Letters to the Universe: Don’t Mind Her, She’s Just Gooping (Part Three)

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Rock Bottom.

It sounds simultaneously depressing and reassuring, doesn’t it? A set, singular, readily identifiable Place. You’ll know it when you see it, much as it may suck to arrive there. And, if you didn’t shatter-scatter on impact, you can use that bedrock to start over—that whole building your house on a rock instead of shifting sands bit.

Thing is, Rock Bottom is not necessarily one bold X on the map. For me (and, I suspect, for many others, too), it’s more of a marshy region with hazy boundaries that disappear into the topography of more robust lands encircling it. While you’re busy building up a concrete pylon on one firm spot within this bog, your eyes may be scanning the watery murk, seeking the likeliest places to raise a second. Then a third. Eventually, you plan to construct enough supports to erect a bridge and get yourself out of here. Back to solid ground.

The tricky part of the process is not to get so caught up in identification that you get distracted and neglect to build sound pylons. Maybe you see so many spots to fill that you get overwhelmed and slip back into the water. Or perhaps you’re so anxious to get to the next building site that you just pour on a shapeless blob of concrete and move on. You may feel like you need to be raising all the structural supports at once in order to create balance, instead of focusing on one at a time. You should be able to do this, right? And anyway, if you try to do just one at a time, how will you know you’re working on the right one?

Answer: you won’t know. Just grab the first one you feel capable of dealing with, and get to work.

Trust the universe that it will work itself out, because trying to go too many directions at once is generally no more effective than picking no direction at all. You know this from experience. You’ve tried both methods.

Which is all a very flowery way of saying, while this spring found me building positively on my emotional/psychological Rock Bottom, it wasn’t some all-encompassing place from which every aspect needing improved was simultaneously growing. Other RB’s existed to be found, and some, I realized, had already been reached, even if I hadn’t known it at the time. My financial RB, for example, is staring me in the face in the here-and-now, but my creative RB (which I identify as such, though writing means perpetual ups and downs) was actually reached several years ago, when I decided to give up on my craft. Forever.

(Obviously, that didn’t stick.)

Now on a quest to rescue myself, I spent some time identifying the different areas that I felt most needed work. I started reading up on ideas that I connected with, such as deliberate creation and changing your vibrational energy (which I know sounds very “new age woo hoo,” but if you accept that everything in the universe is made up of energy, it starts to make more sense).

Here’s what I was coming to realize about my relationship with the universe:

It has always been severely dysfunctional. I believed that the universe wanted me to suffer in order to be worthy of receiving anything—a guilt-ridden, bargaining, masochistic connection. It’s like asking for things you want from someone you don’t at all trust, who is as likely to run you through with a fireplace poker as give you a pat on the back.

“Please love me, you sick bastard!”

I’m pretty sure the energy I want to connect myself to in the universe does not actually work this way, and my perception of it was probably warped by my feelings toward the religion in which I was raised (it took years for me to separate the concepts of religion and spirituality). Even if the whole “we are all energy and can attract the energy we want by aligning ourselves with what we want” thing is total bunk (and there are plenty who would say it is), what is to lose by squelching self-hatred, being kind to myself, working on healing, and believing that this could lead to better things?

Still, this has meant reprogramming how I relate to the universe.

So, here goes:

 

Dear Universe,

I’m still your child.  I didn’t forget you.  Just want you to know: I’m listening.

Love always,
Me

 

 

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Link: Arc & Ember (Finding the Myth in the Girl)

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P1040387I am working on part three of my originally-unintended series of posts about my turbulent winter, and what is coming out of it.  In the meantime, I just wanted to share the link to this beautiful new blog, started by a FB friend I took a poetry class with a few years ago.  The direction she is going with hers resonates with me, since “waking up” is exactly what I’ve been doing these past few months.  Also, I have to say: one of the the coolest name and tagline combos I’ve ever seen. 🙂  Go take a peek.

http://www.arcandember.co/

Letters to the Universe: Don’t Mind Her, She’s Just Gooping (Part Two)

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http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/images/754349main_butterfly_nebula_full_full.jpg754349main_butterfly_nebula_full_fullThanks to a new storybook idea, a Long Distance Love Bombs line, and a Scientific American article (links at the end), I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple weeks about the whole caterpillar-morphing-into-a-butterfly thing.  More specifically, what goes on inside the cocoon before Miss/Mr. Butterfly shimmies out to take flight.

What happens?  Well:

“…they first digest themselves into a gooey caterpillar smoothie before radically rearranging into winged beauties.” (LDLB)

Whuh???

I like to think I was as curious a child as the next, and more than some.  Apparently, however, my 4th-grade-science-class curiosity didn’t extend to the part of the process that would have held the most fascination for Calvin & Hobbes.  And, since then, my interest has been more in the realm of occasionally appreciating the overused metaphor.  In any case, for years I’ve completely missed the most crucial part of the story:  that “gooey,” messy, self-eating, protein-soup of a metamorphosis part.

Imagine your favorite book.  Got it?  Great.  Now imagine it without anything between the covers except the first chapter and the epilogue.  Still a great story?  Sure, you’re mildly glad that the character gets a “happily ever after” (unless your favorite book is by Nicholas Sparks), but without all the middle stuff–the trials and transformations and GOO—would you really care?

What if (going back to Paolo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” for a minute) Santiago had been introduced as a shepherd bound for “greater” things, and then the book skipped to the end with a quick “he had many adventures in strange lands that taught him to recognize the voice of the universe and led him to the Soul of the World and great worldly treasure. He and Fatima lived happily ever after.” No details about the repeated losses and gains that stripped him down and built him up into something else—something more beautiful.  Would that be compelling?

Nope. Duh.

Okay, I think I’m pretty well stating the obvious here.  The story is the story (is the story is the story).  You get it.  I get it.

I think the same is true of our personal stories, but that’s not something we can really see too clearly when we’re souping it up inside the cocoon.

I found three items of particular interest in the Scientific American article:

1.  Imaginal discs, upon which all crucial adult (a.k.a. butterfly) features are formed, are present before the caterpillar hatches from its egg.  These are unused and largely undetectable in the caterpillar stage.  They’re just hanging around, waiting for the right time to activate.

2.  These discs NEED the soupy mess of proteins to feed on, in order to form the adult butterfly.

3.  Opening the cocoon at the wrong time (just to take a peek, you know) could “[botch] the transformation.”  Oozy goo everywhere, but no butterfly.  Boo.

So, let’s call this winter of Fear the gooiest part of the metamorphosis, then.  The soup right before the imaginal discs get activated.  I abandoned even daydreaming about my farm (what was the point? It was offered up as a possibility by the universe and I turned my back, so now the daydream was tainted by shame, guilt, and fear).

I had certainly dissolved my insides and any real sense of self—I could scarcely remember who I’d been before moving here, much less who I was supposed to be now.  No caterpillar, no butterfly.

So what was the catalyst?

I don’t know that I can really pin it to a single thing.

I can tell you that (despite what I told you in Part One’s post about “not how to achieve it” https://thescribblinggrasshopper.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/letter-to-the-universe-dont-mind-her-shes-just-gooping-part-one/), I found myself one night Googling over-the-counter sleeping meds.  The only thing I’d ever used to help me sleep was Melatonin, and I was pretty sure even in large quantities it wouldn’t…well…y’know.  So I was just…y’know…curious.

The thing about nights like that one are that you can dismiss them pretty easily afterward.  I didn’t go buy any sleeping pills in any quantity, much less quantity enough to…well…y’know.  I hadn’t ever had any intention of doing anything messy or painful to myself (oww).  And because all I did was look up a few things online, it’s not like I was really even seriously contemplating…well…y’know.  Right?

Almost doesn’t even count.  No point in even using the word.

I was Just. So. Tired.

Tired and afraid.  Of everything.  In total sympathy with Esther Greenwood (“The Bell Jar”) when she crawls underneath her mattress.

In a movie, there would have been some giant epiphany scene with a crashing score, or, at the very least, something more reserved and vaguely humorous—Kate Winslet slapping herself and turning off the stove’s gas a la “The Holiday.”  (“Low point! Low point!”)  Nothing so easily identifiable happened to me, which is why I hesitate to pin a turning point on one night.  Still, it wasn’t too long after that, that I found myself caring about life a little bit.  In an “I want to face it” way.

I woke up one morning strangely clear-headed, and felt completely fed up with myself, which was the strongest emotion approximating something positive that I’d had in months.  (I wrote about that here:  https://thescribblinggrasshopper.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/moss-grows-fat-on-a-rolling-stone/ )

I think I started cleaning or something, which is what I usually seem to do when tumbled up inside, with energy to burn.  I cleaned and made notes and brainstormed ideas about how to save myself.  Somehow, I started to believe it was actually possible.

I was still that “gooey caterpillar smoothie.”  I am still that “gooey caterpillar smoothie.”  But the imaginal discs were activated and development begun.

(End Part Two, Part Three coming soon! And please read the “P.S.” disclaimer at the end.)

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Links to the LDLB Facebook post and the Scientific American article (The LDLB post can be reached directly by clicking on the date, as long as you have Facebook):

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I was chatting about butterflies the other day with Tiffany Trivett and it reminded me that I visited a Balinese…

Posted by Long Distance Love Bombs on Saturday, July 4, 2015

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/caterpillar-butterfly-metamorphosis-explainer/

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P.S.: A Disclaimer

I just wanted to add, outside the body of this particular blog post, that I in no way wish to belittle or diminish the seriousness of anyone’s experience with depression, anxiety, and/or thoughts of suicide (there, I used the word).  All I can really speak on, with any degree of authority, is my own experience.  I downplay that night partly because people I love occasionally read this blog, and I don’t want them to feel bad about something that happened months ago and I chose not to tell them about; I also do it because I still hesitate to grant it the same level of credence as someone who is so engulfed by depression that they would do, quite literally, anything to escape.  That wasn’t quite where I was, even if it was just a couple hills off.

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

 

Letter to the Universe: Don’t Mind Her, She’s Just Gooping (Part One)

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Star of BethlehemDo you believe in omens?  What happens if you don’t act on one?  Will another come along?  Will you convince yourself that it was maybe just a joke to test you (the person with the faulty radar)?  Or perhaps it was a question you didn’t know how to answer, so didn’t?

Early this winter, from perhaps mid-November through February, I sank into one of the worst depression & anxiety periods I’ve ever experienced.  Anxiety kept me from wandering outside, where surely every house in the neighborhood had a thousand pairs of eyes that were staring at and judging me; and Depression was the dark, narcissistic lover that kept me locked in my head with a poisoned IV drip, humming in my ear day and night while stroking my hair).

I holed up in my room a lot as life went on around me, stacking up the confusion and heartache and guilt and selfishness and loss and grief and shame and blame from the last few years around me, like throw pillows needlepointed from garish fabric store remainders.

By one point, I hadn’t stepped outside the house for seventeen straight days.  One tank of gas lasted me almost four months.

I watched a lot of Netflix.

I thought about how I should journal about some of the jumble in my head.  Try to make some sense of it and move forward.  Get over it.

I didn’t journal.  I watched more Netflix.  I didn’t get over it.

I still ate (and ate), had surface conversations, and even got some genuinely productive work done on my novel.

But, I wasn’t really present.

During this period, I became obsessed with two things.

The first was Death.  Death was my nightly companion.  Not how to achieve it—more along the lines of “I think I’m dying, why is it taking so long?”  Chest pains, tight lungs, frequent headaches, zero energy.  I was scared of the pain involved in ways a person could die—stroke, heart attack, etc.—but the dying part didn’t sound bad.  Go to sleep and just…y’know…don’t wake up.  Sounds peaceful.  Nice.  I’m just so tired.

The second obsession, I can now see, was Life.

Flitting in and out amid all the negativity was the wish for somewhere anonymous and safe and tranquil to escape to.  Someplace simple.

My imaginary recovery spot became a farm:  physically active work, natural surroundings, time to think and clear out my head, away from anyone who knew me (and therefore no one around possessing any preconceived notion of my character, or having borne witness to my failures and shortcomings).  I’d lock up my distracting techie devices in a trunk for awhile.  I could learn by experience about tending the land, and lose weight/gain strength on a processed-free diet of broccoli and apples and maybe just a little cheese.  Fresh.  Quiet.  Straightforward.  Healing.  Squeaky clean and not complex.

So, I spent my days jumping between thoughts of my worthlessness, numbing out with Netflix, making sporadic stabs at my novel, and imagining myself on the farm.  I spent my nights wondering if I would die.  I told no one.

Some fantasies are a little too fragile for even gentle prodding, much less “get real, that’s so not you” ridicule. Sharing would also have meant I’d have to admit to someone how depressed I was (and therefore would be expected to do something about it).  So I kept it close, like a toddler in a war zone hugs a favorite teddy bear, using it to block out all the things I didn’t want to face or think about.

“‘When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.'” –Paolo Coelho, “The Alchemist”

Unless, of course, you send a nice fat wish out into the universe and then pull a bag over your head.

I can’t remember now exactly what the ad said, but after a month or two of daydreaming about myself on the farm, I saw something to this effect during my perusal of Craigslist’s volunteer boards:

“Small local organic farm seeking two interns who want to learn about farming.  Housing and healthy, mostly homegrown and whole food meals provided, plus a small stipend.  Usually like to take interns on for the space of one year.  Internet is kinda spotty out here, but we have it.  Time will be spent working on the farm, and running the farm store, but you will have some free time each day and a day or two off a week.  We don’t smoke, and pretty much follow Buddhist principles, but you can do what you like.  We run into Beaverton a couple times a week if you don’t have a car and need a lift.”

Doesn’t get much more “Here’s your Sign” booming voice from the sky than that, right?  Of course I immediately sent a message saying “Pick me! Pick me!”

Except…I didn’t.

Within two seconds of reading the ad, a fully-formed existence was dancing around my brain, in which I spent the next year doing EXACTLY what it was I’d been daydreaming about for so long.  Healthy living, healthy eating, learning about farming to see if smallholding was something I really wanted to do at some point, journaling and fitting in a little daily novel-writing.

I even envisioned a new blog or series of articles in which I wrote about the pleasures and pitfalls and foibles (some of which would no doubt be HILARIOUS, total novice as I would be) of taking on this kind of transformation as a way to save my own life.  I saw myself a year hence: happier, healthier, standing on my own feet, able to be of real help to others instead of feeling like a burden, with a couple new Buddhist friends to boot.  (And better eyesight, because, you know…carrots!)

At about the six second mark, the FARM!COUNTRY!NATURE!LIFE!SELF-IMPROVEMENT!WEIGHT LOSS!WRITING ABOUT THE EXPERIENCES! vision had gotten completely trampled into the mud by Depression and Anxiety’s Number One minion:  FEAR.

–They (the farm owners) wouldn’t be remotely likely to sign on someone who was really fantastically out of shape and knew practically nothing about basic gardening, much less farming or tending animals or organics.  They’d lose more than they’d gain, right?

–Anyway, even if they did, I’d probably keel over and die my first day, because I’m so out of shape.

–Also, I have no boots.  Or any rain gear, actually.

–Why would any paying publishing house be willing to risk money on an untested/unproven nobody (who wasn’t even a consistent blogger)?  Oh, right, they wouldn’t.  That’s not how that works.

Probably a really dumb idea, anyway.  Who would really (Fear speaks with many italics) want to read about a late-thirtysomething’s “adventures in transformation through strange Buddhist farm life?”  Even if it was humorously and oh-so-self-deprecatingly titled something like “Fat Girl in Farm Boots?”  (Okay, I would if it was well-written, but that’s beside the point–if I came up with the idea, it had to be stupid and certain to fail, right? Depression doesn’t do positive affirmations.)

–Because no one would want my dumb articles and I’d be living in the boonies, I would have no other way of making enough money to pay my bills, and I’d wind up destitute and in danger of being eaten by Bridget Jones’ leftover wild dogs. (Sidenote: this tends to happen anyway if you go long enough without a job, so you might as well think up a better excuse.)

And there were many, many others.  Fear is generous beyond all sense of proportion.

Whether or not any of these thoughts were valid, it’s one thing to acknowledge Fear, and another thing entirely to allow it to take over the narrative and direct the story.

And Fear was my story.  It had been my story for years.  It would remain my story.

(End Part One, Part Two coming out by Friday…)

 

Off with her stuff: an interview with myself about going minimal

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blog 6-8-15So, tell me, why are we doing this as an interview?

Well…I started this blog post a few different times and didn’t like what I was coming up with—I’d scribbled a dozen pages but was having a hard time fashioning them into an artistic and compelling narrative.

Oh.  So this is artistic and compelling?

I don’t know, maybe.  Maybe not.  Probably not.  Seemed more fun, I guess.  And I’m typing without hitting the backspace too much, so that’s something.

I guess the obvious first question is simply this:  why?  Why become a minimalist?

I think it’s something I’ve sort of danced around for years.  I’ve been shedding things gradually, anyway, and I think I’m now ready for the final plunge. I just turned 38, and, while maybe it sounds a bit cliche, being this close to forty has really made me stop and take stock of where I am.  I’ve been journaling a lot lately, probably filled more pages in the last couple weeks than I have in the last decade.  It was time to finally get down on paper all the stuff I’ve had stumbling around in my brain about where I feel I’m at in various aspects of my life, and what needs improvement in order to be in a better place in two years.  One of the areas with the most immediate possibility for concrete action was this crazy one of really committing to a more minimal lifestyle.

Reading stuff like this http://www.theminimalists.com/288/ and http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/how-i-downsized-my-life-to-100-possessions/ has been inspiring, too, but if it wasn’t already a direction I was going, I don’t think I’d be as quick to embrace something so drastic.

Are you planning to go that drastic?  288 things?  100 things?

I’m not assigning a number at this point.  I probably will eventually, just because I like organizing things that way, but I don’t think I could ever strip to 100 things.  It sounds like a lot until you start to really think about every little thing you own, from your favorite book right down to your container of dental floss and four pairs of scissors.  I don’t need to fit my life into a backpack, but I’d like to reach for that level of freedom and see where I end up.

So you feel like you don’t have freedom?  Is that something you’re hoping to gain?

I think, for me, simplicity equals freedom, yes.  The less stuff I have have squeezed in around me, the better I tend to feel.  When I think back over the last eight months (the amount of time I’ve been in Oregon), the times when I’ve actually felt most at home with myself have not been when I’ve been cozied up in my room looking at my knick-knacks. Those were the times, actually, when I was crippled by anxiety and hiding out.

The times I’ve felt most grounded, and have had clarity and peace of mind and real connection with myself, have been the times when I get out into the woods, or go over to the coast—the least amount of separation between myself and the honest-to-goodness world around me.  Which is a lot of why I came here in the first place.

And you can’t go enjoy nature AND keep a porcelain gravy boat?

Of course I can.  If I really wanted that gravy boat, which I don’t.  But I think life’s telling you something when you come home from a place where you feel uplifted, and start to feel this weight immediately settling back onto your chest.

And that weight comes from your possessions?

Partly, yes, I think so.

Don’t you worry that you could effectively get rid of all your stuff and still not have freedom/simplicity/whatever, and then you’d be out all  your stuff with nothing to show for it?

Not really, because I don’t see minimalism, in and of itself, as The Project.  This isn’t the only thing I’m working on to try to realize this vision I have for myself in a couple years.  This is just the part of the process I’m willing to talk about at this point—the visual face of trying to simplify my entire life and perspective.  I think of minimalism as a building tool, not the whole product.

The “whole product” being…

Me. At 40.  Hopefully.

Can I assert something here?

Sure, okay.

You don’t really have that much stuff anymore.  Like, if you had a one-bedroom apartment, it wouldn’t even fill up the whole place.

(Laughs.)  I know, sometimes I wish I had back all the stuff I’ve shed over the last several years so I could have the fun of having a really grand blowout.  But I also think it took those years of easing into it to reach this point—I don’t know if you’ve seen it…

Dude, I’m you.  I think you’ll find I’ve seen whatever “it” is.

Right, forgot.  Okay, so it makes me think of that scene in Howl’s Moving Castle, where Howl comes home in his bird-man form and drops all this sludge and crap across the floor as he drags himself upstairs to the bath.  And later when you see him in the bath, he’s shed all of that and is hunched over in the water—exposed and small.  But human again.  Sure, Sophie could have stopped him at the door with a firehose or something, would have made for a great scene, but what if the shock had killed him in that state?  Sometimes to get to where we want/need to be, it’s better to take a gentler approach.  The stuff I’ve gotten rid of up to this point just reflects the layers I’ve dropped across the floor to get to my exposed, small, human self.

So what’s the scariest part about all this?  Being afraid you’ll ditch something and regret it later?

No, I think the scariest part is getting over a fear of judgment.

Judgment?  From someone reading this, you mean?

No, from those closest to me—family and friends.  I worry this may be viewed with concern as one more phase I’m going through, something I’ll regret doing because I don’t really know what I’m doing and am just grasping at smoke.  That when I don’t get some cosmic truth tied up with a tidy bow at the end of the clean-out, I’ll be crushed and more confused than ever.  That this is something I’m just drifting around, flirting with as a stall tactic to keep from having to deal with other things right now.  That I’m out of touch with my “real” self, which is to say the woman they feel they know.

Any truth to that?

I don’t know, maybe some.  Still, even if something is a phase, that doesn’t invalidate its relevance.  But part of this process has to be silencing that fear and need for approval, and learning to trust myself.  Ultimately, they just want me to be happy, and the best way to honor that is to stand on my own feet.

(Pauses, ear cocked, glancing around) Do you hear that?  I swear I hear a choral “Ode to Joy” montage…

Oh, shut up.

Okay, let’s move on from the deep stuff and wrap up before this becomes the longest interview about minimalism ever.

Agreed.  Fire away.

Three final questions, then.  First, what are you going to do with all the stuff?

Sell it, because I could use the money.  Donate or give away what I can’t sell.  Have a bonfire with the rest, maybe.  I’ll post an update later as the process gets moving.

Then what—hit the road in your Jeep?

Nothing so grandiose.  At least, not at this point—too expensive!  I think the idea of the transitory life of a roadie appeals to me, partly because I just love to travel and see beautiful places, but mainly because it embodies what I would like to be capable of:  self-sufficiency, contentedness in solitude, at peace with myself and the world, and comfortable enough in my own skin to weave in and out among strangers, choosing when to be sociable.  It’s only insecurity that makes me a frequent hermit–I really do like people. 🙂

But if I pick out those things and remove them from a permanent road-tripper context, those are the things I can still work on developing, wherever I am.

What I’d really like at this point is to scrape enough together to resettle someplace small-town here in Oregon, and not city or suburbia—it’s when I get out of town that I can really breathe, and where I’ve been doing my best and most prolific writing.  I suppose, for now, I would love a sort of Thoreau existence:  a tiny place of my own close to nature, work to do, and a few local friends for when I feel sociable.  And if I can find a job that helps nurture creativity and personal growth in others, that would be a dream come true.

Final question:  what does your ideal self at 40 look like?

Present.

 

hashtag “depths of despair”

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You know those days when you angst all over the place for no good reason, your grumpiness resembling one of those plasma balls that shivers and crackles and shoots current out at anything that approaches?

Welcome to my day.

Whether it was waking too early after going to sleep too late (tiredness always amps up the cranky factor), or the manner of waking (when you live with kiddoes, that’s just the way that one goes, so deal with it and love them anyway), or the phase of the moon (whatever it is at the mo), or just a buildup of stresses both defined and undefined, I found myself growling at the universe this morning. The fact that I’ve managed not to growl at anyone else simply indicates that I’ve scarcely left my room today.

My over-a-cup-of-coffee thoughts went something along these lines:

Do I want to go out?  No.  Do I want to stay in?  No.  Do I want to write?  No.  Do I want to not write?  No.  Do I want to go for a long drive?  Sort of.  But that’s a waste of gas money right now.  Do I want to watch a movie?  Hell no.  Do a crossword?  No.  Read a book?  No.  Go for a walk?  No.

Finally, I opted for a shower.  If I’m going to be Queen Crabby, I might as well at least smell nice, right?

Then, after my shower, which made me feel only marginally better, I checked in on Facebook after a week of avoiding it.  And the damned universe gave me something to actually mourn over:

jonathan_crombie

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/arts/jonathan-crombie-anne-of-green-gables-actor-dead-at-48-1.3038948

Now, perhaps if I’d been having a happy-go-lucky-and-walking-on-sunshine morning, losing one of my earliest was-going-to-marry-him-when-I-grew-up book/movie crushes would not have affected me so much.  As it was, however, I found myself sitting on the edge of the tub, weeping.

I haven’t watched any of the “Anne” movies in several years (still think the third one was dreadful), and it’s been almost as long since I last read any of my dog-eared L.M. Montgomery’s.  I know next-to-nothing about Jonathan Crombie, the person–could not tell you when he was born or where he grew up or what his favorite color was or give you a list of every production he’d been in.  I am not, in short, a card-carrying JC superfan or anything.

I think, perhaps, the feelings that get dredged up when something like this happens are more about where the news takes you.  For me, it was a moment of telling my thirteen-year-old self that the beloved boy next door just died.  I felt much the same last year when Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) left us.  During my teens, which were probably my least cynical, most impressionable years, DPS and AoGG were borderline obsessions.  Both contributed to my desire and determination to be a writer.

So this afternoon I’m thirteen.  Thirteen and scribbling dreams in a notebook.  Thirteen and weaving ephemeral hopes into wreaths I wear as crowns. Thirteen and missing Gilbert Blythe.  If I had a slate, I’d crack it.  If I had rowboat, I’d poke a hole in it and reenact the Lady of Shalott.  (Well, okay, maybe not–I can’t swim.)

I’m also, when you get right down to it, a little bit thirty-seven-missing-thirteen.

Which makes me kind of…y’know…angsty.

RIP, Jonathan Crombie/Gilbert Blythe.  You will be missed.

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

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Just a quick link today—a hasty gift drop of a Buzzfeed post on favorite lines of poetry.  I can’t quite forgive them “catastrophe[‘s]” missing ‘s’ in the Frank O’Hara quote from #26, but I’m not letting it keep me from re-posting, either.  This is just a nice little sampler, which will hopefully draw you (as it has me) into further reading.  Enjoy.  I’m off to dig my Adrienne Rich off the shelf.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahgalo/measuring-my-life-with-coffee-spoons#.dcB1GOGeD

Here’s the O’Hara as it (perhaps) should have been:

mayakovsky1

(P.S.  Post title taken from T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland—#13 on Buzzfeed’s list.)

Another Link: “A Long Level Gaze”

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Yeah, second post in a day.  Sort of.  If you count links as posts.

???

Anyway, I’m about to sit down and watch “Wild” (at long last), and was reminded that I meant to repost this article from Powell’s (City of Books) book blog, wherein Cheryl Strayed wrote about the journal she kept as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.  It reminded me of why I am continually resolving to keep a better journal myself—so much of my “journaling” comes in the form of letters/e-mails to friends, or blog posts, or random Facebook musings.  Having this tendency means, of course, that there is always an audience, however great or small—known or unknown.  It also means that everything is written through a filter of how I consciously or unconsciously want to be perceived.

When it is personal truth you are supposedly seeking, this is not a particularly good way to be brutally honest (or gently honest, depending on your mood—the point here is HONEST) with yourself about anything.  Perhaps this is why one bit stuck out to me, in particular (she’s talking about why she didn’t draw from letters she’d written to people when she was writing her book):

“In my letters, I’d been trying to make an impression. I wanted to seem strong or funny or impressive, to offer evidence that I was now more together than the sort-of-falling-apart woman many of them thought I was before I set out on my hike. I wanted to seem transformed and heroic to those I wrote to. I know without reading them, my letters were hyperbolic and embellished, covertly self-aggrandizing and embarrassingly philosophical.”

Yeah…I can’t identify with THAT at all! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

So here’s the link.  Enjoy the article—I’m off to spend Friday night at the movies.

http://www.powells.com/blog/guests/a-long-level-gaze-by-cheryl-strayed/

Long Time Traveller

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I reached a nice little personal writing milestone last night.  Today, I made a short vid-blog about it, which I’m just going to leave right here. (I didn’t go to huge editing lengths, so hopefully it doesn’t give you a headache. I recommend full-screen watching it, if you can.  Cheers!  :))