Having connected with old friends lately, I’m hoping you’ll help me in catching them up.
We have come through winter’s keyhole and gauntlet to the present: a clear cool April morning on Morgan Street in Fort Colllins. I slept fitfully but I slept– from four a.m. When I closed down the PC to now, nearing 11.
Last night I fell again into the trenched scar of my past, complaining that I am mired there.. But I ask myself yet again how much of it all is that I love the past and wear it like a radiant cloak at times and at others use it all as a hair shirt, a medium for self-flagellation.
I am making progress in not shaming myself for my shortcomings. I did notice some time ago that I still have those inner voices telling me that I am worthless, that find fault with me, a half-conscious and incessant warbling and litany.
This makes me think a course of NLP or CBT–Cognitive Behavioral Therapy– would be good. New tapes, affirmations, positive reassurances, being the positive loving and affirming and forgiving self-parent. I believe in me– that’s progress.
I have yet to become fully confident that despite my physical constraints of the warped and shortened right leg I am free to reposition myself anywhere in the continental U.S.– per my portable housing voucher. Thank you U.S. Gov’t for this assistance– Congress– please don’t take away our assistance, we the broken, we the healing.
For years I would have turned up my nose at the sort of home where I now reside– a brick ranch fourplex with yard service. However… what used to disappoint my aesthetic turns out to be so convenient. I can park a few feet from my front door and there is a back yard for the dogs. What I used to hate and find to be emblematic of failed imagination now comforts me– a serene, unobtrusive place with unobtrusive neighbors, where I may come and go without making too much of a spectacle of myself in my walker.
I am thrilled by reconnection to my old Minnesota clan on Facebook. I admire so much the perseverance of my fellow writers and their recent successes– Jim Moore, and his Greywolf book, Cary with her forthcoming. I love hearing of my old friend Phebe Hanson via the diligent posts of her clearly devoted son Eric Riese.
I am unsure of how the politics of Facebook work– is it alright to send a query to those publishers who are one’s FB friends? Or is that considered nepotistic. Why not ask one of them, the loving inner guide says, phlegmatically.
I will. I am proud of my new manuscripts. I am proud of myself for sending little caches of ingots out into the cyber void, even though they are still coming back. But… what of having appeared in some fifty mags years ago, my Lynx House Book, the chapbooks? Regarding my creative work– I’ve begun a fourth mss of poetry, driving for open-ended raw, singing poems. We shall see.
Imagine waking from the dream of years of raising Golden Retrievers, goats, horses on six acres, to find that the literary world has passed you by. Not easy to catch up and perhaps I shouldn’t try. Perhaps I need just to write authentically and live for the joy of writing and not worry about exposure .Patience, patience…
Exposure is a big issue for me. I’ve given myself plenty of the wrong kind– infamy, notoriety, the fighter, the one who never pulls punches. In the recent past I’ve gone hammer and tongs on She Writes to try to keep from being bullied. I’ve gone up against the medical establishment in my community with the ADA and up against the Housing Authority with the Fair Housing Act. I’ve won a number of victories, not the least the right to have recently completed the course of treatment required of a plea I took three years ago to a misdemeanor. Trending now in Colorado: rogue therapists have tried to violate “offenders'” Constitutional right to due process in modifying treatment after the fact. My able lawyer Ben Iddings and I didn’t let them get away with it.
Now, I’m off paper as of midnight March 30. Brava, Jen, I say to myself.
I went hammer and tongs with the nursing home when they violated HIPPA and laws prohibiting elder abuse– while I was there. I survived six months in a facility, and fought my way back from an alleged “depression psychosis” in which I lost faith in my ability to ever walk again and dragged my feet, so to speak, on some of the daunting tasks of physical therapy.
But after leaving the nursing home, I continued to rehab myself. And overcame nearly everything. I’m not afraid to drive, execute a short flight of stairs, or ambulate with the walker or a cane and brace in my own house. One consequence of my injury is that I have new muscles around my left hip from so much reliance on the good leg– if I put too much weight on the bad leg, it swells. To have some measure of freedom and not go back into a disempowering and institutional setting, I live with this.
My life has its own pattern and structure now: coffee and writing in the morning, out to the country in mid-afternoon to rest and write some more in my comforting “old room”, and sit a spell with my comforting old love Doug. I got Doug a laptop last month; perhaps he’ll start writing again. He has written three novels and several short stories and is out of practice. I believe in him.
I could not have written Nightfall in Verona, my memoir of the trip I took with Caroline and Julia Marshall to Europe in 1973, without Doug. He listened to me every night, talk about the mss, and read chapters in draft.
After achieving sixteen years of sobriety and falling down and getting back up several times, I’ve now been sober two years. I have more work to do, but at the moment I’m tired of facing myself and pushing myself. One day perhaps I’ll try to live without soporifics for chronic pain.
I would like to be easier on those I love. I would like to find less fault with others and myself. I wish I weren’t hamstrung with residual agrophobia and fears around needing to feel safe. Yet, yet, the long-haired dilettante poet with the dreaming eyes is alive and well in me, and every night that we bump past the horse I’ve dubbed Cheval d’Or– a sweet, lonely Clydesdale-Quarterhorse cross in beginning dressage training, I mourn that I can’t ride anymore.
All of it adds up to how a writing life has become the balm for all of it. Passersby may freely read the work I’ve posted to this blog and to La Parola Vivace, A Tu Placer, and Nightfall in Verona. Please stay in touch, and, Ciao! Jenne’