Sleep has not been kind to me. I'm averaging five hours a night. Not bad, I suppose, but considering my body has been alcohol-free for three months, surprising. It's a strange time. Grey mornings in Los Angeles give way to hazy, hot sunshine. The ferocious summer heat hasn't started yet. We have August to look forward to. The bed feels big and empty. Lack of sleep makes me punchy -- sometimes in a good way. If I were a comedian, some of my best material would come out of this period. I keep writing strategic lines in my notebook (which is entitled "Lovers I Had And Liked" because it amuses me) with the hope that one day it will be a big smash hit of a tragi-romantic comedy. "Write that one down" says June, after we snort into cups of tea in her garden, admiring the space where the ficus once was, considering our options. "That's a good one." And there is a lot of humor in the situation. I love finding it. I'd make it up if it weren't there. I've got therapy coming out of my eyeballs.
My stalker, God bless her, has every call answered because her number comes up Blocked just like the shrink. Finally, after years of dealing with crazy, phone call after phone call from a woman I do not know although she says she knows me, I said, plainly yesterday "Fuck off. Stopping fucking call me. I have enough problems of my own." Ever the energizer bunny, she calls back and leaves a message that says "Problems, who said anything about problems"? and I laughed. Not unkindly.
Jack, my darling friend on the east coast, has suggested hiring out. "It's like buying shoes" he explains patiently. "If you buy custom, you get exactly what you want." I had to pull over on the 170 so that I could snort with laughter at this explanation.
The girls rally and lobby and texts and emails and phone calls light up my phone all day long. There are offers of dinners and movies and chats and my new smoking habit is tolerated by everyone. They tell me to eat (I do eat, just not quite as much) and to keep myself busy and I try to ride every morning at 7.30, vigorously, just to shake all the stale little neurons around in my head, to make my blood pump strong through my veins. I walk and run and sometimes, if I feel like it, dance about in the kitchen like Pan's People. I offer up games of Scrabble, nights of Appalachian Spring at the Bowl, picnics at the beach, quiet time writing with girlfriends, snuggles in bed with Minky watching bad movies (and good ones: Shopgirl). There is tea, lots of it. There are the dogs, three spotted rocks. There are the children. There is my mother, stalwart and kind and practical. There are all the women in my life who just rock up every day. It's pretty amazing.
Out of pain comes something divine. I suppose the medieval Catholic flagellants discovered that a while back. Vision is clearer, the world is brighter, poems have more meaning, music is sweeter, friendship is not taken for granted. There are books to read: Loving James Salter's "Light Years" may have been prescient. Or, try Linda Grant's "We Had It So Good" for a brilliant portrait of a marriage. And of course Siri Hustvedt's "Summer Without Men" brings it all home.
And we show up in the therapist's office and try to tolerate the pain as the other speaks his truth. And we look at each other shyly afterwards, wondering who'll wink first, or attempt some wry humor. There is the awkward hug -- the indication that we both want it to get better, and the hating yourself afterwards. There is the drive home and the blaring music to block it all out. Sample playlist:
"Sympathy for the Devil" -- Rolling Stones
"I Want To Break Free" -- Queen
"Jesus, etc." -- Wilco
"All I Want" -- Joni Mitchell
"Ray of Light" -- Madonna
"Limit to your Love" -- Feist
"Green Eyes" -- Cold Play
"Save It For Later" -- English Beat (The Beat)
"White Flag" -- Dido
"Save Me" -- Aimee Mann
"Beyond Belief" -- Elvis Costello
"Man Out of Time" -- Elvis Costello
"Someday" -- The Strokes
"Listening Wind" -- Talking Heads
"Into the Mystic" -- Van Morrison
"Stop Your Sobbing" -- Pretenders
"Rolling In The Deep" -- Adele (played on repeat)
"Sigh No More" -- Mumford & Sons
"Sowing The Seeds of Love" -- Tears for Fears
"Who's Gonna Save My Soul" -- Gnarls Barkley
"River" -- Joni Mitchell
So you see, dearest reader, I am all over the shop.
Thank you for the notes of support. I'm filled with gratitude. And Mary Karr. Thank you Mary Karr. I'm taking your advice.
Over and out.