Friday, January 30, 2009

This is the LOUDEST library in the world

Much like being at a small enclosed zoo the noise around me increases, rapidly it grows louder and louder. And it isn't like it is just the sudden swarm of adorable children who have filled every aisle of the library - it is the adults who are lacking in their herding responsibilities. In their teaching of library etiquette. :)

Now, I am experiencing Facebook withdrawals, I want to post things like: Heather is in the loudest library in the world. OR Heather is finally getting homework done. And so on and so forth. A desire to explode with my random thoughts and share them in this mind cluttering space. Don't get me wrong, FB and I are on a break, we aren't broken up. Though I am wondering if I spelled it "brake" by mistake. Nonetheless it is to break this obsessive control that immediate gratification and fun distraction holds over me. That and the jealousies that have cluttered my little heart and brain. Or even just all the time I look at the lives of people I don't actually know, their pictures, their comments on their walls. Now, really? Need I do this? It is a collection, like I should have a menagerie that can hold all of them. I believe for many people this is a fine avenue, but with my obsessive nature (and that is what I know I have) I need to not be looking at it. I adore the fact that I have reconnected with people and I would like to attempt to maintain that. But I need to focus on other things.

Well, as a response to my last rant/post. It was very much about the lives of people that I do not know - my friends who have successes I am happy for, my friends who have struggles I embrace and want to know how to encourage them through it. I see the humanity in the people I personally know and love and do not resent any gifts they have. And I recognize that those experiences have not come without strife or have not yet allowed them to reap what seem appropriate rewards. I can see all of this in the "human" relationships I have with actual people - not facebook strangers.

Okay, I am finding it no longer conducive to be at a library studying when there are 7 kids on one side of my table talking and flipping through magazines. And the poor 11 or 12 year old boy across from me is trying to focus on his book.

Okay, I'm leaving.

Hey, thanks for being supportive and understanding. I love you guys.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Self-Pity Be Damned!

For 2 days I have been unable to do anything. Literally, anything. I have watched tv or stared blankly into space. Occasionally started to cry but have not been able to maintain interest in even that. When I did bother to think it was pathetic and pitiful thoughts. Often thinking of what my life "should have been" and of all of the great and exciting lives of other people. People I grew up with. People who went to better colleges, or pursued their dreams ACTIVELY, people who APPEAR to be living the life of their dreams. And me? I stay in my hermitage, wasting all of this time. Unable to get myself to leave the house, to study, to look at this amazing city I live in - I let myself feel overwhelmed because I believe that not a thing will get done because I cannot get myself to do it and thus all of the projects which loom over me - the real deadlines will not be met. When I start do something I just slip back into the void of nothing that has become me. I am sick of it.

Kyle thinks that things like facebook have been a bad influence - in part because in this state of pathetic self-pity I am not reflective on the goodness of life, the good fortunate of others or how we each carve out our own lives and destinies. How dreams change and how part of growing up is knowing that plans are never set in stone but move and grow and alter. Instead they are about my seeming failures and how behind I feel, how I let my dreams die - and not recently but many years ago. How I went to a less respectable university than I had dreamed of, how I did not pursue writing, how I go to a graduate school that provide a good education (with most all of my classes) but is nonetheless not noteworthy in and of itself. And I mean this in the bigger flashy sense. The sense that does not REALLY matter except in my green mind of random and childish jealousy. How I compare my responses to things in class and feel aware of their inadequacies when I listen to the intelligent responses of others. Even when they are things I have done professionally and others haven't - how much better theirs sound. It feels disappointing. It feels pathetic.

And so I beat myself up and briefly whine to Kyle and I mope. That and this god awful depression that I let own me. I do, I allow it ownership in my life. And I am sick of it. Sick of it all. I complain that I am so unsuccessful and have done nothing noteworthy. Which is an insult to those I love and to anything I have done. It says, "this life, you who are in my life - not good enough." Which I don't feel at all. I have put myself in the cave and can only see the shadows and I have chained myself to this view - I have mistaken appearance for reality and let myself stop living.

This is a life not worth observing - that is not the life I have been given. Not the life I have been blessed with. It is the shadows I have embraced and the untruth I have make truth. And it has to stop.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh Ziggy play that Guitar

As I sat in the rather fancy Starbucks* less than a mile from my home listening to Al Green pumped through the surround sound speakers drinking my Grande Non-Fat with Whip 6 pump Mocha and falling into a state of self-pity I decided to close my $79.99 text book and put it away in my book bag by its $153.00 companion text (all purchased compliments of my high interest student loans) and walk across to the Walgreens to purchase my very expensive medication. As he retrieved it the pharmacist said, "Wow, that's some pricey medication." I winced swiping my debit card thinking - okay there is enough money in my checking account for this but maybe not rent . . . - when the pharmacist said, "well, it could be worse, without insurance it would be $400." To which I replied, "Yes, while I miss my old insurance, I'm thankful for this nevertheless." And I walked out of the store and began to think of how thankful I am indeed. And it sort of slapped me in the face, how dare I wallow in my self-righteous middle class self-pity? I mean yes I may have some sincere financial woes coming my way and really need a job, but for today I was able to purchase my medication (although my insurance's $2500 limit on med coverage should be up by now and I am just hoping they won't bill me later and this month I will begin researching low cost medication). Nonetheless, for 30 days I have medication.

I began to think about the multitude of other things I am thankful for - even just those I saw walking down 39th Ave. Like that fact that I have somewhere warm to walk to. I have food at home. I have insurance. I was not being attacked (by humans or wild animals - often an irrational fear of mine while walking day or night - oh of humans not like wilda-beasts). I am thankful for my coat and gloves. For the little girl in the winter coat walking ahead of me holding her dad's hand and licking a popsicle in 47 degree weather as her family walked into the MC Escher apartment building next door to mine. The boy in the fedora-like hat waiting for the #75 bus. For the Starbuck's* gift card that supplied my tasty mocha of utter perfection. For David Bowie's music that put a bit more pep in my step - because how could it not? - playing through my little MuVo mp3 player.

Here in my life of middle class wonder I am aware that the world is falling apart in many ways. That the economy is scary. The wars are scary. That there is so much scariness around. But that I have to see the little things. I have to be so thankful for them each step of the way.

Now, I have to study. I'm not as thankful for that, but I am for my education so I guess I should work on the attitude about studying.

*I know, I should feel shame, corporate coffee, but there was a gift card involved so I'll think of how they treat their staff well and do the whole fair trade coffee thing. If only the didn't make such perfect mochas . . .

hope is the thing with feathers

How did Emily Dickinson do it? I leave my house far more than she did - granted it is to go to the pet store or pick a DVD up at the library - yet I cannot write with any of the beauty she writes even on her scraps of napkins and paper. It isn't fair to compare myself to an amazing poet. I think it has more to do with material. Where did she get all of it? Her desk faced the wall, the window behind her! However there was scandal, wasn't she excommunicated? Or was that just wild 19th century gossip? In love with a married man? Yet she never left her home? Hmmm. Nonetheless I shall eat my toast and read my books and - wow, even as I think about it I realize why I don't have anything interesting to write, I mean considering that I am reading for what should be an exciting topic - Psychopathology! but has a terrible text, an undergrad "Abnormal Psychology" text that is patronizing to the mentally ill in its very first sentence of chapter 1, but more than that it is dreadfully boring! I suppose what you are putting into your head impacts your thoughts, impacts your writing etc. So I will just post Emily's popular poem:


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


As for me my "free-reading" books that are up next on cue are two of P.W. Singer's
books and one not scary book:

Children at War -and-
Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

THEN

My Best Friend's Girl (by Dorothy Koomson - not political but supposed to be Brilliant)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

pieces

Do you ever feel like pieces of your life may never completely come into their own?
Like there are things that will never quite fit right again?

This will sound convoluted, but it is like a mosaic. A mosaic comes together from the broken parts of many different things. An image, often beautifully fractured yet whole, comes to be. But sometimes it feels even though mine is an ever forming mosaic there are pieces that will never be able to go. They are parts of of a different story. One that I treasure but don't know how to reconcile and thus don't know how to make part of this emerging narrative and image.

When I think of my past and what is often referred to as my "former life" I think that as time passes and I build a new life - what happens to the sacredness of those memories? Because one cannot live in the past and must forgive themselves the ugly and even the beautiful they have to take it all and wrap it up into somtething whole and, then what? Set it free? Bury it? Carry it?

Today the subject of this past is my marriage - a relationship of nearly 7 years with someone. One that as time passes slips away into a deep and distant history. It's supposed to I am told. It has to I know. But the fragments that remain continue woven into my very identity. When I got a call this morning about some pictures that he is sending me, ones he found when going through the old albums, pictures that did not pertain to him but me on hiking trips with youth groups etc. I felt the pang of an eraser. An eraser digging into my memory. And then I felt the pain of having left him to clean up a shared life - where I got to move to an empty city with no furniture, no buildings to remind me of special times, no corners to turn that will freeze my spirit or snatch the ability of my brain to move forward. But him with an apartment of memories, of a table and chairs we searched for, a couch we fought about, in a room we shared. While he is less sentimental than me I have a difficult time imagining staying in a place that held so much.

What Leonard Cohen says in, "Is This What You Wanted":

You were the promise at dawn,
I was the morning after . . .

And is this what you wanted
to live in a house that is haunted
by the ghost of you and me?

Which I played for him a year or two ago and he thought was sort of ridiculous. Mainly because LC also sings about tangerines I believe. Nonetheless, there are pieces of this story that I do not know how to keep and do not want to forget. Because forgetting erases meaning, or so it seems.

And thus my fear of marriage comes in, but that is probably for another blog because this one is quite lengthy and quite heavy. Particularly for me.

And by the way I do know how this sounds, like one who has not let go. But is it so bad to not know how to hold your history especially in light of my current happiness in love. I want the same for him - and I would really like it sooner rather than later. But that is in part for selfish reasons.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

blink

Sometimes you receive small gems in your simple day. Like you were just going about your average hum drum existence and then you realize something, like little "a-ha's" that dance in your thoughts. You experience small, significant, interesting, unique or simply exquisite moments that stand out. 

This has been a day with many of those moments.

Crisp air through a slightly cracked door.
Devestatingly good chocolate chip and cream cheese muffins.
The way sunlight falls through a window even when it seems that it shouldn't reach. 
The sincere smile and kind, kind words of a friend as you try to simultaneously wipe away tears and mascara on a rough cafe napkin. 
The eyes and laugh of a new friend as they tell an antecdote so fantastic that it results in your choking on water.
The gift of a piece of someone's history tucked into your thoughts - bestowed like a secret present, even though it isn't so much a secret as a window.
The look of your cat as she seems to be inhaling the world around her & yet moving with the precision of an animatronic kitty. 
A book so exquisitely written that you want to both savor and devour it at the same time because it is like poetry and the characters are alive and feel like flesh and blood. 

Like little blinks when you look at the sun and you see light picking up the smallest of particles or blotting out certain parts of your view. That's what these moments are. Blinks. 

I love to understand this (like you understand how the moon rises at night but don't really understand the science), how these moments when strung together to make up life. A reality grounded in the promise that there is always something magical in existence - even when you are sitting under grey and cavernous clouds for a very long time. 

Blinks that, whether they are merely a reprieve or a promise of better days, give you hope. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Laundry Consensus

The ruling has been made:

Laundry takes effort, involves trying, is basically an undesirable chore (though the outcome once folded and hung up is desirable) and we should be proud of ourselves and others for accomplishing it.

I raise my proverbial glass to laundry washers everywhere - especially to those who have no machines (including no laundr-o-mats).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 752,003

In the infamous description of time by some character in Sand Lot: 

I have been depressed FOR-EV-ERRRRR. (as noted by the number of days in the title)

Malaise, turned blah, turned blah-er, turned curled up on the couch eating soup and watching Joan of Arcadia. 

Efforts made: Not to cry
Efforts of productivity made: Trying to do laundry - does laundry really involve trying? Apparently it does. For me.

Must. Stop. Being. Depressed. 

Where's my tunnel? Because I hear there are lights at the ends of those.

Day 1, Term 4 of 9 Million Begins

I really enjoyed my psychopathology class this morning - in part because it is a class that I get, stuff I actually know and have worked in - which is not always the case here. I know, or really I have just been told, that I come across as really clinical - or as if I am diagnosis or med-happy - but that isn't the case at all! I just think it is important to have a common idea of how to view and diagnose mental health issues, in particular with the larger and professional mental health community. I don't believe that it is (the DSM-IV TR - Diagnostic Statistical Manual or bible of diagnosis) filled with absolute truths or that it is right all of the time - but it is an outline that helps guide treatment, usually.

Anyhow, that wasn't the point. The point was that after going to class I find myself really sad that I am going to be in school so long and not out there working AND that I had to drop classes I really wanted to take. So, yes, woe is me I know. Nonetheless there is some general malaise hanging over me and it really needs to go away.

My professor made this great point about how people kill themselves for school, they come out damaged in many ways. That during grad school people often get married, have kids and/or get divorced. He experienced some huge health issues whilst working 30hr/week, earning his PhD, being married with kids and doing some other stressful things. He says that we shouldn't do this program in 2 years but I am not doing it in 3.5 years and somehow this makes me feel like a failure.

Isn't that ridiculous my professor says it is a bad idea, and yet I still beat myself up. In part it is that I feel I will continue to be this anonymous student in this program. This student that does well on her papers and presentations but that the professors don't remember the name of. This is not in my head, this is my experience - I just don't stand out. The only time I ever did was in advanced Social Welfare classes and that was because I boiled over with confidence, I had experience and I did projects and jobs on campus. Here I am neither a weak link nor a brilliant star. I will graduate with good grades, do well in my internship and no professor will run into me on the street and say, "Heather! It is SO good to see you. When are you coming back to teach a class?" As was the experience of many an adjunct professor.

I don't mean this as whining, just as a little note of why I get sad. You can say for me tojustdo something to stand out, but until I have the confidence and until I am able to speak up without swallowing my words, rambling, spontaneously crying or simply sounding like an idiot, it just isn't going to happen. That is why I was going to volunteer for the Traumatology Program, but I need a job and don't want to risk anything that gets in the way of that.

Oh happy doomsdayer that I am today.

I best go resume my task of looking for a job, then going and cancelling my Y membership and cleaning and not being pathetically unmotivated!

I know, I am SO fun to read the blogs of. Sigh, this shall pass.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Work, work work, scrub, scrub, shred . . .

It is nearly 3am. I am exactly half way through my shift and sadly I am also halfway (more really) through my energy level, and all the way through the caffeine I brought. Is that how you spell caffeine? See, 3am.

I have cleaned the house tonight. Not my house but the house I work at. Cleaned up after men, adult ones, some (not all) who are icky. And I feel icky after spending over two hours cleaning walls, windows, doors, floors, toilets (okay that should be singular) etc. etc. And soon the shredding will commence. I came in to a note that read, "Sorry graveyard." It was on top of 1 of 2 enormous piles of papers to shred. Yay?

I am getting tired . . . 3 hours and 58 minutes to go. I will shred like a mad woman and then vacuum and wash out mops. Wow, my job is SO cool. Hmmm. But I am also blogging and may have time to fit in some of a movie. I was planning on reading but I fear I may get too tired and I was told that there were 2 things I needed to do working grave yard: Clean & Stay Awake.

Hope you are sleeping well!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

downsides

Things I begin to lose interest in:

Washing my hair (and I love clean hair)
Not wearing pajamas (meaning I want to change back into my pjs)
Coffee
Being awake
Being asleep - or trying to fall asleep at least
Being outside
Not being under a blanket
Being at all

Already slipping:

The desire to wash my hair because everytime I get up and think I should be motivated I start to walk and then nearly start to fall. I start to sob. It doesn't last. It quickly ends but I think then that I will never get out. Not of the house, not of my brain.

I really think the author who captured my mind the best was Elizabeth Wurtzel in Prozac Nation, it was like she went inside my worst spell, my darkest secrets and recorded them and then realized we were really just looking in a mirror. My bipolar usually feels different than so many others to me - I mean it's like we all know that same language but with different dialetcs. But she spoke my dialect. 

I couldn't find the quote I wanted, but I found this:
What do you do with pain so bad it has no redeeming value? It cannot even be alchemized into art, into words, into something you can chalk up to an interesting experience because the pain itself, its intensity, is so great that there is no way to objectify it or push it outside or find its beauty within. That is the pain I'm feeling now. It's so bad, it's useless. The only lesson I will ever derive from this pain is how bad pain can be. 

Now, things I feel miserably guilty about:
The reality of others' pain
My father's life
The homeless, in particular in this Portland weather
My loving the rain while others suffer it
My lack of compassion to awaken action
My self-absorbant nature

My response: Nothing. Death Cab for Cutie. Otherwise silence. 

Pathetic, I know. But you can't control giants, they're too big for you to hold onto. 

Where's my sling shot? 

Ah, why the crash

January is apparently the worst of all of the months. And to think I always blamed October.

I found old emails that helped me understand some of the things that led to January being so bad. (Bad January began in January 2006) Emails that went much farther back than I thought, they were about my state of mind, life, marriage. About being so very broken and miserable. About being so alone. And then some after I moved to Portland - reminders that I did have a soul and wasn't horrible. Was just very, very sick and in need of help. 

I wish I hadn't deleted so many things last summer. I wiped out most all of my emails predating June 2008. Like a fresh-start thing. Some old ones stuck though. Now I wish they were still here to re-read, maybe they would help me understand something. I don't know, that or hurt more. Either way, I wish I hadn't deleted them.

But I did so I can just move on. The crying will stop and real life will resume soon enough. It always does.

Think I'll open the blinds and watch the rain for a while, then read for school - it starts next week. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

About Me

My photo
Portland, OR, United States
I am a daughter, sister, friend, wife, counselor and colleague. I am a work in progress. There may be some pieces out of place and things might be messy, but it's okay. I would rather accept that I am still unfinished than think that this is it. You can find my comments on faith and spirituality on my blog: http://themessinessoffaith.blogspot.com/ And my comments and anecdotes on life at: http://sheisaworkinprogress.blogspot.com/

Books That Matter. Well, some of the many that matter.

  • Magical Shrinking: Stumbling Through Bipolar Disorder, Chris Wells
  • Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen
  • An Abudance of Katherines, John Green
  • Dave Pelzer
  • Franny & Zooey, J.D. Salinger
  • I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
  • The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris
  • The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Daniel J. Siegel