Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obligatory and Long-Winded Back-In-Kirksville Update

Here it is, approaching the twelfth hour of my return to Kirksville, and things aren't settling like I want and/or need them to. Not to be ungrateful, but I returned home yesterday, changed from the experience of profound loss, with a semblance of hope that perhaps those who had regarded me with suspicion because of my lack of self-disclosure before leaving would perhaps be different after several days of reflection and contemplation about the matter.


In fact, way wrong. Those few relationships that were left here, in shambles and frustration, have, to my dismay, remained the same completely. I (for lack of a modern term) bite my thumb at people and their subjectivism! Nay to their selfish attitudes and paths! What's the point?

I'm suppose I'm losing my patience with people. Don't get me wrong, I've met my fair share of Cool Cats at Truman- but for the most part I've found the majority of Truman students to be a critical, harsh, and unforgiving breed. Perhaps my perception is tainted because I'm a transfer student. That's distinctly possible. Reasoning aside, I have to face facts that I am sick to the point of severe anger of having to "explain myself" to them to avoid being judged. Not only that, but the depth of conversation I find myself being thrown into with most of them is shallow at best, on good days. Recent events have opened my mind to a world of new thought, and the obsequious banter about who had sex with whom and who's doing pot now seems to be a waste of my time.

Perhaps I'm on a pretension kick- I don't know. All I know is that when I try to chime in with a new idea that I find interesting, the theme of the conversation always turns to something gossipy and tacky; pointless chitter-chatter in all respects. I'm sick of it all now. I want more than what I personally perceive as a one-dimensional existence.

In recent news: I'm sure everyone knows by this point that my Grandmother passed away on Wednesday. Goodness knows word spread like wildfire at Truman. I went back home on Sunday for the wake, and the funeral was on Monday. I really don't want to talk much about the past few days specifically (for I've decided that those memories are mine to cherish), suffice to say that the whole experience has helped to better define my philosophy and outlook on life.

Example: A few relatives back home told me that they read my blog. Talking with them about some of my poetry, at least for me, helped to strengthen my goal of communicating what I believe; I told them that I believe frank honesty in written form can help everyone to put things into a clearer perspective. They mostly agreed. And most of them at least seemed interested by what I had to say. Except Aunt Jane. "At the very least your blog keeps me entertained," she chimed. Yippie skippy.

^And she can read that too, I don't care anymore.

I'm at a point now where I understand things better than I used to. Death, however, still frustrates me. But only because I don't understand it as much as I'd like to. I know that earthbound personality and ego might bring about the usual problems that we all face on a day to day basis, but just recently I've learned of the higher self which is the storehouse, synthesizer, and guiding light of our being; a beacon, if you will. It decides, within certain universal laws humans have not yet deciphered, what experiences are needed in order to achieve a level of self-actualization. I want to know its role in death.

My grandmother's death also helped me to put things into perspective. I am an optimist, and I believe that we all live a hedonistic path of evolution that we want to make positive. We don't always succeed, though. Those are the moments when life slides backwards, when all hope can seem lost. Case-and-point the last few weeks of my life. But I recognize that the experiences we need, no matter how difficult, are those that will move us along our path. Sometimes we slip, sometimes we fly, right?

Personally, I think that guilt, fear, repressed anger (and all other vices) are the forces that keep us from soaring. That's why, for me, writing about self-knowledge is so important. It's a personal barometer for the flowing, flexible style of my growth.

It's taken me a while, but I am getting better at recognizing that life is not the meaningless, chaotic thing it may seem when I am confused, angry, or depressed. I'm learning to confront my anger and depression, and what's more- I'm building upon knowledge gleaned from these episodes. Life might be a constant challenge- but I understand it to be a gift, none-the-less. Albert Einstein had it right when he said that "God does not play with dice."

I don't mean to say that life is predetermined- au contraire- I believe it is prong on a latter towards something which my feeble brain is unable to comprehend at this time. All I know as of this point is what I have learned (which really isn't much in the scheme of things.)

A most important reflection:
The experience of my Grandmother's death has taught me that love of another consists not of finding the right person, but in becoming the right person.

How profound. And lovely.

Thanks, Grandma.

Sigh. There's still so much I need to get off my chest.

Ah well, I have more time for that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Series Of Poems For My Dead Grandmother

Gone Back
By E.

On a muggy mid-September night
by the on-rush of white light
Light bright in a world of black!

There it called-out in agony:
The moon, lifeless now, spoke
As it reached-out through the oak
That extended a hand mournfully-

It called me from black-rose dreams,
Called for time, called for prayers-
The moon held-hands, white beams
Mirrored in mortal eyes: it cried on pained ears

On a muggy mid-September night
by the on-rush of white light
Light bright in a world of black!

Then Moon and Daughter touched:
But the Moon is not comforted by it!
Then Moon and Sea embrace:
And life flows-out for roses that sit
Upon the cold tombs
For which grandchildren go back-

Gone back, but not for Holiday;
Gone back to be awakened
By a mid-September's moonrise,
Upon Illinois' black-body sky:
Gone back to be fulfilled
By a mid-September's sunrise.

The Final Act
By E.

From the first slap upon my buttocks,
I started toward death.

A series of stages:

And then, when the maturation process
has been completed,
I am returned to the soil and, in essence, to
the dust
whence I came.

Throughout these stages we are conscious
of the Final Act.
And the Final Act is conscious of us.

Then the strings are played and the puppets move
back and forth
across these earthen planks.


But no encore.

The Old Oleander
By E.

O Flower, though art wilting!
The invisible aphid
That lurks on slipp'ry earth,
Smelling smoking wind- Earth's rolling pin,
In the fragrant lies of springtime,

Has found out thy sleeping-place
Upon man-trod green grass,
With pearl and crimson finish:
And with stained limbs of bed's departing life
Doth allow your petals to knowingly diminish.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When she leaves us, she'll take her Christmas cookies with her.

I had gone to bed late on Sunday night-- staying up a few extra hours to do preparatory work for Phi Sigma Pi Rush week. Usually, when I go to bed late, I'm knackered by the time my head hits the pillow.

Sunday night/Monday morning was different, though. For some reason, I simply couldn't disengage my brain-cogs-- thoughts were spinning like tops in my head, mulling over the the to-dos and not-to-dos of Rush week. I remember thinking to myself, at some point before I actually fell asleep, that sleep should not have been that hard.

I have no idea when I eventually dozed off, but I did. Probably somewhere in the vicinity of 4:00 am or 5:00 am. I suppose that's irrelevant though, because I was woken up at exactly 6:22 am by a frantic phone call from my Mother.

My only living Grandparent, My Grandmother Margaret Mitchell-- aged 93, had suffered a stroke and had been hospitalized earlier that morning.

The funny thing is that Grandma Marge was, for a 93 year-old, relatively quick-witted and strong as an ox, despite having been diagnosed with Dementia a year ago. So this stroke took us all by surprise; it was completely out of the blue.

The tragedy of it all is that she is still alive. My entire family is waiting by her bedside for her heart to give out. She's physical paralyzed and cognitively vegetative. The Doctors tell my family that the stroke damaged too many brain cells to ever hope to resuscitate her to consciousness- yet her heart beats on.

I'm the only immediate family member who is unable to go and see her before she passes. This is because I don't have a reliable source of transportation to get back to my hometown, and because I am the overseer and planner of Phi Sigma Pi's Rush (which just happens to be this week.) I'd love to simply pass my responsibilities over to another and ask a friend for a ride back home, but the reality of the situation is much more complex than that. As such, my mother and I decided that the best course of action would be for me to stay in Kirksville and occupy myself with planning Rush. As of this point, I'm suppose to stay here until she dies and then go back to Cedar Rapids for her funeral.

It's rough, dealing with all of this.

I don't know why, but for some reason, in the middle of it all, I can't stop remembering her hands. I've been thinking about them for two days straight. My grandmother's hands were scrawny and cold, disfigured from arthritis and gnarled by years of hard work. But they were beautiful. They were the hands of my childhood- the hands that held mine when we walked to church on Sunday mornings, the hands that fed me candied apricots and cucumber sandwiches, the hands that guided mine in prayer by my bedside. They were hands that worked so hard and loved so well.

I remember watching those hands once on Christmas Eve. My Grandmother was in the kitchen with me, prattling the recipe for her Peanut Butter No Bake Christmas Cookies. I wasn't paying attention. Instead I was watching her hands, and thinking to myself that I hoped that my hands would someday resemble hers.

How I wish now that I could go back in time and tell her how much I admired her hands. Not only that, but I wish that I would have listened to that recipe that she was generously offering me. It's funny to think that once she passes, that I'll never see those hands or taste those cookies again.

The memory of those cookies are on my tongue as I write now-- and thoughts of my beautiful-handed Grandmother consume my heart and mind.

I know that I don't need a Christmas cookie recipe to keep her memory alive and feel like at least a part of her will always be with me, but it hurts because the memory makes me realize how silly I have been for not spending more time with her.

I realize it's also silly to think that my hands could ever be as distinct as hers were. I should just accept that my hands will never be so beautiful; my life has been much too easy to merit the grace of work-worn hands. I suppose that's what Grandma had worked so hard for, though.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think that I won't be able to thank her for everything she's done for me in person. And it hurts me to know that she might be suffering.

Also, everyone in the family is a mess. Right now we are stuck in the worst kind of waiting game. And dealing with these circumstances is forcing us to contemplate the ephemeral nature of all, much to our disdain. And I feel like it's driving us all crazy in different ways.

Since Monday morning, I have been getting stressed about things I cannot control to the point of breakdowns, and have temporarily given up on how I look and what I eat. Also, I can't think straight, can't remember things, can't focus on anything, and can't make accurate judgments.

Everything is overwhelming right now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. <--- Shut The Fuck Up, George Lucas.

Get yourself a cup of tea and tuck in- this is a long one.

Where to begin. This one’s been simmering on the back burner for about six weeks. Or maybe my whole life. I don't know. All I know is that as far back as I can remember, I've haven't done the best job of avoiding the things that bind individuals to a one-dimensional existence.

My former life-philosophy: Do not remain emotionally disassociated, do not collect $200.

A former subscriber of the "she is not what she feels" credo, I've recently learned that my emotions are more than passing ships in the nights which come and go as they please. They are comparable, in fact, to the weather that determines the totality of what I am. In lieu of this realization, I'd like to consider myself newly liberated; now my tears are truly genuine, my laughter sprung from the heart, and my anger bona fide. I am whole.

It's been quite a journey. And I still have some tweaking to do here and there.

But this blog is proof positive that I am improving myself for the better. In the past I wished for the courage to say things because they've been occupying space in my thoughts and using up my energy, but I had been scared about what people would think of my opinions. But now, I posit: fuck it. I really do need to get these thoughts out of my head and into the world, for the sake of my mental health. I need to acknowledge them and then let them go, and hopefully find a way to move on. Maybe I'll never be brave enough to write about some of the more ghastly experiences I've endured in a public forum. Who knows. All I know is that I've got to start somewhere:

(But first, a second preface): I’m not going to write about the details of the last few years of my life. The details are things that I know could cause hurt and shame to myself and others, so I won’t do that. But I will write about what these events have left me with. And maybe, if I’m lucky it will give me the rest of the closure that I need to move on.

A new personal challenge: accepting loss and moving on.

This one is so hard for me. I've never really figured out how to deal with losing people that are close to me. I know that people leave for whatever reasons: people die, people change, and people come in and out of your life. They're close, they're distant; they give joy, they spread hate. And all that’s okay.

But what I can’t accept is doing my best-day in day out-to be a good friend, family member, and person (in the face of sometimes less-than-ideal conditions,) and then having my honesty and sincerity trampled on. I'm fucking pissed about it, actually.

I want to sock it like I was a puppeteer in a Punch and Judy.

A musing of which Bruce Banner would approve:

Anger is a natural human emotion, right? I mean we feel love, greed, lust, envy, sadness, happiness- and we feel anger.

At least I certainly am not unaffected by it. In fact I have an enormous problem with unacknowledged, repressed anger. I'm like a dove whose hawk side comes out unexpectedly under stress, usually in the form of pretended concern. Not only that but I often don't even recognize my anger until after the fact. And when I do recognize it, I usually don't know how to express it honestly and constructively.

I mean, none of us are really taught how to deal with anger, are we? We aren't given any ground rules for impulsive emotions; we aren't taught the basics of "integrity fighting." What we do know comes from experience and evolutionary impulsions which result in a "dominance fighting" of sorts. The difference is that the first results in the removal of friction, while the latter increases it by leaving one party victorious, the other humiliated and/or hurt.


Also, it pisses me off that people don't call anger by its real name: anger. Instead we say we are "depressed," "hostile," "guilty," "upset," "worried," "selfish," etcetera etcetera. Aren't all of these verbs (particularly "depressed") the result of anger turned inward (never expressed?)

A portrait of Elaine Sokolowski

I've recently realized that I never allow my face to register anger. Instead my primary mode of coping with the emotion is to express it in the guise of loving concern. I "know" that my mother's friend's husband is worried, that my best friend is suffering in an unhappy affair, that my brother has done something wrong. I know-and I pat people on the back and have no problem empathizing. But in doing so I fail to rid myself of my anger. Funny, to think that I am actually projecting it onto others and distorting it into fear, worry, and guilt. Hah! The reality of Pandora's open box, I suppose.

I used to be unaware of my manipulation. I used to disguise it under the excuse that all I wanted to do was avoid hurting others. The formerly prototypical Pollyanna, I have experienced the frustration of denying my anger and the debilitation of doing what was demanded of my "good little girl" image. I know now that the outcome does more harm than good. I've only just recently acknowledged my intrinsic right to my feelings. Feelings are fact, I do declare.

But at the same time, in ironic tribute to my former assertions, I can't help but shake the feeling that anger isn't necessary on this small planet. I mean, it's valuable because it prevents stagnation and stimulates growth, but could we survive without it?

Sigh. Will my thoughts be forever plagued by contradictions?

^Yes. ...Dammit.

Okay. I get it. I am suppose to yield with a smile and command with compassion. If only it were as simple as written words/phrases in blogs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

O Dreamer, Wake Unto Me.

The constance of Thought makes itself hastily-heard
Light hushed over fields; another dawn gently-blurred.
In bold disposition of Tempest the Nightingale cries,
and spurs shut the blues of Beau's golden-thread eyes.

This Author-Lover's soul: a Backward-Bard writing inverse,
She can not sleep for dreaming; tis' Her nightly curse.
With quill and parchment Her rapier and a phalanx-will to write-
She caresses and cuddles close while World turns day from night.

Clickedy-Clanks of Rude World heard in Downtrodden Day,
Lull'd by Cow-Over-Moon-Light have all passed away.
This Noiseless Night drink'eth the Dregs of evening decay-
Permit Authress voyage to Dreams- but keep Starlight at bay!

Her pillows sway with Rapid Rising of Dreamer's chest;
Rapid Eye Movements, Sweet-sleep, & Innocent Rest.
Feeling Chill of Alone, Authress contemplates re-write,
For His sweet-soft sleep-murmur brings muse and insight.

She observes his Blinking Eyes- holding unspent tears-
hearing Steady-Sleeping Heart mirroring Waking-World fears.
Dreamer's thoughts glad for Night and His mind put to Bed;
Ill-spoken Worry-Words left lovingly unsaid.

She holds Pen in tow and scratches words with brace of shelf:
She criticizes Him only of That which she fears most in Herself.
To give small things large Shadows is consistent to Her person,
She burns bridges often with promise that Love will never worsen.

Her prose begs the question: why pay interest before it's due?
Why dodge the Elephant but not the Fly in Her Womanly rue?
If after a Botticelli's Vision-Fairer He doth' optically embark,
Old Candle must flicker afresh- created by new flint and spark!

O Dreamer, wake unto me and sing me your Lamenting-Song,
Gone are the Worries and Cares of the Waking-World's throng:
This night I write from my heart that which I know to be True-
The time will come when Waking-World Worries will no longer torture You.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Platform 21 and 3/4. Next stop: somewhat closer, but no where distinctly nearer to self-actualization?

I didn't go to classes today.

I decided this morning that I would rather spend the day in my room, rationalizing. I know how dumb and self-indulgent this is, on every level. But I can't help it. Rationalization: It's what I do, when it really comes down to it. As for the choice to stay locked up in my room all day: that's just me feeling sorry for myself.

Last night I made a stupid decision, and the consequences have certainly taught me an important lesson: to be grateful for grace and eager for redemption. The concept seems rudimentary, but I, at least in my life experience's, have found that pride often has a funny way of stupefying one's intellect. Besides, I have this bad tendency to listen to advice, but not take it. Ergo, I have to learn life lessons via show-and-tell. It's so dumb. Ugh. ...Common sense be damned! <----Sigh.

On a serious note, human experience can be a straight-up bitch.

Goodness knows it doesn't help matters that I've been acting like a serious kook lately. And I want you to know that I know that you know, if that makes any sense at all.

... I do have one chipper memory of last night's whole ordeal that is worthy of re-telling: This morning Andrew woke up and checked his e-mail. I was secretly watching. I noticed that his mind is always planning; it is constantly calculating and evaluating for the future. It makes me feel safe. It is wonderful. But at that same time bad; he worries so much. And I'm talking the self-sacrificing worry; i.e. the altruistic variety. Oh Andrew.

Also, I cried in his arms this morning. Raw tears stemmed from my habit of disassociating myself with my emotions. Irrational tears, really. And all he did was hold me and empathize.

Memories like the aforementioned are my live's saving grace; they give me hope for better times.

And there is goes again-my innate optimism. Geez. I used to wish I could turn it off when I was younger. But I realize now that I can't. I've come to accept that it simply is too strong a force to be snuffed. Besides, I'm starting to like my optimism. It's the one thing that separates me from mostly everyone else (or it is my "ego," if you will.) And if I'm going to be proud of something (because goodness knows that personal vice of mine has a will of its own as well,) then it might as well be something beautiful, like optimism.

I get legitimately upset with people when they tell me it is unfounded or "blind." Don't they realize that it stems from shared human experience? At its core, it is a reflection of my personal observations of the people who have come in and out of my life. It is a cheerful frame of mind that demonstrates to my intellectual tea-kettle how to sing despite having hot water up to my nose. Colored by this outlook, I can't help but expect the best for mankind when I can still whole-heartedly observe the True beauty of human experience. Besides, I would imagine that a world without optimism would be a world akin to Hell.

And not only that, but I am 100% sure that the beauty of profound optimism- the kind that motivates people- can only be appreciated fully when one experiences its opposition; profound pessimism. Moral of the story: Don't ever think a "blind" optimist naive.

The key is balance, really. I genuinely believe that a combination of healthy proportions of optimism and pessimism, hopefulness and naivete, and skepticism and realism are the strongest force that people can muster to insinuate social change. I really do believe this.

Sure, you can argue that my optimism is often misplaced. But you live and you learn, right?

Random spur-of-the-moment memory/reflection: When I was a child, the only thing that I couldn't regard with optimism was a pessimist. I see now, however, that pessimism acts a a check for recklessness, and is, therefore, positively attributed. How paradoxical.

^Also, have you noticed how I tend to see life in dualities? I've been thinking a lot about that lately.

Maybe I'm just neurotic.

^That's a distinct possibility.

I suppose there are worse things to be, though.

In which a shadowy freedom fighter known only as "E" uses intellectual terrorist tactics to fight against her totalitarian society.