"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dear Jimi...Touch

3/31- Touch

Dear Jimi -

Unless you have reincarnated, I know that you can feel me talking to you, even 34 years after you passed. You, too, believed in spirit guides, and trusted that every person has at least one to help them through this life; either a brother or a sister from the spirit plane, or a loved one from a past life that the person had a really strong connection with. I have been so uninspired for the past couple of days, and I had begun to doubt myself, my talents, my dreams, my beliefs; I panicked when I saw the film “American Splendor,” about the comic strip. I am pretty sure that it came out post-1970. It was illustrated by Harry Crumb. Remember him? There is a scene in it where the notoriously dark and skeptical wife of the main character says to herself, in reference to her husband who announces that he has been asked to appear on the highly accredited David Letterman show, “ideas of grandeur” as a symptom of bipolarity a.k.a Manic Depression.

My mind went into a tailspin; “Ideas of Grandeur? Is everything I am striving for in vain? What if, what if, what if, what if I lose all inspiration, and can no longer write, or what if this medication that I am taking is in the process of turning off all receptors to creativity? What if I am no longer sensitive? What if I give up? What if I am making a mistake? What if I am giving jack the wrong advice? What if I am taking advice too literally? What if I can no longer feel music, or see color in light? What if I lose my passion for moonlight and my limbs no longer stretch toward sunlight, or what if I no longer believe in fairies?”
I began to panic. When you are in this state of mind, it is really easy to sink into static, where you feel like you are stuck behind a television screen, being pelted by viscous white/black electricity. I think that you can probably relate, judging from your musical vision. There has never been a musician like you; you made sweet love through your guitar, and the result is pure color. And then I had a dream today, when I drifted into midday slumber out of frustration. I dreamed that I was walking through a dark, fragrant forest, and the only light on the path was from an egg-shaped moon, seeping through the trees. I couldn’t make out what was beneath me, but it sounded like I was walking on a gravel path. I could feel it on my feet, and although the rocks were seemingly sharp, they didn’t seem to hurt the soles of my feet. I felt a cool breeze rustling trees, and I felt a chill, I looked down at myself and noticed that I was completely naked, and illuminated by the evening. I kept walking and listening to the wind, feeling my hair flap gently against my back, tickling it. Then I heard water in the distance, and I was drawn to it.

I then looked down and my Dog Sherman was there, not necessarily paying attention to me, but passing by on the path, I called out to him, but he didn’t acknowledge me. I then reached a clearing in the woods, and I looked into the distance and saw tiny flickering lights and I heard flutes playing a whimsical tune, along with earthy drums. The air smelled of hyacinth and burning sandalwood, and I noticed that the ground became more difficult to walk upon. There was another path that forked off of the path away from the music and light that was more like the one that I had been walking on, but I decided to go toward the lights.

I pushed through the trees, and the briars kept scratching my naked skin, and the rocks underfoot were slippery and sharp, but I was determined to reach the mesmerizing sound, cushioned by rushing water and twinkling lights. I climbed down a rocky embankment, pushed through some briars, and witnessed the most beautiful moonlit scene that I have ever encountered. There were beautiful child-like people dancing around a fire next to a waterfall that collected into a crystal pool of water. The egg-shaped moon danced on the surface. One man took my hand, and led me to a soft cushion made of forest ferns, and sat me down. He and I were both completely unaffected by the fact that I was naked; it was a very liberating feeling.

Everyone was illuminated by the fire, and by tiny lanterns made of glass, and most everyone had some sort of instrument to play. There was one male being, and even though he had long white hair, his face and small stature was still child-like. He was stirring a pot of something that everyone was drinking, but not a soul spoke. It is as if they communicated through music, dancing, and body language. He ladled out a cup of the pink drink, and handed it to me with a wise smile and twinkling eyes. I nodded, “Thank you,” I implied, and I sniffed the drink. It smelled like hibiscus tea and dandelion wine. I drank from the clay cup, and tasted a sweet, powerful flavor.

Next thing I recall I was feeling invincible and warm with the sweet drink, and I stood atop a smooth rock that sat among a pile, overlooking the pool of water. I looked into the water, and Sherman was swimming around like a seal. I looked up to the top of the water fall, and at the top, next to a tree on another rock was jack, standing in silence, watching the water rush down. Although we were far from each other, and we couldn’t read one another’s facial expressions, I felt him read my thoughts, and I his. It was a fantastic sensation. He wanted me to join him at the top of the waterfall. I feared that there was no way for me to get to him, but then he said, “just fly to me.” And like I had forgotten about my ability to fly I thought, “Oh yeah,” and I effortlessly lifted into the air, far above the beautiful pool of water, far above the little beings dancing in the forest, and far above the water fall, straight into Jack’s long, lanky arms. Without words he smiled and took my hand, and we flew up toward the egg-shaped moon together, into the indigo sky.

It felt so real, and I woke up inspired. I listened to your first album, “Are You Experienced,” and when “May This Be Love,” came on, I dropped to my knees and wept. Your song is so beautiful it hurts. The drums and the guitar introduction truly capture a waterfall:

Nothing can harm me at all
My worries seem so very small
With my waterfall
I can see my rainbow calling me
Through the misty breeze of my waterfall”

I then opened "The Inner World of Jimi Hendrix" by Monika Dannemann, your fiancee; I paged through it and cried. That book is so fantastic; she is such a gifted painter, and her perception of your music as painting is remarkable. Although I cannot help to think how painful it must have been for her to create the book; I’m sure that your spirit and living vicariously through her painting helped her through. It must have also been cathartic for her. My heart bleeds when I read it; your vision combined with her writing and painting exemplifies beauty. To inspire her to paint a depiction of “May This Be Love,” she asked you about the meaning of the song and its lyrics –

“. . . he explained that he was talking about the ever-flowing stream of inspiration, represented by the image of a waterfall. Water is a very powerful spiritual force. The waterfall represents life, movement, constant change. Jimi said it generates powers, and as long as his river of inspiration flowed he would have no worries, Jimi told me that the words ‘my rainbow calling me’ refer to his destiny and task on earth to convey his own special messages. He felt that there were three main sources from which his knowledge came. One is recollection of the inner knowledge, which can only be remembered by awakening one’s own spirit through thinking, meditation and suffering. The second source of knowledge is remembering astral experiences. The third is inspiration by other spirits.”

Perhaps my inspirational dream I had today was an astral experience. The sensations were phenomenal, the feeling of the earth, the rocks under foot, the briars cutting me, the sensation of drink, the warmth from the fire, the spray from the waterfall, the twinkle in the man’s eye, the feeling of flying, and scent and warmth of Jack’s skin when I flew into his arms. My senses were alive. I remember another different experience that I had with astral travel. Jack and I had broken it off, and I had fallen into a deep pit of depression, existing solely on cigarettes.

I remember one night, I sat on my couch to meditate, in an attempt to settle my mood. I felt my spirit leave my body, and I saw what it was seeing, but I wasn’t consciously aware of where it was going. It felt like it was attached to my by rubber bands of some sort. I watched it travel above my home like light, down a highway, above another highway until it happened upon a landmark that I recognized near Jack’s home. I remember the sensation of crying, but my soul was on a mission, and I was too curious to consciously pull out of the meditation. My soul traveled over his little town, over the lights on his street, and looked down upon him, sitting in his yard, playing the guitar. It was twilight. My soul reached down toward him, and his hands reached up toward my soul, and we embraced, and held each other, melting. I remember that I didn’t want to let go, but something made me. And when I awoke from my meditation, I cried a primal, healing cry, just letting go of sadness, until I fell asleep.

The next day, I spoke to Gwen, his mom on the phone, and I shared my crazy experience with her, and she gasped, “ What time was that approximately?” I told her around 9:00 pm, and she said that jack had come home from wherever around twilight, seemed down, and grabbed his guitar to go sit in the yard and vent. Who knows. I hope that you and Monika have been able to meet all of these years on the spirit plane.

Thank you for your inspiration, musical color, and divine wisdom -

Ana xo

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Frieda..."soul"

3/29 - ?
Dear Frieda – "soul"

I don’t know, but I am beginning to think that inherently a great deal of my childhood has to do with my current personality disorder. I know that you told me that although that may be the case, that we cannot hold onto the past experience that caused the psychological pain, or cognitive therapy will be in vain. The past is the past, you can only treat the present, right? I don’t know ...it seems as if the more I take the things that happened to me out of my memory, twirl them up like pasta, and drop them neatly onto my plate for closer examination, I feel some sort of relief.

I’m not inspired right now ...and I’m not going to get upset about this. In fact, I just want to close my eyes and not think about anything; I just want to plant my face into a pillow and sleep sweetly for hours, and hours. I cannot say anything unusual. I cannot make any keen observations. My eyes will not even open into my “soul,” in fact I don’t feel like I have one right now. Where is my soul? I have been so busy analyzing other people’s behaviors, that I’ve been ignoring my basic needs ...such as sleep. I bet that happens to you Frieda. You must hear so many problems. Do you feel like your being pelted with little balls of negativity by your patients?

Do you have to turn it off? Do you have to put up an invisible shield so that you remain untouched by all of the darkness that you encounter? Do you learn? Does it strengthen your relationships by talking to people who suffer with their own problems?

I’m not ready to talk.
Good Night, Ana

(Download Ana's Song of the Day...top right)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dear Janice... Hurt

The Eve 3/27- Hurt

Dear Janice -

Sadly I think that you were one of us, and nobody recognized it because of your “raw iron soul,” as Jim Morrison so eloquently put it. You are a legend; you set the standard for a hard-living, hard-loving, and hard-drinking Blues singing mama, but from what I gather, your perception of yourself was not good, and it led to your Heroin overdose in 1970.

Apparently you had a seemingly happy childhood, but your transition into womanhood was difficult; I can relate. As a teenager, you tended to gain weight, your hair became unruly, and you developed scarring acne, that not only scarred your face, but your self-image; then you became rebellious, drinking and drugging, you avoided mirrors, and became an outcast among your peers. But luckily for you, your voice cradled you, but not long enough.

Man, you were so remarkable; when I listen to your music, it exudes so much passion that I can taste it ...but I can also see something. I can see that darkness in your eyes, that unfounded shame, that feeling like you weren’t worthy of the attention that you received, that self-loathing, and fear of rejection, like what happened to you as a high school kid. It all ate at you, and it is evident in photos. In studio shots you look completely lost; “who am I?” Your embarrassed of the camera, afraid that the photographer doesn’t think you are worthy of being a subject.

It is obvious; only models learn the art of faking contrived photography, but we unfortunately think that we aren’t worthy if we don’t emulate their grace. When truly, like in wildlife photography, I think that the best photos are candid photos; the pictures that capture the spirit in someone’s eyes or gaze, or the truth behind a smile or a frown.

The most remarkable photos of you, the one’s that capture your exquisite beauty and spirit are shots of you in mid-performance; you were seductive, alive, and beautiful. I wish you could have seen that; maybe you’d still be around. I know what it’s like to hate mirrors.

I wonder if you used to starve yourself, too? Perhaps your diet consisted of whiskey, cigarettes, and an occasional dropper full of liquid acid, etc.. You probably thought that it was a sure fire way to stay thin, right? I did that for a while, although my “meal” of choice was gin, and a whole lot of it. I did throw in olives from time to time; that’s a vegetable, right? Oh, and if I became hungry, I would simply smoke a cigarette, or ten. Did you do that?

But my favorite self-loathing remedy was to simply poison myself. I would eat two bowls of cereal, would look in the mirror, hate what I saw, and run to my “drawer” and grab the little brown bottle, well aware that it would make me violently ill for the next four hours, or so. I had better come up with an excuse for my flu-like behavior, quick (I can hardly type this without getting sick). It was called Syrup of Ipecac, and I forget how I discovered it, but I did. To this moment, I cannot encounter anything that even remotely reminds me of the stuff without gagging, or worse (talk about a powerful conditioned response).

Although I have grown away from the physically debilitating part of the eating disorder affliction, it still manifests itself in different ways; Frieda, my cognitive therapist says that it is a control issue, not a weight issue. I agree. I used to try to purge my negative feelings, not necessarily food. I could control what would enter and exit my body, when I had no control over my emotions, pendulum-like mood, and sometimes my behavior. I had a completely warped perception of who I was, and what I saw, hidden behind a huge smile for the rest of the world; I hated.

I wish that I could have shared this with you earlier.

(Download Janice.... upper right)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dear jesse ... Peek

3/27 - Peek

Dear Jesse -

In addition to jealousy, anger, and shame, I think that doubt ranks up there as one of the most intrusive feelings. It takes over like Georgia kudzu. It is overwhelming, and has the power to shatter confidence like a mirror, sending you back to start. It makes you stand back, cower and cringe, “what if?” You feel invisible, intimidated, vulnerable, and you search your mind for safety, tiptoeing around what may be your rabbit hole; your unorthodox path to your answer to “who am I?” Certainly the path to safety has soft, green grass, blue skies, health insurance and a 401 K plan attached to it, but if a walk in the park is not all you are searching for in this lifetime, and if there is something else that you feel you are to contribute to mankind, then the tiptoe will leave you ungratified.

The most interesting things are found at the end of a lonely road. As long as you hold onto your vision, you wont be afraid of the dark. You wont even need a flashlight; your passion will illuminate the path like moonlight, just wear good shoes to avoid overturned ankles.

I have made some very rash decisions in my almost three-decade existence, so I completely understand my mother’s worry when I announce that “I am not going back to teaching. No way. It is not for me. I want to write. Teaching is a career, and I want writing to be my career. I love it, and I want to mix business with pleasure. The world of education is too confining for me.” My mother just looks at the safety aspect of it;
“Ana . . . how can I put this. You’ve got issues! Teaching is such a great package! Health care. You’ve got prescriptions, and psychiatrists ...how are you going to afford health coverage?”

“Mom,” I said, “I’ll work, and I’ll work a lot. I’m not concerned with status; I will sling hash, throw beer across a counter for tips, mow lawns ...whatever it takes to allow me to create. I won’t be happy doing anything else. I’m humble, mom. I’ll be using my brain to tap into my soul. Don’t worry.”

She looked at me, half-smiling, wanting to believe in me, but strangled by the “D” word. “Okay,” she grinned. Turned on her heel, and marched upstairs to get ready for work.

I have always felt so conflicted with my parents; I feel guilty because they work so hard (there’s the unfounded ‘g’ word, again). Not that I don’t show some muscle, but I feel like I don’t work hard enough for their standards. I want them to enjoy the fruits of their labors, and travel like your parents, and spend more time with their friends and their grandchildren, … not as baby sitters. I want to give back to them; I feel like I owe them something for being such a burden all of these years, but I guess that is the risk that they took by having me. Who knew what was dancing in the sky in the early morning of June 4, 1973? My soul recipe is definitely a challenging cocktail of ingredients, and the stars were definitely tipsy that day.

Oh well, I’ll work with my dizzy assets, will give back to the universe, and contribute something to the other whirling souls who may need to know that they are not alone, or to a quiet soul who may need some comic relief.

But I cannot contribute if I take the safe route; there is too much to learn without a flashlight. I guarantee that if you look up the biography of anyone who has contributed something fantastic to our world, you would find that she/he didn’t take the cushy path to get there. There were sacrifices made, risks taken, and lots of doubt thrown in her/his general direction, perhaps even negativity and turned up noses.

We certainly are a judgmental breed, aren’t we? I guess that it is much safer to criticize others, than to unzip ourselves and see what is inside. Take Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. Buddha for instance. Apparently he was born into royalty around 566 BC, and a seer predicted that he would either become a great king, or he would save humanity. His father, in fear that his son would not follow his route, raised Siddhartha in a wealthy, hedonistic palace in order to protect his son from any human suffering. Siddhartha, however, saw four sights: a sick man, a poor man, a beggar, and a corpse. Those visions filled him sorrow and passion, and in turn he dedicated himself to finding a way to end human suffering, by leaving his lavish existence, including a wife and family. Through his suffering and yogic meditation, and spiritual discovery, Siddhartha became Buddha (The Awakened One), Buddhism happened.

Jimi Hendrix; guitar innovator. Thirty plus years later, “Electric Ladyland” still blows my mind. He blazed a musical trail, braiding crazy talent, psychedelic experimentation, and spiritual hysteria into a sound that has been attempted, but never emulated. He changed the face of music with sheer passion, long before “video killed the radio star.” And he started out playing R&B with Little Richard and The Isley Brothers and felt confined by one genre of music. See, he gave it all up, took a risk, moved to NYC, and played the club circuit. He knocked people over with his originality, and the rest is history.

I cannot forget about the great, passionate female writers who were forced to mask their work under male names; women weren’t worthy of education, or being acknowledged. I remember learning in a Feminist Literature Class that among the brave women who broke the mold, the Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Anne, and Emily had to publish a book of poems under the pseudonyms of Currer, Acton, and Ellis Bell in 1846.

They have inspired me to tell the caterpillar who I am.
Love, Ana

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dear Briar...Twister

The evening of 3/26 - Twister

Dear Briar -

This is a real trip isn’t it? Life. We are like game pieces. “King me,” or “I won,” “Sorry,” or “I’ll take Entertainment, please,” or “Oh Balderdash,” I forgot “You sunk my battleship,” and “Park Place for $5000.” “Right hand red, left foot blue,” Briar. What will it be? I wonder who’s playing our pieces, or if we are in complete control like the Caterpillar said. “Survey Says,” I don’t think so. There are just too many coincidences to be chalked up as such. Is “worthwild a word?” “Connect Four.”

I used to think that it was all a game, and that death would be a game, too. I began to compose these letters with the intention that they would be my vain attempt at saying goodbye to those that have touched my life, and given me life, if in the event that I had to fly. It’s really hard feeling this way, and I’ve felt like a burden for so long. I don’t know exactly how I would have done it, but it would have been far away from everyone I loved, so that they didn’t have to deal with funeral preparations, and the unnecessary pain of having to see my lifeless body. I would have just given my letters to everyone ...but then the other day happened.

I had an appointment with Frieda, and I was feeling unusually low, although I pretended to be ok. The entire time I drove there, I tried to plot my suicide, half serious half depressed-think. When my appointment was over, I decided to drive to my sister’s house to visit, in search for some solace. When I walked in, my mom was there working in the office, and my sister was at the doctor with little Jane who was sick. I descended the stairs to the den, and my mom greeted me with a great big smile from the office on the right, and on the left, Ellijah’s 6-year old eyes lit up and he yelled, “Ana ... did you miss me,” he said with his little arms outstretched, “Is that why you are here?”

I melted onto the couch next to him, and he curled up onto my lap and gave me a great big hug, and showed me his missing tooth. I hugged him and kissed his freckled nose and his blonde hair. “How are you El?” I said.

“Good, . . . I missed you! Would you like to go to the movies with me sometime? We could go see ‘Home on the Range,’ just like when we went to see the ‘Cat in the Hat.’”

Then he whispered so my mom, his Gaga couldn’t hear, “Maybe we could get some candy again, and play some video games.” He giggled deviously. It was our secret. He continued to tell me all about the Bugs Bunny cartoon that he loved, wide green eyes smiling, and his voice, dripping with love drifted off, and I knew at that moment, choking on my own selfishness that I couldn’t possibly ever take my life. It would break little Eli’s heart. He just wouldn’t understand, and like Jack has said to me on several occasions, “you would shatter a piece of everyone who loves you, and they’d never be the same.”

I spun and got a “free turn,” Briar.
I am back in the game.
Love, Ana

Friday, August 20, 2010

Dear Alice... Introspection

3/26 - Introspection
Dear Alice -

I am confident that you are the most profound character in literary history, because you represent the one commonality that every human shares; you are forced to question who you are at the ripe young age of five, when seemingly most people spend their entire lives searching for their true identity, or at least trying to crack the surface.

Usually the “search” begins with a seemingly life altering moment, or with a bright philosophical or religious epiphany. You were lucky; your search was instigated by curiosity, then a long plunge down a rabbit hole into an alter reality. We certainly would be ill-developed, one-dimensional characters without curiosity:

“Alice was beginning to bet very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’ So she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a white rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her. There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the rabbit say to itself, ‘Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again. The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything: then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and bookshelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed: it was labeled ‘ORANGE MARMALADE,’ but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar, for fear of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.”

You kept falling Alice, questioning where you were falling to, what the longitude and latitude of your location was (not that you had a clue what those words meant), and how impressed everyone would be at home with your ability to endure such a fall. Then your curiosity made you lonely, and you began to ponder comforts:

“Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. ‘Dinah’ll miss me very much tonight, I should think!’ (Dinah was the cat.) ‘I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that’s very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?’ And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, ‘Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?’ And sometimes, ‘Do bats eat cats?’ For, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her, very earnestly, ‘Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?’ When suddenly, thump! Thump! Down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.”

You questioned the natural order of things; do cats eat bats, or do bats eat cats? It is one of the great questions; why are things the way they are? Who created the food chain? Why is it a “given” to so many that people are the superior being, and have the divine right to smote the life of a forest creature, simply for sport? I remember being your age and witnessing a bloody deer carcass roped to a trailer being towed behind a pick up truck stuffed with men with orange hats, adorned in tasteless camoflauge jackets. They were laughing, and enjoying the ride. “How?” I thought in disgust. I was horrified! It was the first time that I had encountered such sheer brutality, and I asked my mother who was driving why they killed that beautiful deer? And she said, “Oh honey, don’t look. Some people hunt deer.” I couldn’t fathom that concept. I remember the horror that I felt; I couldn’t wipe that image out of my head. Then I asked my mom, “But why, mommy? Why would those men hurt that deer? Who said that they could do that?” I was infuriated. “Isn’t that murder?” She couldn’t answer me, but she felt for me. It was the first time that I was faced with the image of cruelty, and I wanted to know “why.”

So I understand why you followed the rabbit; how would we get to the bottom of anything, if we didn’t take the crazy route? It’s humbling, and you can usually find out some pretty interesting things about yourself, and about human nature in general. As Jim Morrison once said, “People are strange, when you’re a stranger...faces look ugly, when you’re alone;” but that’s just our initial response to fear of the unknown. If we take your path, Alice, the things that once seemed foreign to us become “real,” and we begin to question our perception asking, “who am I” and “what is reality?” I think that it leads to clarity.

The Caterpillar changed your entire perception of yourself with one question; “Who are you?” It was the first time that you had to step outside of yourself and question your existence. Were you simply Alice in patent leather shoes, with a bow in her hair, or was there more to you? The caterpillar wasn’t happy with simple answers; he was a thinker and a philosopher, and wasn’t concerned with Alice in the physical sense, but wanted to know who the all-encompassing Alice was ...which is pretty tough for a little girl to articulate, but you attempted it:

“Alice looked all round her at the flowers and the blades of grass, but she could not see anything that looked like the right think to eat or drink under the circumstances. There was a large mushroom growing near her, about the same height as herself: and, when she had looked under it, and on both sides of it, and behind it, it occurred to her that she might as well look and see what was on top of it. She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large blue caterpillar, that was sitting on the top, with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else. The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice. ‘Who are You?’ said the caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I – I hardly know, Sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’ ‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar, sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’ ‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’ ‘I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar. ‘I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied very politely, ‘for I can’t understand it myself, to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’ ‘It isn’t,’ said the Caterpillar. ‘Well, perhaps you haven’t found it so yet,’ said Alice; ‘but when you have to turn into a chrysalis – you will some day, you know – and then after that into a butterfly, I should think you’ll feel it a little queer, won’t you?’ ‘Not a bit,’ said the Caterpillar. ‘Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,’ said Alice: ‘all I know is, it would feel very queer to me.’ ‘You!’ said the Caterpillar contemptuously. ‘Who are you?’”

This, of course frustrated you, but the Caterpillar went on to teach you that there is more to life than your preconceived notion of “Alice” and that if you want anything, you have to get it yourself. Between frustrating pauses filled with rips from the hookah, the Caterpillar taught you about that often overlooked space between reality and understanding: patience.

Your story should be required reading.

You are very real to me. Love, Ana

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dear Jesse...Disappear

3/26 - Disappear

Dear Jesse-
It’s one of those days, today, one of those days that I would like to fold up neatly, and tuck into a tightly-sealed drawer somewhere. You know the kind of day I mean? Yesterday, I went to see Dr. Freedman and he asked me about Lithium side effects; I told him that I feel like I have an impending urinary tract infection at all times.

“What do you mean,” he said. I told him that I have to pee constantly. He immediately spun around to his desk and scribbled down a lab prescription, spun back around toward me and said, “That isn’t good. We’ve got to have your kidney function tested, today.” “Kidneys,” I scowled. “What next?” I left with my lab report and an incessant urge to pee in my pulsating urethra, and head on down the highway in search of a lab, all the while thinking of a conversation I had with Frieda, my cognitive therapist, earlier in the week.

“Frieda,” I asked, “Since you are the holistic side to psychotherapy, and you teach the tools to overcome behaviors, what is your take on herbal remedies, as opposed to all of the chemicals that I am swallowing daily. Do you think that they work?” Frieda leaned back in her chair, brushed her blonde curls away from her forehead and cautiously said, “Why, are you taking them?” “No,” I said emphatically, but my question is why am I not taking them. The other day I went into the health food store to pick up some vitamins, and an older German man with smiling brown eyes, and a thick accent greeted me at the door, and sort of followed me around. So I asked him a question about the whereabouts of a specific supplement, and he smiled and took both of my hands and said, “let me take a look at you.” Strangely, I wasn’t taken back. He was very kind. He stared into my eyes, and told me that I needed to drink water with lemon, to clean out my kidneys. Then he said, “and your liver is working very hard, are you taking medications?” “Yes,” I confessed, “I’m taking lithium and Prozac, among other things that I am weaning off of. “Ah,” he said knowingly, “for...”
“bipolar disorder,” I said.
“Ah, you cannot tell from your smile,” he winked. ‘He then lead me over to a book, and opened it to a page entitled, “bipolar disorder.” There were several cocktails of herbal remedies listed, one of which was a natural, unprocessed form of the salt, Lithium called Cudweed. He pointed to that and said, “it has the stabilizing effect of processed lithium, but it is in its raw state, so it doesn’t cause the adverse side effects. Take this with you and read it,” he smiled. So I did, happily.

Frieda smiled seriously and said, “there is no doubt in my mind that natural remedies work ...nature is where all of our modern meds were extracted from, but the problem that I have with them is strictly that they are not regulated. If you are taking 20 milligrams of Prozac here in the US, you know that what you are swallowing is really 20 milligrams of the drug, whereas you can’t be sure when it comes to natural medicinal remedies, because there is no government regulation if 20 milligrams of St. John’s Wort is actually 20 Milligrams. It could be 5, mixed with 15 milligrams of filler.” Then Frieda chimed in, noticing a wave of disappointment wash across my eyes, “although, the only country other than ours that does regulate their natural remedies is Germany. Their measurements are international units.” All I could think of was the German man who read my irises (Iridology); maybe he was on to something.

I pulled into a small town lab, and found my way in. I was greeted by a five’ nothing, slim-hipped technician named Rosie who should have been home enjoying her later years. She had brilliant dyed red hair, a grandmother’s charm, and a set of knockers on her that defied gravity. She was straight out of a pulp fiction magazine; she would of been Rosie the waitress, who was more wise than everyone that she encountered, and used it to her tip advantage. She spoke to me in a raspy voice, “hi hon,” she smiled, red lipstick on her front tooth. “You need lab work done, dolly?” “Yes,” I smiled, silently wanting to grab an afghan, and curl up onto her lap to be rocked to sleep. “Follow me sweetie. You ever been here before?” “No, I haven’t.” “Well,” she smiled, “ I’m going to put you to work then. Okay?” She handed me a pile of legal documents to sign, etc., and she was eating a chocolate candy, turned to me and said, “You’re fasting, right?” “Not intentionally, but yes. Unfortunately all that I have had today is a cup of coffee.” “Good,” she grinned. Then she leaned over like it was our little secret and whispered, “I’ll give you some chocolate on your way out!” I laughed.

She smelled like baby powder, mothballs and Jean Nate. Remember that after shower splash that you could get at K-Mart, or Ames, or any variety store like that? It came in a plastic bottle labeled cologne, and was advertised as a “splash” of sexy fragrance for women? Man, I didn’t think that they still manufactured it. Who knows, maybe she stock-piled it in the 70's, or maybe every one of her grandchildren had wrapped it up for her for Christmas for every year between 1978 and 1988, and she had filled her linen closet with it. Maybe that was her “scent,” like Shalimar is my mom’s scent, and my Aunt Suz’s Scent, and Samsara is your scent. Who knows.

She tied the rubber band above my elbow, and slid the needle into my vein, seemingly as easily as she poured coffee in my Pulp Fiction fantasy, “Needles don’t bother you,” she smiled. “No. I find them fascinating.” She looked at me strangely, “Not in a weird way or anything,” I reassured her. I didn’t want Rosie to think I was masochistic or something. After all, my lab report did say check Lithium levels. She inserted another tube into the needle, and I watched it fill with my dark red blood. She pulled the needle out and pressed a piece of gauze to the tiny wound and taped it to my arm. I imagined a red blood cell holding up a stop sign and whistling beneath the surface, dressed in a crossing guard’s uniform, to stop traffic from moving outside of my arm.

“Okay dolly,” she said reading my lab request, you’ve gotta pee in a cup for me. He’s got to check your kidney levels.” “Do you know anything about that,” I asked Rosie. “Well,” She said, “I’m not a doctor, but I’ve been doing this a long time, and medicine sometimes messes with your kidneys, so you’ve got to be sure.” She looked at me, handed me the cup, and instructed to wipe front to back with a castille soap towelette and to catch the pee mid stream in the cup, and then she smiled reassuringly. I slipped into a memory of my college nurse instructing me to do that, but not as kindly, when I was placed on disciplinary probation for drugs.

I walked out of the bathroom and handed Rosie the cup. “Good,” she remarked, like I had done a good job. I loved Rosie, like a loved my second grade teacher, Mrs. Coppola. When I was leaving, she handed me a baggy of chocolates. “Bye sweetie,” she said knowingly. “Don’t worry, it will get easier,” she said, then tapped me on the back. I refrained from hugging her, but I wanted to.

So why is today tough? Well, I woke up hung over. It was my own damn fault, I drank five pints of Guinness last night while watching Jack perform at an open mic. He was fantastic, and I was really enjoying myself. But I forgot how detrimental alcohol is to your body when your taking meds. Secretly, I enjoyed the dizzying effect because I felt more human; I almost felt like I was flying high again. It was intoxicating (no pun intended). Wow Jesse, I woke up today with a ten-car pile up in the frontal lobe of my brain, and I’m not supposed to take anything to relieve it. It caused me to sleep until 10:00 am, when I should have been making progress toward my move; I have to be out of that apartment in three days. When I arose, I was a bit discombobulated. I had asked my landlord for some paint to touch up the spackle marks that I had made while filling nail holes, so I decided to make up for lost time and quickly run around the living room and touch everything up. So I did, and before I left to escape that place for a while, I kept looking at the large white blotches on the wall, praying that they would dry to the right shade of white. When I left, the walls were still multi-tonal. I fear my return to pack more up this evening. I go in the evenings because I don’t want to be seen; I’m afraid that someone might attempt to strike up a conversation with me.

In the dark, I feel safe.
Love, Ana

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dear Jesse...Puzzles

The Eve of 3/21 - Puzzles

Dear Jesse -
I just listened to a message from you; you told me that you happened upon a diary of yours from your teenage years. “I was one fucked up kid,” you laughed. It’s rare that you use the F-Bomb, so I am assuming that reading your history really rattled your hidden skeletons. Ironically, I too perused some old journals of mine today, while packing up books in my apartment. The entries that I read were so disturbing. Not particularly in content, but the inconsistent thoughts, language and handwriting were indicative of my problems, not yet diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but medicated by me.

In reading your diary, did you find that history has repeated itself? Can you see a pattern in your behavior? Can you see a pattern in your fears; perhaps you see a pattern in how you prioritize things?

I found this entry from 10 years ago, when you and I were juniors in college, and I was dating Dave. Do you remember Dave? He was a fine art major at University of the Arts in Philadelphia? He was a talented guy, and I adored him ...but it bordered unhealthy. He was a temperamental artist himself, but my digression from bad to worse in our two year relationship, he couldn’t even deal with.

I became delusional; I remember. I would concoct bizarre scenarios in my head about Dave and his art school affairs, and they would become so real to me that when I would venture to Philadelphia on the weekend, I would obsess over my mental concoctions, and when I would arrive at the bus station, I would sometimes walk around the city for two hours before I would go to see him. It was the only way that I could calm my racing mind. Usually my smiling facade would fade eventually over the weekend, (appropriately after countless bong hits) and my deluded thoughts would manifest themselves as vicious anger, or tears, or jealousy.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to clean with a vengeance, then take an unusually long shower in an attempt to cleanse the bad thoughts. A third-person perspective of my behavior must of been laughable … either that or unnerving. One entry that I wrote eleven years ago says it all:

9/17/93 - 2:53 am
I wrote, “I’m so sad. I think that I make him sad. I don’t want to. I hate faking things. If our distance comes between us, I will die. How come love has to feel like a root canal? How come my car doesn’t run? Why were we split? I’m sick of crying – I just wish I had him right here. I just want to hold his head in my hands. I hate hurting; why can’t we be together all the time? Why am I so stubborn? Why am I so unattractive? I wish, so much to be curled up like a puzzle in front of a fan, with a cat sleeping at our feet. Please make it stop.”

I’ve blocked out a lot of those feelings, and I think that’s why that journal entry repeats itself for every relationship that I had for the past decade. I wonder if that is the case for most people. I thought that we are supposed to learn from our mistakes, right? I guess that it is contingent on whether or not we open ourselves up to suggestion. We have to be pliable in order to transcend our bouts with darkness; rigidity will only keep us floating in an anchored boat, with just a distant glimpse of the white, sandy beach. This is what I have learned.

Love, Ana

(Download Joanna Newsom... she is a remarkable... upper right...plays the harp)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Sweet Jane...Medication

The Eve of 3/19 - Medication

Dear Sweet Jane -

I’m sipping on a glass of wine and thinking of you. You know, the more I ponder it, you were just like me. You hid behind the most contagious laugh I have ever known, you would drink to get drunk, you were dreadfully moody, had a terrible self-image when everyone saw you as beautiful and full of life, you were addicted to drugs and the wrong guys, you were deeply affected by film, and books, and sadness, and you hurt for everyone, but hid that inside an angry, joking facade. Perhaps this was known between us; we had a quiet understanding. I could just look at your posture from across a room, and I knew what you were feeling. Did you feel that way, too?

I remember sitting down on the ledge of the bathtub with you in that apartment you lived in that was so inexpensive because it was next to the firehouse, and the alarm would scream into your window at 5:00am without fail. The two of us had been up for something like 22 hours, partying. We wanted to be eye level with the bathroom counter, so we could see if there was any trace of cocaine left, even if it was mixed with tile cleaner, toothpaste, or cigarette ashes. Anything.

We scraped up a line to share, and although we laughed, I think that we had a mutual understanding of that moment being the most pathetic that either of us had ever lived. I know that when I finally ventured home, suffering from a car crash in my brain, I vowed never to touch the stuff again, and I didn’t ...
I hope you’re doing fine.

Love, Ana

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paging Doctor Freedman...Voices

3/23 - Voices

Paging Dr. Freedman -

Granted, I know that you are a psychiatrist, and that your job is to medicate the mentally-ill, with every good intention of regulating their mood to a stable state of functionality, and in some cases, rationality, but I am curious about something. Does the old cliche also apply to your profession, “it takes one to know one?” As a seasoned musician, you must feel that this is the case. I know that it is sometimes difficult for a person who doesn’t understand music to fully appreciate it as multifaceted, rather than just a sensory stimulus that is either pleasing or not. I also know that although I love fine art, I can never entirely feel a piece of work, because I haven’t been trained in the technical aspect of how to create a great work of art. I can find it aesthetically pleasing, but I cannot fully understand the time and muscle that went into it. Do you know where I am going with this? Can you empathize with those of us who have mental and/or chemical afflictions, or do you feel that your medical expertise will suffice? I’m just curious.

Personally, I feel that regardless of whether or not you are certifiable, you are a tremendous doctor, and are current and well-versed in your profession. I also think that your passion for music is what makes you that way. When a person knows music in his/her soul, the senses are no longer separate entities; they meld, and the result is color that drips from a person’s presence, like that of children, before they become adulterated by life stuff. It is a clean intellectual energy, and you have it. There is nothing clinical about you except your keen understanding of your profession. You are lucky.

Yesterday, I experienced what it feels like to not take any meds again, and it felt new, or maybe just different. I ran out of lithium, and I didn’t take it for a day and ½. Dr. Freedman, the fog lifted for a while, and I felt again. My senses were alive, and I could breathe again. Even a headache felt good, because I was aware of its pounding. Do you know what I mean? It was really hard for me to swallow that pill today; it was like saying goodbye to my old self, even if she was unstable. I’m writing from beneath that lonely fog.

I leave you with an interesting excerpt that I read in the April 2004 issue of Prevention magazine, entitled “Get Inside Van Gogh’s Brain” by Susan Hayes:

“Creativity’s personal cost: If you paint like Van Gogh or write poetry like Sylvia Plath, you’re also at higher risk for madness. Could faulty brain wiring be the link between insanity and artistry? The evidence: Both schizophrenics and highly creative people possess leaky “sensory filters” – low latent inhibition, say researchers from Harvard and the University of Toronto. Their brains let in more sights, sounds, and sensations than normal. With a high IQ and a good memory, the input may be thrilling. Yet it can also be overwhelming – even deadly. To momentarily glimpse life as Plath, Van Gogh, or Mozart did (without the risk), pay close attention to a work they created. ‘I think that great artists decrease the levels of latent inhibition in those who see or hear their works,’ says researcher Jordan Peterson, PhD.”

Regards, Ana

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dear Mr. J. Lennon ... IMAGINE

3/17 - Imagine
Dear Mr. J. Lennon -

I hope that you aren’t opposed to my formality, but I honestly don’t know how to refer to you. I remember sitting at my dining room table, eating a peanut butter, honey, and raisin sandwich after a day in the 2nd grade, and hearing announced over New York talk radio, WOR that you had been shot. My mom gasped, and I dropped my sandwich and turned to look at her, framed by the gray December light coming in through the kitchen window. She rushed to the alarm clock radio, and turned up the buzzing, crackling WOR to hear the story. She stared in complete dismay, as it unfolded; you were shot and killed by an obsessive man while Yoko Ono had to stand by and watch the life drip out of you. “That Bastard,” my mom gasped. I watched the horror creep onto her young face.

“Did he die mommy,” I asked sadly singing “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” in my head, trying to decipher what “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” felt like; I wanted to taste them.

“He did,” she said sadly. I would imagine that my memory of your death is similar to the experience that countless people had when they heard of the assassination of JFK. I’ll never forget it, and I was just a little girl in braids. “Maybe he’s with Lucy now,” I said, “she has kaleidoscope eyes, mom.” “Maybe.” My mom smiled at me.

I am writing with hopes that you can help me clarify something. If “All You Need is Love” as you so beautifully put it, and love is the answer to all problems, then how can I use it to cure this mental affliction? For instance, in How to Be Happy, Dammit: A Cynics Guide to Spiritual Happiness by Karen Salmansohn, she states that “life lesson # 41 is Prozac Schmozac. Love is the Drug.” I bet you would agree, as do I, but I am conflicted.

Salmansohn says:
“Love is what you’re always looking for in all the things you’re looking for. Even your yearning for sex is really a dyslexic search for love. You know it. Ad agencies know it. Love is the #1 marketing strategy, used as a promise in ad campaigns for products from cars to toothpaste to floorwax. And all this lovemania reminds you of a Zen saying: 'Basically the Archer aims at himself.' If you are not a happy person inside you, then nothing outside you will ever make you happy and able to feel love. This makes sense because you know already from lesson # 27 how the world is your mirror. It thereby makes sense that if you can increase how happy and loving you feel about yourself on the inside, the more happiness and love you will see and attract from the world around you to you.”

Love radiates; It’s an energy that not only can you feel but you can see. I think that a person who truly loves herself/himself exudes light that attracts others. Do you think that to knock down the self-loathing that is the scaffolding in mental illness, it isn’t necessary to alter the chemistry of the brain with psychiatric medicine? Do you think there is a universal love energy that can be tapped into that is much stronger than any superficial medication? Is it the same mind-over-matter collective energy that you and Yoko were talking about when you protested, “WAR IS OVER! If you want it.” “If you want it” is such a profound statement; if you want something bad enough, and direct your energy into it, it will happen. Right?

Love and Peace,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dear Sammy... Fair Weather

3/17 - Fair Weather

Dear Sammy -

So many times I’ve wanted to pick up the phone and say hello, but to no avail. It’s St. Patrick’s Day and snowy, two of your favorite things wrapped into one day. Man, the fun we used to have; St. Patty’s Day used to be an excuse to drink way too much Guinness, and heaps of Jameson. I recall that you made it your mission to drink yourself into Irish oblivion, and I was always right there with you. You were always such a good buddy to me Sammy, and I hope that you’re doing fine. I bet that you are. I heard that you are a chef at the Stone Bar Inn; What a gorgeous job for you. It’s the perfect combination of creative and scientific.

Sammy, thanks for rolling with my punches; your relaxed attitude must have helped you deal with my bizarro behavior all of those years that we lived together in college. I didn’t realize how strange my behavior was until just recently, when I started to sober up mentally, a bit. When I think of the things that you witnessed, I commend you even more for being my friend. For instance, how about the time that I snapped when we were out drinking at "The Wheel," and I punched some big, tall football type guy across the face, because I had some delusion that he raped the girl standing in front of him. Remember that? Then he freaked out on me, and was thrown out of the bar. Do I have that right? The band stopped and announced, “Real cool, buddy. Way to threaten a chick. Get that guy out of here.” But you believed my delusion, supported me, and we moved onto another watering hole that was safe.

Oh, and I am sure that you can’t forget the time that I locked myself in my closet, crying late night, and I cannot remember if you called my parents, or if I did, but my dad showed up at my door at 2:00 am to help me. Remember? He was wearing a Burger King crown. That’s my dad!

I used to have so much fun with you Sammy, Mini, and Briann, Violet, Dewey and Kevin, and countless others that graced the palatial hovel that we resided in. I often think of all of you, and swim through drunken memories to a time when everything seemed strangely...okay. But Sammy, that was just the tip of the iceberg for me. Since I disappeared, I can only describe the way that I feel as not unlike Lavinia, Shakespeare’s "Titus Andronicus’" daughter, who was violently raped by two brothers Chiron and Demetrius, who cut out her tongue and cut off her hands so she couldn’t give the crime away. That is what this bipolarity sometimes feels like; I’ve been raped of my ability to communicate, and some facet of it has instilled me with the fear of speaking to those I once loved to share life with.

It’s creepy, but I’m actively trying to find my way out of here. Maybe next St. Patty’s Day I’ll meet you at the bar for a Guinness.

Love, Ana

Please check out a really cool, sick and twisted version of "Titus Andronicus"...upper right margin.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dear Jesse... Hurt

3/16 -Hurt

Dear Jesse -

Could you please tell me why I was so smitten by the boys that I was when I was teenager? I mean, they dictated my life. I had a conditioned response to the sound of their skateboard wheels; I would start to salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs, or flip my hair out of my eye, or something. And Alex (that’s what I’ll call him to protect his identity while ... you know who I mean) I adored him; all surly skateboarding 5'8" of him. He was lovely; Italian and Spanish, silky black hair, beautiful dark skin, great style, a skilled skateboarder and surfer, with a penchant for sniffing glue, drinking Wild Turkey through beer bongs, smoking huge quantities of marijuana, dropping full sheets of acid at a time, and whippets among other things. That was all before the age of 18. Everyone else thought he was a jackass (meaning you, Briar, and maybe Violet ) but I thought he was quietly amusing, dead sexy, quirky and fun; I guess he was seemingly all of those things sometimes. And then he would change.

He could become very cruel to me. For instance, when I was going through that really zitty stage the summer before my senior year of high school, remember? I recall sitting across from him and doting among a whole group of “friends” in a fast food joint, and he blurted out “why are you so ugly” at me. Everyone laughed because it was Alex, and he was so cool. I froze; I couldn’t defend myself. Then later that evening after crying alone, damning my stupid reflection, I received a phone call from Alex, acting like nothing happened. “Can you come over tomorrow?” he asked sweetly. “Sure. Yeah. What time?” The cycle would continue.

But the worst of the worst Jesse, the most demeaning Alex experience that I ever had happened one night when I was young, impressionable and about seventeen. I was driving and saw a group of my friends, including Alex skateboarding at a park, and I stopped to say hello, when I happened upon him and another one of my male “friends” who were talking about screwing girls, ofcourse. When I expressed my discontent about the subject matter, the conversation went as follows:

Friend A: “Well what was it like the first time you screwed Ana?”
Me: “Guys! Please. That is completely not necessary.”
Alex: (complete with body language) “Oh Man, it was like screwing a dead fish; she just laid there.”
Friend A and Alex: (doubled over in laughter at my expense) “Hahahahahahahahahhhhhhhhhhhhhahhahahhahhahhahahhahhahah.”

I had buried that moment until just recently, years later. It was tucked into that vault in my subconscious that seeped occasionally, manifesting itself as illness, drug addiction, drinking myself into a stupor, or violent purging. It was unlocked not too long ago, and my reaction was explosive. Jack and I were driving along, and we were arguing about something minor, that escalated into something not-so-minor, that led to Jack yelling, “sometimes you are cold as ice; you’re like a cold fish!”

Jesse, it was remarkable! I actually saw red! I pulled over the car, and screamed at him to get out and walk! “How could you ever call me something so cruel!” I was screaming, and then I broke down into tears. He just reached over gently and asked me “what just happened?” He was probably gentle out of fear; I threw so many expletives at him that he had to duck. We pulled over and talked for a good 15 minutes, and it felt good. The subconscious mind is a powerful thing, isn’t it Jesse?

Every time I used to go to the beach where Alex lives, I used to make a point to stop and see him. But the other day, I went to the beach for solace, and as I was leaving, I drove right by his street. I heard that he is doing fine. I’ll take that person’s word for it, and let it fall.

Love, Ana

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dear Jim...Crush

3/13 - Crush

Dear Jim -

I always felt so strange calling you by your first name. I respected you so much as a poet, and as my professor. Jim, I cannot believe that it was 8 years ago that you skipped town and I never had the chance to bid you a proper farewell. I just want to thank you for trusting me as a writer. Your influence and recognition of my work meant so much; I hadn’t an ounce of confidence before your acknowledgment.

The shape of your face is fleeting, washed in medicine, like this memory
I have of you and beautiful Sarah, the girl you were dating. I remember walking briskly at twilight on Main Street next to the Coffee Shop, looking down at my sandals, and looking up only to make eye contact with you and Sarah in perpetual motion; Fu Lay Chinese neon light hung in her blonde curls. “Hi Ana” you said breezily, and rushed by with an aromatic pizza in your hands. Startled , I looked back, and you were wearing battered Vans sneakers. I loved that! You brought the essence of your California with you to northeast academia. Your eccentricity was welcome, in addition to your Irish blue eyes and messy brown locks. Jim, thanks for holding my attention, and paying me respect.

Fondly, on fragile knees ...Ana

Ana's Download of the Day - (As per Frank's suggestion) "Terror Twilight" by PAVEMENT (California Musical Perfection in Honor of Jim)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dear Briar... Impatience

3/13 -Impatience

Dear Briar -

I’m beginning to really loathe the thick Lithium fog that I am living in; my 5-second delay is growing very stale, very quick. I feel dumbed-down, like I’ve been made into the junior edition of a board game called “me.” Briar, what if I was diagnosed all wrong? It happens more often than we probably think. Maybe my problem is physiological, not mental. Perhaps it stems from something even bigger ... something other than a chemical imbalance in the brain, a pineal malfunction, or genetics. For instance, in all of the metaphysical literature that I sink into, illness is much more cerebral, and controlled by the mind and the environment.

Psychiatrist Jung saw a direct correlation between balance and the unconscious mind, and physical wellness. Robert A. Johnson, (not the 1920's guitar legend) Jungian analyst and author, speaks about his theory, based on Jungian Psychology in an excerpt from Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth:

“Jung discovered that the unconscious is not merely an appendage of the conscious mind, a place where forgotten memories or unpleasant feelings are repressed. He posited a model of the unconscious so momentous that the Western world has still not fully caught up with its implications. He showed that the unconscious is the creative source of all that evolves into the conscious mind and into the total personality of each individual. It is out of the raw material of the unconscious that our conscious minds develop, mature, and expand to include all the qualities that we carry potentially within us.” Johnson expounds further: “Jung showed us that the conscious and the unconscious minds both have critical roles to play in the equilibrium of the total self. When they are out of correct balance with one another, neurosis and other disturbances result.”

I don’t know Bri, but I think that I buy it. There is no light without dark; yin without yang, love without hate; safety without fear. Balance is the key to mental stability. So what’s the cure? I certainly don’t think that it is to drug a person until they are deemed useless; where is the progress there? Isn’t quality of life what ultimately a person suffering from any illness is striving to achieve; a renewed sense of living in the moment, not hovering above it in a highly-medicated haze. I know that I want to join the party again, not just watch from a clouded distance.

Yours truly, Ana

Check Out Ana's Read of the Day. Good CEREBRAL stuff!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dear Nanny... Shadows

The Evening of 3/12 - Shadows
Dear Nanny -

I received the most beautiful letter today from your daughter Madelaine, my aunt, who I haven’t seen since your funeral almost ten years ago. Nanny, the letter was so endearing. It began with “I have loved you since I had my first peek at you in the hospital. I stayed with you and your mom, dad, and amber for the first week of your life. You were so pink and sweet and smelled like fresh air and flowers.” I was touched, and I cannot feel much lately.

Then she went on to reveal some really interesting things. Nanny, unbeknownst to family, she had bouts of depression for many years, and had been medicated for the past 25 years; like me, she had decided several times to stop taking the medication, and suffered as a result. Poor Madelaine. She has five children, and I am sure that like you, she suffered in silence for their sake. It’s not fair.

Tonight over dinner I asked my mom some questions about our lineage, and she said that you, I, and herself are not the only ones who have felt the repercussions of this debilitating genetic illness, but your sister, Aunt Viv committed suicide in the early 80s. She told me that Viv was an alcoholic, and she was bedridden, and that she overdosed on pills and booze. I never knew. Again, looks can be so deceiving; I was just a little girl when Aunt Viv was still of this earth, but I distinctly remember her having a flush of white hair, huge smile, cat eye glasses, wearing polka dots, and always having mints. She was so jovial in my memory. And Nanny, how about your mom? She died when she was so young, but mom told me that she, too, suffered from mental problems. She was raised by her grandmother, so what happened to her mom? Did she suffer too? Did she take her own life? Did you ever think about ending your life, Nan? What kept you here for 86 years? Is it the same thing that has somehow kept me here for 30 years? Hope?

I miss your red lipstick that you would apply with a q-tip, Ana

(Please Check Out Ana's Song of the Day... Top Right)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dear Samantha...Acceptance

3/12 - Acceptance

Dear Samantha -

Have you seen the film, "Patch Adams?" Not like it is new or anything, but it has that absolutely beautiful Pablo Neruda Sonnet in it. Remember? He began to read it to the girl of his dreams at a party? She worked her way through a sea of balloons and found him perched on his knees reading the first half of the poem to her:

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire;
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

Stunning, isn’t it? Then later, after she is violently murdered, he reads the rest of it to her at her grave. It slays me:

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you this way because I don’t know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

Samantha, isn’t that passion reason to live? I feel it, and I haven’t felt much for a long time. I cannot turn it off and pretend in life.
I have to express it somehow. As foggy an unfeeling as I seem on the outside, I am screaming underneath. Writing will be my vehicle to share it with the world; no teaching. I am telling you this because I think you’ll understand. I am so thankful for my teaching experience; the kids are fantastic, and you have been an incredible supervisor and friend to me. But this nightmare has taught me that I have to do more. I have been simmering for so long; it is time to create. I have so much to share.

Do you know the scene where Robin Williams is sitting in the group therapy circle in the mental institution, and one man is catatonic, and in a constant state where he holds his arm up in a perpetual "choose me, choose me" position? That is how I have felt. Stuck.

Now that I am somewhat able to sift through the cobwebs in my brain,
I feel compelled to write you and thank you, again, for your compassion. This is the most humbling, difficult experience of my life and you single-handedly have made my healing process much easier; you have given me peace of mind knowing that school is under control. Thank you.

Today I picked up my mail after two weeks (nothing changes) and I was completely blown away by the package that you sent me. Please extend my thanks to my students; they are remarkable - and to the staff- such kindness! Samantha, it REALLY brightened my spirits. In addition, I LOVE the "War is Over" post card that you sent me a note on. Not only am I a huge John Lennon fan, but I also love to frame black/white photos, postcards, etc. I most certainly will be hanging it amidst my others.

The drug therapy is beginning to stabilize me a bit, but every day, without fail, there has been a surprise-debilitating side effect. Yuck. I'm a bit slow of speech, but my writing isn't hindered. In fact, I have been writing prolifically; It's incredibly therapeutic, and I have been getting some interesting results. It is definitely rekindling my passion for the pen. I will keep you updated.

Blahblahblahblah ...who the fuck am I kidding! Who am I trying to impress?I may as well mass produce this one and send it to everyone that I have ever worked for in an attempt to make them think that I am sane enough to explain.

Sincerely, Ana

Ana's Download of the Day - "Minor Threat" - The Complete Discography

... TRUE Punk.
Check Out Ana's song of the Day and Read of the Day in upper right margin.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dear Briar ... UNJUST

3/12- Unjust

Dear Briar -
Did you see the film, Before Night Falls, about Cuban Writer and Revolutionary Reinaldo Arenas? It is filmed in a sensual, watery light that capture Arenas’ memoirs in Cuba. It’s like a journal of images, documenting his childhood in lush, green Cuba, his young, gay experiences in adolescence, his hedonistic life in Havana as a revolutionary, writer and lover, and his jailing, which eventually led to his suicide in New York. It is so sad. He was persecuted for being homosexual, and expressing himself through art. He was a lover, a poet, a dreamer, and a giver. He gave himself selflessly to others, and shared his writing and his passion for the beautiful. He lived, and suffered the consequences of the other half; the rigid people, unable to attempt to understand that he was only human.

Homosexuality is not a conscious choice, it is an innate sexual preference, and it is a goddamn shame that people are judged by what sex he/she is sleeping with. Perhaps society ought to take a look at mental exercise for some wisdom; those of us who stretch and are flexible are strong people, whereas those of us who are stagnant are rigid and weak.
My question is how do the stagnant, inflexible and weak
people still have so much clout? This isn’t a political issue either... this is humanitarian, and universal. We need a new consciousness, so the negative in history will stop repeating itself.

When I think of the emotional struggle, and the lies that you have had to hide beneath, just to function before you felt safe being gay, it breaks my heart. Why should you have to be ashamed of who you love? I wrote you a poem a long time ago, around the time when you were ducking into the Chelsea shadows in secret, trying to conceal what you thought would break your dying mother’s heart:

The city breathes outside
white walls, July ceiling
fan whirs, drowning out
noise in your tired
mind, you lie with him
in soft sheets, admiring
his sleeping face, wishing
you could take him home
for the weekend, like a
prom date, or that beautiful
girl in college who you
promised the world to ...
your brother announced
“she’s sexy,” too loud, after one
too many Christmas cocktails;
you felt so much shame
every time she rolled over,
kissed you and whispered
“I love you,” and fell to
silent slumber while you watched,
wished, and felt unsafe.

Love, Ana

Ana's Download of the Day:

Check out Ana's Song of the Day in the upper right margin.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Righteousness - Dear Briar...

3/11 -Righteousness

Dear Briar -

Who ever said that Lewis Carroll was a pervert? I bet it was a person of the same sick, rigid mentality that deemed homosexuals as “unfit” for society, and Black Africans as worthy of only working, or Women as better seen and not heard, walking ten paces behind their men. Oh, but let’s not forgot the Women who walk ten paces in front of their men in the event of possible land mines. What about the Lepers, who are born into the caste system and destined to flounder around the bottom of the ladder only to suffer, and get trampled on by those born into a more fortunate role? Who decides?

Lewis Carroll wrote one of the most fantastic children’s stories of all time, "Alice in Wonderland." He wrote it based on Alice Liddell ...not because he had a sexual affinity for her, but because he was taken by the beauty of children; the innocence and curiosity inherent in every child.

Carroll was a mathematics professor at a university in England, and his supervisor was Professor Liddell, father to the Liddell sisters. Carroll used to take the sisters out on leisurely rowboat rides around the pond on the campus of the university, where they would make up fantastical stories, hence the dawn of “Alice in Wonderland.” I’m sure that the unusual, unmarried Carroll was scoffed at, and frowned upon by some of his colleagues for spending so much time with the Liddell girls, but their father obviously saw through the negative to the mutual joy that their story creations gave one another.

Can you blame Carroll? He was the perceptive one. He was the one who saw the inflexibility, and stark landscape of adulthood. Children create their own landscape everyday; they paint with their imaginations and their hands and feet. They dance when they feel like dancing. They mimic the wind. They study the earth. They love animals. They are fascinated by water. They are artists. They feel music. They laugh when it’s funny. They jump up and down when they are excited. They cry when they are sad. They yell when they are mad. They nap when they are tired. They get their way because they are cute. They are not afraid to use it. They blow bubbles. They fall down, but get back up and try again. They believe in fairies. They play outside. They love colors. They are curious. They wear what’s comfortable. They are colorblind.

Every stifled adult should have a child mentor. We have so much to learn from children.

Love, Ana

Download of the Day... A Band who has NEVER let go of their inner child "The Flaming Lips" -

(Please check out Ana's Read of the Day and Song of the Day in the upper right margin.)

Dear Jesse...

3/11 - Frightened
Dear Jesse -

I still haven’t heard from my landlord yet. I gave him a letter 11 days ago with my March rent check. I just couldn’t muster up the courage to sidle downstairs to his doctor’s office to tell him that I had to end my lease early because I had to leave my job because of mental illness; no rent money income. I’ve become a fucking charity case. The social stigma that is attached to mental illness is pretty harsh: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Catcher in the Rye, etc.. Then again, who attaches the stigma to the illness? Could it be a group of inflexible pawns who belong to “moral” groups that feel that those novels shouldn’t be included in the high school curriculum, because they are inappropriate? Why, because of expletives? I doubt it. It’s because those selections of literature are not “safe” according to the pawns; the worker bees; the ants marching. All I know is that the only way that I could turn on my 10th grade literature students was to “be” Holden Caulfield, and read the book to them aloud. They appreciated it. They watched his mental demise. They could relate to his angst. If anything, they became more understanding, or perhaps aware of mental strife; they overcame their fear of it.

I believe this, but I still cannot push aside my own shame. I hate shame. It has a strangle hold on me. While I write this, I am panicking about the fact that I have to go over to my apartment to feed my fish and my cats. I am neglecting them because I am afraid to run into my landlord, which would probably be the best thing for me. Confrontation is key, yet I fear it. What a bizarre affliction! Here is the letter that I wrote to my landlord:

Dear Dr. Haus,
Because of the social stigma placed on mental illness, it is very embarrassing for me to address a person who I admire such as yourself initially in person about my extenuating circumstances; please accept this letter in place of a knock on your door. This year, hidden behind the guise of the flu, or a cold, etc., I have been battling Bipolar Disorder. With the help of modern meds., I had been able to keep afloat and function as a school teacher, until recently.

I had a serious episode about two weeks ago that unfortunately did not leave me unscathed, and I have gone headlong into both cognitive and drug therapy as a result. I was circumstantially granted an unpaid medical leave of absence from school for 12 weeks, to get back on my feet emotionally, although that will leave me in financial straits for a while. Sadly, I must ask you if I may end my apartment lease with you early, for I haven’t a monetary choice in the matter.

Dr. Haus, I have so enjoyed living here, and I thank you for such a warm welcome into such a colorful town; I have acquired a real respect for small town economy and mentality. Milltown’s self-contained success is justification for “buy local.” I welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk about the lease at your convenience. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

I’ll tell you Jesse, I have been praying that by the grace of something, he would be so kind as to grant me my security deposit.

Wishful thinking,

Download of the the Day