9. When people end ALL THEIR STATUS UPDATES with hugs & kisses xoxoxo and other such insincere gushery. *gags*
8. The endless ads I get for lawyers and KY Jelly.
7. The removal of broken hearts for failed relationships.
6. What Flavor Doughnut Are You? I'm glazed motherfuckers. Don't try to tell me I'm Boston Creme.
5. People who are totally okay in the real world want to sell me wrinkle creams and diet shakes in the fake flat electronic universe. Did you upload your consciousness into the botnet? And why are you selling this sexist crap instead of something cool, like handmade Cthulhu potholders? Please, please stop.
4. DUCKFACE. WHY ARE YOU STILL TAKING DUCKFACE SELFIES?
3. A request: Less politics, more puppies.
2. People who check in at work every day. Or the fucking gym. The only thing more boring than being on a treadmill is having you tell me that you are on a treadmill, for like, 16 posts in a row.
1. Hospital Selfies, complete with pained grimace and gratuitous shot of the IV in your arm. By all means make vague references to terminal illness and follow that up with a shot of you holding a martini tomorrow.
Once upon a time there was a shy maiden cursed as a shapeshifter. As she mined rocks, her hands turned hard and stiff and gray. Her hair thinned and whitened when she walked in the snowy fields. She might have been an old gray horse or a rock wall. She might have been a wisp of cloud lost in violent storms. She could feel her own bones grind themselves into powder beneath her muscles and tendons, re-knitting into cats and mice and hummingbirds. Every day was different. Every day she woke up and was something else. A wolf. A poison bloom. A hungry mantis. Her shell, a hardening exoskeleton. The elongated muzzle. Wounds and cankers that turned into eyes and mouths. This skin a cage, an inescapable basement room. She found a witch and asked for a reversal spell, received only a handful of white pills that left her wakeful and shuddering. She set herself on fire, only to burn out and turn blue, rebuild herself cell by cell, go back to the beginning. She might wish herself a mermaid and become a manatee. She might become something greenish and hidden when submerged in seawater. Even when shattered into a cluster of beetles, she would come back together, a new biology.
A very quiet Xmas over here, as M had the flu and I am still where I've been for months so it was just the three of us and a pan of mostaccoli from the Italian deli and some garlic bread and a salad my mother in law made for us.
Everybody slept late and we exchanged a few small gifts and I hobbled into the kitchen to make raised yeast waffles for brunch (aka best food EVER) and we called all of our relatives and mostly rested on the sofa and watched movies so all in all it was a low key and CarbOlicious holiday.
It's strange how once this season is over it's like someone pulled your body out of a torture rack or a boiling cauldron and the relief is immediate.
Still, social media was full of elaborate roasts and insane piles of gifts and hugs and booze and holiday sweaters and it all looked very lovely out there in the electronic version of the real world.
Everyone went to bed early so I unplugged the tree and read Errantry by Elizabeth Hand and tried to find a comfortable sleep state which is a sweaty, sweaty business.
I dreamt I was back at work and it was a good feeling to be active and MOVING in my dream. At some point I recall being admonished for taking too long to get back and asked if I could still perform my essential job duties so clearly it was an anxiety dream which most of them are, anyway. It certainly lacked the impressive symbolism and general panache of my usual sleeping life. It looked a lot like my AWAKE LIFE.
I am back in compression wraps and Googling walking canes and talking about needing a house without stairs which is not a good sign. NOPE.
I dreamt of my father last night and he was still young and lucid, still himself. We were standing outside an extraordinarily tall skyscraper that was covered in points and spires and the insides were all deco and mahogany and brass-and-glass elevators with domed tops. I told him I would not go inside because it was full of ghosts and jumpers, full of suicides and it made me sad and afraid but he insisted on going in and he disappeared through the glass doors and then he was a ghost too. A melancholy dream. I kept looking up from the sidewalk for falling bodies.
What's really excellent is when you get courtesy calls regarding your medical bills two days before xmas when you are still not able to work and they are like "oh hey this is your giant balance would you like to pay that over the phone today?"
AND this is why I screen my calls.
In other news it looks beautiful outside the sky is actually skyblue like the crayola with fat fat puffy clouds. It looks like March and makes me want colcannon with a glorious butter well in the center and Irish soda bread and rhodedendrons and spring jackets and walks oh to take a WALK would be amazing. Maybe by the time it is March I will be able to do that.
In the meantime I am going to read so many books that have piled up and maybe finish that manuscript I've been sitting on for two years.
I went online to look for soup spoons and I found some and they would be perfect for eating colcannon as well as soup.
Every day is characterized by the following: how to spend a finite amount of energy and working around certain corporeal limitations. It is not unlike being a ghost and learning to move things in a different way, spectral and uncertain and just as frustrating and lonely as you might expect.
I have not been able to walk properly since July, although I can get around a little bit just not very long and not very far and with an especially hideous limp. I have not been able to drive a car since October. I have quite possibly become the kind of woman who makes condensed soup casseroles topped with crushed potato chips and struggles with agoraphobia. Gross.
I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower and finished reading The Doomsday Book and made numerous lists of things that need doing. The solitude is almost oppressive enough to make me want to sit on the porch in the cold rain but everyone in this house has been sick sick sick so that seems unwise.
The rain makes all the outside lights look blurry and magical. I might work my way through a stack of YA novels--I have The Queen of The Tearling and Cinder and Insurgent--and maybe work on some writing projects and drink pots and pots of green ginger tea.
I have gotten so accustomed to silence that when my phone dings with an email or some other notification I jump outta my freaking skin.
Monday: my sinuses burn and my legs are nearly unrecognizable as my own like clusters of Ugli fruit. Yesterday I watched Divergent and it was difficult to see all that running and jumping and kicking; it made me cringe. The reality is that no one wants to hear about the body, about its malfunction. In the movies people get shot or jump from trains or get beaten half to death and leap back up and fight wars and save children and old women from bad men with flak jackets and guns and in real life sometimes you get sick and cannot even put on a pair of socks without it being fucking agony which naturally makes you feel inadequate and the rest of the world agrees. The Moral of the Story: Respite is for Failures. Everyone wants to hear that you are fine that you are well whether or not such a thing is true is irrelevant.
Today I will call about my emergency room bill (wait time may exceed 10 minutes!) to clarify nebulous promises of 50% off for prompt payment but it does not say if the listed balance has been discounted already or if it will be doubled. I hate the soul sucking phone but hey.
This holiday season is almost over and I pretty much opted out although there is a tree of course. My son put it up and it is really very pretty I suppose. I do not understand the people with multiple trees, trees in every room, the flickering santas and snowmen and the knick-knacks and such: it is so much work the putting up and the taking down and the storage of so much stuff that is only used maybe one month out of a year.
I am blue today gunmetal blue/ bruise blue/ blue willow china blue. Please send pie.
I am brainstorming things I can do that require mostly my head. I make lists. I pretend kneelessness. Once upon a time there was a wicked queen who slowly turned into a column of ice and stone. (Meanwhile, I am thinking about the 4th of July: a canopied hammock, macaroni salad and iced tea, the feeling of a skirt swirling against bare legs.) There is a story hidden in the queen's blood: antibodies and enzymes, tightly packed molecules that create alternate bodies, a changeling. Every day you wake up and something is different. All of the women are lonely. All of the women are wearing headscarves and hiding from wolves in winter. The holiday season cannot end soon enough the fairy lights will come down and the gray will set in and all the wicked queens will freeze and thaw and freeze over again.
We aren't actually wicked, not really. Just female and full of poison which is unforgivable, even in technologically advanced societies.
Our dreams are phallic. Our dreams are not what we wanted. Once upon a time you wore silver shoes and thought you would run forever, moving through suicide forests, set upon by ravens, bloodied but a fucking survivor not some damned damsel, but still. But still. Maybe in your next life you can be Xena or Buffy but this time you are the witch who kept Rapunzel in the tower and pretended she was your lost daughter.
All of your doctors tell your that 40 is the magical age where everything begins to break but maybe it is 42 you are past your expiration date your are already in your final phase where the fairy tale ends and you are finally eaten by those winter wolves or cannibalistic huntsmen or gangs of little girls in red coats.
But really all of this is just typing practice for your real, non fairy tale life. For your next job, your clerical job that must include a pension and an excellent dental plan, preferably government work if you play the odds and pass your exams in alphanumerical sequencing and basic math.
I promised M I would not push myself today and of course I couldn't even if I wanted to but there was some cooking because I COULDN'T for the last two days (baking those cookies was a bad idea I felt like the dead) and I needed real food. Although I have had to change the way I do things (no more standing at the stove and hustling back and forth) I am grateful for the seated work station we made and my little red prep bowls filled with onions and peppers and garlic etc... I made chili and you know you did it right when it makes your nose run just a little bit plus the fridge was full of vegetables that needed to be used up and eaten so there. I rescued the vegetables from waste except for one lost, DAMP red bell pepper that could not be saved. Also I needed an excuse to eat cornbread which I baked in a big cast iron skillet and cut into wedges and ate petite little bites with a fork like it's cake. My jaw had its moments but was reasonably well behaved today and I even had two beautiful clementines for dessert. I watched Rhymes for Young Ghouls on Netflix and then I watched Anchorman 2 and I am tired of the television now.
I found four long silvery witch hairs and plucked them out, which is silly. Compulsive, compulsive. In their own way, they are kind of lovely.
How could I not love you? Your speech bubbles and hearts laid out in neat mathematical patterns. I love your gridwork lives in their perfect little squares: the baby strapped to your chest at Target, your pans crusted with mashed potatoes on that compact apartment stove. You are on a beach surrounded by ducks and the sand has all these divots from the heels of your feet. I love your dogs: the terriers and mastiffs, legs splayed out on the linoleum, curved tongues and studded collars and pink and white Hello Kitty pet sweaters.
I want to live your lives, wear a green peacoat on a Chicago street, snow in my pixie haircut. Or maybe we are rehabbing the kitchen in an old farmhouse the knives clinging to a magnetic strip, pots hanging from the salvaged beams. We are keeping goats and chickens. We are drinking wine in shady bars, dancing with our arms raised, sweat on our backs. Your lives are beautiful and I want to steal them, nose rings and all. I want to bend my knees with abandon. I want to wear that hilarious Christmas sweater with its knitted birds and tiny pom poms. I envy you, with your ear flap hat and your pint of dark stout.
I am watching you get drunk and fall in love and cut your hair and have babies and go to work and grill pork chops and get divorced and spill your coffee on your favorite shirt. I am watching your car break down. I am watching you at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I am watching you punch holes in the wall and start a Paleo Diet and break down and eat a box of Hostess Zingers. I know that last week you went to Peoria Illinois and visited your grandmother with the apricot hair and the pleated lavender pants and later you posted a selfie wearing her pearls with an exaggerated cupid's bow drawn on your top lip.
I love your tattoos, your family photos, your homemade Nutella Cupcakes with buttermilk and sprinkles. I am with you on your cigarette breaks and your trips to Walgreens for whiskey and condoms. You posted a lit candle and pancakes and your black cat asleep in a cardboard box. You cut your finger today, glossy bead hanging from the tip like something from a fairy tale. All you are missing is the spindle.
Three glorious hours of sleep--THREE. My knees feel large and watery so I am not cooking today, not even from my little seated kitchen work station and the sink is full of dishes and might stay that way all day. I woke up and listened to the garbage truck and ate two badly made pancake mix pancakes because I can fit them in my partially frozen jaw. I figure I could pretty much live on soup and pancakes. Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes-Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Sour Cream-Cornmeal Pancakes-Gingerbread Pancakes. Everything is going to be fine. I am going to finish the chapbook today and maybe try to finish The Doomsday Book and then maybe I will wrap myself in my ugliest house sweater and watch Coraline.
Today I forced myself to socialize and the initial panic attack lasted maybe 40 minutes and then I was pretty much okay and glad I made myself go out and talk to people it's rather like going to the dentist--you feel so much better after you do and wonder why you avoid it forEVER. My Cookie Exchange Cookies were chewier than I would have liked but I am not on my culinary game right now and I should have cut the oven time down by about 10 minutes, I think. I worried today about the cookies being imperfect and my weird bloated face (Prednisone- inflamed jaw- puffiness) and I am sure I embarrassed myself somehow. Uck. Everyone was very kind and friendly I am just weird and anxious in these situations and I don't know why. I drank too much wine and talked too much about my boring stupid swollen joints because people asked me about them and came home and ate an inappropriate wad of leftover spaghetti about the size of my fist which was totally gross and now I am nauseated. Iced my knee and watched The World's End which was actually sort of boring and Simon Pegg was really unlikeable and so was Watson from Sherlock and Nick Frost so I scrolled through my phone throughout the movie like a Millennial with no attention span. The world continues to spin in my absence and people at work come and go and I will probably not recognize the place a month from now. I feel peripheral.
I wonder if my social skills are deteriorating. I used to be cool, really.
Leek and Potato Soup with tiny soft rolls broken
into to little pieces and soaked in soup
Yesterday instead of baking xmas cookies I sat on the couch and watched The Shining and moved my ice pack back and forth between my knee and my face and occasionally my weird numb arm/wrist. I committed to one of those cookie exchange things and immediately regretted it because I don't want to bake under pressure I only bake impulsively and for no reason. Then I was thinking of shorting the cookie boxes by a few so I did not have to bake any more cookies but I am too compulsive and it just feels rude. I will bake one more batch this morning even though I do not want to chop any more candied ginger or wash any more bowls sticky with molasses because I said I would and also I think I overbaked the first batch they are not as soft as I wanted and I cannot chew anything less than 79 times slowly. Letter arrived via email that said YOU ARE EXHAUSTED (of leave time for your broken body) and I already knew that but still it felt very apocalyptic.
Worked on Chapbook MS yesterday and felt pretty good about it. Like 2008 when I wrote all the time and was endlessly filling out online job applications and fretting over my student loans.
I am beginning to realize that things are never going to to back to normal like five months ago when I could walk without a limp and drive safely and open my mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich. I broke down and took pain pills yesterday though I don't like the LOOPY because I couldn't freaking stand it anymore and it feels like a failure. I have to keep saying at least I am not on crutches anymore to remind myself that things are progressing albeit slowwwwwly. Each day feels very small and spare and unpredictable and I do not know where anything is going. I like timelines and predictable outcomes so this is going to make me Catshit Crazy unless I figure out a way to keep being fucking hilarious through all this bullshit while everybody says OH THINK POSITIVE. Okay.
Today I woke up with a hot and swollen jaw and I am wondering how I am going to eat breakfast so I can swallow a handful of pills and not puke. Super. This is far, far worse than the immovable leg. I am going to go put a bag of frozen peas on my face and cry now. No, I am not going to cry because I am actually more angry and pissed off than anything else.
I am still going to work on that chapbook manuscript today. I have already mentally arranged the poems but I am going to spread the paper out on the furniture (can't do the floor can't get down there anymore with locked joints) and it's going to be very satisfying and writerly and shit.
The five of pentacles and the eight of cups keep showing up in my tarot reading. No surprises there.
One thirty a.m. I stayed up and made cookie bars and ate two of them and now I have super-sugary indigestion. Gingerbread with crumb topping. My knees feel like two water balloons are wedged under each patella so I will toss about with a pillow between my knees for another two hours and then fall asleep for two hours and then wake up again. What if I end up with two gigantic knee effusions and have grapefruit knees for the rest of my life? Tomorrow I will write something real instead of this garbage.
I have time to write now because of stupid medical stuff that leaves me with limited mobility and thus, a fuck-ton of time. I want to write again in the everyday sense like I used to before the 4 a.m. shift work and Dad's Alzheimer's disease and the run run run run run of being female and of a certain age where you are supposed to take care of everybody and there is nothing left at the end of it all except the desire to drink bourbon and watch three hours of Parks and Rec until you fall asleep in your ratty slippers and sweatpants.
Eye doctor to make sure the new meds I am taking don't make me go blind. I looked at pictures of my macula and it looks just like a disembodied eyeball should. Plus I am getting new glasses! I am wearing my happy gray cableknit cardigan and my favorite opal necklace for no reason. Once I wore the necklace to work and one of the women said that she heard opals are unlucky and asked her if she ever read The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and she look at me like I sprouted a thumb in the middle of my forehead so I learned not to talk about books at work. Currently reading The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. I also just finished book one of Hyperion by Dan Simmons. If I feel up to it I will make a pot pie later and look at the twinkly tree lights and pretend I do not have to deal with xmas because it is just too much with all the expectations for elaborate baked goods and fancy presents I cannot buy for people.
Something poem-like. It's okay if it sucks. Also: something gingerbread.
Susan Slaviero lives on the cusp of a hellmouth, where she vanquishes evil with poetry and cupcakes. She hopes to someday land a job as either a dog whisperer or a telephone psychic. In the meantime, she writes. She has a fondness for esoterica.