Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Swingin' from tree to tree

Oh how happy I would be
If I were a monkey-key
Swingy-swing swingin' from tree to tree

- copyright JoBiv, thirty seconds ago

I am indeed swingin', from the happy tree to the hopeless tree. Last night at Good Choir, I saw I had a message from The Novelist and went downstairs to check it at our break. The message was an overly dramatic rendition of "You Are So Beautiful" accompanied by his brother yelling at him to shut the hell up. I will save it forevor.

I laughed quite heartily for a minute, then made my way back upstairs to the rehearsal space. And there, near the top of the stairs, my whole body seemed to rock with the swing from that happy warmth into something much more scary. I looked up; there was Gentleman Ben, the 60-something man who attends both choirs and suggested I try out for Good Choir. Ben is a psychiatrist and knows a little about what I've been through, because I knew he was safe, and he worries about me.

Gentleman Ben was shuffling by the door and saw me come up the stairs. He froze, his eyebrows dipping in concern, and I walked over to him.

"What do they have you on? Are you taking Ativan for panic attacks?" he asked.
"No, I told them I was on it before..."
"And they thought you might be addicted."
"Yeah." My eyelids gained forty pounds each. I wanted to close them. I was sure I could sleep standing up.
"You look... like you're having a tough time."
"I do?"
"You look tired."

I could feel the tears rising in my eyes and throat. "Yeah," I said. "It's still tough. Not having the support from the hospital, all my days empty..." I backpedaled then, telling him about the opportunities arising in my life, my plans for getting myself back together.

"Have you seen your friend from Singapore? The Indian girl?"
"Meera? No... I haven't."
"She's doing pretty well, happily married, taking photos..."
"Don't you do something artistic?"
"Yeah, well... Yeah, I paint, draw, collage, print..."
"You paint?"
"With what?"
"Watercolors, acrylics, ink..."
"I use watercolors, too!"

At this point I recognized a few things that I love about Ben. He can absolutely nail things on the head, and then he can ease away from the distress if he causes it. A professional.

Ben told me about a figure drawing open studio in town. $15 to just show up and draw, Friday mornings, ten to one. He expects me to be there.

Swoooooosh... A tree of serendipitous ease...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I used to be able to whip up words for any celebration, tragedy, or current drama. People would call upon me for Occassional poetry, a speech, a few words of advice or pith.

These days... I can't find many words to soothe myself, much less soothe others. I try to push away this feeling that any good thing in my life is just a precursor to a kick in the figurative balls, but honestly...

So, Gary Thomas died. No one can tell me how. His memorial service is next Sunday and I won't be able to make it. Besides pure logistics, it's too much - seeing all the ghosts of my high school, Shane's death day (today), my general state of mental unhealth.

Of course I've had more than my share of self-pitying moments this... year. But add this to the list and let it be a kind of eulogy. I always thought that if I ever got talented enough or someone could possibly risk thousands of dollars on me on the faintest whim and I got myself recorded, Gary Thomas would be numero uno on my dedication list.

Why? It's occasionally easy to explain and occasionally... odd. I mean, there's the obvious fact that he was a music teacher, and I spent half my high school career in his room, learning, singing, letting him watch our small dramas unfold. But then I think of the times he wrote me lesson passes so I could get out of study halls or math class because all I needed to do was cry. He let me hide myself in his room because he caught that look in my eyes some mornings. I would drag my sad body into school with tears encrusted onto my face from the previous night's sleeplessness or nightmares. He would ask, "JoBiv, are you okay today? Will we see you at lunch?"

When I was really, really losing it my senior year, there was a carnation sale for St. Patty's Day, raising money for some club. I remembered that day because it was god-awful. My mother had taken me to physical therapy that morning. I had stayed home for a part of each day that week. I had spent so much time in the bathtub, floating, hating myself, wanting to drown. I got school that day, and Mr. T had bought me a carnation. No one else, just me. The message that came with it was appropriate (surprising for him, really), but showed utter faith in me.

Two thoughts cross my mind now - how sad he'd be that I'm still going through all this, and how proud he'd be of my successes. If he could even hear my voice, how strong I can be remembering his faith in me... Does that sound saccharine?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Little. Yellow. Different.

My tears have broken new ground today. I had to talk about things I have never, never, ever, EVOR had to talk about before. It feels like someone dropped a subaqueous mine down my well, and any movement, any scrape, could do me in. And yet, I feel like I have to wait. It may just sit there. It may diffuse itself.

But that's not how mines work, is it?

I am so tired of fragility.
K and I had talked about how she could recognize all her friends by their hands. I wanted to prove it, somehow, and never got the chance.

K's hands are strong, broad, and elegant at the same time. Not to mention immaculately clean.

jLiz's hands seem to pose, but are actually simply graceful on their own. She handles everything as though she were performing a Japanese tea ceremony, but never so static.

Sus's hands are dry, expressive, and capable, nearly naked of rings and things.

Meera's are small, unnecessarily hidden, and a little dry, too. They are happiest while holding something - a pen, a book, a camera.

Sarah's hands are quick, long-fingered, narrow, and always beautifully self-manicured.

My hands are short and wide, sometimes dimpled, very soft except for the hangnails which I can't leave alone, often shaky these days. They're dangerous to me.

I'm thinking of Sarah's hands, though, and her mother's. I stared at this photo for quite a while, seeing the shape of Sarah in them. I thought of my own mother's hands, and how I don't get homesick much at all, except for missing her hands and the sweet way she used to run her them through my hair just to say, "hello, I'm here for you." I can't imagine. I can't imagine. My God Sarah... I'm aching for you.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Turn and face the strain...

On Wednesday, my clinical coordinator told me that I'm now on half days at the program. I panicked. She said, "Oh no, oh please don't panic..." She's a very lovely woman and we get along swimmingly, so she told me how much she hates telling people they're going to have to leave.

I'm really, really worried. I had half days on Thursday and Friday, which means I missed the morning group and leave before the last group. This is difficult for one big reason - I'm not so good at having time on my hands. Mornings are especially threatening. I'm alone in the apartment, able to sleep in and hate myself for it, able to indulge in my harmful behaviors with no one to stop me. My tactic: I show up early anyway and just sit in their lobby, knitting or trying to read or wandering around the room.

Getting out early is also a problem. I don't really know what to do with myself at two in the afternoon. Usually I get a call from Becca around 3:30, which used to mean I could do some errands and then she'd suck up the rest of my time for three days straight. Now I have too much time by myself, my brain whirs, I think about all the missteps of the day and, surprise, hate myself.

I'm planning ahead, now, with help from therapists. I am going to:

1. join a gym
2. start up my novel project again
3. do something artistic every day
4. join another group for therapy
5. schedule an hour to work on job hunting every day

Only an hour, mind you, so I don't throw myself out my ground-level window. Cuz that would be silly.

I'm trying I'm trying I'm trying... But what will happen when they discharge me next Friday?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ambivalent about my love life? Well, yes and no.

The Novelist and I, in case you were wondering, are now officially involved. This came as quite a shock to me, to be honest. How could I possibly start a relationship when my life is so off-center, unraveling, disappearing... How is he having a relationship with ME when I am essentially not here? Not me. Not anyone.

And how can I let him be this good to me? That's the main question I come back to over and over again.

I will now spew the following sad and stereotypical statements that self-effacing women often spew when they find a good guy:

I don't deserve him
I'll poison him, bring him down to my level
Once he REALLY knows me, he'll reject me
He's only being nice because he wants some fine JoBiv ass
He doesn't deserve sick JoBiv. NO ONE deserves sick JoBiv.
He must be a complete freak if he wants me.
I only like him because he likes me.
Someone's paying him.
I don't love myself enough to give love to someone else.

I could go on...

But when I'm with him, I enjoy him. I enjoy everything; the flutters of anxiety at the newness of it all, the compliments (since when do I get compliments from boyses?), the closeness, affection, the opportunities for ME to give affection, the conversations, the surprising commonalities, the concern for each other on our bad days, the pull of attraction, the sweetness of growing familiarity...

I have to allow myself to be healthy for him. Can I?

Monday, March 06, 2006

bowl of sad

This is my bowl of sad. It looks small here, but it's actually pretty frickin' huge. It is full of nasty sad things.

F'rinstance, I ran into Pea with her new nanny the other day. That's in the bowl of sad.

And then Uly called me up wondering where I've been. I told him. He changed the subject. That made quite a splash in the bowl, I can tell you. I thought we were at least friends. How silly of me.

Last week my temporary psychiatrist asked me about job prospects and I couldn't control my tears enough to tell him I had none. He said I may need to put it off for a while. There was enough for a deposit in the bowl of sad AND that bug jar of self-loathing.

And the staff at the Program keeps asking why I haven't called AL-Anon. I can't tell them that just thinking about it, diagnosing my father so formally... just the thought makes me think I have to get a much bigger bowl.