Wednesday, May 27, 2015

hemlock




Is it really selling yourself if you have no more self left? It's easier when I think about someone like Socrates; someone I admired from history. It pulls me to not be connected to my emotions. I stand outside of them and intellectualize them. The parallel between what he had to do and what I am doing internally is of a moral principle. He was being executed for being of different thought from his society. And I stand outside of society. By choice or not, who knows. But I really don't belong.

I remember this being discussed in a lecture back in high school. I think they were teaching altruism. With the intention of making this real after we went out into the world. They were trying to influence the minds of us. That's when I learned about Socrates. Who was trying to do the same. The wise but self-proclaimed “ignorant” noble savage. This idea took a hold of me.

Maybe I should have missed that day. I think I should have been doing drugs all those years. Maybe I should make up for it now. It is about the only solution that fits into the accepted behavior of our society. And it goes with the stigma I am being shoved into. How appropriate that right now I am hearing Billly Corgen raging despite all my rage I am still a rat in a cage—it just came on my music but it goes. What a different era that was. We were so naive. We are the year of the Dragon and live up to those shaky ideals.

And now it's like watching the bomb go off in the test field like that movie. They stand there admiring the colors that light the sky. Breathing in radiation.

Only I was thinking that it is possible that this may be the only way to save my soul. I am not able to be compromised if I am not consciously present. Whatever I say is unconsciously said. Going insane won't work. I think there has to be a link between the soul and the inner consciousness. So if I go insane I will lose the thread of my path. If I am drug induced then it's just incubating until it is safe to come out. Even if it is never. Which I am OK with too. Or I have to be. They keep giving me drugs anyway, push them on me and urge me to take them and I guess this is instead of hemlock. What did that really do for Socrates anyway? Well, it made him a hero, yes.



Monday, May 18, 2015

Mixed Messages





My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night

In the pines, in the pines
where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through”--in the Pines


I have received a message from Bran. It has been over eight months. I don't know what it means. I hesitate to reply. If I should. I can't decipher his meaning.

It is all right to talk to Dean sometimes. I know he wants me to come back. It bothers me to know that it is me who stands in the way for him over what he wants. Like Peter Pan's shadow, I have wished that I could let him have that part of me because I have no use for it. The one that was resigned to being a toaster. I can't go back to that. I can't disappear any more. It feels like I am spent on acts of selflessness. I even see it with Jamie. The self-involved phenomena of her age along with the material excess her father gives her leaves very little room for her to see past the confused ideals. She has decided to not just give me advice these days, but to appoint herself as my personal boss on all the decisions in my life. And then she forgets that she says she was going to come with me for one of my physical exams. I didn't ask her to, didn't particularly want her to. But then, I feel sad when she has forgotten. She seems to forget a lot of promises these days, that is, as soon as her father dangles his advantages.

I find myself wondering over the wounded feeling I have when this kind of thing comes up again. Changing days on me without telling me, and then she claims she did, but she didn't. I remember the conversation we last had over this. I know that she covers up her guilt with a kind of act of innocence. She has done that since she was a toddler. So I guess it is no surprise, I have allowed this kind of coercion to rule my life.

I see part of this was blindness, but not all of it. Part of why I let it happen had to do with that need for penance. Something has changed now for me. I feel like I am walking away from that, going on, shutting that door behind me forever. I think I have exhausted my purpose of penance. There is no more to get out of it. It's done. But now I see that everyone I know is not so pleased to find I no longer feel so obligated to please everybody. And it's much more than that. I feel like I have run out of the capacity to bring myself to any more. I used to worry about what everyone would think if I didn't want to do what they needed me to do. But I've just stopped caring.

When I talk to John, he seems disappointed with this transition. But I am slipping, losing that grip and falling down. That spiral. And why fight it anymore. I am slipping past the edge. I don't feel like having to defend myself but I explain,
“it's life, John.”

It is that I don't really care.

I think I need to find a reason to care about something or this will not progress very well. What is the opposite of self-less? No, I am not about to indulge myself with excesses of this, but I wonder what it would really feel like to do whatever it is that I want. For the rest of my life.

I begin to write a short story that has nothing to do with me. I create characters to live out, in theory, possibilities. It is a story about a girl and boy who met in high school and they meet again years later.


I am not putting myself in any danger by remaining in contact with Dean. We are not divorced. And who cares. I just want my freedom. No, I need my freedom. I don't want anyone telling me what to do anymore. Some of Dean's bi-polar moods are not so bad. I go when his mood shifts to the bad ones. I only stay a little while. He needs to clean that place, it is so hard to breath in there and I have to stop the impulse to start cleaning when I drop by. I visit the cats. I miss my calico. It's heartbreaking for me to give her up. She looks sad to me. She's not eating, she's become so thin.

I finally go to my doctor, it has been months. He tells me what I have long suspected. It's real. My hands are becoming paralyzed. He tells me that the risks are too high and surgeons don't usually take the risk, which is why the last two neurosurgeons I have seen have sent me away with prescriptions and a few weeks of physical therapy. But that is not going to help me. He says eventually we will find a surgeon who will take the risk or....? and then I wonder about the kind of surgeon who would and is it better to die on the table or submit to....

And so, I am looking at things in my life and wondering. Wondering about my whole life. It's meaning and purpose, again and wondering. Why. What... for. This side of life looks much different.... much more real. The silver lining is Velcro-ed on, it's cheap plastic and peeling. And it is better to avoid thinking about Bran. Safe to look back to before all of that. I need to hide and avoid thoughts of... us. Because it hurts too much. What went on between us. How his words have hurt. And will always echo down my cerebral passages and jab me to the quick. It is safer to bury myself in... the devil you know.... and a kind of perpetual motion. I can do that. I can do whatever I want. And maybe some things I don't have to tell anyone. Some things I need to do. Like those tools you acquire that get you through in life, sometimes you just have to do things nobody will ever understand.

….a thought came to me the other day, in a little more than one year, Jamie will be eight-teen and I can go anywhere after that. I can go to Alaska. Start a new life. Alone.

When I leave the store, someone stops me as I am getting into my car. She's tall, wearing fitness shorts a bright tangerine t-shirt. She looks like someone about Jamie's age, I think, until I see the University bumper sticker on the car she gets into and the graduation date on the license frame. I notice this in rewind after she has walked away. She hands me a piece of paper, saying,
“you dropped this.” Is it my list? I feel embarrassed. I wait until I get in my car to read if I wrote anything overly personal. When I open the folded piece of paper, though, it turns out not to be my list at all. It is a note. It just has a name (Jo) with a phone number on it. I look at it for awhile, confused. I think maybe she thought it was me who dropped it, but it must be someone else who lost this piece of paper. So I think about going into the store and giving it to someone there, because maybe they will come looking for it. Until I realize that neither the store people nor the person this belongs to would be likely to expect someone to do this.

But it hurts to hold the piece of paper and it drops out of my hand and falls into the abyss of the car floor. And then I am lost in thought.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Baggage Claim at Purgatory; a flashback





I'm obsessed with bags. I believe it must trace back to my ancestors, so can I really help it? I didn't really think it was a problem until that night at Pearl, the art supplies warehouse on Hempstead Turnpike when it still existed on Long Island. Maybe it was the way he yelled at me from the loading dock, it reminded me of something from 'On the Waterfront' with Marlon Brando, in the rain saying, “I coulda been a kundenda, I coulda been somebody....” I think, in a way, Frankie always reminded me of Marlon Brando. Maybe what he would have been at 21 if Brando was ever skinny. Scrawny. And an Italian mama's boy from the South Shore. I am always distracted by an interesting character, whether they are good for me or not. I am just pulled to find the story.

So he said, screaming at me in the rain-- it was always raining during our strange conflicts:

You know what, Beth? You got too much luggage!” and he put his hand through my open car window and pulled out one of my Coach bags that I happened to be using that day (they are all bought second or third hand on e-Bay for a third of their original selling price, sometimes a quarter). (But, OK, maybe I have accumulated quite a lot of them over time). He knew about my bag fetish. What is it about the male gender that can at first find something about you to be so adorable but then when they decide to be assholes that thing is flung at you like it is some kind of putrid material?

So he went on to say --grabbing hold of my bag like it was some grocery store bag-- in a bunch in his fingers, crinkling the surface brutally (that is Brando at the top of the stairs in his wife-beater shirt crying, “Stella!” in a Streetcar Named Desire.)

And so, Frankie says,
you and your one million fucking bags, Beth!”

He was really saying something else. He was only using this to pick on me. Because he is worse than a woman when it comes to shopping. His vanity comes a close third to his sexual addiction and his drug addiction. Then again, he is close to a woman in several ways, despite his Brando resemblance.

Yet, sometimes wisdom accidentally popped out of his head and lips. And sometimes still does. He had rare moments of shocking depth, like, I guess, that car scene, out by the loading dock, in the rain with him waving my Coach bag.... telling me I had too much baggage. I remember, at that moment, being surprised by his fleeting insight.

Only, it is not really such a bad flaw. Not really, because my collection of bags serve many purposes. Environmentally, they are recycled material-- because I am using someone else's no longer needed or wanted possession. I don't have to purchase a new one, I'm re-using. But, also, they are beautiful in workmanship. Like, in the way that anyone can see, if you look at things in a museum and you see objects made by human's from thousands of years ago.... or, in the way that you see actual Art Nouveau jewelry at an antique show. These are works of art. So they also serve as aesthetic beauty. I rotate them on the walls, they change with my moods and it reminds me of how much fun I used to have doing the merchandising for store windows. In this way it serves me again as it stimulates my creative expression. Scientifically, this is also good because it is good for my mental health and in keeping in mind with social requirements, in our society, I am less of a strain on the government needs when I am not another statistic dependent on the treasury.

Still, there is an even more practical use about my bag collection. All my life, I have moved a lot. Another inherent trait? No doubt. And when I move, every one of those bags becomes an instant moving box that isn't made of trees. They hold up remarkably well and I have found, the hard use of these bags only adds to their character. At least those that I obsess on. From the decade I obsess on.

My Russian heritage always comes to mind when I think of my natural instincts of feeling more at ease when I look around me and imagine how quickly I can collapse everything down and take off at a moment's notice. I don't think they were gypsies. I suspect they would have been too self-righteous for something that colorful. My ancestors were all repressed. I know this because I see it strongly in everyone who came from this line. I know that is another flaw I have had the misfortune to acquire; it is hard for me to open. Which is why I like bags that have a lot of zippers and compartments and why I love cargo's. You can hide things away.

Maybe this is another metaphor. To consider a flaw and then find that instead, it is, really, more of a secret power. The way that girl at ASH asked me in middle school to join the 'cool kid crowd' and I said no. Or when I had braces and my orthodontist said he was going cut a slit into my gum to close the gap between my two front teeth. And I said no. I wanted to keep it. I never wanted to be perfect. Or be a cheer-leader and told I had to wear a pink sweater on Tuesday.

So what was Frankie really saying that day, getting drenched behind the art warehouse? I have always been drawn to the story. The ones about people. The ones I see sometimes passing me on buses. The ones who walk by you at the mall and they look at you for a split second. They reveal. I am always half tempted to do something unpredictable or inappropriate and walk right up to them, knock down the fourth wall. And there was a time I would have. But you know, that's a dangerous way to be. I learned that.

He was telling me that he could not lose control. That was not what he meant to tell me. But I know that is what he was telling me. Only while it was happening, I didn't know this. I was in that moment and, instead, the shitty thing that he had just done to me which lead us out there on that loading dock to have it out not in front of co-workers.... stung pretty hard. And I can see it from years later without regret, my skin still not tough.... not tough enough.... I can see that when I go to live inside my stories, I put all of myself in them. It isn't pretend.

Like clothes you put on. Take off. A t-shirt you peel off as the long sleeves are like a snake's second skin that goes inside out to drop or get hung. Like my bags. But are they me?

Maybe I have been trying on all these stories.... to see which one fits me the best. I know it was not conscious to do this. I just always got distracted by …. the story.

When you stand on the outside of yourself; of a story.... you see, it is safe. I see this now. I know I forgot this was once on purpose. I have just been doing it for so long. I think I was actually too stubborn to want to give in; conform. But, you see, I felt like I wouldn't be able breath under the pompoms and the sweaters.

Frankie didn't want to lose control. I never did either. Because the last time that I did I was five. And I almost didn't make it back. There is no fear of losing control when writing. It is my terms. The focus is my choice. Those things that I ignore, though, they begin to expose themselves. And when those things begin to tell my story....

I think that I am beginning to see that maybe this is the same when you are not safely removed from the experience that you are in. What fits into my bag and not what the bag is telling me I am allowed to fit. What fills the sheath's requirement to accommodate the sword. Experiencing is not exactly the same as feeling. What would it really be like, I wonder, to really, really feel and experience it in the immediate. To let it past that invisible wall and let in through. It could be a disaster. But it could also be the most fascinating experience ever. Like turning a corner past the Matrix. Would I write about it?

What is past there, past the mythology, and why would I go. I mean, I don't care about acceptance. Is there some other reason? Because, I suspect it would not be possible to just visit and then pack up my bags and leave if I don't like it. I think that portal would close forever. 

And so I think about that Jim Morrison poem,

I won't come out
You must come in
Into me

Into my womb garden where I peer out
Where we can construct a universe
within the skull
to rival the real



Friday, March 6, 2015

Reflection; Electra

"Pausing before Methuselah... My foot rested on the stone sealing the small sepulcher at his root; and I recalled the passage of feeling therin buried... What was become of that curious one-sided friendship which was half marble and half life; only on one hand truth, and the other perhaps jest?
   "Was this feeling dead? I do not know, but it was buried. Sometimes I thought the tomb unquiet...." (Brontë)

I'll write more later.  Maybe. Right now stumbling across this passage and realizing I'm moving on ....to some inexplicable somewhere--- I am stilled thus to reflect and to give my respects to the broken little pieces of my heart that have so often been impetuously tossed aside by those i regarded too deeply who thought too little of me. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

My tomb; Electra's dictionary

John William Waterhouse 1888 'The Lady of Shalott' inspired by Tennyson's poem from 1832 of the same title

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