Friday, May 09, 2014


At a recent science fiction convention, I think I accidentally walked in on two-men-I've-never-met plying their romantic wiles on two young ladies, one of whom was a friend of mine.  The two men were from out of town, men who travel the convention circuit, hawking their creative wares, and while they did nothing unethical, I couldn't help but sense:  at least one of them was hoping that the evening might end without an old man sitting down with them at the table, turning the nice round number of four into the number five.

I can't even type about this except euphemistically.  One was looking for a convention hookup.

In discussing my intrusion with friends, we started processing all sorts of expectations about sexuality.  I have friends (male and female, though overwhelmingly male) who could imagine being someone-from-out-of-town, presenting at a conference for just two nights, who might expect that a sexual encounter could be found in the hotel bar.  Those friends might also walk into a bar on a Saturday night with the same expectations, and who will hit on more than one person of the opposite sex until they get the result they want.  I have immense affection and respect for these friends (because I cannot befriend someone whom I do not both love and respect), but this is a dimension of their personality I often just don't get.

My puzzlement over the appeal of casual sex, I think, I resolved partially in conversations with a Romanian friend more than a decade ago.  I was reading eastern European literature (think Milan Kundera, Unbearable Lightness of Being), in an attempt to come to understand her better, and I finally just asked her:  These books are filled with characters who seek vacuous sexual relationships.  Why is that?  I don't get it.

Her answer boiled down to:  You try living under communism, and tell me what you seek in life.

This answer helped me immensely, because it helped me understand that people's different expectations for sexual relationships vary so much, based on such a complex of variables in their background and their emotional needs.  I don't share their backgrounds, and I don't know their needs;  how can I understand their own expectations for sexual relationships?


So what are the dimensions of a Generation X kid like me, as I think through my own background and needs, and how they structure my own sense of sexuality?

I can more or less talk about them in chronological order.

1.  Catholicism, good old Catholicism.  I was an altar boy.  I was a lector (reading the scriptures) from middle school on.  I was a catechist, planning church retreats.  I read theology on weekends.  For a while, I was a Catholic, and while all of the structures of belief have fallen away, some of the social mores did not fall away.  I am not addressing strictures against pre-marital sex;  the idea that sex was somehow more appropriate after marriage never made sense to me.  After all, my mom was a single mom, and sex was part of her life.

I am talking about the judgement that my mother received as a single parent, that my sister endures today, still, even though we are relatively enlightened in 2014.  Single parents were/are considered wholly inadequate to the task of parenting, and their children were/are disadvantaged from the start.  That's impossible junk, it's clearly not true.  I turned out just fine, and not because there is anything special about me.  I see the superhuman efforts made by women like my mother and women I know today to raise incredible children.

But I also know that I am not that strong.  And I needed to make choices that would protect me from failing to be that strong.

2.  The AIDS crisis was still a crisis when I was a kid.  I knew only a handful of gay men (no lesbian women until I was in my twenties), only one of whom was HIV positive and would eventually die.  But all of them were freaked out, afraid of what this meant for them as a community, afraid of what sexuality had become for them as individuals.

Some acts of sexuality that might have been a sign of intimacy in the past had now become flags for a desire to hurt oneself;  sex without protection (outside a committed monogamous relationship) became less a sign of trust than a sign that you were no longer interested in living a long life.  I was never a member of this community, but I was a friend, and I experienced that transformation in my friends.

When Coil's cover of Soft Cell's cover of someone else's "Tainted Love" (linked above) was played for me, my feelings were crystalized: the playful, casual dimensions of human sexuality were, if not lost, at least not easy to recover, for me.

3.  The first two reflections were really about, I think the fear of the consequences of being too casual about sexuality.  A properly well-adjusted person might be able to work through those, and I hope I did, eventually.  But there is a more persistent dimension, one that I am still working through.

I'm a communication person, ostensibly, but really, I'm a language person.  I am most comfortable in the world when I work with language, which is a rich and polysemous but at least I think I know how to manage it.

An example.  For about three months, I have been using "winking" emoticons on Facebook.  Three people have asked me:  what do you mean by this "winking"?  So I ceased using the emoticon and replaced it with images of Clark Kent winking.  That substitution was clear as mud, so I finally started typing "the wink indicates a special filiation, like the special relationship Clark Kent had with the kids reading his comic, who knew he was Superman even when Lois and Jimmy didn't."

The only way I know how to communicate with anything like confidence or clarity is in language.  To communicate by gestures, by nonverbals, by images, these are things that often exceed my depth, though I work on them all the time as best I can.  Sexuality is, for me, also a dimension of communication, one that is wildly outside my ability to grasp, certainly to control.

A few weeks ago, one of the student organizations on campus organized a "You Moustache (Must Ask) for Consent" week, which included pasting post-it notes of moustaches in unusual places around campus.  I love these kind of campaigns, because only in universities can a post-it note on an elevator control panel become a place for political communication and a kind of playful re-enchantment of public space.

Consent is an important, integral part of my understanding of sexuality, a knee-jerk response, maybe, to attending an all-male high school where women were discussed as objects in spaces where they had no voice and no agency, and probably a result of taking courses in feminism which impacted me deeply.

But at the same time, I will admit:  I don't always know what it means to understand consent speaking not just as consent to a physical act, but to the communicative act.  Sexuality as a communicative act is deeply polysemous, and that polysemy places it outside my comfort zone (as a language guy).

I find it a thousand times easier to imagine consent in this scenario:
"Would you object if I read to you a series of poems which I believe will bring you joy?  I would love it if you might read to me a series of poems that you think might bring me joy.  Perhaps, as the time progresses, I will cease reading you my favorite poems, and I will start improvising new ones.  Some will be terribly derivative, knockoffs of William Carlos Williams, Russell Edson, and John Berger.  (The ones in the style of Russell Edson may ruin the mood, but be patient, please.)  There will be some 15-line attempts at sonnets, some haiku with too many syllables in the last line.  In the end, though I claim to be someone interested in language, I am a terrible poet.  But my poems will be genuine attempts to respond to the poetry you have shared with me.  At some points, the only possible response from me might be silence;  so often, for me with poetry (which sometimes is a form of language that escapes me, too), all I can do to respond is think.  If you are amenable to this arrangement, let me pull out my copy of Asphodel: There is something/ something urgent/ I have to say to you/ and you alone/ but it must wait/ while I drink in/ the joy of your approach[...]/ And so/ with fear in my heart/ I drag it out/ and keep on talking/ for I dare not stop."
Poetry is a deeply polysemous use of language.  (Every time I meet someone who thinks that Frost's "road less travelled" poem is a positive exhortation on individuality instead of a lamentation, I know, poetry is deeply polysemous.)  And that polysemy is both a source of joy and anxiety in me.  (As my friends know, the list of things that make me anxious is immense.)  But the polysemy of acts of sexuality are a thousand times more complicated (to me) than the polysemy of poetry.  Imagine what that does to both the joy and the anxiety.


So what does this mean?  Before watching Amazing Spiderman II, I was talking about bar culture, casual hookups, and hitting on members of your preferred gender with two friends.  I said something that surprised me to articulate it in this way, though I know it to be true:  I've never entered a room with an expectation or even a desire for "hooking up," for hitting on someone like this, and in fact, I do pretty well avoiding these kinds of contexts altogether, or any contexts that look remotely like those contexts, lest my brain explode.

The same night I was at the convention and became a fifth wheel, I set out to have dinner with two friends, one male, one female.  (The nice thing about a convention in the Cities -- I get to see nearly a dozen friends from Duluth, from Minneapolis St Paul, and from the rest of Minnesota -- see you all at SpringCon in a few weeks, too.)  I made plans to meet the female first, because I needed to walk to her convention hotel to meet her first (because you never let a lady walk alone in a city -- my grandfather's rules run through my dna).  In doing so, I set off a button in her, I think:  she replied, maybe with a little anxiety in her voice over the phone:  "is it just the two of us?"  No, I reassured her.  We are meeting [the guy].  But part of me wanted to say:  No, it is not just the two of us.  That looks a little too much like the kind of encounter that I can't manage, can't control, can't even wrap my head around comfortably.  I need the group of three for perhaps the same reason the dude at the start of this blog post was disappointed when a fifth person showed up -- because it shifts the dynamic to unquestionably one of a group of friends.  If there were a chance it would just be the two of us, I would be using this phone call to tell you to grab dinner on your own in your hotel restaurant or with someone else.

(Or, maybe I misread her question, and all I am really recounting here is the story of my own anxieties wallpapering over reality.  That happens a lot, too.)

Anyway.  These are the limits within which my brain, my body and my heart operate, lately.


This post took so freaking long to write.  I could have written a draft chapter of the book project I am working on with Jamie in the time it took me to write about this, because every time I reread it, I realized a section or segment where I was being inauthentic, where I was being euphemistic, where I was not being entirely clear because I wasn't being entirely honest with myself or my articulation.

But I really like the passage about reading poetry, so I think I can stop now.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Reflecting on Art before Game Night

Tomorrow, I get to spend time with the spouse of a friend, an artist who does collage. I'm going to try to get down some thoughts;  many of them will be highly derivative, as I am still learning to write and think about the visual arts.  This reflection is in two parts:  one on medium (especially the construction of depth in a collage) and one on theme.

Let me start with the medium.  Robert Adams does collage, and you can see at moments how he both plays with and against what we might expect in the medium.  Comparing "Horse with a Colorful Mask" to "Oregon Civil War," there is first the simple tension between the purity of the colors within "Civil War" and the lack of such purity in "Horse" -- in one piece, coloration (and whatever complexity of coloration is achieved in the piece) is achieved by the complex overlapping of pieces of paper, while in the other, within a single piece of paper, there is variation of color (was the original paper colored this way, or did Adams color it, I do not know).  "Dandy Horse" appears to be closer to "Horse" in its construction -- more variations within the sheets of paper that form the collage.

If some artists (Matisse?) turn to collage as a way of working through the limitations of painting, Adams seems to approach collage differently, as a tool that can do the work of paint, but that allows him to play differently than paint and canvas might.

Why am I fixating on this?  Because one of the most interesting aspects of Adams' collages are the way he plays with depth.  And if "Civil War" were representative of his style, I would see the way he plays with depth as indicative of the limitations he sets for himself within the medium.  Instead, in comparing the three, I see someone who can play within and against those limitations to interesting effect.  So, in "Oregon Civil War," there is depth, insofar as optical effects push some colors closer to the front of our vision than others.  But there is no field, no genuine sense of forward and back, within the frame.  The same could largely be said of the "In Formation" series, though the presence of the wood-as-canvas seems to complicate the experience of depth. "Horse" offers us something closer to genuine spatial representation.

"Dandy Horse" shows us what I think is characteristic of what Adams is really trying to do with depth, across the works I have seen (at  That is, in "Dandy Horse," there is depth created.  But it is a depth of planes.  One plane recedes behind the other, in a way like the three-dimensional "Viewmaster" slides of my youth.  The distance from the "horse" in the foreground to the trees, from the trees to the buildings, from the buildings to the mountains, from the mountains to the clouds, is incalculable, or at least, it's not a matter of interest to the artist to represent.

So what is Adams representing here, for us, in his collage work?  I look at these works, at least these three, and I feel someone who is trying to represent the ways that the world rushes forward towards us.  "Civil War" and "Dandy Horse" especially are works that, in the end, press the world forward towards the surface of the canvas.

I look at these collages and what I experience is what I experience when I fall asleep on a park bench on a sunny day (I did that a lot when I was younger).  You wake up, you open your eyes, and the sun is bright and shining and the world just rushes into your irises and you can't stop it.  Adams creates that experience in an 8x8 square.

"Horse with Colorful Mask"

"Oregon Civil War 2010, Third Quarter"

"Dandy Horse with Italian Leather Saddle"
"Anti-Aircraft Gun"

"Exploit the Opening"

I wanted to talk about theme, a little bit, but I do so with a caveat, again:  art escapes me sometimes.  So I see two themes here, and they are blunt and obvious:  a fascination with the military (perhaps biographical, given the piece called "Dad" depicts a man in military uniform) and a pop sensibility that at times reminds me of Rosenquist.  In saying that it reminds me of Rosenquist, I am not calling it derivative;  rather, the strategies of fragmentation, magnification, and intense, vibrant coloration are deployed to different effect and purpose.

So for just a second, I want to think about the confluence of the pop and military thematic.  When I was growing up, which is about the same time I think Adams was growing up, the military occupied a rather complex place in pop culture imagination.  On the one hand, the threat of nuclear war loomed large and terrifying.  Any minute now, we could all be killed in what was called "mutually assured destruction."  But oddly enough, though this was a product of the "cold war" and the "military-industrial complex," it wasn't really a function of the military.

The "military," as in "men with guns," occupied a strange location.  On the one hand, the wounds of Vietnam were still fresh.  On the other hand, a series of tiny exercises (Grenada? Libya?) and a series of movies (First Blood, probably culminating in something like "True Lies" with Arnold S.) were helping to recreate an image of the military.

I look at works like "Dad," "Horse with Mask," "Anti-Aircraft Gun," and "Exploit the Opening," and I see someone trying to work through these kinds of historical processes:  someone who, on the one hand, wants to earnestly reflect what the military is, while at the same time, hammering at some of the pop culture absurdity that accumulated around the military, especially during the Reagan and first Bush administrations.

I could be crazy here.  I guess I'll find out tonight.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"To Go in Close Means Forgetting Convention, Reputation, Reasoning, Hierarchies and Self"

So I'm still playing with the idea of "likenesses" in John Berger's The Shape of a Pocket.  Briefly, and no doubt in distortion of what Berger was getting at, I am extracting the following ideas from the book, heavily inflected by what I want to make of his work (the beauty of life after tenure, I suppose, is that there are moments when you can simply bypass questions of whether you got the source material "right"):

1.  Photos are (more or less) direct representations (this can be argued with trivially;  it's a foil point to help make the claim about painting);  paintings are "likenesses."
2.  Paintings, as likenesses, try less to capture the other person, and try more to capture some kind of energetic collaboration between the painter and the subject.
3.  What the painter captures, then, is not the person, but rather the experience of the person as absent -- the traces that the other leaves behind in the mind and heart of the painter.
4.  As a result, what a painting captures, as opposed to a photo, is the experience of the other as absent.  A painting of a loved one does not bring the loved one closer, the way a photo might;  it creates both intimacy and longing, as the painting is presence and absence simultaneously.

I am way off the rails in that last bit, pushing Berger further than he would go.

Constructing the experience of presence and absence, simultaneously.

This all makes sense to me on two dimensions, one relevant to notions of "collaboration" and one relevant to notions of "presence and absence in a likeness."

Collaboration:  As a person and as a scholar, I derive the most pleasure from collaborating, from the process of working with someone to build something.  It could be a writing project, it could be a relationship.  The idea of a painting as a collaboration between the artist and the subject is so energizing to me, so much an inversion of what one might expect, I find it amazing.  I want to keep pushing it as I keep thinking about this.

Likenesses, Presence and Absence: when we talk about how a son shares a likeness with their father, we are both seeing the father present and absent.  I suppose if we say that the Judeo-Christian god made humanity "in his likeness," we can see how that might signify the presence and the absence of that God.  So I like the idea that some arts don't just produce representations;  they produce likenesses, and in that likeness, there is the simultaneous experience of absence and presence.


I am thinking, especially, of interactions I have had lately.  I am meeting new and different people, and there can be a moment of sparkling intensity at the beginning -- those moments when you are comparing notes on each others' lives to be able to see:  How are we the same?  How are we different?  How do the stories I have constructed to make sense of my life work for making sense of your life?  Will the palette of colors I have brought to our relationship capture your likeness?  (What is "umber" and why is it always "burnt" anyway?)

I can offer an example.  In an exchange with a recent colleague-friend, I heard what I thought were the traditional anxieties of the untenured -- the stresses about whether you will be "good enough" to be retained, sometimes heavily inflected with the "impostor syndrome" (the anxiety that someone will discover that you do not belong, you are an impostor).  And that narrative worked for a while, but as we kept talking, as we kept exchanging stories, I began to hear echoes of what I now recognize as the experiences of first-generation academics.  I experience the sense of dislocation that comes from being the first one in my family to finish college, the third one to finish high school, even... The palette was changing, the colors I was using to paint her, to paint our relationship and the ways we interact with each other, were changing.

I still write about listening, once in a while.  Attentive, active listening sometimes mean saying to the other person:  this is what I hear you saying.  this is where I think you are, this is who I think you are becoming, as we speak.  In doing that, I am sharing what-we-are-building with my conversational partner.  Sometimes, the sharing only makes clear the disconnect between partners in a conversation. Sometimes, the sharing becomes intense;  the back and forth, the collaboration, becomes a series of bellstrikes, more and more resonant.

Berger talks about this as a dangerous moment:  "To go in close means forgetting convention, reputation, reasoning, hierarchies and self."  There is the possibility that the artist will "dissolve into the model" or be "trample[d] into the ground" by the subject.  (The cacophonous vibrations of the bells, ringing and ringing, threaten to dissolve me.)  That happens to me, sometimes, with some people, people with personalities that are bright and magnificent and sometimes troubled (because inevitably, to be bright and magnificent is to be troubled in the mundane world we share).  The other person shines and shimmers and I am mute.

But when a conversation works, when it works well, there is a real sense that we are making something together.  What we are making is the structure from which a friendship is possible, though admittedly, it may take days or weeks for that structure to be visible;  it may take weeks before one can be sure that the structure is viable.  Collaboration.


The conversation has to end, though.  Time grows short, work calls, or sleep beckons.  The bells cannot continue indefinitely;  the enervating and energizing presence of the other becomes absence.

More later...  on Presence and Absence.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Poem from a Friend

There is loss at the center of who you are.
You paper over it, and enough paper will hold your weight and you can rest.
But it's still there.  --jkd

Thursday, March 06, 2014

To feel presence despite absence must be to experience joy and loss at the same moment.

I visited three colleagues at UWS today.  One, I first met eight years ago, when I was fresh and new and eager to find colleagues.  One, I met about three years ago, and she is now a collaborator and friend.  And one, I met just a few weeks ago.  

This post is about that third person's office, which struck me as particularly vibrant, a window into some aspect of their soul that goes beyond the usual symbolic code of the professor's office.  Profs think simply about their decorations: I hang this poster, to assert my love of music.  I post this quote from some dead dude on my door, to appear wry or educated or cynical or... I carefully place this action figure or statue or other mass-produced goodie to tell students who I am as a nerd.  

Instead of mass-produced bric-a-brac, my friend's office held original works of art, painted by her husband.  Most academic nerdly, a sketch of Merleau-Ponty rests atop a shelf.   Four paintings of a toddler in a single frame stand at the edge of the desk to the left.  Two canvases, still lifes, basically, hang across the top shelf of a bookcase.  

Her office is an environment rich with art, dense with art, that gives me a chance to try out some of the ideas from The Shape of a Pocket.  

"Every authentic painting demonstrates a collaboration.... When a painting is lifeless it is the result of the painter not having the nerve to get close enough for a collaboration to start. He stays at a copying distance." 

Do these works represent a genuine collaboration between artist/painter and subject?  Merleau-Ponty is dead;  we will never know the answer there.  The daughter painted four times, in a surface level "Brillo" Warhol-style of repeated imagery, nonetheless feels to me like she is her father's collaborator.  In that sense, her father's struggle to paint her is not, like the Warhol gesture, the struggle to reproduce her.  She is not a can of Campbell's soup on a production line, nor is she a screenprint for a thousand posters for sale.  

The artwork, raw in its coloration in a way that brings energy to the image of the child, feels to me like a sign of artist and model, father and child, collaborating (as Berger describes the model-artist relationship) to create her in color and canvas.  I have never been a parent and may never be one, but perhaps this is in a way similar to the way that a parent must collaborate with the child (and with the child's mother) to help the child become.  The rawness, the energy there -- this is not just a painting of the child at a certain age;  it is a painting of the child as coming into being, an energy that one image could not contain, and so there needed to be four.

“What any true painting touches is an absence - an absence of which without the painting, we might be unaware. And that would be our loss.  [In a painting,] we feel less alone in face of what we ourselves see each day appearing and disappearing."

A photograph on your desk is a momento, a memory cue, designed to remind you of family and friends.  "Here is the thing that is not here," the photograph says to the viewer.  Berger believes that paintings operate differently, and I think this may be true here, too.  

Berger claims that a good painting achieves a likeness.  If I understand him correctly (and the man speaks with so much poetry, I may not), what makes a likeness possible is that, in the absence of the person, we feel them nonetheless present.  Photos make the absent present;  paintings that carry a likeness to someone make us feel the presence of the absent, even as they remain absent.  

So this painting of this beautiful daughter is not designed to make the daughter present.  A snapshot would do that.  Instead, it makes makes my friend feel the presence both of the daughter and her husband, the painter, despite their absence.

I can imagine nothing more beautiful and, at the same time, nothing more sad.  To feel presence despite absence must be to experience joy and loss at the same moment -- a complex of feelings that we don't expect to experience together.  Maybe our contemporary culture discourages these kinds of complexes of feelings.

This tension can be fixed, thankfully, when the lights are turned off and my friend can go home and make the absent present, again, with hugs.


Addendum:  My therapist has already said, several times, that "you think too much."  Yep.  Yes I do.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Media Consumption Log: Sherlock, Season 1-3

While I am deeply disappointed that this show fails the Bechdel test, I love it every minute.

Media Consumption Log: Aspen Showcase, etc.

So pretty, so vacuous.

Media Consumption Log: Deadline (Marvel Comics)

Clever premise (about a journalist investigating revenge killings with a supernatural twist), but I never found the narrator likeable.                                                                                          

Media Consumption Log: Team Titans (DC Comics)

Time traveling Teen Titans story with none of the joy I hope for in these comics.

Media Consumption Log: Assembly (Antarctic Press)

Clever take on education, but otherwise nondescript.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just a personal note...

About 16 months ago (October 2012), I learned something that probably put the next year onto edge, that probably put me into the weirdest life position I have ever occupied.

About 6 months ago (August 2013), I realized that I wasn't just in a position;  I was on a trajectory, and I only then realized where the trajectory was heading.

About eight weeks ago (December 2014), I arrived.


One of the problems with the current life circumstance I am enduring is:  I have no idea when it will be over.  I have no idea what it will mean to no longer be afflicted by the loss I am feeling.

When I was younger, and I lost my last grandparent (it sounds odd to say it that way, but in my family, my grandparents, great grandparents, and great aunt all lived together, so losing this last one of those five was substantial), I thought I was over it, thought that I had moved on from the sense of loss.  Then, one Sunday, something like a year after the death, maybe more, I got good news, and I dialed, instinctively, the number of my grandparent's house -- and got the "number has been disconnected" recording, and almost wept, again.  I wasn't over it, I hadn't completely (or as completely as I would like) moved into the next phase of life, a life where being unable to talk to anyone at 414-562-2106 was the new normal.

This feels like that, with an additional dimension, one that troubles me because I don't know how to process it.  That loss, I could process quietly, alone, and pretend, at least, that it did not mar my human relationships.


I spent a portion of last night with people whom I think of as friends or whom I think of as possible friends.  In these contexts, I feel like I did when I was sixteen and I was hit by a cab while riding my bike.  I bounced off the cab's hood, my bike was a little bent but unbroken, and I was able to ride away (thank you, helmet!).  As I got home, I wasn't sure whether to tell friends and family that I was hit by a cab.  I mean, I was shaken, but I didn't want people to treat me differently, to go concussion hunting, whatever.

Do you enter into a human relationship acknowledging that you are wounded?

As I approach times like last night, with these people, part of me feels like I should open with:  I was hit by a cab eight weeks ago.  If I start acting funny, please tell me.  If I am hurtful, I do not mean it;  if I should be listening to you and instead I space for a second, it's not about you.  It's that my helmet was on too loose when I hit the boulevard.

And yet part of me wants to ignore it, to say:  I bounced, I'm okay.  Thank you Helmet.  I'm okay.  Please enjoy my company the way you might have, all the time, anyway.  If my eyes glaze, well, I've always had a certain eye-glazey charm.

How do I earnestly and honestly enter into human friendships in this position?


I chose teaching as a career because I like helping people learn to express themselves, and to achieve what is possible when they communicate well.  I'm the helper, you know?


But what bothers me most is, I don't get to decide whether I have an (emotional) concussion.  Telling people I was hit by a cab doesn't make the (emotional) concussion go away, if I have one, and not telling people that I was hit by a cab doesn't make the emotional concussion go away, if I have one.

I keep saying "if."  Surely, I must.

I don't get to decide when I am okay.  I am not even sure I trust my own ability to know when I will be okay.

  • I feel certain that the minute I feel that my loss behind me, I will feel it, as my friend Michael Gillespie calls it, washing up as waves of anger and sadness.  
  • Claims that I am okay, at some point, will feel to me like evidence that I am not, that I am trying to force emotional healing that I can't force, can't resolve.

Part of me wants to know when I will be "me" again.  And part of me knows that whatever me I will be, when I am through this process, will be unlike any "me" I have been before.  I don't know that I have ever lived with this much uncertainty before.