Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. ~Edgar Cayce
… my dream upon waking this morning, which ironically occurred during a heavy hailstorm (first of three storms of the morning and part of a storm system that continues as I write), had me standing in our dining room, coffee mug in hand, dogs at my feet, when over my shoulder/out patio windows came trucks and heavy machinery which in short order annihilated and clear-cut the woodlands behind, next to, and on up the hill behind our house.
I went out on the deck which, while still attached to the house, was teetering out over this gaping hole in the earth, with water rushing down and all the trees felled and side-lying as the machines drove off, one by one, down the hill and away from the house.
Surveying the obliterated landscape, I paced the deck and then ran to get Mark and Ali in order to show them what happened, to which I woke up & into Mark’s words saying, “It’s 8 o’clock,” since he was my human alarm clock this morning prior to leaving for work/travel.
I still go by the adage that it’s not so much the symbols in your dreams, though they are important too, so there’s much to be said about the gaping hole, the flowing water, and the side-lying trees, the earth movers and such, but I prefer the approach wherein you’re supposed to recall how the dream made you feel.
And this particular dream made me feel angry and a little afraid.
I love the enclosure-type feel to the back lots and all the trees that are meant to stay there, even though the area has been developed, our house part of this development. Without these trees for cover (in the dream) I was anxious, irritated, on edge, put out and pissed off.
Shortly after the quick feel-through, the dream all but disappeared. By the time I ran my hands through my hair and tried to re-right it's tossled situation, the dream was gone for the most part. I made no mention of it to Mark before he left--really, what person in their right mind tells a man leaving for several days that they dreamt half the house was teetering over a pit of fallen trees and rushing water?!?! Not a good idea, just saying!
Mark left, Alice slept on and my day roared up to meet me. I actually missed my morning coffee and there were no deck meanderings or reflections this morning. I ran off, instead, on an adventure with Mark’s dad, keeping him busy at the hardware store, Menards and breakfast at the coffee shop, while Donna met with the visiting nurses about a new breathing apparatus and the “next steps.”
Middle of the day, I came home, ran Alice to work, worked myself, gently teasing one of the dogs for being nervous about the pending evening storms and the other for not giving a care. Walter hid back to the world) in his kennel, Henry slept nonplus at my feet as I finished my work.
As the last set of storms rolled in, I closed “shop” for the evening. I took the dogs out on the deck one final time to “1 and 2 it” prior to the downpour and noise. This was when I remembered the dream again.
The irony of how it’s wacko-do-weird to dream early a.m. about a clear-cut anything prior to a night of predicted severe storms was not lost on me!
I saw the humor (or terror, depending on how you think about it--mostly humor) in this but did not dwell there. I was lost instead in the lushness of the still muggy world around me, though it was breezing/easing up around the edges, and the trees were moving again rather than glopped into the ground and sky scape.
I relaxed to the pre-dusk melodies of the songbirds, one with the trees for the night, the same performers who will be there drying wing and renewing beak play at pre-dawn.
And I suppose, if I wasn’t so eager to get to bed and enjoy the sounds of this storm, I’d stay up longer and go over the various symbols in this dream (the gaping hole, earthmovers, clear-cutting, rushing waters, teetering decks), and also the various reasons why I felt angry and afraid (anxious, irritated, on edge, put out and pissed off) at the vast open-ness of my surroundings after the earthmovers and workmen made their fast bug-line getaway, but I prefer to sleep once more perchance ...
Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you. ~Marsha Norman
Monday, June 6, 2011
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths. ~Etty Hillesum
I’ve been doing that a lot today, breathing in and then exhaling, audibly! In my downstairs office, the one that isn’t fully packed, isn’t fully ready to be moved upstairs, that office, there’s a post-it note on my desktop monitor that says, “breathe.”
I haven’t worked downstairs in that office since January. A lot has happened since January, and it’s possible I haven’t breathed since then. This I am just noticing, for many reasons. It’s probably why I got pneumonia, choking down all the snot and tears the month of March, didn’t help either.
This weekend, as I continued my thought processes, heart processes and paperwork regrouping processes for everything that is up and coming, I found myself Sunday night getting ready to do the same old things, “Set the alarm for some unbeatable time,” and then telling myself I’d make it, whether it was enough sleep or not, because that’s what a person is supposed to do, even though I spent the entire weekend working on my plan to regroup, readjust for what’s next and to slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow down.
I made sure to get sufficient rest. Today, I took enormous, almost dizzyingly deep breaths and then exhaled in almost a clownish fashion, making the dogs look at me as if I was a royal nut ball! I continued to click off the logistics and ballistics on my “to do list,” for the short-term, long-term planning I’ve mentioned of late (last two blogs).
Every time I caught myself reprimanding my “self” for not being done with this yet—since you had the whole weekend to do it, and wasn’t that enough time already, you had the whole weekend “off” except that I didn’t and except that I never really do because since forever and an egg shell I’ve been double-booking my time because that’s all I know how to do—well, every time I caught myself doing that, I’d take another one of those delicious deep breaths and then I’d spit that rot across the room!
That record can skid-skip, and jump off the turntable in my head, fall on the floor and shatter, and if it doesn’t break in that way I intend to frisbee it out over the marsh!
That was then, this is now, and the old way doesn’t work any longer.
There’s no wolf at the door any more. I’m not here all alone, I have backup, and have for a while now, I could actually let my guard down instead of always having my dander up and my underwear all curved up in a bundle.
I can use my multi-tasking skills in a multitude of new ways I’ve probably never thought of because I’ve been applying them in a direction that was up and out of my self for many years.
I forgot, almost, the method to all that madness, the possibilities of where this potentially was leading. I saw where it was taking everyone else, but I forgot I was also along on the trip!
Regrouping this weekend, looking at everything that was going on, that was to continue, that was standing still or petering out, and then gathering up what was left and applying some math to the madness of it, the plan started to re-form for the future.
And, you’d think I’d be all grown up by now too, so wise to this theory ... but did you know that you can put shit on the “warmer” for the night?!?!? Who the fuck knew?!?!? I can be that close to finish and let things simmer, and move to the kitchen to prepare my dinner, and pour a glass of chilled wine (can’t remember the last time I had a glass of chilled wine and didn’t feel like pouring the whole bottle over my head in the last three weeks or so).
I’m realizing that it’s OKAY to be this close to the finish line and “table things for the night.” The taskmaster police aren’t going to come and smash my fingers in the fridge door and say, “Anne, you’re not done yet!” That taskmaster all these years has been me, and the bitch of a supervisor needs to ease up!
I can spend the evening with Mark, since he’s home base one more night this week, which is rare, instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I’m going to keep pushing, I’ll leave a post-it note on the mirror and let you know what time I went to bed, and if you should wake me when you leave.” I can actually be present in the moments that count, get another decent night’s sleep.
If I wake up, I can tell myself, "Go back to sleep, it's not time yet, don't you dare start spinning a single thought process!"
I can be better prepared for what’s up and coming for my clients and my workload and what has been changing and reshaping over the last months, family and otherwise.
I can be ready for Alice’s return home midweek and the much to do to get ready for college “stuff and such” that we have mapped out.
I can be less scared and anxious about Roger and Donna and their needs so I may continue to embrace my relationship with them.
I can spend time with my father this summer.
I can have guilt-free art and writing moments, tall order that one! There's always that critic on my shoulder going, "Shouldn't you be doing something productive, Bitch?" But I'm building up the stronger bitch diva on my other shoulder who says, "Whatever twit-bitch, what do you think the last 25 years of concerted efforts was all about?!!?!? Buzz off!"
I can be ready for the little girls and their new summer schedule (saw them for teensy five minutes today and it had been 10 days!!!! since I had last seen them).
I can be ready for Henry and Walter and their continued manners training and doggy walks.
I can be ready to greet Abigale Lal, healthy and full of wellness, see that all is well in her little family, send Alice off to college after a summer bash, go Southwest with Mark and then finally schedule my first of two STUPID THUMB JOINT SURGERIES!
I can quit now, end of the day, and still be ahead of the game tomorrow, because this is not a game … it’s my life, and for that, I need room to breathe, up under my ribs where I’ve been keeping a ball of stress for something like six weeks, okay maybe longer …
Sunday, June 5, 2011
There's a lot of history in this park for the both of us, since my sister-in-law grew up in the town where the park sits, and had spent her childhood there, and some of her teen dating times there with my brother, and they lived their early years in this community as well before buying their dream home/hobby farm more rural. I, myself, lived in this community (neighbor to the community I now live in) when I was a newly divorced single mom attending the local campus and my eldest daughters attended my sister-in-law's home daycare back then, played two of their young years out with their cousin, my nephew Michael, and visited this park, but if you ask them now, they only remember the park in much later teen years on our final return to Wisconsin when we took Alice swimming there.
We, of course, ran into people we knew from neighboring communities and of course Tina knew more people than I did, since she works nearby, and many people knew both Tina and my brother Jamie. Time moved on and stood still, depending on whichever which way we stepped through the park, and is same-same in whichever which way we step of late, and in general, living in the close-knit communities that we do.
It's going to be like that for a long time, or as Tina and I discussed later, maybe it's going to be like that forever missing Jamie. We're going to get through it, and then just keep going through it, all at the same time, all.the.time. That's pretty much the nature of it. That is what we're thinking is the ultimate feeling. The missing him is never going to go away, which is how we are keeping him.
Eventually, Tina and I settled on our seafood choices. I have to say I had no trouble spending all but 4 of my 20 coins, but my favorite choice was some oven-baked cod, which melted in my mouth, and just might have very nearly almost smoothed, soothed and re-noodled my brain pan for good. It was yummy, melt-in-your mouth omega-3 goodness, on a bed of fresh salad greens including spinach! 'Had some scallops with it and some fries.
Tina had shrimp and fries. We downed bottled waters, diet 7-up and later we each, no holds barred, had a cold beer! --which this brings us to the part of the story where you can't take us anywhere, because outdoor events bring with them flimsy plastic cups!
Below is a picture of what happened to Tina's beer at the halfway point ... and as soon as it happened she said, "Oh, great, I can see right now, this is going to end up on your Facebook!" to which I said, "Nope, I'm on hiatus from Fbook, remember, this is my total family and regroup weekend, but I'm pretty sure I can build a blog post around this!" SNAP!...
So after Tina splashed beer on my foot, we meandered a bit more at the seafood romp, met up with her son/my nephew Michael, fed him some fish, urging him to use our "leftover" coins, and then headed back to her place (the place I still call "Jamie and Tina's" and will forever), where we sat outside swatting the few naggy mosquitos and talked.
As we listened to their new, gurgling fish pond, something planned prior to Jamie's death and put in by mom and son now, we discussed the past, the present and the future, including Alice's graduation which was by then less than 12 hours away. Time once again had flown past us AN INSTANT, except I was reminded of one of my favorite sayings (so much so of late), "no such thing as time, only change," and here we were going another merry round again.
It's dizzying. I don't know how we stopped each other from falling in the fish pond because flash-forward and late last night has smeared already into today, and below, is a picture I snapped of Alice several hours ago, when we got to the high school at the appointed time today, an hour prior to graduation startup.
The grads were to go in one set of doors, and parents/guests in another. I snapped this as she waved "ta-ta for now," and it's on her Facebook page with the words, "Goodbye, Mommy! I'm going to go through the other door all by myself while you go sit down! See you on the stage in an hour!"
When we got home and I looked at the pictures and then handed the Bloggie camera over to her so she could upload what she wanted my comment was, "I love that you are standing by a manhole cover. When you were little that would have terrified you to walk over it," and she would have walked around it, but it's also very Alice and Wonderland and Rabbit-Hole-ish so it's really cracking me up now.
I also, at first cranked on myself, for not "zooming" in the picture, but then we both decided that we loved that she's so "far away" from me down the sidewalk because, well that's somehow very, very appropriate.
It's been quite a weekend in so many respects, I have to say.
Alice Jean Anderson - Graduation Day - June 5 - 2011
Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got. ~Janis Joplin
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I am making this mental list today of things to do with the next six months and the next 40 years, the short and long-term. Alice graduates from high school tomorrow, leaves for college this fall. I’ve been toddling kids out my front door and shuffling them off to school for 25 years. The career I have, though it’s morphed over the years, in various exciting ways, I’ve done for the same amount of time. I’m here now where I always thought I would be with the freedom I NEVER THOUGHT I’D EVER HAVE! It worked. I had a family, raised my children and had a career I loved, at the same time! The ME TIME is now here, what the holy fuck?!!?!?! I might piss myself sideways!
And yet there are a few constraints a few loose ends, my own right hand surgery for the arthritis lest my thumb just achy-breaky falls right off! (Oh, and then I can fish, and ride a bike [and use the hand brake again!]), the left hand surgery that will have to follow though not as soon since the right hand is much worse. Even still, I'm postponing this because you can't drive a kid to college, one-handed, nor can you hold a new baby (Sara's), so this winter yet, but soon, the surgery, the time off.
There’s the management of my overflowing client list and what to do with my workload and my me-load (writing, art and other) since I really haven’t settled into this house yet, not really and never (if you really, really look at what’s really “unpacked" specific to my "self."
We have to move Ali out of her room, into her college "stuff and such" mode, we have to unpack the basement, repack it and get it ready for the remodel. There's a rummage sale planned for July, a graduation party in August. My office needs to be moved upstairs in final process, to it's be all/end all space.
There’s the logistics of Mark’s parents and their continued needs, the second job (that really isn’t a job at all) that I adore, but the second chore of it (that isn’t really a chore at all) that their health is failing (his mother especially, my “mother” especially). Her palliative care situation will go hospice care at some point, which will not be my first experience in that realm, but I’m in constant denial about it because I feel like losing my big brother this year I should get a “get out of jail/death of a love one free card” for a while yet.
I like to tease Mark that he and his family aren’t ready for the continued aging of their parents, but I’m not ready for what’s happening to his mom right now, and all the puppies in the world aren’t helping.
I’m trying not to steel my heart while I regroup for what’s next, this six months and how that affects how I see the next 40 years inside my own leftover self.
Staying too strong, you miss important shit, you’ll wish later you hadn’t missed, but some of this is very difficult right now, even for stellar stoic me. I spent March and a good portion of April crying. The latter part of April and all of May, I couldn't work up a tear if you pinched me. I've begun to preface things, in therapy too, as "we can talk about that in a bit but right now I don't want to cry."
I don't have wiper blades the likes of which is needed for the winter slimy sleety mixed rain and frozen shit storm that's up ahead. I can see this going in, this shit that no one can see going in ... yeah, that shit, it's bat shit scary.
I’m trying to spend time with my father in the clever way that we used to when I was a child, the stolen moments when Mommy Dearest wasn’t in the room, and this has brought with it a series of fairy tale moments the last several months that have also brought with them a number of “small notations” in a mental flip memo pad that say “be sure to touch on THAT ONE in therapy.”
I’ll never be a Toys [backwards R] Us Kid, and it irritates me that a person has to pay by the hour just to re-realize that.
What’s the point?
You live, you learn through it? Why do you have to choppity-chop your heart back up, saute it in a pan, cool the contents, prod them with a wooden spoon and then look doe-eyed at your MD/PhD and go, "That's exactly the size of it, only smaller and a bit burnt around the edges, but yes that's it," but I knew that before we threw that shit all over the table in his office and went back through it.
It wasn’t my heart the woodcutter brought back in the box, hello? But Mr. MD/PhD would like to talk about the stuff OUTSIDE THE BOX, of course. It's like he doesn't have cable therapy sessions, only weeks and weeks of boring regular channel sessions and he'd like me to go all cable therapy session on his butt for just one session, just for fun, just so we're not bored. Okay, maybe, so that's on my "to do list."
Oh, and I hate what the math of suicide and death has tried to do with my brothers, the sibling count. There are three of them and thus four of us, or should be. Me, one sister and then three brothers, one older and two younger. However, by high school since they all became GIGANTIC,I ended up being the "little sister" by default, and then in March Jamie killed himself and now?!?!?!
I never did like math. If his being dead somehow makes me the older brother, I guess I’m even sadder, madder and more afraid about this situation than I was before. Not to mention confused and slighlty terrified.
We’ve gone nowhere any such remarkable distance down the grief path. We are not even going in circles. A circle would be an improvement; a maze, even, would be a relief, as if there was some sense to it. We are still in the fucking brambles.
But, I digress, and this morning I woke up because the dogs were barking, and I heard Mark’s voice outside the bedroom window saying, “ WIDGERS!” (His nickname, for them … don’t ask me! He also calls them “The Body Walkers” and “The Sniffers.”)
I woke up thinking, “Ugh! Fuck, Ah!” I just wanted sleep, no alarm, a wake up on my own time without a "50 things to do in the first five minutes list;" it had been a very, very long week and a very, very long last 72 hours.
A few moments later, I walked bleary-eyed out to the open-concept fabulous home we’ve managed for ourselves (with our past histories before us, and much shared history now between us).
Mark came in off the deck, sunshine behind his silly grinning face and cropped curls, and the dogs ran to greet him. I could not help but smile, but didn't.
All I saw was the deck behind him, a sea of green and the empty coffin-size planters (I have and zero-time this last several weeks to attend to the house or gardens).
“How are you this morning,” he teased.
I replied in a pissy growl, “I just would for once like to wake up, in and of myself, without being on someone else’s shit-ass joking schedule.”
He replied, with a perplexing, “Huh, I had to get up and get an early start on things?” (The guy across the street and he were on a mulching deal/schedule this morning/early … I was intending on sleeping till 9:00 or hoped.)
I said, “Yeah, I know, but did you have to come around to the bedroom window and wake me up and get the dogs barking, I just wanted 8 hours of sleep, for once, all in a row on the same night, which is why I’m going to see if I can go get my old apartment back.” (When Alice was in 6th grade, I downsized out of the “big house” since she was the only kid left, and took an apartment, which of course is when you end up “upsizing” right back into the thick of it again.)
Mark said,“I wasn’t trying to get the dogs going to wake you up, I was out there quietly spraying weeds, and I was trying to get them to be quiet, they were sleeping with you but they popped up, and saw me through the screen.”
“Oh,” I sheepishly replied, and tried to unscrew my face, and shove the Craigslist rental ads for country shacks with barely any running water, one light bulb, one power cord and WiFi service, and a tiny fenced yard for the dogs out of my head, “I’m sorry,” and trailed off in my bare feet to find “real clothes” for the day.
I’ve been wearing “real clothes” a lot of late, and “real” shoes and socks for months now, and I’m exhausted!
He said, “I know, you’re thinking about places in the woods again, for just you. Why? Why, when we have such a nice place, look what we’ve accomplished.”
“Yeah, I know, but it’s too big, and I don’t feel like cleaning it, and the idea was I could live and work anywhere and now look where I am," as I expanded my arms to try and encompass my beautiful home the whole time looking like a bird shit on my head.
Yeah, I know, what a bitchy ungrateful thing to say, because the thing is, where I am is pretty damn good and I have worked a lifetime to get here, but old stories play in my head that say you can’t depend on anyone but yourself, and everyone is going to leave, die, or piss you off somehow, or worse yet blame you for shit that’s their fault in the first place, or leave you stuck holding a huge bag full of their shit that really stinks and when you finish cleaning it up there will be no thanks and sometimes for shits and extra giggles they shit on you some more, but Mark hasn’t done that, ever, which is why I wear stacks and stacks of engagement rings and can’t bring myself to officially marry him because the dude just won’t quit.
Yeah, that makes sense, plus sometimes I still really, really, really WANT TO LIVE IN ALASKA! I have had that dream since I was seven years old, which is why I hoped they’d develop the internet so I COULD LIVE AND WORK ANYWHERE!
I joked in the garage this past weekend, when I relinquished my relationship with Mark over to his friend Dave for the Harley weekend riding season, that it’s never hard on me because my “preference is to be alone,” and Dave said it was utter bullshit, “that women aren’t really like that,” that I wasn’t like that, that I was too much fun, too much of a “people person,” too much everything, and too interested in too many things, and I begged to differ, over and over and over.
Finally, Mark looked up from whatever cranky case he was working on (truth be told, I don’t know what the fuck they were doing to the bike), and said, “No, Dave, it’s true, that’s the thing about Anne.” [And this “thing about Anne” is one true character map point that is true about me “before” and “after” the stroke, which is nice, because I need those touch points, those things that remain me, unchanged, good or bad. Good or bad, truth be told, I DON’T NEED ANYBODY!]
Anne can take it or leave. That’s the spooky thing about me. I’m perfectly happy all safe and sound up inside myself, my work, my writing, my art and my solitude, but I can also be the “life of the party” even though at the same time I’d rather be “all safe and sound up inside myself, my work, my writing, my art and my solitude.”
I’m a tough nut to crack and even when I’m cracking up, am I really? The “cracking up,” the getting in and getting through is something I save for family and close friends and confidants, and there are those of them who still have to use a nutcracker or a fence post over my head a times to get through.
“Isolating and insulating” is a way that it was once described to me, about me, and I was all like, “Cool, thank you. I had never heard it called that before, thanks.”
And then the person said, “Anne, that’s not meant to be a compliment.”
Oops. Yeah, so I’ll work on that [in my cave, next to that field of wildflowers, now get the fuck out of here and leave me to it!]
So these are all the things I’m thinking about today, growling, over-tired, premenstrual, and looking at a stack of work paperwork, writing, art, billing, invoices, insurance paperwork, medical files for Ali and myself, college stuff, tax filings, work metrics, healthcare information for the elderly, unopened mail, photos and “save the date” cards for Ali’s end of the summer graduation/going away party, stuff for niece-daughter’s Sara’s baby/baby shower, stuff about the little girls/summer plans, Jamie’s thumb print medallion wishing it was a whole Jamie instead of something I’m supposed to put on a bracelet or a string, calendars, vacation requests, medical leave stuff, trying to get it all situated for the short-term/long-term plan for the next 6-month and the next 40 years (what I kind of promised my girls and what health and heredity well might afford me) because tomorrow is all about Alice as she graduates and I don’t want to be farting around with this bullshit, and the next day is the first day of the second half of the rest of my life.
Be there, or be square.
I’ll be there, though old habits are hard to break, and I’ll be there in my usual stick-up-the-ass, insulated and isolated fashion.
I’ve been up for hours now, and while I remain exhausted, the house is quiet, cool and calm. It is, as stated previously a fine castle. Mark and I have worked hard (prior to meeting each other in various fashions and collectively these past years). We are very, very lucky. The dogs are napping. Mark is out riding. I’m going out to dinner later with my sister-in-law; with or without my brother we force ourselves to do these things.
I’ve worked hard, we’ve worked hard. I woke up crabby, but for now I’m not renting any silly apartments or one-room cabins with singular light bulbs, frayed extension cords and WiFi, but a gal can dream; I’ll just dream, bigger and wider and use plane tickets, train tickets and automobiles and this as home base, doy!
Saturday, May 28, 2011
LAST NIGHT’S DREAM: I’m in the kitchen at the neighbor’s house preparing some concoction in their sink. I am 13 at clutzy best. I’m in a hurry, I need to get it done and ready and out to the barn to give to a new foal who is hidden there. Mom comes out into their kitchen. She catches me by surprise. She has come to help, she says. I shirk her off, out of my way. She insists on helping. Whatever this secret concoction is, I already have the ingredients, and I’m getting ready to mix them. I don't want to spill. I already know that I intend to pour all the ingredients into a surgical glove,tie it at the wrist and bust a hole in it, once I’ve made my way to the barn, so that the foal can nipple its contents. Mom being there, interfering, is making me afraid I’ll futz the ingredients, run out of time, that we’ll get caught in the neighbor’s kitchen, that I won’t get out to the barn in time. Finally, I’ve got the last of the ingredients in, I tie the knot and race out of the neighbor’s house, down our shared driveway, past their milk house and up into the cattle barn to find the foal. I’m tripping on my feet the entire way, my hair is in my face, and I can her screaming at me that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I keep going. Once in the barn I dig through a huge pile of wet hay and old manure to find the foal. She blinks at me and opens her eyes and mouth wide and waits. Just as I’m ready to pop a hole in one of the fingers of the swollen surgical glove, I realize I’m not sure where the foal is supposed to run once she drinks the special concoction. I hesitate. The foal continues to stare at me.
... the phone ringing, wakes me, pulls me from the dream.
I’m going to be in therapy for the rest of my fucking life!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
That particular night I ran in for Tidy Cat, Kitten Chow, a roll of toilet paper and a deli-made veggie wrap. I threw all into my cart and hurried through the store, the air conditioning already chilling me, my sweatshirt still damp, my tossed up hair kinking around the edges, cheeks flushed, my legs and arms goose-pimpled and bright white under the store lights, my stomach growling louder than the canned overhead music.
As I rounded past the produce section, and back towards checkout, I ran smack into one of my favorite teachers from senior year high school. Hello?!?!?!? Major crush/Psychology teacher/head of the Environmental Club, Oh my aching sweaty ass, why am I not wearing lip shine, and why don’t I go tanning?!!?!!?!? Could my freakishly horsy legs be any whiter?!?!?!? Can I just die right now?
However, I kept it together through the hellos and how have you beens, and his, “I had no idea you lived in Wisconsin,” let alone smack dab back in the county where I grew up! Yeah, good luck getting out of this one, Little Miss You Were Getting Out of This Area as Soon as You Graduated! Which I did, really, for a while, I really did! I had been places!
I skirted over how I got back here, the one and almost two final divorces, etc. etc. and chose instead to focus on how far I had come, my magnificent three children, my fabulous work-at-home career, my writing, my full life, my biking (at least I looked that part/all athletic and SWEATY!!!!).
The more we talked, the more I realized his catching me up on his continued teaching, successes and family more closely matched his cart, which was full of wholesome goodness, whereas my cart contained the Tidy Cat, the Kitten Chow, the one lone roll of Scott Toilet Tissue and a single-serving Saran-wrapped veggie wrap from the deli!
Success, my aching sweaty ass! Crazy vegetarian cat lady! LOSER!
I’ve seen the man since then as my youngest, and soon-to-be graduated daughter had this man as one of her also favorite teachers this last four years (because it was his mind after all that truly rocked) and she enjoyed his classes and his Academic Decathlon coaching, etc. He was a student teacher when I was a senior, and ironically he’ll be retiring this year as Alice graduates.
It’s doubtful he remembered the night in the grocery store where I looked like the crazy sweaty cat lady. Yet, I still remember it as me hoping he didn’t think I was “pretending to be” the wildly fulfilled, successful mother of three thriving children which is funny because, hello?!!?? That was me, never mind what wasn’t in my shopping cart! We have, in fact, caught up in the recent past when Alice entered high school so at least he knows one of my kids isn't a cat.
Anyways, I thought of all of this again this afternoon as I ran into the local grocery store with my eldest (28, just turned so) to “grab a few items for myself.” Normally, I have her snatch items for me, while I read in the vehicle, but truth be told today I had to take a piss, so I also went into the actual building, shocking I know, but contrary to popular belief, I don't always send my minions in to get my bread and milk!
Carol was shopping for herself and her three kids, my little grand girls (not so little, really, at 9, 8 and 6). I was shopping for myself and—I was shopping for myself, and no one else. Just me, myself and I. Therefore, she had the cart, and I was using only a tiny, teensy portion, a wee corner of the giant mesh contraption.
Alice was at work. Mark is in Iowa. He may, in fact, not be home through the weekend. It's a holiday weekend, and luck of the draw he's on-call for travel. His travels may not bring him close enough to home at week’s end to unpack for the repack. This week-into-the-weekend might find him on the “staying gone" through early next week.
On the per usual of late, and most of this year (the last year, and the one leading up to it) Alice is “home”, but often not, so once we’ve talked schedules for the week, I don’t often shop for her at all when it comes to “provisions.” That’s pretty much the gist of what it’s like having a teenager working their way out of your house into their adulthood.
The dogs don’t need a thing, of course, even though they get shit all the time.
By shopping with Carol today, and grabbing those few things, I will be at a loss tomorrow. How can that be, you might ask. Well, on Thursdays, I take Mark’s parents grocery shopping, our weekly routine. Every Thursday as we peruse the store, his mom will ask me, “Anne, don’t you need anything,” and I’ll shrug, think over my stacked pantry and Lazy Susan cabinets, full freezer compartments, what’s left in the crisper and realize, “Um, no, I’m good to go, not much going on, or going in my stomach of late. Nobody really around next couple of days."
Donna will continue to pick and choose this and that for seven days of menu options at their place to hold them over until our next shopping adventure. In the end, I usually sheepishly grab a small tub of Greek yogurt so I don’t look like a loser butt. When Roger is at the deli he'll order the 8-piece chicken for their Thursday night dinner. When I help them unload their groceries, he'll send me home with a leg, a breast and a thigh. He does this every week so I don't "waste away to nothing," even though two seconds later he also likes to tell me to watch out that my "ass doesn't get as a big as a house."
Times definitely are changing back again, just the like the summer of my 35th year, where I never dirtied any silverware and told the wild story in the aisle of the grocery store about my dreamy-ass life while the man I told it to stared down at my cart which told another story. (CRAZY CAT LADY!)
IN MY CORNER OF ANOTHER PERSON'S CART TONIGHT: Sparkling mineral water, smoked gouda cheese, Greek yogurt, hazelnut rice crackers, corn nuts and a special treat some instant hazelnut and chai Maxwell House International Coffees, plus two magazines I threw in on impulse at the checkout, which I fully intend to read every word and then tear the buggers right up!
My dinner tonight, and if it weren’t for the fact that I’m still working and my medications would have interfered, there would be wine in that glass instead of sparkling mineral water … and if it weren’t for the fact that I wanted me some Greek yogurt, because I loves me some Greek yogurt, I wouldn’t even have dirtied a spoon:
Not sure which food groups I hit or missed but I used corn nuts as my vegetable, and then there was Greek honey yogurt, apples, smoked gouda and hazelnut rice crackers washed down with mandarin orange mineral water, oh and I tossed back some little white pills that are supposed to treat what's left of my brain with kindness.
Going on 50 really is looking like the new middle 30s. When I go to the grocery store, I don’t even need a list. I buy and fly on a whim.
p.s. I have placeholders for my 30 days writing/collages, but me thinks I might slam them all together in one post since they are cohesive to a point, even today’s so I’m not actually putting it here.
I’m sure the suspense is killing no one, but it’s keeping me alive and well inside and out.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
i was severely anemic that summer, but didn't know it. i quit biking after the 4th of july. beyond that point, i'd lay in the sun in the back yard after work every day, which i'm sure helped, and the fact that i wasn't exercising any longer didn't hurt either since i couldn't maintain my weight any longer. i was too pooped to do anything else.
i wrote this poem late summer/early fall after i FINALLY went to my family doctor and asked for help (not my strong point), admitted i no longer felt like myself inside or out. this was after a dizzy spell or two, and this is when i found out about the anemia and some other things a person finds out about the aftermath of a stroke, followup and recovery even if they think they're one of the "lucky ones" who made it through without a hitch.
THE WRITING AND THE ART (and this puts me well into this double-dare writing and art-farting every day process!):
the poem also in text since this is an 8 x 10 collage but may not be read-able in this format on scan over:
stroking out in the dark
because of you
i augmented my
lifestyle to half light
and then no light at all
afraid to make a move
or you would find me again,
stop me, dead in my tracks,
paralyzing my movements,
wickedly twisting my words.
i am living,
and yet not,
along the post-traumatic
jaded, off-avenue side streets,
afraid of my own shadow
petrified i'll be chosen
for a repeat performance,
a victim of the statistics,
unable to say my name.
in defiance to you
i fight to regain strength
the ability to face sunlight
with an upturned face,
running as the day streams,
screaming through the locks,
unleashing every dawn,
having rested in the dark,
no more night swimming.
-late summer/early fall '02
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I fully intend to return to the "Face of Stroke" story and tell the flipside of what I, the survivor, of my story looks like, but it will have to be later in this writing process since building the pre- story took time, and I don’t really have time this weekend to build stories.
I was in fact working on my collage tonight, hurriedly, while Mark was getting his popcorn ready for our Netflix launch. Ironically I was working on much the same theme. Another moleskin (another Mark, my first husband, another time, and another bowl of popcorn). I was working on using a piece of writing and some images (all in one) to save time on the dare (writing and art smoooshed together to save time this weekend and yet still meet the double dare).
The moleskin above is from 1996. The ribbon is tied tight because 1996 was the last year of my second marriage. Marriages are sacred whether they continue or whether they end. What's between those pages, and what didn’t make the cut since pages are small (and time is tight in a marriage), is not for public consumption.
This marriage ended on a summer day at the ten-year point, though we struggled during a long separation and divorce process for another three years, the marriage officially ending, ironically, one day prior to our 13th anniversary.
The marriage ending, public record, yes, the rest no one’s business, and I intend to keep it that way. I will say this, and this is also public record, I'm considered the one who ENDED THE MARRIAGE because alone in counseling (he, a state away), I (on the advice of my heart and my therapist) had to cut bait. A three-year separation is a long time to not have made any progress, emotionally, financially or otherwise. I will also say, these things are never easy, the tying of the ribbon tourniquet, right before they cut off the limb. The phantom pains never go away.
That being said, I’m sure I’ve lived it out, learned it out and written about it in many other ways, including the above poem, which I wrote the summer of ’97, the first summer I ever spent without my three children in the house. Unreal, surreal in all regards. Alice (4)toddler) was in Minneapolis with her father. Carol and Rebekah (14 &13) were old enough at this point, finally, to take a plane ride to Wyoming to visit their dad and his family instead of his long trips here to see him for only a few hours, or a day at a time.
I never entered into either marriage or either stint of parenthood thinking, “Woo-hoo, I hope some day I’ll get a break and a whole summer to myself, so it was an odd bit of time for me,” I have to say. I never planned any of this … such is life.
This poem came about when I realized partway through the summer that there were no dishes in the rack, only glasses, and that I wasn’t using any silverware. I was eating mostly raw vegetables after biking late at night, or the occasional veggie sub, wine and popcorn. Free time, after work was endless, whether this was the beginning or the end of a day, depending on my work schedule.
I didn’t, understand what “free time” was, or how one used it, or what would happen if you got caught having it. I questioned everything I did as if the “what do you do when you are alone, and is this weird?” police were watching me. Like, can a person get arrested if they have wine and popcorn for dinner three nights in a row? What if I sleep in my clothes, on the couch, and wear the same clothes tomorrow, go biking and don’t shower? Who will find out?
As summer progressed, I realized the answer was, no one finds out. My thoughts on that? This is insane? Or was it?!?! I drew the insane line in the sand every morning, and then every morning I crossed it to see what would happen. This included adopting two stray kittens, by summer’s end (to suprise the girls), and a whole lot of other stuff that’s probably in another moleskin with super tight ribbon around it and a padlock, and a tag that says SUPER-SONIC GROWTH.
You live you learn.
Friday, May 13, 2011
I grabbed it today, however, to work on a piece that grew from yesterday's piece, which maybe will mutate further into tomorrow's piece, which was the hope of all this 30 days of writing and artwork crapola. So it appears to be working, this habitual bitching and moaning on paper, and then the art stuff and such.
A piece about my stroke and the "before" me versus the "after" me came about yesterday. Because I've been struggling with my version of what I call a migraine and some other head-related head case things this week, it seemed like it might be fairly therapeutic to continue in that vein. It’s also National Stroke Awareness Month, so why not jump on board with that too, right?
The website www.stroke.org has a “Faces of Stroke” campaign going on right now, where stroke victims of all faces and places, shapes, sizes and scenarios tell their stories after pasting up their pictures. It’s a humbling feed. No two stories are alike, but if you read enough of the stories you see the common thread.
You read too many of the stories and it takes you a whole other direction and you might get angry and not want to be part of the group, so you have to be careful. You have to take it, yourself, your own story, a shot glass, and ... just kidding ... okay, maybe I'm not kidding. It's hard facing and telling your own stories sometimes. Some says you can own it, walk it, talk it, be empowered, want to empower others, and the next day you don't want to deal with it, AT ALL, are sick to death that it lives inside of you.
For my part, in case you haven’t already noticed, when it comes to any of my parts, I use sarcasm and some sugar-coating when I tell a story. Same goes for my stroke, but today, I’m adding a picture and I'm trying to keep it serious. This is the Face of [my] Stroke, age just turned 40, no real good reason for it, healthy, not overweight, no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, no risk factors other than possibly heredity, history of “very iffy headaches and migraine activity since early teens,” head injuries x several, no clotting disorders, heart problems, mostly just luck of the bloody head draw:
(This picture is, in fact, still on our fridge in a magnetic frame, a constant reminder of my/our good luck. It's me and baby Ruth, taken the day I returned home from the hospital. )
I’ve been trying for YEARS to make sense of my own story and my own head (emotionally and physically) since then. I’ve also spent many years DENYING my own story and my own head (emotionally and physically) since then, as the journal entry below proves.
After my stroke, I waited a solid month and then opened my moleskin (a page prior to the one shown below) and attempted (and failed!!!!) to chronologically rebuild the five days of the stroke activities (the day of, the flight-for-life to the hospital, the time in the ICU, on the ward, etc. and my eventual and lucky-duck trip back home to my family, basically unscathed and yet changed forever.)
Up until then, I had just come home, embraced the kids, went right back to work and acted like it was no big deal. I had in fact not even told the people I was working for that I had had a stroke. Since I worked from home that part was easy. Who knew?!?!? Who needed to know?!?!? It was nobody's business! The only people that really knew were my family, my very immediate family, which meant the girls and very few others and a few close friends (very few).
I kept telling everyone that, yes, I was lucky because I had no “residuals,” because I didn’t drag a leg, have a weak arm, drool or require help breathing, swallowing or chewing my food. To the casual onlooker, I was perfectly, dandily fine except for the easy-bruising from the precautionary blood thinners, my incredible-no-matter-the-edibles Twiggy-like weight loss, etc. etc. I was alive and well and lived to tell the sarcastic humorous stories about how I had almost died and orphaned my children.
This is what the Face of Stroke looked like for me by the end of the summer, however:
It had taken its toll. I was melting down and I was melting away. I was not myself. I was literally disappearing, mentally and physically. At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, I weighed ... well, that's something the girls and I don't talk about. It was a scary summer for all of us.
I came home perfectly well, or so we thought, saved, a miracle, but I was not their regular mother. I hadn't come back whole. That transition for me has taken a lot of work, and it's something I still feel a lot of shame, anger and sadness about. I feel like they got robbed, especially Ali since she's the youngest. I feel like she had a different Mom than Carol and Bekah (and Sara) had. Sometimes, I wish they all could have their old mother back the way she was instead of the rebuilt, goofed-ditzed version, the one I have to wake up every morning and wind up like a toy whose gears are still, at best, still a wee bit "off."
My poetry that summer (below) sounds suicidal at best, but it's more the deep sadness over the loss of certain parts of myself that used to be there, but had taken on new form. Every physical and mental thing I loved to do seemed to be taken away from me all at once and sent back with reversed instructions. I was lost in wrappings and trappings and trip wires.
Physically, things like biking, hiking and swimming had to end because of the insane weight loss. Until that was figured out, I had to remain still. I was even losing weight in my sleep. Not biking, that loss, that release, so many things, it got to be a lot and not enough all at once. Imagine a 40-year-old woman shivering under an electric blanket in August, waking up with her stomach growling. I felt like my head and heart were eating me alive.
There was no real rest, and once awake I was easily overwhelmed, depressed or manic, though in stroke vocab they have other words for it, which I might use tomorrow in my happy ending/new beginning story. I, and my stroke face have come quite a long way :)
THE POEMS FROM THAT SUMMER:
I cry, in want, longing,
craving the freedom,
sans clothes, bare skin,
to run wild the dunes,
diving deep the wake,
but pointless effort,
lying, as I do, forever,
beneath sand and time,
beyond ten feet under,
past all seeing levels,
sub the pebbled flooring,
rocked at very bottom,
far below the water deep,
back stroke no match,
for Earth's thick core,
now my strong hold,
tearing hair, loose my scalp,
busting tooth, tying tongue,
breaking bone, splintering nail;
can't swim for the life of me,
no longer is freedom an option ...
... already drowned.
This Side of Thin
snarled and ropey,
unraveling from the inside-out.
puncturing the skin,
skeletal dust motes take flight.
... forgot milk.
TODAY'S COLLAGE PIECE/FIVE OF THIRTY:
In it's stead, I found an interesting scrap of writing from 2001, way beginning of December, just two months after 9/11 and very less than six months before my stroke. It's ironic because it also speaks about "the manuscript," and the piece also has a bit of a different "voice" that I have now, something I struggle with now because since the stroke I've always felt that there's a "before" and "after" me. It's something I've only just begun to talk about in my therapy sessions, and it's something I'm quite possibly still very angry about. And, yet, when I read this piece I still heard little snippets of the "me" that I think is still "there."
The other fun part is that "all my girls" are featured in the piece, and Carol was the only one who was adult and moved out of the house at the time, and Ruth was a newborn. Rebekah and Sara were still living at home. Alice was in elementary school. If one also reads very delicately between the lines there is also the essence of a relationship I'm trying on for size but I already know it's ultimately not going to work out. So interesting to see it all captured right there. And also what's captured is my stoic, stubborn solitude-inal isolating nature of my beastliness (so busted! ... the part of "me" that has not changed one bit!).
[photo credit: also 2001- me and mrs. beasley back in the day, when nearly 40 was the new practically 8 years old at best).
THE WRITING:Random Journaling Crapola from early Decemberish 2001 a.k.a "oh what one can find on a hard drive."
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER?
.....it's fucking cold, hardly past ten degrees.
Pretty much keeps me off the walking path. No good
can come from walking when it's this cold, expanding
the lungs, for what???? to be cryo'd in the process.
I DON'T FUCKING THINK SO! Time to check out gym
membership, exercise within four walls, four different walls, anyways.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT MY WORK?
I can't seem to start the day without finishing off
the previous night's "incoming!" emergency room
trauma notes, whether I'm scheduled to work or not!
Waiting for me at the moment is a 22-year-old woman with
"right upper quadrant pain" ... a very common ailment,
sending millions to the emergency room.
Isn't "right upper quadrant pain" a heartache? Oops, wait, the
heart is leftward or more towards middle, stands
like a fist, pounds like one too.
I know, because I have one ... a heart ... and that same dull ache,
like I swallowed a bolus of food, but forgot to chew it first.
Love the ER, gotta love the ER. It's as if the
trauma notes are mine, all mine!!! and I want the stories
before anyone else gets to them. Greedy me.
My line count mounts to the ceiling. I forget some days I'm
getting paid for listening to all this fun, which
I'm in my "groove" and glad of that.
However, burnout is sure to follow, as is per the usual
in the medical crazy-ass game.
I haven't been this hard-wired into work since September 11th
when freaks bombed the world and half of our staff went
motionless in response, clinging to CNN while medical
their desks because they couldn’t see their TVs.
For my part, I worked endless-endless-endless shifts
until my eyes, ears and brain bled.
I am never in the "red" and never get the
reminder-get-off-your-ass emails from supervisors or
account managers. I couldn't take one of those.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT THE GIRLS?
Ali is still gone for a few days yet. She sounded happy
when last we chatted, slight stressed, questions about home.
Has seen some movies, but not "The Majestic," so we can
see it together when she gets home.
Carol is stressing a bit, living their place, and the
hospital (couldn't pump milk yesterday, very
frustrated) trying to thrive in Milwaukee with
James. I WILL see them tomorrow. They are celebrating
their one-year anniversary today, one year of knowing
each other (can they really “know each other”).
And what has transpired in just this one
year... meeting last year ever so briefly at Xmas,
making a connection, then running their relationship,
long distance (wyoming to Wisconsin), by phone and letter
until April of this past year, then a few dates
proper, but not until Carol turned 18 in May, then
moving in and making Baby Ruth. What was their
hurry to be so grown up so fast? Mom at 19.
Grand Baby Ruth breathes on her own, mostly, but still
sets off the alarms sometimes during feedings. I will get
action shots tomorrow as Mommy Carol is allowed to
pull that baby out of her glass bed whenever she
wishes. The nurses love the princess baby.
Bekah and Sara are just now stirring, time soon to
pack up and get the hell out of Dodge. They are
making toast and peanut butter now. I think that's
the first time anyone has used the kitchen in days.
Last night I froze the rest of the spiraled ham and
some other stuff. Will make soup later. I ate some
fritos and went to bed. The house continues to empty out.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT BOOKS?
I wrote one, a novella. This year I'll write
another, perhaps larger, will go beyond the first person and
stretch my abilities to capture life to the page and
yet allow it to live and breathe there. I'll send
the existing novella packing to whoever wants to look at
it, and force it down the throats of a few others
who think they don't. At this point, it's a game of
chance and postage.
But this afternoon I'm dusting the books I own and
putting them back to their rightly shelved manors,
to mind their manners. There was a method once to my book
madness. I am very nearly there again. The front room/library/office
echoes a bit. When Sara and Beks got home last night,
they were mad at first at the downsizing, and Sara actually
thought I had moved a wall. Maybe I did ... so to speak.
There's another book, duly written, inscribed in my
heart, the story of two people, and I will laboriously
move each chapter of it to disk this week, back it up,
steel copies here and there and everywhere, bury one
in the yard, plant a tree atop it, tape one to my
chest, etc. etc., swallow another whole, insert
another to the back of my skull, my own hard drive.
Beyond that, I don’t’ think it’s going to work.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT POETRY?
I love it to death. I haven't counted lately, maybe
my poetry now numbers beyond 200. I passed 100 a
long while back. A wicked verse is building in my head
right now ... it has the word "hymen" and "cerclage"
in it. I'm not sure yet if it will work out. We'll
see. Right now it's tight to my brain and I'm
trying to work it loose. It's virginal, stubborn, like a
Catholic girl, but I intend to rip it loose and
destroy it to the page, make it bleed.
I know, doesn't make sense, or only to me. But this
year, these words are going to take me somewhere, by
scholarship, by hook or crook, east coast conference
or southwest, mark my words ... or I am nothing but
a sinner against my true self, and that I cannot be.
My soul cries freedom, and someone out there waits to
hear from me, can help, can further my cause. I
have only to find them or want to be found in return.
NOW ... SHALL WE TALK ABOUT ME?
Who am I, I alone, wandering the planet, but not
wandering, not really, because it's too fucking cold
and that leaves me "grounded," but I'm not idle as I
work this delicious bit at the desk, and then ready
a paper trail to go build a fire, then shop
a food order keeping in mind everyone's pending trips
away from home this week. Then I'll go eat dinner
with friends and their kids with real live lasagna,
"Eat Anne EAT!, a real meal, come on!" ...
Okay, I will. "Stay and watch a movie!
Come on, what else do you have to do?"
“Okay,no I don't feel like it, well maybe, not sure ...”
but more than likely I'll go home again, home again,
this dark cold house, sooner rather than later. The
windows will have frosted in my absence and it will be
like unlocking the door to a cave, this my safe
I am here alone, and perhaps some late night
emergency room notes will keep me busy, pad the
lines/invoicing/pay further for heading into
holiday weeks, then workout, CD supreme/noise,
warm the bed, sleep on my stupid little bone-weary or
lonely?!?! head, miss something, or stubbornly miss nothing
and nobody or body, and try to understand this life
I live so farremoved, moonlight spilling into the room
and lyrics dancing madness in my head, Soma and
melatonin whisking me away to the land of spine realignment.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT TOMORROW?
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT THE NEW YEAR? … (or not ...)
Walking for Cover
Moon glow, nearly full, brimming, spilling over, providing a warm wash this frigid, crisp night, yet mocking me, taunting, the world a double bed.
I walk alone, treading the marshlands yet another twilight hour, bent marsh grass underfoot, felled to side-lying, woven under a thick white blanket.
I feel the urge to jump, bouncing on this straw mattress, tall but small, unbundled, I fall onto the dry grass cot, under the winter sky and rest. (poetry also from dec 2001)
THE FOURTH PIECE OF ART OUT OF THIRTY:
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I rallied, however, surprised that any potential slips on the old Freudian rug became turn of phrase instead, or mixed themselves up with metaphors. Around and 'round it went and gradually some torn bits of paper got involved. The final collage piece, I dedicated to my daughter as it so OUT-LOUD spoke to a recent personal triumph she’s had, mind over heartfelt matters.
With some cavorting and word sorting, I was able to drag some old words from the depths of 2005 in almost the same subject matter as the art, to compare and contrast and rework for the day’s writing portion of the blog. Overall, not a bad morning’s work for a gal whose head consisted of vinegar and brown paper mulch, I have to say.
So, first the words, then the collage, followed by my plan of attack for the remaining 30 days and beyond.
… It’s like trying to kill the beast when I’m feeling so beastly, like the beast is me. I don’t know how to get rid of the “beast” and keep the “ly,” a befitting suffix for far better words like lovely, creatively, joyfully and happily ever-after-ishly.
At times, I feel like the wicked queen because I want some one else’s heart in a box, so I can have mine back, wholly sound.
Everyone should suffer and no one should suffer, but there was suffering. I’ve been pissed off since the very beginning, but that never mattered, and that still hurts, rubs my insides out. I’ve hidden that pain away, but it threatens now, an aching breaking Pandora’s box. If it ever flies open, the knives will fly everywhere. I will bleed from the inside out. Then what?!?!?
But, I can’t think of that just now. ‘Going to do laundry, drive the car, get the groceries, worry about bills and dinner, spend time with the girls, the trusting dog and purring cats, look over my freshly shampooed carpets, make another pot of coffee, look forward to/not through my upcoming work pile/deadlines, sleep again in the pink light of yet another snowfall, wake, watch the moon leave the morning sky, try again tomorrow.
Love my self through this.
THE COLLAGE: (dedicated to my daugther, Alice)
For future blogs I'll be using the following book for my writing prompt-ish portions.
The 3A.M. EPIPHANY Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction By Brian Kiteley
--- I'm not sure if I'm going to do the prompts in order (there are at least 200 of them in the book), or if I'll open the book and choose one daily by random. --And there is always the chance that I'll get up tomorrow, still with a headache, feel really pressured about this 30-day double dare blog crap, throw my lap top, my glue stick and Brian Kiteley's book off the back deck into the woods and call it quits ... I mean, life does have that prognosis is so fucking guarded quality to it. However, it's my ongoing hope that I'll shoot the moon!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
It was a busy day, lots of running and such before I ever got to the desk (dining room table, more actually) art and writing, prior to work today. I managed a cup of coffeE by 1pm. feeling real hunger, and not some uppity feeling, I inhaled the sticky bun in short order, or so I tell myself. Maybe it’s still part of the dare, where I don’t want to feel guilty for throwing more food away. Perhaps I need the proof that I'm getting on with things.
The art got started over the thinking I was doing over the mail I had opened the night before, a thank you note from my niece and a Mother’s Day card from my stepdaughter. Both were "thank you" notes of a sort, and both lovely in their own unique respects. I didn’t “really” collage them inasmuch as I arranged them on the scanner, and then tweaked them in a photo program. I didn’t really want to rip them up just yet, if at all, but I do like how it all turned out.
And, while I thought I might either write something else today, or revamp some other work, I’ve decided to pull another excerpt from “the manuscript” about a little girl trying desperately to get ready for a “Mother Daughter” tea that’s been sprung on her without much notice, and not very tender or helpful notice:
[of note, the child has already anxiously struggled to dress, but is composing herself and “accessorizing.”]
… First off, she surprised me about going. It made my stomach nervous and jumpy with excitement, but when she yelled up the stairs like that in such a mean hurry, it made my belly tight and hard like a rock. It’s hard to get dressed and feel pretty when you’re all stone cold in the stomach and one of your knees is only half skinned back over, but I think I did pretty well.
I wore my plastic Oscar Mayer Wiener ring and an emerald ring from Cracker Jacks. It’s not a real emerald of course, and it’s not a real ring either, just an “adjustable.” I have only one necklace but it’s made of little sugar candies, and not quite good enough for going out. I have never gone to a Mother and Daughter Tea before, but I’m sure that you don’t wear a necklace of spit and candy all on the same string around your neck. …
…This is how I went to the tea, but I couldn’t believe Mummy. She was wearing a blue dress, pantyhose and shoes with pointy heels that looked like they would poke right through the floor! They could put your eye right out if she stepped right on your face. I know a mom is not supposed to do such a thing but those heels made me think of things like that and all the other things she could stick right through if she landed her foot just right. …
COLLAGE TWO OF THE PROPOSED THIRTY:
Monday, May 9, 2011
...or maybe it’s “technically still mourning,” but I digress. I made myself this promise to do the 30 days, 30 pieces of collage artwork and 30 pieces of writing prior to work each morning and so it goes.
I (and the sticky bun) didn’t make it very far, however. I feel like that scene in the movie, “Mommy Dearest” where Joan Crawford screams at Christina to eat a piece of steak or some other rot at dinner one night. Christina refuses the meal. So for several subsequent creepy days on end Joan forces the nanny to put the same plate of food before Christina until it rots.
I have trouble eating when I’m processing my emotions. I’m deathly afraid I’ll misinterpret hunger as something else when the tough really gets tough-ass tough and things are really riled up.
Grief and loss of any kind, when it’s eating away at me, carving away at my skeleton, I hate to miss that feast on my bones. I’d be very pissed off at myself if I mistook a gut-ripping, mournful pain of any sort, thought it a hunger pain and ate a Twinkie instead.
One must honor their gut-ripping raping losses if they're to move forward. (This counts too even if your moving forward, only to move back nine steps to the fridge, say, six weeks later to eat a tub of ice-cream when the feelings resurface as something even uglier ... no one ever said this was easy, hello?!?!?!?)
Losses are necessary. You have to honor them, that's still the given, it's ongoing, gut-fuckity-uppity, hard-ass work.
So I’m going to have to revisit the sticky bun, perhaps tomorrow. Today, I gazed upon it, had my coffee, and if I’m going to be honest I must confess I had said coffee pretty late this morning because I was hiding under the quilts until 10:30-ish after a not-so-restful night.
I did not launch out of bed this morning with a, “Woo-hoo! I can’t wait to get started on my master plan of bloggie attack, my 30 days of renewed passion for life and art and jump started-ness,” because, well, I just don’t feel all that passionate about the deal, which of course is why I had to set myself up for the double-dare in the first place!
That being said, in all brutal honesty, because that is also what this is all about, here’s another revisal of a portion of “the manuscript,” which is also in keeping with today’s theme somewhat when it comes to emotions, and appetites and such, and then I shall end this blog with my collage and get my sorry ass to work for the day.
OF NOTE: I'm not going to be including stuff from my manuscript everyday. I have only promised myself to write/art in the blog everyday so I'll either be revising or showcasing work, and/or using a prompt or?!?!?!? ... just so there's something, a mark, a drop of some kind of INKISH BLOOD:
(This is a charming little ditty about a little girl who had several Prince Charmings but they were all out in the yard one day and no one could save her.)
... The boys were back outside before I ever got my sandwich even halfway started, and then I was out of Kool-Aid. Mummy got mad.
She said, “No seconds!” and put the Kool-Aid back in the fridge. She said I could drink water if I was so smart, instead of trying to use all the Kool-Aid in the house to git rid of my sandwich.
I felt like telling her there wasn’t enough Kool-Aid in the whole house to ever finish that sandwich, but I kept my mouth shut between bites …
…The water made the liver sausage taste like metal, but I ate almost the whole sandwich. It would have been okay except I started to burp and it felt like puke and guts were going to come back up. It made me gag. My tongue tasted greasy and dirty.
Mummy said, “Goddammit …” and that’s how I ended up in my room, flat on my back with that stupid guts and pukey liver sausage floating around in my stomach.
I have to take a nap today. No one else does, but I’m the one in big trouble again. I’m not supposed to get off the bed. I can’t read quietly because my book is all the way over on the dresser. If I go get it, the floor will creak on the ceiling over the living room. Mummy will hear that instead of “As the World Turns” and then I’ll be dead.
I know this. I’m not stupid. If I were a little smarter, though, I would keep my Grimm’s Fairy Tales book under my pillow for the next time. “Goose Girl” always cheers me up, even when she is all miserable and rolling down a hill in a barrel with spikes jammed in it, hurting her on all sides …
A PIECE OF COLLAGE ART (1 OF 30):
Sunday, May 8, 2011
In honor of Mother’s Day, my first Mother’s Day celebrating such with three now grown children (Alice Jean now 18, Rebekah Lynn 16 and Carol Anne soon to turn 28), I realize there is a child I’ve left behind, and I’m going back for her now.
This child's story has been fully written for a long time. Once written I was very proud of her loud, brave voice and I shared her. People were interested, but hearing that interest I became ashamed and stuffed her in a drawer.
Later, during a move, I packed her away. Her voice became muffled in a box, having only been dug out recently a post-it note clinging to her front cover with the words “do it!” still firmly attached.
Do tell, do see if you have the strength to keep the little Jack, or in this case Jill, out of the box.
Let her live, so to speak.
So, this Mother’s Day, I’ve decided to let her live, this little girl, this story.
I’ve also decided I don’t care how incredibly emotionally challenging things have been lately, I’m going to write EVERY MORNING, and I’m going to do a piece of artwork EVERY MORNING, prior to starting work. Just like the 30 days/30 collages jumpstarts I’ve had to do in the past to break out of slumps, it all goes to show with perseverance it takes 30 days to make (or break) a habit.
Mark, my words (and collages) … and for now an excerpt, from the little Jack (oops, I mean Jill) I just let back out of the box:
This morning I’m drawing pictures on the floor of the machine shed with a stick. I trace careful so I don’t break any of my teardrops. My tears land quietly and then settle right in, caught up in the soft dust. They stay wet and round and whole. Dust scatters as each new drop falls, but none break. They're sprinkled with dirt like butter cookies with powdered sugar from the sifter. I can’t believe something as beautiful as this has come from inside of me.
The child dreamer is alone,
very much alone.
He lives in the world of his own reverie.
In his happy solitudes, the
dreaming child knows the cosmic
reverie which unites us to the world.
-Gaston Bachelard, Reveries Toward Childhood
Monday, May 2, 2011
Yesterday afternoon a close friend invited us out to his house “out in the woods,” which we are very lucky to live in a glacier-honed area of Wisconsin, the Southern sections of the Kettle Moraine forested zone, so “the woods” really are everywhere including in and around our subdivided housing area, but our friend Dave lives in the real woods, along a lake front (less than one-half hour from our house ... yes, lucky!).
Dave lives in an A-frame, has outbuildings, raises hunting dogs, and has a taxidermy shop (and the animals he has preserved are pieces of art, I am telling you, but then I’ll also tell you that I can point out the art in almost all my friends’ lives, even if they can’t see it).
On Dave’s property, there are fire pits, tree houses, outdoor grills of every combination, burning barrels, trampolines, swing sets and targets for practice. There’s a camper, an icehouse, a boat, motorcycles, mini bikes, mowers, etc., everything of the outdoor life, but I digress … let’s get back to the fire pit, the reason for the invite.
The original invite was to come out for the day, stand and jaw by the fire, catch some sun, fight off the wind, and just relax and wait for the meat to be ready. Yesterday’s fare was chicken and pork loin. The sides were beer, wine, sauerkraut, condiments and spicy potato chips.
Though there are picnic tables, benches and plenty of lawn chairs available around the fire pit, we all stood, stomping our feet to stay warm, and moving our jaws to keep the laughter going. The sun was out all day, but the wind was pretty wicked, so none of us really left the fire for very long.
As we all stood their drooling, we did remark that maybe our host had over-estimated the amount of meat he was grilling, and that it was likely too much, but we ate practically all of it, the five adults and two kids of us who were there.
It was super yum. It was everything I personally needed after weeks and weeks of stress (the catch-all word, for all that and more) and, admittedly, not cleaning my plate and further, admittedly, sometimes not even building a plate to begin with.
Prior to leaving we threw some “extras” on the fire, some scrap wood and junk from our garage, which Mark had loaded onto the truck before we left the house, things that we’re not “allowed” to burn within our “village limits." Dave also threw on “extras” from his own vast property, fallen branches, etc.
We continued our gab, picked at the bones of what was left of the chicken, decided if we had room for just one more piece of pork, “the other white meat,” kicked at the dirt, looked at the sky, noted the location of the sun and how bad it sucked that it was either a "school night" or "work night" for the best of us.
As the fire died down, the goodbyes began. As we headed out, I said to Dave, “Thanks for feeding me yummy meat,” and he remarked, “Okay, how come your camera isn’t on video for that remark,” teasing me because I was snapping pictures earlier and cajoling everyone into crazy acts, to no avail. While the day was full of laughs, I caught nothing on video.
I remarked further as Mark and I walked off that I’d likely sleep deep that night, and so of course with that deep sleep, another dream:
In this dream, shortly before the alarm this morning, I’m totally freaked out because a woman I used to do work for while I was employed at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital very, very early in my transcription career (age 25-ish), a psychologist, Gay Rosenthal, PhD, (odd that I’d remember her name, and odd that she’d arrive in my dream) had shown up at the house and she wanted to dump some “junk” off in our garage.
I kept telling her no, that would be stupid seeing how Mark and I had just been to this fabulous cookout the day prior, and while at the cookout we had also thrown some scrap wood and cardboard and stuff onto the fire, getting rid of some clutter in our garage, and so, “No, Gay, that’s not a good idea," plus in the dream of course I remembered her pysch notes were often times very, long and rambling and she wanted the testing sections in table form and they were a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS, so likely whatever junk she had was going to be quite messy and out of sorts. I so did not want to deal with it.
Either way, she backed her truck up to our garage and was pressing the buttons on the outside key code box trying to open the garage door, even though I ran down into the garage to dry to stop her. Either way she kept making her attempts from the outside and each time the door would rise a bit and then stop, because Dr. Rosenthal also had several ratty feral cats on her truck, and they were trying to run into the garage as well, which would trip the safety on the garage door and it would stop partway up. My attempts to close the door from the inside switch were also causing the door to freeze partway up/down. Very frustrating.
Finally, I got the garage door to close, and then went back through the house and out to the front steps to talk to her. I realize then that I am in my bathrobe, which is weird because this is the first time I could see myself in my dream why the F! I am in my bathrobe for crying out loud! I continue to explain that she is not to bring any ratty-ass shit into our garage and ultimately, she leaves.
End of dream.
And then I woke up and it was Monday, whew, and so far (and it’s well past dark now) nobody has come over in a ratty old truck with feral cats to try and put crappity crap into our garage, so I guess I would call that a good day.
And I need these good days because, for every inch of crap I pull out, decide what I need, get rid of what I don't, I really, really don't need someone filling up all my clean edges with their crap! Only just sayin'.
I also stand on what someone once told me about dreams. It's not so much the symbols in the dream. It's "how you feel" when you wake up, and after this dream, I felt ... well, I felt very, "Well, then, I certainly washed my hands of that matter now, didn't I?" And that felt fantastic!
P.S. Of course no offense to Dr. Rosenthal who had no idea she'd appear in my dream, or this post. While I hated putting the educational testing materials into table format in her very lengthy reports, that's because all transcriptionists hate tables and graphics of any kind especially back in the day of word processors that had no graphics capabilities!
However, the work being done in the Learning and Behavioral Problems Department at Minneapolis Children's Medical Center was fascinating and I loved my job there, and in the other ancillary departments of the hospital, the non-medical work that I was transcribing.
Also, since Dr. Rosenthal appeared in my dream I had to Google her and see what she's up to these days. Yeah, I know if any of you can figure out a way to shut the human brain of for ten seconds so it can take a deep breath, I'd like to hear about this.
--And if you can further imagine, she's the cutest little Jewish American woman you'd ever like to meet, so picture her at barely 5 feet tall, coming to my house (dream or not) in a rickety pickup truck with feral cats, and me standing on my front steps (five feet off the ground above the drive and then also at 5 ft, 11 inches) yelling at her wearing my flowing black Ralph Lauren bathrobe sporting what's left of my black eye and bed hair.
Yes, quite a picture!