this is pretty much what I've been doing when I haven't been too worn out to do anything but watch the Simpsons and South Park. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with it yet but one must move on after a while.
or The Hard Part
I spent a couple of nights in the room of the hotdog lady. no that was a story I heard. this lady though could have been the hotdog lady but as is she simply talked to herself constantly and spent her spare hours on the payphone at the end of the hall begging some unseen family member to come get her the hell out of this place.
she was nuts. I mean really full blown nuts and I was afraid of her because at the time I was pretty much afraid of everything. she did at least shut up at night so I did sleep but sleeping got me no rest I think I was tense and afraid even in my sleep.
but so the hotdog lady, I had heard, collected hot dogs. every day in the place she was at she got a hotdog for lunch and instead of eating it put it in a dresser drawer. at some point someone opened the drawer for some reason and found a bunch of moldy hotdogs in rock hard buns. I cannot quite imagine the reason for her compulsion but if putting food in the bowels of your furniture instead of eating them is a gesture at all it is either one of extreme thrift or of a kind of displacement of your organs such that they are best fed through the furniture.
I've identified with rocks but never a piece of furniture. I should perhaps try that sometime. as is I find furniture mostly neither beautiful nor the manifestation of any kind of sacred labor. I do not know if I am mistaken or if one can be mistaken about these things if there is no comprehensive rule as to sacredness or beauty. and I'm here to tell you there is none even if you think your life depends upon there being one. this is not to say you should despair. far from it this gives you unprecedented options to improvise which is almost always more fun than receiving the script readymade. the most lovely thing about furniture may well be that it is makeshift and ugly.
this lady though she did not collect hotdogs as far as I knew looked like she must hoard something but I never found out what it was. after two days I was so shell-shocked that the doctors and nurses and assorted staff saw their way into putting me in another room but not before I had also taken note of the black bars on every window especially in the not hotdog lady's room where they seemed especially appropriate and for that reason utterly intrusive on the scene no matter where I looked. really the only two things I remember are the bars and the yellow walls that bled into the light somehow making the whole room more yellow than anyone should have to bear. and the lady of course.
her name may have been Kathleen and since that was my middle name at the time it was especially terrifying to have her waiting as the greeting extended to me by my first experience of a place like this. on the other hand if her name was not Kathleen well she was terrifying even so.
I had only wanted to kill myself after all. there were no voices and no out of body experiences and no repetitive or compulsive behavior and no catatonia. my imagination was not even yelling at me as it took up the habit of doing some years after.
no I just wanted to leave home. unfortunately death seemed the most efficient way to do that. if this seems extreme it might help to know that I was also a little upset about a hundred or so other things so doing anything like getting a job and an apartment were quite out of the realm of possibility.
see I wanted to say something about this. the memory is dim in places and the whole thing is none too amusing but if you are to see just what can happen to a body anybody at all it seems I should mention at least a little of everything. not that this is at all possible but one can mention a few things and then say this is not the definitive story so don't take it as such. the trick in fact is to wrest significance from story which is not an easy thing. it is not even necessary to tell a story in order to do this but I thought I'd give it a whirl.
one of the most memorable moments had to do with banana sandwiches on white bread. I do not know if I was purposely trying to block my intestinal tract and I also do not know how I avoided doing that with the banana sandwiches on white bread that I ate daily for about a week. we were all waiting for me to come around but I had no desire to go back home and they hadn't found the right pill to make me happy happy yet so I sat around eating banana sandwiches on white bread while listening to David Bowie's Low.
any untoward effects on my girth dissipated the following summer with the advent of methamphetamine. but that is another story.
I've never had a craving for a banana sandwich on white bread since. I wonder to this day if on some chart somewhere it says "patient doing nothing but eating banana sandwiches on white bread while listening to David Bowie's Low."
pretty much they let us do what we wanted in between group sessions which were ludicrous in their own way but I'm not going to explain fully why. only that hearing a therapist tell a catatonic patient "I feel like you are shutting me out" makes it very very difficult not to burst into laughter at inappropriate moments such as in the middle of the solemn ritual of group.
to be sure they were trying to put us together again or together in some cases for the first time. the logic of the method though still escapes me and perhaps that was its genius in that there was no particular psychotherapeutic approach besides simple confrontation. wake up you and answer the question and we will send you on your shakey way. what may still fascinate me about the whole ordeal is that there was almost no narrative impulse apparent in whatever kind of effort this was. it was as though there was no hope of getting anyone to say I did when first they had to fish around for something that would allow itself simply to say I.
about all of this I am still undecided. if I no longer say I with irony, for as a friend has mentioned to me the age of irony is over and we have now entered the age of humor, then to say I with humor may be to die of laughter. my dvd shelf is filled with cartoons instead of films.
the difficult part is to always remember that it is not necessary to decide once and for all about god the universe and everything right now. or ever. it is not necessary to decide ever. in fact this lack of necessity is precisely what I think of as the divine. in fact this is what mercy consists of. at the edge of what is said is the possibility of saying and the falling back on that possibility is the heart of compassion. once everything is said and history is over mercy is no longer possible. this may be why I can never be a christian. if the word is fulfilled the universe is cold and dead to me.
you may say you wish for your desire to be sated but the reality is that you do not want that at all.
nonetheless of all the questions facing western humankind perhaps the most vexing is why are sunday evenings still so difficult to live through. the answer may simply be sundays of course. what more need be said. we were at church morning and night on sundays and made to feel plenty guilty if we did not want to go both times. there was a period of maybe a year and a half after I had finally done the thing they said I needed to do in order not to burn forever when I actually wanted to go.
towards the end of that period I noticed my prayers vanishing in the night never to be seen again.
I don't have a good timeline for puberty. a scene here and there but they will not arrange themselves coherently enough to be able to say that this happened and then this happened and as a consequence this because cause and consequence were running riot across all of them as though everything had caused everything else. there is not even a center point to get ahold of but a kind of punctual burst that scattered everything into the tiny chaotic universe that it became where all points were excruciatingly close and heartbreakingly distant.
was it tenth grade when I read The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter and identified so much with the entire book that I could not write about it or I could not write about it without writing about myself which at the time was quite impossible as nothing was distinct except for this measureless gap. articulation after all at once engenders and requires distinctness and although it relies upon an infinite indistinction it cannot get by with only that.
the teacher had divided the class into topics, so that we could each choose a topic and read books related to it and write about them. I chose "loneliness" which was one of the worst but perhaps best ideas that I had ever had. maybe it was the teacher's fault for making the reading list too intense but in any case I got lost in it for a good twenty years. the incomplete I got in the class still stands although I finished the class over the summer.
because you see I don't remember anything else about it other than making a cassette tape with lonely songs on it. it was for the resource box that other students were going to be able to use. I put at least one John Denver song on it as I was still manifestly a dork and had not yet learned how to hide it as I do now.
it is an effort even to figure out how old I was then. I was 17 when I graduated so if I have guessed the correct grade I must have been 15 but I cannot be sure. when I was 16 I had my first beer and started to plan running away from home. not at the same time and the one didn't cause the other so don't turn your temperance ladies loose on me.
I never actually ran. I was smart enough to know that a 16 year-old girl who was only barely keeping her shit at all together did not have many options were she to leave home for the big city where she knew no one. a few years later having obtained access to a yellow beetle I finally found my way there but the car made forays and returns possible until I had met enough people to go there permanently without risk of great harm.
with the yellow beetle I first learned the unspeakable joy of going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and every now and again striking out on some unknown road that would soon become part of another back and forth. the adventure of return and departure as though I were the little grandson's spool. I still do this although the routes have become much lengthier.
I'm not sure of the story of faith's slow decomposition but I know I made certain vows and promises before it actually decomposed that occasionally prick me as though I still had to keep them. I was for instance going to go out and come back but the back I have come to is nothing like the place I left. back in fact seems itself fitful and on the move. god no longer lives here for instance but instead disperses itself around the place like a half-articulated idea standing in the very place of dispersal itself. a warrior king chopped into tiny bits which vanish into the woodwork.
even without its king there remains also a dicey area populated by the voices of ushers and sunday school teachers and this unknown shrill voice that is kind of like a crazed me crossed with a crazed mom.
it's all nuts. I mean my puberty was calmly, collectedly, obediently and meekly nuts. I have almost no stories to tell because almost nothing happened. all the real trauma had already occurred. what was left was for me to figure out how then to become an adult given that I could not tell a soul what any of that trauma had been.
I look at weather porn. I have nightmares about tornados. I have nightmares about tornados when I look at weather porn but I am drawn to it and can't not look. this is significant but I am not sure why. to watch death descend on a thin twirling ribbon of air. I've never seen a tornado in real life but somehow the tornado has become one of the many thats that are that beyond which nothing can be imagined. as a young girl in the Deep South I repeatedly expected life to come to an end every spring with the squalls that made their way across the country gathering steam for the final land assault. we were the last to bear the brunt before they went spinning off to sea.
tornados leave their traces. erratically enough for me that if you can follow the line of destruction I doubt you are paying attention. this is the reason that once I finish writing I will have to sit down and start again and the accounting can never be made to come to account not even when I die there will simply be one less voice which will inevitably be replaced by some other.