So this month, seeing that I can’t decide and I’m a titch manic, I’m reading many books at the same time (I always do that). I like to mix it up, one book from each area usually. I tend to like (like crazy) factual books on mental illnesses/disorders (I’ll read one in two days), poetry books off course, books ON poetry, books about writing, and literary journals. So here’s what I’ve chosen for August:
Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (I LOVED Tropic of Capricorn in college) OR Black Spring–haven’t decided yet. This is from TIME:
It’s impossible to outdo George Orwell’s wonderfully overstated appraisal of Miller in 1940 —”the only imaginative prose writer of the slightest value who has appeared among the English-speaking races in some time”—but it’s hard not to agree. He’s the thinking man’s slacker, but his prose is a force multiplier—lucid, honest and unhampered by neurotic self-loathing. Tropic of Cancer was not published in the U.S. until 1961, where it set off an obscenity trial that is still one of the great episodes in the history of free speech. Before Kerouac, before Burroughs, Miller disputed all the imperatives of capitalism. He stood before the temple of money and raised the flag of happiness. You have a problem with that?
The Center’s Keep
There are slights–these subtle moments,
in between–that I forget I’m looking for.
There’s no perfume or intention to stumble me
but, if my head’s quiet enough, I see that
inside the folds of my many faces there’s an
opening. I know it’s legit if the “we” turns to “I”
and the disaster of compulsions falls to a floor
and I’m left without all my chemistry clogging
And for a brief moment
my head ends
and I begin
and for the sweetest moment
I am my center.
It’s enough to get me by
as I try try to hold the gravity
yet once I seek what keeps me
(taken from http://bordersofthepersonality.wordpress.com)
it sounds like a circus back there,
behind me where I can’t go, trapped
in my mute carnival
and I’m suddenly alone
in a huge wide world, a
spinning playground and the people
are paper cut-outs with empty expressions
and painted souls like balloons;
there is no love in this place
there is a piece I lost
a great, big piece I lost
and I don’t know where I am.
I slipped away once upon…
I stole inside where touch and sight
could never reach me.
It was, truly, a brilliant escape
but it had a high cost
I can’t suffer the balance.
There is a piece I had to give
I don’t know which or how
but there is a piece I lost
and I spend all my time
searching for it
and that’s what makes me
So tired that I forget where I am
and all the other pieces
keep crashing into each other,
losing their places,
looking at me,
waiting for me to fill the space.
LISTEN & READ: 05 – 4am
The Panic of Peace
Flat affect. What a depersonalized symptom to give the hider. Yes, let’s play, you seek. You seek out your DSM and professional books among the cranberry-colored spines with gold writing, or solid, knowing, black fonts. And inside pours out six. Six disorders I have because I fit the criteria like a glove. I was better off not knowing. Yet it was something, a list, I could point to, aim the finger away from me. I wanted to say “of course I have flat affect, I’m fucking stunned that somebody with six disorders can hardly be funny anymore.” No I’m not dissociating at these times. I’m very real when I am angry or crossed or hurt or doubted. It’s when I’m scared or set by a sound or smell or the mind spins manically in and out over itself, that I calm down to dissociate, where I sit so terrified that they say “flat affect” and I’m so scared I don’t know what’s on my face. I dissociate when I panic that I am calm. That’s how messed up this body is. I’ve stowed away inside again, that’s what we do, us big kids. We’re an army– an army given cheap guns, yet known to be armed to the teeth with devices that a soul shall never ever pass, and they never will. Security lock down—it’s a brilliant defense, this dissociation, but it comes back for ya. You have to pay for it. It comes back when you’re almost thirty and thinking about a diet and reading the classics and going to school to become to become to become. And then, wham, shot down. It’s the early-on, unknowing that is most terrifying. I was sure I fucked myself up beyond repair, that back in the day, I’d done some irreparable damage and I was going to die. I saw death. I breathed my grandmother’s name and practically ran to mental health holding my head, to stop the black images popping up with red eyes. To catch my short breath, and the taste in my mouth…it was coming…the flashback. Blindfolds, blood, and sex. I’m a five year-old in heels, smashing my makeup on the ground, crying in the corner, banging on the locked yellow door.
So that’s the beginning, or shall I say, my first day, of PTSD. Drove my ass right to the bin. It was my first time but I always figured that I’d show up there some day. I don’t know why. I’m not one to prod my weird thoughts. That’s asking for mayhem. They shot me in the ass with meds and I cried all night and day after day. I remember thinking that this was it, that it wasn’t so bad, they’d fix me of course, and I’d never be back again. That was the baby version of PTSD, when the “psychotic episodes” or flashbacks were so minute they barely counted and I always came out of it squeaky clean, like it was a bad, dirty dream. Soon, after my stay there, these “episodes” began to creep into my mornings, I started dissociating more when the panic rose when triggers were set off, my legs went numb, I tasted rubber in my mouth. The flashbacks or episodes were lasting forever, on and off, at a moment’s notice. Strange, scared thoughts and ideas whipped me around on a fucking roller coaster and flung me out of its seats at the peak of the ride. Nothing was real. I called to my fiancé who seemed like an oil painting and we were all dissolving and he’d never reach me. “Talk me down. Help me. Talk to me.” I’d demand with my voice in total control. I couldn’t let anyone see that helpless chaos on my face. It was like seeing your own death. Yet you believe death would be easier. You don’t trust yourself in the tub with the pretty pink razor. What?! You’re screaming what to yourself because now the suicidal thoughts listed in the “DSM” are scrolling off the page and into your ears. Oh shit. The book. The stigma. You think as you sink “I’m one of them”. Depersonalization disorder, dissociative amnesia, panic disorder, PTSD…there’s one more (besides the bipolar) but I can’t remember. At this brief interjection of a strange paragraph I’d like to say “Gee, thanks. Thank you step-father. I have seen the light; the dark; and now I can’t see anything but exist as this open wound because of your own tormented soul. Thank you for the lesson, thanks for not beating this one into me. My flesh could’ve handled it better than my head, but could you have known?”
Anyways, death. Death. But what’s left? It got worse. They couldn’t help me. I was seeing things, feeling things, things were lost, demanding their recapture, and I couldn’t see them. I’m five years old, sitting in the crook of my fiancé’s arm, with flat affect.
What the printed, sacred documents of the doc’s don’t tell you is that there is something very key to survival…as they end their chapters in comorbidity and the morbid–suicide rates. They fail to mention the elements of two things that will save you: hope and love. Now why would a book about the mind involve such artificial, baseless tones to their story? You gotta figure it out for yourself, because each persons’ fate is different. These two elements cannot be captured, their purpose lays in secrecy as they fill us all with blessing. Hope is that last shred of light you see; it’s that part of your brain that drives you to the hospital for help, instead of into the tub. Hope makes you wake up and face another day, giving you clues and signs everywhere that there is more, so much more…to life. And in those signs beams love. The love of the fiancé who holds you to his chest and waits for you to get better, knowing more than you do that you’re going to make it. The love of the mother who doesn’t even have to speak, but sits at your side until your episode is over and you can look her in the eye with gravity. The love of the sisters, who allow you to wail out your fear and struggle through your belief that there is no future, just nothingness and death. They cry too, and you feel love because you’re not breaking alone. And the love of a friend, a long-ago best friend—agent of dreams—who tells you as you sit back in the bin again that you’re not alone, she said “tell her I am with her.” And she was. This intricate web of hope and love has shown me something not many people get to see—just how undeniably soulful it is to have each other, and to love each other—unconditionally. There is a greater purpose that must be so simple we can’t see it, but sometimes get a taste of it. It’s so simple that your heart becomes light and made of pink love that streams through your blessed body that heals; it’s so simple that the mind can find a moment where it is at rest and calm and knows peace. It can’t really be written—the love I’ve seen.
I wanted part of my soul to shine with that purple gloss of independence like hers did. I’d wait around after relaying my young thoughts or invocations for her eyebrows to arch over her large, grey eyes. I was originally drawn to her indiscrete way of telling everyone what was cool. She had balls. I wanted balls. I figured if I stuck around enough, she’d rub some of that purple off on me.
She was charming in a way all her own. She was no sun-kissed bee charmer in white cotton sundresses and dandelions, but close enough that I could catch a trace of the faint scent of honeysuckle and soap. She did put daisies in those thick blue mason jars, and she did wear dresses, though they were hand-me-downs of thinning rayon and polyester prints of puce flowers. She’d race ahead of me down the back slope to Bay City Crick. Through her eyes I did see jungle vines thick as pythons, crystal water bubbling and weaving around hundreds of skinny trees, tall as the sky. Rocky nooks and deep, green pools filled her eyes with glitter–we were on a secret, desert island, or deep in a lush forest of oak and elves. I felt the water. It was numbing and dirty. Black plastic bags and Styrofoam and shoes hung from branches or were lodged in the sand beneath the current. The ravine was about three blocks wide, between two overpasses that rained rock and oil and grit over their edges.
I quickly learned the difference between independence and disconnection–still struggling over whether there is such a thing as a balance of the two together. Disconnection was a kind of freedom that coursed through her system in ribbons. We would sit silent on our banana seats, watching a storm roll in over the fields beyond the tracks. We both waited for the cool raindrops to touch our tanned arms before we would race toward town. I needed my connections thick as bones–no–I longed for those connections thick and solid. And I didn’t understand how to encompass independenc