Tuesday, June 21, 2011

wild thing

Restlessness overtakes me. I watch Intervention. Twice. Then Hoarders. Then pace a bit. Sometimes I feel like a wild thing, a creature of the moon.

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

Why aren't I sleepy? Is it because of the moon or the earth? What am I worried about? Nothing. I am a wild thing. Wild and unattached. An animal. I told my daughter the difference between monkeys and apes. "Monkeys have tails, love. Apes do not. Humans are apes. We are apes." She laughed at me. "We aren't monkeys, Mama. We aren't animals." But we are, my love. We are hairless apes. We are wild things. We are a shrewdness of apes. An army. A tribe. We cling together so no one will steal our food and our women.

I am a wild thing, but am I sorry for myself?  I peer out the window. It is midnight. Everyone is sleeping. I am not sleeping. I am not feeling sorry for myself because of it. I am the night watchman. I wait for movement. There is nothing. The baby is no longer in our bed. He is in his crib, and I should stretch out, hold my husband again. I shut my eyes and think of nothing. My eyes open again. Still awake. I trudge down the stairs, still not sorry for myself. I watch stories of people with survival issues, because my issues are thrivival in nature.

I am like the tide, in and out, here and there. Last week's the full moon was the Strawberry Moon. It sounded so benign, but it kicked off a strange bout of exhaustive awake-ness.  One day, the old Algonquin names of the moons will be second nature to me. I look them up every month when I can't sleep, and crosscheck them with the Traditional English names. They are poetry and earth and salt and haiku. They make sense. The moons are like a creature, a wild goddess, demanding worship.The Strawberry Moon, however, seems to want nothing but joy. And I cannot muster joy.

I am sleepless because the solstice approaches. I am lost and have lost. But I have and continue to get.

My stomach cramps and makes me wonder if I am matched up again with the cycles of the moon. Except that since Thor came into the world, my cycles are unpredictable, sparse, unvisiting, mostly. Sometimes I believe that Thor was the last of my cycles because he was the last of my cycles. I flirt with the idea of another child in my sleeplessness. I had three babies once. I want to hold three babies. But I will always do this, I realize, I will always want one more. I think there is one missing, because there is one missing.

So simple a concept to still not get.

Last week, after I returned from the retreat, I got on my computer, did some work, walked away. Do we always remember the absolutely ordinariness of the moment before the moment it all changed? The next morning, she wouldn't start up. I tried not to panic, but I was panicking. I took it into the Geek Squad immediately. The geek was rude to me. I half-expected him to eat my hard drive. Isn't that what geeks do? I wondered if I trusted him with my work. I fought the impulse and left my hulking desktop on the counter with a little sticker with my name on it. One little sticker is what identifies all that work as me. I handed it over and it wasn't until I got into the car that I realized that I was crying. My novel. My memoirs. All my unpublished works in progress. Pictures of all three of my children's births. All the photographs of my artwork. My being.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

I cannot drop from a bough frozen. I am not a wild thing. I am a domesticated, organized thing. I am tame and emotionally delicate thing. I am a lapdog with anxiety issues and a penchant for dog ice cream. And in the most un-Buddhist way, I can say I am attached to everything. I am attached to the picture of a possum I downloaded a year ago. I am attached to the movies I made of my paintings. I am attached to my folders of still life 365 work. I am attached to my ideas. I am attached to my writing. I am attached to the pictures of the things and people I love. I am attached.

I found my flash drive with backups of my writing work. After days of prayers to St. Anthony, and a candle to the Strawberry Moon Goddess, it was there in an envelope in the drawer I was sure I put it in. Of course, it wasn't backed up recently. The last back up was December. When I can't write, I edit. When I can't edit, I tweak. When I can't tweak, I write sentences and save them for later longer pieces. When I have nothing to write, I write letters to people. When I can't write letters to people, I write letters to institutions. "Dear Marriage..." I don't even remember which pieces in what folders I worked on in the last six months. In the last six months of sobriety. (Did you catch that? I lost all my sober work.)

I wait to hear if they can save my work. The geek asked me which files I want to recover.
"All of them," I say.

"But do you remember which ones?"
"Please, just save them all. If you can't save them all, then save the ones you can."
He is frustrated, eats my pen, spits ink at me. He's not that kind of geek. I am lying because the idea of losing my work makes me a wild thing. Wild things lie when they feel threatened.

I breathe deep and write down the names of each folder I want saved. My Documents. "Is that too vague? I need everything in the folder 'My Documents'?"
"No, that is a root folder. That is totally cool. Don't worry."

It is summer solstice. Two years and six months since she died. I lose things. I lost her. Sometimes I cry about something I can't hold, because it reminds me of all the other wild things I cannot hold. It reminds me of when I fell frozen from a bough having never felt sorry for myself.


  1. I think about this idea sometimes--about how my grief over Eliza might conflate with my grief over everything I've ever lost, every disappointment I've ever had. I can cry for her and for what I thought motherhood would be, and what I thought my married life would be, and the grandparents my parents were to be, and the future children we may or may not have who will never know their sister, and my friends who sometimes don't know what to say to me, who lost the easiness we used to have. I can cry because I'm losing this summer to sadness and summer used to be my favorite season, and we've lost Christmas and Christmas was my favorite holiday, and I'll never have another entirely joyful pregnancy and I think that the only thing I want in this world is to have that baby with me. Losing her made everything else seem so much smaller, but also made my entire life and everyone in it feel so suddenly fragile and fleeting. Now death isn't so frightening, but keeping track of things is frightfully important. I can't face small challenges because I'm already sagging under the weight of this sadness and I just can't carry one more thing--including a temperamental cell phone and a stack of essays to be graded.

  2. All of which was meant to say, I start out missing her, and I end up feeling sorry for myself. But at the heart of it, I'm just longing for my baby girl and none of the rest of it matters.

  3. I sat out on my front porch last night, and I looked to the north, and there was still light in the sky, at almost midnight.

    It was the night without darkness. You would think we would sleep better that night, and yet. . .

  4. Thinking about your Lucy today.

    I hope your computer is saved. They managed to save mine and something horrible happened to it. And I am going to set up some kind of automatic backup too.

  5. "So simple a concept to still not get."

    I can't get it either.
    Really hoping the geek can save the pooter and all your files.


  6. I think we are the animals cursed with reflection and attachment. That which makes us so human and our lives so rich also brings restlessness, pain.

    Hope the files get saved and that you can sleep tonight. I've been of a mood lately too, let's blame the moon!

  7. Humans are storytelling animals, and somehow the stories change our wildness, I think. I'm so sorry about your hard drive, and am hoping the geek saves every single file.

    Thinking about you and Lucy today.

  8. Losing things feels different when you've lost a child. I get so panicky now about losing little things - a scarf, a letter, because I fear that 'never again' feeling.

    We've just passed the winter solstice down here, and I'm praying to the goddess of hard-drives and all her geeky intercessors that your work is recovered.

  9. Was thinking of you and Lucy all day. Wishing you love at the solstice.

  10. Wish I'd read this before I emailed you just now. Lucy has been on my mind, passing the winter solstice on this side of the world.
    And really, I just want to say that Brooke summed it up best for me. Her comment had it all.
    All my love to you, Angie. I hope they were able to recover all of your precious work.

  11. Perhaps this is something that stays with us to some degree as we move through the years. I'm also occasionally panicked by the loss (or even idea of loss) of something that others may think is insignificant in comparison to what we've been through, but it's still monumental for me.

    ((HUGS)) about the computer. Three years ago, right after the birth of LM, my old computer crashed for good, taking everything with it, nothing backed up. The techies listened to me bawling on their desk, all postpartum hormones and sleepless, babbling about master's thesis, baby photos, and daughter's eulogy. They managed to save about 75% of the files, including all of the above. I hope everything goes as well for you...I know how scary the prospect is of data being unretrievable...

  12. I hope you get your files back. Hell, I hope some sort of miracle occurs and you get everything you want back somehow. Can't hurt to ask, right?

  13. Wow. I don't really know what else to say but wow.

    And I hope they save your hard drive. I was just thinking that I need to back mine up - all the pictures since my daughter was born. All the documents. All of my life.

    I hope they are able to save yours.

    Esperanza (here from Prompt-ly, thought not for the first time). I look forward to following you.

  14. I cling to all of the little things as well.. each tiny piece is a fragment to his short life.

    I hope they recovered your work Angie.. and I know in my heart that there is much more to come mamma..


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