Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Beholder's Cataract

In this new, or if not new then expedited, cycle of my soul's Phoenix-like dying and rebirth - I am becoming more aware of myself and the way my mood plays on my appearance as children on a smouldering summer blacktop, leaving the remnants of footprints on the foul-smelling surface. This is nothing new. Some people hide their emotions, tucking them safely away in some cavernous inner pocket, only revealing them when they're sure they're alone - using the sounds of water beads spanking fiberglass to drown out the suffering. But I am not that person.

Mirrors become my enemy on a bad day. I don't need them to show me the fettered potty-mouth wretch I am at times, or the incandescence of cheek when I feel like giving the world a coke. I know whatever it is, it's there. Plastered on every follicle, pore and pound - liquid grouch oozing from the skin and forming a mask that's insoluble until washed clean with sunshine and puppy dog kisses. I see ugly, and it makes me feel worse. It's like PMS without the egg.

Imaging its all in my head is the easy part. Painting the smile on my face - I may notice my teeth have visibly yellowed overnight and swear-off coffee for the day, a swear that will be forgotten in the fifteen minutes it takes to get to work. A huge reddish mountain has formed on my chin and I wonder if Clearasil only works on teenagers, and why I never needed it when I was one. I slip a pilled sweater taut over a hideous belly, and pull back the ragged Medusa locks into a bun. There's no sexy anymore. Ick has replaced it in the form of wrinkles and grays. I utter a "F*#k it" and go. No one will notice.

Arriving at work is, in my head, akin to Moses in a sea of (non-red) people. The path is magically cleared for the fleet I walk on, and heads turn to avoid looking directly at such hideousness. I stay in my office all day, slinking out secretly for bathroom breaks and Skittles. By the time I get home, my head aches from worrying that I've nauseated my coworkers with my Ora, and that some of them may even experience disgust-induced bowel irritations which keep them up through the night causing them to wake up feeling emotionally ugly too. It spreads, you know.

So I run away for a while before bed, trying desperately to concentrate on my book and not my toddler's 30th request for more fishies. I click off the bedside lamp early, and know that the morning will be better. Sleep is what's wanted. 9 times out of ten, or enough to make the odds better than Biloxi blackjack, its true. I wake to a bird that hasn't noticed yet how cold the mornings are, and he sings to warm himself. The reflecting surfaces are more forgiving. The clothes aren't quite as ready for Goodwill.

And I wonder to they have pills for this?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Breathing in the Smoldering Crumbs of Us

There are days when reality seems more like a place where people I know live. I can see it from where I stand, but it exists for me only in the sense that I exist in the blurred lines of my own image on the shower-fogged mirror. I can almost convince myself I am sufficiently happy for small moments, if I can but shush the self-pitying lost-dog sniffles buried deeply enough they can almost be drowned out with a lullaby. And it works for me, this myopic life of dazzling sunrises spilling through threadbare curtains , or crippling glimpses of hellish shadows flickering on sleep-deprived ceilings. The highs are enough, barely, to get me through the ugly twists and treacherous curves that can lead just as easily to ruin as to prosperity, and that often carry off a fallacy of better days ahead.

I want to say is that it is possible to get by. To muddle through ones life without seeing or feeling much except small shocks of palpable reality that are sweet even if horrible, just because you can raise goosebumps when you run your fingertips along your own backside. It it possible to clank along as an automaton, outwardly functioning, raising children, earning a promotion, electing leaders and do so with very little true interaction with yourself, or anyone around you. You can maintain with little thought and even less feeling and what becomes of you at last does not change much.

But the difficulty is giving over to this charade completely. Acceptance does not come without a battle, and only if you are not victor, for no one wins acceptance. And laying inert on shores of Omaha Beach, clutching your last flag, thinking it would be easier to let it be what it will, you notice a glint of light spread across the offing and bleed upwards into the sky. You lay for a moment watching the colors fuse and become something altogether different. something with substance and heat and a pulse. You let your body warm, imaging you can feel the beads of nighttime tears dispersing from your clammy skin. The enemies of your soul retreat, and you are victorious against the aches that held you steadfast for an eternity of minutes and hours until you were ready to throw up your hands and in your towel.

Revived by this, you march back into the world with renewed, seemingly bona fide confidence, the sanguine arch upon your brow, and insist you will not surrender. Not now, not today. You dress yourself, pour your coffee, and wipe away the frost from your windshield. The mango-colored morning warms your half-full cup of hope. "Maybe it's not so bad", you say, quietly chiding yourself for being so pitiful. Laughing a little at your vulnerabilities and for acting so much like the people you despise who wallow in their I-Cant-Change-It worlds, holding out their hands for quarters.

And you will go on this way for as long as possible, recognising the holiday from reality for what it is. You laugh were you can, and take pictures in hopes they will jog your memory like peppermint and tobacco. Life seems back to normal, and relief can be read in headlines on your face. But in the back of your mind, you dread the moment that once again you will realize the stage you stand upon, feel the grooved wood pushing against your bare feet. You see again where you are and cringe at sight of the empty seats before you, collapsing once more and crying out for the lost shards of your soul.