Light

Near the end of last summer, after clumping around the city in Da Boot for about a month, I got the results of my MRI. I was not even a little bit interested in having surgery, and sick to death of that goddamn boot.

So I wasn’t in the greatest state of mind, thumping slowly to the E train underground at 42nd street, when someone flew by me.

I mean, this guy flies the fuck past me. One arm and one leg, riding backwards in a manual wheelchair. He’s simultaneously propelling himself with his leg, pulling a suitcase with his arm, steering perfectly with his torso. Going somewhere. His skin looked like it had melted and been reformed. It looked like it still hurt.

It looked like it didn’t matter.

You never know someone’s story simply by looking at them, but I’m guessing IED, near something liquid and flammable. I’ve thought of that guy so many times since that night. Not in a nauseating bravely-succeeding-in-the-face-of-obstacles kind of way, but in a shit-okay-what’s-next kind of way.

My friend wrote an essay about having bipolar disorder and presented it in a workshop. All the feedback she got was like oh my God, I can’t believe you’ve succeeded despite all these hardships and handicaps weighing you down. The point she intended was entirely different: That her successes and failures in life were neither in spite of nor because of bipolar. It does not define her; it simply accompanies her as she goes about the business of living her life.

That’s not a perspective you’re born with. It’s not one that comes easily to most people. I think most who can consistently pull off that attitude have fought for it quite fiercely. I have a hard time wrapping my head around it.

When I think of that guy in the subway, I wonder if that could ever be me. If that were my life, could I ever get out of my own way enough to still go somewhere. When I think of him, I remind myself to try. I remind myself to quit whining and get on with the business of living my life.

I was listening to Jocko Willink being interviewed by Tim Ferriss. Jocko is a former Navy SEAL officer, instrumental in securing Ramadi. He’s an early riser because he wants that advantage over the enemy. In Ramadi, there was always a guy somewhere in a cave, rocking back and forth with a machine gun in one hand and a grenade in the other, waiting for him. He wants to be ready for that guy.

My enemy is my head. Some days it’s my friend, some days it talks shit to me, and some days it’s got explosives. What can I do to be ready for that guy? I ask myself this a lot. I have a lot of operational theories. Periodically, I get to test them out.

Responding to the question of who he thinks of when he hears successful, Jocko instantly named three guys he had served with, all of whom were dead. They were bright points of light to him in the darkness of war. . . success measured not in achievements, but by the degree to which you can light up the darkness for someone.

I like that.

Here’s to light.

 

 

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What’s on My Mind

 

I’m learning to walk again.

Literally, not metaphorically.

I had my foot rebuilt in early November. I couldn’t walk the Puggles or do yoga anymore and I’m too young for that shit. So I went under. Torn ligament repaired, three bones moved, a bunch of hardware installed. As my surgeon said, I “had a lot going on there.” The promise of a normal foot is elusive, but I remain imprudently hopeful.

Crutches were first. I didn’t expect them to be easy. They were not.

I didn’t expect them to make me feel as if my soul and bone marrow were being sucked entirely dry in an incredibly painful and exhausting way every time I went somewhere.

They did.

Next came the scooter. A lifesaver at home. One hundred percent useless at my theater, due to the stairs.

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My ride, pimped.

There have been complications: Stress fracture, lots of swelling, strong possibility one of the screws is getting evicted.

It’s gross.

I didn’t get the boot off until about two weeks ago.

Re-learning how to walk…It feels like walking on someone else’s foot, with all the creep factor you might associate with that. It’s ungainly. I’ve never walked using this particular combination of muscles, ligaments and tendons with this weight distribution. Although, my toes have never pointed all in the same direction before now.

I’ll spare you the pictures.

You’re welcome.

I’ve never had to think about walking. Now it’s all I think about. My calf is totally pissed and uncooperative. My quad goes back and forth between active attacks and just snickering at me. My “good” knee is rebelling after months of being skewed from the boot and having to do all the stairs by itself. It’s in deliberations as to whether it will be part of the solution, or part of the problem. It is remarkably uncommitted. But I’m fucking walking.

I get to walk.

None of this is graceful. I told CC the other day, I look like that dead farmer in Men In Black who gets possessed by the alien.

“WHERE IS IT?!?”

 

New Yorkers aren’t terribly interested in slow walkers, especially during rush hour. I’m not terribly concerned that these able-bodied a-holes have to go around me. I may secretly relish impeding their fleet and dexterous footwork.

Besides, it’s not like I can quickly get out of the way. I’m not quickly anything-ing right now.

You ever see those guys with the flyers for sightseeing tour buses in Midtown? They’re pretty good at discerning who’s a tourist. People who look like they’re trying to get to work are ignored. They’ve never approached me.

Apparently, the main way they decide if you’re a tourist or not is the speed of your walk.

They’re totally fucking hounding me right now.

Get off my ass!

Long Time Gone

It’s been a while.

Long enough for my widgets to stop working and all my social media account links to break. Long enough for pretty much everything about how WordPress works to change. Long enough for even my mother to stop visiting my blog.

Two and a half years, give or take.

Well, shit.

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Mine was sparkling cider.

Before I stopped posting entirely, I slowed down because I was writing other places. Then my day job picked up, which was glorious and time consuming.

 

Somewhere in there (step)parenting got pretty un-fun and I didn’t want to write about it. Not one little bit. I wanted a break.

Gigs took me out of the house and out of town for extended periods of time. When I was home, I didn’t want to write. I wanted to clean.

Wanting to clean is my emotional equivalent of bleeding from the eyes.

I clean and I feel like I’m having an effect on something. For like a minute. Because the thing about having a houseful of kids is that you clean a spot and six people and two dogs come along behind you and lay new shit down in the clean place while you’ve moved on, erroneously believing that you finished back there.

My last gig had a pretty brutal production period, which wasn’t unusual. But for the first time ever, I didn’t bounce back after we opened. I kept waiting, and I never bounced. I looked up one day and realized I was down the rabbit hole again. Way the hell down the rabbit hole.

Well, shit.

For many months, I didn’t think about the blog at all. Then, when I did think about it, I was confused. I felt like I needed to define a new direction and have a plan, and I didn’t know what any of that meant.

 

Ultimately though, I remembered that that’s not why I started in the first place. I just wanted to write. When I started, I felt like I had something to say. I didn’t really care if people read it or not.

I’ve been gone so long, I just wanted to come back.

I’m also going to swear. So there’s that shit to look forward to.

 

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You know you missed me.