As I Lay (Imagining I'm) Dying

Late at night, the cancer fears band together like 3-2-1-GO and then I'm up, if I ever went to sleep at all, wondering which one I'm going to get. Ovarian feels likely, but I also believe deeply that I'm a prime candidate for some more humiliating genre, such as rectal. I spent some wonderful dumb years smoking, so don't think I've ruled out lung. And because I've always felt like I can't quite move right, bone seems fitting. 

My mother has leukemia, a blood cancer. Her sister died of colon cancer. Why should I believe I'm getting out of here alive?

*

Being offline is weird. I thought I would get more done, but then I got the flu for half of February. I'm still coughing. I alternated between feeling bored and delirious, and it was hard to concentrate on a book or even TV. I wanted to scroll endlessly through my phone, but it also felt good to not let myself. Now that I'm finally better I am enjoying the relative quiet. It's nice, when I wait in line for example, to just wait in line, instead of checking Instagram. My phone has become more of a phone. 

But I do feel strangely adrift, like things are happening that I don't know about. Most of those things, I know, I don't need to know about. So I have been thinking a lot about what kinds of information we have started to believe we need, that we've mistaken for important. I try to take the "need v greed" approach to my consumption of goods--food, clothing, etc. But I realize that online, it was a free-for-all. I took all of it in, all the time. It's good to feel hungry.

I had no idea it was AWP this week until someone told me. Imagine a world where you don't have to know anything about AWP. It's glorious.

But I miss the heartfelt, wise, funny, thought-provoking posts of my friends and "friends." I miss the cacophony of voices. What amount, I'm wondering, is just enough. 

*

I got a diary, this one, because I used to be such a careful archivist of myself, and somewhere along the line stopped. I wish there were a tiny bit more space for each entry, but I also like how restrictive it is. A haiku, almost, for every day--makes it easy to commit, to never skip a day, hopefully for five years. 

*

At night when I'm imagining I'm dying I try to pray. Sometimes it's just breathing, or saying one word or phrase over and over. Sometimes it's a formal prayer. Sometimes I ask questions or just let my thoughts spool out in a barely-conscious way, that very thin winding edge between sleep and wakefulness, the Highway 1 of the mind. Think too hard for a second, and you're up, buzzing; withdraw your attention even slightly and you're asleep. 

*

Do you ever keep opening the refrigerator, wishing things were different?

*

I'm noticing that I'm noticing things more. Thinking more about how and why I respond in certain ways, examining my instincts--by definition, those mute and dumb footmen of behavior that you don't think about. Here's what: I've discovered that when I'm faced with roughly 85% of tasks--unglamorous, tedious, unremarkable, banal, tiny, large, work-related, domestic, or even creative--my very first impulse is to not only not do the thing, but to furthermore figure out how to permanently never do the thing. How to murder the thing. The impulse may last a nanosecond or a full day or more, as I contemplate running away, changing my name, feigning sick, "forgetting," "misunderstanding," rebelling, quitting, or otherwise losing my religion. I have to go through this. This is a necessary part of my process. It is a way to pretend that I'm dead; it is a kind of dying. Ultimately and always, I do the thing, and I try hard to do it well. I gird my loins or whatever that expression is, and I go, 3-2-1.

I had babies like this. I wrote a book like this. I go to sleep like this and wake up like this. I get under my own skin. Grit and determination--but first, agony and woe. My face may not reflect it, but I'm generally always screaming.

*

I love this story by Samantha Hunt so much.

*

I'm not a baker but I like to make semi-complicated cakes for Brian's birthday. This year I tried Zitronenbiskuitrolle (rolled lemon cake) from Luisa Weiss's Classic German Baking. I didn't have access to Quark so I improvised with a combination of ricotta, yogurt, and cream cheese, and it turned out lovely. I held my breath as I rolled it.

 A thing that makes no sense

A thing that makes no sense

 But you put your love into it and it slowly makes sense

But you put your love into it and it slowly makes sense

*

Every Wednesday since 2018 started, minus the weeks I was sick, I go to my parents' house and hang out with my mom while my dad is at work. I always ask her at least one question about her life, and type into a Word document everything she says in response. I'm astounded by the amount of joy this brings me. She's an amazing question-answerer, unafraid to get deep and dark, and then pan out and end with a bird or a little joke. Our weekly meeting, during which I also do some work quietly and then we usually also eat lunch together, has created a brand new dimension of our relationship. There are few things in life I love more than routine, few things that deliver me to love, the possibility of love, like routine. I used to think something had to make sense, before I could undertake it. Now I know: undertake it until it makes sense, until you arrive at meaning.

*

God, art, family--on their own, they make no sense. I do them anyway.