Here I am at 11:13pm, almost 16 hours after I started my vocational day with a long drive to a neighboring county covered in fog and drizzling damp, where my breath hung in the air as I walked across the wet, black lot to enter the lower unit after knocking on the door.
I sat in the chair in the corner, and noticed that people seemed more quiet than usual.. I wondered what was happening and then, after a few minutes sitting in the lamplit room, realized that nothing was happening, or not happening.
People were tired. I picked at my arm warmers, and thought about when I had last worn them, on Friday night.
It was Tuesday morning and we were in a staff meeting.
Before the 9:45am class, the copier spit out my hundred+ pages of handouts from the British Psychological Society’s Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia in an uncollated heap, with 12 copies of pages 68-69, 12 copies of pages 70-71, 12 copies of pages 72-73, on up into the 90s. I made 12 separate piles, and laid one sheet over on top of another, again and again, as I introduced the class on interpersonal effectiveness.
I spoke about recovery and psychosis and coping with fear from 11:00-12:30. An older gentleman, very trim and tidy, asked if he could close the door, as his son was in the waiting room, a man in his 40s who had never worked, whose feet shuffled on the floor in front of him, fidgeting in the way of the akathisiac, the tardive dyskinesiac.
I told him that I was sorry, but that the door had to stay open.
A man fell asleep on a couch, but swore he was still listening.
I didn’t eat lunch, and called a woman who asked about refills for her medication, saying that the rain was making her arms ache where the bones were crushed a few years back.
In the middle of the day, I got a message (at 12:22pm) from a community member re: police at the Dept. of Social Services and an upcoming crisis intervention team training. It was a strange email, as the person who sent it has apparently been losing their mind lately and is communicating in a haphazard way.
I did my paperwork and gave my co-worker a piece of chocolate.
I drove too fast on the way back to Asheville, but the roads were clear and I got to the facilitation training on time, pausing in my car to reply to an email about a room at a conference site in California. It took 5 minutes to write a simple reply, due to all the a’s that kept inserting themselves into my text.
I thought about a friend.
A meeting ensued during which an entire novel’s worth of things occurred, and I ate a clementine and talked with friends and didn’t solve any problems at all.
The person who had sent the email at 12:22 is now missing, and I have accepted that there is not much I can do about the situation, as I have already driven around.
I took pictures of the snowflake decorations that are still lit here in this town and wondered if tomorrow I will get the call that the person who is missing is gone, dead, or otherwise lost.
That is a distinct possibility.
I left the house 16 hours ago.
7:53 PM (3 hours ago)
I have thought about the prospect of having this site open again, considered the ways that its existence changes who I am.
The person who tattooed my palms, a man who had 3 small straight lines III tattooed below his lip said that prior to tattooing one’s face, the design should be drawn on with a pen and worn around town, to really get a feel for how bearing such marks impacts one’s social reality and experience.
I am going to open this space up again for a minute and deposit portions of my sparse writings from the past 6 weeks. I am not posting everything I wrote during the close of Autumn, the new Winter, the holidays and opening of a new calendar year. If I were a real blogger, I’d have formulated some thoughtful and reflective post on last year’s gratitudes and failures, my intentions for the coming months.
Instead, I am just posting some emails I wrote to myself in December.
I woke up this morning to a RIP message, news of another person’s suicide. So many people die out there. This person, this woman who has recently died by her own hand, was a friend, though not a close one, whatever that means. We spoke once about our dead uncles. She was related to Benjamin Franklin, at least that was what she told me.
I had no reason to doubt her.
Most people are related to someone, somewhere.
She was angry at me last time we had contact, because I had chided her on the spelling of someone’s name and she got the impression that I thought less of her, that I was sucking up to someone, when – really – I had only been trying to make a point about presentation and what it takes to be taken seriously. I think I even said that I was of the mind that it was bullshit, stupid that such things should matter.
I personally don’t care much, but she thought that I did.
The day that person died, the day they killed themselves, was the same day that I was supposed to go to the training about alternatives to suicide, but didn’t, because my flight was cancelled and I decided that I couldn’t make the 14 hour drive into the band of storm that hugged Interstate 81 all the way up the digital map.
It was a despairing sort of day, that Wednesday. I didn’t know why. I thought I was sad about not going to the training. Maybe that was all?
Last night I had a dream about a woman sitting in a chair, with her face dead and ashen, a damp twist of plant life in her hair, as if she’d drowned. I don’t how the person whose death I learned of this morning died, but I’d guess that she jumped off a bridge, though it’s possible that she simply took every fucking pill in the house, fell asleep.
Other people have jumped off bridges, other women. I didn’t know them though.
The woman who died used to say she was like Hecate’s dogs, symbolic creatures, sacrificial beasts, restless souls waiting to be reborn from the underworld.
She hadn’t packed yet, and did not even have a proper bag to pack. They’d, she and her children, had gone to two stores, looking for a large used backpack, something with straps, so that she could carry it through the city and not be conspicuous, walking down the sidewalk with a suitcase, her pace like the airport, with the taxis driving by. She didn’t care for suitcases, their hard edges and clattering, their plastic handles.
In the first store, the bags were all brand new, hundreds of dollars for something to carry tents up a mountain, books to class. Her son was still angry at his sister for liking rock music. He was experimenting with being sullen and yet talking too loudly. “I don’t care,” he muttered in a projecting tone, making it known that he was muttering, after the woman asked him to please speak more nicely to his sister in the store.
She was probably speaking too loudly, too. She felt awkward under the spotlights, crowded by fleece and zippers, quilted warmth and thin silks. The other shoppers seemed comfortable enough.
They took up a lot of space, the woman and her children. The girl and her daughter were big people, tall and broad shouldered, with noticeable hair. The boy expanded in his glower, his hair mussed on one side, too long over his ears. He didn’t care, and his mother – the woman – didn’t particularly care either.
“Can I stay in the car?” The boy was slouched in the passenger seat.
“Here’s the panicker.” The woman handed him the keyring with the automatic key on it, with the panic button, the panicker. The ignition key had broken off of the keyring, and she carried it in her purse, putting it in the same zippered compartment everytime.
She and her daughter walked in the store and stood for a few minutes, comparing bags. There were no wonderful bags, at least not for cheap. One would have been suitable, except it had the words “Bomb Bag” embroidered on it.
“I can’t take that to the airport,” the woman said, letting the bag fall back to hanging on its rack. She wandered over to the coats and vests, the fleeces, pilled and worn, not crisp at the seams at all, the zippers dull, their little flags of fabric pull all curled.
Maybe she could find something warm for the boy to wear. He didn’t have a coat at her house, though he said there was one at his father’s. The woman did not understand what happened to all of the coats. She didn’t think about it.
She saw that the person behind the counter recognized her, and she thought she recognized him. She thought she knew him, but she didn’t know from where. She smiled and went back to the sparse racks.
“Look,” she held a ski mask up, an oily-looking cotton blend knit. The tag said “Bank Robber’s Hat.” It was only 7 dollars.
I allowed my voice to be chirpy and clear, to be the voice I usually speak in, when I am at ease. I didn’t will it flat or let it get squelched in the tightness of my chest.
I spoke about schedules, and sounded like I knew what I was talking about. I could hear that it pleased her, that it lightened her in some way.
I said “I love you,” in return to her unbidden declaration of loving me, and I meant it, which was why I said it, because even in saying it, I was being kind. I do love my mother.
This phone call occurred just after I wrote this message:
Last night, I talked to a friend, a trusted friend, and I allowed myself to be honest, using the word “psychosis,” and then correcting myself, clarifying the usage. Objectively speaking, I am finding myself in an increasing rift between realities. This is nothing new, and perhaps I am actually coming out of a rift, because I am acknowledging that there is a rift. I am aware of it.
It is the spaceship edging around the cratered curvature of a spherical planet and a great gaping sweep flat-jagged high ridged chasms rising up from the surface with the sliding suddenness – that is the feeling of the moment when one realizes that the person they are communicating with has no fucking idea what the hell they are hearing you say, and you understand that – to them – you are not really saying anything of any substance or consequence or meaning at all.
It is a feeling like driving off of a cliff that you didn’t even know was there.
It is a blank face stare, that rushes onto a person’s face, and I can feel the pulse of their sudden concern.
“Is Faith freaking losing it or what? What is she talking about?” – when really, I haven’t said a single thing, only fragments of things that are not remotely singular, but are – instead – so splintered and branching, curving back on themselves, that – really and truly – I might stare into space right in the middle of a sentence these days, like the words just fell out of my head, dropped out of the sky.
I was talking to a friend, a trusted friend, last night and I understood that I was speaking only in partial allusion, and that he understood some of what that indicated and grasped the realness of it, but that he basically had no fucking idea what I was talking about, as I walked around the house, cleaning dust out of the corners, wiping counters, saying things about how the whole situation with the flight cancellation had really put me in a bad place, a very uncomfortable and pressured reality of fates and forces and potential outcomes.
I hang out at the edge of that place, but I don’t live in it all the time, and I try to keep one foot out the door, firmly planted. Lately though, I have stumbled into a perseveration of discernment and persistent meta-mythic crises over what the hell it means that I somehow did not go and do this thing that I was intended to go and do, though – true – in part, my absence was no fault of my own, but could have likely been avoided – my absence – if I’d just gotten into the car and driven.
Was that what I was supposed to do?
In some possible future, yes, absolutely. I was absolutely supposed to be there. It was important that I be there. I understand this.
However, I am endlessly balking at the prospect of possible futures, and it seems like I have spent my entire adolescent and adult life developing structures of purpose and self, occupation, only to find them trembling from somewhere deep at the center of the architecture, and then – slowly and sometimes with a great and reverberating collapse, they fall in on themselves, thwarted by some integral misalignment.
The weight of all this is consuming, this life on the precipice of imminent…Hmmm, wait a second?
You mean that life doesn’t have to collapse, that it never collapsed to begin with, never, not once…that all it did was change?
Well, yes, it’s true that the nature of the change was that of something that, yes, could be described as a collapse, or maybe a great crumbling…
It always starts with a shifting.
Everything is always shifting.
Oh, stop it. You have floors to sweep.
This is an excellent example of the sort of breach in conversational convention that is so problematic.
I am talking to myself, with myself…and although the personification is quite charming in my head, and bears weight and meaning, the quality of these self-to-self interactions is completely absent here.
Even in saying that, I have the sense that you have no idea what precisely I am trying to convey, but I think that you understand that, the reasons for it.
Do you see how confusing it is? How it creates this disconnect, if I am not able to communicate what it is that I want to say in a way that the accurate meaning and consequence is transmitted, imparted, put forth?
After all, people can’t know what is in another person’s head, another person’s experience, except by art and that is just representation or a sad attempt at mimicry and issuance of that which cannot conceivably be issued, which is everything that might be a fact or perceived fact of my life and the world at any given moment.
The person that one imagines themselves to be is the person they become.
I don’t know if that is true.
The same friend, my trusted friend, said to me tonight, after I divulged that I could conceivably lose my job over having this inappropriate website, that I ought to consider making this private, or anonymizing it in some way.
It really is foolish – and possibly even dangerous, for incredibly stupid reasons – to have my name associated with this albatross.
I told my friend that I felt like I’d be alright if I lost my job for being honest on the internet.
I said that I had been doing some realizing about the conditions in which I might be most happy and usefully productive, a life structure that might hold me more kindly and generously, a life in which I would worry less what people thought of me, whether or not they understood, whether or not I was communicating well.
More importantly, I need a life where this can be real and I am not always waiting for the other shoe to fall. My friend does not understand the risk involved in making choices and taking chances. If I were to make a decisive move toward my goal of structuring a life in which I could just spend my time volunteering and trying to reconcile my worlds, which really are very confused, and supporting people in ways that are ethical and upstanding in the true human sense…and doing art….well, I am making steps toward a life structure such as that, not as a lifestyle choice but as a matter of course and necessity. I have to do things slowly. Things happen slowly.
I have to ask myself, still, “What if I lost my job because of this, because I don’t do art that is safer, less vulnerable, less personal, less potentially controversial?”
This choice, which is not really a choice, comes about in my own knowing that what it is that I saw and understood, and feeling that it is important for a number of reasons, though sometimes I struggle to remember them.
“What good would it do to be able to prove that the connection between the forces we call God and the natural world are communicative, and that the patterns above are at play with and within everything that lives and that we are all amazing?”
I mean, give me break.
How many people have tried to prove all that, have tried to say all that?
That’s basically what everyone has been trying to say for as long as people have been saying anything at all.
I don’t know if that’s even what I am trying to do anymore?
I want to do an autoethnography on my relationship with clouds.
The other week, I was sitting outside with my housemate and I said, “I think it’s kinda outrageous that _____ wants to come up with a scientifically replicable proof of god? I mean, really, what are the odds of two peo-”
My housemate cut me off. “I think ____ is asking good questions.”
I understood that my housemate had missed the point entirely, that my statement was not a criticism, but an exclamation intended to suggest that I found it curious that two people bent in the same way, though with different relationship to the subject at hand, should be seated in the same room. I’m sure this happens all the time, but trying to prove God is a little bit of an audacious thing to seek to do, or even to consider.
It’s a risky endeavor, even if one fails…especially if one fails. Nothing besmirches one’s credibility quite like trying to prove God.
It’s a cultural taboo, a disruption of the looming axiomatic mystery.
My housemate, a person who lives in my home, somehow seems to have no idea that a huge part of the past ½ a decade of my life has been spend in fumbling transgression related to deconstructing the way we conceive of how the forces of the universe might show up for us, might show up to us…my housemate seemed to have no idea that I had actually tried to come up with a proof of godforces, by proxy of cloud pictures.
If I had asked his mother why he hadn’t attended the event when she first mentioned him, instead of assuming that she had said that she “wished he could be here” because he was already gone, already dead.
He didn’t commit suicide until six months later, and I will never not wonder what might have happened if I had written him a letter.
They work at the edge of time, impacting the future from the past, sleeper catalysts.
I swear I felt
a song rising
and that those three birds
they mean something
I’m as sure of it
as I am sure
of the feel of the air
on my skin
come to think of it
I am not sure about at all
What the Fuck Did I Just Do?:
A Narrative Exploration of How It Feels to Understand that You Really Did Just Call the Cops on Your Neighbors
I was noticing how quiet the street was, on the downslope of the holiday afternoon, sitting on the porch, right before my body heard it seconds before my ears did. I tensed up and my thoughts raced as I began to make sense of what I was hearing.
The sound of a man screaming at someone, yelling. It seemed like fists, the sound of his voice carrying across the street. Something crashed. A kid yelled what sounded like, “Moooooom.”
My heart leapt into attention.
“Calm down,” I told myself, a cat’s meow sounds like ‘Mom’, lots of noises sound like ‘Mom.’ They are just playing, being loud.”
Something else crashed. A kid ran from the side of the house into the yard, up to the front door, ran inside.
My momentary understanding of the situation was that something bad was possibly – almost certainly -happening.
I jumped up from the rocker and wangled the gate open, slid-walked down the hill, and jogged up the street. I knocked on the gate of their fence. Stood there as no one answered. I knocked again and began to feel unsure.
I knew I wouldn’t go knock on the door, but I wasn’t sure why.
What would I say? It was none of my business. I think I was afraid, of confronting people who may be…
I could just forget about it. It was none of my business. I walked down the street, a tall woman with a black coat on, ragged braids, mussed hair from hat-wearing, her face heavy.
I thought about the odds of something awful happening. I spend a lot of time with people who have awful things happen to them all the time.
I think that I was what is called triggered, when some combination of sensory input, memory, imagination, and reaction collide to distort reality, creating misappropriated emotion and frameworks of understanding that are threat-oriented.
Is that a reason to do some dumb and fucked up shit like call the cop’s one’s neighbor?
I tried to explain why I was calling to the officer who answered the non-emergency number, “So, if someone is concerned about the safety of their neighbor, do the police go by and check on people?”
“Well, yes,” the officer seemed bored.
“They might just been playing…you know, some loud game. They might just be noisy.”
I was pretty sure – then – that that was the case, but felt simultaneously sure that something terrible was happening, because I might have been a little caught off guard, and a little freaked out by the sight of that kid running up the steps like that, wearing a Santa hat.
I was non-committal and calm, “Maybe, if you all do go by, it will be a huge mistake and…they’ll just think it was weird that the police came.”
Part of my mind then began blaring, there in my living room, looking at the Christmas tree with the three dogs restless around my legs as I spoke. “What the Fuck are you doing!?!”
A critical analysis of values and police, respect of one’s neighbors, disgust at my own cowardice and negligence, my nosiness and presumption…
“What the fuck are you doing?”
I remembered the sound of the adults yelling. The “Mooooom” sound stretching helpless in the quiet air.
“Some guy could be hurting people.”
These things happen. All the time.
I didn’t know what to do.
I found myself giving them the address of the house whose gate I’d knocked on. I stammered off the phone. Went outside.
“What have I done?”
I felt a great woe and shame rise up in me. I was pretty sure that I was mistaken that they were just playing. I thought it was too late to call the police – [oh, my god. I called the police.] – back.
No police showed up. I hoped they’d blow it off.
A solitary figure walked up the street.
It was getting dark when one patrol car stopped on the wrong side of the street, across from the house.
I felt a little sick. One officer walked up the sidewalk, nonchalantly. “Maybe he’ll say something clever, like ‘Oh, we got a report of some concerning noises in the neighborhood, and was wondering if you’d heard anything…?”
A second squad car pulled up.
My face was numb, my ears were ringing.
A third car pulled up.
I went inside, reeling with regret, unless something terrible was happening, which I was now fairly certain wasn’t happening, that I had been wrong, and that something had happened in my mind that had distorted the sounds of playing and regular household noisy-ness to sound like violence.
My kids and I make violent noises all the time. Slamming things, and banging things around, yelling, because we a loud family.
How would I feel if the cops showed up at my house, on a quiet grey holiday afternoon!??
I called the non-emergency number back. “Um, yeah, I just called a few minutes ago about doing a…” I began to stammer, unsure of what I had asked them to do, which was mostly, in a friendly, casual non-police way, inquire as to whether or not everything was alright.
What the fuck. Why would I send police to anybody’s home?
How I can I advocate for community if I am calling the cops on my neighbor?
“Three police cars is a lot of police cars on this street. Why are there three cars? I mean, that’s a bit much.”
I understood that I sounded a little crazy.
I accepted that.
Stammering, I got off the phone and went outside.
The police were still standing at the door at the house up the street. Nobody had answered. Maybe they had. I couldn’t really see.
“Oh, my god, when did I become such a busybody?”
I truly loathed myself in that moment. The value/action dissonance was almost too much to bear. I went inside, stood there for a minute and wondered how this was even happening, how I had momentarily inhabited a reality where it seemed like a swell plan to call the cops because I heard noises that sounded like family violence and…I got triggered.
I heard the police say, “Have a Merry Christmas!” and make a chuckling sound, the metal thunk of the gate latch.
“Oh what the fuck did I do?” My mind was reeling.
“…but, what if you really are worried about your neighbor, because you know bad shit happens all the time, and you…are…”
I wondered if I’d even heard what I’d heard, seen what I’d seen. I was pretty sure I had, but who is to say how many layers of distortion there are in the air between houses.
I felt like, at that moment of wondering if my perception had become so blighted by harm and awareness of harm that I might, if surprised by an unexpected sound that is synthesized in my hearing to be representative of harm or violence, might be…hearing things, mixing the input wrong, hearing play as terror, like a cat’s meow says ‘Mom.’
I wanted to run across the street again, as the police dispersed in paths of forty-five degree angles away from one another, toward the three cars parked on the wrong side of the street. I wanted to run across the street and apologize to my neighbors. I didn’t.
I am sorry.
I will not ever call the police on my neighbors again. I will knock on the door, or I will walk away and ask for forgiveness for my cowardice, for not wanting to get involved.
I am sorry.
12/30/14 (11 days ago)
I remembered, as I caught the curious
green of the sky
right at the edge
of the blanket of grey
Like something thick
that could be scissored through
I remember that I am amazed.
At night, after sitting in a circle
and saying without sadness
that I give up
that I’ve lowered the bar
and that I am proud…
I was going to say
that after that
I saw an angle in the night sky
save for frozen filaments
in drifts of face and shape
and the fleeting eyes of babies
I was going to say that I proved myself wrong
because it doesn’t even matter about pride
unless pride is in doing the right thing,
the true thing,
whatever serves real beauty in the highest
and I remember,
like ships colliding
why I began
to begin with…
Jan 1 (9 days ago)
He watched the cars go by down on the street. They were real. Death was real.
He laughed, catching himself. “Nothing ever dies,” he wrote these words down on paper held on a clipboard, feeling his hand cramp with the pencil in his grip.
That morning, there had been a car parked wrongways on the street, just sitting there with the motor running, a door ajar, the radio on.
A woman had come out of the house across the street, hollering and drunk on New Year’s Day.
“Call the law, call the law…”
A man bellowed back that he would, he would call the law.
The police had come, three of them, and Rory had sat on the porch, eating collards and black-eyed peas. Watching, because that was what was happening at the moment.
The hedge trees made it hard to see him, sitting up there, eating his lunch. Voices carried.
“She’s pretty messed up, but that ain’t against the law.”
Everybody eventually got into their cars and drove away.
You become a ghost.
[I posted this Facebook earlier, as a letter to a friend, correspondence, but only I can view it. I couldn’t make it public, because people would think I was having some
“struggles with bipolar disorder” or some such shit – because that’s what happens when you drop off of Facebook for awhile and then post a conversation about referentialism and the radio – because it was what you wanted to share with people, something you made – an idea, a pleasing sentence, something that matters to you.
Chances are good that if I posted this sort of thing on my public wall, people would ask – or at least wonder – if I am “okay,” and I could say, “Yeah, I’m fucking great! I had a wonderful time writing about the radio because it is fun for me to write about the radio and I love playing with content analysis of popular playlists and it is fun for me to think about songs I might send a friend these days and songs I freaking love to hear at 7:45 in the morning. It’s, like, the most fun ever!”
Some people would have an issue with that, that I would find such things fun, would perhaps think that was not alright for some reason, and their voice would falter a little, a forced smile on the other end of the line, “Well, good…I’m glad you’re alright.”
Other people would just ignore it, but may make a mental note of my exhibiting atypical social communications about ideas relating to radio.
Those are conversations I am not interested in having. It makes me feel hostile to realize that I have to navigate layers upon layers of intersectional sanism every time I talk about things that make me happy.
Jan 3 (7 days ago)
It’s a complicated thing, not wanting to be on Facebook so much. Even if I am not saying much, or posting anything at all, Facebook exists in my consciousness, my friends – legitimate friends, people who care about me, people I love – wonder where I have gone, why I am so quiet, if I am “okay.”
I feel badly for disappearing. Yet, I want to disappear more. I have only been on Facebook for a few years. It is a place where I have built relationship and changed my life, impacted the lives of others in what I say, what I share…the social and political enormity of Facebook is absolutely crushing some days. I have become increasingly silent in this space, as my long-standing tendency to critically analyze my participation in social situations (as a survival skill and an effort to understand and feel natural within situations, exchanges and dynamics that I do not always understand and or feel natural or comfortable within, such as being a person or anything at all…a person with a name and with a face, a person to whom significance is given, whose attributes are given value and meaning, for better or for worse, and that even the geometry of my fucking face and the way I say my words, the nature of my syntax…I cannot stand to be consumable, to be consumed, to be a product with an expected function, a purpose served in the imagination of others, in regard to who I am to them, what they want of me, what role they want me to play.
Even in the most sincere friendships, these frameworks pervade. I can feel them, pulling down at my friend’s voice, at their heart, when I tell them that I want to get off the phone, that I need to get off the phone, so that I can get in touch with other people, after an entire day has already been spent existing for other people, showing up for them, being present and engaged with them (and I am so damn lucky to spend the time I do with people) and – please – enough already…
I love and respect and need so many people. I am infinitely glad that there is such an abundance of badass and visionary people out there and that totally incredible shit is happening every moment of every day.
I, however, am feeling quiet…though evidently not…as I am communicating right now.
I am sorry that I have been out of touch, that I made the Facebook faux pas of not saying much of anything for a couple of months and the friendship faux pas of not letting people know that I have been totally happy to do the minimum of what I have been doing, with working at the REC and being with my kids, and spending time with community here and doing the most miniscule amount of organizing with the that I can muster to do…
I understand that – as a considerate friend – I need to be in better touch with people.
I may not be in touch with people for a while.
I am getting ready to start finally finishing my Master’s, once and for all. I was going to do some qualitative participatory project around motivations, barriers, and supports in organizing community mental health networks.
I have since decided that I am going to throw myself wholeheartedly into the study and practice of autoethnography…the researcher as subject, and vice versa.
That decision was made in response to the way that I felt when I read the simple autoethnography entry on Wikipedia.
I felt excited, and inspired. I had ideas and they made perfect sense.
“Here, this is what I can do. This is how I can do my work, the work that I need to do.”
I hadn’t felt that way about an academic or occupational endeavor in a long time.
For weeks, I had been re-negotiating the idea that it would be selfish, narcissistic even, to do a thesis project on myself and my subjective experience, my own story as it relates to much larger phenomena…my skin, my language, the town I grew up in, the people I love, the relatives I don’t have, this matter of being a woman. I could apply autoethnography to anything.
For years, since I was a kid in the woods who couldn’t talk right, I have been trying to understand what the hell is going on with people and what they do, the realities and impacts of being human.
I am going to be quietly experimenting with being off of Facebook, posting less, lurking less. I am going to try my best to stay in touch with people.
10:44 PM (1 hour ago)
”The broken part of me broke,” she said, laughing a little at how at ease she felt in believing this. A moment before, she had told him that she didn’t think she would have another nervous breakdown.
Jan 4 (6 days ago)
There is a world out there,
these people driving by,
they are not thinking about
the argument or the upset
in the evening
of things that really do matter
They don’t even know
that the argument even happened.
To them, it doesn’t exist.
There is rain falling
there are cows to be fed
the interstate is humming along
and the tide is coming in
or going out
Jan 7 (4 days ago)
Late in November, I changed the setting on this site to Private.
I felt an immediate reduction in my anxiety, as limiting public access to these field notes and messages meant that I was no longer walking about in the world with this melee of data invisibly following me everywhere I went.
I didn’t have to keep it a secret.
It was no longer ‘a thing.’
Oh, it existed, in the weeks of drawn curtains, though nobody could get in, and so it was a very different thing than it had been.
I didn’t have to worry about my supervisor or co-workers or students coming across this in an idle search of my name. Even with the disclaimer of this record as being an art project, it was nonetheless a glaring blight on my viability in what a former operations coordinator termed “being a real person, not just some crazy person.”
I was no longer vulnerable, but a part of me said:
“No. There is nothing wrong with this! You are allowed to do this. You can do whatever you want to do. Okay, fine, that’s not true…but, you should tell your truth as you know it to be. There is nothing wrong with this. This is not ugly. This is not shameful. It is not even that weird, considering all the bizarre things people do.”
“There is nothing wrong with this.”
Yet, I understood that there is something wrong with this. From almost every angle, in certain minds, there was something wrong with this.
“It is a poorly curated assemblage, with no coherent theme or presentation.”
“It doesn’t make sense.”
“This person doesn’t have even the slightest grasp of important names, dates, theories, or important geo-political and cultural phenomena.”
“This person clearly exhibits disorganized and pathologically peculiar tendencies in thought and expression.”
I could hear the criticisms as loud thoughts, echoes of perspective installed in my mind, reflections of views that unfortunately do exist as to the value of things such as this thing, this website.
Nonetheless, I knew that – still – there was nothing wrong with this – that it didn’t matter if other people understood or appreciated why I left the wall of code in my last post, the html of simple lines.
Why would I be concerned that my mother might become worried, if faced with a wall of code as a form of her daughter’s expression?
I mean, really, who cares?
I am ‘supposed to be much more economically successful and much less interesting than I am.
Anything that I do other than strive and sacrifice toward a career that makes sense to people and affords me a mythically comfortable stability, represented by policies, punctuality, “priorities,” and purchasing power is not a viable focus within my life.
It doesn’t even matter if it’s art.
I wonder how long this record would be if printed in code, and if any art museum or gallery may let me cover the walls with it, or if I could make human form sculptures out of the printed pages, to stand them looking at walls covered with cloud pictures and code.
Why do I feel like it is terribly risky to be myself?
I did not wake up this morning with the intent to open up this space again. I was going to do some writing toward proposing that I do an autoethnographic project for my thesis.
I woke up this morning thinking about the sense of palpable relief that I experienced in having a word for what I do.
Sent: Tuesday, January 6, 2015 11:57 PM
There is a whole world out there
is what I think about:
and the mishap
of things said
of notification in the nighttime
that I had
in my integrity
in my integrity
in refusing to be a part
of worlds that persist
in suggesting that I have failed
because I want to be quiet
and talk about the names of trees
tell my own story
because it will not exist without me
it is already gone
A whole world that existed
a world that is gone
dead in the spartina
salty and dry
A world that is gone
with so many others
moment by moment
as new worlds are born
It is all I can do
to just here
and listen to the birds
whose names I do not know
and to remember that I am
in my integrity
and that this anger
It is the anger that I feel in knowing
that when I chose to give my time and headspace to the realities of notification
in the nightime
of my failure
the problems that I
in action or inaction
that I have failed in my integrity
There are horses with blankets standing in fields, sodden from the last night’s rain. The sun is coming up in California. A friend might be dead. Lives are churning out in blessing and tragedy as we speak. There are things to be cleaned, and built, and torn down, and taken care of. The babies were sick, bless them. The children are coming home.
“Oh, happy day…”
I will not fail in my integrity.
Ps. If it weren’t so late at night, I’d do some writing on the precise feeling of – once again – not being sure if one’s friend is dead or alive…or on the feeling of having seeing a person whose hand I held when I was 19 years old, and all the memories I have been remembering lately or about just how special it was to hear a song I’d never heard on the radio playing tonight, right after this Replacements song, which mentions a town I used to live in, among other things.