Saturday, October 23, 2010


At Can Serrat, on the flanks of Montserrat, 50km from Barcelona.  They just had a massive flood that washed out trails, roads, and left tons of flotsam and jetsam.  It looks like the inside of my head!

Here's the YouTube link to flooded

I was impatient and frustrated with using a tripod, but later excited to see the appearing-disappearing effect it created.  Happy accidents (I have to remember that not all accidents are bad).

The music, if it loads properly, is by a band I only know of because the bassist's mother invited us over for paella after we met at a party in Idyllwild, CA, for the oldest living member of Duke Ellington's band.  I like that the bassist is her daughter (ie a girl!).

Friday, October 22, 2010

my skin is thinner now...

My skin is thinner now
thinner than before the accident
it always feels even
thinner when my brain chemistry is fucked

Although I know my epidermis is literally intact
the sensation of vulnerability is keenly physical

Semi-permanent sunburn
the kind that's
so bad you
and want to scream when someone brushes
by you in the supermarket

I painted this line on my arm after yet another
minor decompensation
in which I failed to tolerate an everyday frustration

The UN had declared a Mental Health Awareness Week
And it was national Coming Out Day so
it made sense to wear my condition on my sleeve, so to speak

Kind of a disclaimer, like the warnings that come attached to the bottles of pills warning you
of drowsiness
against consuming alcohol
advising caution when
 operating heavy machinery.

Do they consider automobiles part of heavy machinery?

back to trauma, again

There was a terrible accident.  I don’t remember it.

In the courtroom the prosecutor read
all of the accusations against me, and

all the accounts of
medical examiners,
and forensics. 

I hadn’t known one of the sisters was
until I heard it in court,
Sitting opposite her parents, brother, and ex-husband
cameras flashing.
 I hadn’t known which of their bones broke,
or that their skulls cracked and
spilled brains onto the pavement,
or that my car ricocheted backward off of the church wall and
rolled over one of their bodies.

  Hearing all of this from a woman in a fancy suit, perfect makeup and a manicure with embedded jewels,
who seemed to be relishing every word, was, well,
I have no words for how horrifying it was.
I couldn’t bear to be in my skin
The skin of the person who has no recollection
Who never saw
But is being told, in front of all these people.
That she caused the event 

 I couldn’t stand to be in my skin,  so I left it
They told me my lawyer had to put his arm between my head and the table because I wouldn’t stop banging it.
I found myself again barricaded inside the clerk’s office with my finger on the lock button so the truth couldn’t

Meditation on death

During this ordeal I reread some instructions for meditations written for monks.  One of the most advanced is the meditation on your own death.  In order not to fear death you must meditate on your own dead body, on how the skin will decay, on how maggots will eat your insides, eat everything until only the bones are left. 

Facing the truth

 I think that I will have to practice this meditation on death, but transposed from my death to their deaths.   I will need to confront the words of that prosecutor, the accounts of what happened in the accident that I didn’t see, the reality of how they died. 

I almost have a vision of it happening in slow motion, wondering at what point does the soul leave the body, what if our places were switched and it was my brain on the street and why didn’t it happen that way.  I don’t know yet.  I don’t know that I ever will.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

meaty mental health metaphors. by palmer fishman


when everything looks the same -
all the olive trees in rows upon rows
the dry brush snapping under your feet
the evergreens, the rock, the shale
you think you’re finding your way home and 
               then, like Pooh bear, see the same 

so u turn to go the other way
           to see if it looks familiar, and its 
            completely different 
and you’re

      lost                           again

have to keep going 
                                         the circle
                               u recognize

then have to get 
     up the nerve to
                cut out thru the 
           brush, scratching your legs,
                 and into 
         -out riverbank

till you arrive
          in a new 
place you 
                       don’t recognize
and start 


Sunday, October 17, 2010

signs I am feeling better

If I have signs that I am very sick,
 I also have markers that remind me I am starting to feel better
I know the depression is lifting when
once again walking Benedicto unleashes streams of ideas and images
and is more than forcing one foot in front of the other so he can take a shit
when walking becomes a useful way to pace my thoughts
and not a torrent of overwhelming despair

when shopping for food is not terrifying, only unpleasant
when I dream in detail about building things,

when I can make a phone call just because I need to, without days of procrastination
when making the call feels wonderfully, normally easy
when I can answer the phone and say hello 
when I answer the phone for a number I don’t recognize and it’s a good friend I haven’t spoken with for at least two years, and we talk easily for an entire hour
and i enjoy it,
 i’m not trying to find an emergency exit from the conversation

when I’m not afraid for people to look at me - when it doesn’t feel like an invasion
when I am capable of spontaneous conversation with store clerks, 
                   baristas, airport security and other people walking their dogs.  I don’t have to avoid their eyes.

 I know I am doing much better when...
I sometimes even enjoy shopping
when I have the patience to try on enough pairs of pants that I eventually leave the store with some that approximately fit my body
for the first time in 6 years

When I start moving from imagination to action
when I the wall between ‘think’ and ‘do’ gets porous enough that I start taking photos, shooting videos, building forts out of papier mache
making plans that involve other places and people
leggings made from cut-off sweater sleeves
I am so unaccustomed to functional energy and optimism that I 
always worry I am drifting hypomanic
Is it that I have such a backlog of ideas and obligations, than I must seize whatever undetermined period of abilty to do as much as possible?
or is that hypomanic, and hence worrisome and pathological?
I can have a meaningful conversation with my airplane seatmate for an hour and enjoy it.  my skin isn’t crawling.
I want to dance! 
 I see people moving and remember how much I used to love to move

I know I am feeling stronger 
when I can think (somewhat) rationally about my finances without tripping the circuit breaker

when I can stand to make a list of things I need to do, and then go on to 
accomplish some of them in the same day - make a doctor appointment and then go to it, 
instead of procrastinating for months and then strategically forgetting the appointment or getting too sick to go.
These are mostly normal activities of daily living, some that sound superficial or even luxurious,
 these that an adult in the United States consumer society must be able to accomplish in order to maintain basic functioning.
They are all things I can’t do for months at a time/ on end.