Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Gurney" (new song lyrics)

I'm a loser
The Lotto ticket says
I'm a bruiser
Veins are running red
Like a river
Flowing to the sea of redemption
Flowing back to me

I'm a bleeder
The gurney and the lights
I'm a cheater
Saved again in spite
Of the sorrow
Tears are running red
Like a river
Flowing from my head

And I say...
Strike up another number
Pick Six and let it fly
Strike up a new tomorrow
A new chance to get it right
Strike back and up the ante
Bet on infinity
Slap me down and strap me on
My gurney to the sea

I'm a seeker
The Lotto ticket says
A believer
Veins are running red
Like a river
Feeding all the trees
I'm a bleeder
Me and all the leaves

And I say...
Strike up another number
Straight/box and let it fly
Strike up a new tomorrow
A new chance to get it right
Strike back and up and ante
Bet on eternity
Slap me down and strap me on
My gurney to the sea

c2009 Mary Ann Farley


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Healing Power of Honesty

Well, Open Salon has done it again. In my darkest hour, I poured my heart out in a post, feeling somewhat guilty for expressing such a bleak mood concerning the bleak circumstances of my life, yet instead of chastisement (which at this stage of my life I still fear), OSers opened their hearts in ways that completely caught me off guard.

And quite simply, things changed.

I suppose the change was set in motion a few days earlier when I was drawing and writing in my illustrated journal (as opposed to my reflective journal, where I write multiple pages at a time). In an effort to break the logjam of isolation, I began doing some illustrations accompanied by scribbled thoughts inspired by the image, yet instead of it being a satisfying exercise as it had always been, it felt empty and boring.

It wasn't until the sixth entry of this new Moleskine journal that I realized what the problem was: I hadn't been honest in the previous five, and when I began to write from my center, when I acknowledged that things had taken a bad turn pain-wise, the satisfaction returned, and momentum began anew with hardly any effort at all.

Of course, there was a certain amount of effort in taking up the pen and paint, but it was a small one, and one I enjoy, regardless of the satisfaction level. What I love about these little sketches is that I always learn something, even if the drawing is a monumental failure, so the effort is never wasted.

These drawings and written thoughts led me directly to an enlightenment of sorts, and that, in turn, led me to a new blog post, where I simply poured my heart out, setting aside what others might think. It all flowed out of me in a single sitting, and when I clicked "publish," I just sent it out to the universe, response be damned, and once again, I wasn't disappointed.

The comments I received helped in so many ways. Some people simply posted their compassion, while others offered more hard-core suggestions, all of which were concrete things I could try. No matter how short or long the response, I suddenly didn't feel so alone, and I connected with others on a level I don't come across in my day to day life.

This boost from so many open hearts filled me with a much-needed and newfound energy that I hadn't felt since the new round of pain started over a month ago, and little breakthroughs began happening all over the place. One thing I realized is that I need to give up my art studio and bring everything home. For a few years, I've been struggling with the realization that I no longer have the energy to get there, nor can I afford it, yet giving it up felt like a failure to me. It would have been the period at the end of the sentence that my life has drastically changed these past five years, that I no longer can physically do the things I've always done.

Yet in accepting this fact, I can see all the good that will come of it. In having all of my art materials here at home, I will most likely paint more, not less (which has been my fear), and I'll have some extra cash in my bank account to boot, which I so desperately need. I've been spending a few thousand dollars a year to keep my studio, but it's become more of a storage place than a place of creativity, as when I go there, my isolation seems to feel more intense. Some studio mates have moved out due to their own financial issues, and it's just not the same place it used to be. And so it is time that I make my own changes.

Another astounding, even life-changing, insight was that this strange malaise actually began when I went on the Percocet in early September. While I definitely needed something to curtail the breakthrough pain, I suddenly realized that perhaps Percocet wasn't the answer, as for some, it does indeed cause depression. And in my case, when depression increases, so does the pain, so I found myself in a loop of pain, depression and pills.

To have this light bulb go off above my head was akin to an angel whispering in my ear, so my doctor changed my breakthrough pain medication back to Vicodin, and indeed the weight caused by the Percocet lifted. I will definitely note this little incident in the "not all meds work the same for all people" file for future reference.

While these insights might not seem like a big deal to others, I truly don't think I would have had them had I not been honest with myself and others, and I actually feel inspired to give up the studio, to bring all my cherished paints and paintings home here with me. In the last two days or so, I've been actively thinking of how I'll rearrange things in this small one-bedroom railroad, and I think it'll work.

It seems that momentum has been once again set in motion, and I am thrilled. But it wouldn't have happened without my taking the risk of being honest with others, and without their compassion in turn.

So thank you, Open Salon. While it was important for me to be honest, it was equally important that you offered such comfort and support. I would not have found this new place without it.

Note to those reading this on Blogger: This blog is cross-posted on Open Salon, a social networking site in the form of a blog.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Trying to Stay Positive, and All That Bullshit

I've so had it. I try to stay positive, try to be hopeful, try to think of the bigger picture, but in all honesty, today I'm fed up.

I haven't written here in awhile simply because of the malaise of chronic pain. I actually had a decent summer pain-wise, and after my last blog post, I began feeling so hopeful and creative again. The boredom I wrote about in the last post lifted, to the extent that I was even back in my art studio.

But then the pain once again reared is cruel and hateful head, and while I've tried to come to terms with it through acceptance, through prayer, through whatever, it ends up having a crushing effect on me, and all momentum is lost in accomplishing anything, even paying the bills.

Frankly, I'm exhausted. I'm sick to death of this pattern repeating over and over--these emotional ups and downs that have begun to feel like some kind of sadistic torture.

What's saddest is that I feel like life is somehow passing me by. With all I have to offer, with all the things I love to do, the best I can manage most days is to write in my journal--looking for clues as to what will set me free--and watch television.

Entry after entry, I scold myself for not being more proactive, for not changing my habits, pain or no pain, as I can't stand the malaise felt at the end yet another day that has once again raced by with nothing to show for it. I've become the passive observer instead of the active participant in life, and that's a hard thing to accept indeed.

When I actually DO get myself moving, I'm certainly the better for it, as the feeling of creation is like no other. I love the process of a painting--watching it come to life before my very eyes, and I even signed up for the Oct. 18th Hoboken Artists Studio Tour, feeling certain that I'd have a lot of new and exciting work to show.

I also wrote a new song in August, which thrilled me to no end, as it was the second song I'd written in about five years. It seemed to herald in a new creative period, and I was thrilled at the thought.

I'd also been journalling about some sexuality issues, which had been put on the back burner during this awful 5-year pain period, and just so happy to be making new insights and overcoming old fears. I even envisioned myself dating again.

But at some point in early September, it all came to a crashing stop, as the MS Contin was no longer controlling the pain, and I was prescribed low-dose Percocet as a supplement. As usual, this was the introduction of a double-edged sword, as I needed the med to curb the pain breakthroughs, but it only added to my tiredness. To motivate myself while having both pain and fatigue (along with frustration and disappointment) is an enormous task, I can assure you.

I wracked my brain trying to figure out what had changed--what made the pain come back with such sustained intensity, but I could make no sense of it, just like all of the previous episodes.

A part of me likes to think that there are bigger lessons to be learned here, that this is all part of my "spiritual journey" and all that shit, but I'm sick to death of being so fucking positive and hopeful and helpful. I'm sick to death of pain and the addiction it ignites. I'm sick to death of trying to live with it and be a better person. I'm sick to death of being sick to death.

I'm so numb to the ordeal that I can't seem to even cry anymore, which at least used to provide a catharsis--a soothing of the soul that could purge the bad feelings, if only for a little while.

I'm off to the Jersey City Studio Tour now, where my friend Lynda is showing her work. I don't want to go, but I don't want to disappoint her either. What I want to do is medicate myself into oblivion to get some relief, but that will only make me sleep, and then I'll awake after the sun has gone down, realizing that yet another day has been lost. No matter what move I make, there seems to be no good option. Even if I could summon every ounce of courage I had in order to forge ahead, what decision would I make that I'm not making now?

I'm in total darkness right now, and can't see a speck of light anywhere. I keep spinning and looking, but there's nothing. And so I just sit, wrap my arms around my knees and wait. I don't know what else to do.