Bright Wall/Dark Room May 2019: A Million Little Postcards from the Edge by Lindsey Romain

Primary postcards from the edge

The Editors

We are delighted to offer an excerpt from the May well problem of the on-line magazine, Bright Wall/Dim Place. Their theme for Might is “Resilience,” and in addition to Lindsey Romain’s piece on “Postcards From the Edge,” they also have new essays on “Alien,” “Sorcerer,” “Princess Mononoke,” “American Film,” “Waiting for Guffman,” “Elle,” “Cameraperson,” “October Sky,” “Paradise Now,” “Christine,” and Romero’s “Night of the Residing Useless” collection.

You can go through our previous excerpts from the magazine by clicking listed here. To subscribe to Brilliant Wall/Dim Room, or glance at their most latest essays, click here.


I shot by means of my 20s like a luminous thread by means of a dark needle, blazing towards my destination: Nowhere.– Carrie Fisher, Postcards From the Edge. 

I anticipated thirty to be various. Anyone tells you it will be. Its the age of miracles, when the last morsels of wasteful youth are drained from your system and you emerge entirely formed on the other facet of not providing a fuck. I woke up on my thirtieth birthday and thought Id see an individual manufacturer new in the mirror. Somebody less complicated on the eyes, more rapidly to a smile. Someone I could possibly like improved. 

But, remarkably, I hadnt morphed into my new type overnight. Alternatively, as I stood in advance of the toilet mirror, I was even more acutely mindful of my bodily flaws. Stretch marks, flabby skin, sullen cheeks. Unwell from a in no way-ending plague of regret the stain of undesirable memories that bubbled into my conscience each individual morning, taunting me several years afterwards like some infected ingrown hair. I looked haggard, much too old for thirty, but also nicely-gained a encounter thats seen some shit. 

I required 30 to be distinct. I knew, intrinsically, that it wouldnt be. I wasnt in shape for a modify, mainly because I wasnt suit to deal with myself. And thats what it was likely to acquire. Not some magical clap of thunder, cloud of smoke, and boom: metamorphosis. I necessary main, self-induced roadwork. But I had no idea in which to get started.


I started to evaluate my moments in lasts.This is the final time I will consume carbs for a whole year. This is the final day I receivedt training. This is the previous time I will drink a bottle of wine in my mattress on Saturday evening although seeing YouTube films about very small residences.  The lastof it all prolonged the serious character of my predicament, as my sanity slowly and gradually slipped from my grasp like a handful of marbles. An countless cycle of accomplishing nothing at all to get improved, just tripping in excess of actuality and conjuring an additional past” that wouldn’t occur. 


In that slum, I turnedas I often do—to my obscene fairy godmother Carrie Fisher, and most notably the movie centered on her book and her everyday living, Postcards From the Edge. Its a film Ive normally loved, but one particular that discovered its footing in my heart as my 20s crescendoed into a ball of incomprehensibility. Just as my lifetime spiraled out of command, so too did Suzanne Vales, the drug-addicted actress who suffers an overdose in the movies opening chapter. 

Meryl Streep plays Suzanne with the kind of disaffected gumption I often see in myself: light-weight in the eyes, heavy in the intestine. Its the way she sits in rehab, footwear off and legs folded up into her chair, acquiring comfort and ease in her restricted space so that the planet around her appears fewer foreign. (I do this, too.) She seeks out humor in her situation, will take every thing in with small severity. When her mom asks what transpired to her hairwhich is frayed and lazily piled on her headshe casually replies, I dont know, its all the rage in rehab. 

The film is mostly plotless, selecting to depth the brief window of time pursuing Suzanne’s rehab stint and her transition back into the real earth she’s compelled to dwell with her mom, the previous-college Hollywood actress Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine), even though she works on her new film, a middling action B-motion picture that leaves her dissatisfied at day’s stop. She instead finds convenience in the arms of Jack Faulkner (Dennis Quaid), a handsome, careless producer who builds up her self esteem with his velvety smiles and sleek words. She spends her days ingesting junk foods and wandering sets, misplaced in the paragraph break between just one life chapter and the following.

There is some thing comforting about the clinical features of Suzanne’s tale: Her home in rehab, with its pleasant decorations, like putting bows on a bruise the coy smile she wears at all instances, as if she’s in on the joke that is her lifestyle. But what’s extra, her rubbish-dump problem does not consume her temperament or the way she’s deemed by many others. Her mother even now loves her fiercely, if complicatedly. The gentlemen in her orbit however come across her desirable. Existence exists past the bubble of her dependancy and self-harm. She’s hardly thought of broken by any one but herself.


That is usually how mania feels. Like there’s a violent storm raging inside, although all the things exterior moves by with ease, blissfully unaware of the close by cacophony. It is irritating and impossible to make clear, but you discover how to are living with it how to shush the screams, how to silence the soreness, how to dismiss the portion of you that generally needs it was dead. You master to make it funny.

As Carrie wrote in her memoir, Wishful Ingesting, “If my lifestyle wasn’t amusing it would just be accurate, and that is unacceptable. 


A few months into my 30s, I was diagnosed with bipolar problem. Observing a psychiatrist was portion of my self-manufactured repair itprepare, and out of the blue I had it: an reply, a way to curb the mania. But immediately after the preliminary wave of relief, the worry established in. A prognosis isnt a a person-and-accomplished offer.Theres no shot you get to make you quickly not bipolar.  This was a dysfunction, and there I sat in the middle of it all, disordered. Subscribed to a existence of antipsychotics, still left to mount the peaks and valleys of an irregular brain, alone with myself in what will be a lifelong struggle to experience typical, regardless of what that is. Bipolar ailment is so severe, I later on learned, that I will have to mark myself disabled on paperwork and position apps for the relaxation of my existence.

The night time I obtained diagnosed—after an several hours-lengthy cell phone contact with my sister—I arrived home, crawled into mattress, watched Postcards From the Edge, and sobbed myself to rest as it played in the background. I understood now that I was drawn to Carrie for much more than just her eccentric humor or her job as Princess Leia. There was a primal recognition of self, something I realized way again when and now understood why. Even however Suzanne Vale—Carrie’s change moi, whose everyday living loosely mirrors her own—isn’t diagnosed bipolar in the movie, Carrie’s screenplay claims a ton without having stating substantially at all. Habit is often an early symptom of the ailment, and Suzanne is undoubtedly an addict—not just of the Percocet she mows down like candy, but of chaos and disarray. She drinks Jack Faulkner in like a fantastic whiskey, sip just after sip until finally the bottle’s gone. She trades manic episodes with her mother, the two of them residing out psychotic field trips in the other one’s brain. Doris spikes her smoothies with vodka, beverages wine in the early early morning hours, but nonetheless guards her daughter’s own proclivities like a vulture. “What if you experienced a mother like Joan Crawford or Lana Turner?” she asks when Suzanne balks at her, a deflection of the finest get.


In just one of the film’s more well-known scenes, a fresh-from-rehab Suzanne is forced to go to a occasion her mom throws to celebrate her sobriety. Doris forces her to sing for the group, and Suzanne unwillingly compiles, singing a soulful go over of Cindy Walker’s “You Really do not Know Me.” It’s a lovely instant, where by Suzanne funnels her aggravation and pain into a thing like reclamation. “No 1 will at any time know / The one particular who loves you so / No you don’t know me. 

It is a significant instant for Suzanne, but it is straight away stolen from her by her mom, who ways ahead soon after her daughter’s overall performance to do her personal number for the room. Only hers is a a lot more rambunctious act, additional group-satisfying. Suzanne watches her mom with a telling knowingness. She isn’t fastened simply because she’s sober this chaotic, exuberant daily life is in her DNA. Her mother’s drive for consideration is her upcoming, far too. Drama, lawlessness, mania—they’re a lifelong dance.  

Suzanne and Doris are my men and women. They exist in the world with the loudness reserved for those people touched by ailment and dysfunction. But they arent silent participants in the crummy hand theyve been dealt they’re fully lively citizens of the worldeven if they arrive off outrageous.By the movies close, theyve discovered how to funnel their mutually confident destruction into a everyday, simpatico daily life or as relaxed as lifestyle can be for two Hollywood actresses. It is my desire way of heading about points as my freshly diagnosed lifestyle unfolds: as my imperfect self, but in conjunction with the persons and the world close to me, and totally capable of making the most of fantastic, magical factors. 


Carrie Fisher did not want to play the section of Suzanne in the film for the reason that, “I by now played Suzanne,” she would say. It is correct that the tale follows situations from her own lifetime almost to the dot. She wrote the novel, Postcards from the Edge, following her possess stint in rehab, and it mimics the time thereafter, when she transitioned from actress to acclaimed author, and picked back up the items of her lifetime that experienced fallen into what she assumed at the time was an infinite sinkhole. 

“I was incredibly unhappy back then. I was just a mess,” Carrie tells the camera in Dazzling Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, an HBO documentary produced right after her and Reynolds’ death that comprehensive the intricacies of their life and mother-daughter partnership. “Some of the things that are in the motion picture occurred.”


The novel was unveiled in 1987—years just after Carrie was diagnosed bipolar at age 24—and the film, for which she tailored the screenplay, in 1990. Most people will overlook the ailment that rests in its margins, but the bipolar eye sees all it sees the loving way Suzanne appears to be like at bottles of capsules in her mother’s medication cabinet, infatuated with the plan of launch, amazed with how close and how risky that launch is. I seemed the exact same way at bottles of wine in the grocery keep, my fingertips grazing liquid reduction, an intoxicating combination of fantasy and peril.

Around the finish of Vibrant Lights, Carrie (now in her late 50s) sits in her house as a lady does her nails. She’s looking at Funny Girl on Television and singing together, reciting traces at quick-velocity. She’s manic—“It’ll go out of design and style quickly and then I’ll just be quirky,” she jokes—and in that mania, she claims some thing that cycles by means of my mind every day, as I wage a war with my new meds, as I attempt to silent the voice that goes goes goes in my head, as I consider to lull myself to slumber that in no way will come uncomplicated: “You know what would be so awesome? To get to the conclude of my character, and just, like, lay in the solar.”

Carrie died in 2016 with medications and bipolar meds in her process. But I have never ever observed that hopeless, even immediately after my individual analysis. She was 60, too younger but also old more than enough to have stuffed her daily life with so much knowledge, so a lot of tales. Finest of all, she designed anything particular, something eternal in that time she wrote about her hardest, most embarrassing, most human times with gusto, humor, and treatment. She gave us, her fellow disordered siblings, a rope by means of the muck. Each and every time I decide up one particular of her publications, or switch on Postcards from the Edge, I recall that there are other persons like me in this entire world, residing weirdly, just trying to determine it out.


Her everyday living was was however riddled with things I concern my upcoming may well have in keephospitalization, intensive psychotherapy, psychological breakdownsbut Im entering this next stage well prepared. Equipped with Carries words as solace, with Suzanne’s spitfire in my back pocket happy that I took a huge phase for myself, and prepared to snicker by way of all of the shit that lifetime is about to fling my way. 

Im nevertheless 30. I still glance into my mirror each and every day and see the points that I dislike, come to feel that similar chalky pain, wrestle just to retain my head on straight. But my lifestyle is, at the incredibly least,  funny. And for now, that is pretty appropriate. 

Prior Posting: Doris Day: 1922-2019

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