Update on Panic-Attack

In case you missed it, this morning I was having a panic attack — CLICK HERE — my first in quite a long time, and it was to do with the Motor Vehicle Administration having informed me that I would be unable to renew my registration or license because the State of Maryland had informed the MVA I owed back taxes — CLICK HERE FOR THAT POST.

Well, I finally heard from the MVA/State of Maryland with the information about what I owed and from when. It was from 2010. Seven years ago. And a very bad year 2010 was. I remember very little. I was not high functioning. I had left a very bad situation, in a hurry, gave up a lot, lost a lot, all necessary to save myself. It is very likely true I owe taxes from then, even though I distinctly remember paying off in installments some amount. But, I was very low on funds (which hasn’t changed, but that’s okay) and things were not making sense. Too, in the interim years, I have moved a few times, always in a hurry, and shortly after one of those moves my room was flooded and all my personal files (along with quite a few journals and my Joan Didion and Renata Adler signed first editions) were lost. So, I can’t prove anything even if there is anything to prove, which, I’m pretty sure there isn’t.

Fairly certain — like 99% — I owe this. From seven years ago. Luckily, they have not tacked on interest and penalties. Good news is, it’s less than it might have been. Bad news is, it’s more than I have. Good news is, they’ve set up a payment plan. Bad news (or funny news) is, the first payment is due ON MY BIRTHDAY.

Oh. Life.

But, I have a house/pet sitting job starting Thursday through Sunday. And another starting next week that is two weeks long. And some summer bookings. And things work out sooner or later, one way or another. And while my chest is still tight tonight (and my rash is still not gone) I am better than I was this morning and I managed to get through the day and finish a book blogging post — CLICK HERE — and keep my stress hidden from my Mom.

And, the Zakar Twins posted a new photo of themselves. In knitted jockstraps. Life is good.

So, win win win and happy approaching birthday and here I am, going.

But going in a positive, affirming way. And not gone in the sad, final way I had so long been contemplating and planning.  And that is, indeed, a miracle, Charlie.

 

 

Reading: So many holds, so little time

I’ve read eight books since last I book-blogged and I am close to catching up with my hold list from the library. Which I have STOPPED adding to so that I might get to a stack of books I own which have been patiently awaiting my attention. I’ll try to keep this short. Here goes.

The Moviegoer, Walker Percy, paperback, 242pp, originally published 1961

This won the 1962 National Book Award for reasons that escape me. I found the title character, Binx Bolling, to be unbearably idiotic and misogynist. I thought the writing was dull and clunky, the symbolism heavy-handed. Not for me.

A Most Novel Revenge (Amory Ames #3), Ashley Weaver, Hardcover, 320pp, October 2016, Minotaur Books

I read the first Amory Ames mystery in March of last year, somehow missed the second, and picked up this, the third, on a whim from the library when I was there to get some holds. WHY DID I PICK UP ANOTHER BOOK WHEN I HAVE SO MANY HOLDS? Well, I love cozy 1930’s English mysteries about wealthy folk and add to that milieu a novelist and libertines, compare the sleuthing main character, Amory, and her husband to Nora and Nick Charles, and, well, I’m hooked. I confess, however, that when I picked this up I had no idea I’d read the first in the series, and, even as I read, I did not recall the first. It was only when adding it to my Goodreads list I realized I’d read the beginning of the series, and even on reading the synopsis, I only vaguely recalled it. BUT, that’s okay. This one was fun, a light, witty, amusing, distracting bob-bon, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it beats the hell out of The Moviegoer.

Faithful, Alice Hoffman, Hardcover, 258pp, November 2016, Simon & Schuster

I don’t know how the only other book I’ve read by Alice Hoffman is The Story Sisters, but there it is. I saw her speak at Frederick’s Speaker Series, and I am devoted to the film of her novel, Practical Magic. I quite liked this. Alice Hoffman walks the line between thaumaturgy and daily reality, conjuring happy endings from tragic circumstances. She writes with a great faith in the resiliency of the human spirit, and her heroine, Shelby Richmond, lives a journey riveting, heartbreaking, and hope-giving in this book. We need happy endings right now, so I just might pick up some more of Alice Hoffman’s work — once I get through my holds and my own patiently waiting books.

Superficial: More Adventures from the Andy Cohen Diaries, Andy Cohen, Hardcover, 357pp, December 2016, St. Martin’s Press

Okay, sue me, I am addicted to a number of Bravo’s Real Housewives of … series, which are produced by Andy Cohen. He makes me laugh. And I figure that if Anderson Cooper is best buddies with him, he must be a good time. So, I got this — also on a whim while picking up holds — and for the first half or so, I was amused. Then, what felt to me like a real lack of appreciation for the privilege in which he lives started to wear me out. Which, I suspect, has an equal amount to do with my envy of someone who can buy and remodel apartments in New York City while I can’t pay off a tax bill for which I am being dunned or afford rent on the near hovel in which I live. That said, this book is what it is and doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and that’s a good thing.

Lincoln In The Bardo, George Saunders, Hardcover, 343pp, February 2017, Random House

This book has been buzzed about for months, received rave reviews, and was much loved by people whose opinions I respect. It is indeed imaginative and very different from most things I read or have ever read. Does that make it the masterpiece people are calling it? I don’t know. I liked it. The writing is — no question — quite beautiful and brilliant and ingenious and poetic and dramatic and often riveting. The plot is to do with Lincoln’s son Willie, who stays in limbo with other souls refusing to face the realities of their deaths, and President Lincoln returns to the crypt to hold and mourn his dead son. But that is misleading, as it is really a framework for a much larger exploration of the lives and deaths and disappointments and delusions of an entire culture which manages in its fanciful, ferocious execution to be startlingly relevant to the current state of the world, this country, human consciousness. Definitely a should read for everyone. (But I STILL say the books of the year are LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK by Kathleen Rooney [CLICK IT HERE]  & RUNNING by Cara Hoffman [CLICK IT HERE].)

Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller, Hardcover, 350pp, February 2017, Tin House Books

I have long followed Claire Fuller on Twitter — when I was on all the time, before this hiatus I am taking, we Tweeted in the same circles. I hesitate sometimes to read books by people who I “know” — but, deep breath and sigh of relief, reading Claire Fuller was a rewarding decision. And, apparently I am not the only one to think so, as the HOLD LIST at the library for this book was longer than the one for Lincoln In The Bardo.

The premise: Twelve years after Ingrid Coleman disappeared from her marriage and family, her husband thinks he has seen her. She has left letters to her husband, Gil, a philandering author, in the thousands of books he owns — one of which has ended up in a second-hand bookshop; he is holding said book in that bookshop, having discovered the letter inside, when he thinks he has seen Ingrid through the window and chases after her, taking a serious fall. His daughter, Flora, who has never believed her mother dead, comes home to take care of her father and discovers (along with us) the truths and deceptions and secrets of her family.

Jumping back and forth between present day and Ingrid’s letters from the past, Claire Fuller illuminates a tessellation of detail and particulars in a fast moving but slow reveal which makes for compelling and engrossing reading. This book also happened to have a few things I love dearly: crazy authors, obsessive collectors of books, and erudite writers of letters. I resented every moment I was forced to spend away from this book once I’d started it, so, make sure you have ample time for reading.

I am rather thrilled that I’ve Claire Fuller’s first novel to look forward to, Our Endless Numbered Days.

The Night Ocean, Paul La Farge, Hardcover, 400pp, March 2017, Penguin Press

Too long. An amalgamation of fact, fiction, history, rumor, research, imagination, reporting, and fabrication, The Night Ocean purports to be the story of (fictional) Charlie Willet, author of a book exploring the relationship between (real) H.P.Lovecraft and (real) Robert Barlow, but it turns out Willet has been duped and becomes obsessively determined to untangle the web of deceptions and impostures surrounding the lives and legacies of Lovecraft and Barlow, one of whom might or might not be dead, or have talked to Willet, who, himself, like Barlow (maybe?) committed suicide. Or did he? What might have been fascinating non-fiction reportage or intriguing fiction, becomes a confusing admixture of neither and both and it ultimately feels repetitive, confusing, and TOO LONG.

The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story Of The Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel, Hardcover, 224pp, March 2017, Knopf Publishing Group

Having spent the last seven years downsizing my life, recently reducing even more my contacts with the world, and seriously contemplating deeper retreat into solitude, finding less and less purpose or reason in the acquisitive, grasping culture in which we live or the measurements by which that culture judges success and achievement, I was fascinated by the premise of this book.

In 1986 a 20-year-old hikes into the woods of Maine, where he lives in near-complete solitude for almost 30 years until he is arrested during the final of the thousands of burglaries he had committed over the decades in order to feed, clothe, and warm himself.

Once he is captured people are divided in their feelings about him and the years of thievery, the fear he caused among the population from whom he repeatedly stole. There is fury and anger, and there is sympathy and admiration. There is speculation he is autistic, mentally ill, a genius, a fraud, a savant.

What there is not is any clear — or even vague — answer as to why he did what he did. Michael Finkel is near relentless in his effort to connect with Chris Knight, but the not-quite-hermit is uninterested in being explained, or explaining himself. He did what he did and it was what it was and the need of modern culture to psychoanalyze and parse every emotion and action, to determine a why and bestow a label, is part of what Knight was determined to leave behind — or, so it seems to me. He is not — was not — interested in the sort of mass-market introspection and categorizing which defines modern society, he wanted just to be.

Once he was forcibly returned to the “real world” he understandably had a difficult time merging back into a structure where he is ruled by statutes and etiquette and niceties he had eschewed for most of his adult life.

Michael Finkel tells the story and quotes Thoreau and psychologists and experts aplenty — too many, in fact — and so this ends up feeling bereft of emotional heft and more of a stretched-thin research project or magazine article, padded with expert opinion that does little to illuminate what we really want to know; Why did he do it? What effect did it have on his family? Who is this man? Exploration of which might have made this book better resonate with that part of all of us that wishes to disappear, be left alone, enjoy some silence.

AND IN CONCLUSION . . .

So, that’s it and there it is, the eight books I have read so far in March. I tried to keep it short, and I suppose, for me, 1700 words is pretty short. Now, back to my stacks. Love and Light, dear ones. Here I am, going.

Oh dear . . . panicking

That feeling where your chest is super tight and breathing is an effort, as in, you can’t seem to really get a deep breath, or you’re forgetting to breathe, and you’re sort of shaking like you’ve had too much caffeine? I haven’t had this in a while, a long while, but I’m having it now and I really, really hate it.

After four requests in three weeks I have at last gotten a response from the division of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration who sent me a letter telling me they’d been informed by the state of Maryland (aren’t they the state of Maryland?) I owed taxes and so my license and registration would NOT be renewed unless I took care of this.

So, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Asking the amount and from when? Finally, today, I received a response from a Revenue Collection Specialist asking me for the last four digits of my social security number that they might help me.

And so I am now in panic mode. Which I need to hide, as I have my Mom today.

I am such a fail with money. I just finished reading a book about a guy who lived alone in the woods for 27 years. I definitely couldn’t do that, but I am more and more thinking that the less and less I interact with the world and its conventions, the better off I (and the world) will be.

I hate being this upset and terrified and feeling helpless — which is my m.o. in money matters. Oh Charlie, as my mother would say.

Send light and good vibes and hopes the amount is low. Really, really low.

This Week In Charlie-Land: March 12-19

A week of six (6! WHAT?) posts can mean only one thing: I am still rationing my Twitter-time. Too, it was a week when the temperature reached 70 degrees and there was also the only so-called snow storm of the season. I continued my personal chef-ing roll, creating meals and cakes of my own recipes for dear ones, and my healing soul-realignment continued even as the mysterious rash that started all of this has yet to be diagnosed or disappear. What follows is a brief re-visit of each post and a look into the conversation my selves are having about here, where I am, going.

Tuesday, March 14, The Affray of Seasons and Reason

Nature seems to be flim-flamming us (and itself) with one week so warm the flowers bloom and the trees bud, only to be shock-blasted in the next week by hard freezes and the first measurable snow of the season; all of which seemed metaphor for the current political situation. Although we’ve far to go, we’ve come such a long way in the march toward equality for people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community, and the flowering of those freedoms now feels threatened by the ignorance, fear, and vitriolic vindictiveness in power. But freedom, equality, and Love, are as tough and resilient as nature; we will flower again. And again. And yet again.

Tuesday, March 14, Four Years and 931 Posts Later

My second post of the day was prompted by a notice from WordPress telling me it was this blog’s fourth anniversary. I looked back and found I’d had progressively fewer hits with each year; I was losing readers. This discovery brought to the surface an event I’d been ignoring; someone I was “seeing” in a casual way had discarded me. That musing opened the long tightly shut vault of feelings about being left, losing people, broken connections. I didn’t walk too far inside that vault, it was awfully full of things at which I need to look, but right now, this healing of the soul I’m having and the reactions of some people to it, has already energized my disconnect and hermit buttons. So, happy Charlie needs to be careful about how far and how fast he delves into the things he’s kept locked away.

Wednesday, March 15, Between the Lines . . .

Tuesday’s contemplation about where I’d been four years ago when I started this blog, where I’ve gotten, where I’m going, and being left or leaving sent me into a mini-spin based in fear. So, I did what I have often done in my life: turned to music and icons and po cultural imagery to express myself. From the youthful comfort I took from Miss Judy Garland and my Dark Shadows obsession, through my love of Little Edie and the ways in which she resembled my Sissie, to my fear of aging, my fatigue, and my love of Christopher Isherwood as well as my identification with the pitfalls of falling for a much younger someone, to my Blanche DuBois/Tennessee Williams-esque shaping of the story of my life into a three act play, and the shadow of a Tarantula Arms lusting to which I’ve sometimes succumbed, through my horror story dark side prone to lashing out in violent, irrational hatred when he feels unloved, unseen, victimized, and my Neely O’Hara “don’t you know who I am”-ing, which took me to another O’Hara, Kelli, and her beautiful, yearning delivery of a different kind of see me — which seems in retrospect as I give you all the “between the lines” to have been the theme of the post which concluded with Sarah Vaughn’s delicious rendition of Embraceable You — with its quieter, simpler “See me,” and, at last, the witch-nose-wiggle, that I might magically clear up all the between the lines things plaguing me that day.

Wednesday, March 15, Count Your Pennies

As had Tuesday, Wednesday also brought two posts. This second was in response to the first in which I’d been feeling a trifle sad, less loved than I wanted to be, and after a tiny wallow in some envy, and missing some Twitter folk, and yearning for a life I’m never going to have, and blah, blah, blah, I was inspired by the shiny pennies in my pocket to turn into my Mom and say, “I’ll give you something to cry about! Now get it together.” And so, I did, and devoted my energy to appreciating the gifts in my life.

Saturday, March 18, Living So Much I Forgot to Take Pics

And like Tuesday and Wednesday, Saturday brought two posts, too. Seems it was a week of doublespeak-ish.

This first post was long and all about a din-uncheon I’d hosted for one of my dearest friends, and, also, I got very honest about my near-lifelong depression, the story about how I’ve finally agreed to medication and how it’s changed my life (and made me able to look back at my life with some forgiveness and grace) and, too, my decision to absent myself from Twitter — which is actually a much bigger deal, to do with much larger issues than those I think and tell myself prompted my absence, and which I don’t know that I can quite deal with yet — because it feels like I’m losing someone way more important than the buddy from the Four Years and 931 Posts Later entry. Who, by the way, has reappeared, explaining his absence, wanting back in.

Saturday, March 18, I Want It All

The final post of the week was the natural progression of the things about which I’d been thinking all week: my depression, how I am recovering from it and learning to live in a more forward-looking, positive thought-pattern sort of life, the relief of not thinking every single day, “I wish I was dead,” and not having to hide that sorrow from people, the relief of not having to pretend to be happy; and the new but manageable issue in my life: having to consider that I might deserve happiness, love, and might be able after all to achieve dreams denied, to say, out loud, “I want,” without fear of reprisal and scoffing and “people like you don’t get to do/be things like that.”

And so it went (and here I am, going)

That was my week — or, the parts of it I felt comfortable sharing. I don’t know if this blog will make it to a fifth year. Having some relief from a life of depression and having the energy available to me I once had to use every day to fight my sorrow, is like having to learn to live again. As I go through my days, as I deal with people and things, as I write, as I work out, as I do anything and everything — I recognize patterns and habits and coping mechanisms formed because I was always dealing with the huge weight and blockage of my depression; now that it’s somewhat assuaged, I can approach life differently — but it is an effort, NOT a bad effort, but, it’s as if after years of riding a bike, one day your body forgot how to do it, and you have to learn again.

I’m learning how to be happy. Which I guess sounds ridiculous. But, there it is. And part of the process is being a better advocate for myself; not expecting to be hurt or left or sub-Tweeted or bashed; and, too, accepting and being grateful for the gifts in my life without believing I am going to have to pay for any joy or goodness with twice the amount of sorrow and bad shit.

Ah Charlie, Young Happy Charlie, help me out here, where we are, going.

Love and Light, dear ones.

I Want It All

Yes. This. The upside (and danger) of becoming happy after so long being not is this terrifying feeling when the wishes and dreams I denied myself because I thought I didn’t deserve and couldn’t have them are allowed to peek out, to whisper out loud, “I want…”

Living So Much I Forgot To Take Pics

Before Andrea’s birthday din-uncheon.

Yesterday I hosted a birthday luncheon (well, din-uncheon, because we didn’t really start eating until 3pm) for my dear one, Andrea, with my dear ones, Alison and Sister Debbie. Before it began, as I was prepping and cooking, I took a picture of the table and the tulips.

Once everyone had arrived, I had such a marvelous time and was so busy being there, here, where I am going, talking to and enjoying and loving people, I never thought to record every few moments (or any moments at all) with my smartphone, posting my life, documenting it rather than living it.

This forced-absence from Twitter really was a good decision.

It has been three weeks since I decided to treat my Twitter addiction, a decision triggered by a sort of sub-Tweeted provocation of a personal nature related to my delight with my recent, late in life taking of an antidepressant, which I started two months ago and which taking of was initiated by a wonderful medical professional to whom I went to treat the rash-reaction-hives-whatever covering my right forearm and spreading to my left (at the time).

I’ve been on Twitter a few times since my hiatus began — I have not looked at my TL, but I do periodically check for (and write) DMs, and I check my notifications. My mood and outlook continue to be near-miraculously improved from the antidepressant, although the commencing euphoria has evened out, which was to be expected as my initial diagnosis years ago was Dysthymic Disorder with Cyclothymic periodic hypomanic euphoric episodes (or something like that): I.E. I was chronically depressed and anhedonic with occasional energetic bursts of hopefulness, or, UPS, from which I would come crashing down and as the years went by, my LOWS getting lower after each UP, and the UPS became decreasingly so; I was cycling down for decades into what eventually became an outlook consistently bleak with daily suicidal ideation, a nagging voice in my head narrating with the mantra, “And then he died,” which I hid (mostly) but which the fight against exhausted me spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

It is difficult living every day when you are hoping to die. I believed my life was without meaning and its meaninglessness was my failure and sin; and worse than the pain of that, was how incredibly alone and isolated I felt in it. I couldn’t explain it to people who loved me because it made them (often) angry, as if I was dismissing what they felt for me, as if my depression was actually me being selfish and ungrateful — a reaction which only affirmed my fear that my sorrow was my deficiency of character and backbone, a weakness I ought to be able to fix.

I did not blame people for not wanting to be around me. I saw the ability of others to spend time with friends, to have lover-relationships, to be happy, as further proof that I was and had always been a broken down nobody, somebody not worthy of love.

I’m not going to say those feelings have been entirely erased by the medication. But my capacity to confront them has increased ten-fold. Whereas before I would think those thoughts and believe them to be true, or, block them out and negate myself, fighting against thinking or feeling at all, working toward numbness, NOW, I am able to say, “I think that is not true.”

Undoing decades of feeling inadequate is a mighty long trek, but what the antidepressant has really eased is my focus on the past. I am blessedly relieved (mostly) of the relentless replaying of “oh you’ve wasted your life” and “if only” and “should have, could have, why didn’t you?” and all the other nags and self-hating vitriol that made it impossible to be in the now because every moment was so full of regret and recrimination.

And envy. I still have some envy, which was another reason I took a Twitter break. There is an echo of “I might have lived a life like that” in my genuine joy of seeing and sharing in the lives of my Twitter pals, many of whom live in New York, or have long-term relationships, or have experienced and lived in ways I have not. I love them and I do celebrate their successes and joys, but there is sometimes a tinge of the old voice, “How did I fuck up so badly that I’m where I am and not there where they are?”

On which I am working. Healing takes time. New patterns of thinking and adjustments of attitude require practice. The pathways in my brain and heart have so long been geared toward self-flagellation and sorrow, it requires practice and concentrated effort to interrupt the sorrow.

But, yesterday, I hosted a birthday din-uncheon and was having such a marvelous time with my people, it never occurred to me to take a picture except before it started and after the people had gone. The clean-up. Look:

And after I took those pics and was doing the clean-up — which I have down to a system that works in my tiny kitchen, just like the system I have for creating meals there, which systems fill me with admiration for myself that I’ve accommodated to my environment — which is metaphor for what I’m doing (and have always done) in my life in general; making the most of the space I am in, I felt such a peace and a patience within myself, for myself.

Left arm after din-uncheon/clean-up

Right arm after din-uncheon/clean-up

Funny, this. I went to the doctor in January for the mysterious non-itching, odd rash on my right arm, spreading then to my left, which I thought was hives brought on by the inauguration of the fascist buffoon, and because of that visit, my near-lifelong depression has been relieved, my addiction to social media has been eased, my ability to live, here where I am, being, and my capacity for experiencing joy without fear has been greatly increased, but the rash-reaction-hives-whatever has spread to my chest, my back, my legs, my palms, my feet, and after I’d finished cleaning up last night sort of exploded on my forearms. This was a new event, this exacerbation, and now, this morning, as of 4:30a.m. when I got up, both arms have faded back to the normal shadow of the spots and red which is slowly, slowly going away, sort of, although I still look pox-ridden.

That, despite three more trips to the doctor, steroids, creams, and antihistamines, is yet to be diagnosed or cured. Life is funny, yes?

Okay, off to live mine — of which I might take pics to share here with you later. Love and Light dear ones.

P.S. The din-uncheon was kind of marvelous. Menu: a starter of lobster & crab bisque, heavy on the cream and sherry; main course of deconstructed thanksgiving turkey — which was a breast, beaten and then rolled jelly-roll style with a filling made of stuffing material — spinach, celery, mushrooms, Italian bread crumbs; and twice-baked mashed potatoes — made from baby potatoes first boiled, then baked, then mashed with heavy cream, butter, and loads of asiago and parmesan, piped into a ceramic dish, topped with more cheese, and baked in the oven until brown-topped and puffed up into a delicious mound of mmm-goodness; fresh asparagus steamed; and for dessert a triple-chocolate layer cake with fudge between the layers and cream cheese frosting. I created all the recipes myself, of which I am super proud, and the meal was a HUGE hit with everyone — including me. Yes, even I thought it was delicious. Okay, really going now.

Count Your Pennies

Today I went to the grocery store to pick up some things I needed for tonight’s niece/nephew meal and an upcoming birthday dinner, and when I got home and was emptying the change from my pockets into the containers where I keep it, I noticed that I’d been given three beautiful, shiny 2017 pennies.

I felt compelled to take a picture and mail it to myself, knowing I would want to blog it, though not quite sure why.

Maybe a button was pushed because Abraham Lincoln is on the penny and yesterday I finished Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders and it is still taking up a large space in my mind. I’m not certain how I feel about it.

Or, maybe it’s because pennies are said to be lucky? Although I think one is supposed to find them on the ground, not be given them as change. But, you know what? Lately I’ve come to realize more and more how dependent luck and happiness are on one’s outlook. If you constantly see yourself as victim, live in “oh poor, put upon me” energy, and see even those who love and support you as somehow not loving and supporting you enough, well, what you need is not more happiness, but for you, yourself, to make more of an effort to appreciate the happiness you’ve got.

It is a lesson I am really, really, REALLY trying to heed. Every day. And that’s my two (well, three) cents.

They are sort of beautiful, aren’t they? The color. The shine. The hardly been touched-ness of them. Not that I mind coins that have been around the block a few times, a little worn and faded from being well used and spent.

Love and light, dear ones. And may your day be filled with lucky, shiny pennies. And even more, may you have the time and heart and presence of spirit to appreciate them.

Between the lines…

Some days I put my words aside, and I roam through music and images, without a map, without an agenda, just letting subconscious, my heart, my soul, chat with my sometimes overly-contemplative brain. It’s refreshing. Renewing. Revealing. Relaxing to let things just be rather than trying to emotionally parse every breath. Here goes.

Four Years and 931 Posts Later

Happy little Charlie. In a tree.

WordPress has informed me that today is the fourth anniversary of this blog. I started it because the weekly on-line magazine for which I wrote a column called Rants and Raves folded and a number of people asked me to keep writing. So, I did. This will be my 931st post. That’s something like 232 posts a year, or 4 or 5 posts a week. But that’s deceiving. In 2014 I posted 344 times. In 2015 I posted only 93 times. And last year, I posted 115 times but had the lowest number of views and visits of any year since I began.

I am becoming less popular every year. I also have fewer returning visitors every year.

This is interesting to me because the first few posts were about my search for myself; I wanted to find the happy, hopeful boy I was. Four years later, I am closer than I have ever been in my adult life to feeling fully me, the Charlie I was meant to be.

And fewer people are reading me.

Happy grown up Charlie. In a New York diner.

Also interesting, because recently I have been discarded on a more personal level again. I knew it was happening the last time he and I were together, knowing as we came and went it was the end. Not goodbye. They don’t say goodbye. I don’t say goodbye. We never really say hello. This one, though, I told him my real name (although not my real age) and we got along well. Too well, I think. Like walking a path you know and suddenly you’re caught up in a spider web stretched across it you hadn’t seen, and it clings and sticks, and you’re not sure if the something that spun it is about to bite you, and it’s chilling and scary and what was a casual stroll is now fraught with dangers; and even if the web is spun of the finest most delicate silk, they are strings, and we’d promised not to have any of those.

So, he’s gone. I’m not upset. Even though he knew my real name, he knew almost nothing else about me. I never invited him into my spaces. Along with no strings, I’ve also a no invitation rule: I always go to their place. For me, it is about what we are doing together, no messy web of personal history or details in which to be caught, in which to risk becoming prey. In those meetings, those moments, I am able to be whoever I like, however much of Charlie up a tree or Charlie in a diner or Sebastian or Parker I want to be.

So, when they go, it’s someone else they’re leaving. Not me. But when someone stops reading my blog, that is me they’re leaving. At the rate I’m going, the men who don’t know my name are going to outnumber the readers of my blog.

Perhaps, I should give this a rest too, like I’ve put Twitter on hold. And, actually, nameless men for the most part. I seem to be cocooning inside books. Reading. Writing (other than this blog). Peaceful, quiet hours alone. Or, if I’m really lucky, with a dog next to me as I read, sleep, walk.

I think, in some ways, the four years of this blog have been about happy, young Charlie learning to leave behind the sad, depressed Charlie who had taken over his body. And right now, who I am, where I am, here I am, going, it’s okay for me to be less read, less held, less needing anyone other than a few really dear friends, my family, my regular dogs, my books, and me.

Love and Light dear ones, and thanks for reading.

The Affray of Seasons and Reason

Near midnight, last night, the snow had begun to fall.

Last week the temperature reached seventy degrees and my mother again lamented the lack of any snow this winter, espousing the country-wisdom theorem that biting cold temperatures and snow enough to cover the landscape, putting briefly on pause the world are necessary to kill the germs and viral maladies passing among the population. I asked how then such diseases were put to rest in tropical climates and Florida, and my mother answered me with her oft-repeated phrase of frustration; “Oh Charlie.”

That explains everything.

But now, one week away from the official start of spring, comes Stella.

(I apologize but it is impossible for me to mention this storm without bellowing in my Streetcar-Stanley imitation: Stellllllaaaaah! There. That’s out of the way.)

By 4:30 this morning, there was a covering, but nothing like the foot predicted.

While all through the winter months, winter itself has encroached upon the demeanor of spring, usurping its warmth and temperatures until, in the last few weeks, there have been bloomings and buddings and blossomings, flora tricked by winter’s usurpation of spring’s expressions into early flower, a trust and guilelessness which has resulted in their ruin; verdure will not, this season, express its fullest efflorescence having been deceived — gulled and hoodwinked — by the sneaky, delusory cunning of this imposturous winter.

Though the snow is killing what remains of the early blossomings, its untouched beauty before sunrise, here in the court outside my patio door, is quite glorious.

Fitting, this, that the seasons, nature itself, should commit such fraud and flimflam upon us, a reflection of the phony quack elected in November who now swindles a nation with his lies and sleights-of-hand, a venomous malignancy of fascistic bigotry and class-warfare masquerading as populism.

Winter is trying to kill spring; that group of buffoons who stole the White House are trying to kill freedom.

And see, here, this, the powerful, aged, determined tree casts its tall shadow, its reaching to the sky tattooing the murderous snow-blanket, promising its eventual victory. It, like freedom and equality and Love and Light, will triumph once the snow has melted away, its killing cold becoming ground water to assuage the near-drought. Things work out. Always.

But, here, now, I’ve faith. Buds have blossomed too early before, the blooms then frozen to rot. But, sooner rather than later, these buds will recover and burst into flower again. Freedom — in the shape of equality and respect for all people, regardless of their categorization and label — cannot be permanently stopped from flourishing.

The seasons and reason may seem to be at war with one another right now; we may — many, if not all of us — feel torn, bruised by the clash of goodness and truth with the foul stink of malicious prejudices and repugnant manifestations of fear into odious action and hateful policy, but we are stronger and more resilient than this temporary carnage and chill of despair being sold as patriotism and return to greatness.

Our shadows are taller and longer, our natural drive to re-leaf and blossom again, to follow the dictates of the seasons, to survive these sorts of freezes and blights and in doing so grow stronger, these are all more powerful than the temporary despair of a storm — a storm which, it should be remembered, is also part of the cycle.

Perhaps my mother’s theorem is wiser than I gave credit for. This storm, this benumbing cold and its temporary glaciating effect offers a chance to rest a moment, re-think, re-new — yes, RE-new — while its freezing blast does away with some of the pestilential, pernicious germs and viral disorders which have been infecting us, passing among us, robbing us of the energy required to reach like the trees for the heavens.

So, I am here, quietly, hibernating and holding myself tightly, protecting my center, Re-Newing me, unafraid of a little blizzard bloviating its way through the world, making a last grasp at holding on to its season, pretending it can defeat spring.

Now Stella has started to bluster and swagger, boasting and full of bombast; but still, we know, spring will come, Stella. Have your moment, but we will bloom again.

Ha. Silly snow, silly storm, you are only feeding us for when we burst forth in all our glory again; taller, stronger, more gloriously aflame, ablaze, aglow with the Love and Light that is the truth of nature.

Dear ones; I am here.