Holy Night, Automatic Writing

Rainy night. The day began, after another rough night, although not as bad as some recently where all I want to do is not wake up, with a documentary on the luminous Paris before WWI and then in a post-war heyday of art and effusive creative forces from dada-ism to Andre Breton’s “automatic writing,” which takes me back to a Christmas present years ago about that same subject.

These were the poets and painters who collaborated with the dancers and composers in the “Ballet Russe,” these were the days where ideas were passed around like what today passes for communication, MMS or some kind of fractured looking down lost in thought on the electronic communicator device.

We have lost our way. There is no “Shakespeare on the Left Bank” bookstore owner to cherish Joyce for writing Ulysses. There is no cafe where the new spirit of creative rejoicing takes place, not that I know of. We’ve become about money and what makes money passes for quality and we believe what we are told and if you are suffering, well, then it’s your own fault.

But what was interesting to me was the soft analysis of why the Americans who had fought in the war and returned to their small towns ran off to Paris because their small towns were too confining and the Prohibition was in place — the only place you could drink was a Speakeasy, but not in Paris.

So, many artists and most writers, being prone to intoxication, the deadening of their over-stuffed emotional state, packed up their pens and paper and moved to the land of Gertrude Stein who pissed off Hemingway by refusing to give him a good review. And that, was that.

I always find myself yearning for those days I never lived, the sense of camaraderie amongst creative minds. The painters craving the poets. But I have never found that. The visual artists I know and have known are mostly narcissists and I don’t know any real writers, and if I did, they probably wouldn’t be good conversationalists. So I picked this useless realm of ‘cinema’ — so revolutionary and exciting it was with the Dada movement making fun of spinning hats, a metaphor for the coming chaos? — dumbed down to the televised 44 minutes of crap for people to forget by next week, all except “I Love Lucy,” the only show never to go off the air, so what does that tell you, the staying power of a dysfunctional relationship that ended up in raging alcoholism.

Which brings us back to Hemingway and F. Scott showing up drunk at a door in the middle of the night — all that ‘avant garde’ stuff was pretty tame compared to my longtime hero Baudelaire and the drunken musings of Miller.

But it’s really the sense of writers and creative people supporting one another instead of trouncing you — you can get enough of that from the rest of the world, shouldn’t also get from your peers, but, indeed I have experienced more of that than any kind of mentoring or support. Indeed, the starving artist who dreams of noose, jump or getting hands on some magic arsenic potion that will just make it so I don’t wake up into this nightmare life I never wanted where I can’t find work, much less support myself, I get berated by my family who never understood me and pretty much am an after-thought for most of the rest…oh, I know you are busy with your own families and substance, but I do wonder about all the words that pass between us…I mean mine. But I have so few to share with that it matters to me.

My life has not ‘ended up’ the way I wanted by any means. I have no children, and I really wanted to be a mother to some little ones, especially when I met the person I thought would be such a good father. Instead, we seem to just barely hold on from year to year, the wasted days, the determination to count your measly blessings, the desperate attempts to hold off the loan sharks and negotiate terms with slum lords and just the impossibility of finding support, anywhere, with any consistency.

So, this was automatic. This should be edited. This reveals too much. I want to work in a creative environment. I want to make enough of a living that I can actually get a car again, maybe, so I can pay people back, so I can pay off my debts. I want to be boring now I guess, in my living, so my writing and whatever realm the images take can be the place where the craziness goes, instead of my life being the insanity.

It’s taken me this long to overcome certain scars, and it’s going to take the rest of my life to sort out some of the others. The trauma runs deep. I don’t talk about it because most people don’t understand, either blame the victim (yes, a four-year old can be responsible for being sexually abused, sure, thanks for that, a-hole) or just can’t even hear you…they don’t want to hear it. So it’s better just to shut up and bury it, but I’ve been doing that all my life and it ends in the fetal position in a corner.

I, the writer, don’t even want to write a suicide note. It seems so maudlin and overly grandiose. If you’re going to write the note, you have time to change your mind. Simply, I can’t survive, that’s about it. Can’t make enough money to live and life has become about money. Or so it seems.

So I am trying to hold on although if I don’t wake up, all those who do love me, don’t be sad, know that I asked to go away, it wasn’t working out anyway…

A.M. Pages

From I don’t know when found in a little notebook, oh how little things change:

“…I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was anxious most of the time. It’s bieng in a city. And being most afraid of losing your way.”

“The Story Reads like a Prayer”

The journey has been both incredible and unbearable, a desperate grasping after grace and wholeness. These facts don’t tell you about the pain of trying to adjust to different cultures, of life losses that were almost too staggering to bear, of walking down railroad tracks at night in the middle of winter screaming into the windstorm, of living with an underlying volume of shame so deep and loud that it constantly threatened any sense of sanity, of dreams not only destroyed but obliterated by personal failure, of hope so tenuous that only the trigger seemed to offer a solution. These few facts also do not speak to the potency of love and forgiveness, the arduous road of reconciliation, the surprises of grace and community, of transformational healing and the unexpected emergence of joy. Facts alone might help you understand where a person has been, but often hide who they actually are.