Death Card

A few weeks ago before Lanna got her new job on our tenth anniversary on July 3rd, I went to Pinecone + Chickadee in downtown Portland and got some random Portland Pins from the gumball like machine. One was death with a nautical image.

I asked Lanna what it meant and she said in tarot it’s a symbol of new beginnings. From this Tarot site it states:

Death is symbolic of the ending of a major phase or aspect of your life that may bring about the beginning of something far more valuable and important.

My first thought was to be frightened but I didn’t know it was the symbol of good change. It’s been a difficult few years. I lost my dad on April 1st, 2013 and had a major mental health crisis and breakdown a couple weeks later where I ended up at Spring Harbor. Manic depression is indeed a frustrating mess. Dad’s was a long departure which I talked about extensively on the blog. I am still recovering 15 months later.

Lanna’s died just a little over a year before in March, 2012. His departure was fast. From seeming pretty healthy and in good spirits to gone not long after.

I feel like I have grown as a person. Learning to mediate, accept my many weirdnesses, learning patience, writing, interacting with words. Maine has been good to me. Maine has been very good to me.

Especially with the patience and perspective of just getting by with life. And that there is nobility to just living. You have a house, you have family, you have food, you are doing alright. Ayuh.

Moving to the Shelton, CT area for Lanna’s new job, she leaves today to start her new job tomorrow, feels like coming home in a way. I grew up in Central NJ in Montgomery Township, just a town north from Princeton up 206. Shelton, CT reminds me a lot of Bridgewater, NJ. Green, bucolic, with huge office parks and lots of money. And I am guessing a lot of the same attitude of not being satisfied and always wanting to have more in life. There is something beautiful in having enough.

I also feel this desire to work in counseling, mental health, anti-drug war and anti-prison efforts. I had a conversation just last night about trying to get people with mental health away from prison. Considering going into mental health work, maybe as a counselor maybe even as an NP. Although I still don’t like blood. I feel like I need to help people directly. As someone with creativity, mania and mental health issues, my current job in a medical call center has helped me gain patience. Listening is a powerful skill. Simply letting people get out what burdens them, helping them get to a nurse or doctor for advice.

Feeling grateful that my job can go with me and I can go remote. It’s one big less stress for this long move.

Feeling happy to unburden myself, I keep way too much crap. Let it go. Let it go.

Happy to have the kitties for support.

I’m going to miss my wife this week and a half. She is going to start in CT for a fortnight on the new job, and I am going out next Tuesday. It’s going to be strange, we are such strong partners with the 11 1/2 years we have been together (met in mid-January, 2003).

I am excited, and daunted by my next step in life.

Also looking forward to a cleaner house and having a place for people to stay. Our moms, our friends, etc. Good friends in good spirits is all it really takes to be happy. I was reminded of that last night at a wonderful party.

To new beginnings. As scary and daunting as they can be.

Sketch poem

This came from writing on a sketchbook at Dobra Tea.
Small cap lines should be indented.
————-

Read
    anything
Create
    with abandon
Draw
     outside the lines.
Love
    with all your heart
Listen
intensely
without judgement
without interjection
Learn
everything
then learn more.
Write
poorly
Write
anything
Write
Create
Believe in yourself.

Fail
keep going
Draft
edit
keep going
Sketch
draw
watercolor
Keep playing.
Buy local art.
Be a patron.
Be a fan.

Create,
Listen,
Write,
Laugh,
Love
yourself
your journey
listening
creating.

You are an artist.
Believe in yourself.
Create.
Listen.
Love.
Create more.
Share your work.
It’s beautiful.

My Dear Aunt Sallie

(This is a work in progress — expecting to edit but really like the idea.)

My Dear Aunt Sally
learn it in school

Multiplication
Division
Adding
Subtracting

So 8*5/4-3 = 40/4-3 = 10-3 = 7

My Dear Aunt Sallie

Multiplying
student loans
Multiplying
interests.

dividing
families
dividing
relationships.

adds
debt
adds
fees

Subtracting
opportunity
spending money
the economy

Adds
new dorms
for-profit schools
tuition.

Subtracting
meritocracy
affordability

Multiplying
Government profit
Debt Collectors.

Dividing
young from old
rich from poor

It’s a mortgage.

If you can’t afford it
here is some “student aid.”

More semesters
more student loans
more debt
even in public colleges
even when working in school.

The tuition will be fine
the loans will be fine
college will pay off.

Will give
chances
opportunity
growth,

Make you a better person.

Successful, rich.

If you are so smart, why ain’t you rich.

Poets, artists and philosophers have never had money
unless they had a benefactor.

Give money
give money
give money
give money
10, 20, 30 years.

Disabled
pay me
mental illness
pay me
bad job market
pay me

Pay me
calls
pay me
default
plus give me 18.5%

We want your money
you signed a contract
sorry, no bankruptcy.

Sorry we can’t help you
go back to school,
take a forbearance,
take more debt.

Sorry we can’t help you
pay it in full of 18.5%

Pay me. Pay me.
Pay me.

My Dear Aunt Sallie Mae
forgive us.

We know not what
we signed

We just wanted to
go to school.

Send it was aid

Just want to go to
school
FAFSA said
I needed loans.

just wanted
to learn
to learn

opportunity
to learn
to learn.

Forgive us.
Forgive our debt
forgive the debts.
forgive. forgive.
forgive.

Improve the economy
end sleepless nights
allow creativity
allow entrepeunship
allow people to use their degrees
for good.

Giving our smartest people
who had parents without money
or enough money
a mortgage to start life is insane.

Just end Sallie Mae.
End it.
Forgive it.

Maybe less people would go to school.
That’s okay.

Student aid should be grants not loans.
Should allow people to follow their passion,
not take jobs that pay enough money.

We need to do better as a society
to the strivers
from poor, working class, middle class
families.

To improve themselves,
bring creativity,
bring a better world.

And not have the shackles
of thousands,
tens of thousands,
even hundreds of thousands in debt.

It would make the world
a better place.

edmund

Lenny Cat, Lenny Cat/ Cat Suite

My cat Lenny found out that his brother Squiggy had a song “The House of the Squiggy Squig”, and decided he needed one too.

(To the tune of Spider-Man, Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)

Lenny Cat
Lenny Cat
Friendly, nudgey Lenny Cat

He’s so big
He’s so cute
Watch out he’s got your foot

Plays with string any time
Sits on sink
Up so high

Can’t you see
He’s so fly
Look there, whenever you will lay down
There goes the Lenny Cat!
Here comes the Lennny Cattt!

—–

Another one to the tune of Batman, this is dedicated to Ryk McIntire
(to TV Batman Theme)

Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Len-ny
Len-ny
Len-ny

Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Lenny
Le-nny
Le-nny

Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny, Lenny
LENNY, LENNY, LENNY

————-

Found this from early April, not sure why it wasn’t published. Going to add two more for a cat suite to read.

Eddie, Cat Dude
(also to TV Batman theme)

Eddie
Eddie
Eddie
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude, Cat Dude, Cat Dudge

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,
Eddie, Eddie
Cat Dude

Eddie, Eddie, Eddie,
Eddie, Eddie,
Cat Dude, Cat Dude, Cattt Duuuude

————————-

The House of the Squiggy Squig

(To House of the Rising Sun)

There is a cat in Westbrook town,
They call the Squiggy Squig

He’ll wake you up a 3am,
but you forgive the adorable Squig.

When you take a shower he waits,
On the side of the tub.
Waiting for you to be done.
Then he’ll lick all over the shower curtain.
In the House of the Squiggy Squig.

When someone new comes in the house,
Squiggy will hunt them out.
You better give him some petting time,
you’re in the House of the Squiggy Squig.

And you love to see this cat,
With the off center nosemark.
It’s cute it’s black, and again so cute.
Welcome to the House of the Squiggy Squig.

You’re in the house of the Squigggy Squiiiigggg.

Sunrise, Sunset

As I draw to the end of a tough and long 2013, the beautiful song from “Fiddler on the Roof” has been one of my big songs in my head.

The lyrics are beautiful. About children growing older, turning from children to adults, ready to marry. About the years moving across. For me about being 39, 40 on June 23rd. Being without a dad who I expected to have for 2 more decades (he died at 66). About missing my wife’s absolutely amazing father Walter Maheux, just a completely good guy who died with a “Satisfied Mind” like the great standard wonderfully sung by Johnny Cash.

For my dad it is more about jazz. It was always his favorite, listening to WBGO 88.3 out of Newark, NJ and Temple Radio which went half classical/half jazz which definitely annoyed him. In retirement, my mom and dad were going to many more jazz shows. I wish he could have gone to more.

Surprisingly for me, I have mostly thought good thoughts about my dad and father in law. They are there in my mind. With memories, with smiles, with lives well lived. Me and Lanna were lucky to have great fathers. Always there, always supportive, both wonderful men.

We were also blessed to be with loving couples who were clearly each other’s life partner. Both are struggling with losing a partner but mostly seem to be doing well at least publically. My mom is taking classes and seeing a therapist. My mother in law goes to the pool every morning and often goes to the gym. I think for me and Lanna also we didn’t forget to say anything. I especially was able to be with my dad for sometime, even though he lived 8 hours away in Allentown. He lived 3 1/2 years with brain cancer and it was only after his second surgery in September, 2012 that things got much worse. Strokes, paralysis, hospice.

For Walter, it was really fast. He was hiding symptoms like far too many men in Maine. “I cough up some blood and then I start my day.” President’s Day he was in the hospital, less than 2 months later he passed away. Friends and family coming down to see him mostly from central Maine, sister from California, sister that was so close, not seeing him even though she ended up being a mile away. That one hurt. On really in the last week or two did he really show he was dying soon. I was there to see him pass and it was a very spiritual moment. One moment he was there, the next gone and just a body. Made my really understand the concept of a soul.

When my dad died, some rang the doorbell asking about a drum kit to sell. I wasn’t in the room just mom. We were all close, my sister Mindy, brother in law Robert, wife Lanna and me, but no of us in the room. Maybe that’s what he wanted, she was so close to my mom. They were always in love and best friends. So I didn’t see him pass, but was grateful to see him no longer suffering. He barely got up the last 6 months of his life.

So I try to move on but have been so exhausted since April. The odd surge of energy of hypomania and then full blown mania in April. Two weeks mostly at Spring Harbor, but including 36-48 hours in jail where my mania went from full-blown to off the scale. Literally performing for almost 24 hours straight, unable to sleep, in a cell with 2 blankets. Jail and prison just aren’t right. And that’s right no clothes on suicide watch. In a mental health crisis the Westbrook Police brought me to the Cumberland County Jail not Maine Med or Mercy hospital. Then relieved to get to Maine Med. Hearing that I would only be there shortly. But no one even talking to me for a while. I didn’t want to sign papers. Wanted to just touch the metal detectors. Demanded to leave and forced down. Got loud. THen pushed down on the bed including on the neck and given an unknown shot. I didn’t now what it was, thought it was going to be a fatal dose of morphine.

Sitting waiting on Cumberland County jail in that period, told I could leave with only a $150 bail I had left the house with only a pair of pajamas and a t-shirt. No shoes, I don’t think any underwear and no wallet. If I had a wallet, pants on and shoes I may have been able to post bail. And the jailers who admitted me may be four of the most evil men I have ever met. The ones in jail were sane, often people homeless or a little crazy. The jailers were the ones who belonged in the cells.

My performance in jail was based on Kurt Vonnegut’s memoir/masterpiece “A Man Without a Country”, a small book I have probably read every year since it came out. Maybe 10-12 time since 2007. We are in terrible times. An NSA security state, millions of Americans in jail often for consensual crimes like marijuana possession, drug offenses, prostitution, etc. It’s a bizarre land when rapists get less jail time then people with a few grams of crack.

Yelling in jail, mad at things saying things needing to be destroyed with an often refrain of “AND I’M NOT KIDDING!”. I was in a bad place. Prisons are no place for mental health problems. Jailers and police officer want to fight you, arrest you, consider you often a threat, male energy. If you are in a mental health crisis you need someone to listen, someone to calm you down, someone to call you on your shit. You need therapists, and nurses. Caring people, female energy.

Spring Harbor was critical for me. Still didn’t sleep well at the beginning but the lithium calmed in what was probably the most intense mania of my life in prison. My uncontrolled mania I had at the Oxford Trade program where I didn’t get medicated or see anyone in August, 2001 was the worst. I was not myself for months after that, especially considering 9/11 happened about a month after. Was planning to finally explore Europe, ended up return to the US feeling broken.

Since late April I have been healing well. I miss the slam scene but I don’t have the spiritual and psychic energy for it now. Hopefully it comes back next year.

Saturday was the Winter Solstice, the Yuletide. Feels like it’s the beginning of a calmer year with new beginnings. I am glad I had heart-centered meditation from Whispering Deer at Rites of Spring to use. Glad I had work for money and to be something to go to. Happy about lithium and Spring Harbor and psychiatrists, although it’s a drug that calms me, it also numbs my mind quite a bit so happy to go from 1200mg to 300mg. And very, very thankful of my wife Lanna Lee Maheux and my therapist, not sure if I should give her name.

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide and Wonderful New Year. May the world gain some sanity in 2014. I know 2013 was a rough year for me.

edmund

(Tevye)
Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?

(Golde)
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?

(Tevye)
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?

(Golde)
Wasn’t it yesterday
When they were small?

(Men)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

(Women)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

(Tevye)
What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?

(Golde)
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day

(Perchik)
They look so natural together

(Hodel)
Just like two newlyweds should be

(Perchik & Hodel)
Is there a canopy in store for me?

(All)
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Here is the beautiful song. Like the Zero Mostel original version the best.

Short Days of Winter

Total darkness at 5am, total darkness at 5pm.
Short days, gray skies.
Light snow, panicked shopping.

Giving of thanks, buying of things.
Christ is our lord.
Happy Holidays.

Icicles on roof.
American flags blows in the snow.
Maine flag smaller, blows lower.

Gloria
In Excelsis Deo.,

Joy for all.
Enjoy the short days, they are only getting shorter for a couple weeks.
Then the cold days of January and February the days get longer until the Spring Solstice.

It came upon the midnight clear.
Snow falls slowly on winter trees.

Quieter place out the window,
the tool of a poet, with eyes, pencil or keyboard.

Flag blows
in the wind.
The slushy roads.

Time to celebrate
for Yule, Solstice, family.
Christmas, Hannukah, the created holiday of Kwanzaa.

The blessed angel sings.
I love Christmas music (when I can choose it).
In Excelsis Deo.

Paw marks on my window.
Probably Squiggy.
I think there was a squirrel hanging out there.
I need to clear cups from my desk.

Still in observation mode after writing a journal/blog post on the #4 bus.
Choral Christmas music is calming.
Pop music gets the hairs on the back on my neck rising.

Last Christmas should be destroyed, banned from retail stores.
Same for So This is Christmas.
Bah humbug. We all have Mr. Grinch during the holidays.

Snow falling in Westbrook.
My cat Squiggy wondering what I am doing.
The soft sounds of fingers on a keyboard.
The winter season, a time to reflect.
A time to rest.
No reason to go crazy.

The mall is a place best avoided.
You don’t need to give so much.
You don’t need debt.
Put away the credit card.

Have a Merry Christmas,
Happy Hannukah,
happy Yule,
wonderful Solstice,
Remember to breathe.
Have some colorful candles for Kwanzaa or ignore it like everyone else.
Wear something warm, have some egg nog or cocoa.
Put your feet up.
Turn on the fire.
Get cozy.
and have yourself a merry Christmas season.
Remember to enjoy the winter
with the trees in slumber
waiting for Spring’s return.

Drawn to the Moon

My eyes are wandering
Looking up

Ears topped by big white headphones
Looking up

In the blue sky
the moon hides
People don’t look during the day

In clouded sunset, can look one way
to a gorgeous sunset
the other to clouds over the moon.

Wolves howl,
mariners navigate.

Poets look up
write
and wonder.

Six Months Later

My dad died on April 1st.

I thoughts I was ready.

It had been a tough decline since his second brain surgery in mid-September 2012.

It hasn’t been.

April was a month of writing, creativity and madness. Full blown mania returned. Been away since 2001.

May a month of slow recovery. Staying on LOA at work. Just enjoying the church bells and becoming more normal.

Rites of Spring my spiritual retreat in the Berkshire over Memorial Day was tiring. It was also cold, wet and very powerful spiritually. Easily my most internal Rites of Spring. The week was a time to rest. Rest is good.

Since then I am slowly becoming myself more. Have been challenging myself to write everyday over the last 2 weeks. And have still missed a couple nights.

Poetry nights that I have loved the last several years are still exhausting. Three hours of emotional poetry is simply too much for me right now. I think that will take time.

I am still not reading as well. I heard this is common from many friends. Graphic novels I can still read easily but novels are hard. Hopefully this gets better over time.

I was mean to my wife in April in the mania, that I regret. Mania is a strange, strange thing. Early on it can be energetic and full of creativity. When full blown it’s all over the place. If you are locked up with it, it gets even worse. This is all too common in America.

So I am grateful for hospice, grateful for my wife, grateful to my therapist and psychiatrist. And grateful to Lithium although it seems to affect my brain.

May the coming months bring more healing.

I am also happy how well my mom is doing. I was worried she would be much worse.

I think I am ready for some change soon. I am not sure what that might be. I am curious to apply for some jobs in advertising after watching “Art and Copy”. Advertising has intrigued me for a long time.

Blessed be.

Edmund

Writing Every Day

I talked to my therapist a few weeks ago and today she set a deadline for me to write again every day.

I’ve missed it. A lot. Far more than I expected to.

Might have some of the posts online, may journal others but I feel like I need to restart my writing after an almost 5 month delay after my dad’s death and mental illness.

My brain was just not working the same as I am used to.

Like before I am sure some of the posts will be good, some will be ok, and some might suck.

I think that’s the nature of writing. Good writers hide their mistakes.

Still finding going out to a poetry slam/reading too much most of the time at 3 hours but that I think will get easier over time too.

Writing every day is an excellent practice even if all you write is: “Fuck this Day”. Guess what day 2 can be “Shitty day but better than yesterday”.. and in a few weeks you may come up with something your proud of. And 4 weeks late have a crap post again. But you still wrote something and that counts.

Blessed be.

Edmund

Almost Six Weeks Later

Have a had a rollercoaster of a time since my dad passed away on April 1.

A new poetry book, a wave of creative energy, full blast of mania.

Hospitalization, lithium, crash.

It’s been a heck of a ride.

Finally drove for the first time in a month today.

Glad that lithium crashed my mania hard, but wondering if 1200mg is too much, going to ask doctor about it on Tuesday.

Really wish I took short term disability at work. When it doubt say yes. We are making it through barely. Not appreciating Sallie Mae at all. When the country decided to make loans over grants for student aid it created a massive and frankly very mean organization. I really wish I could have ended it via bankruptcy. Madness in August, 2001 took a lot out of me. It took me a long time to get over. I ended up in London unmedicated, after leaving the Oxford Trade Program, never was medicated. The twin towers came down while I was depressed but still in a mixed state. I am only a month after mania cresting again hard and doing mostly really well.

I don’t think this one will take four years to get over, for that I am thankful. The last mania did I had to write a book during NaNoWrimo “No Filter: A Travelogue of Madness” to get over it that I wrote in November, 2005, many years later. Felt guilt about it for so long. Kept thinking in the past.

This time, my dad’s funeral is on Saturday. Sadness still comes in waves. I have been sleeping a lot since out of the hospital on April 26th. So thankful for my cats Lenny and Squiggy being near me. I learned more in that fortnight then almost any time I can remember in my life. Even got to experience how bizarre prison was for 3 days mostly in isolation.

And very happy to be going off to the Berkshires with my pagan community, Earthspirit for Rites of Spring. It has been a wonderful time for green, grounding and friendship since I have known my wife in 2003.

A lot to do until then. Glad I have been able to get some support from family, friends and most especially Lanna.

Think it may still be a while before I blog every day but it’s been a rich six weeks. Hoping the rest of this week is mostly good, the funeral will be tough.

Hoping Rites of Spring brings green and balance, I think I may need to meditate again this year.

Peace be with you. Don’t forget to tell your beloveds you love them.
Blessed be.

Edmund