something’s gotta give

Well, although I’ve sleeping through the night consistently for almost two weeks now, my back is still giving me hell. After 6 months of focused work, my doc, physical therapist, and massage therapist have got my hips pretty well aligned and stable. They haven’t been giving me any trouble, thank the gods. But now we have to tackle my midback which is all frozen up–so much so that it makes it hard to breathe. My MT noticed that, when I breathe, my back ribs don’t expand outward like would be normal. And instead my upper ribs slide upwards to compensate.

It’s the worst first thing in the morning when I wake up. Tuesday morning, I was standing in the shower, trying to breathe and relax and get those muscles to let go when I started seeing stars and had to turn off the water and get on the ground and hang my head between my knees. This is so frickin’ frustrating. Wednesday, I was hurting so much through my midback that I couldn’t even stand to the feeling of a bra strap back there. So, I put on a big, floppy sweater and took a half of a valium straight away and then kind of stumbled around the house like a drunk driver. (Funny how some days that stuff really affects me and other days I can hardly feel it at all.) My back muscles started to relax and I started to breathe better and so instead I was just sleepy and sore, rather than tight and oxygen deprived. I got a massage yesterday and we decided to switch tactics: since we’ve got things working from the bottom up, we are going to work from the top down and go after my neck and shoulders and get that opened up and aligned and see if we can get my midback to TAKE a FRICKIN CLUE.

I’m so sick of this. I whined to my new manager (yes, I got re-orged a few weeks ago) about this yesterday and confessed how demoralizing this all is. He seemed sympathetic and mentioned anecdotally a few folks that have chosen to take leave of absences to deal with illness and family related matters. I may look into that.

I’ve been on a leave of absence from school for the last year because I can’t sit at a computer all day for my job and then come home and sit at a computer all night for school. Maybe it’s time to turn the tables. I’ve only 11 months left to have that thesis finished, edited, approved, and on the shelf in the school library. I don’t know if an LOA is even a possibility as far as work goes. But something has GOT to give or my muscles and fascia won’t.

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Loneliness: Wanna Play Along?

As most of you know, I intend to spend the next month and then some immersed in the subject of loneliness and longing and come out on the other side with a Master’s thesis on the subject, followed shortly thereafter by a degree in depth psychology (the psychology of the unconscious). I’ve done a lot of reading the subject. I’ve read the religious perspectives, the psychological perspective, the mythological perspective, the physiological perspective, and the poetic perspective. And now I’m going to put it all into a vessel and place it over a fire and let it cook. But y’all could help me get the spark going to light the stove.

If you would be willing to share it, I’d love to hear in your words what the qualitative experience of loneliness has been for you? In moments of loneliness, what’s your first thought about what it is that you need? No judging it. Make it long or short. Messy or well-constructed. It could be a litany of adjectives, a story (fact or fiction), a comparison of the meanings of loneliness and solitude, a review of the role of longing in your life, or just stream of consciousness writing. Anonymous posts are welcome.

If it helps you to read another’s first. You can peruse mine here. Or you can try some of these words and phrases on for size … Continue reading

Forgive the Dream

Thesis. Day 1.

So, here it is. I’m ready. I think. I better be. It feels like I have a row of carrots all lined up, dangling in front of me, trying to get me to finish my thesis. And the irony and perfect symmetry and timing of my situation has not escaped my notice. Here I am, finally putting into print my big letter of heartache to the world that I’ve been trying to compose for almost 37 years. Me, whose loneliness often seemed so complete that I just eventually came to assume that it was who I was, it was a natural part of my destiny–I’ve evened ached for the option to just join a monastery or something like it so that I could get inevitability over with. And now I’ve just met someone that I so far feel so evenly matched and complimented by, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually, that I have to wonder if I’m standing here holding an empty bag of amusing ideas.

Jeeez, I really hesitate to put that last sentence out there. Shit. I don’t want to tempt fate to prove me hopelessly, embarrassingly delusion. But, then again, I am nothing if–and this thesis will be a waste of words if–I am not willing to make myself vulnerable and make my humanity accessible. Starting right now. So, let me take off the hat I walked in with, the one that is tall and square and hides in it a full toolbox of authoritative, condescending explicatives. Let me hang it on the hook by the door. Instead, if I don anything on my bare head for the next 4 weeks, let it be a scarf that I can use in moments of soft, undefended humility and reverance.

Let me have hopes, however fanstastic. Let me undress myself of structure, objectivity, and sound predictions, and instead roll naked through poetry. And, here’s the hardest one of all … let me expect your patience, generous leeway, and forgiveness.

Forgive the Dream … by Hafiz

Thesis daily schedule

Proposed rough schedule starting December 24:

8 AM Wake up, brush teeth, etc.
8:30 Journal about the process, what it’s like, and how it’s going. (Some of this will get included in the final product.)
9:30-ish Shower, clean house, get dressed, feed and walk dog
11:00 Go get a smoothie or something really light to eat. Since I’ll be so sendentary and writing about the hunger for union, I’d like to stay just on the hungry side of full the whole time.
12 PM Read and meditate until I’m bubbling with ideas, then start the more academic part of the writing.
6 Make dinner or go get dinner.
7:30 Catch up on emails, phone calls, etc.
8:30 Tango or catch a movie or play piano. At least, move my body or do something totally right-brained. But if I’m on a roll with an idea, then let the muse have her way. Don’t torture myself if it ain’t happening.
Midnight Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

I haven’t decided yet how much I want to undertake feeding myself (I don’t usually cook since cooking for one is a waste of leftovers) or if it’d work better to have my little retreat catered by Whole Foods and Qdoba.

Thesis

[OK, my mind is getting oriented for my writing retreat. I woke up this morning and had the idea that, at the front of each section of my thesis, I might like to write an autobiographical journal piece about the process of sequestering and writing this thesis. (For those of you that haven’t heard, I’m writing a big, ol’ piece on the transformative power of loneliness. So, here’s a first practice pass …. ]

Last night was the last night of meals on the run. The last night of status reports and water cooler conversations. The last night of commuting along the familiar groove in my psyche that shuttles me, 5 days a week, past the recycling dumpster, overflowing on Tuesday nights, through the welcome left turn light at the church, past the bakery whose early morning efforts make me breathe as if breaking the surface after a deep dive, and up the hill alongside students laboring on bikes, their breath forming twisted question marks in the cold, winter air behind them. My easy link from the comfort of cursory encounters with familiar faces and places to my solitary existence in this too big house has been cut.

With the sunset now a recent memory, the front door closed behind me, and yet I lingered there, just inside, with my hand on the knob, surveying the hallways and corners of my future. Protected from the unpredictability of the world outside, my momentary relief morphed into a low-grade dread. There was nothing here in this place either, except for more aloneness. It was as if the warm air around me, so briefly comforting, suddenly filled with dangerous smoke; my vision blurred, sounds disappeared behind walls of cotton balls, my legs itched with the urge to run for my life. I was choking on the quiet.

I reminded myself, “OK. It’s OK. You chose this, you chose this. There is nothing here that can surprise you.”

Today, I am writing to you from inside a jar. A jar I’ve borrowed for 40 days. I’ve been here before in this terrifyingly insipid hole. But this time I brought shelves full of books, a blank journal, open eyes, and the promise of an end. I am at the bottom of this empty beaker and I am writing my way out, filling it with my words until I become lighter and lighter and rise to the top like a buoy dancing on adverbs, similes, and past participles, until at last I am the one who is empty and my inner world has spilled over and washed me gently on to your lap.