we are the cheapest landscapes
in pure gold frames
“It’s the constructed thing that speaks in our voices, but louder and more seductively than we can speak to ourselves.”
Fight For Roses, on the spectacle of downtown Asheville.
PRESENT…a few days ago.
A friend told me today about copywriters who “cultivate voices” in the course of their work. These are people who, due to their job’s requirements, must develop the capacity to take on other perspectives and characters, to interact with them in their seeking to understand and negotiate the material at hand.
This, to me, reminded me of my interest in different cognitive processing and orientations of thought/perspective that might exist among the mad and the brilliant.
Do you have any idea how much prowess of mind it takes to maintain multiple perspectives and to be able to shift between them and to think reflectively within them?
Oh, it’s that time of year again.
I almost forgot, but then I remembered: “Oh, this is when it happened.”
A few years ago, just over a thousand days, it was right around this time that I began to thoroughly disconnect from consensus reality.
I’m sure that if I looked in these archives, I might be able to pinpoint the day that I decided to go for it, to give myself over to the experiment, to really believe in the world that might exist over the edge of my known parameters, off in the sparkle and murk of infinite possibility. I decided to see what it might feel like, to really believe that I was intended to somehow show people something about how clouds and wind work, to show them this thing that people began to call God. I laughed to myself on the porch, feeling and hearing the meetings that I was certain were taking place, sending out messages to the President and to Glenn Beck, typing words to newspapers and calling up the ghosts I felt.
Even when I was actively inhabiting that reality, I knew that it would seem crazy. There is some line that is crossed though, a point at which one slips a little into thinking that everybody knows and understands, even if they don’t.
It all made sense to me, and so – I thought – I could make it make sense to other people.
That proved to be more challenging than I expected.
I am still trying…and, slowly, I am making progress.
For a time, I had a habit of writing down what I was doing, what was taking up the span of my days and – for a time – those lists were about sweeping and trying to get the laundry folded, making meals and then, later, transporting myself to work, wanting to write a book. It seems like I haven’t kept track like that in a while and I have very little record of, for example, particular meetings or milestones. This blog is a 5% representation. A lot is left out.
Last night, I laughed and joked with friends and strangers over posters for #peaceday – which will hopefully trend on twitter on 09/21.
I just started my last term of courses before my thesis.
On Friday, I am going to a meeting.
I’ve been playing puppets with the kids lately and we laugh a lot.
Dinner is fun to make again.
I am struggling with at least 3 projects.
I still have a lot to learn.
So far, I have learned that it is important to keep moving and that knowing how something might be done is not the same as doing at it and that wanting to do something is not the same as knowing how to do it.
Over the past few years I have gone from an isolated woman who sent emails to strangers because she had nobody to talk with to the person I am now, who is alive and who is here and who is, generally speaking, kicking ass.
Today, I realized my dream job and I am going to create it for myself.
I want to provide a letter answering service. I want to write back to the mad people who send emails to celebrities, icons, and institutions.
I am the perfect person to offer that service.
I am going to make myself a new website for this professional service and I am going to create myself this job…maybe.
I was sitting next to this kid at a poster-making event for #peaceday and after I told him my name, he thought a minute and said, “Faith is alright…believing that everything will work out like you want it to, but you have to admit that you might fail if you don’t try. You have to try a little.”
I agreed with him and wondered about how it was that random strangers somehow seem, in the statements they make, to reinforce the things I have been thinking about lately.
The yellowjackets, after being gone a full week, came back.
I am not sure when this started. I have felt intermittently inflamed and fatigued for the past few weeks, due to the regular doses of yellowjacket poison that I was receiving and which I seemed to be sensitive to – the first single shallow sting causing my arm to balloon in angry red puff and pain.
I did notice that the day of adventuresome and valiant ziplining with my 11 year old and his 63 year old grandmother was fairly rough on the spine and mid-section. I was sore and tired for a couple of days afterward, flinching in my sides when I moved too quick or coughly lightly.
I didn’t think about it much. My attention was soon usurped anyway by the final series of yellowjacket stings that I received when I intervened on the swarming on behalf of my little dog.
The past couple of days, it has occurred to me that it is a little hard to remember a body that is not on fire, itching and burning along my arms and legs, with big swollen places pressing up against my bones.
Writing has been a little bit of a heroic act yesterday and today, with my wrist all thick and with a burning in my skin. I thought it was the yellowjacket sting on my forearm that was causing it.
I’m sure, actually, that it has something to do with it.
However, this morning it seemed like maybe something else was going on. I woke myself itching and told my coworker that a mosquito must have gotten into my room. It did occur to me that it was weird that the mosquito had gotten into my shirt and bitten me in both armpits and all along my sides in such a peculiar and symmetric way.
Maybe it was a flea? The little dog has a flea sometimes, because he is a short dog and we share our neighborhood with an assortment of feral cats and wild city animals, like groundhogs, and the raccoon and possum that eat the cat food on the porch.
I was not appalled by the thought that maybe I had gotten a flea. I didn’t like it, but it happens.
There is something a little uncomfortable about saying you had a flea. It’s just a little too close to “has fleas” – which is full of all sorts of associations.
By the afternoon, I had four thorough patches of itchy rash, two on each side of my torso, with miscellaneous other itching and inflammation from the yellowjacket stings and the actual mosquito bites that I get when I sit out here on the porch and email myself, as I am now.
For most of the evening, I have been aware that I am not really *feeling* the full intensity of this deep itching, burning, seering tingling that has invaded portions of my dermal self and that if I were it’d probably be pretty awful. The pain is there, but it’s not the sort of pain that commands my attention.
I am too busy absent-mindedly willing this potential rash-y situation to stay away from my face and head and to settle down quickly. I’m actually feeling pretty thankful that I tend to be somewhat not-in-my-body most of the time (somatic trauma dissociation) and that I am also generally pretty anhedonic (a limitation or impairment in one’s ability to fully feel physical sensation, in my case potentially linked to iatrogenic nervous system damage due to psychiatric drug or my own sensory integration and awareness issues, of which I have plenty).
I used to pride myself on my tolerance for pain. I kissed my boyfriend on Ripley’s Believe it Or Not with a surgical steel skewer through my face, c. 2000. A google search tells me that those episodes are being rebroadcast on a cable television station in Canada and I think that’s funny.That was a long time ago, the same year that I started having my back turned black in big form and hung in the lotus position from hooks on a Wednesday night because I wanted people to like me and to think I was amazing and, at the time, that was what it’d take.
My wounds from that suspension healed in 36 hours, but I still have tiny scars, like old snake bites where the hooks went in and then came back out.
I didn’t even flinch.
People have told me that a lot:
“You didn’t even flinch.”
Lately, I’ve noticed that I haven’t been healing very well. I think I’m run down.
That’s totally understandable, given the circumstances.
So, I’m sitting here, and my right hand is a swollen rash that keeps on coming and my sides feel mentholated and prickly.
As it turned out, I had hives, an overwhelming systemic immunoreactive inflammation. I think I got them because I didn’t go to visit my penpal in Death Row, because I hadn’t gotten my student loan surplus funds yet and because I was feeling confused and conflicted about why it pisses me off so much when he talks about that I am “this kind of woman” and “because I am a female.”
I mean, he is my friend…and he is on Death Row…but, I really don’t feel comfortable with his persistence in that. In ways, I figure I should humor him and just play along. I mean, the guy’s on Death Row and maybe he’s gotten a little off in his ability to accept reality, and so he thinks it’s cool for him to “sweetie” me…but, I feel like he is imposing some sort of quality to the relationship that I didn’t consent to or agree to participate in. He is “womaning” me and I don’t like it. When I think about it, I feel like I don’t even want to be in touch with him anymore, even though we have exchanged letters for three years and I feel somewhat bound to him, by both time and fate. I feel like our friendship is somehow important in the world, that it means something. However, and I have told him this, it really bothers me when men push boundaries or tell me that I just need to “relax and open up” – being put in that position is not okay with me.
Still, I promised him I would come and visit and I do want to go and visit. It figures that I’d have hives on the day I was scheduled to visit him and didn’t go. Then again, maybe the hives were the revenge of yellowjackets…or perhaps I just ate too much basil, too many pine nuts?
Coming soon: the transcript of my interview as a participant in a doctoral researcher’s phenomenology of madness interview, which actually ended up being a good opportunity to talk openly about some of the things I only speak out loud about in the company of mad friends and allies.