aren’t you excited for spring
[Ha…I went to make a new post here and saw that there was this draft, titled only ‘spring’ and containing only the above bold-formatted question without a question mark that felt like a gift, because I did not write it. It is possible that my 10 year old, using my computer, clicked on an open draft post here, and wrote this little note about Spring. It seems more likely to me that she would write a draft along the lines of Alice Cooper Rocks. Squirrels Rule, with a title like, ‘hi mommy’. However, she often surprises me in her emerging way of being, the things she says, how she thinks.]
[I understand that you, whomever is reading this, have no basis upon which to understand the brief feeling of wonder in finding a draft that you did not draft, with a simple title such as ‘spring.’ Nor do you have any reason to believe that this happened, that this claim – of finding a draft that one did not draft – is even true. Is it even worth mentioning things that people have no reason to believe and the significances of which resist conveyance? If I cannot impart the momentary feeling of a curious surprise upon setting forth to finally say something – anything – here, in a way that is believable, is it even worth mentioning?]
This morning I heard the same Sufjan Stevens song driving under the parkway bridge heading south that I heard driving under the parkway bridge heading north last Friday night. The first song I heard leaving the house this morning was the last song I heard before I got home tonight.
The world is full of little mysteries and, yes, I am excited for Spring.
When I was in the 6th grade, we were asked to write a five paragraph essay. I don’t remember the assignment, or what the essay was supposed to be about. I wrote the predictable 11 year old metaphor of the world and its peoples being ‘like a rainbow,’ which requires all elements and hues to be complete, etc. etc. It didn’t, at the time, seem predictable to me. I felt good about it. It was one of the first times that metaphor helped me to understand something more deeply than I had understood it before.
I think I even drew a rainbow, an earnest rainbow, across the top of the page.*
My social studies teacher, who was also the gym teacher and football coach, surprised me when – a few days later – he held up my paper and praised it, saying that it was “really quality work with a beautiful message.” My face felt hot. I had to use the bathroom. I was suddenly cold. Yet, something in me shined in all that praise.
This was years before I understood that there is something deeply toxic in the glowing approval of men, and that we are taught to value the approval of men, of adults, of teachers, to seek it and to bask in it, not even realizing that we might be trading our souls.
I was not trading my soul on that day in the 6th grade. My self-consciousness fell away abruptly when I saw that Mr. Pitt was becoming a little emotional. I could see it in his face, feel it in the room.
I understood that it really was, on that day, in that situation, a good essay, about rainbows and people and love. Mr Pitt, unexpectedly, asked me to read the essay, to come to the front of the class and read it. I tried to say “No…”, and slunked down in my seat, looking at the other kids. They were staring at me. The room was quiet.
I walked up to the front of the class, and stood there. Mr. Pitt handed me my paper, stapled together pages from a notebook. I read, and I read clearly and loudly and I did not mess up my r’s.
I just now realized that, only 2 years out of speech therapy pull-out classes, that standing up there and reading was a triumph. I don’t think it even occurred to me that I might not say my r’s correctly. I liked reading out loud. I was good at it. If I could see the r’s, I could say them correctly. It was when I was talking, when I was excited or upset or just talking, that they slipped, rolling down into w’s, with no rrrrrr’ing edge to them at all, a moot sound, ineffectual. Biwd. Whyne.
For the first 5 years of my school education, I had a difficult time saying my own name.
When I went to school, I didn’t know or understand that I did not speak correctly. My parents had never mentioned it.
I went to a school full of military kids in S. Georgia. The place was full of kids who’d lived far away, some from Europe and some from California, a boy from Guam. They transferred in throughout the year, showing up in animal prints, with weird accents, shaved heads, metal t-shirts, mothers who made lumpia,
My friend who sat across the aisle from me had skin was so pale that a person could see the veins in her temples, like she never saw the sun, whose father spent 1/2 his life underwater, in a submarine that was designed to launch nuclear missiles, and the kid whom I’d grown up with, who had been in every single one of my classes and lived in a small Black neighborhood alongside Highway 40, the same highway I lived off of, only I lived on the other side of it, the land that ran up on the river, where the other side of the highway just gave way to pine and sandy soil and palmetto…
*This was years and years before I had learned that colors – in and of themselves – have no name, that the words that we call colors are just our way of describing what we see.
We gave colors their names.
|Feb 24 (5 days ago)|
I was just sitting outside, on the usual porch, watching the night fall, a little later everyday now. 6:30pm tonight, on a yard full of mucked-up snow, thin and half-melted save for in the shadows. The trees on the mountain that is divides this side of town with the other side of town town look like veins, laid over white grey that is the same exact color of the sky moving into night.
It has been a dark winter, bitterly cold. All within the last two weeks, this winter has established itself as one that will be remembered as a real grind of ice and frozen pipes, the squeal of snow under shoes, endless cancellations. Prior to two weeks ago, it had been a mild, even pleasant winter.
In less than a month it will be the start of Spring. Spring has already begun. I can see it in the birds that crowd the branches. The other day, in a parking lot, walking into a store in the early evening, my son who is twelve said, “It smells like rain.”
He was right, I agreed. It did smell like rain.
I was just sitting outside, and watching the night come, with no sunset to speak of, no radiance, just a slow settling of the darkness, the day becoming night almost imperceptibly and I was thinking about stories, about why we tell them and who tells them, how they are told and which ones we care about. Earlier, I had noticed a small altar of prayer for Bobbi Kristina, child of Whitney Houston.
“Why do people mourn celebrities, when so many people get hurt every day?”
We know a lot about celebrities. We follow pictures of their lives and read about their histories and passions. We don’t know their whole stories, but we share a knowing of a version of a story, a character whose story we witness and consume, for entertainment and satisfaction of sundry psychological and emotional fascinations with the details of the lives of the well-documented.
Why don’t we tell our own stories more? Maybe it’s just me – that I no longer tell my story, tell who I am and how it is that I am who I am, things that happened that made me laugh or left an impression on me, something that I thought was beautiful, or terrible, the ideas and experiences that tell who I am…?
Lately, when I speak about myself at all, my voice goes all wavery and something in my chest tightens. I don’t, as a general rule, tell other people’s stories, unless they are stories that exist in the public domain, such as those of saints or rockstars or heroes and/or famous dead poets, and even then I feel as if I am commodifying a person’s life for my own use and intent.
So, if I am not telling my own story, and I am not telling other people’s stories, what stories am I telling?
Do I even want to tell stories anymore? Do I even want to ‘share my story’? Not particularly…but, then again, yes.
Why? So that it will exist outside of me, and so that I can remember who it is that I am and where I came from, where home is, and the specific reasons why I am alive in the way that I am…the place where I grew up, in S. Georgia, does not exist anymore. It is only remembered. That is the only place it exists as it did, for a brief moment. Nothing ever exists for long, except trees, rocks, water, stars.
What would it be like if we did share more of our own personal selves and world with other people?
People do this sort of thing, share their lives with someone, many people. They have friends and people that ‘know them.’
(Why is it that every time I objectively look at my behavior and tendencies within social relationships that I get the feeling that maybe I am an extreme introvert? Yet, my life is – in some ways – extroverted by design. The consequences of that fundamental conflict in comfort-zones and expectations-of-self are tremendous, pure exhausting dissonance.)
Really though, I don’t know that much about the storytelling habits of most people. Tonight, it seems like we do not typically share much of who we are, except within a select few, but maintain a lot of awareness, a individual/cultural relationship with the stories of celebrities and phenom within mass media, with themes and stylings that exist in relation with the themes and stylings that structure our historic stories, in reflection with our stories about what this country is about, what our lives are about, what is desirable, what is terrible, what is freaky and disgusting, what is sexy, what is dreamy.
Is it possible that through telling this story, I am realizing that I am not really a person that feels comfortable with sharing my story, that I cannot feel safe in simply being who I am and sharing what matters to me, and that I wonder if that is okay, if that is just me, an introvert who grew up in the woods, or if my reticence is the result of harm in sharing my story, expressing what I was experiencing, what I cared about.
Is that not a story, to try to tell someone how you feel, what is happening with you?
Is a story only after-the-fact, not in the moment that can later be summarized for the entertainment of others, the midst of the disaster that might someday be laughable?
||Mar 11 (1 day ago)|
I haven’t talked with anyone the feeling of the reality that – at this very moment – a small package is making its way to an auditorium in Tennessee, in lieu of me attending a concert, to feel whatever I might feel when certain notes are hit, when certain words are said, when the sound reverberates through me and maybe, just maybe, wakes up something in me, brings home something to me.
[ach. I should not have sold that ticket. My thinking was that it is a long drive, even knowing that I am excellent at long drives, it seemed long to think about. “I need adventure,” I argued with myself, and I could feel in my bones, a tingling around, a pull like stones in a bag, a weight, and I knew it was true…that I really should go to see that show. I worried about the dogs. My housemate will be out of town. What would happen with the dogs if I left them for almost 24 hours? I couldn’t do that. They would probably be fine. I could arrange for someone to take care of them. Maybe my mother? My father just had his right knee replaced on Monday. I hadn’t told anyone I was going to the show, that I had tickets…not just to the show on the 17th, but to the show on the 12th. I had gotten them back in the Fall, on a whim of flushed inspiration and reckoning with how much I wanted to hear this person sing, and to feel other people hearing this person sing. Oh, there is a stone in my heart, that I will not go, that I sold the tickets, thinking about drives in the night and my old eyes, dogs, and the workdays before, the workdays after, the crowd and the humiliation of waiting, of paying to wait, when I hang out with hungry people, people who get food from dumpsters and public pantries…who was I to be so fancy as to drive into the night to hear a person sing? There is the reality that I – despite my (partially) best efforts to manifest a resilience in my being – cannot bear the thought of exhaustion and further sleep deprivation. I do not want to cry at work. That’s what happens when I get too tired, or when I have seen too much, felt too much. I begin to cry, and laugh…or I cannot speak, all at once. With the dulling of my heart, I have become more resilient. That makes me sad, that my heart has dulled. The part of me that I love most, the part that wants to be deeply alive, reveling and daring, is stirring about.
Once, when I was truly happy and fully embodied, a person told me that I looked insane, there in the hall at the elementary school, before I really knew how dangerous and unpredictable the world is, the way people will talk and realities will be created, that my grace could be seen as insanity.
It is good that I sold the tickets, because selling the tickets stimulated the existence of this writing, which is not significant in any way other than it being the writing in which I reckon – again – with this question of magic and how the world works and why I felt – for example – that it would be powerful for me to sit at MF B 1 – right in the center, right on the aisle, and hear this person sing, standing right in front of them, that somehow some good would come of that, that something impactful would rise from the feeling, shift something somewhere, everywhere.]
Sometimes a person just feels this way about certain situations, that it is important to be there, that it is something you want to be a part of, something you need to be a part of. My critically analytical perspective let me know that it was sort of over the top to drive so far and to wait so long and to pay so much to hear a person sing, when people sing every Sunday, right up the street, when my friends sing. I haven’t shown up for my friends lately, and have begged off a whole slew of events that I needed to be a part of.
So why was it important that I show up to hear a singer on the 17th of March?
I had a friend that died, and the 17th was their birthday. We once made out on a rooftop, lying down by a chimney with a star painted on it. It was no big deal, but sweet. The person, my friend, who died, had a name for me…they were the only person – besides my mother and my brother and my father – who had ever given me a name. I wanted to do something special for their birthday, because — I just wrote out why, and then I erased it. Tried to write it out again and the words would not come, all blocked up by the small pulse of fear in the thought that I cannot, even here, talk about _____, and the quick defense that rose.
[That is my honest truth, in this moment. It is not that strange at all. It is a legitimate paradigm of human existence, that we go on, that we stick around, that we continue to matter and act upon the hearts of people after the technologies of our bodies expire in their functioning.]
Maybe it is the aesthetic, a meld of so many forms I have found beautiful, a countenance that feels dear to witness, the connected ear lobes.
[In my anecdotal experience, I get along swimmingly with people who have connected earlobes and who are left handed. However, this may be the result of me thinking that I get along well with people who have these slight phenotypic distinctions, as I do…or maybe just the small pleasure that quirky sameness brings? These samenesses are not bound by race, gender, sexuality, or social class…and I appreciate that about them.]
…or the part of me that just really likes a good story, was that what was driving my purchase of the ticket?
Why would me driving a long way to go to a concert be any better a story than me having lunch with a friend? Why do I avoid having lunch with friends, but would go hear a singer sing songs?
They are two different things.
I think I feel safer with strangers, alone in a crowd.
Yesterday, I left work an hour early to drive to Charlotte to pick up a drum set for my son, who has found himself to be a drummer, like his father and like his favorite uncle. My son, who listens to classic metal and hair bands, and who is just now discovering the tension between those two genres, has jazz sensibilities when he plays drums.
Amazingly, he found a pristine set in the same make as my brother’s first set, that even came with a cowbell and a drum throne, rather than a simple stool, for about 25% of its actual value, being sold by an older man who’d not played it much and was moving to a smaller house. So, I made the long drive for that, didn’t think twice about it. Drove to work, drove to Charlotte, got drums, drove back home…all told 400 miles, with a shift at the recovery education center in the morning and afternoon, a meeting, a class, a few moments of connection and healing, the kids here for a bit in the evening, some efforts to write a paper, an email that became too long.
I mentioned the package in a different email, and thought about what I understood it to be, an art project, an act of art, in which I imbued an object with an intention, and with my hands form a technology that conveys an impression, a subtle feeling…a present for a stranger, to be left somewhere if it is not wanted, to become a temporary inhabitant of a space of the possibility that the object will be held and wondered about, and that, in that moment, something will happen.
I made this over a few weeks, twisting and binding the core form out of stiff photos, not liking the feel of it, my fingers sore and needle pricked, my wrist aching from pushing the thimble against the needle. I sat in an attic room during a conversation about sex and power, and tore the pictures into strips, bit through the thread with my teeth. I almost gave up for a week or so, forgot about my intent for a minute.
The moment that the small form of folded, torn, and twisted photos of the sky turned into bird, the tangle of threads…the moment it became beautiful, became powerful…I was so glad for that moment, when my hands became warm and knew just where to pull the thread, to arc the neck, to bend the wing, to cross the lines.
…I enjoyed it.
|Mar 6 (6 days ago)|
Why do I expect myself to have or to build a lively and active social community? I have a deep-felt social community, but my actions within that community are not very lively, not very social…at least not lately, where – if I show up at all – I sit quietly and maybe share a joke, mostly listen. Listening is a social activity. Not showing up is also social, in that it pertains to my relationship with people and my action as a non-participant, the social impact and interaction that non-participation involves.
I thought, for a long time, that I wanted friends. I have friends. I have wonderful friends. I have friends who don’t care if they hardly ever talk to me, and friends who are just glad that I exist.
I thought that I wanted friendships like the ones that I have had before, prior to children and life-work and all that is my life now. I wanted to want to “hang out” with people, and go places and have conversations. I wanted to develop lasting bonds with people. I have had wonderful times with my friends. I have lasting bonds with people. I have community.
I have noticed this winter that I do not want to be around people or have to communicate with people. I have not wanted to spend much time with people other than my children, my co-workers, and people that I know at work. I have been avoiding my community, because I feel anxious and uncertain, conflicted and unsure of who I am and what is wrong with my heart that I should not want to spend my time with people that I love and respect, contributing to work that I know is vital and of the utmost importance?
Lately, I have been wondering if maybe I am depressed, but I don’t think that I am.
It wouldn’t be entirely unlikely that my entire integrated neuroscape is fucked up as a result of years of compulsory psychiatric drugging of my various receptors.
____________________________________________ [ a message to other people, about things I am thinking about in relation to other people]______________________________________________________________
[I am in such a non-communicative space that I really can’t come up with a pleasant greeting or salutation here. The threads of messages have been good to read, like sitting quietly in a room where people you appreciate are talking. I am glad you all are out there.]
I just came across this video called the Art of Hosting – Open Space, and watching it/listening to it* made me feel extremely grateful to have been a part of some integral spaces with you all. I found a couple of the ideas expressed here to be really beautiful – self as technology, etc. – but, challenging in ways I haven’t quite thought through. I couldn’t find a text transcript.
Art of Hosting – Open Space
This one is amazing, too…and reminds me of (part of) what I lived for before my heart went into hiding and my chakras began to atrophy, or whatever the hell happened. I am going to try to watch this more frequently. I am currently quite a ways from this place of interconnective visionary collective healing, feeling a little jaded and misanthropic in my sensitivities and perceptions – which is a toxic feeling/state for me.
angel Kyodo williams (Oct. 19, 2009) What is Transformative Change?
[I like our meetings. They help me to be aware of interconnectivity and humanity in a deep felt way, which is the best possible outcome of any scenario. I just can’t communicate with people much outside of them. Anyway, the park in the video looks like a foreign country. I remember the feeling of people meditating in the park from California and Canada. ]
A question I have from this video is how does one operationalize a sense of “profound responsibility” to humanity?
angel Kyodo williams (Oct. 19, 2009) What is Transformative Change? The Center for Transformative Change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHQDCt6oHPE
heart (peaks out for a brief moment, if only to say, “no – I’m not dead – I’m just hiding”),
Ps. my thinking might be distorted in some of this…or that…
I had the thought yesterday that maybe I am a person who momentarily inspires people when my heart is open, because I have a powerful heart, and when I am doing well-ish, because I am occasionally charismatic and effective in making an impression that I am a remarkable person, and because I am occasionally remarkable, just like any of us are occasionally – or frequently, or constantly – remarkable…but, that I am sometimes remarkable in ways that carry social/emotional/spiritual-esque capital (you know that I am really shut-down/in-full retreat if I begin to talk about human relationships and interaction in terms of psychological economy)…and that people get expectations of me to uphold some sort of almost impeccable and forebearing humanity.
A person that was my friend for four years who sent me a bona fide i-hate-you email last night, because I had failed to respond to a prior email in a timely manner, and my silence was taken to have some meaning or significance that was deeply offensive. I guess the person had said some powerful things and I didn’t respond correctly. Or I was supposed to say something and I didn’t? I read it right before I finally went to bed, and I initially responded by simply feeling n-o-t-h-i-n-g. Then I said that I think I might be the sort of person who inspires people for a minute and then later disappoints and disgusts them when I inevitably fail to live up to social expectations. That’s some bullshit I put on myself, too.
|Mar 6 (6 days ago)|
By leaving the image uncropped, allowing for the small offensive spot to remain in the upper 3rd of the photograph, she made the picture not only about the subject, the cloud, but also about her, that she was a person, holding a camera, and that the camera was a shitty camera, with a spot somewhere deep in the lens apparatus.
It looked like unfocused mold, a bruise, always in the same place, the spot that showed up in the pictures that she took with her old camera, the one that doesn’t even work anymore.
The picture is not only about its subject, the auspicious cloud framed by branches, but about the woman taking the picture, that she is not making an effort to make you feel like there is no camera, she is not delivering an image to you, she is taking a picture of a cloud, holding a camera.
She chose not to erase that, when she left that dark spot in.
She is not showing you a picture, she is telling you a story.
She is saying, “I took this picture. I took this picture of a cloud.”
|Mar 1 (11 days ago)|
I was talking with a person yesterday, in a room with yellow-cream walls and comfort agreement signs, at work, on a snowy day. Nobody else had come to class and so I was just talking with this person, who had shown up only to get out of the house, away from the space of low motivation and self recrimination.
We talked some about what was going on in their lives and then I – somehow – ended up talking about autoethnography. We were talking about the stories people tell about themselves, in relation to what is happening within their lives, how we learn how to think about ourselves and our attributes, the values of action and inaction.
We were talking about learning to think differently about ways of being in relationship with ourselves and our lives in the world, ways to change the significance of events or experiences, to change the meaning and understanding that we give to aspects of ourselves and our lives.
“Were you in that class that we did the other day? When we were talking about self-compassionate? That thing we figured out?”
The person wasn’t sure, and then was.
“Yeah, yeah, we had that handout…about the perfectionism thing?”
“Yeah…” I paused, enjoying the feeling of getting to tell it again, getting to say it again. The person was listening, seeming to remember how good the class had been, the feeling of the discussion and realizations.
“So, you know how we were talking about that if a person is feeling sad about their lives and sad about themselves, then that comes from a place of self-love, that – if we didn’t care – we wouldn’t feel sad, and that even at the depths of despair, of not caring at all, some small part of us can rise up sorrowful that we don’t care, and…then there is proof that we care…that we love ourselves?”
I paused, and let the intoned question sit there for a few seconds, gave the person a chance to respond, to reflect.
“Yeah,” the person absent-mindedly tapped the hard plastic table they were sitting at, “but…”
“Me? I always get into self-pity…that’s where I get stuck. It’s such a trap.”
I thought for a minute, “Didn’t we say something about how self-pity was…what did we say?”
I couldn’t genuinely remember for a moment, because a hundred discussions ran through my head at once, colliding with one another. The person had talked with me before, they knew that sometimes I lost my train of thought, but that I always looped back around to the point, made another few points along the way.
The person had told me they liked this about me, how I think about things and say them. I felt safe with this person, confident in my ability to inhabit my role with them and to communicate in a way that will be understood and accepted, even appreciated. I felt like I could be myself, at work, being a peer in a state-funded mental health center and talking about ideas related to recovery.
I came to, “Oh! Yeah! Yeah, I remember! We were talking about how self-pity can meet a human need for validation of struggle and challenge, that it is like a distorted kind of mercy or something…and, oh! Yeah! We were saying how self-pity can also deny us awareness of things that may be hope-producing and undermine our orientation to resilience.”
|10:02 PM (18 minutes ago)|
I just posted this (below my name) on ______________ and then deleted it, because I just didn’t want to leave it there, so I am sending it to you…but, hey, digging a little deeper, turns out that I grew up about 3 miles from a Magnetic Silencing Facility with a state of the art degaussing technology.
Hope your week went well, mad love,
hey…I haven’t been around much for a couple of months…doing some quieter work, closer to home, but still connected…i read along here sometimes, kind of a lurker at this point.
I was doing some research on my own personal history and am having a bit of a moment in regard to how powerfully sick I will never stop feeling when I read about the Naval submarine base and nuclear weapons facility that wrecked the place that I considered to be home.
I mean, really, do you think that growing up in a town that was soft-colonized by the US Navy and knowing that there were nuclear missiles (fucking warheads) 3 miles from the place that I knew as my beloved home – and me being a kid who was terrified of war and nuclear explosions – has anything to do with why I lost my mind at a young age?
What about seeing the places known as home destroyed (literally torn out of the ground and burnt) so that military-related tract housing could be built?
I mean, really, all else aside…I cannot get over how sick I will never stop feeling every time I think about this place:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Submarine_Base_Kings_Bay
I had nowhere else to give voice to this. It was important that I state this sick feeling that I will never stop feeling. thank you.