Intertubes and Balanga

So, in talking with a friend tonight, I learned that one should never publish original work in her blog. Who knew? Who knew that someone might be so stupid, so devoid of creativity as to actually lift something from someone’s blog and call it their own! I mean, I’m embarrassed enough to be publishing my own small thoughts... I can’t imagine publishing someone else’s and calling them my own.

I’m still conflicted over the whole notion of having to update this thing regularly. That’s probably obvious by now.

Here is what I know:

This week, I had to stand in the back of a crowded courtroom and watch one of my clients testify before a judge that he was a fit enough father to his two young sons so that he might win custody of them. Before he stood at the cheap wooden podium, his sweaty lawyer at his side, he taped a paper doll cutout to its side. There were three dolls. The one in the middle was my client. The dolls flanking him were his sons. I knew this because they were labeled in a child’s handwriting. The middle one read “DADDY”.

This week, I had to tell other clients of mine that I would be leaving them because I’d just bought a house and the commute was going to be too long and the workload not enough. I was expecting a congratulations or two for the house purchase... but not knitted brows and looks of sheer panic, the-don’t-leave-me-please-i-can’t-do-this-by-myself look. I didn’t give myself a whole lot of time to sit with the feeling of being needed. I am needed. Somewhere out there, people need me. They don’t tell me regularly. But they need me. It is an odd feeling to be reminded so suddenly that I am so needed. Everyone is needed in this same way. Somewhere out there, someone needs you.

This week, I got another horrible sinus infection and had to spend most of July 4th resting. I read The Poisonwood Bible in about two and a half days. What an amazing read. Africa. Poor, poor Africa. What haven’t we done to you? Africa calls to me and repels me at the same time. The idea that there I share a planet with microorganisms that eat away at the membranes of the human body makes me appreciate the balance of it all, that a millimeter or three of porous material holds my insides in, and the atmosphere over our heads.

I can’t even really articulate right now what it is I want to say about all this. In general, I’m still ruminating on the theme of feeling purposeful on earth. My mind fixates on endtimes... and not because of any religious proclivities. Maybe I have been reading too much Jared Diamond, or listening to too much public radio... but it’s all very clear in my mind, more clear than most thoughts I have in a day, how this all goes. I live in a wealthy country that can’t stay wealthy forever. I watch as standards change, as I am being governed by a patriarchy of scared old men who make frequent and hollow public statements. I am watching security tighten, fears rise. I find my hope dissolves a little more every day when I hear that a little girl in Egypt has died of a botched female circumcision, or that we are in the middle of a mass extinction right now, the fastest one the earth has ever known. The Holy Roman Empire is in the valley below me, and I feel one part Chicken Little, and one part soothsayer, a history book in the one hand, and a notion to go run in the sprinklers in the other. I keep telling myself that when the year rolls over and a new president is elected, my hope will be restored. Even I know better than to entrust my precious hope to one man. But I need something to hold onto. Until I find it in myself- until I go to the place inside where my science melts into faith, and my doubt turns over into hope for the future, the infinitesimal spot where life begins inside me, I look for it all on the outside. I am morbidly fascinated by the shipwreck, observing it from the shore, praying I had nothing to do with it, wondering what it means that I escaped.

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Spinnet Circa 2003


It’s 9-11, isn’t it? You want me to write about it. Don’t you? Or maybe you are trying to tell me that’s the answer to the question of time I keep asking. It’s when it all began, or ended. That was the beginning of this… this period. This pupating, this time when nothing makes sense, when everything gets to get in. Every little thing I see, I hear, I taste, I touch, it all gets an apartment in my heart. I have no choice in the matter. It all gets to go in. And it all changes everything. Everything shifts and changes, like the interior of a lava lamp, all moving, all shifting. It never rests, and the same pattern never forms twice. There is nothing that can happen to me now that won’t affect me immediately. Everything must be thought of- every little thing, from the crushing of a bug in my kitchen, to what socks I wear and where I do my job. It’s more than a Zen exercise in mindfulness. It is a permanent change in my chemistry. It is the new standard. It is a painful new consciousness. It doesn’t fit me yet. I am piling on the new without having finished shedding the old. I am still tender underneath, having just shaken off the first half of my life. While scabs were still forming, this new awakening happened, and all the information I now posses just clamped itself to my body, stuck like barnacles. I cannot shake it, shake them. It is too much work to remove them, and too heavy to move with them. I am stuck. I am immobile. I am waiting. For what, I don’t know.

I am changing all the time now. I thought this would be the time when things settle and clarity comes with me wherever I go. Instead, every new thing I learn becomes a part of me. Instead of feeling adult and confident, I feel baby deer, unsteady on my legs, nervous, aware that I am prey, my life body fragile, my life short.

It is not liberating, though I have a feeling that is coming. It is gut wrenching and full of heartache, this time. It is full of indecision, and fear. It’s got me wondering all the time, and questioning… this is not comfortable.

I demand of myself that I be happy all the time. That everything be certain. I am always so surprised and hurt when things are neither way. I do not know what to do to pull myself out of this. All I know is that every time I look at the clock, it says 9:11.

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Into the Ether, Out of Mind

I've got "Comfortably Numb" echoing in my head: "Hello... is anybody IN there? Just nod if you can hear me"...

I never intended for this to be the place I post my feelings IN PLACE of expressing them aloud...

Frankly, I was pretty turned off to the idea of even having this blog for a long time. I knew exactly what would happen. I'd come here instead of to my friends to bitch and moan, to get something off my chest, to wax poetic about politics and brain tumors and the like... Something about the laws of energy just don't allow me to tell the same story twice with the same amount of gusto each time. It's either here, or in person... and the cycle is a nasty one; the more I do it here, the more I do it here.

And I think it's happening. I'm coming here more. And I'm not happy about it. And I'm concerned that I live two lives: one here and one out there. Is this what happens when one converts their innermost lives into public content? If it is, then I'm going to have to stop with the Deep Thoughts, and trim this back to funny anecdotes about buying jeans. Because I don't like the idea that I'm unreadable in real life and knowable here and only here. I don't like the idea that everyone is talking to my face and having a meta-conversation with the space just slightly above my head. "Oh yeah? Really? That's not what your blog said. I KNOW what your blog said and you're actually pretty upset right now".

I feel like I've got to refer back to this thing all the time, and it gets tiresome, frankly.

And I'm also tired of everyone asking me if i've read their blog. No, I haven't. And I haven't updated this one, so stop asking. And I have a life to live, and a paper journal to fill, where most of my writing goes. If you want to know, ask. And if you want me to know YOU, tell me. Is this what the age of information has done to us? Made us all foamy at the mouth with the thrill of thinking someone has seen us online, that we've connected to another human being in Ohio somewhere in some significant way, that we don't actually put any effort into actual face time with people? And we brush it off by saying, "Well, I blogged about it, so..."

There must be a law of equilibrium out there with this kind of thing. As in: for every blog writer who doesn't read blogs, there are three blog readers who don't blog. I am the non-reading type. Is it right to presume SOMEone is reading this? And that my karmic debt to read (and care about it) is cancelled because I am providing something for others to read?

Here's the thing about it all: for me, up until the moment I started this thing, the Internet was just a giant encyclopedia. If I wanted to find out when to plant my corn, what the difference between accrual and cash method accounting was, or who was playing the club on Saturday.... I'd just hop on the web. Now it's become a place I can be found. And I either need to get used to the celebrity, (however minor), or throw in the online writing towel.

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The Sound of a Zillion Crickets Chirping

That's how one online article described the experience of tinnitus. "The sound of a zillion crickets chirping." It also said that some folks describe the ringing in their ears as a loud roar. Mine sounds like those hearing test tones from my childhood. Sometimes high tones, sometimes low tones. Always comes in low at first, then finishes loud. Lasts about 6 or 7 seconds. Ironic, no? My hearing loss sounds like the test used to determine hearing loss.

Ridiculous, too, I suppose, that i would find poetry in having tinnitus.

I can remember when, as a child, i told my mother and her friend (who was a nurse) that I could hear these "sounds" in my ears. When I asked my mom's friend what it meant when people heard these sounds (I presumed everyone could hear these tones...), she exchanged this look with my mom, and, smirking, she said it meant "my body was working properly". I eventually invented my own mythology around it, believing that when my ears rang, it meant my grandmother was thinking of me, or that it was an opportunity to be extra aware of my environment. When she passed, i kept the myth going, thinking that she was sending out these vibrational tones from beyond the grave to make me think of her and give me pause for observation. As an adult, I've I've come to associate it still as an "alarm" of sorts... When the ringing starts, I try to take a breath, slow down whatever I'm doing, and notice where I am in my life. Even though I know tinnitus is actually a slow road to permanent hearing loss and not "my body working properly", I appreciate it in a way. I have a built-in meditation bell in my head, set to random, for the rest of my life.

Lately, though, it's taken on a slightly more ominous meaning: Meniere's Disease. It started with periodic bouts of nausea and slight dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and a general feeling of not being able to concentrate. Last week I found myself in the stairway of a parking garage downtown thinking that if I passed out from the nausea I was feeling, no one would find my body for some time...

I finally was able to see a doctor about it, and now I have three very scary sounding tests scheduled: an ECOG, an ENG, and an MRI. The doctor wants to make sure it's just my inner ear that's "grumpy" (her word, not mine), and not some festering tumor pushing on my brain.

I've been thinking about this whole brain tumor thing for a while now. I started to think of it when the nausea and pressure in my head started to get really bad. I've always had this vision of writing a novel in a hospital bed. Something about being forced into a simplified, regimented schedule was going to eek this book out of me. How incredibly self indulgent and theatrical. I think it's right up there with writing my own eulogies.

I asked a coworker today if he'd ever had an MRI. (Note: not the best opener for conversation with casual acquaintances). When I told him I was going to have one to rule out the possibility of having some mass growing under my skull, his eyes opened up wide and he searched for words... there were none, of course. Only the patients are allowed to be so flip about their own diagnoses. The rest of the population is supposed to struggle with their responses, supposed to make the appropriate cooing noises that indicate sympathy and understanding, but then elbow you right back in the ribs when you make light of having a potentially life threatening disorder.

And it occurs to me that being able to say you have something like Meniere's Disease sounds so official and defining, especially to someone like me who sort of does the same damn thing day in and day out and doesn't really have much else to talk about. It's given me something new to answer "So, how are you?" with. It occurs to me that in a country like ours, financially rich but physically and emotionally bankrupt, being sick can be a full time occupation, can create celebrity, can give you reason to be noticed. And I'm a little scared of that.

Not that I'm planning on having a brain tumor. Because, of course, the flip side to all of this is: the more I understand what's happening inside this tiny, tiny little nautilus shell of a structure inside my head, the more I can come to terms with what this REALLY is. Like when my menstrual cramps got so bad and I was told I probably had endometriosis... a disorder in which the uterus sheds little "mini uteri" and distributes them throughout the body so that EVERYthing hurts when you have your period. Having just moved across the country at the time (but still dragging all my emotional baggage with me), it made sense that my body was trying to tell me that migratory flight doesn't cure the thing you migrated from.

So, now I wonder what a tiny snail shell shaped structure is trying to tell me. This little infinity swirl giving me the power to hear... with water swelling deep inside it... this tiny little voice (or is it an echo of my own voice?) in my head making me nearly fall down on city sidewalks to force me to listen.... this infinitesimal lake trapped in a foreign land, angrily making its way to its source...

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Gettin’ My Craft On

Sure fire way to get yourself out of a funk: crochet a pair of yarn pants.

It’s the end of winter here. The irises and crocuses and cherry blossoms are just as confused as the rest of us.

So, to put all fears to rest: I am not suicidal. Not sending my personal belongings off to friends and family via UPS. Not writing my own eulogy (I do that about once a day during the non-funk times.) Not toying with methodology (I hate swallowing even a Tic-Tac accidentally, guns scare the hell out of me, and before I could actually slice my wrists, I’d pass out from the thought of the blood loss).

I was just having a little mid-January crisis. It happens. Twenty clients, two weeks vacation in Brazil when I should have been making file folders and archiving stuff, and a deadline of January 31st to get everything done was taking a toll. Spending eight hours a day serving others gives you reason to think: What am I doing this for, again? Spending TWELVE hours a day for two weeks straight serving others makes you wonder what the hell you were put on this earth to do. Spending the other 12 hours in a day fitfully dreaming of the IRS coming to haul you away... well, that’s enough to send you to the loonie bin... or else call into question your existence and then write a very dramatic blog about it. Either one, really.

So, in between filing a million and one forms with the IRS for twenty different companies, sleeping, and eating dinner standing up in front of the kitchen sink, I wiled away the hours crocheting a pair of yarn pants. The story is this: I had nine hours to kill on the plane ride to Brazil back in November. I’m compulsive about keeping my brain and hands busy, so I brought with me a pound of yellow yarn and a pattern for a baby blanket. By the time the vacation was over, our hotel room was strewn with hundreds of strands of yellow yarn.

Here’s the thing about the yarn: it used to be a wig. Last summer, a friend did this swim... swam from Canada to the US via some waterway about 2 km... and I decided that she should be welcomed ashore at the finish line by three beautiful mermaids. I was one of them. The other two other mermaids were men. Technicalities. Anywho, I crafted up for the three of us some shiny mermaid bras, some seaweed drapings, and bright yellow long wigs made out of said yarn.

After the swim, the wigs hung out in a bag with the rest of my yarn projects. Then the friend’s baby happened, and I wanted to make something for her... and I needed something to do on the plane, so I tied about 300 twenty inch long pieces together, end to end, and started on the blanket. Alright, to be fair: my best friend sat next to me on the plane and tied the pieces together. I crocheted them into the blanket.

But, I had to start over several times because I couldn’t get the pattern down, and I had a few “starts” started and stashed in different places in the hotel room. So, between the plethora of mini-blankets, and the yarn sticking to people’s clothing and shoes, the crap was all over the hotel room at the end of two weeks.

Which brings us to how the yarn pants got started.

My traveling friend, not sharing the same sort of mind/hand busy-ness compulsion, nor the desire to do anything as tedious and repetitive as crocheting (for God’s sake), could not believe that, in the middle of a Brazilian summer, at 80 degrees outside, and with beautiful men, women and scenery to gawk at, I was holed up in my spare time crocheting a hot, scratchy blanket. I mean what was I thinking? You’re young and hip, for chrissake! I mean, are you going to be one of those women crocheting holiday sweaters in their old age, or (gasp), worse, a BODY SUIT? Some kind of UNITARD made out of canary yellow yarn, not unlike the yarn I was crocheting with RIGHT NOW?

Well, that’s all the motivation I needed, really. Suggest something ridiculous and something ridiculous I will produce.

Friend got a little canary something for his birthday.

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