The sun is already shining through my little library window. I was supposed to see my shrink today to get a new solution, a new hope etc., but she’s ill. So I comply and take the prescription that is not working. I know a sudden realignment of the salts in my brain can damage my memory more than it is already damaged from that time that the factory in Mexico that made the time-release pills burnt down and I went cold turkey.
At least that’s how I remember it. I was in my mid-twenties and already divorced and nose-deep in the drama of a new relationship: barely breathing. Two years of salt and sex and adrenaline and really good writing. And not the lyric kind, but out-of-the-box, authentically articulated, outward-looking work produced with a drive – confidence – that slipped away. The emerging artist aborted in a way. Balance is difficult.
So I sit here, disspirited, feverish, and frustrated. Compliant.
But the sun… it is shining through my little library window and I do have hope. And little else right now. I am eating fish for breakfast and doing yoga and reminding myself that these ruts always end.
I remember the shrink back then who told me that my life would be chaos until I was settled – and by that he meant finished with university, working a nine-to-five with a rote, gender-appropriate, middle-class American lifestyle with minivans and PTA meetings, and I think he’d never even heard of Ballad of Lucy Jordan. I don’t think he understood that not all trailer trash aspires to be WASPs. In fact, probably very few of us do. I didn’t aspire to be him. What does mentally healthy look like? Maybe the more important question is: What does mentally healthy feel like?
So I could have done worse. I have been to Paris. And I giggled when I saw a cabriolet pass by with a middle-aged driver. I was thinking of Lucy Jordan. I always figured the song was about an acid trip. So, yeah, I definitely could have done worse.
I think this thing I am making of myself is more of an abstract sculpture than a portrait. And I can pick it up and keep working on it as long as I live. There’s no rush. And no rubric or model for the finished work.
I did finish the sextain – sestina with an extra metered foot that repeats in its own rotating pattern. It is the text that I’ll print on the paper corset. Waist corset, neck corset.
And now on to the next set of constraints. Because there is a way to squeeze really exciting work out of the tightest of constraints. Hell, they might even be necessary.