, did you know that? It doesn't manifest itself very often, but there it was. Strange things can set it off--one time it was because Ol' Dirty Bastard died. Another time it was because of the Pakistani madrassas. This time the cause was obvious, and I'm sure you've felt it too. Only this time I was loaded for bear. By the time Amy woke up I was half in the tank, and she immediately grabbed some things and went down to the Leopolds. Didn't I understand what this did to her? Not just because she needs me, but because she's scared? The emetephobia--what the fuck is wrong with me that I didn't give that more thought? But I didn't. She left me alone, which was fine by me.

At some point Sunday, Kurt came home and found out what was going on. He came upstairs to talk some sense into me. I told him okay, fine, I'll go easy, just send Amy back up plese, because I really love her. She didn't want to come back up because she was terrified I'd vomit--she'd come up when I was sober the next day. That went over great, as you can imagine. At some point late that night I apparently started making noise, which besides being annoying is dangerous. Kurt decided to come up again. When he got there I was sipping Jack from a big red cup, like I'd done at the Game this year when some stranger handed me a cup of what I'd thought was beer. I did a lot of yelling of the words "fuck you" from what I remember/have been told. Before I threw the cup at him I drank a shitload too much of it. The next thing I can vaguely sort of remember is crawling down the deck again. I can only see flashes, remember little snippets and sensations from then on. This is only the second time I've ever blacked out from drinking, you know. The last was at Matt O'Neil's party freshman year when I helped make that grain and grape concoction. Then I remembered saying to myself "I'll pour myself one more cup and then head back over to that conversation I was having." I was found several hours later passed out around a toilet that several people had used while I was sleeping there. One shoe was missing. At some point I'd screamed about how "dope" (that was the word I used) one guy's female friend was while that friend was standing right there. That morning I had to go to class, still drunk, hung over, bursting at both ends, could barely make it back to my dorm room to get my books first, felt like it took two hours to walk over there, missed half the class from being late and being in teh bathroom sick, I think I'd prefer to talk about that now rather than this.

In my own defense even as far gone as I was I remember thinking I needed to get as far away from Amy as possible to vomit, which I did, again and again.

I woke up because it was hot and sunny out and I felt like I was on fire. I was wedged behind the dumpsters at the Walgreens up the road. The second I realized where I was and what had happened I got sick again. This is going to sound stupid, but I literally could not decide which was worse, leaving myself out in the open completely incapable of defending myself, or disappearing and leaving Amy thinking that I was dead. She would never forgive me, ever ever ever. As soon as I could get my sea legs back under me I ran back home as fast as I could. There was a crew parked outside talking with Kurt. They'd been looking for me, of course, so nice of them. I went inside and back upstairs and suddenly the whole hangover hit me at once. I was vomitted out thank Christ, but I could barely move. I fell on the bed and the last thing I heard before I crashed out until that afternoon was Amy crying.

I don't really want to talk about what we said to each other yesterday night into this morning. I'm kind of apologizing to you for that. I'm tired of the reticence about dealing with this issue in my family. Hell, I'm even reticent about saying which member/s of the family need to deal with it, as you can gather. But you don't need to know. Only Amy needs to know and she knows it. All the old issues, the dishonesty and lack of self-control issues...totally different context but too fucking familiar. We are still married, I think. But not through any effort on my part.

I nearly threw away my wife, my home, and my own life this weekend is what it boils down to. I thought writing about it would help me wrap my head around all this but I'm not sure that's possible. I don't want to be destroyed by this, any of it. I don't want me and Amy to be destroyed by it. I love you, Amy, I love you so much. I'm sorry. No more, no more.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Drinkingt he last beer

split it with Kurt because he aske me too

call the police when you see them alltogether like that call the polivr

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Is anyone else having a harder and harder time distinguishing dreams from reality? I find myself sitting around in the middle of the day thinking about how scary it was when I got trapped in that diner, only to realize after about fifteen seconds that it never actually happened. Today when I went to shave (with the last of my Schick Quattro cartridges--anyone on Long Island who wants to barter, my contact information is to the right) I was 100% convinced that I was going to have to shave a spot that I'd missed the last few times where the hair had subsequently grown to about an inch long.

MEanwhile my friend Dave is in hell, my cousin is missing, I would be attending my five year college reunion sometime this spring if any of my friends from college were still alive, and I was informed today that my grandparents left Florida a week ago. It's been two days since they've been heard from by anyone.

Amy ate better today, I