Drowned in Moonlight

orchids-04-1516258-640x480There have been so many days lately with this raw, gooey center.  You can imagine it as this plate of picked-apart raspberry bar that’s on the plate next to me.  It looks like kidneys and wadded-up intestine, the soft internal organs, if they were autopsied and made into some sort of art.

This day, this place, both literal and figurative, that is tender and sore.  Hurt. I have the distinct experience of laying down next to it and watching a big boot come out of the periphery and kick it, hard.

There’s a helplessness these days.  After a while, the no you want to yell doesn’t get convinced to leave your lips.  It’s not logical to be all that upset about it if it’s going to happen again tomorrow.  If it’s happening to everyone else.  If it’s just the way life goes.

Still, tender and raw felt tender and raw today.  It may be the hormones, but that’s how it was perceived.  Carrie Fisher died today along with a host of other creative souls and the year taking away so many bright and caring people, it just, regardless of whether it’s true, it feels like we’re under somebody’s thumb.  Somebody who has some malice about the situation.  It has left me sad and I was already predisposed to be sad, in the blood, in my nature.  She was a great writer – I remember Mr. Rochester directed me to a copy of Surrender the Pink and I liked it – I liked it even as I knew it was from a world that I would never be a part of.  I remember her that way moreso than anything to do with Star Wars.

Universal sadness and personal sadness. If you give a thought to it, the line of demarcation starts to get wavy and thin as a hair.  We all just bleat and bleed.

It’s just the agony of everything.  This thing, now, is just the agony of being connected to the universe.  The cord that can’t be cut.


Maybe I ran here to get a breath of air and now I feel too much freedom of thought, or maybe there’s too little thoughts to feed upon.

This is what I need on the 27th day of the final month of the year.  Some suffering to clue me into some sense.

Nobody demands the pain, nobody calls for the martyr, nobody chains my limbs to the radiator or sells vials of my tears.  I am fine.  I am weak for fantasies of power.  I fail at sounds of my victory coming down through the trees.  I buckle for the big idea that it’s all going to turn over out of sheer, dumb fucking luck.  Knees knock, but still I live.

The guy, right now, doesn’t love me anymore than the person passing by you with a paper and coffee in his hand.  This is my assumption.  He has not told me this because there’s been not a whisper of an opening for which to bring it up.  It is high school all over again.  The Long Lashed Boy all grown-up and being sweet to other girls while I rub worriedly at the skin around my wrist.  Really, who’s to say anything as the onion skin reveals the layer beneath, again and again until the green center is finally exposed?

Tonight, I hold in these hands the gummy flesh, the serrated, oozing, hurt and tender part of me that is so fragile about this stuff.   That feels so upset that I can’t seem to just turn and spin the toy in the right way to get the ball through all the pegs and down into the other side.  That my time and energy and earnestness just converts to tofu.  To a bland mass quite discernable from chicken.

This happens because I sit back or I don’t lunge forward.  I am still, deeply unsure if I should lunge forward now.  Not because it isn’t just time to do it, but because I don’t have the information to know anything about anything.  I’m learning.

That I am getting beeps and lights and notifications and realizations of other connections and other people who want to see if they’re the one he’s looking for and vice versa and it is hard.  It is hard to not impose your will, to know you have no status to be anything but yourself.  That last bit, sometimes, is the worst.  The jealousy and pettiness and frustration and insecurity is part and parcel of this learning.

There is so much I cannot control.  I can’t reach into the spinning blades and grab them and hold them steady so it’s safe.  I can only do my best to time my run and buy some band-aids when it’s done.

So getting my food together.  Losing some weight.  Dealing with the clothes that are making me depressed because I haven’t dealt with them because I’ve been depressed.  Getting back to the therapist.  Find a new job.  Put on some makeup, do some walking.  Eat a carrot.  Accepting that all I can do is make myself happy and use the language I want to use to express myself and when he asks what my favorite music is, explain it in the way I want to explain it, even if he doesn’t respond.  The veil of the internet twists everything, endows it with dark portents that don’t exist.

I am going to stop it.  Stop giving a shit.  I am here, hand extended, but the rest of me has things to do if he’s no interest in taking hold of it.  There’s so much else for my mind to contend with rather than sit in the pot and cry over this nonsense.

 

 

Not This Mind, Not This Heart

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Tonight I had one promise I had made to myself.  Be in a fit state to have a bit of a tea party with a dear friend.  This tea party entailed having a cupcake, and watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and just buoying each other up as we go through some challenging and whack times in our lives.

I am glad that after a blah, but pleasant day putting $90 sweaters on old ladies and talking myself down from a few mild panics, I was able to do that.   And so we watched an exquisitely competent woman solve crime, escape by the skin of her teeth, and make out with every man she wanted to make out with.  It was gloriously elevating and, though it sounds as though I am being glib, I feel quite glad for it.  I’m ALWAYS glad for her friendship, but just a moment of not feeling crushed by truths and facts and panics is worth so much.

In the midst of this, I learned that a friend I’d made as a Mumford and Sons fan, a kind-hearted woman who was part of a group that traveled to see them in Bristol, VA/TN, has passed away from a long, hard-fought, and tragic fight with brain cancer.  She was one of the people who stepped up and when I asked about my charitable project and asked how I could help.

When I first met her and shared a room with her on that trip, she had yet to be diagnosed and watching from afar as she came to deal with all that her cancer would come to mean, I remember thinking of her shyness and how much it reminded me of me. How much I wished for both of us. I feel a great sense of honor for having known a woman who could endure all of it and still smile and exude love.  I am so sorry for those close to her, for the grief and loss that they are beginning to know, but I also feel the grace of her life, the war and the surrender, what is important when time is short and our desires are so infinite.  I am grateful for that in light of everything that’s going on around me, everything bashing around in my head, all of my own fears.  Surreal to think of her as someone you could say something like RIP about.  Surreal to think of her as not just waiting with us for the next album.

I slept on the couch last night, hoping to ease my neck.  As I sit here now, I think it must have worked because I’ve forgotten about it for the last five hours.  I woke up, covered in cats and with a message on my phone to get up as my mother was coming over to see the kitten.

There was this moment sitting next to my mother and sister, watching little Eleanor gambol in the sunlight and play and I didn’t think about what should be or would be or politics or money or anything.  And in that instant, I was happy.

Tomorrow, zoo.  Tomorrow, life.

Thank you, Beth.

 

An Cat Dubh

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Hmmmm.

I am doing pretty okay, considering and am now trying to decide if my mouth has mutinied.  I had a discussion about my sister about jaw clenching and how I’d been feeling like I’d been doing it lately but was relaxing and it was going away.  Now the whole thing feels sore and there’s a big discomfort and pressure when I move my mouth a certain way and I feel panicked and stressed DEFCON 11.   It was demonstrably fine all day and now, oh my gosh, broken.

I have also freaked out once today that my tongue was broken so…I am kind of taking everything with a grain of salt.  Kind of.

This is, if we’re paying attention, and I am so trying to now, one of the hard places where I in the past have just thrown up my hands when facing its challenges. In this case, it’s a health thing and a money thing.  I’m freaked out because something doesn’t feel right, I’m thinking the insurance is all questionable, and I feel insecure about dealing with what I need to do to get that squared so that I can get in if it becomes essential (I’m due for my appointment in a month or so) (I think).

But I am going to see what I can do about that.   I am at least going to give them a proper going-over with the toothbrush and letting myself relax where I can.

Tonight, I’ve actually gotten some cleaning done.  Got my desk cleared off and cleaned up.  This has been a task I needed to do, but also, it’s me wanting to not think about our dear sweet Madi (I think of it as spelled Maddie, but I have long since been overruled on this point and she was not, in the final analysis, my cat.)   We had to put her to sleep today.  My sister nursed that poor thing in the last few months of her life when a throat tumor at 16 overwhelmed the little thing.  She was small, even on kitty cat terms, having been feral and trapped in a trailer in Oklahoma before turning up in a cat rescue where our friend worked.  We were visiting her and, if I recall, going to A-Kon in Dallas for my sister and her friend to appreciate anime and for me to go any new place I hadn’t been before.  On the way back, we or…perhaps, I, was not planning on having any unexpected travelling companions.  My sister decided to bring home this black cat who had been at the cat rescue for two years.  I thought there had to be something wrong with her if nobody wanted her and wasn’t clear on why we should be the people to change that.  I remember being faintly testy about the whole arrangement, while my sister was totally clear.

But still, there she was, in the back in a cat carrier, crying in a desperate, mechanical music box voice as we drove under a billowing storm somewhere around Limon.  I was studying Gaelic at the time.  Half-studying, a dilettante, really.  As a means of distraction against the idea that we might all be blown to bits in some unforeseen tornado, we were tossing around names for this displeased creature.  I said madra was Irish for cat so we could call her that and shorten it to Maddie.  Turns out, with the sort of check that Google would have taken care of were we getting her today, that madra means dog.  And cat’s just cat, pronounced with a lovely Irish inflection.

But things stuck.  The cat stuck.  And she became a loyal, pleasant, jealous, good little house cat.  She didn’t want anything, but to be loved and so she was.  Until we had to say goodbye.

So today had that rough bit in it.  But we knew it had to happen, and so, here we are.  I feel the energy gone in the house, the change.  There’s just the one cat, my Lilybean, remaining.  I feel there was a gift in the compassion and love she engendered in us, and now in the psychic space that has been stretched wider as she’s gone.

More to say, but we’ll find a way to say it later.

 

Flight

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I thought somehow at some point when I was driving home, ignoring my racing heart, that I was totally going to be able to write a storm tonight.

It was going to be easy because there was so much to say.   So much, whoosh, gone.  So much freaking my head out.  So many little moments of us sitting around and trying to answer the question of how do you do anything after a change, even one foreshadowed and expected?

I don’t know.  I don’t know.  It is easy.  It is hard.  It is messing with my head.  My feet also bothered me something fierce today after many weeks of being fine.  I have decided that I…am freaked out enough about that to talk to someone.  My therapist.  On the 12th.  And deal with it from there because right now, there isn’t anyone else in the world who could talk to me about it and it wouldn’t just send me into some sort of state I can’t easily get out of. Doctors…not until it falls off.  I know it can’t come to that.  But I just can’t take it right now.  There’s so many other…but nevertheless, I felt every anxiety symptom today and spazzed out hard after 4 days of perfectly sane driving.  Not enough to stop, or skip writing group.  Just enough that JFC, it felt like I was back at square one.

It’s all part of it, maybe.  Maybe it’s a wasteful excuse.

My father did not cry.  Not that I have seen.  He is dutiful.  Perhaps this is old hat now, three losses in three years.  I don’t think that’s true, still.  He is smiling.  He is laughing and making jokes.  I think he’s laughing because that’s what my grandpa would have wanted.  It’s what he would have done. He told me that he dreamed a few weeks ago when my grandfather was ill, but we didn’t know for sure that this would be the final turn, that my grandfather told him to stop worrying about money.  He laughed about the way he’d say whenever anyone wanted anything “Well, give it to ’em.”  My grandpa just didn’t believe in hanging on to anything if someone else could use it.

My dad definitely worries about money, he worries about everything, even more than me which is saying something.  So this is advice that until it came from the right person didn’t mean anything.

I told you I’d been watching One.  This short film essentially about the death of an old man, about forgiving himself, about the inside work and then the outside work of bringing a person to pass on.  The memories, the medicines, the life that touched so many, it all spinning and dancing and showing itself until there is no more.  I didn’t expect that the story was now.  It was happening while I wasn’t paying attention.

There are other things, other frustrations and fears, but here we are.  Doing this thing called life.

Tomorrow.

Hjemlengsel

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Okay, day, okay.

I have a need to write – to continue this story until it reaches its conclusion.  I also have a need to chronicle, to record the memories of today so that they don’t dissipate out of my mind when I crave to return to the story as it was.  As I know it now.

My grandfather ate ice cream for breakfast, something I can only imagine he’s never done for so long as I have been his grandchild as for these 30-some years I’ve only known him as a diabetic. It’s a matter of him getting things as near as we can to what he wants.  He has been alert all day and recognizing all of this visitors.

My father texted and asked if we wanted to talk to him.  Of course, dear readers, I will admit to a sliver of trepidation.  What do you say?  What do you say in your last conversation with someone?  You say, apparently, “I just wanted to be sure you know that I love you so tremendously much.”  To which, your grandfather replies, because he is your grandfather.  “I love you, too.  Well, all things must come to an end.  And I hope it comes sooner rather than later.”

We’ve always been the far-distant children.  We don’t, as my cousin who spent so many more hours under my grandparents’ watchful eyes at the farm, call him Gramps.  We weren’t first, we don’t have children and rooted lives to connect to him as they do, they weren’t needed as surrogate parents as they sometimes were for others.

But that never mattered.  My visits up there always made me feel their love.  My grandfather’s stoicism never for a minute hid his grand attributes of humor and endurance and a big open heart.  That hand patting my shoulder.

We being all the way out here, it seemed like somehow, we weren’t meant to be a part of the goodbye.  But we needed to be.  I needed to be.  The last time we spoke he seemed tired, out of sorts, all that moving around nursing homes and assisted living.  All these changes.

It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was important.  I didn’t get that with my grandma, not really, even though I feel her with me and I know I can reach out and connect to her spirit in my dreams, I wish I had.  This feels so strange to me.  It hasn’t registered.  It doesn’t feel like a loss so much as a move even just a bit further away.

From a long distance, from what I can gather from my father, my grandpa’s not comfortable, he’s ready regardless of what his body has to say on the matter.  There’s no way to know how big the hourglass is.  I know that he wants this to be as inconvenient as possible and like so much of this, you just have to give it the grace to be what it is.

My dad comes home tomorrow, regardless.

The Starcatcher

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Somehow, as a writer, my skill is supposed to come in handy on days like this.

Days when I’ve had these disparate experiences that impacted me and somehow, I should know what it all means.  Or have, I guess, a way to write them all together and distill a truth.

My grandfather’s not expected to recover now and is just resting comfortably under my dad and aunt’s watchful eyes.  He could, of course, get better, but it would not possibly be for anything that could be considered long-term.   He is on the soft and sunny side of this long hill we’re all crawling ourselves up and I have this vision that he’s walking, steadily and surely, down into this valley where my grandmother and uncle are waiting.  It’s comforting to me when I feel so useless.  Again, I have expectations for myself…how grief should look, how love should express itself, how I should be in this moment when my being is in no way part of the equation.  When there is no word I could say, no magical phrase that would make my grandfather as I see him in memory: solid, sharp, clever,  sitting in the chair next to me watching Megadeth up at the farm because both of us were trying to be kind to the other, both of us weirded out by the idea that the other wanted to watch that.  I feel his hand on my shoulder.  Those hugs.  The way he would insist on washing the dishes after every single meal.  The way my grandmother would say Sammy’s so good to me. Ever so good.  The way my dad would call up there and start with “Hello Pop!” The noises of his life. The quiet.  The little asides.  The steady love he gave everyone.  The farm that was his domain.  I feel all of it and it stays and goes.

This was happening today and I felt guilty, somehow, for this invitation to a dinner theatre matinee.  Tickets that would be gone to waste if we didn’t use them.  So I found myself sitting across the table from an elderly couple, not so unlike my grandparents at all.  Sharp in their minds, but ever gentle to one another.  And I making small talk and not knowing what to say – not being able to say that some part of it was my thoughts were elsewhere, another part that I was being rusty and out of practice with faking my way through those kinds of encounters.  Eventually, after the free meal that was excellent but entirely filled with calories I did not count regardless of whether I should, this rapid-fire, insanely creative production of Peter and the Starcatcher spilled out in front of my eyes.

The setting reminded of my story – 1885 British Empire on the seas, yet supernatural, players playing a hundred parts and at the center, a female hero the equal of Peter Pan.  Peter Pan’s heart and his light and his mother, his maker.  That, perhaps, was in the end why they had to be parted.  He wasn’t ready to grow up.  He needed and deserved that time to be innocent after what he had endured, to be childish, free of pain.  She knew that being a woman meant the essence of that great Cheryl Strayed quote, being brave enough to break your own heart.  She had to give him up.

That was really where my interest lied – the campiness, the creativity in making the whole thing work on a stage, the side stories…they all had charm.  But for me, of late, I care about the romance.  Even the romances that hurt.

From there, I flew down to the old stomping grounds and sat in my mentor’s living room for 30 minutes.  She had a fire going and her cat came up and approved of me. Suddenly, it was easy to talk about everything.  The struggle, such as it is, knowing I would be met with genuine empathy.  She suggested I could work for her if it would help in the summer.  That it would help her.  Weekends, retail, it doesn’t pay any more than a usual retail job.  I had thought, laughingly, that I could make something like that happen part-time.  That it would give me time to think.  To process.  I told her, possibly too earnestly, that I would think about it sincerely.  We hugged.  Her husband popped in.  It was nice to feel human, to spill the guts and not worry that the guts would be used against me.

30 minutes past and up I flew again to this Mexican restaurant to say goodbye to a dear friend who was intended to leave for Georgia this past October but the house didn’t sell until now and now she’s moving, homelessly to Savannah.  So the old gang was nearly all there.  It was lovely, for the most part, toxic for the rest.  The changes have rocked everyone.  Nobody’s happy, everything is broken when it comes to the thing that united us.   There was a lot of venting and lately, our get togethers center around the brokenness. It is hard not to feel like my leaving was pulling that first precarious piece out of the Jenga tower.  The nostalgia at once powerful and instantly corroded as soon as it breathed the free air. But it had to be.  I had to choose what I chose.  I had to be here now and you there now and time had to pass for my grandfather regardless of my regrets of how I spent it.

It couldn’t have been any way other than the way it was.   The day, my choice, and everything.

That’s it.

Reticence

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Deep breath.  Deep, deep, deep breath.  When you can’t breathe deep, that’s when it starts.   Air and water keep you feeling okay.  It’s funny how reticent I am to let myself feel okay.

I don’t like listening to the self-hypnosis mp3 – I think – because it involves detaching myself from this flow of information, that I shadow broker about, send to my friends, process and pass on.  It’s a shitty little purpose, but you don’t feel so alone when you’re letting people know about something.  Even if it is just a cat video.  You can’t take pride in it, but you can find some kind of purpose.  And the alternative is you languishing in ignorance, the chance that you are just as viral as the links you share and once you’ve been seen and made purple with a click, you’re as good as gone.   It’s an addiction, the hunter/gatherer instinct, the always-on, always searching, always indexing and approving or disapproving functions of our personalities.  Honed until we dismiss or approve people with our fingertips.

I don’t lack for purpose, I suppose, and I crave not needing to be present, so it’s strange that this calming voice that could help me change the thoughts that limit and provoke me has to be fought for.  I could have it on right now, but I’m telling myself that I need to be able to focus.  Not a lot of time, yet again, having spent the evening listening to WTFPod with Conan O’Brien and Amy Schumer and then an hour of her standup.  Maybe it’s a ginger thing I’ve picked up since turning into Annie.  Or grown-up Annie and Ms. Hannigan’s drunk-ass ginger baby.  My hair is sort of, possibly, kind of an abomination.  Or maybe we can blame it all on the humidity.  Tomorrow, surely, I will have it beaten back into submission and it will be merely sexy Mrs. Frizzle hair once again.

I wanted tonight’s post to be just a writing post, because I have been working on the book fairly intensely (at least in terms of my hummingbird attention deficit), but mostly I’ve just been transferring the outline into ywriter which is helping me quite a bit with the flow of these intertwining subplots.  I can see better where I’ve let things dangle and drop.  Where I can infuse some poetic interjections.  What, as in most of it, just sucks.  It can be made better though, because it exists.  It has a shape that can be refined rather than just floating around in the cauldron of my brain.  That’s progress, definitive progress.

We called my grandfather tonight.  He sounds completely with it, on the edge of something I know I will never see him process.  His wife and son having died within a year.  His son having died holding his hand at the hospital.  He was almost making a joke.  Just like my father.  Tomorrow’s the visitation, Friday the funeral.  I feel both tethered to it and floating very far away from it.

Tomorrow, anxiety group! Oy.