lake: one

the sightof the small tomedium sized lake in my town is a miracle
it’s silence is comfort, it’s fellow travelers quiet and respectful
i find myself holding my breath so much more these days
it’s so hard to breathe, you know?
but in the right light and the right warmth and the right breeze
that small alone place wants you to breathe with it
it very much has a comforting feel
even sitting on the concrete feed dangling right over the water
it’s icy sting there to remind you you are still here
the occasional group of teens sitting about
proving i’ve gotten old because I was terrified of the teens
i’m watching some goslings grow
in the breath before the sun sets on a nice day
the water goes midnight blue, by the time you blink your eyes have adjusted and it has gone ink black.
you come here to breathe yes,
you also come here to grieve
you come here to feel connection
connection that doesn’t quite feel as close in the home
watching the ripples is nice,
they are movement but nothing too extreme
nothing earth changing, even when the winds pick up
holding my mind sheltered there
while my body shelters at home

may 10th 2020 8:34/quiet colors

I loved stepping out at that time, maybe 7:00, I’d see gentle tendrils of the night, but the color pallet wasn’t quite there bright things were still too bright and things that were out of place were not obscured by shadow yet. There were still children out, riding their bikes, enjoying a different kind of childhood than had been enforced for a long time. They road circles around the main roads, they were empty, the adults had decided it was no longer time to play, more serious things I think. I turned the corner and boom, I’m hit with what I could only describe as my perfect color pallet. I checked my phone, I even have a screen shot of the time. You’ll all get to see how obsessed I am with the current doctor, but why keep secrets nothing matters?

May 10th 2020 8:34,
there was so much happening
the world was spinning and
you didn’t know how to hold on
you responded to the low hum of terror
everyone’s feeling it

but above it, this lake, this silence
those colors.
it was that time a day
when the greens and the blues grow closer
so the oranges and the reds can do their job
those signs, usually too bright for any real purpose
dulls
you feel your depth perception changing
as the stars start to pop

you sit, in your spot
already claimed
you went up against the teens
they’ll leave you alone

the water is black now,
no depth, barely any moonlight
to see the tiny pockets of wind
most things black and white now
there’s one house that leaves strips
of color lighting up the corner of the lake

i wonder if they like the stripes
or if they tried they would enjoy
quiet colors during quiet times

on the way to River

She walked through her life feeling just off, like nothing really fit. She knew she was “gay”, that was the only word she had for what she was until she found some education about her own people. She learned about people like her that felt in between, neither here nor there, and others that felt the opposite of how they were raised.

They continued to learn about their community, recognizing activists, paying very close attention to the way people spoke about them. The way people spoke about seeing anything different than what their eyes tell them. They spent a lot of time making other people okay about messing up, because anything new and queer comes with a risk. They still have a hard time correcting people because it is instinct to protect ourselves even if it’s someone we love dearly and we know that person would take it to heart with no malice.

They did the easiest thing, shortening their given name so that the adjustment was easier for the people around them. I mean switch names and pronouns at the same time it would be too hard for people right? And how could I hold them accountable for messing up I had always been this one thing, and now I was something different.

Looking back, the people who really cared tried. Hard.

Then there was a moment about three years ago when they thought about how important a name is. In all mythology knowing the name of something gives you power over it. Knowing a persons name gives you a look into who they are, not because of the knowledge but with the trust it gives as you reveal that about yourselves. They’ve always thought how important names are, even as a younger person who would write stories would read hours of names. They still do that.

So they thought for a long time and thought about things that balance the masculine and the feminine, that means a force of nature carving it own path, but still reveling in chaos it creates. What means something that cannot be stopped because it will go through or go around. Something that is also nurturing, and kind, and gives life. They needed a name that not only would suit them moving forward, but one that honored their past, they’re long and old path. One that recognized carving things into the ground in order to get to where it needed to be. They decided that name would be River.

And they were happy, and it was natural.

with love
-river

Tips from the Traumatized

I’ve been thinking a lot about what to write about today, it’s the anniversary of my grandmothers death, but now we have our own ways of mourning that don’t need to be shared at the moment. The one thing that does consistently come up in conversations I’ve been having lately are with friends that are starting to feel this lockdown in a way that they’ve never felt anything before. I’ve had other friends who, like me, have had significant trauma in their lives, and this time is triggering for them, but they have more tools.

I am in no way a professional but I can give you some quick tips that I’ve learned over time. There’s not enough therapists and psychiatrists as is, when this is over, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride. Right now we’re all going through a collective trauma, one that is going to affect every one of us differently, especially since there’s no end date, and then no end date for the fall out. We all know Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, right now we’re all hovering between the first and second level. Not a great place to be constantly.

Trauma also causes fight, flight, freeze, and fawn responses, which is why we are feeling so on edge and so out of control, because there is literally nothing to control this. It might be good to figure out how your body is starting to react, because there’s definitely trauma responses coming out of even ordinary non-essential workers. For me I either freeze or fly, since I cant fly away from a virus, my MO has been freeze. Which essentially just means I’m moderately less productive than I usually am. However, because of being used to having trauma responses, I’m able to make my days where I’m feeling whole more productive.

This has been said a million times, if you’re not being productive during this it’s really really okay. If someone tells you you need to be productive during this, they can fuck right off the plane from which I wish I was flying away from this virus.

So some tips and tricks from your hospital jumping, very nervous, sometimes very depressed friends. Get used to using your senses a lot.

Feeling, temperature, often numbness comes with freeze responses. Sometimes the only thing that will stop a panic attack (or disassociation, which we probably wont get to today) is my jumping in a freezing cold shower and staying in until I can’t anymore. Other cold tricks is go down to a lake, stick your feet in and it’ll be cold for you. Same goes with heat, but be careful about burning yourself.

Get yourself a consistent physical thing to do. As soon as this started I started walking a lot. Adjust as needed.

I’m just going to give you the situation I was in today or else this would come as a small book.

I am sitting on a dock with my feet in the water, the air smells sweet, my feet are cold, the sun is warm on my back, I can hear my friend Craig talking to me, I’m watching the clouds float by. There’s a woman in the gazebo doing jumping jacks. I have a smooth rock in my hand I’m turning over and over. A couple walked by, they were talking about where they wished they could go for lunch.

Use all your senses, if that doesn’t work name five things for each sense, keep breathing until you can get yourself safe.

The best way to bring yourself back is to be present. Look out for the warning signs, withdrawal, anger, mood swings, fear, agoraphobia, anything out of the ordinary in you and your friends. Put your oxygen mask on first and get help as soon as you can. I’m going to guess that a pretty large portion of the population is going to walk out of this with some form of PTSD.

When all the hospitals are back to normal, when the economy eventually comes back, when we’re not hovering in between the two lowest rungs on the survival ladder, there’s going to be a lot of other cleaning up to do, and a lot of people who haven’t suffered trauma might not know what do to with how overwhelming it is.

I’m not even close to a professional, maybe a professional patient, a patient who is finally learning how to deal with all of my own trauma, so I figured I’d pass a lot a little bit of the things that help. It’s possible to get through the emotional part.

Stick together, Reach out, Use your whole circle, communicate when something is getting too much for you (put your own mask on first), love each other, Be kind.

-river

a thousand times over

I feel like we’re on a needle and whichever the wind blows is where we’re going. Out of control, but clinging to each other (not literally obviously) hoping we all weather through, together. Some of my worst fears are happening. Isolation from those I love, being trapped in a house that I’m so grateful for, but not with friends, not with people who really get me. The phone has become a lifeline, one that connects me to the world, unfortunately I’m usually the one that’s doing the calling. That’s what it’s like in “normal” life too.

Often I think that all of that is in my head, but to be honest my feeling of connection with the world is really low right now, and I don’t know how to fix it when the phone keeps ringing or the message never gets read. Then on the other hand I do the same thing, and it hurts like hell to think about that, that I am doing the same thing to other people the thing that hurts me the most

I’m doing really well managing my bipolar, I’m trying as hard as I can to manage the BPD, but right now it’s so difficult to distinguish the regular trauma from the trauma that’s building up inside us all ready to blow. So I’m waiting, because we literally only have now. There’s no planning, no scheduling, no seeing people it’s just part of our reality. We wait until it goes away.

I’ve mentioned the human race’s resilience before, and it’s coming to what I would consider the ultimate test, can we walk through this fire together and prevents as many burns as possible? Can we hold hands (again not literally) and make it through masks on and limited social interaction.

The answer is of course we can, but I live in a place that’s far enough from the two hospitals near me I don’t see what’s going on on the front lines. Most people do. Most people can’t imagine the scope of this thing because we can’t really wrap our heads around numbers this large, plus the years of being gaslit and lied to who do we trust?

Humans have done some of the most amazing things, things that our great grandparents and their grandparents would never even dream of because science looks like miracles. For every evil villain there’s hundreds of scientists, for every narcissist theres hundreds of selfless people, for every wealthy person hoarding their money, there are supermarket workers making nothing but sticking with it anyway because they have to pay rent, for every mistake we make as a nation, there’s hope for us if we demand it.

This week has been hard, hopefully tomorrow’s better I kind of need it to be better. Tears are flowing freely now, whenever I think of the people I’m losing not literally but are falling away from me because I’m not good at asking for help at the right time, and when I do it’s already too ugly.

I’m trying to practice radical honesty, I don’t think it’s going to keep all my friends. I’ve done enough shitty things in the past to apologize a thousand times over to so many people, but that doesn’t give anyone any help except the first time. Instead, honesty, and love. I wish I had more to say, it seems like these are diary entries instead of writing prompts that I’ve given myself. I think that’s okay, nothing is normal right now.

stay safe, love each other, check up on your friends, be kind

-river



,

Pebbles

It’s been an extremely strange few weeks, I was sick for two and a half, that made the time pass quicker oddly, even though I was completely miserable

I think the loneliness is starting to get to me, facebook, phones, texting, is no longer working for me. Everyone is feeling it, everyone wants out, out of the house, out of the state, some even out of the country. Everything’s kind of just grey. It doesn’t help that it’s literally grey out. The temperature is nice I guess. I’ve run out of things to do that I can fill my mind enough to forget, even for a moment what’s going on in the world around us. Everything seems like a reminder. Events being cancelled, events we’re all anticipating to be cancelled. It’s supposed to be nice this weekend, hopefully it lifts the overall mood, because I don’t know about you but this is a bummer, not because of the virus, because of it’s waves throughout our country; because there is no clear path, and no clear leadership, and certainty no modern precedent.

So back to me, because aren’t all blogs a little bit selfish? I’ve felt quite the weight lifted when I can back negative for covid. I was thrilled mostly because that means I couldn’t pass it on to my parents, but also because I wasn’t looking forward to whatever the future effects it could have on people who contract it.
It’s so uncertain, if I had an end date, or even a solid metric around when we’d be allowed to start traveling again a little I think I’d be a little less stressed about it.

It’s always uncertainty that gets to us doesn’t it? It’s what encourages mob mentality, and millions of people locked in their homes at least in America, we feel it’s our right to do what we wish.

I used to love being alone for long periods of time, now I’m split between never wanting to leave the house because I’d rather not die, and the itch in the back of my head saying drive away, find a nice place far away and go (with no money, so not a smart move on my part). I haven’t seen some of my closest friends in months, and those who I have seen it’s not the same, far apart and not real contact. I don’t love being alone for long periods of time anymore, in fact I wish I was still sleeping 16+ hours a day, then at least I wasn’t watching time move without me. Now it’s all I can do not to check the clock. The days move quickly but the hours certainty don’t.

I’m constantly thinking about what my world, our world, will look like after this is contained, because it won’t be eliminated until a vaccine exists even then antivaxxers will assure it won’t be eliminated.

My brain is nothing but sad right now, it’s not always like this during this time, but right now I’m restless and the sick part of my brain is telling me my friendships are over, I’m never going to get to do the things I wanted to with my life, I didn’t push hard enough to do the work that I should have to become really good at my craft, or I did and it’s been lost so therefore it’s too late. Financially this is a huge setback, mentally it’s a huge setback after I spent the rest of the year trying to better myself. People older and or wiser than I am have pointed out that the world has had crises like this before and we’ve come out on top.

I have a hard time believing that at this point, the last four years have been an intense spiral, it’s lifted up the rocks of how repulsive some people still think it’s okay to be. We’re watching a slow moving disaster, like the molasses spill in Parks and Rec, “a lot of people very slowly lost their homes”

Maybe it’s my relative youngness, maybe it’s the fact that this is going to be my generations mess to clean up, maybe it’s that no clear end date. My heart is so heavy right now, and I’m trying to avoid it affecting my friends, some of them feel it just as intensely as I do, others are trying to reassure me that we can come back from it. I don’t have that much confidence. I wish I did. I’ve supposedly got my whole life ahead of me but it’s one disaster after another. I know there’s so much time after whenever this is over but I can’t think ahead more than an hour, it’s too overwhelming. Sometimes I can’t even think ahead more than an hour, sometimes a minute.

I will say that the people around, virtually, and literally have been rocks. Well maybe pebbles, we all have some pebbles in our pockets that we tie to our friends and try as hard as we can to keep our heads up and our feet on the ground. I don’t know about the whole ‘we’re all in this together’ thing going around, but I feel it in my community, it’s truly amazing how much of a pick up it is to see a concert online, it will never be the same as hearing it in person, but at least it’s something, keeping us together. Taking us to new places into the living rooms and music rooms and offices of people who want to bring some joy.

I guess that’s a lot, the joy is a lot, the connection is a lot, the art is a lot. So is the possibility of this thing holding us all hostage.

I’m sorry this entry had no real purpose other than to put down how horrible the world feels to me right now, and maybe to give myself a reminder how lucky I have it, both to have a safe place to stay and to be surrounded virtually by artists who are generously giving up their time for very little money (hopefully that’s building for their sake). The world is impossible right now, I’d truly love for it to just be possible, passable, I’m not asking for perfection, just an attempt to move in the right direction.

as usual, stay well, stay away from my mood, love each other
-river

I’ve started a project, no promise I’m going to finish it but I’m making photos exclusively in my immediate neighborhood. In this case how long it would take me to get somewhere and back in an hour and a half. The feeling outside is heavy, and I’m working to capture that. Everything is empty even when it’s not. There’s an apprehension in the air, so I’m making photos of things that represent that to me or make me feel that way. To feel closed off to the world is a powerful thing people are experiencing right now.

I’ll keep saying it, to create is difficult right now, and to make something beautiful seems trite, maybe I’m photographing ugly things but I am also photographing the reality of the feeling right now. We’re all tired, the colors are a little bleak. So I’m trying to consolidate that with living a lifestyle that is not actively bad for my mental health. It’s a really hard balance. There is so much, politically, environmentally, physically, psychologically going on with me that it’s just too much. I’m sure so many of you feel the same way.

And some of us are faking our way through hoping it will help us really make it through. People living on their own are struggling in a way none of us with family and friends around ever could understand. There is some beauty there of course, things that are timed exactly tend to make the best of the situation. Sometimes we get lucky to have a series of things happen to us that makes our experience better.

Anyway I hope you liked some of the images, I hope you are taking care of yourselves, and I hope you can find some beauty in your immediate surroundings

love always
-Bri

Just Some Letters on the Page

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and besides the abject terror and the boredom (which is a truly bizarre combination), it’s been okay here. I try to touch base with my people a couple of times a week, I’m anxious about pretty much everything. I’m sad and angry, and exhausted. I feel like we’re all under water and the universe is deciding whether to jump in and save us or leave us to our own devices. I’m trying to lessen my news consumption, which is going about as well as you would think from me. It’s unhealthy to read all the time, because none of it is good news at the moment.

There’s definitely some silver linings though, living life stripped all the way down makes you really appreciate what you have in “normal” times. It makes me want to hug my friends, it makes me wish that I had given them more hugs when I was still allowed. I’m learning that isolation isn’t as cool as it used to be for me, I used to be really great at staying to myself for long periods of time. Now, I realize that there’s too much life to miss. I’ve seen people coming together in a different way than I’ve ever experienced in my short lifetime, we’re seeing the best and worst of humanity right now.

I haven’t written or done an art challenge in a while, being productive and creative is extremely hard at the moment. I suppose in crisis that makes perfect sense. I’m finding evening writing this out seems so trivial. I know art is not, at the moment it feels so small. As I write that out I know it’s not true. Art has been essential to keeping me and many other people sane during this time. Maybe I feel tiny, there’s this expanse of disaster around me, just barely touching my outer circle right now. I’m holding my breath for it to come down closer, and when you hold your breath for this long it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the pain in your chest.

Often I write these without a significant motive to them, sometimes they’re more for me than for you, my friends. This was one of them. Putting letters on the page is helping me slowly let the air out of my body, allowing me to just take another breath. I think, maybe just concentrating on our next step, our next breath, a phone call with a friend, the shutter on our camera, the way our family laughs, anything that you can immediately see in the future, is probably our best bet.

Our lives have become smaller and more digital, adjusting our expectations to that is hard. My expectation was that I wouldn’t have to put my life on hold again so close to my hospitalizations. I’m working on that disappointment. I can’t promise I’m going to write more, or make more any time soon, I can promise that I’m going to try. Right now my life is so simple, check up on friends, wash hands, go for a walk until my heartbeat slows down, wash hands, hang with my family, and of course, wash hands. I’m working on appreciating all the small things in my life.

stay well
i love you
-Bri

a very different life/shame it had to be a pandemic

It is day 11 for me, yesterday I didn’t have enough to put down to justify writing. I’m not sure if today is any different, we shall see.

I took a drive to the pharmacy today, and it was glorious. It was also terrifying and strange as I and the other customers (there weren’t many) did this dance around each other, sometimes it was smooth, we were getting good. Other times it was jumpy and apologetic, not quite masters yet.

There’s a seriousness that has settled on the real world which can only be rivaled by the absurdity the collectively (bored/bored and angry) internet. Every bad joke imaginable has either come out of my mouth or I have sent the meme to someone or someone has sent me one. The revolution will be meme-ized.

I’m trying to ignore the numbers, because the numbers is what makes it very difficult to find hope. I am not good at cutting myself off from news, but I’ve made very strict rules for myself and I’m
not in a pit of despair yet, which I easily fall into so props to me. I’d thought I’d share them with you.

1. News briefings only.
-What new things do I need to know for my safety?
-What new things do I need to know for other’s safety?
-How can I help?
My man Cuomo is apparently doing the exact thing that he was crafted to do. I do not particularly like the guy but props for finding your calling my friend. Shame it had to be a pandemic.

2. Local News and news directly related to federal actions being taken
-Now, I hate to say it but if you can stomach watching the federal response news briefings there is a tiny bit of substance (and proper fear it seems now). Granted the gaslighting and the bullying still exist but whatever we’re working with what we have this year.

3. The numbers: Don’t check them. It’s not good for you. Who are you helping by knowing the number dead?
-Are you washing your hands?
-Are you not touching your face?
-Are you practicing social distancing?
If you answered yes to all those questions you can do no more, therefore, the numbers don’t mean anything to you and will hurt your mental health.

4. Escapist TV none of that pandemic, outbreak, the stand shit that we usually really love because we are kind of a macabre species, but just like (most?) true crime lovers don’t actually want to get murdered. I’d say all of the people watching a disease movie would say no thank you when it came to being in an actual pandemic.

There are some weird things that are happening on social networking due to this virus. Now that and phones are the only way we can contact people outside of our isolation bubble.

Everybody’s going facebook live, whether it’s live music, I watched someone cook cupcakes, people just talking about their day. It’s going to be a thing.

The late night talk shows now look like the famous you tubers videos before they were famous. Like weirdly lit and awkward because they don’t quite get jump cut editing because they’re used to having space for applause and laughter. It’s weird, it’s awkward, and for some reason it’s not the lockdown it’s not the empty streets but it’s that fucking weird thing that makes this feel like peak dystopia.

All of us just communicating digitally.

Maybe it feels like we’re all leaving what we can behind because we’re not sure who is going to be left when this is all over. I mean I know a sick part of me has started being more prolific during this time just in case. At least we have internet, at least we can still communicate with friends. I’m holding on pretty tightly to the tiny part of my brain that still has some hope for the human race. And we have had good news on that front every now and then.

Anyway, be kind to each other, hold virtual hands, read, make art, don’t feel pressured into getting things done though, we are living a very different life than we were even just a week ago.

love always,bri