Well, I deserved that

I think I had a stupid hangover. If that’s what was wrong with me yesterday, I deserved every moment of the misery. If that’s what it was, it was the second hangover of my life, so I’m really not sure because of my inexperience. The first (and only, until now) hangover I had was on January 1, 1980, after a NYE celebration at a wine bar (which was a thing back in the late 70s, chickie babies, along with fern bars). We had flights of wine, small tastes, and I just didn’t realize what was happening. That felt like what I imagined a hangover would feel like: the motes of dust in the air slamming into my head were excruciating, and the voices, oh the loud, loud voices, agony. It was so punishing, I couldn’t understand why anyone would ever put themselves in a position to have to go through that, and ever since, I’ve held myself back from getting anywhere near that experience. I’m a cautious drinker anyway, after growing up with my vicious alcoholic dad, but man, that hangover was bad enough to straighten me right up even without a family history.

Monday evening I had three beers, and then also a lot of really bad food. Too many salted peanuts. A pint of ice cream. A three-pack of coconut Peeps with dark chocolate. A container of guacamole and most of a bag of salty tortilla chips. I was clearly in a hard place, and just cramming as much of everything into my mouth as I could possibly get.

Around 5am I started waking up with a funny, bad headache, and my stomach hurt so bad. What an idiot, eating all that fat! I cursed myself. And thus began the, um, “intestinal distress,” let’s call it. For the next three hours, more or less, really bad business. My head hurt, but it hurt worse when I lay down so I kept moving around, when I wasn’t stuck in the bathroom. I ate something so I could take Excedrin, and drank a lot of water, and cursed myself for having been so stupid.

But the worst part — even worse than the bathroom, because the headache was manageable — was the mood. I really think the mood all day and night was part of the hangover! Has that happened to you? I felt cloaked in a too-heavy and too-tight lead skin. Suppressed as much as depressed, but also all the bad things at once. Mad, bitter, prickly, distressed, irritated, down, flat, anxious, all of it at once. No single bad feeling arose as the most pressing, which was kind of confusing, because I couldn’t say what I was feeling. Everything bad, that’s all I could say.

Poetry group met at my house last night, and that’s usually one of my favorite nights of the month. We have a new member, and he’s an extremely good poet. He wrote a poem about an acid trip he had in the 1960s and I could immediately see that it was a masterful poem, but it prompted a lively conversation about all those acid trips members took in the 1960s/1970s. And OH were they lively when they talked about them! They went on and on (at least it felt that way to me), comparing notes, talking about the wild hallucinations, etc., and I wanted to scream and choke them and run out of the room. That’s not my favorite kind of conversation, anyway, because it always feels to me like it’s making light and fun of something that’s actually horrible. I know what it is to live at the hands of an addict, and I know someone very well who was addicted to heroin and his stories are so very terrible — oh sure, it’s all fun UNTIL IT ISN’T and then you’re stuck, and so are all those in your life. My mood made it so hard for me to sit there and listen, and I was trying hard to manage my facial expression so it didn’t betray my real feelings, but I don’t know how well I did it. I’ve never felt so terrible during poetry group, and my hangover mood was largely responsible. Otherwise, I’d have let the conversation go on a little and then I’d have redirected us back to the poetry.

I had no idea that a hangover could be that mental and emotional state, but I do think that’s what yesterday was all about. All morning, when I was walking around managing the headache and running to the bathroom, I kept saying out loud, “Idiot, you brought this on yourself! Jesus, what were you thinking.” Fully deserved, Lori, even if I also have some compassion for the feelings I was having that brought me to that eating and drinking frenzy the night before. And then the rest of the day, as the physical consequences disappeared, I kept saying out loud, “Oh, I feel so bad. I just feel so so bad. And I brought this on myself.”

The only good thing about that experience is that it seems to have slapped me in the psychological face a little bit, a bit of Moonstruck Cher talking to Nicolas Cage: SNAP OUT OF IT!

The sun is shining. I have a bit of work. I started my day the way I wanted to start it, and for my dinner tonight I’m making this gorgeous spinach salad. Doesn’t that look yummy? Ever since I got back to Austin, I have not been cooking for myself, for some reason, and that’s something I love to do, even if it doesn’t reliably work at the moment. In NYC I don’t get the kind of food I love to make, so when I’m here I’m always eager to make it and eat ALL the vegetables. That salad is part of a wonderful “snap out of it!” reboot. I only have a few more days here before I return to NYC and then we go to Indonesia, so I’d better get busy if I want to eat all the vegetables. 🙂 I’m so glad I learned, on my yoga mat, that all of life is like tree pose — wiggling, wobbling, falling out of it on occasion and getting back into it, and seeking the stable point.

And no more beer. Not for a very long time.

the slow reboot

Oh how quiet I’ve been! I haven’t written a post in several days, obviously (if you’ve noticed; it’s hard to notice the absence of something). Often when I go quiet like this it’s a sign of depression, and in fact when my mind doesn’t have words it’s so startling to me it gets my immediate attention. Now, though, I don’t feel at all depressed. Sad here and there, sure, of course, but not depressed. Not even depressed in the casual way people say that, like “oh, I’m so depressed about the crappy avocados.” Nope, not depressed. Just really quiet.

In fact, it has been growing in a particular way, my quietness. Like a paper towel with one edge touching a puddle of water, and the water slowly wicks its way through until the whole towel is wet. That’s how my quietness has been. It’s really very curious, actually. It feels like I’m pulling inward, more more more, just watching. Observing this process with a bit of wonder. Hey, what’s going on here, this is kind of interesting. (But not thought out in words. 🙂 ) A friend asked me about my silence and I said it kind of feels organic, some part of a process, and I realized I feel like I’m moving along a U-shaped curve. Not this one, but one like it:

a classic pattern
a classic pattern

So I’m approaching (or maybe at) the low point of a line that has a built-in route going up again. It’s not a bad feeling; we tend to think down/low = bad and up/high = good, but this feeling doesn’t have that valence attached. Down is just down the curve, not good or bad. But what is this about, this internal silence, this loss of words, this quietude?

rebootThis morning I got an idea about what’s happening. I think my system is rebooting! I’ve been going through a process of learning how to be all alone (not all alone in the world, happily; I have so many loved ones, and family). Being all alone, from wake-up to night-night. Getting out of bed alone, no one to speak to. Coffee, brushing my teeth, getting dressed (do I? Why?), working all day, making dinner and eating it all alone, passing the evening, going through my bedtime ritual, climbing into a bed empty except for me, and drifting off to solitary sleep without the animal comfort of a warm person sleeping over there too, no breath but mine, only my own comfort from waking nightmares, or hearing sounds at night. When I first started living alone, the silence bothered me, a lot. I could easily go a few days without hearing another voice or using mine, and I started talking out loud to myself all the time. (It tickled me that my default self-talk took the form of, “Well! That was a genius idea! Aren’t you smart!”) But as the silence has settled around me, as the reboot process began, I started feeling much more comfortable in the silence. Not bothered by it. Relishing it, even, like a light velvet blanket, the softest lightest thing, beautiful.

Soon I will be going into the desert alone, for three days and two nights. I chose the period of the full moon, so I can enjoy that out in such a lonely beautiful landscape. (It just hit me that going during the new moon might’ve been better for seeing all the glorious stars. Oh well. Another time.) When I made those plans I was a little worried about the solitude but now I’m really looking forward to it. It’s such a long and ancient tradition, going into the desert for renewal. There is something scouring there, stripping away the nonsense so the true thing becomes visible. Oh I can’t wait.

It’s nice to feel like writing again, even if I am writing about not writing. I have the best, most loving friends and family who watch over me — thank you for your concern about my silence, and I hope this gives you a better sense of how I am, which is quietly, quietly brilliant. Quietly filled with hope. Quietly quietly watching and waiting for my rebooted self to emerge in joy.