This publication is the exclusive property of cj Schlottman, and is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this blog may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, cj Schlottman. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

#24 I See the LIght


I see the light now, and even through the prism of my tears, it is brighter.  I long to sit by the sea, gazing at it dancing off the water, dazzling me with diamonds and silver.  Hypnotized by its brilliance, I come to see that it is within my grasp.  

But I must pose on the tips of my toes and reach and stretch.  There are footholds, slippery and treacherous in their ability to hurl me back down, but they are there nonetheless.  I must dig my toes into them and reach upward, cast about for hand holes, dig into them with my fingers, sweat and bleed and carefully climb.

Do I have the courage?  I am terrified, almost paralyzed with fear of being thrown back into the black place, but I need the light, lust for it in a way that is almost sexual.  I need it to live completely.  I need it to dry my wounds, my tears, illuminate my way down this sorrowful path.

I struggle, wrestle with the darkness, and it slowly falls away.   I dare not turn to see it fade.  My eyes on the light, I edge my way upward one tentative inch at a time.  Feeling the warmth as I pull myself over the rim of the hole, I lie panting and triumphant, weeping for joy, wishing I were naked to let the light pour completely over me, heating my very core, warming the icy place in my soul where my anguish lives on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It Ain't Easy


I’m still down here in the black hole.  The rain has started - again.  I can’t see the sky but I can hear the rain coming down.  I like it.  If only I didn’t have to go to the doctor for my yearly physical, I could stay right here in my bed and read and write and knit.  I try to read all the blogs I follow before I start writing one of my own.  

I haven’t done my yoga practice in almost a week, so I must do that.  It is soothing and calming and makes me feel light and heavy at the same time.  I think I’ll do it now and get back to you later.....................

.....................Yoga is good.  Maybe I can see a little light at the mouth of the black hole.

Here are two picture of some things I have knitted.  I love knitting lace because it feeds my OCD.  One must count the stitches or it can really get fucked up.  It is soothing and it’s hard to think about anything else while you are doing it.  I know this from years of unknitting when I screwed up and didn’t count.  Oh, and you can’t knit and cry at the same time.

I’m thirsty so I am cheating by drinking a few sips of water every now and then.  My anti-crazy medications really make my mouth dry and sticky, like someone squeezed a blob of Elmer’s Glue in it.  It ain’t easy being crazy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Holes in my Soul


It’s dark down here.  Yesterday, when I arrived home from Savannah, I walked in the door and stepped into the black hole.  Down I came like a child on a slide, arms held tight against my sides, teeth clenched and braced for the part where I get dumped off at the bottom. 

I was wobbly all weekend but tried not to let any of the kids see it.  I shuffled my feet and tilted off balance whenever I had to turn a corner or make a sudden move.  I was so distracted I forgot my knitting, a beautiful handspun cashmere shawl which is about 1/4 finished.  On the way home, when I stopped for gas, I had to will myself not to stagger when I went inside to pee.  

I feel a thousand years old, like an aged leper whose sores weep and drain right out there where anyone can see them.  I am transparent.  I don’t have the energy to care that others can see through me to this hellish place.  I don’t care what anybody feels except me.  I have wept myself dry several times today.  I've been through the psychological wood chipper.

The black hole makes me anxious, afraid, and helpless, and it comes out of nowhere.  I knew my state of mind was somehow tied in with Ralph’s death but I was not prepared for this.  Losing another part of Clint has reactivated my grief and I feel as though he died yestrday.  My heart is broken into a thousand pieces and I am furious.  My stomach churns and my spit has a funny taste.  I’m disappointed and angry to find myself practically back on square one.  I need to go to the Dollar Store and buy some things to break.

When I saw my therapist this afternoon, she said this would happen again, probably several more times, but that each time I will recover more quickly than the last.  She had such a look of sadness on her wonderful sweet face, I knew she was in pain for me.

Strangely, I want to stay here in this place for a while.  I have enough sense to know that's not healthy, but at least down here I know what to expect.  I know there will be pain and tears and that powerless feeling of trying to walk in chest deep water reaching for something, I don’t know what.  Maybe Clint is down here somewhere and we’ll run into one another.  Silly girl.  I know he’s dead, but I’m still searching for him, for his strength and support and understanding and the wonderful way he loved me.  I feel as though someone is punching holes in my soul with an ice pick.  

Saturday, February 20, 2010

In Memory of Ralph and In Gratitude to Mike

Today, as I was driving out of my neighborhood to take my dogs to camp so I could spend the weekend in Savannah with my Duck family, my good friend Nancy called to tell me that Clint’s partner had died during the night.  We knew Ralph was dying, had known even before Clint died.  They practiced medicine (urology) together for 28 years and we found it cruelly ironic that he was dying of bladder cancer.

Never close, they made a medical good team.  Clint’s laid back personality was a nice balance for Ralph’s temper, and I am certain that Clint saved many jobs when Ralph wanted to fire someone in a fit of rage.

Clint was a lapsed Roman Catholic and an agnostic.  Ralph was a dyed in the wool Southern Baptist and spent no small amount of energy tryng to save Clint’s soul and bring him to Jesus.  He was particularly  adament after Clint got sick.  Ralph would bring over books by C. S. Lewis or some Big Bad Baptist Blabbermouth of an evangelist, asking Clint to read them and think about his faith.  Clint always trashed the books, but at least he waiting until Ralph’s departure.

One time, Ralph asked Clint to pray with him but Clint refused, saying there was more than one way to God.  That didn’t stop Ralph from trying.   We have to give him that.

When Nancy called me this morning, I felt as though I had been gut-punched and that all the scabs on my wounds were falling away and they were once again oozing pain and loss and fury.  Out of nowhere wham! I felt as though I had been flung to my knees.   I lost my focus, so I pulled into the carwash down the street and bawled like a baby.  Another piece of Clint has fallen away. 

Distracted, I missed my exit to the dog camp by 14 miles and had to backtrack.  When will this poison, this sickness leave me to live the writer’s life I want to live and that I now know I can?   How many times do I need to be cut off at the knees before I am allowed to more foreward?  I have been wobbly and off balance all day and into the evening.

I cried quiet tears most of the way to Savannah, positioned the Land Yacht - a 1976 Lincoln Town Car that had been Clint’s - in the slow lane and drove the speed limit.  The frenetic drivers who weave in and out of lanes were more than I could deal with.  Even when I am at my most even tempered mood, those people make me want to shoot their tires out from under them.

Saturday Morning
Life Goes On

There was a big supper at Cancun, the local Mexican restaurant, in honor of Ellery’s Odyssey of the Mind team. ( Google it).  Their regional competition is this morning at 10:15.  It’s the reason I came down here.  Mike Duck knows how to have a good time, and as usual he took over the room, singing with the Mariachi band, grabbing me out of my seat to do some dirty dancing, and in general entertaining every one in the room.  A couple of the parents were a little dumbstruck when we were dancing, but I didn’t give a shit.  Dirty Dancing should be a required course in high school.  The kids didn’t seem to notice.  They have all probably seen the movie more than once.  I love that little coming of age movie, and I’m grateful to Mike for taking me outside of myself and dragging me out to dance with him.

So far, I haven’t cried today.  I’m still wobbly and air-headed, but last night Mike gave me the opportunity to be happy and laugh when I most needed it.  And for that I am grateful.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

#23 An Ocean for a Bed


I wake needing to tell you something, something important, but when I reach to touch your arm or shoulder to wake you, I am shocked as though struck by lightening.  You aren’t there.  I need to talk to you but you aren’t there.  Then I forget what I want to tell you and start crying.  I weep as I stagger to let out the dogs and wait for them to come back in out of the cold.

I pour coffee to wake me up but I know I can’t stay awake.  I need to hide inside The Red Sweater some more.  With mug in hand, I wobble back to our bed and when I lie down it lists to my side as though to remind me that you, the ballast that keeps the bed on an even keel, are gone.  A wide expanse of ocean spreads itself over your side, where you should be.  Am I on a sinking ship?  Where are the life preservers?  If I drown, will I find you?

I pull a sleep mask over my damp eyes and go back to sleep, forgetting to feed Mr. Palmer.  He’s a lot like me, swimming around in a pretty house all alone.  A couple of hours later, I wake and you’re still gone.  But the bed is level and I wonder what it was that I was so desperately wanted to say to you.  Does it even matter now, when every fiber of my being aches for you?  Does anything really matter anymore?

Coffee warmed in a microwave should be against the law.  I sip it and throw it out and make another pot.  I make a full pot knowing there will be coffee left over.  Maybe you want a cup?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Light Switches and Wobbliness


Someone has moved the light switches in my house.  What other explanation can there be?  Not all of the switches have been moved, but I have trouble with the one in den, always reaching right and wondering who moved it to the left.  The same is true with my closets.  When I reach for the switches on the outside wall I realize they are on the inside.  But which

There’s more.  I don’t turn the lights when I need to.  I find myself making coffee in a dim room and wonder why I can’t perform this easy task, wondering if I’m going blind.  Only then do I realize that I am working  in the morning’s first light and I turn on he light.

I’m always dropping things, breaking some.  I spilled  coffee just this morning.  I was on my  bedside table and fortunately only quarter full but I had to stop writing and clean up my own fucking mess.

I’m wobbly in my body and soul, the same way I have been before.  I don’t like it.  It makes me feel crazy (which we already know), and I hate it.  If Clint were here, he would put me in bed and instruct me to stay down, to nap and and relax and refuel my soul.  I would cry all over him then fall asleep to wake with his body pushed close enough for me to feel feel is pulse.  He was my shield against depression, that is, until he got too sick to prop me up  and I got sicker and sicker until I landed in hospital.

I was there for 10 days and came out better medicated and beginning to get back my sea legs.  He came for visiting hours except once when he didn’t  feel well enough.

My dyslexia has reared its ugly head which has put me at war with my keyboard  I wish I had a dollar for all the times I have rearranged letters to make words clear, cut out words and phrases, deleted text, edited it.

I can’t type without great effort.   This post has been a fucking nightmare, and it’s not even a good one!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Running Scared


My Dead Husband loved music - jazz, rock, classical.  I have the a DVD we used to watch every now and then because we just needed to.  It’s called "Roy Orbison:  Black and White Night."  It’s Roy and some of his friends performing at Cocoanut Grove Nightclub, Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on November 11, 1988.  Here’s the list of friends:

Jackson Browne

T-Bone Burnett

Elvis Costello

k.d. lang

Bonnie Raitt

J. Steven Soles

J.D. Souther

Bruce Springsteen

Tom Waits

Jennifer Warnes

Alex Acuna

James Burton

Glen D. Hardin

Jerry Scheff

Cool?  Very cool.  They did 17 of Roy’s hits, and their enthusiasm and sheer joy at playing with him was so contagious, we caught it right through the TV set every time we watched and listened.  I even played air guitar with The Boss and James Burton.  Maybe I will again one day.  I tried to watch the DVD today but I couldn’t do it.  Not the right time, I guess. 

I did listen to a Roy CD, and it make me remember that Clint’s favorite of his songs was Running Scared.  He was jealous of me, afraid one of my old boyfriends would appear and I would leave him for said boyfriend.  This man, the object of my (endless) love and, yes, adoration, was afraid of losing me!  It was an age thing, I think, though our 14 year age difference was not really an issue in other ways.  As time went by, the jealousy fell away, but that song remained his favorite.  He would sing along with it, triumphantly belting out the last line, “You turned away and walked away with me.” 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

#19 On Dust and Poems


I’ve been wearing the The Red Sweater since Monday night except to bathe and yesterday when I got hot when I was tugging off the sofa slipcovers so I could wash them.  I suppose today I will have to wash The Red Sweater.  As I walked out onto my deck to light my heater and smoke and drink coffee, the first drops of rain began to fall.  I should have known.  Yesterday was warm and lately when it’s warm there is rain the next day.

It’s too early to know how I feel.  I haven't brushed my teeth yet but I found that writing when I first wake gives me a sort of forecast of my day’s feelings.  I know I’m tired and sore from the house cleaning mania that overtook me yesterday.  I get this way sometimes, insanely focused on ridding my house of dirt and dust that will just come back in a few days anyway.  When I get a job, the first thing I'm going to buy is a Roomba so I can sic that little son of a bitch on my dusty floors every day.  My Dead Husband wouldn’t give a shit about the dust.  He would pat my side of the bed and say, “Climb back up here with me, Fat Girl.  We’ll let it rain while we take a nap.”  

When I have been out of town, I miss him more than usual and I have been to Savannah two weekends in a row.  I declined an invitation to drive down to Amelia Island tomorrow for a Super Bowl weekend party because I want to stay home in my little clean (for now) house with my dogs.

I want to hide in The Red Sweater for few more days because it’s my soft place to fall, comfort against the chill but more than that it is Clint, his arms around me, his love stored up in the softness like one one of those time-released patches that dispenses nicotine or pain medicine or estrogen.  I need his presence right now more than usual and as usual he won’t let me down.  Well, he did let me down when he died but that is old news.  I have to do the best I can.

After I brush my teeth and before I begin to stuff the sofa cushions back into their covers, I’m going to lie in bed and listen to Phyl's CDs and catch up on Hipstercrite and My Soul is a Butterfly, my two favorite blogs.  (I wish some Zona Rosans would start blogs so I could follow them). They get me outside of myself and take me to New York and Austin and make me feel connected to the creative energy those talented women splash on their pages.  And I’m going to read some poems.  I have been reading poems in the morning - at least two.  Yesterday I read James Dickey’s “The Shark’s Parlor” and “A Morning.”  

I’ve started a list of some of my favorite poems and for a while showed them on all my blogs but I couldn't figure out how to link the titles to the poems so the reader to go directly to them.  So, now the poems are only listed on my Poetry blog and anyone who wants to read them must Google the title.   I guess that's not too much to ask.

PS:  Yesterday I finished Noah's Compass.  Don't bother.

Monday, February 1, 2010

#18 Happy Birthday, my Darling

01/31/10 - 9:40 PM

Happy Birthday, my Darling,
I’m in Savannah with the Ducks.  Yesterday was Zona Rosa.  I am too tired to write more tonight.  Your birthday has wrung me dry in spite of the fact that I kept busy and cooked shrimp and grits for the Ducks and chauffeured Addie around.  I couldn’t stay busy enough to keep the tears away.  I miss you in a way that is eating my heart away - again.  

11:25 PM
Exhausted, but unable to sleep, I have been lying here in bed, thoughts racing around in my head like the tigers in Little Black Sambo, making me feel as though my brain might melt into butter.  Thoughts of Mama’s recipe for oyster stew came out of nowhere, then I thought I might make some for myself soon but dismissed the idea because I knew I wouldn’t eat it if I made it.  Maybe that came from the butter/brain image.  She used a ton of butter, which is of course why it was so good.
     I even tuned my iPod to Dan Gibson's  Natural Stress Relief  in an effort to soothe the churning in my head.  It's pleasant, but it just made me wish I were home in our bed where for years we went to sleep to it every night .  I started thinking that if I didn't write down these thoughts now I would lose the language and some of its power.  So, here I am.
     My facebook post (Happy Birthday, My Darling Clint. I will love you forever). keeps coming into my head, saying it is too much and not enough.  What is there for me to say?  Do I need to detail all the tears I have shed this day?  The times I have retreated to the patio to smoke and cry?  The stabbing pain that melts into an ache permeating every cell of my body and?
     Tomorrow I am going to post another poem on this blog, and I have my knickers all in a twist about it.  It's about a snake.  Yesterday, Rosemary suggested that I write it in first person, and I am been stewing over that.  I am NOT a snake.  I just wish I could be one sometimes.  I'm leaving it alone except for a little copy editing.  I like it the way it is.
  I have spent the weekend surrounded by two loving and supportive families:  my Zona Rosa family and my Duck family - Mike and Polly and Addie (my heart’s love and only biological grandchild) and Ellery and Isabel and Michael.  (My wonderful grandchildren who came as a bonus when Polly married Mike and they began making these amazing babies).  God only knows how I would have fared if I were alone.  I am thankful for my families, for the love they give so freely, the way they make me laugh and think and yes, forget for moments or even hours, that you are gone, that you should be here having a birthday party.
  When you first told me your mother never had a birthday party for you, I didn’t believe it.  Over the years, I learned it to be the unthinkable truth.  No wonder, when we first met, you said you didn’t know how to love because you weren’t sure you ever had been.  But I came along and loved you, loved you deeply, almost painfully so, and you learned to return that love a thousand times over.  Yes, I will always love you.  That’s enough, and it’s not too much.  It just is.  Now maybe I can go to sleep.

Good night, My Love,
Your Fat Girl