Friday, June 27, 2014

UNDER A PINE TREE

The last of John's mom's strawberries.


I am fairly certain that it is a truth universally acknowledged that moving is not a high priority activity on a mild summer day, particularly after several dog’s mouth days (no insults to canines intended). I’ve been quite desultory in getting the rest of my things packed and myself decamped to 8th Avenue. Transitions are always a pain. I am so enjoying the air (currently outside at 7:35 pm with Emmylou wandering down the driveway) and the sounds of the birds. Truth be told, I could do without the traffic, but if I am to be back in Brooklyn, such is the environment. 

I’m not depressed, really, just kind of affectless. All I want to do is nap and/or read and I quite sure that more than a few of you will be wondering how that is any different than any other time in my life. Finished the Sylvia Plath book and am now almost finished with the memoir, Love Lessons: A Wartime Journal by Joan Wyndham. Quick, moving, and diverting. Oh, and quite short.

I did get to Trader Joe’s to do shopping (and discovered, as I am a) broke and b) preparing to leave that, a Fairway Market is opening nearby), my laundry is on the line, and I have been thinking about what to pack to keep close and what to put into storage. But as I don’t know where I am going for how long it is a bit of a challenge. Things are becoming clearer, though. Hard to tell if I am processing or procrastinating or both. I suppose they are not mutually exclusive.





I’m sitting under the pine tree that Emmylou likes due to the birds above. Sometimes, she sits on the ground next to me, sometimes she sleeps on the picnic table under the grape arbor, but now I think she is wandering and I should go fetch her. She will miss access to the out of doors, as will I. I can always go to Prospect Park, but Emmy will have to be content with hanging on the fire escape with Melinda.

Emmylou comes running across the yard as a well-behaved pet, but generally unlike a cat. 

It's hard to leave here, where I have been safe and comfortable. I had some good times in my six months here. The last few weeks have been very challenging, but my feelings are mostly ... well ... sad is too much ... maybe wistful? A new routine and a new reality are here and I must adjust, if not embrace.






Thursday, June 26, 2014

NECESSARY SELECTIONS

I’m not at all sure why, but I am tearing through the Sylvia Plath bio, Mad Girl’s Love Song. In a way, it is like Marmee and Louisa, as it closely chronicles the mother-daughter relationship, and the struggles Louisa and Sylvia experienced becoming women and writers. There is much to reference from Mad Girl’s Love Song, most particularly a long W.H. Auden poem, Kairos and Logos, but more on that later. Just to start, though, this line jumped out at me,

“We are at loggerheads with our own lives.”


Helloooo!? You talkin’ to me?

Wilson (author of Plath biography) also takes a resonant quote from Jane Davidson's The Fall of A Doll's House: Three Generations of American Women and The Houses They Lived In. 

"We might read Virginia Woolf, discourse on her, but we didn't absorb her counsel: we didn't, as she advised, try to 'think poetically and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact.' 

Yeah ... that keeping in touch with fact is damn tricky.

"We alternated instead of integrating, and someone should have insisted on our sorting out priorities with ruthlessness, with realism. But we weren't even aware that selection was necessary."

If you have read my last few posts, I do believe you will well understand the reverberations for me. Ah, yes, priorities, choices, selections. And to that end, I need to go back to culling.

Now on Thursday.

Back to muggy, dog's-mouth weather.

Ups and downs, but not staying down. First part of moving out accomplished. Lots of strife and anguish and angst as closing day nears. (Another month.)

I made some painful choices in donating items that were dear to me: my vintage enamel kitchen table, a boudoir chair I had had for twenty years, the rug I had found in Maine, and other things. S and I made it up to CT to get into storage, and, after two years, I am ready to go and reduce my belonging footprint yet again in the coming weeks.

I've been a bit out of it since, but I am not on a huge deadline to get out of here, other than not wanting to engage in the things the family needs to do. 

So, back to more packing, and a nap. On Monday, as I was packing and having anxiety moment, I would stop and sit under the grape arbor to read and calm down. 




Monday, June 23, 2014

WHAT DOES IT MEAN IF WE ARE OUR CHOICES?


On Saturday night, I woke up in the middle of the night, around 3:30 to no cats in my bed. I got up to get water and to see if Emmylou had been stuck in the basement. I found her in the living room entertaining a cricket friend, that I did not see when I got up at a more reasonable time.

Cooder has been very close today, maybe because I closed the doors to the upstairs bedrooms where she hunkered down when she wasn't on our bed. She's down here on the couch. Emmylou is sleeping in the inconvenient place between the kitchen and living room where she can easily be stepped on.

Monday now.

Goodness. It is always interesting when something I write strikes a nerve with my friends (by the way, feel free to share this blog with whomever you like). I must say it helps to know that others, can relate to aspects of my experience. I got a couple of philosophical responses that I would like to share.

Very sad to read you think your life has gone "terribly wrong".

I know people have a variety of yardsticks with which to measure "success". I have traded in one yardstick for another over the years, initially using (and craving) bigger, ego-y, name-lives-on-forever-more-is-better criteria. And yes, I acknowledge good things in my life: my job, my hubby, my dog, my friends, our house, good things. But my new criteria is connections: friends, being a better person and partner, feeling like I am learning the lessons I need to learn (patience, compassion, communication, creativity, vulnerability, probably a ton more, too, but I need to limit my list somehow).

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you use the yardstick of connection, you are well-loved, you have wonderful friendships, people who care deeply about you. You are always doing work on your life lessons, learning about yourself, being vulnerable. And you are incredibly creative and talented in a variety of areas. 

I am not trying to say don't feel the way you do, just saying that in my eyes, you have done much right in your life, too. 

And this from the partner of the above writer.



I am not in your shoes, or woes for that matter, and not to be to presumptuous, and I probably don't really have a good inkling of what depths your depression and the dementors can sink you in, but it did pain me to read you saying how terribly terribly (it must have had to do with you doubling down) you feel your life has gone.  

Yes I can easily see all the ways you would have wished it went with love and work and everything, but I SO don't think your life has gone terribly wrong. So, therefore, I make the stupid rash assumption that if I don't think your life has been terrible, you shouldn't feel that way.  As if.................

Still, I think you made many brave, courageous, (bordering sometimes on crazy to me), choices that have given you such cache in my book.  I'm just spilling here and not self editing too much, but I just had to get the sour taste out of my mind mouth of that phrase (How did I get life so terribly terribly wrong?)

It brings to mind my regrets with not having children, something I chose very consciously and deliberately, and quite aware of the cost and even thinking it may prove a mistake in hindsight.  I sometimes fall into thinking it was a very wrong choice, even despairing my selfishness that partly directed me to that vector in life.  I remind myself of why I so chose, and there were reasons beyond mere calculation, temperament, destiny; and all I gained by making that choice, but sometimes it simply seems outweighed by the imagined alternatives.  For the all the blessed life, I have lived so far and all my gratitude for all my fortune (friends, love, family, health, intellect, heart, et al.) I can slip into “what ifs” and surprise myself to see I've entered into despondent waters and lo, I've forgotten how to swim.  And then I too slip into, "How did I get it so wrong?  What was I thinking?"  

When I find myself in this place, it sometimes helps to remember that I actually have answers to these questions.  Inasmuch as how life turns out is a result of smart (or at least conscious) choices that at other times I am reminded worked out (I know part of the rub is you are feeling they DID NOT work out for you) and I feel it is always a blend of luck and choice, or fate and planning, a ratio that I'm still trying to grok and seems to be by nature dynamic.  Often, when I find myself in a great situation in body and/or mind, I both thank my lucky stars and pat myself on the back to getting me into this great place.  I think, maybe it was all me, or I think maybe it was sheer grace and blessing. I think more often it is a blend and I will never know the percentages of each and really it doesn't matter and I'd better leave it alone as I'm forgetting to even enjoy and appreciate the wonderful mystery I am beholding right that second, spoiling it with ruminations that I have done all my life and that I pretty much feel powerless to avoid.  

And now I realize how you must feel at times, the powerlessness of where you find yourself.  As if the choices made were not in fact choices after all, but not sure what they were if not choices.  Clearly you have touched a nerve that I need to ponder more, along with all my other ponderings.  

Of course you know that I am not suggesting in any way that you shouldn't feel the way you do.  That is plain rude, ridiculous, and negating.  Just wanted to add reminders of the other angles involved because that often helps me dilute my sadness or self-loathing or regret.

I love you, Sally, and on the assumption that we wouldn't be who we are without the choices we have made throughout our lives, whatever the final tally, and knowing you will take and leave as needed whatever I have said, here's hoping that whenever we find ourselves asking these difficult questions, we get answers that if not satisfactory, at least give us respite. 



MZ nailed the powerless aspect of my feelings. There's also frustration, regret, and fear. However, I am going to go drink some tea or water and get back to packing and fretting as I try to enjoy one of my last days out here. And continue to contemplate all of this ... and cope.