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Snakes in my stomach. Every morning. Since I was seventeen. After four years on Effexor, at least most mornings it feels like the snakes are in someone else's stomach. But there are always snakes near me.
Meditation. Now I focus on the snakes, hold them in my mind and acknowledge their snakiness. It's more honest than the drugs, but more time-consuming. When I'm stressed, this method of coping goes by the boards. How do I feel about that? Lousy.
Yeah, exercise. The final alleged panacea. The fact that I don't get enough is one more thing to be anxious about.
Monday morning. The snake level in my stomach is moderate. This in itself is a victory. I've been told that if you eat a live toad every morning, nothing else bad can happen to you for the rest of the day. If you already have snakes in your stomach, does this count? (I don't know if toads are reptiles or not, so I don't know if I'm even substituting one reptile for another.) Unfortunately, it seems instead that living with this level of anxiety simply guarantees that something bad happens every day. And so I continue to court the Devil.
I keep a fountain in one corner of my office, positing that the sound of running water would be soothing to the frayed nerves of my clients and my own nerves of glass. It has a slate disk hanging down from a curved perforated pipe. The water runs down the slate into a pile of rocks in a copper pan.
Feng shui tells me that the fountain is in my "money corner," so I stuck some "prosperity bamboo" amidst the rocks. Now I'm petrified that the damn stuff is going to die. Worrying is easier than working to make money.
Procrastination will be my downfall. I can see it coming. Yet I feel powerless to prevent it. Mired in inertia, I see the ball of snakes rolling toward me, but I can't get out of the way. Snakes at my feet, snakes attacking me, snakes twisting in my stomach. It's enough to drive a girl to drink. No, that wouldn't work either.
Other people cultivate more interesting fatal flaws. They live large: murderous passions, desperate jealousy, transgressive love, spectacular theft, shocking lies. My persistent failure to finish my work will never jazz up a tabloid headline. I'm failing at failure.
"A hush fell over the courtroom." Sorry, it never happens that way.
Most courtrooms are empty of anyone other than the immediate participants involved, plus indifferent judicial personnel. The air of these courtrooms is not "hushed" so much as it is "dead." Big difference.
The occasional courtroom with a sensational trial, or a hearing on an issue that involves a lot of money (which I suppose is sensational to some people) is never completely quiet. You can't put a lot of people with nothing in common together in a room where boring stuff is happening, and expect them to shush.
In the city of Kiev there is a monastery with a crypt. You go down the stairs into what looks like a root cellar, and you look at the little holes in the ground where people agreed to be walled up alive in little caves. And there they lived, in the days before electricity or Internet access, in darkness, with no room to walk, until they died.
It's hard to understand the appeal of this treatment, but there was more than one volunteer for the experience. Were these poor souls fugitives from justice? Or from demons inside their own minds?
I have many kinds of white paint: cheap Delta Ceramcoat acrylic that came in a pack of Christmas paints; Winsor and Newton Designer's Gouache in a disappointingly transparent Permanent White; Liquitex Acrylic Artist Color in Titanium White, which at least has a nice creamy texture. I may have used the Titanium White twice in a year; the Ceramcoat, once.
As it turns out, what I needed all along has been gesso, so of course I have that too (Liquitex Basics), and it's the only white I consistently use. I have more money than sense when it comes to art supplies.
There's an uneasy balance between comfort and boredom, between significance and unfamiliarity, in any ritual we introduce into our lives. When I bow and say, "Namaste," that moment resonates. When I make the Sign of the Cross, I feel the dreary weight of my upbringing.
Conclusion one: I'm a spiritual materialist. Conclusion two: it is good to live in a world where I can be one without fear of dying. Considering how many died over whether to make the Russian Orthodox Sign of the Cross with two fingers or three, this freedom is a big deal. And blasphemous to many.
Two deer. Three additional sets of antlers. Russian boar. Warthog. Sailfish. Dorado. Marlin. Fox, mounted with a quail in his mouth. Coyote skin. Two bearskins. Kudu. Nyala. Gemsbuck. Blazebuck. Elk. Antelope. Water buffalo. Gazelle? I'm not sure about that one. Corsican ram. Viking sword, displayed.
The day the Greenpeace guy came to the door he stared and stared. I'm sure he was more afraid of what I thought of him than vice versa. He might have thought I was carrying a concealed weapon, not that any of the creatures adorning the walls were harvested by anything shorter than a rifle.
Computers have taken away the threatening aspect of the blank page. Electrons on the screen are so much less of a commitment than black ink or even pencil. The typed word is almost a Platonic idea of thought, rather than an actual thought.
I love the ability to edit without using tape or actual paste. I am old enough to remember actually cutting a paper apart and arranging the words on the page manually. I never got it right the first time, so I don't buy the argument (but who's making it?) that the computer makes me a lazier writer.
Pain does focus the attention. There is something about a sore throat that makes me unable to think about anything else. I feel like I'm being strangled from within. This has been going on for two days now.
I found a bottle of generic throat spray, expiration date 2/2003, in the medicine cabinet, and one of maximum strength Cepacol, expiration date 10/2001. I have my doubts about whether phenol, its active ingredient, gets stale. I poured out the older liquid anyway and recycled the bottle. I can limp along with the outdated generic until shopping day. Tastes like library paste.
I like paper dolls more now than I did as a girl. I didn't understand then that I could make my own and turn them into works of art.
Tolstoy wouldn't agree with my definition of "art" here, but then I resist living my life asking What Would Tolstoy Do. Let's face it, the man was a humorless bastard and certainly wouldn't have gone along with the concept of art paper dolls. It seems rather grand to have Tolstoy as my inner critic, if that's what's going on here.
No, I'm just a grown woman who plays with paper dolls.
It seemed like a huge step for me to start carrying around a box of travel watercolors in my purse. As if I was a "real" artist. Actually, I'm feeling today that the difference between me and real artists is that I'm smarter. Really. I've been observing a hopelessly ignorant discussion about copyright issues on a mailing list, sitting on my typing hands, as it were. I finally jumped in yesterday when one woman started posting about someone "patenting" the word collage. Christ. She wrote to me privately afterward protesting that she was just trying to share information. As if.
Mindfulness versus equanimity. Yes, they are in opposition. I never really wanted the mindfulness part, just the equanimity. But that's a terrible cheat. Calmness is just another form of drug if it comes at the price of denying a reality that you hold at bay because you believe that it is just too terrible to face.
The moment came when the belief that any event in the world was too terrible to face was the most event that could possibly occur. My very fearfulness was the ultimate calamitous outcome, and yet I began at the worst possible outcome every day.
I went to a wedding last night. The reception was outside, by a waterfall. A small boy in a tuxedo handed out little white cardboard pyramids tied with silver cord. The bride told us they held live butterflies to release on cue into the ravine downstream of the waterfall. My box vibrated desperately, then went still. Vibrated again. It was painful to feel this creature's desire.
I pulled the cord and let mine go. I caught only a glimpse, but I think it was a monarch. Some of the boxed butterflies had crumpled wings and couldn't fly. Some were dead.
It's been obvious to me for some time that a critical tool in my Anxiety Management Kit has to be my effexor. This isn't a character flaw, any more than a diabetic's need for insulin is a weakness.
If I really believe that, why have I mislaid the piece of paper bearing my new prescription? You can talk all you want about resistance, but the fact of the matter is that I have to call my doctor's office shortly and grovel so that they call my scrip in. I have too much paper to track in my life. It sucks.
I like to email projects from office to home computer so I can edit my writing at home. For reasons I cannot figure out, a couple of weeks ago I destroyed my own ability to open email attachments at home (I can upload them, though. Go figure).
Last night I dutifully saved a project to a floppy before tearing out the door to get that effexor and left the floppy in the computer. The project has to be emailed to the East Coast this morning and it's not done. This makes for a boring one hundred, but it's my life.
The bank teller, who was just a kid, gave me an extra hundred bucks Monday. It was closing time and he was in a hurry. I was jonesing for my effexor and didn't notice until I was at the pharmacy.
I roared back in at closing time last night to give the kid the hundred back. It was worth the money just to see the smile on his face.
They say everybody has a price. That may well be true. But I doubt my price is in money, and if it is, it's a lot more than a hundred dollars.
I played bingo last night with a friend I'd never met in person before. I met her on a Weight Watchers Internet message board.
Now, it has to have been over twenty years since I've been to a bingo parlor. I have now played "speed bingo," which is really just straight gambling on three numbers, and seen touch-screen video bingo, which is about as high-tech as this game gets. I drew the line at video bingo.
It's amazing how much smoking goes on in those places. I saw billows of smoke drifting towards the air vents when I looked up.
I'm debating whether to take another drawing class or a basic design course this fall. In theory, I could improve my drawing with simple practice. I never seem to do this. I need the structure of the class. This is in stark contrast to writing, which I can't stop doing.
Without design training, I run the risk of making beautifully drawn but clumsily composed art. I have to believe I have picked up some of this stuff on my own, but I was astonished at how much I learned just from the basic drawing class at the local community college.
We received a solicitation to include our son in the "Little League Hall of Fame," and buy the book of course for a mere $47. He stumbled on the mail piece before we pitched it. He was thrilled at this dubious honor of course. His competitive sister was furious that she wasn't honored. It fell to us parents to explain how this sort of scam works.
"Crestfallen" barely describes his reaction. I forget sometimes how very innocent and pure of heart he is at the age of nine. But then, this is the same kid who still clicks on popups.
My Honda Prelude has 103,000 miles on it. I bought it new in 1987, the first new car I ever owned. Between the kids and my own natural untidiness, it's smelled a little stale for the last couple of years.
I never bought one of those cardboard pine trees to dangle from my mirror. They don't seem to have much scent. Last week I discovered a car air freshener with scented oil—"Vanilla Moment"--that clips on to the air vent. Now my car smells like a livery cab in New York City. I'm not sure this is an improvement.
There are few pleasures more exquisite to me than hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. I like to wake up gradually, I always have. Not a morning person, but have a morning-heavy life now.
Now, what is it about delaying the moment I go vertical that is so delightful? It may be the only time I am awake and relaxed during the day. Heck, I'm not sure I relax in my sleep. I grind my teeth. Sometimes when I am falling asleep I can feel the masseter muscle in my jaw jump and slam my teeth together. Snap!
I gave up coffee on Sunday. Actually, I gave up coffee for Sunday. I only lasted a day.
This time I didn't get the terrible headaches and acute sensitivity to light that I have in the past, I just felt overwhelmingly drowsy. It could have been a post hoc fallacy, but it seemed to me that coffee was masking my fatigue. I also simply longed for the coffee.
It shouldn't be that hard to make sure I get enough sleep. It is though. I'm greedy. I try to cram so much into the container of my life that sleep loses.
I went to a continuing legal education seminar last night on "fair use in the digital age" which was presented in the form of a movie. I am surprised at how interesting the format made the talking heads, professors interspersed with artists. There was one poor preschool teacher threatened with willful infringement for showing videos owned by the school to her young charges. Some shadowy industry organization sold her a license for two hundred bucks a year.
Now I have yet another hobby—intellectual property law. With tessellations that makes two new hobbies this month. No wonder I need coffee.
I've had this experience so many times, but it's always new. I pick up a book at the library, look at the jacket, read the author's bio, skim the table of contents. I'm hooked.
At sixteen, and a page at the local library (my first paying job), I came home all the time with whole stacks of books that snagged me when I was "reading" shelves (looking at the shelves and putting the books in alphanumeric order as I straightened them). It's been thirty years, and I still can't resist the books--or the urge to correct their shelving order.
My husband leaves for work early in the morning. My seven-year-old daughter, who happened to be up that early, ran after him as he went out the door to give him a hug goodbye. He loves that. She came back smelling of his saffron cologne.
Roll back the clock forty years. When I was her age, my dad worked within walking distance of our house. I would watch for him at the end of the day from the window of our house, and run to hug him. He would sweep me up in his arms. I bet he loved that.
Last night I took my nine-year-old son to a benefit concert in honor of a famous dead grunge singer. The singer's mother, who was one of the guests of honor, walked into this venue and zeroed in on my son. She greeted him cordially; he shook her hand with puzzled dignity and introduced himself. She came by later when he was falling asleep on my shoulder and beamed at him again.
It was all a bit of a mystery to me, although pleasant, until I saw the tribute video. My child looks like her child did, as an untouched boy.
Things seek the state of greatest randomness. Organizing the scattered is a defiance of the natural processes of the universe.
If this is true, how does one account for the regular structure of a crystal? Once a diamond is formed, ain't nothin' going to shatter the very structured order of that crystal, other than an enormous burst of energy, which by definition is anti-entropy.
Many chemical reactions seek a state of stasis, or balance, and never wind down to a state of entropy. The reactions go back and forth endlessly. Does this constitute perpetual motion? Where does the energy go?
My children never cared for brown rice until I learned the trick of soaking it for a couple of hours, then draining it and adding fresh water to cook it. I do the same thing with white rice, which I cook only occasionally, but it only needs to be soaked for about half an hour. I like to add cardamom pods to the rice, even when it's jasmine rice.
The recipe I have for "lacquered" rice has never really satisfied me. A tablespoon or so of soy sauce in the water doesn't add enough flavor or color for my taste.
Strep throat again.
This time I jumped on it the day after I started to feel the razor blades in my throat again. I'm on round two of a bottle of large and ominous antibiotics.
I take each dose of medicine mindfully, fixing a positive intention and thanking all the people whose efforts went into producing this medicine before I down it. The stuff still makes me queasy.
I can feel goop sloughing off the lining of my throat.
When I came out from the doctor's office I had a thirty-five dollar parking ticket waiting for me. Fuck me.
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