I think I'm going to stop blogging here for a while. I have been in recovery for some time now and I'm doing much better with having goals. I'm writing more and submitting more now. But I don't feel safe among people online.
I guess it's a bipolar thing.
The usual pattern now is if I have genuine admiration for a writer and express it, this person writes a parody of me in verse or in prose. And it's usually a pretty cruel one. Sometimes they're funny, I guess, to others, but I can only laugh at cruelty (in writing or film or anywhere else) if it's imaginary people being cruel to one another. Or if it's a parody of the stupidity of cruelty itself.
I realize a lot of otherwise educated people don't really give a fuck if you're mentally ill. You're even more of a target for that.I don't think most poets are very enlightened about mental illness despite what they write or say. It's just a joke to them. Most of them talk a good game. Some of these writers are cases of Revenge of the Reviewed. I've always said a poet is like a cat. Neither a poet nor a cat ever forgets being stepped on, no matter how lightly. In other words, Poetry: the Kingdom Where Pettiness is Queen. And like Leona Helmsley used to be, the Queen is Always in Residence. I have been stepped on many times and I can honestly say I count nobody out there as an enemy. Maybe they hate me for my crazy bipolar words in the past, but the feeling is not reciprocated. I haven't wished more than a bad mood on any person since I was perhaps seven years old.
I have had a smart ass mouth and my blood has been filled with sarky bile crystals and occasionally I published or posted negative (or partially negative) literary reviews in the past. The vast majority of the reviews I wrote were positive ones. I didn't know I was bipolar for many years, well into my adulthood. And I sowed my little dragon's teeth in the typical paranoid and grandiose and manic way of "my kind" during our upswings. I sometimes irrationally attacked people or acted overly cynical. I presumed familiarity. These are all bipolar traits. Go to the DSM if you don't believe me. It's like my autobiography. I have repudiated these things in writing. I have apologized where I could. My Blogger profile carries an "open apology." I have put on the itchy hair shirt and rubbed the ashes into my skin and sat cross-legged atop the stylus of a blog while chanting. I looked like a National Geographic oddity. Here. Look at this freak.
I'm done with that. I think I finished about 48 days ago.
Too many bad things have happened this year and too many bad things will probably happen soon. My mother is probably dying. I have a problem leaving the house more often, sometimes even when I need to do it for doctor's appointments. Poverty and ill health and a crazy neighbor with a lot of guns who probably wants to shoot me now because I yelled at him after he drilled a hole right through my fucking wall and then inserted a long twisted wire that began sweeping objects off furniture and breaking them. You would have probably screamed too. I can almost always stop myself now from going into that mode but coming right through the fucking wall was just too much. I had the police take a report and both those cops agreed with me completely. They said they would have done the exact same thing I did. Or worse. When I put myself on the "no more outbursts" diet, I hadn't planned on this scene that so reminded me of the snaky eye-tubes in the Tom Cruise remake of War of the Worlds. I'm surprised he hadn't put a fucking pig's plucked eye or something on the end of the wire. Would have made the intrusion complete, like a little bloody paper umbrella in a surreal cocktail.
So when I write something in admiration of a young poet and try to share my enthusiasm about his writing, he visits my blog and writes a parodic poem showing me as a complete idiot and an illiterate one at that. I no longer lash out at people who write or say such things about me. I guess that's progress. The things he made fun of about me hurt, because who knows, maybe they're true. Maybe I don't proofread my blog as much as I should. Maybe I don't remember to go back and reread and edit every blog entry. Maybe I assumed this was what many people do, a sort of sloppy online diary, a web log. I don't have a gilded leather spine anywhere on this blog, do I? So did he have to say these things and rub salt? One of the things he focused on is me using ads on this blog. That's because I'm on disability income. I have zero discretionary income. So I eke. When I had surges in visitors, I actually did scrape off a nominal sum like five dollars for that day. This makes a difference for someone in my circumstances, or I wouldn't have put the obnoxious things on here. But then he wasn't quibbling. It was meant to be a take-down. A complete dismissal of my existence. It was a takedown of someone who had taken the time to read every poem he had online and say a few wholly positive things about that writing. And then he had taken the time to read my blog, observe traits about me, and write a sarky poem portrait portraying me as an illiterate.
If you see someone as a freak, and you're a young poet with a lot of ego, you don't even want that freak admiring your writing.
Is this my karma? Or is this just the nastiness that resides in the bumptious hearts of most little artists? The desire to achieve a "practical" omnipotence where the force of mockery can only truly flow in one direction? Congratulations. You made fun of me. You're a big man or woman. Do you make fun of the retarded too? Wait, your comeback is that I am retarded. Yes, we're actually grouped together in the mental health system here. It's MHMR. So you're right. And your sarky portait of me is surely One for the Ages. Truly marvelous. Nobody's ever thought to say those things about me and use those funny insulting words. A true original.(I'm speaking to the generic Satiripoet here and not that particular "jooth.") I can't possibly understand why you're still so underappreciated as a poet. What does Szymborska have that you don't have?
I don't snap back anymore because I don't even have the desire. There are no bitemarks on my tongue. (I'll take a pic and post if you don't believe me.) Now when these things happen, I just see myself in that person (my worst past self) and I feel sad. I guess I should feel comforted that I'm no longer that way when this happens. I'm getting better. So I focus on that.
In a world filled with such interesting and horrifying things, such poets rarely find it inspiring to write about such things as the natural evolution of viruses, the psychodynamics of why something like mass murder might be culturally institutionalized or how consciousness works (and doesn't).
They'd much rather be party people and write parodies. Write out the pettiest parts of their lives and psyches. Here, enjoy this amuse-bouche. I made it with my own bile.
I guess we're generally bigger assholes when we're young and younger poets generally have an aversion to older poets unless they perceive them as powerful or famous. Okay, that's cynical. But it's often true.
But older poets have acted this same way. I think poetry is like those puberty-stalling drugs they've developed now that work wonders for transgenders. I wonder if many poets might be taking them too. Maybe they sell them on the black market to poets. "Stay forever young." Forever asshole.
It's just funny that when I read this poet's other blog, I saw he was in the "mental health system" (funny phrase) as well.
So you'd think he'd think twice before mocking someone who is under a similar yoke.
I'm not stopping the blogging here because of that one person. If he's that big of an asshole, I wouldn't want to give him a false sense of achievement. It's many things.
I had a fake friend who assuredly has borderline personality disorder play me into caring about her and then pull a fake disappearing act, followed by fake terminal illness. Maybe that bothered more than I wanted to admit at the time. Not because I miss that person. I don't. Obviously, I feel fortunate in having discovered this person is so untrustworthy and insane before I gave more money (which I never really could afford) or--worse--got more emotionally invested in her problems. I thought she was bipolar like me. That's what she told me. A lie. She told me lots of lies. But when you finally realize you're dealing with a borderline personality disorder case, it's a bit scary. You suddenly realize nothing was real in your friendship with this person. Even though it went on for years. Oh, what's real of the past right? Every person who gets divorced goes through the "How long was it real, was it ever real?" agony. Such things are not worth dwelling on any more than water's surface play of lights.
I've had people visit the blog who have been married to borderline people and I can only begin to imagine how much more horrible that must be. They tell me I got off easy. In some regards, being bipolar is better than having borderline personality disorder. Both of them predispose you tremendously towards suicide though, so neither is a gift. Bipolar is a difficult road because we don't know what our moods will be from day to day, hour to hour, quite often. And I can't tolerate the meds. Long story short: two different medications I took nearly killed me and I spent eight months in the hospital nearly every other day when my blood and most of the rest of my body was fucked up by "BAD DRUG!" (seen the histrionic commercials?) Depakote.
So that isn't happening. There's a reason the ambulance chaser commercials are on the screen all day and night going after Depakote and drugs like it. Big Pharm is fine with poisoning people if the numbers crunch. I should know. I worked for them.
You can't stop people thinking or writing whatever they want about you. Even if I had a magic button I could push, I would feel wrong pushing it and wouldn't do it. I honestly wouldn't push it. I respect the sanctity of the individual too much. You're dying. This is your one chance to take the final form you're going to have before you're dead. I'm worried enough about my own final shape. How could I possibly have energy or time to spend playing in your karmic sandbox?
Some of the people I alienated I will admit I'm glad I did alienate. While I am sorry for the words that might have caused the alienation, in some cases the stress of the situation revealed the person's true character. You know Jenny Holzer's terrible (but true) line: "If you want to know somebody's character fast, spit milk in their face." Yes, I realize that can be read ironically. But the funny thing is it's just as true if you read it non-ironically. It all depends on the psychology of the two people in the theoretical milk-spitting exchange. I'm sorry I spit milk in your face. But I'm glad I learned your true character. Or lack of it.
Some of those people I alienated seem to have much worse character problems than I do or they "liked" me for all the wrong reasons. And I don't miss those people. Others I alienated were very nice people and really tried to understand my distorted life and I am still grateful that they even made that effort. I really am. It's not lip service. Some people I alienated remain "x factors," about whom I really know next to nothing. Maybe we would have been great friends. Maybe just typical boring frenemies. I don't have time for frenemies anymore.
I don't expect anything from life. I just enjoy the experience of it when I'm not truly out of my head, which is less and less now, and I am grateful to be in the recovery process.
"Nothing's gonna change my world." The song still rings true. Even if I had won that 241 million dollar lottery that just went off, I would still spend days thinking about all the people whose last experience of this world was another human being torturing/ murdering them. I would still find every bit of happiness to be a slightly confected thing, a thing unmindful of the larger picture. Some would say this is mental illness too, but I don't agree. After childhood, all happiness is compromised happiness. Empathy is an immune deficiency. Past childhood, empathy should be kicking in. Or you should get that checked.
I'm going to continue to write poetry and fiction and I'm going to try to address my mental illness in writing. The last thing is the most daunting to me because I don't want to do it in a glib manner. Nor do I want to try to exploit it. Maybe there's nothing there to say but dull facts and suffering. Maybe that's not what I'm meant to write.
Since there are tens of thousands of online poetry mags, I'm just going to submit to thousands of them. Sometimes I'll fall victim to my past bad behavior in how my writing is received, and sometimes I'll be rejected just because I sent shitty writing. That's not a problem. As long as editors are polite I won't out them. Only if someone writes hate. I won't write back to that person. I will simply share the hate via my blog so others know that magazine doesn't respond professionally. I'm thinking of the experience I had when I sent to a Massachusetts mag many years ago and the "editor" (I scruple to use this word) wrote "NO!" in letters about as large as a slice of bread on a page of poetry and sent the poems back that way. I suppose I should applaud his strength of feelings about what poetry he likes and dislikes. But I can't. Because he failed horribly as an editor as well as a human being in that instance. I should know. Been there, done that. I'm happy to say I've never liked a single poem by this poet and I've read a lot. And I can't not like great poetry, even if I'm upset with a poet. Or if I was upset with a poet. I no longer assign poets the importance they assign themselves. I do assign them importance but it's much more realistically framed in the bigger scheme of earth's problems and earth's achievements.
I remember someone posted something unflattering (okay, it was vile) about this same poet and he threatened to come find that writer and smash his skull on the concrete. Something like that. It was definitely an australopithecine response indicating he would kill the writer. Not figuratively kill him. Kill him. So I guess I should be happy I got away with just a "NO!" I picture his mind as having a mental crayon floating inside it. A purple Binney-Smith floating in the void like a scene from 2001. But then he is my brother. Mon frere, mon semblable. Maybe he's in recovery or addressing his issues with the idea that violence is a solution to life's problems.
My pet peeve back in the snail mail days used to be mags that made you spend the money on including S.A.S.E.s and then never even used those carefully metered envelopes to return your rejected copies. I always suspected they recycled the envelopes to get free postage. For all I know, they did. That's Before the Flood stuff, though. But I remember the funny repeat offenders who denied receiving the poems every time when you queried. (No, we didn't get your poems. But we did get your postage. Nyuk nyuk!)
I've looked at the horrible things I've done in this life. And unless you were in a serious romantic relationship with me (and only two humans have been and you're not one of them) the only thing horrible I ever did to you was to speak "words, idle words."
And no, I'm not referring to physical violence there either. Get your mind out of the gutter. And put it in the other gutter.
I'm sorry for my words if I ever offended you. I'd like say it wasn't my intent at the time but obviously it was. It's not my intent now. Too bad intent doesn't run backwards like regret.
I never killed anyone. I never raised my hand to anyone (other than the handful of fights everyone seems to get in before the age of say thirteen). There is no one I wish ill will on and no one I hate. I don't even hate political monsters. I hate their ideas and motivating force. But I don't hate the person. I don't believe in such people, but I don't hate them. If one is going to have a crazy omnipotent wish, why wish for anyone to die. Why not wish for them to simply have a change of heart or ideology? Okay, I'm a death penalty advocate so that's the exception. And that's about serial killers/torturers. Even there it's not a feeling of hate though. I wish I believed there were no people beyond redemption, but for now those people are. Maybe science will change that. It's fascinating to think that a serial killer might have his or her frontal lobe implanted with a sort of mental pacemaker that could knock up the neuronal fire speed in which such beings are purportedly deficient. I know some studies say that sociopathy doesn't have a neurochemical basis, that often there's no physical pathology, but I'm not sure. I suppose it could be cognitive, but many studies have shown those abnormalities in the frontal lobe. The speed is much slower there. It's believed this is why empathy is impossible for these people.
I suppose I could change my name and publish under a pseudonym. It's not ego that prevents me doing that. It's more a sense of being too old to hide from my own problems in that way. And it just strikes me as devious. I'll let devious to the specialists.
While my ex-friend with borderline personality disorder sometimes makes out much better than I generally do socially, in that she is good at socialization and knows how to work large groups of people at once, on the other hand I feel deeply sorry for her. Because her mental illness is even worse than mine. She can't speak to her parents, who will die soon. She can't make lasting relationships or keep a partner. And worse, she has no stable sense of identity. This must feel horrible. She must feel like one of the replicants in Blade Runner, constantly on the run. Constantly deleting all traces of herself online. I saw a while back she had authored a paranoid article about how to maintain online security. Ostensibly written for a business journal, this was a thinly-disguised assay of ways she could disappear. Like bipolar people, she would irrationally attack people and engage in strident mockery quite often. Because she has a high i.q. and knows how to "play the game" the damage from her meltdowns is generally limited. Oh, I'm sure she has many places where she's persona non grata too. She's attacked too many and too bitterly. When I played attack dog for her (still drinking then) and I felt horrible the next day for attacking this person online, she told me it was "fine." In other words, don't have a conscience if you are doing bad things for a friend. That's okay then.
No, it's not okay. You became friends with that person. I was the one seen as a rabid dog. Maybe that the was the plan. If so, I'm happy for you.
I'm not angry and writing about this person isn't venting. It's thinking. I'm thinking how did I think I had a friend in someone who really never cared about me other than as a tool. I know this is not the way all friendships are since I have and have had friendships that have never been anything like this. No exploitation was involved. Is it just with artists this occurs? I think one should avoid Faustian friends. Most "serious" artists are Faust. Some are little Fausts, some are bigger Fausts. But they all have a deal and a price set somewhere in there. Some higher. Some lower. Some will sell your soul for a single mag publication. Some will use you just to have gossip to trade. "Today, let's talk shit about _____" And then she runs to "_____" with the shit to trade it in for poetry groceries. It's too funny.
Oh well, at least my "friend" has art. She's quite good at what she does. I wish her well. I wish I could wish her well in the other sense. She actually often flip-flops back to the same friends she despises and humiliates behind their backs after some time has passed and they begin again like nothing happened. I even let her start me up again. Once anyway. I suppose a lot of poets will take any attention and any playmates they can get because she still does that grooming process of hers on a lot of people. I guess she's as normal as any other crazy animal on the planet. Maybe she'll escape her hell one day. I sure hope so.
I think there are thousands of worse things to be than a slightly narcissistic (hey--who else am I going to talk about if no one talks to me!) bipolar addict who is in recovery.
I'm not in physical pain. It's only mental/spiritual.
These are things for which to be seriously grateful. I'm too old not to be grateful for these things. I'm too young to die. I'm sorry to tell you this but people in my family tend to live to a very ripe age. So if I bother you, you might want to change the channel now and stop reading my damn blog. I realize I just cursed myself by saying that and will die tomorrow, so aren't you lucky for my hubris in saying that?
I hope I can live my life with even a tenth of the grace my mother has--and she had it even worse than I did with her severe paranoid schizophrenia. I remember her losing me downtown at night because she was talking to imaginary people. It's a miracle I'm alive after some of the situations I got in with her and I don't blame her for a single one of them. I just cry when I think of how lost she was then. She got the Frances Farmer treatment in the sixties and seventies. Everything but the frontal lobotomy. And some wanted to give her that. It's a sick scientific world.
And yet my mother never had the bitter tongue I had in my mental illness. Huh. I guess every psychological disorder is different. Every human is different.
Neither of my parents were ever capable of real cruelty. My Dad could be insensitive but it was his ignorance in some areas. My mom never. I think of them as examples more and more. I should have been studying them when I was eight. Not in my forties.
And typing those words now, I have to ask myself why would the world give a fuck about what any guy in his forties has to say if he doesn't have millions in the bank or hasn't successfully turned himself into a media meme by that age.
I haven't a fucking clue. Of course you don't give a fuck. I'd like to say I don't either but I'd be lying. It is my own private hell after all.
I always laugh when young people say "Why would I care about your problems. I don't even care about my own damn problems." It is a great line but I know it's rarely true. They do care about their problems. But it's like a koan. That line. Which is so Tumblrish. Because it's using humor to defuse the existential bomb thought. You know the one. "You're dying and you can't fix the world."
It also sucks that we can't rescue the dead. Yes, I focus on a lot of unsolvable problems. It's part of why I'm certifiable.
I guess I don't care anymore about such things as getting attention at a serious level. If I were rich, I would have destroyed myself with "pleasure" by now. If I were well-known, my paranoia would have destroyed me. Because I would probably not be able to resist looking back at glarers.
Fox and grapes? I don't know. I scored very, very well on my SATS back in the day and had invitations to attend virtually any college of my choice, including Ivy League. And yet I chose to hide in my parents' house for years. I was always agoraphobic. I just couldn't indulge it until compulsory schooling was over. In fact, I didn't even make it through compulsory schooling in a normal manner. My first serious breakdown was in junior high and then a much worse one in high school. The first time I came as close to death as I've ever been and the second time I lost touch with reality in a way I would sooner want to die than experience again. I was shunted to a "special school" at that point but it proved a blessing. They did nothing with me. They left me to my own devices and I read what I wanted and wrote what I wanted. Sometimes you do have to gnaw your leg off to get out of a trap.
I don't know if anybody really reads this blog other than sporadically. I think maybe three or four people read what I post here somewhat regularly. And I think it's quite possible that at least one or two of them only read this because they're either amused by how crazy I am, or because they dislike me.
I used to read the blogs of writers I temporarily disliked for a day or two or a week or whatever. Since I no longer dislike anyone and because I'm afraid of my own "poetry paranoia" I avoid virtually all poetry blogs. It's not that I wouldn't enjoy reading much of the poetry there. It's the poems I would read that I would think are about me. Nasty little poetses. My Inner Gollum will come out. There are a few I've still read and commented because they write about things other than settling petty poetry scores. Their poetry and criticism take the world seriously. The poetry's not a game for mugs school.
Probably I should only read things directly related to what I am writing at the time. I guess I've been going that direction. I read more science and art criticism online than I do poetry now. Ninety percent of what I read is probably fact checking things.
I'm not posting this to get comments saying "You poor neglected dear!" You needn't be so condescending.
I've just gotten to the point (due to the past created by me and my mental illness, my shadow) where apparently anything I write is only fodder for you funny cutthroats to masticate and spit.
If I'm going to be writing out my pathology, I might as well do it through literary avenues rather than a blog. So I'm going to create a closed blog (open only to its author) and just write there. Everyone writes in a void at first. I mostly felt as though I were writing in a void here most of the time, but I was always okay with that. I talk to hear myself talk. Everyone does this when they're alone. If you're going to judge me, judge me for choosing to be alone. Not for the talking in the void part, which is a human trait. I do choose to be alone. Lovely people make overtures to me and I try to keep the conversation going. But it's not ego or hubris that derails it. It's my fear of talking to people anymore. It's not that I don't care about them and their problems and their lives as complicated or more complicated than mine. I do. It's that I don't know how to do those things anymore. I lost touch with every single relative and many used to email me almost daily. In every case, it was my fault. I didn't alienate any of them. I just drifted away. Some of this was the addictions issues. But it's deeper than that.
I think I'm so terrified of other people that I can only approach them in either adulation or attack mode. This makes no sense. But it's often a bipolar trait. I know that sounds like the borderline "splitting" phenomenon but as with all bipolars it's a function of the mood disturbance. It never lasts longer than a few hours or a day. Unlike with the borderline personality people. The attacks are almost always the product of paranoia concomitant with mania, which causes the typed scream. The adulation is often a resident adulation, but it only manifests itself in the increased social "daring" of the mania phase.
It's terrible to be so out-of-synch with the normal gamesmanship of social interactions because of a mental illness like this. It's unfortunately terribly funny to a great number of you. Educated people. Everybody wants to be South Park. I admit it's more fun than being a boddhisatva.
Poets are generally liberals but they rarely are very liberal with their vanity and egos. There is no prodigality of kindness in the typical poetry ego.
Okay, one poet was suffering with cancer and poets did come together and contribute money and I was quite moved to see that happen.
There are those wonderful exceptions. And I've seen a poet go to Haiti to help out post-hurricane. Things like that. Go a long way in helping me believe I'm wrong.
So I'm generalizing. I'm drawing a picture based on most of my experience. One poet will no longer speak to me because the favorable review I wrote of his book was too brief. Another poet got money from me when I was very poor and later saw me as a social leper and told me never to speak to her again in this life. Another poet told me I would be blacklisted in all poetry magazines because of something I had written in an email. Once I questioned a poet's Amazon.com rank in drunken stupidity and she was only too glad to be rid of me for a lifetime though I apologized numerous times. She was thinning her Rolodex anyway, in preparation for poetry's blog-time (erstwhile "tea-time") fame.
You start to understand how say a Bukowski forms in this literary atmosphere. If he hadn't been such a terrible alcoholic, maybe he wouldn't have developed the world view he did. But I can see how such misanthropy can occur in the kingdom of the blind, poetry, where you encounter so many elevated Cyclops.
Such friendships were obviously not real friendships. Real friendships can weather a lot more than that. Not that they should have to, mind you.
I've talked way too long. I'll shut up now.
I guess I'll post links to mag publications here and maybe I'll share some Flickr art when I do it.
But text? I doubt it.
None of this is self-pity. I am merely trying to explain my seemingly inexplicable past. And trying to change my future.
My thinking will never be completely "normal" since I can't tolerate the bipolar medications. I can tolerate an anti-anxiety drug I take as needed. But I'm well ahead on that prescription now since I need it less and less. I will never again be a medical guinea pig for a drug like Depakote. That changed my body in permanent ways. I'm still not sure my immune disorder (S.I.G.M.) wasn't caused by Depakote. It definitely caused hematologic abnormalities that persisted for months. I practically lived in that emergency room that year. I think I'd kill myself before I'd go through that again.
Suicide is the least of my worries. Life is the worry. A suicide is like removing a staple. A loose leaf falls. Somebody has to pick it up. It only takes a moment. For both parties.
I need raspberry tea. I need a blank blog. I need to go bother some editors who probably already hate me with poems and other writing.
Time to try a new hole in my head.
The one I make myself and not the ones you wonderful handful of people (you know who you are!) made with your little blowguns.