(AKA – THE NIGHT SIDE of THE MOON – REDUX — And the Power of a Good Blow)
I can’t sleep. Can’t. Not “won’t.” Not “choosing not to sleep, because I just have to watch this stunning Moon while I can – this big, plump, juicy looking thing, shining so brightly – because it is so stunning, on display for this half of the world to see. Can’t sleep because I am in pain. Won’t sleep because I have to take in the view right outside my window.
Tonight is the night of the “Supermoon.” The night when it will, to the human eye, look bigger and brighter than ever before. (To be technical, it will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. I mention this towards the end of this blog.) What I think is even crazier? That this won’t happen again for another ….17 years? (That would put us at the year … 2029. I will be…. No. I don’t want to think about how “old” I’ll be. That’s just drama. I will be … fabulous. And gifted. Gifted with each day that will have passed between now and then)
(—-See? See how I turned that bit around? Lol)
But the PAIN.
Oh, go away. Just for a night.
Tears run down my face, rivulets of rain sliding down a window. My weeping is unilateral: I cry from one eye only – this is a typical symptom of the dreaded “Cluster Headache.”
My left eye is swollen nearly shut. The right one fights to stay open, to see, yet droops from sheer exhaustion. But I type away. I type anyway. I type on my phone (and wonder why my head aches as it does), or to a lesser extent, I type on my computer. I even write in diaries, still. I must have hundreds by now.
I write, day after day, night after night. If I have done one thing right over this past 6 years, it is this: I write. I write and I write and I write. Essays, blogs, ditties and songs. Melodies and rhymes take up space in my mind, and there are nights when I wake up, having dreamt entire songs. Too bad so little of it sees the proverbial light of day.
It is a shame I don’t share more of this work – these stories, short and long, the poetry, and the music. But I do what I can do. Just living life these days can be enough. Getting dressed. Going for a walk. Picking up the phone. My life is so much fuller than it once was – and yet – it once was so much fuller than it is today. But in the end, it’s all about the day. How I live it. How I carry myself through. The small successes and the slow changes.
Either way: my nose is clogged up from so much drainage. I feel like I sound like a kid with a cold: my “m’s” sound like “b’s” and my “n’s” and “t’s” sound like “d’s.” After the first hour or so, it’s just awful. It’s not cute. What once was endearing, in context, just gets embarrassing. Like, when little kids “dalk like daad pecause I’b readdy stubbed ub,” it’s cute, right? With their little red button noses. (Or “doses”). It’s cute – until they’ve coughed up a lung and you feel like every hack is another set of nails scraping down the chalkboard in your mind.
So, because I cannot breathe from my nose, I think a funny thought: I am one of the “mouth breathers” of author Charlaine Harris’ “Sookie Stackhouse” books. My throat is parched from simply inhaling and exhaling. It feels, I swear to God, like I can’t breathe! We breathe naturally through our noses, not mouths – (sorry Char – love the books, but really, it’s all about the Vamps’ perspective, isn’t it? REALLY. It wouldn’t have the same …ring… if the Bloodsuckers called us “Nose breathers.”)
Seeking relief, I keep blowing my nose, which is fast becoming red and sore. (Where are Puffs Plus when you need them?)
The sound is eerily reminiscent of a foghorn:
A Mother’s Love
With the slow fatigue made heavy from months of true sleep unyielding, I find myself lazy with recall: the sound I make brings back memories both latent and close. I think of phone calls in weeks past, putting down the receiver to blow my nose (or “dose” when stuffed up) and of hearing, through the headset, the sweet sound of my Mom’s laughter. The sound is authentic and there is something almost sexy about the abandon in her voice. She is pure in this moment – living in a moment of her own, made up of happy, goofy memories, and of the present circumstances, which are so much more solemn. I wait for the sound of what comes next: the familiar sigh, the choked up voice as she battles the onset of tears. All of which come with missing me, remembering me, of worrying about me, of feeling the ache of the miles between us.
Thinking of her, in this particular moment, I am somewhere else. I am a child again. I am sitting in the passenger seat of the family sedan, and we are at a stop-light. As we slow to a halt, she puts her right arm out over my seatbelt, as if to stop me from lurching forward, this unconscious act, this silly, universal sign of a mother’s protective love. During the pause of the light, she takes a wrinkled Kleenex from her epic pocketbook, puts it to my face, and says:
I remember this feeling. Seeing the clumsy, nebulous tissue come out of the big and mysterious handbag, clutched in her hand, and knowing that word every child in the history of modern times has dreaded. It may as well be emblazoned upon the linty white paper.
Here is another universal parental action: trying to get one’s child to blow their nose –properly. As an aside? I don’t know at what age this becomes inappropriate, but in my memory, I was still a child. I recall vividly the terror of two scenarios occurring, or at least, of my fear that they would happen.
One: “Hurricane Reba.” The power of a blow so strong, I would actually push hard enough to make the secretions not just emerge, but actually blow RIGHT THROUGH the dreaded Kleenex. I imagined flashes of the horror left behind, much like news reporting pictures of the aftermath of Hurricane Whatever. Tiny pieces of white paper, gooey in places, dry in others, all, fluttering amidst the ruin of the scene.
Two: “The Snot-Nosed Brat.” Okay. So, what if the fibers were weak? What if the Kleenex wasn’t Kleenex at all, but rather, some generic brand that, like bad toilet paper, would come apart on impact?
What if this were to happen in my mother’s very hands? –After all, like so many parents, though she would put the tissue to my nose, it never seemed to make a proper seal around my nostrils. The commitment just wasn’t there!!! And so, so many times, I would instead hold back my mighty HONK, even as I yearned for release, of relief, and better, to hear the sound of her mirth — all for fear that I would discover the seal had broken. Images flooded my mind — all, involving some theme wherein snot would dribble down my face and worse, leave that God Awful goopy, snotty seal around my nostrils. This was the mark of a sloppy child – and I couldn’t have that.
Oh. The trauma. The choices.
Oh, the glamorous moments in life. They start so young.
PS: In regards to the age-appropriate assist and the Nose Blow:
I might note that when I visited my parents in NC in 2009, the situation got just a little bit awkward when Mom proffered her, er, services to me … especially as we were sitting in a DOCTOR’s office…and as I had recently regained the use of my right arm. (After three years of paralysis.) Just the OFFER of her help had me shooing her away like a teenager at a parent-teacher conference. There was just no logical reason for an assist, but a Mother’s Love knows no Bounds…
But hey – MA! Thanks, always and forever. It’s all about the LOVE. I know this better now.
I wish I could stay in memories all night, if sleep is truly to elude me again. There was something hypnotic about getting lost for a while… I felt what I feel now through it all, but I didn’t quite care as much. (Maybe there’s something to that — pain management through Denial???)
I swear to GOD, I am forgetting to breathe, the pain is so bad.
“Forget to breathe,” as if such a thing is possible. Yes. Breathing is an autonomic response. I cannot choose not to breathe. (Unless I am feeling especially petulant -but even then, I can only hold out for so long before my body begins to feel it is suffocating. And then the dam breaks. I gulp air like water after a day spent hiking in the desert.
What I mean is it’s hard to get a deep breath. It’s too easy to hyperventilate when the pain is this acute.
My eyeballs BURN.
Anxiety floods my thoughts, as I consider my predicament. I need help. Getting up to use the loo is going to be a challenge. I am weak in body and I am alone. My roommate is sleeping soundly. (And by soundly, I mean, he’s snoring so loudly, the neighbor’s dog is howling along…)
With regard to my welfare, I am still … painfully reliant upon others.
In times of pain, when I come to realize this, I am frightened. The very treatment I must seek depends too heavily upon the goodwill and generosity of others. This must be getting so OLD for my friends and family.
But I am powerless to change a thing at this late hour; and I find some measure of consolation in the possibility of tomorrow.
I have fretted away the night, another precious night, my worries the same, the pain, ever-present. I am so tired of being tired. Of boredom. Of thinking the same damn things. I would rather take the thoughts, throw them out the window in my mind, and be here now. There is a far greater benefit to giving my attentions to this very moment.
To the possibilities of NOW.
It is peace of mind I seek, rather than the hungry and restless mind.
I see the role I play in my own madness, my discomfort. I imagine future scenarios when I haven’t gotten through today.
And so, only now, do I use discipline to turn my thoughts -with mighty effort- to greater and lesser things.
Sanity is (or can be) a choice…
Insomnia happens. Disappointment happens, too.
I find myself holding my breath again.
“So what?” I think.
“Now what?” I reply.
I begin this meditation, finding it funny and logical and effective in stilling the drama in my mind.
I use this phrase as a mantra and at some point I realize I’ve lost count of the number of inhalations, and that the meaning of the words means little more than gibberish.
As soon as I realize this, my “peace of mind” seems to evacuate the premises.
Oh well: it was lovely while it lasted.
Nothing has to be brilliant or special, even. That is the point, I guess.
If I experience either, I guess that puts me ahead of the curve.
-Well. Maybe not from a Buddhists’ perspective; attachment to anything visceral or ephemeral is the number one perpetrator when it comes to the notion of Human Suffering.
Still: I love how I feel when I feel. Even when it hurts.
I love beauty.
I love stillness.
-Man. I guess I’m just doomed to suffer.
Then again, to a greater or lesser extent, I wonder if this isn’t just a question of semantics.
My beliefs are ever-evolving.
And life keeps pressing on in its own linear way…
Tonight is…. majestic and common. Tonight is all about the Supermoon. And yet for the life of me, I cannot focus my attention there, quite yet. I am mesmerized by the peace I am finding, and losing, finding and losing –all of this happening, though the tears continue and the pain lives out a life of its own within my body.
I listen to the sounds of rain patting the pavement as if it were the work of the hands of a hundred children -tapping, tap-tap-tapping the ground, the silliness of sound, the slapping turning their palms bright red, tiny pieces of asphalt grinding up against their soft phalanges. Beyond, I can hear the sound of a train hooting, like an owl, off in the distance.
There is this awesome quiet. Even in the city.
But for the sound of my breathing, labored as it is, there is the occasional baby-like cry of the dog, my beloved Benny – the twitch of his tail turning to a wag, hitting the bed, the whump-whump sound like a chopper’s blades moving in slow-motion. His legs move as if he is running and he dreams, I imagine, of chasing kitty cats. Or squirrels. I wonder as I so often have, “does he remember? Does he dream of yesterdays past? Or does he live in the eternal now?”
Last, there are the clicks and snaps of my clocks and my watch. I am fascinated by the way they run, in discordant concert, each just slightly out of time with the other.
Time passes so slowly -like sludge, or fudgy fudge, or thick molasses, the minutes far more like hours than segments of seconds, ticking from one to sixty, again and again and again.
Perhaps it is time to rise, now. To stand at my window and leave these thoughts behind. I have said that tonight is just another night. And yet – it isn’t. There is the MOON to consider. The “Supermoon.” It appears 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. The next event won’t happen until 2029.
That’s pretty radical.
Yes. Come to think of it?
What I REALLY wanted to say?
All along? Before the pain took me away to scary and familiar places? I cannot believe how beautiful the Moon is. It is fantastic tonight.
I’ve watched it with awe borne from knowing tonight is, perhaps one of maybe two times in my lifetime when it will reveal its particular mysteries in this way. Supermoon. What a cool name. (If I were more of a Hippie, I’d name my firstborn that. But that’d just be so ….wrong. “Supermoon Schmitz, can you please come to the Principal’s office? You’re being expelled because your name is so GAY!!!**) — (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Really.)
I stood at my window, watching, transfixed, as it made its first appearance low on the horizon in the dusky light of evening.
-I felt I could make out the slight, but marked, asymmetrical ridges along the unbroken line comprising that plump, whole sphere.
-Those subtle imperfections, which demarcated the otherwise genuine circle, evidence of a different life, once upon a long long long long time before this. Now.
A time when the clutter and debris of Space took it’s inevitable toll upon our own planet, the event so inescapable, so jarring … that what is now our Moon was cast from its home, a fallen Idol, out of the atmosphere and forever after only a light in the night sky, nevermore to join again in body with it’s one true body?
Strange, it is, to imagine the Moon, the stuff of songs and bedtime stories, was once part of this very Earth?
Stealing so much life, snuffed out like the flame of a single candle in a storm of hail and ice – a catastrophe unlike any other – life lost, for millennia. Who could have imagined the life which would someday thrive again, instead?
Surely not in that cataclysmic moment, when ore met ore, when the sky rained boulders and bricks and iron, copper, and minerals formed the rage which came down like cities to the very foundation of our planet, wrenching it apart like the Jaws of Life seizing fragile human-ness from the wreckage of a bold mass of metal and glass.
One evening, once in a lifetime, to see it so close – and to see so clearly you’d think you might just get a ladder and touch the dark spot on the lower right corner where once Men walked upon the surface.
To imagine what our Moon was like when it was still part of our Earth.
Before it was cast out to the vast space of Space.
Before yet more space debris slammed into it and spun so hard, it rotated 180 degrees.
Tonight was a reminder of the importance of ritual, of cycles and seasons: I only hope I might always hold, in my short lifespan, to these moments. To give myself over to wonder and joy with innocence, abandon…
They are truly reminders of what a Gift it can be to be Human. Conscious. Alive, inside, out, head to toe, body to soul.