Thursday, June 28, 2012


There is distant thunder. I don't understand how I can hear the sound of distant thunder through the din of my own happiness today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

But is it really bad news?

I keep thinking of how to begin this entry, circling and circling around on the same idea which basically begins with "I am so wrong in every way..."

It's not something I want to give too much thought too. It sounds childish and juvenile and more than a little self-centered. What I'd like to say has less to do with the definite reality implied in that echo of "wrong, wrong, wrong" and more with the perception of said reality. The truth is that I'm doing good. Pretty good. Workwise, schoolwise, personal workwise. Along with all the difficulties that have presented themselves in these last months there has been a torrent of goodness; originating I think from the simple desire to live the life I have.

Last night I had a plan. I had decided that I've been writing too much about interior things and that it was time to remember how to describe things. I was going to talk about how much more inspiring grey skies are and I was going to make some trite comments about the concept of the sublime and nature and things I wish I understood better. I wanted to talk about the sun and the trees and that window of mine which I wasn't really seeing because I was back at my mother's.

Someone just said one of my translations wasn't good enough. It is ludicrous to think that such a small thing, among all the others which are going right in my life, should make me feel like everything is crashing down around me. There went my beautifully prepared plan.

There's no point to it and sometimes you have to ignore the neurosis creeping up on you and inundate yourself with messages of how things are working out for you. Even if you don't quite believe them.

Trying to write while avoiding the big negative chunks of your mind is difficult. It makes me want to stop as soon as I can and it makes it hard to access that place where you look at what you're really feeling. I keep coming up on different barriers, things I don't want too touch, sadness that has become familiarly dull. It's like I've tread this path over and over again and I just want to get to something new. Because... so much of what is happening in my life right now is new. Unexpected and lovely and new.

There's something defiant about it, like something inside of me, disdainfully repeating "ah, but I know I'm doing the right thing and nothing you can do will change that..."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Missing Time

Lately I've kept trying to shake off this feeling of not doing much in life. After the last month of end of the semester craziness and utter stress, the days just seem to roll by emptily. Emptily and ominously.

I've lost so much time already. I fell behind so badly in those years of unwilling sleep. It's as if now that I'm awake and quite certainly alive I can't possibly allow myself the luxury of rest. I haven't really earned that luxury, have I?

Today, I read some more pages for my thesis research. I translated a couple of more paragraphs and wrote a couple of more sentences for my short story. I took hours to fall asleep yesterday. It was probably 5 am when I did lay down and I spent all those hours just shooting the shit on my computer. What a complete waste of time. I've spent the day reading up on fat acceptance blogs vainly attempting to make myself feel better, to stop this voice in my head saying: don't have that extra taco, put down those M&Ms, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT PLATE OF PASTA!?

I just keep feeling like everything is all wrong, wrong, wrong. Like I'm still steadily heading for disaster, no matter what I do...

Which is of course pure fabrication on part of my overtly neurotic brain. I sleep-walked through the day and I still managed to do some work, if not everything I had hope to do. I was so tired after exams and final essays, so exhausted, and yet I am not only actively working on my thesis which I hadn't done in ages but I am writing again.

I've grown so accustomed to telling myself how everything I do must necessarily be wrong somehow that I forget to listen to this little feeling in my gut telling me that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing.

I suppose that part of it is being back at my mom's. How can such a beautiful place feel so suffocatingly prison-like? I didn't walk today, or do much exercise. I didn't water my plants and probably no one else did for me. I didn't wash my dishes or emptied my cats' litter box. It somehow seems impossible to just go out and move around on my own. Once I'm here it seems so impossible to take independent action. Like being wheeled around in the metaphorical equivalent of a perambulator.

I'm not even sure how to end this now. There's just this discontent, this nagging feeling and yet this continual assurance, from the deepest parts of me, that it's all right. I'm all right. There's nothing the matter with you. Just keep your course. How strange that this song should come up right now. This song which makes me think of my desire to write about bravery, about independence, about daring, about facing loneliness and loss.  How strange that it should seem so easy to do these things that it's scary. All this time convincing myself of how I'm just no good for this, I'm just not as smart as I think, and then...

And then...

That Sour Taste in my Mouth

Someone recently told me to stop saying certain stuff about certain people because it hurts those that love them. Some years ago I was present on the day my best friend's mother told her not to talk shit about my own mother because, whatever else happened, she was always going to be my mother and talk like that could hurt me.

I can't escape the feeling that my friend's mother was covering her ass very well.

When trying to come up with a reason why the stuff I was saying about those "certain people" had to be said,  I forgot the basic argument of it: they are dangerous. At least, that's been my own personal experience with them. My friend says it best, "she's been so kind lately, I forget". I forget too.

I've had this nagging sense of impending angst and depression all day, like something was about to snap and I wondered. There are things brewing in my life, certainly. But funnily enough, every time I went to check the metaphorical pot, it was merely simmering. What is it?, people kept asking me. You look tired, they said. What's wrong?

My mother came back from an extended trip last week and I'd been completely unaware of the load that I had dropped off my shoulders those 20 days she was gone. I'd been able to deal with exams and friends and essays and all sorts of tensions with only my own interests to worry about. I'd been able to fall down some stairs and nurse my poor, mangled ankle in relative peace, with my own resources, at my own pace. I'd been able to breathe in deeply and make some decisions and work and rest and then accept the fact that I'm not nearly done with school and pick up the slack once more.

Sure, it was stressful and tiring, even with the end of the semester marking a significant reduction in my workload. But I managed. Years ago my therapist told me that I had to learn to do things in my own time. That's what these last months have felt like, stepping into the rhythm made for me. And I'd made the mistake of forgetting how badly this one person can screw up my rhythm. It's a particular thing for everyone, we all have this person in our lives. They can be parents or siblings or no family connection at all. But this person, this one I'm talking about, who everyone should recognize, this person can, with a few choice words, upset the order of our entire world.

That's what makes them so dangerous.

There'd been a distant rumble of thunder during the week. I'd finally talked to my mother over the phone after days and days of her being away. I wasn't shaking after that conversation, somehow I've managed to protect myself at least to that extent. But I felt helpless and discontent and, oh, wonder of wonders, not enough. This has been the entire tune of my life: feeling like I'm not enough. After talking to her that day I felt an outstanding number of not-enoughs: I do not earn enough money, I'm not graduating fast enough, I'm not studying enough, I haven't fixed my life enough yet, I'm not trying hard enough. The entire herculean effort that this last month has been for me became a thing of the past. How could I forget? No matter how much you work, how smart you are, how much weight you've lost, how much better you're feeling... it's just not enough. It never will be.

Well, that's not entirely true. Whenever I care to remember that this will, literally, NEVER be enough, I can then begin to visualize freedom. If whatever I do or don't do will NEVER satisfy, then, why keep trying? At least with that realization you can stop struggling.

But it's never as easy as that with my mother. It hasn't been that bad for many years, ever since I realized that wonderful "never", but it can still be upsetting. She gives you this illusion that you can do whatever she's asking of you. Just try a little harder, just be a little earlier, just stand a little firmer. It just takes this tiny amount of extra effort on your part, that you're just refusing to make for no earthly reason whatsoever. With this surreal litany going through your head, it becomes really difficult to remember that, right now, at this very moment, you are doing the best you can. There's no further effort. There are no other "ers". This is the end of your strength and it will have to be enough, because you can't really do much about it.

All through today's ride on the subway I felt this strange, horrible, sour taste in my mouth, like I was going to be sick. This is one of the main reasons why all my life I've had to carry a book wherever I go. Even if it's the shortest journey. Music just doesn't cut it, I have to have something I'm able to think about that is not this sour taste in my mouth.

When I got home to my mother everything seemed fine. She wasn't upset anymore and we talked and I tried on my new gifts and we ate dinner and everything was basically decent. No problem. I can handle this. It's a breeze.

The problem with forgetting is that these people are insidious. You don't know how they're going to screw you over next time. Well, the main strategy is recognizable and the message is always the same but... only in retrospective. So there's only one axiomatic rule which must be honored above all, in these situations: always protect yourself.

Unfortunately, I forgot the one rule.

We discussed weight issues and my weight in particular and weight loss in general. My personal way of protecting myself is what my therapist used to refer as "closing the door". If you don't allow the noxious people in your life access to your tender bits then they are less likely to hurt you with unbearable pain. I am sorry to say that I opened the door this time.

I went to bed with the sour taste of defeat in my mouth and I phoned my boyfriend home, feeling dejected and hopeless with no true way of explaining it to him, other than "it's my mother, she just messes me up".I'd had this exact same taste when I hung up after talking with her on the phone this week.

It's a crescendo. Yes, you've lost some weight but now you're not losing as much. Ah, I counter, but weight loss treatments are useless, even doctors agree, diets have no long-term results. True, she insists with relentless pseudo-logic, but health risks still increase with your extra weight. I'm not sure, I continue pathetically, and even if they do, what can I do about it other than what I'm doing already? Bariatric surgery works, she suggests surreptitiously. Yes, I concede at last, it works. But, so her immediate cover-up follows, it's a radical option. Yes, say I as I desperately attempt to latch onto this last hope, it's not an easy choice. Of course not, she offers in that faux conciliatory tone, I don't claim to have all the answers.

Neither do I, neither do I.

We seem to part amicably. She has conceded to the difficulties and is as unconvinced as I am. So it seems.

But what follows are a few hours of self-loathing and over-analyzing and self-blaming that seem to undo and rent all the hard work I've been putting lately into accepting my body and myself and trying to work with that. How can I untangle this web of passive aggression? So we have decided diets do not work and are not healthy. But we cannot concede that my body is okay in it's current state. Therefore, if I truly cared, if I was willing to put that little extra effort, I would get surgery.

And so all the images and illusions I had banished, as unhealthy and dangerous, return. I remember what I used to tell myself when I was a purging, laxative-addicted teenager. Imagine what it would feel like to buy whatever clothing you wanted. Imagine what your belly would look like flat. Imagine how much more they would love you. Imagine how pretty you could be. Imagine what it would be like to break out of this horrible body, of this hateful thing, of this ugly layer of blubber and be, at long last, "one of those girls". One of those girls who wears halter tops. One of those girls who can buy clothing wherever they want. One of those girls who are not ashamed of themselves.

A few words and here I am, contemplating a surgery I can't possibly afford.

She's made me forget all I've learned these last months. That no one can buy wherever because the fashion industry has a problem. That there are no girls who are not ashamed of themselves because we live in a culture that is hateful to the female body. That even my mother, skinny as she was, knew this.

So the money story goes. I should earn more. I can't until I have my degree. Then get your degree already. I'm working as fast as I can. If you had worked a little faster in the past, when you had the opportunity, you wouldn't be in the situation you are.

If you had, then you might be able to afford your surgery now. Circular, relentless, labyrinthine.

It is that word "never" again. It is the fact that she acts like impossible things are possible if you just do that little more she's asking of you. There is no changing my body and there is no undoing the past. I must work with what I have or live a lifetime of longing. Of never being in the place I'm currently at.

"Never" is good, "never" brings you back to reality, "never" helps you see the place you are at, in this moment. But "never" has its limitations. "Never" can only tell you that those goals are unreachable, but it cannot tell you why they are undesirable in the first place.

"Never" can only tell you that, THAT is not your rhythm, that trying to follow it will only lead to ruin and heartache. But the possibilities are equally dismal: attempt to follow a rhythm not your own and end in ruin and heartache or follow your own rhythm which is all wrong and unacceptable, and end in ruin and heartache.

Lately I've been trying to make my rhythm work. I've been embracing it and deciding that it can, after all, give me exactly what I've always wanted. I can graduate in my own time. I can write whenever I am ready to write. I am beautiful, exactly as I am, no weight-loss needed. But she makes me forget. She makes the sour taste of all that is wrong and un-fixable in my life come back. Nothing is right in me, therefore all I can hope for is either a lifetime of fighting myself or a mediocre one, where I've let my limitations defeat me.

This is what "not so bad" looks like now. Years ago, when I was still under her power, when I still believed her, it was worse, much worse. Some of my friends are in that place, some of my friends are right here besides me, but either way, it's never a good idea to forget how dangerous they are, after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Long Gone

I used to say that every day was worth recording, worth writing about. I said it a million times in this very blog. I don't know if I  ever truly believed it but certainly I tried to practice it as often as I could. For the year 2003 I have 99 blog posts recorded. For the year 2004 there are at least 44. After that it declines to a mere handful. This means that for a couple of years, at least, I was writing, when at my lowest, once a week.

I keep forgetting how much this is a discipline, and not just raw talent. I used to fancy myself Virginia Woolf and remembered what she said about her diaries being the equivalent of her sister's sketchbooks. I do try to draw at least once a week, if not once a day. Yet how afraid am I of facing a blank page and not knowing what do. I keep forgetting how important it is to describe the smell of the rain.

I've been so full of festering lately, of ugly thoughts and feelings at people and situations beyond my control. I keep forgetting the way wet earth smells. I've written some things, but so much of what is happening inside me lately is utterly private, so much of it is what is most vulnerable in me. I've been trying to think of ways around it, of saying without saying and trying to at least get the pure emotion out, even if the details must remain sketchy. I keep forgetting how much I want flowers in my home, if grown only in glass jars at least. I keep forgetting to mention that I planted lavender.

The problem with studying literature is that so much of it makes you self-concious. When all you do is read and write and not think, you absorb it still (I used to think that too, which is exactly why I began studying literature), you get the essential bits. It doesn't matter if you've read King Lear. What matters is that the person you're reading read someone who read someone who did read King Lear. It trickles down. But when you do study literature it all becomes too near, too apparent, too inescapable. You think, good god Ire, writing about nature? How tritely romantic of you.

And you keep forgetting of how vast the grey sky looks when you emerge from the subway. You keep forgetting that just a few weeks ago you stood in the rain and heard the thunder and felt it rumble deep inside you. You keep forgetting that you should have written that down, at some point, no matter how busy you were.

Discipline and practice. Artistic sensibility is so much more than a blunt tool you can store in your mind's attic and forget about until you need it again. You keep telling this to people and you keep forgetting to take your own advice (as so often happens with really good advice). You can't even begin to describe the way this song makes you feel right now and you used to be able to do that at least.

How much more alive does writing make you feel? How ashamed am I that when reading about Frances Hodgson Burnett's life the sheer volume of her writing seems completely unreachable. I worry so much about having something to say. There's a blog post I meant to finish soon, about something that's become more important for me lately; it had a point and a purpose. But if I can't make myself write here at least once a day, give meaning to whatever happened during the day, how am I ever going to finish that or any of the other million things for which I keep saying "some day, some day, soon, I'll finish them as soon as I have time"?

I keep forgetting and you just reminded me. I keep forgetting how long it has been. Eight years. Eight years of thinking too much about it, of never taking that last step, of saying, I'll be ready soon, I just need to read this other thing, I just need to be a little smarter, a little more knowledgeable, just a bit more. And I just kept forgetting how much the actual writing made me happy and how much better the practice of it made me.

It doesn't matter, I suppose. I'm here and I think I may, at long last, be waking up.