This morning at 2:03 AM, my sixteen-year-old dog crouched on the pillow right next to my head – on the cotton-white colored pillowcase I just changed yesterday – and pooped out what very well might have been her small intestine.
I was already up, courtesy of the unstoppable motion she created as she walked in circles around the bed for the few minutes prior to the big event. I had been hoping that they were I-can’t-get-comfortable circles or perhaps I-need-a-little-cardio circles, but no. They were I’m-sorry-you-spent-a-great-deal-of-money-on-bedding-but-I-am-going-to-the-bathroom-right-here-and-now circles.
Jumping out of bed for any reason is not ideal, and for the reason I did a semi-hurdle in the dead of last night simply blew. But I did what I had to do: I changed sheets and gave nasty looks to my dog, which she pointedly ignored. And then, at exactly 3:03, with her continuing whimpers not abating in the slightest, I took her outside where she happily peed for a minute straight and I made it inside before I was abducted.
At 5:15, my alarm went off, blaring with a series of hellish beeps created by, I’m guessing, Satan or one of his offspring.
This is today.
Today I am in five-inch open-toed leather booties and no makeup except for mascara. I remembered to straighten my long hair, but I almost forgot to put on a bra and didn’t realize it until I was walking the dog yet again before work and I felt the cool air hit me and I thought, “The air feels so cold on my chest today,” and then I realized why.
I am wearing perfume but not lipstick. I don’t even know where any of my four hundred glosses, stains, plumpers, or lip pencils are. Rather than look, I’ll probably just go buy four hundred more, and all will be in the coffee/mocha color family.
When I couldn’t make myself fall back asleep earlier, I tried every strategy I could think of:
I counted sheep.
I counted the better-trained dogs I know.
I counted people I don’t care for in ascending order of how much I don’t like each.
I counted Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winners I could remember off the top of my head.
I counted the number of college recommendation letters I have to write before Wednesday, which just served to wake me up further, now with additional stress.
Words that were not designed for any recommendation letter swirled around my head. I find that I rarely think anymore purely for thinking’s sake. I think in terms of crafting sentences for my writing. I think of the piece that will bring me a total sense of pride. I place together and then rip apart the lines that bring me closer than ever to myself and to my goals, which have changed drastically in such a short amount of time.
Someone close to me tells me frequently that I’m incredibly talented. I believe this person when this is said to me, though I don’t necessarily believe everything else that’s said. See, I’m a lot of things, but stupid has not ever been one of them. By the time the stars settle across the black sky tonight, forgiving won’t be either.
On the way to work, I saw that the “Check Engine” light had flickered on again, despite the fact that I just got an inspection and paid $800 to fix every other thing that had befallen my vehicle at the exact same time. As I noticed the orange warning light, I bit down on the inside of my mouth in a way that caused me to inhale in sudden pain. My wisdom teeth are coming in. Between that and the “Check Engine” light, it’s just all far too symbolic for me to do anything but laugh shortly in a burst at a red light where a camera sways unsteadily in the early breeze of dawn.
This is today. It is not 7:00 AM yet.
East Street Radio is churning out Bruce’s folk stuff, and there are just some mornings when I can’t handle a banjo. I switch over to Hair Nation and catch the end of Estranged, the best song Guns N’ Roses ever wrote. It doesn’t even occur to me that I should be upset that I missed the beginning of the song.
I know that it’s just that kind of day.
The slight fever I have had for the last few days seems like it’s back and that it’s settled into the front of my head, the part that I think is used to make decisions. I decide this means that I should not decide anything, as I’m literally not in the right frame of mind. It seems enough just to get myself to work and walk up several flights of stairs to my classroom, which is so far away from the parking lot, the district should provide me with a Sherpa and a canteen.
In the past sixty hours, I have consumed one fat free Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds. I have the kind of body that can gain or lose weight quickly. Not eating much for three days has left me feeling awful – and looking fantastic. You can bounce a quarter off of my ass today, though I’d ask that you do so lightly, as I have a tendency to be so delicate that I bruise rather easily.
At some point I’ll start eating again. Right now, I guess I’m on strike.
In the last week, I have read four books, one right after the other. Two were by the author of Gone Girl – they were the ones that weren’t Gone Girl – one was the last book written diary-style by Joan Rivers, and the final one was the new autobiography by Lena Dunham. Strong women, all of them. Inspiring. Hilarious. Dark and deep.
And I’m pretty sure they all learned not to take shit from anyone and that, often, they also couldn't sleep through the night.
The words and the storylines of all of those books crashed through my head while I wasn’t sleeping at 4:17 AM. You are lucky, sometimes I thought I could hear myself whisper to other parts of myself in the background of my head, behind the exhaustion and the cold medicine, behind the feeling of not being surprised in the slightest that sometimes the same bullshit happens more than once in the life of a girl who trusts. Think about what you’ve read about in the last few days, I tell myself. Think about what you have never been through:
· You’ve never been sexually taken advantage of by anyone.
· You have never had a legitimate eating disorder that has lasted more than a day, recent starvation game aside.
· You have never really thought you couldn’t handle something.
· You have never had to accuse a family member of murder. (Fuck, those books by Gillian Flynn are twisted.)
· You have never been a cutter, an agoraphobic, a claustrophobic, sexually confused, a liar, a cheater, a racist, or fat.
If I couldn’t achieve slumber in those last hours of the darkness, at least I achieved comfort that nothing utterly horrible had ever befallen me.
What about the deaths you’ve endured, something far away from me asks. What about the fact that you are right back where you started?
Shut the fuck up, another part of me whispers, and the whisper is loud, and all of me listens because when you are overtired, stuffed with NyQuil, have to be at work pretending to inspire eighteen years olds in two hours, need to write seven recommendation letters, and your dog has just shit in your bed, it is not the time to make choices.
I am treading water. I have a brief moment where I fall asleep and I dream that I’m at a doctor’s office and I convince him to give me the heavy-duty flu medicine, which I snort right then and there. In my sleep, I feel better. When I wake up to the horrible sound of the alarm, the right side of my nose actually hurts.
And this, I realize with a feeling of dread, is today.