Liking Her More and More

November 21, 2012

I was a metal-head and a punk, but my appreciation for music goes far beyond that. I was a musician. I guess I should use that in the present tense–I AM a musician. But I have trouble accepting that, always have.

I’m now faced with declined hearing due to the OI. I’m starting to wear my hearing aide more often (I have two but one needs adjustment), particularly when I sing and want to enjoy undertones in music. Going deaf is one of my biggest fears. I often think that I’ll definitely kill myself if that ever happens.

But lately, I’ve been calmer, more generally content–not happy, just content. I don’t like the word happy. My contentment, however, has reached back out to the warm embrace of music, the one thing that has saved my life before.

I picked up my ukulele a few months ago when I was in the dark and the PLDs had moved in again. And though I haven’t played recently, I still plan to play it and eventually maybe write songs again. Most of my songs start off as poems anyway, so maybe (just maybe) I could adapt some of my NaPoWriMo poems as uke songs.

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Oh right, Lana! So on my Borderline Girl Song Week Thirteen post, I posted a Lana Del Rey Song. Her real name is Lizzy Grant. In that post, I called her pretentious but good. I suppose though, that pretentious is just a label given to any musician that takes their music seriously. So I will back away from that word. I’ve been listening to her more and more. Surprisingly, despite my minuscule stature, I sing better in her register, or rather, women who sing in lower, contralto registers like two of my favorites–Amy Winehouse and Fiona Apple.

I’m liking her more and more. I want to sing again and shout out loud. But I’m afraid. Afraid I’ll fail. Afraid I’ll quit like I have before. I can’t let the fear of my hearing loss take control of my actions though.

Here she is singing live. Oh, yeah, and it turns out she CAN sing very well live. It just depends.

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Grateful Today

November 2, 2012

When you’re down under the defunct skin of depression, it’s difficult to see anything in bright light or feel anything pleasurable. It’s difficult to be grateful, even though you realize there are “good” things in your life, you’re so bereft of health, positive, motivational feelings that it becomes void. You KNOW there are good things, but your subconscious traumas take over, particularly in people with BPD. You only feel the shit smothering you in nastiness. And then you feel guilt for not feeling “appreciative”. The pain is just too strong, too overpowering. The lenses have no view of, or recognition of enjoyment.

Now, today, I am grateful for the beautiful weather, for water, for being able to swim, for my eyes and ears (though they fail me), and for my hearing aids which help my ears. I’ve learned to accept them and use them more often. This doesn’t mean I’m no longer a musician. Oh yeah, I’m grateful for music!

I’m grateful for my body, though it’s hard for me to love it. I am learning to love it for what it is–T-Rex-Duck arm and all. Swimming has helped with that.

I’m grateful that last night, even though I got drunk, I did not self-harm. I’m grateful that I ran into a lovely fella from the university after therapy and he asked to hang out. I’m grateful that he came over and we jammed a little. I played the ukulele and piano for him (though I was shy about it and stopped midway). And he taught me a little Arabic scale. He brought a candle that a lady who hosted us–the activist group we were in–at her home in Detroit for the U.S.Social Forum. That was back in the summer of 2010. I can’t believe he kept it this long.

We lit the candle and he sung a prayer in Arabic for the Day of the Dead (it’s a Mexican tradition, but other cultures have similar celebrations and rituals). His soft fro was lit by the flickering candle, and I thought of Monkey Man’s red and gold beard. I though of all those close to me who have passed on.

It was just… pleasant.

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Tonight, I will add to this on my Facecrack page.

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What are you grateful for today?

*trigger warning, though it does have a hopeful message akin to ‘art is my salvation’*

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The Heiligenstadt Testament or What Mouse Likes to Call Beethoven’s Suicidal-ish Letter to His Brother(s)

(English translation)

For my brothers Carl and [Johann] Beethoven

Oh you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn, or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you. From childhood on, me heart and soul have been full of the tender feeling of goodwill, and I was ever inclined to accomplish great things. But, think that for six years now I have been hopelessly afflicted, made worse by senseless physicians, from year to year deceived with hopes of improvement, finally compelled to face the prospect of a lasting malady (whose cure will take years or, perhaps, be impossible). Though born with a fiery, active temperament, even susceptible to the diversions of society, I was soon compelled to withdraw myself, to live life alone. If at times I tried to forget all this, oh how harshly I was I flung back by the doubly sad experience of my bad hearing. Yet it was impossible for me to say to people, “Speak louder, shout, for I am deaf.” Ah, how could I possibly admit an infirmity in the one sense which ought to be more perfect in me than others, a sense which I once possessed in the highest perfection, a perfection such as few in my profession enjoy or ever have enjoyed.–Oh I cannot do it; therefore forgive me when you see me draw back when I would have gladly mingled with you.

My misfortune is doubly painful to me because I am bound to be misunderstood; for me there can be no relaxation with my fellow men, no refined conversations, no mutual exchange of ideas. I must live almost alone, like one who has been banished; I can mix with society only as much as true necessity demands. If I approach near to people a hot terror seizes upon me, and I fear being exposed to the danger that my condition might be noticed. Thus it has been during the last six months which I have spent in the country. By ordering me to spare my hearing as much as possible, my intelligent doctor almost fell in with my own present frame of mind, though sometimes I ran counter to it by yielding to my desire for companionship.

But what a humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard nothing, or someone heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing. Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended me life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me. So I endured this wretched existence — truly wretched for so susceptible a body, which can be thrown by a sudden change from the best condition to the very worst. — Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so — I hope my determination will remain firm to endure until it pleases the inexorable Parcae to break the thread. Perhaps I shall get better, perhaps not; I am ready. — Forced to become a philosopher already in my twenty-eighth year, oh it is not easy, and for the artist much more difficult than for anyone else. ‘Divine one, thou seest me inmost soul thou knowest that therein dwells the love of mankind and the desire to do good’. Oh fellow men, when at some point you read this, consider then that you have done me an injustice; someone who has had misfortune may console himself to find a similar case to his, who despite all the limitations of Nature nevertheless did everything within his powers to become accepted among worthy artists and men.

You, my brothers Carl and [Johann], as soon as I am dead, if Dr. Schmidt is still alive, ask him in my name to describe my malady, and attach this written documentation to his account of my illness so that so far as it possible at least the world may become reconciled to me after my death”.

At the same time, I declare you two to be the heirs to my small fortune (if so it can be called); divide it fairly; bear with and help each other. What injury you have done me you know was long ago forgiven. To you, brother Carl, I give special thanks for the attachment you have shown me of late. It is my wish that you may have a better and freer life than I have had. Recommend virtue to your children; it alone, not money, can make them happy. I speak from experience; this was what upheld me in time of misery. Thanks to it and to my art, I did not end my life by suicide — Farewell and love each other —

I thank all my friends, particularly Prince Lichnowsky’s and Professor Schmidt — I would like the instruments from Prince L. to be preserved by one of you, but not to be the cause of strife between you, and as soon as they can serve you a better purpose, then sell them. How happy I shall be if can still be helpful to you in my grave — so be it. — With joy I hasten to meed death. — If it comes before I have had the chance to develop all my artistic capacities, it will still be coming too soon despite my harsh fate, and I should probably wish it later — yet even so I should be happy, for would it not free me from a state of endless suffering? — Come when thou wilt, I shall meet thee bravely. — Farewell and do not wholly forget me when I am dead; I deserve this from you, for during my lifetime I was thinking of you often and of ways to make you happy — please be so —

Ludwig van Beethoven

Heiligenstadt,

October 6th, 1802

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Though he never completely was able to rid himself of his depression, Beethoven went on to write Symphony No. 9, his most famous work to date, after writing this letter/will, much after he was pretty much completely (no my favorite but a damn good one). Life has more irony than fiction.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) often causes hearing loss. Whenever people find out that I have pretty severe hearing loss (in my right ear mostly) and know that I’m also a musician, they almost always mention Beethoven.

“Oh, that must suck, but you know Beethoven…”

I often feel ambivalent towards their attempt to comfort me. I don’t like to mention my hearing loss because I don’t want people feeling sorry for me, but I often have to so people can know not to whisper around me. Imagine how difficult it is to have severe social anxiety with normal hearing, and then having a loss like that just multiplies the anxiety. If Beethoven lived in our modern day, he’d be labeled with “social anxiety disorder” and “major depressive disorder” for sure–among other things.

Whenever people start to give me their puckered face and their, “Beethoven did…” speech, I always want to show them this letter he wrote, as if to say, “SEE, it wasn’t easy! Beethoven wanted to kill himself for many years. So please, don’t give me that fuckin’ shit! In fact, some say he may have drank himself to death! But yes, you’re right, he did keep on writing his music. And thank you for your kind words, you make a good point about determination. Whew. Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on ya…”

The good thing is I’m learning to habituate. Again, art has been my salvation. And this letter has been a source of comfort.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Resource:
http://www.all-about-beethoven.com/heiligenstadt_test.html

Because

for T.H.L. because he knew me so well

Because the dead don’t
wake in a rage,
two silky bones,
chalky fingers
calmly linger
and ask for more.
“Two more please.”
As if Consuelo needs
another drink.

Because the dead
don’t wake with hunger,
two bandit mice
scurry down the table
filled with fruit and
the drops left of
Consuelo’s
Modelo.

Because he had wanted
to savor the dreams
of a well dressed man,
they migrated
from country to city
and adapted to
ambitious conditions
of this land.

Because the uncertainties
fogged them,
they built a meager home.
What once were two
heavy cheeks
are now
fleshless visages
that dart
melancholy.

Because they have drank
each other bloodless,
his spirit wafts now
beyond flasks and cantinas
still singing, echoing
“My love’s consumed
like a cigarette”.
So goes the cliché.

Because he is now
a nameless man,
a busker with
a guitar in hand,
he serenades her with his
drudging charade.

Because the dead don’t
have trouble sleeping,
and
“Because,” his stony jaw exudes
“women were the death of me,
there’s something
liberating
this death brings”.

© Paz

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Today’s prompt: an ekphrastic/ekphrasis poem, which is a “dramatic description of a visual work of art.”

Today also marked a month and a day since I found out about L’s death. I’m sure he’d laugh/is laughing at the dark humor I tried to get in this one–after all, it’s for him. Oh, and the poem is based on a painting he owned (I have no idea who has it now) but I took a picture of it the day I hung out with him during the Superbowl, and though I hadn’t wanted to look at those pictures, I will upload the picture of the painting that goes with this poem tomorrow. It’ll make more sense when you see the painting. Maybe I’ll catch up on yesterday’s Earth Day poem too.

These last two were difficult to get through. Whew.

But the fact that you guys are actually reading them encourages me, really.

Xxx