Wednesday, May 20, 2015

that not-so-fresca feeling

Well, I gave Kathy’s prompt (“Fresca”) a try, and I almost liked what I wrote. I read up on Fresca soda online and learned that it was sweetened with cyclamates, which were banned in 1969, because studies in rats suggested that a human who consumed 350 cans of Fresca a day might have an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Corinthians 1 restaurant knows how to party.
I had this idea for a story about someone who’d grown up with a birth defect because her mother had been addicted to Fresca while pregnant. But because a Fresca addiction is so absurd, she tells everyone she’s a thalidomide baby. Then she meets a real thalidomide baby and gets in trouble.

I’m still sort of into that idea, but I didn’t like my story enough to post it. The tone has to be just right in a story like that. For a while now I’ve been interested in the idea of genuine tragedy that is the result of an absurd event. Like, what if you lost someone you loved because an actual anvil fell on them? What would you tell people? How would you process your real grief while acknowledging that you lived in a cartoon? I think this is part of a larger motif in my thinking, where I’m always weighing my own dumb animal emotions against my awareness of my place in some (imagined?) narrative.

So that’s the story I didn’t quite write. This is my last week of part-time maternity leave. Our amazing friend Mary is watching Dash three days a week; they chill out in her garden, Mary’s Boston terrier licks Dash’s toes, and last week Mary made cookies for us. In June, Dash will start daycare at a place I feel good about, although I doubt they’ll make us cookies.

I’m going to miss having so many daylight hours with Dash, for sure. I’m a little worried about just how exhausted I might be once I start working twice as much, given how exhausted I already am.

Will I ever write again? That right there is my insecurity shifting, from worrying that the identity of “mom” is beyond my grasp to worrying that “writer” is. The difference is that I have all this weird pathology about the former, and with the latter, I just have the very mundane problem that nearly all writers have, which is a lack of time to write and submit work. I’ll get through it. Probably.

I’m looking forward to having a routine. Our daily baby relay, in which Dash is the baton, is maddening at times. I’m proud of myself for becoming someone who can more or less roll with the punches, but I still long to not get punched for a while.

I’m looking forward to seeing my Homeboy coworkers more regularly. I’m looking forward to spending less time in clothes spotted with half-digested formula—although that’s a cliché I take a strange pride in. In a cautious way, I’m looking forward to simply enjoying the day-to-day of a life I’ve worked my ass off to inhabit (while acknowledging that working my ass off was just a small piece of the puzzle).

Here’s to the next phase. Picture me raising a can of Fresca.


Kat said...

I'm glad Fresca took you to such a wickedly funny place. Even though it might be crumbly and ragged for a few years, I bet you find a way to write.

Anonymous said...

FWIW real-life "too much soda" stories do exist:
8 liters would be about a case of soda a day. 350 cans, though - 32 gallons, 275 pounds of Fresca a day ;)

Fresca said...

350 cans! :)

I do like Fresca and drink it once in a while. I'm probably not up to 350 cans in my entire lifetime though.

Recently I discovered (or the beer-makers only recently made available here?) grapefruit beer. (Fresca is supposed to be grapefruit flavor, though I don't think that's easy to tell.)
Grapefruit beer is an old German thing, I guess?
I LOVE it: it's not sweet at all, it's just essence of grapefruit added to beer.

The absurdity of tragedy--I think you're onto something there.

Good luck with your return to work!

Fresca said...

P.S. Did I ever say, Fresca is a nickname for my name Francesca?

A former coworker gave it to me, saying I was effervescent and refreshing. He didn't add, "and a little sour/bitter" but I can be, and I like that sour and bitter tastes--turmeric, grapefruit, mustard greens, lemons.

Cheryl said...

Kathy--thank you for the vote of confidence! Crumbly and ragged sounds about right; I'll take it.

Anon--I also saw an episode of My Strange Addiction (or maybe it was Freaky Eaters) about a woman who drank so much Coke she developed a benign breast tumor. The crazy part is she didn't develop diabetes.

Fresca--Francesca is one of my favorite names, and Fresca is a great nickname. A little sour/bitter is a good thing.