Thursday, February 28, 2013


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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." 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

20things : long sigh

1. Today I feel like it's nearly impossible to go on.
2. I may have bottomed out a bit after the group transition.
3. I'm trying to access my creativity and having some probs.
4. I made two collages and re-dyed my hair. Same dark red as before.
5. I'm unhappy with the one collage but like the other and the hair.
6. Totally punted working on website for new journal.
7. Concentration levels minimal.
8. Every piece of news I pick up is sad.
9. Or I find the grain of sadness in it.
10. Lay down but couldn't sleep.
11. Tried various self-soothing things but didn't feel soothed.
12. Want to rip out my brain and stomp on it.
13. Sometimes I want to physically be alone-alone-alone to match my aloneness feeling on the inside but it's not feasible.
14. I punted on the website because I would have to cancel Ravi's pet insurance to recoup money for the hosting fee.
15. Even though he is no longer with us the thought of doing it is just...................
16. I wish something delightful would happen.
17. One minute I'm like {{{{RAGE}}}} and the next I'm like :sad:
18. Why won't you write me back motherfucker?
19. See what I mean?
20. I hope this is just a stage.


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Thursday, February 21, 2013

the grief grind

Last night Mike informed me of an email that he got four days ago wherein my uncle said that my aunt --his sister --was going down to GA for some furniture and possibly boxes of mom's stuff. She's flying down and renting a truck and driving back.

Mike and I can't drive like that.

I told him (Mike) that I wanted to go through those boxes and that we should tell my uncle to send the boxes up from GA and that I'll plan a flight to eastern PA to go through them. Soon, because my aunt can't store all those boxes and I get the feeling my uncle does not want to have them.

A lot of contradictory things bother me about this whole situation. 

1. The four-day lag from Mike receiving the email, to me knowing about it, informs me that I need to take over email communications and... I'm not quite ready to do so. Four months of intensive outpatient therapy has gotten me to a place where I can process my emotions while being safe in the world. It has put me back together. It has not made me all better. I'm scared of getting PTSDmail.

2. I'm ticked that they're dealing with the household items without me when the will named me as the person who "inherited" it.... and I understand the many reasons why they are doing so. Which include geography, power of attorney, and possibly the fact that they think I am crazy to deal with it, since I can't even answer a fucking email yet... and I don't necessarily want to be the person on the front lines with this one.


Mike says he reads my uncle's tone as being rather taciturn about his own emotions while at the same time taking care of all these horrible things that would be rightfully triggering to anyone. To me, my uncle's coping strategy makes it difficult for people who want to express their emotions --oh like me for example --because it sort of comes off as harsh. 

Not that his coping strategy surprises me. My grandfather was entirely like this. Even my mother was, to some extent. And I did it for all the years that I was at The University Previously Known As My Place of Employment because "getting it done" was way more important than feeling my feelings about whatever "it" was. 

In all the offices I worked in I was described as "sweet," "cheerful," "perky," and "bubbly." My teaching evals always said I had great rapport.


I'm really really not looking forward to making the Philly trip to look through these boxes, but I want the control of being able to look through the boxes and pick out the few items that I want. She left all her stuff to me. In a way, it feels like all I have of her.

I'm even dreading the phone call to my aunt to arrange things.

No one in my family has contacted me since the funeral to say, hey, your mom died. The circumstances were really weird and complex and horrible. How are you doing with that?

And, my uncle has put out vague feelers, but I'm still using Mike as my proxy --I just need a few more weeks to hammer it out in my head, get some strategies in place... 

I just... I would like to be asked, you know? Even if I'm not ready to talk.


I'll be more up front: the past four months of intensive outpatient therapy have gotten me to a place where 1) I don't want to self-injure every time I have emotions, 2) I'm not pushing those emotions away, and 3) I'm able to leave the house and start going to readings again, for example, because I have some cognitive strategies to reduce my anxiety. 

I'm trying to be as clear and open as I can about this. Remember, this blog is accessible to the world. I'm being open because I believe it is so wrong that our culture presses into us this idea of emotions as weakness and/or as counter-productive. THIS CONCEPT BROKE ME. I am angry about it. So I'm blogging my recovery from it.

The intensive outpatient therapy, called DBT, is a big-picture therapy. It's a subset of cognitive-behavior therapy. It focuses on examining broader emotional patterns, on replacing inaction and stagnation with action, and calming down self-destructive urges and behaviors. It has saved my life twice now. 

But this therapy, which I am being discharged from tomorrow, is in a group setting, and I have had SO MUCH SHIT to work through. I've focused on fairly broad treatment goals to maximize my time there. I am sort of looking forward to getting back to my former individual talk therapy, so I can hammer out details of how to go about picking up the phone to call my aunt.


Frankly I'm scared. I've got on the docket today:

Sadness and dread about planning the trip to visit my aunt and the boxes. Anger at being put in this position when I'm not quite ready for it, yet I do need to deal with it. Fear that my relatives are judging me as batshit crazy thusly ignoring me and the somewhat paradoxical fear that they think I'm going to be "all better" now after four months, when my journey with processing the grief is largely still ahead of me. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

moving on -- new creative project

So they'll be discharging me from group a week from Friday. I was wondering if perhaps I would feel All Better. The answer to this question would be nay. What I've gleaned is that all this time (all this time) spent in group was to give me the skills to enable me to process the emotions --especially regarding my mom, what she chose and how it ended --while taking responsibility for my own safety. I have to say that before I started I was pushing emotions away. Some of you who know me may that is ridiculous --you see an expressive person who is in touch with her emotions. I have been through so much therapy that I can talk about my emotions on an intellectual level. But feeling them is a different matter. I could talk about the origin of the problem, but right now it does not seem appropriate. The point is, the therps stripped off some layers of varnish and I got my emotions back.

But between the times when I'm forced to reckon with Mom and It, I need a bigger-than-ever creative project to pull my attention and charge my brain to do its very best work.

So I had an idea a few weeks ago.

Not gonna tell you what it is yet, but here's some notes as I was thinking about a mission statement, Submission Guidelines, and/or a letter from the editor.

People have bodies. Animals have bodies. Hybrid human animal-bodies exist in the realm of myth or just beyond your closed eyelids. A body can be a force of locomotion, or a body may require augmentation to move itself. A body can be a metaphor. A body can be a source of pleasure. Pain can be a muse. Not psychic pain but actual visceral pain pain. Where does psychic pain end and visceral pain begin? When I say sensuality does that connote pain or pleasure? Senses. Viscera. Writing the body = writing what we know because we inhabit it. Writing your lover’s body so you can keep it on paper. From three dimensions into two. When I hold your hand do you feel it? Do you feel it with your brain or your skin?  Our bodies can make us feel like amateurs. Strength in vulnerability. Taking a risk and writing about the body can make you feel like an amateur. When I wake and put my feet on the floor I feel like an amateur. I would like to reclaim the word amateur to mean risk-taker. Yang energy pushes us forward while Yin energy causes us to reflect. What does that mean? I am forever striving. I’m not good at being. I mistyped there and had to correct it. For a second it said I am not god at being. We are gods of our own bodies. We are slaves of our own bodies. I watch your body when you sit across from me on the bus. I was mainstreamed and then I started to use a white cane, then stopped, then started, now I’ve stopped again. Am I blind or not? Our bodies are signifiers. Our bodies are false signifiers. Our bodies are liars. Our bodies are storytellers. I want to tell stories about the body. I want to hear your stories about the poem that is the body.