Sunday, April 28, 2013

Na Na Na Na Na Na, No!

I had a revelation while I was shampooing my hair in the shower before drumming at church. (Suave Green Apple. $1. Love it.) If you scratch around your noggin enough, metaphors magically suds up!


Why's that, you ask?

Think about the first time you heard "Hey Jude." It's a lot like the emergence and excitement of having a new lover. It's amazing. You want to listen to it over and over and over can't get enough of it. It's sensitive, moving and tender, and you want to sway and cling to it, breathlessly, excited to pieces.

Hearing it regularly, you to begin to know the words by heart, which is a lot like the companionship of a longer-term relationship. You may have a favorite line or phrase, and in general, the whole shebang entertains you and makes you happy. Sometimes, it's powerful enough to move you to tears of deep emotion. You love it.

After a while, though, you may feel like "Hey Jude" is overplayed. After hearing it again and again and again, you might even find yourself fast forwarding through it or avoiding it altogether. It's alright, it's not as annoying as, like, Patti LaBelle, but it's just too familiar, kinda boring, & the magic is limp. Uh oh!

Then Sir Paul McCartney enters the picture. (No, not actually in your bedroom, thank God.)

Macca's signature live performance, uh, peaks at his inclusion of "Hey Jude" (usually in the encore, if you can stomach him that long) and has during his schtick for over 30 years. It drones on for a good 15 minutes, to the anti-climactic, unnerving coda, "Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na....Hey Jude." The original song was only around 7 minutes long. That 15 minutes would be better spent slipping out of the stadium for a Jack & Coke, and is less thrilling than achieving a succession of sneezes during ragweed season.

First, Paul wants the whole crowd to sing the "Na Na" part. Then just the people on the left. Then just the people on the right. Then just the people in the middle. Then everyone again, with him. For-fucking-ever. Old hat you've heard 20,000 times. The joy you once garnered from listening to it fades away little by little and "tedious" is too kind. 

For a committed, forever Beatles fan, listening to "Hey Jude" is purely obligatory. Some bland fans still get off on it, while others are extremely burned out by it. (The latter is more likely than the former, in my experience.) Eventually, a lot of us decide we could live without enduring it for the rest of our lives and be perfectly happy.

Hearing McCartney playing it live in concert nowadays (regardless of how young/buff his backup band is), or on any given TV show or during a musical benefit, or wherever the hell else he jacks it off, you almost want to reach through the screen or jump onstage, rip the vintage Hofner bass out of his hands and smack him with it upside the head until he keels over and shuts up.

It reinforces my firm belief that humans were not meant to have one monogamous partner for their entire adulthood into old age. It's unnatural. It's boring. It's ill-planned. I don't care if it's holy and blessed and won 14 Grammys. It's a have-to, not a want-to, in most cases. You can't be a Beatles fan if you don't like "Hey Jude." (It's still more tolerable, though, than "The Word" on Rubber Soul, though, which just SUCKS and is like having to perform when you're tired and have a headache.) 

So you put it on, because you've always put it on, looping it through in the background on those rare occasions when you feel the duty to (not desire to) reminisce. That's when you hope to God it's the length of the studio version, is over quickly and not the Macca live experience....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Life is Divided Up Into the Horrible and the Miserable."

Extremely Early This Morning, The Horrible:

Major depression is slowly saluting me adieu and marching away in favor of a bit of highly distracting hypomania, which, thank God, is going to be really fucking useful in the next few days, in order for me to complete all of my class work. It's 4:00 am at present, having been awakened at 2:30 am, after a good 5 hours of sleep since about 9:30-10:00 pm last night. I've swallowed an extra half Ambien and a low dose of my no-more-heart-thumping medication, and have been sipping some sleepy time herbal tea. Just about ready to hit the hay again & may adjust the Pandora stream to play more ambient white noise than ELO, but hey, a girl's gonna groove if a girl's gonna groove, and I mean Jeff Lynne no disrespect.

Yes, I'm the dorky middle-ager wearing zip up footie pajamas with hearts all over them. They're fleece. Yes, I probably have bed-head, but my hair style, if you can call it one, IS bed head, which simplifies things. Yes, my blankie and stuffed animals are waiting for me to get back IN bed, a twin bed. Am I digressively juvenile? Oh my, yes. Do I care? Not really. Maybe it's the fact that I don't care that's my problem. What I think separates me from everyone else separates me so far away from the air traffic control bleeps that I appear as an unidentified flying object. 

It's beyond my reasoning why SO MANY men in this world find the type of woman below totally hot, while I can't get past the friend zone of literally any almost-boyfriend I might encounter, regardless of the guy, or Guy, unless someone's been drinking. Straight up. This chick probably has guys beating down her door, never mind that my impression of her is subjectively heinous. 

Is that chick one of the Kardashian people?

I've deduced, after years of scrutinizing, that it's got to be my looks. Honestly. I could stand in front of a cold 3-way mirror in the ill-lit bathroom and snap out gray hair, extract blackheads, measure my waist, and obsess over why people think my fingers are inhumanly too long for hours. Give me enough dope and I might see Medusa, which'd be freaky.

And I'd still feel like crap.

Maybe it's all in the lighting. Maybe we should replace all the bulbs in the house (and in the car, and in restaurants, and in streetlights) with something softer, less harsh, less glaring. Really, is anyone in a "red light district" just too ugly? (I jest.) (Maybelline operates in the black. Apathy? In the red.)

I don't understand. I'm reasonably funny (It's either a symptom of mental illness or ego masturbation to tick mark every occasion throughout the day during which I'm laughing to myself.). I'm extremely bright. I'm a musician, and a writer, and a blooming psychologist, and a square peg. I have a photographic memory. I am kind, loyal and affectionately dedicated unless you happen to royally piss me off; in which case, I spit fire and can kill you with words alone, or unleash you onto Luke The Brute, as a last resort, though Guy inflates my toughness to surpass "99.9% of the world." I've said before, I'm the crying on the inside kind. All part of the show, kids, all part of the show. Broken record...I just talked about "Brave Face Syndrome."

But I think I need to be put in my place and reminded that "beggars can't be choosers." And, I guess, invest in fake eyelashes. Guy doesn't lust after me. BMF is in his own little micro-universe with a leggy brunette missus, but bless his heart. BMF's BFF lusts after everyone. My last boyfriend was more into fake women online, really icky porn and collegiate teenagers than he was into me and went to great effort to transform me into his ideal despite my efforts at autonomy an an overt disdain for polo shirts. My husband didn't find me attractive whatsoever because again, I didn't fit into a form, shape and texture imprinted inside his own brain that wanted me for me. (That's a really long, embarrassing story.)  I read recently, actually, about the phenomenon of "sexsomnia," during which you have sex in your sleep. While I thought the creation of my child was a well-planned-out foray into building a family that required a little gettin-down & dirty, hindsight indicates more that one or both of us were totally unconscious most of the time we were trying to conceive a baby, which was arduous, clinically maneuvered and had already failed once. (I was no Fertile Myrtle. I bought ovulation predictor kits from eBay in gross quantities. My ex is the one with a smidge of Irish blood, not me.)

Self-portraits are weird but THE thing to do right now, especially in social media. But, akin to my deeply ingrained self-loathing, I perpetually cover up something. Some flaw. I don't fake bake. I don't wear a lot of makeup, if any. I have a crooked smile. I'm getting wrinkles. I still break out. If I look at most self portraits I've taken, I'm covering something up. Well, duh!

I liked the way the sunshine crisscrossed lines all through the frame like I was being "X"'d out. That crinkle above my eyes was impossible to hide in my expression, though I tried. It really wasn't that the sun was too bright--I think I've frowned my way to permanence. That's my favorite part of the picture, because it reminds me of the Harry Burns film character who loves the Sally Albright film character so much that he points out that not only does she get cold when it's 71 degrees out and takes an hour and a half to order a sandwich, but also, she gets a "little crinkle above her nose when she's looking at him like he's nuts." I resemble those remarks.

When I was working, one subset of earthlings I did not tolerate, and never could stomach, were pharmaceutical reps, who sell drugs to doctors. I find them vapid, pushy, superficial, banal, insipid, and it seems the prettier they are, the easier it is for them to peddle the latest dope. Always unnerving was their appearance on Lunch Thursdays, during which they'd order lunch in (which I didn't usually eat, especially when I was on my all-baby-food diet for like 4 months a couple years ago) and seduce the doctors (sort of). They're like drug hookers. Before they had a chance to meet with Guy, I'd swing over to the office across the hall, check them out and decide how jealous and snarky I was going to behave towards them, and if it seemed like Guy liked them, I'd make their visit as miserable as possible. ("Whoops! You've been waiting to sell your drug to the doctors for 3 hours and now they've finished their cases and left for the hospital? My bad! I totally forgot I'd plopped you into this empty room!") Guy's an incurable charmer--he'd often invite them to his office (when he had one) for a chit-chat over lunch. Only now do I realize that they were all in high heels, an ideal I can't physically live up to, which Guy apparently likes, and 90% of them had long hair, which I don't. (Neither does Lady GuyGuy, but her hair's a trainwrecktastic don't.) 

I can die at least knowing I eventually bred well....a handsome, curly-haired, sparkling, matching-green-eyed bruiser with brilliance and an IQ a few digits surpassing my own, destined for greatness. I envision him being a Rhodes Scholar, but my punkish impetus is to tell Luke to relinquish such a mainstream honor in much the same way John Lennon gave the Queen back his M.B.E., somewhere in between smoking reefer and conquering the planet in the name of peace.

I'm getting drowsy again, so jumping back into bed for another round of passion...clutching my stuffed animals for dear life, listening to some 25 minute long waterfall or something.

Zzzzzz. Duckface!

I proceeded to sleep until 10:48 ACT, Annie Clock Time, which means it was really 10:28 am. Rested but ornery. Still in the footed fleece, I took off my glasses and looked at myself in the mirror. I'm a big believer in the "If you rub your eyes enough, you'll look better the next time you open them." Instead, my fingers lingered with trickles of soft, disjointed lashes and my perception is that I look kind of like this:

YouTube is dodgy sometimes, and while an 8-year old can master it effortlessly, those of us who are....mature...navigate more flailingly. Simply for the audio background entertainment, I'd been looping my 948 "favorite" videos while I've been working. It didn't occur to me that if *I* had them on continuous play, and shared clips, the clips in my blog would endlessly loop as well. That said, after the doleful songs, these clips I had saved from Woody Allen's masterpiece, "Annie Hall," were playing, and apparently, Guy, being probably the only huge Woody Allen fan with whom I've never watched a Woody Allen film in the same room, watched them. They all kind of centered around Allen's character, Alvy, breaking up with Diane Keaton's Annie. Truly, I didn't intend to twist a knife any deeper into anybody at all, but I explained to Guy on Friday that Allen's kind of like my psychological twin, except he's totally Freudian and I'm more existential, which will be explained at greater length further in this entry.

The last blog I wrote, the Sorrowful Pathetic Brokenhearted Vulnerable Inadequate Rueful Piteous Paltry (but tender) Ode to Guy Friend, featured a number of YouTube clips aimed directly at his heart, and the other day, he mentioned that he'd read the blog, felt undeserving (as if the other 249 blogs with him at the epicenter, including "Meet the Press"-worthy, lengthy commentary, had brushed under the rug), and "enjoyed the videos." My intent wasn't particularly for him to enjoy, per se, but to thump what's left of my emotions like riding a car on a totally deflated, rotating tire. 

Guy assumed, reading that blog, that I was angry with him, when I honestly wasn't. To go back and read it, my impression of that blog is that it doesn't come across as violently bitter. It's just sad. He wanted to include me in the petition of women who wanted to castrate him, as he'd had a bad, snapping, icky day of negative interactions with the estrogen-laden office staff. (I could write a dissertation on the power dynamic of having 4 male doctors and an entirely female subservient support staff, or how degrading it is to refer to all of them as "girls," but my plate's kind of full.) 

Thankfully, I was never partied to his evil wrath working together, because it seemed that no matter how badly I fucked up his instructions or work, I sneaked by unscathed, or would counteract his venom with something wittier and more charming that made ME impossible for HIM out on whom to lash. I reassured him that I, for one, was *not* at all mad, and that he needs to kiss some serious behind to get back in their good graces. Should be a no-brainer, given next week is Administrative Professionals Day, formerly Secretaries Day, but was too sexist and archaic. Kind of like the--gasp--men's and women's bathrooms at school which are now gender neutral, which makes me wonder if dudes are stealing all of the freely supplied female sanitary supplies on the counter, not even considering the occasional stereotypical pink paper hand towels. 

(PS, I didn't get upset with Guy again until tonight, when I was busy writing and he had a minor cow (so, a calf) over me not taking his (highly anticipated?) phone call at his convenience. I told him I was writing and asked if he could a) text me or b) leave me a voicemail. When I asked for clarification regarding something about his baby brother being superficial, (who I tease him about me pursuing, when I guess the fella's kind of a douche), Guy suddenly didn't have "an hour" to talk to me on the phone, had to pack and leave early in the morning for California for a week, I can only assume with the missus, for some type of hugely romantic Boomer Guy Birthday Coming Up Escapade. It may come as a shock to all of my readers, but on occasion, I'm actually BUSY.)

Whenever I finish this entry tonight, I need to radically shift gears and work on psych papers, having extrapolated every ounce of milk drips from the udders of the ADA dictates on "reasonable accommodation" for the mentally-all-not-together-with-things. Mania? Pretty good. Racing, scattered thoughts? Not so good. Concentration level? Zip. This kind of writing, that you're reading now? Easier than cracking a hard boiled egg on your forehead but still difficult to peel without crumbling to 1,000 pieces. (PPS, the yolks only turn green when you overcook the eggs...) The mania pulled its pants down, sat on the ice and slid down a giant hill back to depression, crashing head-on into a mighty sequoia.

Later This Afternoon, The Miserable:

Friday, I'm arguing with my counselor, telling her I didn't think cognitive behavioral therapy would be effective in tackling and resolving my issues at present, and she wants to try dialectical behavioral therapy, which I naturally poo poo, because it's not like I'm repudiating cooperation in session, I mean, what the fuck? Plus, there's the whole "I'm-going-to-get-in-trouble-again-because-we-touch-on-Buddhism" factor, which makes me feel guilty at church. (Guilty Protestants aren't as guilty as guilty Catholics, inasmuch as at least we still sleep around.)

She had arrived at the session 15 minutes late, at 9:15. I'd been waiting since 9:00. Common courtesy, at least as I'm being trained, is to grant the client the duration of the 50-60 min session regardless if it fucks up the rest of the therapist's schedule because arriving late was her own damn fault. What's worse? SHE had clinical paperwork to do about me. As I'm also being trained, the counselor does the paperwork either before or after the session, not WHILE the client is sitting there, finger-tapping, sipping water and reminding her to put her letterhead in the printed side-up this time, because she's a little computer-challenged. 

After the DBT mashup, I decided I want to engage the next several sessions in more existential discourse. That's when SHE poo pooed & crabbed that it was too intellectual and off-path for the decision makers within Medicaid to approve as a treatment plan, and asked me what life & death and the here & now had to do with anything related to my stressors. (It seemed too snippy to say, "I'm trying, right now, sitting here, to not die.") I was promptly shooed out at 10:00 am, her clinical paperwork still incomplete, after she twiddled through her calendar in order to make my next appointment, which isn't until the day after I turn 41 years old, which brings the whole thing back to existentialism, which probably confused her further.

Ambien's digesting, the last smoke of the night, the coffee-readying for the morning, and the hug goodnight from my sparring spawn. 

It's my looks, I'm telling you.   

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"I found a picture of you."

Whoa, woe.

I had this adorable picture of Guy & I taken at a company party a few years ago, (because we're adorable people) that I used to keep on my picture shelf of special people in my life. Family, friends...things Luke has made, and I decided to take it down in my anger and put it in a drawer. There's an empty place where his picture goes. It gnaws at me every time I look up and see the blank space. Likewise is the part of my heart that he has occupied and continues to occupy.

He literally IS the hardest person to stay mad at for very long, and I think I gave it a week this time around. My heart muscle might not be anatomically enlarged, but every emotion within it is too cavernous and absorbs too much out of too little. I don't think it's a character flaw; more like a very idealistic, dreamy, hopeless romantic chick thing.

Love. Fuckin' love. Sacred love. Agape love. Uncompromising love. Unconditional, forever love. Passionate love. Love for the sake of sex. Love with....

Le Estrango Mysterioso: The Friend Zone. If there's one thing I hate, it's being flopped into the Friend Zone, a life sentence where all hope is lost.

My Facebook "relationship status" is perpetually "It's complicated." 'Twas ever thus and it's the God's honest truth. Funny, the last time Guy and I went out, his explanation of getting to join my friend and I a nearby restaurant were, as he said, "it's complicated," which just made me laugh.

If love was a simple and uncomplicated emotion, it'd be a hell of a lot easier to circumvent and dodge like running with a ball in a rugby match. My bet is that a lot of us would totally avoid it, at all possible. If it could lessen our heartache, eradicate our emotion burdens, cushion our falls, prevent breakouts, stop the flow of tears, temper our tempestuous heartbeats up and down and back and forth and over and under, the flux of fucks would be completely less stressful. Alas, we're human. We're flawed. We're.....well....stupid sometimes.

Love ain't for keeping, so saith The Who a long time ago...It just isn't. 

Last night, I thought that love would be much easier if it were like the night security guard at school, who only gives a shit who you are and how you're labeled from 6-9pm in the evening and I only see him once a week. It's the only time we have to physically show our ID's before we board the elevators. Apart from that, we can go incognito and anonymously about our days. So, it's not unlike wearing one's heart on one's sleeve. 

Speaking of hearts and wearing them on sleeves, I have asked myself this question a thousand times:

IS everything alright? 

Most definitely not.

Perhaps using Marty Balin's cheese-a-riffic early 80's hit, "Hearts" is a bad way to talk about heartbreak but it sure as hell is easier is funnier than anything *I* could come up with. Awesome graphics and even better karaoke captions...misspelled, misheard and all that kabibble. 

Knock down, drag out via email last week or somewhere thereabouts with Guy Friend. I promised him, as he asked, to keep his stuff confidential, so I'll honor that and summarize his email in plain terms, paraphrasing courtesy of me: 

(Now we see Marty Balin pretending his guitar is his girlfriend, and he's still locked in jail, but hey, a person has NEEDS, you know? Keep up the chastity, and I'll be snuggling up with my drum kit. "Hearts can be that way!")

In summary, this is what I got out of Guy's email: "I want to be on the peripheral of your life, barely seen out of the corner of your eye. You can't count on me to take you out, ever, I don't want to be a physical presence in your life, and my job and my family are waaaaay more important than you are to me. If I don't fit within the confines of how you define a 'friend,' it doesn't matter what you think of me, because I kinda don't think much about a relatively cute girl 16 years my junior having feelings for me. Oh, you HAVE feelings, Annie? Whoops. Stay upset with me as long as you need to, I'll be here for you, supporting you from a distance. You'll just never see me, but I believe in your abilities to be a successful individual, psychologist and mother. Keep a lid on that sanity....Good luck and take care!"

Guy's big on not wanting to be labeled. This is not new news to me, which is why he received the pseudonym of "Guy Friend" as opposed to his real name, same as Best Male Friend, but for very different reasons. He was my guy friend. He still is, if he's interested and I haven't driven him totally away. Had he been "Guy Lover," I would've come up with a better pseudonym.  I don't know exactly what I really wanted out of the friendship, but I knew once we stopped working together, it messed up our propinquity (Oh, look it up for crying out loud!). I was part of a focal point (as was he in mine) in his life for a decent chunk of time almost every day, and it's difficult to speculate on how things would've worked out had I stayed at my job. (I know I wouldn't be in grad school, that's for sure.) So, a blessing in disguise. A push in the right direction. For that, I'm eternally grateful. I'm happy to have Guy in my corner, though my sense is that he doesn't want to be there in the first place.

My response to Guy's email was biting, vindictive, hostile but a no less truthful synopsis of what our relationship has been thus far...going on 4 years, circling the drain. I pointed out all the incongruencies I found regarding the words uttered by him versus how he behaves and what he does. And to think, I never got to find out of he thought I was cute or not! He never said! I may have been frank and unfriendly, but he sort of set himself up for that with his missives. So yes, essentially, I've spent the last couple of weeks utterly heartbroken and wandering around like a tearful, lost little lamb. 

He said when I left my job that he'd never abandon me. But his contact is so sporadic, which he acknowledges, it's like I'm a transparent afterthought he deals with on an as-needed, when-he-gets-around-to-it basis. I wish I could go back to the night we saw The Flaming Lips together a couple of summers ago. It truth, it honestly was one of the greatest nights of my life. I got to see both of the important men in my life at the same time. I felt truly connected to Guy and we swayed together to "Do You Realize?" (Which just got dropped as the Oklahoma State Rock Song, by the way. Fucking Republicans!)  Maybe a mistake on my part, but that's not what my gut is saying to me. Guy behaved and responded effortlessly but we were both awkwardly nervous, since we'd never seen one another socially before. Yet now, I'm just a shadow on a wall. A very, uh, well represented shadow on a prison wall, as seen below. 

"Hearts can break..."

I wish love had an on/off switch. I wish the prison which engulfs us would loosen its bars. It did for Marty Balin! He just walked right out of his cell and into another one. What a dope! And double ick, now he's in a tank top. (No, to the best of my knowledge, Guy doesn't wear tank tops...thank God.) 

"Is everything ok? I just thought I'd write a song..."

I've tried songs, lots of CD mixes. I've tried original poems. I've tried cards. I've tried letters. If my point never got across, he is One. Clueless. Man. But I don't think that's the case. I think he's One. Avoiding. Man.

Similar to not apologizing for the broken plans, again, he never came out and said "I don't love you." But he hasn't come out to say "I love you" in quite some time, while I always do or try to. It was a regular thing when we first hooked up (as friends). Now I'm lucky I get a "take care" at the end of an email. It's most downtrodding.

The week or so prior to a few Thursday nights ago we'd spent a decent chunk of time flirtatiously bantering via text and planned a dinner date (I did, anyway). I had no idea how the date would go, and I was very nervous. I don't know if that contributed to his bailing on me, but it grated my nerves even on anxiety meds. I had certain "expectations" at a friend of mine would coin it. Oh, bollocks!

All of this shit hit the fan when I was patiently waiting for Guy to pick me up and go out for dinner after work that Thursday evening. I was prettied up and ready by 7 pm...then 8 pm....then 9 pm...which he knew, which he didn't respond via text to until close to midnight...hours later, after which I'd chucked the whole date in the dustbin and put my pajamas on. He wasn't coming. He didn't have the common courtesy of a 30-second text to say "No, I can't go out tonight. Raincheck?" Nothing. I waited. I delayed my nighttime medications by 5 hours, which drove me nutso and shaky and unstable, which I tried to explain to him the next day or so is just cruel, not just irresponsible. I told him bipolars need to stick to a pretty strict medication schedule or else hell breaks loose pretty quickly, for which I blamed him. I suppose I could've said "Enough with you" at around 9 pm and just taken my meds (2.5 hours late at that point), but I was feeling optimistic and hadn't heard anything. And I hadn't seen him since before he went to South America, and had been missing him. (If I'm so on the edgy peripheral of his life, why, then, did he text me like minutes after he landed on a plane in the USA after his vacation? Just so I wouldn't panic anymore? Oh, too late, Guy.) 

Yikes! Marty Balin is taking his clothes off to another phantom painting of his lady love on the wall of his jail cell. Very remarkable rendition, if I do say so myself. 

The evening was made all the more haunting given the last CD's I gave him, which were, ironically, all about how he wasn't in love with me, was tearing me apart, and that for a crazy person, I was at least interesting. A mix he'd received before he went to South America. I don't know what his reaction to the music or my frank liner notes could've been, but he must have been spooked out. What's frightening is how incredibly accurate the songs were that I chose. Prophetic. Self-fulfilling defeat. 

Not included in the recent mixes, but Go, Keef, Go: 

I know for a fact that he checked my blog in Santiago, as there was a tracking report generated from there, and I'm not particularly popular with Chileans in general, and for having one chance at a satellite cell service which was oodles of $$$, he took the time while he was gone to see what I was up to. Also not a peripheral thing to do. So spare me the bull of the "I don't care what you call me" line, Guy. Seriously.

"Love can fade away."

Oh look! Balin's mysterious lover got into the jail for a conjugal visit. Mazel tov!

Because I'm a dreamer and idealist, the only summation I can deduce regarding the whole Guy things stems from fear on his part. Yes, he is committed to his job foremost, which takes up a huge chunk of his time, which I do understand, but still think in 4 or 5 hours, emergencies notwithstanding, he could've had the courtesy to cancel dinner.

He's tight with his family, which I get and wasn't trying to intrude upon, honestly. He knows how I feel about him. To my closest friends, he's taking the "Hate me so I don't have to break your heart because I'm making you think I'm such an asshole" route. It's patronizing, as one friend said. My theory is that Guy feels the opposite of how he came across in that email, but I could be very, very wrong. My heart wants to think that way, in any case. It's just easier on me. 

Carl Jung, my favorite psychological theorist, said, "The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there is any reaction, both are transformed." Most definitely. When we worked together, I was the total "work wife." Chemistry? Oh come on, now. I've probably beaten this horse to death, but I swear it was from the first time I saw him. Now I feel like the "work ex-wife," and I'm not getting any alimony on top of it (unless you count unemployment)!  

Woody Allen said, in "Shadows and Fog," a film with then-partner Mia Farrow, that "the only kind of love that lasts is unrequited love." I'm starting to agree with that. By all accounts, how I feel shouldn't even be an issue at this point, as it was much more topical, say, 3 years ago.

"Hearts can everything alright?"

Aw, man, they speed away off the island of Alcatraz in a speedboat? They busted out? That like never happens in real life. 

I knew an escape route myself. I had this elaborate scenario mapped out, based on a performance art piece I'd seen recently, for Guy and I to perform. Two people have a majorly huge, passionate love affair, then split up, whereupon each walked from one opposite end of the Great Wall of China until they met in the middle. They hugged, didn't say a word, cried, and pledged never to see one another again. They wouldn't reunite until around 20 years later, when the man in this situation showed up at one of her art installation exhibits.  I thought that sounded like a logical plan for Guy & me. But it already seems half true, just minus China. And I hate that. He doesn't want to see me, it would seem. Or if we do, it'll certainly be on his terms, not my nagging "Can we have dinner THIS week?" bullshit, apparently. 

I did come up with one brilliant idea: From now on, anyone I decide to be friends with, no matter whom they might be, should be pre-screened alone in a room with Luke. He's a WAY better judge of character than I am & can weed out the good versus the bad in people. He's got a serious asshole radar, and asks difficult questions. If the person emerges victorious or passes Luke's inspection, I may consider lunch. Otherwise, you're out the door and out of the running. And trust me, my boy can kick serious ass behind that teddy bear facade. 

I hate having relationships go sour a month before my birthday, yet it seems chronic. What's worse is that Guy's birthday is only 4 days before mine. We've celebrated together a few times. I know the cheeky thing I want to get him, because I'm not in the mind frame to get him something totally thoughtful, like I usually do. And it's not like we have plans in the first place...

Oh, you don't know how I wish I could fall out of this feeling as quickly as I fell into the sinking sand. It's up to my neck ready to choke me at this point. The question remains: Will Guy throw me a long rope and pull me out to safety? Can we be real friends? That would require give AND take. It doesn't work out unless we both work at it. John Lennon said at some point that nurturing a relationship was a lot like taking care of a plant. It has to be watered--it can't just sit and dry out. It takes care and is delicate. 

I want to be able to put Guy's picture of us back on the shelf, and I'm extremely forgiving. But I need to know if he's my friend. My real Guy Friend. I know he's in there somewhere. 

(Guy, if you skim this entry, in your due time, do watch the videos. Each was picked very purposely.)

Ok, the suspense is KILLING you all, I'm sure. The Marty Balin clip for "Hearts," with inaccurate subtitles! 

It's hysterically awful, isn't it?

Friday, April 5, 2013

My Brave Face

This entry was sent in the format of an email to my Pastor, Dave. Part of this piece is based on what I had sent Kate earlier in the week, and much appreciation for Dave's thoughts and words, which yes, I'd like to discourse further, which I take to heart to ponder, while the Master is counting all the hairs on my head and truth be told, I'm really grumpy and tired.

His perspective on matters of spirituality and humanity is a blessing, and he's certainly witnessed great perils of both mental and physical disability and decay, but I don't think you understand the desperate necessity of Brave Face Syndrome. If you feel trapped....truly this world, anyway, the benefits vs. risks of veiling what's "acceptable," "proper" or "normal," I have learned via experience, have to trump every thread of the display of weakness, need, insecurity and doubt that might mar or alter that shield, that honed persona. This phenomenon isn't confined to the mentally or otherwise chronically ill--we all do it at some points in time as humans.

But such a level of adrenaline--the fight or flight--on a constant, unrelenting basis is twenty times as exhausting, dangerous and difficult in terms of self-preservation if, for example, you take Person A, who's wearing a cast over a broken bone, which seems a logical, natural and a typical plan of treatment, and Person B, whose illness seems illogical, melodramatic and phony because it's confined to the inside of the mind or body. If you can't see it, Doubting Thomases, it must not exist. It's not so much "put up or shut up," but rather you do what is ultimately in the best interest of everyone else you meet, know or love. To those whom we allow inside us, with whom we share our struggles and our triumphs, to whom we extend our hearts, it's still enigmatic to me whether or not it's such a wise idea at the end of the day with some degree of frequency.

It takes a special range of unusual and rare love and openness on others' ends to literally dump our vulnerability into their laps and nail-nibble to seek acceptance or warmth. Too often, the end result is further isolation, alienation and despair. Too rare is not only tolerance granted but an unconditional reciprocity as Christ taught us through the Resurrection. If you're really lucky, there are moments when you laugh heartily, you hold tightly or you look deeply into a pair of eyes that are the remarkable hue of your own.

God created us all in His own image, and if that's true, while the Lord is humorous and totally loving, I still see snickering sarcasm in a lot of what a person of reasonable intellect can't help but find absurd. Yes, everything in God's time, not the constructs of ours, but humans have limits, points that say "go" and points that shout "stop."

Bob Dylan said, and I've quoted this to people many times over the years, "It's possible to become so defiled in this life that even your own mother and father will abandon you; and if that should happen, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways." When the dust settles and the view clears, you may very well find yourself standing alone, and with that you must cope and push past. Most of us who seek the bulls' eye can only see the dozen darts off-target.

Since my first experiences with mental disease when I was in college, it's not anything like that broken bone. It's not like that heart attack. It doesn't heal or go away. It gets worse. No operation or procedure can fix it. If a patient follows Western medicine, it's a commitment to a chain of pharmaceuticals for the physical duration. It's insidious, deep and usually undefinable other than to describe the heaviness of the whole world and, in a growing number of cases, escapism to numb is at the root as to why the mentally ill also share histories of concurrent substance abuse and why suicide is found in our percentage of the population at a very alarming frequency.

My mother said something to the effect today of "not wanting to live inside my mind for all the tea in China" after a medication SNAFU last night on my part really jarred the family pretty badly. She's not the first person (with little tact) who has sighed with relief that the overwhelmingly dizzy continuum of thoughts and ideas is more than a person could bear. For her own reasons, with her own ignorance and shut-off valve, which puzzle me, I told my mother that I could cite her more articles helping to explain bipolar disorder. She indicated that she's "read article after article after article" and does not wish to read any more. Still other relatives ask me how I "caught" bipolar disorder. (My new snarky reply is "I ate some undercooked chicken.")  My son has been cast the burden from little-on of taking care of and protecting me, which is too much to ask of him but his heart is huge and his guard strong. He has been blessed with incredibly keen awareness of this world, even if the responsibility was premature. It's also exactly that  ferocious dedication, in too brief a time, with which I tried to deflect and dodge my own father's suffering, to no ultimate avail.

My mother feels that I dwell on or excuse my (crazy?) behavior as being, as she views it, "how I got to be the way I am," and "what went wrong" or "how I got to be so sick" when in truth, I'm finally acknowledging my flawed authenticity. The Cortex Cocktail with which the Good Lord bore me, or so I'm told, would've tightened the noose and knocked down the stool underneath to swift, gasping ligature a helluva long time ago for a large number of  people not afforded a benediction.

So I hid it. I hid it so well for so long and continue to do so when I have to in order to live functionally; which, over the course of the years during which I ignored and never spoke of bipolar disorder, resulted in how many  occasions when I almost physically died for one reason or another? Why, after maybe the 3rd or 4th bout of pancreatitis, did I plead with God to let me wave the white flag and boogie out at 113 pounds, vomiting constantly and passing out on my desk at work? Because the quality of a life led in hiding or in shame with a stigmatized label is very, very poor. Such a grand illusion which requires infinite labor in order to successfully execute, I finally deduced, would kill me before I had a chance to kill myself.

So I didn't talk about bipolar: at home, or at work, or at church, unless it was part and parcel of a private medical history, or a pre-surgical workup, or to politely ask someone not to describe another person as "bipolar" when they had no idea what they were talking about. There is no end to the insensitivity of human nature and it's really a lot more popular than sheepishly wearing a button that says in a 4 point font, "Um, I'm friends with Annie." There's a really big difference in seeking pity or seeking grace, respite or mercy (not to mention other times when you just wish everyone would get off your damn back). Sometimes you wish for none and other times, you really need it all. When does God give them to you? Constantly.

All that being said, this was what I told my best friend, Kate, who has Crohn's Disease among many other chronic illnesses, my sister separated for 20 years by thousands of miles and my much sultrier twin:

"We're the rare types of people who can put on such a brave face and carry ourselves so well, that even trained professionals gathered en masse can't remotely discern the toll which disintegration has accumulated. There's sometimes a perverse gratification, like one of Luke's magic tricks, in the slight of hand simpleton snowing where everyone has erroneously perceived you to be the most well-put-together, strong, tough, capable fighter, when in reality, you've already slipped, cracked, fallen through and drowned on the surface of the icy lake, though the shell of what's left of you is still upright. My group therapy class thinks, maybe because I'm old, that while yeah, I've disclosed a lot of scary shit out from which I've barely crawled, overall I'm remarkably confident and wise."

Expectations of confidentiality in mind, I can't share more about the session of group therapy itself, but almost had to laugh and certainly raised an eyebrow (it's a certain look I give when something completely senseless happens, which Luke points out) at how an eager, inquisitive collection of such bright people could collectively conclude that *I* had any remote sense of a tiny modicum of confidence or strength. I appreciated their Yoda-charge of "GO GO GO!" but sort of felt that it was a) undeserved yet b) ironically true--they'd released charge of the asylum to the verifiable lunatic. If I've taught one concrete thing to the Group class apart from anecdotal psych ward ditties, it's that I sure as hell can whip out a more apt or creative adjective to describe words bland or unsaid, in seconds flat, with that useless bachelor's degree I got in English-Writing.

And so sort of explains my curiosity, and why I began what I called "spiritual estate planning" within myself and related to matters of faith extending beyond the tradition of Christianity, not saying that anything was better or worse, just throwing it into a gumbo pot and letting it all stew. You might disagree as a Christian, but I would argue after extensive study of many paths of faith that universally, orthopraxy, humility, love, forgiveness and gratitude all erase edicts and connect across cultural or geographical borders.

Fearing death seems fruitless energy expulsion, and wanting to continue living in such a craptastic living condition can be pretty futile, which makes them paradoxical emotions, which can in no way be appreciated until you've been up to them nose-to-nose oneself. My soul existed with God before I entered physical form and will continue on long after my remains are fertilized ashes, which is brutal truth a lot of people cannot face, as if to say the pondering of mortality will superstitiously jinx one's physical existence. Perhaps that's why I'm looked upon as strong, or why my son insists I'm invincible. Conversely, perhaps also why my parent complains that I am "out of control." The only one who can claim to control of me is me, and that's a challenge. Only those misguided folks who live in perpetual denial or sans vim and vigor can claim to have ANY "control." Usually, people insatiably want to control others and unfairly project the scars and miseries they've already endured, professed or experienced, ignoring autonomy or individualism--each quirk every one of us has--onto anyone who could be within firing range. Misery may love company but I choose nary a part of either to draw complacency or community unified in something that kinda royally sounds like it sucks.

The George Bailey/"It's a Wonderful Life" illustration of Clarence the angel convincing George not to commit suicide is always a little nudge in the back of my mind. George realizes everything, all of it, from soup to nuts, is totally fucked up and hopeless. Clarence, a heavenly fuck up angel who hasn't found success, through a floating recollection of an opposite construct of every life that has gleaned temporal or long-standing positivity solely by the virtue of George's presence, influence or compassion prove to George how vomitrotiously fucked up more catostrophically things may have turned out if George hadn't been around to unfuck them during his life. And, of course, the climax of the film, during which pretty much everybody swoops in to save George when he needs material salvation, George's jingle-jangling Christmas tree branches hold the key to the "Wonderful Life." Clarence inscribes a book to George saying, "No man is a failure who has friends..." and we're reminded that altruism is more than polite; it is life-sustaining when a person has had ENOUGH. Somebody, somewhere, near or far, loves each one of us, and when my next bestseller, "Pep Talks With Jesus" comes out, my list of support-shooting gaggles of weirdos, lawyers, LGBTQ's, eccentrics, chemists, my son, dorks, tramps, family, artists, funeral directors, mentors, a fractured cardiologist and one incredibly hot rock star will all have to squeeze into one page of thanks and acknowledgments.

I may fail often and extensively, but my life has never once been described as "boring." I love a lot, give a lot, and subsequently hurt a lot and cause people pain. I take advantage and am taken advantage of. I am given and give a lot of second chances. I can't remember what happened yesterday but I can remember the early 80's. My different drum beat is honest and I keep pretty good time. My loyalty to those I do love is unshakable, and it is during these times of not only defeat but also hope, I am reminded of the cross and the simple advice of "Love one another."

Which loops me back to living authentically and truthfully. Will I make a good psychotherapist? I hope so. I can listen to junkies with bowel control problems, or people with similar comorbid conditions like bipolar. It'd be therapeutic to disclose some portion of my personal experience to my clients, but my job won't be to be helped. I'll be there TO help. While my bullshit radar is keen, my own bullshit is way too easy to figure out, I have no poker face and I break down rather quickly. Contemplating suicide? Yes, I DO get it. And if you stick to a strict regimen of your meds and counseling, you may trip and fall, but you're not alone and I can say "I HAVE been here." If a patient gestures "You don't understand what I'm going through!" I can say without shame that we are all more than just a diagnosis. We are more than what has happened to us. We are worthy of love, patience and empathy, especially from the people closest to us.

The stress and strain bipolar disorder has flung at my family, let's set my addictive personality aside for a moment--like the sleepwalking, sleep laundry load doing, sleep check on and wake up Luke up 6 times, sleep clunking up and down the stairs, sleep smoking outside, the sleep making a pot of coffee and waking up with a pot of hot water with no coffee to be found...nobody believes me that I do not understand during those moments what damage I'm causing. It all seems perfectly normal to me and I remember little of it during the hours I do sleep. I'm grateful that I didn't attempt to drive the car anywhere.

Thanks to God for waking me up in the morning and having Luke in my life (he is my rock). If not for that young man, my life seemed to be a tiny drip in between the faucet and the sink, ready for the plumber's wrench tightening to make it stop. But I have copper pipes, which, as we all know, stand the test of time.