In the next 25 hours, I have to work an eight-hour shift, drive into Lodi to get my prescriptions, haul a suitcase out of the back storage cubby, pack, secure the valuables, manage a little paper work and bill-paying, drive to Sacramento, and board a jet. When I step off the plane from the second leg of my journey, the smiling face of my biggest fan Pat Reynolds will greet me. I can barely contain my excitement!
I slept poorly last night though. I dreamed about broken dreams. A crash startled me into a rigid consciousness with the house still dark. The ancient thermostat from my old home had fallen off the wall and clobbered the radio. I stood in the chilly gloom holding the heavy brass gadget, staring at its rusty clock which forever announces twenty minutes past the hour of four.
This morning, I made coffee from yesterday’s grounds. I scrambled the last two eggs in creamy butter and slid the fluffy loveliness onto a toasted gluten-free muffin. I ignored the news and scrolled through social media. I have no time for the awkwardness of our broken political climate.
Fair warning: I might not blog much for the next five days. Be assured that for once, radio silence does not mean the absence of joy, but an overflowing cup which cannot contain itself, much less sit still long enough to record each giddy moment. When I return, I’ll bring pictures.
It’s the ninth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
I awakened at two, then at four. I realized by 4:15 that I would not fall back asleep. We know when we can and when we can’t. Our bodies tell us. I got out of bed at 4:45 and headed for the stove and a cup of instant espresso, the kind you buy in a pack of five at Family General. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.
I once asked my son if he thought I might be a little obsessive-compulsive. Luckily this conversation occurred over the telephone so I couldn’t see the look on his face.
“Mom, I’ve watched you spend fifteen minutes re-arranging the pillows on the couch,” he replied. “And then scold me for sitting down.”
I have to co-host an event which starts just five hours from now. Ten residents of the tiny house community in which I live will open their homes for tours. I spent two days cleaning my house, which includes an intervening four-day work week that produced a resurgence of tiny house clutter. I’ve checked on the other folks as well as I could. I experienced a silly sojourn testing Facebook live. I checked on the layout of the community room. I made mental notes about where to place the chairs for the panel discussion.
I should be sleeping.
Luckily, I don’t have any obligations tomorrow. I know from experience that a full day of chatting about #mytinylife while standing in my tiny kitchen smiling at the #tinycurious and the #goingtinyoneday people will exhaust me. Tomorrow my spastic muscles will clench and my asthmatic lungs will heave. My fluttering heart will skew wonky. My arthritic toes will curl inside my slippers. It will not be pretty.
I should be sleeping.
Instead, I’m wondering about the new doctors whom I’m scheduled to see in the next few months. I’m changing from the Stanford wizards to closer though perhaps lesser angels on this side of the Bay. I’m scrolling through Facebook counting the likes on the video from yesterday’s inaugural deployment of my new tripod. I’m getting current on Josh Pray and his hysterical, often painfully accurate view of life. I’m crying a little about the death of my cousin Jim’s wife Anne’s mother. I’m thinking that sometimes, just sometimes, I wish that everybody whom I loved could live both forever and closer to California, so that they could come sit on my porch and drink dollar store espresso from my chipped mugs.
It’s the sixth day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
I took this photo yesterday while I was fooling around with my cell phone and the auto-clicker that my son gave me. So many symbols of my life here: My mother-in-law’s ring; the spoon ring that I got by sending 12 Minute-Maid pull-tabs fifty years ago; my niece’s ring; a pen from my law firm; a Chicago coaster. So much joy in my journey.
Josh Pray: “Five Things I’ve learned About Chronic Illness”
I have a co-worker who rushes to help me if she hears me sigh from down the hallway. We’re nearly the same age; she’s a few years older but substantially more capable. I’m getting quite spoiled.
Yesterday, I fell in the office. My co-worker dashed to my side. I couldn’t breathe; I had smacked the floor with such force that my lungs had compressed. My litany of self-talk kicked into high gear as I tried to calm my mind and take control of my functions. Karen’s steady voice flooded through my mind. just tell me what I can do, she intoned, her hand lightly resting on my shoulder.
Eventually, I got to my feet with assistance from the lawyer in whose office I work. The activity subsided back to normal. Neither woman had yet seen one of my falls. They handled it with more grace than many people. I’m used to being scolded for being slow. I worry about inconveniencing people walking down the street. I get chided for delaying progress. But these two ladies took the incident in stride, by all appearances. They helped; then they didn’t make a fuss. They gave me what I needed without complaint, without focus on themselves or undue emphasis on the interruption.
I saw a clip on YouTube about a day of “silly walking” in some Eastern European nation. A sort of parade took place where people adopted exaggerated gaits, limping, twisting, twirling, staggering. As I lay in bed, unable to sleep because of pain made worse by my tumble, incredulity rose in my belly, acrid and stinging. I can’t imagine finding any sort of joy in standing out as one traverses the streets and sidewalks. I’ve spent my life averting my eyes from the looks of staring strangers — from fingers pointed by children; the murmurs of their fearful mothers; the taunts of bullies and unbridled inquisition disguised as good intention. I crave normalcy. I just want to disappear in the rippling wave of the able-bodied.
But: My grandmother always told me to put my best foot forward.So I study my lily-white spastic feet each morning, straining to decide which one should take the lead. I struggle into my socks and shoes, and hoist myself to an upright position. Then I take the first step into the new day, hoping against hope that I can get through the day without breaking something or calling too much attention to myself.
It’s the third day of the sixty-fourth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.