Cranky and Flummoxed

15 November 2001

The question that some people keep asking me compulsively and some people have avoided completely, since I broke my ribs, is, "How are you feeling?"

I've been grateful for that avoidance, for the most part, and if people ask constantly, I can say that I'm doing fine, because I can take it as verifying that I'm not going to fall over. Which I'm not, just now, so all is well, right?

Um, no. Not really. Not well at all, in fact. My mother warned me that I was going to continue to hurt, and that it would be hard, later in the healing process, to keep resting and treating myself well. She was right. It still hurts (a lot, in fact). And I can't comfortably lie on one side. I can lie on my front in this weird canted position where I'm putting more of my weight on the left than on the right. But I can't comfortably lie on my right side. This makes me almost as cranky as the pain does.

And that's the thing: I've been cranky lately. I've been a lot more argumentative than I usually would be -- not necessarily in a bad way. I haven't been making ad hominem attacks or anything like that. I've just had this low-level constant strain, and my choices are whining or arguing about unrelated topics. So I've chosen the latter. Mostly it's been okay. Every once in awhile, it hasn't.

I don't know how to make the strain go away. I'm taking my Advil like I'm supposed to, but there's only so much it can do. My ribs feel wrong, and my lungs are really susceptible to irritation right now. And then there's the rest of it.

Maybe some of you have gained or lost weight suddenly. Doesn't have to be that large an absolute number, evidently. It just has to be over a threshold of some sort. If you have, maybe you know what's coming here. I don't seem to know how to make my body feel like my body again. I know that it was officially in my Too Skinny range for awhile. I'm back into my normal range, but I'd like to gain a few more pounds before I level off.

Do you know what an idiot you can feel like, trying to gain weight? What kind of a fool can't gain weight? It's supposed to be the easy part. Nobody at all sympathizes with this. Maybe I should find a group of fifteen-year-old boys, and they can all sympathize with me. And do you know how deeply ingrained it is that this is not something you do? Even though I didn't believe I had to lose weight before, gaining weight is not What One Did, not on purpose. Plenty of time for that when I get pregnant, right? (Note to anybody who would be alarmed by that last sentence: not soon.) Well, no. Reasonably I know that I need to gain at least a little more weight, or I will be just as knocked over by the next virus that comes along as I was by the last one.

Problem is, now everything feels wrong. My subconscious recalibrated so that the I-feel-yucky skinny stage was the new norm, even though it felt awful. Now everything else feels big and weird. Consciously, I know that I'm in my own norm, that this is where I'm supposed to be. But convincing my subconscious of that is not the world's easiest thing. So I feel like my conscious and subconscious minds are playing tug-of-war with my body. And in the meantime, all the options feel wrong, and I don't know how to make it stop feeling wrong.

And this is why I'm glad when people don't ask how I'm feeling. It's much easier to deal with what I'm reading, or what I'm writing, or stuff like that. Yesterday I read Dorothy Sayers' The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club and Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. And I wondered why Calvino felt like Lem to me, wondered how they had coevolved in different pockets of Europe. See? Isn't that much nicer? Much less problematic than the rest. You can write wise words about surreal premises or affable detectives, if you feel like writing to me, when I write like that. You don't have to deal with insurmountable weirdness of the body. Everybody is happier. But the strain is still there.

Last night we tried Emeril's Kicked-Up French Toast. See, I think the problem with this and with the last Emeril recipe I followed is...well...I followed them. Silly M'ris! Cooking recipes are not for following! They're suggestions, and I know that. So next time I want French toast, I'll throw brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in the batter, and I'll dab a little cream cheese on before I pour on the syrup. The flavors were good. The texture not so much so.

And speaking of suggestions, I am flummoxed. Absolutely flummoxed. (How often do you get to be flummoxed? Not very.) I wrote to Jessie of Blueberry Hill on a novel-related topic, and in her response, she added that I can freeze bananas that have gone south until I have the proper number to make banana bread, or else until I feel like making banana bread. Good heavens. What a sensible idea. See what this journal thing is good for? It just left me flummoxed.

Which is much better than cranky, in case you were wondering.

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