Prison to a bird

These are satellite pictures of the two places I was locked up.

The Federal Detention Center in Engelwood is where I was held pre-trial.  Since my time was so short, I ended up doing most of it here.  What is there to say about it?

It wasn’t that bad.  Or at all good.  I saw a young man get mouth-raped here.  I played a lot of chess.  Worked on my novel.  Slept.

And this is the Federal Correctional Institution in Herlong, CA, where I finished out my time.  What is there to say about this place?

It’s no joke.  It’s the kind of place where you can catch a very serious beat-down for reasons so trivial you’d never think of them.  They had a race-riot while I was there.  I met a lot of guys with decade sentences.  Some of them were really bad people.  Most of them weren’t.  I was miserable.  I did 2 months in the hole there.

Memory of love

From prison blog   aug 4 2010

… I was lying up thinking, abstractedly now, about Love.

There are people who you love forever, I know.  People for whom the love you feel, no matter how much time passes, will always equal your whole capacity for love.  I’ve known this since I first loved a girl and had to leave her (at 17, for college).  Love can’t end or even diminish just because people part ways.

I have always known that.  Then again, I have always been young and never wise.  Perhaps it doesn’t matter that I have a handful of exes whom I can’t get over.

More recently (years already?  It feels like yesterday) I left someone else, and did a poor job of it, telling her as I walked away that our love was forever.  This someone told me No.  She said that life goes on, and life would draw us apart, and that without the daily things, the body in the room, the dancing, the fucking, the cooking and eating, the voice saying something new, without those things it would slowly become the case that we used to be in love.  Or perhaps she didn’t say all that.  But she said, “Please cling to me, for there are no do-overs, and what passes is past.”

And so, I’m wondering if I might have been wrong and she right.  Is all that love I seem to feel still love, after all?

Perhaps I have been misled all this time by a quirk of my particular memory?  It seems that my memory for emotions is very strong, where my memory for the details of my own autobiography is  faded lace.  Old hurts and humiliations, old joy and old love, seem to grip me.  But other types of experience I recall with difficulty.  Have I mistaken memories of love for a continuing experience?  And is a vivid memory of a feeling different, in fact, than the feeling in its creative, vital moment?

I see now that she was right, at least about this:  There are no do-overs.  What passes is past.  And life begins to feel very short.

I might ask Why every night and never get past Because.  I hear my own voice saying that one one word.  “Because.”  And I freeze, intent, focused on the next word, which never comes.  I wish I had understood you when you explained it.  Love,

A 2-year pattern

Since I’m awake, I thought I’d write about this discovery.

I’ve been reading old journals.  This is something I wrote in July 2005:

humours

I’ve been having rather dramatic mood swings lately. I wake up in the morning a raging egomaniac, convinced that a dozen easy paths to fame and riches lie open to me. In the afternoon I am steeped in self-recrimination, preoccupied by some idiotic thing I said five years ago. In the evening I am inspired to dip my feet in the creek and sit for an hour, mesmerized and moved to tears by the beauty of the moonlight on the water. At night I lie awake, breathing the unloving darkness in gasps, bone-lonesome ’til I sleep.

That was 2005.  There were a lot of journal entries from that fall.

Of course, I didn’t recognize this as mania at the time.  I didn’t know I was bipolar until 2007, when I had my first full-blown manic episode.  An episode that resulted in many things, including the dramatic explosion of my life in New York.

Then go back to fall/winter of 2003/4, and I find most of the poetry I ever wrote.  Which is significant because hypertextuality is a hallmark symptom of mania.  Rhyming, punning, and spontaneously beginning to write poetry,  even for people who have had no previous interest in poetry, are all quite typical symptoms of a manic episode.

Fast-forward to 2009, and I find my second full-manic episode, which, though less dramatic overall, led to the commission of a crime thatlanded me in prison for a year.

So my discovery is this:  2003, 2005, 2007, 2009.  It seems to happen every other year, towards the fall.

Sleep

It’s 3:00 am.  I couldn’t sleep, and then I slept for two hours, and now I’m wide awake again.  This is just what has become normal for me over the past couple of months.  For weeks I haven’t slept more than five hours in a night.  Except for last night, having a cold and after a long day’s traveling, I was finally able to sleep a full nine.  Which I’m paying for tonight, it seems.

Sleep irregularity is one of the hallmark symptoms of bipolar disorder.  Insomnia, hypersomnia.  In the past few years I’ve had more and more extreme troubles with sleep.  And I hate it.  Hate it.

Sleeping too much, too little, odd hours.  Feeling tired all the time.  Wanting sleep, craving it, worrying about it.  Being the only one awake at 4 in the morning day after day.  I hate it.

If I could just sleep 8 hours every night, I think that, more than anything else, would signal that I’m alright.

head:

I’ve grass stains on my shirt
We squirmed like worms in dirt
I love the way you curled
Just like a flag unfurled
Snapping in the wind
To call the troops back in
But before I marched back North
I drank my dollar’s worth
You drew me in like breath
Your little gasping death
I like it in the South
I love you with my mouthIt’s 2:00 am.  I slept for two hours, and now I’m wide awake.  This is just an extreme version of what has become normal for me over the past few weeks.  In two weeks I haven’t slept more than five hours in a night.  Except for last night, after a few beers, I was finally able to sleep a full nine.  Which I’m paying for tonight, it seems.

Sleep irregularity is one of the hallmark symptoms of bipolar disorder.  Insomnia, hypersomnia.  In the past few years I’ve had more and more extreme troubles with sleep.  And I hate it.  Hate it.

Sleeping too much, too little, odd hours.  Feeling tired all the time.  Wanting sleep, craving it, worrying about it.  Being the only one awake at 4 in the morning day after day.  I hate it.

If I could just sleep 8 hours every night, I think that, more than anything else, would signal that I’m alright.

A good day

Our last night in Park City.  I’m sitting up alone in the kitchen of the suite my parents rented for this trip.  A little sad.  A little happy.  A lot tired.

Rue had a bit of a meltdown today.

He is a rule-abiding sort.  If he weren’t my son, and a seven-year-old, he’d be kind of a ninny.  He doesn’t like to skip school, even with permission from the grown-ups, because it’s a rule.  He Does Not Like Breaking Rules.

Combine that with the fact that he’s a real people-pleaser who puts anyone’s desires ahead of his own.  He is loath to make any decision without first being absolutely sure that it’s the decision that will best please all other parties.

Combine that with my mother, desperately trying to manipulate him into skipping school to spend more time with us.

Add further the fact that he Had to go to school today, for testing, and because another day off would put him on the district’s educational-neglect list, which would look pretty bad for his mother, the assistant principal of his school.

Torn between two of his most basic tendencies (rule-abiding and people-pleasing), and the result was that he had something like a panic-attack.

Poor little guy.

He finished the school day.  Kept to the rules.  And it seemed that he was okay by the time I saw him.

For me, the day started with a massage.  Which was the best thing I’ve done for myself in ages.  Just half an hour of Swedish massage, by an extremely good masseuse.  It was insanely wonderful.  God, I wish I’d gotten an hour.  It was the most sensuous and healing thing I’ve felt in more than a year.  I went because I had an incredibly painful knot yesterday, and now, fourteen hours after her work, I still have back-bliss.

Then we went to pick up Rue, but he had his meltdown and decided not to skip the afternoon, so we had to wait four extra hours for him, with nothing to do, on the outskirts of Salt Lake City.  It was a drag.  My brother and dad and I went to Barnes and Noble for an hour, sat in a restaurant for two, just killing time.

Finally we picked him up, and he was fine.  We had a brilliant afternoon.  Swimming, playing with his matchbox cars, making faces at each other.  I just love that kid.

When we dropped him off back at his house, I felt satisfied by this visit, these four days.  I wasn’t really sad.  That comes now.

It’s two in the morning.  I can’t sleep, as ususual.  And now I’m looking forward to the next time I might get to visit, and the dismal time in between.  I’m feeling grief for this beautiful childhood that I’m missing.  Being an absentee father just sucks.

But.

The short of it is that any day I get to hang out with Rue is a good day.  And if I get a massage into the bargain, it’s a great day.

Computers in the morning

It’s 7:39 in Park City. The sun has risen. My son has just risen. Good morning Rue. I love you, you dear little thing.

He has his iPad. He’s playing something with the sound off. Probably Angry Birds. First thing in the morning. The world of video games opening. I’m glad I got him that. Now he has email. Now he has Skype. Lines of communication opening. Now I can email him to ask if he wants oatmeal for breakfast. What a good birthday present.

Park City

I’m visiting my son this week, along with my whole family.  My parents own some weird hotel timeshare thing, and they wanted to visit Rue, so they used their points to get a 3-room suite at the Marriot in Park City, and brought along my brother and me.

Rue just turned 7.  He’s a brilliant, beautiful little boy.  I don’t get to see him enough.  It’s been two months this time.  Someday, for at least some part of his childhood, I need to live in the same state as my son.

Seeing Rue and Rachel stresses me out at the best of moments.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s just too built up.  Too much emotion attached to seeing him and to not seeing him.

With my mom here, the stress is ten times worse.  The woman wears me out.  I love her more than anything, she’s a great mom, and her unshakable belief that she knows what’s best for everybody at every moment is a huge pain in the patience.  I’m glad to be here, but gads, the family vacation thing is for the birds.

Woodwork

These are the paperback shelves I just made a few weeks back for my parents’ study.  Behind and around them you can see the corners of the paneling, trim, and shelves I put in last year.  Lots of 2-axis mitres invlolved.

Fun!

And these are the shelves I did last year, for the hardbacks.  Ignore the ugly ladder-hole in the foreground.  A real staircase is my Dad’s next project.Impressive portfolio?  I’ll be a finish carpenter before I’m a Finnish carpenter.  nyuk.

Bedroom

Tomorrow I’m going to see my son in Utah.  He turned 7 yesterday.  We’re going to Park City for a week.

For tonight, I’m back at my parents’ house.  This is a picture of my bedroom there.  I quite like the way I painted and decorated.  I used a faux-finish technique called “bagging off” (is that the greatest?) on the walls.  The trim is crackled green over yellow.  In all there are seven colors of paint and glaze.  The lamps are Moroccan from a boutique lamp shop in New York.  I like this room.  Too bad I can’t carry it with me.

Bedroom picture

Thanks to my brother Andrew for this panoramic.  You can see a larger version on his flickr.

Maybe I’ll post pictures of the work I did in my parents’ study while I’m at it…