I’m really being like someone who keeps slipping below the surface and then struggles to get up and gasp some air again before going under one more time. Except that the being under is the more pleasant and agreeable and desirable of the two, and the struggling to the surface is some vestigial knee-jerk reflex that has very little to do with conscious volition. Psychically I suppose I’m aiming for “comfortably numb” but I wind up in a kind of twilight state that’s more anxious paralysis than anything else, I think. How else to explain looking at the phone and saying to myself, I’m so fucked up for not picking that phone up and dialing and making an appointment with the endocrinologist the opthamologist the dental clinic and a real dentist for the stuff they won’t even touch, the ear nose and throat guy and the.. the...
and then just turn away and not do it. Wheee. I’m just such a fuckup, ain’t I? The Bad Me rubs it in to the Wants-to-be-Good Me’s face. Wheee.
Was down in town this morning to mail a package, and there was something about the whole day that seemed like an altered state of mind to me. We actually had a pretty “normal” for us winter this year, and right now it’s been clear and cold and raw. The trees are skeletal and there are ridges like miniature mountain ranges of old snow and ice and grit lining the roads as soon as you start up into the hills. Down the hill all the snow is pretty much gone, and things have that hanging in the balance feel; of being right on the cusp of change. I was standing out behind the house before and kept hearing this sounds that might have been an animal except that I didn’t see anything moving anywhere. Followed the noise till I came to the rock ledge back there and found that it was the sound of the ice slipping off the rock and shattering on the ground in a growing pile of debris.
But it was down in town that I really noticed how things seem to have some certain look about them... I’d find myself trying to describe it in my head, and just not being able to. The word “luminous” keeps coming to mind, but I know that’s not it, it’s just a common word the poets use to imbue the ordinary with a sense of the divine. And then I think.... no, it’s more that things seem... thin.
What passes for this town is as mundane as you can get. Picture a four-way intersection. Up there’s the state road; strictly speaking, it runs from the Hudson River to the Delaware River on the border of Pennsylvania, and passes by us right here. Opposite it is the old steel bridge over the creek, and beyond that are the hills and where I live. And then there’s the four corners of the intersection. Here’s what used to be the State Police Barracks till they got a new one built a miles or so down the state road, now it houses a women’s health club. Opposite that; the famous Bar that isn’t owned by the same people as it was when it really was famous and in movies and stuff. Not to mention a huge pick-up joint which I don’t think it is anymore. Then the parking lot with the town hall and the little store owned by the guy who’s turned most of it over to stocking supplies for toy train enthusiasts. And then the other parking lot with the Post Office and the Convenience Store slash gas pumps.
And I’m walking from the Post Office to the Convenient store in this morning sunshine that I’m totally not used to being out in. In March the sun’s at about the same angle as in October, which really goes to show how angle is only a part of it, October light and March Light being so different from each other. And there’s something about the whole world. Things are looking as plain as they can be, and what occurs to me is that everything seems suddenly thin, threadbare, translucent. That the light I’m seeing is as much a result of things showing through from the other side as reflecting off of it. It’s like I’m almost looking through everything.
Which is most probably my own projection of how I’m feeling myself, a little threadbare, faded, translucent. But I’ll tell you, I took the dog for a walk in the woods at midday, and that feeling stayed with me even there. The woods were quiet, just the wind in the tree tops and a single bird calling out over and overt again from somewhere. When I walk with K she sets the pace and it’s always one that makes me work to keep up. I don’t mind but it’s not my natural state, I can just as easily go into the woods, find a nice spot, and then just sit there for hours.
Today the dog was dragging around a haunch of deer he’d come across and was more interested in sitting and gnawing then walking, and so finally I just sat down too. And that’s when I really noticed that the woods felt the same way... really otherworldly. And again, that stillness like winter. Although I suppose more tinged with that sense of the world holding it’s breath, of things poised. But that translucency of things. I don’t know. It’s actually a rather peaceful feeling, it’s me holding my mental breath to close out the knowledge that forever wrecks my peace, y’know? It’s a moment to moment struggle, for what it’s worth.
Spring’s about to explode by I like the stripped down elementalism of this season. The gulley that I cross to get to the woods is running with water right now but all the growth of the summertime is gone and there’s nothing but bare rock and washed up leaves and wood. And the sound of the water. Just the water on rock, that’s it.
I’ve been hearing the wind chimes outside my window on and off all day. I hear them when I lie down to take a nap on my futon mattress. I still can’t stay awake long. I keep veering between thinking that the way I’m feeling physically is all psychosomatic, and that there is really something seriously out of whack with me. The slightest exertion sends my internal thermometer into a tailspin, I start sweating and getting chills and generally feeling really weird and out of true with reality. Like a voice-track slightly out of synch with a movie.
Plus I burned two things today; a pot of rice and a pot of spaghetti sauce. WTF? I don’t know. The thought occurred to me that I haven’t felt right since getting out of the hospital, and that either (best case scenario) I’m just taking a long time to bounce back this time, or (worst case scenario) After six abdominal operations in six years, I just got pushed past my limit and now I’m permanently damaged in some way.
Maybe it’s a mix. Feeling out of synch like this is a kind of buffer against bad thoughts, so it serves a survival function. Or, conversely, a symptom of severe acute depression; sleeping 20 hours a day, unable to muster enough stamina to do anything for an extended period of time. And I think I’m feeling my isolation fro the world more strongly. I find that I really have no tolerance at all for talking to anybody, I just want to get away from them as fast as I can. It’s like the energy required to operate the mask needed to negotiate the world wears me out as much as moderate exercise these days.
Hey, Dama. Long time no see. How's being dead? Is it everything you thought it would be? Or did it turn out to be a disappointment? I'll bet you think I turned out to be a disappointment, didn't I? Never knew how really fucked up I was, did you? I wonder; are dead people able to forgive?
I wonder if you even exist at all anymore. Yeah, yeah, I know the rap people give; "oh, she lives on in your memory, in the hearts of those who loved and love her..." Uh-huh. What a fucking crock of shit. More bullshit people feed themselves to smear a greasy salve over reality, in this case, the reality that a dead person is dead, period. Messages from beyond notwithstanding. Because even that's not the same, and while I don't really know, I strongly suspect that anyone who claims otherwise is either entirely self-deluded or a fucking liar.
Anyway, I'm still trying, Dama. Still trying to find a way to make sense of things and to find whatever it is that might quell this despair. But I have to be honest with you; it's not looking good. I think that what I've found in the years since you up and died can be shaken down into two broad categories: You have to follow these rules, and Just don't think about it. The funny thing is, they do work, for the people trying to sell them as the Big Answer. I don't know why I can't seem to make them work for me.
And through it all is the same damn line: that how I feel is my choice, to be miserable or not. Funny; you said a lot of things I didn't quite agree with, but I can't remember you ever saying, to me or anybody else, that if you're unhappy it's your own damn fault, because if you don't want to be unhappy all you have to do is decide not to be unhappy. I do believe I never heard you say that. But it seems to be the only thing anyone else has to offer, even though they all think they're preaching a different sermon. They all just gild it differently. But it really all comes down to the same old thing.
I had a bad day today, Dama. I mean a bad, bad day, a bad in the head and bad in the heart day. A slipped off the edge into the abyss day. I'm just having more and more of those. And I feel so unhealthy. I used to think that I had such a healthy body as a sort of compensation for having a spirit that was in pain all the time. But now my body is in pain too, and everything seems to be going wrong. I'm losing all my teeth, can you believe it? I can't eat anything anymore. When I told my Dad, he said. "Oh, yeah, I'm having the same problems..." I don't know if it was commiseration or a warning not to ask him to help me try and fix them because he's got his own worries. I wasn't gonna ask anyway, I know better than that. But all I could think when he said that was, yeah, and that means that I'm turning 52 this year and I have the teeth of a 77-year old. Thanks Dad. I feel so much better now.
I feel old. Really, really old. I feel like this last round in the hospital last October, what with the surgeries and the perforations and adhesions and everything else, that this last one was one too many, that it pushed me over some edge of relative health or something. Ever since then I've felt more physically unhealthy than ever before in my life. I feel like an old junker that should have been scrapped years ago.
The truth is... the truth is in my heart and soul I feel like I'm at the end of things. And - I'm just being honest here, now - I kind of resent the idea that this body might spitefully hang on for a long, long time to come. The truth is I wish that I'd died that very first time, that I'd had the strength the let the infection kill me instead of letting them cut me open and cut it out of me and save my miserable stupid life. That's the truth and I guess I just need to say it out loud for once, and why not say it to you, you who are dead and maybe not even in existence anymore? Because if the dead know everything then you already know anyway. And besides, like I said, what the dead know is of less importance to me than whether the dead can forgive. Because forgiveness from you would mean a whole lot more to me than forgiveness from God or the Imaginary His's Imaginary Son. Them I don't give a fuck about. You, I do.
Well, I guess that's it for now, Dama. Looks like I made it through another day. Took more drugs than I can afford to squander to manage it, but I did it. Every day's an adventure: how am I going to keep me from offing myself for one more spin around the globe? I know the game, Dama. Make it to Death without killing yourself first.
I've never been good at games. I don't think I've ever won one in my life.
Talk to you later.
I'm falling apart, but I'm ok
I look and feel worse than I ever have in my life
But my life is better than it's ever been in my life
Except for the fact that what's good has got to go
That's how it is and that's what pains me
That and the fact I'm falling apart, but hey, I'm ok, ok?
I'm out wandering, again
For a time I was seeing town from within
Walking the streets, getting on soapboxes
Nowadays I come alone to the borders and look in from the edge
Observing from a distance, not seeing much of anything at all
Got the usual inventory of late-middle-age ailments
Bad teeth, bad eyes, bad hearing, not enough money to fix any of it
Gone fat and slovenly and barely able to care anymore
Vital signs are good but the patient reports feeling like shit all the time
Sounds a little paranoid, says she's "under siege"
Whatever that means
I still have my buffer against the harsh realities of Life
Beauty, and Love, and more of the same
And I still haven't figured out the trick
Of how to not feel all things all at once
All the time
Quod me nutrit me destruit
I take drugs whenever I can in pursuit of the warm and fuzzy
some of them legal, some of them not
Sometimes I steal them, even. Oh yeah, didn't
know I was a thief, did you? I'm good, too; only been caught once, and
plea-bargained my way out of it. So it goes. It's my own childish little way of spitting in the eye of the universe. So there.
I'm pretty much convinced now this was all some big mistake, yes,
I'm unconvinced that sense or meaning or purpose is behind or below or inside it
I'm aware that it doesn't matter what I am or am not convinced of
It is still true that the only thing I really really want is the only thing I really really cannot have
In a life that has been filled with unreality the world is stranger than ever to me
More of a haunted place
Hostile as ever, that's for sure
Harder to hide from
Plus I've an intimate understanding of the meaning of the phrase "terrible beauty"
I guess I stopped believing in magic, looks like it anyways
Or stopped believing in my ability to believe, or something
Ready to entertain the mundane as a very unwelcome guest
Because I sure don't have any better explanations, and yet
I still feel something of the mystical on a wild, cloudy-ragged day
And experience something akin to distant grief when the sun manages to
Tear a hole in the sky
Yeah, I still feel touched, just seems like I'll never get to know what it is that's touching me
If nothing else, then that, but no
Still not remembering my dreams anymore, but lately I'm waking up remembering
Having had them, so that's something, anyway, right?
It's sad not to remember them,
but remembering them is sadder still
It's still winter, as if it were winter forevermore
Interrupted by spring, perhaps
Or a bit of summer
But basically winter
Singing to my soul
And of course, my soul sings back