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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quiet inside

Silent Monks

Clever video. I laughed and laughed.

Sort of in stall mode. Doing mundane things, laundry, some reading, mostly moving from spot to spot, a kind of low key restlessness. I imagine the DSM IV (V? VI?) could become the largest book ever in its  efforts to describe and label all of the oddities we humans demonstrate. It's laughable and ridiculous. However, we are a curious species, as are all animals I think. It seems instinctive to learn, to know, rooted in enhancing survival but also as with everything else rooted in survival, desires can get twisted and misshapen into an unrecognizable state, and/or the roots lost in time.

I imagine that many behaviours are intended as positives, as kindnesses - I believe this. Of course the outcome is a crapshoot. We barely know what motivates ourselves let alone others.

Some people seem very connected, very comfortable in their bodies. Can name, point to exact locations of turmoil in their bodies. Their bodies really speak, or rather, they can listen and hear what their body tells them. I think we give ourselves away all of the time. Sometimes it is obvious to others what we are about, and we are blind to it. Other times, people really know themselves. I know my body speaks to me, gives me clues, shows me things, tells me things, most often I am oblivious to its 'withinput'.

Sometimes I'm just not present in my body, I think pretty much everyone has experienced this. Being on autopilot. Sometimes it's about escaping sometimes it's just autopilot.

Just kind of quiet inside, watchful. My body wants to move. Yesterday I was in the garden again, trimming, raking. Lots of large maple leaves around. Windy today some rain. A fall day. Our fall and winter seamless.

I am worried though about the dearth of ideas artwise. I am working on a couple different pieces, some with merit, but overall it feels lackluster, aimless, going through the motions. Yeah, so stalled. Yesterday, sitting in the garden, pulling grass out of the plant whose name currently escapes me (euonymous??) and it occurred to me:  I am 47 yrs old. The first (I remember anyway) time sort of being struck with the fact of my age and wondering what my life is about? It's never too late, it is said. I hope I am on the right track, even though I feel slightly derailed (someone put a penny on my track). I am not really too excited about anything right now. I do not feel driven by any ideas. Probably time just to look at lots and lots of art and walk.

We are getting a puppy, this is good news. I am terrified at the prospect as well. Doubting my ability to care for something other than myself. Fearing failure, fearing to taint, poison a life. I know there will be challenges, and overall I feel I can manage, and I won't be alone. There are just times where there is no self-faith. But today is okay. I'll go get some pumpkins, try and carve some weirdness.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Headcase and Straitjacket

Some more of my work. I wore the straitjacket around my downtown, interesting results, people were a lot kinder than I had imagined. The images are depictions of trepanation.

Saw my therapist yesterday, I see her about once a week. Talked about some experiences, talked about how I'll have a memory (I can't call it intrusive because that dishonors the person I recall) immediately followed by a color commentary by my judgmental self. So for a treat (my therapist suggests I "treat" myself after a tough session [it's difficult to use adjectives like tough because all I am doing is talking, on the surface anyway, but the tough part is seeing their faces, seeing the impact their agony continues to have, I am reluctant to see my pain in the same light, because for me I judge it as removed, vicarious]) I got another holes # 7&8 installed in my ears).

How can I say it's tough for me when I didn't see what they saw, didn't hear, smell, watch, feel what they did, but here is the not-so-silver lining of having the imagination I do, it was never hard to conjure a pretty graphic picture of their experiences. And of course, each person could paint a very detailed picture of what happened. My double edged sword aka empathy, which I am grateful still to have (although I see that this developed as a survival skill from very early on in my life, see it was very helpful to be able to read the room as it were, to detect trouble - now I just can't shut it off) could get pretty close to each person as they were reliving, and I tried hard to create a place of safety where a person could release their particular poison. What never occurred to me (and what she, my therapist pointed out) was that not only did I hear of hundreds of others' horror, I also witnessed the relentless impact on them. As a human being (sometimes I think I am human) it is not normal to remain unmoved.

So the cumulative impact of the graphic stories, the cumulative impact of being with people in such evident anguish - this is what I live with. And most days I dismiss my "impact" as less than. It's certainly not the same. I liken it - whereas each person I worked with having had a "s"load of acid thrown at them - to perhaps a few drops spilled on me in my efforts (I tried to help, I really tried, I made many mistakes, times where I was unprofessional, times where I didn't know what I was doing but thought my good heart would be enough, too many times left reeling in the wake of what people are capable of). So I think that after talking with a couple hundred people, trying so hard to be their ally, to be an authentic witness, to honor the courage of each person's risk in speaking out, that's a couple hundred drops of acid on me.

Being immersed in the blatant sexism, racism, seeing and living in this world that is so insidiously violent towards woman, assaults things that permeated the everyday, this was my baseline. On top of this, the rampant despair of my "clients" - there needs to be a better word for all of these brave souls. Crisis work EVERYDAY. Suicide intervention, pretty much EVERYDAY. These are not lightweight situations. These are situations where the Chaplains, the Commanding Officers called me and ask what they should do.

This is where I feel like I'm entering into the realm of whining, of wallowing, but I'm trying to understand what happened, without the harsh judgments of my mind that undercuts any "evidence" I bring to the table.

So I often stay at home to avoid jump starting my empathy, I live in a small town, it's not uncommon to see/run into a former client. My immediate reactions is always fear, then guilt: I assume they have only hatred for me. Here are many retired veterans living here. I don't call myself a veteran, I reserve that term for those who served directly in combat. I don't feel that I have earned it.

Time to face the day, going to an art talk, gonna hang around arty types, phew.

Be kind to ourselves

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Networking rocks!

This is a link to an article a new friend wrote, partly about how amazingly creative she felt in Nicaragua .

And check out her blog. We share similar thoughts and experiences. A very powerful writer and fearless performance artist.

My Cousin Cathy

life on the muskoka river

This is my cousin's blog. Wonderful writing, with lots of "didn't see that coming" twists.

A new, old friend of mine was talking about the magic of childhood friendships. Cathy and I spent so much time together as wee ones. Drawing, playing, she introduced me to Frampton Comes Alive - a classic amongst classics. We drew comics and pretended we were spies, we wrote letters back and forth that were addressed to planets and such, back when no one's suspicion would be aroused and thus we wouldn't be seen as a threat to national security.

Magical friends that's what we were and it turns out, still are. It's good to reconnect with her. And I can't wait for her next Friday Flash!

More bad language

So I've been feeling better lately, ever since we came back from the BVI. It's a no-brainer really because it was a beautiful quiet place where we were very active together and sharing a great deal of nature together, this where we are at our best. I think it also reinforced the many things we have to be thankful for. So how come the doubts start to creep in? About whether I am truly laden with some "conditions" or I am just lazy. Many times when I feel that I am functioning well, then I think, so what's the big deal? Why the meds, why the therapy? Then, why am I getting help?


What the hell really. Just mindf**k after mindf**k (I'm feeling coy). When I am feeling NOT sad, then I start to load on the guilt, the judgments, like for instance:

man this is nasty.

wait there's more!

Many time I have felt cowardly, that I didn't stand up better or differently. Effing guilt.
Toaster's up!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Horizontal Violence

This is Exit Wound.

After a walk with a friend in the rain yesterday I got to thinking about the impact of trauma. In particular my paranoia, mistrust and fixation on betrayal. There is something about betrayal (real or imagined) that really fucks me over. Years ago in elementary school, a bunch of kids (most of whom I thought of as friends at the time) passed around a petition to get me kicked off the basketball team. Seems they considered me the coach's "pet" and thus a no-talent, a pretender to the game as it were. The bright spot was the older student who took me aside and told me and the unknown parent who put a stop to it. This older student was and continues to be my revelation; my proverbial beacon of hope. I didn't know she knew I existed, so pale a ghost I was. However for the rest - you left your mark. You dug a big hole and shoved me into it and I'm still trying to get out of it, days where I am out of it but still far too close.

The first betrayal I can remember (the real first happened when I was far too small, less than a toddler spotty memories, immense pain). It was a scorcher. Searing me so all my juices stayed inside. I was already a shy little thing (thank you military for curing me of that, at least enough to allow me to operate in the real world), already vulnerable, too sensitive (apparently), so small in my sense of being and these little kids, oblivious to the damage they would cause, likely oblivious too they targeted me (the weakest in the herd?). I have been advised that they were too little to know what they were really doing, that's difficult to swallow. Sadly we have the capacity for cruelty even while we are so small. I hope they did not know what it would do to me, then that means I went to public school with a several dozen sociopaths.

I don't think they know. But my little world fell apart. And even now I feel like such a wimp for even writing about it, so harsh is the auto-judge there are far worse things in the world a person can go through. But it's my truth, or at least part of the story. It is to this "incident" that I ascribe my incapacity for trust, for love, my pervasive fear of everything (I can now proceed despite it, in most cases, thank you). See, now I expect betrayal, anticipate it, see it when it really isn't there but it seems I cannot judge nor separate the real from the imagined - it all feels the same. It's another heightened sense, part of the hyper arousal spectrum I suppose.

Any injustice leveled towards me or not, it is the biggest trigger (is there another word for trigger - I'm getting sick of it, another depleted meaning). Spark? Kindling? Nope. I'll work on that, maybe make up a word.

Injustice abounds in the world. And when I was a social worker, it permeated my caseload. Too many soldiers deemed disposable. So much heartbreak, heartache (too much?), so much agony when encountering the great lie of war. The torment when you realize you have been selected not for this honor but as an instrument of capital gain. So the hunger to live an honorable life is satiated in the battlefield, the brotherhood of war, the sisterhood of war. The war against women (in case you missed it, there is one - and strides against the enemy are often won through guerilla action) the oldest ongoing "action" in history.

We few, we happy few, my ass. "As commanding officer, my job is to delude my men into defending my bosses' property (or more often to steal someone else's)". That wasn't in my officer handbook. May as well have been. Stripped of tools, helpless to intervene or the repercussions of intervention when intervention is clearly called for. A convenient target of hate, a distractor from the true villains. Paolo Freire understood this, he called it horizontal violence. What happens when the marginalized have no one to turn against, in self defense, so they turn on each other. I see women do it all the time. I guess at the root is survival, but such cost.

A several millennia-old lie that still works because the vulnerable targets of this lie still seek something to believe in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sewing the Black Ribbon

What to talk about?Making art sometimes flows so easily, it's finding some materials and putting them together according to some of pattern/order/configuration that I make up as I go along. It's a constant dialogue of when to do this, start this, stop this, it's immediate and intuitive and this is what leads to my best work. When I take time and think about things I start to get lost, doubt creeps in, so when I start to flail creatively, it's a sign I need to step away. So I'm trying to do this, to follow this mode of making. I think being away from the actual making for 2 weeks was far too long, I need to always be working on something, that's what is best for me, the best means to access that conversation that issues forth from my purest self. Balance I guess.

It's like writing this blog, I seem to feel most assuaged when I write nonstop, when I just keep going as a stream of consciousness, at minimum it empties out, orders, streamlines the thoughts milling about upstairs. My elevator does go all the way to the top but gets stuck there sometimes, the in and outflow are not well synchronised. So my mind has been blank, my well of creativity is overdrawn, somewhat, I got excited sewing the black ribbon together, and when I rearranged the bottle caps according to colours I felt excited then too, it was soothing, satisfying even. So these are the moments i am learning to notice, then to hear and then to understand as markers of ideas that can take me places.

It is what I hope my art can do too. I may not have the voice, the soothing words, the context wherein I once dwelt, but this new one as a practising artist (the words sound strange) is another way to channel my desire to make a good difference in the word, to astonish people, to simultaneously demonstrate that i have not only seen and/ or heard and/or felt but I have understood. Making concrete the thought trails, the myriad trails broken in my brain many of which remain vital to my survival (redundant???). Pioneering my own brain is interesting, maybe only to me but I am thinking it's the only way I can get through, never around. Mining my neural net for gems, precious metals, or not so precious ones yet useful practical metals! we are all elements each of us a conglomerate of elements in modules of same, yet each unique, each with our distinctive properties of bonding, volatility, natural state: gas, liquid, solid. I understand electricity, currents flowing along the most direct path, always, always finding a way to complete a circuit. This is what I seek, to complete my circuit, to be whole. Is this why the circle resonates so much? Why much of my art is or alludes to circles and circuits and spirals. I think the spiral is closest, and what nature emulates most , and I am a creature of nature, yes?

Why on my recent trip seeing the shells, my fascination with them, the patterns of scales on the fish, the turtles, all very soothing and humbling - nature has all of the ideas. Growth rings, calcification, as we age just as I can see in older shells, the individuality becomes more marked, scarring, historical markings, each of us is our own biography - written, held in our bodies. The memories I can't recall still exist, stored somewhere in my body, perhaps for future reference, mayhap not. Maybe the blanks will never be filled. Calligraphy of memories.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Denial is latent anguish and hiding in my home

Too much death abounds (I know redundant again): quasi-colleague, old friend's oldest sister, wife of dad's best friend, uncle - my dad's brother essentially, 2 neighbours. It's oddly clumped together all of this death, much of it untimely. But then isn't all death untimely? Death holds sway as it were. Death and dominion, death at #1 for ever, "because I could not stop for death it kindly stopped for me " someone wrote. Death can be kind I suppose, we imagine there is such physical suffering that death brings sweet relief, we often say/hear now, "it's a blessing really", but what do we know? It's all surmise (in case that's not a noun, how about "supposition"?). Isn't any death too much? Where do we draw the line between "relief" and "untimely"? calls on the crisis line, a person simply wanting company as their pills and vodka kick in.
People make a distinction between physical pain and emotional pain - why? It's the same to me, except harder to bear because I cannot see the wound, the scar - harder to prove - I don't have a cast on my head, no brain sling, no stitches on my forehead, no splint, no drain. Not a lot of evidence, even if one were to look closely. Because the odds favour being misunderstood, I mask any clues or if I feel unable to do so, leave. So i hide in my home a great deal.

Women who have said to me"Sometimes i wish he would hit me, then I wouldn't be so full of doubt". Psychological warfare is physical in its target and impact. What is this universal campaign to make women doubt themselves, why is it easier to take on blame than direct it toward the true architects. Is it because speaking the truth would be too overwhelming (redundant - what can be only a little overwhelming I ask?). Is it worse to think our abuser doesn't love us? is it worse to think our world is not remotely what we thought it was?Is this why we choose the simpler version - I am somehow to blame?
A new friend mentioned exploring skins and the thinness or thickness of. This got me thinking. Some one like me:

is too sensitive
can't handle it/can't cut it (YOU try it!)
is lazy
is not trying hard enough
is weak
is thin skinned
wants to be depressed (??!!&(*&(* really????)
just wants attention (what's wrong with wanting to be noticed?to feel that our presence on the earth is a good thing?)
likes it (grrrrrrrrr)

Anyhow that of course is just a partial list of all the bad things attributed to people living with altered brains. Blame the victim.
I hear this so much with children and women who are being abused. With women I hear "Why does she stay?" I never hear "Why doesn't he stop? Why does he hurt her?". I know so few men who will challenge their male friends' abusive behaviour.

So there is anger. There is also compassion a willingness to see the world, to hear the world , it takes courage to really witness what goes on around us. To speak out on behalf of those whose voice is silenced.

If successful, Art speaks out reaches past the ears and eyes, right into the soul - breaks through denial. Although denial has its place in the world, denial let's us process at our own speed, even if it takes a long time to get past zero mph. Denial is latent anguish.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuzo Wilson - Voice of Time

I forgot to say why I posted this. It was a wonderful science show, but thteit was the theme music that got me, arresting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Allegories 'R' us with Psychological Brain Freeze

warmish, quasi-sunny day, not bad for a rain forecast.Went for a nice walk with my friend Amber today, to Seal Bay (saw a seal!), there was even some sand and a plethora of herons (a gaggle? covy? brace? heehee). Amber is expecting her first child and I am very excited and happy for her, she will be a great mom , one of the reasons is her kindness, compassion and love of fun and out there (out here???) thinking (which of course I love) - ok that's 4. my math is sketchy. And B, she is able to be so very present with others, it's a glorious skillset. I am envious too of her pending motherhood, as I envy all mothers.

lots of yard work yesterday and sat, raking, cutting grass, weeding, digging in the garden, even some worms but no cool beetles, I like their colours. Speaking of, BVI was rife with colours (bevy?) in the flowers, the fish the birds, the people, the accents and dialects. underwater was where we spent most of all of our days there, swimming with turtles, rays, the aforesaid fishies and even the very fear-inducing barracuda, an impressive fish, epic teeth, a lethal (ok, I lived but it was still scary) gaze that shivered my timbers. Allegories 'r' us of course, feeling the wombfort of warm water, imagining the little minnows swam with me because they felt safe - using this as evidence contrary to my imagined evil essence.
Sometimes things sink in, positive evidence, Amber is really inspiring for this, she is able to challenge the dreaded voice of conviction, simply by countering with a concrete example of the good she contributes to the world. Very positive energy.
I see Picasso's Guernica and see his genius, one that can be misconstrued. Deceptively cartoonlike figures- who are in reality depicting what is so difficult to depict - what trauma feels like, how serrated the pain, how desperate is our fear, our rage our sense of injustice that there is not time to fancy it up with realism. It's shorthand cutting to the quick - wait, that was redundant. I only wish he was kind to all of the women in his long life. His early work is so different, so classical in terms of the art canon, but then HE shows up, his essence which includes layers of scarring. Far more fascinating and inspiring. I like it when I show up, I come out in my best work, where I feel most driven, most at fit with the universe. Art is my psychological tailor.
Encouraging news in the science world, CBC talking about the Brain project in Quebec where they study the brains of persons deceased through suicide. Seems there is a dearth of a key substance (of course whose name escapes me). These substances keep our brains elastic, that is able to counter change, deal with our external world. An elastic brain doesn't get stuck, doesn't get frozen, doesn't get HARDWIRED. I think we all know (except that I can only speak for me) that biological/physical is the same as emotional /psychological - well at least it is what I believe, just waiting for the science to spell it out.
waiting for the science
like living for the seance
who who who to believe
who's that rapping tapping knocking
surely science will provide?
where our soul's blood flows
staunchless endless
raw ripped jagged
where else rests solace?
elusions delusions
stoopid infEWsions
uh oh, underpinning is unpinning
unglued, untacked, unhammered, declamped
time to go.
goodnite to dear friends, new and old