Coping

A friend of mine wrote a blog post a couple days ago in which she asked the question, "How do you cope with strong negative emotions?" She listed her tried-and-trues and asked us to comment with our own effective-healthy ways of coping. Here's my list. (I divided it into two because I realized most of them had one of two functions for me.)

When I need to process or vent:
• journaling
• cleaning my room
• talking honestly to my mom or sometimes my dad
• Skyping/texting/phoning with a close friend or sister
• screaming
• writing a letter
• going for a drive
• drinking a mug of tea someplace quiet
• taking a bath

When I just need to distract myself or cheer myself up:
• turning off my laptop and getting absorbed in a book
• making a care package
• Skyping/texting/phoning with a close friend or sister
• taking a shower
• listening to oldies
• watching an episode of Xena
• cleaning my room
• going for a bike ride
• working on my to-read list of bookmarked classic feminist writings available online
• being helpful
• taking a nap
• drinking a mug of tea someplace quiet

Make your own list in the comments and then we can steal from one another. Yes, I like that idea.

April, 84 degrees







Diana's take on Wisconsin









Happiness and gratitudes

• Days when we can see the sun.

• Free group videochatting on Google+. Finally FINALLY a haven for my scattered dorm friends.

• Farmer's markets with my mama.

Where Were U In '92? Pseudo-nineties, as through a noughties lens. (The answer for me, by the way: too young to be anywhere but at home, let alone enjoying the golden days of rave...)

• Falling asleep quickly every night.

• Possibly having found work. (Hired for a trial period. It's an...okay job.)

• Roasted salted lentils. So nice a snack. Salt salt salt.

• Trust and honesty from friends.

• Radical feminism, and feminist networking online.

Suzi and Erin.

• Stubbornness, experience, and faith. (Tangent: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace...I love that title. An album I don't know well.)

• Reviewing German.

• Writing letters, and that I always have letters in my desk drawer to reply to.

Week, ish, in photos (180-188)

These are quite late because my compact (my only digital camera) kind of broke, so there weren't going to be any more pictures in the point-and-shoot 365 for a while. (It fell out of my bag when I fell off my bike, and took three pictures [see 188] before succumbing to coma. No money at present to get it diagnosed or fixed.) But I may be able to borrow a point-and-shoot for the summer. Anyhow.

180/365
180/365. Couchsurfing morning.

181/365
181/365. Illinois summer.

182/365
182/365. Japantown.

183/365
183/365. These for Father's Day. Nice and dense; proper muffins, not breakfast cupcakes.

184/365
184/365. Golden Gate Park Stables, now closed and minus a riding ring. A childhood haunt.

185/365
185/365. New top in the bathroom at my new summer college.

186/365
186/365. Because I wanted to make these.

187/365
187/365. My neighborhood. High summer fog.

188/365
188/365. Walked straight into the ocean to rinse them out. Then pictures. Ha, ha.

Three stories about moonlight

ONE.
My father's father and mother were young and newly married. He was still a med student; she was working to support him and they didn't have much money, but they needed a car and so had just bought their first. It was some shade of not-quite-pink (coral?) and had a glass top. They decided quite spontaneously to visit her parents for dinner that night, a few hours away. After dinner, they packed up all the leftovers to take with them so they wouldn't have to buy groceries for another week or so, and on their way back they watched the full moon rise through the roof of their car.

TWO.
The grandmother of the boy who told this story to an auditorium of us his peers. She, like him, was born deaf, and in her time that meant you got taken away to a boarding school where you were forbidden to use sign language. But when the moon was bright enough, the girls in the dormitory would creep from their beds at night and sit in a circle by the windows signing to each other by its light. Once they were caught. She made it back to her bed in time, but a friend of hers didn't. She watched a school administrator strike her friend so hard that she fell and hit her head, and they took her away with her head bleeding. She didn't see her again.

THREE.
When my sisters and I were little, our parents' fail-safe way to soothe us if we got upset too close to bedtime was to fold us up into a ball and wrap a down blanket around us, and then fold that up in their arms and carry us on a slow walk around the block in the dark. I remember the feeling of night air on my face when my cheeks had been hot and sticky from crying. My dad says he'd point to the moon to distract us and we'd talk about where it was in its phases. Sometimes my older sister needed to come too, and I could look up ahead through the quiet and see her in the other parent's arms in the next streetlight.

Second Movement, Scene 1 (the underworld)

           EURYDICE

There was a roar, and a coldness—
I think my husband was with me.
What was my husband's name?

   Eurydice turns to the Stones.

My husband's name? Do you know it?

   The Stones shrug their shoulders.

How strange. I don't remember.
It was horrible to see his face
when I died. His eyes were
two black birds
and they flew to me.
I said: no—stay where you are—
he needs you in order to see!
When I got through the cold
they made me swim in a river
and I forgot his name.
I forgot all the names.
I know his name starts with my mouth
shaped like a ball of twine—
Oar—oar.
I forget.
They took me to a tiny boat.
I only just fit inside.
I looked at the oars
and I wanted to cry.
I tried to cry but I just drooled a little.
I'll try now.

   She tries to cry but finds that she can't.

What happiness it would be to cry.

   She takes a breath.

I was not lonely
only alone with myself
begging myself not to leave my own body
but I was leaving.
Good-bye, head—I said—
it inclined itself a little, as though to nod to me
in a solemn kind of way.

   She turns to the Stones.

How do you say good-bye to yourself?

   They shake their heads.
   A train whistle.

– Sarah Ruhl
from her play Eurydice

Installations

My professor's definition of ritual: "a means of paying attention. physical acts that direct our attention to an idea, value, or concern. most need to be public to be meaningful."

I like it. And rituals. I like the small ones. E.g. putting on makeup (best of all: stage makeup), even though I don't generally wear any. Or braiding hair, or mixing ingredients for a recipe, or the way I clean my room, or preparing a letter to mail. To paraphrase my friend, if I didn't know that smoking is terrible for you (and if I could afford it, and tolerate the smell...), I'd be a smoker just out of enjoyment of the ritual of it.

*

What I kept thinking when I sat on the dock in Wisconsin in the stillness, watching across the lake:


and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters

*

"You think you live for a long time, cats can live until they are twenty-five. My cat died when she was eighteen. I miss her. She was all black; name was Merlin."
– a stranger, inexplicably addressing me

*

A few things before I forget:

• I put up the wrong version of Sui's portrait in this post...fixed now.
• I added a shuffle button at the top of the sidebar a while ago, if you haven't seen it yet. I'm not really sure what the point is, but I like it.
• Heather too wrote some thoughts about happiness in response to my post (about happiness not being the point).
• Odessa and I had a cupcake afternoon documented with her new Lomo camera.
• And Olivia did a sketch off one of my photos from the lake.

My days lately, and Tumblr anger

The majority of my life is undocumented now. It would look like: me in front of my laptop or reading, or cooking, or baking, in suspiciously pajama-like clothes. Or me driving to class and then sitting in the back row next to the window in half-lotus, rolling my eyes ferociously and making unrelated notes. (Our rather poor excuse for a teacher tried to force me to let her see them today. Excuse ME. No, I did say, "Excuse me? No, I am not doing work for another class. I do not have any other classes.")

I think for some of us the problem with being alone too much is not being sad, but being bereft of the moderating influence of others. Ideas and impulses and moods are amplified when they are only bouncing off the inside of one's own skull. Agree/disagree?

The parts we do have pictures of:








Odessa, who lent me her disposable to take the picture below.


Burned the backs of my thighs yesterday on a "read and eat cherries in the sun" escape with her to Crissy Field. Cleared a whole bunch of books off my shelf to try to sell (oh I am broke as a joke thanks to backing out of Uganda...).

I got a rather vicious message on Tumblr, which leaves a lingering bad taste in my mouth even though I don't take it personally or even seriously. Yuck. I think I'm always willing to talk, but some people can't hear; there's no point. They hold their agenda too tightly.

I'm tired — so very tired — of witnessing the "FUCK YOU" reaction from people who've read something they don't like. I think such vitriolic reactions are not a sign that we believe deeply in our ideas, but rather that we are identifying too closely with our ideas and opinions, that we have to attack whoever threatens them rather than engaging the problematic ideas. (I have done it too, mind.) Because if the urgency were about the real issues, we would do something that was actually effective. Please, believing things deeply doesn't excuse us from our duty to treat each other well — it is so easy to hurt, and there's too much yelling already.

[Random comments always welcome; below comment space however is especially reserved for reflections/experiences with ugly online stranger-anger in case you would like to unburden some bad flavor.]

Strike

Rather than telling you (, oh, ode)
the two stories about
     idealism, or the three about
moonlight
perhaps this right here (now, see here) is the time for a story about
hands:
the hands I will write them for,
or would
write them for, or about the space
my hands reach across
to outline my excuse across some face (same thing, really),
some excuse,
some space

And this is
my ode

to the bruise of many colors blooming on my calf
struck where by who-knows-what on my face-first way into the pavement,
oh, to my face-first journey into the pavement where I
gained me some small wounds packed dark with sweet sand, oh
Pacific
oh bloody Pacific trickle down my shins

to the whetted appetite of my mouth for the language of my friend's grandparents, or
to HUNGER (for and from)
the hold of its
sounds in my mouth, the fine arched feet of its sounds in my air and its
sound against the walls of my mouth, those lean new syllables,

voglia, via, volare
...

which I cannot, if you cannot tell, shout loudly enough from behind my screen, my hunger cannot
shout loud enough for the loving of some syllables and is hunger,  
love is, is?

to also the grace by which my voice is insufficient, to the things for which it is insufficient, to this screen
and the others on other sides, to the words which I as yet by no definition have,
to those words, somehow anterior to (how many occasions of?) their necessity,

to the existent yet as-yet unknown, with apology
for my need,
for the rude maybe misshaping strength
of faith, and hope, and need

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