So I am auditioning feedly as my new feed reader, replacing my old Vienna, because I got scared of Vienna about a year ago because I had 100+ blogs on it and couldn’t keep up, and was drowning in work anyway, and so just stopped opening it, which means I haven’t been able to read anyone’s blogs except by like going to your home page and staring at it, when I remember, which isn’t often. And I know Google Reader is folding up its tents soon, so I am trying feedly, and what I want to know is, will you please remind me of where your blog is and that I should be reading it, because I’ve forgotten everything? Thank you. Here is my feed so far. I will keep it under a couple dozen blogs or so but I want to add yours!
Wandering vaguely downstairs just now, lost in the late morning, canning jar of cold cranberry juice in hand (unsweetened, heavily diluted, as I try to ward off what feels like another kidney infection) I spotted my Walt Whitman poster on the wall, a generous gift from Ms. L. Unfortunately this large image of a face also gives the neighbor the willies (it’s a non-neurotypical thing, I finally understood…which explains why there are no pictures anywhere in his house) so I keep Walt’s beaming visage covered with a napkin when he’s over. This morning I flung off the daisy’d fabric and, as I was standing there staring blankly into Walt’s blue or gray eyes (which were they?) remembered: my dream:
That I was toiling and toiling over some terrible intractable piece of prose/novel/short story, really trying very hard to make it be good literary fiction even though I don’t know the rules and conventions and techniques for literary fiction at all, so it was all unwieldy and clunky and sodden and horrible, and suddenly, suddenly out of nowhere I saw it: a couple of line breaks, a clever bit of white space, and—why this isn’t prose at all! It’s a poem! It’s supposed to be a poem, a massive poem, a magnificent poem, the long poem I was born to write, on a tremendous scale, maximalist, encompassing all of the life that I want to try to fit into it!—and I was filled with euphoria, with relief and exultation—because now all I had to do was work, and I know how to do that—
“Well hey, thanks, Walt,” I said dumbly, to his kind don’t-mention-it smile.
(That photo was taken back this spring when the avocado tree still had leaves. In two years I have raised it up and now killed it, I am heartbroken. I overwatered it and used the wrong soil because I never had time to go to the nursery and get the right pot and the right soil and I feel as guilty as if I’d killed—what, a living thing? But this was a living thing. And it was a casualty of my chaotic lifestyle, and I don’t know if I will be forgiven.)
(From which parentheses you may correctly deduce that the lithium is not quite working, not quite yet. Doubling the dose next week, when I am a bit more stable/less Selbstmordy.)
(But I should add that despite the blackest of black moods I had a transcendently wonderful day in Galveston last Sunday, with my editorial crew—I went in the ocean, twice, and this is someone who never goes in the ocean, but I did, and just felt the deepest wildest peace ever, even in the midst of the howling scratchy noisy self-loathing and shyness around my friends. And I ate half a hamburger! Which, as far as I could remember, was my first red meat/beef since the spring of 1993, when I had a particularly indigestible steak with some family members—the political conversation being similarly indigestible—and I became a vegetarian, albeit one who has frequently eaten sushi and dabbled in poultry [oh turkey bacon] over the decades. But I ate half a hamburger, guiltily, giving thanks to the cow-gods and asking that they not strike me down. [Which is ridiculous; it's the cow itself who suffered miserably, corporate agribusiness, etc.])
(But the gulf water, so creamy and warm and dirty brown and soothing, and I never swim in the ocean, ever, yet I just wanted to spend the whole day in the water, the whole day feeling I had come to the only place I have ever been in Texas where I felt the least bit at home. Because of a couple of Lake Charles summers as a girl? The scruffy parts of town, the beach houses on stilts, the rough salt-edged grass that cuts your feet, Keep Off The Dunes, little holes in the sand bubbling up with water where the donax frantically breathe and dig, pipers scattering diagonally across the sand, the gray sand and the brown water, not pretty, not about being pretty, just about being itself, just itself and fuck you, and that was fine with me, bobbing in the greasy warm water which was somehow completely right and helplessly, unenlightened mind making all the plans to hang on to it, I’ll finish my coursework and comps and move down here and drive up twice a week to teach, I’ll get a job at TAMUG or UTMB or GC and buy a falling-down wooden house, and then frothy salt water would smack me in the mouth and bring me back to the reality, was that seaweed tugging on the long black skirt of my funereal bathing suit or a small shark biting it experimentally? I kept having to haul it up to barely cover my breasts, after swimming I showered and threw that suit in the trash, all stretched out, the elastic broken down and ruined. Every other woman there was in a bikini and next time, I don’t care about my palm-sized white belly scar, I’m wearing mine because it’s just easier to come out of the water and dry off and not be bogged down by a yard of sodden black fabric. Mine is a very cute chocolate brown one with sexy little ties on the sides, and I have never worn it, not once, because I’m embarrassed about weighing 130 instead of 110 or whatever. But none of the other women with normal bodies care, they all just have their bikinis on and no one even thinks about it.)
(Galveston. A place where I could actually live. Miracles.)
(I don’t even care about hurricanes, it’s always something, inland it’s tornadoes and floods anyway, in the desert mountains it’s fire—)
(Also: idea: I’m going to get my scar tattooed! It can have some kind of filigree/scrolly border all around it, and then some beautiful little image/glyph/symbol/word in the center of that white oval. If it’s going to be a ghastly disfiguring scar, it might as well be a tiny canvas.)
(Also: I am trudging along in my low/no-carb lower-the-triglycerides diet, which is not that hard. Eating a lot of composed salads (French lentils with minced red peppers and cucumbers dressed in olive oil and lemon juice, e.g.) and instead of fish 2-3 times a week, aiming for 4-5 times, plus two capsules of fish oil a day. There is a hard carbless period between 9-11 at night, during which time I basically wander the kitchen yowling disconsolately like a cat. Finally I have some cherries or blueberries and settle down. Rediscovering how high the glycemic index is on “natural” carbs like brown rice and potatoes was saddening, though I knew it already. No more breakfast oatmeal for me. Now it’s an omega-3 egg in pasture butter with a bunch of greens and cherry tomatoes. Thank God the red shoes has undertaken similar restrictions at the same time, so I don’t have to feel so alone. Instead we complain to each other all day long about our DISGUSTINGLY HEALTHY meals, and say things like “I’d better look like Cindy Crawford when this is all over!” and “Over? What are we saying, over? It will NEVER BE OVER AAAAUGH” etc.)
(Finally: lithium is helping; it is. Plus I have almost no side effects at this super-low dose, other than the constipation I get on every single psych med ever no matter what, easily treated with magnesium which I take anyway because, Natural Calm! Admittedly scared to go up in dose, because then we start all that blood testing/levels nonsense; but that is what we have to do. And it’s not affecting my writing, not so far, not really. Anyway I wrote a poem this week for the first time since last September; I think it’s in there and wants to come out and will no matter what meds I’m on, frankly.)
In translation. It begins with breath, with which the history of poetry begins. It is the most basic. It is salvation. Inspiration is not a misnomer. So, thus, as a writer I cast back to that call from an outside source with which to work: my time on the mat is an act not of pure creation, but of translation. Chuparosa: the Spanish for hummingbird. Rose sucker. Does it hum or rose? Yes. The French have a word for the moisture created around inclusions in an omelet. I need that word but know it already in my body. What is found there.
(Elizabyth Hiscox, “Part of What It Is“)
When I went back to working in an office after years of not, I could suddenly see the particular brand of crazy my former compatriots in freelancing exhibited, revealed in high definition. Their obsessive Facebook status updates, their public declarations about how much or how little they’d written that day or how their writing was going, the kind of super-involved tweeting that you only see in people who are either trapped at desk jobs where there’s too little for them to do or in freelancers desperate to avoid the work they’ve assigned themselves. I have done all of this stuff, of course, but the moment I didn’t have time to do it anymore, I could see it for what it was. It was, initially, a blessed relief to be rendered unable to ride the waves of Schadenfreude and fleeting, irrational enthusiasm that wash over the social Internet all day. I was also rendered incapable of feeling jealous of everyone whose writing was momentarily elevated by a stream of “THIS!”-style sharing. I had other stuff to do. I have other stuff to do. (Emily Gould, via marginalutilite)
My doctor’s office just phoned. A random blood draw (l was irritated they even wanted to do it, I was only there for a dermatology referral, I thought) reveals l am 1) anemic again, 2) have high triglycerides, and 3) am vitamin D deficient. I have to go back in for more bloodwork and to pick up prescriptions, and presumably to receive a doctorly lecture ordering more walking outside and fewer carbs. This is funny and a little scary. Also probably explains a hefty chunk of the depression.
Of course Walpurgisnacht continues, the sky is lurid dark dim green and slants of rain hit the house sideways, knock over all the outside plants, and scare the cat. There is no sun to be found anywhere and I had just put the (last ever) pizza in the oven when she called. I’m 44; how long did I think I could live like a college student/programmer? Have to buy fish oil supplements. Have to exercise not for my vanity but for my heart’s surviving more than another decade (at most).
Final discovery: two bowls of cereal & organic milk in two days = return of perioral dermatitis, as with coffee/matcha. So I have a milk allergy. Okay. Anything else, body? Anything else?
I met a seer,
Passing the hues and objects of the world,
The fields of art and learning, pleasure, sense,
To glean eidolons.
Put in thy chants said he,
No more the puzzling hour nor day, nor segments, parts, put in,
Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
That of eidolons.
Ever the dim beginning,
Ever the growth, the rounding of the circle,
Ever the summit and the merge at last, (to surely start again,)
Ever the mutable,
Ever materials, changing, crumbling, re-cohering,
Ever the ateliers, the factories divine,
Lo, I or you,
Or woman, man, or state, known or unknown,
We seeming solid wealth, strength, beauty build,
But really build eidolons.
The ostent evanescent,
The substance of an artist’s mood or savan’s studies long,
Or warrior’s, martyr’s, hero’s toils,
To fashion his eidolon.
Of every human life,
(The units gather’d, posted, not a thought, emotion, deed, left out,)
The whole or large or small summ’d, added up,
In its eidolon.
The old, old urge,
Based on the ancient pinnacles, lo, newer, higher pinnacles,
From science and the modern still impell’d,
The old, old urge, eidolons.
The present now and here,
America’s busy, teeming, intricate whirl,
Of aggregate and segregate for only thence releasing,
These with the past,
Of vanish’d lands, of all the reigns of kings across the sea,
Old conquerors, old campaigns, old sailors’ voyages,
Densities, growth, facades,
Strata of mountains, soils, rocks, giant trees,
Far-born, far-dying, living long, to leave,
Exalte, rapt, ecstatic,
The visible but their womb of birth,
Of orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,
The mighty earth-eidolon.
All space, all time,
(The stars, the terrible perturbations of the suns,
Swelling, collapsing, ending, serving their longer, shorter use,)
Fill’d with eidolons only.
The noiseless myriads,
The infinite oceans where the rivers empty,
The separate countless free identities, like eyesight,
The true realities, eidolons.
Not this the world,
Nor these the universes, they the universes,
Purport and end, ever the permanent life of life,
Beyond thy lectures learn’d professor,
Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond all mathematics,
Beyond the doctor’s surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist with his chemistry,
The entities of entities, eidolons.
Unfix’d yet fix’d,
Ever shall be, ever have been and are,
Sweeping the present to the infinite future,
Eidolons, eidolons, eidolons.
The prophet and the bard,
Shall yet maintain themselves, in higher stages yet,
Shall mediate to the Modern, to Democracy, interpret yet to them,
God and eidolons.
And thee my soul,
Joys, ceaseless exercises, exaltations,
Thy yearning amply fed at last, prepared to meet,
Thy mates, eidolons.
Thy body permanent,
The body lurking there within thy body,
The only purport of the form thou art, the real I myself,
An image, an eidolon.
Thy very songs not in thy songs,
No special strains to sing, none for itself,
But from the whole resulting, rising at last and floating,
A round full-orb’d eidolon.
If crying on the floor at 6 am, with the cat staring at me, is closure, instead of some exchange of words or gratitude or acknowledgement or good wishes, then I guess I am having it. Knowing myself thoroughly not wanted. Knowing that all the way down. Just shut up. Just go away. Just disinterest.
Awakened at 3 am, slashes of room-illuminating lightning, the cat lying with her face up in mine and her front paw pressed steadily against my forehead as though she is checking me for fever. Immediately I am beset by what S. and I call “the suicidals” (as termed by a colorful client) and rumination (or “recycling” one friend in DBT graduates group used to call it) and I am so so sad, and confused all over again a year later, and heartbroken, and then the cat wants a snack, and so why not stand in the kitchen on one leg, still wearing my Jeremy t-shirt and no pants (I should maybe wash that shirt this weekend), eating leftover coconut rice with half-and-half dribbled on it while Pyewacket washes invisible droplets of cream from her whiskers.
The worst part, always, is not knowing, which allows the brain to think that it can figure things out by going over and over scant evidence endlessly. I tremble lest I have done this to others, dropped them without explanation; my ex-husband, chiefly. I know he was bewildered by what seemed to him like the suddenness of it, the inexplicability, and in truth he did not have all the information (more endless recycling, I shake my head to shake it off, wash the dishes accumulated in the sink, dry the cat with a teatowel when she tries to go outside and discovers that it’s still wet). Although this wasn’t without explanation, I received three or four emails detailing pretty clearly why I am not, why I wasn’t…I try to find the words to go here, can’t. Probably they didn’t like my (labored, stretched out over several emails and a paper letter) apology/explanation/request for further dialogue—knowing them, probably it wasn’t blunt and straightforward enough, and it is either a defect of character or just a feature I have to live with, that when I am depressed and confused I don’t become more straightforward and clear but just increasingly entangled in conditionals and dependent clauses and nested parentheses and probably that was offputting, anyway it revolts me—
Imagining what else it might be, though, is worse, I think—though we always say that, don’t we? Isn’t it worse to have someone say it to your face? (The way Draper’s entire shell crumples from the inside when Betty says flatly, I’m not in love with you anymore.) Anyway action or inaction says it just fine, no words are needed: they just didn’t like me anymore. They didn’t like my relationship choices; didn’t like my entire approach to life; didn’t like me. I’m sticking with the past tense because I genuinely don’t think I even cross their radar any more. Thunder. I waver around the house unsteadily, gripping counter edges, because drugs, wondering when the stupid start-up will be done starting up. I hate med changes. It’s taken me a full decade to learn that no matter how depressed and suicidal I was before starting the med, the first couple of weeks to a month are bound to continue to offer even more difficult emotional experiences, until things settle.
I just want Things to Settle.
I want to wake up at 3 am because of a rainstorm and not have my brain catapult immediately, without pause, picking up exactly where it left off, into You’re a Terrible Person Who Doesn’t Deserve to Live, Now Let’s See, How Can We Make That Happen. And if the year-old end of one friendship isn’t enough, no worries! depressed brain will find some other reasons! It only takes it maybe two, three minutes tops to come up with couple dozen failures punishable by death, including but not limited to divorce, laziness, being a bad teacher/student/editor/daughter/girlfriend/colleague/friend, and oh by the way your blogposts are incredibly boring, why can’t you be vibrant and life-affirming why are you such a drag, no wonder they don’t love you I wouldn’t love you either.
What can you do? You can’t do anything. It’s over. You can’t badger or solicit or bother or wheedle or irritate that person further; if they want your company, they know where to find it. Around this point, historically, I usually start writing some long impassioned troubadour something which is an elaborated romantic rhetorical expression of longing and adoration and pleading my case and arguing with the beloved in a way I long-ago learned they really don’t enjoy in real life; so I suppose that will happen eventually.
Tonight, in the meantime, I finish the rice, crack open a coconut La Croix, come back to bed. Read (randomly) a 1942 College English article on Whitman’s eidolon (actually pretty interesting), and stare once again at perilously expensive eyeshadow.
Here—you look at it, too: When Birds Are Singing eyeshadow by Rouge Bunny Rouge in Abysinnian Catbird (dull gold bronze) and Periwinkle Cardinal (silvery moss green) and Whispering Ibis (not really as dark as this picture—a soft ferny green). These pictures do no justice to the shimmering duochromatic beauty of RBR. Pictures as useless, in their way, as words.