I’m not doing the best. I don’t even know what all I’ve told y’all, but there’s been a ton of cancer garbage and other health crap going on for the past three years.
I want to say that for the most part, I’ve adapted and overcome, but I might be fooling myself. Or I might be doing an excellent job, I just can’t see it right now because it’s a shit mental health period.
My guts hurt. I had colitis a couple of times last year, and I have diverticulosis, so it could be either of those, or something else entirely.
My brain is fuzzy. I can’t remember things like I used to. I can’t use words like I used to. I can’t make connections in my head. I feel like an idiot trying to make art anymore because I’m no good at it.
I want to do so many things but I’m discouraged. I tried to tell myself yesterday that it’s okay to stay in bed all day if you feel bad, that it’s okay to take a bunch of naps in one day if you can’t stay awake. Today I’m still in bed because it hurts, but I can’t believe myself when I say it’s okay.
My brain says I haven’t had surgery, so there’s absolutely no possible reason that I should stay in bed.
My brain is an asshole sometimes.
I’m dizzy and my head hurts all the time and my vision is going to hell in a hand basket. I’m worried there’s cancer in my brain now. I want to tell myself that’s silly, but is it really? I don’t know anymore.
I’m a huge fan of the “ignore it and it’ll go away” philosophy. I feel like that’s weird. I tried to do that with my adrenal tumor and they just found lung cancer. I tried to do it with my reproductive system and it just hurt worse and worse until they took it all out. I tried to do it with my neurostimulator and they had to take that out. Maybe I’m just not as good at ignoring things as I think I am. Except my own friggin mental health. I’m super great at ignoring that.
I plan so many projects and I want to try so many new things and then I kick myself when I physically cannot do them.
Sometimes I wonder why I keep trying.
I tried to take a cognitive function test yesterday and I learned that I can’t do the logic puzzles that I used to love so much. They’ve become secrets of the universe to me.
I don’t even know how much I’m supposed to feel like garbage with all the hormones that are gone and can’t be replaced and all the hormones that are replaced with pills and do I even know what I’m talking about anymore?
I don’t know.
Maybe if I start writing again things will get better. Maybe they won’t.
I do feel a little better after all this though. I need to go blow my nose.
I hope you’ve stuck it out this far, because I didn’t think to say this earlier. I’m not dumping this for pity or condolences. It is what it is. I’m dumping this so maybe someone else having a rough go of it won’t feel so lonely.
Life isn’t always peaches and cream; I guess I know that as well as anyone.
I got dressed today. On a scale of 1-100, getting dressed always takes me up at least one point. I can’t sit and put makeup on today though.
When I feel better I need to make an art caddy for these days when I can’t sit at my desk and create.
Yes, April, even though you said you feel like a fraud with zero talent, that desire to make art is still there. Maybe take that as a sign that you’re not entirely hopeless and uninspired.
Oh, I make notebooks now. I would love to send you a care package of tiny notebooks and art and who-knows-what if you want one.
I think I’m gonna go catch up on my collage fodder tutorial videos now. Thanks for being here.
Charisma’s explicit blink stirred something in Frank’s memory; he shook his head when he couldn’t recall any details.
The lime-green Chevrolet in the garage rusted silently.
So maybe I haven’t.
Anyway, he gave me a five-year memory book at the beginning of the year. It has 366 dated and lined pages, with five spots per page to fill in the year. My mission is to return it when it’s full of memories.
Obviously, I’m nearly a third of the way through for the first time. This year it’s a journey of optimism; of looking forward to the future and wondering what I will write on this day in the four years to come.
Of reading the things I have written, five years from now, and remembering them for the first time in a week or a month or five years.
I imagine it will feel like reading the post from my five-year blogoversary earlier this evening, when I searched my archives for journal and five year while trying to find out if I’ve told you about this book. Two years of posting every day is coming up, and then there’s another four years of sporadic posting before that, so why would I remember my 1,063rd post? I wouldn’t; I didn’t.
But it was nice to re-read and reminisce.
And it was nice to think about how far along I’ve come–have I passed a million words yet? In my life, certainly. Since I’ve been writing here? I don’t know. That’s 457 a day. But minus the 200k+ from four NaNoWriMos, it’s only 365 a day.
I don’t know. But it’s interesting to break it down this way.
I’m pretty sure this week, the week of our anniversary, will be the most fun to re-read. We have big plans for future vacations. But it will all be cool, even the days I stayed in my pajamas playing Breath of the Wild and we did rock-paper-scissors to see who was going to get out of the house to gather Pokéstops to keep our streaks going.
Btdubs, I highly recommend Breath of the Wild. It’s in the memory book quite a bit since it came out.
I look around the circle of faces, but no one in the group was remotely familiar to me. The doctors tried to shove it all under the rug of amnesia after my accident, but somehow, I know better. This is more than just a bump on my head. A lot more.
And they won’t listen. Such gloriously educated and highly respected medical professionals, and they just won’t listen to me. Because I’m nobody.
I’m nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too?
Every now and then a whisper rings true, a faint tickle on my temporal lobe. It’s like the prophetic dark clouds hovering over me, eagerly awaiting the right moment to release their rain droplets. And then it’s gone, like nothing ever happened. Like the only things I’ve ever known are the things that I can remember now.
These precious few.
Sometimes when I close my eyes there’s a shack in the woods. I don’t know if I lived there or not, if I built it or not, if it’s real or not. Sometimes when I close my eyes it’s all darkness, and I have to open them again and turn on all the lights or else I’ll scream and scream and scream.
Silence. I forgot that I was in group therapy right now. They must be waiting for me to talk. I hate it when it’s my turn. I don’t have anything to say. I don’t remember if we’re still doing introductions. Did I already say my name today? Not that it matters anyway, not in a group for a bunch of people with brain damage.
I stand up.
“Kristy Patterson, 26, car accident.”
I sit down.
They’re still looking at me. We must be past the introductions and on to some topic or other.
“I don’t remember what we’re talking about.”
This is the only place I can say that and nobody makes me think about why I don’t remember. Nobody wants to know what I was doing with the few brain cells that still work instead of paying attention to whatever it is I’m supposed to be paying attention to. It’s the little things that comfort me. The few secrets I have left.
I guard them with my life.
Somebody’s talking, trying to catch me up on the conversation, but I’ve already tuned them out again, closed my eyes to explore the cabin. It’s there this time, not the darkness. I open the door and enter.
It’s like I’ve stepped onto a movie set. Bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire in the stone fireplace. Ancient plaid couch covered in handmade quilts. The smell of hot cocoa creeps softly into my nostrils, and I inhale deeply. I’m home.
Someone’s shaking me. I open my eyes to a stranger’s hand on my shoulder. I brush it off forcefully, and he stumbles back a bit, not expecting me to react as I have. What kind of a person just touches somebody else and shakes them when they’re obviously busy?
I stand up and make a fist. He starts to say something to me, so I punch him in the face. Serves him right, touching my shoulder without considering how I might react. I could be missing the part of my brain that’s in charge of impulse control.
It was a good hit, if I do say so myself. He staggers back a step and reaches up to wipe the blood from his mouth where I’ve split his lip on his row of straight white teeth. I don’t need teeth like that telling me what to do.
I sit down and close my eyes again. Just for a second, just to finish exploring the living room of that little house on the prairie. In the woods. But the door’s locked this time, so I open my eyes again.
I should know better by now. I really should. Every time, it’s the same damn thing. I do remember things since I woke up here just like everyone else does, you know. And here they are, just like every other time I hit somebody.
Two techs, a man and a woman, rush in the group room, the man holding a syringe. It feels like only seconds have passed since I punched that jerk in the mouth, but his shirt is a bloody Rorschach now. I could have sworn that he wasn’t bleeding badly enough for that. Maybe this time someone will press charges and I’ll finally have my ticket out of the hospital and into the world, even if it is jail.
But no dice. I pull my shirtsleeve up for the syringe and follow the woman to the same room I always go to. The man follows me, but they should know by now that I’m not going anywhere I’m not supposed to go.
I just wish people wouldn’t touch me. If he hadn’t touched me, his shirt would still be just fine and dandy. Swear.
I curl up on my side in my bed and pull the blanket up as the world begins to slow down and the colors begin to swirl together.
When I close my eyes, it’s the screaming darkness, but I’m too drugged to escape it.
The scream echoes in my head forever, and I can’t wake myself up.
Brooke jingled her ladybug key ring before she set it in the bowl on the table by the door. Caleb was nowhere in sight; she decided that he was napping. He was doing that more and more these days, she thought. Instead of spending time worrying about his health, she headed to the refrigerator for a snack.
She grabbed a handful of pecans from the bowl on the counter and sat on the couch to put her feet up. A noise behind her told her that Caleb was awake, which was a relief. She hated it when he slept all day and stayed up all night, leaving her alone in their bed. Maybe they could even go out to dinner as they’d planned and failed earlier in the week.
The bedroom door slammed against the wall, and Brooke jumped. Caleb struggled out with a box overflowing with junk of all shapes and sizes.
“What on earth have you been doing?” Brooke asked.
“I went up to the attic earlier and pulled some stuff down. I’ve been going through it. How long have you been home?” he countered.
“Like five minutes. Why would you go up to the attic? You’ve never cared about that old stuff before. And it’s not like it’s even yours anyway, so why would you go through it? It all belonged to my family. I probably couldn’t even identify half of it. Three quarters of it.”
Caleb dropped the box on the floor in front of him. “I don’t know, Brooke.” His voice softened. “I just felt like something was calling me, so I went to have a look. And we’ve never really looked at everything up there, so I just got distracted. I’m sorry.” He picked the box back up and brought it around the couch to set it down on the coffee table in front of Brooke. “Some of this stuff is practically ancient. How about I order us a pizza and we can just watch a movie or something while you look at some of it?”
Her hands began to reach out towards the box in spite of her anger, and Brooke quickly nodded her agreement to Caleb’s suggestion. “Make sure it’s light sauce, please,” she turned to smile at him, and all was forgiven again.
Caleb wandered into the next room to place the order, but his phone was dropped forgotten on the table, pizza app open, when he heard Brooke’s soft gasp from the couch. He returned the the living room to find her holding a small brass candlestick aloft, staring at it with her mouth open.
He sat down next to her. “Are you okay?”
“My grandmother…” she trailed off.
“Was this your grandmother’s candlestick?” Caleb prompted her.
“It was,” Brooke confirmed. “This was the one we used to take on our picnics. We always used to go on picnics in the park on Sunday evenings. We’d pack up all of the leftovers from the big Sunday dinner after church, and when everyone had gone home for the day, and it was just Grandma and Mom and me, she would ask if we were ready to go yet. She would pick up this candlestick and her best tablecloth, and we’d walk to the park across the street and that’s where we’d eat the last meal of the day. By candlelight, in the twilight. Every Sunday until she died. And I’ve never seen this candlestick since. Or her best tablecloth. I always wondered what happened to them–” her voice began to break, and Caleb put an arm around her.
“I know you miss her. I’m sorry.” He pulled her into his embrace, and she sobbed freely.
Rayford looked out on the bright sunshine pouring out on the lawn as he sat poolside, a bowl of cut fruit near to hand. It was a happy scene, the flowers and Christmas cactus blossoming and spring green, but it brought no cheer to his heart. All he could think about was better days.
His wife Claire came stomping out of the house with her iPad. “Do you see this garbage? Angelina Jolie is no longer a Pitt. Who cares?? Why don’t I get actual news on my newsfeed anymore?”
Their marriage wasn’t what it used to be; money and comfort had changed them both. Rayford was more complacent now, and Claire more angry and domineering.
“I don’t know, dear,” Rayford mumbled, already tuning her out. He was losing himself in reminiscence. Back when they were a happy couple, back when they had less money.
“I think I’ll go back to that computer repair guy today,” Claire’s voice was growing fainter in Rayford’s ears. “He really seemed to…”
Her laughter sparkled like glitter on the wind. Rayford could lie here and listen to her laugh for hours. He loved her laugh. The smile broadened on his face as he reached to caress her shoulder.
Claire flipped around to look him in the eyes. “Pretty please, with sugar on top?” she asked in her sweetest voice.
“Your wish is my command, my darling,” replied Rayford. “My heart is a slave to your own.”
She slapped at him, playfully. “I love you, Ray. Your soul is a twin to mine. Promise me we’ll always be this happy?”
He leaned in to kiss her neck, and murmured the words into the hollow beneath her ear. “Always.”
Sometimes down and out is better than up and in.