Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart

ragandboneshop

I walked into my doctor’s office and stood staring, gobsmacked, at this book on the table. Did someone publish my blog? How did my doctor find it? I’ve used his line for so long, I almost forgot it belonged to W.B. Yeats. Of all the lines of all the poems on all the books in all the doctors’ offices in the world, mine had this one on her desk? Kinda spooky. I’m taking it as a good omen. I’m taking it as a sign that I should stick with her even though she doesn’t accept insurance and I feel like I’ll go bankrupt with long-term care. Signs from the universe go a long way in keeping me hopeful.

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When I was a child–somewhere around 10 or 11–I used to carry a book of Yeats poetry around with me. I have a memory of sitting upstairs at the back of a bus (Dublin buses were double-deckers) nose stuck in this 1965 edition (my name is written in shaky kid letters on the edge of the pages, the way you do when you bend the book one way to get the first name and then the other way to get the last name), but mostly I know I did this because, over the years, my mother has fondly mentioned this odd obsession. Yeats is still one of my favourite poets and, when I started this blog, I took one of the lines that always stayed with me (because I was a dark young thing), the last line of this poem:

The Circus Animals’ Desertion
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last being but a broken man
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.
II
What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his fairy bride.
And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
`The Countess Cathleen’ was the name I gave it,
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love.
And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love
And not those things that they were emblems of.
III
Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

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Jingle Jangle

Whatever you did, it worked. Your thoughts, requests, and prayers lifted the beast a little and on December 27th, I was given just enough space to let in the laughter and joy. Pain eased up and, just like that, I was smiling all day long and excited for what 2014 might bring. It didn’t last much more than a day or two, but that was enough. So, to all of you that commented or liked or sent a bit of changing energy out into the universe, THANK YOU! I was given some relief, some perspective and hope for the future.

AND I managed half an hour outside:

Bowie in the Boneyard in December

Bowie in the Boneyard in December

 

Now. Ready? This is why I am going to get better. If you do nothing else today, watch the first five minutes of this video of Glen Hansard playing in Dublin this past summer. And then, if you only have five minutes more, fast forward to the 15-minute mark. I first saw them (The Frames) play in a pub when I was, I think, 17 and spent the next few years going to every gig I could. 23 years later, his music still fills me with an achy, wistful, electric desire to live this short life to the fullest. I will be back in Dublin one day.

Use good speakers. Turn it up- as much as you can tolerate. Dance with your kid -or your dog. Me? I just lie back, close my eyes and jingle jangle my feet a little. And smile. Happy Sunday. 🙂

Addendum to last post… Plus, missing my brothers.

Medical professional addendum:

5. I forgot to mention another doctor I saw- a great dermatologist (I’ve seen a few in my life and she is the best and hardest to get in to see with appointments more than three months out). I had a few questions:

What are these scaly circles on my fingers and palms that move around (please don’t say they’re warts please don’t say they’re ringworm please don’t say they’re contagious please don’t say they’re VIRAL!)? Answer: A type of eczema. No big deal. Keep your hands moisturized.

What is up with acne in bizarre places like hairline and under my jaw? It’s very typical “female adult-onset acne”. Those are exactly the places we see it show up. It’s hormonal and most definitely from coming off the birth control pill. Use 1% clindamycin lotion indefinitely (that was her second choice since the Good Doc won’t let me take oral antibiotics).

What is this Braille skin? It’s a precursor to acne. No! These harmless-looking bumps? Yes.

Why do I have brand new vertical ridges on my fingernails and is there anything I can do about my hair falling out? I have patients take biotin for both of those issues: 5,000mcg/day.

As I was leaving, ME/CFS came up while I was talking to the dermatologist’s assistant. She said, “Oh, my brother has that.” I had never known anyone with this disease, so my eyes widened (I actually teared up a little).
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s devastating.”
She said, “Yeah, he’s a dancer, so…”
“Oh no! So, he can’t dance. That’s horrible. Do you know how he’s handling it?”
She said, “I don’t really know. He’s pretty private.” And then, as if to explain her lack of knowledge, she added: “He’s my half-brother.”

I thought about what ME/CFS would be like if you were a career dancer. Just another level of horror. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I think I said something like, “This disease is very isolating. I hope he has support.” I wanted to leave her thinking about it. I hoped that she would call him, move mountains to help him. From earlier in the appointment, I knew she’d just returned from Hawaii and I wondered if her brother knew she had been vacationing and I wondered if he let himself wallow in grief and jealousy as I sometimes do.

My brothers recently went on a fishing trip with my father and I love to think about the three of them together, but I ache to have been there, too. Just in the same room… My brother, the pilot, had a layover in Dublin last week and had dinner with my aunt and cousins and drinks with my best friend, E., and her boyfriend… It was exciting for me. Almost like I was in Dublin with E. Almost like I was in Dublin with my brother. I grinned from ear to ear looking at the photo they sent, while gritting my teeth against tears of desire. To be with E. and M., to be with my brother, to be able to fly, to be in Dublin, to be able to have a drink… Layers upon layers of loss. My brother also just had a brand new baby boy and I wonder how old my new nephew will be before I meet him. I wonder if my nieces and nephews will remember me or will I be “sick Aunt Elizabeth” that they just hear about for years. I always miss my brothers, but it has been overwhelming lately and is compounded by the knowledge that my sister is moving away from here soon. The atmosphere and camaraderie when we are all together is something special. I’m not going to get into it now because I’m premenstrual and risk a total meltdown.

Gratitude for siblings. xoxoxoxox

Happy Birthday to my Mother!

Today, my friend C.V. reposted this blog called, “Top 6 Orchestra Flashmobs — Acts of Robust Hit-and-Run Culture in Public Spaces“. I insist everyone watch ~ at the very least ~ the top video of Ode to Joy and the Canadians singing Handel’s Hallelujah. It turns out, one of the few things that can take me out of the pain and the grimaces and the fear is music… and I have a soft spot for flash mobs. I was moved to tears almost immediately, but smiled from ear to ear through every video. There is something reassuring about a group of people preforming together for free, in a public space ~ it shows a generosity, takes us out of the cerebral, reminds us to pay attention to beauty in all places.

On that note, happy birthday to my Momma, who performed in her own Hallelujah flash mob in Dublin in 2011. See it here.

flash mob