decisions & permissions

It’s as if, in pursuing answers to the pain that’s plagued me for more than fifteen years, I gave myself permission to write again.

Since mid-August, I have written more than 30 poems, started working on three collections (two chapbooks, one full length), and performed at more than half a dozen open mics. I’ve also submitted to four journals, and plan to submit to even more this weekend.

All this while my pain level climbed, and I started walking with a cane, did X-Rays and an MRI, watched my mother defend her dissertation, went to work, fought with the main office about my handicapped parking permit, tried to read regularly again, and learned new boundaries for my body.

At some point, I just decided that this life is mine alone, and I can choose to fill it with writing, literary-minded friends, and the exchange of ideas – or I can ignore what I believe I was meant to do and pursue a career that will pay, but will also take more than I can give.

While that decision has, seemingly overnight, changed my life, I know that this journey is far from over.

Now that we know what is causing at least some of my pain (if not most of it), I get to tackle the quest of Pain Management. Widely interpreted, broadly implemented, this quest is far from a linear path, lengthened or diverted or made more difficult depending on the state of the questing body. I’m trying one tactic, so far unsuccessfully, with plans to try something else in two weeks if the former refuses to take.

In the meantime, I’m going to try to rest as much as I can, read and write when I have the energy, and lose myself in Nora Ephron films when I don’t.

And blog, hopefully, if only to document this process for myself.

split

Sometimes, my mind wanders away from my body.

It isn’t daydreaming. It is an act of disconnection.

I excise the part of me that knows all the words to every song by The Spill Canvas, that churns out copy and concept for eight hours a day, that suffocates in polluting brain fog. I mold it into the curve of a boomerang and throw it out to sea, relieved to see it disappear from sight.

Inside of me, that part gets lost, its voice drowned out by the sensations of living. It can barely breathe.


In the examination room, the doctor whispers, “You’re too young to be dealing with this.” Does he say it to me, to my friend from high school with JRA, to my coworker with cancer, to my cousin who is five years younger than me and has had more diagnoses than most geriatric patients?

Does he have a button he can press, a kind of automatic response, so he doesn’t have to feel it every time?


I convince myself that at least if my thoughts can be free of the cycle – flare, remission, repeat – maybe it will outlive the body that is destined to fail. Maybe it won’t be too scarred to function properly. Maybe I will be able to make something again, even if it’s small, even if it’s just a few words on a computer screen.

In the meantime, I’m getting to know the shell that’s cracking in two.

Once upon a time, I hid inside my head, afraid to know what this or that symptom meant. Now I live just below the surface of my skin, humming along aching limbs, locating and naming and claiming the hurt.

It exists. It is real.

It is mine to manage and explore and allay.

And when I am well enough, I will return to the shore and wait for the rest of me to come back into view.

heat and other kinds of waves

A heat advisory has been issued for much of the listening area…


This week, I turned 28.

It was 100+ degrees F and I blew out a single candle (all that would fit on a small slice of cherry cheesecake) and I laughed as my husband crooned a silly rendition of tradition  and I bowed my head as my co-workers congratulated me for surviving another year.

Surviving seems an apt word, even if it also seems severe.

What does it mean to “turn” an age? Is like the flip of a Rolodex, a card that you can always flip back, or like a hard left towards hell, from which there is no return?

I am Julie Powell, pondering the past – Who have I been? What have I done with 28 years, and is it enough? Have I ever finished anything?

The lies whisper, deafening: No one. Nothing. No.

I am Julia Child, forecasting the future – Who will I be? What will I do with whatever remains of this life? Will I ever finish anything?

The hope whispers, barely audible: Someone. Something. Maybe.

I ask myself what the point of all this thinking is.

Can a string of nonsense thoughts really inspire me to change that which makes me so unhappy? Or will it yield so little that I remain as I am, tethered to the docks like a boat waiting for someone to steer it out to sea?

I do not move from my chair as the waves swell to drown me in my own questions.

Oh, how I plead with myself as the salt scrapes my tongue: Remember what once was true, for in your memory it can be true again. Reject what is presented as fate, for in your uncertainty lies the power of self-determination.

But are these too lies? Can I even hear the difference over the roar of the ocean yawning, swallowing me whole?


with overcast skies and a 30% chance of showers anticipated for tomorrow morning.