Posted by: jeanne | May 22, 2010

checking in

i guess i’ve been depressed by the deaths of my friends marie and renee earlier this spring.  especially since i know better, having learned to tie up loose ends and wash my karma every day, because you never know.  well, i dropped that ball recently, and people fucking died on me.

around my birthday i decided to do my annual tests – bloodwork, cancer markers, mammogram, chest x-ray, endoscopy and/or colonoscopy, cat scan and/or mri.  not all of these are for cancer.  no, sometimes people with cancer die of other things.  it’s an entertaining thought, anyway, and ultimately reassuring to think that anything that might be wrong with me in the interim is likely to turn into cancer in the end.  if it doesn’t kill me first.

maybe you wouldn’t understand this.

lately i’ve been going thru a disorientation.  it’s like an orientation, but it’s part of divorcing yourself from living, instead of becoming more involved in the minutiae.  disengagement.  debriefing.

it all started after i learned of my friends’ deaths.  suddenly i felt death all around me.  i chose to complete a painting for one of these dead friends, and spent several weeks brooding over the painting, pouring unarticulated longing, regret, and affection into it.  mourning.  reminding myself of my loss, of the great loss of people so many love and are broken by losing.

death was always over in the corner.  i could feel it.  i went thru a harried couple of weeks waiting anxiously for the full or new moons, which at that time were heralding repeated catastrophes around me (the shit was hitting the fan all around me, while jim and i were a quiet, still point and everything whipped around us).  but it was always getting closer, and i just trembled to think who would be next.  because it comes in threes, doesn’t it?

as the new year was beginning, jim and i launched ourselves into a big artistic flurry, suddenly interested in showing our work, in extending ourselves, in seeing what kind of mischief we could cause in the art world.  so we entered a bunch of shows and had a lot of conversations with other artists and some bureaucrats.  so far they’ve all come to nothing,  but i don’t think that was the point.

this year opened with a curious lack of anxiety, which for me is saying a lot.  ever since a tornado passed thru our backyard in ’08 i’ve been in the grip of post traumatic stress, and let me tell you, it’s hell.  you can’t eat or sleep, your stomach and digestive system is all fucked up, your memory is shot, you suffer fatigue, you get incredibly nervous and gunshy.  even once i had it figured out, i still suffered the symptoms.  and i’m not one to take paxil or zanax.  i self medicate with all natural ingredients instead, and it only helps some.

it got so bad that i obsessed on the end of the world and my death, and worse, jim’s death (it seemed i could live with the prospect of my kid or my grandkid, and any of my siblings), and was fairly incapacitated by panic for the better part of ’09.  i passed over the economic end-of-the-world crisis, and several others, and picked the swine flu end-of-the-world crisis.  i ran with that for five months, until i got kicked off a couple of swine flu boards (boy are they paranoid) and shook myself out of it.

after that, i looked a little cross-eyed at the next end-of-the-world crisis, and now i think i’m immune to the panic, because it seems so silly, all the blind irrationality of those who think the world is ending when it clearly is always ending, and therefore not ending at all.  volcano.  earthquake.  2012.  all just chapters.  a very long book.

however, there’s still the issue of what my guts are doing, and why i’m having trouble catching my breath.  there’s the issue of death sitting right over there (tho that’s faded a lot), and the knowledge that i need to keep my loose ends tied and my karma washed.

anyway, i’m feeling much less anxious this year.  i’ve rescheduled all the travel plans that i canceled last year, certain that if i left the country jim would die.  i don’t even care about the volcano, and i’m pretty good on the chances that jim won’t die while i’m out of the country this year.  it’s a whole different ballgame.  i’m not even going on my travels for the same reasons this time.  the tinge of anxiety and panic is gone, and so automatically (various karmic laws) the outcome will be more positive than if i’d gone ahead with my misgivings as sharp as they were.  at the very least, my worry would have cancelled any fun i  might have had.

but this disorientation i’ve been going thru.  it makes it hard to talk about things because i’m not entirely sure what ‘real’ is and why my opinion could matter.  the way i see things at the moment, it’s all just semantics.  it’s all just words.  the gulf oil spill happens and there’s just a firestorm of words while it continues.  the iceland volcano blows up and there’s just finger pointing and whining while the volcano does what it’s going to do.  arguments with my daughter, conversations with my ex, the usual complaints i make over my morning coffee, they’re all just too much to dredge up with my level of fatigue, they don’t change anything, i can’t put my ideas into words, and they wouldn’t understand them if i could.  so why bother?

death still sits there.  the test results continue to come back negative; nobody can say why i’m having so many symptoms of decline.  i’m still wary around the stations of the moon, i still clean my karma regularly (tho there are still things i need to complete that i’m dawdling about, people to contact that i’m reluctant to, friends to keep in touch with that i loathe to actually talk to, simply because it takes so much out of me.)

at the moment, jim is sitting in the other room, cutting out stencils for a wall of skulls he’s painting.  he thought it was appropriate that i be sitting here writing about death while he’s sitting there carving out rows of gaping skulls.

but despite death, i’m going ahead with my plans.  it could well be that i am stopped by various impediments, up to and including death, but i can’t let that keep me from doing things i still have time to regret.

like right now i’m going to cut a nice slice of chocolate birthday cake and carve out a bunch of homemade chocolate ice cream, and jim and i are going to sit down and eat it right before going to bed.

now that’s living dangerously.

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