Dear Dear Diary
You are in my arms.
Outside in the dark outside our open window, a girl is still calling for her kitty and the rain is starting to fall. An angry woman gets out of a car and yells at either the house or the driver.
Across town, I am sure there is a woman struggling to give birth, while another older lady holds her rosary for comfort and lets go.
But you are here and in my arms. I cannot think of them, what has been, what might have been and what will be. I have to think of you. Here. Now.
In my arms.
Sometimes I like to say words for the sheer flavor of saying words.
Purple. Anathema. Elephant. Anastamosis. Elegantly erudite. Beautious. Boobies. Flatulent. Somulent. Assonance. Freudian. Asshat. Bint. Tootsie. Mergatroid. Elephantiasis. Watusi. Anglophile. Cromulent. Verbosity. Pomposity. Verminicious Knid. Snozzleberry. Snausages. Penis. Mudpuppies. Fructose. Digital. Gob.
There are words I don't like.
Introitus. Pink and Moist. Vagina. Sucralose. Prostate. Madding. Os.
Sometimes I like to just sit and mutter words for the sibilance and the taste of them rolling off the tongue. I hope I'm not the only one.
My hands hurt. Almost more than my hip and my knees. Riding in someone else's car does that to me- most cars seem deliberately engineered to be uncomfortable- I can't put my left leg in a way that lets me be comfortable.
Not walking much I can cope with. But my hands are my mode of life. They sustain what I do best- to create. To type- they earn my living. They are my mode of converse with most of the world outside of this house- probably about 85% of my communication is through typing. And I cannot sew, cannot draw, or do a lot of things I want to do when they hurt.
And Jazz is limping today. I don't know which is worse. Watching his pain, or having my own. And I think about these small things, and I think that somewhere out there is another woman with my problems who used to live in New Orleans. And that really has to suck dingoballs to hurt like this, and have far fewer comforts.
I hope my hands feel better tomorrow. I have a lot of work to do.
Snapshots of my week
I'm at the gym (yes, I do Curves), and someone asks me why I am wearing gloves. These are biking gloves and are obviously not designed for warmth, but the whole concept of workout gloves is foreign to these ladies who barely manage the circle of machines and restboards. I explain I am allergic to the hand sanitizer and wear the gloves to keep from getting the crap on my hands. A long discussion ensues where I explain what bothers me and what doesn't and try to explain when I move away from certain people some days- it's not because I don't like them- it's because they smell perfumed, or they get really happy with the Purex.
I am at the rally at the start of the protest week. Jazz and I stand at the crowded back of the nave. I see there are seats upstairs and down in front, but I don't feel like hearing the whoopigranolamellowness. I know there is a dinner planned. I tell Jazz I'm going to find the kitchen. I explore. The architecture is like something out of my dreams- one large room telescoping into another large room with all sorts of warren connections and huge sliding doors. I find the kitchen and say the magic words, "What can I do to help?" I am greeted with warm smiles, but everyone seems too harrassed to have a task. I watch for a little. The salad people need help with the lettuce, and I step into the choreography as if I was planned. I make friends with the other cooks. There is always a kitchen. There is always a need to do.
We are the protest in front of the courthouse. I was admiring the architecture of the surrounding buildings, and wondering how to translate that into the Sims. I look back at the Courthouse, and there is a red stain on the central pillar. An older man is sitting in front of it, and he is surrounded by cops. The man who had been singing protest songs has stopped, and a professional activist is reading a statement of protest. It repeats Peace over and over like that part in the Catholic mass. I feel they are trying to explain that this is Christ's blood on the Courthouse as a Sign from God, and I know that this is only metaphor. Another woman explodes in fury next to me. "How dare he!" She points at the man on the steps. "That bastard is going to make things harder for us! He is jeopardizing the entire trial! How dare he!" A more fragile lady asks me, "What do you think? Was that wrong? Why did he do it?" I don't know why she is asking me, but I tell her, "He wanted to share the message. Perhaps it was the wrong time for this, but it was how he felt he could share his solidarity." I knew it meant there would be increased security tomorrow. But I felt if Bush wants blood, perhaps this is a good offering for him.
We are at the protest in front of the courthouse. A woman is explaining why she was excommunicated from her church for speaking of women's rights and how difficult it is to be an Actor in a small town. She seems far from stable. Another woman approaches to explain about the difference between capitol letters and upper and lower case names in the value of identity. The first woman walks away, giving the second woman a look that says, "I can't bear to be near you- you are crazier than I am." No matter who you are or how you think- there is always someone crazier than you. The biggest trouble with any extreme is there are always fanatics willing to voice the cause, but those who can invest the time are often without jobs for a reason. This is yet another reason I'd like more inexpensive healthcare. I'd feel safer if they were taking their medication. We finally see the veterans arrive and voice support of the troops. Their speaker is obviously a Roman Catholic priest who gives a speech with a quality that reminded me of some of Marc Antony's speech from Shakespeare's play- he began by praising the protesters, and then explained why we need to make sure there are no muslims in this country, or non-whites either. At this point, someone from the local news shoved a camera in my face. The reporter wants to know what I think. I ramble. I have too many snapshots of insanity. This is too surreal for me. I know the people on trial were far more rational about their decision than anyone on either side of the barrier at this moment. I don't swear. I am very proud that I didn't swear. I say I am glad there are voices on both sides of the fence - both for and against this war- and they are here right now and speaking, and listening to each other, and this message is being heard and not censored. I summarize with this, "This war-- This war is not a moral war. We have no business being over there. We all support our troops, but we want to bring them the heck home. Now." I fret and hope I wasn't an idiot.
We see the tape later. I look coherent and not too fruity. My t-shirt cannot be read. I did have someone recoil from it earlier- they found it too violent. It said, "I wish I could CTRL-ALT-DEL you." They have misspelled my name, but I am not surprised.
At the event yesterday, a friend tells me she is single again. I have never known her without her husband or her daughter. It is a bitter, ugly divorce, where he was having an affair. The other woman was supposed to be the head retainer, but backed out in order to have face time with him. So my friend stepped up and took the head retainer job, and both of the other two were pushed from the household. My friend earned her pointy hat through tears. I felt badly, but helped keep her laughing this day. I hope she ends up happier. Another friend approaches me- Katja asks all about the horror of two weeks ago, and I reassure her I am fine, or as fine as I can get. Another lady, whose name I never remember but we are on a hugging friendship nonetheless, had not heard of the incident, so I had to tell her too. Sometimes, I don't know how to handle the sympathy. It's who I am now. It's not a matter of having the strength to cope. There is no choice in this. I simply must learn what is possible and what is not possible, and just be. I spend time with Wulfstan's sister. She tells me all about how much Wulfstan admires me. I am surprised, as I barely know the man, but I have seen him for years. We talk about scribal things and drinking things, and even personal plumbing, and we share jokes; then Wulfstan comes and teases me for all the scrolls I have done. He says "You have been busy!" But I don't think I have. There were at least two months when I did not put pen to paper. I always feel I have not done enough. I do what I can, but I don't know what is enough. I have my list of what I want to do, and frankly, it only grows.
Today is half over. I am still tired from lack of sleep. Colin is asleep with his face in my elbow.
Sometimes it's just fun to try to make people laugh.
Yesterday, I spent most of my day travelling to a place I didn't really want to go to, but felt oblidged. I did the business I needed to do, and then I spotted someone who looked more bored than I was. And I sat down and tried to be charming. I hope I was. She decided she really liked me. We talked about things that interested me and my family, and found that she liked some of those things too. Every body poops. So we talked about plumbing. I thinks it's fair to say I know a great deal about plumbing, for someone who doesn't know how to put two pipes together. And I talked about quilting. She wants to learn to quilt. She bought a dragon quilt kit when her first grandson was born, and didn't have the courage to try it. I talked to her for a bit on how to quilt, and that went well. I talked a bit about the history of quilting too, because we were at a historical recreation event. And I put in a lot of jokes so we both could laugh, a lot. And I think she's hooked now on playing with the historical group. Hopefully, she'll keep playing and enjoy it. I feel like I made a friend. Certainly by trying to bring a smile to her face, I brought one to mine.
As a result, when I went to bed last night, I didn't feel my day had been wasted despite expense, inconvenience and annoyance. And that is always a good thing. Maybe next time I'll remember her name.
I almost died again today.
The last time I got so close, the ambulance carted me off, I was fed oxygen, and I was fine about 2 hours later. But my joints locked up and I was only seeing a long narrow tunnel of light through the fog.
Today I'm still achy. My throat burns like I've smoked 3 packs of cigarettes and spent the night playing suffleboard in a dive where the beer is sold in shotglasses for a nickel each and the air is so blue everyone looks like animated corpses. But my color has returned to its usual pale instead of the rich crimson blotches and puffiness it was earlier.
I have good friends who know the signs now better than I do. I thank them all. It is good to breathe. Even I can forget sometimes the simple joy of inhale-exhale. Inhale- exhale. It's so simple it goes on without thinking about it.
My SCA arms have a frog on them. Because of the frogs thin skin and their aquatic environments, they are one of the better indicators of environmental problems. Maybe I should put a canary in chief. I'm just as good for either indicator. And I forget sometimes. These new drugs they are testing me on have helped hugely. But I'm still horribly vulnerable, and I forget. I pretend I'm normal now, and I can relax and not worry so much.
Until something like today happens. And I'm sick all over again.
I was outside, where I can usually get fresh air. My survival instincts now rush me outside to the "good fresh air" asap when I react like this. But there wasn't any fresh air, even though there was a good breeze. Apparently someone was burning a very large quantity of industrial hemp rope, and the wind was carrying the smoke. It smelled like pot to everyone there. So there may have been more than just real hemp in there. And I reacted terribly, horribly to it. I'm grateful now I never smoked pot as a younger person.
But now, I'm giving serious thought to something I probably should have done years ago- get a MedicAlert necklace and wear it always. Because as soon as someone came to try and help me, the drugs they want to offer me won't help. I am allergic to anti-histamines and steroids. I just need oxygen and time to get back to normal. I worry if I should carry oxygen around with me for things like this- but this is the second reaction this bad in 10 years. So I probably shouldn't be so paranoid.
But I certainly don't feel well at all tonight. I still have moments of dizzy. I ache still, and my throat... well. I said that. I worry more about tomorrow, but you know, I'll have one. That's good. That's always good.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
What would you do?
My father was one to teach life lessons in bizarre fashion. But perhaps because they were strange, they've stuck with me. He showed me a summer's collection of newspaper articles of person after person being seriously injured or killed by swerving to miss a deer or other animal crossing the road. All of the people made the choice to try and save the animal, and sometimes it cost them their lives. He let me sift through these for a few minutes, and then told me in summary, "If the choice comes, have the strength to hit the deer. You've got a better chance of survival."
That didn't make me feel better on that very dark and stormy night when I was driving down the interstate at 60 mph when the deer stepped out of the median and into my windshield. But it did keep me from panicking and swerving to avoid it- had I swerved far enough to the right, I would have driven the car off a cliff, possibly killing myself and my spouse, napping in the car. Instead, I only inhaled sharply, and took my foot off the gas, turned on the 4-ways, and pulled over. I heard the sickening crunch of the cars behind us hitting the same deer. There wasn't much of it left. Nor was there a lot of my windshield or the entire left side of my car.
My father and I had a lot of long discussions about rabies and the best way to deal with it. He was not as bad as my aunt, who believed that all bats and racoons in a rabies infected area ought to be euthanized in an effort to control the disease. He did teach me the warning signs. Any racoon or bat or other nocturnal animal out in the daytime was likely to be infected and nearing death, and likely to be highly dangerous.
So what would you do, then, knowing this, if you saw a racoon trying to cross the road with another 3 hours of daylight left? Would you do as that strange man in the truck did, and swerve to hit it- hoping to kill it so it could not bite anyone? Would you stop and call the police and tell them there was likely a rabid racoon in the area, knowing that if you didn't have a way to contain it, they'd be sorting air and likely miss it? Would you swing back and try to hit again? Or get the gun out of your gun rack and actually shoot it? I am left wondering if he was trying to euthanize the animal in a painful way, or if he really took pleasure in trying to kill the beast, or was he trying to miss? I'll never know.
I am very glad that Jazz saw it and did something about it, no matter how unpleasant. There wasn't anyway to save that racoon, but because he called the cops, they kept it from biting any other animals or children in the area, and our neighborhood has many. Our dog was outside most of the day today- what if she'd been bitten?
I remember arguing once with my father about hunting. How I thought it was criminal that they were shooting deer. He had only tough questions for me. What do you do when there is nothing culling the herd and they die of starvation or are running across roads? Is it better to kill and eat them then, than have them suffer or possibly kill people in cars? I have changed my opinions on this now- I wish the hunters focused more on the old, the sick, and the young, like the natural predators do.
I have a convenient memory of squeezed box compartments.
Someone asked me this weekend when did I learn to hand sew? Who had taught me? And I breathed for a moment trying remember. I remember watching Meme sew, my father's mom, on the short stay with her after Grandpa Burt died. She made me a Holly Hobby doll from a kit, and she swore over the thing furiously. It was the first time one of my elders swore around me. I felt bad for making her work on something that I really couldn't play with- it was more of a model on a styrafoam base. She made me a yarn doll too, and showed me how to make it myself. I remember watching Gram sew- and I still treasure the few cloth dolls from her hands that I got to keep, and her patterns so I could make more. I remember Mom telling me how her father taught her how to dangle the needle so it would untangle. I remember being shown several times fancy embroidery stitches and their names. I quickly forgot the names. But I don't remember learning to sew, or the first thing I must have taken large crooked stitches on. I just... knew.
Jazz commented on being happy to get compliments on his wooden staves he is carving. Someone asked him how. I was baffled. How can you not know how? And I tried to remember who taught me to hold a knife? Who showed me safety circles and the knife etiquette? When did I start making buttons from sticks? I remember the rabbit I carved. I remember the frogs and the butterflies I carved from soap. I still have my knife. But who gave it to me? I can't remember.
And today, I am listening to young women from Ohio, and I am remembering how my accent changed every time I moved. How hard I worked to drop the "you know" from my every sentence, and the "like" as well. I remember they teased me for talking funny every time I have moved. But that's to be expected, when you move from Wyoming, to Florida, to Ohio, and upstate NY. I don't think my parents ever changed. Immutable. It's only when I look back can I see their changes.
I feel the same, mentally, as I did when I was 13. But I've changed too. And I wonder how much else I have forgotten, and what else do I know. I can make, or at least know how to make, almost anything. When did I learn it? How do I know?