Tuesday, May 28, 2019

No, Your Misery Can’t Have My Company

“Disappointment was never a thing you looked for, but it had a wonderful way of clearing the mind.” ~ Stephen King

the (cherita) poem (for the Imaginary Garden and Blogging Around with Rommy):

Her tight smile,

a rotting tongue

on the hunt
for rich soil,
to poison.

the (not-even-close to) wee notes; or, more-than-slightly disappointed almost-rant:

When I was little, I had a lot of skin issues. At least one or thrice a year, my hands and feet would get covered in red blotches that would morph into itchy bumps, which would spread and burst and hurt like the dickens. From crimson blotch to blasted blisters, I would spend my days covered in a white ointment (mostly oatmeal, coconut oil, and jojoba oil) and whatever my mom and grandma thought would soothe my skin.

I was a glorious tree-climbing-mango-eating-curly-haired-monster. So, when my friends and I played el cuco (the boogeyman), a game I made up, which involved a terrifying monster that snatched you (while growling furiously) if you couldn’t stand still, I chose to be the monster that would place you under a tree, from where you could be rescued by your fastest friends. The kid that played el cuco had to look menacing: a mask or some strategically smeared mud usually did the trick. But that took time… and could get you into serious trouble with your parents, if the game wasn’t played by a river.

Not for me. All I had to do was take a bit of charcoal and make myself into a creepy skelly. You see, I already had the ghostly landscape to work with. Few made a fiercer (or gigglier) monster. Towards the end of every flareup, after my sores healed and the skin began to fall off, we would play a different game. I can’t remember what we called it, but the monster was an extraterrestrial frog (which happened to be shedding her skin *cough*) that terrorized the village, snatched you, put you under a tree… and well, you get the point. It was a blast, doing all that running… and when you got too tired, you just sort of let the alien frog catch you, so that you could rest under the shade of a tree.

Since you are probably wondering where I’m going with this, I should probably tell you. When I shared this bit about my childhood (with a group of chronically ill people discussing how we managed our diseases before the diseases managed us), I received a variety of looks, most of them tinged with pity. Someone actually said, “I’m so sorry you had to feel like you were a monster.” She went on to suggest that my life must’ve been very lonely. I was… confused. I couldn’t understand what in that anecdote spoke of pitiable monstrosity or loneliness. If anything, I took the lemons life gave me and didn’t only make lemonade… but also baked cake and cookies and lemon pies with it.

And you know what, my Wicked Luvs? I haven’t changed one bit—when life puts me in the dark, I don’t start screaming about not being able to see (whining has never done a damn thing for me). Instead, I close my old eyes, bare my teeth menacingly, find new ways to make sense of things, I work and work and work… until I’m the best at seeing in my pitch-black world. Then, I claim the best role my new situation can offer.

When hip and shoulder injuries robbed me of running, I learned to dance in ways that feel like flying. When stomach illness took away the food I loved most, I found new treats to delight in. When more illness (and meds) forced me out of the sun, I started collecting parasols and hats. When my left breast had to die so that I could live, I started collecting ribbons and pins to honor her sacrifice. When I lost my hair, I oiled and glittered my scalp pretty. When chemo spawned bone pain and nerve damage that wilted my toenails and stiffened my ankles, I embraced sturdy boots and thigh-high socks (that bedeck compression stockings). When neuropathy left my joints weak and my posture unbalanced, I found a cool staff and named myself Ma-Gandalf the Sexy. Now, that this perfect storm of ailments makes it so hard for me to walk without pain, I gently climb on the soft canvas of a trampoline… and dance and jump and run.

When life takes from me, I don’t ask why (time is precious). I thank Nature for the air I breathe… Then ask my Self, Tell me, you glorious tree-climbing-mango-eating-curly-haired-monster, what beauties will you grow out of this new hollow? 

I know most sick people don’t feel (or act) the way I do. I know some people (my doctors are usually at the top of this list) find my approach to being ill and in pain peculiarly refreshing. That knowing fills me with energy and mirth (weirdness is a superpower), feeling that others can see and appreciate my strength makes me stronger. So, I always thank (and celebrate) those people (I mean it. Thank you *wink, wink*).

Lately, I’ve learned new things (sickening things) about how certain people feel, when it comes to me being chronically ill and ferociously happy: they have said that I’m lying about having cancer and pretty much any other illness (“she doesn’t act sick”). When others point out the evidence (it’s not like I’ve been secretive about it), they suggest that I must not feel pain the way they do (“she doesn’t complain”). When those (who know me well and love me better) say that since I’m human, it’s very likely that I hurt just as much as the next person, these individuals suggest that then I’m lying about being happy (“she should be honest with people and stop putting up a front”).

I’m surprised, disgusted, and very disappointed by the whole thing. Not just because it takes a special kind of nasty heart to begrudge someone (who has been dealt a pretty crappy health-hand) her happiness, but because some of the individuals saying these inexcusable things behind my back are the same ones who, in public, say, “You inspire me, Mags!” and “I’m keeping you in my prayers!” and “You’ve got this, babes!”

Today, when my Self asked, Tell me, you glorious trampoline-climbing-mango-eating-sexy-baldheaded-one-boobed-monster, what beauties will you grow out of this new hollow? I said, “After I rid my garden of rot, I’ll plant words and grins (full of teeth) to grow with souls who feel (and feed on) energy that blooms through battle.”  

When I started writing this post, I was livid. I had to take breaks (tramp *grins* on my trampoline, tread on my treadmill, create a poem, plot a story). Now, I feel… centered. Birthing words and letting go of horrid people can be wonderfully soothing for the soul.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs, how did your week start?

“Commit to You”
[when you do—and by “you” I mean *me”—magic happens… often, for all]

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Dark Side of My Self(ie) Shines

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” ~ Edith Wharton

Last Wednesday, for Poets United Midweek Motif, the talented Sumana invited us to write about light. “Our words can create both darkness and light”, she said. “For today stick to Light; whatever Light means to you.”

Ideas for the prompt (plus the quote, by Edith Wharton, which Sumana shared with us) danced around my skull for days and days and days… The “stick to Light” bit threw particularly wild moves (some looked a lot like slightly frustrated kicks), perhaps, because I tried (even when I knew it would be impossible *for me*) to embrace only light. I can do positive… but even my positive comes with dark.

My thoughts were still dancing between light and dark (and me), when I read the Weekend Mini Challenge, at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads: Portraiture, where my sweetest Kim asks for “a new poem, or revise an old one, which paints a portrait. It can be of someone you know or have known,” she says, “a relative or a lover, or it can be a stranger… observe someone interesting or unusual to portray in a poem… speculate a little about their life, their beliefs and relationships…” So, I went ahead and grabbed a deliciously healthy dose of narcissism, and wrote a wee portrait from me *to me*.

the poem:

Exhaustion sparks deep in the dark crowns the push-and-pull of muscle and bone paints around my eyes, leaves me in pieces. Over my shoulder, melodies (and a way out) wait for me to make a choice—I lick softness and shine onto my lips, remember time is a traveling gift I can wear (but can’t keep)—and I choose to dance for me, watching my energy fire up (growing…) as night and moon whole me again.

I am all mirror—
reflecting (and absorbing)
what all hearts project,
feasting on your brightest bits
and delighting in my dark.

linked to Poets United Poetry Pantry 481

Friday, May 24, 2019

Of Waiting for Good Omens and Mansplaining Fresh Air

I recently started moderating a private forum for active people living with severe chronic illnesses. A member, who felt he was above things as trivial as reading the forum’s mission statement, posted a new thread… on the wrong section… explaining how the group, “especially the females”, needed to exercise, eat healthy, get out in the fresh air

The nicer members (and me) pointed out that he had just listed the things we have in common, the things that brought us together to begin with. Ignoring the gentle hints, he proceeded to explain how exercise, a healthier diet, and fresh air would make us better. People lost their gentleness, and told him he should read the available information before telling a group that practically lives in the woods “to get out in the f*cking fresh air”.

After it was obvious that he wasn’t reading what others were saying (since he continued to add his stuff without acknowledging anyone elses ), I posted a magnetic poem (not so subtly displayed on a page from American Gods), and invited the group to share their own views on condescension and other annoying behaviors (in a darkly humorous way). 
After she freed him
of tongue and penis,
he man-explained nevermore.
The responses were mostly informative and hysterical. One of the favorites was co-written by a couple. He said, “No one mansplains like my wife.” And she said, “Mansplaining is one of my vaginas superpowers.” For some reason, Mr. Fresh Air refused to join the conversation and seems to have left the forum without explanation.

On better news, the TV adaptation of Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, is almost here!

I understand certain aspects of certain adaptations *cough* Dexter *cough* Game of Thrones *cough* can leave a soul seriously disappointed, but… as long as the Good Omens series include at least one of the following quotes/scenes, I shall be pleased:

“The Kraken stirs. And ten billion sushi dinners cry out for vengeance.”

“You do know you could find yourself charged with being a dominant species while under the influence of impulse-driven consumerism, don’t you?”

“They had once, at Adam’s instigation, tried a health food diet for a whole afternoon. Their verdict was that you could live very well on healthy food provided you had a big cooked lunch beforehand.”

Speaking of big cooked lunches and ginormous snacks (did I mention that I ate enough Dominican cake to feed 3 people less greedy than moi?), I’m two stitches closer to finding my waist. The new hormone therapy is making my joints hurt quite a bit, but I’m still trampolining and dancing and gardening and such… extra emphasis on the “such”.

What about you, my Wicked Luvs, what have you been doing with your yummy selves?