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How to live with uncertainty.
Mostly I say: just keep going. Mostly I think of Marie Howe’s words: here, lean closer so I can see you. I think of Jane Kenyon’s words: How much better it is to carry wood to the fire than to moan about your life.

That didn’t cut it yesterday. That’s not cutting it today.
None of this is surprising. You go to the doctor, and hope rises like a balloon. An answer, a prognosis, a treatment. Something to work with. But only more tests, more theories, more maybes. Hope floats away like a balloon.

In waiting rooms, in doctors’ offices, there is time that I call The White Room. Everything is slow. Everything is in between. You are at an airport waiting for a flight. There is nowhere else to be and nothing else to do. There may be a disaster just around the bend, but here and now everyone will speak in measured tones, everyone will be washed and shaven, there will be the click of heels and the scent of disinfectant.

And then you go home. And then there are no women in expensive clothes and lab coats, or middle-aged men with soft eyes in khakis and wedding rings. There is what there always is: the sink stained black from mold that predates you and will not yield even to repeated bleachings. The email you won’t open; the call you won’t return. There is your neck aching as it holds up your head and your hands complaining as you brush, tie, type, button and unbutton.

I want something to do. Waiting for tests results is not something. I can’t even schedule the damn MRI yet because I have to wait for insurance to approve it. Of course I am depressed: I can’t act. I feel trapped. I’m helpless. There is nothing for me to do.

I read about the tests: Lyme, though I’ve never had a tick bite or rash. Hepatitises, though I have no symptoms, and no risk factors since my last test. An HLA B27 genetic test, though I don’t have back pain. Maybe it’s just overuse, my OT says, but this doesn’t fit either.

I know, I know. I adjust. Maybe the next week waiting for test results will be like this. Maybe I’ll feel better by tomorrow. There isn’t much to do about that. Just keep going as much as I can.

And how? There is coffee, of course. Maybe slip a pill from my stock pile. Maybe sit and work on something I want to work on, and work up some energy, some care.

I told Matthew that I pray sometimes, too, but short prayers. “Just one word, actually,” I tell him. He is above me on the couch, clothed, my hands are on his blue and white prayer beads and we are high, high, high, on contact, frustration, novelty, the gaze. “Help?” he asks. “Please,” I tell him.

My prayers, I’m sure, look nothing like his. Just words said against a window. Just despair contained in six letters. I imagine him praying, davening, rocking, the beads moving through his hands. I don’t know what that means.

That is true. That is also diversion.

So, what now?
Can I just rest? Can I just wait it out? Can someone else work and cook and clean and shower and brush? Can someone else button and unbutton while I sleep it out? All I want to do is sleep, dishevel, and be disheveled.

Dear friend,

You need to be okay with not being able to fix it, because I have to be okay with not being able to fix it, and that is a 1000x worse for me than for you.

You need to be okay with not being able to do anything, because I have to be okay with not being able to do anything, and it is 1000x worse for me than for you.

You need to be okay with my pain because I have to be, and it is 1000000x worse for me than for you.

You need to be willing to be present with it for five minutes now and then because I have to be present with it every day, at work, in the kitchen, at the gym, even in bed. 

No, you don’t have to do any of this. But you want to be my friend? That is the damn job. 

Jess Zimmerman on woman and appetites:

Women talk ourselves into needing less, because we’re not supposed to want more—or because we know we won’t get more, and we don’t want to feel unsatisfied. We reduce our needs for food, for space, for respect, for help, for love and affection, for being noticed, according to what we think we’re allowed to have. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can live without it, even that we don’t want it. But it’s not that we don’t want more. It’s that we don’t want to be seen asking for it.

I’m having trouble making myself go to work today, because my thumb is sore and I should wear the splint and someone will probably ask, and it’s a way of being out.
I hate the closet, but I’m in it for the same reason anyone else is––out there isn’t safe. I’m not talking about anxiety; I’m talking about perceived ability, perceived competence, job referrals, letters of recommendation. I’m talking about my ability to get or keep a job, which means also my ability to pay rent or buy food. I’m talking about the professor, my former adviser, who compared me to a defective car. I’m talking about the professor, my current advisor, who said only “that’s a reasonable fear” a couple years ago, when I had a health issue, maybe related or maybe not, and told him that I was worried it would impact how much work I can do or how quickly.

The thumb splint is silver. If I were more femme I might be able to pass it off as jewelry. As it is, it’s clearly too expensive to be something casual, your minor ankle sprain. 

The other issue is privacy. I’m no more eager a comfortable for my coworkers to know the personal details of my body’s workings then anyone else might be. Illness doesn’t make your body suddenly public. Or, sometimes it does, but out of necessity and against your will. Do you want your coworkers to know about your last sore throat, athlete’s foot, bowel movement, weight gain or loss, erectile dysfunction? Neither do I.

When you think without much emotion, “Is she still alive?”, and then click through to her facebook page, and she is not. She is not still alive. When you google her name + obituary, and see that she did, indeed, die of “a long and courageous struggle with anorexia”. You thought she was on the ED-not-so-U, but told yourself: you never know, maybe she has some digestive illness, maybe she is sick in some other way.

She wasn’t. She was sick in just that way.

You wonder again why your parents weren’t more concerned. Anorexia is the most deadly mental illness.

And she is the second one you know, to go. The other day you thought you saw the other, even though she never lived in California, even though she died in India two years ago, and they wrote it as an accident, and maybe it was. But who runs so close to the edge of a cliff? You saw her, running and hunched, in the streets of Providence. You saw her get thinner and thinner. You had been thrown together a lot, but you were never friends.

What of these women? What of these women who starved, and died? Does it matter if Kate fell off the cliff on purpose, if she got dizzy and lost her balance, if Lily wanted to die or not? What if Katie hadn’t fallen off the side of a cliff–I imagine the moment too much–and had stayed alive, had lived on crumbs, another 70 years?

Would that have been better?

I believe in suicide. I also believe in death by patriarchy, death by racism, by homophobia. Sometimes dead is as good as it gets. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way, maybe we should have more choices. But we don’t always.

This was the moment something stopped with J1: when he said that suicide, “shows a lack of clear and creative thinking”.


Jack Cooper:

I like how the mallard ducklings
goofy and weak
waddle up the cement incline
then slide into this runoff
of lawn sprinklers and car washes
and how the great blue heron
seems to be teleported here
from the Jurassic
to look for extinct species of fish
but mostly I like the way
the little birds
fly in and out of the barbed wire
with only a smear of water
to keep them singing

Robinson Jeffers:

Four pelicans went over the house,
Sculled their worn oars over the courtyard: I saw that ungainliness
Magnifies the idea of strength.
A lifting gale of sea-gulls followed them; slim yachts of the element,
Natural growths of the sky, no wonder
Light wings to leave sea; but those grave weights toil, and are powerful,
And the wings torn with old storms remember
The cone that the oldest redwood dropped from, the tilting of continents,
The dinosaur’s day, the life of new sea-lines.
The omnisecular spirit keeps the old with the new also.
Nothing at all has suffered erasure.
There is life not of our time. He calls ungainly bodies
As beautiful as the grace of horses.
He is weary of nothing; he watches airplanes, he watches pelicans.

Hugo Schwyzer:

I want her off my skin. I want someone else’s body between me and her memory. I want the anesthetic of someone else’s touch. Fucking someone else won’t shut the door on her memory. I know that. It will, experience suggests, hang a translucent curtain between my heart and her, and that’s good enough.

I keep thinking about kissing him: the hug in the dark bar, and the hug was close and I realize I could kiss him if I wanted to, that he wanted to, and I tilted my face to meet his lips. His mouth, soft and warm in the dark bar. My hands on his chest and collarbone where they are exposed. My hands flew to where I hadn’t known I’d wanted them. Errant birds.

Decathexis, and recathexis. Think about grabbing either side of the unzipped coat and pulling him towards me near my car. Think about the kiss getting deeper,and his hands on my hips. Think about our bodies flush on the street. Think about letting myself moan just a little into our kiss, and then get lost trying to remember if any of my lovers have every moaned while kissing me. Remember growls and grunts, voices on the edge of pleasure. Some moments are seared into my memory. Much of the rest becomes amalgamated: was it this or that tall, dark-haired lover who used to make that sound? I can remember every inch of my last lover’s body, I can recall the feel of his mouth or any other part of him, but I try to remember what he sounded like and other people are superimposed.

Last night I dreamt about kissing someone’s neck. I don’t know or don’t recall who.

I think about our date coming up, and about the words: kiss me. Touch me. Put your hands here. Tell me what you want. I want to hear it. Maybe because my last two relationships were with people who stopped wanting me. It’s not about ego or confidence; I simply miss feeling desired. I missed it as those relationships went on and the sex fell off, and I miss it single.

Maybe it’s just hot.

Jessi Klein in NYT:

The criterion for whether we are doing our jobs as women “correctly”— and, yes, it’s a job — is more often than not how many of our own wants and needs we are putting aside. We want to eat, but since everyone likes us better when our weight is the same number as our body temperature, we must learn to be hungry. And we can’t acknowledge we’re hungry, because no one wants to think about skinniness as something that takes work. This is why half the ingénues on the Oscars red carpet feel compelled to say they just scarfed down a cheeseburger on the way to the show.

Weight is just one slice of the pie chart (remember, don’t eat pie) where women are supposed to shun their desires for the satisfaction of everyone around us. The expectation of sacrifice — regarding sex, childbirth, career, the caretaking of children and aging parents — is the axis around which so many women’s lives revolve. Men, of course, face pressure around standards of masculinity, but there is not the same jeweler’s loupe scrutiny over every bodily centimeter, and every one of their life decisions.


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