This Life Assembled in Recent Letters

9:58 AM (13 hours ago)

to me

IMG_20140807_003618 IMG_20140807_003609 IMG_20140807_003557 IMG_20140807_003548 IMG_20140807_003540 IMG_20140807_003530

‎I’ve been writing a lot of letters lately, but not to the people I oughta be writing letters to, not at all of them anyway.
The small drawings overlaying two of these pages were done by my daughter, whose biggest barrier to art is the thought that things ought to look a certain way without seeing that the way the bird looks up is pure and brilliant.
I haven’t finished most of the letters I have written, or one in particular, a significantly long letter, that is a mix of emails unsent and words penned on paper that is soft and taupe, curved at the corners. The paper was on clearance at the copy shop, where I went to make flyers on a Sunday afternoon.
So, I guess I’ll just put these here, so that there is evidence that they were written. They say a bit about me, these letters written in confidence – that place where all things feel quite real and possible, the gates of significance.
Some of these letters are letters that I wrote to myself, in an effort to make note of things that I want to remember, to be a little more secure in the thought that some remarkable thing that occurred in the world – oh, multitudes – does not reside solely in my own, isolate memory, my own experience.
It is impossible to tell of anything accurately and the vast majority is unknown, conjecture, the unseen backstory of…
Oh, multitudes…
A single tree on the corner of a street, the multitudes surrounding.
IMG_20140726_105043 [the draft of family heraldry]
In other news, I continue to fight in fields at least a couple of times a week, often every day. My knees and arms are always bruised.  Yesterday, I became suddenly frustrated with trying to eliminate/kill the very nice and well-mannered adolescent wielding an ax, wearing a red shirt. A sword hit my face like a downward slap and I found myself wanting to weep. I stood at the edge of the field, watching as walkers tried to capture a mysterious black bunny that had been showing up at the edge of the park, an abandoned pet, an escaped pet. My lungs shook and my heart was pounding so hard that I could see it through my shirt. I looked at the trees, at the river. I wanted to cry. I breathed. I walked back and shot the youth with arrows, smiled as I explained the value of learning my thresholds of frustration and despair…so that I can destroy them. I need to spend some time writing about swordplay and trauma healing.
[Note: Any reference to combat with youth is culturally appropriate and conscientious in the context of medieval sport.]
IMG_20140804_103308 [ this bruised heart]
I have made quite a few occupational shifts lately. Things are changing fast, and I feel fine. Speaking of, I have begun to dump jumbled approximations of self and work onto this site.
I will probably, if all goes as planned, have more time to work on it soon.
I have been spending time with a baby at an art studio in the upstairs room of a public house of service, so that his mother can paint pictures of houses and trees, blue skies. I sit in a chair by a window, and think about my kids, feel happy to have held them so much, excited to see them again, so that we can swordfight and talk about how wonderful the puppy’s fur is, like bumblebee fur, the hairs of moths.
In spite of the objective frailty of certain current arrangements, I feel happy and quite ascertained that if I follow a narrow path of my own making, I will find my way.
Aug 1 (5 days ago)

to me
I am feeling very motivated to write at the moment. Motivated isn’t even the word, it’s more a matter of having all of these things to make note of, entire ideas well-formed, and feeling them – all these things – in my arms and in my legs, a pressure on my chest.
I just got home from hurrying to the store, to get oranges and noodles for the kids, who are finally coming home today.
I still need to clean the bathrooms.
But I also want to write a message about an organizing cohort in NYC and a say something to the parenting group, but also I need to write something up for a friend, and for myself, and – dang – there is just so much.
However, as I was thinking about all this, I also realized that I have finally figured out how I do my best work.
I just write it all out, and then winnow it down. I work by doing things, by trying to actually put things together.
The collaborative process is difficult for me at times, because I have to check with people and format things for other people’s immediate understanding. This is interesting to think about – how I work best.
Jul 30 (7 days ago)

to me
‎In the past two weeks, I’ve not revisited the previous post, though it is still noted as ‘in progress,’ as I had more to say, another story to tell, involving a street market vendor, 3 felted wool dolls with humanimal characteristics, and the way the man held his umbrella over my head, and the sun shined through the pink to make it like a womb.
His voice had shaken when he, “You…you…you know nothing. You have no ideas.”
The contempt was deeply felt, and I accepted that he was probably correct and thanked him for his honest perspective.
How this conversation came about is a different story entirely, as are the details of the story that he shared with me, which proved to me that something connects people, arranges them, catalyzes interactions, in tests and messages. It proved to me that there are open conduits and that the world speaks through people to me sometimes.
That is the only logical explanation for the conversation under the pink umbrella, with the man who sold me those dolls for 4 dollars more than he was asking, because I only had a 5 and needed to buy the 3rd doll, because I could not purchase two and not the 3rd.
How much did I pay the man who told me I had no ideas? There is not yet enough information to ascertain that. Weirdly, as I write this, there is a little bar of information that has popped up on my screen, informing me that it is John Venn’s 180th birthday.
I don’t know where that came from, why John Venn showed up…and the little bar will not go away. It is emblazoned on my screen, across all the windows. Apparently, his birthday was two days ago.

I began at once somewhat more steady work on the subjects and books which I should have to lecture on. I now first hit upon the diagrammatical device of representing propositions by inclusive and exclusive circles. Of course the device was not new then, but it was so obviously representative of the way in which any one, who approached the subject from the mathematical side, would attempt to visualise propositions, that it was forced upon me almost at once.

—John Venn
 Screenshot (1)
IMG_20140807_011622[I have not taken them out of their bags yet, have not held them.]
I realized today, in an interview with a researcher about mutual aid organizing, that I started this record 5 years ago, yesterday – which at the time of realization was THE DAY, the anniversary of the beginning of the evolving albatross.
I have some plans, inspired by my recent possible sale of a drawing and the desire to clean up my online/public presence…and the cruel and glorious reality that I really have no choice but to be an artist.
The other night, last night, talking to a friend who was once here – in these words – as an anonymized character‎ of great influence, I found myself saying, “I don’t know if people realize the pressure of it, the sheer strain of holding so much in one’s mind and heart and not to mention all associated physicalities, to be constantly in a state of attunement and synthesis and generating possible implications, indication, and outcomes…with an ever-present – as even on days on low attunement, muddled frequency days – it is there, in its absence…where’d it go? What is it doing? Did I fail? What do I need to do?”
The pressure that comes with being mad in the way that I am mad, which is less a matter of being mad and more a matter of being deeply sane and logical and honest…and a bit imaginative, because I’ve not watched television in 13 years…well, it requires what seems to be an atypical amount of conscious effort in simply making sense of the reality of the day, the small and grand crushing beauty, the nuanced brutality of so many possibilities in who we are and why we are.
I try to only invest in stories that have a chance of being true.
IMG_20140807_012928_edit_edit1 [the beginning of a painting about projecting the warehouse heart]
So far, my ten year plan of arranging my life so that I am able to travel around and talk with people in libraries and parks about clouds and being human and the necessity of the sort of intelligence and sensitivity that is often maligned as weakness or malady in our hyperindustrial cultures…well, the plan is going well, and is it is increasingly clear that the best way for me to do this is to begin earnestly pursuing my future possible career as a well-loved and respected outsider artist. You, my friend, are witnessing my early work.
I think that, usually, outsider artists are supposed to be just waiting around and living their life and making their ‎world and not thinking about it as art at all. Well, I’m not that sort of outsider artist. I’m an ex-genius who drew horses at the kitchen table, lost her mind one too many times and then decided to experiment with making her dreams and “delusions” real…an experiment that I hypothesize will eventually result in me being afforded the opportunity to talk with more people in libraries and parks, rooms in places, about things that are interesting and important and beautiful and real to me in how the world works…and in my authenticity I will be free and I will be doing what I am supposed to be doing, so far as I can figure.
…and I will have help with filling out papers to get health insurance and keeping up with things involving paperwork and I can help my friends get resources to support transformative community safe spaces and grassroots healing efforts, and basically only be expected to spend time in community, be a good mom in the ways I am the best mom for my kids, and do art…but, to have it understood that art is work and that I sometimes need to actually spend time on it, that it is not something I do in secret, never speaking about it with anyone, quietly dumping evidence onto websites and storing the pages in jumbled piles.
My name was on a wall and I liked the look of it, and then immediately considered changing my name.
Several years ago, I wrote that my mind was a washed out library. I have shelves now. I am going to get a file cabinet ‎soon, and then I can put all of my papers into it. I can have a file that says, Dionysian, to hold all the drawings and letters from the friend that was here three years ago, who saved my life by giving me a span of ease and by loving who I was, and making me laugh. That friend is in a hospital in CA right now. I tried to call, but the phone just rang and then sounded like a fax machine.
I tried to call you in the hospital, but just once, after I talked with _____ as I sat in the hall and considered the titles of the books on the shelf in front of me. The phone rang some, and then it shifted, to something like a fax, but different, harmonic almost, trance inducing. I listened to it, and then went into the room that was my room and, still listening, stepped over the boxes and bags and piles in the room that is not my room anymore, and almost, almost recorded it, the sound of that phone not being answered.
Then the room overwhelmed me and I thought about how nothing is simple and things always take longer than I think they will, and how my life is full of scraps. I have a video of me driving and talking about how I was driving past the place where we played music in the grass, at that hospital, and how I needed to call your mother.
I was on my way to the airport.
I cried about you on the way home, but not much. I only let loose a single tear, as I lay on my side at Gate 42, waiting to go home in the night.
I am glad to hear from you.
Aug 5 (1 day ago)

to _______
I’ll write this to you, instead of myself:
Today, I was going to park at one space and then I thought, no, I will turn into that angle and park in that other space, there on the down facing hill, beside that tube-railed fence, above that little park. I almost stopped at a different space, paused even, but there were people walking, a man standing. It felt complicated.
When I parked in the space, I found only a dime and approximately 20 dollars in useless Canadian coinage. So, I decided to park in the pay lot, across the street.
Yes, I decided, I will do that.
I pulled in and paused, again, not seeing the attendant of the lot, which was someone’s property turning parking, a home town operation, with gravel and pits, old blinds on the window, construction across the street, the lot full every day, a killing made.
I don’t – at the moment – remember what song was playing, but odds are good that I might later. When I was turning the angle, it was poor reception Death Cab for Cutie, follow you into the dark and all that, and – yes – now I remember, that song was still playing, because I remember what I was thinking about in reference (or shall I say as referential) to that song, that I didn’t listen to through to the end.
I gathered up my bag, my clipboard, my sunglasses, tobacco, everything a mess with my swords in the seat beside me, got out of the car, and began to walk across and out of the lot.
“Hey, ya can come over here…” A man in an impeccable green gingham checked shirt, with stiff, perfect sleeves, short and standing out unwilted even in the heat. He was in a lawnchair, resting in the shade of his open ‎trunk door – which was like an awning, it was that large and high above the pavement, the rear hatch on a sport utility vehicle, which was also green, like the green of new seedlings, with pearl, a custom paint job.
“You can sit right there,” the man gestured to the shady rear bumper as I took a seat on the sunhot step that announced that the building was not a shack, that it was a proper office. The door was open and it had a sign that said OPEN and here was this fellow, asking me to sit, there in the shade, while I looked for my money.
My legs were burning and I could see straight for the glare of the concrete and I got that sense I sometimes get, that I ought to just listen to a person, that I am much obliged in the most gracious of ways.
When I moved to sit on the bumper of his truck, he said, genuinely and quietly, “Thank you.”
“Why thank you, it was hot over there.”
I asked about the parking, and I found my dollar bills, my five, asked for change.
The man began to speak and now, I don’t much remember exactly what he said, because I was listening so much and understanding that the man was doing me a service in saying things like, “You take the narrow road, the wide road, there is everything there, there is money and sex and drugs, anything you want and they’ll eat you alive, but the narrow road, not many walk it, it’s safer there.”
I was aware that this could mean many different things and that, also, it was precisely what I needed to hear on this particular day.
The man held my hand and prayer with me, and I could feel it in my hands that he meant only good, and he told me that there were devils, Satan at my heels, always, and that all I had to do was say, “Satan, get behind me!”
Just like that Jack White record.
I never understood that phrase, that command, when I say get behind me, it means that I take the lead that you have my back, that you are a supporter, a back-up, a reserve, a helper.
So, if I would say, Satan, get behind me, it would be said in a different sort of sense and tone, with different meaning, than that which the old man spoke of…or maybe it’s some old trick?
I don’t know. I just wanted to tell someone about meeting that gentleman and how he was kind, has a church, talks about Jesus, surely did me a kind service today, in his holding of my hand as he prayed for my protection.
Tonight, the dogs in the neighborhood are going wild, baying and howling.
I probably can’t talk on the phone tonight, but I’m glad you are in touch.
8:52 PM (2 hours ago)
I would love to hear more about how your shifts in narrative have affected they way you see yourself and the world.
– This is a very wide scope to me. I think that articulating – at least in a concise way – the way that my story has changed with the way I tell my story, what significance and meaning I might ascribe to particular events or attributes of this assemblage I call my life…well, it would be challenging. For me, what was clinically referred to as psychosis was very much an unraveling and imploding of previous central narratives of self, and a process of radically reframing my story as a response to what I was experiencing as untenable realities within my consensed upon reality as a walking talking ex-wife and mother with a traumatic mental health history. I have extensive notes on the evolution of my shift in narrative and worldview. It wasn’t just that my narrative about myself changed. The story of the world changed, too, and how I experienced that story/those stories was altered.
Are there any particular stories most vibrant in your mind that touch upon seeing the same “extreme” experience through multiple lenses?
– One example, within which there are many other examples, was that I was consciously aware of the phenomena at work when my spiritual emergence and numinous salvation in a reclamation of myself as an artist (in the wake of a disappointing and painful life lived in appeal to the rubrics of normative intelligence and interests) was seen and treated as less a matter of my mad brilliance, my core vitality, rising up to explode the world with meaning and sense, awe-struck beauty, and more a matter of having “imbalanced chemicals” – a real serious problem, that required my pants to be pulled down by men, shots administered. I understood that there were many ways that the situation with me and my transformative crisis, the world inside me rising up, the way it manifested, with me doing art too much, and taking too many pictures of clouds, talking about postmodernism, and not caring so much about the pettiness of daily demands, with the world screaming and pleading, the sky exploding in my bones. I understood that it could be seen as crazy, that I was considered to be psychotic.
That was a lens that I navigated through writing to myself, about precisely why it made total sense that I (and others) should experience such things, why it was not bizarre at all.
Another example is that my experiences as a young person with atypical intelligence and sensory/social integration issues that was struggling were deemed to be a “mental illness” rather than, “Oh, a really smart, sensitive kid who has no idea what normal is or why she feels so different.”
How did you find your way out of psychiatry and come to find your own language, and how has this informed the way you navigate your inner worlds and the day-to-day?
– That’s 3 questions, all of which have complex answers. I wrote a lot of emails to myself, the universe arranged certain opportunities for perspective exploration and skill-building, luck. It just now occurred to me that the idea of feeling/believing that the universe (multiverse, metaverse) has aided me in these relational transitions, that there has been both luck and design involved, somewhat undermines my own sense of agency in my orientation to navigation. However, it would be arrogant of me to say that I forged the opportunities to reclaim myself by myself. I was lucky. I did a lot of work though. Wrote a lot of letters, to myself, to others.
I still write letters. I am writing a letter right now. It is reminding me who I am.
What are the sensory details that color your experience of non-normative realities?
– I feel things in my body, hear things, have strong visual discernment and field range. I get sensory overload and that impacts my experience. ‎I don’t know what other people’s realities are, and so I don’t know the precise ways that my experiences may be non-normative, what the criteria for normative are. I seem to experience things differently than other people…I guess. I get the sense that I see things differently in an objective sense of spatial sensitivity, I hear small non-human noises, am unable to hear well and become agitated if there is too much human noise…I sometimes hear things, just points where the waves of sound converge to form patterns that sound like voices or singing or drums or crying or code.
It would be wonderful hear more about your techniques for orienting as well. (That’s certainly an area I’m still trying to balance).
– Double bookkeeping and mindfulness, as well as emotional regulation techniques, hope-not-fear orientation, and the concept that most anything can be anything and there are often multiple explanations have proved to be very helpful. Note taking helps me keep track of this mess of a story, to hold onto some thread, some reminder.
I have a fragile narrative.
11:09 PM (1 minute ago


I started this message a week or so ago, painting the kitchen. I also worked on a version of this letter on paper, fine deep-discount clearance moleskine paper, with a neutral tone, like sand, and fine rounded edges.I drew a picture of a dog, with a dead bird, as I spoke to ______ on the phone days and days ago, but then the dog looked woeful and so I made the bird simply part of the ground, a place where the earth was rough.
I’ve missed a lot of phone calls from ____ lately, and have had to abbreviate others, due to life demands – such as children and work. I remember most of what he tells me, in small detail and basic gist, and also much of what I think about as he is talking and I am listening, trying not to think, but thinking, because a great deal of what _____ speaks about is catalytic of thought, feeling, impression, idea, future.I feel as though we – _____ and I – possibly lost our minds together just a wee little bit, last week, with the new moon…entered into a liminal space, a supra sort of space…very real, substantiated by details and by the feeling of “true” – which I am still learning to discern.The difficulties of maintaining multiple realities with conflicting demands is exhausting to me at times…when I understand that something is important, but when that something is not objectively real (though it feels so real) or clearly wise (though it feels so wise) in the context of certain life frameworks…such as my family, or my occupation…some arrangements are tough to make sense of, the juxtaposition between golden, glowing, resoundant synergy and the belief that the metaverse is aligning a story and the concretized and documented facts of who we are and what our lives may entail.I have fairly tricky boundaries of communication with people, because I am expected to communicate with so many people. I am gradually communicating with fewer and fewer people, at least in the ways I have been communicating with them – email and phone, essay and article, meetings, etc. etc.Such an enormous amount of my energy goes into trying to “be there” for people, that vital life activities are neglected. My home, art, friendship that has little to do with plans or strategies or work.There are parts of my developing friendship with ____ that I find concerning. In ways, I understand that he is a
[unfinished thought]I say that I “don’t know what I’m supposed to do” – but, that’s not true. I know exactly what I’m “supposed” to do. I am supposed to find laughter, and I am supposed to do art. That, really, is all I can do at this point.

Hi –

I was trying to paint the kitchen wall and felt strongly that I should write you and _____ a letter, or that I wanted to write you and _____ a letter, that maybe it was important that I do so. ‎I tried recording me speaking the intended content of the letter, but that did not go as I intended. There were many long stretches of silence.

I began to write the letter by email, but then it would be another long email.

I think I will write it on paper and send it. Would that be okay?

I am not sure how to say what I need to say anymore. Other times, I have been certain, and have said it plainly and with great conviction. However, I find myself believing that if I am able to tell you why it is I think that I happened to find myself at your home this morning, if I can explain…but, I don’t have to explain…

If I were ____ maybe I would pause abruptly, and then just be out with it:

“So, here’s this person, whose first home was a government-subsidized Carnegie mansion on an island where feral horses and burnt down buildings ruled the show, the bones of the dead in the water…and she didn’t know how to see correctly, everything except what was within her spinning arms range was blurred and furred at the edge. There were no clean lines.”

“This person, she was so daft in how she was that she had no idea that she could not speak correctly, and was confused when the people at the school explained that she could say her last name correctly, and hearing her mother say, ‘Yes, we know.'”

She had not known.

Today I sat on a porch, and I said, “If I had been born 20 years later…”

_____ interrupted, “Well, it would have been something different…some other…”

“Yeah, some other designation, some rigmarole.”IMG_20140807_003454

What I had been about to say is that if I had been born 20 years later, I probably would have been diagnosed as having Asperger’s or NLD. I can’t help thinking that I’d have been better off if I’d had some inkling of how my brain worked, how my body processed information, how I thought about things and how that was different than how others thought about things.Did you know that it is only now, in my late-30s, that I am learning to remind myself that other people have no idea what I am thinking about or what my story is, that they see only what they see, and what I show them.Except for some people, deeply intuitive people, most of whom are designated mad in some form or fashion…they seem to know somethings implicitly, operating within some system of belief and interaction, living in the viscera of the world, that allows them to know things, to sense things.This isn’t exactly shocking.So, here’s the situation:I have a complicated story, pieces of it are strewn wantonly and with typos across the internet. The most valuable part of my story is this:For the past 4 years I have been doing an intense field study of cloudforms and atypical rudimentary geometric forms as they may appear in the vaporous elements of Earth’s lower atmosphere.It has the potential to sound silly, except that I pursued this vocation with an earnest and deep felt, almost wrecking conviction that I was being shown something by the world, that secrets were being offered, not just to me, but to anyone who looked up…but, I noticed, and I paid attention, and…I lost my mind for a while, being in that reality – which I am still pretty sure that a great deal of it was, in fact, real.

For a period of time, the demands of the work that had presented itself to me and the requirements of attention and time that intensive documentation and study of anything requires, my presentation and functionality within the expectations of my life and roles, c. consensus reality, led to significant concerns within my family. They had a right to be concerned. They also had a responsibility to be realistic about the situation, there I was, this person whose life had been so difficult already, not to indulge in difficulty or to create a narrative of struggle, when a narrative of privilege and blessing would be just as true, but this person, who was a kid, who couldn’t talk, who fell hard on Christmas Day at age 6, and almost died, who was in all those hospitals, who had pins in her arm, who stuck needles in her skin, swallowed all those pills, made that cut, had fought through so many days of wanting to die, from such a young age, this person who used to be a genius…this person who had gone to such lengths, trying to stay alive, who’d been friends with ghosts for her whole life…and this scenario in which this person, who learned how to swim in the salt marsh rivers and grew up living in a glass geodesic dome house designed and built by her father, and who had memorized the words to punk rock lyrics because they told the truth, and lost her mind so many damn times, was on medication her entire adolescence…and then she had this crisis, this marriage, the children whom she loves and who love her, for whom she will never die…and then the marriage turned cruel and the children were crying and, finally, after the loss of a dog who was likely a saint, they – too – would be taken from me.

It was a very traumatic time. It made perfect sense that I – of all people – would finally just explode and crumble.

I kept notes. I was drawing a picture everyday for a year, and ‎then a series of events, both internal and external, physical and metaphysical, resulted in me losing my mind in a particularly transformative way and coming upon a specific knowledge. I think I might have died. I don’t know.

I do know that when ____ sat on the porch and said that his life was involved with beings, in another dimension, well…I understood that…they move in forces, are also here, in this world. They are not separate.

To me this does not seem insane.

I am a high-school dropout, ex-psych patient, activist,

[message truncated, due to life interruption]

“i couldn’t figure out how to get that, how to read that whole message, the one that went so far, so I couldn’t figure out to get the rest of it. I don’t know why that is. I’m usually…I’m having trouble with the cellphone. It’s so hyper-logical. Ridiculous.”
“We’re over in the parking lot by the store and I’m looking at a rainbow…I have not seen one of these in 18 years…I immediately thought of you…it’s an auspicious thing…you can read in Tibetan literature [“don’t do that! don’t do that! the dog is walking over to a little kid and I don’t want him to do that, he’s friendly but I don’t want him to do that!”] you can read about that in the Bible and the literature, about rainbows, it’s all very auspicious…and blah blah blah blah…and what does it all mean, blah blah blah…”
“I was reflecting on the discussions yesterday about the relationship between love and psychosis and first of all if you’re going to be psychotic you have to love yourself a little bit, but just a tiny bit, not so much that you get attached. Psychosis is about risk, how far can you go and not destroy yourself…if you’re a dead psychotic, you’ll go out and be in heaven or whatever, you’ll be angel, come back as poetry…it’s about the risk.  People have no idea, the terrible situation I’m in, that the person with psychosis is in, every person there has probably gone to a place of suicide…clearly to the edge, to the possibility of suicide…that’s why we have to show them, to demonstrate that we will not be denied a certain survival. Degree of risk, it’s degree of risk. Psychotics are risk takers, that’s why it’s imperative that we survive, because psychosis is a revolutionary force.”