Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Donne said that no man is an island

Recently a friend wrote this sentence in an email to me: "I used to be a HUGE oversharer before social media was a thing." I thought about social media. Lots of people just put up pictures of their vacations / parties / marriages / children at their finest moments and call it a day. I actually know of numerous people who have deactivated their Facebook accounts b/c the competition got to be too much. They feel like everyone else is saying, I have the best vacation, the best husband/wife, the best baby. With the implication of, and you don't. I got the feeling that this friend who emailed me feels like sharing their life, in all of its dimensions, is frowned upon.

I have a problem with the term "oversharing." Also, the word "needy." "Oversharing" assumes that no one wants to hear your personal stuff, that it's impolite or socially wrong to share your personal stuff, that we should all walk around projecting only positivity and the more shallower dimensions of our lives.

Everything looks shiny; no one allegedly has to feel anything except YAY YAY YAY.

When really, I think it's a continuum. At my old job, I sure as hell would not share personal things with certain people. Especially administration. Most jobs are like that. But I think it's okay to share things with people who are your friends or close colleagues. Because what the heck are friends for if you can't be there for each other during the positive *and* negative times?

My friends are some of the best people ever because they have listened empathetically to me and really been there for me, especially over the past year-and-some-months, when things happened with my mom. Or they have distracted me with wonderful things like coffee and Indian food and visits and children and simply the beauty of their presence. I never feel judged by them. And I in turn feel special and honored when they come to me with important emotional things. Like: wow, they trusted me enough to ask me to listen. I feel capable and strong when I can support them.

The word "needy"gets kicked around a lot, just like "over-sharing." "Needy" pathologizes the idea of interdependence. As a culture, we live under this delusion of self-sufficiency, like that's the ultimate thing to strive for. It's very American. Or United-States-ian, I should say. But when you dissect it, the idea of INdependence is fundamentally impossible unless you decide to become a hermit on top of a mountain. And then what happens if you break your leg or need to go into town for food?

Each in their various ways, my mom and dad raised me to believe that self-sufficiency was the ideal. In  reality, they were not self-sufficient, but I was raised to believe that I should strive to be. I think they thought they were doing me a service. This created a schism in my thinking which still continues. On one hand, I feel the old emotional pull: do it yourself at all costs. Appear strong at all costs. If you can't, that's bad. Other people will take advantage of you OR You're weak. Incapable. Less-than-adequate

On the other hand, I know my reality, and I try really hard not to judge myself for it. Ahem, I'm not saying I succeed in being nonjudgmental, but I try. Yeah, sometimes I need. Everybody needs. And sometimes I NEED. And everyone in their life goes through a period of that NEED too, whether they admit it or not.

I think about need, and sharing, and interdependence also as it applies to teaching. I think about it a LOT. When I went through teacher training in grad school (ages ago… yikes!) I was taught that students are people, that learning is collaborative (students learn from the teacher, students learn from each other, the teacher learns from the students), that each student will have a different learning style, that it's okay to be honest with your students when you don't know the answer, that it's okay to be vulnerable and to expect (and accept) your students' vulnerabilities.

Then… I taught at a certain place for awhile and it really made an impression on me. The culture was rather the opposite of the way I'd learned to teach. Not necessarily through word but through example, the ideal classroom was presented as: the teacher makes the rules, the students follow the rules, the students get punished if they don't follow the rules, each student is an information bucket into which you deposit key skills, and then they somehow translate those skills into a well- or poorly- written paper and then you grade them. Nobody needs to be feeling their feelings all over the place b/c there's no room for that in the syllabus.

I really tried to be that latter teacher and I did not do well being that teacher, and it burned me out. I had colleagues who taught at that place, and still do, who somehow managed to be a combination of the former teacher and the latter teacher. Or colleagues who were so untouchable (some concept called tenure of which I know not) that they could be the former teacher and the administration could go… fly a kite.

If anywhere I thought I could succeed as the former type of teacher, it would be in the teaching of writing. Whether you are writing poetry or a thesis-based argument, the idea of empathy is important. The ability to accept  and not vilify emotions is important.

Now that I'm feeling a lot better, I'm going to start revising / submitting my own work again in January. I'm also thinking about teaching (as a concept), because I really miss it. But, especially given my geographic limitations, I don't know where the right place is for me, if any.

Monday, November 11, 2013

20 things : Positivity

So for those of you who read my blog and think that I've fallen into an abyss of morbid reflection... you may be right. However, DBT is all about the "and." Simultaneously acting on behalf of your recovery while accumulating and acknowledging positive experiences. I wanted to make this entry b/c I need you to know, and to remind myself as well, that there are positive things in my life. These are in no particular order.

1. I helped Mike re-jigger his office set-up in the apartment last weekend, which involved the purchasing of a desk, the disassembling of another desk. I felt... well... helpful and not burdensome. It was a really REALLY good feeling. And the new set-up, although it will not be complete until December, is already looking smashing. It unblocks some energy in the apartment, allowing for new openness and flow.

2. I've taken advantage of National Novel Writing Month to write a poem a day. The official NaPoWriMo isn't until April, but I wanted a project for November to push through my writer's block. In regards to beginning a draft, Stacey Waite said "writing ain't no thing." Because all my emotions have been so weighty lately, it's bled into my attitude about writing as well. Every possibility becomes too heavy, too important. When you write a poem a day, they just can't all be important. So far it's working out well. I'm eleven poems in.

3. Autumn: the colors, scents, tastes, sounds... except the sound of leaf blowers. Use a rake, dammit.

4. I lost a lot of weight and thus dropped some sizes. I went from a size 12 to a size 6 or 8. Probably I'll opt for 8 because I like things to not be too tight. I like jeans better now. So I bought myself some pairs of jeans. The losing weight did not make me happy or sad --I did not intend to lose the weight. But I'm trying to keep it off. The reason this qualifies for Positivity is the jeans. Jeans are nice sometimes.You can just put them on. I forgot. (for those of you who don't know me IRL, I wear dresses and skirts).

5. I've been making a lot of progress in my healing process. I don't really want to talk about it right now though. But I can notice the progress, which gives me hope for the future.

6. I've had the fleeting desire that it's time to consider making a plan to go back to teaching.

7. I like Thanksgiving and Christmas. And my birthday. They all take place in November and December. It's like bathing one's brain in mulled cider to make January and February go down more smoothly. Not saying it works 100%. But I'll deal with January when it happens.

8. Friends. They are good to me. I value them like family. I love them. I need them. They mean more to me than words can say. 

9. Shutterdown <<< this is a friend's project. It's also the music of dream alchemy. You should click / listen / support.

10. I made soup for the first time this year. It's possible that I made soup for the first time in two years, because I may not have made soup at all last year. Now I have a lot of soup. Chicken soup anyone?

11. The art community at Polyvore. This site may look commercial and material on the outside but once you peel back the layers you find many amazing sub-communities of collage artists.It's not actually all about clothes.

12. Our apartment keeps getting cuter as we make improvements to its layout and decor. I'm tentatively planning a crepe party for my birthday. Like, I make crepes and everyone brings a topping and then there's a lot of eating and celebration.

13. It's a year since I started IOP and I can notice how much better I am. I'm listing this one separately from #5. [It's my blog and I can list stuff how I want to.] It's just that... at the time, I didn't / couldn't see ANY way that my life could get better. It was all raw emotion. There are still days when I take life in hourly chunks. Sometimes minute-ly chunks. But that is okay.

14. I've gotten back into yoga. Yoga is good.

15. I can read stuff again. You might not know this b/c I've kept it quiet, but a year ago my concentration was so bad I could barely watch a half-hour sitcom without getting restless and amped up. I wasn't able to read a magazine, much less poetry. Reading poetry made me cry. It reminded me of how much I [thought that I had] lost in a short period of time. But last week I read a fucking essay on poetic theory by Lyn Hejinian, and it made sense to me --relatively speaking-- the argument was not very accessible. So yay for the restoration of cognitive function. Therapist N said it would come back.

16. I had both kitties with me on the couch the other day. 

17. I've managed to not fall off the DBT wagon, and my last IOP stint ended in early August.

18. My hair came out this really unexpected, pretty color the last time I dyed it. 

19. I've made the decision that in January, I'm going to start again to send work out on a schedule. Last January I was not ready. I'm taking it slow this time. Planning two months ahead. I'm excited that my psyche has / will have mended to the point where I can actually consider a work schedule again and not just make stabs at it and beat myself up when I don't fulfill my expectations. Even though January 2013 did not work out so well, the month of January has momentum. I broke away from university and started my full-time devotion to writing in January 2012. It feels like longer. Can you believe I only got seven months into my one-year [ha!] sabbatical when my mom did what she did? I was at the top of my game. It was like being smacked down by a force of nature. 

20. My dad and Pam said they were gonna come to Pittsburgh and visit me. Maybe it will be near my birthday. I really miss my folks and although they can probably only do 48 hours, it will still be good to see them.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

20 things : Radical acceptance is going to drive me more crazy rather than make me more serene

1. I was riding the bus home (of course?). The second leg of the ultra-annoying-because-it's-cold-and-two-buses-early-morning-Tuesday-yoga commute. 

2. I felt rather centered. 

3. Plus, I'd been in terrible pain all yesterday evening and this morning. We did some serious shoulder stretching that actually relieved it.  

4. As we lurched along, I reflected on my progress of late and thought I've been doing pretty goodI have been SLOWLY desensitizing myself to the World of People.

5. In order to get better, I have been doing these things, in order: therapy, meeting friends, poetry stuff, and yoga. Every week. And it's still challenging to get most of them to happen --everything except meeting friends.

6. But I'm starting to feel good because it's less challenging now. Thought I'm frustrated with the crawling pace, I'm also starting to be more okay with that too. 

7. So I'm contemplating these thoughts, and I go to get off the bus. 

8. As I'm walking up the aisle, I let go of a pole too soon, the driver slams on the brakes, I severely unbalance and run into a crowd of old people waiting to get off at the front.

9. I could feel myself fall forward, try to stop myself, know I'm going to hit them. I'm helpless in my momentum.

10. I hit them.

11. I rain a hail of apologies on them. Not just like sorry but SorrySorrySorrySorrySorry! 

12. This old man turns to me and gives me the look of death. Like, "you're nothing." Like, "I curse you and your future generations." And then slowly looks away.

13. The bus doors open. They get off and proceed to the intersection. 

14. I stay farther up the street and have a panic attack. 

15. Finally I make my way to my apartment, barely able to keep it together.

16. During my, um, surrendering process, this thought occurred to me: what would it be like for me to be able to forgive myself? Especially for stupid shit. Stuff I can't help. Stuff that's an accident.

17. I monitor my every move. I'm choreographing all the time. I rarely stop being self conscious. 

18. Monitoring and choreographing is a life-long trait. That is not a Jill-had-a-setback-after-her-mom thing. The self-loathing I feel when I slip up is also perpetual. Post-mom-suicide, the amplitude is higher.

19. But, you know, what if it weren't? What if I could somehow stop hating myself so viciously? [I can't believe I'm blogging this to the entire goddamn internet. Well, theoretically.]

20. I see no concrete way forward to this goal. It's like saying I'm going to build a rocket from recycled cereal boxes and shoot myself to the moon.

Here's a photo:

Choose Life

Friday, September 20, 2013

20 things : the group

1. I feel such a sense of relief, having experienced the first iteration of the Survivors of Suicide support group last night.

2. I was worried that the group was only going to be heavy, crushing, scary, and not show its helpful aspects immediately.

3. I want to give an indication of my experiences without breaking the confidentiality of others... so no details about other group members. Which means that I probably won't blog about the group much other than this first week.

4. I feel I owe it to those who were extremely concerned after my last blog entry to show that I am feeling somewhat better. I feel guilty about making others extremely concerned. I don't think the last blog entry was particularly extreme, considering all I've written about. Joanna's voice echoes in my head right now we are not responsible for other people's feelings. We are responsible for our own feelings.

5. But sometimes, with loved ones, the boundaries blur. About who is responsible for what. So I write this entry, in part, because of that. To reassure others, and to assuage my own guilt.

6. I mostly want to talk about the philosophies of the group leader regarding suicide. To me they are unusual and comforting at the same time.

7. She believes that suicide is not, in fact, preventable. She has research to show that with or without psychiatric treatment, the suicide rates remain the same.

8. She believes that suicide is its own illness, a  massive failure of the frontal lobes' executive function--separate from depression, bipolar disorder, and so forth.

9. She believes that the idea that is prevalent in society "suicide is preventable" leaves the survivors with a huge amount of guilt over what they could have, should have done to save their loved ones.

10. This idea is, in one way, immensely comforting to me --because I am still obsessed with what I should have done to help my mom. If only I had been more aggressive about talking to her doctors. If only I had taken charge and flown her up to Pittsburgh.

11. You see, I'd had this idea that at some point, I would have to move her up here and take more of an active role in her life, sorting out her myriad problems for her. Because her decision making skills had been going downhill for decades, plural. Talk about failure of executive function.

12. But we could never have lived together, ever. Because of how toxic our relationship was when we were that proximal. It was not good for me.

13. I had been trying for years--half my life--trying to and succeeding in repairing the damage that --to be frank --she either caused or set me up for.

14. So I had been putting it off --offering to move her to Pittsburgh --b/c I knew it would cost a lot of money to set her up and she has none. I also knew that much of the time it would be like taking care of a child. And I also knew that the relationship had the potential to quickly turn into me = caregiver and she = a mean, combative, even at times violent child.

15. And I've been struggling with this idea of I PUT IT OFF FOR ME ME ME. And so I let her die. I chose me over her.

16. Ironically, I wonder if my relatives in Georgia thought they were doing the same thing when they moved her down there. Like they could swoop in and fix a truly unfixable situation.

17. My mother had a real talent for inspiring this kind of We Will Save the Day kind of help... and then TOTALLY resisting 99% of the help. It. Was. Truly. Maddening.

18. The DBT version of helping me with my survivor's guilt is : waterfall. I may have blogged about this before. Joanna asked me one day to come up with an image that would snap me out of the rumination (dwelling-on) trajectory that I've just described.  I came up with waterfall. Not because it was a beautiful example of mother nature's creation... but because it was beguiling yet destructive. If you stand under Niagara, you will be crushed. The water surges forward under its own power, cutting a channel into the rock because that's what it does. You are just a brittle bag of bones compared to the power of the waterfall.

19. According to our SoS group leader, my mom's brain slowly stopped being able to make the decisions necessary to keep her alive. Complex decisions, but also decisions that we all take for granted. It is a radical idea. However, I'm considering it. Not only do I want to believe it because it lessens my guilt, but it also makes so much damn sense when I look at the course of her life over the past twenty years. If you think about it, it actually connects to waterfall. Well, okay, it does for me.

20. So that's what I got from my first week of group. I'm glad there are only 20 things. It tells me when I can stop writing. B/c I'm exhausted now. Whew. Time to hop in the shower and start my day!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

20 things : what to do with the dead

1. My mom's death day (like the opposite of birthday) is coming up on Saturday.
2. I am looking for distractions.
3. The first person whom I asked an opinion about distractions said that I should think how I can memorialize or honor her instead.
4. I don't know if I'm ready to do that.
5. Maybe I will take her ashes out of seclusion and find a place in the house for them.
6. On Thursday, that is TOMORROW, I am joining a support group called Survivors of Suicide. It is the first session.
7. I am grateful for this opportunity to talk about what happened, because I don't really talk about it with anyone, except Mike or therapist N sometimes.
8. Not with friends, certainly not with family.
9. I don't know how to begin the conversation or what I would say.
10. I do envy other people's ability to talk about the dead.
11. Perhaps I am imagining this ability.
12. I think the not-talking-about-it has kept me corralled in a certain area of my mind, so to speak.
13. I don't even feel comfortable blogging about it.
14. Like : that time has passed. Like : no one wants to read that.
15. My favorite cactus died last week.
16. I couldn't tell if it was b/c of over- or under-watering.
17. I think it was under- but the internet says to under-water a cactus is much less common than overwatering. I conducted obsessive internet research but found no good answer.
18. I wanted to conduct an autopsy, but instead I had Mike take it out to the faraway trash, pot and all. I couldn't bear it.
19. My anxiety and OCD started to get so extreme on Tuesday that I only went out of the house to take down the used cat litter, and that made me so paranoid I was hyperventilating by the time I got back. 20. This morning I have already predicted my own death in five ways. The OCD is an unwelcome divination.

EDIT: After having gotten some unexpected responses to this entry, I want to clarify #20. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder leads the individual to have compulsive, uncontrollable thoughts--obsessions. It is common for those thoughts to be troubling, even violent, in their content. The person with OCD deals with the stress elicited by those thoughts by acting out compulsions or tics. Stereotypical compulsions would be hand-washing, checking 20 times to see if one has locked the door, etc. My OCD is torturing me with death thoughts this week b/c of the anniversary and b/c I am joining the support group. It does not mean I am acting violently toward myself or anyone else. Deep breaths.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Water and No Water

When I was a kid living in rural eastern PA, we had a well. As a child, I didn't really understand the mechanism of the well, just that it was underground and through a series of pumps and pipes, provided all the water for our house. I think it may have also required electricity to run. Which means that when the power went out, so did the water. 

I remember the feeling of panic that took hold of me whenever the power went out or there was a mechanical problem with the well. The panic was connected to the sudden scarcity of something I took for granted. Bear in mind too, that for someone with OCD--which I've had it since I can remember--it's important to keep clean. No water for going to the toilet, no water for washing hands, no water for taking a shower. Frightening brown sediment would rise up into the toilets and sometimes the sinks. I didn't know when the water would come back on, only that the forces were completely beyond my control. 

I can hear Joanna-therapy-voice interject here: sometimes a child is just born sensitive.

One time I remember my panic was overwhelming, and my mom tried to distract me by reading a book about horses together. A love of horses was one thing we had in common. This book had all different breeds of horses in it, their historical origins and the countries they came from accompanied with fantastic illustrations. I remember Lipizzan horses capable of astounding grace, stocky Clydesdales, tall and rangy Tennessee Walking Horses, Arabians with their unusual concave faces... although the panic never went away,  the stories slowly replaced it in the forefront of my mind.

[I wonder what my parents thought about my panic. I wasn't diagnosed with OCD until I was 18 and certainly neither of my parents knew what it was before then. What did they think of my strange tics and ongoing anxieties that rarely seemed to ease up?]

* * * 

This morning when I was in the shower, suddenly the hot water cut out and there was just this unmitigated torrent of cold water sluicing down on me. This can happen in apartment living of course... one just has to shimmy to a corner of the tub that is mostly out of the shower stream and wait it out... but this torrent went on and on... finally I dove in and turned off the water entirely. I turned just the hot spigot back on. Nothing. Somewhere a pipe knocked dully. 

Perhaps in response to my stream of compound-complex swear words, Mike asked if I was okay. I imagined the cold shower causing all my muscles to seize up and the fibro ache lasting the whole day. I requested a washcloth so that I could rinse off from the tub faucet and not the shower. 

When I turned the cold water spigot back on though, there was no water coming out of there either. More distant knocking of pipes. I had the feeling there was no water anywhere nearby, although Mike said there was still some coming out of the kitchen sink--probably what was left in the lines. He brought me a bowl of water.

We called the management office and they said that maintenance had to shut off the water for "an emergency repair downstairs" and they didn't know when it would be back on.

* * * 

No Water changed The Plan. 

Regarding The Plan: have I mentioned my recent strategy to tamp down my constant panic with structure? I visualize each of my days as a box. Each day has A Plan. As The Plan is executed, I picture little colored strata start to fill the box. At the end of the day I have made it through. The box is filled. 

Where did I get this visual? I think there was a video game in the eighties involving colored lines slowly filling in or draining out. If anyone knows, leave it in the comments. 

So I have this strategy, but I'm not great with changes in The Plan. For today, The Plan was housecleaning in the morning, vacuuming, washing and wiping, doing the catboxes, in the meantime having loads of laundry going on the second floor. Additionally, I told myself had to rock today's Plan, because I was practically useless yesterday: semi-functional in the morning but in the afternoon and evening, tearful and trapped in a pit of self-judgment.

Last night in the middle of hysterical sobbing I thought look at my fucking life now --my mother did this to me. One last strike so we could both go down together. These thoughts are pretty close to my worst thoughts: the fear spiral that leads to places too dark to blog about.

How strange that she could be so kind one day, so unmerciful another. I mean it: how strange. I thought it was strange at eight. At thirty-eight my mind still can't get around it.

I think of that eight year old girl, vulnerable and not in control of her world, trying to provide structure with rituals, which came along with horrible tics. Today, I lost my shit when the water went off. 

* * *

When I taught at University, I shepherded my students through a campus lockdown because there was a shooter on the grounds. There were three incidences of gun crime at this school during the six years I taught there. This never kept me from going to work. 

If you would have asked me, I'd have said yes, it's scary, but there's nothing I can do about it. The people who are in charge of doing something about it are doing something about it.

Fast forward 2.5 years and I'm totally couchlocked, blogging about waters and wells and horses and my child-self because I can't even execute PART of today's Plan. See, it has to go a Certain Way, follow a certain procedure and it can't with no water and... and... I feel like eight-year-old-me.

All I can do is deep-breathe and say it's scary, but there's nothing I can do about it. The people who are in charge of doing something about it are doing something about it. But I can't get off the couch.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

20 things : Opposite Action ftw / wtf

1. So, opposite action is a DBT concept wherein, even (or especially) if all one's emotions are screaming that one does a behavior that isn't helpful, one does the opposite behavior.

2. I realize that if you are reading this and have never worked a recovery program with behavioral elements, it may sound like I'm in a cult or something. For those of you who have known me since 1995 or so, you know this therapy has helped me greatly before, and now it's helping me rebuild again after what happened last year.

3. For some reason my immediate grief response was extreme social anxiety, bordering on agoraphobia. In general, the action-urge for anxiety is to avoid the thing that makes me anxious.

4. [Note that avoiding was a useful and protective device at a certain point in human evolution. Is that a saber toothed tiger waiting for me in the brush? I'd better hide until it passes by.]

5. People make me anxious. Thus, 99.875% of them I would rather avoid.

6. But then I'd never leave my house. Which is sort of what happened in April when I had that relapse bit.

7. Needless to say, never leaving the house would end up with me bitter, angry, ever more phobic, and possibly dead before my time b/c isolation leads to the Circling Thoughts.


8. Exposure therapy is a thing they do for OCD and phobias. For example, if a person is deathly afraid of dogs, she might start out looking at pictures or videos of dogs, then move to, I dunno, five minutes of a dog on a leash in the same room with her... And end up where she can pet the dog or have it lick her hand and such.

9. The idea is that the patient participates in increasing levels of exposure. She sits with the frightening experience until her fear comes down. Allegedly, her brain can't maintain a fear response with the volume cranked to 11 for an extended period of time. When her brain processes the fact that nothing bad is happening as she looks at the video of the dog, the anxiety will "naturally" start to abate.

10. Although I've had OCD all my life, I had never done an exposure before starting my second round of DBT in 2012. Honestly, I was a cognitive-behavioral therapy hater for a long time because of one bad experience when I was a teenager.

11. I don't want to overdramatize, but every time I go outside, it's basically an exposure.

12. When contemplating the recent (about two weeks ago now) ending of intensive outpatient treatment, I wrote in my therapy journal my continuing recovery just seems like a lot of self punishment, with much alone time and extensive amounts of exposures. Basically, at my worst, I don't want to be with others, nor do I want to be with myself.

13. My prediction has panned out, sort of. But I haven't launched myself into the downward spiral of fear that indicates I am at my worst. I'm managing to mitigate the alone time pretty successfully, but it's challenging. The exposures continue to feel like sandpaper scraping a fresh wound.


14. When I interact with most people, I just don't feel like I'm behaving humanly...  I'm frantically searching for what a human says, how a human moves in the space of the world. And when I get it right, my internal response is somewhere between whew that was close and I've Accomplished Something.

15. When I (feel like I) get it wrong, my breath stops and my head starts spinning. And I want to be home immediately.

16. Home is usually far away. But not as far away as it was when we lived on the south side.

17. Although it is painful, I can see the ways in which my anxiety is coming down. I'm more spontaneous. More talkative. More gracious to others and also (er, sometimes) to myself.

18. I even went to the coffee shop to write yesterday. That was impossible... basically up until the time it was possible. I didn't know if it was gonna work, but Mike suggested starting out with prompts and exercises instead of a blank screen / sheet of paper and that was super-helpful.

19. The thing I have to fight against, or as my DBT therapist would say gently push away, is my rabid desire to be better than I actually am, even though recovery is a process, and rationally I know that.

20. Going to the coffee shop and writing was a HUGE deal. But there were many small unglamorous accomplishments that led up to it.... perhaps I'm writing this entry to myself as well as to you. It's very hard for me to acknowledge the small steps that lead up to the bigger ones. I mock myself, like, whoa, big deal: I went to the supermarket. When it really is a big deal dammit.

That is all.

Friday, August 30, 2013

In almost quite but not really publishing news...

So a press, I'm not sure I'm allowed to say which one, what is the etiquette here b/c the email was private? let me know that my MS placed as a semi-finalist in their first-second book award contest. It doesn't mean anything in real terms, but they are the first press to do so.

And so I am encouraged to begin sending out again, after the long LONG spell of not-sending during my full-on grieving period.

Am I in my half-way grieving period now or something? Why do I write these things?

Anyway, I'd badly needed a human being to acknowledge that the MS was worth a second look to anyone. They want to see it again.

I think I'll keep the name of the press private, but let's just say I would be really proud to publish with them.

And I believe that that envelope (or electronic submission) was the latest version of the MS's maiden voyage. There's nowhere else that version is at right now. Time to start sending it.

Here's a painting:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20 things : loose pages, gathered

1. The reading went smashingly on Saturday night.
2. I'm actually grateful to my angst for motivating me to prepare well instead of putting off or ignoring preparation.
3. Afterward I did the feared thing --I mingled a lot, talked to everyone who wanted to talk to me.
4. Even though I knew most of the people --some well, some peripherally --it was so hard to receive love from them.
5. Like they were touching a tender place that wanted to be touched, but the touch was overwhelming.
6. I'm proud of myself. I'm proud of all three of us poets who read that night. We did well.
7. I don't think the audience realized that this reading for me was my re-entry to the world, and how vulnerable I really felt, standing up there.
8. It was a return to that performance space in my head that feels like pure joy, but also, I was so vulnerable. For example :
9. I almost didn't make it through the closing poem, "In Place of Speech," which I've done 100 times. I almost lost my voice for the tears that wanted to break through it. But I finished the piece.
10. After I left the bookstore I felt like I had mastered something. Or re-learned a hard thing that I had forgotten how to do.
11. And the only feeling I felt that night was accomplishment, and I had a celebratory drink.
12. But on Sunday I started to feel a little ... strange. I'm usually pretty good about naming feelings and their motivations, but not the Sunday strange feeling.
13. On Monday after some journaling I figured out what it was.
14. That reading was me, stretching to achieve. That reading was me, at the limits of my current capability.
15. Friendly faces had asked are you teaching in the fall? and are you holding out for a really good offer on your manuscript, or has it already been accepted?
16. And I felt : sadness, derision, longing. The thought that entered my mind in the breath I took to formulate my answer was I want to die now.
17. If only. If only I were able to teach. If only my MS had an acceptance letter from anywhere I'd sent it. If only I hadn't lost a year --perhaps more, because I still don't quite feel capable of it --and had been sending the MS out relentlessly, in different versions, sending chapbooks....I can't even look at it yet. Their questions were like pieces of my previous life washing in with the tide, slapping and stinging my bare legs as I stood in the wet sand and let my heels get sucked down into it.
18. Borrowed Bodies is out of print. The press has shut down. After that, I have no artifact that says, I'm good enough. I have to be a lion. The rejections, which used to just pass through me, now slice me open when I receive them. Is this change permanent?
19. Will I get better?
20. This morning I woke up and I wanted to cry-- not just to cry, to cry so much that I let myself become unhinged with sadness-- because being unconscious was so much better than being awake, yet it was time to wake up. I got up and made the coffee instead,  b/c that's what I'm supposed to do.

Here's a painting [click to make larger] :

Bird Brother

Thursday, August 15, 2013

20 things : losses and gains

1. I've been out awhile, and struggled with how to tell people exactly why, and what I've been up to, and when I should come back to blogging, if at all.
2. The other day a friend told me she missed my blog, and so it was motivational.
3. I'm trying to participate in my life again, on a more social scale, after nearly a year of grieving.
4. For a long time now I thought we lost Ravi on August 8, but I look and it's actually August 22.
5. That's almost exactly a month before my mom did what she did.
6. I'm thinking a lot about anniversaries, because I'm being transitioned out of IOP round two, and because we are closing on our house --selling it --on Friday.
7. I dreamt about Ravi for the first time in a long time last night.
8. Around the time he went missing, a friend said, If you're dreaming about him, that means he's gonna come back. I had been.
9. I understand that's just some BS that people tell other people b/c they want it to be true, but I still wish she hadn't said that.
10. Sometimes when you love someone, they go away and don't come back. I had two someones who went away.
11. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be over it.
12. But I have to start rebuilding my life somehow, some way.
13. At first I was pressing myself to do this really hard, like I had to score an A+ on a test and the test was My Life.
14. But now after a raftload of therapy, I realize that the rebuilding will occur in its own time, and, although it doesn't hurt to encourage them, certain aspects of my life aren't going to come back before they are ready.
15. For example, I've been making status updates on fb in the past few days, and now I'm making this blog entry. But I wasn't doing those things for a long time.
16. However, if I choose to envision these things as a dramatic re-launch of Me in Social Media, then I will crawl back under the couch.
17. In other news, I'm doing a reading this weekend. When I signed up to do this reading months and months and months ago, I thought I'm gonna be so much better by August! 
18. There was another reading, in June, that I'd signed up for and actually had to withdraw myself from, because I wasn't ready. Now I think I'm sort of ready. We shall see.
19. It's hard to tell when to push and when to just let myself be. I used to think the answer was always push, and I would feel guilty every time I did not push. I don't think that anymore.
20. So this is a post. It's not an epic post. It's not an official re-launch. It may be a "soft open." But I don't even know what those words mean, when you're talking about a person. I hope I'll post again soon.

Here's a painting; click to see larger:


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

20things : Alterations

20things : Alterations

1) Yesterday and all week I have been overfilled with anxiety of transition. We have done so much. We have so much to do.
2) When Mike came home he asked if there was anything he could do to help and I suggested a walk.
3) So we walked to Frick Park, which is very close now, which I haven't been to in years&years&years.
4) As soon as we got there I got this "opening" feeling.
5) Like, I wasn't Feeling Better, but I could see the concept of feeling-better out there in the universe, waiting for me to find and retrieve it.
6) Like maybe all the weight of Since August could potentially be lifted, not right now, but eventually. 
7) It's the first time Since August I've felt this.
8) So that happened. Hence, more walks in my future.
9) This morning I took in a dress.
10) I'm one of those "pear" shaped women, smaller at the shoulders than the hips. 
11) I've accumulated three really pretty summer dresses with wide straps that fall off my shoulders. 
12) It was either fix the dresses or donate them; I've been putting it off since last fall.
13) I was worried that Luna would immediately be hunting the needle and thread as soon as she figured out I would be engaged in a task that involved slow, intriguing, repetitive movement, carefulness, and of course sharp objects.
14) Thankfully she didn't figure it out until the second shoulder.
15) By then I was halfway done so I was able to stay more or less patient.
16) Did I mention I'm thoroughly mediocre at sewing? 
17) It's not my favorite task. I nearly failed home-ec because of a teacher who chose to treat me like a dummy in front of the whole class b/c I'm visually impaired.
18) Everything I learned about sewing came from a very patient art teacher and a room mate who majored in fashion design, neither of whom assumed that because I'm mostly blind I couldn't sew.
19) Still, I've never actually taken in the straps of a dress before, just imagined what it would be like to do it.
20) And now my purple butterfly dress, which I'd bought to wear for a big SIT presentation two years ago, fits like the straps will stay on my shoulders and not start that embarrassing slide down my arms.

I think I will wear my "new" dress today.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

20things : moving / seven years / and

1) All winter my cheeks were windlashed and wet.
2) After this winter I determined I no longer look good w/o makeup.
3) My face has these red flaky areas over my cheekbones. And lots of bumps and blemishes all over.
4) Also I've cried more in the past winter months than I did in seven years previous.
5) The other day I snapped the first buds of magnolia.
6) The picture reminded me of Spain, a raw almond, green and furred, still on the tree; another photo, over half a life ago.
7) I keep running aground on history.
8) It cracks me open every time.
9) I sink further.
10) One night, when I was young enough to barely remember, I cried into the rectangle of orange light that separated my bedroom from the rest of the house, where after dark I knew I couldn't leave.
11) I cried until someone came for me.
12) Sometimes they did not; that night, they did.
13) We were going on vacation in a few days --my first one.
14) I needed to know if the bed would be the same, if the sky would be the same, if I would be the same, were I in another place.
15) The answer was I don't know.
16) That was my mother.
17) That was my mother.
18) And I am again in another place, and the bed is not the same, and the sky is not the same, and I am not the same, and it is still almost too hard to hold onto, like in my childbrain.
19) I hear the present approaching the future, rushing faster and faster toward me. 
20) A train and I am trapped underneath the tracks.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

20things : odd farewells

1. So I've gotten emotional over this whole house / history / house story aspect of moving. 
2. I have a lot of narrative that took place here; it makes me unexpectedly emotional.
3. And a lot of stuff I've been dragging around since before I lived in Ohio, which takes the narrative back further into the past.
4. I sort of cried a little when I separated out the majority of my carefully curated collection of costume and handmade necklaces vs. the ones I could still wear with the arthritis in my neck.
5. I donated almost all my cds and over half of my books.
6. Probably about nine bags of clothes and random baroque costumery, also gone.
7. My cassette collection (laugh and I'll cut you) went into the trash.
8. Juno and Ravi's medical records --trash.
9. But then I got emotional about something that surprised the hell out of me.
10. I said goodbye to my makeup. (I don't really wear 90% of anymore. Well, aside from a few basic items and nail polish in summer).
11. And not just "bye bye makeup" {trash}
12. No, I said goodbye to items as individuals.
13. Cranberry colored lipstick : you were a couple of really good office temp jobs."
[INTERRUPTION as I am writing this] : Luna, stop shredding that box.
14. Kohl eyeliner : My favorite eye pencil! You went to a lot of clubs and fancy dinners.
15. Liquid liner: I never really got you. You were always good for drawing on other parts of my body than my eyelids.
Luna, we actually paid someone to bring us that box, stop using it as a scratching post.
16. Raisin colored lipstick : Thanks for the help when I had to retake my photo ID when I moved back to PA. Everybody comments on the good picture.
17. Blue lipstick : You were years of clubbing, and a matching blue wig. Your wig-friend has already gone.
18. Roll-on glitter : That raver thing was more than a phase. Or else it was a very long phase.
Luna, I swear to GOD. {I finally just hoist the cat from her site of bad behavior and into the dining room.}
19. China-blue nail polish : I got inspired to get you after Ava and I had our first pedi together. It was the second time I'd ever had a pedicure, the first being my wedding.
20. I don't think I realized how symbolic and laden stuff has gotten for me. Like, individual items all have a story, and I'm remembering that story as I'm sorting them into donate, trash, and (the rather smaller) keep pile.

That is all.
Still not eating great, but I had a sandwich yesterday and nothing bad happened.
Luna is now back on top of the Forbidden Box, gleefully attempting to maul the tape with her teeth and claws.

Seriously reduced jewelry collection. If you are interested in knowing about / examining any part of the rest, please comment or send me fb mail.

How many bottles of nail polish can one like, legitimately have before it gets to be, arguably, too many bottles of nail polish?

Friday, March 22, 2013

20things : word / cave

1) Sometimes there is a cave where I go.
2) Or rather, where I am put.
3) Where I put myself?
4) It swallows all light, all sound, all thought.
5) And all my sleep.
6) I sit there at the back of it.
7) Words are what I do.
8) But the cave has swallowed all of them.
9) The cave has taken light, sound, and thought...
10) but it has left feeling.
11) Some feelings.
12) The cave has taken joy.
13) I'm in the back of the cave with...
14) no light, sound, thought, sleep, words, or joy.
15) I can see lights moving outside the cave.
16) It's the rest of the village.
17) They are preparing for morning and day.
18) I finger the floor beneath me.
19) Rocks and minerals are sharp against my palms.
20) How long until I become them?

Word / 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

20things : faint

1) Yesterday morning while packing I fainted very, very briefly.
2) This is not normal.
3) Only one other time has this happened to me
4) [the first time I was a teenager and very sick].
5) And it was like I had a head full of
6) bees     swirling static     many many radio frequencies
7) And I thought whoa
8) And I thought this is kind of extreme
9) And then it was like
10) head controls legs? yes/no [choose one]
11) And I thought I'm gonna hit the ground now
12) But there's a chair.
13) We call this one the comfy chair.
14) It is a La-Z-Boy with like water damage or something?
15) But we refuse to throw it out b/c it is so comfy.
16) I slept in that chair in college. And after.
17) I think I have been Mike's friend for as long as the comfy chair has existed.
18) I fell into the comfy chair awkwardly.
19) My limbs were in all the wrong places.
20) But the many frequencies sort of tuned into one and the falling woke me up.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

20things : movement

1) Have had extreme bouts of anxiety wherein I haven't been eating.
2) And then I don't sleep and then I sleep a lot.
3) And then I throw out more stuff.
4) And then I donate more stuff. 
5) And then I build boxes to pack more stuff.
6) Occasionally get pulled out of myself to meet with others.
7) The leaving is hard. I don't like it.
8) I don't like it.
9) But the destination is worth it.
10) When I'm back at home more anxiety...
11) ...which usually comes with hysterical crying.
12) I try to do this when I am alone as it is troubling to others. Crying is new for me so I mostly welcome it though.
13) Or sleep. Sleep also.
14) I no longer have the layout of my house memorized in the dark. 
15) Because of all the boxes and some furniture rearranged.
16) Since I can't see in the dark I developed this coping strategy. 
17) Mike says turn on lights.
18) I like navigating in the dark.
19) It makes me feel special.
20) I have some new bruises now.

The other day I saw these early buds of spring. They might be pussy willow, but I've never seen pussy willow on a tree before, only cut.

Friday, March 15, 2013

20things : Not Again

1. Not again is what I thought when I tore off a corner of the thick yellow envelope and carefully pulled apart the seam.
2. There had been an email alert that a new document was coming.
3. It contains lines like WITNESSETH:  THAT THE SAID PART OF THE FIRST PART, for and in consideration of the sum of TEN AND NO/100 DOLLARS ($10.00) cash and other good and valuable consideration in hand paid at and before the sealing and delivery of these presents by said PART OF THE SECOND PART, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, does by these presents, REMISE...
4. I don't know what REMISE means.
5. I don't really know what any of that means.
6. The first definition of google says remise = an expensive or high class hackney.
7. I'm a little unclear about the noun hackney. I think it means a carriage of some sort.
8. I don't think that's right.
9. After more looking I find the definition to relinquish a claim to.
10. It seems I am relinquishing the claim to my mother's house.
11. Which I thought I'd already did.
12. I'm a bit muddled in the head from all this.
13. It's like.... cruel, almost?
14. I gotta find another notary? When I almost cried at the first one?
15. I can't do grieving and downsizing my own fucking house at the same time.
16. There's not enough energy for each one.
17. This afternoon I have to go through all my books and get them down to two bookshelves worth because we went through the floor plan with graph paper and little to-scale cutouts of the furniture we want to take and we can only hold five bookshelves.
18. I am relinquishing the claim to my books. Books make me feel safe. Lots and lots and lots of books.
19. The poetry section stays. I don't know what's going to happen to the rest.
20. I just don't know what is going to happen.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Talking to the blind eye

So I wrote this poem based on three things:

1) I was charmed at AWP by a panel called something like Readings and Performances in Digital Media which featured, among other things, a guy who wrote perl scripts to generate poems within certain parameters. When he read them it was a cascade of language that generated a pleasant emotional heat.
2) A conversation with a friend, at the end of which we made it our goal for the week to talk to our injured parts.
3) Anagram divination.


Talking to the Blind Eye

A lithe gilt knot. 
Bed yen.

Gal knit to debt, 

Bind heel, yet talk gin to.

Taking blithe, 
needy lot.

Tiny ink 
to bleed the lag.

A picture of the eye that is completely blind. As you can tell, I wear my hair over it. This is because I'm self-conscious about how it has a will of its own and stares off into nowhere.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Leaving for Boston in a Snowstorm and I remember

When I was 13 walking through the woods with a friend. She dodged all the bare branches that stretched from the thin tree trunks and blocked our path. I wanted to move as fast as she did, but the snow-covered terrain hid rocks, sticks, sliding things. Trying to catch up, I kept falling. I couldn't see the branches so I pushed them away angrily. She said don't push them away; they'll push back. Go around them instead. The branches whiplashed into my face, already wet with cold and shame. I didn't listen to her. I batted at them from the edges of my non-vision. I ate my anger as branch after branch stung my cheeks.

The trees outside my back porch this morning.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Hopes and Expectations

So I used to do a lot of these when I lived in Ohio --hybrid digital collage / paintings which I simply refer to as paintings. This morning was the first time I felt like doing one after having moved back to Pittsburgh, and I've been back here seven years. 

That can't be true. I must have done one before then... anyway, I haven't done one in a long time and I'm not sure I'm happy with it. I'm kind of rusty. But I'm half-convinced that ppl are sick of my grieving posts and have stopped reading... which is fine actually. I feel less self-conscious playing to an audience of myself.

Eschatology has been on my mind of late.

And "why this and why not that."

I had to do the painting to stop the crying.

After awhile Mike got up and made a randomly revolted sound. I asked what was that about. He said the morning. I said did you look out the window b/c that would do it. He said the salt from yesterday afternoon seems to have kept the snow off the walks. And then he said, Eeyore Voice: It could be worse. It could always be worse.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

20 things : boxes, again

1. Last night I had a nightmare. We were in a plane going somewhere exotic like Morocco.
2. There was no cockpit door and I was right in the front so I could see and hear the pilot.
3. He had no co-pilot. He kept taxiing the plane down the runway at very high speeds, almost taking off, and then not.
4. He kept saying "if I don't do this right, we're gonna crash." It kept happening and happening.
5. All the passengers wanted off the plane but he wouldn't let us off.
6. Finally they / we sort of staged a coup and overpowered him and open the front cabin door and all piled out in a mad stampede.
7. Then we were stuck in an airport in the country of Approximately Nowhere.
8. Last night I said definitively that I was going to write an email saying, Dear Uncle ___, I'm sorry I haven't been in touch "in person," until now. It has been a rough few months, and I am only beginning to join the land of the living, so to speak. I was just writing you regarding the 12 boxes of my mom's stuff. Because we are making so many trips this spring and summer, I regret that I will not be able to come to ___ , to ____'s house and look through the boxes as I had originally said. I was wondering if it would be possible for you and ___ to please look through the boxes when she comes to visit you, pull out my mother's sketchbooks and send them to me. Love, Jill
9. Now this morning I don't know what I will do if a) he says no or b) he says he'll ship the boxes to me.
10. I want all the boxes.
11. I don't want any of the boxes.
12. They're all I have of her.
13. I don't need any more of her.
14. I really don't want to deal with this before AWP happens because my anxiety's already cranked about the conference.
15. I really do want to deal with this before AWP happens because my anxiety's already cranked about the conference.
16. I want to come and visit you immediately, Uncle ___.
17. I don't know when I want to see you again.
18. I wish we could talk honestly and be open with our emotions.
19. Talking honestly and being open with our emotions scares the crap out of me because our family has never really done it before, and so it would be a supernova shitstorm of bad.
20. I cry about her every day. I wonder if anyone else is crying too.

Boxes, Again

Thursday, February 28, 2013


[click to enlarge]

I'm halfway sad today but there was a reason for it. This morning I finally canceled Ravi's pet insurance. I left the microchip registration open. The end.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

20things : motivation routine waking sleeping

1. At 6:35, my brain turns on. This is the absolute latest it has turned itself on in months. This is how late I sleep, and I have no reason to get up this early. This is off-time, healing time. I don't have to go to work.
2. Telepathically, Rus knows I'm awake and so comes over and yowls for breakfast.
3. I don't want to wake Mike up so I get up.
4. The moment my feet hit the floor I'm like fuck, another day. Weren't we just here yesterday?

A flower I clipped from the long-lasting Valentines bouquet to cheer myself.

5. Get up make coffee cat meds cat food human food computer facebook email blog surf internet until my conscience says I can't possibly procrastinate anymore shower start day.
6. From within my metaphorical nautilus, last night, I wrote down a list of things to do in the morning before I have to leave the house.
7. I put cardamom and ginger in the coffee this morning. Also to cheer myself.
8. It's sort of working.
9. Today I have to leave at 12:30 and I won't get back until 9:30.
10. Nine hours is a long time to be out for someone with fibro, okay, for ME with fibro and attendant visual difficulties that make me so tired. Nine hours is a long time to be up w/o a nap.
11. Okay now you know one (another?) of my embarrassing secrets.
12. On a normal day, I can't go more than nine hours w/o sleeping.
13. Today I will have woken up at 6:30 {math math math} I think that's 15 hours.
14. Most people go w/o sleeping for at least 15 hours.
15. Right now at this very moment I can hear a little voice going there's nothing wrong with you; you're just lazy.
16. But shit, there's a DBT skill for that. It's called "non-judgmental stance." It's like "be aware of when you're judging and stop that."
17. Easy, right?

Luna stole my flower.

18. I'm excited about my impending haircut.
19. Anybody wanna go with me to a reading at the Sphinx tonight? That place is designed to kill me, with its dim light, cramped space, and many overlapping floor rugs that stick to my feet, causing me to wobble.
20. Except it also has the atmosphere of an opium den, which is very relaxing, which is what I want my whole house / apartment to look like. The end.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Well it's finally Monday evening

Yay <-- insert sarcasm, "the ineffective form of communication," here, big opposite action day for me. I did the thing I said I was going to do and went to Té Cafe to do HW. I didn't do as much as I would have liked. The article was disjointed and harder to get through than I thought it would be. I did run into Jenn there though so it was all good. I did not read any poems yet. Dammit.

But things that hurt this morning are still hurting. My thoughts are.... [....][[....]][[[....]]]

The urge to burrow until at least tomorrow. Is unavoidable.

Punch to the gut

So I was juuuuust getting ready to head out the door when I realized I had to open my email to print out  the actual assignment I'm doing the homework for. And I received a rejection for a press prize that I was really really hoping to at least be a semi-finalist for. Everyone who knew my work was like "did you try ____ Press?" And the judge was the editor of the press. And I sent it out way before the deadline. So I felt like my work would get a good read.

It's not like this is the first time. Maybe that's the problem.

I think the worst part about these rejections is I never know how far I got or what was missing in the MS. In retrospect I think that maybe my work was too risky for this particular press. That's the absolute best interpretation of the situation. But how can I know for sure? Maybe the MS is horrible. I've gotten enough feedback on it to know that's not true though. But maybe it's.... subtly *wrong*.

I write intense, high-stakes poetry. And I don't know where to put it. Or there's something intrinsically bad.... ugh, I have to stop the negative self-talk, because I've had enough success to know that I can succeed, if that makes sense.

I should maybe delete this post because it's rambly. But I'm not going to. This is difficult work.

I used to have a lot of confidence. The confidence got sucked away since August. But I'm trying to keep on anyway.

I just see... the career that I pictured myself having falling out of reach. And I wasn't deluding myself. At one point, it was within my reach. I received credible encouragement. No one ever said, hey, you're not good enough; find a different niche.

Four out of the six poets in my MFA graduating class have now published full-length collections. I graduated in 2005. It sucks being on the bottom.

My alma mater doesn't even count chaps as legit publications on the "graduates who have published" page. I looked.

Poets whose work I admire, poets who I wanted to emulate, have, by this point in their career, by the age that I am, published loads more.

It's not like I've dedicated my life to something else, like law school or marketing or psychology or technical writing or raising babies or organic farming in Montana and the poetry thing is an "also."

I wanted. I  w a n t e d. I wanted a different life.

I want.

Oh, and btw, I'm not even sure I can work full-time with all the different disability shit, and this morning I am not proud, I feel like it is shit, going on. I feel like the scraps of my life are just falling through my open hands.

Thought: I have so much to give. I just don't know who will receive.

Other thought: when poets whose opinion I respected, poets who I wanted to emulate, told that I was really good, it just meant I had further to fall / fail.

I'm not giving up; that's not in my nature. It's just... I had a vision of who I was going to be, and
I've not become that person, and it makes me weep. I'm going to have to be someone else, and I don't know who the fuck she is.

DBT says I need to go out there and do the homework anyway, like I had planned. But the anxiety. And the sadness. They hurt so fucking badly. My head is spinning, spinning, spinning.

And they made it be Monday again

Mondays are always hard for me because 1) of the inherent Mondayness of them 2) I have to see C on Monday morning.

C has a problem that is similar to but not the same as the one my mother had. She has a digestive issue that will not let her process food, or rather barely process it. I'm being intentionally vague here, because it is her business. She's had this problem for over a year, and has been to many doctors who all have a different explanation of why it's happening and therefore how to fix it. But the thing for me is that she is getting super-thin. Hugging her is like hugging bones practically. And it's a trigger because of course this reminds me of my mom. However C is a fighter, an investigator. She's been through MANY invasive diagnostic procedures and she is not giving up. Not like my mom.

This has been going on for awhile and I've often asked myself what makes them so different in temperament? I think they both felt like outsiders, in a way, because of various aspects of their personalities... only C embraced her outsider status early-on, and my mom continued to think the world was persecuting her. Anyway, this ruminating is beside the point. C is C and my mother was my mother. They are about the same age though, so it's difficult not to compare.

The point is, that it's a real trigger for me, and so I have to work extra hard at distraction, soothing, and improving the moment. At first when I was pretty bad-off, I was just avoiding Mondays. Now I'm starting to see that I have to make Mondays special. Or at least try to, before I slip into behavior that some might classify as avoidant.

Of course this means not staying close to home because my neighborhood is unfortunately the opposite of producing-warm-safe-feelings-special. So I'm going to this place to do my homework today.

The Te Cafe

I first discovered the Te Cafe when I did a reading there in their now defunct reading series. It is a bit small as a venue, and whenever they had readings it was always standing room only, although this was quite romantic. In the cold weather all the glass panes would get steamed up and you'd be standing, or sitting if you were lucky, in a tight-knit group of your comrades as you listened to good poetry and fiction and watched the traffic go by on the dark street, each headlight and tail light given a fuzzy aura.

Then I used to hang around there a lot with a friend, A, and we would do collages and cards together. The staff was awesome --they never bothered us even though we took up a big round table to spread out all our paper on and stuff. I actually wish I could go back and work on cards there some more... but I feel rather inhibited doing it by myself. I need a wingman! Or rather, wing-woman, since I know exactly zero guys who are interested in collage. Well, on the internet and at galleries you hear of them, but I know no one in person who likes gluing paper together.

But today I am simply doing my homework. Did I mention how lovely this place is? During the day it's pretty quiet and the atmosphere lends itself to calm contemplation. 

This is my reading material of late! The ones on the far left are my homework: the My Emily Dickinson (Susan Howe) packet, an edition of her poems, and Goodbye, Flicker by Carmen Gimenez Smith, which I have read before and loved. 

The temperature may be getting up to {gasp} 40 today so I am looking forward to walking mindfully as well. I wish the damn weather would get springlike already but it is still February so I'm just left feeling wistful about that.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

20things : up early

1. I got up at 630 this morning b/c my brain turned on and there you go. (a)
2. I wanted to amend some of the latency of yesterday where I basically lay around and cried the whole day and ate only when prodded.
3. So I decided to do some crafty chores.
4. These are tasks I have procrastinated, but of a nature that either involves, for example, jewelry fixing or gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper.
5. Firstly I added another item to my inspiration board.
6. It was the goodbye notes from all the people who were in group the day I left.
7. They have elaborate goodbye rituals which I have mixed but ultimately positive feelings about.
8. The purple paper is folded up lots of times so you have a one-inch swath to write a little note on and then you fold and pass to the next person; like an exquisite corpse of farewells.
9. I thought putting up a plain piece of paper was not very visually interesting. So I cut it into the strips with people's individual notes.
10. Originally I was going to make a flower but it turned out, ahem, a bit more free form. (b)
11. Then I fixed Luna's collar. She needed her new rabies vaccination tag attached. (c)
12. Then I fixed my favorite pair of purple earrings. (d)
13. They had come undone after becoming attached to my kitty-cat balaclava and I'd just sort of gone {yank} and the jump ring from the bottom circle twisted open.
14. Finally I had this necklace which I'd been very much wanting to wear but I'd assembled it in haste.
15. There was a lone jumpring at the bottom of it, indicating a charm should be there.
16. So I dug through the charms K bought me for my b-day and found one that looked like a bashed-up metal heart.
17. Fitting enough, I thought, so I put that on there. (e)
18. I tried to do everything mindfully, narrating in my head like now I am picking up the glue pen, now I am pressing it to the paper, now I am taking the chain-nose pliers and very carefully opening the new jump ring. 
19. The mindful narrating gave me a palpable sense of relief from the hardcore ruminating my brain has been up to lately.
20. I hope I can continue the day as productively. Perhaps it will make me feel better and more able to conquer Monday.

(a) This is me up early. 

(b) This is my inspiration board. Yes, it looks like something a teenager might have on her bedroom door, and I am biologically old enough to have a teenage daughter, but it makes me feel better. My favorite item on there says SOMEWHERE SOMEONE IS LOOKING FOR EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER. There is also KEEP CALM AND DO THE SNOOPY DANCE. However, someone suggested that it is in fact, impossible to remain calm and do the snoopy dance. I imagine a sort of slow-motion-tai-chi snoopy dance. Which probably looks even more ridiculous than my usual dance of happiness / enthusiasm.

(c) This is Luna, proudly displaying her new tag. Of course the picture is blurry because she never sits still. But I wanted to put it up there to test the theory that if you put any picture of a cat or dog, no matter how blurry, on your blog, you get mad amounts of additional pageviews.

(d) Here's my earrings all fixed, sitting on top of Luna's rabies vaccination certificate.

(e) And the fixed necklace. I was going for a sort of steampunk effect by combining the more delicate filigree with the distressed metal heart. We'll see how I feel about it. Note: I did not make either of these charms. They were merely purchased and strung on a ribbon. Sometimes I like simple things for which I did not have to invest too much time. Especially since August. Hmmmmmmm.

PS: I'm halfheartedly trying to figure out how to embed audio into a blog post here on Blogger, but I can't seem to do it. Anyone have any ideas? I thought maybe they don't offer that feature because of file size, but there's a link to "insert video."