Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Email to Lumpy Becomes Today's Post

Early on, you asked how I kept from "becoming [my] disease." By now, you know that I did not have such success, and that the Exceptional People who do manage to project a persona of oblivion to true suffering are large suppurating pustules in need of drainage. They are Uncle Festers.

I divert.  Early on that meant a Frenchified tendency toward organized divertissements, especially if they shed light on how to become an Exceptional Person.  Later, and now, I devolved and now have a laser focus on diversion as entertainment, minutiae, and above all else, the tracing of how I got from Point A to Point Z during the course of a difficult stretch of time. 

I divert, via this process of provenance, during whatever I consider my "day time." 

During the remaining night time, I engage in diversion via memory exercises and listening intently to music.  I try to remember the details of every house, apartment, and room that I have lived in. Even reconstructing the formal nature of the previous three days' worth of waking provenance and the greater fun of Activities of Daily Living, in precise order and with as much sensory recall as may be mustered. Which clothes went in the washer? How many fake sugar packets sweetened my bedtime yogurt? Did Fred wake with Albert Einstein hair or was he more of a Helmet Head? Marmy frequently stumps the process, as I lose patience with her, and emotional fuck-ups upset the beautiful precision of recollection.

That's a good time, in the night, to switch to music. In perfect bookends to the day, Marmy fucks that up, too, as removing the earbuds from my ears and rerouting my attention to soothing her in the dark, listening to her odd "ack-ack" complaints until she purrs and settles her angular little body into whatever part of me hurts the worse -- as doing these things make immersion into song impossible. 

Sweet girl that she is, however, she knows there follows the only sleep I will get.

Let me show you the provenance adventure undertaken in the past hour, when I realized that more pain medication would not do the trick and that I was not physically able to conjure up another fish stew, made magic by the chaste use of tarragon and smoky hot paprika, as well as by the creation of eggplant croutons, nuggets of crunchy splendor.

I needed a new batch of books to read and am set on the idea of finally learning something about 20th century English and American novels.  The rich gift of 20th century American poetry still blesses me.

Casting about for guidance in choosing what great modern literature to read, and sensing that it's not a subject about which you can spare a rat's ass worth of interest right now, I hit upon the James Tail Black Memorial Prize.  Begun in 1919, it's a perfect source. The shortlisting is done by English graduate students at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and the final selection is made by "the" Professor of English Literature. No muss, no fuss, and not much money.

They do fiction and memoirs/biographies, but added a drama category out of the blue in 2012.

My first choice will be Padgett Powell's You & Me, simply because I was all set to purchase his first splash, Edisto.  

Everything in my writing, conversation, feeling, and thinking now derives from an obsession with provenance, and this obsession keeps me mostly sane. "How did I/you/the country/humanity get here from the last time I noticed myself/you/the country/humanity back over there?"  My provenance compulsion is limited in scope because it is easy enough to get lost in short leaps whereas the grand sweep of a linked history never comes successfully to fruition. The diseased body has too many occasions to insert itself into the narrative.

Tonight, I happened upon a NYTimes' article on Padgett Powell after stumbling over a strangely literate sports blog while reading around -- like a slut, really -- about something that might be called "extreme running," a lifestyle structured around events such as a "100-mile ultra marathon in the Wasatch mountains in Utah." In the middle of a well written paragraph about training, there was this mention of Powell, and a hyperlink to the Times review.

It seemed destined that I should take an oblique reference to a fairly famous USAmerican Southern writer as a serious recommendation, given the serious erudition of this blogger.  He does not, himself, live the life of running barefoot in the desert through long hot and cold nights.  No, he trains to serve his best friend, Louis, as an official "pacer" in the aforementioned 100-mile ultra marathon. Competitors are not allowed a pacer until mile 39, and are a much sought after team element, as it is hard to run in the dark alone, or to do the vertical challenges which apparently are mentally crushing there at the end of the race.

I now have many questions about pacers and ultrarunners. These questions will lead to other things, and tracking the provenance of whatever tomorrow's end goal after my first session of diversion will be rich fodder and helpful in transforming pain and self-pity into something else.  For instance, there is a haughtiness in the currently abstract and abrupt assertion that pacers, or even support teams, are not needed for 50k events. These people are clearly sneering at me, daring me to ask "but, why?" 

So in searching for finger holds and toe grips on the frustratingly vertical wall of this sport, I discovered a Southern writer to read, one Padgett Powell. In doing the always energizing down and dirty rapid strip down of the author, meaning a visit to Wikipedia, there it was, a mention of  the James Tail Black Memorial Prize, and Scotland.

And my eyes have given out, and my stomach hurts, and Marmy has tuned in to the night time.  My MP3 player is fully charged and lowfat plain yogurt yodels mine name from the fridge.  Fred is hunkered down in front of his desktop, and, besides, we said "good night, sleep well" hours ago.

Thus ends this bit of performance writing, undertaken by unearthing the provenance of one of your disarming, deflecting remarks, playing to my cloying ego: "I've always wondered how you kept from becoming your disease." 

I take that back.  It was a moment of sincerity on your part, which is why I've been relentlessly honest and boring in the performance of my answer.

I love you, as a good mother would tell her child, "to the moon and back." I am no one's mother, certainly not yours, but the phrase is apt.

Will let you know how it goes with You and Me or Edisto.  I am still able to read about an hour a day for pure pleasure, so long as there is yogurt.

Your sister

© 2013 L. Ryan

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