My thoughts and prayers are with Boston tonight. I walked into my living room at 3:30 this afternoon and saw the news coverage. We leave the TV on for the bird, so it caught my attention right away. Brian Williams isn’t usually on, and his voice is distinctive. So there I sat mesmerized. Absorbing the horror and the mayhem. I walked away an hour later and refused to watch another minute, or read another article, since all seemed to be accompanied by images of limbless people. I read a book for a bit, but my thought returned to Boston. Not the bloodshed and fear. My mind could not understand the choice of target, and the timing. As Facebook lit up with hatred, and anti-arab talk, I could not quite shake the feeling this wasn’t foreign terrorists. If it was about maximum carnage, and mayhem they would have detonated those blasts when the elite runners were finishing. Those are the rock stars, I know, I’m biased, but these are the world’s best. They all come to Boston each spring. Olympic athletes, the very best. Complete with VIPs watching and visiting. But to bomb this race at 4:09 when midpack runners are finishing just leaves me puzzled. My partner and I seem to agree it makes no sense, unless it has some meaning for someone. The devices were not sophisticated, nor incredibly deadly. To detonate two devices, out of 4 or 5, and kill 3. The math isn’t all that good if it is a terrorist. So, I have to think it was someone specific, with a very strange reason. Maybe a disgruntled individual, some nut (and I hate to use that term, but homegrown terrorists that use pipe bombs are nuts in my book) or possibly someone far more disturbed and delusional. I guess at the end of the day we may not know for a while. My partner thinks it is some gun control person making a statement. That seems a bit far fetched though the bombs were in mile 26, the one dedicated to Newtown. Who knows, anything is possible I guess. We live in a society where violence is commonplace. As Americans there seems to be belief that it shouldn’t happen here. Why not? Are we any better, or somehow greater than the rest of the world? Every day a bomb goes off in Bagdad, or Israel, or Kabul. It is the norm, not the exception. Why should here be different? Because it isn’t a war zone? That is meaningless in a society that is pulling apart at its moral seams. We no longer pause or recoil at reports of murder, and death. Our evening shows push the envelope of violence with The Following, and Hannibal. So gruesome and mind numbingly violent, I often joke, “how many people died in that episode?” But we watch anyway. The news no longer shelters us from the most graphic of images. If a dozen sites I visited today, only one blurred the man without a leg. Why is that necessary? Do we need to see the blood and gore? Worse yet, do we expect it? Is that what keeps us coming back? I don’t know. I know that there is something that draws us in. The more violent and bloody the harder the draw. It is what the 24/7 News cycle feeds on. It is what we feed on now because it is what we see, day in and day out. We have a taste for blood and it just doesn’t stop. So very sad, and disgusting, yet we are human and we kill one another. Have killed one another since the beginning of time. The only difference now is the endless capturing of images, and video which are fed to us. does that intensify the violence? I don’t think it intensifies it, it only numbs us. We have lost touch with the reality of violence and terror. It is part of our world, and is a part of our lives in greater or lesser degrees. The horror of Boston, and the blood on the streets is only the beginning. America is not exempt from the violence the rest of this world sees everyday. Sadly, today we learned what happens when a soft target gets bombed. Prayers for those in Boston, and their families.
I have thought much about my young feral self since the post about my years after my father’s accident. To be honest I miss the life being accountable to no one, since nobody was paying attention. I miss the running off in every direction all at once, because nobody cared. My life is all about responsibility now. Who needs what, what happened where, and how am I going to fix it. It is the day in and day out. I’m firmly lodged in the land of make do. If it is broken, figure out a way to get by. We cannot afford another bill, so we learn to master the art of holding everything, including our lives together with duct tape and baling twine. I look around and see winter’s hard touch on the buildings and the fences. So much needs care and attention, yet all I can think of is losing myself in some 9 year old fantasy. I want to just stop living and breathing the stress for a minute. To be free from the steady pressure that sits on my chest night and day. If only it were as easy and launching myself into the woods on an epic adventure, only visible in my mind’s eye. I know it isn’t possible, there is no way around the responsibility and stress. Though I can dream. I can imagine a world without all of this.
It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day shuffle and lose sight of the bigger picture. Or worse yet, fall into the trap of tossing all the good with the bad and slapping a negative label on a life that has been. But there needs to be a pause, some quiet reflection. In that silence there is truth. What is so remarkable is in each of the crossroads in my life, when everything had come completely undone, and I stood on the cliff edge looking into the abyss, the blessings each appeared. There out of nothing but pain and sadness, confusion and loss, appeared exactly what I needed to step back from the cliff and find my path again. Each and every time. Never was I left alone, or abandoned to struggle. I will never know the answer as to why. I can look to something bigger beyond myself and this world. I can look to lady luck. or I can just call it fate. Whichever it was, or even a combination of all, I have to count my blessings.
On that fateful late summer day when my father’s plane erupted in flames after it crashed into an embankment, he crossed paths with a doctor. It was a fleeting encounter before he was transferred to a specialized burn unit at Valhalla. Fitting name, since he was basically dead. There he lingered for months in a coma while they patched, and removed, and patched again his scarred hide. He woke up, he fought back. More that a year later he and the doctor that first saw his sizzling charred body, crossed paths again. She stayed. My mother had run for the hills, leaving me alone with my father. He was so incapacitated at the time it was just me and whichever nurse/ and or nanny was in the picture. There were many. Far too many to remember, or even count. The ones that stand out, were either harsh and abusive, or had some quality that seperated them from the pack. (One that comes to mind was extremely religious). I was a lost kid. defiant and difficult. My life had been turned upside down. Never one for conversation, I acted out. My behaviors clearly speaking for the upheaval in my head and heart. When the doctor came into my life I was struggling. Struggling with life, the changes, the fear, and the emotions. She took me to the massive stone castle she lived in. It was a wonderous place. The vast cathedral ceilinged music room with the wall of leaded windows. The “unicorn” room with the stout canopy bed built into the floor, and the window for peeking down into the music room. The secret passage in the basement that lead from below the dining room to her office. There were animals of every shape and size. ferrets, kittens, cats, dogs, raccoons, and horses. Wherever you looked there was something. For a 9 year old it was paradise. She was very much an easygoing mother. Happy to let the kids run wild learning their lessons as they went. She always felt it would sort itself out in the end. I never remembered hearing a harsh word, or anger from her. It was a loving kind place. It was a perfect spot for a kid whose life had spun hard out of control. But rather than fix that hard spin I departed into a fantasy world. I became feral. It was the perfect environment. Thankfully I still had visits with my aunt and cousins. I still kept tethered to the outside world and not just the extraordinary tales in my head. The more wild I became the harder it was for the nannies to cope. I can’t even imagine what they must have dealt with. Transitioning from the castle to home was tough. More than one of them used physical force to get my attention. I leaned home was a place of fear, while the castle was a place of respite. Over time as I grew older the riding became more important to me than the fantasy. The barn, and the horses replaced the castle. I was changing, and my life was changing with it. I wasn’t a feral nine-year old with mats in her hair anymore. My moods started to dominate my life. I fell deep and hard with no idea why. I knew pain, and suffering. This was a different creature all together. But the wild remained. Instead of fantasies about knights and horses, my mind grew dark. My fantasies grew violent. Rape and murder, blood and fear. They occupied my mind. I still had not found my way around my emotions. My behavior continues to paint the picture of what was happening in my head. Sex, and abuse. It was a new chapter for the wild child. If only I could have stayed in the castle on the mountain. Nell in the woods, without a care in the world. That was not to be. I was initiated into a world of dominance, pain, and sex. But I did not retreat from it. I chased it. Head down like a good bird dog. I looked behind every shrub and tree. I found my abusers and lay down for them. It was my connection to this world. In that pain, and fear I felt alive. The dead leaden feeling, shaded in gray, released its strangle hold. But it had to hurt, it had to be bad because otherwise I felt nothing. It was going nowhere good. Life was once again spinning out in all the wrong directions. It shifted again with a move out of that house. Life slowly started to become more normal.
It is a pattern that repeats, over and over. Each time when I am lost, somehow I am found. Whether it be the doctor, or horses, or art, or Virgil, or my partner. They all came into my life when I needed them most. When I had written life off, and figured it was hopeless. It wasn’t all lost, or all bad. I have had my traumas, and abuses, and horrors, yes. But I have had my blessings too. I can not even wrap my head around where I would be without them. Probably be so personality disordered a normal life would be impossible. I would not be able to have this life, with a stable relationship, meaningful connections, and the ability to love without manipulation. It is because of these blessings. I found a life worth living. They were the light sources that showed the way toward the kinder and gentler path. A path not of fear, abuse, and sacrificial behavior. Not of giving up, and giving in. It was a path of standing up, and moving toward love and self-respect. To leave behind the behaviors and acting out that only got me hurt worse, and abused more. They showed me a very different path. I am so very blessed.
It was a short long run week, coming off the 16 mile effort last weekend. I have had a pretty good run week, and was feeling quite content after a terrific long run last weekend. That being said today’s run wasn’t all that good. It was a brilliant sunny, but windy day. Spring has finally arrived. All the birds are out, singing and flitting from branch to branch. I think I stopped about 6 times just to bird watch. yeah, it was that kind of run. I started out with fueling issues, then some lack of fuel issues around mile 8. Unfortunately for me I was out of my regular gels, and only had caffeine GU Roctanes. hmmm. Well they are called training runs for a reason. You need to try out various things and see what works and what doesn’t. I can honestly say taking a gel laced with 35mg of caffeine while slightly dehydrated is not a fun thing. It was a really weird tingly feeling, and a head detached from body experience. That was with half. To hell with that. You could not pay me money to take that again. I like gels, they work. they are easy to carry, and I have been training with them. So, lesson learned. I will stock up on my regular GU, or powerbar vanilla gels. As my brain zapped away, racing on caffeine and carbs I wrapped up my run. But the day’s fun was not over. Mile 11, and I started to get some discomfort. Not a big deal. Something is always unhappy at some point during a long run. Last week I started the run with some shin pain. Gone by mile 2, and has not been seen or heard from since. Week before it was foot pain, gone too. I am pretty used to this and often think nothing of it. Well today was just not my day. It became apparent my run was over. done. I am chalking up the whole damn run as crap, even though I had some nice moments out in the Spring air watching birds. Guess I’ll see what running feels like come Monday.
The interesting thing about inspiration is you don’t normally see it coming. It starts as a little shimmer. Deep in the recesses of your mind. But it doesn’t stay a shimmer. that little silvery flash grows. It pushes hard against you. A steady rap tap tap. Urgent in its request for attention. Something in me stirred when I read the ad online. They were looking for animal models for a graduate figurative drawing class. Hmmmm. I stopped, and reread. I could not set it aside. As the days passed I just assumed they had found other offers. Nearly two months passed. Then out of the blue a late evening call from a curious guy. A quirky mix of academic and art. Interesting. We had a lengthy conversation that woven in and out of context. But it was different, so I let him carry on. But my curiosity got the best of me, and soon I found myself agreeing to bring a horse, and a donkey into lower Manhattan. Truly insane, since most horses do not like closed spaces, and loud noises. Everything we were about to ask of them. I had faith in my instincts. But there was something driving my decision, and it clearly wasn’t reason. Over the next few weeks we prepped for our outing. It was a lot of work, and logistics. As the day grew close I was stressed and worried, but I didn’t panic, and I didn’t back out. It would have been easy to do. At 4:30 the alarm went off and our long day started. We stepped out into the inky cold darkness that was just starting to pale at its edges and got the animals loaded into the trailer. Pulling up in front of the school I was excited. Odd for me, since normally I am anxious and not really content being anywhere but the farm. I stepped through the glass doors onto the honey colored wood floors. The scents of art were everywhere. A hint of paint, and touch of clay all wrapped in that unmistakable smell of creation. It hung on every wall, sat amongst the easels in the corners, and the sculpture stands. It was everywhere. My heart bounded in my chest, not with anxiety, but with joy. It has been 18 years since I walked out the door of art school. It felt like yesterday. I settled the horse and donkey and said hello to the students. They all happily chattered away while setting up. The steady buzz slowly faded as they fell deep into concentration. I watched each of them, their styles so very different. These were graduate students, all very much had their own style. I saw that shimmer. The professor took me for a tour. We wandered through floors of artists, all tucked into their studio spaces. Some deep in thought hunched over a piece, others lazing on the floor together eating lunch. All unique and individual. No one the same, like hundreds of fingerprints. A kaleidoscope of colors, and styles. Large pieces with color, others monochromatic with the strength of technique and composition carrying the weight. Because it is a graduate school in figurative art a large amount of nudes both sculpture and paintings abounded. What was so striking was the talent. I should not have been surprised, this is a very good school (actually started by Andy Warhol). I took it all in, as the quirky professor introduced me to the artists, and pointed out various work. with each corridor, and each little cubby my eyes found another beautiful work to look at. It was really amazing. But what struck me the most was how happy I felt. Not just happy, content. On a very deep soul level. The stronger the smell of paint, and the more works I looked at the more settled I felt. My baseline unhappy state was replaced by the feeling of wonder. I have not felt that in years. A sleeping part of me awoke. Slowly with each hour it grew. I showed one of the students a photo of my work. On a break she returned with a roll of wire, and some wire cutters. It was funny because I thought nothing of it. I sat on the hay bale and made her a small sculpture. My partner took it very different (this student had rubbed her the wrong way right from the start). She took it that this kid was challenging me, sort of a , yeah right, show me. It is funny how we each saw it so different. I was just happy to have my hands occupied. During the tour the professor told me they had a ton of responses, yet mine struck him as genuine, and spoke to him. I can’t really remember my email, but I did say I had been in art school and appreciated the opportunity he was giving the students. That I would have been thrilled. I remember drawing nudes, and gourds (still have that piece).
Art school was an amazing place. Unfortunately it came into my life at the wrong time. My struggles were far too great, and it got lost. The wonder, and the love of art could not hold court with the war that was being waged in my head. It felt so different now, all these years later. I won’t wander into the land of what ifs, or what might have beens. There is no answer there. I can only listen to my heart, an the steady rap tap tap of inspiration as it settles in my core. I did not realize how important it was to me, or how deeply it stirred me. I won’t ignore it. Just as I let my runs settle my mind, I will let the art settle my discontent heart. Nothing may come of it beyond some puttering in the studio. That isn’t important. It is the time spent letting my hands talk, and freeing my soul. The creative process cannot be defined, nor understood, unless you are an artist. It is a wonderous, and sometimes humbling experience. It can be soaring and exciting, other times quiet and thoughtful. from fast slashing strokes broad and colorful to tight inky lines small on the paper. All come from the same place, yet take such different forms. All are from a place none of us can explain, but we can feel and express. Art is an experience like no other. It is a place very special to me, and one I am looking forward to returning to.
Not really sure what I have to say today. My mood has been shifting, but not far, and definitely not fast. Never the less, it still feels unsettling. I never really know where it is going until it gets there. That may well be the very worst part. Just imagine getting on a plane and never knowing the destination till the wheels touched down. Looking around and trying to get your bearings. I know things have been difficult since florida. I find myself sitting still, while everyone around me is beating the war drums. Phrases like” over my dead body”, and “there is no way in hell she is getting the farm” are frequent these days. I just can’t connect. I am hearing them, but feeling nothing. I’m not really here. Aside from all the work today, I have this weird sense of foreboding. But it is hollow and empty in the absence of any other emotions. I don’t know what is coming, or what I am sensing dread about. I have so little information to go on when my mind is working like it is. It is a lost place. I know I can do nothing but wait it out. I am not sure I want to connect with whatever is causing such an awful feeling. I just don’t know right now.