Slow Dancing in Quicksand

Last one out, turn off the lights . . .

Sometimes, to put it bluntly, I really hate my life. Hate every aspect of it: the self-imposed confinement, the headlong spiral into yet another muck-filled abyss, the lack of perspective, but most of all, the walls.

The walls that I run up against with increasing frequency, walls erected seemingly out of nowhere, in the blink of an eye. Bureaucratic walls. Physical walls. Emotional walls.

Big walls. Small walls. But regardless, impenetrable.

I walk by Brett’s gerbils, watch them digging furiously at nothing, and in a stab of realization, recognize myself in them. Sitting in a glass house, shelter and food provided, but the ennui so completely enervating that there is nothing left but to dig and claw at absolutely nothing because there is just no way out.

I hate feeling like this for so many reasons. It smacks of more self-pity, and I’ve had my fill of pity—self-induced and that of others. Pity is for the weak. When did I become so weak?

I hate feeling like this because it is just another reminder of how completely powerless I am.

Do you know that scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” in which George Bailey has the horrible realization that he is worth more to his family dead than alive, which leads to the angel Clarence saving George’s life? I can relate, but not really. You see, we had to quit paying the premiums on my life insurance several months ago, so I’m, in essence, not worth a dime, not one freaking dime. Such a legacy for my children . . .

I made a promise once that I wish to hell I had never made. A real stickler for promises, I am. Have always tried to keep mine. But this promise was the wrong one to make and the right one at the time. So now I’m stuck with it.

Corey and I, we’ve moved past the point of being able to support one another. Now, all that is left is the sniping. Endless nitpicking over not saying the right thing at the expected time. Not reacting appropriately—neither of us. Not meeting each other’s expectations. Why did you have to say that now? I thought that you’d be grateful. You are never happy. You smell of . . . and despair and sorrow.

Too drained, really, to see or hear anything objectively. I just didn’t expect to hit this point so fast, kind of like that freight train that everyone says that they hear when there is a tornado: It’s not a train. It’s a tornado. And if you’re hearing it, it’s kind of too late. Isn’t it?

I keep hearing snatches of songs: “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see . . .”

Where the hell did that come from? Well, of course, the Beatles exist in a continuous loop in my internal soundtrack. Would need to add ears closed, heart closed, mind closed to that for it to really be true. Living has never been easy. Ever.

My ex telling me that his new love had taught him how to love. Well ain’t that grand? I suppose that what I was doing all of those years before was pretending. But it did make me think: If I ever do this again, I’ll do it right. Just looked at the calendar: what a freaking coincidence. Today would have been my anniversary with the ex. Things you wish you didn’t remember.

It used to be that everything I said was interesting or worth hearing or at least, worth pretending to pay attention to. Who hears me now? Corey hears a buzzing in his ears. Not the words that I’ve said but the words that he hears. Or is it that the words I’ve thought are not the words I’ve said?

Quote from former lover: “You really are such a drama queen.” Why so much drama? Why can’t you just accept things? Same person spoke of my cherubic countenance. Still remember those two snatches of conversation that I embedded in long-term memory. Both seemed like compliments at the time.

Never realized before that I needed to say things in a certain order so that they would be acceptable. Or is it that the order has always been skewed, but I never realized it before? Before . . . what exactly? The point of no return (cliché)? Before the mast? Beyond the pale?

Note from former student: “Are you still teaching at ODU?” Almost made me smile. Still teaching at ODU . . . that would seem like nirvana at this moment. I haven’t gotten out of bed for two days. No. Not teaching anymore. Just spending my time . . . doing what really? Not-a-damn-thing. Handful of posts for August. Writing? Oh, you betcha. Really found my rhythm. Finally.

Losing it. Lost it? Gone but no one closed the door so it isn’t real yet? Once again, I pose the question: Does an insane person know if she is insane? Is the insanity defense stale at this point? Seems to be. Let’s try this one on for size: I just don’t care about anything any more. Last one out, turn off the lights.

Another song. “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls: “And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming, or the moment of truth in your lies. When everything feels like the movies, yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

What is the litmus test for knowing that you are alive? Quote by someone, can’t remember offhand, about not dying without ever having really lived. How many people actually get to really live (excuse split infinitive)? Get to chase their dreams? Get to feel pure joy? Get to watch a sunrise and know that this day is perfection, a moment of pure grace?

Too many getting bogged down in the minutiae of staying alive. Finding water, food, shelter. The basics. Who has time for joy or sunrises? Get up. Work to maintain water, food, shelter. Go to bed. Sleep fitfully? Sleep peacefully? Get up. Do it all over again and again and again and again and again.

I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be this for the rest of my life. What did I want to be when I grew up? I knew when I was a child, before life and the pursuit of water, food, and shelter became the prime concern. I wanted to write. I wanted to write beautiful words and people would read them and people would love what I wrote and I would get to write more words and over and over and over and over again.

Another song: “Don’t bend me or I will break, Come find me somewhere between my dreams . . . “

Someone on the fate patrol forgot to follow directions. You really can be given a load that is more than you can bear, and not everything makes you stronger. Sometimes, sap flows freely. Other times, it must be coaxed out. Sometimes, fate reflects brightly. Sometimes, fate is a dung heap. Perhaps sap, like some people, should be left alone to move when it’s ready.

How many people get to do what they really want to do in life? How many people listen when another person is speaking without thinking about what they are going to say next? How many people get to see the world before they die? How many people get to taste the water from a fresh flowing stream? How many people have the privilege of walking across sand as white as sugar? How many people died today from hunger? This is how my mind works.

Sometimes, I really hate my life. But the truth is, it’s not life that I hate. It’s myself.

One more song: “Let me be your shelter. Let me be your light . . . Say you’ll love me . . .”

Yep. Life is so like the movies . . .

Wake me up

“Today, I’m not so strong” ~ Norah Jones, “Wake Me Up”

Sometimes, the words we most want have already been taken by someone else. More often than not, the person who preceded us, has brought the words together so well that there is no point in trying to improve upon them. Such is the case with Norah Jones’s song, “Wake Me Up.”

 

 

Wake Me Up lyrics

Wake me up when it’s over,
Wake me up when it’s done,
When he’s gone away and taken everything,
Wake me up.

Wake me up when the skies are clearing,
When the water is still,
’cause I will not watch the ships sail away so,
Please say you will.

If it were any other day,
This wouldn’t get the best of me.

But today I’m not so strong,
So lay me down with a sad song,
And when it stops then you know I’ve been,
Gone too long.

But don’t shake me awake,
Don’t bend me or I will break,
Come find me somewhere between my dreams,
With the sun on my face.

I will still feel it later on,
But for now I’d rather be asleep.

More later. Peace.

The End of an Era

ted-kennedy_SLAHv1-horizontal

A Young Senator Kennedy

 

“I hope for an America where we can all contend freely and vigorously, but where we will treasure and guard those standards of civility which alone make this nation safe for both democracy and diversity.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy, On Truth and Tolerance (1983)

Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy died today at the age of 77 after working tirelessly for the American people for over 47 years. This son of privilege focused his energies on those without: the underprivileged, the homeless, the children, the aged and infirmed—the ignored, the under-served, the invisible.

Senator Kennedy’s name is connected with some of the most groundbreaking bills to come to the floor of the U.S. Senate. He was a staunch supporter of healthcare reform, civil rights, immigration, Medicare and Medicaid, health insurance for children of the working poor, the Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, family leave, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A Roman Catholic, Kennedy supported a woman’s right to choose, and was a powerful ally for the fight for abortion clinic access.

“Many in the scientific community are concerned that the president’s decision will delay development of cures for dread disease for many years, at the cost of countless lives and immeasurable suffering.”

Openly critical of former president Bush, especially over the war in Iraq, Kennedy still managed to work across party lines for the “No Child Left Behind” act, which increased funding for schools. And although the Senator stood behind former President Bush in the Rose Garden for photo ops, Kennedy never relented in pushing for those issues in which he so fervently believed.

Senator Kennedy lamented what he saw as the former administration’s short-sightedness in stem cell research and the issue of healthcare in general.

He decried the recklessness of the war, the waste of lives, the deception: “It’s now clear that from the very moment President Bush took office, Iraq was his highest priority as unfinished business from the first Bush Administration. His agenda was clear: find a rationale to get rid of Saddam.”

 “The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree.”

A liberal’s liberal, Kennedy possessed a characteristic so lacking in most politicians of any party: He was willing to work both sides of the aisle, to fight, and most importantly, to compromise. Perhaps his death will help those involved in the current attempts at healthcare reform to regain focus, to move past the divisiveness, to move the spotlight back onto what really matters and away from the name-calling and inane comparisons to Nazis and genocide.

What Kennedy wanted most, and what he did not live to see, was a country that truly cared for its citizens, a country that embraced the idea of good healthcare for all, regardless of employment status, pre-existing conditions, age, race, or annual income. It was this fight above all that made me truly admire the Senator.

And my concerns over Senator Kennedy’s replacement stem from my strong desire to see actualized that which he fought for so vociferously, sometimes heatedly, always passionately.

“His voice roared as he battled for the poor and the victims of injustice yet he had a smile that could light a room, a laugh that would draw a crowd and a heart always ready to share your sorrow.” ~ Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin

Petraeus testifying photo by Chip Somodevilla
Senator Ted Kennedy (Photograph by Chip Somodevilla)

Kennedy, the last of the original Joseph Kennedy dynasty, spent many years as a man plagued by personal demons. In 1991, after years of being lambasted by critics and lampooned by comedians, Kennedy admitted to his foibles in a speech at Harvard: 

“I recognize my own shortcomings, the faults and the conduct of my private life,” he said in the distinctive Kennedy accent. “I realize that I alone am responsible for them, and I am the one who must confront them.”

After marrying Washington lawyer Vicki Reggie, his second wife  in 1992, Kennedy seemed to be able finally to grow into the mantle of the Kennedy legacy. He lost weight, started taking better care of himself, and stopped partying as if he still belonged to another generation.

Many political pundits agree that Ted Kennedy came into his own in the latter part of his life. His “salad days” long gone, the senior senator took to the political battlefields with renewed energy and dedication.

In 2008, Senator Kennedy was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, but he surprised everyone when he appeared at the Democratic National Convention and declared his firm support for then candidate Barack Obama. The Senator’s endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton surprised many, but Kennedy believed that President Obama would be the best change for the American people:

“With Barack Obama, we will turn the page on the old politics of misrepresentation and distortion. With Barack Obama we will close the book on the old politics of race against race, gender against gender, ethnic group against ethnic group, and straight against gay.” ~ January 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for president 

“For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.” (Democratic National Convention 1980)

Ted Kennedy will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, a place he visited frequently to pay his respects not only to the two fallen brothers who preceded him, but also to the men and women who have served this nation, who are buried in this hallowed ground of lost heroes and remembered warriors.

Rest in peace, “Lion of the Senate.”

 

 

More later. Peace.