Being who I am

Monday, 20 February 2017 02:08 pm
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
You Must Learn From The Mistakes Of Others. You Can't Possibly Live Long Enough To Make Them All Yourself.*

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I always got the message I was too emotional.

It was a mixed message because in my family crying was considered a legitimate hobby. My mother and I would listen to Puff, the Magic Dragon and cry. It was a thing you did.

But there were also times when I would be told if I didn't stop crying, I had to go to my room. The only way I could force myself to stop crying was to hold my breath—and sometimes that wasn't acceptable behavior either. Since these were times I was crying because my mother was angry at me, being sent to my room was even more upsetting; I just wanted her to like me again and her response was to send me away. (Did she know this? Did I tell her? I don't know.)

My father just withdrew when I cried because it made no sense to him. Our relationship didn't find firm footing until I was in my thirties and he yelled at me for something that was in no way my fault. It was where the cold air ducts are in my house. His father and brother built the house before I was even born. My response was to yell back that maybe he should have said something to them at the time, something I couldn't have done, what with not having been born yet! He was fine with being yelled at, whereas me crying panicked him. After that we yelled at each other.

Anyway, I got the message early from a lot of people that stoicism was the usually the best behavior. Never let anybody see how you really feel because if you do they will mock you, punish you, or withdraw from you. That's probably part of how I learned to be funny, because making people laugh is a pleasant distancing thing. Humor is one step removed.

I'm actually going somewhere with this. I want to write about The Andy Griffith Show, but so many people feel the need to tell me I'm too analytical, I wanted to explain first why I'm so analytical.

I think some of it is the kind of mind I have. Also, I like winning arguments, and if you stay reasonable, you have a better shot at it. And then there's the too-emotional thing. Fixing a problem requires understanding it, so I started early trying to understand why certain things upset me. And a lot of things upset me. I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and a lot of TV upset me. The Andy Griffith Show upset me. Eventually, I figured out why.

My constant analysis of things annoyed Pat—it seems to annoy everyone—but I think one of our deepest connections was that, while it annoyed her, she still agreed with my analyses of things. We had very much the same outlook on how people should treat their loved ones, for example, and while she instinctively knew that she hated All in the Family for the way Archie treated his family, I could put it into words, and she did like that, and the fact that we felt the same way about it mattered.

People tell me, "It's just a TV show, it's not important, why are you wasting your time?"

Well, first off, it is important. TV shapes how we think and that is not unimportant.

Second, I'm trying less to understand the show than to understand myself, and that is definitely not unimportant.

And third, I enjoy it. Yes, I get annoyed, but it's like working a puzzle. Anyone who has ever worked any kind of puzzle for pleasure has, at one time, been annoyed by it: a crossword clue they can't figure out, a piece that just doesn't fit anywhere—anything. Annoyance can be fun. When I express this to people, the usual response is to try and "fix" the "problem." Except there is no problem. (And I've only just realized this as I was writing this, which is one reason I write.)

Another thing about annoyance is, it's good for depressives. Depression seems to make me, at least, feel antagonistic towards the world. If I'm down and you tell me a joke, I might laugh politely but there will be a part of me resisting your attempt to "cheer me up." It won't lift my mood.

But annoyance, like anger, can raise my energy level, and when you're depressed, anything that does that is good.

Anyway, be prepared. Tomorrow, and possibly the next day, I'll be writing about The Andy Griffith Show.

*Sam Levenson

Oh, Happy Easter

Sunday, 27 March 2016 12:51 pm
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
The Worst Thing Of All Is Not Knowing What You Look Like.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

So I was sitting here, crying and beating myself up over my (possibly imagined) sins and it seemed like a good idea to put them in black and white pixels.

It's my own fault I'm fat and will probably die younger than I "should."

I have wasted my life being unhappy.

I'm responsible for Pat's death, and I have now lived to be older than she was when she died.

I'm responsible for the deaths of several of the cats who loved me, particularly Mimi.

I was unkind to Shere Khan (who was mostly Pat's cat) because she had issues that annoyed me.

I honestly do wish my mother would die.

I was a terrible daughter to my father.

For several years I had a mad infatuation with a dead guy who I believed was talking to me in my head, and I did not keep this a secret.

This is not what I was planning on writing today, but I've stopped crying.

We are all each others' mirrors.

*Aaron Raz Link
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
'Cause It All Comes Out Wrong
Unless I Put It In A Song.
So The Radio Plays,
"I Think I Need A New Heart"
Just For You.
"I Think I Need A New Heart."

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've been listening to the Nero Wolfe series at work, and I'm up to the twenty-third book, Three Men Out. The library doesn't own it, nor do any of the libraries we have a reciprocal borrowing agreement. It's readily available to buy, and I wouldn't mind buying it—it's only eight dollars.

So why is there a problem? Because the only place it's available is iTunes, and neither my iMac nor my MacBook is new enough for it.

So I'm looking at buying a new computer to so I can listen to two books. (There's another book later on that's unavailable any other way—at least, any other way I can find.)

By "a new computer," I mean going to the hock shop down the street and seeing what I can find. The requirements for a PC are more lenient, and they're cheaper and easier to find. But it's still stupid.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The Tommy cat showed up again yesterday. I saw him down the block a few months ago; I thought he had a new home, but now I'm not sure.

He was sitting by my car when I went out to go to my mother's, and he started up the ramp and gave me a little meow. I feel so bad for him; he wants a home and somebody to love him, and I simply cannot do this. I'm committed to Meg, who I'm sure won't accept another cat. The best way for me to get Meg to come when I want him is to talk to Little Cat; he comes and pushes her out of the way. He's my baby. And here's this poor cat who needs a home and love.

Anyway, it's awfully cold, so I made the Tommy a bed. I put an old, soft coat in a plastic box, then I put the box inside an old trash can. I put the whole thing with the opening close to the side of the house to keep out the wind, but with enough space for him to get in.

I sprinkled catnip and dry food on the coat.

And you know what I keep thinking? Some possum's going to find himself a nice bed. How do people who put out these cat beds make sure cats get them? Hell, I wouldn't be surprised to find Meg curled up there, and how do I keep that from happening? I don't understand how other people's lives work.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Today is the first anniversary of my pacemaker. I'm used to my heart beating hard when I exert myself. It never used to do that, and when it started, it disturbed the hell out of me.

*I Think I Need a New Heart The Magnetic Fields
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
I Apologized Without Knowing What I Was Apologizing For And Warned Myself About Trying To Make Any Sense Of It. I Wasn’t Supposed To Think. I Was Just Supposed To Follow Doctor’s Orders.*

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The following is an email I got from my boss this morning. For a little context: I'm being moved to a different cubicle for reasons that have nothing to do with me; the head of the department wants all of the different departments grouped together, so a cataloguer was moved out of my spot (into a newly vacated one) and another cataloguer is moving into my now-vacated spot.

Monica Rose,

I noticed that you have 8 totes of stuff along with a full book truck of stuff to move. I hope that with this move, you are taking the opportunity to go through everything you have accumulated at your current workspace and either throwing away or taking home the stacks of books & AV items and bags & boxes of stuff that was under and on top of your desk along with any other non-work related items that added to the clutter.

I noticed you have two cd players. You should take one of them home. Please also remember that any food items you keep at your work station should be in plastic with lids. All drink containers should be thrown away when you go home and any partially filled containers with lids need to be stored in your flipper panel.

If you want to recycle paper, plastic cup & bags, etc., you should on a daily basis empty these items into the proper recycling cans in the building. Please keep your new work area tidy.

Thank you.

Most of what she's talking about is gone, and has been for months. Much of what's in the boxes is work-related, since I boxed up everything. God knows I'm a cluttered mess, I always have been. I don't try to be, I try not to be, but my brain doesn't cooperate. I know I will only be considered a success at this if I have nothing personal in my area. And there's a part of me that's thinking about doing just that.

I'm not going to say anything to her about this. Besides being my boss, she's my friend, but she's made up her mind about who I am, and nothing I can say will mitigate that opinion.

(By the way, I have "two CD players" because the one in my computer gave out and I didn't want to ask them to repair it, since its use is not work-related. While both machines have CD players in them, only one of them works; I have it because it plays tapes. Is there any point in saying this? No, there is not. I am who I am believed to be.)

I think what upsets me most is, in all of this moving around, I have been easier and more co-operative than anyone else. That's not me saying that; she told me this herself. And yet, I still have to be slapped on my way out, reminded what a perpetual failure I am, as though I forget if not properly reminded.

My response to this was, "That's the plan!" followed by a smiley-face. What else can I say? There is no defense.

*Mark Vonnegut

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.

New poem

Monday, 8 April 2013 12:48 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
Fifty-four years old. I want to play in the backyard.

Nobody asks if you want to be the grown-up.

All of a sudden, you're responsible for everything, and how did that happen?
Not only for yourself, which is bad enough, but for other people, and cats, and why?

And when you get sick, you think about dying, and
what will happen if you do,
because look at all the balls you're juggling!

Or just picking up off the floor
squeeze them
here and there,
one under your arm,
one under your chin—

Let me tell you, they aren't going to bury those balls with you when you die. Somebody else
is going to have to juggle them, and who might that be?

And where are they now, when you're feverish and crying?

And everything you do is wrong.

Even when it's right,
it's wrong
because the next thing will be wrong, so the right thing you did doesn't count.
The right things never count, only the wrong ones.
And sometimes you just want to sit in the car and read so you don't have to go in the house
even though there's nobody in the house.

You have to make decisions,
and they're wrong, too.
And what the hell are you going to have for dinner?

You had nothing for breakfast, and
peanut butter cups for lunch,
so maybe Pop-tarts. A hot meal would be good.

Because whatever food you buy has something in it that's going to kill you
(and it will be your own fault you're dead)
and there's nobody to cook for you—there's nobody to do anything for you, except the cat:
he purrs for you,
and it's a comfort,
but it's no help.

And if only you were getting some of it right, it might seem bearable,
but you aren't,
not any of it,
purchases have to go back to the store,
and your credit card's probably overdue,
and you got a disconnect notice for your gas, even though there's money to pay it.

But that's another failure.
Because the gas company's right down the street,
you should walk there,
you have walked there,
only you're so tired, how can you walk anywhere?

And driving's an admission of failure.

So the easiest thing is just not to pay the gas bill until they threaten to shut it off.

And everything's like that.
Don't look at the credit card bill, it's just going to tell you things you don't want to know.

And it's finally spring,
you're supposed to be better,
why aren't you better?
Have you always been this big a mess?

There's no-one to ask, but at least the cat purrs.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth

Wasting space

Wednesday, 23 January 2013 05:14 am
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
If a space opened up where I sit right now,
that would be fine.
Nature abhors a vacuum,
so someone would fill it.

People need me, I know that.
But where they need clarity and reason,
all I can write is poetry, and
where they need action,
a good deal,
where they need coherency,
I either laugh or cry.
(Sometimes both.)

I make lists I can't follow
and plans that don't pan.
My mind and body are strangers to me,
to each other.
I can't hear the future because the past won't stop echoing.

I know people care about me.
I know I should respond,
but what to say?
It isn't that I have no words, but I've said them all before,
again and again.
There is nothing new in my mind or my soul.

The disturbing thing is, I don't feel bad.
I'm simply no longer myself—
an exact replica with the same scars on the outside,
but no fingerprints on the inside.
It's only when called upon to do what she did
that I find myself wishing
for a space in my place.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth

Short update

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 07:32 am
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
[Written November 14, 2012]

The One Function TV News Performs Very Well Is That When There Is No News We Give It To You With The Same Emphasis As If There Were.*

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I tried to post the other night, but was unsuccessful. Some of it was technical difficulties, and some of it was trying to deal with technical difficulties with a cat lying on my arm while I was juggling a keyboard and a trackball on my lap. It took me hours to get something posted, and I never did get the formatting worked out, so I scrapped the whole thing. If I'd been posting something serious, I'd have worked it out later, sans cat, but it was just a bit of ephemera—not only not worth the time I'd already spent, but it would have been stale by morning.

I have not yet cried today. The last few days, I've cried every day. I developed an irresistible desire to listen to The Sweetheart Tree by Johnny Mathis, a song that has always made me cry. I'm still sinking.

I'm also still cleaning. I'm still thinking about cleaning, and still enjoying myself, in a more subdued way. I'm thinking about writing, but not doing any, except for this. Sometimes I feel like the need to write is slipping off me, the way skin follicles die and float away. Would it matter, as long as I'm reasonably happy anyway?

For the record, I was nowhere near the explosion that happened on the far south side of Indianapolis the other night, nor have I, myself, independently exploded for any reason.

*David Brinkley
carose59: meds (into patients of whom they know nothing)
I Don't Even Know If I Mean That . . . And I'm Massively Confused, And You're Ambivalent.*

-:- -:- -:-

It's time to come out. And I've abandoned Bruce Springsteen.

About a month and a half ago, after finishing Richard Whitaker's Anatomy of an Epidemic, I made the decision to stop taking Cymbalta.

It's scary.

I also made the decision not to tell anyone. I just didn't want anyone telling me I shouldn't do it.

I changed my mind about that and told a select few people: my mother, my boss, one of my best friends. I did this because I didn't want to be alone in this, and because I wanted other people keeping tabs on my behavior. And I emailed another friend about it, and I joined an online support group for people withdrawing from psychotropics.

The first thing you really need to know is that back when my psychiatrist upped my dose from 30mg to 60mg, I only went with that dose for a very short time, then started taking the 60s every other day, and that's what I've been doing ever since. My first step in my withdrawal was to stop doing that. Instead, I started taking 30mg a day. Well, a little less because it didn't divide quite evenly.

At that point I was counting the little granules in the capsules, and I discovered there weren't the same amount in each one. Also, my mother kept bringing up the subject when we talked, and she asked me to tell Patrick because he sees me pretty often, and we talk. So I did that, and I went online and bought myself a scale so I could weigh the milligrams. I showed it to my mother the other day, and she was very impressed. And I think she's less worried.

So far I've made one cut; I've gone down from 114mg to 111mg. "One hundred and fourteen? How did 114 get into it?" I hear you cry. Well, with the inactive ingredients (which include a time-release coating), 30 becomes 114, more or less, don't you see?

(I tried to do the math to figure that out, so I'd know just how much I was cutting, but I don't know what the equation would be. There's only so much math you can learn from watching Numb3rs.)

So far I don't see any difference, and no-one has said anything. I'm mostly feeling pretty good. I'm mostly--

I feel like there's two of me: the one who mostly feels pretty good, and the one that feels strange and stressed and worried. It's like I'm Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, split in two. I don't know which one is the real me. I don't know if I'm changing because of things, or changing Pat died, or I'm changing because changing I'm not dead and change is what everything living thing does. Or D, all of the above.

Anyway, I've made a pro/con list of going off Cymbalta.


01) I'm concerned about long-term effects.
02) Except for the Lorazepam, I've never had problems stopping a drug.
03) I don't trust the people who are pushing the drugs.
04) It's followed the same pattern of all the other anti-depressants I've used--it helped at first, but I don't see any difference overall.
05) I'm being extremely careful.
06) They're expensive.
07) I don't feel like writing anymore.
08) I don't feel like doing much of anything anymore.


01) I don't know what the long-term effects are. (It's a newish drug.)
02) I'm terrified of withdrawal effects, and I've never been on a drug this long before.
03) Am I being unduly swayed by Richard Whitaker's book?
04) I'm feeling relatively good right now and I don't want to mess with that.
05) Except for the support group I've found, I feel like everyone I know disapproves or is fearful of this.
06) Being part of this support group, I feel pressured to continue.
07) I don't know if anything I'm experiencing has anything to do with the drugs.
08) I don't know anything.

I don't know who I am anymore, and I live in a vacuum, and I was never good at decisions but now--

I'm a bat in an open field, with nothing to bounce my sounds off of.

*Amita Ramanujan


Saturday, 21 August 2010 09:34 pm
carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When you live in a garden,
people all come at you with plans


They seldom ask,
and what can a plant say anyway?
Please don't cut that leaf.
No, not that vine

Not that it matters.
Do I know what shape I want to be?
I thought this one

but I knew it wasn't.
I knew it wasn't.

And you have to fit in the garden.

Somehow I defy fixing.
Branches trained to bend one way
bend back no matter how hard I try
no matter how hard I try.
And I mourn even the losses of thorns I wanted shorn away.

Even asking,
even saying could you please make me look like
feel like
please make it
make me
please make me

For someone who is supposed to be so good with words,
I am remarkably incoherent.

What can I tell you?

Plants don't speak. We only follow the sun.

And when it goes down, we get lost.
Bound to the earth, we still get lost.

Posted simultaneously on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth.

Things I did today.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009 02:20 pm
carose59: crime and other violations (i read the news today oh boy)
"Why Must We Have Something To Look Forward To? Why Can't We Just Look At Now?"*

-:- -:- -:-

1. Went into work late because I was up late last night because I went out for dinner with my family. Because I was going in late enough for Subway to be open, I picked up a chicken salad sandwich on my way.

2. Finished one of the projects my boss gave me, but she wasn't there for me to tell.

3. Called my cousin Alan to cancel lunch with him. After spending half the day with Tony on Sunday and a few hours with family last night, the idea of having to be social made me want to scream. Fortunately, Alan is very much like me in that regard, and he understood. He told me to go home after work, turn off the phone, and go to bed early. I can't turn off the phone, but I am going to bed early. I need a lot of down time.

4. Stopped by to give my mother corn on the cob and was told she really appreciated my speaking up so forcefully and telling everyone that no-one was putting her in an assisted living facility. "They were trying to talk me into it when they came to visit Sunday."

5. Talked to Patrick--did I mention that I was lending him the Compaq I bought at a garage sale and he offered to buy it off me? I told him sure, and was going to let him have it for fifty dollars (five dollars less than I paid for it), but today he told me he was giving me sixty, which he's adding to the rent check he gives my mother in a couple days. Since I'm the one who deposits/cashes' the checks, this is very convenient. While we were talking, his pizzas were delivered (it's a a two for one place) and he gave me one.

I'm not hungry though, so I'll have pizza for lunch tomorrow and the next day. Tonight I had a little chocolate ice cream, and I hope to be in bed before eight.

*Jerry Rubin

Why yes, I am.

Friday, 21 December 2007 06:40 am
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
"Feeling a Little Manic, Are You?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Sunday morning, I got up at six and started picking up the clothes piled up in my room. I dragged them down to the basement, sorted them into piles of things that needed washing and things that just needed a little refreshing (which I just run through a rinse cycle).

I don't know how many loads I did. I do know that I bagged up thirteen grocery bags of clothes and put them in the car.

Since then I've gotten rid of those bags, and done eleven more, and gotten rid of them. (I'm donating them to the Gaia Earth Movement, and there's a box just down the street, which helps a lot.)

Today I did three loads of wash.

I own a ridiculous amount of clothes, I make no bones about that. But I'm a little crazed (I can tell because in my head, I can perfectly imagine this ungodly mess of a house perfectly organized. Believe me, this will not last). So I'm a little crazed, and I'm taking advantage of it by getting rid of clothes, and reorganizing drawers.

In Shirley Jackson's last, unfinished novel, the heroine's husband has been dead some time, but it's only recently that she's left their home and gotten rid of his stuff. She was nervous about doing this because she was concerned that he might come back and want to know where his things are. Since the book was never finished, I don't know whether or not this was a reasonable concern. I do know that I feel the same way.

Last night I dreamed about Pat (which I've been expecting since Sunday) and yes, she wanted to know where her clothes were, and I was a little panicked and feeling guilty. (And, for the record, we were in a car, which is right. We spent a lot of time in cars. I don't think it was one of our cars, though. I think it was one of my parents' cars, from when I was really young. I don't know what kind of car it was, except that it definitely wasn't my mother's Dodge Dart.) The ones that make me saddest to get rid of are the things Pat owned before we ever met. They feel like the piece of road just before she reached a crossroads, and there was a path she could have taken that didn't include me. And maybe that would have been better for her, and was I ever kind to her, was I ever anything but selfish, is it my fault she's dead, or that she was sometimes unhappy? And I go to that place for a while, feeling like I'm watching some other life dying before my eyes.

So, anyway, I'm kind of manic. I took the day off work today and this is what I'm doing, and I have four more days off. I cleaned out Pat's closet, and I'm hanging my clothes in there. My goal is to own nothing that I would be unhappy to find was the last piece of clean clothing in the house, so I'm not only getting rid of clothes of Pat's that don't fit me, but things of mine that I just don't like.

There's still too much of it. My underwear is getting a little shabby, but otherwise I have enough clothes to last me a good long while, as long as my weight doesn't change. And I don't think I'm quite manic enough for that to happen.

If I start getting the urge to go out for promiscuous sex, or to spend myself into a huge hole, I'll let you know.

*my mother
carose59: the rose behind the fence (Default)
"I Love It, But Of Course I Know Fifty Ways To Love Your Lever."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

So, besides stealing my car, the thieves—yes, thieves, because I’m picturing a whole gang of them, if for no other reason than they had to do so much just to take it, the Crown Vic did not go willingly, not with a dead battery and a broken leg—

Where was I? Oh, yes—they derailed my plans, sort of. The book I stopped home for is one I wanted to re-read. It’s called Frog Salad, by Sally George. Probably most people who read it would compare it to either The Big Chill or Return of the Secaucus 7. Since I don’t even think those two movies compare to each other, I’ll say that it’s about a group of friends who were activist/college students in the sixties, only now it’s the eighties and life is less black and white and more confusing.

The title of the book comes from one of the characters, an artist, who paints food. His most recent painting, the one he’s working on when the work starts, is of a salad with live frogs sitting on it.

Now, the reason I was going to re-read this book is that I wanted to refresh my memory because I want to write about one of the other characters, Janet, and a secret of Pat’s and mine. I read Pat this book years ago.

I read about a chapter while I was in the waiting room, and I immediately remembered that I hated the way the book ended. So I’m not going to re-read it, and all of this is from memory. But if you’re really interested in the book, send me your address and I’ll mail it to you. But first I’m going to tell you about Janet.

Janet is a perfectly normal woman who wants a penis. That is, she wants one growing out of her body. She’s been waiting her entire life for it to just magically appear one morning, or at least start growing slowly, but she’s realized that this is really unlikely, and she might just have to look into less spontaneous options.

And this is the part where I tell you about Pat, and me, and the secret. Pat was extremely taken by both Janet, and the book’s title. And before I go any further, let me make this clear: she wasn’t confused. She understood the title perfectly well. She just hijacked it for her own purposes, which is exactly one of the reasons I love her.

Anyway, because the frogs on the salad and Janet wanting a penis were the two outstanding elements of the book, Pat conflated the two, and whenever she wanted to point out a particular guy’s—um, package—to me, she’d call it his frog salad. "Check out the frog salad." Eventually we abbreviated it to frog. Which was pretty cool, since nobody knew what we were talking about. It became part of our private language.

Which segues into our private language, which I’ve also been thinking about. I was thinking the other day about how so much of it came from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and why that was—why that show in particular.

Certainly we both knew the show, since we’d been watching it every chance we got since we were very young. That’s one reason. Another is, it’s so very quotable. We were both Dark Shadows nuts growing up, and as adults, but (with some exceptions) not exactly a quotable show. Besides, it’s so cumbersome; DVD was three prime time seasons back when that meant twenty-six shows a season, but DS? Five years in soap opera years. I don’t know how many episodes that is (Pat would've), but I know it’s a whole huge lot.

We both watched a lot of other things, though I’m drawing a blank on what. I Love Lucy, and I do have a tendency to say pizz-a-key-a-trist for psychiatrist, even though the joke it’s from annoys the crap out of me. It’s from some episode where Ricky is looking for a psychiatrist. And he both pronounces the word phonetically (as though he knows how to spell it) and looks it up in the phone book under S (as though he doesn’t know how to spell it), which is sloppy and irritating. And I knew this as a kid. Yes, I was a humor savant.

Oh, there was Gilligan’s Island, but except for both of us believing that Gilligan was the best-ever Hamlet, and always singing the words whenever we heard the music—the music they used in Hamlet, not the Gilligan's Island theme—I don’t think it was all that meaningful. (Meaningful to us. I’m not going to talk about the meaning of TV in general, or GI in particular.) "I ask to be, or not to be, a rogue and peasant slave is what you see—"

Someday I’ll watch through the whole series of DVD and make a list of everything we used to use in everyday conversation (but I won’t post it, since I can’t imagine who would be interested). I still talk in our language, but now nobody has anybody idea what I’m talking about, which isn’t the worse thing in the world, especially since I'm talking to myself half the time.

And, even with Pat gone, I'm still adding to the language. You know that new cow commercial*, the one with the duck who's trying to meditate? And the cows come up and tell him he's doing it wrong, it's not om, it's moo. Well, when Pat would have panic attacks, I would hold her and repeat, "Calm. Calm. Calm." (I had to write it three times, in case you didn't know what the word repeat meant.) I know in my heart that if she was alive, I'd have changed it to "Moo. Moo. Moo," which would not only relax her, but maybe make her laugh.

*Paul Simon
carose59: PLS (moses supposes his toeses are roses)
"Evidence?! Evidence?! I Spit On Evidence!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Pat used to do this thing that drove me crazy. I’m overly sensitive, physically, in a number of ways, and one of them is, I hate being stroked. Rub your fingers over my arm more than a dozen times, and it starts to hurt. The back of my hand is even worse. Pat liked to hold my hand in the movies, which was nice, but then she’d start stroking the back of my hand with her thumb, which would then start hurting, and I’d have to make her stop.

I’m telling you this because there’s a tendency when somebody dies to forget they were flawed, they weren’t perfect. I don’t care if people want to think Pat was perfect; it’s me I’m having trouble with.

It’s the way the human mind works; we think in absolutes, in dichotomies. If Pat was Good, I must be Bad.

So I try to remind myself of her failings, of which that was a minor example, but I'm not here to say bad things about Pat. I remind myself of her imperfectness, then I feel like a bitch for doing it, which puts me right back where I started. So I’m going to do something new.

I was a selfish bitch long before Pat started showing recognizable symptoms of muscular dystrophy. For that matter, I’ve been a selfish, egocentric, whacko bitch with delusions of literature most of my life. Crazy, wanting to be somebody else, always trying to slide out of reality because it didn’t feel like it fit right, crying over nothing, selfish, awful, selfish. Always. Right from the get-go. A lot of bad things happened to me when Pat started getting really sick, my mind started protective maneuvers, but that’s not when I got selfish or bitchy or crazy or mean. I was always all of those things.

That’s my new mantra: I was always an awful, selfish bitch.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it?

But here’s why I think it’ll work better than the other, you aren’t a bad person line: I’ve never believed that. I’ve always thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me, so telling myself there isn’t doesn’t work.

So, I’m a bad, selfish person. But Pat loved me. That’s not a defense, it’s a fact. She loved me beyond all reason, and she didn’t see me as a bad, selfish person, she didn’t think I was mean to her; I know, because I asked. A lot. And this was before she needed me to look after her, it was when she could have walked out the door whenever she wanted, just taken the car and gone. She wanted to be with me, for reasons I can’t quite fathom, she wanted to be with me. She didn’t see herself as stuck with me. She really, really loved me. (I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.) Whatever I was doing, I wasn’t doing it completely wrong. And Pat wasn’t a victim of my bad bad badness.

I’m trying to hang onto what I believe I know of her. Not being able to trust myself, my perceptions, the things I remember, or think I remember--that makes it very difficult to say anything definitively. I find myself saying, “Pat always liked--” and stopping to correct myself, to qualify, to say, “At least, I think she liked it,” whatever it was. Because how can I be sure? Particularly, how can I be sure if it was something I liked? How can I know she wasn’t just humoring me? She would, you know, to make me happy. (We once watched a TV show for two years before I found out she didn't really like it, she was just watching it because I wanted to.)

But if I didn’t know her, did anybody? If I let myself doubt everything, does she just disappear into maybes and I thinks and waffling and doubt? How can I write about her if I have to keep qualifying every definitive statement I make? I’ve lost her already, but I can’t lose my ability to write about her, not just because I need to write about her, but because who else is going to? Someone has to write about her, someone has to say who she was--what’s the point of spending your life with a writer if that writer doesn’t even write about you after you’re gone? I mean, there has to be some upside to living with an egocentric lunatic with delusions of literature.

I’m a bitch, but I did pay attention to her, I did know her. I just have to keep telling myself that, and I have to keep writing.

*Dr. Rameau
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
Sometimes That Happens To You--You Think About the Wrong Thing, So You Won't Have To Think About the Right Thing.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

When it comes right down to it, when the entire world is falling apart and there is no reason left to go on living because it all hurts too much and there is no one left who cares, there is still one thing I can count on: my addiction to stories.

Not writing them. Reading them, or listening to them, or watching them on TV, or even going out of the house and paying to watch them in a movie theatre. Stories are the road out of my head, out of my life. It doesn't matter where they take me, as long as I don't bring back anything awful with me. (This is the reason I'm careful-ish about the scary stuff I subject myself to. Fear is fine, but I do not want to be grossed out to where the pictures or words in my head come back to keep me up night, or make me sick. It's happened before, and those images are still with me. I keep them back behind a lot of other things. I try to pretend they don't exist.)

Reading is a wonderful addiction. Not only do you get to get out of your own awful self, but you get points for it. People who disdain your addiction are the ones who are ridiculed by polite society, which is pretty cool.

Every time something falls apart, I find a story to escape into. The year Pat died, it was The Manchurian Candidate (followed closely by Panic Room, and Law and Order, which I watched compulsively). The stories themselves aren't comforting, but they're like big, fast boats that sailed quickly from the awfulness of real life to someplace compelling, someplace with other things to think about. Part of the key to denial is distraction; you have to keep looking away from what you're not looking at, you have to keep looking at other stuff, concentrating on it.

The summer Pat died, I listened to all the Spenser novels, in order. I also listened to all the Nero Wolfe books I could get on audio. I spent more time with Michael Prichard (who reads all the Nero Wolfe books, and a lot of the Spensers) than I did with everyone else I know put together. It was so incredibly comforting.

I still have the warmest memories of a book called The Stone Carnation. I was thirteen when I read it, and Michelle had stopped speaking to me again and I was bereft. And then I had this place to go, this escape that was mine alone; I was in a book. I was gone.

They called my grandmother Danny Dreamer (after a cartoon character) because she daydreamed so much. My mother's been telling me about all the stories that go on in her head, and my father used to talk about how, when he wasn't actually reading the book he was reading, he was thinking about the plot and the characters, and what might happen next. I've watched my uncle walk into a room, his eyes scanning for something to read, and the second he's sitting down, the book or newspaper or magazine is open and he's reading. Escape. Who wouldn't fly out the window, if they could?

Well, nobody in my family, that's for sure.

*Lauren Slater
carose59: mourning (i forget just why)
{I wrote this June 28, 2004, but I never posted it. I think I didn't think it was finished, and maybe it isn't; it's a little abrupt. But if it were to continue, it would only take you down the same path all my other grief-stricken analyses of grief go, so maybe there's no point to finishing it. Or maybe there was no point anyway, and that was the point. Anyway, it's part of my past, it's lucid, and it's over four hundred words. What more does it need?}

"Yes, It's Sludge. I Thought It'd Make A Nice Change From Coffee."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other day I went to the flea market on East Washington Street.

We used to go there all the time; we spent hours there, looking at records (we got most of our collection there), at jewelry, at all sorts of things. We bought a wastebasket full of old jewelry, necklaces mostly, and used it to make our own beaded curtain.

I'm trying to get back on the horse. Apparently this includes long-dead horses, since we hadn't gone to the flea market in years. But I wanted to walk around, look at things, see if I could find . . . I don't know. Our past?

What I got was dizzy. Hideously dizzy; I didn't sit down, but I didn't really look at anything, either. I couldn't really see anything. I just wandered around and tried not to run into anything.

After that was Home Depot (where my cousin Patrick works). We were there last summer . . . .

Was it last summer? Or was it the summer before? Already I have no idea. Anyway, we were there to buy a fan, which we did. Was it the oscillating fan, the one I just broke? (I took the cage apart to clean it and the blades and it wouldn't go back together again. I have the cage held together with those plastic tie things that have gotten so popular. They're very strong, and I used hot pink ones. Pat was laughing at me when I broke the fan. That made it worthwhile right there.) I drove to the north side of town one dripping hot day to buy another, but they must not have had one because we don't have another oscillating fan.

I'm trying to come up with a way of explaining how pointless things seem without Pat around. There are people to spend time with, and I love them, and I have more time to spend, only—they aren't her. And anything interesting that happens to me just hangs in the air, then drops to the ground. Who needs a fascinating life with no one to talk to about it?

(There is not a day that passes that I don't say to myself, "I hate myself and I wish I had been kinder, better, more attentive.")

*Agador, The Birdcage

I'm just tired

Sunday, 14 August 2005 03:29 pm
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
—And I Was What I Most Didn't Want To Ever Be, Humiliated, So I Left Him There, Forcing Myself Not To Run Out the Door, Gone . . .*

-:- -:- -:-

A couple of facts:

The zebra's first line of defense against predators is their stripes. When the zebra are all together in a herd, the predator watching can't tell just how many of them there are, can't pick out a single zebra. They look like one big zebra. Nobody wants to attack one big zebra.

That applies to healthy, adult zebra. Young zebra disrupt the pattern because they move differently, and so do sick or wounded zebra. The herd will fight to protect the young ones. The wounded ones aren't so lucky.

People can do this, too. My mother was telling me the other day about some talk show she was watching (Jane Pauley's?) where a pedophile was saying he could walk into a room of children and pick out the vulnerable one, the one who would be susceptible to his attention, the one who wouldn't tell. The damaged one. The one who most needed to be told they were special, and would most feel they deserved to be hurt.

I don't have any verification, but I know that bullies can do it, too. It's been happening to me my whole life.

When I was in high school, I spent as much time as I could trying to go unnoticed because I'd already been through eight years of being the object of ridicule, the last two because I was a known lesbian in a small Catholic school. So I did my best to hide.

Let me tell you something: I'm not good at hiding. I'm not good at staying invisible. The more I hear, the more I wonder if any manic-depressives are. When I'm up, I feel like—not like nobody could hurt me (my moods don't go that far up) but like nobody would want to hurt me. I fall in love with the world and can't imagine that it doesn't love me, too.

And when I slide down, all the memories of all the laughter come back and I can't imagine that anybody could love me, and much as I want to be invisible so nobody can see me to laugh at me, the uncontrollable crying is usually kind of noticeable.

Anyway, high school. In terms of harassment, high school was nothing compared to grade school; there was only one creepy guy who, whenever we were in the same place at the same time, would attack me. And we both took German, which, in a small school, meant for two years, our schedules were the same. I think gym class was the only one we didn't have together. I could hide during lunch, and there was one study hall I was safe because I was playing cards with one of the teachers. But the rest of the time, it was open season. And nobody did anything. There was one guy, and there were a number of people that, I at least imagined, seemed disgusted by his behavior, and no one said anything. I had a few friends, who said nothing. The teachers said nothing.

I didn't fight back. I'd tried that in grade school (when it was the whole pack) and it always ended up worse; when it came to defending myself, I learned to shut down, to keep my head down.

But I couldn't keep my mouth shut about other things. There are times I want to, but—

My mother says virtually my first words were, "It's not fair!" The feeling of complacent injustice weighs on me and whether I say anything or not, I feel like crap about it. I hate making myself a target; I hate hiding. I hate breathing.

When I found fandom, I felt like I'd found the people I'd been looking for my whole life, the people I could be my real self with. But fandom isn't any different than any other group, except that for the most part, fans won't make fun of you for being obsessive about a TV show, or seeing a movie over and over again.

I've become convinced that there's no place I belong, no place I can just be myself. I've always known I was born to be discontented, and I can handle the discontent in myself; what I can't handle is being afraid all the time. When I ask questions, they're always the wrong ones, and no one believes I'm looking for a serious answer.

I don't know what to do.

*William Goldman
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
I Wasn't Interested in Being Happier But in Growing More Poignantly, Becomingly, Meaningfully Unhappy. *

-:- -:- -:-

I've been reading this book, Because I Said So, essays written by mothers.

I've known since at least high school that I was never going to be a mother because I don't have what it takes. I have no patience (ask the cat). I'm too self-absorbed (you could ask Pat if she was still around to ask). I have very definite ideas about what children need and I'm quite sure I don't have it to give. I'd look at my cousin getting pregnant and getting pregnant and getting pregnant, and all I could think was, why? Why would anybody want to do that, why would anybody want something in their life that was there forever to worry about? Who needs more responsibility and anxiety and feeling like you're doing it all wrong? (And having spent a number of years worrying about Pat, I'm even surer of that now.)

It occurred to me the other night that whenever I thought about being a mother, I saw myself doing it alone. I saw myself being the only one looking after this poor child that I would love more than anything and that I would have given all the craziness my genes had to offer, and I would be unable to protect it from all the things that hurt me. Doing my best and my best would not be good enough. Why should I think anything different? It's exactly what I saw my mother doing. I never saw a father in the picture. I don't even know where this baby was supposed to have come from. Heathcliff?

(And I'm unwilling to give up my position as designated child. I listen to my mother and my aunt and my cousins talk about kids and I think they have no idea. When my cousin was talking about being a surrogate mother, my mother's first concern was, will she be able to give up the baby? Mine was, what will her own kids think of this? Will they be able to understand that Mommy giving away this baby doesn't mean Mommy will give one of us away? I said this to my mother; it had never occurred to her.)

Last night--well, early this morning, when I was lying in bed after spending an hour in the bathroom being very, very sick, I had the a/c turned down to 70 and 2 fans blowing on me so that the room and I were nice and cold and I could wrap myself in both a sheet and a flannel sheet and feel snuggly. I tried to persuade the cat to join me, but he pretty much lives in the corner of my room now, under the clothes that hang there.

Anyway, I was feeling very sick and I was lying wrapped in my sheets with a pillow on either side of me (it makes my back feel better and also it makes me feel like I'm not alone in bed. It's a trick I discovered after Pat died) and wishing I wasn't alone in my bed, that someone was holding me, loving me. And I understood that I've always believed that Pat loving me was a fluke, that I never expected there to be anybody who loved me. (At eighteen my life-plan was to write like crazy for the next twelve years and kill myself at thirty.) The fact that I had Pat for the twenty-five years I did have her was just a fluke, a detour. It will not be happening again. Alone is my natural state, so I'd better get used to it.

It's a very weird feeling.

I miss Pat. I'm lonely.

I would very much like to have someone love me. But saying that feels like saying I would very much like to be tall and beautiful, which is true but so what? Wanting doesn't make it my natural state, or something I can have. Alone doesn't feel good, but alone feels right.

* Emily Fox Gordon
carose59: it's all in my head (the wind of the wing)
And I Can Take Or Leave It If I Please.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My mother is seventy-five years old, and not in good health. We talk a lot about her dying, and how everything will go to me. And lying in the dentist's chair today, wondering why I was lying in a dentist's chair, I came up with this plan. (Wait. That sounded a little like Laurence Olivier had abducted me and was asking "Iss it safe?" And this is not the case. I was wondering what I was doing there because I don't know why I'm wasting all this money on teeth that will last longer than I plan to.)

When my mother dies, I'm going to get on a plane and go to NY and spend my limit on every credit card I can get my hands on, and spend every liquid dime I have, and when that's done and I'm 100% broke—owing nothing, owning nothing, you should pardon the expression (and I know it's not quite accurate, I'd be owing the credit card companies a fortune, but this would be a last "screw you" to them)—I'm going to kill myself. I don't know how yet; something to do with blood, I think. Maybe razor blades, maybe I can borrow a gun. Hey, maybe I can even buy one. I've only ever held a gun once in my life, maybe I'd like it, owning one.

I'm hurting, and I can't see any end to it coming. All the now-you-can-do-this-with-your-life bullshit is just that. I want to go where I feel right, and I don't think there really is any place like that, but NY has been a narcotic for me. I want to go O.D. on it and not have to worry about how my life doesn't fit anymore.

The truth is, there has only been one person in my life who has ever had unlimited time for me, who has ever—

And I don't see it ever happening again. When I was eighteen, I was more adventurous, and prettier, and quite often happier, I think. More entertaining, anyway.

*Suicide Is Painless, Johnny Mandel & Mike Altman


Thursday, 29 July 2004 11:18 am
carose59: mourning (i forget just why)
I think I will learn the Latin name of every songbird, not only in
America but wherever they sing.*

-:- -:- -:-

I'm crying because I know that, if she came back tomorrow, I would still be the same selfish bitch I've always been, that this is who I am, a once—and—future failure.

I'm crying because I know it's my fault she's dead, and if she came back, I would still want to go out every day, away from her to walk and talk to myself. I wouldn't stop being selfish, even if God gave her back. If she came back, I would just kill her again. I know this, and I hate myself for it.

I'm crying because I wasted so much time with other people, because I was mean to her, because I was scared so much, because my neurosis got in the way of me opening up, because I hid from her, because—

You know how in French Kiss Meg Ryan suggests she and Timothy Hutton chainsaw their sofa down the middle as a way of evenly dividing their stuff? I'm crying because that's what's happened to all of my stuff. Chainsawed right down the middle, and even though both pieces are right there, they're not fixable.

She used to sing to the cats, songs she made up for them. I tell them now, "Mommy—the good mommy—is in heaven." We argued over who the good mommy was.

She used to—when there was something strange or funny on TV that she wanted to ask me about, she'd raise her hand like JT in Return of the Secaucus 7, when they're playing school. "Mr. Donnelly?" she'd ask, and I'd say, "Yes, JT?" And then she'd ask me things like why it was all right to chase park squirrels and not street squirrels, or any one of a million silly questions that I would then make up pseudo—serious answers to.

Except sometimes I was tired, or I had stuff that had to get done. Tuesday I was in the kitchen crying because I was in the kitchen, cutting up the catfish for the stew and I wanted it done fast so I just stood there, cutting it up instead of dragging everything out to the living room so I could do it where Pat was, so we could be together. Crying about doing it even now when—well, yes, she is in the living room, but in a plastic bag and a cardboard box. Crying about every time it seemed important to get something done away from her—sorting laundry in the backyard because the weather was pretty and I liked being out in it, instead of taking it in and being with her, crying about going out to talk to the flowers, leaving her alone—

parting is all we know of heaven
and all we need of hell (Emily Dickinson)

How could I leave her alone so much? Is that why she's left me alone? Does she still love me at all, at all?

*Intention to Escape from Him, Edna St. Vincent Millay
carose59: RSS (music set me on fire)
"If You Want To Be There For Me, Just Make It From Further Away, OK?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

In this book I'm reading, the little boy died. (No, it's not Cujo.) I'm going to have to spell-check this carefully, because I'm crying too hard to see the monitor clearly. The little boy died.

And I'm back with Celia, inside her skin, and I'm getting hysterical.

My red pen is missing. I can't do Christmas cards without my red pen. I spent an hour, and missed IMing with Andie, because I was searching for the cell phone.

He died. Where does life go, where does it go? I can't understand it, I just feel this loss echoing in me like Quasimodo's bells going crazy in my head. Why do I feel this loss, it's not my loss, I never even met Him, He just moved into my head when I walked into His mother's house.

(I can't find a consistent way of writing about Him, and I value consistency highly because reality shifts and if you know that you always do a certain thing a certain way, you can recognize it again and you don't get lost. Only I can't do that, so I always get lost. I'm lost now.)

My father died this year.

When I was about nine years old, a woman hit a telephone pole at the corner of our street one evening, and the pole snapped. It didn't break where the car hit (yes, there was a car, it wasn't just a woman hitting a pole, she was driving a car), it broke a couple of yards above the point of impact.

Was the woman injured? Did she die? I can't remember. The power went out, so a lot of us were outside, sitting on our porches, watching whatever was happening—an ambulance arriving, the Power and Light truck. It was summer, the dark was late in coming.

I didn't understand about the pole, how it could break in a place it wasn't hit, why being hit in one place would make it snap elsewhere. I asked my parents, and I'm sure my father explained—he would have known that sort of thing. I don't remember what he told me, but I understand it now.

You take the hit, and you don't even feel it. Everyone is worried; something terrible happened, but you don't know what to do with their concern because you feel fine. Life goes back to normal, until suddenly something snaps. And the something isn't what got hit. A brick hits you in the leg and your arm snaps. How do you explain that? How do you explain that the reason the cable bill is late in December because your father died in February? The connection here is . . . ?

The connection is, I don't know. I don't feel right. I'm out of sync with everything, including paying bills. I think about it, worry about it, but I don't do it because—

I don't know.

The little boy died, and now I'm crying, not over him, it's never over the character in the book, it's about a real-life thing that hurts to much, or stands to close, for me to see it; I can only feel it in reflection, hear it in echo. It has to be oblique, because if I felt it in real-time, it would kill me. The little boy died, so I'm crying over Him, and my father, and myself.

It's always about myself. But we knew that, didn't we?

*Dr. Mahesh "Bug" Vijayaraghavensatanaryanamurthy

July 2017

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