Snippets of things I've been thinking lately, featuring the digestive powers of immigrants (or lack thereof) and other matters
Never underestimate the hunger of immigrants, etcetera, etcetera. Never underestimate what we can do, how far we can go. Never bet against us, and so forth. Never take your eyes off our tide of gastric acid even for one moment. But one thing to know about acid is this: It is omnivorous, eating even teeth that take and survive so much else. Think of hydrofluoric acid eating the guns, the body Jesse was dissolving, the bathtub, and the floor as (what is left of) Emilio falls through in a slop of blood and tissue. [clip below; cw for blood and gore]. I am badly broken. I doubt that I was meant to be in this perpetual motion. And I am tired of this excellence. I find it hard to care about any of it. Hunger has driven me to the edge of ruin. I only want to lie down for a few years.
I am grateful for my recent success, but it simply fills me with dread and anxiety. Acclaim (what ever that may mean in the literary world or elsewhere) has never been an objective of mine. I simply wanted to write what I was feeling so I could be less sad, anxious, and traumatized. I have met people. I know they are fickle. So I fear their adulation. You are no longer safe when you have been perceived by the hunger of the world for a resource, a spice, a beverage, an opioid, a fuel. So I wish they would take the words and leave me out of it. Let me be shrouded in privacy. Strip mining is only beautiful to the people who sell the coal flayed from a mountain’s guts. I do not want to be an attraction in the coliseum of panem et circenses, where headliners and their entrails are dragged off the sand before the next course. I finally understand Canisia Lubrin’s distrust of the autobiographical self [here and here]. I only wish my own poetry were not so confessional (allegedly). Although I’d like readers to extrapolate the speaker’s voice to the broader human condition, I suspect they will likely be looking for ways to make the work about me alone. Look wider, bigger, farther.
My mental health has been very poor lately. As I occasionally do, I took the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire, a 9-point depression scale) and GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, a 7-point anxiety scale) surveys. Apart from suicidal ideation (which tends to be low for me although I do hurt myself in other ways, mostly social), I pretty much maxed out the other categories. Might be time to up my medication dose or try something different. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was an application that measured and tracked PHQ-9 and GAD-7 values (or any superior rapidly-administered measures, if they exist) and helped us sads maintain an even keel when we dipped? I also quit coffee cold-turkey 2 weeks ago and realized I had been medicating my lack of energy with caffeine. A friend suggested oolong tea but it hasn’t been hitting quite the same. Send energy.
70 x 7:
I recently received an apology that was decades in the making, long after I had stopped hoping it would come. It didn’t fill me with the relief I had once thought it would. I wasn’t prepared for the anger and grief I felt, instead. I had already forgiven them, but I know it needs to be a continuous and deliberate process, since I can never forget, and since we all deserve grace. I have a new understanding of needing to forgive someone “seventy times seven” times.
I realized yesterday that I ran from medicine because it did not show me wonder, of the human body or otherwise. It was instead, full of horror: the tragedy of the human body and the circumstances of it. There are so many ways that the body can fail, and so many ways we continue to fail that body. It’s easier to catastrophize. You will never do enough to keep those you love from dying. Or preventing the grief of those who love you: when you fail to keep yourself from dying. I’m trying to find more hope in the decay. Believe me, I’m trying.
Speaking of Catastrophizing:
Spoiler alert for The Mosquito Coast Season 1 Episode 4 (Apple TV). Skip to section 7 if you’d like to avoid any spoilers.
Mona says: “Oh, but they're such a worry, aren't they? Kids, I mean. I'm a mom. I catastrophize. Always thinking about the worst thing that could possibly happen to them.” Mona is speaking to Lucrecia, the woman holding her family hostage. There is a delicious moment after, when Lucrecia begins to realize that Mona’s comments are not innocuous, but actually a threat involving her (Lucrecia’s) grandson:
Lucrecia: Hugo is protected.
Mona: From what?
Lucrecia: Everything. Everyone.
Not well enough, apparently. There’s a beautiful sequence after in which it is revealed that Mona’s agent outside is actually holding Hugo hostage, and not her son, Charlie, which Mona uses to negotiate their freedom. You simply have to experience that moment, being a culmination of the 3 episodes before, in which Mona is revealed to be ferocious, and perhaps sinister when required. We had been too focused on Allie all along.
I will be reading at the Atwater Poetry Project with poet and musician Jason ‘Blackbird’ Selman (on Tuesday February 22, 2022, 4PM PT), and having a conversation with both Jason and the host, Faith Paré. You can register for the event at this Crowdcast link.
Till next time, and so on,
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