(NOTE: This occurred in May 2015…)
Once at Murphy’s I am consumed with the idea of a beer. In one day I embraced mortality twice; surely, my libation limitations can be excused this evening!* Besides, the two male cousins before me, busy with setting up our pool table, have earned my trust, now and forever. I sip an ale and cherish the simple act of drinking.
A pool cue placed in my hand, and it’s my break. As I line the chalked tip between the 1st and 2nd balls to my right, the green felt bubbles. I blink to correct my contact lenses, then line up again. The smooth wood rod punches through my left grip, a sure shot, but instead, I scratch. I offer a self-deprecating comment to my company and giggle, then return the cue ball to start position. I attempt again. I fail again. The pool table is a tide moving quickly towards shore.
No one else sees this but me.
I look to my love and consider for a moment telling him, but his response will be a logical one: you’re coming down from the adrenaline rush, dear. This makes sense, except, I’m as calm and steady as I can physically be.
Perhaps more beer…
The cousins take to the table and I’m benched, nursing my ale, when I feel a wave of energy push against my right side. Moving only my eyes, I witness a furry, bearded man wearing a brown plaid shirt, hands clasped to his chest, eyes squinted inebriatedly. He smiles warmly then takes my hand as Jerry introduces us. “Ed, my name is Ed, I don’t know if I said it already…Ed.”
I find Ed to be comforting.
Jerry suggests we visit Ed’s studio. A break in the action? Sure. Brews are grouped aside and pool cues are chevroned to indicate, “We’ll be back.” A right turn from the cloaked billiards room over to the smoke haze of the outer patio, down the slicked side stairs and into the rain, the same murderous rain from our descent earlier. The audacity, I curse, as I bunny hop over puddles towards the adjacent building.
One key opens one door, another key unlocks another, then we’re in the presence of track lights and shiny instruments. Is this the universe interfering, or am I just plumb lucky? On the floor lies a six-string bass. Along the wall, a banjo, an acoustic and electric guitar, and a framed photograph. Jerry points and Ed blushes momentarily. BF doesn’t know who’s in the picture, but I’m well acquainted from my Kentucky days: the greatest picker in all of Appalachia, Mr. Doc Watson. To Doc’s right is our studio host, smiling and squinty-eyed.
Jerry goads him to play, which I know as an artist, we don’t need much cajoling to do what we love to do. Ed eases down onto a stool as I lower to the floor before him, cross my legs and cradle my hands, rocking into a cozy sit. “This is a song about a girl…” Ed starts as he fits his pick against the 3rd string and fingers his chords. The acoustics, so well tuned in the room, send me a fit of chills. He strums and sings with reverence as he shares his pained story, about the girl who moved on. My spine follows the melody and my shoulders meter the down beat. Where the cousins are I don’t know, all I know is this irresistible urge to sway. Side to side, side to side, as the notes play in the white light surrounding us. His words mute and I hear, “There, there. You’re all right. Everyone’s all right,” in a soft, wise, feminine voice. I’m cradled in a maternal embrace, a baby swaddled in a tight blanket of light. “There, there,” she sings. The terror of the last hour simultaneously manifests, actualizes then dissipates.
I feel, in a word, remarkable.
My snake dance to the charmer slows to an erect sit. Ed has finished playing. I awkwardly clap, hoping it’s not ill-timed. The cousins are ready to head back to Murphy’s but not before I take a few pulls of healing smoke. We leave, without Ed, from the glow of the studio back into the steady rain.
*: minutes before this interaction, the male cousins and I were near-death, sliding down the face of the mountain during an impromptu storm. This is the recovery from said event. Hence the beer.
Even into the darker blue, the Gulf waters felt too hot. Surely there’s a cold spot somewhere, I thought. I wanted to swim out further to find that magic place, but I needed a spotter. I came with three of my favorite fellas, but they were gathered around our table for the day, too far to yell, “Get in here!”
Spinning slowly as I tread the water, I spy a guy with diving goggles on. I paddle up to him, “Hey, I was just coming to get you…”
“Yeah, I saw you were diving. Wanna go out further?”
“But I can’t touch the ground…”
“That’s okay. Me neither.”
He makes like he wants to leave, but my one-minded state won’t let him. I tell him, “Just 10 more meters, nothing scary…”
“30 more feet?”
We both dive to the bottom. I can see his white long-sleeved top to my right. Below us are lovely, wavy patterns drawn onto pale beige sand. I surface. So does he.
“I’m Von,” I finally introduce.
“Jordan. Are we close to the sandbar?”
I laugh, “Hardly.”
“Let’s look for starfish.”
We continue diving and surfacing to no avail. It feels as if the water’s getting hotter. My new pal complains of the heat. I could use a non-salty drink anyways. Jordan and I reach his floating commune, which turned out to be local relatives; he is visiting from South Florida.
“Yeah it sucks down there,” Jordan laments.
I float onto my back as I pull Speedo suction cups from my eyes, while singing,
“The West Coast is the Best Coast…”
I have a writer’s callous.
Very few people in the 21st century maintain a writer’s callous, the telltale indentation on your dominant hand where you normally rest a pen. Composition after composition, frustrated hand and head viciously working together against time, all the answers having to come out of your tired phalanges. And yet, even as I type on Chappie with my tablet and my smartphone both in range, I still freewrite by hand. Zealot for abuse? Nah. Just a sign I’m still alive.
And free to write.
We do take advantage of that free-om, us Americans. We put all kinds of nonsense out in the 0s and 1s and it is protected (for the most part) by our Bill of Rights. But I know not every person with Internet access has the free-om to type their authentic opinions. We know from following international news that simply voicing an opinion can shut down a digital nation. Look at what all occurred with Twitter during the Arab Spring. Jobs and lives were lost simply by Tweeting. Tweeting!
I celebrate a personal free-om today: the ability to write what I feel, in the comfort of jim jams, folded legs on the couch. This was not my position last year. I was not allotted a journal. I was on a strict schedule. I was not allowed to leave a building for seven days. The absence of a pen and paper was much more disabling than the locked doors.
To those who write despite despair, I honor you. May you continue wielding words as weapons.
My hornets are thirsty.
I can tell this morning as the long legged, wide winged, red boy who lives in the nest in the upper join of our front door hovers in front of the A/C unit, waiting for the fan to spit up the condensation building up from our constant usage.
Yep, it’s that time of year. Three-digit utility bills. Constant moistness, especially in the naughty bits. For me, it’s a little more detrimental, as a new medication in my treatment plan requires me to, and I quote, “avoid becoming too hot or exposed to heat too long.” These mental health practitioners in Florida are absolute geniuses.
But that’s how it goes when you are depending on sliding-scale, high-traffic, short-timed resources to get healthy. Things fortunately are going to change for me next month in the insurance department, so let’s all hope this means I can receive better quality treatment for my condition.
Knowing what I went through this time of year in 2015, I’m scared to overheat, literally, scared. BF is concerned about the rising costs of cooling the house, as any responsible neurotypical should. But I’d so rather pay a $100 utility bill then try to pay $800 for an ambulance ride because I overheated. Dems be da breaks..
The unit has kicked on, so Red Boy and his suitemates can get their morning drink on before heading off to terrorize children. I managed to sleep in, but awoke with a dull headache and a very hot spine. This week I’ve been on the go; while impressive since I’m still dealing with insomnia, I’m not doing myself any favors by not resting. Today then, I dedicate to staying still and cool. I’ll follow Red Boy’s cue and drink ice cold water. Certainly, going to avoid the outdoors.
The lesson was learned hard last summer. I implore you, neuroatypical especially, to be careful in the heat this summer. Don’t deny yourself the cool you can afford. Remember, you’re not good to anybody dead.
Happy Friday all!
I thought the pile of administrative trash was a touch too heavy…
An interesting habit of mine when I’m in the hospital is to collect magazine pages. It seems I had ripped apart an Italian Vogue magazine in this bundle before me, the bundle I’ve been avoiding since I came home March 16th.
It is not so much the content as to the constancy of these bundles. Every hospital stay, a folder with my name on it. Hoarded inside, my daily schedule. Journal entries. Poems. Rants about my roommate(s). This last bundle, though, was different.
Somebody else’s journal entries, poems, rants were tucked in with mine. As well, a purple composition book, bent vertically, with a sloppily-written title on the outside cover. The best I could make out was “The Realm of The…” in whoever-the-heck’s handwriting. To be sure, I turn the pages of the heavily written-in notebook. I see my barely-inked handwriting, a side effect of strong anti-psychotics. Whoever-the-Heck marked my entries with faces; many sad, some with a line for a mouth. Either way, Whoever-the-Heck didn’t like where my mind goes when my mind goes.
Neither do I.
When I finished reading through it, I made a mental note to try to recover the small poems I had written while psychotic. Lovely little pieces, small and neat like the tiny white fish of St Pete Beach. Then I busied with following up on past due bills, organizing them by hospital (which was tricky because hello! I was out of my mind, how would I know where I was??) and chasing down hospital administrators who owe me explanations.
Knowing that BF would be home shortly, I pick up the papers to shred and take them to their resting place. I finish labeling half my rolling file folder cart. I cast aside all old, unrecyclable folders. I stack the folders and the box the new folders came in atop each other, then walk it out to the trash.
Today, intended for a post, I find that the poems are lost to the garbage. The notebook, it seems, was in the same pile as the unrecyclable folders. I am relieved. RELIEVED. The reason why I hold on to advertisements and scribblings is because I know I won’t remember the experience, and a part of me feels as if I have to, as much detail as possible. But why do I have to remember? Being double minded means, one mind functions in society and the other mind doesn’t. So if that mind segment isn’t conducive to social interaction, then surely, the other segment shouldn’t fight so hard to retain useless data! Perhaps that’s the keyboard key stuck in a pressed position, the piece of spinach jammed in that impossible crevice of the teeth. Treatment needs to get me there – to a place where I know nothing, I am nobody, I am serene.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
Traditionally, when my siblings’ kids graduate I throw myself a celebration here in Florida. Travel to Texas where they are? And miss the beach? Come on! Besides thanks to the World Wide Web, I can just log on, kick back with my Cheetos and frosty beverage, and toast anyone with a name so difficult the announcer jacks it up.
By the way, Killeen ISD, good job on not screwing up any names!
Niece #2 graduated yesterday, with much relief and gratitude. She’s my namesake and shares my spirit. For her graduation package, I added an impromptu poem. It literally roused me from deep sleep days before mailing her gifts, the words, “Go on little princess, put on your crown…”
Attached is the modified version. The original you’ll have to pry from my niece’s hands. And remember, be polite and cite!
BF went through my purse and discovered my collage intentions. But that’s alright, I’ve come up with an alternate, artistic plan!
While the fine folks at Davidson put it together, I’m back to my slender slab of wall.
The wall theme is “Divine Inspiration.” I want to display a mix of my personal art during moments of mania, intertwined with iconography and archetypes whom either visited me in my manic form, or channeled with me during intense meditation. This area of my home will serve as a cosmic altar! ‘Thank you for keeping me alive, and here’s who gets to be on my Wall of Fame…’;)
Earlier this week, I gave you some goddess candidates. This time I give you the warrior goddess options. Many are beautiful representations from existing tarot decks, but I think ordering individual prints instead of box upon boxes of tarot would be most economical, right?
More I’ve stolen from Pin. Let me know which one is your favorites (more than one is fine)!
Today is one of those, ‘the mind is flying, but the body’s too weak to react’ days. So I do what anyone in the bed at 3pm does…look up ideas for a gallery wall!
Remember last year about this time, I was talking about designing a throne room, and how successful that came out? I feel driven once again by the interior decorating bug. Already on Facebook I’ve demonstrated a rapid return to the visual arts. Kinda like the movie, “How to Train Your Dragon,” I’m attempting to train my mania to divert into something useful, even creative. So far, so good!
The wall theme is “Divine Inspiration.” I want to display a mix of my personal art during moments of mania, intertwined with iconography and archetypes whom either visited me in my manic form, or channeled with me during intense meditation. This area of my home will serve as a cosmic altar! ‘Thank you for keeping me alive, and here’s who gets to be on my Wall of Fame…’😉
Let’s go through what I’ve picked from Pin thus far. Comment on which style you think works best for me!
(I wrote this in reflection of my former neighbor’s shocking and untimely death. At first I wasn’t going to post, but I have to honor the guy who, as complicated our relationship was, inspired my artistry on several occasions. I pour one out for you, buddy.)
“I bet you got that tattoo long time ago, huh…”
I don’t even turn my head, but instead offer my building neighbor a tight smile. He’s showing off again, I internalized, as i hurriedly stuff another bushel of laundry in the back of my truck. Fred, and his parking lot company, whom I refer to as “the hens”, tone down their chortles and clucks to a watchful silence, either romancing their curiosity or fantasy, whatever. After living on my own in that building for the past few years, I’d gotten used to these men gathering in our lot simply to watch the world go by. Proving no threat, I doubled back to my apartment for the next bushel. The hens return to their clucking. I hear Fred let out a loud guffaw then an extended Ha Haaa as I turned away. I roll my eyes.
He’s showing off again.
Last week, Fred was murdered in his apartment, his throat slit by his nephew, Willy, who’d recently come to live with him. Fred was like that, letting family and acquaintances stay with him for stretches at a time. While these arrangements helped him with covering food and shelter expenses, it caused me to elevate my guard. Once, after running errands I came home to find Fred and his company smoking weed from a hookah on my staircase! Had he offered a puff I may have been less stringent, but since he lorded over our common space when no one was around, I had to remain defiant.
This is the part where my uncouth self should apologize for talking ill of the dead, but I find that’s a social reaction to an uncomfortable awareness of mortality. I, acutely aware of the finality of life, celebrate Fred a different way. You could count on Fred to be Fred, either using his key to open our main door for complete strangers, or banging on the old lady’s door to exploit her generosity, or his complete indifference towards health and safety as he fileted a freshly caught tilapia from the retention pond.
Was Fred my friend? He was certainly a constant figure in my life, either through Southern cordials or my observations of him from my balcony, either pulling his fishing gear towards the lake or strolling alongside the property, hands clasped figuratively behind his back, his gangly arms merging in such a way that he sported a lean – a lean so distinct I borrowed it for a characterization in an unpublished novella. He frustrated me, in that he was drawn to accommodate any female in our vicinity, including the young prostitute in Apt G. He disappointed me, serving as a look out on many drug exchanges, and possibly having a role in the robbery of the unit below mine. As a reader, you must be thinking this is a foul representation of an such an unfortunate soul, but it is our truth.
The way he was executed was heinous, but not so unbelievable. Ours was a quiet community, relatively: of everyone who lived in that building Fred was around the longest. I wouldn’t say Fred was harmless, but he was… manageable. We acknowledged each other on the daily; he with the “hey lady” and me with the “hey Fred” in return. That translated to, ‘you do you, I’ll do me’ and we both understood. Fred could count on me being enigmatic and reclusive and I could count on him to introduce someone to wonder about, even write about.
Willy didn’t show up til last year, as I was transitioning from that place to my current home. He worried my friendly neighbors, pissed off the astute ones, and gave Fred a difficult time. I completely blame the apartment management as well as the security company for his murder, but I also have to blame Fred’s generosity for making a very bad call. The fact that Willy’s related to Fred makes it all the worse. Of all situations I monitored Fred participating in, never would I have guessed his own blood would take him out. For that, I’m sad for Fred. He was doing what many of us with limited incomes do – sacrifice personal safety for social compliance. I couldn’t improve my situation while all my money was tied into book publishing. He was clamoring to keep his shelter. We shared despair but celebrated it uniquely. In that sense, our trappings made us unlikely kin.
I am truly sad Fred is dead. I believe his time here was cut short because his contributions were too desperate. His soul has departed, but he’ll live on as challenger and champion of the 1600 block of Lake Lynn Drive.