Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Desolation and consolation

I came home from work early today, not feeling well. I turned on the television, which I almost never do (except for those times when I do) and caught an old episode of Joan of Arcadia. Do you remember that show?

I watched it when it was on new, and I really liked it. There was some stuff I didn't like so much. Like how when Joan did what God told her to do and good things happened. I got the message, but I didn't like it.

Something I really did like was her mother's struggle with the question of faith, and her dad's discomfort with religious indoctrination. The episode I caught today was toward the end of the show, I think, and Joan's mom went to a church and spoke with the priest about faith and disbelief and all the rest.

Later, when she was telling her husband about it, she described faith (or the crisis thereof) as consolation and desolation. Consolation was when things were going well, when a person felt serene and happy, right down to the bottom of their wriggly little toes. Consoled, right?

Desolation was the opposite of all of that. When faith leaves us and we're empty; when tragedy happens and we rail and shake our fists heavenward. When we flail around, useless and scared and sad, and blame "god" for making such an ass-hat world for us to live in. Then we're desolate, barren of faith and void of optimism.

These two opposing ideas made me think of the little angel and demon, the ones who sit on our shoulders and tell us what to do. The demon whispers of fun, naughty things and the angel admonishes us, begging us to be good and filled up with virtue.

I have never had that angel and demon, perched on my shoulders and whispering opposing instructions. But I've had consolation and desolation. Both go bone deep, and they take turns burning me from the inside out.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Girl implodes brain conjuring clever titles

I was watching a TV show this evening, an episode in which one of the main supporting characters dies. As the main character of the show was taken over by grief and trauma, and while the other supporting characters were helpless and trying hard not to be, I recalled so vividly what I felt like after Colin died.

The all-consuming importance of having the right clothes on, of choosing the words to a death announcement so carefully... that thing we do where we focus on the most ridiculous, mundane details as though they are suddenly so very important.

My heart was pounding as the main character faced the question of how to carry on with life after a death. My heart pounded just the way it did when I faced that same question: what next?

I wanted to cry feeling that old anxiety, that breath-stealing fear.

Why would I choose to remember that fear? Of all the things I felt back then, why did I pick the fear to recall?

And I thought about a conversation I had with a friend recently, about carrying trauma around and how it take a lot of emotional effort to keep our traumas so fresh in our minds.

I watched the characters on television flail helplessly around not knowing how to express their grief and I sat sweating, holding my breath for fear I would fly apart, feeling my heart pound in my chest, and I let it go. I saw it for the choice it was, and I chose to let it go.

And then I focused on the dialogue, 'cause Joss Whedon is just damn funny.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I am at a loss about what to do in this moment. It is barely a real day yet, just after 6AM. My cats are still sleeping, The Husband is at work, and my apartment is oddly quiet.

It is raining. It comes down loudly on the tin carports in the parking lot. It sounds like handfuls of nails dropped on a shed roof by an angry god. I usually enjoy a steaming mug of coffee and a book while listening to this sound, but today I can't decide.

There is so much I want to do today, so many things that I have planned, and I can't decide where to start. It seems so simple to just pick one. You'd laugh if you could hear the thoughts in my head, the arguments I have with myself about why I don't just go do something on my list.

I should have been a scientist. Then I would have a lab in my house I could go to and work on experiments and draw conclusions and make legitimate lists.

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