Still Standing. Okay, Maybe Leaning.
As some of my Twitter followers have survived by now, I have been away from regular internet access until yesterday morning. In fact until yesterday morning, I was rarely at my own home for about four days.
On Friday evening, it would seem that a meteorological phenomena, (the name of which I heard once, and cannot for the life of me recall), swept into Maryland, as well as many other states, causing great havoc, damage, and fear. It was like a huge chain of severe dangerous thunderstorms linked arms and clothes-lined the northeast.
The result was devastation, on many levels. My home was without power for four days, as I said. Some are still without power. All over the place there were downed trees and power lines. The best tree where we live was felled. The solid, 100 year old barn on the farm I am house sitting would have looked no worse after these storms had someone blown up a keg of TNT inside of it. (We are still finding shards of it all over the property. )
Making it worse, I was caught off guard. In fact many people in my area were caught off guard, because it would seem the weather professionals were caught off guard a bit. Right before the power went out here, the last thing we heard was that storms were weakening.
Were they ever wrong.
It was said that this enormous but tight chain of storms might as well have been a mid-level hurricane by the time it was all over. I can attest to that comparison, because although I have never been in a hurricane, I can’t imagine it being much more fierce than what I went through on Friday night. To make it worse, I live, (at the moment) in a mobile home with my mother.
Time to be candid; I panicked. Not uneasy, not worried, but panicked. I have always hated storms, and in particular since I have lived in this tiny house. You see, hear, and feel every damn last aspect of them. House shakes. The field in which it sits converts into a basin of hell in the worst ones. And the sound…
So yes, panic. Some of it due to the conditions I have described above, and some due to my natural, and seemingly unshakable belief deep down that something awful will happen to me and mine, thus preventing me from ever truly living out my life, let alone enjoying it. The seeds of such occasional despair and doom were planted I know not when and by parties unknown. I know only that the result has been a tenacious spiritual weed garden. Like all weeds there are entire seasons during which they wither and do not grow. But then there are entire season where they infest and choke every flower in sight.
I thought for about an hour on Friday that I was going to die in these damn storms. My intellect, of which I have been proud my entire life ceased to be of any use. I was frozen. Paralyzed. Visions of what it might feel like to die in gale force winds amid hail and lightening battling in what was left if my mind with images of things/people I love most and visions of those things I have been unable to accomplish in life. Things on the deepest level of my consciousness I most long for, but for whatever reason have been unable to realize.
Ironic. One could say I have rarely been both less like myself and more like myself at the exact same time.
The storms passed, eventually, as storms do. I lived. This house survived. (Though these days I consider that more a matter of chance than anything else, and I want to move before next summer. To anywhere that has a basement, and some sense of solid structure. I think Mom also desires this now.) But the nightmarish quality did not move out to sea along with this horrendous storm chain.
The following morning, Saturday, my mother and I made our to the house we are watching for a month. (After being nearly killed by people on the highway who actually thought it was funny to cut us off and run us off of the road.) The vision of the jagged, splintered, pile of wood with the gaping hole that took up two thirds of what used to be the barn looming in the distance in front of us as we rolled down the long gravel driveway is one I will not soon forget. Ditto for the pieces of debris from same, some as big as the car I was driving, laying scattered all over the property, sometimes half a mile away from the source.
The house, somehow, was not damaged. Neither were the bales of hay sitting 20 feet away from the barn.
The weather as we surveyed the damaged was as it had been for days and as it has been each of the five days since: stifling hot. But it was sunny and clear. So it was at least a pretty day to look at as we counted barn doors, metal roof sections crumpled like paper in a trash can, huge planks embedded into the ground, and other detritus that was once this family’s barn. All the while, there was an odd silence over the property. Not that the farm is usually noisy, but it was as though it were knocked unconscious, and for all I know it was. Between that deadened soundscape that seemed to swallow up the very words my mother and I spoke, the debris and the lack of power, it had the feeling of an apocalypse scene.
So all of Saturday was unnerving, even though there was no storm activity. Thankfully power was restored to the farmhouse within 30 minutes of our arrival, and we stayed there for four nights until our own power was restored.
But this involved breaking my routine, which of course I hate. I don’t have a 9 to 5 right now, as I try to build this damn freelancing thing. So it’s me, me, and me at “work” each day. And with no internet at the farm and no power at home this made much of what I do during a normal day impossible.
Then there are the orientation problems; the TV compared to where the beds are, where one can go for quiet, the places one can take a walk, etc. Little of what I required to feel grounded was available for those four days. I got along okay, but I had this sense of a borrowed life, or of being half in this dimension and half in another. Only rehearsing my lines for Richard III and going to my writers salon on Monday give me anything resembling a sense of normalcy.
I could have been doing more to attempt some degree of my regular routine, I guess. I had my notebooks into which I could have been outlining blog posts or ideas for my fiction. I could have gotten up at dawn in time to get to the library “in town”, about 30 minutes away, to see if I could pick up their wi-fi. I suppose any number of a dozen actions could have been taken that were not. Because right or wrong, logical or not I couldn’t get it together to do most of what I normally do. By the second day this was not out of fear, but out of, as I said, disorientation.
Yet between the strange setting, the disconnect from the world of information, (especially at night), the lingering creepiness of sleeping about 50 yards from a structure that had exploded only days before, and the legitimate fear of my own demise on Friday evening, an embryonic concept entered into my consciousness. It had several parts.
Part One: Get on with it. I’ m probably going to fail in most of what I attempt to do in life, because, to be frank about it, that has been the case so far. I say that sans bitterness. It is just a statistical truth. But whereas I am often obsessed with that truth, after the last few days I almost feel the need to go out and fail spectacularly, because one day I could be swept away in a fucking storm, literally or symbolically.
When one is facing the biggest chain of storms in twenty years knocking quite literally at the front door, and visions of theatre are anywhere near one’s conscious thoughts, that probably means something. Get on with it, or get the hell out. Even if the rest of the world thinks you are eccentric or even insane. Because hell, you may be. Yet should it matter? To me, it almost doesn’t anymore. Whether I am crazy, or merely percieved as such, it is almost a liberating notion.
Part Two: Do a little of something you are about, wherever you are. Whatever your circumstances. No power, no internet, living like a refugee for a week? Take some small aspects of what you are and what you do with you. I don’t mean your career, I mean the things you create or engage in to feel human.
Like I said, I could and should have been outlining future writings down on paper when I had no internet or computer. I didn’t. That would have helped ground me, as reviewing my lines for the play eventually did. (As well as reciting other random Shakespeare at the top of my lungs into the echoing spaces of the old farm house. Cool acoustic effect, actually.) If you’re an artist stuck somewhere without your easel and all else fails, draw in the dirt with a stick until things are back to “normal”. Always have a football in the trunk of your car if you play. Take a sad song and make it better.
For many of you I am sure these concepts are nothing new. They are certainly not new to the world at large. And to tell you the truth they are not new to me. I have been aware of such realities, advice, and concepts for quite some time now. It just tends to get lost in the garden of weeds at times. Different things have reminded me of such things over my life, but none so unnerving as this week.
Will i be able to hold on to this approach longer this time? Will it take? After such a scary, disorienting, depressing and chaotic week will i finally be able to fully implement that about which I write in this post? I won’t claim to know for certain. I can assure you however that both the brevity and the frequent absurdity of our lives has been brought more to the forefront of my mind in the last few days than it has been in quite sometime. I gather certain things will even out as I return to the mundane of the everyday. (As much as I ever have possessed “everyday”.) Yet my instinct tells me that a bigger portion of my time will now be spent embracing my own insanity in an insane world.
I suppose you will have to stay tuned to see just what exactly the results of that will be. As will I.