Undiagnosed in remission?

I am not sure what is going on here. That is, I seem to have stopped posting this version of my autobiography even though I have several tens of thousands of words still unrevisited and unedited and I think eventually I will just spellcheck them all and dump them out as-is or maybe I will check for names first and remove them.

But until I do that, I think most of what other sorts of autobiography I am going to be writing is just going to end up on the ol’ blog@eriktrips which I suppose is more properly the Blog of Erik Joseph Martin Schneider but I bought the domain a really long time ago and I dunno if I should change my brand in the middle of the stream.

Or something.

In any case, please do read everything here if you can or want to or find it interesting or time-occupying or of any other amenable direct effect. But if you are wondering where the rest is, well, it is sort of over here now except that it is a different version of the same thing if I can even say that my life is the same thing no matter when and how you look at it which is probably not even half true.

I will get the rest of this version here off my hard drive eventually. Probably. I will let you know where when that eventually becomes right now or even pretty soon.

covert citizenship in the land of one thousand dances.

Relentless miracle always saying something even when there is nothing to say and even more when you try to say nothing and hundreds of heedless times more than that when you open your mouth to say hello or anything equally mundane because if it gains even a little tiny bit of your attention any saying at all will cease retroactively all trafficking in the mundane even to the point where despotic demands for transcendence remain yet quite helpless to do anything about whatever you might wish or want or need done. Watch what you say and see if this is not true.

I could say that I have spent my life in search of a diagnosis in which one of those commonly ordered lists of names for thinking and feeling and doing that gather themselves together in search of a pathologic entity to call their own might provide me with that word I have never been able to come up with when asked how I am. I could say that. But only also that today hearing diagnosis declare its agenda or its infinite varieties of agenda my ears attuned more to fictional rhythm and grace than factual correspondence or agreement or compliance or submission or sacrifice. Just the facts ma’am but are you sure you are ready for them they are not timid and they do not ask permission first.

But much some time ago the age of good faith and credulity willing to believe virtually any account of things that she had any hand in presenting I read my mother’s good housekeeping and mccall’s and better homes and gardens and ladies’ home journal then the conduits of tacitly approved outside interference. And so privy to the experts of the day in domesticity and the sort of whispering and laughing that said the adults were talking and you would not understand and above all do not ask to be filled in. Hush. I learned as quickly as anyone that private research was easier and much less dangerous than posing questions. We had a dictionary and it was not hard to reach and it was even comprehensive enough that I do not recall ever being disappointed except when trying to look up cuss words but I did not do that for the sake of information anyway.

I do not know how it is now most linguistic prohibition having been repealed but these many years ago seeing a bad word in print would have
would have

would have somehow altered its mystical powers

or something

but I am not sure how or in which direction or why I or any other kid so badly wanted to see them typeset with definitions listed 1 2 3a 3b I only know that we would look more than once even knowing that they were not there the last time we checked.

When I did locate a word that was not a cuss word but still not one to say out loud as mostly they did show up in this dictionary my hunches tended toward technical accuracy even if they were not always well-informed by experience. Each outcome on its own filing card in its cleared out space with a light on a table and a door to keep closed and in this and every other way figures of speech and print accumulated and grew tangled and dense. I supposed I was discovering what this or that was called and thereby something about this or that only there remained the political puzzle of why I knew implicitly which of this or that were best left uncalled in the presence of blood relations.

But so some one of those magazines or some other would inevitably feature a piece about the dangers of for example depression in whatever way those dangers were talked about in the very early 1970s at the very latest. Thus depression for example was one thing that I had a fairly elaborate concept for almost before the definition so to speak applied to me so to speak but not quite.

A sign for me that was not for me except for when it sort of was or enough so that I decided to try it on only not to anyone else’s knowledge until it became necessary to state what the matter was because how can we help you if you do not tell us what you are thinking.

As if they believed it possible for one to state anything at all about what one was thinking and so although I think I did say to someone and reasonably promptly once the option not to speak at all had been removed from my list of things to do to be released back into my own recognizance to borrow a phrase that when taken literally means nothing like what I mean to suggest and had been replaced on that list by you are going to have to think of an alibi that gives them enough pause not to keep asking so I reaching into the version I had compiled by then of the library of postwar medical discourse filtered through women’s media so-called said to those making inquiry I think I might be depressed there was very little I could add in order to clarify or specify.

the generic miscomprehension
what are you depressed about
the honest misdirection
I don’t know

stalking frantic, wary spirals around each other’s frantic, wary spirals

had this impasse in translation been resolvable perhaps it would eventually have been resolved.

 
 
 
 
 

You see exponentiating every switch running the length of the spine and the femur and the tibia and out to tarsals and meta-tarsals so-named just as though they stood for something else is every switch running the length of the brain stem and the basal ganglia out to centers optical and aural where flux is assembled into negotiable space by way of that minority of hallucinations remaining transparent enough long enough to provide something like bearings but the heck of it is that no matter what one says about the charge that is borne along continuously arcing low-voltage sparks humming intervals smaller than anything mammalian sense can detect and how all braided together in silently pledged confederacies of fine wire think of the metal grounding strap that used to sometimes hang off the engine block like it was supposed to go somewhere but stopped short of its destination and you never knew if someone had yanked it away or if it had slowly corroded to powder at that point where the washer around the bolt was supposed to hold it close to the automobile body quietly thumping over tar-pitched expansion seams in concrete freeways running under a sun that prevailed over their black sticky elasticity until the tar ran in rivulets off into the grass holding nothing together anymore except your tennishoes to the ground.

There were no words for that and it was not even a matter anymore of trying to work something out for himself in his head it was or was it that to enter polite society and not to ask for more than one’s due one had simply that is you had to talk to them. There was no other way. In all of the universe where both potential and the real took on the blazing insignia of infinity and wore it rushing against what was frequently referred to as heaven but which chafed too at its own bindings revolting even against those patterns etched by archaic habit ever scratching the same number once and twice and once more and twice more until however many strikes were no longer any number but a crowd unleashed with every intention of doing nothing other than turning itself inside out with the energy that crackled from ligament to bone.

But it was not like that. It was not like that. No if there is anything I do not know, it is that I do not know what eventual significance might ensue upon taking flint to the skull and spreading its contents on the bare rock in the sun to be read as bird’s entrails might be read or offering the interior of passion itself out pounding the sidewalk then sweeping the floor for spare change eyes still brimming with sunlight fingers picking out dust mites and paper clips allied between strips of oak where every single one of us still lives in the trees still gasps when moss humus worm tracks and scat call us by name.

There was not really anything anyone could do or that is there was not really anything that anyone would do realistically one hears the question all the time if only there had been something we could have done and there probably was but it would have been against all good moral principle and economic good sense to do it since you must not have wanted it enough yourself to go out and get it without bothering the rest of us. To question what precisely anyone deserves is infinite in both nonsense and impertinence but it is not as though you do not ask to be shown every possibility only to be served up exactly two. Two: The same two, regenerating themselves in every choice offered especially those it was said were crucial for whatever salvation it was said one needed. Was it boy or girl was that the first one or the last day and night or just the most chronic: Elect or damned. You know by now which pole to lead with if you mean to be credulous or ironic or unsettling or scientific or contrary or objective or confrontational or not.

If you cannot be retired to this contour of precise exclusion you are probably demonic and the likes of you should not be encouraged lest a message be sent to the youth of this nation to rouse from nodding sleepily or rather gregariously mingling on the cutting floor of what I always thought of as the film that would be made if the script were written on the floorboards of the elementary school where I walked with my satchel and waited solemnly for someone besides the deities I was offered to bear me up on their wings and away. I could hear already the echo behind god’s throne even while taking down to the singular letter every parable meant to drown it out.

I cannot tell a regular story. I cannot work a regular job. I cannot hold a regular conversation. I cannot keep a regular schedule. I do not follow the regulations requiring me to hold onto my financial information for however many years it is one is supposed to do that because it strikes me as patently absurd to expend the space and energy required to gather and stow them in gathering them and stowing them.

I cannot tell you what I was going to tell you but it is not like there is something else that I cannot tell you only this excavated cavern where the world taught itself to speak while having nothing in particular to say but articulation speaking itself: How what is discrete is so because it is so because somewhere or that is in many places at not just one time but every time persons meet or undergo or pronounce or mull over at night when it is too warm for sleeping those clearings out that include them and pinchings off that exclude them and intrude upon them carving those paths any ambulant or aviary or aquatic animal needs in order to navigate its way to where it must go.

In chatter and cry colliding to spark maybe another wildfire that in no time leaps canyon and ridge to spawn whole empires rising and falling without each other’s knowledge in this far corner and that and any corner at all capable of sustaining respiration and if out of all of this there is only good and evil if workhammers are pulled as often as guns and brandished at this or that one life without a nose for wealth in the colloquial sense but that everything we need presents itself literally makes of itself a gift and no other hand driving it or giving it only warm blood giving itself up for cold blood or viscosity for capillary expansion or any of so many more possible exchanges that naming them would run off of every page and continue doing so forever the myth that one must tug at the earth and crack it and otherwise batter it being the founding tale of one stonebroken subclan among many brought up on the hard dried mud flats of petrified riverbeds in all bad luck but now in the middle of tall trees that drip their own rain from clouds of furred branches to teeming loam day and night since before anyone even had the sense to write it down then why not describe a dream less impoverished before turning over to sleep sated with the absolutely unintentional generosity of dirt that is not ours but only itself only even as it is subject to plow shovel backhoe drill string and stakes.

 
 

I may have said this already but I used to count the rows of planks in the tall vaulted ceiling of the sanctuary surreptitiously looking up as though that were not the most appropriate place to look given the sermon but counting them made it clear the arbitrary nature of all that unfolded underneath and I knew it and I knew it but it was not something enough to rally around or hold onto me when they came and grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the baptismal pool and come to remember it was not just the walk which kept me so long from walking but it was also the dunk I had never liked water for much other than for drinking when at the swimming lesson taken for what was it my own protection or need or practicality or one of those other goods universally bestowed upon hopeful nouveau middle class children that they might be prepared for any unexpected irritant to their equilibrium and so there over my head and out of air to keep my legs kicking I breathed in a lung’s worth of chlorinated pool water and panicked in that way that nobody else could possibly notice with my face turned toward the bottom of the pool opening my eyes underwater for the first time. Nothing recognizable the wavy blue green tile neither expected nor anticipated but offering no assistance so without fuel to do so nonetheless kicked harder toward the ladder I had seen before going under sent off to swim toward it. As soon as my hand found the rail and my head broke the surface I gulped in a mouthful of oxygenated relief and then began to cough and I coughed and kept coughing and could not stop coughing through nausea and chest cramp coughed and coughed and coughed and the teacher who had not noticed before taking us to the deep end that unlike the other kids I had not learned to turn my head up out of the water to breathe while kicking asked with a laugh did you swallow the whole pool. Instead of asking how might I have known for sure if I were about to drown and because I could not speak I coughed.

Underwater for even a second would be too long now. I started practicing for the baptist style full body baptism in the bathtub when it became clear there was no escape. By the time the kerchief was over my mouth and nose and I was being bent backwards into the warm chest high pool and liquid rushing from behind and over my ears and then tightly closed eyes and nose and his hand keeping the air in and then a moment and in reverse splashing back up water flowing out of my hair dripping from the jawline and it was over so wherever it was that I used to go when the everyday presented its most dangerous faces and the immense amount of energy required for the round trip and myself there for an indefinite time before bugging back out again was even possible we dropped exhausted and relieved and without notice that I could make out that was not a projection of someone else’s fears of hell onto me. And so for maybe three months I was able almost to rest before it became clear that the promise of rescinded condemnation had been rescinded from the first only now it would not continue after death for all eternity burning and regenerating to keep burning because the human animal pathetic as it may already be deserves no mercy especially if it dares to think that it does too deserve mercy without onerous condition.

We are not here to tell you that you are fine now. That was a ruse but you will have to figure that out for yourself we are not telling you that either. Verbatim and I carefully noted this down only in that sort of cloaked sound and vision whose subtlety and skill are but insulted when you call them the authors of a future psychosis.

I do not recall how many planks there were in the ceiling but I can tell you that I knew already that there would come a time so immense as to render all that we were doing only imperceptibly relevant when my having sat there would be of less consequence even than those heavenly beings invoked on my behalf on a daily basis. What I did not know is that the church had no door out or rather many doors but no out. Oh some of the doors led outside of that church or they would have if out had been able to retain any sense given the situation: That one church contained another church contained another and another and if there were any strategy at all worth the effort to resuscitate hope it could only be dismantling every one of them piece by piece examining each component and setting it in random piles to be used not ever again for edifices but as recombinant dna that might fly and take off without notice for parts unknown and find the rhythm of the time spent heading there itself granting that exuberant peace speeding not home but home speeding itself but although I have managed almost to disassemble one single church it appears to me that the next and the next and the next are each slightly bigger holding more territory more armaments and more crowds willing to die rather than see them taken down even when they know the buildings themselves obscure both sight and sound of the unbearable reach of interstellar space waiting with more patience than we may live to see for us to live to see it.

 
 
 
 
 

this was not a continuation of the Blue Socks Chapter but neither was it the end of anything

expect more

stalking feet

I thought this story was going to unfold more quickly than it is currently unfolding even though when I was small I expected it to last forever and it is becoming clearer to me that it will not do that to the extent even that I am feeling a bit rushed trying to put it all into whatever order this is or is not. But there is no sacred time in which to write one’s own memoir or confessional or manifesto or epic or ten cent paperback pulp nonfiction no place from which to quietly observe all that has come to pass and all that passes and so between trying to take this down and trying to maintain the sorts of conditions under which I am able to take this down you might say I am scrambling wildly from point to point while new points of departure throw themselves at me without warning no matter how far away from possible disturbances I try to keep myself.

You cannot step out of life to put life into simple prose and expect it to sit still and nice for you. In other words.

Never stop taking your antipsychotics cold. Cold turkey that is or that is what cold stands for but also the chills that correspond to no fever that will begin to overwhelm you if you put your meds in a drawer one day and leave them there. Just stopping them all at once out of the blue. I would recommend not to do that unless you have absolutely no choice in the matter. Not that I have done this or at least not so far on purpose although there have been days of vicious headaches and uncertain cognitive drift and shaking and sweating while I waited for whatever pharmacy to settle whatever account needed to be settled with whatever bureaucrat in order to authorize the meds for another however long.

I only say this because extrapolation tells me that quitting them all at once would have been much worse. And insofar as I write all this down in case it can be useful for someone else I offer myself as an informative instance.

We did not stop mine cold. What we did was we reduced my dose over time and at each step I waited for the nausea and tremors to subside before going on to the next. And still after breaking in half the smallest pill available in order to taper down to the least amount possible before stopping, relatively speaking very little happened until about a day after I swallowed what was intended to be the last dose ever. Sure I was sleeping a bit less and the headache that I always get if it is even remotely possible to get a headache was almost noticeable, but I was still able to eat a mission-style burrito and a pint of ice cream all on the same day.

For several days in a row if I wanted. This was an early atypical antipsychotic as they continue to call them as though they were carefully targeted to treat a particular and known neurological condition rather than a wide range of behavioral and cognitive problems that may or may not be related to each other and whose causes are not understood at all well and even less so any cure. But one thing predictable about this pill was that it famously makes food very attractive to most anyone who takes it for more than a day or two. Enhanced appetite can be a feature or a bug depending on your point of view and your pancreatic health but this drug also can be unkind to the pancreas as it happens but this has nothing to do with why I stopped taking it as my pancreas survived the decade-long encounter but I was starting to twitch. So we decided that twitching was a bad sign and that getting off the drug would be a good idea to whatever extent that turned out to be possible. Because you never know a thing about what your nervous system will do in response to any given adjustment of meds until the adjustment is in the past tense and you are living through your own neurophysiological recalibration which is something I have done so many times I cannot begin to count how many and still in between recalibrations I forget how the last few have each insisted that I manage it at the cost of all the time and energy available to me starting right then and ending at some surprise moment that remained deferred for now right up to the very end or petering out gradually until I noticed I was sort of normal again.

Until the next one reminds me that in the us here where my experience has accumulated many have been convinced to try to engineer their neurochemistry only to discover that antipsychotics and antidepressants and anxiolytics and mood stabilizers can any single one of them produce physiological events magnitudes scarier than your average hallucination. And then there are those who believe that psychiatric miracles not only happen every day but are practically assured to anyone who consents to enter the realm.

Don’t get me wrong. The drugs work. Sometimes. And also to the extent that they change something sufficiently to cause cognition to clear and/or mood to lift and/or stabilize and/or hallucinations to calm down and/or insomnia finally to break. But why and whether any given drug will do any one of or combination of these things for a given person is currently unknowable. And whatever else that drug might do for or to that given person is also unknowable in kind, extent, and duration. Whether this or that action, direct or indirect, will be recognized as treatment or side-effect depends very much on how a particular body modulates that effect, and how it then adjusts to that modulation, modulates that adjustment, and so on as it tries to relocate its own unique signature and rhythm. The feedback loops develop their own feedback loops.

Chemical kudzu.

Cure is less than unlikely it is not even conceivable at present. Intervention is all we have and it remains wildly unpredictable. Collateral damage is the rule. Not expecting it can be not unlike believing in clean, moral war: Somewhat touchingly naïve at first but becoming more criminal the longer it goes on in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

I am still twitching a little bit and more than I usually twitched before I began this drug which if you really need to know the name of it bug me and I am happy to share. I may twitch for the rest of my life and by that I mean more than the average person might twitch or in any case more persistently and obviously than I twitched, say, fifteen years ago.

Incurable twitching was a known consequence of the stuff when I started it but it helped at the time with things I needed help with so I stepped under the psychiatric mallet and took my strikes well aware that the hype was of the purest grade as was as the pretense of clinical precision. But it worked. The drug did I mean. The hype was less than useful. But the drug worked until it stopped working or what seems more likely is that it worked more than it was supposed to strictly speaking or was overly thoroughgoing in its renovation of certain of my fields of neurotransmitter receptors.

Well it is not clear to me what it means to say that a broad-spectrum effort at interfering with multiple points along the chains of action of several neurotransmitters has worked. Almost always something changes but whether those changes are welcome or not varies widely with the person submitting to the interference and with their reasons for doing so. In my case I was eventually able, reliably, to regain some semblance of control over my own thought processes at least enough to keep them from devolving into distressing absurdity which is distressing unlike many other types of absurdity which I actively seek and entertain when I find them. I also gained a sweet tooth that was instrumental in producing forty pounds more of me. And the twitching.

Apparently other things were happening too: Things that would have to be readjusted back or at least toward some minimal approach to tolerability when we decided to stop letting the drug do whatever all it was doing. As far as I can tell my entire gut was in thrall to this drug because as of this writing most of its components are still uncertain how to act without it, nearly four months after we cut off the supply. Not that this was a surprise exactly but in the several years I was more or less preoccupied with getting the voices in my head to shush I did not keep up much with research on what they call neuropharmacology so I am trying to make up for that now if only to try to locate my body’s complaints about it so that perhaps together we can ease the complaints themselves by acting rationally.

What.

Besides that part about nobody knowing how or why or when those complaints arise in various members of the target market. We must act rationally and there is hope there really is only not for us no.

I could be a data point somewhere I suppose if anyone asked. As a psychiatric patient or consumer in the terms of free markets I am conscious of my role in uncovering empirical knowledge on certain psychoactive compounds and harbor no illusions as to how much empiricism goes into the marketing of them once at least one of their effects appears both beneficial and replicable in a defined population from the observer’s perspective.

Very little. I mean, do I have to say it? In case I do. Others have done the work of uncovering just how little and their research is easy to find which is what I have decided to put here instead of a long and bitter caricature of the current structure of clinical trials because although I might be able to send it up with humor and sharp criticism to do so would create a bigger narrative tangent than even I want to embark upon. That and all the additional insight I have to add to that currently existing will be exhausted here very soon without any need of polemic.

Thirty years ago I was in a psychiatric institution for persistent and powerful urges to off myself—that whole episode will flesh itself out here over the next several lifetimes it takes me to finish writing all this down—and I heard the same tattered metaphor for tricyclic antidepressants as is used now for ssris and snris and ssssteamships and whatever else they give to crazy people so that they can say that we are receiving treatment. You have heard it even if you do not remember but here I will remind you: This is what they would say: You have a chemical imbalance in your brain and this drug (no matter what drug they were referring to and they often do not even know which one or ones) helps to correct that imbalance. You might need to take this the rest of your life, just like many diabetics have to take insulin if they want to live.

See? You have heard that before even if nobody has addressed you directly with it. Thirty years ago I had already discovered the physicians’ desk reference as a kind of window shopping catalog and so I looked up anything I was prescribed and I was quite aware that the tricyclic I was on was presumed to work for a hypothetical reason which reason’s pharmacokinetic mechanism was entirely unknown although maybe some would say one of a number of not-yet-understood routes of action. I leave the question of whether they are better understood now as an exercise for the reader. Or the dancer or the headwaiter or the priest or the circus sideshow freak. Or anyone else interested in finding out.

And so when I heard that I had a chemical imbalance that was being corrected with whatever drug I was taking—the statement was directed at a group of us medicated ones, and apparently all of our poorly-understood compounds were really working according to this fabulously simple model and/or faulty analogy—i instantaneously recognized just how much mental health care relies on propaganda. I already knew that it did, but the degree to which medical professionals would be willing to repeat inaccurate information while calling it the truth of an enlightened age, well, that startled me a little bit.

Not a whole lot of bit.

But a little bit.

See I was a smart kid but I was and am more naïve than your average bear and by naïve I do not mean unsullied in any way by worldly knowledge but rather still too quick to attribute honorable intentions to whomever. I have naïvely trusted known criminals with the full knowledge that they were criminals and even while consciously realizing that my trust was misplaced—but I have placed it anyway and not only because doing so can bring civility and sociability to almost any interaction but at least that. Back then that is back in the day room at the hospital I was not even being deliberately naïve when I trusted my doctors to have read their pdrs and to never intentionally falsify nor conceal what they had found there.

So I paused, narrowed my eyes, and then rolled them quietly, to myself. So this is how far the let’s pretend atmosphere of psychiatry extends. And I affixed a permanent post-it note to the part of my brain that grants credibility.

Were there post-it notes yet? I may be perpetuating an anachronism. You can thank me later.

Not that it doesn’t get worse. While I was waiting to feel better this summer and fall and for those moments when I am capable of reading for comprehension I picked up a copy of a neuropharmacology textbook. So far the most interesting thing about it is its willingness to encourage future pharmacological researchers to tinker with anything described on its pages even though many of the descriptions are necessarily incomplete and even more even though: Yes you will be messing around with a system that is so complex that we have just begun to find useful shorthands for mapping it and yes there will undoubtedly obtain from any clinical trials or actual pharmaceutical marketing a number of unintended and unanticipated consequences—some of which will be serious and others less so—but we have a rhetoric of the side-effect to help us reassure the end user that although this pill might kill them we really do not mean for it to and if you think about it you could even ascribe only positive intentions to the pill itself, as though it were trying very very hard only to correct those neurons that were indeed giving you trouble but just could not help itself going after any and every part of the body that it could possibly affect I mean it is like asking a dog off leash not to chase the squirrel sitting there a mere fifty feet away what would you do if you were the dog. Nobody means you any harm and if you try to assert that you have been harmed by this drug well you are a mental patient how can we believe anything you say about your own experience when your very perception is by our definition disordered.

Nobody has articulated this exactly as far as I know but it is a discernible pattern everywhere from the pdr itself to the message boards where we crazy ones hang out on the internet.

The process of quitting this drug after more than twelve years of therapeutic dosing created a kind of tesseract between spring and winter of this year, effectively compelling me to pass through summer and fall without observing any sign of an observable period of time. Instead I recall a recent low-slung winter afternoon with one more cat and almost thirty fewer pounds of miscellaneous flesh than I had with me in may. Between may and that memory is a non-uniform field of annoyance and fear the sort of place through which one might wander for 40 days or 40 years it makes no difference which without so much as a diary entry to show for it. That is I do remember the cat’s arrival and I do recall the relatively rapid metabolism of sizable portions of myself when I was unable to get much nourishment in from outside the body. And they both gave me something substantial to think about when I could not read not eat not follow the plot of a cartoon not sleep casually as one might when presence of mind is unbearable not venture more than three blocks from my house—the limit beyond which I might well collapse from an inability to regulate my core body temperature or to drink water quickly enough to replace that lost through the drenching sweat that was one of the more bothersome effects of this inability or rather the most bothersome besides the loss of strength sufficient to stay on my feet.

That was bothersome too and it has occurred to me that maybe it should have been disturbing outright but I rarely register disturbance in response to physical reactions or states or symptoms and this is probably because so far none of them have even come close to killing me whereas those often associated with what is called in my culture “mental illness” have thrown my mortality in my face so many times that by now I have reached a kind of fatalistic truce with them but only after three decades of unrelieved terror.

After a while you can begin to see that even if they are not bluffing it is still possible to consciously hold your fire or your knife blade or your bedsheet noose or your stockpile of as many pills as you think might be sure to do what you mean for them to do. All you need is another five minutes. Invariably, they arrive from somewhere. And if they are insufficient or no less painful than those that came before, five more will be along right behind them although like late buses sometimes right behind means certainly between here and the place the last bus left five hours ago but not necessarily just a few minutes behind it as it pulled away one half-second before you reached the bus stop and your fellow bus patrons were yelling wait! Wait for her! Because one time out of thirty-two the driver will indeed stop and wait and even re-open the front doors.

If the five minutes currently available seem especially painful the best way to wait them out can sometimes be to find unconsciousness however you might find it with relative safety although some will say and without malice they really are trying to help so they say if you were able somehow to crawl out of bed and sit upright in a kitchen chair you would feel that much better. And although that might be true from time to time the values for feel better tend to vary wildly and from your perspective may only denote that you are now sobbing quietly instead of with great heaves hands over your face as before.

What those inexperienced in this sort of pain often fail to understand is that seeing the world from an upright position cannot be known ahead of time to be worth the slow, painful effort to extract yourself from underneath the dead weight of inertia long enough not only to escape those heat-logged percale sheets and massive mother bears of wool blankets but also to put on enough clothes to satisfy the modesty of those living with you and even to swallow a bite or two of something so you don’t just keel right back over once you gain the chair.

Will this be a net improvement or a needless expenditure of resources better used in one-upping the voices in your head who could not give less of a damn what position you are in when you surrender to them so long as you do surrender and you will and you know that in your heart of hearts you have known it since you were very very small and it is the best for you we know best stop trying to fool yourself. Used to be the voices were not yours you know you are going to say yes so why don’t you just say it now or that is they were locatable as originating from a body distinct from yours I know you know what the truth is you cannot resist it forever (imperial truth! Colonial truth!) whereas now a subcircuit of your own agency works to keep you in line well before anyone out there asks you to queue up see you hesitated that is how you know you know that you are wrong in what you think you think.

I did not come up with any of this without someone else’s help.

Which is why sitting standing or lying down the single hope of rationality and promise of compassion—not that you can imagine anything of the sort but you know you would recognize it if it were to arrive as it would somehow convey to you that not only can nobody demand that either you answer their questions immediately with footnotes and citations and refutations of all conceivable opposing arguments or you surrender yourself completely to their efforts to resculpt you after their fondest imaginings of imperturbable security and tradition regardless of whether such tradition has any capacity at all to address those questions written in your neurological tissues before you had any say in the matter because it is not your questions that you were summoned to consider and in fact you could if you chose you could turn and walk away without offering any explanation for doing so—the one chance you have of gaining anything like this sort of insight lies in listening to anything and seeing anything and allowing anything to come along just as it does without reacting to it in any way other than to pay strict attention to everything about it that you can perceive. What this means more or less if it is not clear yet is that if you can learn to entertain any notion that is neither to accept nor reject it but to entertain it and offer it a room for the night and hear it out and refrain from interrupting then all that desperate force with which it clasped you by the ears and turned your face to its face while barking incoherent and conflicting orders it will begin to find a pattern or a route or a series of gestures or an open road or whatever repeal of whatever prohibition had given it cause to panic in the first place that its chance at going on the record was about to disappear forever or already had and so it was very necessary you see to abduct you out of your own travel plans to hear it out.

If you can do this that is if you can grant audience to your own captive captors who approached you long before you were able to make out your own reflection in glass or water or fine plastic leaving you absolutely enthralled to them: To everyone who ever addressed you or loved you or chastised you or humiliated you or touched you or taught you or stripped off your clothes and raped you or offered your life to their angry gods or offered you shelter from yours because the difference between you and them is no more than the direction and number of passages intersecting where they appear to appear and no more than the most subtle adjustment of viewing angle were it possible to gain one from outside the tangle of ever proliferating traffic between us and so to get a feel for their infernal logic is to locate the root of compassion for not only yourself but for any subset of any universe possible and impossible that you may ever meet—get there and you may be able to proceed. This although that to proceed from the audience being granted to the end of the delivery of the petitioner’s demands may be also to assent to your own disintegration without any assurance at all—with or without king’s horses and with or without king’s men—that you will find yourself again in any shape that you can imagine there at the point from which you decide whether to depart. This is not always a bad thing but it is usually a difficult one.

Thus sobriety in the attempt can be useful but by that I do not mean the kind of sobriety we learned wherein one must swear off an arbitrary selection of methods and compounds and regard them as producing only illegitimate perceptual relationships with the real. That’s not real usually means I do not want that to be real and so I will declare it false and insist that everyone agree with me no matter what sort of real any of them might be interested in looking into.

I do not intend to suggest any route to salvation of any kind and probably your idea of what salvation would be would not survive any more than would your beloved agency were you to try this out but so salvation may be very much beside the point which is why I mention it at all or that is because for some it may not yet seem to be and so in searching for it one risks that sort of permanent tangent in which one must forget and or disavow tangent itself.

It is possible also that you will not be making any conscious choice in the matter of choosing but that this tortuous mediation might try you out before you have a great deal of time in which to ponder what it might do for or to or with you. I have mentioned it before but there is nothing dividing you and me, no way of distinguishing your own sanity as over and against whatever it is that conditions my perceptions for me. You may have numbers behind you but they are only numbers and as such cannot guarantee their own significance for you from one day to the next.

But maybe you see maybe why the elaborated process necessary to sit up in a chair may or may not be the most urgent point of investment for one’s energy at a particular moment. A time for chairs a time for beds a time to act a time to pass a time for conversation a time for catatonia a time for seeking information a time for analyzing options a time for saving all one’s energy for dreaming and for listening to the music of the spheres that animate your arms and legs and eyes and hands. A time also for the undetectable pause of dreamless sleep or more accurately no time for it or that is some property aside from time where the massive tension of being relaxes its hold just enough that you can entirely dispense with keeping yourself sufficiently together to find the sense in checking your watch.

 
 
 
 
 

the Blue Socks Chapter continues

I promise that much.

you could wear Blue Socks to Backstreet but you could not show them to anyone

it may seem odd to those with with good historical recall: there I was in the depths of the Deep South and up to my ears in angry but earnest warnings that the most innocent thought experiment involving sex of any kind was designed by the devil himself to ensnare me in something so terrible that nowhere in scripture has there ever been found a metaphor powerful enough to contain it which may be why the threat refuses to dissipate in spite of all the energy that has been expended to counter it. and yet the twin specters of homosexuality and transsexuality appearing and disappearing and appearing again as the offers life was most certainly making to me in terms I could almost understand never added their weight to the running list of reasons to kill myself. it is true that learning to recognize the words themselves as actually signifying anything was a life-threatening process yes. or rather my life was a precarious question between the time I began needing that significance and the time I finished uncovering any of use to me—with the help only of several of the infinite numbers of those invisible communities that used to arise from any given collection of useful printed and/or recorded materials and seem now to have found their natural environmental niches gathered around weblogs and forums where invisibility is not as marked although still possible depending on one’s determination not to appear.

but once I had gone round with the terms long enough that they began to emerge as bounded human specifics that happened also to apply to me, their blunt obviousness was no longer enough to upset me.

one of the millions of mental health workers under whose care I had fallen told me that I could not possibly be lesbian because to that point I had shown no signs of homosexual panic. what they did not know—because at the time I was incapable of finding or making sense of my own life and even less so of communicating what I did know—is that I had been thinking about it silently for so long that any and all panic had remained unexpressed to the world at large, muted into incomprehension at the erratic urges my mind and body began to exhibit as puberty and the return of the repressed overtook me in my efforts to flee life for a place in heaven. and so by the time I was asked where my panic was whatever it may have been was all long past if it was panic at all which it was not so much even when it was as it was confusion as to why I did not entertain thoughts of kissing boys but spent most of my fantasy life hugging my girlfriends and not knowing just why that seemed at once so promising and so pointless.

or the panic was not at all concerned with whether or not I was queer. more pressing were those questions being posed directly to my plausibility, not only as a legible person, but as an ordinary terrestrial animal of any kind.

raising children without informing them of perfectly reasonable possibilities is a dangerous practice. if you grow up without a full complement of concepts to cover yourself when it becomes clear that the passions celebrated in others are not at all the passions that you yourself have come to experience, the resulting vacuum of meaning can be deadly. and I mean that quite seriously. I was not bullied because I was queer. I was never told that being queer would damn me to hell in so many words. as a young teenager I did not fully understand what “queer” even meant. I knew only that to be homosexual was to be so abject as to be quite plainly unthinkable. if the word randomly tumbled out of a television speaker no matter where I was or whom I was with silence would descend immediately and absolutely until all present had wandered elsewhere in thought. this could take some time, but nobody would dare talk about it or even acknowledge that they considered it any sort of possibility at all.

thus my knowledge was not even negative. it was absent.

and so my desires as they arose did not appear perverse to me. they appeared unintelligible. in other words they were not able to appear at all except as empty spaces reverberating with what felt to me to be all the passion in the world that I knew. such unrecognizable passion was in this instance pure agony: appetite without end or aim and thus unrelenting and irresolvable, a shapeless wish that could not articulate what it wanted and could not figure its own depth. even at its most desperate points it did not alarm me exactly—it overcame me slowly enough that it was an already familiar stranger once fully arrived. but the effort to decipher its messages nearly annihilated me or perhaps I should say that I felt compelled to respond to the only directive it gave that seemed at all clear: I had some time although I could not tell how much before the hidden question all million or so of them would consume me to the point that anything like reality would have been lost to the past tense as would probably my own having lived. and I had approximately that long however long it was to discover just what I was up to or just what had been left up to me.

it took a few years. there was bloodshed where one might normally expect love notes and wet dreams and names written over and over on the covers of spiral notebooks. but that was. well it was a little more complicated than I am letting on but one can only cover so much ground with each sweep so I will tell you just not immediately and you will be able to put it together although not every piece will be an exact fit which is why it might take the rest of your life and mine to be able to declare the picture solved. which is fine by me I have all the time in the world that is I have no idea how much time I have except all of it to the very end. and your time. how do you figure your time?

for an almost nonexistent portion of my own time I thought that the best strategy for calming myself was spending the night in the sense that children invite their friends to spend the night although we were arguably not children by then although we were not adults yet or certainly I was not even if I was not a child. I have never been able to identify with either development stage to tell the truth although there are not a great deal of others available to describe the largest moments in arguably human life. but child, adult, or other: I had no idea how to approach an opportunity to spend the night in such a way that it might help at all and this did not change until long after spending the night had already become something else entirely from what it was in, say, fifth grade. or fourth. or third. I hear kids grow up quickly these days but in those days we did not so much or that is I did not by any means.

and so spending the night mostly left me stranded inside of my own opaque desire. we would fall asleep next to each other without touching and without the faintest sign ever suggesting that she was even thinking about touching. this drove me to distraction so great that I could not think of anything else for several days after. why I wondered that I would feel the most isolated and inconsolable when I was at the side of the person I most wanted next to me. the answer was as plain as the force that kept me still: I knew that the fracture in the universe there between us could not be patched. but anytime I tried to find in it any explanation for its being there at all whatever sign I had hoped to make out became completely obscured. was it self-inflicted or did someone else put it there? was it permanent?

given the very short range of visibility the future was then offering me permanence did not have to be especially tenacious to still look permanent. the prospect of reaching twenty-one was for me so far from assured that it had not yet appeared as a possible event even at the furthest end of the most distant time imaginable. I could think ahead clearly for about a week. Two weeks pushed the limits of graspability, and anything three or more weeks away remained mostly unreal and not yet worth the worry. I do not know if this is typical of mid-teenagehood but I suspect it is quite unusual in those of us entering our second half-century.

several years ago I was told by another mental health professional that I live as though I have no future. although I am beginning to understand that what happens ten years from now will be informed by what happens now and if I survive till then I will have to live through both I still would not go so far as to call this the prospect of a future so much as the overwhelming influence of inertia on bodies in orbit. with some sort of luck I will persist which is already to say far more than what is apparent to me today. with some other sort of other or more luck tomorrow I will remember writing this as though I were the one writing it but if not then who is writing and who will go on tomorrow without me?

tomorrow maybe I will read this over and see if I can recall who wrote it.

but so the fracture occulting the desire fueling the appetite animating the distraction: as a provisional thesis I submitted that there was something terribly wrong with me. at least I was far enough along not to include immorality as a possible diagnosis. despite the preachers’ insistence that confusion and unhappiness were always caused by sin, not making sense was not immoral or not in the universe I was starting to renovate so that I might have a chance at survival in it. not making sense mimed insanity. and it did that so well that my neurological tissues began to arrange themselves with insanity as their principle of order. such appears to be the inevitable effect of having been deprived of ordinary language that could have taken into some account or other a sizable proportion of my experience. without, say, sending it to hell.

I did suspect even then that no single prescription would render my personal mythology less dangerous to me. if it had been as simple as needing to know that I was for the foreseeable future going to be a dyke then once I had figured that out life would have proceeded without further digressions. which it has not of course but if it had what would I write about.

these sorts of moments are not unique and their poignancy will surely come in for abuse once we have all forgotten what it was like before. think of how dated the well of loneliness. or is it that we all have our victorian pasts to grapple with so sooner or later we tire of them and tell them they were cowardly for living life the way it had to be lived. the Deep South of the US in the 1970s was not and will not be the only time and place where those unable to fit themselves under the heading of “traditional” will be robbed of their ability to understand themselves at those moments when they most need to be able to understand themselves. but it can happen that a sizable group of people can be convinced that everything is different now and so we are done with all that.

thus this may not seem to matter at all now but it mattered then that on my first visit to the big gay bar in Atlanta I waved my money around at the people hanging out outside because I was so nervous I could not efficiently locate the bouncer who was actually collecting the cover at the door. I am jumping ahead a few years here so this was not panic either but a squirrelly elation at making so public a move which became publicker still when I ran into a high school acquaintance who danced with me, talked me into buying her a drink, and then kissed me on the cheek before saying good night at last call.

and that was it. my first coming out was almost unbearably chaste.

did I fall in love right away? I most certainly did. did I see her ever again? no. not once.

I do not remember my second visit to this bar but I am fairly sure there was one and I know I did not find the person I was hoping to find. I do not remember any visits subsequent to the second and am not sure whether there were any to this particular establishment. and so what I have is this momentous first night, when very little happened except that I paid cover and then stepped over the threshold separating the solid churchgoing populace from their black sheep children many of whom knew only that this door likely opened onto that last-chance, nearly hidden exit from the overwhelmingly inadequate array of culturally-approved life lessons that never applied to us but somehow worked fine for nearly everyone else we knew. once inside I bought a beer, picked up what looked to be my new identity, put it on and then left to go on about my business as an aspiring punk rock artist in the punk rock art scene such as it was.

 
 

This bit here will go barefoot

practically speaking there was no punk rock art scene except the one I projected onto people I could never work up the nerve to say hello to and I had no business going on there beyond my fervent wish to have some business going on there. as has happened so many many times I waited in vain for someone to invite me in and show me what to do. because for some reason this was what I had come to believe must happen before I could be granted entrance into any given association of practitioners which they all could be said to be even if they do not call themselves associations or practitioners.

I suppose you could say I adopted the Do-It-Yourself approach that was supposed to save us from the base yet exclusionary mechanisms of profit-driven music and art. but I lived it a bit too strictly in that I never shared what I was doing with anyone else who was doing anything like what I was doing except for one person who felt much the same way I did or seemed to. we were a closed universe. mostly we worked to save each other from ourselves—which, to make an impossibly long story ridiculously short, we must have succeeded in doing insofar as both of us walk the earth even now.

it was years later that I became aware that upon finding a community for which one feels some affinity one must invite oneself in. sometimes over and over and in fact that realization still has not fully dawned upon me in all the areas where I would like to cut something like a figure or at least leave light impressions of rogue experience in case either might ameliorate something for someone somewhere eventually. I cannot shake the feeling that I have relevant things to say although it is not clear when and where they might be or become relevant or to whom but when I have so strong an urge to speak not even I myself can keep myself quiet. but still it is not clear to me if or when it is appropriate to ask for a microphone or a lectern or xerox machine and a truck.

if you are reading this for instance I must have invited myself in to wherever it can be said we are here so here we are. I am not sure how I got here and I cannot promise you anything in particular and I am not one for grand narratives or overarching conclusions and I suspect that after I write this all out in whatever way this turns out to be it will become necessary to start over and do it some other way but for now I hope this is helping somehow either you or me or someone else or even animal life as the fluke embodiments that we are, embraced and pummeled by our own unlikeliness until we begin to bite at the air thinking somehow to catch onto a sure and certain thing.

not that there is anything that can be made sure or certain in the process of telling or unveiling or patching together out of whole cloth but for now we can continue on me writing and you reading and we can see what else happens. because what happens now almost certainly bears complex relations to what happened then but what I mean really is that what happens now takes what happened then as its occasion rather than its direct cause. this makes it trickier to predict just what today will show up or how. I am fairly convinced that I will continue to fit for this occasion however many sequences and relations and associations might illuminate some portions of it for a moment and I am fairly convinced I am going to do this for as long as I can but not because there is any higher morality in it rather that in the telling there is at once violence and its amelioration but only if you don’t stop or rather if you don’t settle down to any particular story but keep it moving along.

your own story cannot kill you as long as you keep changing it but that does not mean one can dispense with honesty. we can honestly say most anything.

or you can hold a bullhorn for first this bit of dust and then that one and register everything they say in an all possible languages forward and backward and sideways and cattycorner and spiraling in and spiraling out or heading straight for the tradewinds and open ocean or sitting in one place for the rest of your life or oscillating imperceptibly between stillness and mayhem.

given enough time. which nobody has given me and I cannot even pretend otherwise at this point. and so although I do not choose where or what next at random neither can I predict it very far in advance. I welcome this arrangement even when I could not have arranged it myself.

 
 
 
 
 

the Blue Socks Chapter continues

in two weeks if the gods of dopamine settle down a bit

backseats blue socks planetary motion

although I can be cheerful about all of it now the depths of hilarity then were truly staggering even to the point that I planned my suicide daily. this is neither hyperbole nor a ploy for attention nor was it then but now as then it is the story and as it presents itself sorry or otherwise what can I do but love it. because what can you do for a sorry story other than love it. because what do we have but sorry stories each engaged in a lifelong search for places it can be put down without undue upheaval or fuss or disturbance.

if some of mine have pulled through somehow, the best I can offer is the provisional way in which they have done so, so as far as I can ascertain. suicide was to be my last laugh at an absurd and obscene joke made not at my expense exactly but more as the sum total of sense then available to me. I had been offered a cosmos that demanded an exacting rectitude and allegiance from me which, it appeared, I was to produce from the thin air of my very subjection to it. this battened and bound universe was so self-referential that it did not even attempt to go out and come back in an encircling gesture but in one continuous sweep ejected violently all that contradicted it while tucking those who had no quarrel with extraordinary cruelty to ordinary folk further and further away from contact with with the outside. and so, although its expressed desire was to leave nothing out, in fact nothing known to be impure would be admitted for more than a moment. that’s how it is with god’s love: the conditions are multiple and over-articulated and meant to keep the faithful engaged in a constant, excruciating, and minute self-scrutiny for any hint of disobedience or doubt. if you do not belong here why stay.

and so I was an outsider from the very first but was harassed into keeping my heresies under wraps until it was no longer an immediate mortal danger to set them loose. and it is true that being born a heretic almost killed me before I got out of the house.

eventually I had to laugh, incredulous at the lengths I was being asked to go to in order to deliver myself from paradise. as though one arrives in heaven thinking you have got to be kidding me and opts instead for eternal purgatory out of the only compassion then available for one’s own being.

it began perhaps in the backseat of a car but not what you are thinking only much earlier than that but later also or rather what you are thinking never happened to me in the backseat of a car. my backseat life would not continue to develop past the moment when ear to the naugahyde draped in the rumble of over the road carriage I sensed the cycle of love and motion from which no mere god could snatch me. and so sitting, I was, or lying, or curled up against the car window, in the backseat entertaining as honored guests all sorts of ideas that Mom would have pronounced sick or evil and measuring their outrageousness by the reactionary sounds of AM radio in the Bible Belt. in the backseat nobody can hear you think.

but if it began there that is not to say that any particular thing began there or it is not to say that there was anything like a logical starting point for any of it and I cannot claim accuracy in having located this beginning, because where it began was not yet a distinct point in what would eventually assemble itself into that scheme of things that would just as eventually precipitate and orient me—if only sporadically and as random instances of distinct implausibility. beginning is more of a convenience for us, we who find ourselves already moving through time but thinking we must account for its origins and that this has something to do with why we act this way.

however it happened the only thing I can say about my original point is that even if it observed a kind of punctuality, that punctuality in its insistent refusal to act once and for all—preferring instead to echo, rebound, glance, and flash—tends to give the impression that originality is not an abiding quality and I realize I could be clearer but the whole world pretty much opposes me on this point which is to say it would be too easy simply to observe that certain things happen again and again to the extent that no single one of them can be discerned as having started the whole series.

somebody else might have a first memory. I have a collection of affective scenes whose relationships to each other are quite uncertain.

 

here though it is night and the lights are out and silhouettes that do not reveal themselves pass by without saying anything except that what they do say is something like being just about to say anything at all which is that point you most want to inhabit but cannot as it is not anything yet or not anything habitable but only momentary in the way that moments reverberate like this one time looking out the window or another time.

it could be said and all it would take is the saying of it that daytime and the diurnal shelter under the bright obscuring effects of our atmosphere which becomes at night little to no cover. not that anyone is looking over at us or if they are whatever mechanism is theirs for distinguishing terrestrial light from shade is likely to be not yet or no longer accompanied by levels of curiosity sufficient to cause them to ask themselves who or what might be looking back. for the time being we look.

jupiter. they call it that. and there it is but there is no getting there. like thousands if not millions I have looked. but this one time but no this so many times there is no counting of them jupiter goes by or rather stays still while everything else goes by and only after dark while being whisked along peering up at the light that follows you through the trees insistently even around corners do you notice how far you can see or rather how far something can reach and still be able to strike you. how arduous the journey and yet they arrive unscathed or at least capable yet of making an impression. in its grandiose violence the speechless night sky sends also a steady torrent of hammer strikes so gentle as to be nearly imperceptible. we on Earth, animals of iron and carbon and magnesium, already helplessly bound in a kinship so intricate as to be at once unimaginable and inescapable, latch onto the the light of our forbears—or would, did our own devotion to obscurity not persuade us to close our eyes in mock terror.

suppose some one of us somewhere decided to admit into consciousness with eyes open this remnant ruminant material offering from what we call heaven but what calls us a dark point overhead.

it may be that there is a budding collective memory in the countless instances which surely have occurred over the last century of falling asleep in the backseat. that smooth ride which supposedly we seek with all our automotive technology would in fact be anathema to the mythopoeisis of the backseat because only a constantly shifting acceleration signifies the comfort of motion. I would count the corners on the way home in spite of myself because I did not want to anticipate the end but could not help it. this has become a compound problem for me in that anticipating the end is one thing that I do obsessively and fearfully and I suspect that when it is time to die I will look back and say yep. I’ve always been here and isn’t this exactly what it all boils down to and haven’t I been saying so all along.

the trick then as now has always been to surrender to motion without a thought for its destination one way or the other. unsteady and endless passages of shadow and nighttime lights suggest no resistance to whatever might enter the short horizon of almost now. the world is finite but you can go around it forever except that you cannot go around anything forever or not as yourself. or even back and forth. either way the same thing but different each time.

while the light rains down until it no longer does.

 

mom used to buy me blue socks. navy blue knee socks. not that there is anything terribly unusual about navy blue knee socks but she kept providing me with them some years after I started wearing nothing but black. I was never sure if she was trying to tempt me back into the relative cheerfulness of navy blue or if she truly did not notice that not only had I stopped wearing knee socks in general but I never ever put on an article of clothing that was other than black or gray. navy blue knee socks do not go with black anything. one could argue I suppose that navy blue socks could be worn with gray without making the wearer look like they could not perceive the difference between blue and black but I was a purist and wore gray socks with my gray clothes.

the navy blue knee socks I collected in a drawer and then later in a milk crate on the floor of my closet and on occasions such as laundry day when my regular socks were being washed I would wear a pair but they lasted a very long time because I rarely wore them at all. they lasted so long in fact that I cannot recall how I got rid of them finally. I do not have them anymore so far as I am aware but I do not know where I left the last stash of them either unless they are in that suitcase of old clothes that no longer fit that I always told myself I was going to leave outside on the street for those who might could use them but I have not yet they are still there at the top of the stairs after more than a decade.

perhaps the navy blue knee socks are all persistently collected together at the top of my stairs. perhaps I have not yet got rid of them. they are even more tenacious than I had imagined.

I wear blue regularly now and my socks are often brightly colored and non-matching but knee socks are no longer appropriate not to mention big enough. and I sit in the front seat now after finding my home in the backseat so long ago.

what the backseat has to do with hosiery is pretty much just that hosiery and suffering were equivalent notions in the Georgia summer in the backseat of a black-upholstered and unairconditioned car. the way the heat would slam into you when you opened the door after church in July and once you were too old to wear knee socks with dresses the way your pantyhose would cling to your skin in that way that no clothes should when it is that hot and especially the way they were not made for long-legged young women so they would slouch down to somewhere between your crotch and your knees leaving your thighs to keep each other overly warm and uncomfortably chafed and sometimes even baldly heat rashed.

remember heat rash?

I didn’t sweat so much then as I do now but sweat in the heat and humidity of motionless subtropical air is no great relief anyway. without sweat I was hot. with sweat I would have been sweaty and hot. either way the mystery of pantyhose will always be a mystery to me because when I wore it I had no idea why I had to wear it and I still do not understand its allure especially in black-upholstered and unairconditioned cars where anything completely covering your skin is a torture and especially when that which covers your skin does not really cover it at all but reveals it there in its exposed vulnerability as though vulnerability were precisely what one was expected to put on with one’s pantyhose and there I would sit unprotected from heat light and the eyes of pubescent boys as well as those of men too old to be looking but looking nonetheless and without even thinking much about it.

as I said several things were wrong and worked together to make pantyhose one of my more unpleasant memories but I think I may have turned out okay and that if these things had not been wrong I might not have turned out this way at all although probably I still would have been okay just a different sort. what is disconcerting is that every time I think I have turned out at all I discover that I have not but am being hurried along towards some other turning where I likewise will get no rest but with all the turning and moving along and turning and moving along are punctuated shadow and subtle acceleration to keep me company and that is enough I mean it is more than enough even it is sometimes almost too much to the point of suggesting love’s multiple origins and how it is that they will not be kept anywhere for very long even though they rarely leave you where you are.

and this is why nothing adds up but the accounting trails ahead of its own running totals by a factor which is itself on the move. even sticky in the backseat in July I knew this but I also knew that it would be years before I would be able actually to say it out loud but rather from the low rumble and the passing obscurity I picked up a silent near-promise that has since passed—so many times I have lost count—as an excuse to live.

 
 
 
 
 

the Blue Socks Chapter continues

in two weeks if all goes according to plan which it will not but why not be optimistic

the Blue Socks I took off to swim

whoever wrote that beer in the sun was like a hammer to the head was right. and whoever did write that did they not? it is possible that no one has written exactly that yet but still I recall accounts of sunstricken drunkenness that like in the stranger made of the sun something like pounding or slicing and I know that was meant as an extended preshadowing metaphor for the knife that would appear so fatefully later on but I myself was taken with the account of sunlight itself glinting off the phantom knife’s edge and into your eyes scorching a little your cornea slicing through vitreous humour and that the primary injury. because when I was young the sun was my enemy and now that I am no longer quite so young I still sometimes remember it that way especially upon making my way home in the street dry as dust and those who stagger in front of me because there are many and if I were to count myself among them I would be alive nonetheless those who stagger in front of me I can only assume are being harassed by the sun to even a more extreme degree than am I. helpless bloat. prayer for ice.

we had spent all day in the boat. this was a time when I was not able to stand to pee which is to say a time almost exactly like this time except no one just looking at me would have expected that I would stand to pee but for whatever reason I was too shy to ask for a restroom and at the end of the day part of me was filled with the metabolites of beer but the rest of me was wrung out in the vast desert of an alcoholic and unforgiving sun made all the more unforgiving by our having spent the day in a boat in the middle of a tepid lake in Georgia in July so I remember holding it in over every bump until I got home and then relief for the one discomfort and glass after glass of cold water which did not refresh the other until I had had about fifty of them which took a couple of hours of refilling the glass then emptying it and refilling it again over and over and over. at that point I think two gallons went in and none came back out.

why do we do it. there is nothing inviting even in the thought but we would have followed each other to the ends of the earth for a chance to make that break. you know the one that finally delivers you from yourself and into the arms of no thing and no one as beside yourself there is only that space teeming with nearly anonymous figures. they had given me a maroon members only jacket to keep me warm in the cool of the morning for I was too slight to keep warm all by myself even though it was not in any sense cold outside.

the odd thing is I remember this episode even though I was in love with none of them. I am not sure why I went or even why the whole trip was planned but once there we sat dutifully in the boat with our rods and reels and budweiser. I cannot recall if we caught anything or even wanted to. none of us were girls in the strict sense but I am not certain if we knew how to be anything else or if we knew how to be anything at all other than fugitive moments floating on the water waiting for something to happen while knowing that it would not. whose idea was this. you want another beer?

because the lake was really a vast conglomeration of flooded valleys the number of coves was nearly infinite and I was always astounded when someone else could find their way back to the one they had started in after motoring around nearly the whole perimeter. or maybe that was only the effect of going around in one big and highly irregular circle and as long as you kept going you were bound to rediscover your launch point before too long.

one year I made the mistake of camping out overnight in a beach chair on the dirt near the lakeshore because the tent was thick with heat humidity and sweating bodies so I was unable to sleep but the chair was bathed by a cool breeze into which I could radiate so I did that and slept peacefully for many hours. by morning my body had become host to more than 100 of those tiny red bugs which burrow under your skin and make you itch until they die or you absorb them or something. chiggers. if you know what they are you know what they are. I discovered their number in counting the welts a couple of days later when the itching was at its highest point and with the sunburn I had also picked up—because in those days you went to the lake and came back with a sunburn just like everyone else did as science had not even uncovered the problem with cigarettes yet—it was impossible to do anything but lie gingerly in bed without moving anything with skin on it.

such was the magical horror of summertime in the deep south three quarters of the way through the twentieth century.

some years prior to this wearing a bathing suit had begun to require a certain amount of dissociation because I had nearly reached my adult proportions and this was enormously disturbing. to me, that is. I do not know if it disturbed anyone else. I could not have told you exactly what was wrong because several things were and a small number of them escaped conscious notice possibly as a result of the necessity of dissociation for such occasions but the unknown wrong things were responsible for this necessity so as you can see the circle was vicious there for awhile. I could not know even when I made an effort to find out. I was not letting myself in on the secret just yet.

still I wore a bathing suit because that was what you did in the summer much of the time either you were lying out in the breathlessly hot besotted air trying to get a start on that year’s sunburn or you were at the lake late at night with your friends and a pickup truck full of beer watching the boats come by with their lights and we on the red clay shoreline sitting on the knees of the scrub pines black against their own shadows and the uncertain darkness that is a starry sky not close to city lights but not distant either. me I was always scared nearly to death that somehow we would be found out and my family would see me drunk. it did not occur to me that they already had and they knew they already had but given that nothing more was ever said beyond the bare minimum to keep the household from ceasing to function completely I had no clue beyond my own suppositions which were far from accurate most of the time. but so in my paranoia I felt that we needed to hide from these boats in case they were police boats.

my friends gently tried to persuade me that we were safe. I did not believe them then but they were right at least insofar as we were not about to be dragged out of the woods in handcuffs.

when drinking beer in the dark the next most worrisome worry was how far to the nearest restroom. I hung out with friends who could stand to pee behind any given tree but I could not stand and so could not necessarily use just any tree. on more than one occasion they pulled the truck over next to some tall bushes and I would dash out and crouch down behind the branches and leaves disappearing from any other traffic there might have been.

at the time I found this necessary and completely mundane bodily function mortifying but when you have to go you cannot keep it to yourself unless you are very close to a restroomed destination and so at some point I would mumble as loudly as I dared um um um I have to um um pee um guys and they not feeling at all abashed would ask how badly and I would answer how about those bushes right there.

it was not my idea to be a body after all and it was less my idea to be a body that everyone around me described as a girl’s body and it was even less my idea to be a violable and violated body but I was so far from being able to articulate my embarrassment at having turned up this way that the best I could do was point out the bush that seemed big enough to hide what would otherwise have been my abject humiliation in attending to this body’s functions. it was not sufficient at the time to know that all bodies made demands of themselves that they themselves felt ashamed even of having to acknowledge much less meet or maybe it was that I did not yet know that other bodies suffered in this way. in those days the body that I was lived its life at a complete remove from all the others.

one night as a gesture toward my then-obvious distress at living as the body I was my friends told me they loved me and this shocked me so thoroughly that I can still remember my silent panic you what? love? you two? love me? we drink together and we smoke weed and we share our drugs and love? I stepped into the requested hug while feeling as though I had been pushed out of the driveway whose contours I had long ago learned by heart and into some uncertain and unstable hunch—as though there were behind the rending of the veil nothing but an uneasy question hanging in the air without response but also unmolested.

this was not the they shall know we are christians by our love by our love love that I had been taught at church because by then none of us were particularly christian. this was an unbounded and unfamiliar love to me and not one that depended on an external authority as both its true object and its constrained definition. this love was directed at me and nobody else and I could not comprehend this at all anything rising over my emotional horizons back then would be sterilized into a form that could neither make claims on me nor move me nor put demands to me. not that my friends were demanding anything but that precisely was what tore into my sense of reality so forcefully that it took years for me to restitch and the mending job itself had to be fashioned around what seemed to be a frightful absence of demand but was in its effect the bestowal of a gift.

eventually. at that moment I did not know what to do or say so after the hug was complete I stammered off into my house. I may have said thanks or goodbye or see you or later or I’ll call you tomorrow but I do not remember anything else.

 
 
 
 
 

the Blue Socks Chapter continues

in two weeks or maybe only one!

Blue Socks appendix

the story though that is my story or the story as it unfolds repeatedly as I obsessively recall what there is to recall even if that is not really possible or not in any sort of comprehensive way because who has the time to go over it all again and even again but there are specific moments that recycle themselves on an unpredictable loop. to return to the difference between boys and girls which is not necessarily the animating force here but will do for an interim narrative pole the story at the time when I had only just arrived here had to do with appearing one thing while having plans to become another and the funny thing is that now that I have been years in the process of becoming I find it difficult to locate either the one thing or the other.

I do not know that I can say that I have given up my penis envy and let us assume for a moment that I did start out with penis envy although that is debatable but the question of whether life would be easier with one is of course yes it would be in certain situations. because as I said I do wish that appendage were long enough to make it all the way through the glory hole even though that is not necessarily the first place I would put it but on the other hand I don’t feel particularly like something is missing so much as something is not quite the handful that I would like something to be.

which may be a way of saying that I still harbor some penis envy except that I would not call it that exactly. As I have already mentioned what I do not have, precisely, is a name. a member, if one may even call it that, of some sort, if one can think in terms of sorts of members, without an agreed-upon signifier with which to be referenced in everyday speech or writing: I could of course call this insignificant development anything I wanted but without a common name it remains insignificant. which is not to say that I find it worthless or dismissible. but it is gratuitous in a way to the degree at least that it seems to me to resist the sort of convention that would place it on a discrete continuum between penis and clit. and I think it is also gratuitous in other ways as I will try to explain or illustrate or clarify.

take “neo-phallus” as one possible name: but this member is not new at least to the degree that I no longer am new and it has been with me for as long as I can remember if not in its current shape but what part of me was ever in its current shape until just now. it has not been regenerated in the sense of being generated again for although what it is now it was not before, what it was before was and is continuous with what it is now. nor has there taken place a revisitation of some other, better-delineated form to inhabit a place abdicated by what was up until then ill-defined. I did not switch parts in this case. and it is not a revival of an ideal that preceded it.

I think one can say that it has been modified but as to what “neo-“ conditions: I have had no sense of having ever been handed a phallus except for those few times I stood in front of the classroom and was granted the power to ruin students’ lives with the stroke of a pen or keyboard. and at that point I may have been able to use the phallus but it was not mine properly speaking and it was certainly not embodied in any fleshly way. I am still sometimes granted the phallus in everyday interactions but again this has little to do with any bodily zone of sensation or function.

of which it has none. no function, that is; no purpose. it is completely inefficacious. it gets nothing done. which is not to say that it is inert or that it does not pass through various states of excitation. it does, but it accomplishes nothing in so doing or not to the extent that accomplishment should produce an object or procedure that could be utilized toward a greater purpose.

and that is precisely why I have been going on about it at length. although it is not generative it is something of a kind of exclamation or an additional but completely unnecessary emphasis on rogue moments of physiological exception. but only barely. by the skin of its— skin, actually.

have I said too much? and yet I cannot claim to have said anything of consequence. sometimes I stare at it, quite disbelieving that I can actually see it. it never sticks around for long but for a few minutes at a time it rises enough to be remarkable but not enough to leave a mark.

I will return to this because where I have trouble giving an account I always feel compelled to give an account even though accounts often accomplish little or even nothing. all that straining and agitating and nothing to show for it.

but what else can one do. or not exactly one but some small assembly of comrades but in any case what else can any of us do.

it is not as though I could get it right even with constant effort which I cannot give it anyway not even with time on my side which it is and is not. whatever any of us can spit out and regardless of how far the voice carries the unconscious of everything will outlive us all scattering incoherence from horizon to horizon. exposed always to its own violence but never suffering from it except at those points where it accepts incarnation. in other words except always as there is no question of acceptance what materializes materializes without granting permission or lodging protest. over and over and over. as though nothing were subject to everything.

no matter how loudly we insist that we are the only beings to suffer all the rest will remain in a kind of excruciating contact with itself and with us and we with ourselves and with all the rest even as it becomes apparent that there is between all the rest and ourselves no separation and no distinction outside of the possibility of distinctions which themselves make all the differences in the world.

I do hope that anyone who might read this will grant some leeway, some allowance, some patience and forbearance. to me? no not me exactly but to these several accounts. I could try to explain why forbearance insists on itself when in the company of company but that would make this something I did not set out to say.

which is not really a good excuse for not saying it so much as it is an alibi that I cannot avoid in the course of trying to take this down in a readable translation.

I barely escaped adolescence. actually I am not always so sure I escaped but what I mean to say is that I am unprepared that is I have no concept that can explain or make clear the reasons why I am still alive. it is not like anyone expected me to reach old age. I know I was not planning on it. not that I am there yet but it seems now to be just a little ways beyond that future that always looks attainable until the last moment when it vanishes.

but that is another chapter. whether it appears here is not something I can predict just now. but someday they will find the notebooks and I will die of embarrassment. in the meantime perhaps this will throw them off the scent.

 
 
 
 
 

the Blue Socks Chapter continues

in two weeks or maybe only one!