Some Winds

 
 March 2 (13 days ago)
I don’t much feel like writing at the moment, but yet I have things I’d like to remember…like that the best part of my day was texting with my daughter about the big-smile emoji having an epiglottis, which seems like an odd detail for an emoji to have, a brown-hued epiglottis at the back of its throat, to prevent it from asphyxiating while eating and drinking. Makes it seem more human somehow, knowing that it has an epiglottis, suggesting a windpipe and an esophagus, inner workings.
Part of why I enjoyed that small segment of my day is because it was a nice and mildly interesting distraction from the rest of my day, which was not a bad day or something I’d like to forget, but which was long and complicated.
In doing the work that I do, I am constantly attuning to other people, engaging with the details of their lives and communications. The subtle shifts, the openness and barriers. What the person is saying and how it makes them feel. “I saw that…even talking about it made you anxious…”
I put my own hand on my chest, and take a deep breath myself, breathe with the person a minute. “That slow exhale is what calms a person down, activates the parasympathetic nervous system.”
We are talking about cleaning the house. I have just shared that yesterday I finally got the damn lights off the Christmas tree, which is still out on the porch.
It is part of my occupational role to selectively and conscientiously share aspects of my personal experiences in “recovery” for the purpose of establishing “therapeutic mutuality”…and, you know, so that I am being a real human being.
I take out my phone, show the person a picture of my oven, the dirty space underneath the burner trays. I photographed it because it occurred to me that it may as well be an abstract composition.
It was still sort of disgusting to me, no matter how much I tried to see it as art.
This afternoon, I talked with another person about household management in terms of entropy and inertia…”It helps me to have more compassion for myself if I think about the situation as being the product of natural forces and tendencies. Everything goes to chaos, and if the mechanisms of tending to entropy are stuck in inertia, then things pile up.”
It’s not so bad for me as it is for a lot of folks, the entropy and inertia, but I definitely recognize a pivotal point in my life’s trajectory at which my ability to proactively tend to the baskets of clean laundry and the piles of old wood somewhat went kerflooey and, for a time, all but the most basic household maintenance tasks were utterly unmanageable.
I used to replace plumbing, even installed a toilet once, when the kids were in preschool. I would dig up entire swathes of lawn, transform the space into a garden. I did this at three houses in three different states over the span of three years.  I was pregnant when I started my first garden, and I had two children under the age of three by the time I had excavated the green front yard and turned it into a vegetable garden. Now, there is no sun for vegetables, the hedges have gotten tall as trees and an acacia has sprung up outside the fence. The volunteer maple from several years back is taller than the roof.
It will probably tear up the plumbing, is what I have been told.
Last Spring, I aimed to climb it and cut it down, bit by bit, but I didn’t make it far. So, it is still here, bigger than it was.
I probably painted acres upon acres of walls, porches, and floors. I tiled two floors, removed the carpet and stripped and refinished the hardwoods on one entire floor of a house on NE 7th in Portland. I met a man. I got married, had babies. Packed boxes. 
 
Maybe, when it all started slipping, I was just incredibly fucking tired. I was coming out of the year that my life was utterly derailed by divorce, a dead dog, venlafaxine, and my own not-so-great handling of several important situations. 
 
It makes sense that I’m still trying to find my footing, years later. I mean, I had to go basically straight from an intensive mental health outpatient program to work. My getting a job was a condition of my getting to spend time with my kids, because my working would be evidence that I was mentally stable, or something like that. 
 
So, it’s not like I had enormous amounts of time to focus on healing or recovery or whatever.
 
I had to come off of psychiatric drugs while I was having to get up and go to work and take care of young people in elementary school. I don’t know how I did it.

I am actually thankful, now, that I didn’t have anyone to help me with the disability application, and that I got quickly overwhelmed by the initial paperwork.

I’m glad I didn’t get on disability, because at the time I would have applied, I probably would have gotten it, because of my unfortunately lengthy mental health history and diagnosis…and the fact that I was, at that time, kind of a wreck, with a baggy sweater and a blank, anesthetized look on my face and a kitchen that smelled like chemical pine and apple pie to try to impress the home visit worker.

                         Like, “Hey, I’m totally fine! I mopped my floor and made a pie. All good here.” 

At the time, my only friends were a pen pal on Death Row and a few loose acquaintances, women from my kids’ school – other mothers who I couldn’t connect with, because my life was a wreck and my own kids were at their father’s.

Working was hard. Exhausting. Utterly grueling, just the being awake and saying things and driving and being a real person out in the world. I cried…on the way to work, at work, after work.

March 7 (8 days ago)
This morning was a difficult, grey day for a bit, with weariness and the remnants of a stressful dream that involved me looking after two children who are not my own and then losing them, and having to try to explain to their mother that I did not know where they were, her sitting behind me in the car, the taste of snot and salt, her smoking and somehow driving the car from the backseat. Very stressful dream. I was an utter asshat throughout, last seeing the children when I was foolishly trying to entice them into wanting some small, bright plastic thing from a whole row of bins filled with small bright plastic things. The children were disinterested and the dream cut to me in a restaurant felt to be in the proximity of the area with the small plastic things, mooning over how much the young man sitting across from me looked like Corey Haim, who I don’t even really like that much, but do have some respect for, if only for Stand by Me. Wasn’t he in that? Played Teddy with the burnt up ear. No, that was a different Corey. Feldman. It was Corey Feldman that the man in the dream looked like. Troubled Corey Feldman.
The children disappeared during the segment of dream when I was thinking that someone was sort of cute.
It’s a pretty straightforward dream, as far as analysis. I don’t even care to get into it. However, it wasn’t the content of the dream that was stressful, or the meaning . . . because, whatever, it’s a dream . . . but, the super-realness, and how deeply I felt the terrible shame of having to tell the children’s mother that I didn’t exactly know where they were…my dream-struggle to stay calm, to look for them, to talk with grubby old men clustered against a corrugated wall in a red-brown light, an increasing sense of dread and panic growing in the belly of my dream-self, trying to figure out what to do, smelling the smoke of the cigarette burning in the back seat and tasting the salt on my lip, sweat from the humidity of the place and my own slick fear and humiliation over having lost the children.
I woke up tired, an hour before my alarm went off. I drifted back to sleep a couple times, but not deeply, just laying and thinking and then, for moments, noticing that I was thinking/seeing something that wasn’t actually real, that was profoundly a different place or arrangement of reality and what exists within it. Weird conversations with people I don’t know, a fleeting big blue car that is not a car at all, but a lumpy mass moving down the road.
Then the day began.
Today on the drive I had some good thoughts, including a small engagement with the notion that, actually, my commute is kind of a great time to think, that – in ways – it is ideal, because it involves an adequate amount of stimuli and distraction to facilitate a freedom of mind, a wandering of the muse while rationality and reason are busy watching the cars ahead and considering the content of the song on the radio.
The nature of the stimuli is interactive, or rather I interact with it – with all of it, the cars, the song, the sunrise, my own sensations and thought. Stimuli external to me do not interact with me, but I participate in the process of driving to work in a somewhat relational manner. I am observing and feeling – or not feeling, which is still a significant interaction, being numb to news of atrocities, etc. – in response to what is happening around me.
These interactions occur subtly and in a fairly non behavior impacting manner, though I did almost pull off into a parking lot to listen to a song that made me want to cry.
It wasn’t so much the song, but the thought that I had in hearing it. Instead of pulling off into a parking lot to weep and then be late to work, I just changed the channel to the news, because that shit always numbs me.
Today, the were talking about insurance programs. I felt nothing other than a vague disgust and exasperation, a slight fatigue.
 March 8 (7 days ago)
The sun was coming up, but the morning was grey, blunted by clouds. All week I had been thinking about what happened in Bible Study at the Senior Opportunity Center the week before. The man who unsettled me had been to the Bible study before, comes in with a shuffling lurch, tall and stooped with his hair parted and combed in a way that makes him look like he is a schoolboy in the 1940s.  He probably was a schoolboy in the 1940s. He is, as my daughter would say, old. Carrying a ragged Bible and a crumpled spiral bound notebook, he sits down, his velcro strap black tennis shoes soft-edged and cartoonist. He is agitated, an anxious energy coming off him even as he sits, hands rustling the edges of the notebook.
 March 10 (5 days ago)
It has been a couple of days since I written anything down…and the thought of figuring out where to begin is a little bit suffocating. I think that is what happened when I fell silent for a period of time.
I was working in a job role and doing a lot of community-based organizing that required enormous amounts of communication, spoken and written, formal and informal…and I was trying to write a thesis…I burnt out for a bit…my writing faltered and my creativity faltered and I feel consumed by people…then my job changed and I stopped organizing and I got off of Facebook and stopped responding to most emails.
In my communicative digital existence, I dropped off the face of the earth.
I would sit down, here and there, and write a little . . . but, the emails from those months of relative quietude in the recording of words are stifled, choked…alluding to having a lot to say, but not being able to, and not much seeing the point of saying anything at all…and it really was a matter of not knowing where to start, where to pick up the thread, and – also – which small events warranted recollection, what was worth writing about when writing seemed like such a great effort, such a chore to string together letters, words.
The act of writing had lost its joyfulness for me, had lost its freedom.
It was no longer interesting.
was no longer interesting.
What did it matter what I saw, what I thought, what I did or didn’t do in the course of a day?
It doesn’t matter, not really…and then, immediately, a knowing rises up in me. “It does so fucking matter, and don’t you pretend for an instant that it doesn’t.”
Which brings me to the question of why.
Why does it matter? Why do I keep coming back to this inclination to write, even after it went away for a while? Why did it come back?
I guess it started feeling fun again, to write and to notice things with a narrative mindset, to observe and participate in my life that way, suspended in awareness that everything is fleeting and therefore both stunningly poignant and utterly meaningless.
“Your lunch is hanging on the door knob. Bye, I love you.” Leaving for work on Tuesday morning, saying bye to my oldest child and being struck by the fact that, depending on the traffic, my last words to him might be something about his lunch, which he has lately been forgetting. I was amazed for a minute that I am alive.
…but, more than fun, it started to feel important again, inspecifically purposeful.
There are a lot of reasons I write these notes…so that I will remember and so that other people won’t forget if/when I cease to exist…and, also, I still sometimes realize that I might have a story to tell that is bigger than just me and my life, a story that might actually mean something, or do something.
I don’t know why I feel a rush of shame/embarrassment in stating that I think my story matters.
I don’t even know if it does matter, but I think that it might. I think most stories matter, but maybe some more than others, depending on what they (the stories) do out in the world. My story might not matter much, or it might be important.
Right now, outside of the context of my occupational role, my story isn’t doing much of anything other than churning around inside of me, occasionally leaking portions of itself in emails.
 ___________________
9:00pm (40 minutes ago)
There are some winds that I am fond of
Warm and off the ocean
Dry and in the desert
Hot and stinking of lightning
Before rain on the Fourth of July
The summer I turned 16
and wore dark dresses
in the blazing sun
This wind though
I do not like
Steady and pushy
Making the cold limbs squeal
birds careening as they fly
The mountains moving
Shivering themselves as the sun sets
and this wind blows
with all the voices saying that it used to be
much harder
That it’s really not so bad now
Watching the wind from indoors
Warming myself by the fire
______________________
Well, that was an interesting experiment.
About 20 minutes ago I was feeling utterly defeated, a sinking weary weight in my belly, an urge to go to sleep.
I’d been intermittently tearful during the afternoon – “sensitive”…perhaps “over-sensitive.”
Really, some days things are just too freaking loud and close for me to feel at ease.
The auditory processing issue that I have had since I was a kid (not being able to hear correctly if there are many layers of competing sound, an issue my father also has) seems to be getting worse this year. I think the tinnitus contributes, and the matter of not seeming to hear as well as I may have heard before.
I used to be able to cope/adapt/compensate pretty well with the auditory issue, unless I was in a very noisy room, but lately it’s been really difficult to attend to a single voice if there is any other competing sound.
The sounds collide and lose meaning.
I feel anxious.
The feeling of anxiety is my nervous system reacting to sensory stress and my response to it, which usually involves some awareness of how freaking hard it is to have a conversation when my hearing is all screwed up and how I am not doing so great at conversing and how that sucks.
Of course, the additional “anxiety” that these responses provoke doesn’t do much for the quality of my conversation.
So, as I was saying, I was intermittently tearful this afternoon, the cumulative stressors of the week (at work, at home, internally in the form of hormonal shifts and circadian rhythm disruptions, driving to work in the dark and rain) having taken their toll, and I could definitely justify/make sense of simply going to bed, could see how that might even be a fantastic plan.
Then I sat down and started to write about the wind and how I didn’t like the way it was windy today, and – lo and behold –  I felt better.
Calmed, smoothed out, focused and lighter in myself.
…good to know.

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