Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reading Bittersweet

A few days ago.  Last week. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.  I felt good.  Mostly the past few months I have not been sick, but last week  I felt even better than what is currently normal for me. Fatigue was lifted.  I relished living.

Yesterday, Friday, fatigue hit.

Okay, yeah, usually Friday night I'm tired, take it easy.  I assumed Saturday would go back to normal.

"I feel like a bulldozer," I said,

"You feel like you got hit by a bulldozer, or you feel like you are a bulldozer? There's a difference you know," he said.

"What does it sound like?"  I said.  I knew he knew the answer to the question he had asked.  I had just told him how my day was going. It was nearly 3pm at that point.  I was still in bed, still in my pajamas.  I told him I had been dozing when he called.  I woke up at 10:30am, and thought I was going to get up, but instead, I was still dozing on and off.

With fatigue comes depression.  Comes a feeling that no one loves me.  Comes a feeling that my life is hopeless.  Comes a feeling that all I ever do is work hard, that all I have are demands upon me, no place for joy, no place to relax.

When it comes, I escape. I rebel.  Some rebel with drunken carousing.  I rebel by staying up too late reading fiction.

Two weeks ago, I got three novels out of the library.  One I read already.  Two were left.  Last night, I chose the shorter one. I chose the shorter one because I did not want to stay up too late.

I chose the shorter one and I read it. I read it beginning to end, and it was only a little bit late.  Maybe 10:30.  I always aim to go to bed 9:30, but never make it so early.

I finished the book, and it was only a little bit late, so I went back to the beginning and started reading it again.

I read it one and a half times last night.  I put it down before finishing it the second time. I think it was around midnight when I went to sleep.

I went to sleep and I slept and slept, and was still dozing around 2pm when my friend called me.

We finished talking around 3, and finally I got out of bed and got some breakfast.

I started reading the second book, the longer one.

My friend called again around 7.  I told him that I had started reading around 3:45 and was now on page 202.  He thought that was a lot of reading.  He said, "Be careful, or you'll get in-letter-gestion."

We finished talking and I went back to reading. I finished that book.  I went back to the book I had read one and a half times, and finished the second half of that one.

Mostly I read Young Adult fantasy novels with female main characters written by female authors.  I read that kind of book because I can't relate to books about people with jobs or cars or children or guns or adult cynicism.  I don't like fantasy novels that drip with magic, unicorns, dragons, and quests to find magical objects.  I like fantasy novels because they often involve time spent in forests, and because they don't usually involve cars, jobs, offices, factories, and guns.

The book I read last night was Bittersweet by Drew Lamm.  Not a fantasy novel.  When I was in the library that day two weeks ago, I pulled it off the shelf and opened it at random to see if it was good.  Soon, tears were in my eyes. Yes, this must be an engaging story. So I got it.

Reading it last night, it made me cry.

Usually when I stay up late reading novels, then when I emerge back into reality, I'm depressed.  Of course I was depressed to begin with, that's why I started reading.  But I think that they make me worse.  What I should do, instead of reading, is listen to music.  I've done that sometimes when I'm depressed, and it has been healing.

Anyway, Bittersweet.  It a way it reminded me of Deerskin by Robin McKinley, because both are about a girl numbed by hurt, and her journey to reclaim her life.

It was a good book. Good because the author draws you into the heart of the main character, whose name is Taylor.

Taylor is like a boat on a stormy sea.  Tossed about by her emotions, she behaves in ways she doesn't like.  It is as if she is lost within herself, out of touch with the way her physical body is behaving in the real world.

She's hurting and she's numb and she's running away.

And as I read, I cried and cried for all the ways I'm hurting and numb and running away.

In the end, she reclaims herself.

She writes
I was covered
in earth and leaves
when the white-throated sparrow inside me
reminding me of the tops of trees,
and who I am when I stand up.
So I push
hard off the ground
and run
into my own arms
But in the end, she loves a guy who loves her back.  In the end, she has health.  In the end, her survival does not depend on going to a job she hates.  Seems to me it would be easier to reclaim my life if I had those things.  On the other hand, I do have the things she lost -- a mother, a grandmother.  And though I don't have romantic love in my life, I have a friend who helps me keep me from getting too far out of touch with reality by calling me often.

In the end, she says she will "gather in what I love," and "sip the sweet juice of each of my days," and "You won't catch me dying while I'm alive -- I'm not going to die until I'm dead."

It's hard to live zestfully while I'm sick, which is what I seem to be today.

But I know I will not always be so.  Today, bulldozed, I sleep and read.  In time, I'll be better and I'll go back to dancing and gazing at trees.  I'll still have the burden of that horrid job weighting me down.

Maybe I won't be able to stand up and run like Taylor does in her poem.  But the sparrow within me will find its voice again.

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