Waking Up in the Afternoon

By now you know that I have to take a bunch of pills throughout the day, all of which make me fall asleep.

Waking up in the afternoon is often more difficult than waking up in the morningtime. For example: today. Right now.

Coming out of my midday fog, I find myself in a cool, dark room on a hot, sunny day. I am emerging into a dreamlike reality, watching an obscure Youtube video that all too perfectly mimics my current mental state.

(I am not completely unconvinced that Lhasa de Sela isn’t one of my spirit guides.)

Here Lhasa is, lulling me out of my lull, singing my love-life story, so honestly and so sweetly, in my preferred 6/8 time signature.

Maybe I am still more dreaming than awake.

A low camera, never quite focusing on my beloved storyteller, pans the on-looking crowd dressed in scowls, judgmental half-smiles, and dark clothing. Nearing the end of the cameraman’s circle of judges is a photographer. Not looking too unlike myself before all the sun, she smiles more truthfully than the others and is the only one in the crowd who bothers to try to sing along. She manually advances her film. She appears to be shooting with what I swear is a Canon AE-1 , which just so happens to be my first and all-time favorite SLR, trumping even the modern day ultra-uber-DSLR’s.

This video is all too similar to something my brain might conjure.

It is hard for me to know where a dream ends and real life begins again, especially in the afternoons. Familiar music via Youtube usually helps bridge the gap.

 

Uh Oh…

So there I was again. At the goddamned YMCA for my daily swim.

Some Jesus freak, who first Jesus’d me back in December, stopped me in the hallway this morning (by physically blocking my path to the pool), in order to tell me how much “better” I look. And then, she proceeded to have a great idea: “You should open your own ballet studio!”

Go ahead and twist that knife the Universe shoved into my back, why doncha?

Obviously, she has never been a business owner, or worked tirelessly, trying to keep a business afloat.  Let alone tried to do it while crippled, in unyielding pain, and on drugs. “Whatever.” I grumbled at her, “You can see that my leg is shaking. I have to get in the water.”

I walked away.

I limped out to the pool deck.

Some overly cheerful aquaciser, full of saccharine and straddling a noodle, yelled out to me “I like your shirt!” 

I was wearing whatever shirt I slept in. I looked down: a wrinkled  green tee that says “ACHIEVER” on it.

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It’s a reference to The Big Lebowski. It’s a reference I knew this lady didn’t get. I scoffed. “Yeah, thanks.”

She then chimed (in a sing-song sounds-like-someone’s-got-a-case-of-the-Mondays tone of voice),”Uh oh, looks like you’re in a bad mood today.”

Oh no, she di’nt… “I’m in a bad mood every day,” I snapped back.

She then tried to argue that I am not actually in a bad mood every day because I don’t look like I’m always in a bad mood…

I kept walking, but started uncontrollably muttering a bunch of stuff under my breath walking to my deck chair. I probably bore an embarrassing resemblance to  Yosemite Sam. “As if I’m supposed to be in a good mood for you” … “Who are you to argue with me about how I feel!?”… “You think I want to come here? That this is fun for me?” … “How dare you judge me based on how you think I look!”

And punctuating the half out loud rant: a hearty “fuck you, lady.”

She may or may not have heard me.  I don’t think I care.

Message in a Bottle

I write this blog for a number of reasons. Primarily, it is my catharsis to release nearly every CRPS-related thing that is happening in my life. It is a record of everything CRPS is teaching me, a record of how CRPS is changing me.

I blog using my “journal” voice, the voice I use in my handwriting, writing that fills little blank books, bound and kept closed tightly with elastic, writing that may never to be seen again. Self-indulgent streams of consciousness that don’t pander to any particular audience (despite the fact that I never want you to forget that I am always talking directly to you). Loosely formulated, brutal honesty complete with unabashed f-bombs and shit droppings. Incomplete sentences, with incorrect punctuation. And, it is barely bearable for me to use the tidy Alegreya Sans typeface to express a voice that I normally see conveyed in sort of legible chicken scratch, peppered with crossings outs, crowded margins, dyslexic inaccuracies, and ink blotches that indicate a blinking cursor in my brain.

So why do I do it? Why type out all of this nonsense, pasting .gifs, .pngs, and .jpgs instead of clippings, receipts, and plane tickets onto the pages? Why not just fill another black, green, or red 3.5″ x 5.5″ moleskine?

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Because (pathetically, shamefully) I’m really fucking lonely. CRPS is an island of brutal isolation.

I used to use social media, primarily Facebook, to keep in touch with the outside world. In the past year, as you may have noticed, Facebook has become an acrid cesspool of self-righteous political chest thumping. And the braggarts with their exotic foods and journeys around the world (I used to be one of them, so I make this point out of jealousy and embarrassment. Jealous of trips I am no longer able to take, embarrassed to once have been inconsiderately flamboyant with my social media posts). And then there are those who prefer to use the platform as a weapon to inflict emotional pain. Every day, I felt more angry, jealous, sad, and more disconnected from a world that used to be mine. I realized that I have very little in common anymore with my family and friends. The isolation grew greater through being constantly connected. I don’t need extraneous reasons to feel angry, jealous, sad, and disconnected; CRP(fucking)S is enough. In February, I logged out of Facebook.

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“The initial mystery that attends any journey is: how did the traveler reach his starting point in the first place?” ~Louise Bogen, Journey Around My Room

And so, this blog has become my message in a bottle. And, wouldn’t you know it? It seems I’m not alone in being alone.

Message in a Bottle
Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle
A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life
But love can break your heart
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle
Walked out this morning
Don’t believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone at being alone
A hundred billion casatways
Looking for a home
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle
Sending out an SOS

That’s What Friends Are For

I have a very specific memory of Dionne Warwick’s song That’s What Friends Are For. 

I was eleven. As usual, my mom picked me up from dance class and took me to my older brother’s swim practice. I took off my tights, grabbed a kick board and got in the water wearing my leotard. The sky was that lovely color that happens just after twilight, reminiscent of The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World.

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The air was soft and warm and felt like velvet, the water was soft and cool and felt refreshing on my sore muscles. My mom was nearby reading a book, my brother was practicing his sprints in the next lane with about 100 other kids, and I was cruising with my kick board. Just when I thought the moment couldn’t get any better, the coach played the radio over the loud speakers and That’s What Friends Are For came on.

I have no idea why I remember this. Maybe because the feeling of the song perfectly matched the feeling of that evening. It just seemed like Stevie Wonder needed to be there in that moment with me and his harmonica.

I am surprised at how much I have drawn on this memory throughout my life.

The most recent time was yesterday after my swim. My swimming buddy had a rough swim the other day. I knew she was hurting and probably would not make it back to the pool for a couple days.

After I got out of the water (shaking, but not snapping my fingers), I sat on the deck chair and thought about my upcoming trip to New York (I am dreading it). I thought about my friend and realized that it would be a full week before I saw her again. I felt curiously sad. I realized how much I genuinely like her and will miss her. This will be the longest that we’ve gone without seeing each other since September. She has gone from being “just my swimming buddy” to being a dear friend.

And, in the middle of my lamenting not wanting to go to New York and missing my friend, I heard a yell from behind me. “JENN!!” Scared me to death. I turned around, and on the other side of the chain link fence was my friend.

I couldn’t believe it. I hopped over to her. She said she was on her way to teach. She knew I would still be there and wanted to stop by to wish me luck in New York and apologize for not swimming. Apologize? I thanked her (so much!) for coming to see me. I told her I was just thinking about how much I will miss her and how I plan to swim at the YMCA in The City. We talked for several minutes and she was on her way.

Afterward, tears welled up in my goggle marked eyes behind my sunglasses. I was just so damn touched that she would drive to the YMCA, park, climb up a grassy hill, and yell through a chain link fence. Just to say hi to me.

It is easy to feel alone and overwhelmed and scared and like all of this is just too much to bear. But, that’s what friends are for.

My Blog Process: Thank Goodness for Backdating

It all looks pretty coherent, doesn’t it?

Well, there’s a little computer magic behind these blog posts. I never know how I’m going to feel from one moment to the next so it is almost impossible to find a “normal” rhythm to my life.

The one aspect in my life that stays relatively consistent (apart from CRPS, that is… :-/ ) is swimming. I swim at least four days per week, at least 30 minutes per day.

Most of the time in the water is spent zoning out, trying not to wince, looking at the pretty sparkles, listening to my gasp for a breath followed by a long, constant exhale of bubbles followed by another gasp. Sometimes I like to make trumpet noises with my mouth during my exhale. Sometimes the trumpet noises sound like a pterodactyl.

However, sometimes, there are actual thoughts that enter my mind. Sometimes these thoughts demand further thinking instead of allowing themselves to enter my mind and leave again. I suppose a true zen master might let them go, in order to experience the bubbles, sparkles, and pain. But, having the clarity of mind and ability to think is a rare commodity for me now, so I allow myself.

When I get out of the pool, waiting for my leg to stop shaking, I sometimes open the WordPress app on my phone and start a draft for a new blog entry. Those blog entries are never finished when I start them. I store them up and when I have “good days” I finish one or two, backdating to the date of the original thought. I currently have 9 barely begun posts hibernating in my “drafts” folder.

Even this post has marinated for several months. I made my first notes in December; I’m finally finishing it in March.

So, you see, WordPress provides me the luxury of blog time travel. If only real life worked the same way…

Anyway, that’s how it works, and that’s why new posts will sometimes magically appear in the past.