Friday, March 24, 2006

this side of fried

i'm either feeling deadened or i'm feeling better. maybe both.

i don't have a lot to say other than to back up and account for the last ten days: friday i went geocaching with friends. we had lunch at the miss adams diner in adams, MA, where they were running a really good corned-beef-and-cabbage special.

you know, my last fling before the ECT.

it was one great rolling party, of the kind that seems to be standard among geocachers: some of us will assemble in one place at or near the party and we will run into each other, group and regroup, coming and going for hours or maybe even days. i left after the ill-fated saturday afternoon raid into massachusetts. the party was still going on, but i wanted to get home to go to church on sunday.

we came up the route 100 corridor, where the roads were bad but i didn't get in trouble until i was about a mile from home, hit a rut, and got slingshotted out and into a tree.

i don't remember how i got to church in the morning-

oh, now that i think about it, it was rumblestrip. of course. i had been smart enough to think ahead of time that sunday would likely be a hard day for me, and that i could use the company.

rumblestrip is good company.

i'm having a hard time remembering which day was which, but there are a few things that stand out and make me think that's how it happened.

monday there was nothing terribly remarkable about the treatment, other than i started to regain consciousness before i could breathe on my own and it sent me into a panic. afterward and for most of tuesday i did nothing but sleep.

wednesday there was nothing interesting except for the IV had to be started in my hand and the medication burned so much that i was screaming with the pain as i lost consciousness.

i wasn't at my best for choir practice.

and i slept all day thursday.

today they had to wake me up to start the IV.

so. here's my routine:

my mom comes to pick me up. we go to the hospital, where i sleep from our 0730 appointment time until 0900 or so, when they take me. the treatment, from prep to recovery, takes about eighteen minutes.

my mom takes me home when i wake, stopping before we leave the hospital for a snickers bar and on the way home for a sandwich. then i sleep for the rest of the day, as well as most of the following day.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

two and a half minutes.

that's how long i was in hell tonight; two and a half minutes. long enough. too long.

i was on my way to choir practice and i was thinking about monday, hoping that something will go terribly wrong and that i will die.

i have something of a bad history with anesthesia, so it's not all that far-flung an idea. monday i am having the first of a course of ECT treatments and we get to find out how i'll do with the anesthesia.

so i'm thinking please let something go wrong and let me die. i'm done with all this and at the same time i'm ALSO thinking please don't let anything go wrong. i'm not done yet.

it is very uncomfortable, having both of those thoughts in my head at once. and i'm trying to sort it out, trying to come out from under the staggering weight of it and i get into downtown richmond (such as it is) and just as i go to cross the tracks, the gates come down.

my train is coming.

before i know what i'm doing my seatbelt is off and my hand is on the door but i manage somehow not to open it, not to leave my seat but the temptation is there and renews as each car of the train goes by.

it is not too late. i can still catch the train.

but i think for a moment about the people inside the church. surely the would hear those sirens. it would be messy. later on rumblestrip will tell me that it doesn't matter to her one bit whether the departure is messy or not; it would still be what it is, and horrible.

but thinking about that saves me for at least as long as it takes for the remaining cars to pass.

and i don't know if it's God's idea of a joke, but it's a prety poor one and i have some words about it later.

meantime, it's choir practice. don't look up. don't look people in the eye. don't give anyone a chance to ask.

don't make me lie to you, i think. but there's one among them to whom i have promised to tell the truth: rumblestrip.

so, skirt around the outside. avoid her if i can. and i do.

but it is my habit after practice or after a meeting jsut to go into the sanctuary alone and have a few words or just to sit quietly and listen. sometimes both.

and tonight i'm sitting, head bowed, crying, and i hear someone come down the aisle.

"i don't know who you are," i say, without lifting my head and without knowing who it is, "but it is not your night to have to watch me."

it is rumblestrip, tender and sensitive and ready to retreat. "i thought maybe you didn't want to be alone", she says. "that you shouldn't be alone."

"no, yes. i'm sorry. thank you. please stay."

rumblestrip is right of course.

and after a while i'm ready to go home. i wasn't expecting rumblestrip to follow me there, but she did and i'm glad. it was quite a thing, going back over those tracks, train long gone.

it's going to hurt some every time i go over the tracks for a little while, i'll wager.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


so get this: i'm writing a note to rumblestrip and all of a sudden i have this Big Idea.

i used to write a lot of really good music. and these days i've been back at it. i'm starting to remember what it was like to be me back when i was really a musician, back when i had original ideas.

back before medication, before management.

and i had this thought:

maybe i'll relearn how to be that person, and i'll try to let her heal instead of trying to heal up this incomplete shell, this half-person. maybe that's where i've been going wrong. maybe that person and ONLY that person can truly be healed.

when you come to God to be forgiven you have to come with all of you, not just the parts you don't particularly care for. you get the whole treatment, like it or not. when you come to God to be made free you have to bring all of you, not just the parts you wish to release.

it must be the same when you come to be healed.

i'm starting to remember how to be me. wait a minute. let me get my things; i'm coming.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

ash wednesday

thank you. it helped a lot. you have to be sitting here to know just how much. not over there; right here, in my chair, over here, right at the center of my chest.

where my heart beats.

rumblestrip has just left my house. i know i'm going to live through the night even thought that other, darker thing is here because i have been sitting, having a cup of tea. i had the black lichee; rumblestrip had the tea that Flyingfisher makes me for breakfast and you know? i miss breakfast with Flyingfisher.

so i cried all the way home from church. not the howling, mind you. not the bawling of a beast. not the beast. just crying. but the trick was to get me home and into an easier frame of mind.

the service was hard for me. i have been very much in mind of passage through darkness and into light, very much in mind of my failings and flailings and the broken places where i need to be made whole, the places where my soul needs to be picked up and dusted off and set off to fly again.

i am aware of the places where i need to mend and the places where worry and doubt work at cross purposes to healing. does concern for proper medical treatment go to show breakdown of faith? i want to be sure, i want for my heart to be pure.

this morning i managed to get Barbara and her family to the airport. i was happy to see them go (their story and not mine) but it's a little scary for me to know Barbara is out of reach for a while. she's smart, though and she's called in reinforcements, some assistance in the department of pastoral care.

and i feel different since that day, even though i remember very little of it. i think i remember seeing a note that said "i've gone to get the mail. move slowly." but then i put my head down again and when i lifted it up the note was gone and Barbara was there.

and i have no name for you either, yet, not one i have permission to use here, but i think i remember that you stood with me a long time and i don't know what happened but that it was exactly what needed to happen, the one thing i have wanted and known i needed but have not gotten.

so i want to thank you for that.

and i've been reading and re-reading ash-wednesday and it is an astounding poem. it begs to be read out loud. it begs to be read.

oh, my people.

i found it while i was sitting at my mother's desk, idly googling this and that.

i'm trying to figure out how to tell you about this feeling of being in love, trying to do it without sounding too goofy. i'm not sure i can. when i am alone i can almost articulate it, even though it's been months.

i am trying to find a way to tell you about it, working backward in the story until i get there, but by the time i get to the place where i realize what the feeling is, it is too powerful and there aren't yet words that serve its purpose.

but i should probably confess: DJC, you were right, only it isn't who you thought it was.


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