Tuesday, January 17, 2006
But he should have come out and talked
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 5:01 pm
Huffy Henry hid the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point, — a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.
I came across this poem today. My head was cloudy when I did, it was late morning, early for me, lonely, sad – my first reaction was this doesn’t make any sense. I was straining my eyes to read it, my mind to accommodate it, and it wasn’t giving me anything back. What a waste of time, I thought. At the same time, somewhere within me was moving, shouting: I know this! I know it. You know it. It is this.
And yes, it is this: a metaphor for life with an autistic boyfriend. (Or, as I first typed: a boyfriend on the spectrum. One of us has been reading about this a lot, and it isn’t him.) Martijn hasn’t been diagnosed, so I’ve no idea how severely affected he’s supposed to be. Definitely not much, not much at all; and at the same time, quite a lot. Then there’s also the question he asked: “what do they measure? How well you can cope, or how hard it is for you to do so?” Which is a good point. He appears to be coping nearly perfectly; he isn’t. It is simple as that.
Equally simple is the fact that took me a year to realise (daft, daft me): autism, even a mild case of Aspergers, is not something that occasionally causes some problems. It is something you live with through every day, every minute. It’s not something that might cause the odd misunderstanding or ignite the odd argument. It is always there. Behind every thing I say or do and how it is perceived; everything he says and how it is expressed; everything he does and how it comes across. It defines how much he feels he is there, present in his own body, in this world of ours. It defines how much he feels there is a world out there.
(I’m not saying he doesn’t know it is there; but knowing and feeling are two different things.)
All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry’s side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don’t see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.
You shouldn’t explain poems, and you can’t, or I can’t, so I won’t. But I wanted to tell you how the idea of a “huffy boy hiding the day” is all too familiar. And I see his point. God knows I do. (Usually; I do run out of patience sometimes; in fact, I usually end up running out of patience, but that’s a different story.) I’ve no idea what “trying to put things over” is supposed to mean, but, to me, it means “tried to change the world, rearrange it, so that it fits him better.” And yes, yes, it is the thought that this is somehow possible (if I only knew where he got it from) that makes my Henry “wicked and away.” (‘Wicked and away’ is the best possible description of the other side of that sweet sweet boyfriend of mine.) But he should have come out and talked. And then things would have got so much better. Like the always are, when he does. But somehow he just can’t seem to do it.
The rest is a lot less straightforward, less appropriate even, but it still rings uncannily true. The world did seem on his side when he was young, and his family tended to put the blame on everyone and everything else when he couldn’t do something, never on him. Until he grew up, that is, and things inevitable changed, and he found himself in adult world that worked in ways he didn’t quite understand. “Nothing fell out as it might or ought.” How he survived through this, confused and alone –and unaware of this– I do not know.
What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at the top, and I sang.
Hard on the land wears the strong sea
and empty grows every bed.
But then one happy day he met me, and I was in love with the world. Desperately, passionately so. I got excited about everything from maple syrup on pancakes to clouds in the sky. I lived in my senses: a change of weather had the effect drugs allegedly have. The world was my lover. (“Once in a sycamore I was glad all at the top, and I sang.” My, did I love singing up there.) And so, through a long, long and confusing, confusing and disheartening, disheartening and occasionally desperate year it suddenly downed on my Henry. There is beauty in this life, and it’s worth being in love with it. And what he has to say now is, indeed, a big, “long wonder” on what “the world can bear and be”.
I’ve no idea what “hard on the land wears the strong sea” is supposed to mean, but perhaps it has to do with the tide, and how it comes and goes. Like morning comes, “and empty grows every bed.” Which means that things happen in time. And, in time, we will get through this.
Now, I’m sure John Berryman had none of these in mind, and would probably freak out were he alive to read this, but I don’t mind. So: thank you, John Berryman. And thank you, Clock’s Loneliness, too.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 2:35 pm
I came across this (allegedly) zen proverb today (here), and I really liked it:
“Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.”
Friday, January 13, 2006
Say yes to everything
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 1:30 am
I made a Friends of the Heroes cover today. It was the first one I’ve done in a while, and it took a very long time, but I’m proud of the result and it making it made happy, and that’s all that matters sometimes, right? I also made the contents page, and, while doing so, listened to St. Christopher’s ‘Say yes to everything’ at least a hundred times. (It wasn’t really a hundred times, more likely twenty or so, but they felt like a hundred.) Each time the drum beat sent a shiver down my spine; each time the chorus made me want to cry.
‘.. and, surely, you will say yes to everything”
Really, the song is not much more than a love song — though a great one at that: there’s a good description of it on ‘Little Hits’ (and I think you can download it from there too, by the way)— but the reason it brings me close to tears doesn’t have to do with being in love.
At least not with this sort of love.
The line ‘say yes to everything’ brings me back to a spring morning when I was fifteen or sixteen. I was standing at the schoolyard during an all-too-short break. Trying to read some photocopied notes the teacher expected us to have studied by the next period, walk down some steps and enjoy the glorious weather at the same time. It was sunny, and windy, and that wind was just soft enough and strong enough to make my soul turn somersaults with happiness. In fact it was distracting me a whole lot but still I managed to read on. I think we were studying Odysseas Elytis and that the notes were meant to be analysing the main themes in his poetry. Then again, I’m not too sure, which goes to show how much I learned: not much at all. But that doesn’t matter.
It is hard to say what matters, that’s why I keep going off in tangents. It is hard, because there’s not much to say. I just read the phrase ‘a constant affirmation of life’. That’s all. And perhaps my heart missed half a beat, and perhaps it didn’t. And the wind kept on blowing, and I walked down the steps with my friends, probably moaning about something or other. It could be homework, or teachers being stupid. (They were.) And something in the back of my head whispered, quietly: Yes. Yes. That’s it. That’s what you do.
You say yes to everything.
Now I am older; wiser; and I spent half my evening looking in books, my Minstrels folder and the back of my head for a quote to use on that contents page. It was frustrating and I couldn’t find anything, because that’s what happens when you already have an idea in your head. Nothing else fits. Except I couldn’t use that something, because the book that contained it was in my parents house, 550 kilometres away, and you can’t quote someone on what you more or less remember they said, can you?
You can’t. But I wanted to quote Bert Hellinger. He had said something about how he can stay calm in the face of everything, because he accepts the bad things he comes across as a part of life. And then, when he sees something beautiful, he acknowledges that as a part of life too.
(I did find a quote in the end, by the way, but that’s a story in itself. Perhaps some other time.)
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
The greatest man in Cedar Hole (by Stephanie Doyon)
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 11:45 pm
I finished this one before we left for Christmas, which means it’s yet another thing I didn’t get round to writing about. Which naturally makes me feel bad.
Not that I have too much to say about it: I bought it in London, in Waterstone’s on Oxford Street during a brief spell of anniversary niceness. I rather liked the cover, which, combined with the fact that it claimed it was ‘about small-town life, growing up and, above all, what it takes to be great’ made me buy it. (Also, it was big – it would last long.) Then I came back to Athens, and I read it. I liked it, though I definitely didn’t love it to bits. It reminded me of ‘Popular Music’, only without the popular music, if that makes any sense. The feeling about it –the small town and the people and the voice of the author– is quite similar: rough yet detailed, uncharitable but still vaguely sweet. And it has a good ending, which I think is rather rare. (In fact usually endings let me down, but that’s a different story.) And that is all.
(As for who is the greatest man in Cedar Hole, everyone seems to think that in the end the author concludes that it is Francis; but I would like it better if that wasn’t the case. It seems too lowly of a writer to write a whole book just to prove one of the characters –Robert– wasn’t as great as everyone thought after all, doesn’t it? It would be a lot better if the book was meant to be a discussion on greatness, but never mind. I should go to bed.)
Wednesday, January 4, 2006
Good Friday Cake
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 6:10 pm
Here is the Greek, vegan, sweet something from a couple of posts ago. Note that it is Pipas-approved:
1 cup margarine
2 cups sugar (or less)
4 cups self-raising flour
1-2 teaspoonfuls of baking soda
the juice from at least 6 oranges
graded orange peel from one orange or so
ground cinnamon & clove
raisins, or other dried fruit if you’re feeling adventurous
almonds or other nuts
a couple spoonfuls of brandy
(the last three are optional)
Mix everything, starting with the marge and sugar. Add flour and baking soda, then as much orange juice as it needs to start looking like proper cake mix! After that is achieved (it may take a while) throw in as much of everything else in as you think it takes to make taste good. Be careful not to try the mix too much or your belly will hurt (I know what I’m talking about.) Empty mix in greasy tin and bake at about 175 degrees for as long as it takes. To be honest I can’t remember how long that is. Martijn thinks it was 45 minutes which makes sense, doesn’t it?
Before you take it out of the oven, pray that it will stay nicely raised and not sink in the middle like mine did.
Tuesday, January 3, 2006
(A hundred reasons why) I need a holiday
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 5:53 pm
I didn’t mean to leave that entry hanging so dramatically there, I really didn’t. All that is only one part of our lives (albeit a rather big part), and I wanted to show that: I wanted to post recipes and stories about the dog and Christmas sweets — and, later on, I wanted to ask you if there is chocolate in heaven. But I never got round to it, and that, I feel, only underlines the mess that my life seems to be lately.
In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s a list of things that have happened since December 12th:
- On Monday (the 12th) my mum had an operation (she’s fine now)
- At the same time, a friend I was with got a phone call saying her father and brother had been in a car crash and her brother was in hospital
- We went home for Christmas (on Wednesday), which involved spending six hours on a rather depressing train and arriving to find my mum looking not very well and (quite understandably) very sorry for herself
- Despite that, the next day (or rather the next evening and the next night) my parents had a huge argument that involved my godmother too (I think she was supposed to intervene or something), during that we had to keep away from the living room, which was rather ridiculous given the way the house is laid out (and how easy it is to eavesdrop anyway)
- During said argument, they decided to get divorced (which I happen to find an excellent idea, unlike the argument which was as stupid as it has always been: they’ve been arguing over the same things forever)
- The next morning, my godmother’s son (who is seven) fainted in class and was taken to hospital (he is fine too now and apparently they didn’t find anything wrong with him)
- We went shopping with my goddaughter, who despite having been born in 1993 has turned into a teenager while I wasn’t looking, which is rather amusing, if occasionally annoying
- While we were doing that, the dog decided to commit suicide by jumping out of my brother’s arms and in front of a passing car. My brother was devastated.
- The next day my godmother’s son bunny died too (as we speak he is being chased in heaven by a very fierce-looking cocker spaniel, who, however, makes sure to keep the distance between them from getting too short. You never know how dangerous a fluffy back and white bunny can be, do you?)
- Then, on Saturday night, and just as it seemed that we might have a bit of fun after all, I got caught up in a horrible argument with my dad, which lasted well into the night and even involved me rushing out of the house and into the freezing cold with the boyfriend in tow. It is rather hard to explain but the important bit is that he has always looked down on me and disliked everything I do: as he put it, he ‘disagreed with the way I was turning out’ – starting when I was about two. When I, for example, thought that what I wanted was right and everyone else was wrong. Totally unlike your average two-year-old, you understand.
- I fell asleep after a half-hearted Christmas dinner only to wake up with a fever that lasted a day and a half, during which I stared at some depressingly brown wardrobe and Martijn read ‘When we were orphans’ and loved it.
- On the train ride back we got delayed for an hour due to a small river flooding the tracks. When we finally got through it looked like the train was swimming.
- Quite unsurprisingly, I didn’t manage to get any work done. I am now so far behind on what I was supposed to be doing that giving up looks like the most attractive option.
So that was the end of a year when the only timeI didn’t feel vaguely (or less vaguely) sick were the first twenty-one days. Lovely, isn’t it? Let’s just say that 2005 hasn’t been one of these things that make you want to jump out of bed in the mornings, excited about the day ahead.
The remaining 86 reasons are a little more complicated to explain but trust me: I need a holiday. And I need it to last for a long, long time.
And I don’t think I’m going to get it.