Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Mom:

Five years ago you were on the verge of falling into your last days.  What a horrible summer that became, more for us than for you, luckily.  The actual fall that accelerated your decline also dimmed your memory.  At lunch you couldn't remember breakfast.  I'm grateful for that.  By the end, maybe, when you approached your next painful sip of oxygen, you couldn't remember how much the breath you just took had hurt.

It's to my sort of Platonic ideal of you as Mom that I'm writing to, though. 
In that ideal, the pain in your last years and months must be an awareness but not an actuality.  You'd walked your own parents and your sister through the ends of their lives so you knew what was coming.  You were a good daughter and sister, and a good mother.

I know that if you were on earth in your Platonic ideal, you'd have worried a lot about me in the last five years.  I've had some tough times, one step back for every two step forward.  I'm about the same weight you saw me last, maybe a little smaller, and my antidepressant dosages keep going up.  But my debts have gone down.  Daisy has gotten louder and more critical of everything on the street, but she has the same old energy chasing a ball and she's a fantastic nurse when I'm sick or can't get out of bed.  You did good when you picked her out for me.

I still live in the Bat Cave but it has a lot less stuff in it -- in fact, it's a perfect day today to keep taking books out to leave on walls in the hopes that someone else wants to read Faulkner.  I certainly don't and I've given up on being the sort of smarty-pants who does.

I finished a novel yesterday that I would have passed on to you -- I Thought You Were Dead.  I didn't think the human relationships were all that great but the relationship between the protagonist and his old dog was amazing and I can't stop crying about it.  I'd have warned you before giving it to you but I know you would have liked it a lot.

Dad is fine.  He's the same old piss-and-vinegar codge who lives on his own planet.  He finally let me alphabetize his CDs this winter (and donate a LOT of them: you would have been shocked) and he spent about two months listening to Chopin from beginning to end.  It would have annoyed you.  He's kind of in love with someone -- well, you know her well and if in some ways you might have disliked his choice, I am glad because she goes back such a long way that it's like having a bit of you in our lives.  It's a long distance relationship now.  They'll never see each other again.  But it helped him get through whatever he didn't tell us about losing you.

I've written two more books since you died, the one you knew about and another one, which I'm glad you can't read.  It's rated R.  Dad asked for a bunch of copies to give away at the senior apartment complex where he's living and I'm blushing at the thought.  One is designated for Fr. Max, if you can believe it.

And now I'm waffling about getting going on a book about the rosary.  I know, I know: you were never much for the rosary and mostly thought Mary was a nice icon, an inroad on the patriarchy.  I'm finding it hard to round up the kind of Catholics who don't believe birth control is a sin but who say the rosary.  The semi-renegades.  I need to do more research.

Maybe on Craig's List.

Ha ha.  That was a joke, Mom.  Craig's List is

Oh, never mind.

But we have a new pope, Mom.  Rat-singer, the old Nazi, retired.  This one is a puzzle.  He's warm, simple, charismatic, anti-capitalist, forgiving.  He's also enlisting more exorcists and he hasn't put the Pietá up for sale.  But I have some new hope for the Church.

I have some new hope for me, too, Mom.  I fell into something.  It involves getting the word out about books and healthy living (excuse me while I go have a cigarette: yes, Mom.  I know, Mom.)  It pays well and I'm getting more work.  I think I'm succeeding because of my writing talent and because I'm pretty nice as an online presence.

Sorry.  "Online" means

Never mind.  It's good and has to do with computers.

Anyway, I have a little hope for myself for the first time in ages.  I like doing it.  I do it at home.  It's creative.  I can take it anywhere.  Independence isn't so far away.

I've been estranged from hope for so long that the relief of thinking about things I want and want to do without having to tell myself to shut up is like champagne.  I'm working like a dog but I like it and I have a real desire to do well in it.  I haven't felt that way about my occupations, except around my writing, since I was in university and graduate school.  It feels like falling up.

I've backed off sugar and wheat again, although I'm not doing meetings and stuff.  Yeah, I know.  I'll try.  But I have reasons for wanting to lose weight for the first time in years and it's not about looking better.  I want to travel, Mom.  I want to go to Fatima.  Can you imagine the gift shops?

I know.  I don't believe in it either.  But maybe I can be the miracle who goes rather than leaves.

OK, I'm all cried out now.  I need a cigarette for real this time.  I think about you every day, Mom.  Miss you.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

It's Cry or Blog

Funny how one can turn things around and then suddenly deflate.  My last post worried people and it worried me.  It wasn't so long ago -- I had a very blue weekend last week.  Somewhere in that weekend, I realized I had nearly emptied a bookcase and that the time had come to finish the task and break down the bookcase that was falling apart.

I greatly enjoyed it.  I'm giving away any books I know I'll never get around to reading or whose transportation costs when I can finally leave this In-Life Purgatory known as New York City for a real destination are not worth my while.  I kept the Dickens because there are so many characters to keep track of that I always write down each new name and the page it first appears on the fly leaves -- hard to do on Kindle.  I kept my beloved Trollope.  I found I could not recycle Anna Karenina, which has so many notes in it from having read and written about it so many times that no one would want it.  I'm sorry, Kim, but Iris Murdoch is destined for another home.

On Tuesday I took a hammer to that sloping bookcase and carted the pieces out to the curb.  The dust behind it was frightening.  Mostly I sweep up dog hair but this was imploded grit.  I was filthy and sweating and happy by the time I got the carnage onto the street and stacked up the remaining books I wasn't sure where I should place them.  I was able to move a little "furniture" (almost nothing in my apartment qualifies as Furniture) and there is a sense of lightness I haven't felt since I was fired from my last full time job. 

It took another two days to figure out what else I wanted where -- any collector of books knows how organization is both essential and idiosyncratic -- and I now have almost all my books in shelves except for a pile of medieval history I have to make major decisions about.  This is not to say that I've organized myself completely, only that what I've figured out is done.

I actually have gaps in my shelves.  I could actually shelve the medieval history pile and decide its fate later.

So I was feeling pretty good about that, although my bank balance was worrying me.

Today the sense of mission with the books has worn off.  My shoulders ache in addition to all the other aches.  Today I've desultorily looked up some factoids regarding the rosary and have not goofed off but that sense of mission is gone.

At least, I hoped this morning as I went over my gratitudes, I'll have money to put in the bank.

And I will, but not from the dogs who pulled me down and busted my face.  I had to go back to walking them because I need the money.  I am scared of the jackal of the two, who bit me when I put his leash on and is aggressive to all dogs and some people.  I'm still scared when I hook his leash to his choke collar.  I pull it around to the top of his neck and get the hell away from his mouth as soon as possible.  I walk the pair looking all ways to make sure we can steer clear of other dogs or so that I can hook them to a fence if a meeting is inevitable.  I'm usually shaking when I leave their building twice a day.

My inner lip will never heal from the fall they caused.

They are two weeks overdue in paying me.  That check, due today, would allow me to pay my rent without dipping into savings.  I'm going to have to dip into savings. 

And somehow, when I saw the empty invoice envelope when I leashed them up this morning, I nearly broke down.

Maybe I'm tired -- it's been a physically demanding week and all of yesterday's walks were performed in a stinging winter rain.  I think, though, it has more to do with financial fear and, by extension, fear of the rest of my life.

Combined with a profound disappointment that my clients haven't paid me that makes me think of the disappointment I feel about certain declared intentions not having been performed and, worst of all, the silence from someone I considered my best friend and partner in crime.  I -- we -- had planned a future but this continuing silence makes me feel it will not happen.  If I have a Plan B, it consists of begging my other best and longest friend for a job that we treat as a joke.

Either of those men are like family to me, the brothers in sensibility I didn't have.  I love my actual brother[s] -- I hugely enjoy my living brother and his children and wife are actually among my best friends -- so this is not an insult.  But these friends are the men who like to shop, who understand a collection of dinner china, who, each in their own way, gets the who of the who of me.

I have a constant fear of being Too Much for people.  Too needy.  Too depressed.  Too loud.  Too dependent.  Too fat.

I have a competing constant fear of being Not Enough.  Not smart enough.  Not sympathetic enough.  Not successful enough.   Not pretty enough.  Not important enough.  Not disciplined enough.  Not enough of the enough that other people seem to carry with them.

And I'm sure sometimes (like now) I am exactly accurate in my fears.  I can't gauge this.  I do know, however, that I also make myself as small as possible when the Enoughs loom as the reason for not hearing from someone.  I stop asking to be heard, to talk, to be in touch.  I figure that, at best, they need space.

It's hard to wrap my mind around the idea that, maybe, I could be of actual use to friends in difficult times or that my friends -- my bestest friends -- maybe sort of owe me a hello or a goodbye.

I don't know what I'm owed or what I deserve.  I don't know how to figure it out.  I think I've written before that obesity is a harsh mistress.  It taught me to always expect me to be last.  When I lost weight, thinness taught me to fake not assuming last place.  When my fraud was exposed, I gained weight again.

So a missing $300 has brought me to a place where I am both blogging and crying because one future has dropped me (me: my sense of humor, my taste, my hard work, my generosity, my utter faith in and admiration of them, my prayers, my intelligence, my best clothes, my sense that anything I have is theirs, including my family) and the other future is a joke.

I know I deserve to be paid.  I know some other professional promises will be upheld later rather than sooner but will come to pass.  But I am disappointed in my friends and scared of borrowing from myself and scared of not having a future. 

Hunh.  Borrowing from myself.

Isn't that what silent friends, family, lovers, co-workers and all the other close relations in our lives, force us to do?