Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Then Go in Peace, and Laugh on Glory's Side."

Wayne Coyne is perhaps the person I know who has the most consistently positive disposition and outlook on life. So when he speaks, as he did in the above video, I try to listen to and absorb as much as I can from the lessons he's learned in life. Apart from the other-worldiness that is The Flaming Lips as a rock band, Wayne's universally thought of as just an all-around good guy. A loyal friend. The first time I met him in 1994, unlike his trademark salt-and-pepper curly mop, he had stringy, dyed neon orange hair. I journaled my immediate impression of him, as I did of the whole band. My initial take on Wayne? "Hot, but acts like a rock star." He's still hot (even hotter!) and is still like a rock star, but he's also been very, very kind to me (and Luke, who I joked has so many pictures with Wayne over the years, that we could make a growth chart out of them).

 Anyway, Wayne aside, I said last year:

"I learned a very important lesson this summer: When you have friends, friends you love dearly, you hold them in high regard. You keep your plans with them. You get together, even if it's in dribs and drabs. You keep promises. You stay in touch. You check on your friends' well-being. You take the time out of your own busy life. If you love someone, you tell them. Frequently. You give a lot of hugs and kisses. You help them help themselves. You insist on it."
--Me, September 17, 2011

That was the lesson I learned forcefully last summer. In the ensuing year, I've become a better friend to people. I've reconnected with old friends, enhanced acquaintances, maintained relationships with those close to me, and created new joy with new friends, while missing the wisdom and company of friends I've lost to situations as widely-spectrumed as untimely death to the ridiculous incapacity of individuals to accept me for being mentally ill.

 She was ready for it, and pretty much anticipating the inevitable, but SuperJuls lost her grandfather during the night last night. Teetering on whether or not to travel to the East coast a couple of days ago, we talked about how, after a fall and a brain bleed rendered him in a coma, in all likelihood, her grandpa wouldn't know she was there, but I told SuperJuls to go if she *wanted*, for her own peace, to say goodbye while he was still alive. She decided to remain in Chicago for the time being, though now has to make that difficult journey with her dad and sister, in order to meet her grieving mother. Juls said to me, "There is much to take joy in, but I'm still sad in this moment."  I understood her feelings completely. 

On Facebook, she simply posted the following:

"With your final heartbeat kiss the world goodbye.
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side." --"Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)" by Chris Rice

Tears today. Actual tears. To be honest, I can't remember when I last cried, much of it being a by-product or side effect from being on so many mood-altering or leveling-out medications. Even engulfed in the depths of sporadic but deep depression, crying just didn't happen, though I kept *wanting* it to. I figured a "good cry" would've done my soul a bit of good. I chalk it up to, if nothing else, sympathy pains I was feeling for my son, who was crying in his room this afternoon. 

Somehow or another, Luke's entire YouTube channel, which contained over 200 original videos he's created since the age of 8, and over 1,000 favorited videos, a pride and joy of Luke's so deep that he had custom-made t-shirts advertising his channel...gone and irretrievable. We don't know, and the site has been very unhelpful, what happened exactly. He was able to log into it last night at his dad's house but it was gone this afternoon. It's tantamount to me losing the entirety of my blog, which, like Luke's videos, aren't backed up and are site-specific, not to mention linked to the Monster of Google. I am heartbroken for Luke. I am heartbroken, period.  

Inspired by remembering my dear friend, Mico, I wrote that quote at the top of this blog on his birthday last September. It still rings true and is something I've done my best to live in principle and practice since then.

The mood of melancholia is lurking in my senses and expressions today. Today marks a year since I received that nauseating phone call at work that Mico had been found dead. While I held myself together to round out my early evening at work, I sought out and was comforted by Guy Friend that night by phone, not saying anything at work. I distinctly remember not having cried over Mico that whole first night, my system too shocked, I think.  Grief and reality finally caved me in, however, and while the experience was an unexpected trauma, life did go on, though I can't say the year since his death has been necessarily easy nor particularly happy for that matter. Sure, there have been milestones, happy occasions, and unexpected treasures, all of which I wish Mico was here to enjoy with me, but there have also been defeats, disappointments and dismay that he likewise would've lent a shoulder to hear about.  I slap myself for having taken him so for granted during our friendship. For letting too many calls go to voicemail. For consistently putting someone who loved me with protection and ferocity of a brother perpetually on my back-burner. 

 At present, I'm waiting for my brain chemistry to even out, subject to the extremes of emotion, as a manic-depressive, that most normal individuals (luckily) will never face. I've been over bipolar disorder enough on my blog to save my readers a further, redundant explanation with regard to the challenge and difficulty of being acutely symptomatic while maintaining function.  For anyone still seeking an analogy beyond the stereotypical "high-highs and low lows," I can only offer you this: I feel all the same things YOU feel, both good and bad things, only my brain's interpretation of and my body's reaction to all of those things is greatly exaggerated and amplified in polar opposite directions, when what I crave the most is an increasingly elusive even-keel. 

When bipolar is active, and symptomatic, it can be an exhausting, debilitating, obvious struggle of emotional management and erratic prioritizing, like a stubborn pimple you simply can't leave alone, is filled with pus, and threatens to infect and scar your face if it pops. When bipolar's in remission, it's like having a stubborn but unobtrusive pimple: you know it's there, you know it's unattractive, but apart from putting a little makeup on it when you go out, it's not something that interferes with your life and certainly, your friends and loved ones don't cast you out because they can't bear to look at you because of it, or exert you a sympathetic but exasperated hug along with a tube of benzoyl peroxide.

In an uncharacteristically public, open discourse over a blog I wrote last Wednesday, some of my close friends and I tried to dissect the mystery of the seemingly completely, suddenly disintegrated relationship between Guy Friend and I.  After a short email he wrote me Thursday, in which he indicated he'd call me over the weekend, he didn't, and despite my many attempts to contact him, he's gone completely MIA. In that blog, I hypothesized that Guy Friend was ejecting me from his world because of my mental illness, but that it was an experience I was growing used to and implied that if that was, in fact, the case, I was sorrowful but I understood. In Guy Friend's brief email, he did make mention of what my mood might be should we talk on the phone. Via text yesterday, I directed him back towards that blog and the lengthy comments thereafter. 

 Most prominently featured in the discourse of comments are the utterly subjective, deeply intense thoughts and opinions of Best Male Friend, who makes no bones about his feelings for me and has been longing for the day when Guy Friend would exit the bigger picture, my AA sponsor/friend agreeing with him, his best friend trying to lift my spirits, as well as the musings of a couple of commentators who chose to remain anonymous, and have been since ruled out as anyone in my close circle of friends. Whomever the anonymous people were, though, felt they knew me well enough to judge my medication doses and compare Guy Friend to my ex-husband, which, if they DID know me, would know that Craig vs. Guy Friend is apples vs. oranges (Anonymous 1), and the other, who called me "sweetie," implied that my friendship stretches Guy Friend too thin, and while I played nicely with them in my responses, they offered me zero construction but plenty of criticism.  Here's a hint: If you feel you know me well enough to call me "sweetie," you damn well better be on The List of People I Would Hug. Otherwise, I interpret that as being talked down to. Thanks.

My best friend, Kate, chose not to publicly weigh in, but read all of the comments as we tried to piece together not only Guy Friend's lack of communication but also who the two anonymous know-it-alls were. 

Naturally, the subject of music came up in the comments and I told my friends that I'd not only been listening to a particularly downtrodden mix of music in the car, but that I'd texted some vague lyrics to Guy Friend last week that were from a song on that CD, which, later on, Best Male Friend suggested I use to physically behead Guy Friend. After I'd revealed what some of the other songs were on the CD, Best Male Friend offered alternatives with which to further assail Guy Friend in the event I, against his better judgment, broke my "radio silence."  Best Male Friend's best friend asked me if I made that mix of music to give to Guy Friend. I said no, but that he "inspired" it.

There's something about listening to music in your car. While it's distracting to a certain extent, and you really should be focused on the road, the traffic, etc, music in the car fills a void and makes you think, makes you feel. For me, anyway, it's a source of focus-time and metaphorical gear-shifting, driving. The anxiety I have driving a car, literally anywhere, is sometimes all-consuming, as one of my many neuroses. Music helps calm that. Like Wayne recounts in his video essay above, he was just puttering along in his car, listening to music, when he saw the two people who caught his attention at a red light enough to inspire a sudden appreciation and warmth in his soul for how happy he was and how fortunate he truly is. Wayne doesn't say what he was listening to at the time. 

Against advice, I played the morose mix again in the car today, when a version of this song played, recorded live in Australia:

Specifically, this line stood out: "It's sad, so  sad. It's a sad, sad situation and it's getting more and more absurd." Absurd is a really apt word for this whole clusterfuck. As a woman of many mixed emotions, I'm trying to employ logic and while my loved ones all made perfect sense, my heart's unsettled.

While the theme of the song is the the difficulty in apologizing and the frustration of unrequited love, running themes in honestly, all of my life, I truly feel if I *do* owe Guy Friend any type of apology, it'd be for annoying him to death, jumping to drastic conclusions in many directions and hyper-impatience. That's if I ever hear from him again. If anything, he owes me an explanation as to why, if it's something as simple as busyness, he can't shoot a 30-second text or, if I'm indeed on the exit ramp, an admission that he gave me a ton of highly conflicting signals, physically and emotionally, and at least have the courtesy to tell me to politely go fuck myself. Otherwise, if something significant happened in his life, e.g. the death of a loved one, or, like, gangrene in his leg that had to be abruptly amputated, DUDE. We're friends. I want to know this shit. 

If, for some reason, putting me on the back burner, like I did to Mico, because his shit interfered with my own shit at times, gives Guy Friend a clear conscience on which to sleep at night, then we're wound tighter than a magnet's coil that leads us straight back to the quote on friendship I coined in September and the fact that Guy Friend, himself, has friends he's lost prematurely and who should learn to appreciate the gift of friendship as opposed to emotionally reducing me to the role of an albatross worn around his neck just like his stethoscope. 

I saved Mico's texts. I don't remember what Facebook post Mico was referring to in our last text exchange, but it had something to do with my final break from the torture of Chris. Mico said, "I'm proud of you, Boobela. Think you hit the hammer dead on the nail on your post last night. You ok with everything?"

I replied that I was both heartbroken and very relieved (very common dual-reaction), but that I was fine with it. I assured him I was safe.

Mico responded, "Good. Methinks you'll improve mentally over this, thus your physical health will get better. :) You need anything...open ear, some pica de' Mico, etc...you know where to find me."

I simply replied, "Thanks."

Mico had passed away by the time I was diagnosed with PTSD. He would have no idea that I'd nearly go completely insane continuing to work at the medical practice and missed much of the medical drama. But he was right...my mental and physical health have since improved (this acute near-psychosis aside). 

It's the last sentence that haunts me...."You know where to find me." His loyalty as a friend was unparalleled. I'll never get that time or those opportunities back. I'll continue to be reminded of the preciousness and happiness in life that Wayne so deeply appreciates, and will try not to dwell on Guy Friend's abrupt ship-jump. I do know where to find Mico. He's everywhere and anywhere I need him. 

 In closing, Guy Friend? Remember how I gave you the demo of this song and hoped I'd never have to play it for you out of anger?   Now I think you're ready for the more dramatic studio version of "Run of the Mill."  "It's you that decides..."

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