Looking back, maybe I should have seen the signs. Here are a few selected tweets from the week prior to my stroke:
Right after warmup, I felt very dizzy and nauseated, so I lay down on the weight room floor for a few minutes…
Quite dizzy for no apparent reason, although the base of my skull is sore. Either attacked by ninjas or suffering a mild brain fever.
Perhaps really stiff neck & back muscles are cutting off the blood flow to my brain. GIVE ME A NECK MASSAGE, INTERNET. …damnit.
I seem less prone to vertigo today, though the base of my skull is still sore. Perhaps the brain fever has passed.
Am having completely irrational notions that I’m about to stroke out and suffer brain damage. But that might actually be good for me.
The base of my skull still hurts. Also: sleepy.
WHY MY HEAD STILL HURT???
Still dizzy. The base of my skull hurts, but only on the left side. Improvement?
At the hospital. It WAS a stroke.
My 80 year old aunt has cancer. She called dad (her brother) and said “I have cancer it’s malignant.” I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be her right now. There’s got to be shock. There’s got to be the feeling that for her, this is the end of everything.
Or maybe not. She’s a nun; she has faith and friends. But still it must be a devastating blow.
I’m terrible at empathy and am socially awkward under the best of circumstances. It seems awful to just call someone up and say “I’m so sorry to hear you have malignant cancer.” And yet surely it’s worse not to call at all.
To blow off steam, I cobbled together the following image. It’s based on Google’s actual search predictions.
I’ve never been the other woman
Just another woman
When neither of us was exactly what he wanted
This happens more often than I’d like
The fractals repeat themselves
The bridges burned,
scorched earth and smoking man
I’ll see them all again
And so I found myself asking the Twitterverse:
“Is it ok when a married man feels you up on several occasions? And you don’t want to be touched & didn’t invite it? And you know his wife?”
And qualifying that pathetic question with the further information: “But when [I] bring it up to [our] mutual ‘guy friends,’ they say things like, ‘Well, I can’t say I blame him’ and ‘He’s a good guy.’”
This sort of thing has happened to me more times than you’d think.
When you’re an employee at a company that distributes pornographic material, of course you’ve signed a document stating you won’t sue the company for exposure to political incorrectness. So you keep your head down. You’re a good sport. You take it like a man.
You study martial arts under an amazing martial arts master. He’s been known to tell male students that they shouldn’t buy the cow when they can get the milk for free. Also, he encourages drinking after black belt class, so things happen.
In dark corners, away from witnesses, you have been told the following:
- “I’ve always wanted to make love to an Asian chick.”
- “I just can’t control myself.”
- “I know you told me you didn’t want a relationship, but it feels like my clinical depression is coming back.”
- “You’re so smart.”
And then things happen. Or is it that you let them happen? You don’t make a fuss, because these are your friends; these are your coworkers; these are your brothers. You accept that while there is no excuse for their behavior, neither will there be retribution. You don’t want to be kicked out of the family. You don’t want to be a drag. You don’t want to ruin it for everyone else.
Sometimes, I’m not even involved. When one of the guys is obviously two-timing two of your female friends, but all your other female friends say “I want to believe the best. I want to believe the real him is the ‘good guy’ we see in class. He’s just confused.” But no one makes a move to say anything to the women involved. Because…why? They should know better?
There’s no good way to tell a woman that her husband has been pawing you. And not just tonight, and you suspect not just you. She will hate you forever.
But it’s the right thing to do.
Yesterday, I actually went to failure on both the back squat (at 100#) and the bench press (at 70#). By this I mean I actually collapsed under the bar during the last round of squats. (Hooray for those safety bar thingamajigs!)
The curious thing about the experience is that I wasn’t at all in pain and was taken entirely by surprise. I did rep #4 without incident, and then rep #5 completely took me down. I was just on the floor with no forewarning whatsoever. This happened to me once before when I was trying out Crossfit. There’s a threshold where adding just 5 more pounds to the squat load painlessly but inexorably forces me to the ground. I’m thinking it’s not muscle failure (there’s no real discomfort), but a function of neurological adaptation (or lack thereof).
Also, I somehow managed to accomplish all this collapsing so quietly that NOBODY noticed, not even the guy in front of the mirror FIVE FEET AWAY. Come on, guys. Throw me a bone here.
I’m solving that old equation: Exactly
How to undo
The geometry that holds us
The diagram takes
A cunning shape
Sharp to the touch,
A cat’s cradle tangled
A jangling mobile hanged
On a steel wire net
It’s an acrobatic trick,
Disarming this love
Trip one wire, and the shock
Will set the rest to humming
Vibrating our small constellation till it shatters
Holding my breath
I clip at your heartstrings
Hoping this whole thing doesn’t shake apart
If I’m subtle enough
To slip the knots
You may never notice me let go
Even now I can feel us
Casting off the vestigial
And without forethought
All the while attempting
A casual disregard
Life used to be a death sentence. Just ask any fifteen-year-old. They can’t imagine being thirty – they just don’t have the life experience. But now that I’m thirty-four-point-seven-five, I find I can’t really remember what it’s like to be fifteen. I’ve got notebooks, old diaries in which I sporadically penned (penned! with a ballpoint!) entries about the usual politics of adolescence, AP exams, glee club practice, dieting, awful sitcoms – those were the days of my life.
Take a giant step back, and it’s pretty much the same these days. Do the politics of humanity ever really change? I remember reading Douglas Coupland’s “Life After God,” in which the characters were all preoccupied with the bomb; that was how the end was going to come for them. My generation doesn’t concern itself with nukes (although they’re still very much out there), but with plagues and zombies. The images in Alan Weisman’s “The World without Us” are alternately heartbreaking and comforting. They always feel compelling and somehow right. It’s probably human nature to feel like we’re on the cusp of the end times. (Also, maybe I should stop reading books about plagues and zombies.) Like a fifteen-year-old, I have trouble imagining the future 10 or 20 years down the line. The center will not hold, or it will not hold steady. Empires do fall, yes, and history repeats itself. But how quickly? Would I have time to build a family, grow old, have grandchildren? The economic climate makes it increasingly unlikely that I could ever provide even the basic needs of food and shelter to anyone.
But, still. Whether the world ends with a bang or a whimper, tomorrow will be another day. So maybe I should get on with my life.