When you Give Up
"I will create this space to be a place in which a change of consciousness will ensue. But in the meantime, I think I’m gonna wine out and nap." -Rubina Martini
There's this thing that happens. I almost want to blame the moon. When you build a momemtum that all of a sudden flops, or slows, or stalls. You are working towards a goal, checking off checks on the checklist, gathering all the necessary things, breaking ground, making prototypes, getting other people involved, excited, invested. There's groundword laid, and the inpiration is there until suddenly, it just stops. And you stop. And you need to do something else, and whatever you were working towards remains fixed, and then becomes stagant, and then you eventually put the tools away and put the supplies away and rest...
There's this picture of Ruby I'm thinking of. She's sitting on the couch with a glass of wine in her hand staring off into nothingness. In her own head. She bought a house in the last year. Moved in with her boyfriend, now husband. Started home school programming and an artist residency. Gathered things: a loom. Got herself hitched. Now she's resting, and I wonder, what will happen to all the projects set down for the moment?
"This last week I've hit some new levels of exhaustion/breakdowns. I will create this space to be a place in which a change of consciousness will ensue. But in the meantime, I think I’m gonna wine out and nap."
But what does it mean when you set the work down for a minute? Or for an undetermined amount of time?
Melanie has left a basket of tools in the living for several months. She's been finishing the windows and only has one left, the one in my room next to my bed. She has two bags of tin cans to turn into something for her room, and the old wallpaper in her room is being etched away to replace with fresh paint. But they sit. For months, a work in progress. And what happens when the work is stalled and never starts again? Where do unfinished projects go to die?
My unfinished work are these puppets. The due date is April 26th. Have the puppets finished and photographed and turned into a book for them and for all kids with witchy aunties who want to add spiritual spice to their grandparent's Bible influence. Everything sits out, waiting, trying to look fresh and exciting. I want to do landscaping. I want to sew pockets and draw pictures and put together zines right now. I want to do tea readings.
There's an unacknowledged Christmas tree onstage and a spider spinning a web on the microphone. "Can I ask about the Christmas tree?" I ask later at the march booth. "Sure."
"What's with the Christmas tree?"
"I wanted something onstage, because there's really not a lot going on. I asked them to round up a couple old Christmas trees and they came through."
It made me think of that scene in Scott Carrier's, "Chasing After Antelope," where Scott Carrier is interviewing schizophrenics for a mental health survey. He's interviewing a woman in a house that feels normal except for a slice pizza that is upside down not the carpet.
"I can't stop looking at the slice of pizza on the carpet. I keep looking at it because it's the only clue that the woman is sick."
The Christmas tree feels like the pizza, an indication that, while everything is tame and expected, and Elverum is singing almost verbatim the songs we've heard on A Crow Looked At Me and the NPR First Listen streaming Now Only, there's a thread of undoing in all of this.
This isn't a normal show, even though it's scripted and abundantly rehearsed. The off-scripted moments feel loaded. The Christmas tree feels like a safe-haven for the eyes. To avoid sharing too strongly the feeling of loss.
I thought of the looks of the people in the hospice house, bravely looking at my father's yellowing eyes, bravely looking into our eyes which were wide and confused. They've been trained for this, so there's some comfort in that, but I know they have to go through genuine expressions of remorse in front of us.
Of course pancreatic cancer is the only link between Geneviève and my father. Today I was reminded of the times he wanted his father to die. The time he left him alone to choke in the bathroom at the Italian restaurant. The time my grandfather was white as a ghost because he had mixed pills with alcohol and how my father drove us away. A calcified murderous anger.
And I've never had a love the way is being sung about onstage. People are here with their person. White Belt Eagle Scout sends an homage to her person in the audience. People use this concert as sweet place to lean heads on shoulders and whisper little things like, "I would die if you died." I can't help but feel they should all be ashamed in some way, because I am alone and Phil's wife is dead and there's a dead Christmas tree onstage and a spider weaving a web and all of them are islands among themselves. Untouchable by the heaviness of this moments unraveling.
Next to me there's a boy mansplaining to a woman she has every right to consume media which supports her paradigm of the world. She wishes she had come alone. In no way does this person enhance her experience. And in this way I know too, there is no one is the world who could sit next to me and offer me any more brevity or depth.
Then I think of Ferranté. What was the pizza on the carpet for him? Such a madman. Somewhere along the Atlantic shore torturing another poor woman. It was stuffing coming undone from the seats in his car. Torn away by Ghost the German shepherd. He would leave her in there all day.
Ferranté would have had something to say. He lost his wife by cheating though, not cancer.
Later, in the lobby, I buy both records on vinyl. I've been listening to the albums on Spotify or NPR and wanted to throw money at the house that is being built in Anacortes or somewhere North of here. I want to throw money at the openness and the explaining of a real death.
Am I Riting about my Dad Again
"In the National Galley in Oslo / There's a painting called Soria Moria / A kid looks across a deep canyon of fog at a lit up inhuman castle / or something / I have not stopped looking across the water from the few difficult spots where you can see / That the distance from this haunted house where I live to Soria Moria is a real traversible space / I'm an arrow now / Mid-air" P. Elverum
I don't cry as much as my face gets wets in grief. It's a secret comfort that I know no one reads my blog. There's a lost journal in the world where I confess I hate everyone. Someone is reading it now, a stranger that perfectly understands.
My last journal entry was a dream I had with my Dad while he was still alive. This morning I dreamed of being in a tall building on the Westside of Portland overlooking the East of Portland, overlooking the river and the greyness of the world passed that point. Someone had shot a missile and a great black cloud went up, billowing, the way the wrecking yard fire had billowed. The dark smoke hit the window of the building and we knew we were safe for now. News footage showed the soundwave of the explosion knocking a surfer off their surfboard. Maybe they were dead.
My Dad was there though, and we hugged, and I said, "I guess this is where we are hanging out now," and he didn't say anything and in my waking state I still feel stupid and out-of-touch with reality. I feel stupid for saying something like that to him. I used to rememeber this deep well inside myself which felt things very strongly. I hated it because sometimes I couldn't get out, and I didn't know how to ask or what to ask, for help.
This dark unrelateable lonely place where things are real.
I'm not visiting my father yet. I'm not talking to him or asking him to connect and I feel bad for this. I'm trying to understand this freedom of being alone in the world without unsolicited guidance. He wasn't always a dad but I've always been a daughter. Now, transforming into something else, unrecognizable to anyone.
I keep listening to Mount Eerie's, <A Crow Looked At Me,> over and over again. My mom and I drank wine out of coffee cups one night at the Hospice house where Dad lay dying in the other room and I played it over and over again. I now have regrets from that time, things that I could have done. One was putting coconut oil in his mouth so he didn't feel so thirsty when he came into consciousness. Open-mouth junkie naps, they put him on so many drugs to ease the pain. Unable to close his mouth in the sleep. I felt the entire time that I could reverse it from happening if I let go of my anger, but I couldn't, so I didn't, and I let him die.
Before we knew he had cancer he was sick with a digestive disorder and I would brew cups of tea for my altar, and make blessings, and put photos of him everywhere, and light candles, and ask those in the ether to bless him and make him well. Sometimes I would stop the spell midway out of anger that he wouldn't do the same for me. He would ask Jesus to make me normal, not to make me free. But I'm projecting. And I'm so angry.