Yellow Leaves

I am looking out at the yellow leaves above my car. I am in pain today. Head pain. Sometimes back pain. Mostly head pain. And I am not alowed to take advil or aleve. Only Tylenol. Which I took about an hour ago and it did nothing, and so now I am having an internal debate about taking more because what the hell, my liver is shot anyway with all the medication I have been on for the last few years, so who cares if I have to filter Wal-Lynol through it just so I can stop feeling like my eyes are going to push through my sockets for a few brief hours.

I have had a headache for a few days now. I hate them. They make me moody and tired and foul and angry. My neck hurts, and I can just see all the fluid that is supposed to be cushioning my brain and my spine blocked up in my neck and I imagine that if I were to drink Draino that I would fix the clog that has caused this headache and I wouldn’t have to take so much Wal-Lynol, and have a debate about taking Vicodin after that and then have a debate about smoking weed after that. Because all I really want to do is make a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread and watch The Shining and then maybe finish the book I am reading, called The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time. But all of these plans seem so tiring that instead I am imagining the clog in my head, and my neck as the pipe they show in the old Draino commercials, and am willing the hair ball or the cat toy or whatever that’s stuck in there to just dissolve away.

Except what’s stuck in there is my brain, and nothing is going to fix is except a surgeon, and that’s two weeks away.

I go back to looking at the leaves outside. And I see the painting I started three weeks ago, which is a nice blue green color. It’s got a thick coat of acrylic paint on it. I like when paintings have thick paint on it. I got an urge to do it. Just like I got an urge to start a scarf, which is sitting under my bed right now, sometimes chewed upon by the puppy. Just like I got an urge to start sewing. I get all sorts of urges to do something artistic but then I remember how I am not creative or artistic so I have all sorts of half-finished projects all over the house, like abandoned children, reminding me of the under-developed parts of my ego.

I wish I were an artist, or a scientist, or a good cook, or an academic, or a vegan, or a an animal rights advocate. I wish I were something that had a clear label, something that boxed me in, in a certain way. Something that was defined, so that when people said my name, they thought of one thing that clearly meant, Me. But I’m amorphous. A cloud. A mist. A fog. I am undefined. The unknown quantity, X.

I keep thinking, I am having brain surgery. People “find” themselves after brain surgery. You always pick up People magazine, or Reader’s Digest, or hear on Dateline about the people who have recovered from some strange illness, or overcome immense odds, and then they climb Mt. Everest, or go on to found a charity. If they are a woman, they will help other women like them. Of course it is gendered. That is besides the point. The point is, people are supposed to have their head cut open and then do magical things. Like ride around on unicorns, or change water to wine. Maybe they will lose a thousand pounds, and resolve to live a life of salvation. They are transformed, humbled, never the same. This is what we expect from people who have lived through major illness. They are suddenly defined by their illness, and their subsequent non-illness.

But what if that does not happen to me? What if things just go on the same? When I get home, what if I am still looking at the same yellow leaves? What if I don’t get magically better, and I am a case that requires more brain surgery, a shunt in my back? What if I am not the miracle, and the unicorns don’t come, and the wine truly has run out at the party? What if I just am sick for good this time?

What then?

And what if I just don’t feel any different in my heart, and I don’t go on to lose a thousand pounds, live a reformed life, do anything any different, and all that’s changed is I have a big scar on my head and I’m not in pain? Will I be a disappointment? I feel a pressure to be something other than I am now. A mandatory shapeshifter. What if I don’t want to do that? What if I can’t? What if I want to look at the yellow leaves outside my window, because all I want is for things to be the same?

I don’t know what it means to be: That girl who had brain surgery. I don’t know if I want to know. Do I? I have struggled for definition my whole life, and now this? This is it? This will be THE thing that people remember me for? As the girl with the scar on her head and neck? What does that mean?

In the quietude of my apartment, yellow leaves falling madly while autumn marches on, I am forgetting those questions for this brief moment.



  1. me said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Oh, I see you have weed as an option already which I was going to ask you to consider but I don’t know much about serious illnesses like that.

    Where do I want to start?

    You might not think you’re very artistic or creative (which I can relate to) but reading this that you wrote was very moving to me. It made me feel a lot of things and my heart goes out to you. I enjoyed the way you wrote everything, I pictured it all and I’m sorry, but “Wal-Lynol” is a funny word (I realize it’s Wal*Mart brand of Tylenol).

    I haven’t read much else on here, I think this is the most recent one and I feel for you and enjoy what writing I have read thus far (I’m pretty sure I’ve read or commented on here, before). Anyway, sorry to ramble on and on, just wanted to say my thoughts and prayers are with you and enjoyed the read.

    Hope you feel better soon and look forward to more entries.

  2. thoughtracer said,

    October 21, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you.

  3. November 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Heya. It’s been a while since you posted*, i just wanted to make sure you were okay. So: You okay?

    * – okay, a month is not all that long, but IIRC, you were due to have brain pokeys and i wanted to see how you were doing after them.

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