Friday, May 12, 2017

The Dancer

It is time to fear yourself when you no longer fear the darkness.

The room was quiet and for the first time in hours, I was finally alone.  They had taken my phone when I came, so I had nothing but the music in my head.  It had been far too long since I had practiced this dance.  Yet for some reason, it kept coming back to me.  At first, the steps gently lapped at my memories, but slowly the tide came in upon the entire routine and over the course of several days, it became almost impossible to resist.  

I found my head and my arms absently finding their marks and drifting beautifully along the arcs of movement.  I would hastily stop for fear of losing the privacy of such a dance until I could be alone.  Of course, this happened to be at a juncture that disallowed me any true privacy. Until this moment.

In the late sunning of the western wing, I discovered the unused room, just a few doors down from where I slept.  In that moment, I had made the silent promise to allow myself to fully undulate and blossom by the moonbeams now shining in and reflecting faintly in the gleam of the tables and metal-backed chairs. 

Moving into first position, then smoothly into second, I then went to my toes, and stood waiting for the moment of the music to begin.  Like an overborne levee, the music broke.  My left foot swept en pointe in a slow steady arc scarcely above the surface of the disinfected laminate. 

I felt like a long-forgotten instrument; wheezy and sadly out-of-tune.  My joints ached and creaked but warmed as the music took my soul and molded it into the refined dancer I once was. 

It was a somber silhouette of the choreography I once knew. Taking an angel by the wings, Sia sang words into my mind that felt hopeful.  But in the timbre of the melody, true grief and sorrow was profound. It was in that moment, in that dance for the moon alone that I discovered it was my final plea to live, to feel, to be.  The song was not a hope, it was desperation.

My body swayed right to left, my arms moving up and down like slow ribbons unfurling their beauty.  My feet were up on my toes and back bracing the floor for support in my quickening spins back up onto my toes.  It was a sweet and intoxicating song, drawing in my body and drawing out my torment-

And there was clapping behind me.

I froze and dared not move. I could only think of what I knew in movies, would they lock me in a silent room with padding, drug me, hold me down in a bed? I had little experience with these types of places.  Was this a hospital technically? They called it a rehabilitation center, but I wasn’t on drugs or alcohol or anything such as that.  I was just- what was I? Depressed?

That sounds so trivial and not at all like a problem.  The very word downplayed everything in my head. But I guess, yes, that is what you would say.  At least until they had a better word for it.

The clapping finally slowed and stopped as I put my arms slowly down. I was vulnerable. This dance was not for you, I thought. It was for my mind. To quiet it down. No one was supposed to know or see.

I turned to the door. A nurse stood at the door. She had a smile on her face. Smiles seemed so fake. I knew they weren’t. Rationality told me that. But my mind screamed the fake mockery of it.

I hated myself and I did not like her. Because she had stolen this from me.  I could never attempt it again. I was finished. She finished me.

“You dance?” she asked simply.

I hesitated. I didn’t want to chat. I didn’t want to converse. And yes or no was not sufficient. I grunted, “Used to.”

“Well, it’s not lost on you,” she smiled again.

I shrugged now looking at the floor, wishing I was back in my shared room with six other beds, two others of which were occupied.

Her sweet tone slid into a more business-like tone, “As beautiful as that was, you are not allowed out of your room after hours, except to use the restroom.”

I gave a half-nod and immediately headed back to bed, passing her without much of a look.  She will always know, my thoughts heavily admitted.

Back in bed barely a minute past, my mind wavered and crumbled at the thought I had been found out.  She will forever know this. And now I am out. No longer within my small bottled-up world.  She has broken me. 


Curling up into the smallest ball I could manage, I attempted to stop anything else from leaking out.  The battle was a miserable failure.

End of Part I

Saturday, May 6, 2017

An Ode to "If on a winter's night a traveler"

I discovered Italo Calvino in 2007.  I read all of Cosmicomics and was amazed at all of the unique conceptualizations that he dreamed up and put to paper. It was truly an amazing creation of space in simple words on a page for me.  And I was in love.

All I knew was that he was a European author and his works were translated from English and he had died rather young, at only 61.  But he was a dreamer.  I understood him on a level that connected me to his thoughts instantly.  It was magic.

Years passed.  And then one day I finally walked into a used book store that was closing here in town and selling all their stock for incredible prices.  In this crazily organized book shop, which I completely regret missing out on its eclectic idiosyncrasies earlier than its grand closing sale, I happened upon another Italo Calvino book, If on a winter's night a traveler.

It was an immediate purchase, without any thought of giving it up for all the other Books I Must Purchase Because They Are All Books I Have Been Meaning to Read or Books I Must Own Because My Mother Taught Me to Cherish Them.  In any case, it was mine soon after.

I went home, put it upon my shelf proudly, and in our recent move misplaced it.  Then slowly, like a soft forgotten song, the book slowly came into my mind and it grew, and it grew, and it grew until all I could hear was the call of this book to be read and cherished and loved and smelled.

So I went on a search the other day. Amidst my boxes of books I still have yet to unpack, I dug through and found it in the very last box on the bottom in the back of our office.

And last night, I snuggled in, put my feet up (no hammock here, unfortunately), made sure that the children were in bed, waited oh-so-patiently for my husband to stop talking at me, took the dog out to pee, took my medication, got some water, but not too much because then I would have to pee, snuggled back in bed with the covers on without getting myself too warm, and began to read the book.

Immediately I was re-immersed.  As a book lover, the prologue itself is worth purchasing the book to read.  He understands us all so well as the reader.  Of course he was more than likely a fairly avid reader himself.  But he never shies away from every nuance or secret closet pleasure we have or need as a reader.

And then tonight, reading chapter 1 of the book and again, it feels as if he is giving me a story and teaching me; guiding me in how to write all at once.  It is beautiful and it is amazing and it is his beautiful mind that plays in every word on every page.  I am in love.

Excerpt taken from paragraph one of the first chapter of Italo Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler:
"The novel beings in a railway station, a locomotive huffs, steam from a piston covers the opening of the chapter, a cloud of smoke hides part of the first paragraph.  In the odor of the station there is a passing whiff of station cafe odor.  There is someone looking through the befogged glass, he opens the glass door of the bar, everything is misty, inside, too, as if seen by nearsighted eyes, or eyes irritated by coal dust.  The pages of the book are clouded like the windows of an old train, the cloud of smoke rests on the sentences.  It is a rainy evening; the man enters the bar; he unbuttons his damp overcoat; a cloud of steam enfolds him; a whistle dies away along tracks that are glistening with rain, as far as the eye can see."

I am mesmerized.  I am in awe.  I am so excited to learn about what else this amazing soul will teach me.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A trainwreck of thought

So I've been embarking on my break between drafts.  My goals were to read all of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, bake something, do a craft with my girls, and do an adult craft on my own.  Well, I finished the Cursed Child pretty quickly, as expected.  I baked what was going to be zucchini bread with my daughter Megan but turned out to be pumpkin bread because my zucchini went bad.  And of course, when I baked the bread, it rose so quickly that it decided to volcanic-ly ooze out the side throughout the duration of the baking so that the ends burnt and the middle was still, well ooze.

I made the mistake of filling the one bread pan too full and that was my result. Needless to say, as tasty as the baked part was, we lost most of the loaf to ooze or overly baked portions.  Normally I'm not that bad at cooking and baking in general, but I guess I'm just off my game.  Who am I kidding?  Bread seems to remain a mystery to me.  Unless, of course, I use a Krusteaz box of pre-mixed dry ingredients.

Now onto my adult craft: I was going to bind my first book.  However, I'm pretty tight on money so I used the alternate versions a screw punch or awl called "the push pin."  Thank you, Youtube, I may as well have saved myself the grief and the annoyance.  I gave up pretty quick when the hole it had created was too small for the large needle I had to have and the thread to pull through the holes I had made.  I pretty much destroyed the nice paper I was trying to use.

Let's be honest: I didn't completely destroy it, but to save what was left of it, I decided to stop before it was unusable in any other case.

As for the kids' craft: I still haven't decided on a craft yet, but I hope to do one with them tomorrow.  And crappy or not, it will be finished and enjoyed because that is the beauty of kid crafts.  It's about the effort and the fun, not the end result.  I can make the world's saddest craft and still come out as a hero mom for having fun and getting messy.

My draft has already been staring me down.  It is currently sitting in my closet away from my children's fingers, crayons, and constant drool (my son is teething).  Every time I open the closet even for a moment, it catches my eye and says "hello," quite beadily.  It's waiting for my return, calling for my red pen and my extra notes now that I have an actual draft.

I'm fairly sure that this week it will begin once again, and my absence may be poignant.  But it is my main agenda besides my family, and besides working to lose some weight.

My sanity is ebbing due to the stress of work and home life (mostly work and how much I want to be somewhere else when I am there), so exercise is key for me in my sanity. It probably won't harm my writing and clarity of thought either.  I seem more organized in thought when I am able to run out in nature and truly feel the world around me.

So the in-betweens could have gone better, but so could the first draft.  Big deal.  At least I finished it.  At least I can say I accomplished it.  But now, it's time to get back to work.  After my craft with my girls though.  Pinterest, here I come for some fun kid craft ideas.  Worst case scenario: we will paint ourselves and each other and have a blast making memories of the worst craft ever.