Monthly Archives: July 2007

sealing off

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What is happening to me–? I can feel myself seal off from the world. And strangely, I rather like it, in an “I am so relieved” kind of way. One of my writing mentors said that friends were the biggest enemy of writing, and I did not quite understand her at the time. What? How could friends be bad for anything?

And yet now I kind of understand, even though I totally love my friends. Even though everyday, there is at least one email from a friend who cheers me up. Guiltily, I announce, that yes, I understand what she means. Kind of. At least, I’m closer to understanding than ever before.

When I was in my early twenties, I couldn’t bare bear to be alone (this mistake, another homonym misuse was caught my 4th read-through). Every minute of the day contained a social activity (yes, I couldn’t even sleep alone–while everyone hated having to share a room with dormmates, I relished the thought of company at all times). The minute I stood still in a room, I felt the world crumbling around me, some awful thing poking through my emotions. And so I would keep on moving, knowing I was running away from myself. (I wonder if that’s why Tom Cruise runs so much in his movies).

I think I was about five (at one point fifteen) pounds lighter in my early twenties than I am now. Probably from all that moving and running around.

Sometime in my mid twenties, I crashed. You just can’t run around forever, and eventually the demons catch up. They tackled me and wrestled me to the floor until I was nearly catatonic and wrapped up, a mummy encased in my pain. I let it ride. No, I didn’t let it ride. I didn’t want to let it ride, but I had no choice, so I just rode the pain until I could feel the pain again and it became insufferable and I kept riding until I could get above the pain again.

Still, I was a social creature. I loved people. I hung out friends. I had activities.

Now I am just so tired. And it isn’t just one day, but weeks, turning into months, of this limited energy–waking up a little tired, knowing it’s downhill all day from there. It makes me downright cranky some days, and I grit my teeth and bite my lip for hours. I am changing, somehow–it creeps me out to see this but at the same time, I’m just riding it. Maybe I’m even letting it ride.

I am just not up for socializing. It takes everything I’ve got to be out there–and not everyone understands that I’m going at a different pace and need lots of quiet so I’ve got a lot to explain and that exhausts me further. I miss my friends but I can’t face the lack of understanding.

Compound this conflict with how I was raised: “A woman always has to be cheerful and be a great hostess!” So no matter what, I’ll try to put a smile on my face and be that great hostess at all times. (But a reader, “Andrew,” pointed me to the wonderful “Spoon Theory” if you want a hint of what I’m feeling).

Mostly, I’ve got to write. And I’m exhausted, so I’ve got to economize as best I can to do the things I need. I always wondered how Laura Hillenbrand wrote Sea Biscuit while suffering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–and though I have nothing like her affliction, I am getting the idea.

I have a new mantra these days: on days I’m to write, I don’t eat, don’t go out, don’t shower, until I get my words down. Of course, I’m not supposed to blog either. But in this case, I wanted to get these words off my chest before I settle in to the story of a character other than myself.

I got a phone call every fifteen minutes for an hour this morning. I cut the calls short on each one–something very hard for me to do. But I had to write. I had to sequester my energy. Maybe I really am turning into a writer–the dream I had that I would fine tune my recovery to develop the muscles of a newer and better writer may be coming into place. Maybe that is what all this exhaustion and desire to sleep is about–I am going through a metamorphosis.

Regardless, I’m changing, I think.

p.s. I have let the gopher mole possess my garden. He wins. The stake did nothing, my dogs have thoroughly scoured the soil, happily rooting through the garden and digging holes into tunnels–all to no effect.

The little fellow is hungry–and I’ll allow him to share my veggies. (Even though I am still mad at him for eating my French Tarragon without sharing any with me!). My goal to celebrate life with this garden has taken an unexpected turn with an extra guest (I guess flora doesn’t come without fauna) at the table, but isn’t that life?

p.p.s.  Oh screw it.  I keep thinking of better things, but I’m just really down about not being able to do everything I want to do, and being the equivalent of a dog that wears an electronic collar around his neck.  He steps over his boundary and ZAP!  he is set back.

For all my talk about how this energy limitation helps me ferret out what’s really important in my life, I am at least as equally distraught about not being able to do EVERYTHING I want to do.  I am so distraught about not being able to write unless I have a whole day clear, and otherwise feeling so retarded.  I am just so frustrated.   Beyond frustrated, really.

Who is this new person that I have become?  Those few sentences I put down in the face of my exhaustion look so pathetic.  My self doubt is overwhelming.

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Filed under Life, The Stroke, Writing

Moving onward

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I have a limited amount of energy now–I have long been aware of this physical limit, and yet this fact surprises me at regular moments. I can do one big activity a day; for instance an outing with a friend of lunch out with a friend or going to work, or writing for a few hours. But often, I’ll forget and hit the wall–oops, I did too much. I’m a zombie now.

After about one large activity a day, I’m just very ineffective. No matter what I do, I can’t get traction on further activities–my mind is slippery, and I can’t get the words right on the page, or keep up a discussion. I fade. Like right now. (I spent the day running errands with my husband). Writing these words feels so unnatural, and the sentences look so jagged and ugly.

But still, I tell myself, keep going. You’ll see a distinct different in my blog posts written in the morning and ones written late in the day. This is one of those posts written late in the day, my mind tired, the words coming uneasily, the thoughts not so cohesive.

I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing, or something that is transitional. But despite my fighting it, my exhaustion is a real thing. I can barely keep up with my email spool and I feel so awful about the phone calls that I have yet to return (there are so many, and phone calls are challenging for me)!

I’m loathe to put things in my calendar because then I know there is very little else I can do that day. So the things I do put in my calendar are things that are of great value to me, and I find myself really picking and choosing my activities and how I am spending my time.

Before the stroke, I could just do anything–I was not limited in my energy, only in time. “I don’t have enough time!” I used to stammer. But now “I don’t have enough energy!” The PFO closure has nothing to do with this energy suck, and so all signs point to the stroke and another lasting effect. I can only presume my energy is being spent on healing. Soooo tirrrred. (Are you getting tired just by reading about my exhaustion?)

Still, I’m very busy! I’m planning a trip next month, and then school begins. Somehow, I’ll manage it all. I went berry picking weekend, and yesterday, I spent a day racing at the track (though I was only able to do two sessions while everyone else could easily do 4, if not 5). I spent the afternoon under the shade of a tree in the very hot summer heat, watching the cars go around. It was a dizzying effect.

And yet–where is the time to write? That is the question. For if I only have energy to do one thing a day, then my writing time becomes very precious and I do guard it when I can. Yet I’ve discovered that writing is a sharply energetic activity; one afternoon writing and my brain is mush the rest of the evening.

And then where is the time to blog? Sadly, it comes after my writing.

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Filed under Life, Writing

bastards, more than a copyright violation

WTF. These people are stealing a bunch of my blog posts on their website (link removed)…in their ENTIRETY, without my permission.

I’ve already emailed them and asked them to remove my posts, as on their website they write:

“This site is part of the collection on the Internet, if your rights violations invited email. We will immediately delete bookxo@gmail.com”

But alas, there has been no response, and the copying continues…

What to do, what to do. It’s one thing to quote me, it’s one thing to ask my permission…it’s another thing to pretty much mirror my website elsewhere!

Update: After 2 emails over the course of 3 days, and this post…they have removed the copied posts from the website. I am glad it didn’t escalate further, and they’ve written an apology note in the comments below. Whew!!!!

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Filed under Miscellaneous

my new writing

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It is heartbreaking to read my writing now. I discover writing errors that I would never have made before the stroke–random misspellings/misusage of homonyms and weird missplaced diction. It’s not rampant, but there they are, sprinkled throughout the manuscript. That’s not how I had phrased things in my head, but that’s how they hit the page, as if some mischievous elf had grasped the words as they traveled from my brain to the keyboard and twisted them about. That elf is laughing now.

Of course, this leads me to doubt my writing as a whole. How are the sentences? They look so–basic. Is my language anywhere it used to be? What else took a weird turn from my thoughts to the page? I have reread and reread my manuscripts to catch them, almost uttering aloud, “Why would I write THAT?! What is that word doing there?!”

Am I deceiving myself? Do I think I’m okay, and am totally not?

My cardiologist cleared me for exercise today.

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Filed under Life, Writing

jotting down

Oh I promised myself I would not blog, eat, or even shower, before I got some fiction writing done today!

But I looked out the window and realized–my garden needs watering. So I obliged. I should have waited. For my mind is now filled with distraught thoughts about my French tarragon plant!

The gopher/mole ATE MY ENTIRE FRENCH TARRAGON PLANT. Sometime last night. He ate nothing else.

I know it’s him…because I saw a fresh new hole in the ground today, about a foot away from the tarragon massacre.

My only bright thought is that he is cooking up something beautiful and French and Provencal, ala the movie “Ratatouille,” somewhere, somehow. Because I never allowed myself to harvest even a sprig off that plant (I don’t know what I was waiting for–I guess I wanted it to get SUPER bushy before I would allow myself to trim it and eat it).

Grrr. But still, I will not kill it.

Back to writing.

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Filed under Life

bullet points

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Remember that black notebook, my beloved moleskine?

I’ve been writing in it–neglecting this blog. These days, I’ve just wanted lots of privacy. There’s just something to writing my thoughts down on paper these days, and pondering my life in privacy. I feel great solace in that act…but at the same time, I am feeling a loss of connection with the world.

My black notebook, where the writing is longhand, is just not enough, somehow. I thought it might be, but it is not.

turkeys

So I thought I would provide an update:

  • The turkeys are still alive and well.
  • The mole/gopher/molepher is very quiet. So very quiet that I wonder if the ultrasonic sound emitting stake, or my dachshund’s foray into the garden, may have successfully chased him away.
  • I am still so very exhausted. I read back into the blogs, and realized that I have been exhausted since at least July 8th, nearly three weeks now. No amount of sleep seems to kick the tired cloud around me. If I exercise, I get even MORE tired.
  • We visited Tahoe last weekend, driving there in the dark, unable to see what the fire had done. In the morning, as we drove out of town, there it was–a large swath of scorched brown trees.
  • I finished a complete draft of the short story I’ve been working on for a few months now. My eyes are on the next short story (and a couple of essays rumbling in my mind).
  • An earthquake hit town this week–it struck with an enormous jolt that felt like the imminent Big One. It was a maddening introduction that faded away after a few seconds. Now, we are no stranger to earthquakes, living less than 1000 feet from a major faultline and feeling those shakers on a regular basis, but this week’s earthquake had a different vibe to it. So much so, that we were surprised to hear it was a relatively mild 4.2 on the richter scale. But in those few seconds of severe shaking, I have to say that I felt a great peace. I guess if I’d gone right then, it would have been okay.
  • Still, there are many things I still want to accomplish. I’ve got school in the Fall! I wonder what my stamina will be like, what my new schedule and all the writing will be like. My life has been very sequestered in the last few months, and it will be a big shift for me to be back in the fold of people who are not necessarily kind and not necessarily friends.
  • Oh, and I am reading Harry Potter. As of this afternoon, I am on page 85 (I got a late start). But now I’m in the thick of it. Everything is on hold.

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Filed under Life

Harry Potter’s here!

All is set aside to read the latest Harry Potter book. I finished my last book, Etgar Keret’s fantastic collection of short stories, The Nimrod Flip Out, in a hurry a couple nights ago so that the reading schedule would be clear of obstacles.

I went on an outing with friends this morning, berry picking along the California coast. When I came back and checked the mailbox–there it was. A white box addressed to Muggles, “Do Not Deliver or Open Before July 21!”

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Filed under Life, Reading