Tuesday, May 12, 2020

5/12/2020


No dreams of electric sheep. No dreams I can or want to recall. Fitfulness. Up at 2AM. Up at 5AM. Out of bed at 7. I meant to roll out of bed and slather on my cycling clothes for another go at Big Springs. Riding tired is asking for injury. 

I'm tired of fighting. I'm beginning to doubt the existence of common ground, only the deceptive promise that if I'm standing and she's standing the floor beneath our feet must meet somewhere. I think I'm going about taking care of myself all wrong. It's supposed to be about me after all. I keep forgetting that me doesn't include her, and I have it on good word that she doesn't want to be included. 

I like my apartment. I like my books, my furnishings, the decorative elements that denote my childlike wonder and eccentricity. I like the art on my walls, whether original or TJMax. I like that my son N— gave me canvasses and paint, and that I'm getting my mind back in its right place. 

I like my cat, Phoebe, who is cuddly and clingy and a precious petite tabby furball. She is curled up in a patch of morning sunlight across from where I am working. She seems placid and content. At night she lays across my belly, curves into a C that slides off against my hip. She stays there until early morning, and then must leap onto the window sill above my bed and sniff at the pale light before rejoining me for another hour of rest. She lives up to her companion animal title with valor. 

I like listening to music on my headphones and taking long walks. I like discovering small things. I like curves and angles and how they play against each other in the battle over points in space. I like sound, pitch and timbre, how they can be melded into shapes and angles with the tongue and throat to create aural symbols assigned to just about anything you can see, and many things you cannot.

I sometimes wonder which sense would be harder to lose—sight or sound. And I am glad I am not forced to make a choice.

Phoebe has drifted off to sleep. I am jealous. I need rest. I need purpose, direction, drive. They're buried beneath a layer of fatigue; I can feel them squirming under its weight. 

I like my baby son, B—, who accidentally got a full view of my monte this morning as he bumbled past my room on the way to the toilet. He's almost 15, the tallest of my children, and a very sweet roommate. 

I like these brief word purges, to remember that I still write. That I still exist, if only in simplicity, in the age of pandemic.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

5/9/2020


I don't know how to do life like everyone else. I'm familiar with the blueprint, but straight lines mock me. Rather than build a crumbling structure, I think I threw out the plans a long time ago. 

My father was a carpenter of sorts. He did his best with directions, but more often that not struck out on his own to figure how a thing came together. The house he built where I grew up never saw completion and strained around itself to maintain stability. Cracked foundation. Exit routes sawed into closet walls, closet floors. An escape tunnel dug thru clay adjoining crawl space into the garage, where it came up through the cement paving. The problem was never fixed, and he remedied the open sore in the garage floor with a plank of plywood placed like a stone over the mouth of a tomb. 

I will write about this house for the rest of my life.

Because I struggle with boundaries, my chosen narrative is the vignette or poetry, any outlet with an escape hatch.

I left my house last night intending to walk in the cemetery and, instead, ended up following the access road running north and south beside the switch yard tracks. My goal each time I walk is to wander back into my child-skin. Walk until the worrying weight sloughs off and I am left wearing wide eyes and the enjoyment of discovery. Beneath the underpass vagrants camp, drink, shoot up, leave tags. I never see them, just the litter of attempted life. To say I identify with this lost crew would be misleading. I've figured out how to clutch the skirt hem offering shelter on the margins. But I am familiar with aimlessness, misdirection. I raised four children in uncertainty. Only they can tell you the success of my attempts. They learned to create escape hatches and coping skills. I'd like to think they check back in out of love rather than obligation.

I am simultaneously confident and awkward. My dreams are filled with desire for further accomplishment and relaxation from trying to convince myself I'm enough for anyone besides myself. I'm weary from my own moroseness.

I wish I could write happier stories. I wish getting over my ex-girlfriend was as easy as I'd assumed when I broke up with her.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

5/5/2020


I'm writing early today to get something less hurried on the page.

Yesterday, the spell broke. The deep irony is that the year of therapy that K— paid for empowered me to leave the relationship. I intended to take a walk with her, but it concluded in a verbal transaction dripping with manipulative capital. You get to a point where there is nothing to fight for besides the opportunity to stay in the miserable state of neglect and disappointment that you can't fix alone. So who knows what will happen with that friendship. I'm feeling the lack of today. Not going to lie. I have B—. I took my daughter, L— for covid-19 testing at the insta-care in the neighboring city. I feel listless even though there's plenty to do. I try to read and my mind wanders off. I get tired of the television after less than an hour. I could cook something new tonight, and maybe I will. But the denouement blues have set in. 

Why does making good decisions feel so sorrowful? So regrettable? No, really. It wasn't a good decision as much as it was the right one if I have any respect or sense of responsibility for myself. I think it hurts because I am powerless to do anything else. What I wanted was always out of reach. I will not cry sour grapes over this, but I will give heed to any who thinks I was different than those before me in her long line of mad loves. These last few months she'd worry whenever I started seeing patterns.

Aloneness isn't comfortable for me. This is the part of life where I learn to become comfortable with discomfort. This is where I learn to identify what I'm feeling and what I want. (Yes, it's ridiculous for a 45-yr-old woman to not know these personal details. It isn't ridiculous that she's trying to figure it out.)

I hope L—'s test comes back negative, that her cough is just a cough, and that she is feeling well soon. I hope I can assuage my malaise. I hope. That's the most important possession I have. That's how I've managed to set out again on the winding road to self-compassion and wisdom. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

5/3/2020


I waited too late to start this entry. Brevity is a gift. 

spent time with B—
apprehended the switchyard and sent home instead of enjoying my walk along the tracks
tried to read
tried to nap
found cooking helps, had manicotti for dinner
long, candid phone call with my ex, who is still my best friend, while I walked barefoot in the cemetery
watched the end of We Need to Talk About Kevin
watched the beginning of Samsara
cuddled with my cat, Phoebe
circumvented an argument with a neo-liberal on Facebook
thought about a poem that's in the works

That wasn't as brief as it could have been. Goodnight.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

5/1/2020


I can't explain.

I have worked so hard to make this relationship work. I wanted it to. But I broke up with K— yesterday afternoon knowing it was for good. I could say it was all a misunderstanding, but when contradictions overwhelm cognition until doubt floods the perceptions, when taking to task those contradictions results in emotive expressions of unkindness and duplicity that knock mental health from its footing, what can I say? I'm not going to fight her. I don't know why I would. 

So I bagged up three years of keepsakes, clothing, her credit card, and house keys, and took them to her front door. I can hardly remember what I said. It was hurried and to the point. I said something like, "Because there are only imperfect people, there is only imperfect love." Which may have been dramatic, but she'd already started her display of emotion. I'm done. I don't think she'd been genuinely invested in us for a while. I'm ready to be single.

And I'm not. Because Covid-19, and because I am lonely, and because even breakups for the right reasons take a toll on the heart.

I tell myself this is self-care. When I say the words they resound in my body true and pure. 

I've got to focus myself, meditate, follow the rational resolve that gave me the push to put my ex-girlfriend down and start carrying myself.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

4/30/2020


When you hit your head hard enough sometimes it can help you see things more clearly. First the approach. The moment you know something's gone wrong. You see the boulder on the side of the road with your occipital bone's name on it, and in an instant you think to yourself, "We're doing this."

I went back to the crash site this morning. Found the marks where I skidded out. Said hello to my friend, the Rock.

I'm looking at life now through a new lens, and I want to make real change. I want to work. I want to use the time I have to be the person I am that I have the most respect for, the person I am that I like. I'm going to embrace the self-caring, self-loving side of myself. It's not selfish. It's what I should have been doing all along.








Wednesday, April 29, 2020

4/29/2020


It's been five days since I crashed my bike going downhill on a hairpin curve near the top of the road at Big Springs. I concussed. I have bruises on my legs, tenderness in my back, hips, and shoulders. At the ER I was given a CT scan from head to toe. All came back negative except for the unexpected kidney stones lodged quietly in said organs. They still haven't given me problem.

I have experienced lightheadedness, dizziness, fogginess, fatigue, lability, ringing in my ears, and some speech difficulty in the form of aphasia. I have no doubt my brain will make a full recovery.

I have more to write, but I saved this entry until bedtime, and as I said—fatigue. So on toward the morrow. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

4/23/20


What am I thinking today, and how does it fit in the puzzle of location?

My mother and I have taken cautious steps over the last couple of months in brief emails. So far I am comfortable in the exchange. Distant language. This morning I thought about less distance. I'll continue to think on that. There is what is imagined and what is. There are the countless interpretations of both. There is also as it is. Again, I am comfortable. 

Boundaries are nothing more than the safest distance from everything.

We're surrounded by a 9% growth in infection in this county. I have a tickle in my throat this morning. Three days ago the cashier at the convenience store stifled a couple of coughs. He seemed pale, perhaps clammy. The plexiglass guards dividing consumer from employee certainly have some effect in blocking transmission. How much, I don't know. States in the south are opening commerce regardless of infection/death rates. The push to open Utah is growing. I think patience would be wise. Wisdom is an acquired attribute, much like COVID-19 is an acquired novel virus. I don't know that persons ever have a clue about what they're getting themselves into. We shall see.

I slept at K—'s last night. B— is almost fifteen and fine staying nights by himself. I feel okay with leaving him on his own most of the time. I feel pangs of uncertainty the rest. There are pros and cons to living separate from my partner. I assume the same would be the case were we cohabiting. For now this is the for now. 

This morning's breakfast: coffee and toast. The toast I buttered, layered with a slice of Colby Jack cheese, a few slices of avocado, sea salt, pepper, and a fried egg flavored in hot sauce. I have the best breakfasts at K—'s house. She makes coffee in her French press and I take a large, steaming mug onto the front porch to enjoy the first cigarette of the day. Today the pavement was still wet from the cold evening rain, but the temperature is pleasantly cool, decidedly spring.

I've contemplated hiking, reading, sewing face-masks for my kids. I've also thought about beginning the letter to my mother my therapist assigned me to write several months ago explaining what my relationship wit K— means to me. This will of course be a "freezer letter"; one written and stored safely on ice until I'm ready to send. First matter at hand—writing the letter. K— and I have turned a new corner in the last few weeks, turned a beautiful blank page waiting for our fresh perspective on trust and commitment. I have material for the task. I'm ready to express the tenderness, growth, and delight afforded by the past three years and two months. But not right now. Next in the unrolling of written days during this, the time of Corona.


Monday, April 20, 2020

4/20/2020


Saturday was the fifth anniversary of my fourth husband's stroke. Each time I've written that sentence I've had to make conscious effort not to replace the last word with "death."

I believe in the power of ritual, whether ancient or created in the moment. That's how I observed. Rather than write it all out again, I'm going to copy and past from the Facebook post I wrote that evening once I'd returned home. Most surprising, the efficacy in going through these motions. The closure. What I didn't describe was how the pandemic influenced the experience. The Slate Canyon trail is an uphill dirge, and not frequented in times of health. Irony. In short, I had company, which meant greater focus to remain mindful and undistracted. It also meant that rather than private performance, this ritual played out as sacred observance with curious onlookers. I felt that contributed to the intimacy. I was required to cloister my actions and thoughts.

And so, this is grief released.

At the base of the canyon, one step in front of the other. The place on which I built the altar revealed its self after a mile. I didn't know where I was going and then I realized I was there. I carried the elements of ceremony to this point and laid them down. The notebook. The singing bowl. The dried roses from the bouquet Trish left for me to find that first night I came home from the hospital without Mark. One by one, I set each brittle bloom ablaze and allowed the phrases to come:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

tension is the gravity 
of togetherness, existence 
is change.

what it was was
beautiful
it was
awesome

the what-can-I-take from you?
and the what-do-I-possibly-have-to-give ?

the purity of it
the desire

so much that demanded release
or loss

one the nexus of the other
young love ascends the trail above us

four more lines

we all ascend on our singular paths.
we all ascend

and leave the bowl empty.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I read the words aloud. 

I rang the bell five times.

From here I walked with purpose, another uphill mile to my sanctuary, to the Mother Rock whose face is all expressions at once. I took the three stones that fit together as one and offered the memory as sacrifice. I hefted each stone in my hand and dashed it against the Mother Rock. From one story, three. From three, a multitude of fragmented tales scattered in every direction. From these I pocketed one small shale shard to carry back down the mountain, to contain the molecules of beginning whatever is yet to come.

I rang the bell five more times, and lit a final cigarette as the credits for the past five years rolled away on the smoke. I finally understood.

Closure and reclamation.  Acknowledgement and release. The things I have learned should have made me a better person. Instead, the lessons I took away were how much kinder I must strive to be to myself and to others, that every moment is the central link to a beginning-middle-end, that all is impermanence, that change is all there is. I understand that I brought with me all that was required to  accomplish the task of bringing myself to the present. The lesson breathed in the forest trees. It passed through my nostrils and my lungs. The ritual created and concluded itself, and the result was peace.

I walked back down the mountain again, two miles of eager steps hungrily accepting the road ahead that begins in the middle of where I last left off in K—'s arms.

Friday, April 17, 2020

4/17/2020


Should I mean to do this, another entry is required.

I've slipped into malaise, or at least a physical disinterest in motion. Although I have headaches almost daily, my mind keeps up hope my legs will give in. I'm cooking more than I have in ten years; breakfast and dinner, as I believe was my goal at the beginning of the year. K— and I talk about combining our resources to fund a weekly menu of dinners to feed her, myself, and my son, B—.

There is lots of talk these days.

K— is invested in her political party, taking part in phone calls with local chapter members, and weekly online meetings with national leadership. As she has observed, I am not a Marxist, but I do support her in the socialist cause. So many in my social circles are hopeful for a new social structure come the ebbing tide of this pandemic. Defining exactly what they want that new structure to look like is difficult. I think, in a word, K— would submit justice. I don't share her penchant for authoritarianism, but we do agree on a leveling of the social classes. I suppose it is not safe to speak openly of these hopes. I suppose class strife and civil unrest is on the horizon regardless of what I say or hope. I watch press briefings from the White House and find myself alarmed at what the US has become. There is no certainty, no shared vision of how the future will unfold. Leadership in this nation has been quick to point fingers at past administrations for as long as I can remember, and save a few the ruling class has always had a vested interest in keeping and accruing personal capital.

I've been skeptical of the American Dream since my youth. I watched parents work and save, and even now my mother and her husband are unable to retire. My father died twenty-six years ago disabled and penniless. As the thirtieth anniversary of his death, and the point in our lives where our ages meet and then, fate willing, mine surpasses his and my body unwinds into my fifties, I am in no better financial position than he.

The federal government has dispersed funds for $1200 stimulus checks to prop the devastated economy. This is nearly $300 more than I live on each month. I am in a situation where I cannot save money without losing public assistance, and so I'm uncertain how to spend my allotment once it reaches my bank account. I long to see the ocean again. I want kitchen appliances that most middle class women enjoy—a Kitchenaid mixer, a good set of knives—that I have never owned. I'd like to replace the electric griddle that I've had since B— was a baby. The pans I have now, all purchased secondhand, are more than sufficient. My dinnerware is twenty-five years old and going strong. It might be good to get a new tea kettle. The one I have now was gifted to me by my first husband the Christmas before we married. It is wholly functional, but is lined with mineral deposits that fall into the sink each time I drain the unused water. B—'s fifteenth birthday is less than two months away. He's grown two inches since the pandemic hit the States. He needs new clothing top to bottom. Then there's the possibility of finally indulging in new bath towels. I can't remember how old mine are, but the edges are fraying. They still do the job of drying the body, so I haven't found justification in the extravagance.

Full disclosure, I pride myself on being able to go without. I think that's the luxury the poor conspicuously consume the best. It's not so bad. Whenever K— frets about possible shortages and loss of resources, I assure her that she can rely on me. I know how to survive.

Tomorrow is the five year anniversary since my fourth husband's stroke.

I know how to survive.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

New normal: Coronavirus

Let me locate myself. It is 2020. The world is experiencing pandemic.

I am the middle-aged woman who lives in public housing across the street from the city cemetery and a block from the Union Pacific switch yard. My apartment is modest by modest standards, furnished in bookshelves and beds; those things necessary for daily survival. I live with two of my sons. My oldest is transgender, a skilled illustrator, a socialist, and a budding adult. My youngest is ASD, a designer, composer, and an overall teenage visionary. We are graced by the presence of my cat, Phoebe, a longhaired tabby with a sweet disposition, and a penchant for constant companionship which makes her the perfect therapy animal. My partner and best friend, a philosopher and trans woman, lives six blocks to the east. I have another son who lives in a communal house with his partner and several roommates approximately a mile northwest near downtown. My only daughter has just moved into a beautiful downtown apartment with her partner seven blocks west. We're hedged by boundaries of this, the least diverse city per capita in the U.S.

In these terms, we hold our collective breath through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are shut in, disinfected, and separated by a state-wide "stay-at-home" order for the foreseeable future. We can shop for necessary items, take walks/runs for exercise, work if our places of employment are still open. Crowds of more than ten people are prohibited. Persons are urged to maintain six feet distance from one another. We wear masks in public, wash our hands until they are cracked and dry, avoid touching communal surfaces, and have made use of video chats to keep in touch with those outside of our "affinity circle." We watch for symptoms.

I haven't been keeping track of days. I estimate we've been at this for four weeks. The soonest state restrictions will lift is May 1st, but that end date isn't guaranteed. Weeks ago, when this started, I heard call for documentation and journaling. I didn't know how to go about it. I think I've forgotten how to write in survival mode. This morning, in the monotony of structureless days, I realize knowing how isn't important.

I don't think anyone knows how to do this. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Lines

As man is

so tales told to your grandchildren

will by and by become fables,

folktales, myth & scripture.

Evolve until the blueprint

appears, ink-splattered

newly revealed,

a revelation of who we once were

how we lived and ruled over

our children, whose great-

great grandchildren fear

the Gods they may become.