Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just Like Honey

In the 1980s, a band Skeleton Crew had a song with the lyrics: "There's no convenient time to break your neck." Ah, so true in all regards. When is it ever easy to face a hardship?

In the last couple of days, I've come around to accepting that things are the way they are. It's my "one thing" motto: you're here in this life to do one thing, and in the next life, your role is to do something else. So to hate yourself in this lifetime, to beat on yourself, isn't healthy. You're given what you're given: traits, a personality, quirks that make you, you.

So the sooner you give up resisting your nature, the better off you'll be in terms of your mental health.

Riding the train into the City today, I wrote in my spiral-bound notebook to keep the thoughts from pouring out. As I did, it was clear to me that I'm not responsible for what other people do or think, and I don't cause them to be hateful. I understood that they have "agreements" that determine what they think. These agreements are actually hang-ups about other people that are a reflection of that person, not you or me.

The one thing I realize is that some people have an agreement about what's acceptable, what's normal and what isn't. That's why is such an antidote, it gets you to question how far off on the fringe people with SZ are compared to those of us with tongue piercings, tattoos and other hallmarks of unconventional, free-spirited expression.

Marilyn Manson is the gold standard of weird.

As I write this in here, it's also clear to me that no one else dare judge us, and for you or me to sit in fear of being judged and thus conform, act counter to our true selves, ah, that's the bane of every creative person: to be forced to wear gray flannel when she'd rather browse a thrift shop. That's what I'm getting at: there is no normal.

Someone who has an agreement with himself that he knows what's acceptable and what isn't is often the kind of person who will judge you or me if we don't agree with what they believe, or follow their doctrine. So you see it's exhausting even to talk about narrow-mindedness, let alone experience it out in the world.

Part of what I've been grappling with in the last couple of days has been the reality that when I was younger, I had no tolerance for the residents I felt accepted learned helplessness. Right now, as of today, I forgive myself and feel the need to protect and respect others. I get the sense that my role is going to change in the coming years and I will quite possibly go back to school for some kind of therapy degree.

The Jesus and Mary Chain lyrics come into my head now, for the song "Just Like Honey": "Look at the girl/As she takes on half the world." Those Brits were my favorite band in the 1980s. I'd listen to their album, Psychocandy, on vinyl at midnight in my bedroom, when everyone else was out of the house and I could listen to the music, really listen, as if it held the secret to life.

I salute anyone who dares take on half the world. And now I salute the ones who take on their recovery in whatever way they feel works. As I rode the train home, a space started to free up where I could allow everyone in.

Again I'm reminded of the woman with the shocking blue eyeshadow. I'm pulled to see beyond the surface, to wonder what's going on in someone's head, in her life. Who is that stranger on the train and where is he going, where has he been? Curiosity can be a good thing. Certainly having a healthy imagination allows us to envision possibilities, weather the doldrums. [As long as it doesn't run wild.]

Can you imagine a day just like honey dripping goodness? My friend couldn't go to IKEA, so treated me to lunch in the Asian place. I was direct with her; I didn't dice it up. My tears flowed over the grilled lobster. She told me, "You're a rock star, honey." I didn't protest, though when you look up the word hot mama in the dictionary, you see a picture of her. She has done great things and I respect and admire her for taking those risks.

No, no, no, I couldn't judge someone who wanted to accomplish something and set out to do that not knowing whether she would succeed or fail, would fall flat on her face. The wounds another person tries to inflict on us because he's insecure we don't have to let cut into our skin. Years later I can forgive "Tony Rome": the guy who baited me because I told him I wanted to move to Brooklyn, and he said I was "a yuppie that got fumbled out by a waiter in a restaurant so popped into the meeting to blast everyone with her feelings." I call him Tony Rome because he was this suave guy in a navy jacket and casual slacks, and there was something very Frank Sinatra about how he looked. Didn't Ol' Blue Eyes play Tony Rome in the movie of the same name?

Watch out. Listen up: Mercury is in retrograde; what the astrologer woman I met called a "review period." The feeling that everything is sliding backwards is doubly felt with Mercury retrograde. In two weeks Mercury turns direct. You could feel differently; however, I feel there's something to astrology that can't be discounted. Of course, I wouldn't do something or not do something because the stars foretold it would be a lucky or unlucky day.

Thus the subtle philosophical bent to what I've been writing lately, this kind of reflective mood, going within to draw strength in a time of uncertainty. M. rang late last night and we talked on the phone about how people are getting depressed in this economy,. "Some people are turning to alcohol," he knew. It's not a good scene. Everyone gets the blues. Everyone hurts sometime.

This isn't how I intended JM to take off today: down a dark road. So I'll switch gears and tell you what absolutely lifted me after lunch in the Asian place. Shopping. Yes, retail therapy. It's called retail therapy for a reason. After I left the store with a cheap yet beautiful camisole and another gorgeous blouse [for warm weather], I felt good. Real good. I exchanged the pants for a different pair in a smaller size. Ana said, "Cheer up. Do you know how many people would be happy if they were tiny?" Of course. Yet she knew I worked it; my fitness didn't come naturally to me. Oh, I can't have a tub of Ben & Jerry's every week like I used to in my thirties, when I first moved here. I'm 43, and a cupcake every now and then is pushing it, the most I can do.

It's true: when you turn 40, you have to reduce what you eat, and exercise more, to maintain a healthy weight. Kate Moss isn't someone to idolize unless it's only her fashion sense you covet. To have legs as skinny as measuring tape isn't healthy. To be a hostage to the number on the scale isn't healthy, either. Yet I know how it is to feel sh*tty about your weight because I was once 20 lbs overweight when I first began taking the Stelazine in 1987. It took me six years [yes, six years] to lost that weight and in the long-term, I kept it off.

It's a struggle to get up everyday and fight the good fight. You could be a good soldier and feel nothing's going to come of it. Yet I urge you to soldier on. These are soul-testing times, more so for people diagnosed with SZ or other MIs who have to fight harder. I urge you not to give up. In this review period, take stock of where you've been and how far you've come.

Better days lie head.

And if you want to treat yourself and you like Loft, I recommend you go. They're having some good sales. "You gotta love a sale," Ana chimed as I pulled things off the rack.

Keep up a positive spirit.

As I wrote in here recently, sometimes the detours are necessary.

So why not look smashing as you wait for the tide to turn? Run errands in that cute top or abolish your sweatpants as you sit typing at the computer.

Here's looking at you, kid!

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