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Righting the Small Craft that is Me

{Author’s Note: this, and the related clump of “depressed” pieces were all written over a year ago and are only being posted now because I am moving my blog. I am happy to report that all is well now, no black hole, no sadness beyond what is called for in the ordinary course of living in this world today].


“In these poems, written in the last months of her life, and often rushed out at the rate of two or three a day, Sylvia Plath becomes herself, becomes something imaginary, newly, wildly and subtly created.”

-Robert Lowell, Introduction to Ariel: Poems by Sylvia Plath


“For the writer Dominique Noguez, misery is more interesting than happiness because it has a ‘vividness, an extremely seductive, Luciferian intensity. It has the additional attraction…of not being an end in itsef, but of always leaving something to anticipate (happiness, that is).’”

-Matthieu Ricard, Happiness


“I’m only happy when it rains.”



There is this woman, this unremarkable, supportive middle-aged woman with a thickening chin, thinning hair, and the placid, calming, surface of a minor pond on a still day. She is reliable, competent, giving, compassionate, helpful, courteous and all of the other things one expects from a well-trained dog or a suburban mother. She has buried beneath the pond’s muddy bottom a dirty, black chest of trouble closed with knobby, rusted chain – depression, panic, obsessions, bitterness, and jealousy. She has deep-sixed the mute, aching kinship with those who create great art from tools forged in agony and then walk into the water, pockets weighted with smooth, heavy stones.


The surface of the pond has been smoothed by a complex universe of chemicals, circumstances and will. “Edgy” is okay – the ripple of a black fingernail, an irreverent remark or a fondness for grindhouse movies, but there is no allowance for any disturbance that might attract attention or concern. All boats are safe, all skies are blue, all storms pass and leave behind an energizing hit of ozone in the air.


I have disturbed this force, exposed that woman, allowed all hell to break loose, waves to crest, and boats to sink. It has been terrible, but the release of writing about it in frontline dispatches without spin or censorship has been glorious. I have found my voice again, shouting above the sound of the storm, crying out not for help but to be recognized, illuminated briefly by the silver sliver of a lightening flash as I struggle to stay afloat.


Today, riding the current and turning my face up to the cold, heavy rain, I know that I am not like Plath, Woolf, or Van Gogh; I am not going to end this turmoil by going under the water to escape. I am fundamentally sound, connected and whole. I will, I know, be able to survive, and I am struggling to make a surface that is gentled by real peace and acceptance.


I am also dark, dangerous and complicated, a craven creature whose voice has grown stronger. I do not ever again want to be that controlled, caricature of a real woman with a smooth, clean surface and a dirty basin of shame. I do not choose the artificial calm of giving in, or the equally false stillness borne of stoicism. I choose to keep this voice, rough and hoarse from howling, and loose it when a wave has brought me to my knees, shivering and outraged. There is no happiness without those blows, no life worth the living.


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

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