The Fox at Dawn

January 30, 2019

We are home, today was our first full day, waking up in our own beds in the home we have made. The cold cold weather cancelled all the schools which proved to be a blessing. One less thing to juggle in today’s scramble, the precise breakfast making, lunch preparing, McCallum’s strict portioning guide is the new family bible, getting J to Intensive Outpatient Treatment, meeting the therapists, groceries, running home for the paperwork I forgot, finish making the lunch I couldn’t make without the groceries, bringing the lunch to IOP, forgetting the paperwork again, finishing the grocery shopping for the meals to come this week, going back to meet the nutritionist with the paperwork at last in hand, answering emails from church, school, last minute schedule changes to rehearsals because of the cancellation. You must run as fast as you can Alice, if you want to stay in the same place.

For at least a week now I’ve felt that I’m walking through some misty valley bottom that I can’t see my way through. I feel as if some key part of my brain has gone missing, the executive part that has control of the big picture, that is in control of time. At night I bolt up in bed unable to figure out where I am, a sudden panic that I’ve forgotten something or someone, something urgent, maybe dangerous. I look about me and always seem to see a dark shape just moving out of sight, something I feel I ought to have seen, perhaps it is a menace, perhaps it means me to follow. What is it I’ve forgotten? What have I failed to do? And here is where it is missed- partnership. A hand on the back, a loving voice in the dark that says ‘All is well, you are right where you’re supposed to be, you’ve done all you need to do, it’s time to rest my love.’

J loves her new room, loves the improvements in the bathroom. She is happy to be home, happy to be near her boyfriend. But the happiest I have heard her voice is when she is face timing her pals from McCallum. War Buddies, make no mistake.

January 28 2019
We had our last family session this morning. It was not rosy. Closed down, defensive, stubborn, EDie seems to be gearing up for a revival. I am even more concerned about heading home, I wish I wish I wish she had more time here so that all the routines and new ways of thinking have time to gain more traction. But the insurance company knows best….. She’ll go back into intensive outpatient therapy at home, I remain hopeful that what she has gained here will pave the way for greater headway than she was able to make back in December. I pick her up soon from her last evening at McCallum and I know there will be many tears- she has made good friends and she will miss them dearly. It was a comfort living with people who shared her journey. Now her path diverges and she heads home.

January 27th: SLAM

The St. Louis Art Museum is a wonder, a real wonder.

Jess spent the night with me in the hotel last night, her first night out of McCallum in a few weeks. Happy, strained, nervous, back to the parent/child dynamic. The parent wants the child to eat. The eating disorder wants control of the child. Parent and child are armed with the help of therapy, the doctor’s orders, the routines set up by her treatment. Now we just have to stay on the same team. EDie, the eating disorder, is good at dividing and conquering. This morning Jess went back to day treatment and I escaped to the St. Louis Art Museum.

16th Century Eagle. Damn.

I never love humans so much as when I’m free all day in an art museum. My heart swells for all the centuries of artists compelled to create, record, explore, express, defy and celebrate their worlds. Oh God! I love you al!

St. Francis Contemplating a Skull. 1635. Francisco de Zubaran.

This blessed Museum is free every single day. Sitting atop a hill looking over Versaille style reflecting pools, a gray cold winter day, absolute stillness. My heart sings. A great blessing after the anxiety of the week, a grumpy girl in the hotel room this morning who still wants to cast me as the bad guy. Breathe, look. I sit before two large Japanese silk screens painted with geese, resting, preening, flying. Glorious. And the scroll of a water color on rice paper- Rice and Grasshopper, the most delicate of paintings, with a feather in it suspended from a string. Exquisite. I have this yearning to paint and draw feathers. It’s been with me some time, this desire.

Burning Rods by Anselm Kiefer. One of my very favorite artists.
Detail of Burning Rods

I first saw Anselm Kiefer’s work here in this museum decades ago, the only other time I was here, stumbling upon a whole Kiefer exhibition. I was electrified by it, stunned, charged with emotion that I could not explain then and cannot explain now. I’ve sought out his work ever since. And here they still have two monumental works on display: The Breaking of the Vessels (which I only took video of and alas this blog will not let me post video) and Burning Rods, a huge piece that Kiefer created after Chernobyl. A landscape devastated, peeling away, furrows of crops that will never again be harvested. Look, he says, look. Look what we’ve done.

In my mind, Kiefer’s work is linked to the novels of Gunther Grass, the music of Gorecki, and the films of Krzysztof Kieslowski. They just all want to be together there inside my head.

I eat lunch and read and work on a drawing of the hawks along the highway. Certainly you feel like the star of your own film when you draw in a sketchbook and read Patti Smith while eating lunch in an art museum restaurant.

After lunch I return to Burning Rods and notice for the first time the broken tea cup shard resting on the shelf of peeling lead and the rusted remains of an ice skate . Devotion, the Patti Smith story I began at lunch, is about a skater, from Estonia, orphaned by war, and this coincidence seems to be of tremendous importance, a clue somehow to alert me to the existence of all the fine fine threads that hum and vibrate, connecting all there is in the universe, all there is.

Ben Shahn
Stephen Greene
John McCrady

These lovely things I share here because I want to think about them again. And then there are some things I just love the shape of-

This Egyptian cat, older than old, reminds me that Jess got her ears pierced by a thirteen year old friend in her bedroom at the treatment center. I admit, he did a good job of it. And they don’t seem to be infected, thank god. But Jesus.
I swear to god, every museum in America owns a version of this statue “Nydia: The Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii”. Is that the volcano I hear? It just makes me howl. I need to take one more look at Gerhard Richter and Anselm Kiefer.
Thank you St. Louis. I needed today.

January 26th: The Road to St. Louis
January 27, 2019, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day, Eating Disorder aka Edie | Tags: , ,
I was grateful for the gray skies, the clear roads, and my guardians standing sentinel along the way. I continued listening to Thandie Newton performing Jane Eyre in an audio book, followed that dear heart broken creature across the moors as she wrenched herself away from her beloved Mr. Rochester and what she knew would be a compromised life. I want a WWJD bracelet: What would Jane do?

Getting ready for her return
January 27, 2019, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day, Eating Disorder aka Edie | Tags: , ,
She has long wanted a new bed, white furniture, not the well worn wooden pieces passed from senior family member to junior family member, pieces I could never bring myself to set out by the curb. But she’s coming home soon and a new room can give you a fresh start I think. I hope. Anyway I have this lovely old full size walnut bed that belonged to my Great Aunt Mimi and Uncle Jack if anyone needs a bed. Not curb worthy, might benefit from refinishing.

I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. This one turned out nicely, though it was a bit of a scramble getting everything ready before I had to head to St. Louis again. It’s done. Walls repainted, new furniture, great finds from the internet, Ollie’s Bargain outlet and yes, the curb. The perfect little cabinet for her bathroom. Just needed a little paint. Lots of love and hope poured into that room, the very best wishes for the future.

January 23rd 2019
January 23, 2019, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day | Tags: ,

January 20th & 21st
January 21, 2019, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day | Tags: , , ,

January 16th -19th
January 21, 2019, 1:43 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day, Eating Disorder aka Edie | Tags: ,
Because her labs are now good, the insurance company wants to send her home. As if it’s a broken arm that visibly heals. Yep, not broken anymore, you’re well now, go home. Well, no. Not yet. So the battle begins, continues, on and on and on.

This weekend was Family Weekend at the treatment center. Friday’s presentation was on the medical complications of eating disorders. The kind of information you can only look at though a mirror or you’ll be turned to stone.

If EDie knocks on your door, do not let her in if you can prevent it. But she may slip in when you’re trying to get the cat in, you might not even notice her. At first she looks small and innocent, if you happen to see her flit from shadow to shadow. But in the darkness she grows and when she at last reveals herself, her power is almost absolute and her aim is destruction. She will fight you with everything she has for control of your child.

January 15 2019
January 17, 2019, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Art of the Day | Tags: , ,
For at least two years I’ve looked at it hanging in the shop window, the stained glass feather, as I passed by walking the dogs. I always stopped to look at it, wishing it were mine. There were several glass feathers hanging, but I liked the green, red, blue and yellow one best. One day it was gone, someone else had taken it home. Other feathers came and went, but none I liked so well. Then it was back, at least another like it, only it seemed brighter, richer. And then the sign went up in the shop window: Closing Sale. A few days ago I bought it for myself and brought it home and hung it in my meditation window. There it speaks to me of Hope.

January 9th-14th
January 15, 2019, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Eating Disorder aka Edie, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

It’s been a time. Some days have felt like a week.

It’s really over, Christmas, and the house has never felt emptier. The only thing to do is clean it and trust that in emptying it, it will fill again.

I may have made a miscalculation in traveling to St. Louis this weekend, arriving the same time as the storm, the worst one in forty years. But it was the first weekend since her intake and I would not miss the chance to see her. I got stuck twice, and twice, people came out of nowhere to push my car further up the hill until I made it to the treatment center. We had an hour together, ran out of things to say, held each other in a corner of the day room. All the kids were having to camp out there at the treatment center instead of taking the van to their residence because the danger on the road was too great. Mostly girls, they were tucked up together in groups, huddled around their small screens, or talking on the phone with loved ones, some of them had feeding tubes worn casually taped to their cheek. I could not stop thinking about the novel “Never Let Me Go” by Kazua Ishiguro and the harvesting clinic and that image made me ill to my stomach, and still days later I cannot shake it. I had to head back to the hotel, a close call at the bottom of a hill when I could not stop my car at the red light, the cross traffic unable to stop either. A fresh round of snow starting in the morning sent me back to Louisville without seeing her again because I knew I would never make it back up those hills for the afternoon visiting hours. I drove home without being able to tell her that I was leaving.

Saturday night back in Louisville a late phone call from the girl. I’ve worked very hard to become someone who embraces solitude, who at the end of hard days can sleep without the arms of love wrapped tight. But I’m not there yet.

The grace of friendship.

The week begins again. Rehearsals begin too for Mary Poppins. Over 80 children in the cast. I will not want for things to do, I will not want for company. And Jess is better, medically she is better already, and emotionally she has come through those dark days, for now anyway. Grateful, grateful for the cheerful FaceTime just now, Jess standing on her head, her new friends jumping into the frame, smiling and laughing, feeding tubes and all. Sweet children in an anxious world.