[I saw this everyday sky.]
10:04 PM (8 minutes ago)
It’s been months since I posted anything here. The decision to stop adding to this space was a non-event, not even a decision in the proper sense of the word. There was no deliberation invested, no consideration of the pros and cons. I just didn’t feel like saying anything here anymore and during the times I did feel like saying something, that wanting-to-say-something was not strong enough to impel me to put aside the other things I might have been doing to lay any words down, cull through images, to actually say something.
So, I haven’t said anything here in a long time, almost two full seasons.
The sixth anniversary of my creating this space came and went without acknowledgment, a few days in late-July when I wasn’t thinking about this project at all. The only other span of time in the archives that holds such an absence – a stretch of months with no posts at all – is back in 2011, from January to July, which feels like a hundred years ago, a different lifetime entirely.
I’ve changed. Something has changed in me.
I’m sitting on the porch and waiting for the young people to -
(…a full day and half later, as the young people came through the back door mid-sentence and the day unfolded with little time to sit and write emails to myself on my phone. I’d intended to spend some time writing last night, but went to a meeting about a microcinema instead, and then – as I was leaving the house where the meeting was held, following conversation about ownership of story, representation, and the assumption of heteropatriarchy that stories ought to be told in a way that is understandable to the dominant-culture consumer of media – my phone rang and I stayed up ’til 1:30 in the morning sitting on a porch in West Asheville and smoking cigarettes while talking with friends about children and debt, listening to other people tell their family stories. Earlier in the day, the young people who I used to refer to as “my kids’ and I had spent the afternoon at my parents’ house, making cheese biscuits and vegan banana bread. On the way home, the young people and I talked about how my father seems to have supplanted his human relationships with golden retrievers. I don’t call my kids “my kids” anymore, because they are almost 11 and 13 and it doesn’t do them any favors to be thought of as kids. They are young people. I am their mother.)
Now, a day and a half after starting this email, with no idea as to what I might say after going so long without saying anything, I am sitting on the porch again. It is raining now, and the smell of the water hitting the ground and washing the leaves is rising up all around me, tiny splashes hit my ankles in pinpoints of chill and I feel happy, content with the day and how it was spent. I still don’t know what to say, how to begin saying things again.
For a few years, back in that other lifetime that was my life, I thought I needed to do something grand, make some point, something that would undo so much of what has been done.
The rain is falling harder now, a solid stream of water is pouring off the roof. The sky has no depth or texture. It is all rain falling down. Just a half hour ago I walked in the back door after taking the dogs for their long, after-work walk as the first claps of thunder let loose. My timing lately has been impeccable.
Tomorrow, 3500 miles from here, I will have my MA degree conferred unto me. The piece of paper declaring my having satisfied requirements will arrive in the mail sometime next week.
Picture Completion <- this is the ill-conceived project, which was instructive.
In the meantime, I have been to the beach, visited a tree in the early morning with a young person who dearly loves the tree, and begun to paint again, just a little…but, it’s good – to be non-textual, to stumble around in tiny brush strokes, layer over thin thin thin layer, to see something emerge.
I learned that a dear friend to whom the April 18th correspondence below was written to, my last email to them, sent a week to the day before my friend had some wretched encounter at a 7-11, assaulted a family member, and was picked up by the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Dept. the following morning, wearing purple snakeskin pants. I’ve written to my friend at the address I have for them, remembered swimming and a trip to see the ocean at night.
I wonder what might have happened differently if I had written them again, if I had actually sent them a video of me playing piano with my eyes closed. I went back and looked at the emails I got on the day that the unfortunate events transpired – April 25th – to try to remember what I was doing that was so important. It was a Saturday. I exchanged an email with my son about the reasons why his dog could not go to a 5k with him. I remember the feeling of the email, tense and matter-of-fact, my mind a pressured swirl distracting me, a thesis due, a random memory of sobbing on the way home from a movie, springtime.
I painted a portrait of my friend, the mug shot I found online. I have all of our emails, video of us playing music – banjo and a white violin – on the lawn of the state hospital. I have a picture of the 30 paper cranes – big and blue – that I left on the top of the mountain across town from my front porch, to be there waiting for him when he got to town on a Tuesday morning over four years ago. I will probably never see him again, but he once had a vision of us riding in the back of a limousine, something about red roses. My friend was ruled incompetent, but has written hundreds of stunning poems.
The night I sent a letter to him in the jail at Rancho Cucamonga, I saw the sky flash on the way home from the post office, just like it did before. I told him in the letter that I still take pictures of clouds, but that they don’t nag me the way they used to.
The next day, I told my co-worker what had happened – not all of it – and said I would paint a picture of the person who was, for a time, my best friend, my only friend, the one who convinced me that I could – in fact – still laugh and who let me know that…let me know that…let me know…
“I feel like if I had been in touch with them, had been a better friend, that maybe something might have happened differently.” I felt something stir around in my chest, something like grief, a deep regret.
My co-worker looked at me, “That’s giving yourself a lot of power, isn’t it?”
Since then, I have been thinking about this question of assumption of influence, and reckoning with the fact that I still have a severe and persistent belief that what I do and do not do has some bearing on what happens in some aspects of the world. No matter what I do, I just cannot talk myself into denying that truth.
Thanks for the songs and the lists of names. I don’t know who I am, or was, or have been. I’m here in NC, where there is a growing metal scene. We got a piano, the kids and I. It was a cheap piano, but we had to pay people to move it, so it turned out to be expensive. I like it, though, having a piano. Your used to be little brother had a piano, huh?
This one is a spinet, an Acrosonic.
The other night, I was playing and – you know – I am re-learning how to play with my eyes closed, not looking at anything, only in my hands and body. As soon as I touch the keys, these are chipped, the keys on this piano, something about my thoughts changes. I begin to listen to the sound, to feel it. The piano makes me shake and I love it. The notes sound like they are talking, having a conversation, and that is how I want to talk now. That is how I want to tell a story.
Of course, as I am writing this I am ‘supposed to be working on my thesis’ and so I am thinking about how maybe there is something to say about this, about the letters we wrote, ‘look in the letters, look in the letters!’ some little scrambling voice pipes up. I don’t know if I will or if I won’t, but since I am writing about my own life, and what I have been doing in the months of mustering this project, which may or may not come together, depending on the sheer volume of fuckery and the miscooperations of time, my own tired fear and reticence, the balking…it seems like I could or perhaps even should say something about you and our friendship. It’d be anonymized. I know that there are no secrets, but – really – things are more delicate than we know in some worlds and there are some names that one does not want to have, if those names do something in the world, make some scene, cause some embarrassment or problematic disclosure of possible personhood.
I have wondered a lot, lately, why I have so much difficulty with this issue of this person I know, who is a person that is important to me, a person that I love, transmutating into all these others identities and histories. Like, what does a person do with that? What does it ask of a person to roll with those baffling shifts, in the absence of knowing what is happening in a person’s room, what doors they pass through, how they hold their hands?
I don’t even know where you are. I guess I don’t have to know. You could just disappear. Bad things happen, you know.
Is it stupid to send you divine protection and an array of helpful forces? I don’t even know if that does anything. It feels like it does, in my heart and in my body, and maybe it is that which does something?
In any event, the other night, as I was playing piano, I leaned my head in and heard how the strings ringing together sounded like people singing, and I felt it all the way up my back. My eyes were closed, because I am learning to play piano blind and leaned in further, and for a few long seconds it felt like I could just keep going, push my whole head inside of the piano, as if there were an opening there, as if I was leaning in closer and closer and the keys were very far away.
I came to when my head hit the music stand, wooden arcs.
These past few months of correspondence have been tough for me. It asks a lot of a person, to recognize and embrace that the world has sent them an unlikely and confusing friend. That’s hard to trust, because the world is so fucked up and – you know – sometimes people really are eclipsed, engulfed, immersed, swept away, by whatever happens in the world they live in and in their minds.
I’ve seen it happen. People get fucked up. I still think that things can be alright, that they can heal…in some way…if that is even the point. A lot of people are fine with the changes in beingness, or they don’t or can’t care, can’t do anything about it.
I don’t know. I really should be working on this project. I know it’s stupid, in some poststructuralist world, to get a master’s degree. However, in some other world, in which I owe 1700.00 in taxes even though I’ve been living under the poverty line, I should probably not drop out of school a month before graduating. I have to maintain some life structure, because other people’s life structure is dependent on my life structure.
I need to think about my future, about what the fuck I am doing. I will send you a video of me playing piano. I was experimenting with playing piano with my eyes open, and with the feeling of being watched. I did not like it, but it may be a necessary thing. I am performative on the inside. Did I tell you that I won a contest, a story slam? I liked it, being in front of people. I have a lot to do. I might not get it all done.
I am buying a painting from my co-worker. It’s of the old corporate offices of the Gilman Paper Co. - located in St. Mary’s, Georgia, done in oil. In the foreground, there is a small monument of stacked rocks, and two swathes of red, taken from the memory of the Basilica the night the choir sang Mozart’s Requiem.
I’d like to turn that building into an artists colony. It’s not currently available.
This project, I will present a layered account of my personal history and experience relating to psychosis. Utilizing old journal entries, memory, and medical records, I will offer —
Autoethnography can be used as a tool in deconstructing privilege, exploring identity, and analyzing —
I was 14 when my father took me to see the Kevin Costner film Dances with Wolves in Jacksonville. My brother did not go with us. I don’t remember why. I don’t think I knew what the film was about, but had – possibly – a vague idea that it had something to do with indigenous people and landscapes like plains, green and blue and gold. As I watched the film, I felt something fierce and sad rise up in me, an anger, a weeping. I knew it was just a movie, that it wasn’t even a particularly accurate movie, that Kevin Costner was white in the movie, that the indigenous people were characters, that the stars looked white. I hated the white people in the movie as I watched it. I hated to see the indigenous people – the people who were there first – walk away, in the snow. I cried through most of the second 1/2 of the film, and by the time we walked out of the theater, as the credits were still scrolling up the screen, I was sobbing. The sun and heat in the parking lot hit me like a bomb, and I was ripped back to who I was and where I was at, walking with my father, who was silent, across the pavement, climbing into the Chevy Suburban, hot as a blast furnace, to drive down the interstate and across the long bridge home, where I knew other people had lived before. I screamed once in the car, weeping, “Why did you take me to see that!?”
My heart felt broken.
I was the only one who was crying when we all walked out of the theater, into the lobby with its heavy corn smell and rows of video games. I didn’t understand why nobody else was weeping – not only for what happened in the film, but for the fact that the film even existed, that places are gone, and theaters are built and we watch these movies for some kind of entertainment, some nostalgia.
I have been trying to make sense of disorienting events ever since I was a little kid.
Self-referentialism, in which everything has to do with you, or with some imagined version of oneself, is a tremendously problematic phenomena of the human mind. The act of ascribing personal meaning, association, or causation – as if an event, song, or even person may not even exist in the form that they exist in if not for your existence somehow creating or catalyzing their being an aspect of one’s life and day – has the capacity to commodify people, happenstance scenarios and creative products as being objects or resources important only insofar as what they mean to you, who presumptuously believes that the universe wrote that song for you to hear in a special way, that the newscaster used a phrase to tell you something, that even the wind, it blows for you…to show you something, to give you a message. The audacity and self-absorption of self-referentialism is mind-blowing.
The arrogance of denying reality is tragic. Ironically, the mad – those who purport to exist within and to defend an elastic reality, a flexible set of meanings and interpretation, those who genuinely do understand that what is thought of as being real and lasting is mutable and inspecific, highly relative – often make efforts to foist their realities onto other people, even as others are accused of doing the very same thing, to persuade a worldview, create or enforce a shared reality, a shared understanding of what is happening in the world and within one’s life. Most realities are absurd, many are beautiful, some are terrible, but most all of them are absurd, unbelievable if you think about them for more than a millisecond. Like, why would someone work their whole lives pushing buttons in the transacting of goods and services that only exist to support the creation of goods and services, many of which are foolish – in the sense of being unnecessary, extravagant, superfluous, luxurious…in a world in which children eat garbage and dogs have dentists? Absurdity.
Not to mention mass surveillance, and high tech satellite monitoring and chemical weaponry and big screen explosions, a constant stream of brutal images, a world full of maps and graphics, changing names, Burma and Myanmar…it’s easy to see how people get all this mixed up, how people are given so much to lose their mind about, so many tools and mechanisms of distorting and reframing and renaming reality…how some people lose their minds, how I lost my mind…
We are taught the story, through stories, through media…the lone unlikely hero, the unexpected mission, we even learn the conflicted reality, the disbelief, the pull of the hidden code, the world unseen, and yet so real as to seem almost familiar, like the only thing that could ever be real or that ever was real…
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.
For a long time, I felt I was brilliant. Then, gradually, then suddenly, I understood that I was not brilliant, that I was, in fact, really quite stupid in a lot of ways. I felt humiliated, to see myself clearly, to read who I was with a critical eye, to see that my very own logic – the logic that I was defending – was flawed, foolish even, broken, partial.
Even knowing that there might be something wise in realizing that I am an idiot, for seeing that in myself, was little comfort. I felt humiliated, and then I realized that it was okay, and – more importantly – that it did not matter. Who cares if a lonely tattooed mother lost her mind after her dog died and her marriage died and the peach tree died and her friends scattered like doves, like pigeons, like rabbits…who cares if she said some ridiculous things in a publicly accessible space, who cares if she was confused…what.does.it. fucking.matter.if.I.am.smart. if.I.make.sense.if.I.am. respectable.if.I.am.a. likeable.person.if.people. understand.me.or.even.care.or. know.that.I.exist.what.does. it.fucking.matter?
The conflict that exists between disparate realities is a core conflict, encompassing multiple aspects of human relationship, worldview, and identity. If a person believes the world or elements of the world to be something other than what they presumably are, the person is challenged when their reality is not-believed by others. In order to peaceably exist in a shared reality, if realities are in conflict, then someone has to concede that their world is not real, that it does not matter, that it is forgettable, that one was foolish for ever believing in it in the first place.
nonsensical in relation to one another, unbelievable and baffling