All These Tears Must Make My Eyes Sparkle

I find it’s a little like being pregnant.  How so you may ask?  Well, when you are pregnant you may sometimes feel at your most disgusting, yet everyone around you says that thing about positively glowing.  Yeah, it’s like that.  Because everyone is throwing compliments at me that I’m looking very well, good, glam, gorgeous.  I have to wonder if they are just saying those things to bolster my self-esteem, or if all these tears really do make my eyes sparkle.

I have dropped a size in clothing and my complexion cleared shortly after John moved out.  Stress does crazy things to the body.  Is this what people are noticing? Perhaps they see the ziji, which breaks down as zi= brilliance and ji=dignity. From Smile at Fear by Chogyan Trungpa (yes, I am learning how to become a fearless warrior): When you meet a friend who is in good health, you say, you’re looking good.  The well-being you see in your friend is an expression of ziji. It could be regarded as basic charisma.  It is a quality of basic health, which is good and definite.  Do they see my true engagement with the most ordinary of interactions, my inner glee to be a part of life, to communicate with another person, to matter just for that second someone makes eye contact, to want so much to find beauty in something, in anything?  Or maybe it’s just the new clothes that fit?

Whatever it may be, I do believe it’s working for me.  Word is getting out on the street that I am a single agent again.  When last I dated, I wasn’t quite legal drinking age yet and so didn’t realize “We should go get drinks.” was code for “I’m offering you my body, want some?”  But apparently that is now what it means…at least here in P-Town 2012.  I even hesitated before saying it again, but thought, that’s silly and said it anyway.  No vomit stories this time, just the straight up proposition.  I really need to brush up on the manual for these things.  Perhaps if I change the sweeping general drinks offer, to coffee, it would just mean harmless drinks and chitchat.

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Fortuitous Books

I’ve been taking a look back at the books I’ve read this past year and there is a very steady theme running through… even before the big unhappiness bomb, there was One’s Company by Barbara Holland (about being an independent woman alone) and Crucial Conversations by May Sarton (a piece of fiction about divorce).  Between then and August when the divorce/move out announcement came, there was What About Me? by Jane Greer (a relationship help book, you versus me), On My Own by Florence Falk (helping women face their aloneness), Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto (memoir of divorce),  The Dog of the Marriage by Amy Hempel (short stories about relationships), Cleaving by Julie Powell (memoir of an affair), Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann (fiction/affair), Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau (fiction/affair), Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple (fiction/affair), Fidelity by Susan Glaspell (fiction/affair), Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison (memoir of divorce), and the Pleasures of Cooking for One by Judith Jones (a cookbook for, well, for one clearly).

Obviously I was a little preoccupied and my subconscious was ticking away and carefully digesting what it could, piece by piece, in order for me to process and cope as each new wave of revelation came.  My most recent piece of fiction was Peking Picnic by Ann Bridge.  It took me months to get through, which for those of you who know me, will realize that for me to be in a book longer than a week is rare.  My love of music (listening loud and often) has returned full force in a way it hasn’t existed since the very beginning of the marriage (hooray), but my love of reading (at least fiction) is still lacking.  But finish it I did and found this gem somewhere in the middle of the book that I thought was brilliantly applicable, so I share it here.

“In her experience all the richest and most valuable things were mixed up, somehow or other, with being hurt.  Sooner or later everything that was nice hurt as well: love affairs hurt (like the devil); marriage hurt; children hurt…And directly from being hurt, it seemed to her, sprang all the qualities she valued most, in others or in herself—courage; a measure of insight, and self-knowledge; and the secret sense of strength, of the indestructibility of the human spirit in the face of disasters, which is the most precious possession of all.  All these things could only be had at a price, and cash in advance at that—the price of being hurt, again and again, and sometimes almost to the point of extinction.  Happiness…was the flaunting honeyed flower of the soul; but the root was pain, and the twin fruits of knowledge and strength.”

Valentine’s Day Poem

Love After Love
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Derek Walcott

Foray into Debauchery

I’ve been told that going through the process of divorce is like a death.  Worse even.  I can expect myself to go a little mad.  Be depressed.  Act irrationally.  Explore new things.  Make mistakes.  Learn.  Grow.  And I have been given a free pass to do so.  Recent events have me wondering if this pass is all-inclusive or are some things exempt?  Judge for yourselves…

Because I answer the question “how are you?” honestly these days, I find it opens the other person up as well.  I pause, reflect, and give the most accurate picture I can of how I am feeling at that very moment.  Sometimes it is genuinely okay and other times, I can’t even answer.  I just have to shake my head.  An unexpected run-in with an acquaintance had me at the thumbs down tongue out response (one of my favorites) the other day.  My genuineness so surprised him, that he returned to say he had also had a rough time of it.  After learning of his same plight, I suggested we go for drinks.  No time to eat before meeting up, I hit the gin pretty hard (and it hit right back) as we took turns sharing our stories.  Countless gins in (well, not countless, let’s say four), I believe I asked him to move in and he in turn propositioned me.  What a fantastic first date this would make.  And then dear ones, I vomited at the table.  Yes, I did.  Check please!  As I clung to the arm of my new friend, I stumbled to the bus stop and waited until the bus pulled up to the curb.  And then, in another of my finer moments, I fell into the bus.  Somehow I assured the bus driver I was okay and then went to sit down.  I must have made myself comfortable, because in the short ten minutes it took to get home, I fell asleep.  I woke up about twenty blocks past my house, got off, and re-boarded another bus.   Made it home eventually, but was bruised and bleeding.  True.

Now those of you not horrified speechless by the previous recounting of events will no doubt be shouting, but you have a free pass!  I however, don’t think the free pass extends to vomiting at the table.  Do you think it’s covered?

A Penchant For Percussionists

Met another curly haired man with nice hands and a sense of rhythm at a recent concert and wanted to go home with him.  It’s getting to be a habit with me.  Have just realized there is a very definite pattern at work here.  Yes, just this moment.  It’s taken twenty years, but hey.  Two high school boyfriends—drummers.  My first (and ongoing) leave your husband type crush, a talented Canadian percussionist.  I’m still pining.  Can’t help it, we share a birthday, seems meant to be somehow.  Then there’s the dashing Mr. Darling.  And now, another Canadian percussionist.  What are the chances?

Perhaps I should expound upon the leave your husband crush.  I think you know the type.  All they’d have to do is say the word and all good judgment would leave.  Already has actually, you’re just waiting for a word, a sign, a moment to act, and the courage to do so.  I’ve had a few in my time.  Of course I didn’t leave.  (I will now change the name to should have left your husband type crush.) The photo is actually taken by one of those.  Well, not exactly, as I was an unmarried eighteen year old at the time.  But still, same principle applies.  (I know you were all wondering what the hell the photo of me had to do with percussionists and crushes.)  Ah George.  One of the only men it was worthwhile waking up for in the middle of the northern Idaho winter.  I remember bundling in layers (long thermal underwear, jeans, shirt, an extra sweater on top of that, plus coat, wool socks, Sorel boots) and schlepping myself to geology lab for the ungodly start time of 7.30am.   Just curly haired George, his cup of coffee, and a class full of dreamy eyed girls.  He had nice hands.  Bet he was a drummer too.

Now you may think it seems silly for a grown woman to develop a crush, concentrate on that instead of studies and self-improvement, but I am using it to my advantage.  Possibly an unhealthy crutch, but it takes the edge off the pain.  It’s like a lovely soothing balm when I can’t think about my situation anymore.  Yes, it’s escapism.  No, it’s not going anywhere.  But when the crush comes, my mind can at least rest from the trauma.  It is a part of the healing process in a way.  To know I can feel something for someone else, delusional fantasies or no.

Now that I’ve noticed this proclivity of mine, I wonder if I should explore why I’m drawn to musicians, drummers specifically…Is it because I’ve no musical ability of my own to speak of?  If that is the case, perhaps I should remedy it somehow.  Not because it’s bad to have a crush, but because it’s a very particular type I seem to be going for and maybe there’s something in that.  My neighbor has a student cello I can borrow…think I’ll go knock on the door and begin taking lessons.