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Friday, February 28, 2014

Why I Shouldn't Have a TV

Here is one of the reasons my television sits blank and mute for days at a time. I should be over at Madness Mania and Muddlement, writing my ass off and telling the story of this week with Parrish. Instead, I am all worked up over the situation in Ukraine. And it’s my fault. After playing music all day, at seven o’clock tonight, I decided to check out the news of the day, get Parrish engaged in something current, get his mind out of the past by rubbing his nose in the present.

I was standing over a pot of risotto, stirring away, when I heard a newswoman report on the situation in Crimea, a peninsula of Ukraine that sticks down in the the Black Sea. Most of the peninsula is home to the Republic of Crimea. With it’s ethnic Russian majority, it is the last holdout of opposition to Ukraine’s new political leadership.

Today, officials of the Ukrainian government accused Russia (and Vladimir Putin) of trying to take over two airports in Crimea. They said their security people prevented the takeover. Now Washington is seized up with trying to figure out what’s going on and what, if anything, the US should do about it. 

Puleeze. I have stories to write and ideas to put forth and don’t have any time for Russia to start taking over other countries. So, I turned off the tube and finished the risotto. It will be days before the I turn on the damned thing again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. - Carl Sandburg

The fog won’t lift. I tried to wash it away with the salty air of the park, tried to walk it off but found myself looking at the ground moving under my feet as Honey ran around on the end of her leash. I made myself go to the marina and look out over the river and marsh but the sky was gray and there were no birds in sight. Both doors are open and there is fresh cool air blowing through the flat but I don’t feel anything except a gloomy chill even with a sweater on. And I took my medicine; I always take my medicine unless I forget.
Yesterday I washed P’s clothes so they would be fresh and sweet smelling when he gets home tomorrow. This morning I folded them carefully and tucked them into the drawers of his bureau, shorts and undershirts and socks together in neat piles. I hung his shirts in the closet in careful rows alongside his trousers and  jeans and jackets and made sure the towels are fresh and in good supply. His cashmere sweaters are in a plastic storage box to keep them fresh and safe from moths. I arranged pictures along the walls with an eye for where to hang them, took his baseball cards from the old smelly cardboard box and fitted them neatly into a plastic shoe box and put it on the bottom shelf of his night table, put Huggy Bear on his bed. I made sure the lamp has a good bulb. Then I stood in his room and wondered aloud how I would move the walnut cabinet from one corner to the other so there would be a place for his TV. I gave up wondering about and sat down to write.

Unmoved by their brilliant faces, I poured water on the pansies on the porch. There is a pile of clean towels on the other navy-blue love seat, waiting since last night for me to fluff and fold and put them away. They are glaring at me, demanding attention but here I sit at my laptop doing nothing except acknowledging their existence. They can stay there forever for all I care. 

The grill pan sits unattended where I left it last night after cooking some chicken breasts so we could have supper and Honey would have a decent breakfast this morning. I haven’t eaten today even though there are strawberries and blueberries and blackberries and Greek yogurt in the refrigerator. Coffee is all I want, coffee and cigarettes and this keyboard.

Yesterday I began rearranging the painting on the walls but I stopped and haven't gone back to them. It will make me feel better when they are all where they should be and maybe I will work on them some more today. Maybe not.

I don’t want to go back to bed because I’m afraid I will stay there all day except to make coffee and go to the bathroom. Maybe I will do that anyway. No, I won’t. I’ll get up and do something, anything to cut through the inertia, stop the stillness. It’s what I do. It’s not like it used to be when I could’t type or walk a straight line or remember a thought I had a moment before. The fog will move on, perhaps on Sandburg's little cat feet, but it will move on.

The rain started a few minutes ago. 

Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sylvia Plath and Some Other Stuff

My Kindle Paperwhite came yesterday, and last night I started reading The Bell Jar. Honey got me up at seven-thirty this morning, and I started reading it again, amazed that I could read without eye strain.

After about an hour, my eyes were fine but I was wake until a little after eleven. We started on our walk, but a storm was brewing and the wind nearly blew us over before we could get into the park. Honey did her business and we hustled back inside just before the rain came. It was a hard, wind-driven rain that came into the east window, and I had to close it. Honey hunkered down with me on the sofa but it was clear to me that she would rather have been in bed.  

I was tired of being in bed and wanted to read my book here in the good light. I never read The Bell Jar before. No, it’s true. Why? I just never did. I seem to remember being in college or maybe it was after college, that  the title didn't appeal to me. I suppose now that I’ve read the book, the title was off-putting to me because of my own bell jar.  

I was already depressed by then.  It started when Parrish was born. I had postpartum depression and no none knew what the hell it was. My doctor didn’t turn a hair when I told him I was sad all the time, just suggested that I get a hobby. What the hell did that mean? I already had my hands full with a colicky baby, and even with a great deal of help from Mama, I was barely coping. I ended up teaching myself to do needlepoint but it would be years before I could enjoy the art of it. My first pieces were as sad as I was.
I was miserable and couldn’t eat and couldn’t concentrate on anything. I quickly got back into my pre-pregnancy clothes because I couldn’t swallow food. I remember what a challenge it was to cook a meal. I remember feeling guilty because I couldn’t breastfeed. Nobody showed me how and I thought it was something that just happened naturally. Boy, was I naive. I think it was about that time that I started drinking alcohol. I liked the way it made me feel - still do. 

The depression deepened when I left Lawrence, even though I was sure I was doing the right thing. My appetite dwindled to nothing and I ended up weighing less than a hundred pounds. I worked through it, though, and was able to move forward with my life

Where did that come from?  Oh yeah, The Bell Jar. It’s one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read and I want to read it again. I may just start over tomorrow. I downloaded a book of Sylvia Plath’s poems tonight and started reading them. I’ve tried to read her poems before but never got into them. Now I think they are incredible. All of a sudden, I can read them with some understanding that I suppose has to do with me reading the book. I want to read some of her short stories now. I just went to Amazon and none of the are in Kindle edition. Maybe some day.

I finished the book this afternoon. It’s unheard of for me to read an entire book, even a short one, in a day.  My eyes get too tired and my vision blurs. The Kindle allows me to crank up the font to a size that doesn’t cause the crippling eye strain I get when reading hard copy. I only put it down every now and then to do some small chore, like clean up my room since Lawrence is supposed to bring over my dock box some time this weekend, and since it’s going in the bathroom, he’ll have to go through my room with it. I made an half-ass attempt to start cleaning the kitchen from Wednesday’s dinner with Bob, but I only managed to put the dishes in the sink to soak. I didn't give a shit about anything but that book. 

Tonight I started to think about arranging P’s room. The carpet is filthy on the side of the bed where The Famous Writer sat and smoked weed and spilled the ashes on the carpet. I suppose I should be grateful he didn’t burn it, but I’m not grateful for anything about him except the fact that he is gone. I’ll call a carpet cleaner to scrub the last of him out of the room. And I need to hang pictures and buy Parrish a decent chair. I also need a room divider - a handsome screen - to wall off my office and bedroom from the great room. And I need a storage unit of some kind for the garage. I need a lot of stuff, but I don’t want to spend money right now.   

The rain didn’t last long and by mid afternoon the sun was shining, so we got in our afternoon walk, actually extended it by making a loop around by the slave cabins after we left the park. I feel stronger in my legs and today there was no pain, even when I woke up. I wish I could figure out what makes the pain so bad at times and nonexistent at others.

I called Sophie last night, and she’s not coming. She says her brother is sick. I’m terribly disappointed but I understand. I called Melvina and left a message for her to call me back but never heard from her. I can do Parrish coming home by myself if I have to but I’m not looking forward to it. 

I’m unsure about P’s dismissal. It’s supposed to happen on Monday, but my understanding is that we are to have a family meeting with the Dr. Snow and Wayne, the social worker, before he comes home, but no one has contacted me about that. I called Wayne yesterday and today, left messages to call me both times but never heard from him. What’s with that? He threatened by an involved family member with guardianship? Just sorry-ass and not concerned? I really don’t give a shit. I just want him to do his job.

Parrish is still intermittently confused, which is a worry, but he is so much clearer and present than he was a week ago, I can’t complain. Maybe he will continue to be more in the here and now as the Clozaril takes effect. God, I hope so. We could have a pretty good life together if he can stay on his meds and stay sober. Anyone with half a brain and one eye can tell I want to live alone and unbothered by another person in my flat, but this situation is what I have and I will deal with, and I can make the necessary adjustments if P continues to improve and doesn’t throw crazy and chaos all over the place.

Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Baby Steps

It’s a cruel day and I am cold to the core.  The air is thick with moisture and its coolness bites into me.  Walking in the park there was no heat from the sky, only darkness, and the wind whipped through my pants not sturdy enough to fight it back.  My body is tired despite eight hours of sleep.  That sleep was filled with eerie dreams that woke me wondering what it all meant and now I cannot piece them together enough to know what they were about.  

My bones are chilly in spite of heat in the apartment.  They ache in the deepest places.  I am sleepy but cannot rest because P calls and garbles into the phone, saying he has had enough, that all of his clothes are gone again and I should wire him some money.  He thinks I am in Macon.

I am not in Macon, of course.  I am here on my Island, my retreat, but even here I feel exposed, open to the bitterness of knowing P is no better.  The weather man says it will rain on us, a thing I usually relish, the rain.  I don’t want rain now.  I want it on a day that is kind to my soul, but today my soul is open and raw and vulnerable to the chill of my own thoughts, the bite in the air.

Honey seems sad and distracted, away somewhere in her puppy-dog mind.  Maybe she feels the icy energy coming from me.  I have dishes to wash but they sit crusty and ignored and unattended.  I think to clean the kitchen but am drawn instead to sit and write.  My bedroom is a jumble of clothes and things I don’t know where to put.  Six months in this flat and I just yesterday figured out where to store the linen.

My thinking is tangential, thoughts shooting in all directions, my focus on nothing except the pouring of words from my brain through my fingertips as I type.  I like this typewriter font and find it comforting, familiar in its look.  All that is missing is the pounding of keys.  It reminds me of typing papers in high school and college.  I always loved to write papers, research and organize the facts and put them together in a way that made sense.  

Can I make sense of all this crazy and uncertainty and angst by spilling words onto this keyboard?  I feel a stiff breeze flowing through my being, clouding my mind and rendering me lifeless and limp.  Am I hopeless?  Maybe at this moment I am.  I can’t be hopeless in the face of all these demons, Parrish’s and mine.  Where is my fight, my relentless pursuit of peace, my determination to meet what life has in store?  I can't find it right now.  It’s here somewhere, can’t have gone far, but it eludes me and all I want to do is climb in bed and sleep and escape.  But I learned last night that there is not escape in sleep, not now.  

My soul is cold so I sit, wrapped in a blanket, and think and write and wonder when the warmth will return.  Maybe tomorrow, maybe sooner.  No later than tomorrow, though.  I have to go out and find it before tomorrow comes.  I can’t stay mired in this bog, but it will suck me into darkness if I struggle too hard against it.  So, I lift my feet gingerly, shake off the mud, take a tentative step forward in order to stop the slide.  Cliché alert:  baby steps, baby steps.

Copyright 2014 cj Schlottman


Monday, February 10, 2014


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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Stream of Consciousness Dining

Out for dinner on Friday night.  I came here because I haven't been out but one time (except for music night) since P tried to kill himself on the 12th of January.  I'm tired of being alone every night at dinner.  Well, there was that one night when Bob came over to eat some of the shrimp creole I cooked for two days.

I'm tired of eating cottage cheese and fruit or a bowl of cereal instead of sitting down to a hot meal. I don't count the time I grilled a salmon filet and sat on the sofa and shared it with Honey.  

Why do I need to rationalize this?  There is no need for me to make up excuses for coming out to dinner.  

Dining alone is easier for me than it was when I was young and self-conscious.  I'd still rather have a dinner partner, but this will have to do.  I wanted to sit at the bar but when I arrived, the place was already bursting at the seams, and it's as loud as a football game.  I wanted a table for one, but all the tables for one have been pushed together for a "large party at eight."  

Everyone is shouting.  I hear a word here and there but for the most part it's a cacophony of voices, deep and shrill, male and female.  There's a not unpleasant isolation in the middle of all this racket.  In a perverse way, this chaos, a thing I generally try to avoid, is soothing.  The anonymity in the middle of it is welcome.

After bringing my Scotch, the server checked back right away to see if I wanted to order my dinner.  She wanted to tell me about tonight's special, some kind if tricked up fish dish.  

"I just want to have my drink and do a little writing."

I'm every server's nightmare, an old woman alone at a table for four who has whipped out her iPad and started writing and does not appear to be in any hurry at all - on Friday night.  If some if those fuckers at the bar will either leave or take a table, I can move in there.

In the meantime, here I sit, my fingers dancing on this wonderful little touch screen, sipping McCallan and unconcerned about the seating arrangements.  I thought about writing a steam of consciousness poem about dining alone, and maybe that's what this will be in the end.

I would just love it if I could make the server think I'm a restaurant critic!  Not sure how to do that without telling an outright lie, but it would be fun to see what happened.

I've been reading poems on Tumblr by a girl (or woman) who calls herself Inkedskin.  The works are almost all stream of consciousness, and they are raw and honest and almost burn the page. She writes of cutting herself and of feeling left out and of being anxious and fearful, of her alcoholic father.  I have no idea how old she is, but she is a student.  I look forward to reading her pieces even though every one of them is disturbing.  I admire her guts and grit, her willingness to lay her soul out there for everyone to see.  I wish I had that kind of grit when I was young.

I'm also reading poems written by my wonderful friend and mentor, Rosemary Daniell.  I have all of her books and read from her work often.  She has endured the agony of living with loved ones who suffer from mental illness and the anguish it engenders.  As much as Inkedskin's poems rip into me, Rosemary's are more personal and speak to my situation in words that echo the aching in my own heart.  They tear into the very core of my own personal hell, and they inspire me to be a better writer.  Rosemary is the woman who convinced me that I can call myself a writer and a poet.  She has nurtured my talent for years and is one of the Angels in my life.

The thing with Parrish is weighing on me, and I spend a great deal of time writing about it and thinking about it.  One reason for coming out tonight was to get away from that, and here I am writing about it.  I need to stop.  I need to look around and write about some of these people, how they look, how they carry themselves, the expressions in their faces.

All I can really see from here, though, is the two fish in the tank.  They look like Jack Dempseys, but they are orange.  They float around in the tank, appear oblivious to the noise.  I feel sorry for them, but I wonder if there is any real reason to feel sorry for a couple of fish who have a clean house and get fed and are not at the mercy of a single predator.  They have no responsibilities, no problems, no worries at all, so maybe it's not such a bad life.  

I just looked up and saw a woman who looks remarkably like an unpleasant woman I knew in Macon.  It's not her, though, thank God.  How awful would it be for me to come out to escape my quotidian life and run into some bitch from Macon?  I might have to stab myself in the throat with a fork.  

I'm grateful every day of my life that I no longer live in Macon.  I never felt at home in there, never, even though I had Clint for a posse all those years.  I don't do small talk and that's all those people do, with a few exceptions, of course.  

Shut up, cj.  Shut up and eat your fried shrimp salad.

I just saw a waitress twirl her hair with her finger.  Really glad she didn't bring my food, which is very tasty

© 2014 cj Schlottman  


Because I have been bombarded with spam - people trying to sell controlled substances - I have disabled comments for everyone except members of the blog.  If you want to comment, simply join up if you haven't done so already.  I'll trying turning comments back on in a week or so.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pity Party

I am getting so sad, can feel the energy draining from my body and soul.  Being strong for so long has not made me stronger; it has made me weaker.  I can write, thank God, and I can walk in the park with Honey twice a day, but I really don’t want to leave my apartment for any other reason.  I wait until my cupboard is bare to go to the grocery store.  

Tomorrow I have to go to the hotel and clean out P’s room and bring all of his belongings over here.  In spite of all my protestations about not letting him stay with me, I can’t deposit him back over there when he is released from Gateway.  He will surely kill himself, or in the best case, throw crazy up all over the place and be asked to leave. 

I am grieving for my freedom, my newfound independence, my new life into which I have so comfortably settled.  Even if we hire sitters to be with P at night and when I need to go out, my house will not be my own.  I will lose the solitude I so crave, the silence and peace that feeds my creativity and keeps me writing.

Lawrence is going to help me buy a decorative deck box into which to deposit all my liquor and wine.  It will look like a bench, even have a cushion on top.  I can store meds in my little lock box, but I’ll have to keep the key on a string around my neck in order to keep P from getting his hands on it.  I’ll have to lock up my car keys when I come in the house.  I won’t be able to smoke weed at bedtime to control my nighttime pain.  

Honey will suffer if P is manic.  She will revert to hiding in the bottom of my closet or behind the toilet, and she will be a nervous wreck.  Why do I have to sacrifice my best friend’s wellbeing?  

Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself.  I deserve a pity party.  I’m sitting here drinking good Vodka and chain smoking, trying to decide if I want to ask a friend to come over for shrimp creole night.  The sauce has been cooking all day.  He's a good and steady friend, and sharing a meal with a nice man who has no designs on me, just wants to be my friend, would do me good. 

So, I'm going to call him up. 

Later - He brought the French bread!