My fingers are crossed, but I'm not sure if that's enough anymore.
I want answers, but do I, really?
I say I want answers, but isn't it easier to just live in the dark until I die?
Answers would just mean blood treatments and injections and physical therapy and therapy and psychosis and…
...for the rest of my life.
At this rate it'll be the pain, the drugs, or skin cancer that gets me. I haven't quite decided which will take me from this earth, from my family and from the people I love.
This morning my normally sensitive daughter said that Daddy would die before me because he's older.
"No, it'll be me first," I told her. Smiling, hoping she wouldn't be hurt by it.
She laughed. "I want to go when you go, Mom."
"No. You're going to way out-live me. Past your dad, too."
"How did your mom die?"
"Lung cancer," I said.
"Is that how you're going to die?"
"I hope not. She smoked for almost thirty years, Honey. I quit when I got pregnant with your sister and never started again."
Her dad called her. It was time to go to school now. She squeezed me and said: "Bye, Mom. I love you!" And ran from the bathroom to meet him.
I'm not sure how I'll die, really.
Resuming my swift eyeshadow application, I recalled the week prior. I'd taken one of those [bullshit] life expectancy tests online.
It was right after I had one of my painful lower abdominal spells—the ones that feel like someone is making balloon animals out of my organs.
I barely did anything that time to warrant that knee-weakening, hurl-your-body-onto-the-floor-in-writhing-pain sort of internal torture.
Like there's an evil shrunken bullfighter in your gut. Your insides are merely the bulls up for slaughter. But he must make a show of it in the arena that is your body. It's not enough to just run them through. He must persecute them first.
Today it was the intestines.
Most days you can't pinpoint which organ is the comatose bull, but today it's the lower intestines. It must be. Because you know you need to shit but that sadistic fuck in your belly has tied a rope around the bull's neck in his game of prolonging death.
Just as the thousand milligrams of acetaminophen and eight-hundred of Ibuprofen start to kick in, I lay there across the bed (which stinks of dog), waiting and reading a short story on my iPhone 7 because I didn't have time to grab my computer.
It's always: You have three seconds to get what you need and make it to the bed, otherwise you wind up stuck in whatever position or area of the house you first curled over in. And if you don't lay down, flat on your tummy, the pain sticks around three times as long.
(We refer to this laying down on the bed technique the 'Reset'.)
Then it hit me as I lay there, resetting my body and smothering the internal bullfighter with the sheer weight of myself: I wonder how long I can live like this.
Unable to bend, kneel, go outside, drink alcohol, use or even be within breathable air of most any man-made chemical or synthetic not naturally derived from plants.
Unable to exercise...
It can't be long, I'm sure.
I went onto one of the many online survey-type life expectancy tests—the one that looked the least janky.
How often do you drink?
I shouldn't but probably twice a month.
How much do you weigh?
Far, far too much.
What's your height?
Too short for my weight.
What's your lifestyle?
What's that? Is there an option for unwilling couch potato?
Of course, you're prompted to subscribe to something that won't actually do anything for you. Because that's what matters nowadays. Email.
Email is how you earn 'the real money'. Everything else is just an introduction to get you on an email list.
Wow. Much longer than I expected.
If I drank more, I could live another eight years.
Seventy-eight was longer than I'd expected, even at my healthiest. At this rate, I haven't decided if that's something to be excited about or something to dread.
I don't know how long I can live like this.
Although I write how I truly feel, I come across in person like everything is grand.
I don't do it on purpose. I'm not fake. I just don't want the people to pity me. I don't want the neighbors to know what's really happening to the woman down the street.
I don't want them to know that I envy the man at the end of the cul-de-sac who died a few years back, drunk in his neighbor's swimming pool.
I can't even touch the chlorinated water or drink the alcohol he did without breaking out in itchy hives, nor feel the sunlight on my flesh without blistering, causing the internal bullfighter to put on his audience-less show.
Oh, no. I'd die indoors. Where I always am now.
Sitting on the couch or laying on my bed, resetting, because that's the only position that doesn't hurt me.
Forty-eight more years of this would be cruel and unusual punishment.
'How's your business going?'
'Fine.' I hate it.
If only he knew her, then he'd understand.
'I wouldn't do it again, if that's what you mean,' I said, pulling my MacBook Pro closer to me atop the long work table in the mall.
What was she thinking?
They always end up letting you down.
I like being flawed. It gives me something to write about.
I let my kids examine my naked body yesterday.
There's no winning with blame.
Every time I think I'm getting better at this whole life thing, I do something wrong and set it back.
It was cold that day. Odd for Florida.
I gave twenty dollars to a woman on the side of the road today.
I like getting older.
There's something about with age and experience comes wisdom that's exhilarating.
The bad thing about family is you can never escape the past.
They remember everything.
I'll see this one through, I tell myself. I'll finish it.
After this, I'll put it to bed. After this, I'll move forward.
I'm the one who makes the show happen.
I was supposed to be an artist.
She asked me.
On her deathbed, she told me.
Something I learned as a visual artist and writer is that some of the best healing comes from expression.
There's something surreal about standing in front of a crowd of strangers—writers who all want the same thing.
At the end of the Writers In Paradise sessions, everyone got a chance to present a refined version of their submitted work, or a new story they were working on.
I was the only teenager at Writers in Paradise with Dennis Lehane, Sterling Watson and other well-known authors back in 2006.
I wake up to an alarm on the iPhone 7 I make payments on because all my older iPhones stop working properly whenever a new one comes out.
(I bought in, didn't I?)
I tried, but it just wasn't for me.
I love how my oldest daughter's friends come to the door to invite her out to play.
It's the third day since I made my decision.
In three days, I've learned more about myself than I have in the past three years.
Sometimes it just doesn't matter.
You can lay out your perfect, step-by-step roadmap, but when it comes down to it, you're never really prepared for anything.
It’s been 12 years since I expressed myself through writing—the one creative outlet that makes me truly happy. It’s going to be a messy, crazy ride, but one I need to take to be the whole person I want to be. Coming with me?