UNPEELING THE iONION

The psyche as an onion... At the moment, my life is consumed by confusion, fear and therapy. It’s an old and over-used metaphor, but sometimes one must look at his/her life as onion. In therapy — especially the type of three days a week’s worth which I am in — one must rely upon metaphor to grasp an understanding so that the mind can get a grasp around the core problem. At the core is the key to the way toward integration.

So, I sit with my therapist and think of a conference table at which to negotiate and make peace with parts of myself unknown to me. Fragments of me that have long ago split away from the person I know as myself. We are unpeeling the layers of my life — my onion. Some of the layers I know. Oddly, the most soured/bitter layers I already know. But, other skins are layers that have been long hidden somewhere in my psyche.

Sitting on a beautiful beach this morning with my toes pushing through sand, sun pouring down upon my head, cold ocean breeze messing my hair, cigarette in one hand and a coffee in the other. I watch the waves as the surfers head to catch some magic waves. I begin to think of this onion that is my life and all these layers I’ve never really known that are slowly returning to my memory. Suddenly odd choices I’ve made in my life start to take on a sense I had long since tried to understand.

The sting or stench of the smell can be unbearable as we peel. Bringing tears of regret and fear to my eyes. I do my best to toughen up and get a grip to face the truth that is my life. I am tough. I can roll with the toughest of them and, if required, can usually take them down if they push me against the wall. But, I grow so very weary.

Pull back this layer and I suddenly remember experiences and misadventures that seem so alien that it doesn’t seem possible that these memories are mine. Here is a layer that reveals a long lost trip to New York with a black dude who was into things far twisted from my own interest that I was in way over my head. Another very thin layer and parts of a debauched night spent in a hot apartment in Harlem. Another layer and I discover a trip with a doctor to Fire Island. Is that me auditioning for a career in porn? pornAnother several layers and prostitution reveals itself. $50 for this and that. Closeted lawyers, law students, MIT professor, an old man, a married “straight” doctor from New Hampshire, some sad sack editor and some guy named Julio who gives the smell of meth on his breath. Here is another layer. I’m walking down an alley with some big scary looking guy. I think we’re behind some educational institute annex on Newbury Street. I’m thinking to myself, “Is the money worth it? Is he a cop? Am I going to get killed? Arrested” …As I try to push this slice of skin to the side I find myself wondering if maybe that is what “I” wanted.

As I think about my first physical in San Francisco I remember being so very relieved that I was totally STD free. And, yet I can remember wondering why I was worried about these tests. As I move the bits of onion to a tuberware container for further examination at a later date, I realize that there must have been some “aspect” of “me” urging me to be tested just to be sure I was OK.

She leans forward and tells me we are doing hard work. …unpeeling such a complex onion. She encourages me by letting me know that we are moving forward at a very good pace and she feels quite positive that I will come through this fine. That this is the hardest part of my journey and that it will be quite difficult as we work it all out and try to understand “me” and the things that “me” wants that “I” don’t understand or know. In the meantime, life gets turned upside down for me and my significant other (the most important “aspect” of my life) — I try to get a grip and be tough. I try to find reasons to laugh and smile.

I escape into movies and music quite a bit. I lean on FaceBook and sometimes to find the level of concentration required to read a book — but that can be a stretch. I find it hard and almost impossible to be reliable. …to be on time. …to be in a place where there might be more than one or two people. Some people who are strangers to “me” at the beach seem to know “me” — I go along with it best I can. I pretend and act like I know them. I try to approach it like I’m some private investigator in disguise trying to resolve the unraveling mystery of the onion that is my life. I’m trying so hard, but sometimes I really have to fight not to give it up.

This onion stinks. This life is a hard one. But, then, who ever said it would be easy? Like PE coaches love to tell their students, “Look kid, life isn’t fair. Give me ten.”

…I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly..

Joni Mitchell
One of the greatest musical works of our time is also the most harsh... …I find myself leaning heavily on the likes of Ms. Mitchell, Tori Amos, Barbra Streisand, Tom Waits, Jennifer Warnes and Leonard Cohen lately. Then again, I always have. When you’re feeling down and out who can resist a defiant cover of “Cry Me A River” or Captain Tom Waits invitation to the blues and a drive in an ol’ 55? Let me tell you – no one can.

And, I wait til 3pm to pick up my peeling knife to work closer to the core of Me.

April 7, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

WHO’S AFRAID OF JOYCE CAROL OATES?

Anyone who reads or knows me knows that my life has been a bit off as late. Things have been quite difficult and confusing, actually. But, as always, I keep pushing forward. I figure there must be a point to this journey I call my life. So, one must simply carry on. I love that old Debbie Harry song, “Forced to Live” — the chorus of which is “Keep moving!” …I just keep moving forward, but it ain’t easy.

A few months ago I made the mistake of attempting to re-read an old Joyce Carol Oates novel. I couldn’t seem to concentrate or focus enough to follow what I was reading. It happens lately. Anyway, I got enough of it to remember how quietly powerful her writing is — and creepy. Creepy in a way that sneaks into your psyche and within your blood. So, I shook the words of Ms. Oates off myself and pushed them out of my mind as best I could.

Interestingly, about a week later I was sitting at the beach washing the waves. Smoking a cigarette and sipping my coffee I could sense that someone was watching me. I turned and noticed a big guy with long heavy metal-like hair sitting in a rusty carpenter’s truck. I didn’t look at him long, but it struck me that his eyebrows were particularly dark and bushy. It only took a second to notice that his eyes were trying to lock into mine.

Creepy.

So, I slipped off the sea wall and jumped into the car and drove away. I cranked up the iPod and calmed to the melodies of Joni Mitchell. As I approached a yellow light I slowed down and the rusty carpenter’s truck pulled up beside me — then revved up past me and took the place in front of me at the red light. I couldn’t help but watch. He was looking at me in his rear view mirror. The creepy dude’s cell phone must have rang because he quickly started chatting away on phone. As he talked, he began to an odd thing. It wasn’t done in a discreet or ashamed way. He did it as if it was not strange at all. He did it as if it was the most normal and natural thing any guy might do in his truck.

The creepy dude pulled off his hair. …A wig. He then rubbed his bald head vigorously. And, then, he pulled off a pair of fake eyebrows and mustache — and, then, he wiped his lips with his arm — revealing pale pink lips instead of deep red ones. He glanced at me in his rear view mirror, smiled and peeled off when the light turned red.


Now, there is something rather comical about all of this. But, to me, it is just a few slips beyond creepy.

…where am I going and where have I been?

February 8, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 7 comments.