For this post to make sense, you need to go back and read the very first post on this blog entitled, “Something’s Gotta Change” because this is the sequel. Something did change this year. Just not everything. But the change was significant enough that it’s worth noting. So, here goes.
First off, I’m not sure how many of my readers know this but Bonjour Jubilation the blog is now in its 3rd incarnation.
2011 – It began. I wrote what I wanted to, when I wanted, mainly sticking to topics I felt I knew well like my mental illness, France, French, friendship, loneliness – cheerful topics like that.
2015, November – I tried briefly to go for a more focused, 2-posts-per-week plan that quickly degenerated back into me posting whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to.
2019, February – In it’s final incarnation (I hope) and I have no agenda. It’s just being me and sharing my thoughts when I’m able to in the hopes of someday publishing a book or something equally as notable.
28 Days Sparks Some Bravery
Annie F. Downs was born in 1980, just as I was (only I’m about 6 months older, I think).
She wrote 100 Days to Brave.
Day 1: I was 100% in.
Day 28: the day I “quit,” I wrote this in my notebook: “I’ve mourned old dreams time and time again. Very few people understand.”
I live in Mesa. But when my mind is restless, I often drive to Phoenix, willingly going the distance, not just because the culture is different there, but because it allows me ample time alone – time in my car – my space, my sanctuary. It’s there I’m able to scream, sing, laugh, cry, or pray aloud.
I also love the people I’ve met in Phoenix. I feel an even greater pull to be near them when I’m in my extreme moods, like irrepressible melancholy or bursts of laughter – the stuff my family doesn’t always know how to cope with. That’s when I long for my Phoenix friends.
3 True Friends
There are many I call “friend” who live in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe (and a few in Mesa). But there are only 3 I’ve been able to count on seeing with some sort of consistency in Phoenix. Today I will only call them by these names:
And no sooner did my 39th birthday come and go than my psychological well-being began to feel like it were being tested.
Mom and Dad’s heart doctor died of a heart-attack even though he was just 48, healthy, and in his prime. He died while mountain biking alone, gone in an instant.
I didn’t cry, but remained in a state of stunned disbelief that required me to drive to Phoenix.
“Life doesn’t make sense anymore!” I exclaimed to the friends who were willing to listen.
Not a human, but a person nonetheless. I watched Notre Dame de Paris, become engulfed in flames.
I watched it streaming live from a French news service and listened as eye-witnesses excused themselves for their own uncontrollable emotions.
I’d only seen her twice with my own eyes. But I loved her all the more because of how Victor Hugo portrayed her in the English translation of Notre Dame de Paris that I read when I was 16.
Later I fell in love with the French musical adaptation of it that premiered in Paris in 1998 and would later become my excuse to purchase a region-free DVD player.
In essence, Our Lady of Paris had been a part of me for at least 24 years. I just wished I could have seen her one last time before the flames caught hold of her and damaged her beyond repair.
She was beloved by many of us who’d left our churches but still weren’t ready to fully abandon our faiths. She’d acquired a huge following of us on social media.
I only read one of her books before sending it back into the wild. But it was a beauty!
I went to the Santa Barbra Writers’ Conference for the 2nd time in a row and looked forward to the one on one consultation with someone who was familiar with the publishing industry and who could help me with my memoir. I’m not very good at meeting deadlines but I’d rushed to finish this one on time just for the occasion. But something went wrong.
I missed the appointment, for one thing. It was on day 1 and I didn’t know where my appointment time was written until it was too late.
But we rescheduled.
I returned and he was there but the copy I’d sent him was nowhere in sight. Nor did any of his words give me the impression he’d really read it.
So I started crying.
“I have to go now,” I said through the tears. “It’s not you, it’s me. I have a mood disorder. This happens sometimes. Bye!” And I hurried back to my room.
How could he have known the pages I’d sent him had been my life’s work for the past 16 years?
Anyway, I went to my hotel room, cried, changed my shoes, and grabbed my camera hoping that a photo walk would bring me some peace, and it did.
Later, I decided I’d never return to that conference. Not because it was bad. Just because I felt like I’d already learned what I needed to learn from them.
By the end of the year, I’d decide to give up writing the memoir entirely and move on to something else. More on that later.
1 Vocal Cat
June, July, August 2019
My senior cat’s health was ailing and taking care of him was taking a toll on my mental health as well.
Part of it stemmed from too many years of littler box issues, especially since, for most of those years, his littler box was in my bedroom closet. Then, one day, I snapped and angrily remove it from my room for good, tossing it outside, and saying to everyone who’d listen: “From now on, the only box my cat uses is the one in the laundry room! I don’t care what Jackson Galaxy says about how you need a box for each cat plus 1. That’s bullshit and the Enchantress has proved it! She has 3 cats and they all use one box and it works fine!”
I felt angry at the situation; angry about having to feed my cat 4 times a day; angry that no one seemed to understand my anger; angry that my cat seemed to meow incessantly; angry that I couldn’t find peace in my own house and I couldn’t leave the house for long without worrying about my sick cat who was my responsibility and no one else’s.
At times I even thought the unthinkable, wishing him dead so my burden would be over. But then, each night before I went to sleep, I’d pat him on the head and tell him I loved him. Was I a hypocrite?
I took my cat to the vet’s one day and said, amidst tears, “I can’t care for him any longer. I feed him and he’s losing weight rather than gaining it,” etc. I continued to cry my eyes out as the vet let me into one of the rooms looked over my cat, and validated my pain by saying “There is something terribly wrong with this kitty and he’s already old. But you seem to have taken good care of him. So yes, putting him to sleep is probably the best option.”
The vet left to give us some time alone together. I stayed with my cat until he fell asleep, even as I cried the whole time. Then I walked away, called home to tell the family I’d be out for the day, and then took off in my 4-wheel sanctuary due North.
25 September – 23 October
Annie F. Downs addressed a question I’d Tweeted to the RELEVANT podcast on the air and her answer persuaded me to pick up where I left off on 100 Days to Brave again. So I reread the 1st 28 days in one sitting (just as a refresher) and then plunged right into day 29 (before she left and most of us stopped listening to the podcast)
By 25 September I was averaging 10 daily devotions per day with extensive notes in a separate notebook (so I could give the original away when I was done).
On October 11, I wrote some notes on day 70’s “Rhythms of Discipline” where Annie describes how she signed up to run a half marathon a few years back and I wrote: “Seriously? I literally just bought my first pair of good running shoes in probably 10 years! This is no coincidence.”
Descent into Magical Thinking
You will have trouble persuading me that coincidences are just coincidences, especially when so many of them happen all at once. Take, for example, December 2019 when I finally had a manic episode roughly 17 years after the first one.
It seemed to happen just as I began to put some real mileage on my running shoes and, with the Instagram stories I’d shared daily, some people are even calling me an inspiration, thus filling me with confidence. Then the physical pain grew and I was forced to quit until my toe could be operated on. Still, dreams and visions, metaphors and foreshadowings permeate my personal writings – Am I the star of a story that is far greater than me? Or am I just trapped in my magical thinking?
This is where things get weird…really weird.
(to be continued….)