The Third Option
Living? Or surviving? Are they unsettling questions, these? No, not really.
My friend (and for a short while roommate) Keith hung himself in 1987, his pretty but flirtatious wife having a baby on the way that wasn’t his, that she told him she didn’t know whose it was, whatever that implies. Sometimes life is literally a bitch.
I understood it. In all honesty, quitting was an option which had crossed my mind. Life was hard for my little rat-pack back then, as were decisions. We were young, poor, barely educated… the road ahead had an ominous feel.
Since then I have married and watched our daughter grow into a woman (and two granddaughters as well). I have had the good fortune to travel much of the world with someone I love, have lived vicariously through 5 dogs, have enjoyed success doing something I grew to love as my engagement in it increased, and I am still to this day enjoying George Strait’s music, something my friend Keith, a proud Texan, taught me to appreciate through his “western swing” singing and playing as we killed time in our little apartment way back when. I even bought myself a guitar in homage to Keith, but I never got very good with it. Playing the thing was not as easy as Keith made it appear. Sometimes life is like that. Sometimes we fail as we circumnavigate life… as we survive it.
The clock doesn’t stop when we do. So many minutes, and hours, and days since 1987, not to mention the years. So much time to do, and to be. So much joy and pain delivered in that time. So much life granted.
I’m not too proud. I’ll take survival. It was survival allowed all that living, and both beat hell out of the third option.
I live on a blade,
cold as kitchen tiles
common as my name
How do you do it?
you will fall
On one side is a chasm
it is called Past
I twirl and take a peek
struggles wave at me
heartaches grasp for my tears
happiness sings out of tune
milestones trip me again,
how could I forget
One liners I never said,
chase each other round and round
On the other side is another chasm
it is called Future
It is black,
it is warm
I squint at blobs of colour
jelly or Lamborghini, there's no way to know
where are my Future Glasses
I must have forgotten,
to book an appointment
I dance on my blade
if I stop, I will surely fall
Past will swallow me,
Future may raise me,
but I dance,
for if I stop
my blade will cleft me,
and I will never know,
were those jellies, or Lamborghinis
To the universe, with love
Sylvia Plath said, 'Please, I want so badly for the good things to happen.' I have seen people get their medicine in line, pills that get swallowed while being under supervision. I have seen girls stay out of jail by being hospitalized, their preference over a cell. But it's the same, just for one you need $100,000, not for bail, but because "doctors bill separately." They saw you for two minutes and decided to give you the medicine that makes them the most money.
I once had two therapists and one was just for anxiety. I was terrified I'd randomly start screaming obscenities. She said, you just wouldn't do that, Alison. I stared at the paintings on their walls, wondered how fake watercolors don't bleed all over the floor too, like my wounds.
I'd say I'm a survivor. I get up and put my jeans on one leg at a time, brush my teeth, my punishment is lingering one day longer. I breathe and I am underwater.
She laid out my hospital bills on my bed and asked if I felt that was how much I am worth. It's hard to come back from that, to feel whole after being put in a wood chipper.
I come back, always, to Sylvia Plath - I think of having children, think better of it. It's just an endless cycle. I pour a cup of coffee and cheers the many people, the ones who are paid to cure, and the ones who suffer. It's hard, this being alive, but so is dwelling on your place in the universe.
I feel myself
I drift away
A balloon in a storm.
I grab at its string
as I'm swept
into my own mind...
Where thunder, bangs,
and gunshots mingle
with lightning, cuts,
and words I can't shake,
no matter how hard I try.
Where I can't run,
or scream loud enough...
An insect on a string
tied to a balloon
in a whirlwind
that gloss over.
My Saving Grace?
God can fly
Do i live or do I survive?
Do i li-
Do i live-
Or do I survive?
Do i live or do I survive?
Well, stranger, it depends on the day. The hour. The minute.
Not to think anything of it but it sometimes scares me, the spectrums. The fact that the range even exists. I've never been a huge fan of variety, most of the time. I like to stick to things like a desperate little parasite till we've consumed each other, sucked to the bone and all that's left is... Me and a big old glass of nothing.
Do i live or do I survive?
I do think it's terrifying. In the past few days alone, I've witnessed myself smile till my face and heart went numb. Giggle till I felt the cracks in my own laughter. As if the foundation that used to seem so strong began - within the little moments - to crumble, crumble... Maybe it's my fault.
Of course it is. I'm the master puppeteer of my own face. Smile, sob, sink, repeat.
But I'm okay. Really. You'd expect it to be wonderful. Well... Wonderfuller. And it is. I saved myself the way no one else bothered to. Picked my rotting corpse from a pile of graves where life should have been, said adios to the people dancing across that line of empty promises of money-bleeding salvation - and I chose... Risk. I chose choice after telling myself my entire life that I had none of it at all. What moxy.
So you'd imagine that I'd be happy. You'd imagine that it would all be easier. Maybe that's not you. I'm projecting, I have no idea what you could possibly think of me - oh the things you could think, so many... But see, I like to imagine the silliest things. Like... Some place where peace is. Comfort. Security, safety, joy, everything. And I hop like a needy junkie for whatever I can get my hands on that'll give me that for a while.
The longing for romance, fandoms galore, I desire a place that feels correct. Because I never quite feel correct. Because joy and peace and comfort and safety are fleeting and I hate that they are fleeting because if nothing lasts then who the fuck am I and what am I doing here-
There's always gotta be some nyash to liven things up.
Butt I'm alive. Right? And that's something. I believe it is. And yes. It all fluctuates. It's like being shoved into a washing machine. Wet, dry, toss and tumble, up and down and over and out. A cycle. An endless one. It's kind of fucked up and kind of beautiful that we're all kind of just... Stuck in our own little washing machines.
In these bodies.
At least mine doesn't feel like a corpse anymore, most of the time. And doesn't always smell like one either. That is progress like you couldn't believe - I forgot how to bathe. How to act like a human being and pretend I was just normal enough to play the sane game for the world. I forgot everything except my glubbing. It slipped out my throat, a small bubble on the surface while the clothes kept turning, the water kept sucking me down, down, down...
Do i live or do I survive?
I used to only survive. I used to find breath and oxygen in briefer, sparser moments. A book. A song. A daydream.
But I guess it took switching my machine to a different setting. Different mindset, shift in place, a genuinely me-oriented goal that didn't make me feel like my lungs were collapsing every time I woke up to my own reality. Even though some people were sweet enough to tell me it was ridiculous. And no, not because they cared about what would happen to me but because it "seems wrong" and because "you're supposed to wash it like this" and other controlling societal mediocre bullshi-
Different setting. Same... Machine.
But it works better now, I suppose.
I'm sitting in darkness for right now, listening to the everlasting cycle behind my eyes, the one that truly ends when the machine stops working entirely. And it's fine, save for buzzing and spinning and a little heat from a bit of overuse.
But the water's still flowing. And so am I.
And the cycle of live and survive goes on and on and on with a little bit extra of the former. Who doesn't love more bubbles? All the light, silly, temporal pretty things, I say. That's what humans are, anyhow. Every last one of us. Just trying to find peace within the noise.
Filling in the Blanks
The longer I stay in one place,
the more the risk grows
to stagnate in the mundane.
In these routines
that dictate my day,
And the conveniences
that dull my blade,
Deplete my drive
and slowly rub away
the purpose for my pain.
For there is no thrill
In knowing what's next.
No surprise when you are
lethargic with comfort
In your safety net.
Is the caution tape
Streaming behind you in tatters
As you run against the grain.
Is the moment you decide
Not to regret a thing.
Is the moment you connect
Take the blinders off your heart,
Allow it the option
To break if it wants.
Is real and hard.
Alive is ready
Whether you are
Arthritis of the Fingers
My hands work mercilessly,
My mind wanders on, wondering what I'm gathering supplies for. It's just another project started, toiled with for a moment, then tossed away.
Again, I turn my eyes down, reflecting on my life.
Thirty years nearly now. Thirty years and it feels like I'm scrubbing the same stain over and over again. The bothersome thought of being 'empty' tries to goad my attention in its direction, but I tell it I'm 'busy' as if to replace the word with something else before I tirelessly toil at scrubbing that away too.
Where is calm? Where is peace of mind? The serenity of living in the moment and basking in it instead of tallying off one check mark to the next, subduing the urge to recreate the list?
I haven't a clue.
Still, my hands work needlessly in a direction called 'the future' though it seems to carry none of the precarious dreams I had for it. No. Only planning and toiling. Gathering and gaining, but for what? For what do I intend to loose in my hoard? In my perspective gain, but nothing to fruit of it? No garments, no trinkets... No monies in exchanges for works. Just... toiling.
Like I am offering myself up to the God of Time, asking him to fulfill my wishes, but the emptiness behind me is scrubbing away my progress. Like I cannot settle on myself that I am constantly sweeping paths before me, leaving nothing behind but supplies and nothing made of them.
Why am I so tireless? When will I finally settle in and realize that I have time to take 'breaks' and 'enjoy events' while meandering about in my existence, simply okay with just being here. Where is the joy when all I feel is a hankering for the very word that escapes me even now?
It feels aimless, yet not very so at the same breath.
I am just here, but I am unsettled by the very fact.
Gods, I'd give to be settled with it, but I can't.
to live or survive...
These past two days I pushed through an uncharacteristic headache. Dull, insipid, nauseating. Tonight, it finally broke like a fever. I realized, sadly, in cold sweat, that I had... over indulged...
I know. I know! I who pride myself on temperance. On moderation. Rigorous self-denial even!! I had allowed myself the little-bit-too-much. An excess of that most favored substance. Stress.
I always keep it closely guarded, in the chest, in a flask all to itself, expressly for the -purpose of preserving every heated drop. The well-meaning have on more than one occasion told me, with much trepidation and cautious sympathy, that Stress is a pretentious placebic capsule, harboring no benefit nor delivering any purported exploits. Useless as a phantom limb.
But I nevertheless guard my supply carefully, even at night. I grind my teeth to ward off would be intruders, and hoard it close to my pillow, because one never knows who or what might be trying to come between me, and my Stress.
what things do you feel make you live and what don't? challenge @Fernanda25