Almost Unnoticeable Journeys

I have been trying to get back into a writing practice of some sort…and it’s slow going, because there is no urgency to say anything, though – certainly – there is a great deal that is urgent, immediate, dire…I don’t feel particularly inclined to say anything about any of it…the internet is full of opinions and analysis, outrage and platitudes.

Everyday, at least 30 times a day, I think about where I stand on mental health paradigms and legislation, refugee crises, and social justice movements…and I don’t feel like saying anything at all.

Do people who were my allies in various movements notice that I am not there? That I don’t show up to meetings anymore, that I don’t respond to messages posted to listservs, that I don’t write letters to the editors or comment in the comment sections…that I have basically dropped off the face of the planet as far as participating in dialogues and events relating to activism and advocacy movements?

Does anyone wonder where I went and why I am not there anymore?

I haven’t disappeared. I still exist.

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I’ve fallen out of practice though, and am overthinking myself and underfeeling my voice. The drawing-everyday-for-a-year project of 2009-2010 served to create a reliable, non-optional space where I could express myself and – eventually – when I ran out of all the things that might be easy to say, I was able to just say whatever I needed to say.
Now, nothing feels especially easy to say and yet I know there are things I need to say.

I have been playing piano with my eyes closed, and focusing hard on making thin black lines over layers of paint. I have been baking vegan brownies and doing dishes, getting to work on time.

I have been going to bed early and laughing more and more easily.

Lately, the world has been hinting that it is still magic. I have known this, as an idea, a conviction, but I haven’t felt it in a long time, that powerful belief, that sense of proof.  It is still there, that knowing and that seeing…and I am paying attention to when I am close to it, when it is close to me…in laughter, in painting, in music, while walking and feeling the wind, smelling the rain in the early morning, in listening to my children talk about their days…and in thinking about home, remembering where I came from.

Here are a few small poems from  the past several weeks:

(no subject)

It was not a rainy day
that very first time that I felt the now familiar
twist in my stomach
sitting in that tiny room
a western county
gray walls and a window
that had bitten my fingers
the morning before the rainy day
that was the day before
I first felt the now familiar feeling
of you reaching into my gut
somewhere between my heart
and my hips
that watery space
a river we’ve both crossed.

 

(no subject)
These raindrops,
half-hearted until I really listened,
sound out a serious cadence
a march to war,
a grand rally,
a big game
something more important than anything
that this day
just beginning, damp and lazy,
would seem to have in its plans
But, on the old metal sawhorse
whose only work now
‎is to patiently hold back the Calycanthus
and to slowly rust
in the corner of the yard
a movement is mounting
a syncopation found
in the hapless fall of water
being pulled back into the earth
doing the only thing it can do
when it finds the edge of the roof
which is to dumbly drop
with no knowing and no intent
And, oh, surprise
it becomes
a battle hymn
steady and certain
for this morning that is full
of quiet, whole-hearted falls
and almost unnoticeable journeys
back to where we belong.
(no subject)
I thought it would be easy
I could take a million pictures
I didn’t have to say a thing
about specific angularity
the balance of ver‎tices
or curve of vapor
I didn’t even try to explain
how the sky was full of eyes
Just said: “Here, look…see.”
and trusted that what I saw
would be seen
But, even with a million pictures
thin lines back to days long passed
a stretch, for sure
over the searing heat‎ of a parking lot
a home improvement warehouse
I couldn’t show, didn’t show,
anything
other than that I’d tried
Oh, I tried
to capture something beautiful.
Me   11/10/15 5:59 PM
whoa…I just sat on the floor and heard one the songs that was a soundtrack to my most lonely hopeful magic times played acoustic and my heart sort of exploded with whimsy joy. I gave them the thank you booklet, too, and I think they will appreciate it. How rad. Now, I’m gonna go walk the dogs before the show.
IMG_20151110_173927
Me   11/10/15 6:41 PM
…and then, oh man, I found out that the moment that I was handing them the booklet about how magic the radio is, my friend at Radiomancy Museum (a radio program out of Boston – where, incidentally, Guster is from – that has played some of my songs) mentioned me on twitter “@faithghost Radiomancy Museum never stopped listening. We are ready for new transmissions, Madam.”…and just last night I had read an old message from them looking for radio-love prose to copy/paste for the booklet! Tell me, how in the world is a person like me supposed to not get caught up in the synchronicity and magic of this? Okay, enough texting, just had to note these things for a moment.
IMG_20151030_191622

November 9, 2015The night that I sat with my co-worker at Crow and Quill up on Lexington, with my Two-Hearted in a fancy glass on the table between us, I said that I might write a letter. Tell the small story, ask for a free ticket.

“You could tell them that you already won, but then lost out when you didn’t check your voicemail.” My co-worker laughed, but I was pretty sure that he remembered ‎how disappointed I’d been, how I almost cried when I found out that I had won, but then had lost.

It wasn’t only the winning-then-losing-the-win that knocked me down on that Tuesday two weeks ago. The day before, I’d found out that a student had died.

That’s what we call the people who come to where we work. Students. We don’t call them patients, or clients, or consumers.  My co-worker and I were out having drinks that night, as a sort of remembrance for the student who’d died.

“You could play the sympathy card.”

“…and tell them that I’m an underpaid mental health worker and that I want to go to their show because…”

I’d already told my co-worker the story, about how during that long Summer and Fall I’d heard the song on my Pandora stream and then, right around the time I really started to lose my mind, I heard that very same song on the radio and it made me believe something about…

In the Fall of 2010, I took hundreds of pictures of the sky, because the clouds had begun to look like faces to me, like a language I used to know but had forgotten.

I saw the shapes everywhere, in the runnels of silt on the pavement after rain, in the silhouettes of trees.

An ache that spread from my heart down into my bones told me that something was watching me, that I wasn’t alone.

Nonetheless, I felt alone.

I first heard the song on the radio when I was driving into the tunnel, heading east.

How was it possible that the song I’d only ever heard at home, chosen for me by some algorithm that I don’t understand, was on the radio?  It  seemed impossible and strange, that a song I’d only listened to at home would play on the radio like a secret made public.

From then on, I listened for clues in the playlist and clung to the small reassurances in the similarities between lyrics and my own story, my own heart.

“It’s not about you, it’s just a playlist. Random.”

Still, for a long time, the radio was my best friend. The songs and whatever formula made them play knew something in me, something that nothing else could know.  Those songs were a lifeline, a message saying, “Don’t give up. The world is a strange and beautiful place. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone. Of course they think you’re crazy. Keep going.”

Driving home from work, I heard the announcement. The radio station was giving away more tickets, stay tuned for an announcement in 12 minutes. I sat in my driveway and waited for the song to end, texted the word and went inside.

This morning, ‎I remembered that today was the day the winner would be called. “Don’t be silly,” I willed myself to forget about it. I never did write that letter, didn’t ask for a free ticket.

Maybe I would just stay home on Tuesday night, and try to figure out what to do next.  That would be alright.

Still, I kept my phone on.

It rang while I was eating soup at a friend’s house, bone broth and garbanzo bean flour, day-old quinoa and baby broccoli.

I knew as soon as I saw the number that I had won, again.

What are the odds of the same person winning tickets to a show twice?

IMG_20151104_131233

 

I walked around the house
gathering objects
a ‎brooch that belonged to my great-grandmother
a mobius, an infinity loop
ending in the back, near the clasp
where nobody could see it
a small heart crocheted of red string
that was passed around the room
at an institute by the ocean
three years ago, almost to the day
another pin, a lily, a Christmas gift
from an old woman
who meant business and didn’t take any crap
from ‎12 year old boys
a scrap of bandanna once pinned to a coat
that I still have
though its owner is sitting in a cell
out in California
I bound them all up, these objects
thinking about mother wounds
and asked my daughter for a lock of her hair
she bit off the very ends of five strands, and handed them to me with a “Hmmp!”
told me her hair looked awful
and I told her ‎thank you
I cut a year’s worth of growth
from the head of my son and he was transformed
quietly seeing himself in the mirror
out by the car
I pulled a strand of silver grey
a single hair
from my mother’s head
she gave me her permission
and didn’t ask any questions
as I wound it around
the ‎hair of my son
the hair of my daughter
I’d take these things with me
in the pocket of a jumpsuit
that belonged to a soldier that I never knew
The stars on a new moon night were points on a map that we no longer knew how to read.
“Which direction are we facing?” The man had asked, standing by the porch.
“We were going West and then we turned left, and went north, and then left again, East and the house is facing…I don’t know.”

2 thoughts on “Almost Unnoticeable Journeys

  1. the synchronicity is always there in every moment…we are too often simply not aware. we’re all caught up in it and what a happy thing. connectivity. no separation. god/life/magic. also I’ve found that stepping back and kinda knowing WHEN to STFU is a fine art. Timing is everything. I love you.

    • I love you, too, M. You, also, help me to deeply know that the world is still quite magic…it’s such a comfort to remind myself that even if I can’t feel it, it’s still there…always…xo

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