Current Events: Trick Feelings, Small Gifts, and Beast Clouds

12/22/09

 
 
 

 

to
me
 
We can carry a lantern’s light from one room into others…
But, sometimes the light is just much too bright.Be wary of leaving certain light behind and be sure the people who lead you into the dark know where they are going and why they are going there.

Kindest Regards, Your Friend –

Faith

 
0819_evening
 
 
I was getting ready to do that thing that I do, where I deposit the recent week’s letters and 1/2 finished non-essays and other various communicated ephemera of the past few days.
 
So, I searched for letters to me, from me, but I must’ve added a comma or made some other error because gmail only offered up two results, one from December of 2009, which was right at the beginning of the year that changed everything. The message seems to have been written to someone else, and then sent to myself. Those things happen. In any event, I have no idea what I talking about, re: the lantern, or what provoked such a statement, sent to myself. I might’ve stole the “light is much too bright” from a Versus album released in the mid-1990s.
 
I looked and, yes, I do have a post written on that day, in which I talk about all manner of things relating to being confused about people and new friends and old friends. I remember sitting in the bitter cold out on the porch and talking to the friend mentioned in that old post. It was snowing and we hadn’t talked for ten years.
 
That was five years ago, and I might find myself saying the same things now, though in truth I am far less confused about a great many things – people and friendship included – than I was. Funny that in this week’s cull of letters, as in that old post, I am writing about the distinct possibility that I was probably a little autistic-ish when I was kid, and how much that explains everything. I guess that’s something I talk about a lot, at least here, to myself, as I don’t have anyone else to talk with about it, really…and what’s the use anyway?
 
The use is that if there were one thing I’d like to do in the world, one thing that I would be remembered for, would go down in the history of the future for, it would be that I contributed to a powerful understanding that difference is not disease and that those who are deemed mad are sometimes the ones we may most need to be listening to.
 
That’s nothing new.
 
Tonight, however, I am making an apple pie.
 
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A number of very interesting things took place these past few weeks. Of note is a prolonged period of severe malaise and distorted thinking that appears to have been related to waning estrus cycles, new moons, frustrating friendships, and the back-to-school season.
 
I was aware, as I muddled through the stunned and depleted feeling state, that I was not thinking extremely clearly, that I was not engaged with the reality of my life, which is pretty darned amazing lately, with all sorts of things that ought to be wondrous feeling and joy-producing. Not to ‘should’ myself, but really – why in the world was I so weepy, so void of connection, utterly ambivalent about things that I knew, cognitively, that I cared deeply about, events in the world, vocation, the feelings of friends. It was a bad state, difficult to keep in check, to navigate and mitigate.
 
Last Tuesday, I cried in an art gallery, and then, a half hour later, I cried in a coffee shop. ‎I went to sword training, and I think I laughed a little. I began to feel better. The next morning, I started my period and wondered if the despair and exhaustion, the feeling of being starved of dopamine and serotonin, or cut off from some vital force in the universe or within myself…wondered if it was just a particularly powerful form of complex pre-menstrual dysphoria, or if the metaversal gauntlet was just giving me a run for my money, seeing what I would do, putting me through the paces, testing me?
 
I could have easily veered into crisis, on a particularly difficult night. I didn’t though.
 
I wonder how many of my crises of yesteryear were seeded in the slow death of unfertilized eggs?
 
I felt like I had a disease for a couple of days, like my mind was addled, my heart dying.
 
It was terrible to feel that way, though not unfamiliar. It’s a trick feeling, because it makes me forget that it ends.
 
There is some mechanism of what could rightfully be called in delusion in those states of internal leering and jeering, cruelty and humiliation.
 
I think the worst part of states that could rightfully be called depression is the difficulty in feeling gratitude, feeling anything other than the woe of a persecuted void, like some small corner of hell opens up and spills out, paralyzing and deteriorating anything it touches.
 
A lot of the emails I have sent to myself over the past couple of weeks have reflected that and it is astounding to me, the places my thinking goes…
 
I figure out something new every time.
 
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[Sometimes the forms that are in the clouds, very fleeting faces, smooth edged figures, they make me shake, just to see them, because they are beautiful, awe-inspiring, that the curve of a horn could be so well-wrought, the loop of a circle closed, lines precise, shaded eyes…] [How can a person not see a ram here? Rudiment symbols round its mouth, the vapors dense, held like something alive. How can people not see this, or see it and say that it means nothing, that it is just chance, just folly? If nothing else, it means that, if you know how to look and look closely, you can see things in the sky that look to be stories, scenes, marks, characters comprised of all forms, intermingled, shifting shapes in the wind…and that sometimes what is seen is sufficiently amazing as to stimulate a sense of certain meaning, some significance, some story or another.]
 
[The fact that I do not have a camera at the moment and take pictures of clouds that look like old gods with my cellphone makes me feel like the world might be a stupid place…or that those old gods are very, very clever.]
 
IMG_20140826_142522
 
 
[Then it was gone.]
 
 
Aug 21 (3 days ago)
 
The other day, I found an amazing ‘new’ way to draw. I sharpen a solid graphite pencil ‎and then dump the fine dust of sharpening onto a page, smooth it out with the edge of a folded sheet of paper to cover the page with a fine, imperfect grey layer – that shows the texture of the table and whatever hardline ghosts that may be pressed into the paper from other drawings done on top of it.
 
[I usually draw on a clipboard, and have two that I carry around, both stuffed with folded papers of various type and quality, some marked up with sketches or smears from being shoved into bags, dripped on by coffee.]
 
When the page is grey how it seems like it should be, I find the whispers of shapes and forms, then I play with them, using the very finest edge of an eraser to cut away the dust and see what rises in fine, white lines.
 
 0819_day
I’m sure I am not the first person to use this inverted style of drawing, drawing through erasure, as it really does produce astoundingly fine shading and lightness.
 
‎Alright, in the process of responding to you, I went into a lengthy free-write about all kinds of stuff [diatribe about social experience and how flipping hard it is to be around people, yay] and now it’s nine and I am supposed to work on a spreadsheet budget for local groups organizing+a million other things. I will listen to the radio and maybe draw while I do it, or just have the clipboard there beside me.
 
I hope the day is good and that you get your mom’s shit out of the car. I’m glad you got your stuff back. Maybe there is a metaphor in that?
[I just had the thought that, as I draw in that way, looking for forms and images, precisely erasing to bring them out, ‎that I am – as I mentioned – playing…though it really should be capitalized…Playing. With ellipses…and exclamation point! I am also communing, with imagined ghosts that I pretend are real, that just might be real, because how else could my hand find them and feel them in pictures and sense? That is playing, too, but it is also very serious.]
 
In any event, I just got this big flurry of, “Ah ha! Now I know what to do!” [Which involves me interviewing you and you interviewing me over a series of conversations…]
 
I am really getting up _____creek with ____. I think this may be because I am depressed – or have been – I don’t feel depressed now, because I was thinking about drawing with erasers. I think _____ depresses me lately, and maybe has for a long time. Just the irony of the social teeth and abusive, invalidating dynamics, weird power…that irony just really wrenches me. i’m not an extremely social person. I am sometimes painfully aware of the act of being social, the talking and listening and smiling, only occasionally falling into ease and comfort, relative safety that facilitates wit and laughter, but still aware, “I am talking with this person. This is what I’m thinking, this is what I’m feeling, this is what I am noticing. Oh, yeah, listening, smiling…”
 
When I am at ease, I speak in a way that people seem to find either strange or beautiful, depending on who they are and what they think is strange.
 
I don’t know. People look baffled sometimes, or maybe that’s just me.
 
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[These are just clouds, really. Despite the seeming symmetry, the fine curvature…]
 
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I was just thinking about this whole mad artist who capitalizes on one’s own broken brilliance thing and how people put their elbows on their hips and say, “But what about the ones who aren’t brilliant, what about the ones who aren’t geniuses and talented and quite so lucky as the ones who say that they are exceptional, the ones who are exceptional…”
 
I think that it’s insulting to suggest that some brilliance is worth more than other brilliance, or that some people do not have brilliance. The way that some kids and elders with profound developmental impairments make people smile…well, that’s brilliant. Whatever internal thought makes the eyes of the catatonic light for just a second, the way a person may become agitated when moved away from the window, that is brilliance. That is beauty, and life force..
 
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Aug 20 (4 days ago)
 

School just started back for my kids, and I’m sitting here and wondering about whether or not mental illness will come up in the classroom. In St. Louis, right near Ferguson, another black man was shot and killed by police, after a botched pastry theft, some erratic walking, and the brandishing of a knife, the request to be shot in a moment of what could be presumed to be panic, ambivalence, despair, or confusion, some combination thereof.

It is entirely possible that there will be a school shooting this year, though such phenomenon are difficult to predict on typical laws of averages and causation.
 
Do they talk about these things at school?
 
Do they talk about mental illness? Do they talk about trauma?
 
In some states, groups like NAMI and Mental Health First Aid for Youth have gone into schools and offered presentations on mental health, which explain mental illness as a matter of biological brain disease. I wonder if they ask how many kids have families affected by mental health disorders and related struggles, or if they just stand at the front of the room and show their posters. Probably, a lot of kids in those classrooms have diagnoses, of ADHD, Bipolar, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Asperger’s – the childhood diagnoses of the early 21st century.
 
When schools talk about mental health, do they talk about trauma, do they talk about poverty, and intergenerational familial struggle, do they talk about war and police and how much everyone has to do to try to just stay alive, to keep up, do they talk about how cruel people are to one another, how disgustingly mean people can be to their family members, to strangers, that people are killed by police?
 
Or do they list symptoms, and talk about genetic inheritance to explain the things that nobody talks about? Do they talk about how it feels to be sad, and to feel like crying when you’re not supposed to cry? Do they talk about what fear feels like, and how sometimes looking out a window or being outside can quell fear, bring a feeling of peace?
 
Do they ask what it feels like to be well? Do they ask about the ways that school itself can be deeply traumatic? Stigma is born in the bullying of the other, the regimentation of desired traits and behaviors in social brutality, under fluorescent lights‎.
 
My family has been deeply impacted by matters relating to mental health, and we talk about the idea of mental illness, what it means and does not mean, how some people are different and that is important, but that some differences come with unique strengths and challenges. We talk about how important it is to understand the ways we feel, and to honor them, but to manage them and exist with them well, to learn new ways to navigate sensitivities and vulnerabilities. We talk, also, about the fact that a lot our struggles are bound up in trauma, That reality, that unfortunate occurrences occurred and that these occurrences were harmful to us in ways that impacted the core of relationship, trust, security, and ease within one’s life, broke our hearts and terrified us all, each in different ways, our own despairs and resiliencies.
 
We discuss the possibility that, yeah, sometimes maybe Mom’s brain is a little wonky, something out of whack from too much noise, too much to do, the stresses of the daily, frustrations and inaccessible wellness strategies. Optimal wellness is a matter of privilege in a lot of ways. I cannot spend hours journaling, nor can I cease-and-desist in my work for two weeks in order to address periodic life/self/home upkeep and maintenance needs.
 
We talk about how we can be supportive of one another, and about what our needs and preferences are, how we might all work together to make the days good.
 
We get in arguments, people get upset, and then we reconcile.
 
That is how we talk about mental health in our family. I am not sure how I feel about the prospect of people – other than myself and a handful of other trusted, ethical sort of folks – talking to my kids about mental health and I certainly do not want anyone talking with them about mental illness, about the diagnostic label that their mother bears, the phrasing and paradigm that led to much trouble in the family. I don’t want anyone to suggest that their mother has a brain disease, a severe brain disease.
 
I mean, really, that’s terrible.
 
How would one go about asking that a school system please not contract with mental health educators that put forth partial or skewed or inaccurate/misleading about mental health and the origins and treatment of struggle?
 
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Aug 19 (5 days ago)

 
to me
 
When this really does feel like Clinical Depression…
 
I have nothing to be depressed about. I should be grateful, and bursting at the seams with joy and enthusiasm. Really, things are that good.
 
<Are they? Are things that good? Look at yourself. Disgusting. Slovenly. A total loser. Even your sadness is disgusting. Selfish and jaded. You hopeless failure. You’ve managed to kid people for long enough. It’s becoming clear to everyone. They know. They talk about you.>
 
<“She’s not very good at housekeeping.”>
 
<“She’s good at support, but she’s not a good organizer.”‎>
 
<She can’t really do anything well.>
 
These thoughts and scenarios surrounding them flood in, a hurricane. They silence me and stun me, my heart feels pummeled, smashed, pulpy, dying, a jellyfish on the beach.
 
I take more B vitamins, go to sleep early. Try to get things done and have a positive attitude, to check myself and hold myself accountable for toxic perspectives.
 
“This is not a disease,” I tell myself. “I am a deeply complex human being with…”
 
“I think I should go back on meds,” I tell a couple of friends.
 
“No,” shaking my head, “I don’t want to do that. It won’t help.”
 
I am not sure that this is true, remembering that at least I had experienced some exaltation at some point or another, whatever the cause.
 
“Could be spurious,” I nod, satisfied that I was not agreeing to or endorsing anything.
 
IMG_20140827_145806 [Heart, Triangle, Bird, Letter, Cloud]
 
This morning, as I swept the floor, I thought, “But what about this, what about when I want to be happy, when I know that I should be happy,  and even knowing that it is trauma-related, this thinking is flawed in conception, correctable with mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. What about when I can’t control the thinking? Isn’t that the basis of presumption in most considerations of what “mental illness” is or is not? A loss of control of one’s thinking, the descent or ascent or variance into thinking that is not consciously desired, and engaging with that thinking in such a way as to significantly impact one’s subjective experience and behavioral, affective manifestations of self and existence?
 
It takes an enormous amount of effort to navigate and negotiate and mitigate and mediate my experiential reality. I do not know if this is a disease. It feels like dis-ease, dysease. I don’t know what caused it. This morning, sweeping the floor, I thought about the possibility that psychiatric drugging during adolescence had seriously screwed up my serotonin receptors and integrative networks. Would it make sense to take medication for iatrogenic illness caused by the same class of drugs?
 
It might make sense, but the idea is repulsive and insulting to me.
 
What about trauma? Are my cognitive/emotional conglomerates wrought rigid with criticism, scorn, stigma? Are those voices – those thoughts and memories and horrifying projections – are they ‎written into me now? How can I unwrite them? Is that a disease, to have been malleable under force, to bear scars in one’s being?
 
Is there a medication for that?
 
Does deadening or manipulating a part of one’s brain, quieting certain reactions, lulling certain synaptic activity, does that heal a person? Do these parts of ourselves, these dark dusty halls, do they fade away behind the curtain…or do they just wait?
 
What is helpful to me, when I feel like I might have some damnable disease the morose outcomes I sometimes anticipate, in full technicolor imagination with emotional scoring and extrapolative bearing of the weight of every possible consequence and heartbreak upon giving up, being defeated, with the feelings in my body like lead and scissors, like concrete and black ash, and the laughter of men, the crying of children, all of it unfurling in my head and heart as I quietly and calmly sweep the floor, perhaps with an involuntary grimace at times, maybe a gasp, with the sun beautiful outside and the day full of things to do and an amazing fatigue and unwillfulness, disdain, laying in my bones like a film…
 
What is helpful to me, when it really does feel like depression, is to write.
 
When I am not able to write, all of this piles up, with everything else that is real and possible and I simply become overwhelmed and sad…a frustrated child, beating her fists against the wall, breaking her own wrists because she can’t be heard.
 
Why can’t I figure out how to make a life for myself that I can survive within? Where I do not have to struggle and fail so often as I do?
 
IMG_20140827_150227
[A lot of people would probably lose their minds if they saw this cross-like cloud situated over a suburban parking lot where they were waiting to pick their kid up from school. It is a curious cloud, you have to admit.]
 
Aug 15 (9 days ago)
‎As this is being written, there is a big group of kids walking down the sidewalk in front of this house. They are talking and laughing, and a dog barks up the road. The sky is pale blue, because it is almost nighttime and there are insects singing in the trees, birds in different rhythms.
 
Nothing here is on fire. There are no sirens, no gunshots, no screams. Nothing here is on fire.
 
How big is here?
 
Just a few imaginary lines away, there has been violent unrest in recent days, catalyzed by the police killing of a young, unarmed black man whose name, Michael Brown, will be added to the list of young, unarmed black men who have been killed by police, by men in uniforms and costumes, because of the color of their skin and the country that they live in.
 
Knowing that this is happening, again, amidst other recent avoidable tragedies, and yet not happening here presents a particular challenge ‎to the modern psyche, the modern maps of the world in relation, where people are linked by knowledge of events, true stories, technicolor live stream reporting, where the lines of separation between lives becomes blurry.
 
It’s a privilege to be in a place so relatively peaceful as the place where this is being written, with just the cars going by, the people walking to the store, kids hollering across the block. Dogs and insects.
 
This place could explode into violence at any time. Anywhere could.
 
That is not helpful thinking?
 
It scrambles the mind and reworks the world when one cannot avoid reckoning with the reality of places and spaces and truths and blood that may be removed from the witnessed immediate outside of the digital realm, which is – itself – a media of witness in the immediate. Nothing is very far away.
 
Police kill people all the time…black people, brown people, crazy people, poor people, people who are angry, people who are scared.
 
This is the world we live in.
 
It is hard to know that, to really know that, for it to be real, here in the pale blue early evening, a thousand miles away.
 
While we may be divided, by distance and circumstance, this reality of ours – that police are killing young people of color, that people are dying, that we live in a de facto apartheid state that people pretend doesn’t exist – it is a shared reality. This is where we live. This story is about something we are all a part of, whether we like it or acknowledge it.
 
This is real. There are fires. Everyday, somewhere, there are fires.
 
People are dying.
 
Has there been a misunderstanding?
 
It’s completely absurd that we spend billions of dollars each year clamoring to keep old people and sick people alive and then spend billions of dollars a year to support forces that kill people.
 
[A kid is dead. People are living in places like hell, though they’ve done nothing wrong. People will die today. Nothing is on fire here, but there is fire everywhere.]
 
To live in a world where kids are regularly killed by police, where brilliant hearts destroy themselves and countries are bombed, whole families killed, where the tops of mountains are exploded and scraped for coal and the blood of our history cannot ever be washed from our hands, the legacy of hatred and exploitation, power and dominance to the detriment of all sense and rightness, all kindness and stewardship, the potential of our species running into the cracks in the concrete, another kid dead, the last breath gasp of another departed genius, another shining star…well, it’s enough to make a person go mad.
 
‎What is there to do? What is there to do? Pray? Does one hit the floor, bang up their knees and wish for a happy ending? Or does one wish for war with all their heart, revenge, harm to one’s enemies? Oh, what to do, what to do.
 
As this is being written, there is revolt, and that is the real world. That means something.
 
It’s enough to make a person go mad, because if it’s not one’s own house, one’s own family, one’s own life, well…folks just go about their business, buying school supplies, oiling machines.
 
When do we stop? How close does it have to get? How quickly does life move on? When is it real enough to fight back, and what does that fight look like?
 
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  • Rhyne

    I have been in a bad state lately. I am trying not to reinforce it through acknowledgment, and certainly won’t dwell on it. However, there has been a certain siege, multiple plans bungled by the idiocy of white men, and my own failure to speak, my choking, drowning, stunned ambivalence, the core of hopelessness and confirmation. It has been hell, and I want a new name. I have looked at the sky these past few days, and I have wondered, who was that person, who could tell the entire story of the world, different everytime, with only the prompting of clouds and light. Who was that person? I don’t even have a camera right now, just my phone. It is unsatisfactory. Who needs photos? Shouldn’t I be able to describe what I see, to explain the precise curvature of the arc, using words like illumine and nascent and vertices, to speak of golden ratios in an ordinary sunset? Shouldn’t I be able to tell the stories, to articulate the feeling of joy absolute at the thought that the gods of the governing forces arranged the vapors to appear as the countenance of a baby animal, a bear, a seal, a hedgehog, a bird’s nest, and then the revolt, the disgust – as if lashed into me by the sky itself – at my own self-absorption, to think for a minute that it was about me, to know that those baby animals, those delightful baby animals, are dying and dying and dying because of the idiocy of human beings, and that the only reason I ought to exist is to fucking do something about that, and all the rest, too. Today, before radical mental health meeting, I was advised to go and see an exhibit on Market St, on the corner of Eagle and Market. It was in an upstairs gallery, up several flights of broad, wooden stairs, in a room beside another room. I signed in and stood in the first room, because a man was talking and I wanted to be respectful. I looked at the carvings of ships’ halls, cut into flat form, a cross-section that showed the forms of bodies as plain black shapes, lined up like keyholes. I remembered who I was, and what I give a shit about, shuddered a little, as the man went on and on, about the neighborhood. I squatted down on my haunches, because it was more comfortable to me. Three people standing around me, talking and listening, and that is when I saw her, a life-sized concrete form, human with distinct features, a set of sorrow in the mouth, a weariness in the shoulders, a plaster-cast person who is alive somewhere, out there, not concrete. Her figure was chained at the wrists, and mounted against the belly of a ship made out of charred crate wood. I hadn’t seen her, but then I saw her. The people paused in talking, and the man said, “You,” gesturing down at me, where I was resting my elbows on my knees, squatting because the effort to stand was just too great to bear at the moment, “you need to go in there.”

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  •  

    The room was filled with sculptures chained to ships, all of which were held to a large, gouged-wood carving of E Pluribus Unum, the insignia cut into splintering wood.

     I just sat down and cried, made sounds like a puppy almost. It was not a sappy sentimental weeping.
     

    It was remembering the times I had felt the ghosts of bodies washed ashore, had seen their eyes all crab-eaten, and the disgust the sheer disgust toward this past, this present, the apparent peri-apocalyptic future.

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  •  

    All I am supposed to do is prove god with clouds and tell stories. I am a failure because I cannot figure out how to do that. There is some trick, where if a person simply does what it is they are supposed to do, what it is they are passionately certain they are intended to do, then everything works out. I don’t know. This shit is banal. I have been depressed. It feels like a disease. I’m alright with that, mostly because I am ambivalent about a lot lately. I was not ambivalent about seeing that room full of sculptures today. No words had made feel anything so big and real lately, no long text, no wall of verb and adjective.

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    10:25 AM (11 hours ago)

     
    to me
     
     [From this morning…]
     
    ‎I am already forgetting their name now, The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists. That is their name. I just learned about them today, and I don’t remember exactly how, something related to perusing Henry Kissinger on Wikipedia. In any event, after reading this passage, reprinted in an article on [], I was struck with a tremendous flurry of ideas, all coalescing. Recognizing that I was feeling passionate and inspired by the story of the Boxers, as I had felt passionate and inspired by the story of the Children’s Crusade, I went upstairs to vacuum thinking, “Yes, it really comes down to this, a fundamental incompatibility in interests and priorities. I cannot sit down to write an essay about madness, defense, and magic in the colonialist world. I don’t have time to think about these things.”
     
    [in my walking and talking life, a roommate is moving in, beginning today, a young woman whom I have known for a while, and her dog, whose name is Artemis. My elder dog is aging fast now, all of the sudden. My younger dog looks like the Fox Swordsman, Didymus, in the movie Labrynth. Just now, as the sirens scream down by the hospital, I was watching her walk around, down in the yard. I wrote a sentence, and then didn’t see her. I called for her, and she didn’t come into sight, and so I moved, to try to see her, to make sure she hadn’t gone through the fence and all its wires somehow. As I walked down the front steps, those wide concrete steps, I caught sight of her, by the fence. She had something in her mouth. I crossed the yard, with the thought that it may be some old, encrusted cat feces, or part of a dead bird, something surely disgusting. She came toward me and I reached down to brush and feel around her mouth, and a single skeleton bloom, with a single green leaf caught within it fell to the ground and I swear to fucking god it was the most beautiful gift I have received in quite sometime.
     
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    [It will go into a shadow box.]
     
    As I was saying, I don’t have time to even write an essay about the fact that any interest, longing, or truth that lies outside of the…oh, it seems so stupid to even say, lies outside of the realm of cultural norms. well, of course, that is socialization, that is enculturation, the direct and subtle pressures that dissuade particular interests, ways of being, passions. People can any array of interests, a multitude of video games and blood sports, arts and technologies, but there are certain areas of passion that are not especially well-accommodated outside of speciality and niche academics.
     
    Oh, there are so many sirens today. The other night, I read for bit, from The Self Made Tapestry. I miss reading. Now, all I read are emails, google docs, and posts on digital pages, maybe a newspaper, a magazine. When people are getting their families blown up by nationalist militant forces, is it disgusting for me to feel so sad that I no longer have time to read.
     
    Time has become strange lately. Fast, then slow. My temporal anchor has loosened in shifting sands. My subjective experience of what an hour is and what can happen within 60 minutes is highly variable.
     
    I have to go take a shower, clean the house.
     
    [I just brushed an ant off my arm. It wasn’t going to hurt me. The other day, a yellowjacket made friends with me, and then another fellow, whom I was standing near. Neither of us appeared alarmed at the insect on our hands, near our faces. Some people are like that. The brushing off of ants is a habit, an animal instinct, a cultural gesture.]
     
    [What are all these garbage trucks doing around here? Garbage trucks or fire engines. So many engines today. I hear a plane right now, a small aircraft. The sun just broke through the clouds and a small breeze started to blow. It feels like the coast of Georgia, c. 1989.]
     
    I have to go to work, take a shower, wash off the rest of yesterday’s swordfighting. I got shield bashed in the face, and actually flew backward, knocked off my feet, my birdhat pushed back. There was a moment of wondering if I’d gotten hurt, but then I stood up, put my hat back on, and continued trying to capture the flag.
     
    I’m a little old for this, to be in a field, battling with young people, wearing in a birdhat‎. Yet, it is easily observable that something about this practice, of fighting in fields and wearing a birdhat, something about it is good for me, who has been still and weary for so long.
     
    I have been able to do a lot, but everything I have been able to do I have done at the cost of not having any energy left – things being what they were – to be able to do the things that are good for me, for my life-force. To play, to do art. To make good food, to take care of my home. Oh, boo hoo. Life is hard, only the lucky ones get to choose the life they live.
     
    I don’t know if that’s true. I do know that if ever I manage to have a life that suits me more, that is more appropriate and sustainable, then I will need to always, always, always remember that anything I have, I have by privilege and luck and that I owe it the circumstances to do whatever I need to do in order to contribute to change, restitution, and liberation.
     
    Again, we return to the matter of what is and is not appropriate for people in various roles and scenarios to believe in, care about, or pursue.
     
    As the mother of a 10 and 12 year old, who is not sanctioned by the exceptional titles of ‘academic researcher’ or ‘writer’ or ‘artist,’ I have the impression that I’m not supposed to be spending any time at all whatsoever even half-thinking that I ought to have any part in global movements for peace and justice. In fact, if I had called my mother and said, “You know, when I taking all those pictures of clouds, I was thinking about what might be a unifying idea, something that might explain everything and level our understanding of what it is to be human. [not something I ‘needed’ to be thinking about in the first place] and that maybe there could be to help people everywhere, in all the states and nations, pause, take inventory, and re-asses their histories, begin again…and it really was about peace‎.”
     
    Well, she would possibly think, “Oh, that’s lovely, and are you okay?”
     
    I am not supposed to be thinking about these things. ‎I need to go do work, which is actually a vehicle for my participation in any sort of change, but also – possibly – a shenanigan, which is sucking my time, neglecting my skills, and filling my headspace with things I don’t need to think about in the process of attempting to complete work which is uninspired and fatigued.
     
    I am feeling like it probably would’ve been a keen idea for me to have gotten on disability, since even these ideal jobs prove untenable, as my preoccupation with art and a sense of vocation re: re-presentation and story tend to strain my capacity for rote tasks of little consequence, my tolerance for occupying roles that strain my social aptitudes and require dramatic manipulation of my expressed self is exceedingly low lately.
     
    Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve had moments of desperation lately. Little stretches. It’s silly, a tedious crisis of faith, an indulgent fear, a false narrative of impending scarcity and failure on all fronts, the woe of worst case scenarios when – really – their are people who would spit on me, as well they should, for feeling anything short of pure gratitude for just being alive, starving and bombed as they are, by the country – either directly or indirectly – that I live in.
     
    It would be an interesting visual diagram, the rise and fall of global conflict, the geographic regions and conglomerates involved. I’m sure the United States would have, since its inception, a great many red lines leading from it.
     
    Someone from swordfighting posted some pictures of kids battles on social media and there I am, with my birdhat on and my legs looking strong between my socks and leggings, with odd looks on my face.  In one picture, which I am not in, my oldest kid – who will be 12 tomorrow – is laughing with his face wide open at a fighter who is rolling silly on the ground, a foam ax on the ground beside him. In some pictures, my daughter’s strong legs are in a fighter’s stance, and in others her swords are dangling as she stands looking around.
     
    IMG_20140827_150328
     
    The other night, I was walking with a friend on the evening of their birthday and we noticed that the shadows of the leaves as cast by streetlight were angular and grid-like, a screen door, a crystal matrix, not the boughs and curves of leaf and branch. We could not figure out why, other than the possibility that the light itself was moving much faster than we could see, that the shaking showed up only in the blurred and layered lines of shadows. That didn’t really make sense, but the only other explanation was that we may be living in a poorly constructed and faltering matrix of reality and impression.
     
    IMG_20140820_222727747 IMG_20140820_222703380 [The trees were still, no wind. The shadows of their leaves looked like boxes.]