Thursday, June 30, 2011

Evening, my train station, ambient noise

The birds haven't seen each other for hours and there is so much to tell. by sirtessa

Things They Said

"If I hadn't met you, I'd think you are a bit odd."

"You are a complicated person."

"You're kooky and terribly endearing & I expect you are extremely endearing to others. There's a surreal quality to your life, yeah?"

"This girl operates words like levers."

"You have this joie de vivre about you."


"Er. No. You're 22 or something."

"I hadn't heard you say it before."

"Confirmed you are not a pancake."

"You are family."

"You need a fucking warning label."

"You got under my skin. WAY under. Like a mite. Or a tapeworm."

"Tessa, what are you doing?"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Psychosomatic Phrynosoma

The Psychosomatic Phrynosoma is most often found in the abdomen, particularly in the stomach but has been known to roam about the digestive tract and guts according to the stability or lack thereof of its immediate environment.

Eggs are introduced to the host via aural injection, usually riding in upon words that the host does not wish to hear, or that perhaps herald further words that the host does not wish to hear. As these words traverse the earways they trigger various timers and countdowns that will either terminate in their own time or at the behest of external interference.

Once the eggs are deposited in the head they will remain dormant until mindscape surrounding them is at an appropriately fruitful and tense state, at which point they will hatch and begin their journey south in to the literal bowels of their host.

There, depending on the stress under which the host is placed, they will grow into mature adult size which is typically just a little bigger than is comfortable for the host. The host will react by clenching their stomach against this protrusion, which in turn will prompt the Psychosomatic Phrynosoma to extend the many spikes adorning its armour. This conflict will proceed as a struggle of wills, with the Phrynosoma twisting, clawing and scrabbling about with its many spines and claws while the host is most typically sitting calmly in a public place, such as a tram stop or an office desk, gazing distractedly into the distance and working the inside of their lips tensely.

The Psychosomatic Phrynosoma causes no physical damage. The infestation ends once the host's stress drops below viable levels, at which point the Phrynosoma dies, passes through the host's digestive tract, and leaves the body with a moist sigh.

The common name for the Psychosomatic Phrynsoma is "Anxiety".

ETA 28 June 2011: Cockle-warming surprise reading of this post done by the bouncy flouncy Alex Garber.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cross Section of Strata Emotional and Forgotten

There is a marked difference between the previous two posts. Not in terms of the emotional megaphone confession of soiled laundry and public displays of melodrama, but where they came from. One typed, one dictated. The dictated is the shorter by far. Perfunctory. Concise. Not even attempting to furbish the reader with details or texture because the Dragon is not my voice. It is a translator, and even the best translators lose some ethereal poetry of being when taking meaning and filtering it from one language into another.

In terms of pure logistics, the Dragon cannot keep up. It mishears so many of my words, and so every sentence is broken midstream as I correct and correct and correct. Perhaps the Dragon could keep up with a train of though; it can only fail miserably and watch this crashing satellite flash by.

This is my voice. This, unheard and sometimes unseen. Chewing the inside of my cheek as I hammer furiously on the keys and burn up in the atmosphere - is there nothing so exhilarating as choosing your own destruction, brilliant and slashing the twilight sky caught only in the periphery of a stranger's eye, knowing that your end will be to disintegrate without ever touching a soul or crush all those present at your termination - because I am sitting here typing this, this small act this small slight act, and my stomach quivers with old excitement that runs too deep to ignore, and my wrists ache, my neck aches, my shoulders ache, and in doing this I will amplify that pain and the consequences will stretch languidly across the week ahead.

The choice is always one pain over another. I'm tired.

Last night I took myself to the Butterfly Club and saw Tom Dickin's one-man one-hour cabaret show "Fuck Plan B". Despite the fact that I adore simply sitting in and being surrounded by the curios and sweet lights of the place, arrived at the perfect empty time to have the bartender spend 10 minutes making me the perfect ridiculously extravagant red wine/chambord Bloody Mary, I walked out containing ground zero of a nuclear detonation within my rib cage, and watching the shock waves flatten everything and nothing.

Plan A is being a successful artist, travel the world, inspire others, and follow your dreams.

Plan B is the necessities of reality. Rent. Food. Cocktails and socks.

You don't have to follow many blogs of artists to know that it is a constant struggle to maintain balance between A and B, and the odds are stacked against A. It isn't as though writers even have much in the way over overhead; our tools are minimal and not specialist, physical logistics are rarely an issue and there is no use by date in terms of getting too old to write. All we need is time, and it is the one thing in which we are poor.

It is a privilege to pursue Plan A at all. Art is a luxury of the middle class and up, and yet, and yet.

And yet.

For so many artists, the pursuit of their art is not a decision they get to make.

They are artists because they must be. They can be and do nothing else.

My dayjob was only ever to support a life that would let me do what I want. It was there to pay for the necessities; food and a roof over my head, and exploration and travel, for these too are necessities for me. My jobs have all been proof of this: they do not and cannot follow me home, they do not and I will not sacrifice extra hours to them, and they do not and I will not let them take up any more space in my mind that what is required between signing in and signing off. Some of these jobs have been shit boring, others exciting and interesting, and all of them have only ever been jobs. I am not career orientated in any traditional sense and am not even making eyes at the corporate ladder. Higher paying jobs I've left unpursued because they would ask more of me than I'm willing to give.

But we all know how that ended out. My dayjob was there to support the writing, and the dayjob required the same physical tools as the writing, and the dayjob destroyed those tools, and I had constructed my life in such a way that no amount of small alterations would be enough to correct this balance. Everything is over-balanced. These past months have been the topple. It is all too late. There is nothing to do but watch the fall, that moment between losing contact with the cliff and making contact with the ground.

I'm tired.

Tom said he'd taken out a sizable loan and traveled the world to allegedly study theatre, and instead wound up writing song after song and performing them to strangers in strange places, and that was...right is not the world. True, perhaps. There are so many trees that we forget to be the whole forest.

I've been looking at this 'scuttle your life move to another hemisphere make no plans and see what happens' caper and feeling nothing but dread and nausea, because I'm at the centre of that plan, I cannot escape myself, and where ever I go these aching bones come with me. Nothing is left behind.

I'm tired. Much as my friends feel shut out because I do not speak of these things, I've leaned on them so much, my feet are on the ground and my knees are hanging low. The only reason I'm not face down and blank on a city sidewalk is because they're holding me up. What resilience. What determination. What illusions have I that I will weather the stress and fear of being alone in unknown and survive without them.

More strangers last night. More strangers the night before.

None of these people are known to me. None of these people know me. I could be anyone.

I could be someone who is not afraid of strangers. I could be someone who listens to you for a drunken half hour and takes your stories and antics and uses them to attempt to conceal the void I am but a vessel for, and then I could use them again, somewhere and somewhen else, with my voice, instead of throwing them away as useless, as worthless, as having helped me not at all.

If no one around me knows I'm a nothingness, then, I can and will buy into that illusion.

What's that. Determination. Obstinate pig-headedness. The conqueror and king rolled over in her sleep and opened her eyes a moment, she who would view this as only a challenge to be accepted in order to prove herself victorious again, over all things, and would meet that challenge with teeth-bared and eyes-wild and welcoming all the damage that would come from the battle ahead. She who in conquering the world so conquers herself, over and over.

Excitement. Anticipation. Lick your lips and fantasize about the messes you will make for yourself.

It's hope. It's hope. It's hope. Hanging out with all the shit in Pandora's Box because there is nothing so agonising as hope, and my fears cannot decide which is the greater threat; depression or hope.

Spectacular failure, quiet lie. Tedious failure, thin-worn lie. The fish aren't a school.

But. It was Plan B that got me here.

I'm so tired, and this hurts like this and like that, and I can't remember what point I was trying to make. Pointless. There are no points, on masses of fear and indecision that change shape and colour like so many metaphors you fail to capture because you have strangled your voice enough that nothing it says is worth listening to, but it must be said, it must be said, let it out out out out out.

I was considering not going. I was considering committing myself and spending all my hours staring at wall and waiting for my heart to stop beating as I can't find it within me to do anything else.

I'm tired. So much has died. Death is a cessation that is not wholly encapsulated in medical definitions. Wastelands and deserts. No fish in the open ocean.

Some perverse sense of curiosity is still twitching. The smell of all the stupidity of the past few weeks is coiling thick in the air and it wants to see what other messes we can make.

Some perverse sense of fury will not stop breathing. It will not let the consequences of Plan B be the victor.

There are no winners in this. But fuck it, I'm going to lose on my own terms.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It is still cold, within and without.

The referral to the pain management specialist went out in the mail today. I've been sitting on the letter a couple weeks, always intending to but never making any effort to act upon it. Did I hesitate before releasing a letter to mailbox's maw? Yes. It is so little an act, but then at the moment it takes very little to overwhelm me, and nevertheless have left my hand my reaction – physical and emotional – was complex.

But it is done.

A few people have contacted me regarding the last post. I cannot reassure you. It is. .. Some would say I share too much, and yet the burden seems to fall upon me, and the price is not paid by me, because I do not care. Those I spoke of at the last, those who still love and still care, they pay the price.

It was a necessary release. As I am no longer spending strength I do not have it maintaining a rational facade and hiding my implosion I can now use that strength I do not have on small little other acts, such as posting letters.

I admit more strangers yesterday. It is still cold. You wake us, even though we are dead in the water. The piles of books on my bookshelves grow; there is nothing more calming exhilarating delightful soothing and inspiring that being surrounded by books. The sight of all these books guts me. I hoard what I cannot have. Hampson of time with.

Dragon can barely understand and Australian accent; it cannot dictate a voice from a sob-choked throat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Winter comes, true Winter, Winter with a captial W, the season that pays fuck all attention to the Roman calendar and heeds only the orientation of the sun, and the sun turned away and it got cold.

Your physio was off sick, but you were desperate and so made an appointment with whoever was free on the day. R has a mop of blonde curls and a baby face that rivals your own. He has read your file and is unhappy with what he has seen and the answers you have given. Raise your arms here. Now here. Tilt your head. Hold your hand out.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic outlet syndrome(TOS) is a syndrome involving compression at the superior thoracic outlet involving compression of a neurovascular bundle passing between the anterior scalene and middle scalene. It can affect the brachial plexus (nerves that pass into the arms from the neck), and/or the subclavian artery or rarely the vein which does not normally pass through the scalene hiatus (blood vessels as they pass between the chest and upper extremity). Rarely a Pancoast tumour in the apex of the lung may be the cause.

The compression may be positional (caused by movement of the clavicle (collarbone) and shoulder girdle on arm movement) or static (caused by abnormalities or enlargement or spasm of the various muscles surrounding the arteries, veins, and brachial plexus), a first rib fixation and a cervical rib.

Beneath his fingers your muscles, nerves, tendons and scalenes shriek and shiver, and you lie on your belly with your teeth grit and your concentration divided between merely breathing and listening to him. It's a tirade, and you're not sure who it is aimed at; these stories of patients with symptoms and stories identical to your own, fixed after a mere four months of therapy and exercise focused on different muscles, and he didn't like that you've been like this for years, he didn't like it, he wasn't happy, and he knew with this and that you could get better, because you're still young, what do you see in your future?

Remember to breathe.

You may not agree, he says, as his fingers press here and sends a knife of pain there, you may think everything I've said is a pile of rubbish, and that's fine, but, I don't care, I've read your file and I'm not happy with it. It's up to you what you want to do, but I don't like it-

It's your lack of reaction, always your lack of reaction.

You can't afford hope on a new diagnosis. You just can't.

At the end of your session, your counselor says
She says

I don't know if we should continue these sessions. I'm just not sure if this is giving you any benefit or if it is making it worse.

Remember to breathe.
On the train those brief minutes between Richmond and Flinders Street, trying to smother the howling heart, dam the tears and stop, just stop, turn it off, turn away.
With a new diagnosis R gave you hope which terrifies you, and his vehemence highlights its absence in your normal physio, H, and you wonder what she will think, you wonder if she even cares, and you wonder how to put this to your GP, who is absolutely set on the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and will fight this new suggestion, and your counselor, who-

Does she think you're beyond help?

Winter comes and sows cold into your bones, and with it your pain blossoms. Back to flinching when laying your hand on the mouse, snatching your hands from the keyboard, holding your wrists and staring out the grime-flecked window at nothing because there is nothing you can do. Back to weekly physio treatment and taking whole days off work to rest your hands that little bit extra.

Remember to breathe.

But, what for.

The weeks pass, the cold is sinuous in your veins and no amount of wool and warmth can soften your terror. Reel in your future, because to look at it is to see nothing worth living for. Think not of Scotland, new lands new people new adventures. There is nothing you will discover that you cannot find here. You will change nothing by going there.

You must take yourself where ever you go. There is no escape.

This room is too crammed with things, just things. This house is full of people. People who love you and care for you, people who know you and around whom you can relax, but there is never any stillness, silence, solitude. Their presence echoes in the floor boards, the kettle boiling in the kitchen, unmuted conversation through the wall. You cannot go to the toilet, get a glass of water, stretch, without having to leave this room and put a face on because they will see you, talk to you.

You cannot howl. They will hear you.

You go to bed early. Earlier. Earlier. The sun follows you down and you lie there with heat packs swallowing painkillers and waiting for random bleeding and low blood pressure. You can't get to sleep fast enough. You wake too soon, too often.

He fights. The GP shakes his head and disagrees and argues. The spare cervical rib he will not let go, he's sure you don't have one, and for that matter so are you. You don't believe you require one to have TOS, but he does. He wants to raise your dosage. You don't.

You go to bed early. You wake before your alarm in a cold sweat. You miss your alarm. You're late. Later. Later.

Drown yourself in work, but, you cannot.

R discusses medication. Celebrex and Cymbalta are heavy duty stuff, he says. You agree. He recommends other pain medications, stating you should go off both. You say you were prescribed Cymbalta as dual purpose.

Ah, he says, and says nothing more.

Your GP shakes his head at the medications R has suggested. The relief and disappointment are equal and equally perverted. You'd looked up the numbers for an overdose of Valium.

He shakes his head at the pain management specialist who specialises in TOS. He wants to send you to one specialising in Fibro. He talks about rehab. You argue why can it not be both diagnoses, and he shakes his head and shakes his head and disapproves and disagrees but it is your body and your decision and he types out the referral letter.

His disapproval evaporates when you start crying, even though you have already won.

No one wins in this.

The void will not be ignored. Nature abhors a vacuum. This hunger saturates your minutes - there is only so much future you can turn from - and you are weak and feed it and feed it and feed it. With good friends. With friendly acquaintances. With distant friends and far friends. You sign up to dating sites and rummage around forums and fuck with strangers and buy drinks for strangers and flatter strangers and press them down stretch them out and force as many minutes upon them as they will suffer. You seek out new people, meet new people, people worth knowing, people who could become quite good friends if only they had entered your territory in a different era an era without famine and hunger and desperation. You push your true friends away in favour of these strangers, because you know exactly what you are doing. No one can fill this void, and yet you will try to make all do so, and when they inevitably fail you will still resent them for it. Keep your friends away from that. Keep them precious.

You cannot make the appointment with the pain management specialist. It is too great an ordeal and you have not the strength to lift the phone.

This is your 30th birthday.

Imagine that. Three decades. You're still here. Remember to breathe. But, what for?

People will say that how you spend New Year's Eve is how you will spend the coming year. This sentiment you've applied proper logic to, because the Roman calendar means nothing, but the internal calendar listens. Do not repeat your last birthday. It was your own doing as much as anyone else's. This birthday will be your own doing as well.

Make it a birthday week. Go out, every single night. Fuck more strangers, meet more strangers, drink more drinks and eat more junk and laugh a little louder and with a little more ice. The cold is every where. You're good at this. You're really good at this.

Some sanity in the sunshine, with family and friends. For a day or so, you don't have to concentrate on breathing. Years of having a birthday in the middle of exams have scarred you well, and combined with a marvelous lack of self-worth have made a formidable obstacle, and in spite of that you organise your first birthday do. The anxiety of who to invite leaves you in tears and sick. People come. More than you anticipated or booked for. On the night, you're in a room full of people you know and people you like and people with whom you have no social awkwardness. An amazing night. The cocktails stop your high heels from hurting your feet, but not the grinning from hurting your cheeks. You jump out of a plane and fall 14,000 feet to the Earth. You use your birthday to bully a number of leads into dancing with you. You sleep exhausted and exhilarated.

None of this is shared with your counselor. There isn't time. This is your last session, and you ask her what she meant by her parting comment; that she did not feel she was in a position to help you, or that you are not receptive to help.

She speaks of psychiatrists and medication, and the fact that your depression is so intense and deep seated, and most of the sessions have seen you in a high anguish for their duration. There needs to be more discussion, less silent howling, for progress to be made. You need to have already started to heal yourself.

You go to bed late. Later. Later. Because you get home late. Later. Later. Arrange to meet more strangers. Buy more drinks. Walk slower between the station and the front door, you have to have control of yourself before you set foot on the front verandah, they might hear you.

You haven't done your washing for weeks. Your room is filth.

Go out. Find more excuses to go out, stay out, stay in company. Name after name is added to your contact list. You can dazzle them with the shit you talk, make out like you're someone worth knowing, a bit of sleight of mind and you don't even need your neckline that low cut.

Hunger has no end. Now fed, the void grows, because this is not what it wants. Plans are canceled, rescheduled, canceled, and you take it because it is still something, anything, that will sit in the forefront of your mind for long enough.

Friday night you end up in a lovely guy's flat, a thai restaurant, an unknown bar, where you meet yet another stranger, the three of you talking shit as the music gets louder and the lights lower and the arrivals uglier. Wing it. Why not?

Until it's just gone midnight and you're standing in a warehouse in Abbotsford with a long neck in one hand and the wall painted with ghoul sperm by your shoulder and the toilet being the rape alley around the corner and someone in a ratty beard is telling you that another in a ratty beard rolls the best joints ever no one rolls a joint like him at least you think that's what he said because you can't hear anyone over the band crammed in a room under the stairs and and you know no one, no one here, and you don't know what you're doing here, or why you're here, or what you were expecting, you only know that this isn't what you wanted and the resentment and bile rises up because no one here is saving you from yourself.

No one is capable of that.

Blink hard on the train home. Oversaturated by people. Overstretched. Easy to fix, simply cut everyone out for a while-

-and sit in the void.

The void will not be ignored, and you are not strong enough to withstand it.

There is no escape. Remember to breathe.

But, what for.

The hangover is sullen. You're weary and broken. So broken. You'll do your washing today, clean your room, make the bed, stay home because there are enough chores to keep you busy for this one day, surely. You'll write this post, because this has to come out, this must be written, it must, surely, it must, you'll feel better for it. A day, surely one day, surely that would be just enough, just enough to make the difference between a trip and a fall.

A stranger asks if you want to see a movie.

After the movie you find old friends, and cannot dazzle them so sit sullen and ill at ease with the delusion you're clinging to.

Later, after drinks, after dinner, decisions before you. You could call that person. This person lay out an open invitation, they're only a few blocks away. This person would jaunt in to catch up. There's this event and that event. Choices.

You find yourself slumped beside the parking pay machine at the end of the escalator, heart hammering and staring at the options listed in your phone, and paralysed. You could go out, it would be great. You could. You should. You could. You would. You press call raise the phone to your ear and immediately hang up oh no oh no you can't you just can't face any more people not tonight not now but you don't want to go home because there is nothing there but the void framed by all the evidence of what you once were.

There is no escape. Remember to breathe. But, what for.

With the new diagnosis comes hope and thus more terror than you can bear. A wonderful counselor cannot help you. Doctors will agree with specialists who've seen you a total of ten minutes and dismiss what you know of your body. So many brilliant new people unearthed, worth nothing. Too long. You can't do this any more.

Raise the dosage. All of them. There is nothing to preserve.

There are people who care, still, and love you, still.

But, you are not one of them.