Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My pity party

Silent Assassin
Originally uploaded by **Anna.
For the first time in ages, I find myself almost at a loss for words. I'm finding it hard to write and blog right now, and I regret that I haven't been following up on comments, though I always deeply appreciate them.

Although I do talk about my life here, I don't consider this a classic "confessional" blog. I think there's a lot that I hold back, and I hide behind stylized "essays" rather than really letting it all out most of the time.

One of the things I usually only touch on, if I mention it at all, is my bipolar disorder--in part because since I've been blogging, I've often felt at least normal if not downright hypomanic. But now I'm clearly in a slump, and though I assume it's just a fleeting thing there's always the fear that it could lead to something more serious in terms of a downward mood swing. All I know is that for the past week or so the joy and excitement of blogging has not been there for me, and I don't seem to have the energy or will to do much blog-wise.

One of the things that is stressing me out is that over seven years after my breakup with my ex-boyfriend of 20 years, we are finally getting ready to sell our coop so we can each buy a place of our own. A few months ago, shortly after we started planning the sale, "L" was diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy. In a nutshell, his manual dexterity is deteriorating, and he's prone to falls. He may eventually wind up in a wheelchair, and he may not live past 65, since this condition tends to shorten one's lifespan. So I feel guilty about the fact that we're going through with this move, though I try to keep in mind that I deserve to truly have a place of my own--and he seems fine with it.

As I've mentioned before, with each month of blogging, I've become more of a shut in, and I'm not eating right or exercising. Plus there's the smoking. But part of me feels like the state of the world is so messed up that I wouldn't be at all surprised if it may all be "over" in a "flash" in apocalyptic fashion--so what's the diff if I smoke like a chimney?

In this frame of mind, I couldn't help but think--as I often do--of my all time favorite poem by W. B. Yeats. I first discovered it back in high school, and it has haunted me ever since. To me it is--and will forever remain--the most chilling yet bleakly beautful prediction of unspeakable horrors and woes yet to come.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

--William Butler Yeats

During the past year or so, it has occurred to me again and again that if I believed in that sort of thing, what's been happening in the world today would surely have convinced me that the End Times are at hand. (Yes, there have been horrors in our world since time immemorial, but being human, of course I see things from the narrow perspective of my personal knowlege, experience, and Zeitgiest.)

Devastating hurricanes; uncontrollable wildfires; tsunamis; earthquakes; another deadly virus poised to morph into a pandemic; a well nigh unwinnable war with Iraq; Iran's implacable anti-Semitic stance; the worldwide scourge of terrorism and the rogue trading in nuclear materials; the Mohammed cartoon debacle; the port controversy...need I go on?

In any case, I hope that I will soon be able to get back into the swing of things and visit and comment to my blogpals more often, as well as getting back into replying to comments in a timely fashion.

In fact, just writing this makes me feel better already.


At 3:08 AM, Blogger Joel said...

I love the Yeats poem, too, and sometimes can be heard to recite it during mixed states.

As for your boyfriend: you didn't cause his muscular dystrophy (or is it MS?) Compassion for him is in order but not blame.

I admire that you realize that the BPD is a tangent to your life. This is hard for me to fathom as I swim through all the black muck of illness.

Don't give up. Make that a mantra.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Thank you so much for your comment--you said just what I needed to hear. Your blog looks awesome, and I plan to visit and dig in as soon as I can...

At 1:47 PM, Blogger :phil: said...

I know how it gets with blogging slumps. I'm not bi-polar, but I do struggle with depression and anxiety. I also have cancer. I was a smoker for many years (2 packs a day) but believe it or not, I don't have lung cancer (colon cancer that spread to my lungs). At any rate, sure we all will die someday but cancer sucks and I'd rather be blown up in the subway than to die from this shitty disease. I'm sorry your ex is going through his stuff, but I hope you get your place. A change of scenery might be just what you need. I don't mean to be preachy, I try to be peachy...

At 11:52 PM, Blogger Maggs said...

You know, you write when you can and when you feel like it. If it helps, do it. If not, take a break. We're always here to listen though

At 5:00 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I am so so sorry to hear about your cancer. I hope that you are able to conquer this--thank goodness we live in an age where it's not always fatal and can often be curable/manageable.

Smoking is one of my biggest worries, both for me and my boyfriend BG. It's been particularly awful since I started blogging as I tend to light up compulsively, and my cig intake has been going up and up. Your comment reinforces the fact that this is something I should strive very hard to stop.

As a matter of fact, when I was browsing through flickr for images of cigs/ashtrays, I saw a number of horrific shots of overflowing ashtrays full of seemingly hundreds of butts. It was such a repulsive sight that I'm thinking of printing some out and putting them around the apt as a reminder of how horrible this habit is.

Your blog looks terrific and I've bookmarked it to return and check out more. Thanks so much for the comments--they really helped. My best wishes to you!

At 5:03 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I'm actually starting to feel better--I think the comments here have helped a lot. The thing that bothers me the most is that though I'm usually able to post regularly (though more at BlogCritics than here lately) I regret not being able to keep up with my commenting and blog visiting as much as I'd like. There's such a bewildering array of websites, blogs, news stories, etc. that I feel overwhelmed. It's good to know there's people out there who will still visit even when I am unable to return the gesture as often as I'd like.

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Reverend Z said...

Good to see you coming out of the blue :)

At 5:40 PM, Blogger fugusashi said...

Elvira, go take a walk if the weather's nice. Go see a movie. Watch something funny on TV. Read the funnies in the newspaper. Try not to dwell, okay? All the worry in the world won't change a thing, so let's not worry.

...And don't feel guilty about not visiting blogs. You need to take care of yourself right now.


At 2:25 PM, Blogger jessie said...

i am so glad you posted this poem! i too remember it from high school but could not remember the title or author, but the words stuck with me! i do agree with your post and the words are written so prophetic like he was seeing the world today.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger NewYorkMoments said...

Hey---I've been thinking about you. I know you've been going through a hard time---Life can really suck sometimes, but it will all end up OK.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Reverend Z:

So good to see you again! I was worried about you...I know you've been through some rough times lately and I hope this finds you feeling a bit better--or actually, a lot better.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Actually, I've been spending time getting the coop together, and this "real life" activity is making me feel like I'm getting something done outside the virtual world. I can't seem to stop myself from watching CNN (and yes, FOX news too), but sometimes seeing the macro problems helps me put my own micro problems in perspective. Thank you for the words of support, my friend!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


I am normally not big on poetry (at least since high school or college) but this one blows me away every time. The 20th century moderns really knew how to put things--it's spoiled me for anything more current.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Thank you so much! Yes, I do think it will all be ok--but like anything worthwhile, it takes hard work to get there, no?

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

glad youre feeling better E--so many wonderful thoughts here I really dont know what I can add to them. I know that you are feeling better as well, but I really wanted to adress an issue that you brought up in your article.
Anyway, I will relate my own expereinces with the woes of the world. Personally, I had to stop watching/reading the news. I found out that stressing over the bad things that were happening (or could potentially happen) did nothing to help either myself or the world. so I stopped watching/reading pretty much altogether. now many (like my mother for example, who is a newspaper addict) sees this as evidence of my alleged apathy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, instead of baraging my psyche with a lot of useless information (depressing info to boot!) I find activist sites online, maybe 3 or 4 at a time that are concerned with issues I personally hold dear, and then I become involved in whatever ways I feel I can at the time. It has been a sheer godsend. This way, I feel I am keeping up on some of the issues that are particular concern for me, but not filling my psyche with all kinds of nastiness. its like creating psychological boundaries for oneself, ya know? its healthy and its really important and it doent mean that you dont care. In fact I think the opposite is true. anxiety caused by what may happen in the furture is useless and pointless and just causes needless suffering-to add ontop of all the suffering already going on! how can we be useful and effective human beings at all if we spend our time being torn apart by our fears?

here is a good quote by the man, Vernon Howard.

"Let feelings of helplessness fall on a wish for higher
strength, not on despair."

At 9:55 PM, Blogger jane said...

For centuries people have been talking about the world coming to an end. Add to that, we have an Evangelical president who is putting a lot of these things on the table, ie...war in the middle east, oil prices, 'roadmap to peace' in israel/palestine. Why? Because he believes the rapture is going to happen soon, so he doesn't give 2 flying sh*ts about our future, or if this planet exists anymore.
*Off my soapbox I go*
I avoid politics now because I get so very depressed about them. I just can't handle the suffering, hypocrisy & hopelessness around me. That's my solution.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger Neil said...

What concerned me the most is when you said, "I'm not eating right or exercising." Your first priority is taking care of your own health, not blogging or feeling guilty about your ex-boyfriend.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

I totally agree with Neil. we have to take care of ourselves first and foremost before we can be of any real help to another. I learned that when I had to raise my kids. it was a tough thing to learn for me because I suffered from tons and tons of "mothers guilt". It kept me from having much of any life that didnt involve my kids. then finally, with the help of various sources, I began to realize that the best thing I could do for my kids was to be an example of what a happy, healthy mom really was--someone who made her own health and mental well being a priority. they didnt like it at fiirst (and neither did i. it was gut wrenching at times listening to my daughter screaming for me over the phone when I called to check up ) but we got used to it and soon I was hooked on it. to this day, i truly beleive this had a very positive effect on my kids, because it taught them how to make thier own needs a priority. that doing for others must come after doing for ourselves. this is not selfishness. its a fact.

In summation (haha) I think that If we give it a little time, we can get hooked on good things too :-)

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Webmiztris said...

sometimes you just need a break...i totally understand.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger e.e. said...

Hang in there lady.

I miss your widsom and enjoy your humbleness. And I can relate to you 100%.

At 12:32 AM, Blogger digibrill said...

elvira, I'm sorry you are feeling this way. I smoke, too, and it's bad, like a pack a day. I sometime think of the end of the world as well. But now I still have a hope.

Let me let you in on a little-realised secret: the "end times" have been here for quite a while. We've had the ability to kill the whole wide world over and over with nuclear, chemical, and biological agents for a long time. In our own age, I don't think we'll see these things go away. Right now they serve as deterrents to a determined minority of wackjobs.

Now I'm quite a religious person, but I love the secular society we live in. I DO NOT appreciate anyone telling me that I MUST believe a certain way. When you have people like the president of Iran saying that he is here to usher in the twelfth imam through nuclear holocaust, then we have to shine our silver deterrents. Sad, but really our only option with such a culture.

I'm happy that the secular West is still in control of the media. It's not perfect, but it is to a large extent, free. Our society and the ones in Western Europe and Japan are the freeest and most prosperous in the world. We progress.

Not all is perfect in "paradise," but it sure beats the idea of "paradise" at the hands of a suicide bomber. Death has become worshipped in these other cultures as they plaster pictures of dead terrorists in their houses. I can't understand it.

Enough of my talk anyway. All your readers would agree I am sure - you are a wonderful person and you obviously care a lot about the world. All I can say, from my Christian standpoint, is that you are loved and just keep looking up. You have friends out here.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger rob said...

My resolution for the New Year? Never make another resolution...(and this one I plan to keep). I can tell you what I'll die of...My heart will stop beating and I'll die of whatever. In the meantime I plan to take each second of that time B 4 and use it to live my life for as long as I can and a little bit more. Me? I roll my cigarrettes and smoke 'em. roll my own drinks and smoke 'em too. Just got this pc runnin' so I come as I can, write as I can, live as I can. So many of us have so little time left that wr'll probably be gone before tha a..hole can politically sink more this great country, and we stop bullying other countries. Feel the sunshine on your skin as long as you can, watch the grass greenen as spring rolls on ... then if you want, smoke it. Write to you heart's content 'till there ain't no more ink in the cyber pen, take a break as needed.... we'll be around as we can. Get your place, you deserve it ... it's yours. The only stress you want is the one on your muscles when you cat-stretch out in the morning. Beautiful poem . The world is going to hell in a basket, but I'll make it Heaven while it gets there... make the world yours while you can, the rest is outta your hands. Sleep well, when tomorrow comes we'll find out what it's about. rob

At 1:58 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Thank you, my kind friends--I will try to respond to all comments as soon as I can get my head together!

At 4:46 AM, Blogger dan said...

Seems alot of folks are having troulbe blogging right now.

If we blame ourselves for everything bad that happens to others, we'll never have time to deal with the bad things we actually do to ourselves.

If he wants you to be happy, who are you to say no to that? ;)

Yeats knows how to say things.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger The Blind-Winger Jones said...

That is a beautiful poem.

I feel at times as if we're living in climactic times, then I try to put things into context. We hear about stuff much more than our ancestors previously did. I think sometimes too much information is a bad thing.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Leslie said...

Elvira -

You are one of the few people that I can read for as long as you write. And that's saying something. Usually if a post is more than a few paragraphs long, I skim it at best. But I find it easy to read your writings through and through. It's like listening to a pleasant conversation.

I've been going through a blogging slump too, sometimes because I have nothing to say, and other times because I'm too insecure to say what I really want to say.

Isn't that ironic? That so many of us blog online to "confess" or say things we normally wouldn't, but then end up holding back anyway?

I tried to get more daring, but in the end I created a private blog. A blog just for me. A blog where I could just let loose and let the wind take me where it wills.

That feels good.

I'm so sorry to hear about "L". One of the most terrifying aspects of getting close to anyone is the thought that you might lose them someday...especially a day sooner than you want. It's a risk that we all choose to take or not to take. I often wonder whether my relationship with Jason is worth it. I mean, what if he gets in a car accident tomorrow? Or worse, what if he gets in a car accident AFTER we're married with kids?

But you know, there is always the saying that it was better to have loved than to have never loved at all. I don't think everyone agrees with that statement, and that's okay. But personally, I think most people would agree that it is better to take a risk and fail than it is to be safe and wonder what it would have been like to take a risk.

It sounds to me like "L" is happy for your transition into your own place, as he should be. Even though he is sick, as long as his life was a triumph, his death won't be either.

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

Don't want to say too much personal, partly because if I do I am disclosing in a way I don't feel right with now.

This is an open medium, too.

Though you wrote this post a while ago, and got a good response which surely made you feel better, I have another suggestion. Don't think about writing at all. Check out some websites such as 3Quarks. It's random, but but before you know it there is something to latch onto outside yourself. (Writing, like so many other activities we do, can create the transcendence we feel more comfortable with when time seems to slip by easy. But if it causes irritation,discomfort, misery, confusion, anger, frustration, et al, don't do it).

I looked at
just now while in the middle of writing this to you and had to stop because I am into visualisation techniques and that synapse seemed to be saying something to me. Open the picture in another tab : its a lot bigger.

Hey, is that you down there amongst the neurotransmitters! Something is coming: ah yes, for one I can actually remember. The Desiderata. If I google it I will find the words I want.

There it is:

" gentle with yourself."

At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Justine said...

how I see it is, the world is much better linked up now. There aren't more catostrophes of a worse nature: we simply know about them in greater detail.
Think of the shock of the colour photos, and video footage from the Vietnam war - how different that was to anything previous in terms of the level of emotional involvement onlookers, uninvolved (seemingly uninvolved) people had.

On the other hand, I think the outlook is a bit bleak. If you combine the energy crisis (actual or impending, depending on your POV), avian flu, the total failure of the moral fibre and principles of our governments - on a geo level, yeah, its pretty fucked!
But you have to surrender to it. Its beyond the control of any individual.

I'm sorry about your friend. Its terrible. Its a bit like what my dad got.

Regarding you, personally, more directly - i think your blog is great and i love it! You're a great writer, articulate, funny, and a top class shit stirrer!

I liked that poem. It wasn't on my reading list, so that's the first time I've read it. Thanks.


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