I am a born-again psychiatric virgin now. My shrink and I agreed to a washout period of all psychiatric medications since none were working. When he saw me today unmedicated, he was delighted I wasn't any worse. But it doesn't get much worse than waking up in the morning tearful and terrified, wondering how to work a toothbrush.
Although not a strict tabula rasa, I feel that in my condition I must try to reconstruct myself, having "to construct something to hope upon" (Eliot). I plan to make a "Mother of All Lists" with projects to keep me occupied for the foreseeable future. Among other things:
1) I plan to re-write my book on T. S. Eliot's major poems and seek to have it published.
2) I mean to pay for studio time and record a new album and do it right.
3) I shall take up free diving on the the Mendocino Coast.
4) An essay on the similarities and differences between Rilke's "Duino Elegies" and Eliot's "Four Quartets."
5) Protein shake diet for quick weight loss. Must get off this inflated dime somehow.
6) Resurrect Melic, my former literary magazine. I simply do not find a journal online or in print that reflects what I consider the best principles in poetry: Meaning, Economy, Lyricism, Innovation and Clarity. What passes for innovation nowadays is mainly masturbation for the overeducated, poets reading poets who say "Wow! How did she do that?" (Notice what is not said: "Wow, I am moved." Or, "What a terrific insight!" Or, "What gorgeoius lyricism!")
7) I'd love to be in a working band again. If not, I ought to perform solo more often.
8) Visit every church in my locale and see if there isn't one I can tolerate. With luck it should be the same one that tolerates me.
9) Study the Bible for mind-strengthening techniques. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
10) Continue volunteering as a Botanical Gardens docent and hospice worker.
That's a beginning, at least. But I need a list of much smaller things, too, things that can be achieved with just a little work, like cleaning out my desk. If I can truly commit myself to action, my mood may improve as a result (or not). But anything that takes me out of myself, whether surviving diving or wrestling with Rilke, is a definite improvement over the toxicity of digesting my self over and over. With each serving there's less of me to consume. I'm down to nearly nothing.
I'm presently at my middle daughter's for two nights as part of my monthly visit to my grandson, Jacob. Tomorrow we plan to take him to the beach. He's a redhead so it will be a sunblock-slathering day, chasing him down with a tube and a hat.
It's not true that Jesus is jealous of dogs because he wanted to be man's best friend. Just another canine rumor. But you gotta love the story from the Bay Area, where a man and his girlfriend sprang their beloved pit bull from the pound before he could be euthanized for biting two people. Now the man's in jail and his girlfriend is on the loose with the dog, "a sweet dog who is so very protective"--so very protective that he bit the veterinary tech who was checking his teeth.
Other tidbits: The eco-warriors are perched on the Gulf Coast to save oil-damaged animals, except as yet only seven have showed up. What if they gave a spill and the animals avoided it? The Exxon spill, smaller in volume, killed 3000 otters among much other carnage. I only mention otters because they're so damned cute. So far this is a disaster still waiting to happen when it hits land. And that could be anywhere from Florida to Mexico.
Anything else? Notice none of my ambitions for action have anything to do with writing poetry; I'm tapped, my muse is in a coma, my interest in the art at ebb tide. I read so much crap. Because I think it's crap I feel like a dinosaur even though I subscribe to the "best" journals.
I haven't been submitting and I haven't been writing. Poetry seems like such a small thing to me now. I'm not saying I've forsasken it, or that it is without value, only that I must re-define my relationship with it. Who wants to read John Ashbery's convivial drivel or Jorie Grahams elliptical escapades? But good poetry still occurs. Witness "Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver.
Now wasn't that a great poem? I was turned onto it by a hospice worker, Redwing. God bless her.
Oh, and my one hospice client is a delight. She worked with Gloria Steinem on Ms. Magazine. She's sharp and funny and so very, very tired...
And to all a good night.
5 Kilorats and unmedicated,