I’m reading My Body is a Book of Rules (Red Hen Press) by Elissa Washuta, about her life with bipolar disorder, and she includes some journal excerpts. I think her book is a good model for the one I might be writing. It’s fragmented, high-low in its references, complicated and playful. Her dialogue between her date rape experience and an imaginary episode of Law & Order: SVU is genius. It inspired me to write a dialogue between the part of me that feels like a mother-without-a-cause and Facebook. AK was understandably relieved that I didn’t actually post that one.
|Like a woman needs a fish in her bathtub.|
The dread has been creeping in, slowly, over the past week-ish. A thing that sucks about being a cerebral type is that when you’re really enjoying life, when you’re really in the moment, your brain will stop to congratulate your healthy little soul on being so healthy.
Hey, right then when you were noticing how lovely the color palette of sidewalks and dry leaves and tile roofs was? That was great!
Then your other brain chimes in: Whoa there, Mary Oliver, let’s not get too caught up in the everyday beauty of life. You might get re-diagnosed with cancer in sixteen days.
Your soul quietly pipes up: But the world is for me. Mostly, though, your soul gets lost in the chatter.
On Monday, I told my therapist that it was probably a good time to watch myself closely, to get enough sleep and all that. He agreed. A little self-care can mean the difference between driving too slowly past Crazytown and purchasing property there.
|This is what happens when you do a Google image search for "Crazytown."|
Give me a rough workday, too much time in my head, too much Facebook, a cookie binge and a night where I get five or six hours of sleep, and I’ll be thinking about how bigger tumors increase the risk of recurrence and my tumor was bigger than anyone’s, practically ever.
I could call my memoir How to Lie to Yourself with Statistics.
Statistics are a problem. Narrative is a problem—part of me can always see my good moments as nothing but ironic foreshadowing. Everything that takes us away from our fundamental, in-the-moment selves is a problem, and yet to me the beauty is in the processing too. It’s baby and bathwater stuff.
When I told her she didn’t need to wait for me she said, “Okay, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t scared of lions or anything. When I first started hiking, I was terrified of wild animals.”
It was 9 a.m. and there were about a thousand people on the trail. “I think it might be a little crowded for mountain lions,” I said.
“Oh, my fear defied all logic,” she said.
|Resort in its pre-ruined state. I want to go to there.|
I didn’t bring a hat or sunglasses and the light at the top of the mountain was bright and blinding, bouncing off the white cement of the old foundation. My vision felt a little spotty and I tried to decide if I was having a stroke or was just going from shadow to sunlight a lot.
Back in the city, my head started pounding and even an emergency trip to Coffee Bean didn’t help. By the time we got to AK’s family’s house for Thanksgiving, I was achy and feverish. The good news was maybe that explained why I was such a lackluster hiker. The bad news was that I was coming down with something. Even my best hypochondriac efforts couldn’t make it into cancer, although the simple fact of my body being in pain was a kind of flashback. And flu ache felt a little like the boob aches I used to get before my period, back when I had boobs and a period. Back when I was a girl…. Sigh. See how quickly I can go dark?
|Love in the time of shoulder pads.|
I got good sleep—Nyquil good—so I can joke about it. But the creepy, don’t-go-in-the-basement music is always playing in my head, and the basement is always real even if God is as real there as s/he is in the life of a four-year-old pastor’s kid.
*I almost never use this word. I’m so superstitious. Who do I think I am to call myself a survivor? What am I trying to say? Everyone not dead is a survivor, and some of my best friends are dead people.