“We don’t even know if her writing is any good. And what if she wakes up, and she’s 30, and what does she know how to do?”
“She knows how to have fun. She does what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and she has fun–and then she thinks about that fun and she learns from that fun.
“Girls”

Thanks to Xfinity and the promotion they have going on that seems geared to target people who get obsessive about things they really like, but only for a short period of time, I managed to watch two entire series of the much-buzzed-about HBO show “Girls”. I haven’t watched the show for a number of reasons, but the main one is the fact that I don’t have HBO. I also no longer have Blockbuster Online, since their service turned to absolute crap, so really, there are few ways of seeing the show.

After 20 episodes plus commentary with Lena Dunham, I can say that I do indeed like the show. I was prepared not to. In fact, over the past 36 hours, I’ve seen Lena Dunham naked so many times that I think I might be in a relationship with her. I feel like I should be buying her dinner or something, because I probably know more about her character’s sex life than my own. I don’t really think we should keep seeing each other. There is no physical attraction whatsoever, and she seems remarkably self-involved. Yet, I keep watching.

And, strangely enough, that kind of defines the phenomenon that is “Girls”.

One of the reasons I stayed away from this show is because of all the media buzz surrounding it. From haters who summarize it as “over-privileged twenty-something white girls whining about imaginary problems” to pro-feminist bloggers who write about “rape scenes” and “lack of female sexual empowerment” in a show that’s supposed to be about young women *becoming* independent and empowered, there was enough to make me think I was better off not watching it. Not to mention the fact that, plot-wise, it seemed like a younger, poorer “Sex And The City” (you’ve got the quirky writer, the prudish skinny brunette, the wild child, and no Miranda—she’s been replaced by a somewhat manic 21-year-old virgin. Redheads were not popular in casting, apparently. :P )

Many of my friends loved the show, assured me I would love the show, and as a female creative person who is vocally supportive of other female creative people getting out there and being “real”, I would love Lena Dunham.

However, all the interviews and publicity I saw about Lena Dunham seemed to reference her looks and her weight and her nude scenes, and how being an “average” woman on TV was groundbreaking. Something about all this just made me feel uncomfortable rather than interested. Perhaps it’s because of the 145-pound actress making self-deprecatory comments about her weight and her appearance through her character, while simultaneously sending out the message that it’s cool to be comfortable with yourself—-and by the way, this is what the average “real” woman looks like, so we should get more comfortable with that, too—and the fact that the mixed messages made me uncomfortable. Since gaining some weight two years ago, I’m about the same size she is (although we’re clearly shaped differently) and her show is littered with references about how her character is “plain” and “fat”. Does this make me “plain” and “fat”, and even if I happen to be those things, do I want to see a reflection of them on TV? Or is the point that her character is NOT “plain” and “fat” and “weird”, it’s just how she sees herself?

In any case, something about the whole thing made me feel vaguely uncomfortable, and I figured this was either a show that I couldn’t relate to at all, or would be a good way for an insecure person to reinforce insecurities by seeing some sort of reflection of herself in a character that was described with not particularly positive attributes. Thus,about a month ago, when I was approached by what turned out to be a guy far too young for me who compared me to Lena Dunham, I didn’t necessarily take it as a compliment, although he obviously meant it as one.

The idea of watching this show scared me, in a way, because it’s not often on television you see a brutally honest depiction of someone who in some way reminds you of yourself. In a way, this is a type of scripted television that’s way more real than any “reality TV” or “true life story” you’ll see, and I can see why it would be uncomfortable and intimidating. While not all the characters on the show are as real and brutally uncomfortable as Hannah (the character based on Dunham’s own life experience), some are. Almost all have moments that make you cringe, while at the same time, you recognise these things have happened to you or someone you know.

“Girls” entertains, but unlike “Sex And The City”, it makes you feel uncomfortable and doesn’t apologise for that. It shows people at their best, and at their worst. Surprisingly enough, the scene that made me feel the most uncomfortable wasn’t one with Lena Dunham present at all. One of the characters is a very experienced, likeable, and totally irresponsible hippie type who ends up in a screaming match with someone she believes loves her. Instead, he ends the relationship by tearing her down in the most vicious ways possible, and she doesn’t even flinch. When he says, rather than loving her, he considers her a mistake and a “whore with a terrible work ethic”, she hits him. At the same time, you barely see her react to being verbally abused, making it obvious that this seemingly confident character has never actually been loved by anyone, despite her greater experience with the world. It made me terribly uncomfortable to watch, and I actually felt somewhat damaged after seeing that scene, to which I could relate a little too much.

I think that’s what the show does, and it is why Lena Dunham isn’t just the overrated, controversial twenty-something of the moment. She (along with Judd Apatow) take what should be one-dimensional characters we’ve all seen before, and put them in situations of such vulnerable honesty that there are moments that are tremendously emotionally affecting. While I’m pretty vocal about my feminist viewpoints, I honestly didn’t see anything in the show that made me angry enough to not watch the show. Sometimes, the girls on the show are in situations where they are not treated nicely by men, and by each other. Again, there are things that are hard to watch. But they’re also things that anyone who has made it through their twenties living a relatively unsheltered, adventurous lifestyle has probably experienced (the funniest episode is undoubtedly the one where Dunham’s character does cocaine with her gay ex-boyfriend as “research” for a story).

I don’t necessarily feel the need to see Lena Dunham naked more frequently, and the character she portrays on the show is far from stable (not that any of them are), but it’s really difficult to listen to her talk about her creation and not like where she’s coming from. She’s definitely a cool, creative person, and I wish the press had focused more on the positive aspects of her show and her persona. In this day and age, almost anyone can be a blogger, an aspiring filmmaker, an artist whose favourite subject is “Telling the story of my life”. That’s often mistaken for shallow self-absorption or shameless attention whoring (we can all thank the cast of “Jersey Shore” and anyone in the Kardashian family for that.). However, it’s downright ballsy to do it in a way that not only doesn’t idealise or glamourise those you know and the situations around you, but is willing to show you at your lowest and most “unbeautiful”.

That’s reality, and while I may have avoided the show out of an instinct that it would make me uncomfortable, that’s also precisely why I needed to watch it. It’s why most women in their early 20′s to early 30′s could benefit from watching it. Sometimes, life isn’t pretty, and no matter how time you invest in the right manners, the right job, the right makeup, the right clothes, and the right friends, you’re not always going to be so pretty, either.

Yet, most of the time, if you’re lucky, you’ll have people around who love you anyway. They may never understand you, they may get mad at you and think you’re not worth the trouble until it occurs to them that everyone is insufferable sometimes, and some may walk away when you need them. But, in the end, there are always people who love you, and they’ll come back for you anyway…even when you don’t deserve it.

I consider my 36-hour fling with Lena Dunham and her colourful cast of characters to be one of the most rewarding I’ve had in some time. I’d highly recommend. :)


“My survival is, in fact, the final irony. Everyone was always in better health than me. All my friends, two husbands, my sisters, so many who never complained a day in their lives until death tapped them on the shoulder. The grass is green over them now–and I’m still here.” — “Mozart’s Wife”,Juliet Waldron

A few days ago, I completed an author interview that will hopefully be around and about in the next few months. In it, I was asked about the state of indie publishing, and whether or not traditional publishers were still the only reliable source for for quality literature.

A year or so ago, The Guy I Am Currently Dating bought me a Kindle Fire, which I wasn’t even sure at the time I wanted. As it turns out, I love it, and it’s gotten me into the habit of reading more. Since I don’t live near a convenient library and spending $15-$20 for a new release every time I’m excited to read something can become an expensive habit, discovering relatively inexpensive indie authors is a fun hobby. I’m already somewhat addicted to clothes and jewelry and headpieces and perfumes. I don’t need anything else on which to spend money (but more about me and my 2013 shopping adventures later.)

The truth is, for every 10 “free” or “99 cent” Kindle books I download, one is worth reading. Recently, I downloaded a book that sounded so promising to me in premise, and was written by a retired humanities professor with the requisite letters after his name. I made it through 10 pages. I couldn’t help but remember a time, as a freshman in university who was slacking off and called into the adviser’s office for a “chat about my potential”, the professor speaking to me told me that I was more articulate and visionary than many of his colleagues. Even though I studied in the arts, where graduating with a job offer is considered a success, my adviser expressed disappointment that I didn’t turn it down in order to continue my education. I remembered this episode, with a total lack of humility, because I encountered an instance that proved him right. Not every well-educated person should be self-publishing, at least without an editor.

I’m picky about what I read, in the same way that I don’t have the patience to sit through a bad movie and will fall asleep during a TV show I hate. I don’t mean to be critical. I guess I just am. If I dislike a book within the first 20 minutes, I’ll delete it without a thought. I’m sure plenty of people would do the same to mine. ;)

I downloaded “Mozart’s Wife”, because it was a work of historical fiction (which I enjoy), and because in my years of singing, my operatic repertoire has become particularly Mozart-heavy. Mozart loved his coloraturas, and wasn’t afraid to write very difficult pieces for them. Of course, I know a great deal about the less-than-admirable life of the child prodigy who, like so many child prodigies, did not end his life with the same promise with which it began. However, I know less about his wife Constanze (Konstanze, or Stanzi in this book). She’s always depicted as petite, slightly plump, voluptuous, and bursting with energy that attracted many admirers. Since Mozart has a reputation as a philanderer, an alcoholic, a gambler, and a person of many other vices, it’s widely portrayed in books and popular culture that his wife was of the same temperament. One would assume, especially after watching “Amadeus”, that they were a pair of liberal party-hoppers with high aspirations but little sense of practicality.

This book shows a different side to Konstanze, a woman who struggled to deal with a neurotic, unfaithful, and chronically irresponsible husband whose flaws were to be forgiven because of her genius. She also struggled of living in the shadow of two gifted sisters, one an extraordinary beauty Mozart wanted to marry but instead helped her to launch a career as a prima donna. In the character portrayed, you don’t see a flighty and sensual woman, but one who might have been content with a less glamorous and more stable life. Upon Mozart’s death, she found herself to be 28, in severe debt, prematurely aging, and willing to bury her husband in a pauper’s grave and lock up all relics of his life. You see someone who is not mourning the loss of love, but carrying the burden of anger at how many lives the man she loved destroyed.

I do not know how much of the story is fictional, and how much is based on papers left behind by Mozart himself (which Konstanze later edited and published in order to build a sense of financial security), but the speculation that Mozart had illegitimate children and died by poison at the hands of a fellow Masoner who found his wife seduced by the musician is certainly a possibility, and an entertaining one at that. Regardless of Konstanze’s feelings toward her late husband, if she had simply thrown his stacks of compositions and correspondence into the fire, history would have been denied much. An artist who struggled to earn a living for his family during his lifetime has been turned into one of the greatest legends of all time, and I suspect most of that is owed to the sheer practicality of his widow.

I’ve always adored Mozart’s “Requiem”, and the dramatization of his death surrounding the composition of it in “Amadeus”made it that much more heart-rending for me. At one point, Waldron writes a scene in which Mozart acknowledges the requiem he is writing is for himself, and cries during attempts to create the “Lachrymosa”. (the last part of the “Requiem” most scholars agree Mozart completed completely on his own.) This scene shook me, because it is perhaps the most musically powerful piece ever composed by someone who spent so much of his gift creating entertaining stories and bawdy farces. It is at the very end of his life, you see and hear the true genius that was perhaps never entirely discovered.

I had to look through 20 “free” Kindle books to find something as well-written, well-researched, and engaging as this novel. Fans of Phillipa Gregory, Juliet Grey, Antonia Fraser, and Alison Weir will all enjoy this work.

On a somewhat related note, I experienced something that I can now cross off my bucket list: receiving my first rejection letter. I submitted a series of short stories for publication as a chapbook, and it was rejected with a polite semi-form letter that said “I’m glad to have read it, and while I found much to like in it, I think I’m going to decline the chance to publish it as a title. Please don’t take this as a reflection on you or the work–when making editorial decisions like this it’s more about the larger picture of the vision for the grouping of titles as a whole than it is a singular comment on one particular book.”

I actually took the rejection harder than I thought I would. I am not unused to rejection. You don’t get through a lifetime of working in theatre without knowing how to handle rejection. You don’t live life as the sort of person who will tell someone how you feel about them without the risk that every so often, your feelings simply won’t be reciprocated. You don’t apply for freelance jobs expecting every single person will be awed by you.

Yet, there’s something about a rejection letter that’s extremely personal and final. It is the equivalent of hearing “It’s not you, it’s me, but it’s really you.” I cried and felt inadequate about the whole business. At least when you don’t get a role in a show, it’s often because of a director’s vision, or because you’ve seen with your own eyes that you weren’t right for something or someone was better than you. When you confess your love for someone who replies with “But I’d rather be with someone who isn’t you”, you cry and realise that person is just an emotionally unaware idiot and it’s for the best. When you don’t land a job, it’s a disappointment, but an impersonal one. The real and personal nature of a rejection letter has a way of hitting hard. It must be a little like being one of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends listening to her new album for the first time.

It isn’t even so much that I believed that a chapbook was the right format for what I wanted to put out there. As always, a simple idea of “I should write some stories” turned into a larger project that will likely end up being a 150-page novella with an over-arching theme that 10 people will read. My inability to do anything on a small scale is nothing if not consistent.

I suppose it was more just a case of me hoping to hear validation and encouragement, in the form of “You’re a creative person who isn’t wasting time working on creative things.” When I received the opposite, it felt like quite a blow to my already delicate self-esteem.

On a final, somewhat related note, I’ve had my first author interview published regarding “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse“. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here. Make certain to leave a comment or a “like”, to let both the blog owner and myself know you’ve visited and appreciated what you happened to read.

It’s been an odd week. The weather changes almost every other day, as does my mood, and both have been difficult to handle. I hope to be able to take some time in June to travel and visit a few friends I’ve been missing dearly, as both travel and the company of friends I see too infrequently generally makes me feel more exuberant and less…well…old. *laughs*

On the up side, we have tickets to see Fun. in October, and while that’s a lifetime away, I have something to look forward to. :)

“I gradually realised that I’m just not the muse type. Girls like me don’t inspire people. I’m just not muse material,I finally thought sadly on my 18th birthday, looking at a world wholly non-inspired by me. “I’m not a princess. I’m not a muse. Just being me isn’t enough. I’m going to have to dosomething instead.“—Caitlin Moran,“How To Be A Woman”

It’s been a little while since I’ve felt inclined to post over here. Chalk it up to the winter blues or simply a lack of anything truly different and interesting happening in my life, but blog topics have been few and far between. Sometimes, it comes to transpire in life that you have many thoughts and feelings you could express, but most are things you’re obligated to keep to yourself for one reason or another. When that happens, I notice that my blog gets a little quieter, but it’s easier for me to renew my habit of writing three pages a day in my journal, or to actually send letters to people.

Speaking of letters, I started out my day today by reading a beautifully handwritten letter from Randy of Narrative Urge, a project that’s garnered a lot of local publicity. He’s dedicated himself to writing a letter a day, each one to a different person around the world. It’s a little bit like a daily journal, I suppose, chopped up into bits and pieces and scattered around the world. It would be a very cool project for him to get back copies of every letter sent when the year is out, along with any responses from those he’s written, and turn them into a published anthology. Because I’ve recently become fascinated with the idea of human disconnection in a world that’s obsessed with making connection easier and more instantaneous, I think this is a wonderful idea on Randy’s part, and am happy he took time out to include me.

While I haven’t been the most productive blogger or worker bee, I have been keeping up with some reading and writing endeavours. I’ve completed the first draft of “Sophisticated Nothing”, a compilation of memoirs and short fictional pieces I originally intended to submit for publication as a short chapbook. The chapbook draft is complete, and I may send it off just to see if it is approved by a publisher and the idea is worth exploring. However, after I started work on it, I realised it had potential to be a much longer collection of short stories and personal memoirs. The concept behind it is, as mentioned above, about connection in an increasingly disconnected world. Every story is set in a different bar, restaurant, coffeeshop, or cafe, because these are public places where people interact, often forgetting they’re in a public place. They’ve also been inspirational places for people interested in observing people, or having exchanges with strangers. Once I thought of the overarching theme of the collection, I realised there were more stories to be told than could fit into a 50-page chapbook. However, I have a habit of allowing my projects to get too big, and therefore, never get finished. So, I’ve been debating what to do with my creative vision. I don’t really need another project that serves to make no money from distracting me from what should be a main goal in life—making money. *laughs*

I enjoyed reading two short but extremely witty books over the past two weeks. Both are by women around my age, and are part memoir, part sociological insight on subjects such as feminism, travel, relationships, independence, and self-esteem. It’s always interesting to me to read books by people who started off as bloggers, columnists, or writers for less-than-mainstream publications. They have different and more authentic voices—the kind Elizabeth Wurtzel and Alexandra Robbins got panned for before it became common for journalists to write about “myself and people like me”. It is still a style of writing that is reviewed quite harshly and described as “self-indulgent”, especially when penned by a female author, or one that can land you in the hot seat on Oprah if it turns out you made a lot of the colourful details up. I don’t really care; self-indulgent or not, fictional or not, I enjoy the kind of in-your-face style of writing that today’s version of diarists and essayists are putting out there. So, when many of them were on sale for $1.99 through Amazon, it was a good day.

I started with Caitlin Moran’s “How To Be A Woman”, which has been panned so harshly by critics and readers above the age of 40 with such passion, I determined I’d probably love it. (What are the chances that I’m not going to identify with a controversial book about feminism and being a woman in today’s society, written by a snarky British woman around my age?). I actually loved the book, and I don’t know what people were going on and on about, because there’s very little that’s controversial or shocking in what she has to say. Oh, wait. No. She talks about having an abortion and not feeling too upset over the whole ordeal. And she uses the word “vagina”. I guess that’s “controversial”.

A music journalist for Wired magazine back in the day, Caitlin Moran is the non-conformist cool chick who isn’t afraid to discuss how uncool and insecure she’s always felt about her place in the world. Moran’s stories alternate between being funny, heartfelt, and painful, and sometimes all at the same time. Since that’s rather how life is, I’d say it’s a successful book. It’s easy to read, and I don’t know the last time I used the “bookmark” feature on my Kindle so often, because she’s a quotable woman. I look forward to reading her other book soon, but I’ve added her to my favourites list for the time being.

After that, I moved on to Rachel Shukert’s “Everything Is Going To Be Great”, another happily settled thirty-something writing about her decade or so of finding herself. While Moran is a cool British feminist who hangs out with guitarists in drug-induced fits of being an asshole, Shukert is an American Jewish girl from a wealthy, suburban family that wants to live life outside of the “good girl” role. Needless to say, her exposure to the world without the security blanket of money, family, a supportive relationship, or even the comforts of living in your home country is not a seamless one. There are many points when I am reminded how the best part of the book is the ironic title, although it really isn’t. Even though all the sucky things that might befall someone traveling abroad seem to happen to this one rather lost and directionless girl, things always somehow get back on track and for a while, do indeed appear to be great.

Shukert doesn’t make any pretense about wanting to be a feminist or help a younger generation of women through the painful and funny journey of self-discovery, while Moran writes about these topics outright and seems to not only want to give you a dose of reality, but shock you in the process. These are clearly two very different types of girls, but the common denominator is they’re around the same age, both educated, both great writers, and end up finding a sense of self and stability in a chaotic world. If you’re looking for reading material for your next flight, either or both of these will entertain you for quite some time.

Although I myself haven’t done anything interesting in the past month (first, The Guy I Am Currently Dating was sick for 10 days, and then on the day he recovered, I got sick for 10 days, so February wasn’t the most action-packed of months.), I’ve used some of the down-time to be entertained by and proud of some of the cool things friends of mine have been doing. Dave Leach, a friend of ours for many years via my social group, appeared on the Jeopardy! Tournament Of Champions, and made it through to the semi-final rounds. After winning 6 times in 2012, it was really a fantastic way for Dave to put a cap on his Jeopardy! experience, and we’re all very proud of him!

Later in the month, long-time blogger-artist-friend-and-fellow-Philadelphian Gina Martinelli appeared on Lisa Ling’s Our World” with her rather colourful family. Gina is one of the voices over at Polyskeptic, and they all seem pretty happy about their appearance on the show. They were one of three families profiled about modern-day polyamory, and presented an interesting look at poly marriages and families. outside of the traditional primary/secondary partner paradigm that most people I know happen to embrace. (I’m still personally attached to a little more compartmentalization than these more “familial” relationships allow, because as it turns out, I’m remarkably private for an open and unconventional person who keeps a blog on the Internet. :P )) I have a number of friends who are actors that I’ve had opportunity to see on TV and in the movies, but somehow, it’s a little different when people are just being themselves in real life on camera.

Although I personally have been on the more introverted side of things, and am patiently waiting for the happy 70-degree days to arrive, I have more than a little travel wanderlust. I really just want a bag of cash and someone to watch my dog, and I’ll take off and see friends and family I’ve been missing over the past year or so. :P We’ve had some fun events, including dressing up and partying at The Shelter on more than one occasion, but sometimes, you want adventure and spontaneity that happens to lie outside of your Metro area.

Yes, a life of freedom and not being terribly concerned with money would make me a much happier person. I might even blog more. Perhaps that could be an Indiegogo campaign. :P *laughs*

Finally, if you do not possess a copy of my 2012 poetry anthology, “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, you can win one on Goodreads. Simply click below and enter the drawing. You’ll received an autographed copy with a personalised dedication. :)

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ophelia’s Wayward Muse

by Alayna-Renee Vilmont

Giveaway ends March 17, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

I’ve been feeling a little better the past few days, although I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I had a really laid-back weekend with a lot of rest and catching up on TV. In fact, all I did on Friday night was watch sitcoms and episodes of Shameless with The Guy I Am Currently Dating, while eating dinner from Moe’s and dessert from Dunkin’ Donuts. (NOTE: Even if you try really hard to stick to your diet, Dunkin’ Donuts will undermine you by giving you free donuts. You can’t ignore free donuts.) During the rest of the weekend, I highly enjoyed only seeing a few friends who I enjoy being around, because there’s really no pressure hanging out with them. It’s less like a social event, and more like when you were a teenager, and would just chill out with your friends doing nothing special. Except, for us, “nothing special” means playing trivia at our weekly pizza place. We did have to get up early on Sunday, because The Guy I Am Currently Dating had his monthly brunch/Meetup. That was followed by us doing a bunch of errands, but then I spent Sunday evening in bed, watching reality TV and “Mean Girls” on cable for the 30 millionth time.

After that, I got out my long-ignored paper journal, and decided to start writing about some of the things that were bothering me. I’ve had things on my mind, and they’ve been interfering with my sleep, despite the Valium that’s supposed to make that not happen. Whenever I talk to someone about them, I end up just feeling depressed, anxious, and angry. So, I decided to write three pages in my journal about whatever was on my mind. Three pages turned into 6, which turned into 8. I only stopped writing because I ran into a page where I’d just randomly decided to stick an entry last October. (even my diary isn’t in logical order!!) In any case, the result is that I had a very good night’s sleep, and pleasant dreams, and woke up feeling fairly positive about life.

Years ago, I did a class based on Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”, which is about exploring yourself and your creativity and helping you get “unstuck”. For many people, it eradicates the fears surrounding “What if I create something that sucks?” and “What if I’m not good enough to ever do anything right?”. Artists have a reputation for being laid-back, flighty, Type-B personalities, and many of us are—but many of us are also hopeless perfectionists, insecure narcissists or even more insecure misanthropes, and feel like we live in a world where nobody’s listening to those who are marching to a slightly different drummer. The Artist’s Way really helps with that. One of the things it recommends is writing three pages in the morning of whatever pops into your head, in order to release what’s weighing you down. I don’t write in the morning, since I am not a morning person, but I used to make time to do that before bed. I find it incredibly helpful, and think it’s a habit I need to stick with for a little while, at least until I feel in a more positive place about myself, my life, and my relationships with others.

At the same time, I’m working on a chapbook of short stories and poetic musings, and I hope that taking the time to write every day means this is a project I will be able to finish. Writing, for me, involves a state of high emotional awareness and willingness to address emotions that aren’t always pleasant to access. As an actor, I was trained in “the Method”, which relies on the ability to relive experiences and have unguarded access to often painful emotions, which can then be related to the scene you’re acting in order to feel as if you’re living it, rather than acting it. I suppose writing for me is much the same, and the consequence is that when I am too happy or too sad, I tend to avoid it. It requires a vulnerability from me that I’d rather not have, although I do. Sometimes, I’d rather not go probing around my emotions and my psyche with a pointy stick, so projects get put on hiatus. Then, when I return to them, I decide that they suck, and I am not particularly talented. As a result, my hiatus gets longer and longer. Therefore, I try to make the most of my introspective periods, while they happen to be around.

I think I may be slightly happier because I’ve started taking my vitamins again, another thing I need to do, but tend to forget—for weeks at a time. I am not only anemic, but deficient in D and B vitamins, which are linked to energy and mood. Less than a week into taking them again, I feel more energetic and happier.

Perhaps I’ve just come to terms with some things in my life I’m not terribly happy about. Sometimes, friendships don’t work out, and you invest in people who abandon you. Sometimes, it’s really hard to relate to other people. Sometimes, you get really attached to people who don’t see or value everything you have to offer in the way you wish they would. Sometimes, friends and lovers and family are mean to you, and make you cry, or make you doubt things about yourself and your life. I’ve been dwelling in the bitterness and genuine anger about the “disposable, disconnected mindset” people have in the way they treat one another, and how I so frequently get hurt because I do not share than mindset. But, I can’t change other people….and the reality is, I don’t really want to be a harder, less accessible person. I don’t want to invest in others less, fall for people less frequently, take fewer chances. I want other people to be willing to do those thing more often, but I can’t control that, which is why I often feel angry as well as hurt. I need to remind myself frequently that I have no influence over what other people do, beyond the ways in which my presence in someone’s life affects them. And if it doesn’t affect them that much, either because that person puts up too many walls, believes others to be replaceable, or simply didn’t care about me as a person that much to begin with, I have to make peace with that.

That is terribly hard for me. I’m a little controlling. I’m a little used to getting my own way. I’m a little used to thinking of myself as charming and having an odd quality that draws others to get to know me, so why should someone ever find me disposable or of minor importance or be “just not that into me”? Yet, it happens, and if someone chooses not to invest in me, or to be a part of my life at all, or to set limits and build walls that prohibit any sort of real emotional bond from occurring, I have to accept that and move on. It isn’t my job to convince anyone else how freaking awesome I am. It’s just my job to remember *why* I am, and that there are always going to be people in my life who appreciate those things, and want to be a part of my world.

Every time someone hurts me, or a friend betrays my trust, or a lover breaks my heart, or a crush turns out to be little more than that, I swear that I’m going to become a different kind of person, the kind who doesn’t care too much and doesn’t get hurt. The kind who keeps relationships frivolous, and sees the word through self-centred, opportunistic glasses. I tried that for a number of years. Not only did I find myself lonely and incapable of truly connecting with other people at all, I caused a lot of drama and heartache. I hurt people, including myself. I earned a lot of bad karma. And, on top of it, I was doing it in order to protect myself from being hurt. Instead, I just made certain I was always alone.

I don’t really want that. I don’t want to change. It’s just easier to say “This person hurt me, so it reminds me why I don’t like who I am.” than it is to say “This person hurt me, so it reminds me what I don’t like about who that person is.” The first, I can control, but the second is totally something I can do nothing about.

I remember, during my brief journey into therapy, my psychiatrist telling me I didn’t understand anger. When I yell at people, I cry. When people hurt me, I feel like something must be wrong with *me*. I used to be a pretty self-destructive human being, even if I kept my feelings inaccessible enough to not realise that my behaviours were destructive and self-destructive. I remember being told I was this way because I was angry, and too spirited to simply be “depressed”. I always directed anger at me, because I felt powerless over my emotions as they relate to other people. I have too many, and many times, I’d prefer to have none at all. It’s taken me a long time to explore a healthy middle ground.

But I still think that when someone makes me cry or treats me badly or I start to think they aren’t the right person for me, it’s a failing I direct at myself…even if I logically see it is not. I know how to be angry at others, but I don’t know how not to be sad when such things happen, how not to wish I were a different sort of person entirely. It is easier to understand “I feel sad” than “I feel angry”, or “I want something you won’t ever offer me”.

At some point, I have to realise I don’t feel sad, and I don’t want to change. I am just angry when other people hurt me, and reinforce the idea that people, even those you love and who claim to love you, sometimes suck. I can’t take the whole burden of “What’s wrong with humanity” and make it my responsibility. I can only be who I am, even if that person is too sensitive, or will always be too easily hurt or open up to the wrong people or idealise others in a way that is perhaps unrealistic. At some point, I have to believe that being who I am is as much of an asset as a detriment, even if people continue to suck. Because, the truth is, people are all sucky and hurtful sometimes, and everyone makes mistakes. Nobody really understands friendships and relationships and emotional connection and how to cope. We’re all just doing the best we can with who we are.

Maybe it’s not about being perfect, but about finding people who either have matching baggage, or know how to help you carry yours.

Thank you to everyone who donated to Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, and to everyone who gave me advice about the publication process! My goal was to raise $600 towards publication of my poetry compilation, and ended up raising $625, so it means a lot to me that my friends believed in this project, and in helping me cross an important goal off of my bucket list. :)

I’ll now be spending the next few weeks working on editing, typesetting, cover design, and making sure that the finished project is something to which I am thrilled to lend my name. I anticipate that publication of the book will be in completed in November, and I’ll also be releasing an e-book format, and listing the book for sale on Amazon.

Of course, we’ll be throwing a huge event in honour of this achievement, because any reason is a good reason to get together with friends and celebrate life, right? It may not be the world’s biggest achievement, but for someone who has spent a lifetime writing poetry and hiding it under her bed in hopes nobody would ever read it, it’s a monumental step. Self-confidence and not diminishing dreams, however small, are an essential part of happiness.

I have never been emotionally fearless enough to put myself out there, because the inevitable criticism and judgment and “You suck” is always hard to take. Acting is a little different; it isn’t *you* who is being judged, so much as a production, a director, a character you’ve been hired to play. Writing, especially the kind of creative stuff I put out there, is intensely personal.

Earlier in the year, I decided that’s exactly *why* I had to start putting myself and my work out there. I have a voice, and a story to tell, which makes me just like every other human being on this earth. Yet, most choose not to tell their stories and not to share their voice with the world, because insecurity and criticism and fear of rejection are really strong demons.

This year, I decided it was time to prove I was stronger.

Some supportive friends have told me this may just be an important and transformative step in the journey of my life, one that admittedly doesn’t have a map. I’m not nearly that ambitious, but it touches me to be reminded that people believe in me. Some people believe in me a lot more than they ought to, and give me more credit than I deserve (I often pretend otherwise, but deep down, I’m a pretty humble person). I think that has been the best part of this process, being reminded I have a support system out there, and that’s a pretty remarkable gift. I may have left New York a long time ago, but a lot of the New York mentality has remained with me: I have the gift of mistakenly feeling I am alone and isolated, even in a crowd of people. I tend to be a bit distrustful, to think the worst of people, especially when it comes to what they think of me.

I woke up really happy this morning, after having a dream in which I was perfectly content and happy. It was an unrealistic dream; in real life, the things that made me happy would never work out that way, but it was a reflection of my idealistic self peeking through.

Being reminded that sometimes, people care about you and believe in you is important, for everyone.

So, a huge thank you to everyone who reached out to me to show support, encouragement, friendship, and to remind me that my friendship has touched them in a positive way. All of you have touched me, as well, or there’d be no inspiration behind this book in the first place. :)

Stay tuned for the occasional update on how Ophelia is progressing. :) Now, time for possibly the least exciting weekend ever. *laughs* (What happened to those days when I was not ill, and lived in a walkable part of town, and downtime was a rarity? I’m not as young as I used to be, but I kind of miss that.)

For friends and blog readers who may care, I’ve been working on finally getting a compilation of my poetic efforts ready for publication. The book is entitled “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, and is a project that’s existed in one form or another for 10 years or so. It’s finally at a point where I have a “finished” and typed manuscript, and am ready to begin pursuing the publication process.

Since doing so is relatively expensive, especially for a girl whose life has started overflowing with bills over the past year (for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s cheaper to die than to recover, should you find yourself seriously ill. I think our medical system could use some serious revision.), I’ve decided to look into alternative methods of funding. Kickstarter is a great site to raise money for artistic projects. With the number of people I know, it seems to me that just having friends, acquaintances, and loyal readers of this blog donate a few extra dollars here and there is enough to help me accomplish this rather modest fundraising goal.

So, in order to fund my “crossing this off the bucket list” endeavour, I’ve set up a project to support the publication of Ophelia’s Wayward Muse. If you want to help me see this happen, please consider donating a few dollars to the project. In fact, if you’ve ever enjoyed my blogs, my e-mails, or my snarky, entertaining Facebook correspondence, it’s a great way to encourage me to keep on writing and being productive. Of course, if you have reason to believe there’s a poem about you in this anthology, you should definitely show some love. :P *laughs*

I’m intending on the publication of my first poetic collection to be a fabulous way to celebrate the end of 2012 (which also happens to include my birthday!), and of course, there will be a huge party to celebrate when all is said and done. I have 30 days to raise the necessary cash for this project, and it’s an all-or-nothing deal…if I don’t reach my goal, your payment is not processed and nothing is ever sent my way. :(

A separate page has been established on this site for Ophelia’s Wayward Muse, which currently includes a sample poem from the book, acknowledgements in the form of thanks to those who have donated, and will keep interested parties updated on the progress of the publication. Please share with your artistic and literary-inclined friends, as not only do I want to raise money for this project, but also interest and support!

Please help me to build a home for wayward words! :)

“The right color of red hair has not come along and sat down at the bar on a Tuesday when the jukebox was playing Leonard Cohen, and your Manhattan tasted like the future.” ~ Lisa Taddeo

This is the random kind of post only my writer friends will care about, but the good news is, it’s short. :P

A friend of mine shared this on FB today because she thought it was beautiful.

She was absolutely right.

Of course, it was attached to the billionth article I’ve read recently about why people cheat, how everyone’s capable of infidelity, and how it’s just human nature to be dishonest and betray those you love. To which, of course, I responded with my standard comments on society’s unrealistic expectations that we should look to find everything in one partner, and then feel betrayed when the person we love either resents us for holding them back from being able to grow in ways that sometimes only relationships with other people allow, resents us for stifling them and being overly demanding, or ultimately lies and cheats because part of human nature is growth and freedom–and a partner who doesn’t understand that is probably not your ideal partner. Yet, since most people aren’t as open-minded as they’d like to think and are more selfish and possessive than is necessary (I include myself here, of course), ideal partners are hard to find. We just all try to come as close as we possibly can.

In short, the typical response from the “monogamy and adultery are not the only two options in permanently committed relationships” viewpoint. I didn’t link to the article, because we’ve had this conversation many times in different forms, on FB and on my blog, and in person, if you know me…and re-posting it on my FB wall may not the smartest of moves right now. Also, it’s not a particularly unique article in any way.

The exception is, as this lovely and talented writer friend pointed out, there’s this one brilliant line worthy of recognition.

It is probably the only recognition I’ll give Esquire magazine (where the article appeared) for the rest of the year, so…you know, kudos.

This blog, however, is most definitely worth a read. This girl has a great voice and an individualistic style, and like many women, I can relate. I’ll certainly be back.

You may have noticed I haven’t been around a whole lot lately, and I’m not sure why, other than I’ve been struggling with a sense of depression and isolation I don’t wish to inflict on my readers day in and day out, just as I don’t wish to be that person who’s always bringing my friends down in real life. The result is often a feeling that it’s too much work to talk to anyone, and I’d prefer my world quiet and filled with solitude. At the same time, I feel kind of a large weight on my chest that’s either anxiety, or a warning sign that my heart is about to go on permanent strike.

I’m still not recovering. I’m still gaining weight steadily, despite eating and drinking less than ever. Research into the subject shows this is an unpleasant side effect of my medication, along with hair loss, and short of discontinuing my use of beta blockers and restricting my calorie intake to about 800 calories per day to maintain my weight, there’s little I can do. I still suffer from headaches and intolerance to bright lights and sometimes, merely leaving my house. I sometimes wonder, “What if the doctor is wrong, like so many before him?” I wonder if I am dying, and how best to put my affairs in order, to make it easier on everyone if I don’t wake up tomorrow.

According to the literature I’ve read, my feelings are pretty normal, although they seem pretty screwed up to me. It mentions that being diagnosed with a chronic illness sends people through the five stages of grief typically reserved for coping with the loss of a loved one or receiving news of your own impending death. Instead of mourning for another person or preparing for the end of your own life, you’re mourning the loss of your former self, of things you believe you can no longer do, a person you can no longer be…at least for awhile. This makes a lot of sense to me, because it *is* how I feel. I just feel compelled to go through my process in isolation more days than I’d typically feel comfortable with just my own company. Too often, I don’t feel strong enough to face the world…and when I try and fail, the failure hits me hard. I wonder if I will be alone and unloved for much of the next portion of my life, after a life spent constantly on the go, in the spotlight, seeking the attention and approval of others.

I did make it out this weekend, despite some struggles with anxiety and feeling physically ill, and to a concert of all things. We saw Ani DiFranco at Variety Playhouse, and although Ani didn’t perform many of my personal favourites, I enjoyed a lot of the stuff from her latest album. Her opening act was a rather unknown act from Brooklyn called Pearl And The Beard. I liked their music a great deal, although the acoustics made it difficult for me to enjoy them as much as I’d have liked to. Their lead singer is a fabulous, eccentric lady, barely taller than I am, but with a belt voice that encompasses almost her entire range. It’s unusual to come across a white female who can belt without a break in her voice (no, it’s not racism, it’s just one of those weird biological facts learned throughout my years of vocal training.), but this band’s singer, Jocelyn, belts almost up to a high C. As an operatic soprano whose belt voice won’t even think about trying that, I’m both jealous and impressed….enough that I wanted to purchase their CD. Alas, it was sold out. We said a few words of congratulations to Jocelyn after the show and received hugs, so I hope to see and hear good things from them.

As for Ani, I think her voice only gets better with time. Like Tori Amos, she has an unusual, quirky voice that may fool you into thinking she lacks true vocal skill, but you’d be dead wrong (on both accounts.) Ani doesn’t have an interesting range or the ability to play with light and darkness in her voice the way Tori does, but she performs in a variety of styles and shows off a really strong voice when she chooses to. Other times, she chooses to take a Bob Dylan-esque, musical-without-singing, narrative approach. Both are equally compelling. As a person, I think she’s extraordinarily likable, slightly to the left of me in her personal and political views, and not afraid to tackle the controversial. This was my third Ani show, and I’ll keep seeing her, as long as she keeps coming to town.

This was my personal favourite from her latest album:

Ani DiFranco: Promiscuity

I made it through most of the concert without any unwanted feelings or panic attacks, until the bright blue gels went on and everything started flashing. I sat with my black wrap covering my head like a burka and using the hat The Guy I Am Currently Dating always wears as a shield. But,all in all, I’m glad I went to see the show.

In other news, I was invited to perform at an event at a local theatre, a monthly showcase called Write Club. It seems to consist mostly of actors, writers, and other theatrically-minded individuals. You’re given a challenge partner, and two sets of contrasting themes (i.e, Happy Vs. Sad.) It’s not improv; you have about two weeks to craft a 7-minute monologue, story, poem, performance art piece, essay, whatever you want to do. The person receiving the most applause “wins”, which pretty much means you’re entitled to choose a charity that one-third of the proceeds will go to benefit (there are three winners per night.) You also have the benefit of hearing some pretty interesting and talented people do their thing.

I submitted an application at the end of December, when on my “I’m going to break out of my comfort zone and focus on doing things I like, even if I’m sick” kick. I had rather forgotten about it, but was kind of impressed they wanted me to appear so soon after I’d submitted my application. It made me feel liked for a brief nano-second. :P

Since the show occurs the day after Valentine’s Day, the three themes are relationship related. Mine is “Stay Vs. Go”, and, appropriately enough, I have “Go”. I immediately wrote a piece that was funny and charming, in my own opinion, but since The Guy I Am Currently Dating has encouraged me to explore writing different pieces instead, I’m not sure he agrees with my assessment. The hardest part, of course, is fitting the story you’d like to tell into 7 minutes. On first reading, mine was 11. I had to edit my piece 5 times to get it down under 7 minutes, and there’s not much room for leeway still. I’m totally not used to editing, so of course, now I think the whole thing probably sucks. :P I’ll throw it under my bed somewhere with the rest of the random stuff that was a good creative idea at one time or another, but really wasn’t. :P

I also read Paulo Coelho’s Aleph, which I would have finished in one sitting, did I not have the terrible habit of only reading and writing late at night. Paulo Coelho is my favourite author, probably the best thing I got out of my time with someone I’ll likely never cross paths with again, but who made an impact upon my life in terms of love and spirituality and finding the essence of oneself. Not coincidentally, these are Coelho’s favourite themes. I enjoy some of his books more than others; the more abstract, philosophical stories he shares appeal to me on a much different level than those that read like a “My Trip To The Mayan Ruins’ docu-drama. Aleph is one of his strongest, along with “Eleven Minutes”, ““Veronika Decides To Die”, “The Alchemist”, and “The Witch Of Portobello”.. I have a habit, borne out of the friendship previously referenced, of sharing these books with those who touch my life in some extraordinary way…and are also the type to understand and appreciate the complexity of what’s being shared. This is certainly one I’ll be passing along.

On a similar note, I started reading a book called Yours Ever: People And Their Letters, a sad reminder of how bleak and emotionless our world will look 50 or 100 years from now, when impersonal communication has taken the place of the outpouring of ideas and feelings. I don’t think one person will be saving the tweets and e-mails of those who may potentially change the course of our world, which is a little sad. I think I am simply, at heart, part of a different era, one where communication and expression and vulnerability and human connection are valued….and not in blocks of 140 characters at a time. I think I may always continue to write little handwritten notes and cards, although it’s impractical and unfashionable.

The author of the book, Thomas Mallon, agrees:

In this electronic age, a letter is personal and permanent. It says you took the time and trouble to communicate. The impact of a letter is unique, whether you’re complaining about a disappointing purchase or declaring your love. The point is, write. A letter or a card is truly a unique gift—a piece of yourself.”

That being said, I’ve crafted some pretty memorable letters—both of the disappointed-and-pissed-off-with-your-product sort and the hopelessly-and-secretly-in-love-with-you sort, and sent them via e-mail. And I didn’t give myself an ulcer agonising for weeks until receiving a response. There are advantages to instantaneous communication.

I didn’t watch but the the last 3 minutes of the Super Bowl; I don’t follow football, commercials disinterest me, and it was largely too much work to turn on my TV to see Madonna. However, happy that New York came out victorious, since it’s only like the world’s most awesome place and stuff. :P
R

It’s been a bit of a challenging week here so far, so you’ll have to forgive me for being a little forgetful about keeping everyone in blog-world updated. I had the misfortune to, a few days ago, run out of my prescription Valium about a week before the next prescription was to be filled. This is completely my fault; rather than being on the suggested dose of 5mg per day, I’ve been steadily using 7.5 mg per day for the past few months, the “set point” at which the desired effect of the drug sets in.

For anyone who hasn’t experience with this type of drug, Valium, and all the drugs in the benzo family (Xanax, Klonopin, and Librium, to name a few) are frequently prescribed—and over-prescribed—for anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, and as one of many drugs in the cocktail used to successfully treat bi-polar depression. My experience with benzos started after my first admission to the ER in July, returning from a trip to the beach where I’d gotten heatstroke and 2nd degree burns, and started to experience lightheadedness, chronic vertigo, intolerance to light, and worst of all, these never-ending moments where I felt as if I were having a heart attack. Finally, three weeks after my symptoms began, I started hearing a “wooshing” sound in my ear that drowned out everything, and intense spasms under my ear. I thought I had an aneurysm, so I went to the ER.

After a lot of tests, they found nothing was wrong with me except “sinus tachycardia” (an exceptionally high pulse rate) and an elevated BP, probably due to the chronic panic attacks I’d been having. (I didn’t know they were panic attacks, as I’d never had one before. I legitimately thought I was dying.) They put me on Ativan (another benxo) and antibiotics for a supposed ear infection. Although the Ativan let me sleep, the vertigo and light intolerance never let up, and as soon as I was out of Ativan, the panic attacks returned. 3 trips to the ER later, they’ve put me on a beta-blocker to keep my pulse rate from elevating and a long-term anxiety drug called BuSpar.

From my perspective, BuSpar is evil. From the second day I was on it, I was sitting in the dark (because I couldn’t stand light) with vertigo too bad to ride in the car, and a serious fear of leaving my room. I cried for hours at a time. I wrote suicide notes and burned personal letters and diary entries I didn’t want anyone to find when I was gone. I seriously needed help. I didn’t get it. The doctor told my boyfriend that it took 10 days or so for the body to get used to the drug. By day 7, I was on the phone with 911. I couldn’t stand the movement of the ambulance, and I thought my head was going to explode. The right side of my face was paralyzed. In the ambulance, they told me I was exhibiting signs of “aura” (associated with migraines and seizures) and my pulse was 180, high enough to indicate a trans-ischemic-attack, rare in a previously healthy 30-year-old.

That’s when I met Valium. After a CAT scan, MRI, and tons of blood work, nobody could find a thing wrong with me. My scary symptoms were caused by a negative reaction to BuSpar, which works by blocking your dopamine levels. Oooops. If being on BuSpar was bad, the three days I spent detoxing from it were worse. They prescribed me Valium to help me through withdrawals, at 20 mg a day, a very high dosage for a petite woman with limited tolerance to prescription drugs. I still had horrible BuSpar withdrawals; “brain zap” that felt like electric shocks going through my brain, shaking, constant headaches, the inability to sleep or leave bed for days. I immediately made an appointment with a neurologist, given a history of epilepsy in my family, and arrived in a wheelchair, wearing sunglasses, unable to stand without assistance. Thanks, BuSpar.

Many doctors and many tests later, what they discovered is nobody knows what’s wrong with me. I’m off caffeine, limit chocolate and alcohol, and don’t put any drugs in my system that don’t come from the doctor. The result was always the same: I have a generalized anxiety disorder. I’m not coping with life. Take your benzos and see a psychiatrist. They tried me on Xanax and Klonopin, as well as Antivert for the vertigo. Nothing worked.

Nothing, that is, except Valium. Although I’ve inconveniently gained 20 pounds as the result of Valium + beta-blocker (my heart rate no longer rises high enough to burn calories, and beta-blockers are notorious culprits of a 7-10 pound weight gain due to water weight, while Valium makes you want to sleep instead of exercise.); I am actually functional. I self-adjusted my dose over time, finding out that at about 7.5 mg of Valium, I don’t have vertigo. I don’t have panic attacks (although, ironically, I do sometimes panic about having panic attacks, which manifests as a form of social anxiety. Two drinks with vodka, and it’s gone, which tells me it’s an anxiety issue.). I sleep more than I ever have in my entire life:;9-10 hours uninterrupted.

Since then, it’s been discovered by visits to specialists that I may be dealing with a vestibular (inner ear) issue that causes the vertigo, which in turn caused panic attacks, which in turn caused high blood pressure and pulse. So, possibly, I have a physical disorder that shouldn’t be treated with psychiatric drugs, or heart medication. Unfortunately, until a diagnosis and cure is established, the only thing that keeps my vertigo and panic attacks at bay seems to be Valium.

Valium is highly addictive. The Prozac of the 1960′s, it was called “Mother’s Little Helper”, because it was given as the cure-all for stressed out, disenchanted housewives who needed jobs and a nanny instead. Nowadays, doctors dislike prescribing it, because you can get addicted to it in as little as a week. If you abruptly stop using it, you can expect detox symptoms ranging from shaking, vomiting, and the inability to function as a human being to seizures, coma, and even death. (Amy Winehouse was on the benzo Librium when she died, though she obviously disregarded the “Do not mix with alcohol” warning.)

I’ve been using Valium for well over 4 months. I am on a very low dosage, but two separate times I’ve tried to discontinue use, I’ve had severe side effects. Quitting Valium is apparently a long-term plan; one that involves your doctors lowering your dose every 3-4 weeks until you’re basically done with it. My doctors aren’t aware of this, which is information out there at every rehab center and on every medical advice website. They simply want me to stop taking it, so they’re not going to prescribe it anymore.

Never mind that they haven’t fixed the primary reason I’m using it in the first place: my vertigo and panic attacks leave me alone and help me function. For a time, I was on the brink of losing my job and not able to leave my house. Now, life is often normal for weeks at a time, courtesy of the “not messing with my drugs program”.

I now basically have 3 weeks to see the ear doctor and hope for some sort of diagnosis that will help me get past all this, and a psychiatrist or GP that sees the value in either keeping me on Valium or doing a safe detox plan. On top of it all, I’m broke and my insurance doesn’t want to pay…they’re dubbing everything a “pre-existing condition”, although no one knows what condition I have.

So, I spent the past few days going through physical and emotional hell because I dropped my Valium dosage from 7.5 to 2-2.5 mg a day. I couldn’t cope. I finally got a refill, with the caveat that there would be no more Valium for me, so I need to find a qualified doctor to handle this problem.

As if I weren’t stressed and broke enough…now it’s back to hunting for doctors, solutions, and finding more guesses and experiments than actual answers. And I have a limited time frame to accomplish it, if I don’t want to spend the holiday season in my bed, detoxing from Valium.

Don’t mean to sound whiny, because I know plenty of people have it worse. But when life decides it hates you, it really throws some crappy shit your way, and says “Let’s see you get out of this one”, while laughing hysterically.

During this rather depressing period, I’ve been reading a biography of Sylvia Plath (there’s something for every mood, I guess). Interesting character; one it’s a little to easy for me to identify with, with her oversensitivity, attraction to older and accomplished men, perfectionistic and ultimately masochistic nature, and high level of intuition. I mentioned to a friend that, as far as the Jungian/Meyers-Briggs types go, Intuitive Feelers seem to have the most difficult road in life, either becoming so disenchanted with themselves and the world that they commit suicide or get involved in self-destructive situations, or try to save the world, only to become disillusioned and depressed when they cannot. Just as there’s been much written about the link between creative genius and insanity, or at least eccentricity, there also seems to be a link between NF personalities and the ability to live a long, quiet, understated life.

Plath’s story is sad, but the sadder one belongs to her husband, Ted Hughes. A poet who is also a narcissist, sadistic, and likely meets many of the markers for being labeled a psychopath, he not only pushed his manic-depressive wife to stick her head in the oven, denying us years of literary genius—but years later, the woman he had an affair with while married to Plath would also commit suicide, killing his child along with her.

Sylvia Plath is an understandable tragedy. She lived a lifetime suffering from inherited bi-polar depression, in a time when nobody knew what bi-polar depression was. The story of Ted Hughes makes far less sense. From a psychological standpoint, at least, it’s interesting how one person can have the power to destroy without ever lifting a finger.

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are gone, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.”
~ Benjamin Franklin

Although today was not the best of days, mostly because health-related issues were the worst they’d been in some time, probably due to the weather changing rather dramatically (from 83 and sunny to 53 and rainy in 48 hours), I did try to make the best of it. In addition to work and reality TV night, I also caught up on some phone calls, did some reading, completed some SwapBot stuff, and in a burst of inspiration, decided to write in my poetry journal.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 8 years old, and my first published piece was in a literary journal at the age of 10, so it goes without saying that it’s been a crucial part of my life for much of my life…and like many pieces of myself, one that got lost along the way.

Almost as if by a message from fate, I lost my beloved poetry journals, which I’d meticulously written in for years. Shortly thereafter, while indisposed and without internet, I lost my domain, which stored the only remaining copies of many of my poems and all my short stories. For the past year or two, I’ve been trying to piece together fragments of lost creativity, always excited when I come across something not taken away from me.

At one time, I had a significant amount of material for an amateur writer: three volumes of poetry (one each from 1993-1999, from 2000-2005, and from 2006 until the present), plus a collection of 12 short stories. In addition, I was publishing a daily and verbose blog, until deciding to take my feelings offline entirely due to some negative experiences in 2006.

I had kind of had to come to the acceptance of the fact that, through some bad luck and negative situations, much of my creative work from most of my adolescent and adult life was gone. It was a hard separation to deal with, and as a result, I largely stopped expressing myself, writing few poems and not resurrecting my blog until last year.

Today, the best thing in the world happened. I was able to rescue a huge portion of material from an earlier, more online-oriented phase in my life. Not everything was there, of course, but I was able to retrieve a number of webpages, all my short stories, and close to 100 poems. It isn’t that everything…or even anything…I retrieved is good, worthy of reading or compiling, but it’s mine and it is immensely special to me.

I feel like a piece of me has been restored. This autumn and winter, which I anticipate will largely be a period of convalescence and solitude, since I’ve been suffering with illness, and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I intend to reconstruct my poetry journals, and also perhaps add some of my old pages to this site, just for nostalgia’s sake. At some point, I’d like to cross off one of my “bucket list” goals and actually publish my volume of poems, even just for those closest to me.

Some days, you feel like life has rewarded you with allowing you to unexpectedly unearth a jewel. This is one of those days, a day where I’ve regained a piece of myself that’s been gone for some time. I feel more complete, more inspired, and jubilant about this admittedly unimportant discovery.