Archive for May, 2014

These feelings come as the residue of a dream… though I’m now awake, they lie in a part of my consciousness, gazing out at me — through me — with their harlequin eyes. Self-examining, other-examining, neither intimate nor remote, they evade entanglements with rational questions and answers. Perhaps they are influenced by the things I have been watching, by my break from the pattern of clarity-confusion that used to be my norm, by the recent reemergence of people I used to love… but they also contain a seeming consciousness unto themselves, independent of me, my thoughts, or my desires.

Love… the appropriate metaphors are not what come, but rather: love is a nutcracker, and you’re a nut to be in it. Like someone tied to the tracks, I’ve struggled, lost, grieved, and accepted; now, I relax my muscles and watch with disinterest the train as it comes. Was this how it was meant to be? I have lived the analogies multiple times, died on the tracks to wake up in a traincar. Whom does it please that it should be so?

In part, I envy those who have loved once, those who have never died and seen themselves come back just a little… different. I don’t believe in literal reincarnation, but at times it feels as though I am a reincarnation of my former selves; the eyes looking out on the landscape are not the same as those into which you, or he, looked years ago. And so, I have come to understand, as useless as it is to compare dissimilar objects in this, it’s more so for dissimilar people.

But I fell in love again; I broke myself again and lost a few of the pieces; I came a little more awake. I don’t know how long or how many times the cycle goes. The train moves on, and though I fear it may derail or crash altogether, crushing me or sending me maimed into the next, I keep riding it. I want to see where it goes. How it all ends.

Note: I originally posted this entry on my old blog in October 2009; I’ve revised this version slightly.

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I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Today, happiness was a little homemade whipped cream and fresh berries on top of waffles while I sat at the table with a few friends I’ve known for years. (It was the first time I’ve made whipped cream myself, and it was well worth the brief effort — I usually just skip it; I don’t at all like the fake stuff.) Earlier this year, we started making an effort to have regular Sunday-night dinners like this, where each of us contributes a little something, and we cook and eat together. We rotate whose abode we visit each time. Besides being an inexpensive way to eat together, it feels right, to set things up like this; it’s communal, familial even. We invade each other’s kitchens and complete our tasks, grabbing our own glasses and drinks as if we all still shared our living space. (The fact that most of us do or have at some point lived together, in some combination or another, probably bears on this.)

It also feels familiar because it takes me back to the ritual of my family’s get-togethers when I was growing up, before my cousins moved and got married and had their own children, before I moved out of state for college and then stayed here. We would regularly congregate at my grandmother and grandfather’s house on weekends, with everyone bringing food to contribute to the massive pot luck we always had. After my grandma died some years after my grandpa did, we didn’t gather as regularly, and I know based on a poem I remember writing in high school that I felt the lack. How fortunate I was, though, to have had that experience of seeing family frequently when I was a kid, and I knew it. Now, these Sunday meals with friends seem to bring a kind of symmetry. To me, it doesn’t feel so much like starting a new tradition as reinstating an old one. So, tonight, I’m feeling especially grateful for my family — both my flesh and blood back home and the friends who’ve become like family over these years — and for simple things like homemade whipped cream and time with friends on a beautiful summer day.

 

“Who has gone farthest? for I would go farther….” – Walt Whitman

Whoever would compel you to go one mile, go with him two. – Matthew 5:41

So maybe I have something to prove. A little over a month ago, when I was visiting my family for a weekend as a way to start dealing with my heartbreak, I signed up for a half marathon that takes place each fall in my city. It’s been my goal to run this thing for about four years, since I took up running as more than just drudgery. I got the idea in part because I was the kid with asthma who dreaded the times I had to run a mile for gym class or sports; thus, this goal has stood as an expression of having really overcome that weakness. The first year, I ran into some difficulties with training that made me adjust my approach and push the goal back while I built a more solid foundation. I think I’ve done that with the 4-mile races and the duathlon, yet my cautious side suggested I should instead do the 10K race (at the same event) this year, then next year think about more than doubling that distance; but, I think, the emotions I was experiencing pushed me to stop waiting and just go for it. After all, that’s how I ended up completing the duathlon — I signed up, and then I did what was necessary to do my best in it. To that end, tonight I listened to motivating music while entering my training plan into iCal. I enjoy that part of the process and feel more ready to tackle it all now.

So, what could I have to prove? For myself, working to complete this race is not only about physical endurance but mental and emotional strength, about not letting heartbreak defeat me but instead using it to catapult me toward something positive… or, as Pat put it in Silver Linings Playbook, “Excelsior.” I guess I want to make a statement about myself through all this… ultimately, to respond to a difficult situation with grace and strength (that’s where the epigraphs tie in).

And there’s maybe a little hope that I can find a silver lining of some sort. That sounds really good to me tonight, since it’s technically the 23rd now, which would have been our six-year anniversary.

Sometimes it’s helpful to remember the good things that are happening; this blog has been pretty much exclusively about the rough things lately, and so it’s time for a brief inventory. In the past week…

I graduated with my M.A. in English Literature, with a 4.0 GPA.

I even look pretty good in a couple of the pictures. *smirk*

My dad sent me flowers on graduation day. They’re on the table in front of me now.

I got to see my sister a lot. We shopped for makeup together, which made the task much more fun for me.

I had fried chicken and homemade noodles at the party my parents threw for my sister (who just got her B.A. in Music) and me.

I spent time with my family and got to see some of my cousins and their kids.

The Bioware store had a sale on some of its Mass Effect stuff.

My brother came to visit; we went to a local comic con, got dinner, hit a bookstore, and had a good time hanging out together for a few hours.

Even though I was tired and had a cold that day (still getting over it), I enjoyed dinner and dessert and watching What Not To Wear on Netflix with my mom and sis.

So, there are some bright spots and silver linings to remember from this gray season, too. I just wanna remember the good along with the bad. All mixed together—the way it happened.

Another Bit

Posted: May 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

(An addendum to the previous post.)

The point is, in the end and looking back on it, it doesn’t so much matter who loved more or “enough” or what the vision was for this piece of art called Our Relationship. The vision didn’t come together and hold together. That’s all, really.

Last weekend, my sister and I traveled with a few of my friends to Chicago for a Nickel Creek concert and a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, which I’ve been wanting to get back to for over four years (weird, how sometimes things you really want to do get pushed back and pushed back). As before, I most liked the Impressionists (Van Gogh and Monet are a couple of my favorites). Along with these, the museum houses the famous A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.

A couple nights ago, I watched Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George (based on Seurat’s painting and what’s known of his life) for the first time. It’s heartbreaking, how much I relate to both Georges and Dot: trying through my art, isolated; loving someone who often wasn’t reachable, trying to connect and seeing it fail. I cried a few times because of it — the connection is broken, dissolved into fragments like the glass from the smashed light bulb I still haven’t completely cleaned up. (Sometimes cleanup seems an insurmountable task.)

Is the trouble always one of connection? That when we get too close, the image disappears and all we see are the dots, the spaces between them, between them and us, between him and me, between anyone and the artist. Isolation. Art. As Seurat says in the musical, “I cannot divide my feelings up as neatly as you, and I am not hiding behind my canvas — I am living in it.”

It wasn’t enough. He didn’t love me enough. There it is, the understanding, the judgment call I have every right to make, bit by bit, resting in the skin over my ribs, burrowing a little deeper when I move at times and sending sharp pains that push tears into my eyes. When I take a step back and see the fragments create a whole picture again, it becomes clear it’s not about assigning blame, though; the dissociation is enough on its own.

“A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head.” I especially relate to George, too, the great-grandson of Seurat, particularly in his discomfort at the exhibition and desire to escape the empty, forced, political interactions that are anathema to someone wanting real connection.

And as I think about how things don’t work out sometimes, and how I’ve given it my best, I think about how lots of people have great intentions (I’m one of them) but intentions alone don’t get the work done; it’s what we do, as George says:

Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just the vision’s no solution,
Everything depends on execution,
Putting it together, that’s what counts.

(Link to the song: http://youtu.be/rJFz-ucuTvs?t=2m58s)