Make a small list of things which cost nothing
Make a bigger list of things which cost you nothing
Use earplugs or muffs or headphones when you are alone, to better hear your thoughts
When you catch yourself trying not to care, remember that caring is your strength
When someone has treated you carelessly, absolve yourself of the impulse to engage
Go to sleep earlier than you think you should
Stay up until Saturday’s dawn reading for pleasure
Write out the worst things that have been said to you and draw over the words until they are just shapes
Burn it, blow away the ash
Eat that thing you like best with the condiment that’s never served with it
Brush your teeth
Think about that time someone you met for a second changed your life in a profound and beautiful way for which you can never thank them, and consider that you have likely been that person for someone else once or twice
Write down what you love about someone or something
Pet an animal, if allergies and proximity allow
Remember that everything good takes more time than we think it should, except aging
Make anything (breakfast, your bed, a card tower, a dress) that is pleasurable to make, even and especially if you will have to remake it.
Tell someone you keep in your life something lovely you remember about them
Don’t think too hard about any of this
Last week I called a Lyft for a four minute drive up a hill I could not climb.
Three cancelled the rides before a car finally pulled into the 7/11 parking lot where I was waiting, and paused on a diagonal, so I could climb into the back seat with my cane.
“ YO YOU GOT HIP PROBLEMS????? Check this out” My lyft driver jumped out of the car — still running diagonally in the center of the small parking lot — so I could watch his torso shimmy and pop between the headrest and open door. He got back in, leaned over the seat and asked “Does that happen to you?” in such an excited, earnest way, I answered.
“Not exactly but stuff comes out of place a lot.”
“For Real?” I did this thing with my fingers that quickly demonstrates some of the hypermobility of EDS. “Oh shit, I can’t do that but check this out” and he hyperextends his elbow.
“Hmmm, may I ask some questions?”
“Do you have soft skin?”
He put the car in park and threw his right arm backwards. “Yo FEEL IT. Everybody says it’s so soft they can’t believe it. I cannot believe you asked that. You too?”
“Yup. Interesting, interesting. Do you have stomach problems?”
“Nah I can eat anything. Spicy food’s good.”
“But how about it working through you”
“Damn you get right to it, I respect that. It’s all good.”
“Okay! Good for you, man.”
“Should I look up what you have?”
“Sure, why not,” and I spelled out Ehlers Danlos even though he was driving, not writing. He repeated it back to me, and told me doctors were always trying to figure him out. I swear I’m a magnet.
We turned out of the parking lot and started up the hill. He asked what I did and I said Writer, which is good because I can do it anywhere.
“Yo, do you drink wine?”
“What about when you’re writing? Do you drink when you write? I just think that it must be so much better to write with wine because I was reading a book by this guy —Antonin Scalia, he’s fucking wild—and I just thought man it must be better to write with wine because I started drinking when I was reading and it got so much better.”
I wanted to know more about him drunkenly reading Scalia.
“So do you drink wine when you write?”
I told him “Drinking and writing don’t work well for me. I get how people do it, because it lowers inhibitions, but so much of my writing process is avoiding putting the truth on the page, because I’m afraid of what happens once I do it. I’m afraid of my family, my friends, and people who might want to hire me reconsidering their decisions. I’m afraid of people liking it, emailing me for more, getting sick and not being able to come through, or being able to come through but being unwilling to show myself. I’m just chickenshit, so it takes forever for me to say what’s real.”
“Does that mean what we’re reading are lies?”
“When the writing’s bad, always. But that’s unfair, because everybody lies to themselves to some degree. Sometimes people don’t know when they’re not writing the truth. That’s when a good editor helps, because they can coax it out.”
He took the last turn quickly and I left the car without learning why he read Scalia for pleasure. I wish I’d found out.
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