Ok Universe. You Win.
The other ankle gives and hindsight is 20/20. Of course. I’d been favoring it for one month, relying on it solely for almost half of that time when I used crutches. At work, across campus, up and down the stairs to and from the house—through all of this, it has been my guiding foot. The foot that’s taken extra impact, extra weight, unfair burdens, and now—it rolls like Jell-O down a hillside, over the edge of my shoe and towards the floor.
But it doesn’t touch all the way down like the left one did, thank goodness. And like Jell-O, it bounces back. But jesusgod the stinging hurt, the puffiness, the surge of pessimism and terror that immediately engulf my psyche.
I get help from a work-study student at the coffeehouse. I put in a call for a sub on Monday (no luck) and Tuesday (maybe some luck). I call the director of services on campus and request a work-study student for every day next week. I call my boss and she is annoyed, burnt out, can hardly imagine any further measures of flexibility.
I go home and use Aleve, ice, moxa, elevation, medicated herbal plaster, and arnica. I drink wheat-free beer and hunch in my chair. I stare at a spider for a long, long time. I read T.C. Boyle and start a new story, tapping my head against the edge of the table over and over again when I get stuck on a sentence. I also tap the cordless phone on my skull when I’m stuck on a thought. I like the sound it makes and I’m beyond worrying about becoming a crazy, hermit writer. (Duh. I think I already am.) I try to ignore the throbbing in both ankles, the threat of work issues that are now unresolved, and the repeated image I have of myself hobbling around on bloody stumps where my ankles once were.
Some of my MFA friends and I have this theory that whatever struggles seem magnified during our time in the program, may very well be struggles that could follow us and threaten us the rest of our writing lives. And that if we can rise above those struggles during the course of our studies, on top of everything else, we can learn how to survive our own worst circumstances, our own neurosis, and our own challenges and keep on keepin’ on. And we’re learning it when we’ve got a community of supportive fellow writers at hand, thank goodness.
I don’t know what to expect anymore, but I do know that I have very little control over it. Whatever it is. And as much as it hurts (my body, my mind, my wallet, and sometimes my faith in the good effort=good results), this may all be a necessary evil.[Note to Universe: Ok. I learned my lesson. You can stop hurting me at any time. Before, it was a broken heart, strung like pearls across so many months and failed romances. Now, it is a breaking body, stretched beyond its own limits. But the mind and spirit are mine and not for the taking. So hands off!]
PS All that being said, and despite my new love affair with fiction, YES – another acceptance came in today. This one for the online AND print version of the Winter 2007-08 issue of Cadillac Cicatrix (literary journal). Yay!