The last few days, if not weeks, have taken me off track. Getting off track means going back and forth on Facebook or through email about this measles hysteria. Getting off track means taking seriously the threats and bullying remarks. Getting off track means listening to anything but my own heart and knowledge gained from experience. Getting off track means being interviewed by the mainstream press about this issue. I declined. Getting off track means taking myself too seriously.
Getting on track means writing both my story and a bit of fiction. It means writing in general, not responding or reacting. It also means caregiving -- lots and lots of caregiving -- to Sophie, to Henry and to Oliver. It means making money. I have two jobs -- contracts for ghostwriting a non-fiction book and for an advocacy project. I've got my Books & Bakes salon to run with two dates coming up -- February 13th and February 27th. I have to arrange all the logistics for my three-week Hedgebrook writing residency in late June -- a task that boggles the mind even more than the thought of taking my writing seriously enough to deserve such an honor.
Getting on track means wondering whether Bob Dylan's new album of Frank Sinatra covers is awesome or just really, really weird.
Getting on track means reading.
A Recovered Memory of Water
Sometimes when the mermaid's daughter
is in the bathroom
cleaning her teeth with a thick brush
and baking soda
she has the sense the room is filling
It starts at her feet and ankles
and slides further and further up
over her thighs and hips and waist.
In no time
it's up to her oxters.
She bends down into it to pick up
handtowels and washcloths and all such things
as are sodden with it.
They all look like seaweed --
like those long strands of kelp that used to be called
'mermaid-hair' or 'foxtail'.
Just as suddenly the water recedes
and in no time
the room's completely dry again.
A terrible sense of stress
is part and parcel of these emotions.
At the end of the day she has nothing else
to compare it to.
She doesn't have the vocabulary for any of it.
At her weekly therapy session
she has more than enough to be going with
just to describe this strange phenomenon
and to express it properly
to the psychiatrist.
She doesn't have the terminology
or any of the points of reference
or any word at all that would give the slightest suggestion
as to what water might be.
'A transparent liquid,' she says, doing as best she can.
'Right,' says the therapist, 'keep going.'
He coaxes and cajoles her towards word-making.
She has another run at it.
'A thin flow,' she calls it,
casting about gingerly in the midst of words.
'A shiny film. Dripping stuff. Something wet.'
Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, from The Fifty Minute Mermaid
translated by Paul Muldoon