Fragments

You owe nothing to the dead.

Knowing that I need to write this grief, realizing that it will not be written, that it can't be written.

The words are imprisoned by us. We are imprisoned by the words.

I am forever estranged from reality. I create alternative realities where I can exist and survive.

I don't write what I know; I write what I can't let go of.

I think often about the flower lady in Mrs. Dalloway, singing of life and death as the masses walk by her. She knows a truth we cannot seem to fathom.

Instead of being trapped in my life, I want to live it and celebrate it. Do you realize how radical it was for Whitman to make a song for himself, to celebrate his life and his body?

My grief is enormous.

Tired of trying to be legible and knowable and comprehensible.

I've been listening to Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks. This was inspired by seeing Stevie honor Linda at the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. My father would have loved it. I remember he gave me the cassette tape of Stevie's "Wild Heart" album and the CD of Ronstadt's Greatest Hits. I wished he was there watching the ceremony with me. When the Nirvana part came on, I danced manically to all the songs. I think it was a grief dance. I think I lost my mind for a time, intoxicated and wild and fearless like a maenad. I wish I could leave my body and see myself from outside myself, see that frenzied godless girl seeking freedom in electric rhythms and shrieks. It reminded me of youth--that sense of liberation and energy and anger. My father wasn't there. He will never be there but I'm there and I don't know how to accept that because it injures me. His absence injures and my intensity is frightening, the depths of my feelings are dangerous.

I can only see lack, absence, the tear in reality, the missing space. I don't know how else to see. Grief is part of your vision. It's how you think, feel, experience life. Everything is touched by loss and radiates absence. Perhaps other people protect themselves from this. They have a way to filter out, build a membrane between themselves and the world but I am unprotected, skinless, all raw nerves.

I am forgetting so much, forgetting him and what it was like to be with him. He is constantly present in my mind but he is shadow, like something always in the corner of my eye that I can't catch.

Art holds our intensity, absorbs it.

Life is chaotic. I can't find sense or meaning. I can't tie it all together in a coherent narrative Instead, I give in to the chaos and try to salvage what I can from it. These are my fragments, my ruins.

I write a mess, a garble of words that lack meaning. I don't make music, just a lot of clattering. I suppose I'm trying to embrace this. I do consider the fragment my form. The fragments represent my life and mind. They have their own music, their own rhythmic dissonance.

Often, in life, I do not speak up. I know that speaking is dangerous. I think writing has always represented a form of safe speech for me.

I get upset with my mother sometimes for doing things that can hurt her. "Don't you know," I want to scream but never do, "that you are so fragile? That you are all I have? Don't you know your pain is mine, that if I lose you, I am nothing?"

I have a terrible fear of loss

I read that the tendons in the heart can snap after a traumatic experience, that this causes the heart to pump blood less efficiently. Am I dying of a broken heart? Yes, I am. I can't undo this. I can't be the girl with a father and a whole heart.

I have passed through life almost as a ghost, leaving no trace, making no mark. I am here, but I'm not. The outside world and other people can never know me or fulfill me. I have always gone inward, to my dreams and visions and passions.

When I look back, I see pain. When I look forward, I also see pain. It does not end.

Writing is feeling.

On the film Picnic at Hanging Rock--> It's not about solving the mystery but about contemplating the mystery.

Many years into the future, long after I am gone, I want a girl to read my words and know she is not alone. That's why I must write.

Haunted by my own muteness, by the week after his death when I could not read or write. Perhaps that week comes closest to capturing what I felt, what I still feel.

Language that isn't language at all.

On re-reading Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet-->I first read Letters to a Young Poet at least ten years ago when I was in my early teens. Now I read it again in 2014. Who was I when I first read it? What am I now? I can almost touch that girl. I get glimpses of her. The writing, feverish, dreamy girl before loss and grief. The ghosts of this room are loud and ever-present.

The smell of books brings tears to my eyes.

I used to hear my mother and father talking at night. I could hear his voice through the wall. I miss it so much.

I am ravenous for information about my father. I feel like I know so little about him.

How can the world exist without him?

I dream of him often. Dreams within dreams. In the dream, I wake up from another dream of his death. I wake and he is alive again. I think everything has been reversed. Then, I wake for real and the truth devastates me.

I want to explore the complexity of grief through multiple forms and genres.

The terror of writing, of needing words that you can't find and building your life, your sense of self, your salvation around them.

The past will break you. The past will kill you.

My life is ruled by shame. I knew shame at an early age.

I am scared to love what can die.

My heart pounds all the time. I lie in bed at night and soothe myself by repeating "I'm alive. I'm safe. I'm loved." I feel pinned down by an enormous weight--the burden of grief, poverty, and mental illness.

I feel the absence of feeling. I feel the feeling of absence.

I've always been unreal to myself, immaterial.

I write in order to resist silencing and shaming.

On reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-->Duality and multiplicity interest me because I feel that variousness within myself. That I am not one thing, but many selves.

On Fernando Pessoa's heteronyms--> his attempt to lose himself, to shed a concrete, static self by creating and inhabiting other lives.

So much loss but also so much love.

Films ignite me. When I see a great film, I'm lit from within, warmth and excitement suffuse my body. I wish I could enter the screen.

Films, music, and books are my refuge. I give myself to them. I build my life with words and images and songs, everything that moves me, that haunts me, that sustains me.

Reminder to myself--> Get back to the real writing, to the guts, the writing you are scared of and hiding from.

What is the body? Something we told ourselves we could live in.

The body is all we have and it's everything we lose.

All these feelings, all these dreams housed in one perishable body. All the memories, the depths, and no one will ever know it.

I am loved. Remember always.

Diaries as sites of resistance, creativity, self-invention, and self-discovery.

On Kiarostami's Close-Up--> I relate to why Sabzian pretended to be the famous director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf. I too have wanted to be other people, to not be myself. More than being another person, Sabzian wanted to be respected, revered, listened to. He no longer wanted to be invisible.

Some of us fight language. For us, writing isn't so much therapy as it is trauma. There is a violence, a struggle, and I'd like my writing to reflect that, to capture the truth that words are not enough, that they have limits, that there are places words cannot penetrate.

On the film Borgman--> the film made me think about how we're always in a state of knowing and unknowing when it comes to the people in our lives.

On the documentary Manakamana--> a cinema of stasis and silence with bursts of laughter, music, and speech. Life-affirming.

On Anna Kamienska--> she writes of the longing for childhood, living with loss, the resurrection of the dead in dreams.

I lie with my journal in bed. I always want it near me.

My chest literally aches for the past. Things will never be as they were.

Life is only interludes of peace between constant tragedy. I can't savor the peace because I know it is temporary and while one could argue tragedy is equally temporary, it's the tragedies that ruin you. After tragedy, you're never the same whereas the moments of peace are not as life-changing.

Trauma sculpts us. I feel like those ancient statues with arms and heads missing, bodies eroded by time. I was always fascinated by them, especially The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Maybe there should be a vault with all the missing body parts of great sculptures. It would be the most truthful depiction of life, a monument to our fragmentation. We are defined by what's missing, by the craters left that mark the presence of something precious but vanished. My arms are intact but these arms cannot hold my dead father. My arms will never hold him, will never know the feeling of his shoulders, neck, and skin. My body has been separated from his body for eight years. Now his body, like those ancient statues, is in pieces, unrecognizable.