Monday, December 31, 2007
A summer of finding places to smoke our weed, scoping out boys, who despite being the objects of our rebellious dating phase (In other worlds nothing like the men two of us have married and I am about to) all had some kindness in them. The summer rolled to a close at the EX where we pushed against our curfews as one. And then she was gone.
Of us four I was probably the least effected by her leaving, but I thought of her, and because she was in my thoughts (and probably because I was grounded) I began to write to her. I thought she might be lonely. Her warm response surprised me and that was the start of my very first distant friendship.
Now, nearly thirty years later we write rarely, and talk only a few times a year. I get the Christmas card she sends with the kids smashed across the front. I look for her in their faces every time and occasionally I send her a pretty card to let her know that I still do that from time to time.
She did a lot according to plan and married as she finished College and started her career, and with her husband, she built the latest version of the American Dream.21c, and had three kids whom I know nothing about beyond who looks like her and what sports they are into, and that's fine. Her more than full time life doesn't reflect my marginal existence and I think it surprises us both that we stay in touch, so different as we are. The angle of our connection can make for a kaleidescope view, like the optical instrument in which bits of glass, held loosely at the end of a rotating tube, are shown in continually changing symmetrical forms by reflection in two . . . mirrors set at angles to each other *. Each time we talk the pieces of our lives come together through our individual scopes making each of us a picture of details, changing the view for the other. These details -- some significant, some not -- do not give either of us a full appreciation, but I think it does give us something important.
Recently she bravely pointed out that we don't understand each other's lives very well. And she is right. Despite my desire to argue the point with a turn of my tube, I do not know how the general themes of the worked for dreams fit inside her, nor can I perceive the way the her light filters the fragments of her life except by what can be heard through a cheap long distance plan joining of our lives in under 11 digits and 5 bucks.
In a world divided into success and failure she falls into the first and I follow up behind. By the values of what makes life worth while (by some estimations), family and career, I am a pagan. So I respond at the key board out of a caring curiosity. Can we understand each other better despite her limited time and my marginal existence?
I'd like us to, even if only in fragmented pieces through the aide of technology. All understanding between points is good. I understand her grace, which I've witnessed more than once. Her kindnesses toward me, even though she doesn't quite get my life, always brings a lasting smile and her concerned questions, most of which I cannot even answer in a short phone call, allow me a connection to a life I could never have lived. I'm not sure how to tell her that I've accepted this fact, without fear of diminishing all that she has accomplished (It's not for the weak) or denying how much I have (Also not for the weak) , despite the different results.
In one of our rare calls several years ago I got to say to her, "Hey, guess what? For the fist time in fifteen years I am pain free!" Her response was all for me; in her fair thinking she expressed her desire for me to go out and live life, saying, "I'm surprised your not out there working and doing every thing!" How could I explain to her that freedom after a long internment is hard to trust? Because even I know that for most people who become sick and then well, the usual response to feeling better is to do every thing they couldn't while sick. Do I even want her to understand that my gaoler is inside me both in body and in mind? I know she knows some of this. . . How do I help her to understand . . . ( you would not believe what I edited here... tmi) without going "TMI" for a thirty minute phone call?
Back in our judgmental teen years we would have argued about all of this, I'm sure, all the while understanding little of the other. But now I just feel a need to find a hole of clarity in the prism of our particular perspectives. Given a choice I'd rather maintain a connection toward understanding with this distant in time and space friend. Maybe when we're actually old, we'll have more moments of insight because of the shared differences. I'm curious enough to keep up the contact, to attempt an understanding of the little patterns for now, to look at the same pieces through the refracted light and shadow to see how the flecks that colour our lives change and re-arrange; and to take the time for a phone call to say, "Hey! How's your world. Are you o.k.? I think your doing amazingly! How do you do that? It can't be easy being the mommy mind for all those kids, the wife of a busy man; god you must be so sick of being at home, I know I am -- oh, riiight, it's the car you're sick of; your littlest, your middle, your eldest, is . . . You volunteered to do . . . I'm so glad it went so well! Hot damn you sure are something! I'm blown away at how you manage to do it all! Oh, how funny is that! I'm so grateful that you can find the time for a phone call. You gotta go? No problem I understand. Love you, bye."
*Totally ripped from dictionary.com 'cuz it's just too.*
Saturday, July 21, 2007
I've decided to avoid the tock and the click and the digital blip; this summer I'll keep the time and the kids can just remain off the clock.
In her novel, Our Lady of the Lost and Found (in several read out loud pages), Dianne Schoeperlen appeals that time is no thing. It is not, and it is, a verb or noun, or it is some other part of speech depending on our time frame; or, it isn't a part at all when it is used metaphorically, which it is at it's most momentus. It's right up there with space, but while space suspends our fascination and leaves us re-orienting ourselves within it, time is at it's best when we can leave a bad moment, or stand still in a good one, and have that moment seed a life time.
Even when I haven't had my health, there's always been time and the fear of its counter part, lost time. I've felt time drag, push, linger, fade away and fly, always provisionally. I have really not had enough respect for it until recent years; mostly due to other pressures; it was rarely on my list of considerations as the moment of pain and illness where all that I could deal with -- at the time.
Now, of course, time matters more and more and in these brief moments I spend with kids it is showing me just how much. Asking a kid to be ready in five minutes is meaningless to them, as it should be. Telling them that tomorrow we are going to Center Island is asking them to wait forever. When I was a kid, knowing that summer would be over and school would be starting set me to tick tick with panic every time I thought of it. School being the ultimate test of my failures as I became further and further behind.
Looking way up on our yellow kitchen wall with the matching clock, I once believed I could understand time through learning to read a circle of numbers. They sent me round curves trying to balance the noun with the verb and trying to figure out the space between ticks when a moment gave me pause for thought. For my first communion I wanted a watch so badly that I mastered that kitchen clock. As for wearing a watch, they die on me within weeks, every last one I've tried stops working.
Still -- which time never is -- behind, I feel as though I'm living on time borrowed from some stash that I didn't even know existed; maybe this is the proverbial pot of gold we seek. Time for another chance -- again, again! Until I get it right or get caught up to where I think I'm supposed to be before the final bell.
In the mean time, I'm hanging with the timeless in the hood of children, giving them as many "agains," as I can, receiving each moment as it is without trying to use clock ticks as my tally. This one summer may be all that we get together, but if I"ve timed it right, it might last a life time, or two.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
In 2004 I was living alone and loving it even though I couldn't afford it. It came time to get a new roommate, but how? Newspapers are never good option for this endeavor and I'd already put up my postings at the universities and colleges in town. No luck. Then I went hunting on the net and found easyroommate.com It turned out to be the best way to find a roommate -- ever!
I met a bunch of interesting people: a charmer from Soviet Georgia, a real dandy-- he didn't make it past the phone interview but he was fun to talk to. I met a lovely woman from England, who chose to live elsewhere. Then I got a great written response from some dude who'd been living in Chicago, a Canadian who had to move back.
My first phone call with said Dude went on for over an hour. We talked like we were old friends and I asked for references. They, of course, were stellar. His employer had only great things to say and the worst thing an ex-roomie, of his said was, "He's a guy, but if you ask him to, he'll do it." This, of course was when we discussed how he dealt with domestic responsibilities. I learned later that she didn't eat his food -- silly woman!
I asked him for a picture, which I've never done before but since the internet makes this so easy to do, I figured why not see if he's totally freaky. Nope, not freaky at all. I looked at the picture and thought, "Well, at least I won't fall for the guy."
Dude is the ninth male roommate, a long list, but what can I say? Living alone is a luxury I can rarely afford; such is my life. Besides, there were women roomies too. Since roommates are not long term commitments, they come and they go. I will say for all the people I lived with only one was truly intolerable, though there were several who challenged me as much as I did them. I'm sure more than one of the men wanted something more, and one woman, but I wasn't interested, for different reasons at different times, in any of them. I'm still friends with most of my former roomies, so that says something. This time around I was having much fun as a single (and healthier) me and didn't have any desire to hook up with anyone, let alone cohabitate.
"Dude!" walked through my door around 11 pm, October 15 2004. From the moment he entered I knew that I had met a friend. Dude was one of those rare instant friends who shared laughter and himself from our first meeting. Why "Dude?" I'm not usually a nick naming kind of person, but I guess it was the first part of him I responded to, his dudedness.
In he came through with two suitcases (minimal baggage, whoo!) and the challenge of a change of professions along with the difficulty of leaving his family in a city he loved. It was watching him make this transition, with a kind of integrity I've not seen in many, that made me see the quality of this new friend. Dude doesn't know that this is the reason I can never take my shit (And I have plenty) out on him; he set that bar really high and I am so the kind to play up.
Many of my friends thought we should be dating, and said so regularly. But I didn't want to loose the best roomie I'd had in years, and I didn't know how I felt about him, myself, or us. The more we "lived" together as friends the more I realized there was more to be experienced, but the risk of loss, and gain, held me back.
Nine months later, several amazing meals digested (The kitchen was Matt's domain from the very beginning. I can cook, but with his talents, uh - why, exactly?), we found ourselves sitting on the balcony, drinking some wine and enjoying a beautiful June evening together.
I looked at Matt and said, " I don't know, but you and I get along so well, and . . . "
So started "the" conversation, the first of many. What also started that night was a deepening of our friendship to a more intimate level. That was (is) fun! I called him Matt that night and so he has been (mostly,) to me since.
Both of us were concerned first for our friendship and then for our living arrangement. Going straight from single to co-habitation is very strange, but we've managed just fine. In fact, we are doing really well as a couple. Despite months of my infirmity and recovery, lean days, and even a time "apart," (but not exactly apart; neither of us could afford to live alone), we've managed to keep it together.
For me I realized that he is the man who loves me (Thank You, Wilco), as we took some space in our relationship. I was still spending much of my day on the couch: in a moment of clarity I knew that we were doing a really lousy job of breaking up -- no fights, no disses, no ignorance or pettiness, just friends caring, sharing and laughing me well. Connecting. In a du'obvious moment, a thought: "Well aren't we are doing a lousy job at breaking up!"
My laughter brought Matt to me on the couch.
They say love will not walk through your door to find you, that you must go out and get it. I am an exception (I know of one other.) to this rule -- oh, lucky, lucky me. Nya-na to all the "theys" out there; I got ya on this one.
A friend recently said, "You know, you might just be getting everything you want, you just got the order all messed up." What isn't messed up is this thing Matt and I have. I want to be the woman who loves him. So I am. So I am.
And he? He is the best boyfriend EVER!
Oh, and he is the man who loves me.
(The Big Cheese -we seem to have names aplenty now
-- Mr. Matt, chose both the nickname and the song. )
Thursday, June 14, 2007
This state of non-active withdrawal I am in, of expectant dread and reflective wonder that I have lived through, live with and in this moment feel that I cannot find my way out of... I've been here before.
This was me at six: able to sit in a room full of noisy expansion for hours and days on end, staring out the window seeing nothing but blank spots; lost in a house filled with the weight of capture, holding still against the heavy slap of percussive words and the dizzying bewilderment of lies and accusations. Hoping for a hug.
At twelve, the pain of failure numbed by a locked door and the click of a hang-up. Futile dreams. Attempts to live life (learn. do homework. how?). And suicide by elastic doesn't work either.
Then real friends and the green that smoked through our times together, each making my failure bearable -- mediating and medicating. I am getting out of it, I am living, giving, connecting and trying to understand what it is to be me.
The music my hands allowed me to learn to play, as my weakness goes stealth.
A diagnosis that will never go away and the family that does. Sleep. Try. Sleep. Try again. Slipped on another blank spot and another year gone. I take another a chance with pain.
They clear out a block and I disconnect from a raw deal all the while exposing my insides in a resealable bag, aware of the waste that continues to empty.
I'm put back together with twist ties, staples, and man made torture that rips through weakness and changes the bet slightly.
Now in the middle of a blank spot of black ice, I am prone. I am needing to grow my own umbilicus while waiting for a leak to dry up without freezing to death.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I said, "But it's your last one,"
His unknowing reply, without missing a beat was, "Ya, I know." Simple as that.
He is the first born of my sister friend, who so long awaited children. She had nurtured a life time of love to bring to her children, which she knew she was always to have. She practiced her nurture on me -- refined and defined it in every relationship she had from the very beginning. I wasn't the only one, but I was a big one; I have needed her and she lets me. And now that she is a mother of two truly unique individuals, who are so loved, and only test their bratty tendencies, she let's me love her children also.
J's and my relationship took time. His attachment to his mother matches hers, as all babies do. For the first few years hers was comfort trusted, he just needed her more, but every now and then he'd let me know I mattered. When J was ready to enlarge his conscious world, I was included, his love real and waiting.
Today I watched his delight of a sister, S, play T-ball. We read a book, and I watched her make a card and helped peal stickers. We laughed, we looked at each other in the eye a lot. A younger love she and I have, and we have time.
I have 4 other nieces and one nephew, all unique, loved, and loving. I have not seen them as often as I would have liked; being mere blocks from J and S unfortunately reminds me what I can, and do, miss with them.
This Auntie gig is great!
Friday, May 25, 2007
I've been really low this past week. After the high of two entries and a great night out, I crashed. I'm still, still! trying to figure out how to ride the current that will take me away from where I've been. And since storms and calms are part of the journey, troughs and waves are also inevitable.
My hands look like they've been blistered as if the only thing I have had to climb out with is a ladder of white hot steel. The eczema is back and driving me to distraction as my homeopathic doctor tries to map a way to heal what needs to be healed in my gut. These are the two poles of my body, attached and repelling all at once. I've had the eczema more extensively from finger tips to elbows (a couple of years ago it was six months of it looking like evening gloves stained a pale red), and for many years in a row (It dominated both my hands for 7 years, starting when I was thirteen.) and I'm sure it's part of my over all auto-immune defects as much as the connections between my mind and my body.
I've been thinking about that first time, when I was a teen, and the pure denial I was living in then; I had been well trained, so much so that I would wash dishes and clean everything-- for fear of worse things -- except for my bedroom, despite the pain. I would wake in the mornings and fill a sink with water, and immerse my hands into what felt like acid to my skin. Slowly I would bend them, splitting the skin so I could move my hands that day. I itched and scratched for years and not one doctor was able to help me. I never let boys hold my hands, but I still used them in other ways besides the torture chores, to learn pottery and attempt basketball. I just lived with it and kept my words, thoughts and feelings, about it small and sparse and as far away from myself as possible.
Those years of painful and malfunctioning hands made it frustrating to hold a pen, and my poor writing became even more illegible, but in me grew the desire to play guitar and the moment I got my hands back (It took months to get used to my pretty hands!) My sister's boyfriend, and my friend G, strung up a intonationally challenged classical guitar that the eldest sister got years before, and I got my friend B. M. to teach me to play. And I practiced daily until the sister closest to me in age gave me what I still play today in a rare moment of recognition that brought me to tears. I still play when I can, not today not for the last week. But playing gives me so much. I began my writing efforts in song and though I don't do that much any more I will cherish my music for it's own sake.
This time around it's me and the computer, my right hand is frozen in one position (In the film "The Greatest Show on Earth," with James Stewart who plays a clown, there's a trapeze artist, "the Great Sabastian," who falls and becomes partially crippled; his hands look like claws -- once he flew like a bird in flight, he then became perched. My hand is in the same position as his, almost, , which is perfect for key boarding. Ironically my finger tips are fairly clear so I can type. But the only thing on my mind is the misery I am feeling. I'm not thinking straight and my emotions are of a single scale, minor I would expect.
So I'm typing and thinking, feeling misery in a way I've never allowed myself before, waiting. I'm itching and scratching. I'm playing a lot of cards (on the puter also.) I don't have to clean today so a shower was my only necessary torment. Not much map making done today. And I cannot tell you what else will walk in this room, besides you.
I know this will pass, but in this moment the misery is all that there is. And I'm looking out the window, again, waiting for this party to be over or for something else to enter the room.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I like Massey Hall. First of all, no one's died there as much as I can check (I did), at least not on a regular basis. It's old and lived in. Dizzy, and Robert, Mitchell, Young, and countless other musicians have practiced there; the Dali Llama and Winston Churchill have left butterfly wings of patter in the sound soaked hall. I have never suffered rock volume ear damage, and from the majority of seats you can see the stage effortlessly -- front row left of center: even better! So it's not Massey Hall's fault it is located where it is, and it's not like I so hate the area that I never go down there. I go down there for reasons I don't like, going for a concert is easy, now. But it's still odd to be standing right there: it's like seeing myself in a shadow or revisiting the scene of a crime, that I was innocent of committing, after having served time.
I feel the pull of it in my body, as if I am mis-located, and it still feels odd to be standing at all. This time last year, a wheelchair painfully banged me around. I couldn't have sat through a concert, not even a private concert with a line up for just me and all of my friends. What's worse is, back then, I would not have wanted to.
Not even for this could I have gotten out for a year ago without a toll. So last night I found myself standing there waiting to go inside with St. Mike's Hospital insinuating itself into my periphery, and feeling how recently I stepped away from another chalk outline.
These flashes of reality strike me as unexpectedly as a lighting hit with out the thunderstorm. As much as my experiences are past they are me, and at times I will flash to a scene, with utter and shuddering sensations, of where I once was. Sometimes these feelings pass as they did last night -- for a draft I feel myself as I was, they way you feel a damp leaf that sticks on your face on a windy day. A shake of the head and it is gone. My breezy thoughts were not so strong last night, nor were the gale force headwind of persistent memory that takes me hours, or days, to walk out of.
I hate St Mike's the way some hate another for their cruelty and indifference, irrationally, for it's a looming shadow in my life.
As for the concert...
I don't know Arcade Fire's music very well, but my, my, my! What a talented bunch! A group of 10 (Although their site only shows 8, their touring band is larger. TY Wiki*) The musicians trade instruments around like they're sampling sounds. Epic! They are reminiscent of The Talking Heads, ELO, and the classical-rock fusion of my youth, surrounded by today's amazing production values.
Their song "Wake Up" is an anthem from time immemorial, as powerful a message today as it will always be. An excellent youtube version, a jam with one of my listed above:
"With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am goin’
With my lighnin’ bolts a glowin’
I can see where I am go-goin’" - Arcade Fire, Wake Up, Funeral, 2004
(Seriously-- pure coincidence. I found this after I blogged. Cool.)
My only curiosity was the way the show was primarily lit. The one exception was the lighting for a song that's name I do not recall (Did I say I don't know this band very well yet?), which matched white spots to it's beautifully laid-out stage platforms and a massive Chinese red curtain. Several microphone stands fronted the stage and each stand shaft was lit with a tube of LED lighting. For the first song they, too, were red and the performers upon the stage looked like they were lit flashlight spots. Even though microphone stands changed colours throughout the performance, they seemed to me a visual barrier. It was disconcerting (Ha!). Why put up a wall? To give the band's concept it's due consideration, perhaps the point was to listen; the problem was that there was just so much to see! I finally got up and danced the encores, trying not to pinwheel off -- don't want to be trippy in the first row balcony -- saving the little dance I have in me as I would a favourite bite on my plate.
I've been checking out Arcade Fire today, hmm, maybe I should have done more of that before the show. Yesterday I just went hunting for their tunes; it was a last minute thing after all. I'm no expert on band sites, but I must say, if you are a fan of the band or just a inspired by the creativity available on the net now, or just to see how well web design can be done, check out their site; they so have interactive down! (hint, move your cursor around and play...)
The show could have been longer, the company could not have been better, and the evening was over in it's due time, as all things are.
I walked out into a breezeless drizzle music still ringing in my ears; the neural snapshots from the concert editing through the freeze frames of my time at St Mike's, the chalk lines washed away in the rain, over toward Yonge street and up to Dundas Square.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
This is by no means easy to write about, but this is a dual purpose blog: it is both record of my re-entry and the re-entry itself. Due to my poor health I've stopped and started my life so many times that I've lost count as surely as I have lost time. I'm barely making it any where near what I once thought I wanted my life to be; I'm not even sure what my desires are half the time, as climbing up yet another crater wall takes all my focus. I try not to look down, but the gaze has it's own direction at times.
There's a landscape to this kind of place, were poor health necessitates the need for careful consideration, were necessity meets panic. It's called a mine field.At the beginning, when I was younger, a certain obvious (oblivious) panic fueled my re-entries. I was blind to the mines buried both shallow and deep, and to the magnitude and the effect of their explosions. I was pure reaction, mostly because I was, oh, so sick and because I needed money. This lead me to be less than discriminating in my choice of entry points. I took what I could find, as those without money are want to do. And the bitch of this, of course, is that to work only for money is not good for the health.
Ah, but the good stuff blooms like an acre of wild flowers: the friends, the kids, the music, learning and re-learning, laughter of every description, creating, sex and love, and there are even good jobs; there are always words and stories. There are good people to meet in passing and to befriend. There are beautiful days and pleasant surprises. There is a tender space between me and these things, as if the flowers' roots could brush a mine to life, and this space requires attentive navigation, patience, and no small amount of risk. I know I'm not alone, that all of us have to create our own maps through some kind of terrain, not always a war zone, but often enough.
Mine fields are scary places, full of unknowns, surrounded by battles of one kind and another. Just as often they are in the middle of some kind of beauty, perhaps these are the abandoned and forgotten ones, left for some one to stumble upon and then to find their own way out. Those who make a successful escape are likely to keep running, if they can. Sometimes a group gets caught in the same field -- poverty, family dysfunction, political upheaval. Sometimes the field is a private plot on common ground, with mines preventing those who share this space to unite and find a way out together. Sometimes there is no way out. Or there's only one.
I don't know how I stumbled into this mine field that I've been negotiating for the past 21 years. I know my position here is not my fault; the land of the chronically ill is large, but no one goes there intentionally. I know that just as I began to trip out of one kind of field I landed here, the two overlapped, and I've been trying to map my way out ever since.
In the middle of this mine field I sit alone. I remember an episode of M*A*S*H* (the television show, not the movie), where a orphaned Korean boy wanders into a mine field and needs to be rescued. The language barrier between the boy and the the doctors means the child does not know the danger he is in. The panic is only felt by the doctors who find a map they cannot read, and then realize it is the wrong map. In the end, in under thirty minutes no less, the child is rescued. But life, black comedy though it is, is not a series of thirty minute episodes, tidied up by a well written denouement.
I am aware of the panic I feel, and though I'm not exactly an orphan I have been abandoned to my fate. I've run into language barriers; the words I speak holding a different meaning to the person I speak to. I know my caring friends, and the doctors who are willing, are helping me to plot a map and at times feel at a loss as I try to describe where I am so we can attempt another way out. My family has removed themselves to a location no where near mine and occasionally throw out directives -- as if they know, as if they have the map. There is no ultimate rescue for me. The seriousness of this illness inside can always be triggered. But I have to believe that life, black and bruising as it can be, is, in the end, a comedy. As for the denouement, who knows?
So here I sit, plotting (and blogging) my next map out of this mine field; it is another chance. No longer young and reckless, I am perfectly aware that a wrong step, or an unexpected blow, could cause another mine to discharge, hurling me back to my rock.