diabola in musica

because perfection isn't easy

Invenire Musas

He asked if I painted. Surprised, I said no. More often the question was about writing or music or writing music but we were talking about synesthesia and colors, so his question was not too out of place.

It’s true that I don’t paint but the truth is that I almost had. I tossed the watercolor washes and put away the brushes long ago. I couldn’t continue when I couldn’t envision the piece, when I couldn’t focus and practice the strokes. It was over. I knew I had to let go. But I wanted to push through, to pull something—anything—from the ruins. I tried. I did. Then she saw what I laid out in red. She said, sadly, that it just wasn’t the same. I looked at the lines and colors. I saw that she was right. I saw how deep the rabbit hole went.

I tell stories about how I lost my mind but I say very little about how I lost my soul. When your self is so damaged, you’re forced to choose what to heal. Facing one loss is painful enough. I couldn’t manage mourning both. So I spent years tending my memory, my mind, and the rest I stashed half-hidden in my closet, on my bookshelf, on my self. I admit: I refused to let go. But I couldn’t do so I couldn’t be. So I hid. But I hoped.

But here’s another truth: I have just passed a threshold. I can think. I can remember. I can read. Now when I look over my dusty library of technique and theory and history, I think it’s time to put away the tomes. They will be replaced with paper and pencils and pastels. There will be sketches. Perhaps, one day, there will even be a frame.

If I can think again, perhaps, one day, I can create, too.

All Over

I had a dream, once, where he handed me a brown paper envelope. The folds bulged. The package was thick. He said, simply, This is for you. I flipped the flap and inside were sheaves and sheaves of papers, stationaries of all different textures, covered with the thin rambling scrawl of a passionate pen. These were letters, with the words he had never uttered. These were his notes, with the hopes he never voiced. Stunned, suddenly, I knew. I saw the color bleed across the script and I knew. It was just a dream but colors are truth and I could not deny the missive in red. When your emotions have hues, you always know how you are, with what and with whom. There can be no more self-deception. I could no longer lie about how I want it to be. Though I was dreaming, I knew, and when I woke, I knew. But I knew this was a truth for me and me alone. I will replace this red back in the brown. Then I will set out it in the sun. The colors then will fade, until there are none, except for that aged soft and sallow yellow. Then I will be done—finally, done.

Ardent emotions usually take several days to move off my palette. This one has been coloring my life since last weekend.
Externalizing colors is therapeutic. Just as writing is healing because the words are no longer cluttered in my mind, coloring swatches is healing because the hues are no longer overwhelming my emotional palette. They are out of me and separate, and I can put them away until a later day.
I’ll address this blue soon, but for now I have work to do.

Ardent emotions usually take several days to move off my palette. This one has been coloring my life since last weekend.

Externalizing colors is therapeutic. Just as writing is healing because the words are no longer cluttered in my mind, coloring swatches is healing because the hues are no longer overwhelming my emotional palette. They are out of me and separate, and I can put them away until a later day.

I’ll address this blue soon, but for now I have work to do.

Mental Upkeep

Many days I feel separated, discrete, and disparate. Many days I can’t be fully present, overseeing my thoughts and actions, so I pack my memories away, set processes on autopilot, and manage my tasks with what awareness I can spare. After many years, I have arranged an organized but crowded workspace, filled with boxes and engines, all managed by tiny little homunculi. These separate consciousnesses I trust to run my mind for me. They handle my memories. They set in motion my instinctive responses. But there are so many of them. Sometimes they don’t communicate well among themselves, and certainly, I can’t keep track of them all. I have a feeling of being here but not here, having knowledge just out of reach, losing details but not knowing what or how. But still, always, is that feeling of if I just have the right trigger, the right key, it will unlock a memory chest, and suddenly I recall with wonder all the details, right at the tip of my tongue, the ends of my fingers.

My inner world, I think, is fascinating. Perhaps that’s why I find other people’s internal lives fascinating, too. How many other people have colorful moods, powerful connections to plants, and homunculi staff? It’s busy in here. It’s exhausting. It’s why I like to disappear sometimes, camouflaged within the urban backdrop or removed from my own body. Do other people feel themselves in different parts? Do they need time away from themselves? Are their daily lives exhausting merely from existing?

I remember, often later. Finally the internal paperwork has been processed, and I receive a memory, facts that I thought I had lost, details I hope to have remained intact through storage and retrieval. Almost every day has a moment of enlightenment, one that would have been more useful hours before.

Otherwise, I have no complaints. I am functional. I am successful. I just wish it weren’t so tiring. Maybe if I let go my staff, I would have more energy, more mental space to organize my thoughts.

But then, I wonder, who is going to take on these tasks? I am only one person, and there is an entire mind to manage.

So these homunculi, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Seasonal Affective

I’m losing it, just a little. It’s summer again, and with some sun and some runs, I’m having trouble sleeping. The grass isn’t talking to me yet, but their voices would be easy enough to ignore when the weeks are filled with work and play. Still, there is tension in my skin. I am wound, hyperfocused and hypersexed. My thoughts race ahead until I can no longer track them. Maybe, for the summer, I should stop drinking coffee.

I wish I were told about the comorbidities that came with TBI. I expected depression, but the hypomania and the anxiety and the disassociation and the attentional problems and the disinhibition were all surprising. When each surfaced, I wondered if this were normal, if this were to happen without the injury. Maybe I just was imagining it, just not coping well enough, just creating all these problems in my head. But no, I wasn’t crazy. I was just insane. I just wish I knew. If I knew to expect sleepless hypercreative episodes, I would have walked into the doctor’s office much earlier than I had. If I knew to watch for panic attacks, I might have not needed to admit myself to the ER.

Now I know to watch for anything and everything. Last month, I started to feel the holes in my memory. I knew they had always been there and that they always will be, but sensing them is new and terrifying. After successfully managing the moods and anxiety and grass, I now see the blank spaces in my mind, these periods where nothing is recorded. I am eating lunch at work, then I am walking the streets of Burlington hours later, and there is nothing—no colors—in between.

This is normal, I tell myself. Memory loss is tragic, but normal. Still, the spaces between each are large and frightening. What have I lost from yesterday? What will I not keep tomorrow?

I feel interrupted, that life has cut large chunks of out of my personal narrative and then left me to guess at them. It would be a game if it weren’t so consuming to remember my life each day. It would be just another complication if there weren’t the possibility that the holes would get larger and larger, until one day I really am losing it. Then, I will have lost it all.