Archive for the ‘Wishing Well’ Category

from the stacks: December
December 29, 2010

 

Books Bought, Got, or Borrowed

 

 

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

 

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip*

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

The Blind Side

-Michael Lewis

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

-Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

 

Reading Lolita In Tehran: A Memoir in Books

-Azar Nafisi

 

Books Read

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-time

-Mark Haddon

The Little Book of Economics:

How the Economy Works in the Real World

-Greg Ip

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend

-Laura Hillenbrand

 

When God Winks At You:

How God Speaks Directly to You Through the Power of Coincidence

-Squire Rushnell**

 

I’m certain that there is an explanation for the books that I’ve read this month but I’ve no idea what it might be so I’ll just make something up. The only book on the list of books I got or read this month that I actively sought out was Greg Ip’s, Little Book of Economics. I was reading some magazine or paper and while perusing the book review section read a review of Ip’s work. The review, in effect, said that Ip’s work was easy to read, did not lend itself to partisan-ship and was, well…easy to read. The appeal about that ‘easy’ part should not be understated! My working knowledge of economics  is limited to the basic econ classes and texts I encountered in college and that was some time ago. The subject, by and large, is beyond my depth and the seemingly hysterical diatribes emanating from tv, radio, blogs, bar stools and Facebook regarding the ‘end times being nigh’ as proven by our current economic state has NOT (I repeat, NOT) inspired me to try to engage the subject in any meaningful way. That is, until I read the Ip makes it ‘easy’ review.

It’s worth noting that up until that review and my seeking out the book I had not been able to read for several weeks. I had books. I just couldn’t do it. Twain sits on my nearest shelf gathering dust. I am mildly ashamed of that fact. Still and all though, could not do it. Why then did economics work? The obvious answer, I must assume, is that there was great appeal in engaging a subject that generally leaves me bewildered and irritated (?) with some assurance that I would come out the other side with answers. Actual answers. An explanation for how the world works. I’m in.

 The book is great. I’m still not an economist so I can’t argue the merits of his explanations or the veracity of his arguments. I can say that his breakdowns were logical, they were readable and my head hurts slightly less at the thought of hearing more opinions on the matter of our economic state. Also, and for my purposes probably more important, my head was quiet long enough for me to read a book. Not of the varietal I’m used to, in fact, none of the books I actually read this month would fall into the realm of reads I would ‘normally’ engage. That’s ok. At least I can read something.

 

The day I picked up Ip’s work a friend of mine was with me and being fully apprised of all the ins and outs and  up and downs of my life of late she insisted we go to her house and grab a couple of books I HAD to read. That is how I came to have possession of both the curious case and SeaBiscuit. The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time proved to be a strange little read.  What makes the curious incident unique is it’s perspective. The story is the story of a young autistic boy writing a novel. What worked for me about the read was that the narrators view point is so far removed from my own that it leaves everything about the story and it’s telling unsettled. Literally, I never had to settle down to read it because even if I could, which I couldn’t, it wouldn’t have helped. The perspective is off and odd and so am I.

 

SeaBiscuit: An American Legend may be one of the most triumphant stories I have ever encountered. Certainly, Hillenbrand’s telling of the story is a triumph. There is nothing about this book that did not move me. From the lazy horse written off as ugly and useless, the greatness inherent in the very average (Tom Smith), if not expendable (Red Pollard), men who ‘sorted’ Biscuit out, too the will of a nation that just wanted to believe in beating the odds, the system, the Depression. Just, believe. I’m in.

* If you’re curious as to the color choices in the titles formatted above? So am I. (???)

**Got When God Winks for Christmas, it is a collection of stories regarding coincidence and I’m moving through them at random.

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The Happy & The Crappy: XIII
December 26, 2010

Yeah, about this holiday…not so fucking much. Why won’t this day end?

from the stacks: November
November 24, 2010

Books Bought, Got, Borrowed or Read

 

Postcards From the Edge

-Carrie Fisher

Life

-Keith Richards

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

-Mark Twain

 

Books Read

 

Postcards From the Edge

-Carrie Fisher

 

It’s fitting that the book I started this month with was Postcards as it turns out I’m ending my month sending dispatches from my own edge. Richards and Twain sit on my bookshelf in various stages of begun and I’ve no idea how long that state of affairs will last. My father is dead. As a direct result of that what I have read this month is social security forms, medical forms, VA forms, insurance forms, retirement forms, death certificates, bill notices and messages of condolence.

And then…
November 11, 2010

This week has afforded me the opportunity to experience levels of degradation I didn’t even know were possible. I’m tired.

9 Months Later
July 22, 2010

Today marks 9 months sober for me.

In an odd turn of events it seems to me that while things have gotten easier by degrees, shit is no less complicated, nor, have things gotten all that pleasant.

Not sure anyone ever said things would get pleasant, come to think of it. It is however, an assumption that I did make.

In the shortest possible recap, in the last 9 months, my longest standing relationships have either ended or been altered so thoroughly they certainly seem to have ended. The oddest part of this occurrence, in at least one instance I am okay with that. In the other, not so much. Turns out though, I don’t get a vote. It is what it is and I’m going to go ahead and assume this like everything else is a part of the master plan. Just the same, I am struck by the knowledge that while some of the terrain in my life looks familiar, I recognize the faces and I know the language…I’ve never been here before.

Absolutely EVERYTHING has changed but only by degrees.

One Foot In Front of The Other II
May 29, 2010

  

And the race is on.

It has been awhile since I have had a post or a ‘plan’ relative to running. I did develop a hip issue in December which hampered the length of my runs. Also, there was a mild case of EPIC FAILURE on my part when I held off registering for a run relative to the cost only to find it had sold out by the time I could afford it. EPIC FAILURE is how I perceived it anyway and responded accordingly, what with the self-flagellation and depression. Turns out, however, that the race was to be run with a friend who, in the end, was unable to make the trip out. Apparently, everything does happen for a reason. 

Relative to the experiences shared above, as well as a host of  others, in the last few months I lost sight of any value in running so I was lax in my efforts to keep running to say the very least. There have been friends that have noticed the spiral (?) downward and while they absolutely encouraged me to rein it in, it took a very candid directive from my shrink to get me moving again. Thus, in the last two weeks I have resumed my running and begun cross training. The runs have been short. Last week’s were miserable. This week’s awesome. The short has not changed, about 3.5 miles. The pace and the breathing (Have been to an allergist 3 times in the last 8 weeks sooo NOT having a good season.) have steadily improved. So, GREAT. AWESOME. FANTASTIC. (Yeah, given the nature of the downs this year I am perfectly willing to shout from the roof tops about the ups no matter how small they may be.) 

Thunder Mountain

Thunder Mt. II

Got in a solid 3 hour hike up Thunder Mountain. The elevation training is relative to the first run I’ve settled on. Going in for my first trail run in September the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Run. I am doing the 29k which works out to be 18 miles. The length of the run works as it is a step up from the 13 miles I completed in my first half-marathon. The ‘nature’ of the run (pun fully intended) works, as well. I prefer to run along the coast or through the wetlands by my old house, so, it stands to reason (I hope.) that running in the woods will make for a beautiful (Read: inspiring) morning spent running.   

In addition to the beauty and the length of the run there is another appeal. I have, in part, in this blog attempted to navigate some of the choices I have made of late. Not the least of which is getting sober and getting over the wreckage of my past. There are limits to which I can engage with either of those facets of my life on any given day. Or, hell-at any given moment.  I can say this much, at this moment, however. Recently, I experienced a moment of confluence and the intersect involved was Santa Cruz. 

The Santa Cruz Run

For my birthday, this past April I went home to the Bay Area. I spent the week hanging out with various family members and travelling between places dispersed through out the area I grew up in. I hate the Bay Area. That’s relevant to this ramble. I pulled a geographic years ago and did so CERTAIN that if I stayed in the Bay Area it would kill me. As a result, I wrote the ENTIRE geographic region off as a wasteland. In the years that I have been gone I have not often mentioned redeeming spaces in the region (concert venues being the given exception) and I’ve not believed that was a disservice to the area. A friend in a meeting shared with me (Post, I hate the Bay Area rant.), that my feelings made sense in as much as, “You can’t get well in the place you got sick.” Amen. It is true that my sick is built in but it is also true that the onset of my undoing is inextricably linked to where I grew up.     

Right, so I ran from where I was from and have not often stopped to look back much less spent any length of time GOING back to the area. This past trip though found me in the passenger seat for a ride over the hills and up into Santa Cruz. From my vantage point of the passenger seat I was afforded the opportunity and the time to look around, if, you’ve ever been to the area then you know it is breathtakingly beautiful. I love Santa Cruz. I always have. Most of my summers spent growing up in the Bay Area were highlighted by hiking trips, beach days or camping ventures in and around the Santa Cruz Mountains. I had forgotten. I was completely overwhelmed by ALL of the amazing memories that I have relative to that landscape. 

So, then the moment of confluence! It was suggested by my therapist that I read the book The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness so I picked it up. I did not begin the book until I had returned from my trip but once I began reading it I was struck by a part of the introduction which details the various means by which the mind/body stores memories. In particular, there is an entire section devoted to the phenomena of how a ‘place’ can unlock a whole host of memories stored in the mind that are unlikely to be recalled/engaged unless the body is returned to that ‘place.’ This discussion might have been beyond the scope of my mental reach (or willingness, quite frankly) had it not described perfectly the emotional/mental  response that I had returning to Santa Cruz. 

The point, you’ve not asked? A little perspective. I love Santa Cruz. I loved growing up THERE. I am completely enamored of the idea of spending a day/morning running through those hills. I’m in. Thus, my first trail run will be through the Santa Cruz Mountains. YAY!

Not one race but two…

 

I was invited by one of my cousins to come up and run the Seattle Marathon with him. We have subsequently roped his brother in as well! It shall be a family adventure. In a city that I adore. (Why haven’t I moved there? ) And my first full marathon! Wish me luck.

Must train. Must.

 

 

Random Note from Academia: I am obsessed  with sacrificial landscapes as a cultural phenomena. Understanding the physical ‘write off’  of a given space, i.e. dumps, Superfund sites, etc. as well as, the cultural choices, i.e. the American ‘South’ being written off as the embodiment of our racist past. Obsessed. As much time as I have spent FASCINATED by this phenomena, I have NEVER examined the notion as a personal practice. It NEVER occurred to me to do so.

Spring Has Sprung
April 22, 2010

Last Wednesday I turned 35. Today, I have 6 months. Last night was my first night in my new place. This morning, whether I want to or not, everything I do is getting done different.

Why I am Not in Charge: Reason 826
February 18, 2010

Earlier this month, in my post 7th Inning Stretch, I wrote of my fears relative to moving forward with my steps. Specifically, I wrote:

In a very real sense (for me) the idea with respect to both steps of letting go of the self that I know (FUCKED UP as ’she’ might be!) is terrifying. Drinking in my family is a tie that binds, period. What happens when you cut that loose? Actually, I’m not interested in what happens to you. What happens to me? What happens when I’m cut loose across the board? What is left of my relationships? What is left of me?

Today, I sat reading this passage from the 12 & 12:

But suppose that instinct still cries out, as it certainly will…’If I keep turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut.’ (36)

The paragraph above goes onto explain how this “certain instinct” is in fact the result of ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ “seeking to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual growth.”  

It would seem that I am nowhere near the first to encounter this particular dilemma. Awesome. Step 4 it is.

What He Said
February 13, 2010

Just a few posts back, I was retching about the 8th step that it seems daunting and I don’t want to do it. Mostly because the 9th step follows. I’ve no idea how that gets done. I am fairly certain though that my amends will not occur in any kind of public sphere. I could be wrong. I own that up front, however, as I don’t usually operate in a public sphere I’m feeling pretty confident. Not to mention relieved. Oh, and blessed. Why is that, you have not asked?

Every Thursday I read Duff’s blog over on the Seattle Weekly site. This week’s blog, All Apologies, is in fact a shining example of how steps 8 & 9 get done. (Just in time, too. Funny that.)  I have been feeling overwhelmed on multiple levels for the past couple of weeks and have had no small amount of anxiety about how to move forward working my steps. That Duff’s column this week speaks exactly (although indirectly) toward one of the (identified) hurdles in front of me doesn’t surprise me, per se. There is a bit of a ‘burning bush’ quality to it that made me giggle. Mostly, I am grateful, once again, for the example that he has set.

The REST of the blog did not make me giggle.

 

Welcome To The Jungle

**Note: For the rest of this to make sense it assumes you’ve read Duff’s blog. Also, the remainder of this blog is a bit of a meander through my own response to Kurt’s suicide.**

 

Guns N’ Roses was/is my favorite band.* I’m certain I’ve mentioned this. Maybe Guns became my favorite band in exactly the same fashion that everyone else in the world came to find their favorite band, I don’t pretend to know. What I do know is that Guns hit my life in exactly the moment I needed them most and they brought to the table exactly what I needed most. The ‘short version’ explication of that statement would be: they were how I found my voice. The realistic explication of that statement would take a lifetime to explain and I’m simply not willing to share. For the purposes of moving on here, it is of note that music gave me a world-view and Guns was the cornerstone of that world-view. Guns and being a ‘good’ fan is where I learned faith (blind-fucking-faith), loyalty and, though I could not have readily identified it, hope.

 Seattle

I was aware that Duff was from Seattle, however,  he was not the means by which I found Seattle Music. A very good friend of mine in highschool was from Seattle. (Actually, he was a run away. He would not have characterized himself as such and I certainly didn’t think of him in that regard at the time, but, given our ages and the fact that he was out in the world on his own…vagabond? Again, the age makes that term problematic for me.) Whether or not he was born and/or raised in Seattle, I don’t recall or I never knew. Whatever. He had spent some time in Seattle and he brought with him to California in his trusty backpack (along with all of his other worldly possessions) a series of cassette tapes which housed the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, et al. I loved Bleach.   Actually, I loved every tape he had and every band on them. That is how I got Seattle music. Not ahead of the curve, either. Nevermind was out and Seattle was on the cusp of ascending to the heights of musics cultural cache on a global scale. None of which bothered me, fyi. My favorite band was the ‘biggest band in the world,’ so what did I know from ‘underground?’

Seattle was an easy fit for me musically and Nirvana was cool. Until, the VMA’s. I sat at home watching the show because ‘they’ were there and by ‘they’ I mean Guns. It is true a whole host of other bands that I liked, if not loved, were also there but it would be a flat-out lie to suggest that I cared about anything other than Guns. By 1991, that band (and a core group of friends.**) was the only ‘thing’ left in this world that I held on to. They (Them/their music it all gets conflated.) were the tether that bound me to this life when nothing else was enough. 

When Kurt (and Courtney) started talking-blathering really at the show, I was assaulted, not to put to fine a point on it. I was unprepaired for their theatrics and not a terribly sophisticated emotional being to begin with (In my defense I was all of 15.) so to have this band whom I liked-come ‘out of nowhere’ and behave like JERKS, I was stunned. And done. That was the end of Nirvana for me and that was before the ‘fall out,’ before the news reports of Duff chasing Krist around the backstage area, etc.

In life, my wagons at the point were pretty tightly circled and you were either in or out. I’ve explained before how detachment worked in my young life, I had two points on my emotional/social spectrum-love or loathe. There were no in-between and when I was done-to my mind there was nothing left to discuss, to consider, to feel. That’s how I coped. 

Nirvana was out. Relative to that one event. No more cds, no concerts, no gear; they may well have become the ‘biggest band in the world’ thereafter and there is absolutely nothing about that that I could speak to. I didn’t follow, I didn’t care. 

sifting…

 

 I was standing in the entry way of our house between the living room and the dining room when the news came across the tv. I convulsed. My knees buckled. I’m not much of a screamer. The thing is I tend to lose my voice when I’m in pain or in fear, the result of which amounts to a kind of extended period of having the wind knocked out of me. You can’t hear me, no one can, but I am screaming. I was screaming.

I was so pissed. So very angry.

He quit.

He broke the fucking rule.

Before I got my voice back, before I could let go of any of the rage–my poor Mother was there. Making excuses for my having a reaction at all, really. I was tired. Overwrought. At the time my Great Grandmother was rapidly deteriorating from late stage Alzheimer’s and I was one of her care givers. Anyway she spun it, I could not possibly have been having a reaction like that to Kurt Cobain. I was though. Nothing in my very flimsy defenses prepared me for that event. How could it? I cut him out. I wrote them off. My having an emotional reaction was a VIOLATION of MY OWN fucking code of conduct. I detach with a cleaver. Nothing and no one should be able to come back from that.

 He broke the rule, the rules actually. I lived with some fairly quiet terrors-quiet in as much as I could not articulate what they were or often what they meant. I can sit here now and type that there were 3 fears that Kurt’s suicide brought front and center-without warning and without even a suggestion of sugar-coating. One, on more than one occasion I lived by a singular rule, typically only expressed as a punchline, Don’t jump. Whatever happens, under no circumstances-jump. Should suffice to say, don’t pull the trigger falls under the same heading. Upsetting as that sentiment may or may not be for anyone, my truth is I never imagined as a kid, as a teen or even as an early adult that I would live this long. I didn’t know how, frankly. And often enough, I couldn’t imagine wanting too. But I am a rules girl, THANK GOD. Don’t jump, sometimes that’s all it came down to.

Two, I lived with the constant gnawing fear that at any moment one of my heroes could die. Accidentally, of course. I couldn’t talk openly about their choices or their demons because I HAD TO DEFEND THEM. Guns, being as big as they were bred as much contempt as they ever did admiration. Kids at school had shit to say about them. Teachers had shit to say about them. Grown women accosted my mother, for her failure in parenting,  in the grocery store because I was wearing a Guns t-shirt.  The mailman had shit to say, to me, after St. Louis as if I WAS accountable, wtf? More over, my own Father and I went rounds alternately because ‘they’ were what was wrong with me; or because I could care about them (junkies/alcoholics/assholes) and make him miserable because he drank ‘a little.’ I think, B* might be the only person that I ever had a conversation with about how scared I was of their various addictions. It would have been disloyal to concede any of the accusations being hurled and admitting my own fears would have amounted to some kind of failure as a fan. So, they were just ‘cool.’ Just, ‘bad asses.’ Everyone else needed to either ‘man the fuck up’ or ‘mind their own business.’ In terms of any public discourse, I absolutely set them up to be infallible and in private my stomach dropped EVERYTIME one of them was reported dead. Dead. Those news reports circulated repeatedly. Kurt’s death was not a drill. 

Three, as already mentioned I was not supposed to FEEL anything at all.

It would be ideal to sit here and say after Kurt’s death, I explored and thereby validated my feelings, thus, reconciling them and growing from the experience. That didn’t happen. I did eventually catch my breath, recover my voice and start yelling. I cursed him out. Yelling as if he could hear me. Then I got hold of myself. Packed my feeling on the matter away and to the degree that I have ever engaged the subject since, it has been largely analytical in nature. Until this week’s blog.

I never grieved for Kurt. I was far to fucking scared for me to consider his loss. If people ‘like him’ who had it all-a career, money, an ‘actual’ future were throwing in the fucking towel-WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN FOR ME?

I get it. I don’t want to. But I do. Kurt didn’t see a future, either. At least not one that was tenable. That is heartbreaking.

 I am grateful to have grown enough to actually be able to grieve for Kurt. I am so very grateful to have lived this long.

 

 

*Guns for me ceased to exist circa 1994.

**While I loved and needed my friends they did not embody for me a way out and I desperately needed to believe there was a way out. Guns did embody that. 

7th Inning Stretch
February 6, 2010

*Took me a moment to find the light switch in here.*

It is month two in the new year and I can honestly say I have not accomplished much. Though, I’ve no idea what it is I might have accomplished had I, in fact, done something. No matter. Here is a break down on where things stand…

I have now spent weeks steadfastly avoiding myself. Yes, this is very much in the realm of possibility I have managed it with greater or lesser success for much of my life. One would think that ‘knowing what I know now’ I would not prolong the inevitable but rather would jump in with both feet, run headlong into the next phase (read:step) of recovery. One, would be dead wrong. I’m sitting firmly on my ass on the 3rd and the 7th steps respectively. Turns out, pretty much the same GD step. I throw the GD in simply for ironic amusement and well for spite.

Step:3 (in AA)  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

 

Straight forward enough, right? I’ve done this step before. Hell, I’ve done it long enough to know it NEVER ends. I turn my stinking will over every day if not 327 times a day. What is more, I have a God of my own understanding. I did NOT when I walked into the rooms of program a year ago but that could not be further from the truth today. I know what having a God in my life feels like. I know what it does for me and yet…here I sit.

Step: 7 (Al-Anon) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

 

Yep, still sitting. It is not lost on me that should I move forward on either of these steps I shall find myself squarely on Steps 4 & 8, neither of which is appealing. I KNOW how ‘awkward’ 4 is. I can guess, how much 8 sucks. I get it. That’s not the only hold up though. In a very real sense (for me) the idea with respect to both steps of letting go of the self that I know (FUCKED UP as ‘she’ might be!) is terrifying. Drinking in my family is a tie that binds, period. What happens when you cut that loose? Actually, I’m not interested in what happens to you. What happens to me? What happens when I’m cut loose across the board? What is left of my relationships? What is left of me?

There is a line in the big book that sums up how I am currently seeing things (I will include the preceeding line for context): He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love.  He had stepped from bridge to shore. (56)

I have been to the shore. Today, I’m sitting on the bridge.

*I’m 104.