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Today is Different

Credit: iStockphoto

Well, to be honest each day is different but today feels more different than most.

Still have a migraine – so I guess that is still the same. But for the first time since my surgery I feel like yoga and walking. Real walking – none of that walking around the block 10 minute BS but real 3-4 mile walking.

I’d head out the door right now, except for the migraine, the house that is a disaster, the laundry that needs to be done, and a promise to myself that I would write today.

I’ve learned a few things while I was out of it. Productive procrastination and all that. While I was recovering I finished the edits on a short story and then read, a lot. You know it is a lot when it is multiple times the amount that I watched Netflix or Hulu. Drowning in visual media was a way for me to escape my migraines, when they were bad and continuous. At the time, reading took too much effort – not to mention memory.

Sorry, got distracted by the wind in the trees and the stormy look to the sky. I love walking in the wind.

So I read. A lot of fiction and a little nonfiction. You might say that my taste are lowbrow. I like genre fiction. Can’t really help it. Although I have to admit that my choices probably added to my depression. I re-read Ghost Story by Peter Straub, On Writing and Bag of Bones by Stephen King. Oh, and a few short stories. I love Straub’s Ghost Story and re-read it every few years.

Like every few years I re-read Sherlock Holmes and all the ghost stories I love so much. I like Poe, but I also like Afterwards by Edith Wharton, Green Tea by Le Fanu, A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins, and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter. There are so many more… M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, O. Henry, LovecraftFaulkner and Hemingway both indulged in tales of terror and I’ve read those too. There seems to be nothing like a good fright – and the catharsis of survival.  

I have a strange desire to read a little Hawthorne now, and James… but M. R. or Henry? Turn of the Screw is delightfully frightening. Hmmm…

As usual I digress.

I leaned a few things during my enforced inactivity. Time to think, and rethink, is such a wonderful thing. I realized that I’m not editing hard enough – I’m getting close now, this last thing was edited to within an inch of its life – but I need to focus on getting that part of the process down. My best tool, besides my friends, is reading out loud over and over again. When I’m tired I stop reading what I think is there and read what actually is.

I also realized that I’m my own worst enemy (okay, we knew that). I get afraid and I back off from the drafting process. I need to drown in it – and let it go.

There are times when I am so far into a story that it seems real and the rest of the world seems out of phase. It is a bit of a trip to go out like this, often the story will continue in my head as I wander the aisles in the grocery store. My only hope is that I’m not muttering to myself. A perfectly appropriate thing when I’m home with the cat but would cause most people to keep a wide berth.

It is funny how we instinctively avoid those displaying behaviors we dub as outside the norm.

Again I digress.

Oceans of Notions – to misquote Rushdie.

I need to drown in the Ocean of Notions… the funny thing… I think I’m ready. So much of the last few years have been taken up with figuring out how to structure my life to the best effect. Once I’m here, at the desk, and things are moving I do pretty well. But getting here, staying here, when there are so many other things calling to me – like the wind in the trees or wondering about the evolutionary value of avoiding individuals displaying odd behaviors… it is so easy to be distracted by the bright shiny objects that lay all around me.

So, I need to jump in the Ocean of Notions and let it take me. Turn on the tap and let the ideas flow – good, bad, indifferent, downright silly – letting them flow through me and allow the fear of drowning go.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~ Frank Herbert

I wonder if he was talking about fear – or writing?

I’ll see you when I come up for air. 

~ Tess


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Recovery Day I

Jell-O Credit: iStock Photo

Do you think I can resist the call of the Jell-O?

My refrigerator is filled with things like jell-o, pudding, Gatorade, and bread – all things that are usually not even allowed to be thought of in my house let alone given shelf space. I guess the only thing to do it to eat them, but the nausea from the anesthesia has worn off and I’m not sure I’m worthy. I’m actually feeling rather good.

Good if you consider that I had surgery yesterday. I have pictures too! This is one of those moments when I would love to have a scanner and then I could put the pic they took of my liver and say… Look, it’s beautiful… I’m not drinking too much!

I’m a little worried though; I spent the end of last week working on my short story, placing my novel on the back burner. The night before surgery my characters peaked in and I told them to get out – it was past midnight, I needed to be up by 6 am, and I didn’t have time to get up and play with them. They seemed to understand and I think they peaked in again to see how things were going. But this morning… not a peep. Damn!

Maybe they are simply being polite – but I miss them.

Back to surgery.

Yesterday I had a tubal ligation. I felt like I was in a science fiction movie. The room was filled with electronics, four massive TV screens were placed over my head and they used robotics to find my tubes, cauterize them, and then cut them. They also took a look at my liver, spleen, appendix, both ovaries, and my uterus. Best part, I have pictures to prove it.

I had a bet going that they wouldn’t find any endometriosis. I lost. They found two pin sized bits – one on my uterus which they burned off and one on my ovary that they left alone. I’m not sure they should count, but technically I lost.  

Everyone was wonderful – and I so wish I had a better memory for names. The surgery was at Good Sam and my surgeon Dr. Michael Collins. Other than that the names are a blur. Although I do remember one of the nurses commenting, when I said that I didn’t have my glasses and couldn’t see much of the operating room but blobs, that she was a size 3 with double D breasts. I said that would make her awkwardly top heavy. She laughed at me, and then I was moved to the surgery table and then I woke up.

Except for the two Band-Aids on my tummy, the nausea, and the fact I could barely talk – it could have been a dream.

I still sound funny but I sound more like myself. Yesterday it hurt to speak but today it is just uncomfortable. There are random pains in my abdomen but they are far less than my cramps usually are – let alone when my bursitis flairs up – so I’m just ignoring them. It is more like I’ve over used those muscles than actual cramping.

I need to be brave, have something to eat, and then take a shower so I can remove the Band-aids. I’m planning to say “look, no stitches” while I’m in the shower. At least that is the plan. We’ll see.

There are no links in this at the moment… but my energy is waning. I may add them later.

~ Tess

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Recovery Day 3

Apparently I have a physical, mental and emotional response to finishing a story.

Who knew?

Wow! By Tyler Ramsey

Okay I kind of knew. Once again I was down to the wire writing until very last moment. Not going to do that again by the way!!! I know, I usually hold the title for procrastination but I simply can’t go through that again. It was a lot of fun but picking up the pieces afterwards… not priceless.

It’s more than just finishing a major story – it is the submittal process too. It feels a little like that scene from ET when Elliot releases all of the Frogs from science class, “Be Free, Be Free.” There is a high that I get that is better than any drug. But then there is the almost catatonic crash.

I sent out the manuscript on Friday night.

Saturday I was trying hard to function but apparently my neurons were not firing successfully because I decided that 14 divided by 2 was 6. Then I went walking with my friend D and we ended up not just walking, but doing running intervals. Wouldn’t be so bad, but I was developing shin splints. The strange thing… by the time we got back to my place I didn’t hurt at all. WTF?

Blamed the discomfort on my shoes.

Probably right. My current shoes are four years old. That means they survived the time I hired my trainer and was working out 6 days a week.

So, went and got new shoes. I so love the Portland Running Company!!!!

That night I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t read, write, watch, or anything. Started playing Napoleon at St. Helena in an attempt to distract my brain but it didn’t really work.

Next day, more of the same. Although I did get my bills paid and went through everything in my inbox before the restlessness kicked in again.

Then I went for a walk.

For the first time I cut my ~ 3.7 mile walk. I turned around at the park and came home. Stopping every 300 feet or so to rest my legs, stretch them, or massage them. This was, of course, after running two intervals. What an idiot!!!

When I got home my legs still hurt.

When I went to bed last night my legs still hurt.

When I got up this morning… well you get the idea.

Like I said, finishing a story and sending it out is better than any drug. Next time I’ll try and remember that I go a little crazy after one of these things. Too many days of concentrated writing leaves me in an unfit state for real life.

Thank goodness for the elliptical – I’ll be doing that for the next few days and hot and cold baths, and lots of yoga, hoping that it will help enough to allow me to go outside and walk… and run…

~ Tess


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