I figured, since so many of you have left lovely letters in my inbox, that I’d update you on where I’m at. :)
Since last we typed, I caught a virus which lead to an ‘exacerbation’ – basically, my asthma got uncontrollably worse due to the inflammation caused by the virus that had moved into my respiratory system. I’ve been on prednisone and a couple of new puffers in order to reduce the inflammation, and I am happy to report that I am *finally* seeing some improvement. I can breathe much better than I could last week, and though I am still coughing, it isn’t quite as all encompassing an experience as it has been. I can make it from the couch to the kitchen without gripping furniture for support (the shortness of breath has been off the hook) which is nice, and I actually managed to eat solid food yesterday.
Yesterday was the first ‘close to human’ I’ve felt since the virus hit on the 5th of September, and I pulled out a limited palette of things to play with in order to remind myself that I *could still paint*. Believe me, after ten days of doing nothing but moving from bed to couch to bed again, one can forget what one is made of, and that was definitely my experience.
I came into the studio and put on a movie on the lap top (Eat, Pray, Love), pulled out a journal a friend made me years ago, and made a solemn vow to myself that I would not judge the outcome. I would just *play* for the sake of playing. I reached for whatever delighted me (in this case, fluorescent pink paint, turquois pthalo, black pen, pink and blue Tombow markers, gold paint, a stencil, a couple of Faber Castell Pitt Pens, and a white paint marker) and I just made stuff for the sake of making stuff.
It was like getting reacquainted with my inner artist, who had been hiding in a blanket fort under a pile of Vicks scented Kleenex.
Oh, hello. Are you still in there? Think you might want to come out and play?
Painting while under the influence of NyQuil is really interesting. There’s something about this stuff that depersonalizes me – meaning, I don’t feel like myself at all while I’m on it. I feel like I’m outside of myself watching myself. It is very difficult to get in touch with what’s happening on the inside of the equation. Numb is a good descriptor, along with foggy, and pretty much ‘out of it’. Still, the flinging of paint without caring about outcomes let me reach through that fog so that I could shake hands with myself once more after ten or so days of being relatively unknown to myself. It was a bit like an archeological dig. Oh, yes. There I am, under the rubble of exhaustion and an overwhelming list of blown deadlines. There I am, still complicated as ever, still grappling as usual, still half bewildered and half determined, still somehow *here*.
I know that in the big scheme of things this ten day ‘down and out’ experience of mine is no big deal. I was able to adjust things, tweak things, beg off, switch out. I survived. My business survived. But it is *scary* when something like this happens and you have absolutely no control over it. There are no sick days to call in. There’s no one to pick up the slack. It’s just you and this alarming new normal wherein two hours of upright are too many, and you can forget about painting or writing anything coherent. You’re lucky if you can make tea.
It’s made me think. Made me wonder how I can create a life in which there is time for the inevitable frailties of the body. Made me miss being partnered up so that when the chips are down, there’s someone there to change the sheets and make the soup. Made me question the way I schedule myself down to the very last second of every single month, week, day, hour.
I’m still thinking.
Meanwhile, here I am, making the most of the time I have with you this morning by coming in here to share that I am alive and mending. I also wanted to share the journaling I did yesterday in my bid for freedom from the artless, NyQuil haze. Click through them to see them full size. They’re unusual for me. A bit on the psychedelic side, colour wise. Looser than my usual fare. Less concerned with outcomes. I like them a lot, and I especially like the honesty in the sentiment I included on gold paper. “I’m willing to find out…”
CLICK THROUGH TO SEE THEM FULL SIZED
And that’s me for now, on the mend.