Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Complex Plane

When thinking about the universe mathematically, I've recently been told, it's unphysical and too great of a limitation to think only inside the realm of real numbers. 

But, we want to.

To me at first, it seems more unphysical to think of things like space and time evolving perpendicular to one another instead of in parallel; especially when we're hit with the glaring reality that those two enigmas are intimately connected. But if we introduce into our mathematical interpretation the set of imaginary numbers and an imaginary axis to our geometrical model of space and time, what we've actually done is given ourselves extra degrees of freedom that allow the universe to behave mathematically congruently to the ways by which we perceive it to evolve physically. And that's a complex plane with some complex implications.

But on days during which I'm feeling particularly batshit, it helps me out to think about how the universe has both real and imaginary parts.

I have such a hard time believing that I am a real person, or that my instabilities can manifest as a real illness; rather, a real hardship. If I have time to reflect on any crimes against my heart, I dismiss them as logical behavior towards a thing that is not actually a real person. And I let myself live this way, think this way. I'm not really here. I'm not really real. Nothing matters, really.

Obviously, I extend the illusion. I have very little grace for my periodic seasons of mental instability, although I expect them to come and go as they do. What if this is how everybody feels about everything, and I'm just too weak to deal with my life properly? What if it isn't real; just a specter I've invented from observation or idealization? Thankfully when I ask these questions, the level bit of my brain speaks up.

But it was real enough for you to leave school, which you love with your whole heart, masochistically or not. It was real enough to make everything feel like an attack. It was real enough for you to dissociate. It was real enough for you to lose time and memory. It was real enough for you to do things like crash your car and doubt your ability to not wander onto the railroad tracks when you knew a train was coming. It was real enough for you to feel strangled by t-shirt necklines and imprisoned by your own ribcage. If it were any more real, it would have taken your life. Is that "real" enough for you? 

And at the minute, I very much am grateful that I survived these dark times, but I'm not in a terribly celebratory mood. My life is unsustainable, and it has to be this way in order to avoid going into further amounts of debt, but it really can't go on like this. And I'm tired of being in situations, mental or physical, that are unsustainable. It's easy to pin it all on me, to make it my fault that I apparently refuse to entitle myself to sustainability. But the resources aren't there. They're not. They're fucking not. I drink too much coffee because I'm tired of tea and coffee is cheaper, anyway. It buys me time to use internet, which I use to work, so that I can get out of this mess that has been wonderful and terrible. And people are happy for me and proud of me and sometimes it makes no sense. I've said it before: this is not me being brave. You are not seeing a beautiful display of survival. You are seeing a pathetic display of the long-term results of periodic nervous breakdowns that will absolutely repeat themselves because the resources required to stop this are not accessible. You are seeing a person who does not believe she is a person. You are seeing a person who does not feel entitled to live anywhere besides her car, which doesn't even actually belong to her. You are seeing a fundamentally self-destructive human, who is very good at making her self-destruction look like survival, art. 

Some days it is an artistic survival. But maybe, it's just another breakdown. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Dented Denial

Y'all, some things bring me straight to my knees.

Sometimes they're overwhelmingly marvelous things, and sometimes they're marvelously overwhelming things, so to speak.

I'm surrounded by warriors every day. People who endlessly advocate for everyone else and are learning how to advocate for themselves. I'm learning how to do these things, too.

But right now, I'm kind of faced with the glaring reality that there's nothing I can do right now but to take a goddamn seat. Sit myself down and pick up Symone and move that energy, but otherwise, do nothing. 

The healing process is a process, and I've done the things. I've found the communities and I've found my voice and I've been angry and joyful and sorrowful and radiant and I've been in love with this process and I've almost been killed by this process...all the things. But, now what?

Having all of this time for the first time in my life has some major pros but also some pretty considerable cons. It means that I have time to think about the things that I keep repressing, sometimes subconsciously. Things such as the fact that I am still so nasty to myself...and I don't even realize it while I'm doing it.

But it's so easy, isn't it? So easy and logical to be the one who isn't entitled to the space she occupies. That makes sense, doesn't it? That's my default. The one who embraces the adversity she's given as a gift; I'm entitled to the burden but not to the release. When in the world did that kind of thinking begin? And why? And how do I make it stop?

Simple things. Simple, simple things like brushing it off when a stranger backs into my car because, until days later, I only noticed the dents that I had put there myself. I told him that I wasn't worried about it. I pointed at the dents that I recognized and owned, failing to see the one he left there because I legitimately didn't let myself look long enough to see it, or I never had eyes to see it in the first place. It was as if he and his back bumper were the driving force necessary to restore balance to the universe, like I was getting a little too comfortable and a little too lucky and I needed to be put back into place. You shouldn't be apologizing, sir...it was my fault for existing. I must have been in your space; rather I shouldn't have been taking up any space at all. In fact, I'm so grateful that it was only a gentle reminder this time...I'll stay out of the way next time. I'm not entitled to even the simplest justice.

But I am, though.

Except I don't act like it. I'm still the one who will drive around, masochistically wearing and owning dents that somebody else put there. And that metaphor is just a little too strong for me right now.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Tails: California

"Most people die at 25 and aren't buried until they are 75." -the ever virtuous Ben Franklin, champion of self-evaluation, logical reasoning, and doing his humanly best

I will turn 25 in one month from yesterday. But I don't think I'm going to die. I'm fairly certain of this, because I thought I was going to die last year. A year early, evidently. And since I've been blessed with more time than I've ever had (more on that in a minute) let's reflect on that.

A year ago, I spent my entire weekend reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a masterpiece with which I heavily resonated.

A year ago, I drove up to Michigan for a photo shoot, dissociated, and crashed my car with my sister inside.

A year ago, I kind of sort of went to grad school but I couldn't really be there. I hid in the Planetarium and I hid in Amanda's office and I hid behind the defense mechanisms I had perfected after a decade of use. Eventually, though, I couldn't hide the fact that I couldn't see straight. The neurological television noise blocking my vision made it impossible to walk down a hallway without feeling like I was disappearing into a black hole.

I'm no psychologist, but I think that's called a nervous breakdown.

I was sent away to Peru and I happily spent my 24th birthday there, not really believing that I was going to go back to Clemson. I didn't. I think y'all are pretty familiar with the rest of the story. 

But the point is, I thought I was going to die. I was pretty much already dead. And when you're half dead, it's easy enough to go the rest of the way but seemingly impossible to claw your way back out...and that just...sucks. There's no eloquent way to put it. It sucks and it's just the worst and then I start thinking about how much gravity it would take to bend my little piece of spacetime back onto itself, and what if it's all my fault and what if I fucked up and what did I possibly do to twist my life this badly, and what if I've already peaked?

But then, I flooded my life with friends and family and jobs, and I started to feel better so I sealed the deal by driving all the way to the west coast.

I still struggle, sometimes. I have bad anxiety days and the neurological noise comes back, and I don't feed myself and I cry because I'm afraid of how destructive I can be, and guilt is cheap and easy and logical. Sometimes I let myself be a thing instead of a person, because that makes more sense. Sometimes I let myself be the butt of the joke so that I can laugh with my perpetrators. Sometimes I fill my lungs with cinnamon and my ears with bullets from electronic assault weapons, and I keep breathing.

And in one month from yesterday, I will have kept breathing long enough to turn 25. I'll have reached my quarter century, and I'll have been more free than I've been in a long time.

I'm not sure if I'm losing my mind or severely pink-clouding or slowly starving to death, but being homeless is one of the coolest things I've ever done.


I get up at sunrise, and my time is completely my own. I'm learning to be resourceful and to rock climb. I'm learning to be by myself and to be an observer. I can read all of my books that I bought with the best of intentions, but never cracked open or finished because they weren't part of an assigned curriculum. The weather in Davis is perfection, and the Farmer's Market is magical. I know where I can sleep and where I can't. I know where to find water in this drought. I have a favorite tree with just enough shade for me. I have a front row seat to the sunset every night. I have 31 cents in my bank account and I'll probably go into the red next week, but I found a job and this wouldn't be the first time. I met somebody an hour ago and we'll go get a beer together later tonight. I am protected by the energy and prayers of my loves, energy on which I am dependent, but indirectly.

It feels better to be indirectly dependent rather than directly dependent. On one hand, I have absolutely none of my life together. The fact that I can be up in Davis at all and that I'm fed is due entirely to my Kar-bear, my long time friend and fierce advocate, recipient of a considerable amount of my love and steward of a piece of my heart, amazing human and beautiful warrior (because I really don't associate with anyone less, duh.) But now, by trial and error, I can manage my few resources in space that belongs to me and everybody at the same time. I'm not underneath someone else's roof, although I've been so thankful to be. Even as a gift, accepting someone else's shelter gives me anxiety because it's a gift that's difficult to accept when there's absolutely no chance of giving back or breaking even anytime soon. Out here, though, I can breathe. I spend most of my time outside, and I feel like I run this damn town. That's obviously a delusion, but it's wonderful to feel so powerful.

Every muscle in my body is sore, but it's a growing pain. I'm nose diving in so many ways, but I feel so much better. Things will be alright. Things are looking up. I'm alright to be on the street for a while, and I'll probably keep doing it until it starts to suck or it stops making sense or something horrible happens.

Until then, I feel like I'm finally allowed to be the gypsy that I am. And that's a necessary freedom, for a wandering gal like me.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Checking Privilege: Streets Edition

When I last left you, I was in Nevada. I had just survived an alpine rainstorm and the next morning, I crossed the Nevada desert into California. And a lot of things happened between then and now.

I could tell you so many things without loss of original depth, but right now, I don't think that I can. 

Major milestones and growth and accomplishments, and it was all incredibly emotional. And draining. I don't think I've ever been more physically (and otherwise) tired than I was at the end of our Half Dome hike, and for an ever so brief moment of clarity, everything popped into perspective. Like, I have this body that I don't really want on any given day, but it's amazing and it can do incredible things. I can literally pull myself up a mountain. I have two functional legs that carry me along. I have two inflatable lungs that skillfully sift through the air for any available oxygen. I have a rhythm and a beat, and if I listen to it, I'm told when to go and then when to rest.

Also, of course, Conservation of Energy and all that.

But I left Yosemite without any real certainty of where I was going.

Things remain to be pretty uncertain, but by the next day, I was offered a job opportunity in the Sacramento area. I was able to CouchSurf with an excellent human for a couple nights, but my closest friends lived 100 miles away and I had no place to stay in my new pocket of NorCal. So, I headed to SoCal for a couple weeks to spend time with some of my loves and to regroup.

I'm back in NorCal now, slightly worse for wear in some ways but better in others, hopeful to start my new job ASAP, and homeless.

Certainly not for lack of searching, but for lack of funding just like everything else. The way things turned out between Florida and California, with a replaced windshield and a replaced phone and a replaced car battery and more than enough grace but not enough dollars and cents, I'm out and I remain to be the one who is infinitely attempting to scrape by on delusional optimism and pink-clouding.

But Official Day One of homelessness is already pretty interesting. I'm sitting in a Starbucks with my car parked outside, and I slept there last night. I settled in with the sunset and I rose with the sunrise. Last night around 10ish, I noticed a bundle of white fabric shaped like a human outside of an abandoned building that was behind where I had parked, and realized that it was another homeless person. In that moment, I felt an odd sense of camaraderie and safety, like this was a safe place to crash, free from interruption by law enforcement or otherwise. When I woke up, it was just a raggedy pile of fabric again, its occupant had moved on.

I moved inside, and almost immediately, it became apparent that this Starbucks complex is a popular homeless destination because the bathrooms are locked and guarded and overseen, here. But then, I realized that apart from some of the others who stopped in for a bit of relief, I could be very easily granted access to the key. Because of my ability to (barely) afford an iced coffee, I can be afforded a rein over this entire establishment. In fact, nobody will even bat an eye at a clean-ish female nomad when I ask for something.

It's an odd realization to make, that I'm already better at being homeless than experienced homeless people. Certainly not based on skill, but based on privilege. Based on our grossly over-accepted social hierarchy, my skin color generally works in my favor. In this case, so does my gender. As a woman, people are far more likely to pity or ignore me than to fear or distrust me. Also, I have access to very nice things; I have a phone and a tablet and a MacbookPro. When I was in Peru a year ago, my ownership of a laptop like that had preposterously established me as one of the richest people my friends in Lima had ever seen, with only a few hundred dollars in my bank account. Even though I insisted that it had been a gift and it was discounted because it had been a store display laptop and that I had been so lucky and blessed to have it, it didn't matter; I had it. To them, I was already in a place of unattainable privilege.

So I'll sit here in this Starbucks for a little while, simply looking like a normal college student. I think that's probably how I'll get through the next month: looking like a college student. Being resourceful. Learning how to do this. I don't know what I'm doing and I'm scared of this uncharted territory, but I suppose I've gotten by with less before.

We'll see what happens.