Monday, November 21, 2005

I've Been Downhearted Baby

In states that use lethal injection, prisons use potassium chloride to stop the heart. Potassium is necessary to keep muscles functioning, but too much interrupts the heart, causing cardiac arrest. My general practioner told me that last bit of information before I found out my blood potassium level this month, which was unexpectedly and dangerously high. So high that I'm on additional medication that binds with potassium in my kidneys to flush it out, that my kidney function has decreased again, and that I've been eating celery, rice and apples and avoiding broccoli, cheese and potatoes (boy do I miss potatoes). And if diet and drug therapy doesn't work, then, well, I'd rather not like to think about it.

I've been more pensive in this last month. The girl's gone, my health is shot to hell, depending on the health situation, the money might be gone and I might have to go back to a job that is a soul sucking vortex of misery. Oh yeah, and my Xbox finally died. If this happened to a fictional character, this would be so over the top that you would be unable to suspend your disbelief.

If you had an inclination toward a higher authority, or a belief that this existence is but a single aspect fo a greater existence, then I guess it would be during times like these that you would find religion. I'm intelligent, creative, somewhat funny, and kind to animals, so there has to be a purpose for all these bad things happening--enlightment perhaps, finding God, etc. Otherwise, life would be such a waste, chaos, wouldn't it?

But even after all this navel gazing, I've found that religion is not my path. The universe is too complex and too quirky to be designed by a single entity (I know it sounds counter-intuitive to you intelligent design folks--gosh if it is complex it must be designed. But engineers strive to design things as simple as possible while providing the most function, not as complex as possible. If an engineering student designed the eye, where the image is turned upside down by the time it reaches the retina and our mind is meant translate that upside down image as rightside up, that student would be flunked).

Unfortunately, I still don't know what the deal with life is. I mean, theoretically, I could literallyhave a heart attack at any time, and thus each day could be my last. And yet I've had no insights. The only event that has resonated with me since I found out about this high potassium is that dream where I saw the Milky Way.

In the meantime, I had to take a break from writing (not only do I have dangerously high blood potassium, I have a vicious cold I'm only beginning to get over). Things seem stuck.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Soft Dangerous Shores

Dreams have a geography. If you remember enough dreams, you'll see commonality of places in the ever shifting landscapes and emotions. You can become a cartographer of your subconscious mind.

My dreams are full of dense cities comprised of high rises that create narrow but deep concrete canyons. These cities are never the same, but they are always near the water--wide rivers, the ocean--and are full of tall bridges. In the waking life, driving over bridges make me nervous. The idea that only pylons and wires are keeping me in the air, hundreds of feet above water. In dreams, when I'm in these dense cities, I think nothing of crossing bridges. When I'm not crossing bridges, I'm looking at the water, deep, blue, unfathomable. I'm thinking of those tall, dense buildings. I don't live in these cities. I am travelling.

When I'm not in these cities, I'm travelling along long, rolling green hills, or through dusty stretches of two lane highways in the desert. Sometimes, those green hills lead to suburbia, where I'm back in a old neighborhood, getting lost in developments I thought I knew. Lately, instead of driving when I have travel dreams, I've dreamt of airports, of waiting in large planes the size of cathedrals.

When I dream of a residence, it's always a dorm. I'm trying to figure out how to arrange my belongings, to get a sense of place in a room shared with other students. The dorm rooms are generally large, larger than the rooms I've lived in, always triples. The dorm rooms are also old, the floors warped with use and the lighting a butter yellow.

My dreams are populated with strangers for the most part, people I don't know. That doesn't bother me at all. When I do see people I know, friends, parents, the dreams are fraught with emotions I can't control.

Two weeks ago, I had a dream that shook me. It was unlike any dream I've ever had. I can't remember how I got to it, but I dreamt that it was a pitch black night (which if you know anything about Jungian theory, is a dream of low points, a dream at your lowest).

I looked up in the sky, and suddenly, I was looking at a band of stars and celestial gas, thin at the edges and bulging in the middle. It filled my field of view. The image was crisp and defined. This wasn't the hazy lights that comprise the Milky Way when you go up to the mountains. It was if I were in space myself, far away enough in that inky blackness that I was able to see the entire galaxy on its edge. To be able to see the galaxy so clearly was to be billions of miles from anything. I heard a voice say, "This is what the Milky Way really looks." I was both awed and terrified.

"Every angel is terrifying." Rainer Marie Rilke

Black Milk

You can't choose who you fall for, or when. I think we can all agree on that. You don't wake up one day and say, "Hey, I think I'll fall for the cute coworker," and you certainly don't say, "Gosh, that person to whom I have no attraction, with whom all my friends think I'd make a great couple, I think I'll decide to have a crush on her after all." The heart wants what it wants.

So if you can't choose who you fall for or when, then you can't choose when to end your feelings, can you? Which means you can't simply choose to move on. Either you do or you don't, there is no choice. You can choose to distract yourself, play a shell game with your heart and mind. But if you move on, it's not because you have chosen to move on. It's because your heart has found something new.

I guess the question is, what if there's nothing left in your heart to give? If you can't choose when to fall in or out of love, then you can't choose whether you have anything left to give, can you. I've been thinking about this lately.

Don't get me wrong. I still laugh at funny things. I still write and read and talk with friends. I think about winning the lottery. I'm not about to do anything stupid (well, except perhaps the lottery thing).

But I feel empty. On second thought, empty isn't the right word. Empty assumes there is a vessel left to fill. Empty assumes that once I meet the right person, or accept religion or drugs or great sex into my life, all will be well. Instead, it's not a matter of me accepting anything. It's a matter of me giving anything. I have nothing to give back, no thrill. I have nothing to give but clever words and a warm body at night, but nothing beyond that.

And yet I'm still breathing.

I guess it really is easy to say, "Snap out of it." I'm sure if I had to listen to myself, I'd tried to cajole me out of this, then get pissed when I hadn't changed, and leave in disgust to get a cheeseburger.

Sometimes I think about going back on the Lexapro again. But Lexapro doesn't make your mind all sunshine and lollipops. All antidepressants do is take the extreme lows and extreme highs away, so you can live with a dull (but livable) medium. And the thing is, I'm not feeling extreme lows (though I shake with anger once in a while, I'm inconsolable at certain memories--but those are few now). Instead, I feel nothing. A lack of affect to put it in clinical terms.

I know there are people living in misery, that I should be thankful for what I have. But for comparisons to be successful, you need that sense of, well, you need feeling. I'm sorry I can't muster it.

So where do I go from here? I really don't know.

"You say you want to be with me? I've got nothing to give." -- "Karmacoma" by Tricky