Dismantling The Method

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mask.halloween concept

I was prescribed a lot of medication during my twenties. At 31, I guess I still am but not as much of it is mood-altering. As, one by one, the ones deemed unnecessary have slowly worked their way out of my system I (re)discover parts of myself that had either gone unnoticed, been underdeveloped, or had not previously existed. I wonder how much of it was covered up or augmented in weird ways by the chemical cocktail in my blood and in my brain. The veil lifts a little bit every day as those parts of myself chemically effected are cleansed by water, coffee, and the rest sweated out through my pores.

Everyday seems more like acting than the day before. There are times when that all falls away and barriers, filters, and facades don’t exist or, if they do, I don’t care. It brings me to times like these when I get into the deep existential questions of whether the day-to-day me is just a persona.

Did you know that the word ‘person’ comes from the Latin word ‘persona’ which means ‘mask’? So maybe being human means we invite spectators to ponder what lies behind. Each of us would be composed of a variety of masks. And if we can see behind the mask, we would get a burst of clarity, and if that flame was bright enough, that’s when we fall in love. (War Inc., 2008)

Is the me I am on a daily basis the real me or if I’m putting on the affect I spent most of my life constructing so I could appear to function normally in society? Is the external reactions to everything just a learned response to shield people (and protect myself) from whatever is really going on in my head? Is this one of the many methods in which I’ve instinctively learned to protect myself, to cope with the every day stress that now comes with navigating social situations I was oblivious to before, when I was a lithium powered automaton?

This question comes up now because I’ve begun to exhaust my energy levels faster every day. Along with that and by increments the part of me that cared about keeping the aforementioned illusion alive is fading. I am withdrawing from what little interaction I have with people, which is mostly at work, and retreating to the recesses of my mind where I analyze myself ad nauseam. I have been attributing it to the banal and meaningless things that people say; they feel just as fake as I am trying not to be and it grinds up against the very few nerves I have left that bear my patience for trivial matters. Right now, I’d prefer to listen to music at high volumes and not talk to anyone if I don’t have to.

Some of this just may be fatigue. I have been running myself into the ground working 50-60 hours a week and sleeping when I can. My bedtime seems to get earlier by the day and I wake up somewhat refreshed. Most of the time I wake up 4-5 hours after going to bed feeling wide awake. My therapist tells me I need to practice more self-care. Most days I can’t muster up the energy to do anything but work. I forget to eat most days which probably has not helped my mood. Food makes me nervous now, for some reason. I could cook but it produces the same pain response that homework does. Did you know the cause of procrastination is because the thought of doing whatever you’re putting off until later has a similar neurological effect as pain? With that in mind, it may be fair to say I am in a mental form of pain the moment I get home. I don’t move much so I don’t exacerbate it.

“what they don’t tell you about self-care,
that it can make you feel like you are the coach,
the captain, & every.other.player.
oh, & the mascot.
it can make you feel especially like the mascot.”
– Sabrina Benaim, Depression & Other Magic Tricks

At this point, if anyone is reading this, it may sound like I am depressed. It is that time of year when I generally sink into my seasonal depression. Thankfully, I’ve escaped that over the past couple of years. I’m not depressed. The best way I can describe it is thus: it feels like maybe I’ve been faking my personality for so long as a display of strength bolstered by pharmaceuticals. I’m learning to embrace the atypical means in which my brain works which is sometimes uncomfortable and strange but it feels more natural. The side effects to that, however, is a lot of introspection and intellectualizing what I’m experiencing because that’s the only way I know how to work through almost anything.

One of the most famous forms of acting is known by many names and has existed for a long time. It is known by many names, as I have discovered:

 For centuries, cultures used different words and phrases to describe “good” acting: Romantic Acting, Emotional Acting, Divine Inspiration, The Muses, Feeling the Role. These terms merely described an organic process of creativity that talented actors used, often times unconsciously, to accomplish what audiences experienced as a moving performance. This was the (re)experiencing of life by the actor within the fiction of the story as if it were true and happening now. Aristotle said that the secret to moving the passions in others is to be moved oneself, and that moving oneself is made possible by bringing to the fore “visions” of experiences from life that are no longer present. Aristotle was stating the core principle of The Lee Strasberg Method™ — the creative play of the affective memory in the actor’s imagination as the foundation for (re)experiencing on stage.

This idea was first called the ‘System’ by Konstantin Stanislavsky, and later, as further developed by Lee Strasberg… trains actors to use their imagination, senses and emotions to conceive of characters with unique and original behavior, creating performances grounded in the human truth of the moment. (The Strasberg Method)

In short, the method means drawing from personal experience to create a believable moment. My method was similar but a lot of it turned out to be mimicry or reactions that I had observed as socially acceptable. I feel that part of myself is melting away and I’m becoming even more stoic. It doesn’t make sense to laugh at much anymore. My analytical abilities remain intact; I am able to analyze reactions a lot of the time to glean the information from social situations but I’ve become much more literal in my responses to people. My filter has become even less controlled. Most of me just doesn’t think about what’s going on around me anymore and I’m so tired at this point I don’t really want to make the effort.

My guess is this is some sort of hammering process where the unnecessary is being struck away and molding me into a more coherent form of myself. These last two years have been chaos and have done some strange things to my psyche. Perhaps I am becoming more comfortable with who I am without having to put on the mask that I thought made me socially acceptable. I have never been fully accepted. I have always been on the outside. Am I just wearing myself out until my true self is truly prevalent? Part of me hopes so.

I have grown weary of faking for the sake of others even when it’s not intentional.

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Dictionary Entries And Clock Faces


There’s not a dictionary in the world
With a definition for the word, “love”
Noun, verb, and sometimes expletive.
There are just too many uses
Explanations and excuses
For this semantic domain
That scrapes the the rock surface
Of my heart
The reason the busker sings a sad refrain

I try to stay away from staring
At the television screens
That teaches us all that
For every single guy there’s a bevy
Of swans that that were never ugly ducklings
With roses in their teeth
I need to find a little reprieve
From this cultural obsession
That we’re meant for indiscretion
It twists me up and forces my retreat

Remembering days going by
With the dismissing wave
Of the clock hands
Nevertheless, I try to understand
That time is just a countdown
And we’re never going to cut its pace

Construct to deduct life
Attached to dollar amounts
Useless things we spend
What we earn, how we live
I’m just reaching for
A lover or a friend

Yesterday is here again
You’re teaching me how to inhale
And exhale the emotions
I can’t calculate
Mirror or reciprocate
It’s clear as the cloudy sky
Outside my windows now
I can only see so far
But not the end.

I dropped a raft into a sea
Of salty tears and sweat
Rolling rapids of my regrets
Avoiding rocks left to run me aground
My heart still pounds everyday
At the thought of the sound

I don’t believe in fairly tales
But I watch a lot of movies
Where the weird guy
Gets the girl and she upturns his world
I thought I had that once
But I flipped only to land
On my chivalry with shivering hands

My skull is a glass case
Where you can see the jumbled
Chains and cables
Wrapped around crystal balls
That only see the past

And some of them still show your face
I thought I loved but
Upon reflection in the mirror
I realized I despised
The man that I had become
My goal is to leave a smoking gun
In case you return for evidence
Of your past crimes

Burn it to the ground like a barn
Gather the children for the ugly swan song
We’re just livestock in a small pen
And I don’t think I’ll feel that way again

“Molding pillows to your shape in hopes of catching rest.”

Alone? I know alone.
People? I know fewer of those
As the days drag on into nights
Where the lights to the East
Coat the skyline like stars
That have yet to die

It’s lonely here, between these ears. From my patio, there is a car parked between two empty spots: numbers 9 and 11. These numerals are spray painted in stencil on the pavement so that every time I step out onto the patio, I’m one space away from being stuck in an emergency, so I stay between the lines and let the nicotine buzz.

There’s solitude in the songs that hit me like hammer hits nail. I don’t bend to its will but it makes me malleable in my introspectie space where, in the dark, there is no one but me and the background noise of my TV as I play the same song over and over again. I’m trying to make sense of this heavy burning in my chest; sometimes my emotional state escapes the rate of my cognitive abilities and so, sometimes I dwell in the miasma a moment to soak up the scent, to plug myself into that outlet. Or maybe an inlet. Depends on your perspective, I guess.

There are songs that make me miss people even though people aren’t exactly on my radar. When I’m running low on sleep, which I have been for days it seems, I think the doors open a little bit easier and I’m a little more susceptible to being set loose, but not set free. Emotions are sometimes an escape but, more often than not, a ball and chain and I’m chipping away at the stone around my brain to see what I actually think.

Tonight, I struggle to keep my eyes open and my heart steady.
These nighttime hours are the times when I miss people
When they’re the most inaccessible.
Maybe I miss them for the very reason that they are.
If that’s the case I would miss them all the time, though.
It’s the magic and solitude found only under the spell of night
Where I wander.
I wonder.

Now playing:

Artist: Sixo feat. Ceschi
Song: Christmas Past
Album: The Odds of Free Will
Fake Four Records

Lyrics:

Grind my bones up,
snort ’em through your pretty, big nostrils
’till your stomach expands from cuts to your guts.
I wrote a lot of bad from the depths of your insides
To sing you sweetly to sleep as you cried at night.

I’ll be your ghost of Christmas past
On a pillow of feathers all soaked as rags.
In a thunderstorm over skid row we’ve danced in dreams.
But in reality, I don’t dance or dream.
In reality, all my laughs are screams, emotionless,
And half the man I’d ever hope to be.

So, promise me you’ll pawn my guitar on a Fair Haven Street
And buy yourself a diamond ring with the hundred bucks you recieve
Near the crack spot near the bail-bondsmen there’s a gas station hest.
I swear to fucking God I tried my best.
But my best will never be good enough for a perfect guy that’s mess.
But as long as I’m alive I will be drenched in my regrets.
Tonight I’ll sleep in sweat in another bed
Without the warmth of your flesh
Molding pillows to your shape in hopes of catching rest.

Let’s make it through the winter
Without peeling off each other’s skin.
Let’s grow our hair and learn to live again
‘Cause spring is right around the bend
It’ll melt away the bitterness
It’ll grow new trees and pollinate the land

The king and prince are both dead
Drift away quick as snowmen
With frosty powder still in noses
Nobody left to hold them
Through the blizzard that left them frozen
I’m hoping that I meet a better end.

They’ll be our ghost of Christmas past.

If Wishes Were Horses I’d Have a lot of Glue

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I have walked the right side of the tracks
For as long as I can remember,
Or at least I tried.
My virtues and convictions
I carried in a messenger bag
Draped across my chest and shoulder
I kept my head down
Eyes pinned to the eyes and edge of the rail
Stepping out the way of the trains
And other drifters along the way
Because it’s easier to keep everything to yourself
And wear it like a sash of honor
Even though it’s more like
The weight of a thousand fallen stars
I may have wished upon and caught as mementos
Along with eyelashes I caught midair
And a million timepieces
Stopped precisely at eleven past eleven.
I keep a tab of the money donated
To the water of the wishing well.

Yes, they are all mine
And they never came true.

I stared into the eyes of the moon
Reflecting its glow from my own
Sleep-deprived, night-dilated craters
Wondering if, at that moment,
You’re absorbing the same
Inverted face that’s casting spotlights
Against my retinas.

Even if you are
It’s not the same star we’re wishin’ on.
Reflections in rain puddles are distorted
From stepping on what I see
While someone is painting a clear
To the finest detail,
Maybe chiseled out of stone
While I fall apart like clay.

I am a coward of the worst kind;
The one who cradles his heart
With a death grip
Who fears that at any point letting
Anything slip
Feels like a breach of etiquette
And I avoid step aside for the head-on,
The heart-to-heart collisions
With eyes to the moon
Or down at my feet

It’s just easier to walk through life
Never knowing.
Even though I tell myself I do.
Either way I walk to the office
And sit down and listen
Avoiding what I’m really thinking
And then I go home screaming
This one was mine
And it never came true.

The Game of [Loss of] Life

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I do not like to play games
Sometimes it’s a distaste for the rules
Or I’m immune to feeling
The wings of levity that comes with
A round table discussion about nothing
But mostly
I don’t like to lose
And I don’t like to give up
Because to give ground to either option
Is to give ground to defeat
And the feat of that I might concede
Is more than I’m willing to allow to proceed
Beyond the guarding gates of my ribcage

But I’ve
Lost so much it feels, so many times
That I have to pretend I’m made of matter
Just to prove I exist when I look to the mirror
So I can feel like I, y’know… matter.

And I will fight until the very last note
Tangled in my vocal cords to avoid it
Like the time I showed up at a friend’s apartment
Red-eyed and tear-cheeked
Trying to imagine that he was still alive

A bottle of this and a broken blister pack of that
Double double toil and  trouble
You should never chase death
With a bottle of No-Doz
Because he calls you in your sleep
So when expelled the contents of his stomach
You could hear the reaper unhook his scythe
From under those ribs
Where it was written, the name of the girl
Who had taken his heart
On his ribs which resonated empty
When his heart kept beating.
Dark room and dim lights painted ghosts
on his high cheekbones in the wake.
Loss of the will to survive
Is to hollow out your chest
And surrender its contents to the sun.
Cursing God for your dilemmas
Son, God grieves with you when you lose at losing, too.

And there’s the piece of me I lost
The I hope I never find again
And that’s the naïveté of thinking
Everything’s gonna be alright again.

You can learn to lose, or
better phrased
Learn what it feels like to lose
So you can sense it in every movement
Of every person you’ve ever
Wrapped your heart string around like a last
Ruffled the secrets woven
In the strands of your hair for
Made copies of keys to your hopes and dreams
But when things start bursting at the seams
You will feel its clarion call
Your balance will become shifted
And you will always let the words
“It’s all my fault” rest heavy across your shoulders
Even if you’ve written fiction
And the ghost you thought had crossed over
Is merely obstructed from view
If only everyone knew
How heavy the cross
Is to lose.

Like when I lost the person
Who taught me the literal meaning of the word
LOVE
She inscribed it upon my sleeve
With my broken heart they day she was gone
And now I can’t erase the three words
She’d force me to say
In her voice
And I can’t lose them. I can never lose them.

And then there are those who are still alive
Who chose to step away into a dusty country sunset
And left me pondering loss
The meaning, the weight, and the taste of it
The iron in the blood, the grit of sand
Wind tumbling lightly against my face
In painted stone valleys that burn red in the sun
I have lost you somewhere and I don’t know
When
or
Why
But I’m trying

And if I gain nothing
I’ll still count it all as loss.

The Chemical Process that Causes Colors to Fade

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Sometimes…
The presence of a certain person
Will misfilter and cross paths
With my senses and I see
Pigments of my imagination.
They call this synesthesia
And it happens to everyone
From one sense to another.
I guess I’m just blessed
With an unending pallet of colors
My mind uses to paint your presence
In an otherwise
Dull and grey canvas.
I can still place your
abstract brushstrokes behind
My emerald green to sky blue eyes
And they burn as brightly
As neon bar signs.

Not for the first time, probably
But for the first time I can remember
Your colors dulled and detached
Like someone scraped the paint
from the walls we all try to escape
From the confines imposed by life
to wide open spaces
Where freedom is mural of chances you took
And for a moment I couldn’t lay my hands down
to find the crack in this plaster cast memory
Until I saw the colors fade
As you flipped back your head
in an intimate kiss with glass
As you upended a temporary lover’s body
Mouth pressed against his
You spun the bottle ’til it landed on you
And you prayed with lips as saints do
Communion wine without the sacrament
Is just wine
As you took the blood down until
Your colors dulled as time and abuse make them.

Listen.
I am not a teetotaler, a movement in temperance
My words are not that of judgement or prohibition
Listen…
As my heart war drums my sternum
Snare strung with anxiety and sadness
Because this subject is not pen and paper
Because my heart is not dull to the pain that it senses
In anyone.
I wish my anhedonia would come with a side of numb
But it doesn’t and so I worry like I’m human
I sense the prickling of something beneath the haze
And I want to understand it but
Then again
I’m admittedly afraid to ask
But my family’s past is a lead weight underneath my brain
It reminds me it’s there every time I turned my head.

Let me tell you something.
My dad, a railroad man at the time
Made off and out too often with a bottle of whiskey
Drinking straight from the open container
Imbibing alcohol like life-giving water
Only this water went stagnant and poison
As it ate holes straight through his gut
Ulcerated and rotted, his stomach
bled from its protective lining
eaten away by time
As he exsanguinated whole bottles
Into his stomach
Hemorrhaging.
Sometimes, it seems, masking the pain
Is a genesis for more:
An equal reaction.

And then again,
My grandmother was a fan of 7-up
As long as it was coloring a glass
of Canadian Club Whiskey
Chased with pain killers, opioids
Pills she spilled into her hand to kill
Pain she claimed she had from knee replacement
And a metal rod fused to her spine
Sit up straight and the things you swallow
Will go down just fine, won’t they?
Her body took the abuse
like a clay pot buried under
years of past regret
The pressure of a husband who
Barely pretended to give a damn
And so she drank.

I remember one time I drank from a jug
With handle
Because I thought it had water in it
On a hot day in the sun, that was welcome
But when the liquid touched my tongue
I spat it out like words of disgust
I was not old enough then to draw up.
Candy is dandy if you like the taste
You’ll spit out liquor quicker
If you’re not expecting the burn.

Self-medication led to deterioration of her body
She couldn’t tap her body into a wall without
Blood oozing up to the surface of her skin
Dying her skin in patches of black
Hematomas look like leprosy
When you accumulate enough.

Understand.
These are not scared straight stories
Just context of someone who’s worried
And while I realize I may be blowing things
Out of proportion or misconstruing the evidence
I cannot unsee the vibrant evidence
That you are more than what I see
When you absorb that bleach
And you fade like a sunset into the clouds
of the nighttime.

Truth be told,
I’m afraid.
Because I feel like I’m the only one who sees it
And I’m not here for guilt or shame
Just can’t be the one to enable any pain
And I want to ask you just one question
It’s stuck in my mind like a nail
Are you happy?
Because it feels like you aren’t you.
And it’s hard to miss someone
When they’re right there in front of you.

Bullets, Busted Glass, and Stones Thrown Dot the Question Mark.

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We have these questions we ask each other
Which should often have meaning
but have been relegated to nothing more than
Sympathy cards with signatures
A cause for which we don’t expect the effect
As almost on instinct we vomit niceties
And polite inquiries like,
“How are you?”
“How are things?”
“How have you been?”
Never really expecting an answer
beyond the mask of sincerity
Where our tongues tap
The polite hair trigger
Of insincere sincere questions
Never expecting that banal projectile
To strike a wound
Like we’re all bulletproof
With social norms and expectations
To keep aches and pains
staked to the ground and chained
Connected to the guard dog-eared pages
Of our heart-felt yearning for honesty

We all long for honesty
But it’s too difficult to put the phrase
“I’m fine,” or “I’m good”
under the microscope to see all the
Captured thoughts and injuries used
to draw up the letters
And strike up the percussion of
the lips, teeth, tip of the tongue
that construct the truth behind those
crammed into those loaded words, “I’m fine”.

The truth.
None of us is fine.
The crooks of our mouths
Illustrate the lie of levity fabricated
But our brows bend like bows
The kind that fire arrows
And so the question is begged from the corner
Where I’m standing watching your spirit
Fall crooked, face in hands
Buckle under the question
that I just gotta ask

“Are you happy?”
Answer me honestly.
Tell me why that face succumbs to gravity
When you think nobody’s looking?
Like you push so hard against the rocks
In that glass you’ve pressed to your lips
Kissing goodnight inhibition
So you can behave like the same animals
Who talk like humans with liquid giggles
Like bubbles floating to the surface
To barricade the way for your heartbeat
to make an exit.
Instead only letting the pulse of two words.
“I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine.”

This infrequency of transparency is a sin
Even I’m guilty of
So I understand better than most the reticence
To tell the truth in lieu of a two word lie
The inconvenience of laying yourself out on the table
Is someone will take a part and break it to shards
Like we were never made from anything other than glass.
So, I understand.
But I can’t watch this dance you do without sinking.

Time alters even the most solid of stone
I just happen to be most resistant to erosion
So, when I see pieces of people chipped away
When I don’t see them and then see them again
That distance creates an irreversible change
But then again I wonder if that’s true.
I once could say to someone, “Yes I knew you”
And perhaps that hasn’t changed entirely
But I wish I knew.
“Are you happy?”

I don’t know.