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selva oscura
13 September 2019 @ 03:06 pm

it's a cyst. that and everything was absolutely fine. the amazing nurse was in fact there, did in fact explain everything, didn't give me a hug but heard me out - and believed me - about a bad experience i had at another clinic back in march. the first time i've ever reported (even sort of, because this was triage, not an official report) anything in that category, in fact. so. usually i just freeze up and shut down, you know, like i did in march.

on that front, i've started EMDR with my therapist. two sessions so far, and though i can't claim to have been set aflame with healing i've been increasingly able to do something i've never been able to do in memory: differentiate threat levels in a meaningful way. as long as i can remember, my reaction to any stressor felt like driving a car on a collapsing mountain rode when the brakes go out and the car is on fire. job interview? the car is on fire. lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood? the road is collapsing. someone staring at me on the subway? the brakes are out. my response to the potential for danger is my response to full tilt catastrophe. i'm quite imaginative and past experience has made me pretty much a professional horrible scenario builder, so especially over the course of the last ten or so years, if i'm not scared about something obvious i'm scared of something that might be about to happen.

on balance: i am perpetually at least kind of afraid. i'm always tensed. i'm always exhausted from being tensed. i don't sleep, i no longer drive, i struggle to trust people, i can't will myself into the present moment or witness past experience in a nourishing way. i don't know what i want. i'm always waiting for the next fucking horrible thing to happen and, yeah. welcome to humanity. there is always going to be a next fucking horrible thing, but there's also meaningful human connection and solace in nature and art and magic and laughter and just regular, enjoyable experiences of the world. at least that's what other people report. maybe i'll be able to get there myself, someday. in the meantime, EMDR, mindfulness practice and CBT. maybe it's starting to get better.

after my appointment wednesday, i started writing an essay about where i am right now. it feels significant. like, if i can keep my shit together long enough to get it written, it might be a breakthrough piece for me. like maybe, when it is finished, i'll start the submission process with what feels like a terrifying overshoot. like maybe it's time for me to stand down this terror of publishing my work.
music: tor lundvall - quiet room
selva oscura
07 September 2019 @ 01:34 pm
eighties cinema led me to believe adult life would involve a lot more evocatively lit sexual intercourse in front of plate glass windows overlooking city skylines at night.
selva oscura
06 September 2019 @ 12:51 am
were self-sabotage a career path, i'd be a fucking six-figure CEO.
selva oscura
02 September 2019 @ 02:24 pm
i think there are a lot of people who don’t understand agency the way i do.

culturally, it’s often conflated with self-sufficiency; in my opinion (this is all my opinion) a deadly mistake. self-sufficiency is a deadly mistake, if not for the individual who mistakenly believe themselves to have achieved it, then for the network of exploited individuals and resources abandoned unacknowledged in their wake. self-sufficiency is the big american entitlement, yet more toxic detritus of manifest destiny, that attractive delusion feeding into many of our most destructive behaviors: isolating and estranging us to the extent of normalizing homelessness.

agency is the rate of exchange for an ever decreasing percentage of the populous grinding planetary resources to worse than nothing as a means of maintaining their illusion of self-sufficiency.

that’s right. you heard me. i am positing that the illusion of self-sufficiency strips us of agency. not just one side or the other of the privilege divide. it’s both sides and the infinity of shades in the middle. everyone and everything is impacted by this destructive illusion. we’re all in this together, kids: realization no. 1 of claiming agency for yourself.

among the privileged, the way the mechanism works is: you have things that others do not. with the things that you have, you are able to get more things. material things, sure, but also immaterial ones, matters seemingly assumed among those fortunate enough to enjoy them:

  • social acceptance
  • a reasonable path to sufficient employment
  • privacy
  • access to profitable network connections
  • praise and acknowledgement
  • upward mobility in the job market
  • the ability to move through public spaces without suspicion
  • non-judgmental assistance from healthcare providers
  • sufficient access to healthcare
  • respect in the workplace
  • employment security
  • effort resulting in some degree of intended achievement, not punishment

  • one does not want to lose those things they have, of course they don’t! so they refuse to investigate why such intangibles are so easily obtained; in fact, many will become confused and even outraged at the suggestion that they have access to intangibles others do not. this is a defense mechanism.

    not investigating the roots of privilege means conformity. plugging in to the system. not thinking too hard. not questioning very much. not taking responsibility or even acknowledging the potential for one’s environmental, economic, social, or emotional impacts. an individual benefiting from multiple privileges denying they have privilege, that is a core demonstration of someone who has not developed agency.

    because: agency means thinking. agency means questioning. agency means not conforming.

    privilege still strips the not-privileged of agency, though not because they’re being placated by a welfare state. like anyone silenced by systemic trauma for more than four decades could tell you: the not-privileged are trapped in the margins of the privileged’s fearful drama around losing their privileges. any privilege, even, especially those they angrily insist are not real privileges. and, yeah.

    it shouldn’t be a privilege to walk past law enforcement without being stopped, questioned, and beaten to death for no reason.

    it shouldn’t be a privilege to be listened to, believed and served in a timely manner at an emergency care facility.

    it shouldn’t be a privilege to hold hands with your spouse at the park.

    but it is. because of systemic oppression, some people get those things. others do not. erasing the problem will not solve it.

    i wrote this over several months back in the winter as a component of art magic and got stuck at the end of the following passageCollapse )
    mood: happy labor day
    music: celer - circling and taunting
    selva oscura
    27 August 2019 @ 04:08 pm

    from this moment forward i shall be known as muffy flip germane
    selva oscura
    27 August 2019 @ 01:36 am
    so that's what it feels like to detect a breast lump with my fingers.

    day after my birthday, in fact. any wonder i increasingly dread my birthday? any wonder many of my long-time friends avoid me? i'm such an avalanche. a monsoon of misfortune. better stay away. you might get caught.

    i think my brain stalled. i felt the lump, i felt the lump, understood what i was feeling, jerked my hand away and stopped. stopped cold. stood there, staring, strange numbness at the back of my head. speechless. shallow breathing. panting, slightly. trying to trigger a reboot. trying to trigger a reboot. trying to trigger a reboot.

    probably it's nothing. i'm susceptible to cysts. i'm cystceptible! probably it's nothing. these things tend to crop up, sometimes overnight, at specific hormonal intervals. i am at one of those intervals. cysts are likely triggered by stress, isn't everything? understatement: i've been under a lot of stress. probably it's nothing. let's pretend it's probably nothing.


    anyone needs me i will be in the empty fucking bathtub with all my fucking clothes on screaming over and over again into my fucking fist because we just fucking did this and i cannot fucking do it again but i have to do it fucking again because this is my fucking life and i have HEIGHTENED FUCKING RISK FACTORS on top of my ELEVATED FUCKING RISK FACTORS it's quite the tiered wedding cake of risk and seriously? seriously? again? already, again?

    waiting for a response from the clinic portal. i have my annual appointment with the radioactive boob crusher in a couple weeks anyway, so i don't know. maybe that amazing nurse is still there and she will explain everything and then give me a hug. i am currently running short on hugs. i am currently stuck at what if it's not nothing. i am currently stuck

    mood: FML
    selva oscura
    21 August 2019 @ 11:19 pm

    once upon a time i had answers
    selva oscura
    18 August 2019 @ 05:25 pm

    what does it mean
    selva oscura
    09 August 2019 @ 07:37 pm

    no wait did i remember to subtract for clothes because i was wearing clothes a couple pounds worth probably. i'm pretty sure. i think.

    so it might not have been three entire pounds. is that honestly my take away, here? that my big achievement of the moment is i had a few gulps of water before i stepped on the scale? because that is having more of an emotionally taxing effect, actually.

    maybe it's more that: clothes or no clothes, for the first time in months i got on a scale and the numbers went slightly higher than they've been going instead of concerningly lower. i think this might be what the overculture calls a "win."
    selva oscura
    08 August 2019 @ 06:10 pm
    my partner got a "huh, no one's ever asked me that before."

    it was a question about ventilation in our (hopefully!) new space.

    so that's, what, fifty points in the RECENTLY TRAUMATIZED CEREBRAL INTROVERT category? quite a distance to go from the cool two thousand i scored the year of my indoctrination to the thyroid cancer life(1), but impressive for someone so well integrated with the creative professional workforce. living with me has introduced him to so many things!

    (1) i swear to god, two dozen related consultations, most of them i didn't even need to undress or go into an exam table hypertension episode(2) over! i never saw so many doctor's offices. it wasn't very fun. that, by the way, is an official point on my healthcare privilege checklist: "how many significant doctors appointments have you NOT needed to undress for?" those are the hard ones, the consultations. hard in a different way than clinicians not hearing me say "I NEED TO NOT BE IN A ROOM WITH STIRRUPS" through gritted teeth while compulsively grinding the nail of my index finger into the flesh of my thumb because they are holding me prisoner in this place of misery and reproach(3) until i give them a better blood pressure reading. that's pretty damn hard, so you are aware.(4)
    (2) "white coat syndrome" my ass. IT'S THE EXAM TABLE. IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE EXAM TABLE. I CALL IT "EXAM TABLE DISEASE," but "WITHIN RANGE OF ANTICIPATED RESPONSES FOR PATIENTS WITH POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER" could work if you're allowing for how different people with different experiences have different triggers and different reactions to those triggers. it's not always a lab coat. it's not always the exam table. it's not always hypertension and self-injury. sometimes it's one but not the other. sometimes it's both and more but you don't even pick up on symptoms until you're in your forties and your body gives way with the strain of letting the matter go unaddressed for so long. there is a lot we can't know. there's a lot we haven't figured out, yet. i try to keep that in mind, if only because of the times i've been hurt by people not demonstrating comprehension of this principle. we do not all always have the same tools and circumstances. your cakewalk could just as easily be my funeral. you know, because it turns out one of the unintended impacts of a prescription i'm on makes me deathly allergic to cake.
    (3) acceptable alternative: "the house of disquieting activities"
    (4) also, addressed in another part of the list!
    music: karma moffett - golden bowls of compassion
    selva oscura
    06 August 2019 @ 06:17 pm
    it is thundering it's been thundering i was standing by a window i was watching out the window as the thunder builds into itself rumbling, grumbling, but it'll probably pass us it usually passes us, as often as not a storm passes us by. a rumble crested, the wind rose and as though tipped into spilling at nature's disruption a dozen three dozen a hundred maybe blackbirds flooded out from the big tree across the street, clumsy and scuttling at first, like black salt or startled blackbirds scattering in different directions then all at once clutched up in a gather, turned, mysteriously choreographed into accord, into a single brushstroke. i watched, not sure how to articulate the way this tiny moment seized my perception. i stood there, inarticulate, as the birds disappeared from view.
    music: storm
    selva oscura
    01 August 2019 @ 05:24 pm
    just screamed "MERCURY TURNED DIRECT YESTERDAY" at the running toilet.

    so that's how today is going.
    selva oscura
    sixteen minutes left until the shitty day.

    in other news: this is absolutely a thing i regularly do in language processing. it's why i've retired certain words and phrases. 'cosmo' is the dog her mother just adopted.

    it is not a joy to HTML on a smartphone.
    selva oscura
    26 July 2019 @ 01:20 am
    man, there's this big wedge of smoked gouda in the fridge drawer and i can't stop thinking about it.

    what is this "hope" and why does it feel so awful?
    music: gabriel lee - winter dances
    selva oscura
    25 July 2019 @ 01:37 am
    insomnia spike (do i, will i ever not have) workroom cannot host work (will anything short of moving) maybe we are moving maybe one of us at least

    it's been
    it's been
    it's been

    the assessment of the hole in our crumbling HVAC exhaust pipe the night we were evacuated: there is no way that was not leaking CO, the fireman told me, to an extent that you were feeling it, the fireman said. like you maybe had the flu, but for weeks and weeks.

    months and months. almost a year, it's been, since my body broke, since my spirit crumbled in solidarity: a year of escalating depression. a year of drowning in my own home. inexplicable symptoms, endless prescriptions. one fireman did what eleven months of a half dozen doctors could not: give me a potential cause.

    and now: i am lazarus, come back the dead.


    i told ben tonight: i don't know. i don't remember what it feels like to feel good. it's been so long. i've become so focused on trying to iterate exactly what feels bad (to the doctors, to dubious relatives, to friendships i can't seem to maintain) i've been struggling to pony up the resources around understanding this idea of feeling better.

    i guess i do? i don't always feel like i'm about to puke. breathing works again. i'm increasingly optimistic that i can, maybe, get on top of this recent bout of insomnia, which feels more like a bout and less like well that sleeping thing, it sure was a sweet deal while it lasted! i've solved several problems in the last few days that i couldn't even sound the extent of, this time two weeks ago. i wrote a thousand-word hybrid fiction piece and submitted it to zoetic tonight: i have. not. been able to write. oh, god, it burns. shards of emails, journal entries that fall apart in my hands. i page through the novel i haven't touched in months and find the text increasingly stiff, most of it unseen by any eyes but my own. i loop in anguish over those passages from tillie olsen's silences, a book i periodically plunge into and fall out of, despondent, because, turns out, it is a book that talks about people like me. i am losing my best years to write. i am losing the most promising project i've developed yet because i can't trust my circumstances enough to sink into it. i'm losing my writing and i'm losing my novel, and i'm losing them to fucking poverty. which isn't really helping me, like, surmount the depression in a meaningful way.

    but i guess i feel better. a little. in ways. validated, at least. and they fixed the pipe, at least, at last.

    i finished transcribing journal 7 tuesday morning, during insomnia. i finished transcribing journal 7 and my transcription project, it's really coming along? because i only have three journals left to transcribe: 1, 4 & 14, and what i mean by that is: i'm down to two real options at this moment, because 4 (june 2002 to july 2003) is still being compiled from multiple sources (yellowstone mead, notebook scattershot, emails, livejournal entries and comments, that floppy wide ruled affair waldenbooks seduced me into though i knew better - i need hardback! i need casebound! i need narrow rule or no rule at all. lawless lands of speckled pages in pilot archival ink, that's the home i'm making for journal 4, now, and the text sings back to me in gratitude. it is good to make offerings to one's own work).

    i thought about posting journal 7's last entry, then i thought about it some more. then i wondered if i ought to transcribe 1 or 14, instead.
    journal 14: initiated a few months before a close friend's suicide, the fourth anniversary of which is rapidly approaching and i'm really not sure how i'm going to do with it, this year, given what a year of falling off the face of the earth has done to my social support system. so maybe i should, instead, try

    journal 1: the initiation of the thread. my beloved lazarus, abandoned in the moment, returned and resurrected with exactly the era notebook scattershot i wished i'd been writing in there in the first place. only problem: i was eighteen. to an exhausting extent, i was eighteen. so very eighteen. goddamn.

    in the end, i think i'm transcribing a dream journal for a break from thread content. seven got a little exasperating with unhelpful rehashing in a few places, especially in the second half, where i didn't quite know what to do with my grief about my grandmother's passing. one is the queen mother of unhelpful rehashing (i was very angry about quite a lot of things that summer and not working that anger as much as i was marinating in it) and i'm not quite ready to revisit 14.

    now: if only i could actually start regularly writing in a journal again, instead of only ever
    music: j.s. epperson - aurora
    selva oscura
    august 31st 2005
    an observation: months that start with poems are voluminous, especially if they follow the way this month did. frustrated with myself? a little, so i thought to change up the baggage, for a few weeks at least. literally, i mean. time for a different not-a-purse. i'll tell you a secret: i re-incarnate my carrying sacks. i maintain a comprehensive collection in the void of the laundry room crawlspace. not without shame, i admit my suspicion that the dyed red acid-washed denim duffel from the eighth grade is still down there somewhere, though i'm not sure and frankly the idea is a bit too horrible to contemplate. tonight i went down to pull two favorite options: a gap messenger bag, black, with a flap lid in need of mending; and a military surplus backpack that was always a bit oversized to start out with. it is, generally, an entire mess. the novelty of being able to carry around two notebooks, a journal, my lunch, a hardcover book, and a hooded sweatshirt, though, it's pretty appealing and may help me in overcoming these obstacles.

    (emily the cat walks back and forth on the bed, standing at the window, darting for the extended black ribbon bookmark, stepping off the edge and climbing back on. motion, motion, motion. different rates and different reasons. the paw bats, the shoulders hefts for the windowsill.)

    so i selected my options and washed them. before i did, i felt around through the pockets. candy wrapper, kleenex, old napkin, what’s this? in the flat zippered compartment on the opening flap of the black gap bag, “the lazy pocket,” i found a receipt. in fact, what i found was a receipt from november 14th, 1996? for the sister's of mercy's "vision thing." VIBES, washington street, 12:40PM. i wonder if it was a weekday. i wonder if it was a stop between classes. i wonder which store it was, i've stopped being able to call them by name. was it the one above planned parenthood, was it the one upstairs from the bar? there was the store where i bought "bloodletting”, weirdly corporate, but for the large rack of busted-up second hand inventory that you saw when you first walked in. maybe it was there.

    there was the upstairs place, the other one, much longer than it was wide and mostly empty, i think in the same building where i got my stylish mid-nineties bob. on the sales floor, tiered risers of CD covers in plastic slip covers. the CDs themselves were stocked in great caves of rooms in which no customer was allowed. i splurged on a couple high-end imported bootlegs from the sisters there at the end of my first year (book buy-back day), but i know i do not get "vision thing" there. that store was good for certain rarities — high-end imported bootlegs of well-known acts, beloved college radio fixtures like happy rhodes - just as the place above planned parenthood was good for another - underground ambient, post rock, fringe-of anomalous records. i found my first mother destruction album for three bucks in their almost offensively obscure second-hand inventory. “vision thing” wouldn’t have been a purchase, though, for a rarity store.

    i wonder about this not quite for any kind of obsessive organizational initiative (though i've certainly had more than my share of those) but because, simply, i wonder about that moment in time. what was my mind on, what was i wearing. my hair was stylishly bobbed, by then. was it purple? was it lying right that day, or flipping outward with that terrible retro marlo thomas look i’d get from tucking it wet behind my ears? i loved to take long hot showers at night when i lived in burge, i liked tucking my wet hair behind my ears. i liked padding down the hall in my black cut off sweatpants and fading depeche mode shirt, past the exuberant murmur inside open dorm room doors to the privacy behind my own, closed. locked. i loved locking my dorm room door, the first meaningful lock i could sort of call my own. i remember the awful petty bullshit that went on with my increasingly self-absorbed freshman neighbor that year and can't say i miss those thin walls one mite; i think back over those shopping saturdays and regret not being more creative with my time? but i was who i was and i did what i did and there’s still something of a romance to the idea of coming home with a couple new-to-me CDs and a new pack of mystic temple incense, lighting a stick, putting on an album, turning off the overhead fluorescents (muted, of course, by a blue batik printed tapestry, a necessary purchase from the indian import store at the mall i made within within 48 hours of flipping that switch the first time) turning on the christmas lights and writing scattered pieces of the novel i couldn’t quite drop into. i remember letting the psychedelic screensaver run while tracy and i managed somehow to fall asleep together on my narrow, green-sheeted bed, listening to dean evenson. do i miss it? not especially.

    except for that key-locked door.

    august is over!
    september 1st 2005
    nipping into the new month, we'll posit the hypothesis that i've found a little peace today. though while waiting, standing, staring blankly off at a counter's edge this morning waiting for a customer to finish crooning about the good energy she's found in yet another item she won't buy, it struck me that there really are better and more altruistic services i could be providing the community. it struck me that i was both bored and annoyed with this situation of waiting while someone picked up and put down every little pendant on the tray, not even allowed to drift off mentally to a slightly more interesting shore because this customer is yet again shoving a pendant with a perfectly visible price tag in my face to ask what it costs. i've dwelt in this place, as far as retail is concerned, where i tell myself every job has its importance and its function, some jobs require - and deserve - more patience and exacting detail than others? i think i'm beyond a state of burnout, as far as retail is concerned. i haven't been able to focus here for a while, i know i'm letting any number of things slide, and this is the best retail establishments i've been involved with? so i know i've been coming to this place from a ways back.

    work is hard, though. i mean figuring out where you should be and then getting there. this is complicated by a growing voice in the back of my head insisting that my next job be more about helping and less about selling (though selling can be helping in many ways, i know, too.) so how do you get there, without pissing off everyone so helpfully insisting on this convenient opening of an entry level position copy writing questions and telephone scripts for marketing research being the best possible thing out there for me, why haven't i submitted a resume for it, yet?

    i like to please people. i want people to like me. i can fold into doormat mode sometimes, hence the counter-edge stare while my customer stands on the other side of another counter, hitting herself on the head with a tuning fork and muttering that the tone isn't as pronounced as the german forks she's already got at home.

    "not that there's anything wrong with that," she says, apologetically, holding out a hand of surrender, as though her denouncement of our tuning fork will leave me rending garments and wailing in the back office after she leaves. oh, no. now that you've said it, i'll never be able to face another shift at this counter with its inferior tuning forks again.

    thought of something i’d like to do as i woke up and got on it while it was slow this morning. called the operations manager, called the treasurer, called the society president. got collection tins for hurricane relief placed here in the bookshop and hopefully in the library as well. so far, there are three dollars in our tin. all of three dollars were all the cash i had on hand. i shifted our dramatically marked tin to a slightly higher location and set the promotional display for an upcoming ram das talk on the counter for now. mr. das, i'm confident, would approve. i'd give blood but it might not be the best idea since i’m underweight and chronically a little short on iron.

    music: orbiteer - rotary
    selva oscura
    09 July 2019 @ 08:38 pm

    that one time i briefly deluded myself into believing i could handle the IUD insertion procedure and sat asking informed questions of a planned parenthood clinician and thought the conversation was going pretty damn well until suddenly she was jumping up and guiding me to the exam table so i could lie down with a washcloth on my forehead until the fainting cold sweat passed: i took every brochure they gave me but started coming to terms with the reality that this was yet another option my trauma history had stripped me of, at least i did once i was finally able to walk out the door. damn. in the lobby, there was a big wicker basket of condoms. i took two, i'm not exactly sure why. seemed like they could be useful. now, the expired (april 2019) "whelp, won't be getting an IUD!" day condoms will be used for art, but i haven't figured out the rest of the piece. in the meantime, i'd love to see some one sentence stories about this scene. go for it. i dare you.

    selva oscura
    06 July 2019 @ 04:10 pm
    been looking for this entry for a long time. was starting to think i'd only dreamed it. scene notes: this happened on the one week anniversary of my paternal grandmother's death; i feel like it's the moment i finally started to emerge from the hospice. my grandmother died on my nephew's fourth birthday the month i turned thirty. you'd think that would've made the entry a lot easier to locate, but, you know, layers.
    august 16 2005
    and i went out behind the building tonight, alone after dark on the grounds. and sometimes these moments are better as moments, so i didn't intend to be out there for long. first i sat on the lawn, i looked at the moon, i listened to the insect drone inside the treeline. i laid down on the grass and tried to see stars. no stars to be seen, light pollution fading night out at the hinges. i sat back up and walked to the labyrinth.

    walked the labyrinth by the light of the moon.

    and how every sound you make walking fills up after dark, fills up to overflowing, scattering your tenuous privacy all over the ground. a half step scoff in the daylight becomes a thundering serial of dramatic crunches alone in the dark. i walked the labyrinth as softly, then, as i could. on tiptoe. on soft heel. bowing into each step. and i reached center and i looked at the moon. and every surface blue and velvet, i thought of the concern i'd brought up at the labyrinth's start and checked to see if i had an answer. nothing yet, i supposed it might be waiting for when i'd walked back out of the labyrinth, i mean that's the other part of walking into a labyrinth: walking back out.

    so i did that and checked again to see if my answer had arrived in some moon-beam certainty i could smugly cite in subsequent retellings of this experience, maybe publish a few self-help books about how deciding you will find your answer will bring your answer to you, indeed? or, at least, asking for an answer will bring it to you even if you're kinda thinking a little bit harder about navigating the labyrinth in the dark without a lot of crunching noises. so i exited the labyrinth: no answer. so instead of finding my answer, i gathered a few more questions to press between your pages, then turned from the labyrinth in the hopes of finding fireflies.

    see, fourth of july, last year, walking back to our car after fireworks, we walked through this meadow in a surprisingly ancient feeling section of bartlett and the brushline, the treeline, any bit of foliage cover, even thickets of grass in the open field, just alive, just alight, just swirling and pulsing with fireflies. and it was dark and the trees, like heavy clouds, throbbing with light. deep space nebula. a hard swallow of galaxies. and i wanted to fall down, i wanted to lie dreaming at the side of the path. but sometimes a moment is better as a moment so instead i just kept walking and think of those fireflies still.

    here, now, i wondered if i might find a firefly cluster weeks out past the edge of that season. so i walked to the treeline where they do not keep the bees, but the only flickers there were houselights severed from easy answers by many layers of breeze-touched foliage. i wonder if there might not be too much residence, there, too close by, for firefly colonies; but still i stand in a hollow, marveling at the assumptions the mind makes at an anomaly in ground cover after dark. then i turn and walk for the wooded patch with the bees. can hear them humming in there, unless that is electrical, unless it is just me, hearing something unexpected about this moment. unresolved ancestors. past lives. past the hives there's an evergreen, past the evergreen i slip into the treeline again and look up. think, again, about sudden revelations and life altering epiphanies, the miraculous moment when it all becomes clear.

    alright, then.

    here i am.

    alone in the forest at night. let it happen. let her rip. cicadas and crickets. at the property line the highway speeds by i brush my hand over my face at the tickle of a hair: maybe i don't have enough faith in the universe for this? where did i go wrong?

    at the mary shrine i find her offering bowl wet and tipped over so i straighten it out, then stand for mary, rest my hand on her face, press my forehead to hers. what can i do? i silently think the hail mary to myself, but good lord, that must be like joking "it's free!" to a retail employee about merchandise that's lost its sticker, it's been done so many times the only response left remains a deep sigh and i don't know that there's a further comparison there. someone's saying a rosary somewhere. right now. ten years out from now. nineteen. twenty. it's like breathing for her, maybe, maybe not such a bad thing. now and at the hour of our deaths, amen.

    from mary i head back into the trees. the light is strange. the grass is gold and dappled like waves. the trees are black and cast long shadow. electric yellow light, there's a kind of aura about it, aura to presence as shadow to manifestation: if i have any revelation at all, it is here. i feel solid, calm, peaceful. it is a moment. maybe not the moment, but a moment. an estranged friend comes to mind, approaching the four year anniversary of that heartbreak. she ended our friendship a couple days after my twenty-sixth birthday. i understand, calmly, that the moment i've just had is not a moment she and i could have processed together. i understand something more removed and complicated about our chemistries, our priorities, about what started making me so uncomfortable around her near the end. "she wouldn't have got it right anyways," that's one version, a bitter one, one made all the more difficult by the fact that i wasn't getting it right, either. both of us were to blame and neither of us were. maybe that's what i've been fighting, all this time.

    in that moment, in that stillness. having made this offering, this unstructured ritual, for someone and something else entirely, i made peace with her departure. i made a kind of peace with it. anyway, i let it fall away. for a moment. maybe it is holding? there is no black and white in these things, even a dark night has more of a blue velvet quality to it, haloed, occasionally, in gold. four years would be enough of this, i prompt myself, gently. four years combined is longer than we spent in a mostly happy, mostly functioning friendship. maybe the anger is gone. maybe the anger has just faded out: but i am understanding, this time, that there isn't going back. we don't blend. we don't compliment. we weren't understanding, and we wouldn't have got it right, anyway.


    music: crib - constant
    selva oscura
    01 July 2019 @ 03:16 pm

    in the weeks before i turned seventeen, i read and i read, i read like i couldn't remember reading before. come home, i thought, come home now, it's time, i thought, i whispered, i whispered and i thought, though i wasn't entirely sure why. i wrote the first pages of a speculative fiction novel i had no intention of publishing - or finishing - or letting anyone else read. i fell into the emptiness sounded by that inversion of teenage ambitions with concerning delight. i'd completed four novels by that moment in my history. i'd let other people read my first four novels: my first, about a eleven-year-old girl fated to be sacrificed to the devil as a bride (subtext, you're choking on it), vanished into a social dispute and was never returned. my most recent, about a knocked up drifter who comes back from the dead, lived for more than a year under an estranged friend's bed and still does not smell acceptable. my second, the pregnant dancing girl serial from middle school, it always came back like a pox upon my developing craft. i named the protagonists after eighties pop stars. increasingly, i wasn't entirely sure i wanted my work to be read if my work could be read by just anyone. the resolution of this conflict has yet to be seen.

    perspectives shifted that summer. like hanging upside down off the living room couch for five minutes that could feel like an hour, like hanging upside down until my center of gravity understood itself onto the ceiling. i'd stay like that until i couldn't stand it; it was a peculiar high. just outside my experience but still immersed in it completely. entering a room i'd lived in since before memory for the very first time. space travel made with inexpensive ingredients you can find at home. i remember walking down the stairs with a mirror tray under my chin. it is not an experiment i can recommend in good conscience, but it sure felt weird.

    one of my more mysterious prepubescent beliefs: mirrors could only break in old scary movies. i'm not sure how i came to believe that any consumer-end mirror manufactured since the sixties was as good as indestructible. i might have misunderstood a segment on david horowitz's consumer advocacy weekly, fight back, which i religiously watched every week through elementary school, excited for a future when maybe i, too, could make a living by throwing tooled-leather combination-locked briefcases down stairwells and quipping snarky observations at the results. as much as i loved the program, sometimes they did things with gorillas, i didn't exactly understand what it was driving at a lot of the time and wrote off a lot of stuff to "damn, adults are weird."

    supporting evidence for my mirror theory came from that afternoon at my friend bill's house. going through the trash in his parent's bathroom (i didn't ask) he'd found an empty eye shadow compact with a mirror on the inside lid. his first idea for it involved a laser, like you know, that one thing? you had to have seen it. it was on TV. remember that one thing, with the mirror, and the laser? and all he had to do was - that thing with the - he needed the other thing. i don't have the other thing, bill told me, and i don't know where to get one. i didn't either. the laser hadn't worked out and he was feeling resentful, so by the time i showed up the project had devolved into throwing the compact as hard as possible onto the brick patio over and over again. he'd done it a bunch of times, i tried it a bunch more times, he tried it a few times after that, i jumped on it a couple times for good measure. thing wouldn't break. the plastic exterior shell was a mess, but the mirror remained uncorrupted. god, it was miraculous. clearly, this consumer-end mirror manufactured after the sixties was indestructible, and i told bill as much. david horowitz said. bill wanted to run a few more tests but needed to secure funding, which would take some time. he wasn't getting an allowance that month as a consequence for something he'd done. i didn't ask. maybe it involved digging through his parent's bathroom trash?

    we quit the mirror busting initiative for the afternoon, but later that summer bill told me that he'd hit it with a sledgehammer, put it in the freezer and then in boiling water right away, paid the stoner kid down the street three dollars to run over it with his van, twice, mirror wouldn't break. he really wanted to show me that not broken mirror, he said, but then his family was visiting his grandma in florida and he accidentally kicked it down a rainwater sewer so probably it got ate by an alligator. even at the time, i suspected aspects of this story were somewhat enhanced, but that's why bill and me hung out. we preferred one another's enhancements.

    i preferred richard's enhancements, too. the summer i turned seventeen, it rained and it rained and it rained. it rained, so i read, it rained and i read, i read like i'd never read before. all of a sudden, books were different again, or maybe: i was different again. i'd developed extrasensory perception. my center of gravity understood itself on the ceiling.

    when did i bring home this funny orange mass market with the charmingly contrived cover from the library swap rack? i unnecessarily concealed the title from my mother, who'd never once demanded i account for anything i read. i know it had been stowed for at least a year, spine to the wall on a shelf above my bedroom's sight line, long enough for me to (at least functionally) forget it was in my possession, but i wasn't sure when i'd brought it home.

    clearing my space in preparation for a new paint job, i found the book and, again, puzzled over it. i dropped it open and read from the middle. i always do this with books. also, i read the last few pages first, i skip ahead, i drop back, i make every narrative into one about time travel. i can't be bothered with all these cultural taboos about spoilers. everything that happened in a published story has already happened in that published story. not knowing won't change it in the least. the entire point of my audience is so i can find out how the author is going to tell me about what happened. if it's worth my reading time, it won't matter i already know where things are going, and a lot of the time it helps me power through a passage where i might otherwise stall out. besides, if the end looks like crap i'd rather read something else. the first thing i read in one of richard's books:

    "If you get hung up on everybody else's hang-ups, then the whole world's going to be nothing more than one huge gallows."

    got my number, i thought, read the book in one night, then read it again in the morning. i read it four more times before the summer was out. how he writes, i thought, transcribing a favorite line longhand into the back cover of a notebook. complicated things described simply so that simple things could be given the complexity they deserved. brautigan's writing rewired my thinking, shifted my perspective around pacing so that it was less "first this and then that and then that, resulting in" and more "holy moment! holy moment! holy moment!"

    grammar was a tool for sculpting, not a prison from which there was no escape. the grammar didn't matter so much as the language it shaped; the goal was a version of coherence you could switch into, not the grammatical institution of coherence to which many readers assume entitlement. his writing style wasn't a rebellion as much as it was an assertion of an intimate priority. the text wasn't caught up in competition or delusions of universality. it existed for those readers for whom it needed to exist and didn't begrudge anyone else.

    and then there was the story itself.

    vida and her alien body, more beautiful than she could handle. traumatized by her appearance, not able to move through any space as invisible as she needs to be, she finds her way to the protagonist who has also made himself invisible; together, they draw one another into form. thank you, richard. i needed that.

    the passage pictured at the top of this entry, i remember laughing at it mightily during my first reading: she put into words a conflict i'd been negotiating for months, convinced there was no language for it. there it was, and it couldn't be simpler: for some strange reason i don’t mind your looking at me. actually, it makes me feel good, but stop acting like a bandit when you do it.

    a few years later but still before i turned twenty, i'd special ordered every brautigan omnibus edition within a month of starting at my first bookstore. that picture of the cover is from the internet. i don't know what happened to my little orange mass market. i must have given it to someone, i couldn't tell you who. i hope it was the right person. i hope they honor it still, or gave it to someone else who does.

    today i will admit that i wish i'd kept it, that i'd like to read one of my favorite books as an island unto itself, not a rowhouse immediately smashed up against that novel i've never been able to read. the last novel. the novel about the author's looming suicide. brautigan had been gone for eight years by the time i discovered him. by the time i discovered him, we were in the decade after his death. i read and reread my first novel of his a half dozen times before my creative writing teacher filled in the blank of why i couldn't find a damn thing of his on the legitimate library shelves. it broke my heart and i buried it. ancient history, right? not even the same decade.

    i mourn you, richard. i mourn you still. thank you for your work.
    music: tor lundvall - sky signals
    selva oscura
    24 June 2019 @ 12:15 am
    stupid fucking pain.