Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Give Away the Stone

Lyrics by Maynard James Keenan

"Clutch it like a cornerstone/ Otherwise it all comes down/ Justify denials and/ Grip 'em to the lonesome end/ Terrified of being wrong/ Ultimatum prison cell...Wear the grudge like a crown/ of negativity/ Calculate what we will/ or will not tolerate/ Desperate to control/ All and everything/ Unable to forgive these scarlet lettermen...Defining/ Confining/ And sinking deeper...Give away the stone/ Let the ocean take and/ Transmutate/ This cold and fated anchor...Let go/Let go/Let go..." 

This song is part of my therapy. MJK is my "Guardo Camino," to quote Henry Rollins.

For most of my life, I have had tremendous difficulty being "light"--as the oldest child in a dysfunctional household, I was the peacemaker, the helper, the fixer, the responsible one. I know that I played as a child (fond memories of my sandbox, and my plastic pool, and of course, my pony) but I also know that my games involved being on my own--parentless and fending for myself. Alone against a hostile world, only seeking to make a small comfortable spot to rest.

Fast-forward. I'm 40. Political upheaval following years (20) of hard work towards the goal of attaining a tenured position has resulted in a scenario I find untenable, yet see no way out of. I spend much of the spring plugged in to various news outlets, growing steadily more disgusted, despairing, and impotently enraged as the weeks wear on. I have difficulty sleeping (again). Nothing is going according to my gorram plan. I am cross with my children and my husband--the three people who make up my small comfortable spot to rest. I am no fun to be around, because most conversations with me turn into rants about the stupidity and ignorance of the people who populate the county, the state, and the nation. I barely have the energy to finish the semester--I give what little energy I have left to my students, so there is none left for my family. I am not sure I have any friends left.

After a blow-out with Hubby, I come to realize that I am perilously close to losing what security and comfort I have managed to build with him over the past 10 years of our marriage. I am faced with a decision:

Give away the stone, or let it drag me into the dark.

Two weeks ago, I decided to give away the stone. I have unplugged from the news of the state and the country (except for The New Yorker and Scientific American). I read for pleasure, and I have started to write poetry again. I am on vacation. I smile more, and I look for things to laugh about (Tina Fey's oeuvre is a good place for that, FYI).

I spend a lot of time outside, listening to the birds. I watch the house wrens and bluebirds fledge the same day, and I try to live in the moment. The poetry arising out of this moment makes me feel good, and I look forward to sharing it soon.

A year ago, a friend of mine from college experienced something that visits me in my darkest nightmares: her husband fell asleep on the couch, and did not wake up. He was not in ill-health. He just...died. Leaving her with four girls, one of whom has severe health issues. My friend goes on because she has to--someone has to take care of the girls--but she misses her husband every day.

Her tragedy is my reminder, and not in the cliche sense of "Live each day like it's your last." I feel more like I should try to live better, and part of living better means letting go of my anger about all the things I can't control. 

Getting bent out of shape means that I don't fit anywhere. 


  1. Hang in there. Listen. Breathe. Create. We're still here, we're listening (reading), and we love you!

  2. Thanks for telling it like it is!