Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Electra's Dictionary; Burying Agamemnon

As I sit in my therapist's office, I find myself wondering where Electra has gone. It is the reflection of self, you see. The way that I call my diary 'Electra's dictionary'.... it encapsulates a million fragments of cells of self. Celves. In regards to 'self' this personification of a Greek heroine is the mirror I use because.... at the center I know I first became lost when I did not know what to call myself. Electra.... or What?

Beth who is What. What? Bastard, or unwanted, discarded child was my very first role. I used to think I should have been aborted. I'm sure this would be appalling to those people who advocate against this sad procedure. But I remember the first time I ever heard of this as a kid and I thought: it would have been better that way than to live unwanted. And so I journeyed through life in search of some place to belong. I guess it was a blind, unspoken yearning to belong to someone.

And here I find I am actually past all that now. So am I still Electra? The heroine who mourned for father....? As I sit there talking and responding to Margery, I hear myself say things that are true but that I cannot imagine that me ever saying …. only six months ago. What has happened? I have outgrown the need for father. And it is because I realize now that this void I tried to fill was always what was holding me back. I have always been stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I never needed any father. What I longed for, really, was complete acceptance of me. But I can do that for myself, can't I? I don't need anybody to do that for me. I see now that I always changed to be accepted because I wanted to be loved so bad. That was the mistake. Only it was a child's mistake that kept me blind all these years and it came from the harm that occurs from being not wanted. There was no way to see this until I finally stumbled and fell so many times and only now can I shed this old crutch. I never needed anybody and every time I thought I did was when I faltered.

So I think of Bran and …. yes, I still miss him. My heart has not let go of him. The father figure, even as he is the same age as me, it was the brand of his affection that pulled me under his spell. His compassion and feeling and the way that he instinctively gave protection through his method of love. And this was the most dangerous to me. I couldn't help but be mesmerized by this, but it was deadly to my Self.

Suddenly, Margery says,
What really happened with Bran? You never said....”

I do not know how this woman can read my mind. Even as I told her about my new lover, she watches me now as I tell her about our hike on a snowy, frosty trail. And then she says this! She knows when I think of Bran. My mouth says Zack, but my heart still says Bran.

I look away because I knew this would have to come up. Since I have been back from Amsterdam, I have skirted this issue. Even to myself. But to lie to yourself is stupid, isn't it? Especially at this stage of my life.

I got scared,” I finally say out loud.

I haven't even written this. I've been running from this.

She smiles at me and raises one eye brow and waits.

So I nod. I search for where to begin and plunge right in.
I do what I do and have always done when somebody gets too close. I sabotage things....”

And I knew when I did it. It was a moment where I took flight. His telling me that he had to return to Wales, to his life, his family because Clair was ill-- it was like being …. left to the wolves. And the feeling of panic made me so angry. Because I trusted him. And he was turning me away. It was irrational, I know. But it set off some explosion in my mind, like a mental trigger. I had to protect myself before I let him reject me.

Finally, I say,
I started a fight and I told him he was using this as an excuse. And I believed it! At the time. In that moment, I did really believe it. And I needed to lash out at him. I know I was wrong, but it was a knee jerk reaction. And I told him I never wanted to see him again. And I said a lot of other things that I.... regret.”

No, I have not written about this. I don't know why it's been so hard for me to confront. I know he was doing what he had to do and I reacted childishly. It was like some demon leaped out of me and words just came out of my mouth. And I was that stupid girl that I was each time my father rejected me and I kept going back, always expecting a different outcome. I was angry at myself for being back in that place again after years of avoiding a true attachment to someone because I can't trust closeness. It always ends up …. dumping me on the side of the road. Left for dead, like some little squashed thing; road kill.

Maybe I am safer without closeness. I don't know. I do not know how to let someone in without it compromising the place I built within. Not that I mean to be a coward, but-- I cannot seem to get this right without fucking up. I fear dependency even as I long for it only because I never really had it but I know it is dangerous for me. Why? Because it should have been something I long left behind but instead I learned to be defensive and always awake, staying watch for the first threat of danger. And then I destroy any possibility of …. ever being forgiven. It has always been my way. And it also perpetuates the self-fulfilling prophesy: I do not deserve love, I do not deserve anything good, I do not deserve shelter, just devastation.

As I explain this my therapist nods. She says,
I thought so. But don't be so hard on yourself.... but maybe you should tell him this.”

Friday, November 7, 2014

Electra's dictionary; struggles in the darkness

Sruggles with darkness.....

There is something pleasurable
in self humiliation
a kind of power through an honesty
there is release in this total
. total submission

an honesty
.. not otherwise recognized
or admitted

I guess it is the willingness
to bare
your soul
to judgment....
under gestapo lights
and to be willing to die for an essential …..
of who you are.....

because pretending to be a someone who is a fraud
is worse than any death or
any other human pain.... to at least in the end have self …. left

is worth the sacrifice of …..


on this planet

worth the sacrifice.

so..... I surrender

And willling to destroy
blasphemous misinterpretation of meaning


and take it with me to the fires of hell because.....

truth sees around hiding places and corners
tuth is the reckoning; inescapable and void of all human compromise

and all these excuses we make.....

are only the crutches
and masks 

we cowardly hide behind
as we decide to

not own up to

and run away

only delaying the progress which could be

otherwise achieved

but only if … …. are willing

willing to …. believe

in the truth of your own
.. inner voice.

Even in the face of ridicule and unpopularity because you know.....

this waste of time is the worst sort of blasphemy. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

the Artist's fuck toy

I wish that I could go back, as if I could.... and scroll back.... as if in rewind. And delete the parts.... the parts where I let.... where I let....

I wish that I could take back that moment. That moment where I let him in. that was the moment. The moment that I faltered. Where I betrayed myself.

Of course I blame myself. How can it be otherwise? I was so stupid. So stupid. It was all obviously doomed from the start. It was all delusional. A fantasy. Something I had no logical reason to believe in and why did I? Impossible.... The self fulfilling prophesy.... I asked for it. I asked to be …. to be.... what is this? What has happened here? To me....

where was that moment where I stepped into that realm? That very vague place of blind faith.... I do not know. Why did I close my eyes and trust what my logic told me not to? Why did I believe that voice.... that voice....

I have only myself to blame. I allowed myself to be deceived. Was it because I wanted to be deceived? No, I don't think so. I think it was just.... it was just.... this hope to be truly healed.

And it was so naive.

I understand the ways of the world. I do. I know that logic and pragmatism run life. Where do I fit in to all of this? The level of agony that I have seen is not the kind that can be documented on a chip. This agony goes.... it goes soul deep. Unrecognizable by the naked eye. But does that make it invalid?

You say this is fantasy. But I know that is a lie. It is easy to discount things by diminishing everything as trivial as in some kind of of logical, lowest common demonstrator. But “real life” isn't that way. Real life deals with where you expose your soul. It is not based in terms of how this material world runs. Not where real Truth is exposed in the eleventh hour.

I do understand the practicalities of life. And if I am perceived as cruel to some I guess it is only because the level that I tread within is so deeply entrenched in some profound need in search for some ultimate truth. There is no time to bull shit. You see. There is no time. Life is so fleeting. Time passes. We hurt, we feel, and things run through our fingers like water or sand in an hour glass. It just goes so fast. Too fast.

And you know, the jabs.... they go so deep.

If I could just stop time and then go back and take back where I was so foolish to trust.... to trust this blind faith. This blind faith that deceived me. If I could.... what would I gain?

What have I gained in this knowledge of real life? That I have walked that boulevard.... where the broken dreams are like a graveyard? Or thought so. Like groping blindly. I had to trust that I understood.... from some place within my own humanity.... this terrible tragedy of loss and life --and what is the meaning of love.

How can I blame Bran for choosing his meaning of family? Or version of loyalty? It excludes me. I become diminished in importance in contrast to his weight of life's responsibility. I fall; fail; lacking in importance.

I want to go back to that moment.... that moment where I gave him

. where I gave him trust.

I want to take it back.

I want to withdraw what I was ill advised to believe in within my soul.

I was wrong. I was willing to trust in a blind faith that …. would let me down. The cost was.... it was.... that proverbial straw. I thought I had enough to bargain with. But I was so wrong. I gambled on.... what?

If I could go back and pick up that metaphorical string that I gave up into the hands of Bran.... if I could just go back and pick it up.... say to myself: no, do not, do not give it away, do not give it up....

keep it for yourself....

but I can't. It's too late. I gave it up. He took it. And then he dropped it. And now what am I left with?

I know what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but these muscles I have acquired are now even more impressive than Hercules'.

Only it doesn't fill in the void. The wound. Why did I trust him? Why did I let him in? Why did I have let myself

love.... ?

Yet I know that if I had not, I would be asking myself now why I hadn't given this the chance.

We are balanced on this precarious edge.

I somehow faltered. Holding my breath in a tight rope calm. I misjudged the distance down.

Is it some death-wish?


it was far more optimistic. Perhaps even naive. I was an idiot. A fool. To believe.

So to come away from this now.... I wander and am so very lost. The brainstorm is doing havoc with my reason. I am total chaos. I seem to no longer care and let go knowing that.... knowing that.... I did my best. And was deceived. And I also think that perhaps I am perhaps even more brave than.... more brave than.... braver than whom I once worshiped. I am the gladiator and …. he has walked from the true challenge under the guise of honor. Under the guise of reason. Of logic. But in the end coward, I see.

I see that I am of some more worthy element.

The next time I saw Zack I saw him in a new light. It wasn't the kind of some deep, intrinsic imperative …. no. it was much more simple. Even as I am aware that he is deep and full of emotion and humanity, I see that I am so world weary now. I feel ready to cave.

We went to the cafe and I drank too much. I knew that I did this on purpose. I admit that now I have become weak. I am human. I let him take me back to his studio. I let him fuck me. And I found something necessary in the passion he gave to me of himself. I could not cum. But I felt something when he did. Some vicarious thrill. The energy of which he drove himself into me caused me to squirt involuntarily. And, despite myself.... I orgasmed. My body betrayed me and gave anyway. And I let him take it. Even as I kept my self intact.

But I kept the chastity belt tight around my deepest self. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wawr pwy yw beth; pam yr wyf yn galw fy hun Beth; Why I call myself Beth

Some thoughts on this eve of Samhain.....
Before there was Electra there was What. What. In Welsh, or Cymraeg, Beth translates to 'what'.

You may wonder why it is that I identify with the Welsh. Maybe because I understand what it feels like to be of a lost tribe. To hold to a language that best expresses all of whom or what I am. Beth who is what. Because I don't know who I am. I don't know what I am. But at least I know that I am.

At first, I think as I groped through the dark in search of self; in search of identity …. well I had to start somewhere. And without any reliable facts to depend on I had to reach within. I had to know that inner self better than I know anything else. So while I say that I call myself what.... as is what? That inner me I know honestly and fully. And so it began with the dictionary. It began there as a place to begin. Some footing, however obscure and elusive.

I have had some strange occurrences happen in my life. I don't think I would have made it without this inner council. Like Tolkien wrote, “not all who wander are lost....” and while I have sometimes said I am lost, I believe it is more in the same vein as how Socrates claimed that he knows nothing. Maps and legends, like that R.E.M song. “maybe he's caught in the legend.... maybe these maps and legends have been misunderstood....”

I search but I am aware that I am on the path. These things that seem to have deviated me have only shown me something that I have always known. It is not cynicism or bitterness that I know with all of who I am that I am better on my own. Because I don't really believe I am on my own. I feel a power within, and maybe this goes back to my tribal connection to a people I identify with. It could be an age old journey that I rely on because all things that I have experienced through my life with people has been shown to me that many and most tend to be false and undependable. That it is only myself that I can truly rely on. And often people say that I alienate them, that I am selfish, that my shyness is some kind of sign of neurotic and ill mental health, only, how can this really be the case when through time it has proven to me again and again that my happiness with introversion is my most reliable strength?

I didn't choose to be this way. But I did choose to get up each time I was knocked down. I chose to turn the thickened scars into trophies of triumph. I would never consider myself a victim, because I'm not. A victim gives up. I never have. Because I learned early that pain gets old. And it is so boring to continue as someone's whipping boy. So I decided that I don't have to feel pain or fear pain, I can decide to see it as my challenge and I am its gladiator.

Before there was Electra, before there was Agamemnon, before there was Demeter and Persephone and Oedipus and Jocasta..... there was beth. Beth who is what. It is an ageless riddle, you see. And I know this because I have seen things.

As Samhain approaches tonight, I feel the doors between the worlds opening. I don't claim to be Pagan, I only feel some connection to a kind of knowing that has always guided me well. It is not any kind of formal religion, it has nothing to do with something I've read. I have just seen a lot in my life. I have stood on the jagged edge of a knife and stayed balanced in a tightrope calm with a stronghold grip.... and have come out of the impossible. That song by Green Day haunts me lately, I Walk Alone.... but not with a heavy sadness but with a victorious wail of a torch song.

Virgin, Mother and Crone, it is a circle, isn't it? We are all on this fragile journey together and now I see that I have been successful and that I am because I amended when I had to, I intercepted when it was necessary, I never turned my back on someone in need ….and I heard because I listened to the voice of inner truth. Success isn't measured by the material gains and I have always known this because I saw how ugly the material made those around me. I also know that I cannot live my daughter's life for her, but I think I have provided her with the necessary tools to be strong and to be in sound mind and to make good decisions and this only could have been accomplished because I guided her from the purity of my love and in my devotion for her. I fought to bring her into this world and I know this world is better for delivering her to it. My purpose has not, therefore, gone unfulfilled.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Wormhole; Electra's dictionary

The Wormhole

As I re-engage back into life.... and here I have to stop and think with some irony-- still life?.... I decide to come off all of my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. The decision to do this is instinctive. I don't know why, but it is a personal experiment. I think that the real anxiety has been other people. It has been Dean with his unbalancing affect on me, his erratic moods that have constantly set me in a state of instability. You see, I see now that I have always been better on my own. I don't need anybody and never have. I am me, I am mine, I define, I belong to me, and I am fine. This decision is personal and I choose not to discuss this with my doctor. I want to see if I am right. I think I trust myself better than anyone, it is when I have depended on others that I have always been mislead.

It has been unusually warm in Detroit the last few days. Yesterday it was so beautiful with the trees and the leaves and Autumn in full bloom. It was unscheduled, but I got a call from Zack-- he asks me to call him Zack.... he asks me to meet him for an extra sitting. He says, “on location for a personal piece.”

Right now there are stacks of boxes in the apartment. On one side of the interior I have organized all of Dean's belongings. I have his boxes stacked neatly. I am being methodical in exacting what is mine and his. I give him most things because I think I want to have only things that are not attached to my life with him. I give him the every day dishes we have used, I give him the silverware. I keep only the things that I came into this life with him with. It is like how I have removed all my jewelry. I removed my wedding ring, the chains around my neck, I wear no earrings since the last tests I had to do at the medical facility. The bareness is part of the shedding. Like the medications I have chosen to stop using. The need to reach the core of me. To be unafraid of being naked. To be just me. Only me. Bare and essential.

My passions are often best expressed through my writing as it allows me to reach my inner vortex.... thus long suppressed. Yet now it leaves me scratching my head, lost and fallen down a rabbit hole, knowing there was a wormhole that was awakened from its long dormant state and was finally revealed. And devoured. Yet I tread carefully because I was afraid. I should have been more cautious. You know in my life, I don't remember ever being openly challenged by anyone. Before. No one ever really saw me. Or bothered to.

I see it was better to remain in shadow. I don't think the real me is meant to be exposed. Which is why I keep my words mixed up with tools of literary metaphors. My codes. My shields. My best friends. I think my message may or may not be understood. It could be by chance the way I fell upon Bronte's words at just the right moment. Sometimes the most powerful influences that change the world are so subtle that they are almost invisible. I work my best undercover. I like my anonymity. It is my true power. Why? Because it has no motive. I think people mistrust a powerful force, they believe this force is trying to control them. They believe even the most benign of positive energies have ulterior motives. I have no motives. I think sometimes I am only on this mission as some kind of duty of humanity that I feel intrinsically within. I want no satisfaction from this. I try only to touch people and leave them better, but they seem to always …. suck me dry in the end.

So as I am aware that Zack may have an interest in me more than for the muse that I provide for his work, I have no choice but to stay closed. Because it is not even a choice. It is not even a decision to protect myself. It is that I have come away from life at this point more wise. Or world weary? Well, at this point, shouldn't that be?

I arrive at Zack's studio on this crisp beautiful day. It is sixty degrees outside in late October! So unheard of in Detroit. I don't know what his personal project involves, but when I go inside to his shop I hear him call from upstairs,

I'll be right down, we're going for a drive....”

In the past, I would be curious. Right now I am like stone. Yet light enough to blow with the wind. But the air is still today.

I walk around his shop. I look at his paintings. The ones leaning up on walls, I flip through, because I have caught glimpses by now of all the others. I am impressed with his depth of color and tone, studies of layered hues and depth, his awareness of light. I am drawn to the sensitivity of his eye. I feel strangely touched by his work. It reaches some place inside me. That place that has been recently harmed. It is like some kind of soothing balm to look at his art. And I go from one stack to another, pulled and drawn. Drawn.

It is awhile before I see he is standing in the doorway watching me. I wonder how long he has been standing there. Only, had it been anyone else, I'd have jumped. Because Dean was always doing that. He was always spying on me. Looming like a skulking presence.

I notice that when Zack watches me it is with the observation of an artist. He is waiting to see something candid revealed. Not to plunder though. He only wants to capture it and internalize it before he gives it back. He gives it back. He does not seem to take.

But they always start out that way, don't they? In the end, everyone takes.

He is standing there in shadow watching me. He wears his jeans and worn out boots. He wears a denim button down shirt left open over a burgundy henley. He has broad shoulders but he is boney so his clothes fall in drapes that becomes his frame. He is tall and I can tell by the ease that he walks that he is well muscled. I don't know his age. He has one of those ageless appearances. Like those people who have found peace within themselves and move through life with accepting grace.

Yes, I am aware that he is good looking. But, you see, I am so raw. I can only note this with detachment. I don't really care. If I wasn't so fresh from a gun-shot state, I know I would have liked him. But artists have always been my weakness. Their illusions wrap me up.

Why don't you pick one?” he asks me.
I don't at first get his meaning. But his head gestures towards the stack I am looking through.

He says,
you said you're moving. I'll give you one as a house warming gift. Pick one.”

I smile and move away from the stack I had been flipping through. I turn my back to him,
I.... couldn't. I know what you sell these for....”

He walks up behind me and takes out the last one I had been studying. The one I had been studying the longest. The colors are deep, ranging in alizerin crimson and yellow ochre. The textures are so warm. He pulls this one out and sets it on the counter,
I'll wrap it up when we get back. It would have been the one I would have picked out for you.”

I start to walk to the door and feel myself burning with some kind of awkward embarrassment,
you don't have to.... I feel bad taking it--” and quickly I change conversation, “where are we going?”

Autumn,” he answers as if this is an answer. His hand reaches above me to get the door, he holds it open.

I love men who hold open doors.

I step outside. It is a crisp day. The sun is so warm and the air has the slightest chill. We walk out to where our cars are parked and he leads me to his pickup. He opens the passenger side first and holds it open for me to get in.

I don't even care where we are going. I think anywhere is better than standing still. Lately, all I want to do is keep moving. I hate standing still. A part of me wishes that I could run and never stop running. As if I could escape.... but what I seek to escape is inside. Deep inside. And it chases me.

As he drives he explains,
this woman I have befriended since I have been in Detroit.... she an odd old lady. I'll tell you some other time how we met, but-- she has this farm. It's right around here. She just grows vegetables and she has chickens which she only uses for eggs. Anyway, she's visiting her sister in the U.P. She asked me to watch her place. She has cats. So we're going over there right now so I can fill up their bowls with water and food. But there is another reason....”

The odd thing about the Detroit metro area is how fast you end up on a dirt road. How you can go from the grit of graffiti straight into deer country in a matter of minutes. As we drive I listen to him talk and I watch the beauty of foliage that is so amazing about his part of the U.S. Autumn in full bloom. So to speak.

This reminds me,
what do you mean Autumn?” I ask.

He looks blankly at me from the windshield, I see he is also caught in the colors. I watch how the light and shading outside leaves impressions on his wavy hair. I never noticed how shiny his hair is and how the light hits the waves. His hair is a warm brown, thick and alive, like his skin. He has that healthy look of someone who spends a lot of time outside.

When I asked where we're going you said 'Autumn'” I remind him.

He smiles widely as he makes a turn,
we're here...”

Off a main street, hidden behind some trees is a tiny house that sits on a nice plot of land. There are trees everywhere. The gravel we walk on makes me stumble, so I slow my pace behind him and watch him walk up to the house. I watch him walk. He walks like a hiker. And suddenly I remember that part of me. How much I miss my hikes through wood and country.

I watch him feed the cats and change their water and then he holds the kitchen, back door open for me and gestures.

Once outside he says,
when I saw the weather report I knew we had to do this. This may be the last chance we have before the cold starts to come in with the leaves this perfect. It's warm enough and no one is around here. It's completely deserted.”

The ground is carpeted with fallen leaves. We crunch as we walk. The sound of cars have dissappered. You can hear the chickens only. But even they are faint.

Are you cold?” he asks now.

I am familiar with this question. I sense his meaning. I realize he has been holding a digital Nikon camera all this time. He is looking at the shaded tree with long limbs and the very thick trunk. The amazing textures of the trunk.

I take a deep breath and say what I realize he means,
out here?”

He smiles,
do you mind? It's private property. And it's for me, I'm not going to use this for the contract. It's for my gallery pieces. I realized that I have to capture your colors. And the lighting is great today. This is probably the last day to do this.”

I don't know why it should make a difference. Out of context, out of doors.... I can't help it. I hesitate.

Or we don't have to....” he says. “We can just sit here and enjoy the day. I brought a bottle of wine in the truck.”

I think the reason I don't want to is because I know that I can like him.

And I don't want to.

But we are here now. I feel bad. If I say no, I will have disappointed him. But I don't want to. And now I feel a brick weight in my stomach. Is it guilt? Or fear?

I throw myself down on the ground to sit. I do this because my knees are shaking. And it is so nice here. It makes me think of it being a good place to write in my journal.

I'll be right back.”

I hear him walk away.

So why do I think of Bran now?

I feel my eyes fill with tears. Why does it still hurt? I thought we got past the pain. Didn't we? We covered it up. We cut it out. He means nothing to me. I think I even hate him now. I hate him for making me love him. I hate him and his memory. I hate myself for still longing for him. For longing for his voice, his thoughts. I hate how much my sex still craves him deep inside me. How much I still long for his penis. How the very thought of orgasming again would kill me. Because it is his sex that I want inside me.

I know that I will hear Zack return, so I let the tears come. I cry as I sit there longing for Bran. My inner vortex, the worm hole that he awoke from a long deathlike sleep. I long to be Ophelia now.

So when I hear the sound of gravel approach I guard up. Smear away the tears and put on my facial shield. I hear him sit down next to me but I don't look. Can't trust myself. I hide behind my hair. The sound of a cork being pulled and then popped, then the pouring of its contents. He hands me a ceramic mug. It looks handmade. It is celestial blue with silver stars. His is green and gold. We drink silently.

Are you OK?” he asks me.

I don't look at him. I just reach my empty cup for him to fill.

And he fills it.

I drink most of it.

He says,
do you want to tell me about him?”

I say,

I'm a good listener,” he says.

I shake my head.

He says,
I'm sure that where ever he is right now he can't escape memories of you because you are all colors of Autumn. You have the warmest brown eyes I've ever seen and your hair reminds me of a red maple. That's why I wanted to do a study out here.”

I think it is this that makes me change my mind. Or the second cup of wine. I finish all of it. I feel the heat from it. I get up and undress.

I am drunk under a warm, autumn sky with the bright sun over my head. I am numb. So numb. It may be the alcohol. But no, I think it is my heart. I don't care. I don't care about anything. And I like it that way. I don't ever want to care about anything ever again.

He puts dried leaves all over my body. He places them between my legs, at my sex. He stretches out my arms and turns me like I am a doll. His hand runs down my arm and leg and he says,
I love how pale your skin is. The contrast of such bold color against that whiteness....”

But I don't care. I am down that wormhole. Devoured.

Electra's Dictionary; The Artist's Studio

The Artist's Studio

I read “Villette” and find strange connection in Charlotte Bronte's words:

....surely there cannot be error in making written language the medium of better utterance than faltering lips can achieve?”
Reason only answered, “At your peril you cherish that idea, or suffer its influence to animate any writing of yours!”
But if I feel, may I never express?”
Never!” declared Reason.
..the Reason, would not let me look up, or smile, or hope: she could not rest unless I were altogether crushed, cowed, broken-in, and broken-down. According to her, I was born only to work for a piece of bread, to await the pains of death, and steadily through all life to despond. Reason might be right; yet no wonder we are glad at times to defy her, to rush from under her rod and give truant hour to Imagination—her soft, bright foe, our sweet Help, our divine Hope. We shall and must break bounds at intervals, despite the terrible revenge that awaits our return. Reason is vindictive as a devil; for me, she was always envenomed as a stepmother....”

This particular passage comes to me on a night when my mind feels as if it is lost in a shipwreck and still battling a storm within. But it comes to me.... like a soft whisper from some kindred soul sister through time. As if she hears me call, the wail of the spirit. I picked the book up because I had left it unfinished, distracted by life for a long while and this was the next page I turn to after months of abandon. Abandon.

Only, you know, here I might add this like some kind of echo to Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci:

O damsels, beware of knights in shining armor

Sand castles wash away
when the tide rushes in....

Only how strange life really is. Neatly, my life has taken on some familiar shape; a semblance of order for the first time in so long. I am finally free of all emotional ties. And there is liberation in this.

But, you see, there is also the cost.

I have made peace with Dean. We move on. He is still in recovery. We part friends. I wish him no ill and feel a kindness for him. And yes, even caring. Even love. You see, the Demeter in me is strong. I am akin to Mother Earth, it has always been this way with me to need to love and give and nurture, tend the cabbage garden, prone the roses and mother. It is how I love. I think it is because of something I never had, so I feel a natural urge to produce this to fulfill a need.

It also keeps the rest away. It keeps the shields in place. There is no real danger in that kind of giving, you see. It is safe. The feeling of providing for others, this need fills some void.

I don't think of Bran anymore. I think I have achieved exorcism of him from my soul. But there is a cost, as I have said.

It feels that I have turned cold inside. I can locate my emotions but they seem to be from another me. A discarded me. I think that I have lost my ability to feel passion. It only now exists in my mind.

I move into the new place in a few weeks. So I pack up my life. I pack up Dean's life too. I have to stop often because of physical pain. The inflammation returns with stress. But it is actually more manageable now. Isn't it odd, how being void of passion and that kind of emotion that is attached to it allows me the freedom to escape the torment of this torture that willfully visits my body? It is because I have remembered how to go back to inner peace. I had allowed myself to be pulled into and then apart by forces out of my control. I don't think I will ever do that again. I realize now.... all I really want now is solitude. I want to be alone. I don't want to ever let anyone in. Never, ever again. I see now that I am happier this way.

I go to Zackery's studio. I see the way he looks at me. And this is what I mean by the cost. I think that other me would have fallen under this influence. But the one it has been replaced by seems to only watch from outside. I think this is part of the reason why I stopped being shy of my body. After recent medical check ups, my body too feels removed from me, like my passion. So after the first time when I let him take off my clothes and I lay there on his ad hock still life as a prop, tipsy on sherry.... it got easier the next time.

I let myself go somewhere else. It is a test. Just like those machines they put you in at MRI's. You hear the banging, the maddening, intolerable invasion as it permeates your brain. You have to hold on or scream. But you can't scream. You want to kick and get out of there, but you can't because then you will just have to do it all over again. So you think of Zen masters, you think of victims of torture who escape through their mind. So you go. It is not easy because you still hear the banging and you still feel your heart pounding and the fears and the walls closing in, but you fight the fear with each held breath that proves …. I am strong. I am strong.

It is weird to lay naked, exposed to this stranger. In the past I have been asked to be an artist's model and I have always turned this down. I would almost compare it to some kind of hallucinogenic because it feels like an altered state. I broke my last taboo. My last level of shame. And it freed a part of me. I don't even care what this artist sees. All my personal insecurities of my body lay exposed to his eyes while I lay there. He turns me this way.... I avoid his eyes. I keep it impersonal.

I calculate that I will be able to afford the path I am now heading to. You know, they do say that things come to you if you ask the universe for it. I never believed it. Maybe it was because in the past I would never have done anything like this. Lately, it seems I am doing things I never would have done.... I think of Lou Reed singing, Take a walk on the wild side.... maybe because it was playing the last time in the artist's studio.

And it is strange too how there is safety even there too. A safe intimacy between us. He keeps his space. He does not invade. He works usually silently. Sometimes he asks me things. Casual. He says,

are you cold?”

I say,

He says,
when you close your eyes, what do you think of as you lay there?”

I say,
I go somewhere else.”

He says,
it looks like a nice place.”

I think his accent is Chicago. Or California. He's lived in both places. The few conversations I have had with him so far has revealed to me that he lived for awhile in France. He is only living in Detroit temporarily. He is under contract. He is being commissioned to produce work for the next year or so for an architecture firm. They are using his paintings for the walls of billion dollar homes. After this he will move on. He doesn't say where he's going.

He lives above the studio. When you walk up to the building you can see the windows from outside. It looks like some kind of loft. He drives a pickup truck that always has stretcher bars and rolls of canvas laying across the bed along with buckets of gesso. It takes me back to the days when I worked at an art warehouse, hauling those things from skids or laying them across skids, shrink wrapping them. Getting splinters on my hands from the unfinished wood and bruises on my shins when I fell off the stacking units. Just like the smell of oils and linseed. I think that is why I feel safe when I am there. It feels like home. This is also when my mother was most happy, when the house had peace.

So I lay there and I go somewhere else. And the smell of patchouli blends with linseed oil and the sound of Zackery's voice as he instructs me to move. The touch of his hand on mine as he opens my fingers to lay them as he will. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

the rise of the Phoenix and the revival of the goddess

Re-engaging back into real life

….. finds me moving robotic, on automatic pilot. I waited first three days in Amsterdam. There was no message from Bran. I began to pack. To plan. It was like a life long habit of combat training. I know this drill well. I move in motion. Select each item from each room, and then, put away. I know this from years of training which began so long ago. Should I be grateful that I know how to be so thus detached? This is a question I am only willing to ask rhetorically because I don't care for the answer.

I am a realistic person. I have only been under some illusion. It is time to re-engage into the hard core outlines of what is plainly reality. So I pack. I make travel arrangements. And it is so easy how the mind takes over when the emotions have been finally set aside.

I knew this could not go on forever. Had always secretly known. I knew it was a dream. And all too good to be true. Anything that feels too good to be true.... essentially is. For awhile we do delude ourselves. The fantasy can be so intoxicating. So convincing. It seems to feed off of a charge within some deep personal infantile need. Which always turns out to be not only dangerous, but your enemy.

It is strange about time. How it seems to go so fast or slow according to anticipation or dread. Im not sure which I was feeling on that flight back over the Atlantic. In some ways I think I was never there. My mind had become some void. I existed only existentially in a state of out of body contemplation of meaning. Each time an emotion arose, I erased it. I focused on the clouds outside. I threw myself into some desperate place of heavenly escape.

That flight is a blur. I was awake over twenty-four hours. It put me into a state of more emotional detachment. I found where to go, I went, I found a taxi and I sat in the back seat watching the cold of an overcast sky welcome me home to Detroit.

From messages of Jamie, I knew Dean would not be there. I knew he was in rehab. He had signed himself in to detox from God knows what. So when I entered the building of our apartment, I did expect it to be in shambles but otherwise empty.

I saw a note posted to the apartment door of eviction. I took it down and without any compassion shut the door behind me. There was no power. I gathered our electric bill was never paid. So I found my way to where I always kept the tapered candles and matches. Lit one. I read the eviction notice. By some miracle, I did discover my phone had some power left and dialed the landlord. I knew there was enough money in my account to pay for the balance owed. He took my payment. Then I tried the electric company. They asked me to come in person. It was just after noon now and I was going on no sleep, but I got in my car and drove there. I paid the balance of the electric bill then drove home.

The smell of rotted food in the refrigerator forced me into action. I emptied all contents within and took the garbage out.

That was day one of my return.

The next week found me rebuilding some order to life. I threw myself into making up time with Jamie. I spent hours of time ignoring my thoughts and welcoming her stories of what I had missed during the time I had been in Amsterdam. When she asked me about Bran, I was evasive. I say,
“I need to think. I want to get my priorities in order....”

Of course, Jamie's father is glad I am back and willing to take her off his hands. So one week and then two are absorbed in life revolving around Jamie. Only this is a balm to my senses. I feel I have been too long away and she defines the core of some essential part of me. My Demeter. Demeter who is the more evolved of the goddess in me. More evolved than Electra. Electra who has to be cast off, perhaps. Like Agamemnon, she must be buried. It is time to be the metaphoric crone. I am come too far to be naive, it is time to acknowledge the wisdom I have earned.

Week three....

I discover a listing requesting a model of my description. My age and height, my general weight. I discover this on an art site that I visit on a whim. Why do I visit it? I don't know. I do not know. It is at some art center but I do not answer the ad. It just stays in my head. I just think about it and scoff it off. And now suddenly there is too much time alone. Jamie's father has requested her back at his domain, so now I am faced with the ghosts of my exiled married life. It drives me crazy. These walls.... I must leave. They seem to cave in on me.

I look on Craig's list for another apartment to rent. I find three that seem good. I arrange to visit them all. So I spend a day going from one to the next, allowing the hours to eat up my time because I have nothing else anyway. There has been not a single message from Bran. Even as I try to avoid checking. I check. I check to see if other messages are there really and I dread checking because each time I have to go to my emails I get a stomach ache that makes me get up to vomit. So by now I have become so thin. Whatever I eat I don't keep down.

I would not say that I am sad. I am not. I am not even depressed. I simply am. I feel nothing at all. There is no resentment. There is no more pain even left. I am empty.

As I drive on Woodward Avenue from my last apartment search I discover the building from the advertisement I saw for a model. I stop, pull in. it is an impulse. I decide to look around at the artist's studio.

The place is empty when I go inside. I see paintings everywhere. Some leaning on walls, some hung. I walk through the gallery which smells of linseed oil. There is a grimy sort of soot under my boots as I walk around. My boots make scraping noises. I think this is what alerts the artist to knowing someone is there.

When he comes out I see a tall man. He has longish, brown wavy hair. It reaches his shoulders. His clothes are casual, covered in paint. He wears jeans with a baggy flannel shirt. He is lanky with broad sholders and has scruff, not quite a beard on his face. There is something appealing about his face. He has that thoughtful, artistic look in his eyes. I cannot tell their color, the shadows are too heavy, but I see the angles of his face, the grooves below his cheekbones, and I notice his long artistic fingers that are covered in paint.

“Are you here about the model position?” he asks me.

I watch as his eyes run quickly over me. Internally, I do mental inventory on my attire. Nothing fancy, I only wear faded blue jeans and worn out boots, an old black sweater under a very beat looking coat.

“I'm not sure why I'm here--” I cover my awkwardness with a stiff laugh.

“You are the first person I have seen who is what I am looking for. Did you see my ad?”

“Yes. But that wasn't really why I came,” I tell him.

He has one of those accents that is not really an accent. All accents. I sense he has traveled a lot. I see him wipe his hands on his paint splattered jeans and with a wave of welcome, invites me to come into his studio that is behind the doorway, past the front counter.

I don't know why, but I go. I follow him.

I am seduced by the heavy scent of oil paint. It makes me light headed, but I find this is the nutrition that I crave, so I trust it. He guides me silently past his recent works. I like his colors. I like his textures. He says,
“my name is Zackery Thompson.....” he holds out his hand to shake.

“Beth,” I say.

He stares into my eyes. So now I see that they are that strange color between blues and greens, neither or both, heavily lashed with dark brown long eye lashes that lend even more shade to his eyes. He smiles slightly at me with a kind and awkwardly gentlemanly gesture to take my coat. Because he stares into my eyes, I let him. He hangs it from a hook on the wall. He walks around me. Surveys me. I watch him walk over to a small platform where there is a still life of a bowl of fruit set on a pedestal that I see he is replicating onto the canvas perched on the easel. There is a chaise lounge beside the pedistal draped in a deep burgundy velvet. He studies me.

“I pay a hundred dollars an hour.”

I laugh. I think he is kidding. I'm not sure what to respond. And I feel my face burn, so I know that I am blushing shamefully. I take a step back. I feel his eyes still on me. He is studying me.

“For you I would pay two hundred,” he suddenly says.

This is when I begin to realize he is serious. I watch him go to his wallet and remove a wad of bills. He hands them to me,

Only I just look at the money outstretched in his hand. I feel stunned. Shocked. I wonder if I should be insulted. But I think I am past that emotion right now. I think about the apartment I have just seen and consider the need to move on with my life. I feel so numb. I feel lost and empty. Two hundred dollars closer to beginning again. But to what end?

Only, who cares? Do I care? One has to start somewhere.

He walks over to me and steps within my space. He touches my hair. It is a caress. He smells like pathcouli. Then with familiarity, he opens my purse that hands from across my shoulders. He places the money inside and then removes my bag from me. I watch him hang it up on the hook next to my coat.

He says,
“take off off your clothes and come lay over here....” and points to the chaise lounge prompted on the platform. Only I stand there immobilized.

I watch him drag a space heater close and turn it on. He comes over and begins to undress me. He pulls the sweater over my head, then my removes my boots and jeans. His hands are decisive and gentle. They are warm when he leads me to the chaise lounge. He positions me as if I am a doll and studies my face. He angles it towards the light.

“There,” he says, “just like that.... what kind of music do you like?”

My mind is blank. All I can think to say is,

He turns on some music and returns with a glass of wine,
“drink this, it will help you to be less self conscious.”

Only it is not wine. It is sherry. And much stronger than I had expected. And I do forget to be self conscious. Instead I listen to the music and find I am not there at all.