Wednesday, September 12, 2012


-I wrote this last month. I posted it on my other blog. I think. I just found it here, unpublished. -

I haven’t written a worthy word in two weeks.  Maybe it’s been a little longer.  I haven't felt well.  I’ve done nothing for my novel and the only thing I’ve done for my writing is that I’ve joined a writing group, and that took an enormous amount of tugging at the part of me that knows three months from now I’ll be happy I did it.  When I agreed to be a part of it, did I want to be part of it?  No.  But I know that I have to do things I don’t want to do or I get lost in a part of addiction behavior that becomes very dangerous for us addicts.  It’s called isolating.  Since as far back as I can remember I have enjoyed -and to be completely honest, preferred- my own company.  I’m delightful, really, but this is not healthy behavior and I know it.  I mean, I know it now that I’m sober, I didn’t know it before.  Before I thought it made me QUITE fascinating.

So, when asked if I wanted to participate in the writing group I smiled and blurted out a big and most probably overly emphatic ‘YES!’  Perhaps this all happened in my head and my yes wasn’t as sincere as I thought it should be, or actually wanted it to be and knew it wasn’t.  Thank heavens that these people I will be writing with are in the very, very small circle of people that I can honestly say I trust and can also honestly say I can be myself around.  That doesn’t mean I am myself around them. They have only caught glimpses of me so far.  I’m like Sasquatch, very hard to spot directly.  You will see more of me out of the corner of your eye because I won’t think that you are looking.  I’m certain they know what I'm talking about and that's why I adore them. 

But here I am right now, writing and enjoying every tap on every letter of this keyboard I‘m writing on. I’m looking at them, the letters, as I type these words and I know, and I feel and I remember how much I absolutely adore words and sentences and all this coming together to form ideas and a story.  How terrible to feel that I have nothing in me.  No inspiration to do anything but lay on the couch and see how high I can get my score to go on Bejeweled.  I’ve experienced The Block before in my life. It has lasted longer than a couple of weeks but this time, this time it was really complicated and it felt really scary.  It feels like suffocation.

Here, I am an addict and I am 47 years old and I have Hepatitis C.  That looks like this:
There’s a lot going on there.  AGAIN, let me be clear before I go on; I am not complaining because I am after all exceptionally healthy.  The only annoying thing that happens is that I start accumulating a lot of days of uncomfortable-ness.  Because of pain, because of hormones, because I'm me.  For the past few months I haven't had much of a break in any of those, so like I wrote the last time I actually blogged, I went to the doctor.  I received medication which in the addict world are called meds, and I bet in the regular world that’s what they are called too.  How would I know anything about regular?  I started taking an antidepressant pain killer called Cymbalta.  It’s one of those drugs that has a cute commercial in which 95% of the ad is taken up by the ubiquitous drug side effects that ultimately end in “may cause death”.  At a certain point of feeling uncomfortable for a long time, death seems like a valid option.

The pain, which isn't really pain it's just an annoying pressure, disappeared the next day.  I usually think this is all psychosomatic and that if they sent me a placebo the pain might have disappeared with that too.  Maybe that’s true, I don’t care one way or another.  The pain is gone and for that I’m truly grateful.  BUT, -Jennifer Lopez butt-  there are a couple of side effects that are worrisome, like anxiety and the nightmares I have when I actually fall into something that must be sleep otherwise how could I be dreaming?  They might be hallucinations because it doesn’t seem like I’ve slept in two weeks, except that strangely enough I’m not really all that tired.  But the horrifying, most terrible side effect of all, is the complete lack of interest in writing.  Up until yesterday I was even having a hard time answering emails.  

-later that day

how frigging complicated, huh?  Wah, wah, wah.  The pain is back on my side.  I was just saying how great it was that it was gone, and it's back.  Mother effer.  I knew it would happen.  I received a very minimal dose of the Cymbalta and so it will need to be 'upped', which is how addicts say increased and yeah, I know that's how everyone else says it too.  I hate that word for some reason.  So, I'm worried it will screw with my writing for another two weeks until I get used to it again, but then the pain will not come back and all will be fine and super dandy.  Might I dare to hope that when it is increased it will make me feel that sweet euphoria I felt that first day I was on it?  And by sweet euphoria I'm probably referring to feeling normal.  

Nah, don't worry, I don't know anything about regular but by now I've caught a glimpse or two of normal (which ain't, but wink wink, you know, normal) and I really do want that euphoria.  It was pleasant and really not normal or regular at all, but most definitely what normal should be.

Holy, Moly miss Molly.  I guess the meds are making me a blathering fool, too.  ha ha ha!!  It's OK, folks, because at least I'm writing again. 

Next day... Guess what?  Doctor told me no uppity-up on the medicine yet.  And the pain?  It's gone sugar puffs.  And I still feel like writing. 

Big Smile.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dip Your Spoon

I haven't written in a couple of months.  I mean, I have a little bit here and there but I didn't want to publish any of it.  I am part of a writing group now and this was my first assignment.  I'll explain some other time why I've been blocked, but I wanted to get this out here.

Talking Banana

Dip Your Spoon
By Olga Naranjo

In those times when I’m feeling particularly shitty, and I happen to be outside at night – actually that combination is more common than particular - I find my eyes drifting upward looking for a cluster of stars called Omega Centauri.  The best time of year to see it from the side of the earth’s hemisphere that I’m usually standing on is during May and June, but my emotions aren’t always in sync with the stars so I sometimes miss how this colossal wonder of the universe puts me in my place.  Who am I in this great and vast collection of space and time and infinity to be morose?

That cloudy mass of dots in the sky is host to more than 10 million stars.  That’s ten million stars shining for 12 million years, and before that and in the meantime and after it, other super nova’s will create more clusters of stars and more distant suns will burn out and become black holes and I will have ceased to have existed even as a species.  All this I have known since I was ten years old.  Back then I rode my bike to the library and looked at actual hard copies of encyclopedias and dictionaries and thick, practically unyielding tomes featuring the solar system and Einsteins physics.  Everything was written in the language of mathematics which I still can’t understand but still, I looked anyway.

My brother Henry owns the Dip Your Spoon.  I like to joke with him that the name sounds like one of the old massage parlors on 42nd street in New York.  I mean the 42nd street of thirty years ago that our mother used to unsuccessfully try to shield our eyes from whenever we would drive through it on our way to our Uncle Pete’s house in Queens.  The “Come on in, sir, dip your spoon, if you know what I mean” barking 42nd street, not the spectacularly neon, new one.  Indeed, my brother’s place is a parlor of ice cream, not massage, located on the corner of Main Street, smack dab in the middle of Vanillaville, in Smalltown U.S.A.   This is the same town that we grew up in and as you can imagine it is many, many miles from the Hudson River, literally and figuratively.

After Henry graduated high school, he got a job at the local canning factory and he stayed there saving his pennies until he’d collected enough of them that when combined with the small business loan my dad co-signed for, bought him the 1200 square foot piece of prime real estate on which is erected 900 square feet of squares.  I mean it.  The building is square.  The floor inside is tiled with black and white linoleum squares.  The tiles running up the walls are red and white ceramic squares.  The stools are chrome with red nylon squares.  Square white tables.  Checkered black and white table cloths.  Square scones - the kind that light up.  If you can imagine it, even the handmade-fresh-everyday sugar cones are square.  And this next might be even harder to imagine than the Doctor Seuss inspired creamery; all that my brother Henry ever wanted to do was serve ice cream.

For as long as I could remember all I wanted was to leave; a breach baby born with one foot reaching across the border of our town to the next just so that I could get a head start.  I didn't even go to my high school graduation.  The night before the ceremony, I filled a duffel bag with a couple of jeans, some t-shirts and packed the rest with underwear and socks figuring those were more important than outerwear.  I walked out of the house I grew up in and out of the town I had spent eighteen years practicing my goodbye for.  I know my parents applauded when the principal called my name and I can see them shaking their heads knowingly when I didn’t walk up to pick up my diploma.  It’s not like it was a secret.  I’m surprised they even went to the auditorium.  I suppose hope is something divine sometimes, like stigmata.

The specialty at the Dip Your Spoon is Taylor's Famous Banana Split.  Taylor is my ten year old niece.   I've never eaten a banana split, not even Taylor's, so I couldn't tell you if there is anything special about it except, well, except that this one happens to be served by a very happy, talking banana.

I wonder sometimes, like I’m wondering now as I'm looking at my brother zipping up that yellow flannel costume, giggling like he does every time, sliding the coned yellow hoodie that tapers off to a green, stem point, adjusting it to be sure it has just the right arc; how are we so different?  From a corner I watch this graying, 47 year old, overweight man dressed in this ridiculously absurd costume, turning red with laughter every time he looks in the full length mirror.  He doesn't get tired of the joy.  He doesn't get tired of how simple his life is, married to his chubby high school sweetheart Emma, who used to be ‘my bestest friend in the whole wide world’ when I was ten and who confessed that she would come with me when I left.  But she fell in love with my brother instead.  He has three amazing kids: Alice who got married to Burt last year and just found out she's pregnant; Elizabeth, who just started teaching first grade at the local elementary school; and Taylor of course.  A surprise, he says.  A gift in their later years.  Taylor has Down’s syndrome, but there's no such thing as a handicap in my brothers family.  I don't think he knows what that word means.

I do, though my handicap isn’t physical.  It isn’t mental either.  It’s much bigger and much smaller than those, respectively.  

How are we so different?  Why am I always looking up for Omega Centauri instead of sliding on a stupid banana suit?  Why do I insist on searching for what he has always had to spare?

He glances at me, winks and says what he always says as he walks by me out towards the square ice cream tubs, “Dip your spoon, Charlie,” he giggles, laughter that rises up from deep in his belly where it’s perpetually being turned out, a spring as eternal as the night sky,  “dip your spoon.”  I smile and find myself inevitably thinking what I always think, 'Today, maybe I will.’  Maybe whatever I’m looking for is buried in Taylor's Famous Banana Split.