The sky had a seam
early in the morning last Thursday
On the 7th
Dark and knotted
The color of soot smoke
“That’s snow,” the man in the van
with the confidence of a Floridian
I stopped and took a picture
kept pointing it out,
“Look at that line in the sky,” leaning down
to peer up,
watching the wound in the sky
move as we moved, overhead
and then behind the pines
heading down the road
toward to guts of the county
where we’d gun up a hill
to the very same broke – teeth trailers
where the man who had a beard like Zeus
used to live
before he died alone,
unattended was what the paper said.
He had a beautiful view.
“It’s a million dollar view,”
The flatlander exclaimed, looking out over
the metal rooftops
Of the homes down below
All day I watched the sky
Watched the line get wider and wide
Stretch itself thin and grey
Weave itself into the white
By the afternoon, the seam had spread,
To fan the sky clear out to the airport
A big old bruise
Full up with snow
In the night there was a trumpet solo
For a boy who loved the color orange
And all the people stood to clap
To whoop and holler
and for those notes rising clear
Up into the balcony
Where I sat in a hard wooden chair
Thinking about seams in the sky
The next morning, the ground was wet
No snow in the dark as she sat outside
And thought, “today is the day! I will laugh today!”
By daylight there was an inch of damp powder
on the ground, everywhere,
swirling over the pavement, quieting the forest
and she marveled as she drove into a pale sunrise
At how quickly the world can change
But she was still surprised when she drove home
Alone, still in the daylight
Snow crusting the roads, making everything
Slow and white-already-dirty
She did not laugh as much as she thought she’d laugh, but she remembered that everything changes, and so it was okay to not laugh so much, to only laugh a little under that heavy, frozen sky.
Tonight, it is windy, and there are scattered crashes all across the neighborhood, limbs breaking, things blowing off of porches. Something scrapes down by the street, on the side of the house. Garbage and trees.
She could feel the wind hitting the car on the interstate, driving home in the dark. She tried to see the silhouettes of trees, to catch their movement against the black dark sky. Almost a new moon, heavy cold cloud cover.
That morning, she wondered why she hadn’t written, not in days.
This evening, she feels tired.
That might be the answer.
She is tired.
…but, she still remembers the painting she wants to paint, the one she saw this morning in her head, under blue skies.
She remembers, also, the idea she had…the very good idea.
She woke up tired, like she does lately, laying in the dark with the remnants of another strange dream, the rain damp road, the curtains across the door of a small room, yellow lamplight, old white paint, the heavy coolness of the fabric against her arm, the pulling at the hooks, curtain catching on the rod.
When she’d slept for an hour in the afternoon, burrowed fully under her blankets while the rain came down cold and grey, reminded her of Portland, of that kind of tired, that stayed-up-too-late kind of tired. Difficult to fall asleep, to relax into rest, and then sudden heavy slumber, lucid dreams.
She was tired, but she felt young.
Her tired lately is not the same tired she used to have, that feeling of near-constant fatigue that wouldn’t go away, no matter how much she rested.
She hardly feels tired like that at all now, only after she eats a lot of bread or pasta, which she used to eat all the time. She still eats wheat, one type of bread, toasted with peanut butter and honey. The bread doesn’t make her feel tired, but other breads do. So, she only eats the bread that doesn’t make her feel that old sort of tired that she felt for so long.
Now, when she is tired, it is because her body is tired, from running up hills and staying up late in conversation that is worth staying up late for.
Her life is changing, and she knows this as she pulls her body out of the too – warm bed, begins to move through the paces of the morning. To the bathroom, a glance in the mirror, a moment of surprise that she looks well-rested, happy in her eyes, though she feels a heaviness and quaking around her heart, alone in the bathroom in the early morning, studying the white-stitched bare branches on the grey shower curtain, remembering that it is the solstice, the first day of winter.
When she opens the door to let the dogs out, she smells the island, just for a moment, that damp leaf smell, the scent of water underground, sulphur. She wonders if she actually go. She knows she will, and she breathes the still – dark air, lets herself feel a little excited.
Her heart still feels restless, a little achy. She thinks she knows why, but she will need to think about it more. She doesn’t always trust her thoughts about things like heartbreak and love, anger and sorrow.
The water on her face feels good. She runs the heat into her cheeks, across her brow, washes her mouth, turns the water to cold up from the pipes under the house, cold like a river.
It wakes her up and sets her into motion, the towel on her face, the smell of slight floral smoothed over her neck and around her eyes. She ignores the dog barking outside, down in the yard, goes upstairs to brush her teeth and get dressed.
She flosses her teeth almost every day.
It is still just barely 6 o’clock in the morning.
(Now, 15.75 hours later, she wonders if it would even be possible to write out a day…and she knows it is possible, but she also knows that she’d have to stay up all night, and she can feel her body pulling her to sleep.)
(A few minutes ago, walking into the kitchen, she had the thought that it’d be awesome if she could live her life without worries of patholigization of her experience. When she thinks about how little sleep she’d been able to get by on these past few weeks, about how many good ideas she has had lately, about how she had wanted to keep painting the night before and had foregone making dinner for the young people, took them to get cheeseburgers, got a cheeseburger herself. Went home and painted in a layer of background after she ate her cheeseburger.
It was delicious – because she only eats about one cheeseburger a year.
It made her feel sick, she’d had to lay down on her bed while an old song by The Cure streamed from her computer. She felt woozy and lightheaded, like she was on lithium, or geodon, risperidone.
She felt young again, sick and spinning in her head, her body a sensationless leaden mass, head on the pillow, lips parted, breathing slowly, eyes closed. She drank some water and washed her face, felt better.
She knows that deciding to paint instead of making her adolescent offspring dinner might be interpreted as a sign of dysfunctional elevations in “mood” – evidence of a self-absorbed and impractical, inappropriate hypomanic state. She hates that she even has to think about such things, that she even has to consider such things. That she can’t just tell her kids she’s not making dinner because she is enjoying painting without worrying about someone saying she is being a bad mom, that she is crazy and is a bad mom.
She cannot stand the withering knowing that she could be seen through a lense that de-legitimates her experience as being self-determined and self-directed, meaningful and intentional. That there exists perceptions of her that sums up what she is doing in her life as some sort of symptomatic flotsam, characterizes her as a woman who has lost self-direction, lost awareness, lost discernment.
Currently, she is choosing to stay up late to nurture important situations and to prioritize artwork over helicopter parenting opportunities. She has spent months fine tuning her circadian rhythms and resilience to support increased functionality with fewer hours of sleep, because she needs more time.
She thinks it’s a good idea that her children, who are now burgeoning young adults, know how to make themselves some food. She knows that it is important that they see her as a whole person, with interests and talents and things that are important to her, even if they might not be important to other people, or make sense at all.
(I want my children to grow up to be who they are, and so it is important that I be who I am, and do what I know will ultimately make me laugh more and create more, what will support me in loving more fully, and working harder in doing the things I love to do. I am slowly, incrementally, creating a life that I want to live, a life that will catalyze my potential to laugh more and to create more, to be more efficient in my work, to live the way I want to live, the way that supports the most joy and usefulness to the most possible people.
For a long time, I thought I had to change the structure of my life to be more free to do the things I love to do, but over the past few weeks, I have been realizing that I had it backwards. To do more of the things I love to do, I just have to start doing more of the things I love to do, and then my life structure will change to accommodate me doing more of the things I love to do. I have already begun.
Next week, I am going to canoe to an island. A plan that seemed outlandish for a minute, about a month ago. A plan that shouldn’t seem outlandish at all, given who I am. It’s not as though I have never been to the island. It is the first place I ever lived. It’s not as though I have never canoed. My shoulders and back still have the muscles I built paddling around Dark Entry Creek.
It is outrageous to me that some people would take such a journey to be a symptom of mental illness. I really just have to say F. off in response to that. )
So , a few minutes ago, now a half hour, because she is just writing and one stream of thought leads to another (no, that is not flight of idea or loose, tangential thinking…or it is, but it is not a problematic thing, an errant thing. It is how I think, especially when I am engaging in my personal practice of autoethnographic narrative reflection, which asks that I note what comes up for me in response to particular experiences and certain thoughts, memories, and associations, what extrapolations may arise…what analysis might be made, what factors must be considered…and often I will take a swift departure to make note of an especially interesting or charismatic – feeling of realization or aspect of experience, or I will go on long rambles, explaining context or offering detail, then loop back. This is not a symptom, this is how I think, how I process my own experience.
Clearly, I am atypical. I mean, not a lot of people spend time doing this sort of thing, this reflective writing, the hundreds and hundreds of pages of it.
Just because I am non-typical in my experience and behaviors, how I spend my time, does not mean that I have a disorder.
She walked back to the main hall, to the chair in front of the fire, and she wondered if maybe she’d found a hidden motivation in her endless daydream of putting together an important book that will afford her diverse opportunities to be more useful and to laugh more and to see more places and to spend more time doing artwork, to create more…if maybe she wants to be famous as an artist because then it wouldn’t matter if people thought she was weird and crazy, because she would be existing within a vocational container that holds weird and crazy quite comfortably. It’s okay to be weird and possibly crazy or actually crazy if one is an artist.
She mostly wants to be famous so she can go wherever she wants to go, so that she can create opportunities to go to places she has not ever been, and to return to places that she loves more frequently.
She wants to be more useful. Have a broader platform to work with, reach more people…
She understands that this desire for fame and belief that fame – even low level notoriety and influence in specific circles – is possible could be and would be considered evidence of delusions of grandeur, grandiosity. No. It’s actually a strategy to explore her potential and a means to a utilitarian end.
She doesn’t want to do artwork to be famous, she wants to do artwork, and fame would afford her the ability (in terms of time and resources alloted toward the creation of artwork) to do more art.
(So I can do what I want to do, while maintaining my responsibilities and commitments, but actively and incrementally shifting some things around. I trust myself to do things that will lead to the best possible outcomes, such as more laughter and more joy. More love in the world. I figure if I do more of the things that create laughter and mirth, more of the things that inspire me to stay up late because I am inspired, and being inspired feels good and can create beauty in the world…then good things will happen and my life will continue to change.)
Everybody’s life is always changing.
(Fame, if one pulls it off right, can be a remarkably efficient way to make things happen.)
She did not, as per usual, set out to write about any of this. She wanted to write about radiomancy, about her habit of analyzing the themes and content of popular radio and backdial random stations. How she notices what the songs make her think about, who the songs make her think about, how she feels when she listens to the change of chords, the rise of voice, the roll and thud of drums. What the music does in her heart.
She wanted to write about the radio, and about the whole day, about the way the big fist slammed into the palm, tearful in the back room, the happily ditched holiday party, riding out to the forest. Walking in the dark, laying in the grass. Running big looping arcs out in the open. The blink of stars, just once, for a moment, the dark first-day-winter-sky.
She wants to write about it all, but it’d take the whole night and she can feel that she needs to sleep. Sleep will come fast. She will get up tomorrow and go to work. She will come back to writing again tomorrow. After the day.
The fields opened up
that pulled me in the falling dark
to run and loop
run and loop
to my friend and back
a deer or puppy
or a child
some wild breath
rising in the scent at the edge of rhododendron
in the muffled scrape of oak leaves,
dead and dry,
against fur and skin
that hardly ever sees the light of day.
Do you feel that shiver from the inside
the water trembling in the ground
fragment of garnet, pink sluiced sands
that near-still pulse beneath
these Solstice silhouettes
making claws and letters
– that catch at nothing
spell out nothing –
against that starless sky
in the tendrils of wind
that slide cold off the mountain
with no whispers of ghosts
“Here,” I said, moving my arm,
“Let your head touch the ground.”
..and that great bell of silence settled around us,
two figures in a field,
alive and breathing,
in the buzzing, humming, thrumming night.
Waiting for the stars to show.