Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Et Tu?

Frankly, I feel betrayed by the one entity I most rely on: my body. Actually, let me re-phrase that. Today, I've realised to what extent my body has been betraying me for the past few years.

I have always believed that the body is a summation of the balance between mind and spirit; that good health reflects this balance, and is a conscious choice; that I would know if something were wrong with me, better than any doctor.

I had not realised how slowly it all seeps away, without one's notice, when one is caught up in the time-consuming business of living. It happens very discreetly and the little negligible things go first, all choices, hour by ticking hour.

My eyes felt too tired or blurred to quilt; I blamed this on the extended time I've been spending with the electronic media, especially lately. So I decided to take a little break and chose to read instead. My feet swelled up and ached; I blamed this on the increased lecture time as I've just re-gutted my class structure to include more instruction. My fingers hurt; and again, I blamed the extra typing I've been doing. Predictibly, my eyes itched, watered, and refused to even look at the words dancing before me; I blamed the computer screen I spend the day staring at. I found myself tired at mid-morning. Admittedly, I've never been overly industrious, but I noticed I'd been napping a great deal lately.

It took an outsider, a doctor, to force me to take stock: that the pallor of my skin was not due to my being out of sunlight; that I needed outside help to re-balance the humors that make up my being; that my age is not advanced enough for me to plead it as an excuse.

This is, at this point, thankfully fixable with a little white iron pill, staring innocently up at me, tiny enough to be lost in the folds of my palm. It is humbling to think that that mote holds the balance of my being.

The worst of all is the deep betrayal I have felt from my body. I now believe it has a separate consciousness all of its own, and that my own intelligence and care are not enough to sustain it. This entity I reside in has lately cheated me out of hours of quilting, denied me poetry I could have made, even books I could have read, and stairs I could have climbed.

After a very, very long time, I've finished four books in five days, completed my syllabi for the quarter that begins on Monday, watched an entire season of Deep Space 9, and stayed up till 1am without paying the price for it the following day. Tomorrow, I look forward to some quilting and more reading, without feeling dizzy with fatigue at the mere thought of it.

This entry is directed to my body, which, I hope reads this somehow, and realises the hurt it has visited upon me by lying and cheating in this manner. I hope it feels chastised enough to promise not to try such shenanigans any more.

After all, we have miles to go before we can be safely out of these woods; I shall need strong eyes to tell a true light from mirages and bog fires, solid fingers to firmly clasp the walking stick, and strong limbs for definite purchase.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Service Of Waiting

A large part of being a Theatre Mom involves waiting, finding a place to wait comfortably, trying to get comfortable with being seen waiting, and convincing oneself that the busy work puttered away at while waiting has been a meaningful, productive exercise.

This is not all, however. One must prepare one's home to wait until its inhabitants return: dinner must be thought of, feline bowls refreshed and refilled, waiting lamps lit before hurrying away with all the implements (books, laptop, board games) that could ease the waiting. Upon return, one spends yet more time switching off wait-lights, lighting home-lamps, conversing with felines lest they should imagine themselves abandoned. Then the day needs to be wound up and alarms set to ensure that the waiting appointment on the morrow not be missed.

I am proud to say, I am quite the expert at this. Ask me about waiting spots anywhere in the tri-county area and I can probably point you to the most conveniently placed Panera Bread Company, the nearest Starbucks that plays the muzak most conducive to a Scrabble or Chess game, the neighborhood Barnes and Noble with the best spaced outlets for laptop plug-ins, away from the insulting bustle of the cafe and families rushing about, obviously not waiting.

The most difficult aspect to conquer in this is to get comfortable with being seen waiting. The servers at Panera Bread or French Bakery perambulate around one's chosen seat, with studied casualness or busyness. One must ignore all curious looks and concentrate very hard on pretending to not exist, on being invisible; idlers and loiterers are not kindly thought of. I have an entire wardrobe of clothing that renders me invisible, jeans and t-shirts of indeterminate grey-beige that the eye just skips over without registering any presence. Earrings, lip glosses, interesting handbags are to be avoided at all cost; if one's lips get dry, frequent refills of water in non-decrepit plastic cups are recommended as best recourse. Care must be taken that the books accompanying she-who-waits must be checked out from public libraries, preferably covered in monochromatic bindings or clear plastic that catches the most shy glare from the mutated lighting, magnifying it, making the title indistinguishable and unreadable.This deters conversation. One definitely does not want to converse, lest one be discovered "just waiting" and rendered irretrievably, incurably not-cool.

I will concede, Reader, that had it not been for these waiting hours, I'd not have graded, read, or played Scrabble as much as I have, and for that, I am grateful. There is something liberating about the knowledge that no trips to the grocery store make sense, since it'd be hours before the milk and frozen vegetables would find their way to their shelves in refrigerator & freezer. The public libraries, undoubtedly in pre-meditated malice, are 40 minutes away, making a round trip meaningless. So this section of the day, evening, morning is best resigned to timid waiting.

Don't get me wrong; I do not resent this. The week, hours, chores, obligations that surround this waiting often frustrate me with their insistent, meaningless necessity. The waiting provides me with a promised sanctuary of undisturbed, if forced, reflection, more like an oasis than a stranding. There are times, like today, when I have rushed around, conscious of and looking forward to the waiting promised at the end of the day. I also know that at the end of weeks of waiting, I shall be treated to a really enjoyable performance, with the added bonus of seeing my child in her element, while I get to gasp, giggle, applaud, and congratulate. There can be no greater reward for a parent.

I shall remember when time's winged chariot draws near, and my daughter shall fly away from any need of my waiting. I shall look back on these hours with fondness, and remember that it was not all rushing and busyness, that I cherished the waiting as much as the applause, the drive, the rushed meals, the littered laundry, and backpacks on the floor to trip over, as I ran around and after her.

The greatest service I am doing by waiting, then, is to my future self from whom this waiting shall be taken away. Then, I shall glance upon that inward eye and consider how my light is spent.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Matter of Death and Life

The past weekend has been a roller-coaster, and surviving it still makes me dizzy. The wise maintain that the actual business of living may take only a few minutes, but that's time enough to reel through the entire stretch of emotions our species is subject to, and this past weekend has proved this wisdom indubitably. I cannot remember another time when the simultaneous immensity of life and death has dawned on me to this extent.

It began with a chance remark from an old friend expressing desolation at the sudden death of another friend. I still am unable to believe it: the friend who has passed away was not sick, not much older than I, and the unexpected nature of her passing has left confusion, disbelief, and fear in its wake. The memorial service was very touching, and her bereaved family deported themselves with admirable grace and dignity. However, as I stood in that crowded room, brimming with mourners, I could see most of us wore a dazed look, as though we were actors forced into an unrehearsed scene, in a world where we don't speak the language fluently. I could not believe that the service would ever end, until she'd walk in, setting the tilted world aright; I could believe less that after it ended, a little hour, long eternities later, we did something completely ordinary, and drove home, stopping for gas on the way.

Devastating as this experience was, the weekend was not over, and the roller coaster ride was only half way done. The next morning, I got a phone call from Des: the youngest among us had just decided on a life-partner, and the family was buzzing with excitement and joy on facebook! Everybody had an opinion about when the wedding should be, who'd attend it, where they'd stay, what websites would have the best fare, and inexorably, the wheel of time trundled on, uncaring of its effect on its riders. We all look forward to a joyful expansion of our tribe, and we can't wait to welcome our new relatives we haven't yet met. The possibilities shine in our imagination, of the inevitable laughter, celebration, and reaffirmation all beginnings promise.

I know time, routine, and new concerns shall dull the lessons this weekend has brought home so dramatically to me, but I hope this entry shall serve as an indelible reminder of keenly, intimately experiencing joy and sorrow within the span of a couple of days.

I also know I shall need to perch at the edge of the ocean and land to actually evaluate and imbibe the inexplicable insanity, to turn it into some hard nugget of usable matter. The only lesson I can realise through today's haze of emotional exhaustion, is that neither life, nor death await; in the end, one is left at the edge of a precipice, given a moment to feel, understand, and internalise the familiar behind, the unknown vastness before and beyond, and then either pulled back or pushed forward, because no space may remain still or stagnant for longer than a moment.
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