It’s 6:57 a.m.
I’m listening to Sonata 3 in C Major BWV1005 by Bach and crying over Sylvia Plath.
I’ve been on this Plath kick for almost a year now. I used to be so harsh and judgmental of her. (“Well that’s what she gets for sticking her head into an oven!”) I didn’t understand her, nor did I try to until I read Rough Magic- her biography by Paul Alexander. Sylvia and I share several things in common. We’re both writers (dare I make such a claim?), perfectionistic overachievers, we both lost our children, we both went mad, and we were both locked away in an institution many years ago- having suffered breakdowns halfway through our college majors (and before)- and then immediately dusted ourselves off and jumped right back into the academic ring- no small feat.
I have a new respect for her, and until I began comparing notes, I had no idea how similar our lives were/are. I think she’s one of the most courageous women I’ve ever known. It’s not easy to have a colossal breakdown (pardon the pun) then pick yourself up again and carry on in the faces of all of the inquisitive eyes and naysayers…dream shatterers…
I’ve been reading her recently published (very private) journals, all night in fact. What a privilege to be able to wile away the hours reading her personal diary! I clearly have a fascination with her, but not only that- her poetry is by far, my favourite of anyone’s- Anne Sexton weighing in at close second. For me, nobody can touch these immensely talented and troubled women, who were both personal friends of each other (In fact, they shared a poetry workshop class and Plath admired Sexton greatly) who took their own lives at their own hands.
I read this in Sylvia’s journal earlier, and this is what made me cry:
Remember about the shadow of past knowledge. Write about your own experience. By that experience someone else may be a bit richer some day. Read widely of others experiences in thought and action– stretch to others even though it hurts and strains and would be more comfortable to snuggle back in the comforting cotton-wool of blissful ignorance! Hurl yourself at goals above your head and bear the lacerations that come when you slip and make a fool of yourself. Try always, as long as you have breath in your body, to take the hard way, the Spartan way – and work, work, work to build yourself into a rich, continually evolving entity!
I’m listening, Sylvia. :0)
I received my audit from my University several days ago: my petition to graduate has been accepted and I’m expected to graduate this December on the 7th at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center. It’s been a long four years! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to pull off a Behavioral Sciences major- I had to face certain doom and unspeakable tragedy (sexual abuse as a child, institutionalization, the loss of my children, insanity, years of being battered relentlessly by an unforgiving system), but it’s been worth fighting for and I had to prove to myself that I am more than a “label” that has a fancy name of this disorder or that. I will not be defined by a clinical title or even the thought of another person, for I’ve chosen to maximize what I’ve learned in school and minimize the trauma I’ve lived through.
Still, I can’t help but to be heavily influenced by the likes of Plath- she stood up in the face of terror itself and fought as long as she could. But what an incredible talent! I’m going to heed the words in her journal and I’m not going to be ashamed of my past and what I’ve lived through. It’s a miracle just to be alive.
I’ve decided that after I graduate, I’ll transfer over to Southern New Hampshire University, which is a private coed and one of the best schools in New England to work on my BA- not for Criminal Justice- but for Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry. Plath has inspired me, completely, and has reminded that I’m an artist and a writer, and have been my whole life. I have the skeleton already- which is the passion- but I need the BA in Creative Writing so I can flesh out the bones.
I’m already a starving artist, what will it matter?
Life has been a blur lately of exams, cramming, writing essays and reports: I have 5 weeks to go!
And, I have 5 A’s in all 5 classes still. Go me. :0)
Josh stands in the golden hour sunlight down at the River.
Canon Digital Rebel/Super Takumar 135/3.5 film lens
And Heidi, if you’re reading this, thank you so much for your introduction to Plath at Olive Garden years ago. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t even be doing this whole school thing. xo
We March Like Soldiers
[based on a true story]
For Sean, because I know you understand. xo
We March Like Soldiers
We march like soldiers
Invisible chains rattling
That only we can hear
All crammed together
In that box
We jiggle a little
I keep my eyes on the numbers
In that crammed elevator and imagine
That death awaits me at the bottom
Like a gas chamber
Waiting to spit out its last breath
Down we go
To meet a collection of many tables
And glue and sparkly things
I don’t die
There is an exercise bike
And a fat woman rides
The piano makes me sad
I remember other things
And better days
Before I flew
Out of my mind
But down I sit
My fingers stumble like a bad lover
And I play the song of my life
Wanting only to cry
The crazy people look at me
They are smiling
I smile too- at what
I do not know
But on with the show!
I do not understand
How I got here
I march outside and watch the worker
Water the flowers
In the burning heat
A man walks in circles
And circles and circles
He is pleased to be talking
Round and round he goes
A curious machine
A heavy verdict
Heaven and hell
Another jumps up and kicks the wall
Is he real?
Is he an angel? A devil?
Did he come up from a pit?
Did I see bats?
Are they birds?
I watch them fly away
Up and out of the high walls that surround
All of us here on lock down
The sunny workers in the flowered pajamas
Are careful to say lovely things
So we know
I swing and swing
On that damn bench
That never goes anywhere
Up we go
Back to the halls and walls that are plastered with rules
That we’re supposed to understand
There are smiley faces
That tell us
We are people too
Here on this safe floor with no lighters or sharp metal things
And we wait
Watching the new ones march in
I am uncertain
If I am dead or alive
I go to the bathroom
Shut the door
And try to cry
The night brings another solemn gathering
Of people standing in line
For the third time
And snacks too
I am a wild animal in these glass-windowed walls
I do not know how to get out
My eyes are black as mud inside
And my tears have been taken
By terror (the mirror does not lie)
Out I shuffle
With bare feet and no socks
In my spotted gown
And we all
March like soldiers
And stand in a sad line
To get our pills
Which make us feel
At least for a little while
Like we are sleeping
As we lie awake in this place
Flying out of our minds
– B. Lindsey
Written on 10/28/13
For Shreya. xo
One of my short stories from several years ago.
Her fingers felt like two hot stones that had soaked up the angry sun. The sweat was gathering on her back and Ellie knew that she was racing against the clock. She’d been out there for two hours now; digging, planting, and turning over the dry, crusted earth. She wiped her brow, smearing dirt on her face; mixing it with the sweat that ran down into her ear. There wasn’t even a hint of a breeze.
“Good thing too,” she thought.
A gentle breeze would only have lulled her into the hope of being comfortable. She wasn’t much of a gardener, but her mother (and her mother’s mother) had toiled away in the burning sun, just as Ellie was doing now, and so she felt it was her womanly duties, if nothing else, to keep the grounds. It was her heritage. Her land now. Her large fingers tore at the soil and she carefully placed each small stone that introduced itself, into neat little piles. The smile that was beginning to form at the corners of her mouth, was evidence that she was quite pleased with herself. She squinted and stared up into the sun. The lemon-yellow glow, radiated out from the heavens, wrapping itself around her very heart it seemed. Panting, she let her eyes drift across the canvas of the sky, and thought of the tangy lemons in her basket over the stove. She would take a few, squeeze them tightly into a pitcher (after cutting each in half), careful not to let the seeds fall in. She’d add a few cups of sugar (she could practically taste it now), rushing to the pit of her stomach as if it too were trying to get away from the burning heat.
Ellie wiped her hand on her brown, faded dress. You know the one. A rip there at the hem from rushing through life, month after month; chores and endless lists to check off. A button- missing in the back- directly across from her burdened waist; proof that she’d rewarded herself bountifully after each carefully planned meal. The floral pattern had been beaten away by the unforgiving sun, year after year of hanging out those old stained linens. Why, they must be forty years old by now! Ellie wasn’t aware that she’d drifted off again; her eyes fixed to those linens as if it were the sheets themselves that took her back to her Jonah, and the sound of his harmonica…and her laughter. But Jonah was gone and so were the years.
She wiped her eyes, again streaking dirt across her lid. Her parched mouth brought Ellie’s eyes away from the sheets and back to her tired old hands. Lemonade. Ellie put her packages of seeds next to the neatly stacked stones, and tried to rise. It felt as if the sun had exploded in her chest; her breathing, coming in heavy gasps, and she fell to the ground, scattering the stones as she went. Ellie closed her eyes, for the sun was blinding, and she pulled at the grass, reaching for something (for what, she did not know) something to feel connected to. Even with her eyes closed, she felt the shadow move over her face. Ellie opened her eyes. The sun was hiding behind the peculiar man, causing a cool shade to fall on her. For that, she was grateful. The ripping pain in her chest, seemed to have vanished, and Ellie was wondering who the stranger was that stood before her.
”Can I help you Ma’am?” he asked kindly.
Ellie shook her head, as if to say no, but then nodded her head in confusion. The glow of the sun seemed to make him glow as if he too, were indeed part of the sun.
”Y-yes…thank you….sir….,” she answered; her voice trailing off, barely above a whisper. She looked up and into his eyes. How could it be? Her Jonah was gone, and he looked nothing like him, but his eyes…she could almost be certain they were Jonah’s. Yes. She was absolutely certain that she’d seen them before. She reached up, placing her hand into his waiting one. The man pulled her up; smiling and nodding gently as he did and Ellie let out a breath of summer air, returning his smile, and gently squeezed his hand. The sight of her linens, dancing happily in the breeze, caught her eye. The gentle wind kissed her hair, refreshing her for the first time in months. She could hear the faint trail of a harmonica playing, as many do in the country, and still holding the man’s hand, Ellie looked around to take stock in all that she had to be thankful for. This is the house that sheltered her through the many seasons of her life. The garden there, was her daily companion; patiently teaching her how to grow.
”Are you ready?” asked the man.
Ellie paused, and looked back at the scattered stones. Lying next to them was the body of Ellie Parkins. Ellie saw herself, but felt as if she were looking at a stranger. Dirt streaked her forehead, and a faint smile was still painted on her mouth. Hanging on the clothesline, were those white linens, which also seemed to glow with the strength of the sun shining through them. Ellie looked up at the man, and with one last sigh, she pursed her mouth together and nodding at her new friend, walked toward the shining sun…
Super Tak: Film Lenses on Digital Cameras
It’s 5:17 a.m. and I cannot sleep. I’m sitting on the bathroom floor with my laptop deciding what I want to do next. It’s been a long time since I snuck off to another room while Josh slept! Alas, I cannot sleep. I’m actually waiting for the break of dawn so I can go on a sunrise photoshoot. It’s freezing outside! But that’s alright. I like the cold.
I’m missing Brian so much. He’s rarely here any more. I’m very happy for him though; I’m fairly certain he’s happy, and as long as he is, that’s all that matters. I’m confident that all of my children know this about me: I support them in everything they do- 100%.
I’ve decided that I want to start shooting with film lenses. Digital just doesn’t do it for me…at all. it’s too clear, focused- intentional. It cleans up all of the imperfections right away and leaves little to the imagination. I really don ‘t like it. So I picked up my first film lens (apart from two cheapies in the pawn shop), which is the SMC (super multi coated) Takumar 135/3.5. I must credit my British friend, Mark for this idea: he sent me a few pics a year ago and they blew my mind. He was using film lenses on a digital camera. Huh?! Yeah. You just have to know which adapters to get, so after a bit of research, I found the adapter for my Canon body: the M42. My Tak (or, “Super Tak” as it’s known as) came in 2 days ago, but my adapter came in today. (I could cry!) This is probably why I can’t sleep. The quality of this lens is jaw-dropping. The colours are so fantastic that I’m breaking my own self contract and will be shooting in colour- and lots of it. How could I not?
Here are a few sample images from the Super Tak:
I am completely in love with this lens! But it gets even better. I have two more that will be arriving in the upcoming week- they’re film lenses as well. I’ve decided that I’ll never shoot digital (lenses, anyway) again- only film from here on out. I love the texture and film grain that the older lenses provide. The two new lenses will be: Carl Zeiss (YES!!) 35/ 2.8 and the Helios 44M-4 58 MM f/2. They’re flying in from several different countries and I’m so excited………..!
More on this later. I have a sunrise to shoot.
It’s midterm, and here are my grades in the following classes:
Lifetime Fitness and Wellness: A
Spanish II: A
Therapeutic Interventions with Substance Abusers II: A