Friday, June 14, 2013

flatness, fun and fucking miracles

In high school and college, I would study so hard for my finals that, by the time exam day rolled around, I was a sweatpants-wearing mess with caffeine coursing through my veins and nothing in my stomach that hadn’t come from a vending machine. Before my AP U.S. history test, I was so delirious I started talking to my Winnie the Pooh shampoo bottle, wondering if he was an isolationist (when I told this story to Andrew recently, he said Pooh was most definitely an isolationist).

 
How do you feel about the Stimson Doctrine, Sham-Pooh?
But oh! Finishing finals felt so good. The freedom made the stress worth it. When I had a school-free, work-free day, I would jump in my Toyota Tercel and drive to the edge of the known world, which for me was Silver Lake. It was mural-festooned, only half gentrified, with little houses clinging to the hillside. I’d write bits of fiction while eating guanabana pastries at CafĂ© Tropical and try on dresses at Pull My Daisy, which was still a thrift store back then. The dresses never fit, because I’d been living off vending machine food and pastries.

Life flattens out when you’re an adult. For the past nine weeks, I’ve been teaching an online writing workshop while working full time and undergoing cancer treatment. I think it’s fair to say that’s a stressful combo. During that time, a few things fell by the wayside: recreational reading, progress on my YA novel. And when our vacuum cleaner broke, I just gave up vacuuming, letting our one carpeted room get so crunchy with cat litter that my heart sank a little deeper each time I went in there barefoot. (Eventually AK rounded up all our Target gift cards and bought a new vacuum and gave the room a thorough cleaning and made me fall in love with her all over again.)

But during these stressful nine weeks, I kept writing something most days. I kept working out. I ate a lot of kale and saw a few friends. I wore skinny jeans and mod dresses and white zippered boots. Because I’m not nineteen and I know how to manage time and stress, and I know—on perhaps a less positive note—that you can’t decide life begins after finals because who knows when you’ll be dead?

I finished the last of my grading last night—and yes, by that point I was wearing wiener-dog boxers and eating a (cheese-less) burrito from the taco stand on Figueroa—so I took today off as an official Cheryl Fun Day.

So far I’ve gone running and spent some quality time with the radiation beam at City of Hope. I.e., my stress is less stressful, but my freedom is less free. Right now I’m at the coffee shop adjacent to Vroman’s, eating some leftover kale.

But I just started reading my first physical book in weeks, Jon Ronson’s Lost at Sea, and it promises to be pretty fun. The first chapter is about Insane Clown Posse coming out as Christians. They say things like, “If people can’t see a fucking miracle in a fucking elephant, then life must suck for them, because an elephant is a fucking miracle.”

I mean, I mostly agree with that statement.

"Fuck yeah, I'm a miracle. Now gimme some peanuts."
Then I worked on whittling down a very short story into an even shorter story, killing off some darlings in the process. I thought about what a good exercise that was—learning you can live just fine without things you thought were really important a few minutes ago.

I’m supposed to be diving back into my YA novel now, but here I am blogging. I may not dive so much as wade.

Now, driving to Silver Lake means heading west, because I live on the other side of the alleged edge of the world. But I’m going to head over to Los Feliz to Skylight—because it’s a bookstore-hopping kind of day—and maybe do some thrift store trolling and some sketching. I want to prove I’ve still got it.

2 comments:

Sizzle said...

Sounds like a great day. Life really does flatten out as an adult. That's a great way of putting it. Life must be lived now because, yes, we can't wait until after finals or after we lose those 10lbs or we find the right outfit or whatever.

Enjoy!

Cheryl said...

I think those ten pounds, etc., represent the idea that happiness is just around the bend, which is a lovely myth on one hand and a terrible disservice to yourself on the other. I've become a big fan of being a *little* bit happy *immediately*. I know you know what I'm talking about. :-)