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The "art of disappearing" turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought (referring to my second to last entry and to Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, which I quoted there).
To continue the story, which did not end where I left it. The next day, I got home from the grocery store, where Josephine had taken me, to avoid another episode of paranoia (which still afflicts me despite an extra 5mg of Abilify, though it may be diminishing slowly...) and found a message from Nancy on my phone. She would be at my building by noon, it said, and would come in and we could meet in the dining room to discuss the jewelry I had already made and how much she owed me for it.
No way, José, I thought to myself. You will not meet me anywhere. I'm not getting within ten feet of you...I don't trust you as far as I can throw you, let alone enough to be within scratching distance.
Instead, I decided that when she rang the intercom, I would instruct her to go to the back door of the building, where the double doors were more secure and she she could not easily get inside when someone else went through the door.
To explain, as it was critical to my plans: the front doors are electrically operated and swing open automatically when you wave a fob in front of an electric "eye" -- leading to the situation that anyone following you can get in too, for as long as the door remains open, which is about 30 seconds. In the back, the door is only opened manually, even though the lock operates by the fob as well, so no one can easily follow you, as long as you pull the door shut after you. That's why I wanted Nancy at the back door. I wanted her to stay outside the outside door, so I could place her jewelry bag outside the locked inner door, pull the door shut behind me, then let her come inside and get her bag once I was safely in a locked building.
Well, she arrived at 12 as she promised, and rang the buzzer. I explained in as calm tones as I could muster what I needed her to do, and she screamed into the intercom, "F---k you!"
Ah, so now she was showing her true colors. I sort of thought she had this side to her. But now I didn't know what to do. Did that f--k you mean that she would do as I asked, or did it mean that she was going to get in and come upstairs despite my telling her she was not permitted to? I couldn't decide, and in not deciding, i made my decision, and stayed right where I was...I figured, if I didn't bring the jewelry downstairs now, she would ring again or simply have to come back another time. Either way, she would figure it out, and know why.
OR she would do something like call the police. I wouldn't put that past her, since she had already threatened to take legal action. I sat in my green recliner and thought and thought about what I'd do and say if the police came to my door. I knew they had no grounds upon which to arrest me or even demand the bag of jewelry from me. All they could do was try to scare me into giving it to them and I could decide whether or not to play along...But I didn't want that sort of confrontation, not in my own building where everyone might hear of it.
I sat and thought about the possibilities for about 3/4 of an hour, until I realized that nothing had happened nor, probably, was going to. I relaxed. Then it did. Someone knocked. softly enough, but someone knocked. Probably not the police, I decided, but you never know. W --- field police are nothing if not pollite and do not hammer on doors..."Who's there?" I called.
"Who's there?" I called again.
Still no answer. So I got up from my chair and tiptoed to the door. THe spy-eye was covered up with a map so I couldn't look out, alas, but I put my ear to the door. Nothing. "Who's there?" I said, in a normal speaking voice, expecting silence for a third time.
"Evil spirits are here--" someone hissed. I thought I heard someone's clothing rustle, like Nancy was still standing there, not leaving. This scared me.
"You are not allowed in the building. If you don't get out NOW, I will call the police." I said.
But I didn't mean it. I was just trying to scare her. I didn't know what to do, but I didn't dare call the police, I didn't think. What I did do was call the office downstairs. Unfortunately, it was Saturday and only the answering service was on. They told me they would take a message, but the building manager would only get it on Monday and if I was scared I should call 911.
I thought about it and finally, after trying to call Lynnie (no answer) and Karen (absent, away in NYC) I decided I had to. The police answered immediately and said they would send an officer over in 5 minutes. We are a very small town, you see, and our building, housing elderly/disabled, is visited by the police and ambulances regularly, so the police recognized the address and they are never very far away.
When the officer came, I explained what had happened, and he said he would have taken the bag and driven it over to Nancy, but for the fact that no one had any idea where she lived, and she did not answer the phone to tell us. He called her then and told her that I would be happy to return the jewelry if she came over and followed my instructions, but she had to do that as I was scared of her and did not want to be in the same room with her. Then he left and I thought all was resolved except for her call back or her second arrival.
Instead, I waited until 9pm that evening, when I got a phone call from the police once again. This time a different officer asked me if I was willing to give back the jewelry...as if he knew nothing about the original call from me. As indeed I think he did not. I said, I would like nothing better. "Will you give it ALL back?" This was an insulting question, I thought, but I answered it with, "Not only will she get all of it back, but I am including a necklace I made and earrings, using my beads, free of charge." He made a noise that sounded impressed, but I didn't care. I just wanted the call to end and for him to come get the damn jewelry. "Did you fix her jewelry?" he grilled further, as if I were her employee and had stolen it. "Excuse me, but she didn't PAY me..."
Finally, he came to my apartment and I said to him, before I made any move to give him the bag of despised jewelry, "suppose she spent a long time telling you how wonderful and good she is, and how terrible I am..." He shook his head, but I didn't believe him. I handed him the bag. But I also explained my side of the story, a little, but I was so tired I didn't really care if he understood or not. I told him that I'd separated every necklace into a 2" by 3"plastic bag. I did not however tell him I had given her the jewelry I'd made her to teach her a lesson about real generosity (which she evidently, for all her talk talk talk about her acts of charity, did not understand) and about turning the other cheek...
Of course, I wasn't really "turning the other cheek" because to do that I'd have had to invite her to abuse me further, and I was trying in fact to avoid that. But I was letting her have something I'd made free of charge, which she did not deserve, which felt to me like...Well, you get my drift.
Sorry for that digression. IN any event, my tale is just about told. All I can say is that I found out that Nancy had actually called me 5 times to threaten legal action, the day before. The thing is, she had called Karen's number, not mine, so Karen had complained to a friend that she was being harrassed by Nancy and had taken her phone off the hook before she left for NYC. When she got home, she too wanted to return various items to Nancy, and in order to do so, called the police herself. She had it easier, because of my experience, and did not let Nancy get the final say, but forced her to come get her items, which she left in the foyer with the police at a certain hour, without waiting for a phone call back or a more convenient time for Nancy...
The only "good" thing to come from the whole thing is this: Nancy's reaction to Karen was an unmitigated, "She is a pathological liar, can't you tell?" This confirmed what I had feared and felt all along. Now I can trust my instincts more and also distrust Karen and what she tells me more freely. I don't tell her this, I just feel better about taking everything she says with many grains of salt, if not discounting them altogether. I don't necessarily distrust them immediately, because I tend to trust what people say in general at first. (At least certain things, certain times) But afterwards, I am learning to doubt the veracity of things that don't quite fit the picture of what I suspect is actually true...
So all's well (?) that ends well, though I wouldn't say all ended very well at all, nor that the lessons I learned were very good ones, either about Nancy or about Karen.
Forgive me if I do not proofread this tonight, but it is 11:30 and I must go to sleep as the visiting nurse comes at 7:30am and I cannot get less than 7 hours sleep (I won't fall asleep for an hour yet). TTFN
Thanks for the comments. I did talk with Dr O and she pointed out that Stop and Shops do not have security guards in the first place, and certainly not young women with two dogs and walkie-talkies. She said that the spies were most likely shoppers and that I probably scared them but what really scared me most is that she observed that had any of them really been worried about my behavior they might have gone to a store manager and had him or her call 911, with predictable consequences -- EMTs or police and a trip to the hospital. I would so want to avoid that! But it never occurred to me to doubt any of my experience, not at the time. Even now, thinking back on it, it still feels like reality, though I can think it through another person's eyes and see how they might see it differently. But my feelings are still that the "shoppers" were spies, just dressed like shoppers. The one truly felt insight I do have is that I can fully understand that Stop and Shop does not have security guards, that is a fact. So the teenaged girls must have been talking to one another, as girls tend to do. They weren't communicating to the store then, even if they were talking about me. The girl may have been miffed about me, and telling her friend about it, but they were not telling the store about it...I dunno what to think about what happened inside the store, except to try to believe what Dr O and you guys tell me: that the spies were just shoppers, and that I was the one actively scaring people, not the other way around.
I went shopping today again, but this time at a different store and with Josephine. It went a lot better. No trouble at all, in fact. I usually am fine as long as I am with someone else and they stick close by as Josephine did. If she had wandered, I would have been at risk, but she didn't.
In the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye called "THE ART OF DISAPPEARING" she writes:
When they say Don't I know you?
When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
It's not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight...//
Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.
It was with the final stanza in mind that I decided not to continue to try to be friends with a person(Nancy) I recently met, a high energy woman with a tendency towards wildly swinging moods, who 1) talks way too long on the phone, 2) talks only about herself and her own goodness and the worthiness of her charitable works 3) is unreliable and unpredictable and when she visits stays far too long 4) wants me to "enhance" dozens of pieces of cheap costume jewelry, would pay for it, yes, but it is really cheapo plastic stuff that I could not easily enhance except with equally cheap beads...
Nancy tended to talk and talk and only about herself for an hour or more on the phone, interrupting me every time I tried to speak, and I as usual had no ability to simply call her on it. Instead, I felt that I should listen to her, humor her, agree with her, sympathize with her...she who had asked for a free copy of my book, started it, then proceeded to tell me she couldn't be bothered to read it, so had skipped to the end and read that as a substitute! Of course, I said nothing in objection. I felt only that I was wrong to have expected her to read it. Of course, she shouldn't read it! She is far too busy and important to want to find out about me...Why, doesn't she tell me so every time she talks?
But let me quote what I wrote in my journal last night: " I had a major disagreement with Nancy today. I don't even remember how it started except that she ended some comments by essentially saying that because of meeting me (not in so many words but that was clearly what she meant) she would never trust anyone again. She would do her charity work yes, but not believe in anyone's fundamental goodness from the start. She was partly referring to Karen in this, because I had referred her to Karen as a person who might answer the phone for her, that being K's forte. But Karen it turns out is in fact a pathological liar, which I only now have understood from interactions between the three of us...
I nevertheless said to N, "You will not..." meaning that she would not stop trusting people just like that, in essence challenging her, not believing her histrionic statement.
"Oh, yes," she assured me, "My faith in people is completely gone."
I wish I could remember all of what she had been referring to, because it was not all Karen, some of it was that I had told her I myself feared she was a con woman, that her so-called charity work could be a con for all I knew...I told her I had a tendency to be paranoid, and that I had been taken in by people doing exactly what she was doing (collecting "donations for those less fortunate than others" -- and after all, I gave her many, many items of my own) and that since I had seen nothing but her and her brother putting things in a van, what did I have to go on? But I'd also explained that it was my problem, that she needed to do nothing but go on being herself, and that if she was on the up and up, well, then, I would find my trust rewarded not blown away...Anyhow, she clearly took this as a mortal and personal insult and made it her problem, not mine (perhaps not the most politic thing I could have confessed to her, but I had to put it on the table, frankly, or I'd have gone on assuming she was simply a con woman!). Also, another of my sins according to her was my telling her I would not be the middleman between her and K, who were themselves fighting, in addition to originally suggesting K for the telephone job.
Sorry if this is confusing, but it is hard to reconstruct from memory and stil explain it in some cogent fashion...
At this point I'd had it with her self-righteous and histrionic diatribe and I pointed out that she was kind of full of herself and was always talking about herself and her own goodness...etc at which point she then said, calmly, "Let's talk more when we are both less upset, shall we?"
I thought that was a good idea, and we hung up. But I later discovered she had no such intentions as she later left a vitriolic message on my machine, accusing me, threatening that if I "kept her jewelry" she'd take it to the "next level". Huh? Then a second message explained, in equally truculent tones that she was sorry to do this to a "paranoid schizophrenic, but 'next level' meant legal recourse"; she would bring the issue to her lawyer!
Now, as an aside, I have to tell you that from my bitter experience with that Chaplain, the pathological liar, Holly, to whom I gave so much money and so many things, and about whom I eventually went to the police, I learned a few things. One of which is that if you voluntarily give anything to another person, the police (lawyers are not police, by the way, they cannot compel one to do anything) can't force that person to give it back. It was given willingly, not stolen, and no crime was committed. Just so, this jewelry...Frankly, it would be her word against mine if it came down to that. IF i wanted to keep it, which of course I have absolutely NO interest in doing.
That said, I calmly called her to tell her I had no such intentions and would return her precious materiél at the earliest possible time convenient to both of us. In fact, I neatly packaged up all her necklaces in separate plastic bags and even donated to her the necklace I'd made out of her and my own beads and a couple of pairs of earrings I'd created that she'd asked for...Free of charge, though why, I dunno. (Yes, I do. Though they were more expensive than she deserves and worth more than any of the jewelry she currently owns, I wanted to make a point about turning the other cheek and generosity to those who injure you...) All was carefully placed in her overnight bag near my door awaiting her call. When she finally takes it, I hope never to see her again.
But that is my point. I was hurt at first, and disappointed. I felt like I was losing the chance at a good friend. Then I reread the poem by Naomi Nye, which a better and slower-to-develop friend, Jennifer reminded me of just today. Reading it I realized that NOT every high energy, engaging person who comes my way needs to be taken in and befriended. Some should in fact be avoided, or greeted, treated courteously, then shown the door.
This "relationship" if that's what it was, surely not a friendship yet, with Nancy? Well, thinking about the end of Nye's poem, it is NOT what I "want to do with my time." Nor is "enhancing" costume jewelry. I was pushed into it, lured into it even by the notion of making a little extra income, and also by Nancy's enthusiasm. But I am always attracted to enthusiastic, energetic people, who almost always then proceed to walk all over me, misunderstand my own lack of stamina, and demand more time of me than I want or have to give. I suspect that Nancy, despite her busy schedule, would be like that. And when not enthusiastic and up, would be down, down, down and just as demanding then. K may or may not be right in saying Nancy is bipolar. Nancy insists it is merely her brittle diabetes and wildly swinging blood sugar talking, but she is nevertheless way too unpredictable and moody for me.
No, I need people with Joe's calmness and even Karen's rationality to deal with my craziness...Even Josephine, who is by no means unemotional can be with me better than Nancy, who is so self-involved she has no time for anyone but herself (this despite her self-avowed dedication to charity work). In any event, I do need calm people around me for the most part, not Nancy's hysteria all the time. I do not need her to drain me of time and energy or need me to listen and constantly placate or agree or flatter her. I do not need someone in my life who is so convinced of her own virtue she talks about nothing except that. To the point of telling me how she donates money to people-- "anonymously...It is "between God and me, so it remains pure."
(Huh? If it is so damned pure, why are you now boasting about it to me???)
No, I should say to her, No, you do not know me. No, I do not want to attend your party. No, I do not have the time. I want to do other things with my time, not listen to your self-aggrandizing tales. If you are so good, let God reward you. You need none from me and I have nothing to give you. I'm just a poor struggling soul like anyone else, fighting to keep my head above water and the demons at bay...I do not need you in my life. GO AWAY.
I'm totally overwhelmed with busy-ness and need to slow down. As you can see, I've had maybe Sunday off these past two weeks and I am virtually certain that I simply forgot to write in that day what I actually had scheduled. I have not had a truly free day to myself in a long time.
That said, I am working on an entry to post here, which I should be able to put up by tomorrow if I keep at it. In the meantime, know that I am here, just swamped and overwhelmed!
This is what happened when I went shopping a day or two ago. I understand that many will say it is “paranoid” but I believe it did happen as I describe. Go ahead and read. See what I am talking about. Make up your own minds.
I pulled into and through to the other side of a parking space at the Supermarket and came face to face with a young woman with 2 dogs and a wrist-held walkie-talkie, who looked a bit miffed. She stood to the side then walked by another way. I got out of car feeling like a big bruiser for “almost hitting her” though I hadn’t even come close, and went to do my dreaded shopping. As I approached the store, I came across other young women with 2 dogs each and wrist-held walkie-talkies...How strange I thought. A new kind of Supermarket security?
Inside, I was going to get some fruit and produce but for some reason felt too uneasy to get the fruit and went directly to the vegetable section to get just the things on my list. I needed carrots and eggplant and potatoes for the dish I was making for the Passover Seder at Cy’s. I found the potatoes and picked out three large ones. Suddenly, I noticed a man in a thin dark bomber-type jacket and dark green trousers standing close by, watching me. He walked away and half way down the aisle watched me from there. He talked to some woman for a while, then, as I got an eggplant, pretended to shop for dried fruit, keeping an eye on me all the while...I realized with a jolt he was a SPY, and he was monitoring my every move, trying to keep me from doing damage in the store. He started subliminally telling me what to buy and not to buy.
By this time, I was terrified and gave up trying to get carrots. It was impossible to stay in Produce a moment longer. The only thing I absolutely had to get, and it would take me away from the man in the green trousers too, was yogurt. This was essential as it helps me take all my morning pills. So I took off, leaving Produce. I headed towards the milk aisle. As I passed Green Trousers, I said to him, “You spy! I know you are spying on me!” Then I raced away. I felt terribly exposed as I pushed the cart across the store, talking to myself the entire way to give myself courage. There was another spy the first had handed me off to! "Spy!" I accused him, as I rolled my cart across his path.
At Dairy, I picked up 2 quarts of vanilla yogurt and once again made the long trek cross-store to the registers, but ran across more spies in my approach. I told them I knew who and what they were too. Each time I realized they were following me, monitoring me, I was filled with fear and dread. I needed other items but was not allowed to purchase anything else on my list. The whole situation scared the bejesus out of me.
Finally, at the registers, I dared not wait in line for a cashier. Instead, one of the very few times I've done so, I decided to use the automatic check out, which was empty. I managed to work it, much to my amazement. The only problem was that there was an impatient customer who came after me and rushed me when I was trying to get my few purchases into net bags after paying...I knew then he was a spy too. EVERYone was staring as I headed out of the store, and 2 more spies were waiting for me at the door. I hissed at them, “I KNOW who you are!” Then I was free, out of the store and in the clear.
But outside there was too much talking and music and buzzing and humming and NOISE NOISE NOISE! The world seemed to be made of all this noise and hubbub, so much that I could barely see what I was doing or where I was going, could hardly think for all the noise inside my head and outside my head. I got to the car, but thought, How can I drive home with all this noise?!
Suddenly, as if something popped. It ceased. It just stopped. The noise and the talking and music and buzzing ended and there was quiet again, normality. I could hear and think and see as I usually did. I don’t know what happened. I couldn’t figure it out then and can’t now but I got in the car, wary of the girls with the dogs and walkie-talkies, and drove home (with difficulty as my vision was very double, due to it being late twilight and hence much harder to see to drive than during daylight hours...)
I know the girls with the dogs were real and the man in the green trousers was, and the other spies...so what was paranoid? Just the fact that it sounds “paranoid”? I have complained about this before, I understand that. I see that. But, but...PART of this experience above was real, NOT paranoia. I feel certain of it. Maybe they weren’t ALL spies, but some or one of them was.
Last week I called a woman Karen had run into at Office Depot who runs a small operation collecting used items from people who are giving them away and donating them to homeless families who are just getting established in apartments. She, and I, agree that this is a much better way of doing things than donating to Goodwill, where they simply resell everything. Though in fact I think Goodwill is not bad either, since many lower income people will buy from a thrift store but would not accept charity outright, so Goodwill's donations are actually very helpful.
Be that as it may, Nancy not only accepted and hauled away several items, including a large "chair and a half" that was taking up too much room in my small apartment, but offered to find me something upon which I could rest my TV, which at the moment squats on my dresser, having no other place to put itself. She also "donated" to me some much needed heavy duty "push pins" she just happened to have bought herself that she didn't need. I like the idea of second hand goods getting shared around: it is a good way to reduce one's "carbon footprint" on the earth, and not consume anything extra even when acquiring something one needs. Just so I got rid of a large chair and a table and many other things that I didn't need, and thereby ended up with my bed in my living room, acting as a sofa/day bed, and an art studio finally in my erstwhile bedroom.
The arrangement has proven beneficial in other ways as well, seeing as how it forces me to make my bed every morning, since I need to have my sofa available by day! :) The next project is to actually organize my papers and "stuff" so that I know where various important things are...rather than having to frantically search for things at the last moment as I usually have to. I don't have a particular place, for instance, for all the various manuals things come with, so those are scattered in who knows how many places, and I can't find any particular one at any given time...it is merely catch as catch can, and hope that I can find the right one when I need it. Ditto my car and apartment insurance papers, or my various Medicare and Medicaid papers...I have those in a stack with other important ones, but nothing is actually organized, so, every time, I have to go through the entire pile just to find the single paper I need. Not the best way to go, I assure you.
I do have a friend to whom I have taught jewelry making and will do so again, who has offered her organizing skills. I think I will take her up on it next time I see her. Maybe we can spend half the time on jewelry and half the time on getting me ship- shape a bit more.
An update on Joe: His ability to use the letter board is nearly nil. He can no longer point to the letters at all. Instead, we must hold the board over his fingers and try to guide it to where we think he wants it to go. So if he tries to point to K, I say Karen? And he nods Yes. Then he might start by pointing to "w" and I would say"wants" and he might shake his head and I'd hold the letter board over his hands trying out other letters: "a"? No, "i"? No. "o" Yes. Hmmm, what next? "U"? No, "r" Yes. "work" Yes "works"? No "worked" Yes, Yes. And so forth...It can be exhausting for me, but it is far more exhausting for Joe, and frustrating for all of us. Half the time I don't even get most of what he wants to say if he tries to truncate it...That's because he always insisted before in saying every last thing, refused to abbreviate. So now I assume he is NOT abbreviating, when in fact he is. Case in point was yesterday when they brought in 3 Burmese Mountain dogs to visit. I put his hand out for them to nuzzle, which he seemed to enjoy, and after they left and we were "talking" he spelled, "dogs on bed." Huh? "dogs on bed" "What dogs on bed, Joe? There are dogs on your bed?" The nurse didn't understand either. Finally we came to understand that he wanted the dogs to get onto his bed the next time they came...But only after much struggle and misunderstanding. Karen understood immediately, when I told her about it. But she had already seen him with the dogs on his bed, so knew exactly what he was referring to. Anyhow I felt like a fool...But it doesn't matter, except that when I did get what he was trying to tell us, he told me, No, that isn't what I mean! until the nurse asked him the same thing, when he said, Yes, that's it!
So I felt doubly like a fool...Who cares, it isn't a big deal. But I dunno, it was such a struggle to figure it out, and then to have him simply tell me No, you failed, you failed...It ...Oh, forget it, forget it!
Nevertheless,. he does need that ERICA device, the Eye Response technology, so he can actually speak through it again. This whole spelling business is simply not working any longer, and the longer it goes on, the less he is going to be able to communicate at all. He needs ERICA or the version of it that accounts for drooping eyelids and he needs it yesteday. But if the hospital is predictable, it won't come any time soon. I was afraid this sort of situation would develop. They told Joe a week ago that he would have use of the hospital's old ERICA, at least until his personal version arrived. But so far no sign of it. He hasn't even had a chance to try it out more than the one time. They brought it in a second time, yes, but wouldn't let him even use it. So why they brought it then I do not know. Oh, it is so frustrating, and even frightening, knowing he is approaching the point where he could be effectively locked in, unable to communicate, except by blinking or otherwise replying to yes or no questions. Even now, he can no longer talk on the phone, because he has no strength to tap the bell.
In contrast, Cy seems to be getting along better than anyone thought he would. So far. Leila and her partner just left for their road trip so I don't know what things will be like for him now that he is alone, but he still gets a lot of visitors, and I doubt that he will spend a great many days entirely on his own. I cannot see him much this week, as I am swamped to the max with duties of my own. But I will see him on Saturday at the seder, and next week looks much better in terms of visiting. He still cries when I ask him how he is doing, but when I don't bring Lynn up, he seems to do fine and can be persuaded to take walks and to get out of the house much more easily. It has been a month since her death now, and he said he needed that month to give himself over to grief, which I think was fair enough. I think he should take the time that he needs! But he seems to have been able to pull himself together in that time, and to be recovering okay. At least he no longer talks about wanting to follow her. When he did I simply reminded him that I needed him here! He acknowledged that that might be so, and didn't try to press the case for his imminent death any further.
I don't think it helps him to wallow in those kinds of thoughts, frankly. So if it takes my having to pull him back, tell him he can't go that road because I need him, then I will. He doesn't really want to die, I am sure of it, I think he is simply certain that he should not want to live, now that his beloved is gone. That he is not honoring her memory if he continues to live with any kind of contentment or happiness. But he can and should. Lynn would want him to. And so I don't let him get away with self pity or wallowing in thoughts of following her to the grave. He is 88 and death will come of its own accord soon enough. For now, he is healthy and I believe he still enjoys life. He doesn't need to feel guilty for that.
For the first time in twenty-two years, I have been invited to the Passover Seder held by Lynn’s family. (For you Christians out there who do not know what a Seder is I can only say that it is thought that the Last Supper of Jesus was a Passover celebration and Seder meal...). I thought I would not be. Especially not after going out to dinner with her husband and Leila and a couple of other people I did not know, and having him invite those two to the seder but ignore me entirely. That hurt; I had always thought I was not Jewish enough, my mother being Christian, to be invited to their seder or indeed any Shabbat evening meal. But now he’d invited a Lutheran minister and chaplain! I knew another guest was the hospice nurse, a Catholic nun... So why was he so reluctant to include me? I frankly did not want to think about it. But of course I do, considering all the many terrible things about me that might cause him to reject me or not want me at any meal he shared with other people. It also got me thinking...Other people in fact are what I never ever saw when I visited him and Lynn at their house. Never, until the end of Lynn's life, did they have anyone there when I came, nor did they invite me over when someone else was there. Even when their own family was home, their son Danny had to come visit me at my apartment. I felt like I was not allowed to go there. That seemed to be understood...I never met a single friend of theirs, though they spoke of many. I do not know why. Were they trying to protect me, or themselves, or others? Why? Most of the time I was or seemed fine with them, as I rarely evinced any problems, not to them, rarely shared any difficulties, went out of my way NOT to tell them anything was wrong for many years...So why would they want to exclude me for any of the above reasons? I certainly did not behave in any bizarre way at their house, I do not think....I managed mostly to keep that to myself, or not go over there when I could not behave completely normally.
As I said, I cannot let myself think too much about that...They were always very kind to me, and it will only cause me pain to delve too deeply into the deficiencies of our relationship. I was not all that they could have wanted either, I am sure, and therefore they must have had to make compromises in how they dealt with me, just as I did with them.
Still, I enjoy spending more time with Cy these days. I find I can be more open with him now. I think I am always more comfortable with one person at a time than with two or more, which is unfortunate because with Cy and Lynn you mostly had them together. But it is hard to pay attention to two people at one time, or to know what both are thinking and to attend to both equally...and I had to stay vigilant to both at one time. It used to drive me berserk and I hated having to do it. That’s why I remained just social with them. It was impossible to trust either of them very deeply, because I could not learn who each one was, not without being alone with each one, and I never had that chance until Lynn and I started sneaking out and smoking together...What a terrible pity. And now, with Cy, the same thing, but only after a sad event has separated him from the woman he loved above all else.
I have had another invitation. This one to my publisher’s annual poets/writers get together. We are supposed to bring 2 poems to read out loud and generally enjoy ourselves. But I can’t drive myself there -- much too far away in NJ -- across 2 states. And I couldn’t possibly go alone, knowing no one! So I don’t see how I can go at all, since I don’t have a husband or significant other to take with me, as the others most likely do…Lynnie suggested I tell them I need a ride, expecting them to provide me one, since they did invite me there and they know I have this disability...But I did not do so. Partly because I think they would not, but also because I fear they would ask another writer to give me a ride and I do not trust they would not find me someone who would drink too much or drink at all and then drive...And then I would be forced to go with them or be stranded!
I don’t think that Dr O can accompany me (she is on vacation that week or away I believe) nor that she was invited, not being a poet or principal writer. If she could have it would have helped, but no, that is not to be either. Which brings me to the two other problems that also oppress me
One is the simple but not so easy question of what to call Dr O when in a situation with the publisher or in public, say at this get-together etc. I feel like a child calling her Dr O...and yet she has never given me permission to call her Mary. I have decided, though I suppose I should tell her, that I will simply call her Mary in those circumstances. It is ridiculous not to! But I resent that she has not simply told me to. Everyone else calls her Mary and here I am calling her Dr O. It is simply absurd...They must think, damn, who knows what they think. But I feel silly. Yet I do not know what her reaction would be, as if I were intruding or trespassing...Oh, it is so ridiculous!
And then there is the final issue...a brand new one for me, one I haven’t considered since 1979 when I left medical school: I want to start seeing Dr O -- Mary -- only twice a month instead of every week. I would increase that when or if I need to, say if things got worse or in a crisis, of course. But when things are going so well, why should I keep going so often? It is so expensive, and the money could better be spent elsewhere right now. Besides, I need the time to myself for other things -- visiting Joe or Cy or friends, or doing sculpture or writing--, and to go down there every week entails a good four hour trip plus the waste of an entire morning and early afternoon -- just for the preparation and then the travel back and forth...Plus, I get exhausted by the trip. She has been away a lot these past months so in a sense I have had a chance to test it out perforce, and I have done fine. I don’t doubt she would agree! And I think she would also agree to a trial of once every other week. I just don’t want her to think that...Ah, Josephine, my driver and friend whom I may or may not have mentioned before, says she is a professional so I needn’t worry, and she is right. She can take care of herself! As if she needs me!!! I am the one who thought I could not “get along” without her...Wouldn’t she be happy to find out that I can? That is the whole point of therapy, after all. To grow beyond it. After 20+ years, shouldn’t she and everyone else be glad?
Maybe it is I who am afraid after all. But I do want to cut down, fear or not. And I plan to talk about it if not this coming Thursday by phone, then the following Wednesday when I see her in person. It’s time, it really is.
This is my latest art project-- a papier-mâché fruit bowl. What can I say? It speaks for itself, I suppose! (I can't get the photos of all the fruit together outside the bowl or that of the banana and the strawberries to upload, alas...)