water washes away

sitting in my car, rain smashing into the windshield
coming hugely into the narrow slit I’ve opened in the window
smoke hazing around the inside of the cabin

It is pouring (again)

giant crocodile tears wetting my sweater
I don’t dare lower the window any further not even to tap my ash
thunder competing with the din of the rain on my roof

I have eaten and smoked and am grateful for the help I had in making it through this day.
I am not alone.

7:13a 26th august, 2020

You need to stop what you’re doing and listen to what’s linked below. A love poem to New York by Roger Cohen called “I Forgive You, New York”.

I’d had to stop listening to it when it first aired; too painful. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past fifty-two years, it’s that painful things can’t be avoided forever. I’ve learned how to lean into the pain, breathe through it, adding potsmoke as often as necessary, let it untangle, unsnarl. To understand that not everything that happens is meant to be understood. That in itself has been infuriating, frustrating, obliviating. That even though I am hurt, hurting, in pain. That even though, I can’t be sure that I will ever know why. That I can’t compel the answer. That nothing I can do, no innate power of mine is enough, no existing love and care and kindness is enough, that I have to accept that I may never know. Because even if I went against my nature, blew shit up, caused a lot of unhappiness past my own, that not even that would be a sure thing. And that so many more people would get hurt for nothing.

So I can only appeal to better natures to tell me. I can only be hopeful that better natures exist and that I have not been completely misled for so long.

And if that is the case, then I really, really need to be gentle with myself. Because learning that painful a lesson is going to take a long time to absorb.

5 april, 2019. 6:46pm

My heart. Oh, my heart.

I was hunting around in the vast artbeast mess of a dining room looking for A2 cello sleeves for the new cards that are drying. What I found. What I found is my orange Filofax that has been missing for four and a half years. The origami envelope that Gary made to enclose Sonnet 145 for me in its back pocket. Addressed to “my Glitter Girl”. I am overcome, overwhelmed. Weeping, shaking in my grief.

Also in its depths: a line from Hamlet, penned by someone dear I cannot remember, fallen whiskers of cats long-dead, a collaged card with a photo from 1959 with both my father and grandfather, a note from my stepmother about the ApoE4 gene which my father has a double version of, a small version of my own handprint to be made into a photopolymer letterpress die, fortune cookie widsom from Arthur Ashe, hastily written notes about multiform PVCs and success rates of ablation surgery (70%).

This is why the bar is set so high.

prescience. 6 August, 1991/19 March, 2019

8:32p cleaning my studio, trying with every nanogram of fortitude that i have to do everything i can to distract myself from the sheer rage and dysphoria of the past few hours. microdosing because while i need the edge off i need to function. i found a folder, a thick, purple folder. loose papers, typed, dot-matrix printed, mimeographed, handwritten. love letters. prose and prose poetry from school: from high school, from Purchase, from Sarah Lawrence. from Columbia. Powerful fucking shit, all exhaled before I turned twenty-five, before I was finally properly diagnosed. Before I was medicated with any stab at accuracy.

Ultra-ultra or Ultradian Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder Type 1. Genetic. Incurable. Barely treatable in any humane way. I have been on every med, every cocktail of meds from A to Z. Abilify to Zyprexa and everything in between. Nothing helped. No thing. Nobody useful understands it. But that is an extremely long and twisty tale for not-now.

My throat is raw from shouting, nay, screaming into the air at my phone, venting and shrieking with rage, crying, weeping, wailing. I haven’t plummeted into a pure dysphoric state like this in a really long time. But spring is here; the Northern Hemisphere is humming with growing energy and my mania is at 11. I’ve always done my level (get it? level? ha!) best to ride the euphoric waves when they come, ride them like the most skilled of surfers, to ease s l o w l y into the shallow waters of normalcy. And instead of coasting, I have been relentlessly nudged, pushed, shoved, and finally kicked over the edge of the tsunami.

Add the advent of Springtime? Mother Fucking Nature giving a big double-fisted flip of the birds FUUUUUCK YOOOOOU to a great many of us with bipolar 1, with all her manic growing energy exploding everywhere. You tell someone, anyone not-bipolar that you hate spring and they look at you like you’ve sprouted a second head, Zaphod Beeblebrox-style.

it’s now 10:03p. I’ve chilled down considerably thanks to virtual handholding by some of the very best people I know (I know a lot of really amazing folx), liberal amounts of cannabis, chocolate chip cookies (the chewy ones), and music loud enough to drown down most of the noise in my head. Chilled down enough to lower the volume, even.

Back to 1991. A love letter to the man who would become my second ex-husband (there are two of those). As with most of my writing, untitled save for the (time and) date I put pen to paper. Unedited, below.

august 6, 1991
this void before me
dark and deep as oblivion
the blackness so complete
so in/visible
so thick it offends my tactile senses
tries to seep into the crevices of my mind and heart like molten tar
to sink me into its depths
one would expect its silence to be absolute
at times it is
at others it is a manic chatterbox, radio static
words, images surface then fade away
i try to tune in the message being sent
listen very hard and close
i get an inkling of its purpose
strain to make it come clearer
a silence, then singular sound
hesitant and specific both
the velvet drape that has laid so heavily over my heart lifts
eyes open, wide with realization and more than a little fear
your intent is clear
you mean to sweep me off my feet
make me incapable of speech, and breath
even in my joy your words keep me on edge, waiting
will forever if necessary
for you are

When explaining about my illness I generally use a similar, while less-lyrical description of what it’s like to be inside my skull: imagine you’re at Best Buy. On a Saturday. At Christmastime. Every single noisemaking thing is turned on. Full blast. To a different channel. And no one can turn them off. And you’re locked in, can’t escape.

Vague, hazy memories I can dredge up about what prompted the above were very simply bullshit fabrications, smoke and mirrors meant to accomplish what they did: transparent wisps of promises of promises posed to seduce, only to ultimately disappoint. To expertly feed into my addiction to normalcy.

When I think about the time and energy and tears I have wasted fearing I am too much or not enough, when I count up the ways in which I was told I was not good enough, when I am presupposed, underestimated, predetermined, dismissed, I want to scream into that void. What will it take? No amount of explaining, of showing not telling, nothing. No thing. No proof is enough.

I am, at this point in my life, exquisitely aware of my words, of my face, of my tone. Words are everything to me; they are my primary Love Language, with touch a close second. I don’t ever say things I don’t mean, I do not wield barbs haphazardly for I am acutely aware of the lifelong damage they can and do inflict. It takes everything I have within me to maintain an outwardly even, if carbonated, persona.

It has taken everything in my power, every trick in my book to come back to the barest semblance of order. I screamed, and cried, and was explicit in my description of the depths of my rage, but I was also able to listen, and to be calmed, and to be cared for. To be validated, not coddled but heard. That is the most important thing in the world to me: to be heard. See me.

Know who I am.

reflections. 6 August, 2018

This is what fifty looks like. 
This is what a widow looks like.
This is what bipolar disorder and chronic pain and grief looks like.
This is what an artist looks like. A potter, a printer, a spinner, a knitter. The smartest girl in the room, almost always.
This is what a cisgender, heteroflexible, polyamorous woman looks like.
This is what a woman who loves, is in love, and is loved in return looks like.
This is what the day after the day after a major depressive episode looks like.
This is what finally being comfortable in my own skin looks like. This is what the beginning of accepting that I deserve to be treated with love, care, and respect looks like.
This is what not taking anyone else’s shit anymore looks like.
This is what broken and damaged looks like.

This is what healing looks like.
I am perfectly imperfect. More beautiful for my flaws.

Gary, I wish you could see me now. You would be so proud.

“…though she be but little, she is fierce.” WS

Cribbing from a master. 23 June, 2018

“…I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d 
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when 
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades 
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; 
For always roaming with a hungry heart 
Much have I seen and known; cities of men 
And manners, climates, councils, governments, 
Myself not least, but honour’d of them all; 
And drunk delight of battle with my peers, 
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. 
I am a part of all that I have met; 
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’ 
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades 
For ever and forever when I move. 
How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use! 

As tho’ to breathe were life! Life piled on life 
Were all too little, and of one to me 
Little remains: but every hour is saved 
From that eternal silence, something more, 
A bringer of new things; and vile it were 
For some three suns to store and hoard myself, 
And this gray spirit yearning in desire 
To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought…
…There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: 
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, 
Souls that have toil’d, and wrought, and thought with me— 
That ever with a frolic welcome took 
The thunder and the sunshine
, and opposed 
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; 
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; 
Death closes all: but something ere the end, 
Some work of noble note, may yet be done, 
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. 
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: 
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: 
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. 
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ 
We are not now that strength which in old days 
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts, 
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

(excerpted from Ulysses, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

23 May, 2018

I overhear women
on the phone,
with their husbands,
annoyed, impatient,
breath pushed out, eyes
r o l l i n g ,
Catching mine, looking for camaraderie, sisterhood.
They won’t find sympathy in me.

What I wouldn’t give for one more phone call,
seeing that sweet, dimpled face fill my phone’s screen,
Hearing the voice of my husband my
my bumble bee
booming and deep into my ear

What I wouldn’t give to hear you say 
I love you

14 May, 2018

Eight months gone, now.

I’m feeling so adrift, so unmoored, so
un anchored
f l o a t i n g 
in the cold water, the frigid air.
Small things strike me sharply,
goslings (goslings! so soft and wobbly) with their mommas learning to find food.
As I am, learning to find food.
I wanted to call you, text you to tell you about the goslings, their newness on my drive
the way you used to tell me.
There is no one to call,
no one at the end of that line
As sharp as the first snow, 
the first buds, then blossoms on our cherry tree,
the first everything since I last saw your face.