The Fierce Wind Is Wearing Me Down

Inside a bipolar mind, there’s no calm, only chaos


| May - June 2008


November 2, 2003, around 3 a.m. 

Around the corner from the Logan Square bus stop I pry open the massive window of my third-story apartment in a dilapidated 19th-century graystone that reeks of squalor and before I write an e-mail I wonder about the dimensions of my cell so I grab my 12-inch wooden ruler and move it along the walls pushing aside furniture, and after finding it to be 10 feet square I am curious how many quarter inches that would be and then how many millimeters so while I calculate I lie down on my back on the flea-ridden, plaid futon that came with the furnished apartment and I put my feet up on the wall and kick them to the rhythm of the music I have just begun to compose in my mind.

But I can’t sit still—so I jump up from the futon to shadowbox and speculate about whether I could have been an Olympic boxer while every so often switching to various calisthenics I learned as a cadet in Air Force ROTC at Notre Dame and stopping periodically to reorganize my book collection by author, then subject, then color, then size before having an epiphany that the absolute chaos of bipolar disorder paradoxically introduces a sense of peace into life because you learn to let go and accept the confusion of the world instead of trying to change things, so realizing the error of my ways and embracing chaos I knock the books off the shelf and change my shirt to pure blue to reflect the calm of resignation.

Sadness sets in and my throat chokes up and tears begin to well and I sing, nearly shouting: It’s a long way home, a long way from here, but surprise, blue eyes, you’re already here. . . and my neighbor pounds on the paper-thin walls and curses me but I can’t help singing this song about how home is not a physical place but a state of mind or something inside ourselves and I can be at home anywhere if I focus hard enough, quell my turbulent emotions.

Contemplating the meaning of home forces me to think of my years at Notre Dame so I dig through the mountains of clothes and late bills and debt-consolidation offers and obscure magazines I have ordered and notifications that my car is being repossessed and writing and drawings that I have strewn across the floor until I find my latest copy of Notre Dame magazine and my student loan bill the two of which I stick together with tape and affix to the wall using a gold second lieutenant’s bar as a pushpin to remind myself of the great costs I paid to have a top education.

I begin to cry and I’m hungry now as I begin to think about my current situation and that I haven’t eaten in two days so I retreat to my financial reserves which are pennies mostly stacked in little towers on the windowsill but I don’t have enough money even for a Coke and barely enough for some cheap candy and I remember how much weight I need to lose so I start doing jumping jacks stopping only once to take off my matching green sock and blue sock because the more I think about it the green sock should be on my right foot since green represents nature and balance and after testing my balance I am much more balanced on the right foot.






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