Mania. For how long? At least over a month, by my count. I am adrift on the sea of uncertainty, swishing around with the currents and tides. The paddle for this rowboat for one was swallowed up with one big gulp awhile ago. Or perhaps, I cast it into the water during a blind fit of rage. Events are just as hazy as the fog that rolls in an out daily, hourly. Time is mostly meaningless, and cannot be measured by any instruments known to this world. Or probably any other, for that matter.
Reflections are rippled, even on a still day like today, the first still day in recent memory. Still does not mean peaceful. Stillness is the absence of motion, the absence of Emotion. In is almost as if the sea, complete with the rowboat, has been contained in a stagnant bubble, frozen in time. The world continues, the linear path of time unbroken, and one can squint toward the vanishing point on the horizon. I am not a part of that anymore. I am separated from it all, with the absence of the ebb and flow of life.
The clock has stopped. The pendulum is still. It happened in the blink of an eye. In a moment, something great opened up with a mighty snap, expelled itself from me, and left me as a husk. Was it the emotional poison from my veins? Have the personas finally vacated my mind? Nothing exists save this deafening silence and this void. It is not a hollow, though some may accidentally interpret it as such. It is a vacuum, the absence of time, space, and matter.
Surreal. For as many times as I have wished, no, desperately desired to vacate my own existence, I had never considered how the lack of it would be experienced. Perhaps, somehow I had felt that I would simply disappear from the timeline entirely. Then, in some ethereal state, like in the shows and films, I could witness events rearrange themselves as if I had never lived. However, it has portrayed itself to be unlike any expectation I could conceive.
No, I am simply a token, a placeholder in my own life. I do not march in unison with others across the line, down the path, through all manners of terrain. When I speak, only wispy, stock phrases slip from my lips. I stare, my eyes unfocused watching all of the distortions in the fabric of reality ripple in and out. Little snags, where if one were to focus just hard enough, they could see into eternity. That is the trick. The human eye cannot look directly at it, or it will vanish. That is the nature of such distortions. Humans are not meant to see such things, as their minds are unable to comprehend the exact nature.
I am human, undoubtedly. At least, in this body I am, tethered to human limitations and bound by the laws of this world. As for my mind, well, I cannot say. It just seems so unlikely that a typical brain can observe the true reality, while remaining perfectly still. Since before my own memory began, a vague feeling occurred that if I were to cease to exist in the capacity that I do, meaning I had become a passive bystander to people and events, then the timeline would remain unchanged. As I am noticing, it has.
I do not refer to abandoning my duties, or having my physical form or presence removed or altered in any way. It is the indication of the concept that if I were to cease to exist in my present mind, then the world would continue, completely unchanged. It has, as long as I maintain daily routines. Mindless, involuntary actions, no critical thinking – cleaning, cooking, carrying on stock conversations.
Let it be said that no conversation here is without a presence of mind. In part, I remain here, even when the rest is largely, how should I put this? AWOL? No, because that insinuates that I am simply misplaced or even just displaced. It is most along the lines of voided.
It is not a matter of disinterest. My mother called me last night. I asked what she wanted, and she informed me that it had been several days since we talked. How many? I could not be sure how much time had passed. There is no measure within the nonexistence. At least three, possibly four. My memory failed me, and I had to check the day with her. Monday? Tuesday? I was intent on it being Tuesday. Monday, she asserted. Oh. And she enthusiastically invited my son and I to spend the afternoon with her and my father.
I was on the sofa. It was afternoon by then. There was a knock at the door, and my heart skipped a beat. People rarely visit my home before calling to ensure I was there and open to company. I peered through a slat in the blinds. All I could see was a mop of greyish, blondish hair below me. It took me a moment to recognize her. I opened the door and politely greeted her. I inquired as to what she wanted. Apparently, she had been trying to reach me on my phone, and she was getting nervous. I had forgotten about our engagement.
She excitedly took my sons hand, and I assured her I would join her in a moment. Leaving the house, even to go a couple hundred yards, takes enough preparation. I was unaware that an inappropriate amount of time had elapsed. My mother looked at me with a great deal of concern.
Nothing but a faint feeling of confusion. Where was the concern?
There is nothing wrong with me, because there is nothing about me.
Truthfully, I can’t take all of the credit. If Pendulum didn’t have an audience, I would have been discouraged enough to abandon the blog. If I didn’t have such wonderful friends here, I might not be inclined, or even inspired to write. Thank everyone for their eyes, ears, fingers, minds, and hearts.
Now, for this blog-o-versary behind-the-scenes edition of Pendulum.
Little known fact #1:
Pendulum was not the first blog I created on WordPress. Some people know about the other one, but I’m not really supposed to directly give the secret away.
No, the inspiration for a blog actually came out of a kind of spite thing. An old, friend-turned-rival had a personal blog she used to keep updated with friends. It contained some cute antecdotes about her life and some concert and album reviews, nothing incredibly revealing. While I had no inclination to start a very personal blog, I did want to have a humor blog with some antecdotes about my own life.
By the time June rolled around, I was in a very isolated place with my life affected by disorder. I felt like I was hiding behind some alter-ego (when am I not? Let’s be honest!), and I was suffering in silence. I always had been.
After a forum and a friend, Pendulum was born.
Little known fact #2:
Pendulum started with a self-injury post, To See if I Still Feel (a Nine Inch Nails lyric). But, what is lesser known is that it was accompanied by a half-hearted suicide attempt. It’s coded throughout the post, but I never really came out and said it.
Pendulum literally saved my life that day. That was the day that I really realized that there are other people out there who are like me, who have been what I have been through, and get it. That’s always been the problem in my life. There are few people who get it, and those that do only seem to want to have a pity-party competition.
It wasn’t followed up by comments right away. But, it was a start.
Little known fact #3:
“As the Pendulum Swings” was not the original choice for a blog title. However, the blog title that I wanted was already in use by my other account. At that point, I was very much in hiding about bipolar disorder, so I had to sever from it. I literally sat at my computer for a half an hour, staring at this blinking, expectant cursor.
It is not named after the Linkin Park song, “In the End“, though many times I use the full name of this blog, it does go through my mind. All I could think about was my time ticking away, pendulum swinging back and forth, dragging my emotions with it, with all of the futility and loneliness of my existence. And that’s how it came to me. My life is like a pendulum. With an upswing, there will be a downswing, and so on, and so forth. There is no end until the clock runs out. And then, you’re dead. And no one knows when that’s going to be. Today, tomorrow? Old, young? By my own hand, or by a stupid accident?
So, this blog was named to detail the swinging pendulum of my life, and go with the ups and downs.
Little known fact #4:
Tallulah grew out of several different names throughout this last year. Those that have been with the blog prior to February will remember the screen name of LunaSunshine. LunaSunshine was named for the tattoo on my back of a moon and sun, my own visual representation of the duality of my nature and the stark contrast of parts of my life. I knew Luna was “Moon”. I just couldn’t do any better for the “Sunshine” part.
Now, even lesser known fact. At a job I worked over a year before this blog, I earned the nickname of Sunny, just because of my demeanor. Believe me, it was really difficult some days. Sunny was something that stuck with me, because no one had ever referenced me in such a manner before. I didn’t know I could even be perceived in that context.
And during an episode, just before my son’s second birthday, I dyed my hair bleach blonde, a color I hadn’t worn since it was my natural color as a child. I guess it marked some kind of stability for me, because I’ve managed to keep the same color for almost two years now. Before that, it was bouncing between brown and red, based on the episode I was in at the time of the purchase of the hair color.
Now, back to the evolution of the name. Another blogger started to refer to me as “Lulu”, and somehow, it fit. It just stuck. No real rhyme or reason in a real life context. And maybe that was why. A clean break, you know?
How did it evolve into Tallulah? Actually, there is a post entitled, “A Proper Name” that gives explanation to that. Tallulah has always been a name I wanted to name a daughter, if I ever had one. I realize that’s not an option. Tori Amos wrote a song called, “Talula”, which carried a special meaning for me. To me, it spoke of the projection of the ideal woman, whether it was mine to begin with or not, and holding it as a standard, where if I don’t embody it, then I will be abandoned by the ones I love. It’s kind of like “behave, or we’ll stop loving you”.
It fit with “Lulu” already, so that was that. Stark was just something that paired well with it. It was not intentional, as it just popped into my head, and it has nothing to do with Iron Man. In fact, I have never seen the movie. But, I will make a kind of weird admission that Robert Downey Jr. looks kind of hot in a GQ sort of way in the commercials.
Lesser known fact #5:
This is my first mental health blog, but not my first blog about my personal life. In my younger years, I had been inclined to share things via short lived blogs on Livejournal, Darkjournal, Blogspot, Myspace, etc. In fact, I have had flame wars with my husband via blog sites, obviously much prior to our relationship and subsequent marriage. I found hard evidence that my ex had been cheating on me, via blog sites. My husband found out he had a stalker (same woman as the one my ex cheated on me with). And I’ve even had to end several friendships over flame wars on blogs.
The very last time I had a falling out on a blog site was when I was finished with blogging entirely. I didn’t appreciate how a friend dragged an incident where she was completely in the wrong into a public light. Then, she went as far as to try to spin it, and take the focus off facts and onto slanderous statements. I quit after that. We closed down all blogs, old email accounts, and most social networking sites.
And finally. . .
Lesser known fact #5:
My husband is well aware that I keep this blog. He knows it has a public address. He can access any and all of it’s content at any time. We share passwords, and there aren’t supposed to be any secrets. Totally accessible. And he hasn’t read a word.
I’m amazed at the lack of curiosity. I don’t blame him though.
I didn’t realize that I had been tagged multiple times. I should have! As I was saying to Angel, events that occurred during my depressive fog kind of jumble together. So, I’m still catching up.
So, I’ve arrived at Angel’s Questions. Here’s the deal. I’m not going to tag, because I’m sure everyone has been tagged by now. If not, feel free to pick up the questions I leave at the bottom.
1) What is your favorite mini-series?
2) What song is currently stuck in your head?
Now that you mentioned it, one came to mind, “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. It is also the “House” TV series theme song.
If you’re a girl, who would you pick as your girl-crush? Or if you’re a guy, who would you pick as your guy-crush? You have to choose at least one. Although I guess this question has a heteronormative bias. Whoops. Well, if you identify as homosexual, choose someone of the opposite sex as your answer. Okay, I’m amending this question to try to make it as bias-free as possible. Who’s one guy and one girl you have a crush on? You must choose one of each.
Literally, and this is going to sound hilarious. I have a crush on my husband. I’m not kidding. Any and all males who bear a striking resemblance to my husband can be included. That’s Robert Pattinson, (Edward Cullen from “Twilight”), and Tom Welling (Clark Kent from “Smallville”).
Women? Kate Winslet! She is gorgeous, no matter what color her hair. She had the perfect figure. She’s not rail thin, and she’s curvy. She is a real woman.
4) If you got to choose any occupation you wanted and money wasn’t an issue, what would you choose and why?
Cheating. My ideal occupations are teacher and writer. Both of which I am doing, and both of which I am not making a whole lot of money at.
I love being an educator. I really do. It is fulfilling and thrilling. It’s different each day. I get to watch about 90 kids grow up each year. And to think that I’m a part of their lives, even for that short time. Some will be able to look back to that and think, “That’s Ms. Em. She taught me music when I was a kid.” I remember some of my favorite teachers, the ones who really touched my life. And that’s what I try to do every day, is make a difference in a child’s life.
As a writer, I want to make a difference in the mental health community by lending my voice, support, and ideas. I want this to become a serious public issue one day, not something that everyone just puts on the backburner, because they don’t want to talk about it. Mental health is important. Mental health disorders are real, and they have a real effect in people’s lives. Untreated, there are serious consequences. I want the world to see it, and know it.
5) When you’re using numbers to make a list, do you put periods, parentheses, or something else (if so, what), after the numbers? Why do you think you have this preference?
When I’m using numbers to make a list, there is the number, a period, and then a parentheses. It would look like this 1.) I have this preference because it looks neater and is easier on my eyes when I’m skimming the list.
6) What sorts of books do you like to read, and why?
I have favorite genres. Personally, I love psychology books. Psychology is my thing. It could have been my career, but I decided education is where my heart was. There’s a scientific way to figure out how anything works. We can take all kinds of things apart and figure it out. Even the human body. But, we still haven’t figured out the brain.
That’s because the mechanisms that make the brain work aren’t physically apparent. It’s a mysterious thing. I want to know how people think. I want to know why they are the way they are. I want to be able to draw similarities and differences between them. It’s just fascinating. People are complex and fascinating creatures.
7) You’re driving for at least four hours by yourself. You don’t have a CD player, and you can’t hook up your mp3 player or smartphone to your stereo. How do you occupy yourself?
I’ve never thought about it. I’ve never actually driven that kind of distance alone. I guess I would have to start playing license plate games, or something.
8) Do you believe in anything supernatural? If so, what?
Of course I believe in the supernatural! I believe in ghosts, aliens, astrology, spirits, “God” (if you will), and all kinds of things. Especially aliens and astrology. Astrology is something that ties in closely with psychology when you look at it hard enough.
Anyone who is interested, I do natal astrology. Mainly through the use of natal charts. Go ahead, check out your chart and see how close to being correct it is.
9) Why do you visit my blog? (How’s that for a nosy self-promoting question? No, you don’t need to answer this second question. It’s rhetorical.)
I’ll answer it, because I don’t think it’s important information. I visit your blog for a number of reasons. At first, it was interesting to see how events unfold in your life. It was kind of like piecing together a character in a story. What has happened? What will happen? Things of that nature.
But, with every story, I find myself getting involved. Except, with a character in a book, there is no way of two was communication. However, here, you’re not a character. You are a person. And I have become involved with you as a person.
I want to know about your life. I want to know how you are feeling and what you are doing. I want to hear your ideas, your feelings, your thoughts, musings, whatever you have to give. There is a certain investment there. It’s interesting, and it’s a two way street.
10) If you have a smartphone, which 5 apps do you use the most? If you don’t have a smartphone, why not?
Pandora, WordPress, Twitter, Weather Channel, and my email client. Does that count as an app? If not, then I’d name Tumblr as my fifth.
11) What is the most important principle for you to live your life by, and why?
Altruism. Pay it forward. I want to be as selfless as I can possibly be without passing myself over completely. I have needs and wants. I cannot forget that. However, I know that I want to balance that with my desire to provide support roles to others.
In my entire life, I’ve always played a support role. In school, I played in the orchestra pit during musicals. No one ever saw my face. I sang alto and tenor, harmony parts that enrich the melody. Most of the time, when I sang tenor parts, no one in the crowd realized that it was me, a woman, who carried that part.
Today, I’m the woman behind a brilliant man. I’m the teacher that is building students up to be incredible people in their lives. I’m the music director in productions. No one ever sees my face. That’s fine. I was the one who designed and hand stapled all of those programs, without any billing in the liner notes.
I am the mother behind an incredible boy. My son is truly something else. I know all mothers say that, but he’s so curious. He has limited communication skills. But, he’s three. He can do math. He knows the Fibonacci sequence (to a certain point), without ever having been taught. He knows his alphabet, and can sight read. I didn’t teach him to sight read, but he just started doing it one day. All of these things, besides counting the alphabet, were things I thought he was too young or impaired to do. I guess I was wrong.
And I know that with some help, and a lot of love, encouragement, and work on both of our parts, he is going to be a brilliant man, maybe more so than his father one day.
All of that. What about what I want? I want a lot of things, believe me. But, I’m willing to sacrifice all of the things that I want to see others succeed.
- What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of your gender are?
- You’re kicked out of the country you currently reside in. Where do you go?
- What do you do with your change?
- What is your favorite beverage and why?
- What would be your ideal vacation spot? Why?
- Do you have pictures around your house? Of what?
- Do you think that if I were to walk into your house right now that I would have any idea about who lived there? Why, or why not?
- Doomsday Scenario: A solar storm knocks power grids out worldwide. There is no way to know when power will be restored, or if it will. What is the first thing you do, and why?
- What do you think is the meaning of life?
- Another Doomsday Scenario: A few servers malfunctioned and the internet is going to be down indefinitely. What do you see yourself doing to entertain yourself?
- Are you superstitious? What are some of your superstitions?
- I need a tag break after this (carlarenee45.wordpress.com)
- 12.5–The Pillars of the Earth (thetemplarknight.com)
- Tag, Apparently Im It (gypsy116.wordpress.com)
- TAG!!! You are it Yo!! (bipolarmuse.com)
- Tag, I’m It! – Pittsburgh Edition (asthependulumswings.wordpress.com)
- How Do People Use Their Smartphones (mycricket.com)
(Originally dated January 31, 2012)
Day 10: Someone you need to let go of or wish you didn’t know.
Originally, I read this prompt and blanked. It wasn’t until I read Gypsy’s Day 10 Post that I came to this realization.
Facebook is toxic. Cosmo did an article in the December issue about a study revealing just that. That article confirmed certain suspicions, so I started taking statuses with a grain of salt. Yeah, I bet you’re happy about your drunken single life in your late 20’s, since you brag about it so much.
But, a couple of nights ago, a status rubbed me the wrong way.
Bear with me. This gets a little complicated.
I had a huge group of best friends in middle school. One by one, they dropped off for various petty reasons. Kat and I were inseparable. Until a boy came between us. Of course, that left a huge schism between them and me. Lea took on the grudge personally. But, Liz stayed neutral.
Kat pretended like I didn’t exist. Lea campaigned for my social public execution, setting up shop right across the hall from me, and Liz ghosted between.
Eventually, Kat and Lea started dating brothers, one who I dated years ago (of course, that was Lea’s boyfriend). I had my first public scrap happened with Lea in that very hallway.
Moe and I were still really good friends. Of course we were! I was the only one who stood by him and spent countless hours on the phone with him when he was in the hospital for chemo treatment. I stayed with him, even though I knew that it was incredibly possible that he could die. But, it was too late to turn back then.
We walked through the hall talking, cutting up as usual. As he met her in the hallway, I passed him and said to him, ignoring her, “Later whore!” A whole fourty-one minutes passed, and my head was filled with Biology before 10AM. I walked down the stairs and met with my gay guy friend to head to the music wing. Lea passed me and snarled, “Fuck you, you white trash slutbag. You’ll regret fucking with me.”
It was only audible to the immediate vicinity, all music kids. I flew, screaming after her, “Are you threatening me, you fat fucking bitch!?”
“What if I am?” she turned and sneered, “What are you going to do about it? Cry and cut yourself?” She continued walking, headed up the stairs.
Check had already grabbed me, and held me in a full nelson as I raged at her. A teacher from the third floor came down at that point and lambasted me without even asking what happened. I spouted off, “Fuck you too, Pistol Pete.” And Check had to drag me away. We were unbelievably late and it was still a walk to the music wing.
I told him, “Go in before me. I don’t want you getting mixed up in this.” I stood outside the room for a couple of minutes, listening to the melodies and harmonies of warm-ups bounce off of the tiled halls and wooden doors.
Calmly, I walked in. I turned the corner, and the whole room rose to applaud me! I was beyond shocked, and no words could come. I expected a slow, painful, icy death by silence. Instead, I was congratulated for my absolutely outrageous outburst! By everyone except Liz, who gave me this disgusted and pained look.
It was no surprise when I was called to the principals office by noon. She was coming out as I was headed in. Lea glared and mouthed, “Fuck you, whore,” as we passed one another. I growled under my breath. If we weren’t surrounded by a room full of elderly secretaries, I would’ve jumped on her and ripped her face off.
I sat across the desk from the principal in her little interrogation room. This wasn’t the first time. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time in that school year! But, I had never been in there for fighting. I knew protocol for a search. “Let’s dump your bookbag here, and we’ll have the constable walk you to your locker to watch you dump that all over the hall.” But I didn’t care. I was actually pretty satisfied with myself.
“So Em, would you like to tell me what happened between you and Lea?”
“Why should I? Lea already told you what you’ll believe anyway. I won’t waste our time.”
And that was it. No, “I want to hear your side.” What was there to say in my defense? The tattletale always wins. And I already had a record.
I knew only hell awaited me at home. It always did after there was an incident at school. Going home and facing the wrath of my parents was worse than any punishment they could deal me at school.
My mother’s head was poking out to look down the street as I approached. I considered turning and running. No, that would make it worse. Then she’d send my father after me, who would literally drag me kicking and screaming back up the street.
Fighting had been the worst offense I had ever committed. And the worst part is that I didn’t even actually hit her. I only threatened it, while verbally assaulting her in front of about half of the student body.
“So, the principal called today,” my mother announced in front of my father. She must have meant business. Usually, she at least attempted to break the news gently to my father.
“Yep, what did you talk about?” I asked candidly.
“You tell me.”
I sighed, and recounted the tale, uncensored, complete with swears and acts.
There was a long pause. I wondered how long it was going to take before she slapped me in the face for using that language, berated me for embarrassing the whole family, and let my father actually kill me. Dad stood in the background and just started clapping. My mother smiled. Was this some sort of sick torture? Get on with it!
“We are so proud of you!” she exclaimed.
“She got what was comin’ to her,” he noted.
I was so confused that I was terrified that I had actually lost my mind. “What?”
My mother explained, “That girl has been torturing you for three years now. I’ve wanted to kick her ass myself. And you finally stood up to her.”
“I don’t care what that idiot principal has to say. You did right today,” my father confirmed.
“Next time be a little more subtle and don’t get caught,” my mother mentioned.
“You’re serious?” I questioned. She nodded.
I almost died. If I was caught smoking, I’d get grounded for a month. If I was admittedly fighting, I’d get rewarded? What the hell kind of backwards world was this?
After that, it returned to the cold war. The lines had clearly been drawn, with a no-man’s-land in between. Moe made his decision – all men led around by their second head. Kat had already made hers. But Liz still had to chutzpah to traverse the DMZ.
It wasn’t until Moe and Lea had broken up that more lines were drawn. Lea thought it was insensitive that Kat was still dating Moe’s brother. Kat wasn’t about to give up a good relationship because her friend was too petty to get over it. And it was over in less than a summer.
Lea League, Club Kat, and Team Em. And somewhere where those borders met, Liz sat and slowly seethed.
To be continued. . .
Day 09 : Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
I carefully considered this question, and scanned my mind for any possibilities. I bounced it off of my husband and it came back with an answer.
I cherish everyone in my life. I will hold to them as tightly as I can, if they have any meaning. And, if they do drift, they were meant to.
The character Madea explained in the stage production of “Madea Goes to Jail about the nature of relationships.
If somebody wants to walk out of your life, let – them – go!”
Some people are meant to come into your life for a lifetime, some for only a season and you got to know which is which. And you’re always messing up when you mix those seasonal people up with lifetime expectations.
Later in the monologue, she equates people to parts of a tree. Some are leaves that bud, grow, and blow away at the end of the season. Others are branches, some of which may snap and leave you flat on your back. And then, there are the people that are roots, unseen, deep in the earth.
A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it… just let it go. Let folks go.
I used to have a problem where I’d clutch to people and force a relationship that was only meant for a season further. Eventually, I realized that I was doing myself more harm than good. This was before the wisdom of Tyler Perry through Madea. Sometimes I wish a Madea existed in my life a long time ago. Maybe it wouldn’t have taken me so long to come to my own conclusion.
Eventually, I started letting people go. And worse, there were some I had to evict from my life. My husband calls it, “Flushing the Social Septic Tank”. Anyone I determined was causing me harm for their own benefit had to go. My friendship, affection, and loyalty is worth more than that.
At first, this was a difficult process. I, too, have been evicted from the lives of others. Some of these separations were justified, but many were not. Rejection is not something easily brushed away. It is taken very personally. It often starts to erode my self-worth. I never wanted to be responsible for imparting that upon another being.
After a few major falling-outs, I came to a very important realization. It was often the fear of isolation that drove many of those friendships. And most often, it was the pain of severance, rather than the grievance of a lost friend. Those things shouldn’t be primary motivations for fostering a friendship.
After that epiphany, I refused to enable unhealthy relationships. In all likelihood, it caused me greater pain to pander for affections rather than their suffering after severance.
Many people are ships passing through my waters. Some dock, and others continue wandering in and out of the harbor. Then, there are those that come, dock, and are never seen again. I can’t be expected to board every ship, and certainly not to sail off into the great blue beyond.
In summation: Let folks go. Don’t spend a lifetime mourning their departure. We don’t mourn the passing of seasons. It is nature’s way.
On an island called Chios lived the Greek God Apollo, his beloved Cyparissus, and a stag, adored by all of the inhabitants. Especially by Cyparissus. Cyparissus would care for the stag, adorn his horns with garlands, and they’d ride and gallop across the island in merriment.
One hot day, Cyparissus was hunting in the woods. From afar, Cyparissus saw an animal. Cyparissus took aim with bow and arrow and fired a fatal shot. When Cyparissus approached, the animal was recognized as the beloved stag.
In agonizing mourning, Cyparissus prayed to Apollo that he be permitted to be grief-stricken for eternity. Reluctantly, Apollo agreed, and turned his friend into the cyprus tree, to preside over the mourning of others.
I approach the cyprus in the distance. I can see it, wide branches over the swelling tides. It stands alone, and survey the landscape. I am alone in this endless field, approaching the cliffside. The others may not join me immediately. Because, they won’t let themselves see it in the distance.
What does it all mean?
My grandmother had a stroke on Christmas. She has not been well enough to care for herself for quite awhile. The details have become clearer as the cypress tree was coming into focus. She has not been well for much longer than many of us realized. It was a very closely guarded secret.
It was not for the protection of others, but the denial of one. Her caretaker. When the day comes, and she is gone, her caretaker will have no one left. In a way, she was protecting herself from psychic harm.
My grandmother went back into the hospital on Saturday, the 18th. The doctors determined she has pneumonia and congestive heart failure. On Sunday, the 19th, she had a seizure. Currently, she is in the Neuro Intensive Care Unit. She’s conscious and stable. But, her doctor, who has been treating her for years, had deemed the situation to be grim.
They say she’s turned around today. But, I am not hopeful. Her brain is still hemorrhaging, slowly, but continuously. She has developed aphasia now, although she is aware of her surroundings. But, she is mostly immobile. Congestive heart failure doesn’t just go away. Her body is ailing and her brain is failing. She is shutting down, bit by bit.
And, I walk slowing, a lone soul in my procession toward the cypress tree. Each step feels like the terrain grows larger. I am alone in my acceptance that her days are sadly numbered. I am terribly alone in my grievance, crossing those days off of my calendar. And I am seemingly completely alone in the anxiety of the wait.
I know why. No one is ever ready to lose their mother.
But, I ask, what quality of life does she have? Immobilized, unable to care for her basic needs, and losing more of her brain function with each episode. How happy can she be in that state? Is it fair that many cling to her life so much that they fail to see any of this?
I see it. I mourn her life in such a state. I am troubled by her slow disintegration. And, I clutch Tallulah (my Blackberry), in grave anxiety, awaiting that call. I have gone as far as allowing my phone to remain on ring while I am at work. As far as I am concerned, I am on death watch.
I worry. My grandmother is the last bit of glue that binds this family together. Her children refrain from bickering, for her sake. Her grandchildren are only vaguely aware of each other. And most of the rest are scattering to the four corners.
I worry. About my family – about my mother. She is the glue that binds her family and the very mechanism that keeps it functioning. The woman is much more fragile than can be perceived by her stoic exterior alone. If she falls apart, her family will fall. They depend on her.
And I know. It will fall on me. I will have to find the strength to care for five people, when I am hardly capable for caring for myself.
This bus. This is the same bus I take to and from work all of the time. Same routes, same drivers, and generally the same people.
Not a whole lot changes in my life. Steady job, happily married, a resident of my neighborhood for more than two cumulative decades. It is not monotonous in the slightest. It is stable.
Because, regardless of the things that remain concrete, I am always evolving, always flowing, and fluctuating. I am up; I am down. I do not have the luxury of having a constant mental state, where everything is perceived exactly as is was yesterday, and the day before that. Also, I do not have consistency within myself and my emotions to risk tipping the scales. The cost is too great.
I am more than content to go on living my life in the same way, unlike many others. Why? Because I have endured so much and worked so hard to get to this point. Right here, where I undoubtedly believe that there are concrete things to grab onto when I’m sliding, and I have at least a modicum of clarity about myself, my present, and my future.
It’s this clarity that keeps me intact.
The predictability that I am going to wake up next to my husband, poke around on WordPress, play with my son, feed us, walk down the street, and hop on the same bus, at the same time, with the same driver to go to the same place I went the day before.
I do that backward in the evening.
I wrote this to a friend, soon after I wrote Pause. Skip. Fast-Forward.
“My mind feels like it fell from a skyscraper and shattered on the ground, 100 stories below. That’s the kind of wreckage we’re talking about. Not only did I leave an impact crater, I’m practically dust at the bottom of it. I can’t think, and I’m overwhelmed by this horrid, damaged feeling.
. . . I was handling it pretty well from moment to moment because they were pretty pronounced from one another, and rather short. Now, I’m pretty sure something tipped me off of my precarious ledge. It doesn’t matter what the causation was, because it’s not going to act as an antidote.
It was coming anyway. Three months in the making.
. . . I can’t trust anything I say, think, or do right now . . .“
A few nights ago, I found myself standing at my same stop, waiting for my same bus, having a conversation with C.S. about our respective days. They had been rough ones. C.S. was dealing with a defaulted loan, and several accounts that were flaming turds at work. I had bombed an observation at work, and was dealing with a potential denial from unemployment regarding my lack of work over the summer. Everything was off kilter, and I had been for several weeks prior to these events.
In the 99 Quirks of Lulu, in #2 and #5, I describe certain phobias I have. So, when I board a bus, I naturally take the seat right in front of the backdoor. On these buses, there is a plexiglass barrier between that seat and the door. I am positioned properly, and it alleviates claustrophobia. I can see everyone who can get to me. I am close enough to the front of the bus, near the driver, without occupying a disabled seat, and I have an easily accessible exit.
Of course, I always survey my surroundings, without making eye contact. There were five other people on the bus with me. A larger, middle-aged man in jeans, who sat two seats in front of me. A 50-something year old woman, with short poofy hair, dyed auburn, with grey roots coming in, seated a seat behind and across the aisle. A man occupying a disabled seat in the front, and a male and a female in the very back.
I chatted with C.S., upset by the events that were simultaneously occurring. It is the same ritual that occurs every night, usually minus the serious conversation. And everything was in it’s right place.
I take notice of when anyone moves around on the bus. I have been accosted more than once while en route, so I am always cautious. The man had been casting me glances, obviously unaware that I had noticed. The woman got up, and leaned across the aisle to speak with the man. I continued on with C.S., still perfectly aware of what was going on around me.
She leaned in toward me, close enough for my eyes to focus in on her greyish, crooked front teeth, and scolded loudly, growling, “You know, there are other people on this bus.”
Typically, I go unprovoked. I would ignore such a person and prattle louder, in the attempt to defy the other person. But, something triggered. I could feel it in the millisecond before my response. It was like the click of hammer when a gun is fired. And the projectile came out.
“Oh don’t worry, I’ll be off soon enough,” I replied bitingly, knowing my stop was just a few minutes away.
She snarled, sinking back into her seat, “You know, you don’t have to talk so loudly.” Funny thing was, I was not talking loudly. I was speaking in my normal voice, on a bus quiet enough to rival a library.
“Actually, this is me talking loudly. Just so you can tell,” I retorted, even louder this time. I did not swear, threaten, or get up.
“As if it’s all that important.” Clearly, she was regarding me as some teenage idiot prattling idly to her boyfriend on her cell phone, gossiping nonsensically about this and that. Looks are deceiving. She should have learned already in her long life to never take anything at face value.
And I raged, speaking to her as if I were scolding a student for extraordinary misconduct, “Yeah, actually it is important. This is about my life. Not your life. And if you were actually listening as you clearly indicated you could have been by the volume of my voice, you would know what I was talking about. But no, you don’t, because it’s all about you.” She didn’t have anything else to say. Her body language indicated she was terrified, as she became smaller, and smaller in the corner of her seat.
Meanwhile, C.S. was in my earpiece talking me off the ledge. “Stop talking. Ignore her. Just stop talking to her,” he repeated.
I got home, and we were fixing dinner. He said to me, “I didn’t tell you to back off because I thought it was the right thing to do. I was sitting there, listening to this, thinking to myself, ‘What would I do if someone fired their mouth off to me after a bad day?’ And I thought, ‘I’d probably punch her in the face.’ Or at least, I’d want to. I wasn’t about to bail you out of jail tonight.”
The thing was, physical violence didn’t occur to me until I was already home, ranting about that scene with C.S. I said to him, “Her posture indicated that she was actually afraid of me. She should have been. She clearly didn’t know who she was dealing with.”
I continued, “I’m going to go ahead and assume that she is near retirement age, by the greys in her hair, and likely had to stay late at work, in a job she hates, because I’ve never seen her on that bus before. She had a bad day, was irritated, and was looking for someone to take it out on. So, she is irritated by what looks like easy prey. I hope she learned her lesson.”
After a few days of mulling this over, I realized what the click was. I perceived her as a bully. She matched multiple descriptions of my personal definition of a bully. Clearly, she didn’t live in my lower-class neighborhood, because she was not even close to gathering her belongings for departure. In all likelihood, she was riding to the Park N Ride two townships over, so she could drive the hill to the well-to-do part of town. Match number one, someone with higher socioeconomic standing. Match number two, she was older than me. She had a sense of entitlement, as if I had to do what she said, just because she felt a certain way. Match number three, some kind of social standing, or concept of authority.
Three strikes, you’re out. I fought back. Like I’ve been wanting to do my whole life. And guess what? I won.
Unfortunately, it took being severely unhinged to do it.
I wrote this for my husband, a year after we got together. This is our story.
When one door closes, another opens.
And occasionally it occurs as overlapping events, rather than simultaneously. Such is the nature of life, with its interwoven fibers amounting to the gorgeous flowing fabric. We are the sum of our actions and the resulting events. But it’s not so simple. The seeds were strewn about our fields throughout a long period of time, lodging themselves deep into our soil. Then under the right conditions, they emerged to the surface to the light of day.
The winds of change can scatter and confuse time, and when we awaken, years have passed without a whisper on the lips of consciousness that this was this but now is that. When we awaken, like moles into the sunlight, scratching for vague patterns of our new reality, we are left with grins or grimaces. I could not say that I grinned or grimaced, for I smiled – breathing in the air and beauty that surrounded me. – C.S.
His accent was intoxicating. His stories were enchanting. His facade was alluring, but it wasn’t enough to disguise the man underneath. It wasn’t a question of where he had come from or what he had done, but more of our interactions. They were flawless like ice crystals, solid in structure but liquid all throughout. We anticipated each others responses. No one person had such an intricate and complete understanding of me. The seeds of our affections were sown. And yet, we were blind to it.
Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve – – – words that often arise when hindsight comes into perfect focus. Had I not been so engulfed in my failing relationships, I could’ve realized it.
The purging had ceased, inebriation started to fade while the sun battled his way above the horizon. The first dim morning rays crept into the room, scarring the darkness into hiding. Innocently entangled in one another, grappling for a certain reality that remained just shy of our reach, we breathed in unison. Our voices were so low that the breeze seemingly whisked our words away, leaving only remnants in my memory. What only remained was his gentle baritone murmur in my ears and the soft vibrations against my chest. However, one managed to sound loudly in my mind.
I want to make love to you . . .
Stunned. Paralyzed. I want to make love to you too . . . – stifled far too soon. It wasn’t the phrase. It was the sentiment.
Beside me, pressed so tightly our hearts could echo one another. An invisible orchestra played between our natural sounds. Each breath was the cymbal crash against the skin of my neck. The trembling baseline was his voice and body swirling with my soprano melody. Locked together in this eternal waltz, our instruments impeccably played on. Beside me, inside me, we were unified.
All in the firing of one synapse, one millisecond, one singular possibility.
I ached. To feel his bare flesh against mine. To be absorbed into the depths of his soul. To possess every last part of his being.
But damn logic right to the depths of hell! My mind twisted and bent into a steel cage around my heart to protect my already compromised structural integrity. I had been a victim of love, complete with open, festering war wounds. I was not yet ready to allow anyone the opportunity to victimize me once more, for better or worse. Code Red! Lockdown! I rationalized our emotion away like birds into the sky. And it was smothered before seeing the light of day.
I could’ve made love to him . . . if I had been more intoxicated. If I had my inhibition stripped and alarms silenced. I would’ve granted him access to my heart, had it not been in such a critical state. And despite these things, I should’ve taken that impossible leap of faith across that great chasm.
And that was the last time I saw him clearly for nearly six months. However, unbeknownst to us, affections simply don’t dissipate because you will them to do so. But tactics – distraction, false rationalizations – can be instituted in order to subvert the truth.
Silence, with the exception of our constant dialogue like a clear flowing stream. It was never the conversation that was important, but rather the continual contact. We caressed each other through discreet discourse, as if our words were hands searching each others’ darkest secrets. Outright confessions would’ve been too forward and obvious. Physical displays would certainly be condemnable. Our verbal intercourse continued, flying low under the radar as an innocent act of friendship of which even we were both eagerly convinced it was.
There are moments were feelings and situations are clearly defined, even if they aren’t noticeably bolded or otherwise visibly highlighted. Our book was clearly still in it’s early chapters.
His bare bedroom walls were soon filled with the colors of our affections. Even the air was different, crackling with a indescribable high voltage energy found between new lovers. And yet we were not. We needn’t have discussed it; it was merely understood. Perhaps, if we spoke it aloud that would make it real, holding us responsible for our every unconscious exchange. Our gaze met and dropped and met again, like a spark between live wires.
Chronos smiled, freezing time for us, and only us. The night stood still, permitting us to slip between the cracks of space and time. We defied the continuum without breaking our bonds. And for those moments, we were more than just two solitary entities inhabiting the same space. We were the space; we were each others’ thoughts, voices, and breaths.
My head swam and as quickly as we exchanged words, they had gone like whispers in the bitter, but beautiful winter breeze. Time began once again, the second hand beating ferociously, creating a terrible sound in my mind like gunshots on a battle field. My heart swelled until it nearly choked the breath of life from me. I was numb from the excitement yet mourning the loss of what never was yet might have been. In another place, in another time . . .
Responsibilities and duties rooted us in distant lands, desperately apart. Being a moral person very rarely instantly gratifies anyone who continues to hold up to its code. Severed from one another through obligations, requests and eventually demands from those who were more perceptive than us, we drifted away on turbulent seas toward distant destinations. Another six months fell from our calendars like flower petals wilting away.
Familiar places, familiar faces, we once again found ourselves on our eternal carousel, orbiting one another but never to meet in the middle. Gravitation pull kept us circling, leaving others to be our asteroids consistently knocking us off course. Nearly two years elapsed before our irregular orbits had crossed paths once more. But other planets were aligning, creating a universal, cataclysmic event, speeding up motion and time.
The Eve of Omega and Alpha culminated at the end of a mighty crescendo. All in one space and time resided unrealized past, present, and future respectively as if the freshly laundered fabric of time had been folded, once over, twice over, then again. I was frozen, pondering the possibilities, and still too nearsighted to distinguish. My crossroads were much fuzzier and perilous than I had realized and my choices too weighted and narrow. Yet, he stood further down the path, silently beckoning me once again, always too far ahead like a time traveler. And for once brief moment, I caught his greyish outline in the distance, down the overgrown path. However, it wasn’t enough to detract from the bright signs, falsely guiding me down yet another treacherous path.
But there, another stood beside me, guiding me down the rabbit hole. He took my hand as he had done many times before and drew me in, only this time I couldn’t resist. My mind had been poisoned, distorting (reality), destroying the judges and silencing the council. I was alone in deep, dark silence, as thick and black as the essence of night itself. His coaxing, his orders, my circuitry was being rewired. I was becoming.
Enslaved, I carried out the will of the master in the fray of the sinister sociopaths. Degraded, defiled, stripped of everything sacred, anything sane or reasonable. The war ensued, my flesh the battle ground in which they ravaged every last morsel of respect.
I’m not here. This isn’t happening. I’m not here. I’m not here.
The fires in my belly weren’t nearly enough to thaw the ice encasing my soul. A piece had met it’s cruel demise, withered and fallen off into oblivion. Recollection of manufactured moments, fragments of time enmeshed with conjured emotion poured out and circled the drain until they were banished. That regretful incident eviscerated us, the flower child and I. All for not, HE, the incarnate of Hades had unknowingly paved the usually treacherous path ahead. The cosmic highways once again converged, allowing for a head on collision that this time would not be mistaken for anything other.
The spring air was crisp, and the beauty exuded more so than ever before. We spoke, old moths to the flame, drawn in, never missing a beat to the rhythm of the familiar drum. Perhaps we marked time to it, never straying far enough for life in all of it’s obstructive noise obscure it’s particular pulse. Our time was infinite. We walked the earth eternally, as long as the sky was blanketed in the celestial beings that kissed the sky. Even with every step I took, I felt my chains to the other becoming more cumbersome, the burden unbearable. I trudged on.
Suppression, unconscious denial, drawing fine lines in the sand at high tide to be redefined as necessary. Only vague remnants floated in the seas of unconscious mind. Moments that hardly brushed another were only partially unearthed, still questionable to the naked eye. With fresh rain, more flooded in, flushing the ground, stringing vague context in the light of day. The night, with all of the shadows it cast upon other landscapes, stood in stark contrast to the light from the burgeoning flames, growing ever closer, threatening a spectacular inferno.
Come with me.
Such a simple phrase struck a nerve and coursed my stagnant lifesblood through my icy veins. With only those discreet rounds of discourse, a pulse was discovered and we were once again resuscitated. The obstacles were become fewer and fewer; the road cleared, becoming more navigable. Torrents of rains had cleared, leaving only fertile soil, ripe with nutrients to nurture our long dormant seeds.
Drunk words are sober thoughts. Confessions poured from my soul through my mouth faster than a river through the universe, traveling at the speed of light. I was the sinner and he was my savior, hearing every gruesome detail, redeeming me with stroking words, caressing my frail soul. The picture was black, the sound garbled like in a damaged film reel. The scene continued regardless; the show must go on !
I can’t stand, to see the morning come. While the evening rain is still falling.
Out of the ashes, the phoenix was once again reborn. We both stood amongst our own personal ruins, seemingly miles apart and yet within earshot to sound the alarm. His flame flickered and mine sparked brighter in return. Call and answer, call and answer, a repetition so primal and instinctual that it was out of our control. The beacons in the darkness.
What is the difference between a best friend and a significant other?
I pondered, time and time again. The tides shifted the sands more, redefining the landscape, blurring some beyond recognition and shaping others beyond their infancy. Clocks, their pendulums clanging loudly, sounding down each moment. Every word, each breath shared, one by one, counting each moment closer.
That boy loves you more than you’ll ever know.
First synapses firing, connecting, the stirrings of conscious realization. The Alpha and Omega, overlapping in folds of time. The mirage eroded before me, and the poisonous cloud released.
For the first time in centuries, we were standing face to face within the labyrinth. Side by side, we made our way through its dark, narrow walkways. Our flames licked each other eagerly, separate for the very last instant of eternity. No walls remained, only the flesh and air between us.
I can feel it coming in the air tonight. I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life.
In the dead of night, so silent the rain did not dare make a patter in this moment, he grasped my arm firmly and wrapped himself around me. Underneath the long reach of the trees branches above, time slowed to accent the moment, and brand it in heart and memory for lifetimes to come.
I have always loved you.
He breathed into me, a life and fire to awaken mine. Our lips touched, melting into one another. Reunited, intertwined, conjoined at the purest moment of our final reunion. My being shot out so quickly reality could not keep pace. Time and space bent for us, allowing this moment to live in all of our eternities.
I, as well. I have always loved you.
It echoed louder than a chorus of angels, spreading throughout all the worlds to be recognized for the cosmic event it was. Twin souls, united, now indiscernible from one another. Two halves of the whole conjoined, intertwining with each passage, every last exchange. Our flames united into the blazing inferno, lighting up the whole world around us. He gazed into me as I gazed into him. And in that very second, we fell into one another, freed from the labyrinth. Only the world, our beautiful, majestic world, with the vast fields yielding those just emerging seedlings, existed among us.
Tu es mon soleil, mon seul rayon de soleil.