"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dear Briar...

Eve of 3/10 -Sweet Irony
Dear Briar -
It’s late. My mind is racing. My mom is away for a few days, so I am staying over with my dad, Harry. He’s on that bloody (no pun intended) Atkin’s Diet with the rest of the planet, so I made him my most unfavorite of the processed meat delicacies for dinner; sausage and onions. Yuck. The only thing worse would probably be scrapple. I have seen it once. The name says it all. I also sauteed spinach and garlic on the side to give it a little bit of a cosmopolitan flair …and he loved it.

He is always so complementary of my (as he calls them) delicious delights. Only tonight, his pallor changed within five minutes of finishing his meal, and he began to hold his stomach, grimace and make jokes about impending diarrhea. “Maybe it was the spinach,” he laughed, poking fun at my affinity for vegetables.

“Lunacy,” I smiled, and washed the dishes. I snuggled in upstairs with my dogs and a Deepak Chopra book, and immersed myself in a chapter entitled, “What you see, you become.” I was reading about the vedic seers, the rishis, and the yogis of India. Fascinating stuff. I got into an anecdote about a father who is trying to humble his “educated” son about sanskrit meaning of Brahman ...an all-inclusive term, signifying all things in creation - physical, mental, and spiritual- as well as their uncreated source. I am the universe:

“Go and Pick a fruit from the banyan tree,” Svetaketu’s father said.
“Here it is, sir.”
“Split it open and tell me what you see inside.”
“Many tiny seeds, sir.”

I heard something stirring downstairs ...a dog, a cat, maybe my dad.

“Take one of them and split it open and tell me what you see inside.”

I heard a low, muffled moan. I couldn’t decipher whether it was the television, or ...

“Nothing at all, sir.”

The moan began to grow more pronounced, cradled by heavy, uneven sighs ...

Then his father said, “the subtlest essence of this fruit appears as nothing to you, my son ...”

Then my father, sighing between expletives came stumbling, heavy footed, up the wooden stairs toward the porcelain goddess with broken hinges.

“Are you okay dad?” All I got was a moan.

“ ...but believe me, from that nothing, this mighty banyan tree has sprung.”

With that, the broken lid crashed to the ground, and through moans and heaves and prayers, poor Harry definitely sold his soul to the goddess.
I ran downstairs and got him water, and his blood pressure medication, and came back up to find him neatly tucked into his bed with the dogs, deep in thought.

“Maybe it was the sausage,” he giggled.

Love, Ana

Please check out Ana's Download of the Day, including the Song of the Day:

Ana's Read of the Day and Song of the day are available, as always, in the upper right hand margin.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dear Briar... and "My Friend" by "OLB"

3/10 - Wash
Dear Briar -

I sent you a letter two days ago, and I cannot stop thinking about it.
I wonder what you will think? I can just picture you, fumbling into your blue, mirrored apartment building with the deco light fixtures …the smell of waxed floors and old paint. You close the city behind you, talk to pup who you just picked up from puppy kindergarten, where all of the girls fussed over you and pup, hoping to God that you like women, while your glance is saved for a handsome man.

Then you shuffle down the corridor toward the mailboxes and the neat old freight elevator that I am afraid to take, avoiding your reflection in the mirrored walls. You fumble with the keys, reach into your apt. 4C box, pull out a pile of mail …shuffle through like cards, “Bills, bill, bill, bill, check oooh, bill, bill, Ana?”

You laugh at my childlike handwriting on the envelope, silently compare it to your own, and decide to wait to read it when you get into your apartment. You and pup move into the old elevator, you push 4, and relax into the dark, mirrored wall behind you.

Struggling with the keys to open your apartment door, you go into the kitchen, greeted by Puddy the overweight, psychotic cat, that I saved from the ghetto and graced you with. You then drop your bag on the floor in front of the window that looks out toward the Chrysler Building, walk over and check your messages. Nothing good. “Cal” you yell, noticing a half full glass of water on the counter, then you notice the note. “Bri ... went for a run. Be back in an hour. What are you hungry for? Love, Cal.”

You fall onto the couch, followed by Pup who jumps up to gently lick your chin, then lays down, head on your lap, and sighs. You close your eyes for a moment, then remember the letter from me in your hand, and you open it and giggle at the crappy paper and business envelope that I folded it into. Some things never change.

You then fumble through my words. The letter is my vain attempt to express how disillusioned I have been, how I have suffered, why I have been so distant, and how I am trying, desperately, to come back to earth. And most importantly, how much I miss you. I can only hope that you are smiling now.

Love, Ana

Download of the Day - "My Friend" by Only Living Boy - Check out

Ana's Song of the Day - Upper Write Hand Margin...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear Nanny...

"'And there she was.' Nathaniel replayed the scene in his mind. It flickered behind green-blue eyes.
Tom pulled the crinkled letter from his sweaty shirt pocket, looked left and right, and held the letter out to Nate. 'See?' Nate took the letter gently and opened it."

Dear Nanny -
I am writing this to you because you would have understood. I will kiss it, and blow it into the beautiful wind and ask the universe to carry it to you. I have been planning on telling you the details of my mental demise over a game of bridge and a cocktail smothered in laughter, like reunited friends giggling about the old dead days beyond recall. But this is simply the book jacket version for your perusal, to prepare you for the shock of seeing me at your card table, wherever you may be.

It feels like forever since you passed. I remember you saw it; my darkness hidden behind laughter. You told me that I should write, that you had always wanted to be a writer; it’s a great way to vent frustrations. You told me that you used to keep a diary and sketch ideas, but then you had a family. I remember.

And once when I was particularly down, I slumped in the chair next to your sick bed and without saying a word, or even eluding to your intuition, you chimed in with a story that I will never forget. It was your gentle way of telling me that you empathized with me; you, too had spent 80 years hiding a deep sadness for the sake of your family, and your marriage. You had been tortured by an overwhelming feeling of self-doubt and had been riding a tumultuous wave, forced to cry around corners and hurt yourself in private. You had struggled with depression your entire life.

Do you remember the story? You told me that you were very drawn to the moon, and that you would pray to it, and talk to it like an entity. When your mother was very sick with cancer and you were just a teenager, you spent evenings on the porch rocking chair, staring into the sky. The moon was your only solace. You felt that you were connected to it because when you would squint your eyes, the moon’s rays would reach out toward you, and you could touch them with your fingers. And when your mother died, you damned the moon for not hearing your cries. I have held that story so close.

You and I had something so sacred in common; we were bound by souls that scream, silently.

I have this memory of you, vivid, wrapped in silence and intoxicants. Remember when you lived with my parents? I would make a point to drive to you late and find you sleeping. I used to stare so intently at your tiny, red-stained mouth, watching for signs of breath. Sometimes I was so loaded that I couldn’t decipher between real movement and that created by the television, or the fleeting light from an occasional passing car; you would eventually sigh a muffled snore. Until I was sure that there was life, I wouldn’t leave you.

I recall it distinctly. All of my senses were there with you. Not one hour until my 20th birthday and I had already drowned myself in several intoxicants, and feigned an illness so that I could return home early from an overrated party. I feared that you weren’t breathing. I always feared something. It would overcome me like fog; I would try to mask it with drugs. Anything.

I leaned into the creaky wicker chair and stared out the second-story window, cradled by the slight tickle of freshly-cut grass and crickets. The 11:00 pm quarter moon dripped Mars red, and lingered above the old red barn. She seemed to teeter between a slowly fading weather vane and a vacant robin’s nest atop of the old crab apple tree. Such balance.

Listening to your slow, deliberate breathing was soothing. Your pursed lips, and slightly gaping mouth purred with every exhale; it was a soft rhythm, 3/4 time, a Tchaikovsky waltz. Your weathered, freckled face was washed in moving blue light from a silent television screen ...NY Yankees after hours on Fox five. You never missed it. A shanty Irish Brooklyn lady, you never lost your passion for a night with the Bronx Bombers, even then. I always loved that.

You are content now; this I know in my heart. I was with you when you died. Did you know that? I was there, holding your hand, and so was my best friend, Jesse. We saw it Nan ...all of the pain, anguish, doubt and sadness left your body with your last breath. You were writhing, then suddenly your green eyes opened wide, your mouth twisted wildly into an awestruck grin, and you sighed. And I knew that your years of sadness were gone. The fantastic universe welcomed you into her arms, and you were warm. It must have been so liberating! I wanted so badly to touch that place, not just let you go.

The summer after you passed, when I was 21, I was diagnosed by a Dr. Latondo as Bipolar. I didn’t take my diagnosis seriously. Instead I saw the drugs that I was prescribed as “added bonuses;” they were most excellent additions to my crazy nights filled with drinking, cigarettes, weed, cocaine, boys, pills ...later a smattering of heroine. I was completely dishonest with him, and everyone I knew; I wasn’t ready to tell anyone how I was really feeling, or what I really wanted, or that I was severely bulimic, and that I had no control when it came to the male species, or that I had no self-esteem, or that my moods would fluctuate severely by the hour. I couldn’t open my mouth when the doctor asked me about the emotional mayhem that I had suffered, or the hell that I put my loved-ones through because I was so unstable. Not a soul knew how to take me, what to do with my weird co-dependencies and obsessiveness, or what to expect from minute to minute. Somehow they continued to love me for that one distinct personality that I have ...the one that smiles incessantly, compulsively lies, and is fantastically-fun, too jaded and concerned with popular opinion to say a word of truth.

I think that your daughter and son-in-law really began to tune into my behavior when I got wind of a birthday party that they had planned for me. I panicked because I was going to see dear friends that I hadn’t seen in a while, and broke down and cried “please cancel the party;” I couldn’t bear to see anyone. They were simply attempting to reconnect me with the living, I know, but I couldn’t face anyone for fear of simple conversation, or feeling their disappointment. I was convinced that my old friends would think I had gained weight, or that my complexion wasn’t good, or that I hadn’t progressed enough in the working world, or that my apartment wasn’t interesting enough, or clean enough, or colorful enough, or welcoming enough, or soft enough. Perhaps I wouldn’t dress appropriately, or drink properly, or that when a photo would be taken of me, I would become sick when I saw it because someone, somewhere may have had an ill-opinion of me when they looked at it. What if they felt sorry for me because I was unattractive, or my hair seemed a bit brassy, or my chin and nose were left of center, and that I was almost 25, dating an 18-year-old, and living in apartment above my parent’s house. I was so ashamed of me; I choked.

Somehow, Nanny, I managed to teach High School English until right after Thanksgiving of last year; it finally all caught up with me after years of pretending and suffering in silence. I crashed, I panicked, and humbly gave in; I haven’t been back to teaching since. I have resigned myself to that of a psychomed crash test dummy, in and out of hospital beds and doctors offices, drifting in and out of different drug induced mental states. It has been misery.

I cannot possibly retreat any further. It is here that I will put an end to this debilitating bipolar smog that looms over me like shadow. It is here that I begin my swim back up to the surface into your living; I’m tired of lying spiritless at the bottom of this cesspool.

We will discuss this further Nan, when I arrive. May this explain “why,” assuring all that this is what I want for everyone. No more hospitals, no more antipsychotics, voices, crying fits, laughing fits, jealousy, anger, frustration, yelling, misery, sweetness-and-light followed by complete darkness in a matter of minutes. I will no longer contradict myself and allow my right and left-brain to box. It makes my head hurt, a lot. I’m swimming home to a place where I belong.
I will see you soon - Love, Ana

na's Download of the Day - Elliot Smith "XO"

(Check out the single in the upper right margin.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dear Jesse...

3/10 - Ask
Dear Jesse -
According to the Dalai Lama in "The Book of Awakening," the Sanskrit word for ignorance or confusion is avidya, which means “not knowing.” The Dalai Lama states, “there are several interpretations of what is meant by avidya according to the different philosophical schools and their various views of the fundamental Buddhist doctrine of anatman or no-self. However, the general meaning that is common to all the school is an understanding that there lies a fundamental ignorance at the root of our existence. The reason for this is quite simple. We all know from personal experience that what we deeply aspire to gain is happiness and what we try to avoid is suffering. Yet our actions and our behavior only lead to more suffering and not to the lasting joy and happiness that we seek. This must surely mean that we are operating within the framework of ignorance. This is how we experience the fundamental confusion at the root of our life.”

So true, isn’t it? Our path to happiness is inundated with the life stuff that knocks us down. It’s like running up a down escalator, or climbing a rope that has intermittent splashes of slippery oil on it. You can grab it and pull yourself up, but you’ll probably slip down a bit. And then when we do try to achieve that which makes us happy, something else has to give in order to get one step closer to our personal enlightenment. Perhaps this is karma; a reward system. The more we endure suffering or can learn from it, the greater the reward will be when we reach enlightenment. I wonder if this occurs on different levels. For instance, does an accomplished, wealthy actor feel fulfilled? She/he has all the money they could ever need, all of the recognition, but do they feel that sense of gratification that we are all searching for? Or perhaps there is someone who is married, with children, with a mortgage, a minivan, a dog, a cat, a house in suburbia, a 9-5 job, 2 weeks of vacation per year ...is that her/his nirvana? Is that gratification? Jesse, do you think that my mental illness is my suffering my path to genuine contentment? Are you content?
Love, Ana

Ana's Download of the Day - "The Wagon" - Dinosaur Jr. off of the album "Green Mind" Enjoy it!

Also Check out Ana's Read of the Day... top right margin -

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dear Seth...

2/9 -Darkness
Dear Seth -
It has been so long since I’ve spoken to you. I hope that you are clean. Maybe I should have asked you this while shaking you violently, instead of hugging you and humoring your lies; I just wanted you to feel some sense of “normalcy.” Well Seth, what is it that you are trying to run from with every push of the needle? What fear are you trying to mask? Is it the fear of success? The fear of being acknowledged for your gifts? Are you caught in that angry space between fear and loathing where nothing is good enough?

God, I tried so many times to tip toe you out of that place, but how could I when I was immersed in my own misery? I want so badly for you to be acknowledged for your art. Maybe that will save you. Please don’t allow yourself to be another example of an incredibly talented artist who never rose above his own self-pity to radiate his beauty to the world. You have to let down your guard and learn to empathize. Your pain keeps you from feeling other’s... and your inability to be honest is what keeps you from shining.

Lying only hurts you Seth, and the drugs cannot help. I know. I am empathizing with you. I used to feel sorry for you, but now I feel hope for you. I cannot wait to hear you speak through light, rather than through the lies of a junky. Someday I pray …maybe now. I know what it feels like to want to be numb. Perhaps if you grasp emptiness, and take a stroll with it, rather than inundate it with substances, it will help you. The Dalai Lama, in the "Book of Awakening" places emptiness into its own realm. I leave you with his feeling. I think you will appreciate it:

“When strong emotions arise in you, say attachment or anger, if you examine the experience of that emotion you will see that underlying it is an assumption that there is something objective and real out there which you are holding on to, and on to which you project desirable and undesirable qualities. According to the kind of qualities you project on to a thing or event, you feel either attracted to it or repulsed by it. So strong emotional responses in fact assume the existence of some form of objective reality. However, if you realize that there is no intrinsic reality to things and events then, of course, this will automatically help you to understand that no matter how real and strong emotions may seem, they have no valid basis. Once you know that they are actually based on a fundamental misconception of reality, then the emotions themselves become untenable. On the other hand, if your understanding of emptiness is not thorough, in the sense that you have not succeeded in negating the notion of intrinsicality completely, then of course your attitude towards emotion will be somewhat ambivalent, and you may feel that there is some sense in which it is valid or justified. When you have developed a certain understanding of emptiness, albeit an intellectual one, you will have a new outlook on things and events which you can compare to your usual responses. You will notice how much we tend to project qualities onto the world. More especially, you will realize that most of our strong emotions arise from assuming the reality of something that is unreal.”

Feel better. All my love and hope, Ana

Ana's Download of the Day "Spit On A Stranger" by Pavement

Check out "The Book of Awakening" - (Upper Right Margin)

Dear Jesse...

3/9 - Green
Dear Jesse-
Why is it that the most debilitating of all of the emotions is not only anger, but anger, jealousy, and shame, all wrapped up into a tightly-woven bundle? If you close your eyes and meditate on both anger and jealousy, they seemingly work as a team to knock you down … and then shame finishes you off, leaving you weaker than you were before you started. Jealousy has a more invasive grip, whereas anger is a much more explosive emotion. Anger I picture as a violent storm, whereas jealousy is more like a creeping poison; slow to overcome you, but when it does it is detrimental.

Perhaps Gertrude’s death in Hamlet, when she drank the poison flask of wine that was meant for Hamlet’s demise, is a visual metaphor for creeping jealousy. I mean, think about it; Claudius and Laertes had premeditated Hamlet’s murder by challenging him to a duel with a poisoned foil, and a flask of celebratory wine with a poisoned pearl in it. They thought that it was a no fail plan; either way Hamlet would perish, while his mother looked on in horror. But the fates twisted the denoument, as the audience gripped their seats in dismay, and watched Gertrude down the poisoned flask in honor of her son’s elaborate sword fight move. Gertrude did not die a quick, painless death …she voiced all of the negative emotions inherent in the play on her sweating, panic stricken, dying face. The poison crept up on her while we watched, unable to change her fate. And as you know, jealousy, if not handled properly, always leads to explosive anger.

For instance, remember when we were 7, and at one of your birthday pool parties, and I was violently jealous of your blonde school friend. Tina? Was that her name? I hated her! You were my best friend, and who the hell did she think she was? That primadona! She had her little pink bag, and her cute little pink jellies, and she had the nerve to sit next to you when you were blowing out the candle on your birthday cake. That jealousy inched up my spine until I couldn’t take it anymore. Me! Tiny, goofy me. I can’t quite remember what incident finally provoked my jealousy to the next level, but all I remember is pushing my long braids and wet bangs away from my face, leaning down toward the shallow end of the pool, and punching Tina right in the face.

Initially it was truly gratifying, but then with every one of her tears, shame fell on me like rain, drenching me, and I was forced by my own instincts to say, “I’m sorry, Tina. I didn’t mean to punch you.” Like hell I didn’t! God, what a vicious cycle.
Love, Ana

Ana's Download of the Day - "All Apologies" by Nirvana on "In Utero"

(Check out great read in upper right margin)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dear... Read On -

3/3 -Obsessed
Dear Jesse -
All I could listen to today was Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett Tribute, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” Everything else made me uncomfortable. I tried listening to the Jimi Hendrix Blues Album, but it made me so restless. When Jack plays his guitar it relaxes me. He plays so beautifully; so effortlessly, like Jimi, but sweeter. His sister Elizabeth is a remarkable musician, like Jack. Her music exudes her sadness. It is her catharsis; It cradles me, and I melt,just like when I hear “Case of You” by Joni Mitchell. You should hear them. Someday.

Practice: “How’s Marc? Really ...he’s such an awesome guy. You two really lucked out! Man, I cannot remember the last time I saw you two ...was it your wedding? Wow! That was a long time ago. God, that was a beautiful wedding; on the beach! And the dolphins ... remember when the school of dolphins swam behind you when you took your vows? That was really magical. What’s that? Oh yes, we’ve got to get together soon! Perhaps we could do something this weekend? No, I promise I won’t bail out. I promise. I miss and love you, too. Give Marc a big hug for me. Bye.”
Love, Ana

3/6 - Hiding
Dear Briar -
I am so dizzy today. I can’t get my head straight. I don’t know if it is the weather? It’s like cold pea soup outside ... that weird damp that makes you shiver all over. It’s not a November damp ...but a March damp. It’s different. This damp smells like life, not death. I can just make out the green mossy roof of the boathouse outside of the window, but the fog has eaten up any inkling of the pond. It’s so invasive. I wonder if it’s foggy in NY today? It probably bugs you because of the humidity; it messes your closely-shorn curls. My hair actually looks better in pea soup. It gets a little wavy, like at the beach. That’s what this dizziness feels like right now. I feel like I have just been rolled in the waves, and I am fighting the shell bottom and the tide, trying to keep my balance and composure. When I look down, and the tide is rolling out, it washes my feet and ankles, and the sand moves so quickly. Can you picture it? And then I am walking up the beach toward a nap ... and everything saltwater spins, like my body isn’t sure if it is out of the water yet. You know that feeling? That is my brain.
Love, Ana

3/7 - Truth
Dear Briar -
Pea soup again today ... but I can see some skunkweed or something emerging across the pond. The contrast is inspiring. It’s bright green, against the stark, wet bank of the slate green pond.
I have a question that has been burning Briar; how have you perceived my bizarro behavior all of these years? Granted, my ups and downs were always hidden behind the guise of laughter, airheadedness, drunkenness, etc.. Actually, you have always brought out the fun in me, the laughter, the actress, the entertainer, the partyer, the child. Very rarely have
I been a miserable sod in your presence. I saved that for my poor, unfortunate family who would secretly hold up their crucifix’ and spread holy water when I would “grace” them with my gloom.

So what did you see me as, nuts? I miss that mania. That’s what it is called. Briar, you wouldn’t even recognize me, which is one of the reasons that I am so embarrassed to call you. I’m numb. I crashed.
I cannot find my inner party. I don’t remember how to flirt. I’m completely self-absorbed. It’s gross. I’m afraid of confrontation;
I can’t find that exhibitionist within anymore, Bri, you know the one who would pole dance on a subway car at 3:00 am. Remember? I can tell that it makes my dad sad. I overheard him say to someone that I have lost my sparkle. I’m trying to find the gap of silence, between sadness and light. I am going to climb in and experience it, and try to rekindle my spirit for the sake of living, ... for friendship. Did you think that my ability to do anything, but my inability to hold onto anything was a result of flakiness? Did you think it was because I was a Gemini?
Could you tell that I was riding on a pendulum? Was I overbearing?
I wish that I could stop thinking about it.
Love, (your once interesting friend) Ana

3/7 - Think
Dear Jesse -
It’s remarkable how women can be so multifaceted. We can be nurturing in one breath, on the defense in the next, fiendish in the next, then underhanded, followed by guilt-ridden, then flirtatious, then angry, then sad, followed by laughter. Remember how you and I used to use our beguiling feminine ways to get what we wanted, when what we wanted simply consisted of free beer, shots and intoxicants of some nature. Remember? We mastered the art of male manipulation. Well, I’ve been thinking, who says that has to end with marriage, or age 30? It’s empowering. It’s therapeutic. Do you still bat eyelashes? I think that I need to start to doing that again. It feels good. I want to feel good again. Do you feel ok?
Love, Ana

3/7 - Touch
Dear Mother Nature -
I love it when it rains. Amazing things happen when it rains. The dogs just went completely insane barking, and I simply thought that Jack was here to visit. So I peeked out the upstairs window, and framed by the wet pane was a car that I didn’t recognize. Usually, in a situation like this, I would hide upstairs, panicking until the car would drive away, but today was different. I ran downstairs, barefoot, sweater inside out, unbrushed teeth, totally disheveled, and I answered the door. It was beautiful, blue eyed Nick Jones and his mother. Nick Jones, an endearing senior student of mine, drove all the way to my parents house to deliver a basket of flowers ... roses, daisies, pansies, tulips, honeysuckle and greens arranged in a white basket. He stood there, a drop of rain dripping down his cheek, telling me how everyone missed me, and gently handed me a card signed from all of the students in the class. I hugged him, then breathed in the color, and like magic, I didn’t care about my appearance, my ugly winter white feet in a muddy puddle, or my fear of seeing people ... I was touched. I felt. It’s moments like this that I surface for air, breathe deep, and remember what alive feels like.
Thank you, Ana

3/8 - Quiet
Dear Roxy -
... and then there is that other side of feeling that I had forgotten about. Do you remember the one I mean? It is the side of feeling called anger/jealousy/rage/pain, all confused into a spinning tryst. I guess for every good there is bad; the yin and yang of life; the ebb and flow of existence; Newton’s law of physics. And I felt it yesterday Roxy. It overcame me like a freezing cold wave. I lost control of my emotions. Poor Jack took the brunt of it. But instead of hiding from it, or apologizing for my rage, I lived it. It was a whole new experience.
I screamed. I cried. It was over. It didn’t linger with me for the rest of the day like it used to. You can empathize I am sure, but wherever you are, I pray that you can no longer feel these things.

After you passed on I felt your young presence; you were in the wind.
I remember sitting outside in the cornfield at my parent’s house in Pennsylvania, and composing a letter to your family, desperately trying to express to them the beautiful impact that you had made on my life, and
I felt you. There was no heaviness, no cancer, just soft contentment. That was one of first moments in my life that I knew peace. Then I cried, and pleaded with God, or the universe to tell me why ...why such a young, beautiful soul would suffer then be snuffed out like a candle. What is the purpose? Somehow an elderly person’s passing is justified by her or his age, and the length of the life that he/she lived. But how do we explain the loss of young life? At the expense of your life, and the shattered hearts of those who love you, do you know the answers to the mystery now? Is there a universal truth? Is the body really a microcosm of the universal macrocosm? Is this life actually some form of purgatory? Who decided that you should go?
Miss you,

Ana's Download of the Day - "Madcap Laughs" by Syd Barrett
(A Comrade... and misunderstood genius...)
Please read about him (upper right margin) and enjoy his whimsicality.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dear Briar...

2/28 - Inspiration
Dear Briar -

This should be the last day of February, but it’s a leap year. Weird. Who the hell ever decided that every four years there should be another day tacked onto February? It boggles me. I wonder if you’re outside right now, Central Park, perhaps, romping around with Pup. If you are sitting up on the rocks, you know the ones that I mean, you can probably really feel impending March; in like a lion, out like a lamb. Truly, the only solace that I found today is in the wind. I sat down on my parent’s balcony and listened to March. It’s craz ... I can hear the seasons changing . Really. If you listen closely, you really can hear grass unearthing. Even in New York Bri, I bet that you can hear impending spring, too. Just listen to the space between sounds; spring is there. It grows like a crescendo, and tickles the senses. Spring air activates the melanin in our skin, new freckles emerge like onion grass and hair becomes a bit more unruly.

The sun is higher now. Did you notice? It washes us in light; no more long shadows. Soon the bullfrogs will be back again, but I won’t hold my breath until summer. This year I will enjoy the transition. I will dance on the Solstice, experience the green moment, taste April‘s rain and hug Mayflowers. I am an existentialist …today. It is so beautiful here in June when the green is still bright, and the day is long. I swear that it is enchanted. There is this whole fairy world that lives around the pond; it is fantastic. It is so lush, green, and the fragrant wisteria climbs the spiral staircase to my apartment. I cannot believe that you haven’t been here. I’ve had many glasses of wine out on my patio, and cheered to you and the moon, Bri. It’s magical in summer. I want to share it with you someday, soon. I think that fresh air and green grass is going to help me through this.

Bri, I am so inspired by the fabulous creative enthusiast/existential writer/artist, Sark, who wrote “A Creative Companion: How to Free Your Creative Spirit.” The book is fantastic, hand-written and has wonderful illustrations. I want to give the author a huge hug and let her/him know that this book has been a source of contentment and inspiration for me. You would love it. There is a tree illustration in it that reminds me of the Shell Silverstein book that you gave me once, “The Giving Tree.” That was one of the most thoughtful, beautiful gifts that I have ever received. Thank you. Here is a passage from Sark that I want to share with you entitled, How to Be Really Alive. I know you’ll dig it:
“Live juicy. Stamp out conformity. Stay in bed all day. Dream of gypsy wagons. Find snails making love. Develop an astounding appetite for books. Drink sunsets. Draw out your feelings. Amaze yourself. Be ridiculous. Stop worrying. Now. If not now, then when? Make you’re your favorite word. Marry yourself. Dry your clothes in the sun. Eat mangoes naked. Keep toys in the bathtub. Spin yourself dizzy. Hang upside down. Follow a child. Celebrate an old person. Send a love letter to yourself. Be advanced. Try endearing. Invent new ways to love. Transform negatives. Delight someone, wear pajamas to a drive in movie. Allow yourself to feel rich without money. Be who you truly are and the money will follow. Believe in everything. You are always on your way to a miracle. The miracle is you.”
Love, Ana

3/1 - Realization
Dear Briar -

I have a whole lot of time to think, but I don’t mind. And when I don’t want to think, I read. I read a lot. I actually cradle my books like I used to covet cigarettes. It’s weird, but I’m learning, I guess.

I wonder if the psychomeds are altering my brain so much that I am actually retaining everything in some other portion of my head. Perhaps they have inadvertently made space for a my new found perception of old files.. I don’t know, but I do know that many of the books that I am rereading for the sake of not thinking are having a profound effect;

I have a new understanding, I think. For instance, Sylvia Plath so eloquently referred to it as living within the vacuum of a bell jar.
I used to think that being bipolar was much more violent than that. My depression was more torrential, less predictable. I would do outlandishly generous things one minute, and would spiral into tears within a day ... drowning my confusion with wine, or Guinness, or pot, whatever was available. Definitely pills. My mother must have wondered what happened to her supply of Xanax. They were my solace, washed down with red wine. And then I would wake, function, and start the cycle all over again. The worst was if I didn’t have any drugs at my disposal, then food became my tool and my comfort, followed by the same pattern of complete elation, then a vicious downward spiral within a day. I would sink to seclusion, tears, anger, food followed by guilt, . . . then hours of puking. Psychedelic yawn. Tossing my cookies. However you would like to refer to it, it was painful and gratifying in tandem. Sick. Depression was torture; underneath my guise of happiness, my soul screamed and choked for air.

But now I understand the bell jar. Lithium is a vacuum. I smile, but I feel nothing. It’s like I am in a vortex of my life, and the film called my reality dances across the screen surrounding me. I can see love, hate, fear, sex, passion, longing, truth, and touch slowly move down through my film credits, illuminated by the red sunrise, and the setting brilliant moon; I can appreciate it like a painting, but I can’t feel it like music. I am in the jar.
XO Ana

Ana's Downloads of the Day

"A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" - Bob Dylan

"Workin' on leavin' the Livin'" - Modest Mouse

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Through the Eyes of Nathaniel...

From "Dear Prudence" (Taken From the Debut Novel.) Link Above
Ranger Tom had promised Nathaniel that he would update him as to what had happened to Ana. Nathaniel asked that he not tell him if she dies, and was left to be by himself again, on the lonely stretch of quiet beach that he considered his home. “Stop thinking that!” He smacked himself continually in the forehead, trying to erase her memory, but she wouldn’t fade. Blue face and wet blonde hair, “there was still an ounce of life, right? Just an ounce, please?”

He fell back onto the sand, burrowed his tanned feet, and buried his head into his knees. Then he cried like he had never cried before. It was a sadness that was primal, like an animal who had lost her mother in a forest; a raccoon who had lost his mate. He cried for Ana, he cried for his past, he cried to unfetter his mind, for things he had done, for those he had hurt, and for those that he had lost. Most of all, he cried because he was out of anger and tired of himself. He rolled onto his side in the late afternoon sunshine, and focused on a sailboat out in the distant water. He envisioned himself sailing on it, felt the gentle rocking motion, felt the salt breeze on his dewy skin, and drifted into dream.

When he awoke, chilled by the orange and purple setting sun, he jumped up, gathered some driftwood and twigs, and headed back to his humble island home amidst a clearing in the tall brush. He started a fire, but had to venture out to find more kindling, brush, dried sea grass, anything to burn, and happened upon Ana’s backpack that he had thrown in an attempt to lighten her load. He stood and stared at it for a moment, almost afraid to touch it, for his unfounded fear of harming her somehow. The outside looked sun bleached from saltwater. It was almost dry. He slung it over his shoulder, and took it home. It was a connection to her, and made him feel like he’d done something right. It felt good.

He stared at the firelight dance on the misshapen form, changing it from backpack, to frog, to dragon. It reminded him of the coat rack in his childhood room; it took the form of anything remotely frightening when illuminated momentarily by headlights. He sidled over, unzipped it, and peeked inside. Lying at the bottom of a soup of saltwater and shells was a waterlogged pile of envelopes, wrapped in twine. He turned it upside down, gingerly untied the twine, revealed slightly smeared, addressed letters, lumped together and falling to pieces. He slowly peeled the first letter from the top of the stack, and the photo remnant of Ana’s dog Sherman fell onto his lap. He picked it up, looked at it in the firelight and placed it in his pocket. Then he read the first envelope.
“Briar Bailey 124 Apartment 4C, 28th Street, New York, NY ....”
Regardless of the water, the address was completely legible.

“Jesse Giovani 11 Dean Avenue, Zionsville, PA ... and so on, and so forth. There were loads of them, many repeats of the same address. Nathaniel spread them out around the fire in an attempt to dry them out, most typed, some handwritten. “A boyfriend, maybe?” He stared at the first letter addressed to Briar, and carefully peeled open the envelope attempting not to tear the wet letter inside. He lay the pages out in front of him and started to sift through the erratic, water-smudged letters:

Dear Briar -
Where should I begin? Having suffered the worst episode/reaction to MMedication ever in my history of ever – two evenings ago, I have done nothing but sleep for days. My doctor tried out a drug called Xyprexa on me, . . . it hurts to even say the name (it should be named Xyprexa really wrecks ya). It was seemingly the root of all evil. Brian, I couldn’t walk or move my mouth (severe cotton mouth) three bong hits multiplied by 1000, and my legs convulsed as if they were their own entities, for hours. It was truly a nightmare! I finally fell asleep in the early AM, and slept all of Thursday away.
I went to see Dr. Freedman today, (he’s my sympathetic shrink) and he’s trying me on yet something else; lithium. Despite all of the negative connotations associated with the (L) word, I decided to give it a shot. . I mean, what could it possibly hurt? I ‘ve been a crash test dummy for the psychotropic pharmaceutical companies as of late. I have taken two doses thus far (knock on wood) and somehow I am optimistic.
Bri, ever since my hospitalization in late November, I have had horrific experiences with medication. First, I was taking a cocktail of this evil substance called Geodon, cradled by Trileptal, Buspar and Prozac. Geodon had horribly debilitating affects; I fell asleep in school while trying to teach, only to be discovered by my supervisor; the ultimate in humiliation. Later, when the dosage was cut down, I started to have really bizarre and uncomfortable reaction in the evenings, around 8:00. It was like clockwork; my eyes would begin to shut, while my legs and body would start to twitch. Weird. I was then incapacitated until approximately 11:00 pm. Jack thought that I was losing my mind. So then, my doc tried me on another; Abilify. Talk about weird, . . . I had horrible sight impairment! My vision actually blurred to the point where I couldn’t read to my 10th grade English class. Thank God we were reading Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye; cursing is key! If you want to get a kid motivated to read, Salinger is your writer. ‘Goddamn’ is the most used adjective in the story. I’ll write later. I wish that I could hear you. I miss you so much it hurts. Please believe this. Love, Ana

...stay tuned for another plummet into Ana's Psychi in the next installment.

"Dear Prudence" is inspired by RADIOHEAD in all capacities!

Download-of-The-Day - "Exit Music" off of "Kid A" - RADIOHEAD (Below are two versions. I have included the Christopher O' Reilly Piano version as well! The entire album is STUNNING.