Stabbed in the back by my back

Even Achilles had a problem heel. My dilemma is my lower back. My back is a cruel and whimsical component of my anatomy. It makes a mockery of my plans.

This week’s plan was to go swimming in a pool.

Instead, find me beached on my bed, lying down because sitting isn’t working out right now. My back pain literally makes me sweat. When I’m in one of my “episodes” my bent over stance and shuffling gait are so tortured that people on the street (including young and old ladies) will stop and ask me if I’m okay. Grandmas stride past me looking spry by comparison while I stop and hyperventilate from the pain every few feet. I try to avoid outings in this condition because I just can’t digest the pity and puzzlement aimed in my direction. Some outings, however, are necessary. On the way to the acupuncturist yesterday I ended up sitting on the sidewalk while waiting for the trolley because I couldn’t stand standing.  Last night, I gave up on standing altogether and crawled on my hands and knees from my living-room to my bed (about 7 feet).

Pain does not bring out the best in me: my patience and tolerance for any additional discomfort vanish. I find small wrongs, like rudeness, unbearable. Also, pain makes me try new things–I’m clutching at any and all solutions looking for vain hope. My applied and planned remedies include: stretches, alternating heating pads and ice packs, western medicine, medication, acupuncture, a visit to the chiropractor, complaining via social media, and physical therapy. I get points for being thorough.

The medication makes me feel a bit surreal–not exactly out-of-body, but not exactly in-body either.  It also makes my thoughts a bit disjointed. My best coping mechanism is the same it has always been: copious napping.

Time for my next icing. Let’s hope my next post will be about my miraculous recovery.

That Retirement Feeling

Being on vacation in someone else’s home gives me an unstructured floating feeling. I imagine that this is what retirement feels like: endless possibility, low motivation levels, countless napping opportunities. It’s both wonderful, feeling so un-moored, and slightly strange–having no priorities to guide my use of time. Of course there are the meals to share, and the basic personal hygiene maintenance obligations. I haven’t reverted to living like a bear. I am living like a dreaming moth: the blank slate feeling combined with the short days and grey skies sum up to a slightly surreal bent of mood. I’m enjoying the dis-reality, plotting to make margaritas from scratch, staying warm, spending too much time on word games and random social network posts. From a life-cycle perspective, my time use is somewhere between that of a teenager and that of an old lady. This highly relaxed 15 year old grandaunt wishes you a warm and peaceful holiday season.

Imagined Universes and the Christmas Letter

You know how families send around those Christmas letters detailing the year’s accomplishments and memories for the family as a whole and for its members? I got jealous. Single girls don’t send these letters. So I tried to write one (but maybe that’s already been done and it’s called Bridget Jones’ Diary) and it’s harder than it looks. I determined that in order to qualify for Christmas letter writing, I needed to have a family. So I concocted the only kind of family I could–an imaginary baby. Once I went through the process of imagining my family, it occurred to me that my life was full of imaginary things, or at least my mind was in constant dialogue running amok between my dreams, my perceptions, my past, my imagined future, my desires, and my realities. This was rich terrain. I wanted to write about identity, my identity, but I wanted to capture the influence of my multiple internal dialogues, including the very strong relationship I had with the imagined future.

Where did that realization come from? I knew about the imagined future because I had realized that the one aspect of breaking up (many times, over several decades) I found most difficult to deal with cognitively was the loss of my imagined future. It was an imagined possession that I truly missed having stolen.

So that’s where I got started. Also, I’ve had a small, but potent relationship with the idea of multiple universes, in a very self-serving way. Whenever I feel constrained by my lived life and current choice sets, I like to imagine multiple other universes where I made radically different choices at critical junctures. There’s the me that spent a year abroad with the Rotary Club, the me that went to Bryn Mawr, the me that never left New York City, the me that got an MFA, the me that married young and disastrously, the me that is a junkie, the me that is a professor. They comfort me. And they remind me of my possibilities.
So those are the seeds of the memoir. The imagined. The possible. My identity. And my history (though I am more interested in the future than in the past, as a life philosophy).

Myriad theories

While contemplating the Wye Oak, Yo La Tengo, The National show last night at the majestic Academy of Music, I occasionally had good ideas about writing.

(Yes, I need an excuse to blog, and lucky me, I have one tonight!)

I was thinking about how to manage my writing process, keeping the one month manuscript resting phase rule (which I’m enjoying). It occurred to me that the solution was to have a rotating list of manuscripts. I would need to log my scripts in and out of the cycle, but this system could work. It would force me to systematically work on one story, then let it rest, and pick up another story to push forward. Work, rest, work. Until I felt pieces had reached completion, and then they could move into a submission rotation list.  I could be so organized!

Right now the concept remains conceptual. I’m enjoying my writing hiatus. I think I’m anxious about the work/school/life/writing balancing act. I’m trying to add in activities slowly, one at a time, keeping things manageable. My approach resembles trying to add new foods into a diet when you’re trying to rule out allergies.

I’m waiting for the inevitable freak out. The moment when I grab my PC and shut myself in for a weekend and just write, write, write. At least, I hope it’s inevitable. The moment might never come and I might need to do what I usually need to do, which is schedule official writing time on a weekly basis, so writing doesn’t slip into my ever lengthening to do project pile. My optimistic side hopes that the new class subject matter will lead to new writing ideas. Tonight’s class related writing idea: the aging of the prison population means that jails will become expensive state-run nursing homes. So I can imagine desperate senior citizens (myself included) whose lack of retirement funds pushes them to a life of crime. And then devious granny prison gangs will rule the jail world. See, I’m full of ideas.