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Libby's Journal - October

October 9

Hay everyone. I haven't felt like writing in a while so I guess we got some catching up to do. Actually, it looks like my last entry was only about two weeks ago -- our anniversary -- but it feels like longer ago than that.

I have had, recently, one of those topsy-turvey periods for which I am so famous. Several of you, over the years, have had the dubious honor of witnessing one of these pathetic displays in person (aren't you lucky).

Okay, here's what happened this time:

A few days after my last entry it was the weekend and we drove up to my sister's house for one of the kids' birthday party. We stayed at my mom's Friday evening and then to my sister's for most of that Saturday, which is where everyone gathered for the party. And because it turned out to be a rather warm day we decided to have one of our traditional water fights -- which we do a couple times every summer when all the kids are together.

And when I say "all the kids" I mean including me of course. I always bring extra clothes to these events because I know I will get drenched in battle. We usually do teams and hunt each other all over the yard like Commandos with these giant water rifles and water balloons -- and sooner or later a garden hose is employed. I always have a great time at this and I completely forget the fact that I am technically a grownup.

So that was nice, and then a few days later we were back here and Mona was at work and it was my day to volunteer at the food pantry at my church. The church is in a poor neighborhood and does a lot of outreach and people come from all over to get non-perishable food at the pantry twice a week, once on Saturdays and again on Wednesdays. And me and two other women from the church were supposed to do the midweek pantry but one of them was out of town so we knew it would just be the two of us.

But when I got there and was setting up for the opening I got a call on my cell and it was the other woman saying her son had just been injured in a skateboard accident and she was rushing him to the hospital to get stitches in his chin. So that meant I was doing pantry by myself that afternoon, which I had never done before. AND it turned out to be a really, really busy day -- the busiest I've ever seen it. When I opened the doors there was already a line of people and they just kept coming and I had to deal with it all by myself. And I did! Something clicked in me and I was ON -- putting those manic juices to good use for a change.

People are only allowed certain numbers of items at pantry and everything is a certain number of points, like bread is three points and a can of soup is one point and like that. So I had to enforce the point system so there would be enough food to go around, plus I had to get people to stay in line. MOST people of course are very polite and courteous but now and then someone will try to take advantage and they're not easily intimidated by a skinny little white girl.

But ya know, when a skinny little white girl has got her mania meter on full throttle you just better watch out, buddy. I became like those strong church-going black women in the neighborhood who sweep their sidewalks and don't take no guff from no strutting young men. I was, like, IN CHARGE of that food pantry and my mind and my hands were going superfast and whatever person I was helping at that moment I was completely in tune with that person, making conversation and fussing over their little ones and wishing upon them blessings -- yet at the same time I was totally aware of everything else happening, including one old man who always causes trouble perhaps because he is always drunk even in the mornings, but I had to deal with him and I gave him a lecture about why he needed to wait his turn and show some respect for all these other people and I knew I had the crowd behind me because everyone was annoyed by that old dude.

Near the end, there was a woman from the neighborhood who started helping me. She had come for the food and I had seen her in church a few times. Her toddlers politely sat on a cardboard box while their momma helped me finish. We stayed open an extra 15 minutes so we wouldn't have to turn anyone away and when we finally shut the doors the shelves were almost bare and it was like closing time at the Bailey Building & Loan after the run on the banks.

When I got home that evening I was so completely ON that I literally could not sit down. I told Mona all about it -- pacing in the kitchen while she sat at the table -- and she said she was proud of me and that SO filled me with happiness because although I never doubt that Mona LOVES me, I don't often do things that make her PROUD of me.

Well that night I literally did not sleep at all. We stayed up late talking in the kitchen and she was having her usual glass of scotch (the expensive, single-malt kind, straight up over ice) and I decided I'd have one of those myself (I usually just drink white wine and maybe take a little sip of her drink at most). The scotch ratcheted me down a little, to where the notion of sitting down was at least plausible.

I still had clothes on at that point, only because I had been too wound up talking to think about taking them off, so Mona started doing it for me, and one thing led to another and we had "traveling sex" (which is when you start in the kitchen, work your way to the stairs, etc). When we finally made it to the bedroom I was still so revved up and still feeling so confident that I decided Mr. Microphone should be used again (he normally does not get a second gig so soon), but THIS time I was the one who was gonna wear him! This is MOST unusual -- even more unusual than me drinking scotch -- and Mona found it tantalizingly out of character, so, well, that is what we did and it was one of those crazy, sweaty, almost-rolling-off-the-bed kinda times after which we lay there on our backs, damp and panting in the dark.

Which was great, except that an hour later I was still staring at the ceiling while she was sound asleep. And an hour after that I was still awake. By this time it was about 3 a.m. so I got up, still wound up. At six, she came downstairs and found me busily cleaning each of my little spice jars (which, you know, get dusty after a while).

When she left for work that morning she held me by the shoulders and looked me in the eye and asked if I was sure I'd be okay and I said of course, that I would probably take a nap. She made me promise not to go anywhere and to call her at work later.

A couple hours after she left I crashed. I felt the power draining from my body like Superman suddenly exposed to Kryptonite. It was all I could do to climb the stairs and crawl into bed. But I wasn't just sleepy, and I knew it. I was also coming Down, as in depression. The less-fun other side of the pendulum swing. You got your mania and then you got your depression. And I thought, oh shit here we go . . .

I've actually been fortunate in my illness. My manic periods usually last two or three times as long my periods of depression, and when I do get depressed I do not get it as bad as many people do. I rarely have suicidal thoughts, and when I do I can still keep my perspective -- that is, I am aware of the fact that I am in depression and that I can't trust my darker thoughts. Mostly I just can't command the energy to do anything. The idea of getting out of bed to brush my teeth or feed the dogs is just such a burden at such times. Normally I LOVE daylight, but when I am depressed I close the blinds because the sunlight is so harsh it is painful. And it is painful because I know that I am unable to feel the beauty of things I love. People trying to help me often tell me to go sit in my garden or pet my dogs, but what they can't understand is that doing those things doesn't help -- and in fact it hurts because I would sit there looking at my gardens KNOWING that I feel NOTHING of the joy that I supposedly should be feeling. It is as if these gardens belong to someone else and I can't imagine how that person could put the effort into all of the digging and weeding and planting that must be involved. But of course, I know it was me who did all that work, and that knowledge fills me with absolute dread -- and in fact I am more likely to think about death at that moment. I think: I'm responsible for these gardens; I can't possibly take care of them; I would rather be dead than have this responsibility.

So I don't go outside, I just stay in bed. My dogs curl up nearby, heaving sighs. They want to be outside on such a beautiful day, but they know I am sick so they stand guard. And I don't want them to. I want them to go away so I don't have to see them and feel the burden of their devotion.

Mona comes home to a dark, quiet house and no dinner. And I am barely capable of flushing the toilet after I pee. I am ashamed to look at her, humiliated to be seen by her.

And time passes. She takes the next day off work and I sleep through most of it, and when I am awake I feel guilt and shame for having tricked her into marrying me. I write her a letter suggesting that my mother could take care of me so that Mona could be free to find someone better, and that she could go ahead and do so because we are not legally married anyway. She rips up the letter, yelling angrily at me, her cheeks wet, and she flushes the bits of paper down the toilet. I watch her and feel sad but I can't cry.

Another day goes by -- and then something clicks again and I open my eyes and think, Iím hungry. And my next thought is, yuck, I need to brush my teeth. Both of these are good signs.

Mona is asleep on the couch and I move quietly like a ghost in the kitchen making a bowl of cereal. I consider slicing a banana into it, but decide that is overly ambitious. I carry my bowl outside, and it is a warm, sunny afternoon in early October. The leaves are just beginning to fall. I feel a little surprised that everything is still here and I sit crosslegged on the cool grass and I eat as leaves fall around me. I am suddenly famished and every bite is an individual experience. And then it is all gone but the milk and I drink it like from a cup, wanting it all. And just when I am finished, bringing the bowl away from my lips, a small yellow leaf twirls from the sky and lands in the bowl. And this seems to me a gift from God, and my eyes open as if layers of crust have just fallen from my blind eyes -- and there is the world, right in front of me.

October 13

Thank you for the notes and phone calls, everybody. I am FINE now, really. I'm sorry if I spooked some of you with that last journal entry, but keep in mind that by the time I am actually writing about something like that I have already gotten thru it. cause when I am in the middle of it I don't write, see? So the time to worry about me is when you haven't heard from me in a while -- not that you need to worry about me at all, of course, but you know what I mean.

Anyways, as always I have been well looked after. In addition to the ever reliable, always-puts-up-with-me Mona, I had my Mom visiting for a few days this past week and my local buddies have been swarming all over me this weekend, just forcing me to enjoy myself. Andrea and Dana and Jayne and Margot have been over here a lot this weekend also. Mona and Andrea have been watching baseball, but the rest of us have been partying.

Well, I gotta go. I don't really have nuthin to say right now. I just wanted to take the seriousness away after that last entry.

* * * * *

October 15, 2002

Well it has been quite chilly the past couple of days and The Amazing Nature Girl has had to quit being stubborn and get out her sweaters! But I mostly just wear them in the mornings, or if I am gonna be outdoors for an extended period. Like, yesterday I spent a lot of time out on the screened-in porch trying to finish that tile mosaic thing. I would like to get it done and grouted and sealed before winter cause snow will come in and land on that table.

So I broke down and wore a sweater -- and socks. But my favorite sweaters are cut short and only go down to around my belly button. I do my best not to cover up in the middle because I have this stubborn notion that it is healthier for you to let certain naturally moist body parts remain exposed to fresh air and sunlight. Not that I have any scientific research to back that up, except that I never get yeast infections anymore. (Oops, more information than you wanted, huh?)

Besides, I have found that if I keep my torso and extremities warm then my butt doesn't actually mind being cold. In fact, it's kinda nice because ya know the humble human butt can provide countless opportunities for sensate experience if employed correctly. For instance, I have a favorite outdoor chair outside the kitchen door in my little herb garden. On a hot summer day I go out and sit in it and it is very warm, sometimes quite hot against my skin, so that I have to ease my way into it, absorbing the heat from it a little at a time until the wood and my body are sharing the same energy, dispersing it. On dewy mornings it is wet and I plop right down on it, my skin becoming slippery wet on the smooth-painted wood, and when I get up I carry with me the morning dew which slowly dries on my bottom in the summer morning breeze.

This time of year when the air is cold but the sun is out I go outside, maybe wearing my sweater or maybe not, and my chair is quite cold at first, but just as in summer my skin and the wood share the temperature and distribute the cold and in just a few seconds it is comfortable, and if there is no wind I can lean back and feel the heat of the autumn sun on my skin. Truly, I am saddened that so few human butts have the opportunity to escape their prisons to experience these simple freedoms (cue patriotic music here).

ANYways . . . how the heck did I even get started on that? Oh yeah, the cool weather, etc. Well, we also had a mild frost last night so I went out and cut lots of flowers that I thought would get zapped. I knew the mums would be fine, and the other late-summer plants, but I had a bunch of cosmos that I planted from seed kinda late in the spring and they just got going a few weeks ago and were splurging madly all over the place just as the weather started to get too cold for them. I didn't think they'd take the frost very well so I cut a BUNCH of them and now I have about 20 vases all over the house with purple and pink and white cosmos. Altho my veggie garden kinda faded early this year because of the late-summer drought conditions, my flowers all did just fine and I was able to have fresh-cut flowers in the house constantly, which has become important to me.

Okay, I wasn't going to mention this next thing just yet, but since a few of you keep asking about Jack I thought I should tell you that he called last night and we talked for about three hours, and it was really nice. We had not been entirely out of touch, of course, and had exchanged e-mails and talked on the phone a few times, but this was the first time in the longest time that we just had a long, luxurious phone conversation.

And yes, if you are wondering, we did talk about resuming the baby-creation project. He emphasized that he has never ceased wanting to do it, and that is true. I am the one who put it on hold. Things are continuing to progress between him and Leslie and I am happy for them. He said she does not object to our plans -- though she did suggest that we stop messing with the turkey baster and let the doctors do that part. Which I agree with. I am also prepared to take Pergonal this time and have already discussed that with my various doctors.

* * * * *

October 18, 2002

A while ago I wrote that Christopher Reeve is one of the people I admire most, and that is true, but another is former President Jimmy Carter. Last week it was announced that he will receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his years of work around the world in support of human rights and social justice.

I'm glad that he is being recognized for this. He is truly a great person who has never been that interested in promoting himself, just in doing the right thing.

I liked Clinton, but I didn't admire him. People ask sometimes if I felt betrayed by him lying about getting blowjobs. Nah -- that's none of my freaking business and I frankly don't blame him for lying about it. He certainly did take advantage of "that woman, Miss Lewinsky," but beyond whether he was simply a douchebag personally (and a significant percentage of his generation have been), I was disappointed that he did not try harder during his presidency to do great things. He was more concerned about being popular than in taking risks for something worthwhile. Granted, he tried his first year with health care, but when he got trounced in Congress he just seemed to give up on doing anything big and concentrated on winning the little political games.

And I am definitely disappointed that he signed that stupid "Protecting Marriage" bill or whatever they called it -- it recognized only marriage between males and females. The arguments about that are such total bullshit and I was really disappointed that he signed it. He could be a real weasel sometimes.

* * * * *

October 23, 2002

Jack has been here this week and today the three of us went to the fertility doctor to get this show on the road! And now on my bedroom dresser we have a little cardboard box filled with tiny glass vials of Pergonal.

When my next cycle begins, Mona will administer the shots twice a day in my butt. And then either we wait for normal ovulation or else they induce it, and when I am as fertile as i can possibly be they will do this 'gift" procedure where they pick the best eggs and basically slather them with sperm so something is bound to happen. Yes, I am still afraid of needles and I still worry that these drugs will give me cancer or make me crazy or cause my ovaries to balloon up and explode (that last one is an actual risk which they warn you about). But I am ready to do it this way. I have dilly-dallied around long enough. Time to bring in the big guns and get me knocked up.

My fertility doctor is absurdly handsome in a Ken doll sorta way, and I usually refer to him as "Dr. Ken." He's kinda full of himself I think, but he's apparently very good at getting women pregnant so I guess it's okay with me if he's a little big-headed.

Jack stayed for dinner and then he and Mona watched the World Series. I watched it with them a little while, but found it really boring so I busied myself in the kitchen. I could hear their conversation and Jack was explaining to her his plan for building his own solar-powered water heater. She laughed her deep belly laugh and said "you just keep thinking, Butch. That's what you're good at."

Although Jack is exactly the same as he has always been, I've found myself being different somehow now that he has a woman in his life. For example, I have not been Nature Girl around him recently because I figure the new person in his life would probably prefer that. This afternoon, after we came back from the doc, I walked with him up to his little house and we passed the fallen tree which we had talked about using as a treehouse tree one day. I had been so dejected the day it fell in the storm, but he laughed and said there were plenty of other trees on this property. And then, as we went to look at it, he asked how long it had been since it came down and I told him, and he said it wasn't dead because the leaves hadn't withered. They were starting to change colors, but were still healthy looking. So even though the tree is sideways on the ground and a big ball of dirt and roots is sticking out of the ground, it isn't dead and maybe it will keep growing like that. You still can't put much of a treehouse in it, but the fact that it was still alive made a big difference to me. Life is resilient.

* * * * *

October 26, 2002

The other day I had one of my famous nursing dreams. For the scant few of you who don't know this, my fixation on having a baby often reflects itself in my dreams and I often dream of holding my baby or smelling her head or even nursing. See my Dreams Page for more detail if you can stomach it. Anyways, yesterday I was taking a lovely afternoon nap when I dreamed I was nursing my baby at my left breast, holding her in my arms wrapped in a white blanket, and I looked down at her and she was one of those newborns that have a thick head of hair right from the start -- and it was carrot-red hair just like Mona's! In my dream this made perfect sense, as if both of our genetics had combined to form this baby (oh how I wish it could be that way!), but I was thinking afterwards that it could make sense in a different way also -- if for example I can't get pregnant using my own eggs then the next thing we might try is donor eggs from Mona. Then I would carry the baby and give birth, but the genetic makeup would be Mona and Jack. Which actually would be very cool.

A friend of mine suggested donor eggs on the same day I dreamed this and another friend told me SHE dreamed I had a baby whose name was Claire. Which is also interesting because I have an ex-girlfriend named Claire and had intentionally kept that name off of my baby-name list because of that. But then I told Mona about the comment and she snorted and said it wouldn't matter to her if the name was the same, so long as I wasn't actually naming the baby after that person, which of course I would not be.

Claire, by the way, was the artist chick from England that I dated when I was about 22. She was from Liverpool and talked just like the Beatles. She was a painter and I got to know her while posing for her. I fell in love with her (or thought I did). It was actually because of her that I re-located from the general region of my hometown to this area -- where I met Mona. So even though getting involved with Claire was for the most part not a good thing for me, had I not followed her down here -- madly infatuated with someone who did not have quite the same feelings for me -- then I never would have met my actual life-mate in Mona. I tend to believe that Serendipity plays a big role in our lives and is somehow connected to The Spirit, which helps to guide our lives. The Spirit led me to Mona through the use of an English woman named Claire who has probably forgotten all about me by now. In that sense, Claire was Athena and it didn't matter much in the long run that her intentions were little more than to have me pose for her paintings and sleep in her bed for a couple months. I still have one small painting from that period, but there were at least 20 of them -- most of them large nudes. Last I heard she was in New York so maybe I am hanging in galleries and lofts there even now.

Looking back, I can see that I was far more unhinged in those days than I am now. This was only about a year or so after I totaled my car around that tree, was thrown into a corn field (amazingly unhurt except I was bleeding from a cut on my head) and I actually got lost in that freakin corn field and walked in the wrong direction until I found another road -- not the road my wrecked car was on but it looked the same and there was no car, no wreck, no "me". I remember having that Twilight Zone feeling that maybe I didn't really exist. But heck I was totally nuts. Not long after that I was in the psych ward after my famous breakdown, which is really when I first started to get a true understanding for bipolar disorder. But anyways, my point (and I do have one) was that it wasn't much after all of this when I met Claire and insisted on moving down here to "become an artist." And a few months later Claire was gone and I was still a mess but a mess in a new geographic location. But it was good for me, being on my own then, and I made new friends and so on and one thing led to another and then I met Mona and the rest is, as they say, history.

* * * * *

October 28, 2002

Well it is almost Halloween and we have been planning our costumes. Mona and Andrea and several of the other jocks decided they wanted to go as Vikings so Jayne, TJ and I have been making Viking horn hats and breastplates. It is all out of paper mache, but you'd never know it. We found fake fur and fake leather at Joanne Fabric to use to hold the horns together on the hats. Jayne used herself to mold the breast plates and she is the boobiest member of the group so all these Vikings are gonna be pretty well stacked.

Jayne said she probably won't be a Viking herself, but might go as a "wench." I'm not sure what the costume requirements are for that but I think it's safe to assume that cleavage is involved.

This has somewhat confused up my own plans cause I was gonna go as Supergirl, using movie-grade latex body paint for the skin-tight costume effect. I even got a red cape that I found at a garage sale a while ago. It was from a kid's costume and the cape part is a bit small on me but it has the yellow S on the back. And I got some calf-length white boots at the Goodwill that I was gonna cover with red shoe polish.

Now I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. Obviously there is no reason why I can't be one thing while they are all some other thing, but it would also be nice to do the group thing. But I think I am gonna stick with Supergirl cause at this particular moment it has additional meaning to me. I am about to begin my Pergonal treatments and I have a very positive attitude about what will unfold as a result. I am not just being naively optimistic as I have sometimes been before. I know the uncertainties, but I feel a strong Spiritual feeling that my tme for this is arriving. I feel The Spirit in me and it makes me strong. I am Supergirl.

* * * * *

October 30, 2002

It has been cold and rainy a lot lately, but part of the time it has been warm enough for me to sit out on the screened in porch working on my mosaic tile table,which is almost done. While I was working on it recently I noticed some pencil marks and realized that it was a sketch of something with some numbers and dimensions. Most of the pencil had faded, and I had already covered up some of it, but I started wondering about the person who put it there. I'm sure it was just some project the old farmer was working on in his little shop, nothing of significance to me, but I was just really aware of the fact that this was HIS table and I am living in HIS house.

But more specifically, it was his wife's house I think. This land was her family's farm and she grew up in the original farmhouse which is where Margot and Jayne now live. It was built about 1900 or 1910 and is quite Victorian in style with all of the angles and ornamentation. When we bought this property, it hadn't been occupied in decades and was driftwood gray with here and there a bit of peeling yellow paint. Margot and Jayne have really fixed it up, painting it multiple shades of green.

This was all one big farm then. I don't know how many children they had, but at least one was a daughter whose name was Mae. After she married, she and her husband probably spent the first ten years or so of their marriage living with her parents in the big farmhouse, but then in the 1940s they built their own house on the property, which is this one where me and Mona live. She raised five or six children here, while over in the other house her parents grew old and died and then their house stood empty.

Mae's children all grew up and moved away, none of them wanting to continue the farm, and Mae and her husband started to grow old also. He apparently died in his mid to late 60s, but I know Mae lived on, well into her 80s, alone here in this house.

I think of her sometimes, and I picture her in a Norman Rockwell kind of way in different places around the house, mostly in the kitchen or in the original garden where I have my herbs. But until I noticed those pencil marks it never really occurred to me to picture her husband. I don't even know his name. But now I have an image of an old man in a worn flannel shirt puttering around in that little room that we eliminated to make our kitchen larger. I see him at his work table, maybe making one of the many bluebird houses that have been attached to fence posts since long before we moved here.

And in the next room, there was Mae. She had no microwave oven or electric breadmaker. She didn't get her biscuits out of those little tubes that burst open when you poke them with a knife.

Sometimes I picture them when they were younger -- their kids scrambling around the house and filling it with noise. And her husband -- I'm gonna name him Ed -- would go out to the fields as soon as the sun was up and Mae would be busy all day cleaning and cooking and ironing and mending the hand-me-down clothes her older children passed along to the younger ones. I picture her singing while she worked, and I am pretty sure she had a nice voice.

And then overnight her kids were all grown and the house was quiet. Ed tinkered with something at his table, his back turned to the doorway that opened to the kitchen where Mae kept herself busy.

Then Ed was gone too, and she was alone.

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