If I were to throw a party commemorating my induction into the fifties, you’d think I’d wash my hair first, right?
Having just received a response letter from my adviser, I learned that the following piece is not exactly the kind of thing one would publish, that it is rather personal, perhaps not meant to be shared.
How perfect for a blog!
And how strange it is that while I am able and willing–eager even–to share my innermost passions with all of you in this venue, I am truly a very private person. It bothers me when my neighbors know my comings and goings. They know too much about me as it is. Their tendency to gossip is bothersome, and it creates a lifestyle for me to which I do not wish to ascribe.
Anyway, hopefully it will format properly.
It is there when I sit down and try to write. It creeps into everything I write no matter how hard I try to leave It out. It even appears in my fiction and certainly all my nonfiction; It appears in my critical writing; It taints my reading; It tints my eyes and changes everything I see. I am forced to look through these glasses made of It and nothing looks real to me; I am removed from the tangible world; I am a ghost. It affects the taste and smell of my food; nothing truly tastes good anymore; radishes gone bland, tomatoes white, bananas have lost their sweetness. An ant no longer creeps; It stands still. It is there when I put my jacket on when leaving the house and It is there when I hang up my jacket upon coming home. It follows me on my walks with my dog, and hovers over me when I stoop to pick up my dog’s shit. It follows me to coffee shops where I buy my beans, but the beans aren’t as pungent as they once were; they seem flat and meaningless. It thwarts my concentration; It leads me to sadness; It opens up a hole in existence where there is nothing, no substance, no life. It follows me while I dress. “I guess I’ll wear this shirt. No, he would have liked this one better.” It follows me to beautiful places, like the waterfront at the University, sailboats nearer, now farther away, the wind whipping my jacket around my sunken body–when I think of that beauty, when I remember that beauty, It is there, It taints that memory.
It followed me closely that winter, freshly killed, I shuddered, I winced, I cowered from its pungent, vermilion poison and I could not write. It held me rigid during the deep freeze: twenty-five below in Vermont, and I could not write. It thawed and drooled like an intravenous drip into my veins; I wrote about a widow who made watermelon sauce by the ocean; I could not write; I could not write; I could not write, and when I look at all the writings now that come out of then, they reek of It.
It followed me while I wandered the desert for two years. I was empty, fallen apart, nowhere, pieces scattered like stones in the dryness; I could not mourn. What sense was there in mourning when It permeated everything so thoroughly that there was none to compare to It? There wasn’t much sense in writing; I could not write. There was no emptiness because there was nothing to fill, no fullness because I was full of It, and I could not write.
Now, I can write. I should be happy, but I’m not. It is still there, and I’m not. Now I can write, but I’m not, because I stink of It.
People ask: “Is this all you have to say, this ‘It’? We are weary. You are breaking our ears, heavy on our shoulders; our eyelids are closing. When you write fiction, It is there; when you write nonfiction, It is there; you cannot even write about your dog without writing about It–
“Let It go, for godsakes! Let It go! He is dead!”
He is dead. Yes, he is dead. Yet he comes back to me in dreams sometimes–in clusters of a few days at a time, then he is gone for several months. He is dead and I cannot control dreams. Some of the dreams are comforting; others are only dreams, and he is dead.
And I yearn for magic to break Its back; I yearn for a potion to kill It. What I would do for one day, just one day, that I could live without It, that I could go to a beautiful place and It would not invade my heart, that I could drink coffee and not grieve passionately for him, taste his food and not overwhelm myself with sadness, refrain from beating myself drumming to the beat of his music.
Perhaps I can lessen It with the pen. Perhaps, instead of trying to stuff It into a sack, push It into a corner, hide It in a drawer, I need to bring It out and caress It with my words. Perhaps the swelling will diminish if I stop punching It. Maybe I need to put away my knife and pick up the brush. No amount of ammunition can kill It–why shoot? Guns are useless; I will write; I can write, I will pick up my shit and write. When I get dressed in the morning I will wear whatever is on top of the pile. I will write about the desert. I will write about the scattered stones. I will write about not being able to write. I will write this piece. And if anyone tells me, “Let It go!” I will tell them, “I am letting. I letting It. I am letting It write.”
Somehow, I managed not to exhaust myself.
As QB’s birthday approaches, I am becoming very sad.
Lately, also, I’ve been having a hard time grieving for Joe. I miss him and it sucks that he’s not around.
My neighbor was “taken out” (our little expression here in the building which means transported by ambulance) to the hospital over the weekend and now he’s having an operation. I just found this out yesterday. He is the only neighbor of mine who is a friend as well.
Those are the only reasons I can think of for why I had trouble last night.
I’m not sure what happened because my perspective is skewed, but I remember noticing my mother seemed very confused and unfit to travel to Greece. She is leaving this coming weekend on an Elderhostel trip. She is 81 years old. Mazel tov. I called my brothers. Then I was the one confused.
I started getting messages from the radio, all kinds of messages, some originating from certain people and some just from radioland. The DJ’s or interviewers would say something and it meant something just for me, a special message that had meaning for me, or instructions. Sometimes I listened very carefully to the radio and other times I wanted to block the sound out of my ears but was still very fascinated so I didn’t shut the radio off.
Then the voices started. The voices were at first instructional. They told me “Meet me in an hour,” things like that that I could ignore. When I got near my living room desk where I keep my pills, they told me, “Feed Puzzle (my dog) your pills, one after the other!” Thinking quickly (or as fast as I could in that state) I put her in her crate and shut the bedroom door, where she would be safe from any pills. I told the voice to fuck off.
The most horrible thing that the voices do is to tease me and mimic me. When I think something, they say it out loud immediately after. Only they say something that’s deep in my mind. It’s very embarrassing, because although I know nobody but me can hear the voices, I feel deeply shamed hearing my own thoughts. Or I worry needlessly that the neighbors can hear my inner thoughts. I am so shamed in fact that it is torture. It is like being ripped apart, having my head split open for birds to feed upon.
My therapist called me (on my request) and we talked for a bit. She denied sending me evil messages. I took some extra Thorazine with my bedtime meds and some extra Abilify this morning. I do feel better. In fact I feel totally back to normal.
Time to feed the dog. She just reminded me.
Center for New Words
7 Temple Street
It is the same building as the YWCA.
If you are traveling the T, get off the Red Line Central stop.
www.centerfornewwords.org check website for updates.
I will be reading new works.
The CNW readings are called “Mouthful”
It’s always great to hear about two people with mental illnesses hitting it off, even getting married. Congratulations Princess and Dude! I wish you a happy and healthy life together!