Posts Tagged ‘James Madison Park’

Bullshit

January 15, 2019

I keep expecting someone to say that when I say, “thank you for 14 years.”

It sounds so surreal coming out of my mouth.

How the hell did that happen?

Really?

Fourteen years.

Nights and weekends, nothing in between, nothing to take the edge off.

As if anything really could.

Using or drinking for me over an issue or a problem would just be pouring gas on a bonfire.

I would burn it all down and I don’t actually think I would die.

That would be the easier, softer way.

No.

I think I would live a miserable, dire, soul less, ugly life.

I have so much in my life I cannot imagine ever going back.

I do see it happen though.

So here’s to having more commitments and suiting up and showing up and doing the deal no matter what.

My life is really wonderful and it was with much sweetness that I picked up some metal last night in front of my community who witnesses me with so much love.

It really awes me the amount of love I have been given access to.

Most of all, the love I feel for myself.

The level of compassion and forgiveness I have for myself really is so vast.

I didn’t have it growing up.

Occasionally I would have a moment where I thought I might have something worthy in me, I was certainly smart, but how many times does it take for a person to hear that she is “too smart for her own good,” before she begins, I begin, to think the same.

I used to also wonder.

How come if I’m so damn smart I can’t figure out my life or what I want or where I’m going.

I mean.

I had some idea.

I knew I wanted out of Wisconsin and after multiply failed attempts I made it out in 2002 to travel all the way across the country and cross the Bay Bridge in my little two door Honda Accord.

I still remember what it felt like crossing over that bridge.

I was definitely crossing a threshold.

I had no idea.

Sometimes I think it’s a good thing that I didn’t know all the things that were going to transpire.

Who knows if I would have made it out.

I do certainly remember that.

I had a feeling of dread that my time was soon to be up in Wisconsin and I needed to leave, there was a constant low-level thrum of anxiety, a beating drum of doom that throbbed just below everything.

I was in constant fear.

I had no name for it though.

I had no idea the anxiety I was under.

I knew the depression.

That I had at least been seen for, once when I was in my early twenties and when the therapist wanted to medicate me as my insurance wouldn’t allow her to continue serving me unless I was prescribed meds, I bounced.

I didn’t understand then what depression meant.

All I knew was that sometimes it was terribly hard to get out of bed.

Or bathe.

I remember my boyfriend once made a comment about it, that the sheets needed to be changed or washed and I knew I had to get out and wash the bedding and myself, but getting into the shower was so damn hard.

I can remember how sunny it was too and we lived really close to James Madison park, literally just a few blocks away on Franklin.

I can count the number of times I went to the park on a sunny summer day on one hand and have more than a few fingers left over.

I could not get myself out of the house.

I knew it would pass.

It always did.

But it started to get longer.

And longer.

I might have a day of it once in a while and then nothing for sometime and then it would just snake back in.

For some reason it happened (and can happen for me now, there’s sometimes a feeling of dread during the longest days of the year) during the summer when there was lots of light and no reason to be caged up inside.

People think depression and they see rainy days and grey skies.

I saw sunshine and couldn’t bear to be out in it.

I worked nights.

I slept days.

Sometimes, in the dead of winter I would not see the sunlight at all.

Unless it was the sunrise coming up as I was coming home from closing the bar where I worked.

I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder in undergrad.

Turns out that some folks, about 10% of the population that has the disorder, actually experience the depression in the summer.

I remember one year that was really bad.

I was in between jobs, I had just given notice to the Essen Haus where I had been the General Manager and was transitioning to my new job at the Angelic Brewing Company as their Floor Manager (still the worst title ever, how about Queen of Doing Everything, that seems more apt).

I had two weeks off.

I was supposed to have taken those two weeks off to go on a road trip with my boyfriend, but it didn’t come to fruition due to the Angelic needing me to start before the trip had been planned.

I postponed it and planned on doing it the next year which never happened either, but I digress.

My boyfriend went to work in the morning and I sat in the living room of our apartment in a rocking chair.

I sat there all day long.

I might have read books.

I would sleep as long in bed as I could, then get up and sit in that chair until he came home.

Part of me suspected that there was something very soothing about the rocking of the chair, I used to self-soothe as a child when I was upset by rocking back and forth, I can still slip into it if I’m really freaked out.

I don’t remember much of that week, but one particular scene is always in my head and that is of the shadows growing longer and longer in the apartment as the sun set.

They would crawl slowly across the floor and I would watch them inch up the walls until the apartment was muddled in twilight and I would only get up to turn on the light five minutes before I thought my boyfriend was going to get home.

There were many nights of sitting in that chair in the dark by myself alone.

I told no one.

Wowzers.

I had no idea that was going to be what I wrote about tonight, but hey, there it is.

In addition to the SAD, I have depression.

Hahahaha.

Sigh.

Major Depressive Disorder is the clinical diagnosis.

I managed it once in early sobriety with antidepressants but after a few years I got of the meds and deal with it through writing daily in my morning journal, I use a light therapy box every morning, I write affirmations, I get outside as much as I can, I eat really, really, really well, I do my own therapy work, I cultivate relationships with my fellows and I have good damn friends.

And I don’t drink.

Alcohol is a depressant you know.

I didn’t.

Not for years.

And for years I have been pretty free from that great ocean of doom and for that I am so grateful.

My life is lovely.

Challenging, sure.

But absolutely lovely.

Thank you for 14 years!

You know who you are and I love you, very, very, very much.

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Impromptu Dance Party

May 14, 2016

My date cancelled.

And then.

I got my period.

It’s a Friday night.

And.

I’m at home.

AND I DON’T GIVE ONE FINE FUCK!

I finished my Clinical Relationship paper.

It’s done!

Done!

Done!

Oh sweet Jesus, the relief.

Excuse me, I just had another impromptu dance party in my chair.

Happy, happy.

Joy, joy.

11 full pages.

APA format.

References, title page, all the things.

Proper like.

3,744 words.

Thank you.

Thank you very fucking much.

Lucky one.

I am two.

Lucky three, the one for me.

One, two, three I’m on my knees.

Oh my god.

I’m in tears.

This music.

I get high.

I was listening to Masters of Reality, Sunrise on the Surfer Bus, twenty years ago.

Twenty.

In that house on Franklin Street in Madison, my roommates were my boyfriend Justin–he and I shared the big back room–we had a couple of Bengal leopard cats and a tabby (Mia, Tiger, and Porkchop)–and a king size water bed (giggle), Matt, Justin’s best friend, and Naboja–the heroin junkie from Serbia.

God we were wild.

Pot growing in the closets, cats running ruckus throughout the house, Matt’s girlfriend and I were arch nemesis (why?  I have no idea, but something to do with drinking the last of my milk and leaving the empty container in the fridge), Justin playing chess and smoking bongs, Naboja running in and out of the house with nefarious friends and black tar (God I was naive).

Justin cheated on me twice in that house.

And I stayed for five years.

(five years of no writing, no poetry, no words, no journal entries, note to self you die when you aren’t writing)

Oof.

The things I put myself through not knowing there was a way out.

However.

It was not all bad, there was sweetness and light and just as I introduced him to classical music and Blues and jazz (he became a total jazz junkie) he introduced me to Soul Coughing and Jeff Buckley, we saw them both in concert together–Buckley touring for Grace at the Barrymore and Soul Coughing on tour for Ruby Vroom at the Eagles Ballroom.

He made me listen to Sleater Kinney–saw them too, at the Union South of all places on campus, tiny little space and they slayed it, fucking killed it dead on the floor revived the bitch, then killed it again.

We saw Annie DiFranco at the Civic Center.

I think Justin was the only man in the audience who was straight.

Although his hair was so long from behind he could have been a girl.

We saw Primus, fucking loved Les Claypool so hard; he turned me on to Sepultura, although I had to be in the mood, once in a while, well, I was.

We saw Beck, Morphine, Cake.

So much good music.

He found a stained glass artist at the Farmer’s Market one sunny Saturday morning, I had closed the Essen Haus the night before, a crazy German restaurant and brew hall I worked notoriously long hours for, and he’d bought a pair of earrings from her.

They were long, almost a tear drop shape, navy blue, with small striations of sky blue and robins egg blue and white at the tips.  I eventually found that artisan again and asked her to make me sets of those earrings.

I don’t have any of them anymore.

Maybe I should look her up again.

They were gorgeous in their simplicity and when I wore my hair up and the sun hit them.

Magic.

That was what there were to me that day.

Magic.

Sex and love and passion and music and youth and beauty.

God.

I was so beautiful

(and fat and ugly and ugly and fat and you better do something about that or you’re going to grow up and be alone forever)

I had no idea.

I woke up tangled in the sheets on the water bed, Porkchop meowing at me, rolled out of bed and took a shower, I smelled like beer and cigarettes and rinder rouladen gravy and weinerschnitzle and schnapps and dirty dirndl.

Justin was not there.

There was no note, it was late, afternoon already, past noon, past one, heading into the golden bright light bouncing off James Madison park and the lake and I supposed that Justin was out throwing a frisbee at the park with the guys.

I showered and enjoyed having the apartment to myself.

I put on my favorite A-line skirt and a leotard, navy blue, and dried my hair into its big mass of curls.

I went into our bedroom and turned on Masters of Reality and began dancing, barefoot, to When Jody Sings (how interesting! I just realized my professor’s name for the Clinical Relationship is “Jyoti” is it odd?  Is it God? Is it counter transference?  Read my paper and find out), the skirt a soft, small print, I mean tiny, it was such a tiny print you almost couldn’t tell it was a print, of navy, red, and green plaid (it had been a house dress of my mom’s that never quite fit me in the bodice, so I ripped off the top and reconstructed it as a skirt) flaring out around my calves.

I love a skirt that flares when I spin.

I danced in the sunlight streaming through the windows, singing the song and delighting in my own self.

Justin was standing in the door way.

Smitten.

The look on his face.

I won’t soon forget.

I can still see it twenty years ago like it was this morning.

“Did you find your gift?” He asked me, smiling, his head tilted, bright eyed (high, oh so high) and lit up.

I paused in my dance, flustered, but pleased that he’d seen me in a moment (a rare one at the time) when I felt truly myself, truly beautiful.

Oh do I ache for her.

(yes, I know, I’m emotional, I got my period, roll with it please)

He walked across the wood floor, that odd way he walked sometimes, high, on the balls of his feet like he was cantilevered forward always rushing off into the future where things were brighter, higher, more rare and real, and he took my hand and led me to the window.

“These,” he said pointing at the earrings.

I had not seen them.

Hanging from the window screen, blazing in the sunlight like the ocean at sunset tonight when I rode my scooter home, thank you God for letting me live in San Francisco and see the fire of the setting sun on the water, thank you, dancing alive and dappled with shade from the oak trees rustling in the breeze.

“Oh,” I said, softly startled, inordinately pleased.

“They are so beautiful,” I took them off the screen and put them in my ears.

“So are you,” he said and kissed me.

The afternoon melted into evening and I wore them that night to work, they matched my dirndl.

And oh.

How far this woman has come.

So very far, across the country, through valleys and peaks and the lowest lows.

My voice broke tonight.

Sitting in the front row, the low lights hiding my face, the sudden tears, but nothing could hide the break in my voice as I described how grateful I was to be there.

Sitting there in that chair there, still not done with my paper (had to do the references when I got home tonight), but almost, the writing was done all 3,744 words, and though I was tired, up at 7:30 a.m. to do the work before I went to work, I was so profoundly grateful.

Who knew I was going to be this woman?

When I scootered off after school on Saturday night I snuck through Minna Alley.

It’s a one way.

There were needles and shit and homeless people and tents and crates and a woman smoking crack out of a pipe, the scent sweet, rotten, rotting, aching with the need to fill that hole that just cannot get whole.

“I was that woman, twelve years ago, sitting on a piece of cardboard smoking from a crack pipe, and now, now, here I am riding my scooter, that I paid for in cash, brand new, riding home from the graduate school that I go to around the corner,” I paused, my heart broke open.

How lucky am I?

Luckiest girl in the fucking world.

And my paper’s done.

And my heart.

Well, once again, it is on my sleeve.

Exactly as it should be.

My love.

Exactly where it belongs.

Just there.

Love.

Just there.

 

 

Je t’aime Paris

November 14, 2015

It is with a very heavy heart that I am blogging.

The terrorist attacks in Paris threw me over the barrel.

It was a strange, sad, anxiety filled day at work, the family got some bad news and I did my best to be of service and help and I know I was, but it was stressful.

And.

Then suddenly.

The news.

The shock of hearing and seeing the photographs.

And the absolute inability to do anything other than reach out to a few people, let them know I was, I am, thinking of them.

Friends in Paris.

Fellows in Paris.

There’s nothing I can do and this is not about me.

I remind myself to focus on what I can do.

But there was still sadness in the air.

Melancholia that broke over me like waves.

Reminding me of when I was in Madison and the morning of 9/11 and all the streets so empty and still.

I had not turned on the radio and I didn’t own a television.

It was like the Martians had landed and wiped out the entire city.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong or why there were no cars on the road.

Or why, when I got to campus, there was no one on the streets.

I finally found out what was happening when I stepped into my coffee shop, Espresso Royale, on my way to my first morning class.

And even after being told, it was so surreal and so shocking that it didn’t set in.

I still went to class.

There were two other students there and a very distraught TA who sent us home.

I didn’t know where to go.

So I went to the bar.

Where I worked.

I walked through the empty restaurant and the bar, waved to the opening bartender who was transfixed to the television mindlessly polishing glasses.

“Are we going to close today?”  He asked.

I didn’t know.

It was my day off.

I wasn’t working.

I told him I didn’t know and would find out.

The bar didn’t close.

Bars don’t typically when disaster strikes, people, in my experience, like to come around together and nurse a beverage and huddle together.

I had a friend visiting from out-of-town.

Boston.

And she was at a mutual friends.

I knew she must be frantic.

Her mother flew for one of the airlines that was used in the attacks.

I got to our mutual friends house, astounded to see on the most delicious, the most perfect of autumn days, the ultimate Indian Summer day, temperatures in the high 70s and not a cloud in the sky, that James Madison park was empty.

EMPTY.

That shoved it home for me.

I had never seen James Madison empty.

Ever.

Let alone on the most beautiful day of the year.

I found my friends glued to the television.

My visiting friend had not managed to locate her mother who was on a scheduled flight to DC and was beyond frantic with panic.

We would find out that she was safe, but it took hours.

It took hours, days, to locate friends and family.

The efficacy of the internet amazes me.

Facebook in particular.

Hats off.

I am not always the biggest proponent of social media, but I am over the moon at the Facebook Safety Attack.

All my friends, 26, checked in safe and secure.

Just got the last check in a few minutes ago and just breathed.

Like really took a deep breath.

Paris terror attacks.

I still can’t quite fathom it.

It’s not my place to understand.

And I am not going to make political statements.

That’s not how I roll.

Horrified at the anger and strife and killing.

The pain and misery that we as humans can wrought upon each other.

But.

If I dwell in that.

If I don’t lift my head and go about my life.

If I wallow in that morass of pity and amelioration I will never get out of it.

And I am only effective in my community when I am present.

Accounted for.

Relied upon.

Committed.

I’m all in.

So.

I don’t know how to say.

I am sad.

I am grieved.

I am heartbroken for that beautiful city of lights.

And in the face of it.

I will march forward and do the best I can.

To be the best person I can.

“You work harder than anyone I know,” he said and patted me on the arm.

I was surprised to hear him say that.

I was taken a little aback, but I was also complimented too, when he told me that last night underneath the heating lamps on the outdoor patio at Cafe Flore on Market Street.

Maybe.

It’s just the way I know how to love and give back and I must.

I have been given so much.

I really have.

I try to give it back.

To play it forward.

To love as much as possible.

To be kind.

To be compassionate.

Tolerant.

Patient.

Mostly with myself.

I don’t often succeed.

These are lofty principles.

But.

I try.

And when I am struck dumb with sadness and horror.

I turn back to the simple principles I have been taught and look around me to see where I can best be of service.

How can I do the best in the moment.

Right now.

Right here.

Forgive myself for being an asshole.

Love myself.

Love my friends.

Stay in touch with people.

Let myself be sad.

From heartbreak comes strength and deeper reserves of love.

At least that is what I wish for myself in this moment of reflection.

Love.

Light.

Resolution.

For my friends.

For the families.

For all those sick and suffering.

Here and abroad.

My heart is open.

And though it may not have much of a mark in the overall scheme of things.

It’s the best I have.

I love you Paris.

My heart to you.


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