A Personal Post of Coincidences to Mark My 10th Day Out of the Hospital

And just now I pick up the blessed diary of Virginia Woolf which I bought with a battery of her novels saturday with Ted.  And she works off her depression over rejections from Harper’s (no less! —an I hardly can believe that the Big Ones get rejected, too!) by cleaning out the kitchen.  And cooks haddock & sausage.  Bless her.  I feel my life linked to her, somehow.  I love her — from reading Mrs. Dalloway for Mr. Crockett — and I can still hear Elizabeth Drew’s voice sending a shiver down my back in the huge Smith class-room, reading from To The Lighthouse.  But her suicide, I felt, I was reduplicating in that black summer of 1953.  Only I couldn’t drown.  I suppose I’ll always be over-vulnerable, slightly paranoid.  But I’m also so damn healthy & resilient.

Sylvia Plath is one of my favourite authors.  She’s the one who probably appears most on this blog.  And now I’m tackling the near-900 page book of her unabridged journals.

Today is the 10th day I’ve been out of the hospital for depression.  In the hospital, one of the books I read was Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse — in fact, it was the best thing I read while there.  This past Monday, I went to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse; the plan was to go to the beach and when I found out the beach had a lighthouse I had to go, because of Virginia Woolf.  And that morning it rained.  It stormed and thundered and poured down at 5 am, and by 10 it was grey and spitting: all I could think of was the beginning of the novel, with the question of, ‘Will we be able to make it to the lighthouse?’  By noon it was sunny and 30˙ and the beach was beautiful and hot, and I did make it to the lighthouse where Mrs. Ramsay did not.

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Before I was admitted to the hospital, I was too depressed to clean.  No energy, no motivation, no point.  So I left the hospital and returned home to clutter and mess and trash.  I am beginning to feel better, and I am beginning to live better.  In depression you lose your vitality.  Now I go out, I talk to people, I try to eat properly.  I read and watch movies, sometimes I paint.  And I clean.  To clean is a marker of change, and I want to change the way I lived (I’m out of the hospital, I can live like a normal person).  So I’m making progress in the cleaning of my apartment as I continue attempting to recover from depression.

And I read The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

This morning I got to the passage above.  Everything cycles.  She reads Woolf’s journals about being depressed and cleaning and I read her journals about reading Woolf’s journals while depressed and cleaning while I am depressed and cleaning.  I read To The Lighthouse and go to the lighthouse then read about her reminiscing about To the Lighthouse.  ‘Bless her.  I feel my life linked to her, somehow.  I love her,’ she says about Woolf which I could have said about her.  The trajectory of Woolf, depressed and cleaning, consumed by Plath, depressed and cleaning, consumed by me, depressed and cleaning; the trajectory of me consuming Woolf and being struck by the lighthouse then consuming Plath who consumes Woolf and thinking back to The The Lighthouse — circles and repetitions of history by coincidence.  But the most important thing to remember is:

I suppose I’ll always be over-vulnerable, slightly paranoid.  But I’m also so damn healthy & resilient.

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Picnics

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At the Hanging Rock, William Ford, 1875

From Picnic at Hanging Rock:

  •  milk and lemonade kept cool in a zinc-lined basket, biscuits; “To Saint Valentine!”
  • “Lunch had been set out on large white tablecloths close by, shaded from the heat of the sun by two or three spreading gums.  In addition to the chicken pie, angel cake, jellies and the tepid bananas inseparable from an Australian picnic, Cook had provided a handsome iced cake in the shape of a heart, for which Tom had obligingly cut a mould from a piece of tin.  Mr Hussey had boiled up two immense billycans of tea on a fire of bark and leaves and was now enjoying a pipe in the shadow of the drag where he could keep a watchful eye on his horses tethered in the shade.” with cream, which Edith helps herself to “lavishly”

From The Secret Garden

  • hot tea, buttered toast, crumpets
  • milk with a cottage loaf or currant buns, heather honey, and clotted cream (sent to the children by Mrs. Sowerby)
  • roast eggs and potatoes with salt and butter

From To The Lighthouse:

  • bread and cheese, sandwiches, yellow cheese, hard boiled eggs, gingerbread nuts
  • “Mr. Ramsay opened the parcel and shared out the sandwiches among them.  Now he was happy eating bread and cheese with the fishermen.”

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