Friday, May 19, 2017

101.

It wasn't just a Tylenol headache.  I knew I had a different kind of sick in my head.  I knew I'd have to see a doctor and get a prescription medication for this brain pain. I already knew.  My mother had been dealing with major clinical depression for as long as I was old enough to understand my mom was human and not just, "Mom."  And you know, I was never going to feel the same again. 
I just didn't know it then.  

I was in college.  It was the beginning of my depression, and then end of my "mental healthiness."  
Honestly, though, how many girls really made it out of college without being a little messed up?  
I mean, I had experienced difficult things in my life already, to be sure.  But I was doing pretty okay, and I was 19.  I though I was...

However, there I was at the beginning of second semester, and a survey handed out to the 200 student-huge-lecture-hall-freshmen-general-education-requirement-Psychology 101 class told me I needed to seek professional help immediately.  Immediately!  I looked around, as my classmates were either still filling it out, or falling asleep, or just fucking around with their fingernails or gum or writing implements.  I was always a stellar student, so I took that survey-quiz thing like it was my job. No fucking around or sleeping on the job for me, ever.  Never.  Hmmmm...

But, damn, my Psychology 101 class materials were telling me I was totally fucked.  I should have had a really awesome reaction to my survey results...  There were so many opportunities for craziness, but I was in shock that I was crazy, so I didn't think of them!  Like, if I had only stood up after tallying my score, announced my results loudly to the auditorium-sized room, and said, "Whoa, I'm fucking crazy. I need to find a doctor Stat," then run up the aisle and through the double doors, and out of that room.  I mean, maybe I could have gone shopping with my friends on Church Street that afternoon instead of shifting uncomfortably in the crappy fixed-row, fold-down seat, listening to all the causes and symptoms of mental illness.  I obviously had experienced most of them.  It said it right there on the survey.

Oh!  alternately, I could have done this: (Why the F didn't I think of this one?) I could also have raised my hand, waving it wildly until I attention up front (because who asks questions in a lecture hall class?) and asked the rotating professor (or TA) of the day, what I should do with my results. They made us take the test, didn't they?  What did they want us to do with that shit?  

Or! I should have descended down the aisle from my theater seat, taken over the microphone, and began a discussion about me, beginning by listing each item that led me to the score of, Girl, you be crazy, get some freaking help, then asking, "So... How?  What? Let's open this room to discussion, instead of another boring lecture."
         I am thinking that my classmates would be absolutely unaware that the professor wasn't lecturing still, or think, "Girl you be crazy," but I would persist.  
"What do you think about the score on this life event I experienced?  Yes, you there, in row thirty in the red and yellow striped rugby shirt." (Then it would dawn on me, Hell to the no, that isn't the guy who grabbed my arm and pulled, until I fell into him, and then tried to make out with me, his arms "hugging me,"at the frat party on Friday night after he did a Milwaukee Best keg stand, vomited into a cooler, and proceeded to do another keg stand? Yes, he sure looks familiar.  I was leaving the party, and standing alone on the sidewalk waiting for my friends.  He followed me outside.  Wouldn't you know it, it is the same guy! Of all the coincidences...  That guy who called me a bitch, and a fucking tease because instead of letting him kiss me, I pulled my head back away from his face with disgust, wriggled myself out of his arms, finally pushing him away and saying, "Gross, let go of me. I just saw you puke." I didn't have to point out that I had never spoken to him... ever...  Luckily my friends stumbled down the porch steps towards us, because he looked like he was going to, well, slap me.  I was a freshman, so I thought he would slap me...  [Thank goodness I didn't enjoy drinking "The Beast," as we called the cheapest beer frats could purchase to get girls drunk, or accept any of the Jello shots offered to me several times before I convinced my friends that maybe it wasn't very fun there.  And I had spent way too much time in front of the big trough of water teeming with little, swimming goldfish, which was apparently provided so guys could prove how manly they were by scooping up the water and fish into their red cups, and swallowing the fish alive.  Nope.  I was going to guard the fish.  Poor little fish.  I would guard the fucking goldfish.  I failed at guarding the fish; very few guys cared what I had to say about those poor living creatures dying a slow death, either suffocating in their esophagus, or drowning in stomach acid. No wonder guys were puking. And holy shit: were the fish coming back up still alive, and then just dying in vomit and beer puddles?] 
Perfect! that's the guy.  His opinion is most helpful in determining why this generic psychological quiz deemed me mentally unwell).  

None of those awesome things happened.  I mean, I didn't do any awesome things during my Psychology class that day, the puke guy story was absolutely true.  I didn't raise my hand. 

To be honest, at that point I didn't think I needed professional help, or that I was in danger of anything psychologically serious.  I was well adjusted, considering everything I had experienced in my life that far.  18 years.  Let me think about that a bit.  What happened that led me to feeling the need to hide the survey in my backpack, as soon as I had tallied my results, so the people sitting around me wouldn't be afraid to be sitting next to a woman on the brink of insanity?  

    Let me see...  


  Well, my parents got divorced when I was 6.  I didn't really remember my biological father being in my life at that age, (like him even being home), so it wasn't something that could touch me deeply at that age. Although staying with him during his custody agreement weekends, not being sure if it was sexual abuse, or just fucked up neglect to leave us alone in his house, while he worked at the attached mom and pop grocery store, the house filled with pornography, and my older sister putting on movies that showed people being mutilated and violated--I still see every scene so vividly--The men fighting to the gorey death by huge mallets in medieval pits of violence, where guts and blood were shown dripping off weapons, and then the survivors raped naked women chained to walls.  It would be turned off.  But not by my older sister.  When this all started I first I cried and said I was scared, and my sister pulled my hair and told me to shut up.  But then I figured out if I pretended I was not upset long enough, and she wasn't paying attention, I could run through the door that connected the store to the house, through a garage-type redemption area that smelled like garbage mixed with Sunkist Orange Soda, and open the door into the butcher department, where my father would be working, and if I made enough of a scene, crying and begging him to come and stop my sister, he would... and he would spank her.  He wouldn't even take his apron off.  He smelled like raw meat.  But I would cry more, because I didn't want him to spank her, I just wanted to not be nine years old, and traumatized...  He had to work. He would turn it off, go back to work, but then my sister would torture me until she got bored. I quickly learned not to run and get my father, or ask him for help, but to hide from my sister and the television and the magazines, until the store closed.  My little brother would have just stayed watching, or hide in the bathroom looking at Hustler and Playboy, which were in a stack next to the toilet.  He was seven. I was nine, and I remember pulling the magazines out of my his hands, and dragging him away from the smut, and I began standing up to my sister, and she didn't like it.  But she was kind of scared when I finally fought back... 
       Sigh... my older sister.  She told me she hated me and I was ugly for most of our young lives.  She also used to stab me in the stomach with pencils, and pull my hair, and tell me scary stories, and not let me cover my ears.  She was not awesome.  
     I was sad when my great-grandfather died when I was eight, even though I didn't know him as I wished I could have.  My mother told me the most wonderful stories of growing up with him as a central part of her life, because she lived in a multi-generation family home.  Her grandparents were right upstairs, in a small apartment, and she saw them every day.  Her grandfather, my great-grandfather, had a stroke before I could remember, and couldn't talk well, or get around.  I was devastated by the grief of my mother, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother. 
       I know many people are close to their grandparents, but not the way my mother and aunts and uncles grew up.  And although I didn't live with my grandparents,  I grew up less than a from their house.  My great-grandmother, Stella, still lived upstairs until she couldn't...  She had alzheimer's disease, which seemed to come upon her out of the blue, because it progressed so rapidly.  I was the closest of all the great-grandchildren to Nanny Stell, (I named my daughter after her), and as a teenager, I used to stay with her most weekends, and during the summer days, and after school quite often, because she couldn't be left alone, and my grandparents needed to live.  I'm so glad, looking back, that I had that time with my Nanny Stell, but also because it allowed my grandparents, who I can see now were still but young, to be alone together.  Even before they knew she had alzheimers, I would go over to sleep upstairs with my great-grandmother, so she wouldn't be lonely.  She brought me or a butterscotch hard candy, or homemade applesauce to eat, when I was coughing at night, and she would sit on the edge of the couch and talk to me. She couldn't sleep anyway, she'd tell me, when I expressed regret in coughing so loud to wake her.  She would comfort me until I fell asleep. Within two years, I was sleeping there because she couldn't be alone. She would wake me, but now it was to ask me where her baby was.  She asked me to please not make her be in the Saint Patrick's Day play at school the next day.  She'd wonder who had the baby.  That was difficult, but I loved her, and knew how to comfort her until she fell asleep.  
       Being raped at 17 was traumatic, but it was a "thing" I could ignore.  I had blocked it out, really.  That seemed like a healthy coping tactic to me.
       I was horribly sad and lonely leaving my younger sister to go off to college.  She was born when I was ten, yet she was my little best friend. I came home often to see her and that comforted me.  I could go home or my parents would bring her to Burlington any time we were missing each other.  Missing Mikhaila felt like a punch in the stomach, but I could still live my life separate from my home life, and enjoy my friends and my classes and experiences away from home.
     
I guess I should have known and I know now, that it didn't matter really what happened to me in my life, before I broke.  I mean, I've read so many times, it's now what you experience, it's how you react to it, that makes or breaks you.  I didn't think I was broken, yet.  Yet I also know, now, that depression was already dormant in my genetic makeup all along, just waiting for me to hit my head and crack it open. Looking back, (and I actually had to reach into the depths of my memories to think all this through: when did you become crazy, Joanna?), I attribute it to the phone call from my mother, while I was in Burlington, telling me my grandfather, one half of the golden center of my universe, had prostate cancer.  I realized that was the first time I remember feeling absolutely depressed, and unable to shake the feeling...  It was the first time I could not cope with the emotions I was experiencing on my own.  I mean, my mom had always helped me cope with anything that needed some coping. She would tell me things would be alright, or tell me what to do to make it alright, and I would listen. She couldn't tell me everything would be alright and I had no resources inside my own self to make it all feel better.

See, when my mom told me my grandfather had cancer, she was telling me something I would never have control over.  I wanted to control things in my life.  I needed to.  I started questioning everything about my life, and my capabilities. That day the dark, numbing substance that entered my ear through the phone, swirled around my brain, and found its way into my weakest parts, and opened them, gaping, filling them up with their poison. Everyone has weak parts.  I knew that.   But...

I had to go to my afternoon classes, but when my mother called, I was thrown into a state of disbelief.  I didn't know how to be myself. As I listened to my mother, that denial allowed reality, (which was just the truth of humanity), to lift me off the ground and slam me against the cinderblock wall;  instead of cracking the mortar and concrete, my own foundation shook, weakened, and shifted.  I didn't know I would never be completely balanced again. I didn't know how to keep acting like anything was normal, when it wasn't! I was not a weak person, but I so clearly remember that I was suddenly sitting in one of my many literature classes, and I didn't remember dragging my body across the quad to get to class, or that I was crying the entire time, until it was obvious I looked a hella mess sitting at the desk in the classroom, and my professor walking over to hand me a tissue.  I looked up and realized everyone was looking at me..  I was sobbing.  Oh my.  That wasn't like me at all.  "I'm sorry.  I just found out my grandfather has cancer," I blurted.  After that no one minded that I put my head down and just listened, covering my face for the 80 minutes, even though I was usually the most vocal, involved, and attentive student in the class.  Haha, can't hide under my crazy freaking wings today, guys.  Hope some of you actually did the reading.

I had lost control and lost my composure.
It was the cracking of me.  
Perfect family, me.  
Perfect life, me.  
Perfect everything, me.

Didn't you know my life was going to be perfect?  I did, when I was 19.  It would be perfect. Everything would be fucking perfect.  It had to be fucking perfect.  I had it all planned out.  I saw it all.
I knew.  And then I didn't...  I can't believe that I'm such a mess now... but here I am... Just a living wreck.

I'm telling myself to get my shit together right now.  I think I end every piece of writing either stating I need to get my shit together, will get my shit together, or should get my shit together...  

Yeah! Get your shit together!  That's exactly what my younger 18-22 year old self would say to myself right now. (Ah, because compared to now, at that time I was posed, plastered with a smile, and perfectly coiffed in a pink box in the toy aisle..). 






Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Twittstasnapface.

How can any human being with an active life possibly need so many different types of social media accounts? It's craziness.  It's just craziness.

Okay, I've never wanted to be a part those strange, self-centered, and limiting types of "communication," and so I have never thought these things had any positive use:  as in, if it were never invented, people might actually engage with other people in more healthy ways.  Who needs more than email and instant messaging?  I've refrained from all that stuff for so long, though I have this blog, (which very few people read, I'll remind you... You, just you).  FB is okay, although it is also cumbersome at times.

I have only had a few gmail accounts, and FB for several years.  I didn't know how I could possibly keep track of anything else... My head would be spinning, I thought...

Oh, and it did.

Because I did decide to try out Twitter, and Instagram, in an attempt to understand these people who are all around me better. (Snapchat just scares me.  Please, I just can't... I can't..).

Anyway, the purpose and appeal of all this software alluded me, but I decided I should investigate.

Holy moly!  What the hang?!  Let me out!  I resurfaced from the tides of 0s and 1s.  I got away.  I deleted the accounts for both T and I, within a few days of engaging in the activity each one required. It was terrifying. Talking to strangers online is a little creepy.  I guess writing a personal blog is creepy too, but...  Why would I want to talk about strangers about what is the best substitute for soymilk in a healthy smoothie?  I didn't want to.  Yet I ended up so frustrated by rapid-fire-rejections of Almond milk, that I suggested human breast milk.  And that just took a turn that wasn't something I was prepared for.  Just use freaking Almond milk, you know?  I couldn't help but reply to rejections of Almond milk because of its "trendiness."  That's where I mentioned breast milk, and what "we" were capable of:  I meant the female ability to make copious amounts when necessary, not that we would ever pimp out our boobs for smoothie stores.  WTF.  I'd lost control of that conversation, for goodness sake.  Get me out of here, I thought.  I had to remind myself that I was speaking to someone who didn't know me, wouldn't know me, and couldn't stalk me to explain to him more about human mammary glands.
I still felt exposed.
Whew.
Delete that account.

I don't have a formal job right now, and I could barely keep track of all of that craziness.  How can anyone with a family, or who is employed full time maintain multiple online statuses?  I've even tried getting the heck off Facebook, a few times, but that never works out so well.  People think I've blocked them, or I'm dead, or people tagged in pictures I had posted suddenly don't get to have those photos in their album... or my comments on their photos are suddenly gone, so it looks like they had a conversation with themselves, and that's just awkward.

And I get it.  I've had that happen to me, the friend deleting her account, and her comments were deleted too.  It was awkward.   In that one example was under a photo Sam posted of my son and I pretending to surf on a boogie board on the beach a few summers ago.  I'm in a bikini. My friend commented: "Holy Abs, Joanna!" Then after I responded she said, "You're amazing.  You always look amazing."  And we went back and forth, like, "No you are totally hot/No way, you are, etc."  However, when she deactivated her FB account, her comments weren't just grayed out, they were gone.

I don't usually look at photos of myself, so it was quite a while before I came across that picture again, and oh my, it looked like I was just commenting on my own body: "They look more pronounced than they are.  I don't have a crazy six pack or anything," then, "No, you're amazing, lady."  "No, you are hot."  You see how that's a bit weird to read those comments written by myself, under a photo of me?  It clearly seemed like I was stating I think my abs are worth pointing out, then I'm telling myself I'm amazing, and hot, third person. Oh.

Yeah. Luckily most of these social media sites are for individuals' personal egos.  If one has accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, the person most closely paying attention to what that person is saying most of the time...  It's them.  They, themselves, are the ones who are paying the most attention.  I mean, really: It's personal time, (so much time), spent by individuals...  On their self-image.

Social media sites are encouraging (or more frighteningly not) people to consider how to phrase something, or think about what profile picture speaks to their mood or personality/yet also also makes them look attractive at the same time?  I mean...  It's really a lot of work to be charming in social media.  Charming in every way.  Every way charming.  

Like, right?
Look how clever I am in only 140 characters.

I can't sunbathe and not take a picture from my knees down, manicured feet included in foreground near the pool or on the beach, because, duh, that's a cute angle if I kind of point my toes, and flex my calves.  Nice.  

What's the freaking point of doing fancy, contortionist yoga poses just for my own health benefit? I'm going to Instagram that shit.  Everyone is going to tell me I'm really unbelievable.  That's right. Acroyoga bitches! You can't do this shit.  And I'm only posting these pictures and memes, because, you know... 

Youtube!  Let me humbly sing in my bedroom with my guitar, and post videos...  But, um, yeah, I can sing!  Listen to me sing those covers!  I will get discovered and I'm famous!  Famous!  I can apply makeup so great.  Watch me and learn.  Learn and watch.  I  get free "hauls" from skincare and makeup companies, and test their products and tell you all about them.  I'm hilarious!  Oh, gosh, especially when my pet just jumps up in front of the camera.  It's so adorable.  Bad kitty.  Where was I?


Aaaaaaa!
#Selfies!  
("My hair is sooooo cute today, and I'm driving, but look how cute my hair is!" Ducklips, and peace fingers at red light... So cute.  Love it!  Oh, not red light, I think... Oops, green light. My bad.  #caraccident. Love my new highlights!") 

"I'm an amazing parent! Watch this adorable video of me interacting with my children. I'll even vlog about it.  Being a parent is really tough, but you just have to love your children unconditionally and feel blessed that they are part of you.  Blessed by my amazing children." (#Ilovemychildren #amazingparent!).  

#Workingonmyfitness...  "Trying to get in shape for summer, y'all"  See my abs, and workout outfit? I'm totally not in shape, but I totally feel comfortable in a sexy sports bra, yoga legging ensemble.  

Sigh...

I bet most people wouldn't be motivated to do a lot of the healthy things we do, if we didn't get to digitally brag about it, and show how good we look doing it, or because we've done it, or just, like... You know. Who climbs Mount Everest and doesn't tell anyone about it?  How many famous people do humanitarian work in secret?  Remember that quote from The Catcher in the Rye?  Who doesn't?

It's actually Mr. Antolini quoting Wilhelm Stekel:  "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
And no, Mr. Antolini does not touch Holden inappropriately, and he isn't a creeper.  I hate that analysis. Rubbing his head while he sleeps is something a parent does to their child, and you know, it doesn't seem like his mom or dad really made him feel safe and secure in the world.  Mr. Antolini seems to be the only person in Holden's life that actually understands the kid at all. Maybe I'm wrong.  I think J.D. Salinger would tell people to stop analyzing and dissecting his writing at all.  That's right, it's as if J.D. Salinger wrote because he wanted to write, and he didn't give a damn what anyone thought about it, or want phony press or any press at all. He wanted people to leave him the Hell alone.  He wouldn't have "Twittstafaced
 if he was offered hundred's of thousands of dollars...  Just never.  He never would have.

But you do.  And you can't stop yourself, can you.  Right?  Admit it.  It's true.  Hey, I know I'm not posting pictures of myself in any type of outfit right now and saying, "I gained 20 lbs this winter. Also, I think it's because I drink too much alcohol and I have been so depressed I don't really get out of bed for more than 30 minutes at a time, before laying back down.  Oh, and I tried bleaching my own hair, just a little bit lighter, and it turned kind of like white and orange at the same time... patchy or spotted sort of...  I had to dye it brown, because there was no saving that fubar, and I gave myself a haircut.  It's pretty even on the bottom.  I don't know, though because I can't see the back of my own head very well.  That might deter other people from cutting their own hair, but not me.  YOLO! And, woohoo, I can't wait for hair hair to grow back and not feel like straw, and it will be so cool to have the energy and be mentally stable before summer, so I can get back in shape and not look like a shitty version of myself."

Is our society dominated by a need for affirmation, albeit, virtual ego-stroking, so we as individuals can feel self-worth?
Self.
Worth.

Can't we love ourselves, if we aren't constantly compliments in our online social circles?  You know, "our friends"?  They should be openly appreciating us, right?!  Right!!!!

Yuck.  The current president of the United States, who shall not be named, is a Twitter, social-media-freak. What is this country/social reality coming to?  He-who-shall-not-be-named makes grammatical errors in his Twitter posts!  Often.  Gagging.  Blech.  Nooooooooo...

So, in this blog that somehow is public, (yet so obscure and impossible to find unless I tell ya how), I'll write that I couldn't possibly post 140 characters before I'd proofread it until my eyes crossed.  But, I realized I was wasting a whole lot of time on something that meant absolutely nothing in the scheme of human life--Not the living part.

And, you know, I'd rather work on living in real life.  I need to work on that.
And if that's what I should be doing, I'm thinking there are so freaking many other people who should be doing that too...

Do it.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Fidelity.

I'll just keep with a music theme in my writing until songs stop being the main precipitator, (Eh, more like condensator)l of my most current feelings and ideas.  That's okay, yeah?  Good.

I can't even remember how I "discovered" Regina Spektor:  I think most possibly from the youtube video suggestions that are stacked on the right side of the screen, when I looked up a video by a similar artist.  Oh. I think it might have been NPR! Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  I'm sure of it.  Spektor famously left the Soviet Union during Perestroika, leaving her piano behind.  All of this was important because finding out she was Russian, I bought the CD for my little sister.  My sister graduated from high school in 2006.  She is half Ukrainian (Transcarpathian), and was interested in and excelled in Russian Studies in high school and college.  She continued to read and learn on her own. She is very smart, that sister of mine.  She recently shared books with me written by Belarusian journalist Svetlana Alexievich, which have educated me greatly.

I'm not really planning on writing any more about Soviet/Russian history, but I'm giving you some background on the context of how I heard Regina Spektor's songs when I first heard them.  You might better understand how I viewed her music before I happened upon her song "Fidelity" several years later in my life, with a different brain. 

Spektor isn't only a "Russian" singer, but an Indie singer.  She's a beautiful singer:  unique, folksy, and very intelligent. 

I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sounds
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind all this music


I loved many of her songs, and really enjoyed most of her albums... but she wasn't an artist that I kept in my regular rotation.  I'm not sure why.  I really did like her.  I loved her albums Soviet KitschBegin to Hope, yet, it wasn't until I heard the Jasmine Thompson cover of "Fidelity" on a "Sia Station" I had created on Pandora, that I really felt the words, as opposed to hearing the quirky style of Spektor's version, when I was younger and in different circumstances.  We change every day, I think.  We change and hear, taste, smell, feel things a bit differently.  We should change and grow.  We shouldn't stop moving.

And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart


I was cleaning the house, and the Pandora station was playing from the television.  It was the song, and hearing it from her voice, and her pared down, acoustic version, that I truly listened.  And I stopped.  I had never heard Jasmine Thompson.  She mostly does covers.  I sat on the floor staring at the screen, which as you probably know, doesn't change when you listen to Pandora.  It's a black screen, with the artist's album artwork, and then the title of the song and name of the artist in white lettering. And I listened.

I never love nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting by heart truly
I got lost
In the sounds
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind 

All this music
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart


Did I think she was writing about regret for having fallen in love?  Maybe it's more that cliche idea that "it's better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all." She does say "suppose" before what seems to be the recollection of fond memories.  Is she trying to imagine who she would be, as an individual, without those experiences and memories?  Or, did she learn to let go and open herself up to love, even if it seems bittersweet.  And...

And suppose I never ever met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft
Suppose I never ever saw you
Suppose we never ever called
Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
Just to break my fall
Just to break my fall
Break my fall
Break my fall


...Maybe she's just living in an imaginary world, though.  Was she just trying to believe in and feel things that didn't seem possible for her?  Did he start to find a way to make meaning out of all the music, and voices, and words in her head to try to stop breaking her own heart.  She had to break her own fall.  Otherwise she'd be falling... She'd just be falling forever. 

How about me?  I was listing on a Pandora radio station, playing through the speakers of a television.  I was staring at that screen, and listening, and I thought, oh... I have been lost for a long time:  and I knew it.  I knew I was looping.  I was a needle stuck on the vinyl LP, and the record player wasn't balanced, was it?  It wasn't level.  I was trapped in one groove.  And who do you talk to about that, because being in my own head for so long was obviously very destructive... Hmmmm...   

"Hey, so... I'm not here... um... I'm not sure how to come back.  You have any ideas?" 

Oh!  Regina Spektor has a song called "On the Radio", which was also on her Begin to Hope album. Maybe I should also mention that song, since it expresses the, "Hey so..."  moment in time, quite clearly. Hear one song... feel another...  That's poetry? That's life.

(...On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song
We listened to it twice
'Cause the DJ was asleep
This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath
No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
You hope it don't get harmed

But even if it does
You'll just do it all again...) Here.



Oh goodness...  I'm off the rails and this post is getting a little confusing, me thinks. 
Perestroika. 
Original artists.
Transcarpathia. 
Hearing.
Belarusian journalists.
Song covers.  
Feeling.
Looping.  
Song Lyrics. 


I'm either doing an exceptional, adept job weaving all of these subjects together to explain a greater message, or I'm scattered and losing my focus, and your attention...  Boo!  

Wake up!  Obviously I'm super thoughtful and everything I write makes sense.  I don't lose my focus, blah, blah, blah.  I'm so super, hyper-focused you probably can't follow what I'm saying... You don't even know where I'm going for paragraphs, and then you get to the end and your mind is blown. It all makes complete sense.  

And Fidelity! Fidelity (fi·del·i·ty fəˈdelədē/ noun) *faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support. "he sought only the strictest fidelity to justice" synonyms: loyalty, allegiance, obedience.

antonyms:  disloyalty.
*sexual faithfulness to a spouse or partner. synonyms: faithfulness, loyalty, constancy, true-heartedness,
formal troth.
antonyms:infidelity, disloyalty

Is it ironic she chose to title the song "Fidelity"? So often we are not faithful to our true nature, and not really showing up in life.  I mean, by not living in conscious awareness.  She's lost in the sounds.  If rehearsed often enough, do we begin to believe the folklore we script for ourselves. We drift so reflexively into ignorant, yet steadfast-held beliefs, keeping our world small.  Its smallness might serve to make it all the more
comforting, or help us feel in control, when we just aren't.  Can we protect our hearts truly?  Should we?  Or couldn't we let it beat to its own rhythm.  Our hearts.  Our lives.  Ourselves.  

I hear in my mind all of these voices
I hear in my mind all of these words
I hear in my mind all of this music

Breaks my Heart
Breaks my heart


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Love

Look at you kids with your vintage music
Comin' through satellites while cruisin'
You're part of the past, but now you're the future
Signals crossing can get confusing

It's enough just to make you feel crazy, crazy, crazy
Sometimes, it's enough just to make you feel crazy

You get ready, you get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
Back to work or the coffee shop
Doesn't matter cause it's enough
To be young and in love

To be young and in love



I can't write about Banks (see here), and not write about Lana Dey Rey, particularly when she comes out with a new single like "Love."  Oh, Lana, I loved you when I was discouraged from listening to your music, (maybe I was listening obsessively when I was not feeling very well mentally, I'll admit that), because your songs can be very haunting and depressing.  I'm already a depressed gal, so I can see why moody, low tempo songs, and fatalistic lyrics might feed the darkness I experience.  Ah, but when I heard Lana's new song, I felt something hopeful. I shan't be chastised for listening to "Love", because it's optimistic and... Lovely.


Look at you kids, you know you're the coolest
The world is yours and you can't refuse it
Seen so much, you could get the blues
But that don't mean that you should abuse it


Though it's enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy
I know, it's enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy

But you get ready, you get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
Back to work or the coffee shop
It don't matter because it's enough
To be young and in love
To be young and in love

Don't worry, baby
Don't worry, baby




When I heard this song, before I saw the official video, I could imagine my college years, and a collage of our experiences... stumbling and laughing on our way home from the bars, sitting in the sun on the green between classes talking about everything except our classes, and being... young.  
Just kids, we were.  

It was perfect, when I think back, although I wouldn't want to relive the experience.  At the time, we were very innocent, and we all loved each other.  We drank too much.  We danced every weekend.  We ate too much pizza.  We overslept.  We stayed up too late.  We kissed. We talked about what was present and relevant to our lives at that moment.  We lived in every moment, right then.  We didn't talk about the past...  We didn't really.  We could tell our friends something once, if it was important, and it was never brought up again.  It was in the past, and we were always living in the future:  What were we doing that night, that weekend?  We lived in the moment.   

Maybe that's what all 18-22 year old kids do.  Maybe it's the only time any of us get to live that way?  It's funny that maybe college is the escape, when so many young people believe they are free if they graduate from high school and don't have to go to school any longer if they don't want to.  But, it's the independence, and freedom of a youth we didn't fully explore, living at home, while we attended high school. Those four years at UVM my friends and I were absolutely irresponsible; yet in the midst of all our hangovers, mistakes, fun, and learning, we didn't even know we were figuring out how to be grown ups at the same time. We didn't think about that.  We didn't need to.  We were "grown up," but so very young... and the responsibilities?  
Pass your classes.
Don't skip lecture hall classes, (even if attendance wasn't taken), to go shopping. Pop quiz. Always.
Don't party too much.
Appreciate your education.
Don't get 3:00am noise violations...   
Stay alive?  

 We did.  We were alive.  We were alive the entire time.

And it's enough just to make me go crazy, crazy, crazy
It's enough just to make me go crazy, crazy, crazy

I get ready, I get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
It doesn't matter if I'm not enough
For the future or the things to come

'Cause I'm young and in love
I'm young and in love

Don't worry, baby
Don't worry, baby


Don't worry, baby



        -Lana Del Rey, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Mother Earth

Underwater, consuming all my kind
Destined for alterations
And my mind ain't aligned for her daughter
I know I'm mother earth, I see the weather


Jillian Banks's new album, "The Altar," is amazing; Aaaaa, it kills me, she is so talented and beautiful, and then she speaks so clearly to what I feel so often on top of that.  

Her talent isn't only appreciated by me, I know, but because this is my blog and I'm totally self-centered, I'll talk about me... and Banks.  I connect to her lyrics and sentiments. It is alarming and alluring, when I hear her music, and I feel like she is crawling through my mind, and then pouring out all its contents in a liquid, beautiful voice.  Yes, she has a melancholy tone in many songs, but through even those lyrics, I think she is truthful and hopeful and gives a voice to some emotions, and experiences, and struggles it's difficult for many people to know what to do with, or how to handle.  I mean I certainly can't sing.  I can't compose music.
I do write.  

Honestly, I'm definitely not writing very well.  I give my computer screen the most scathing looks when I go back and view writing I posted hastily, not revising or editing it first. 
😠 "Are you kidding?  What is that freaking sentence?  That's not even a sentence."  

I'm a alone a lot, so I talk to myself.    

So I'm not gonna cover up the freckles on my faces
I covered all the bases

Follow me to my bed
'Cause every time you fall, I'll be holdin' your head up
And when will you get tired of feeling bad?
And every time you fall, follow me

Follow me to my bed
'Cause every time you fall, I'll be holdin' your head up
And when will you get tired of feeling bad?
And every time you fall, follow me


I know I'm repetitive in my writing, too.  It's pretty clear that I find music to be healing, or at least one way I distract my brain or disappear into another world when I feel "bad."  (It should be badly, right? I'll have to take English as a Second Language Grammar classes before I teach again... If I do.  No, no, of course I was quoting the song.  I'm just messing with you.  My grammar is impeccable when I'm not being lazy).  

I discovered Banks through a Victoria's Secret TV ad, but Tori Amos truly carried me through the most difficult times in my life.  I am listening to her now.  Spark.  Sam used to mess with me, singing the first line of the song over and over again.  He doesn't listen to her music, really.  Like, never.  So that does seem like a funny kind of way to open a song.  Of course, I wrote a story that began with the sentence, "I dreamed I had sex with Jesus...", which I had to read to  large intellectual audience, after being deemed the top fiction writer at UVM in 2000.  It certainly wasn't a contest I entered.  All advanced fiction writing classes voted on their favorite pieces written by classmates, not knowing why we were making decisions or distinctions in any way.  Later the department professors got together and chose amongst the lot of them.  The piece that was voted as the top piece by me, was actually one I knew I couldn't read aloud.  I thanked the students in the class for holding my writing in such high esteem, particularly when most of them were all graduating with Liberal Arts/English Majors, and I was not.  I am sure my cheeks flushed, and I teared up, and I know I thanked them for thinking I was worthy of such an elite honor... 

But, before I could say anything else, my professor, Philip Baruth (A wonderful teacher.  A wonderful man), said, "Joanna, a moment," and directed me into the hallway.  It was an evening class.  2 or 2 1/2 hours long, once a week.  The hallways were just lit fluorescently, and it seemed like a more vulnerable time to be... anywhere, I guess... night...  
 I started to cry and said, "I'm sorry.  I just can't read that story aloud.  I can't...  I..."

He said, "I understand.  I know.
I'm sure I mumbled something about it being kind of based on truth, and I didn't think I could read it, really.  "I knew that.  I needed you to know, before you said anything to the class about not wanting to read, that you actually placed first and second with your stories." He said. "Your other short story, "20%" was voted as the second place by your classmates, and was chosen as first place by the faculty."  I felt so scared and powerful at the same time, but I knew which one he meant.  Oh goodness..  I had to read about having sex with Jesus in front of an audience.  Rape or sex with Jesus?  Rape or sex with Jesus?  Gosh.  I was honored but the other story talked about blow jobs too.  My God.  I mean.  My Jesus.  Holy Jesus.  I should not be blasphemous.  I never say those things out loud.  Shit.  Okay.  I remember agreeing to read the blow job story.  I'll just call it that.  I was the Top Fiction Writer and I was going to stand at a podium in a very formal setting...  Jesus.  I was exposing the frailty and strength of Femininity in that story.  It wasn't about a victim.  

He's so hollow
My baby mated blind until he wasted fate
So I'm left behind until he curse my sorrow
But I know I'm mother earth, I see the weather


I don't know how I ended up writing about all that, when I meant to write about Banks, other than my sister bringing me a folder of my college writing she had found in our house to me a few days ago.  I re-read the rough draft of the story I ended up reciting--performing--for the gathering, and I started laughing, but also understood how complex and sad the story was.  It wasn't profane or blasphemous.  It was really sad, actually.  But it was also really funny. 

 I remember hearing very flowery examples of various forms of fiction styles, and then someone read a poem right before it was my turn, and it had something to do with oatmeal. I looked at Professor Baruth in horror, and whispered, "I can't read my story after this."  An empty plea, it was.  He said, "You can, and you will."  I did walk up to the podium and looked out at the ridiculously serious, formal, and in the case in some of the college students in attendance, bored audience, "My story has nothing to do with oatmeal, but here it goes..."  And I read, and I looked up at the audience at points, pausing, my head held high, and I knew I deserved to be called the best. I didn't need anyone to hold my head up, once I started reading, because I became the voice of the story, and it was brilliant and beautiful. I read it like I hadn't even written it myself.  I read, and part of the story was so deeply imbedded in me, I could say the sentences, while looking directly at the people who were sitting in the fancy, upholstered rows of chairs in the carpeted reception room, and see their faces.  I wasn't scared to see their faces.  I needed to see their faces.  I needed to see.

Yes, the audience laughed at the funny parts, and no one looked bored, and I actually did sing Loretta Lynn lyrics at one point; I could barely leave the reception room once it was over.  I had a special seat in the front of the room and as a few other readers went up the podium after me, I knew they were looking at me, and I felt proud, but also ashamed.  I looked down at my bare legs, and Mary Jane high heels.  I was behind the podium, as one of the presenters.  My professor was there, next to me.  I'm glad he was because I kept looked at him with an expression that I am sure expressed mortification and doubt, up until I read, and when I walked back to my seat, he hugged me, and I was suddenly terrified again.  I just did that thing?  That was me?

I tried to focus on the people reading their own stories, or expository writing.  I mean, the third place reader, was able to present, since I had chosen not to read one of my stories.  I chose hers as first place, actually, and I thought she deserved to have her story heard.  I watched each person at the podium intently, knowing people were looking at me.  I felt it.  I knew it.  If I let my eyes wander to the crowd, I would make eye contact with people who didn't know me, and I didn't know, yet I had exposed myself to them, and they thought they did... know me...  

People stopped me over and over to tell me how much they enjoyed my story, and how talented I was. Huh?  My "performance" was quite a departure from any other that day.  I knew that.  I just wanted to run home... Well, walk, since I was wearing fancy shoes.  But I just wanted to breathe.  And drink.  God, I wanted to drink.  My roommate and best friends went out that night and a guy actually came up to me at a bar and said, "Whoa, you're that girl!  You read the story about blowjobs.  Oh, wow.  
"Yup, that was me."
"I didn't mean that to sound... I mean, it was really good, like you are a great writer, I just have to say that most guys want girls to swallow."  

Anyway, reading the story just a few days ago, I understand now how talented I once was.  It was really well written.  It was perfectly written.  It was sad and funny, and didn't allow a reader to sink into one emotion before being jolted into another.  I still can't believe I read it aloud, though.  I was brave once.  I was brave.

So I won't let you pull up in all of my safest places
I, I covered all the bases
Follow me to my bed
Follow me to my bed


'Cause every time you fall, I'll be holdin' your head up
And when will you get tired of feeling bad?
And every time you fall, follow me

'Cause every time you fall, I'll be holdin' your head up
And when will you get tired of feeling bad?
And every time you fall, follow me




Am I sad too often?  Have I fallen?  I often feel like I fell a long time ago.  I don't know if anyone can hold my head up, anymore, honestly.  No one has asked me to follow.