the whistle has blown. the tape has fallen. and we're off.
into the final portion of this marathon run towards another transplant. and as this run downgrades to a jog, then a walk, then a limp, we now move into the crawling portion of our program...
ladies and gentlemen, in fabulous technicolor: "end stage renal failure" , sponsored by: "cell cept, cyclosporine, prednisone, propranolol, norvasc, nortriptyline, zanaflex, lexapro"...
[well, you get the point]
today is canadian thanksgiving. apparently we feel the need to celebrate our holocaust of the natives on different days; but that's a diatribe for another time.
[yeah, i'm feeling saucy tonight]
although, i don't pigeonhole my identity as canadian, american, danish or latvian...somehow peer pressure pervades and on this day, i am coerced into reflection.
"what am i am thankful for?"...hmmmm...
yesterday, through the looking glass, the above images were unrecognizable unto myself.
[down the rabbit hole, indeed..."drink me"."eat me".]
like alice, from moment to moment i grow, then shrink. she was bored, looking for adventure. but i wasn't bored, now left with no adventure.
save an odyssey i'd rather not undertake.
those images vaporize my self-esteem.
[do i really look like that?]
usually a lean 115, i weighed in at 127.8 lbs /15% body fat /bp 145/95.
but, vanity's no longer invited to the table. health prevails as master of ceremonies, but he's flailing.
bloat. discomfort. irritation. pain. engorged tissues that can't release. a clogged system beyond repair. forget the drano. don't call the plumber. and lasix ain't working, babe...
[la, la, la, la...dialysis...la, la, la, la]
none of my clothes fit. i mean, none of them. i can't squat because gravity drags unfiltered fluid down to my ankles, up through my calves and throughout this exhausted shell. my skin so tightly stretched across this bloated frame, explosion seems imminent.
[los angeles, we have a problem...]
so, i'm not exactly in the mood to be all dewed-eyed and mushy about all of life's blessings.
ah. but then life throws you a curve ball.
from jerusalem via tel aviv came a ray of light.
["faster than the speeding light, she's flying"...]
you know, i don't miss being an actor. i miss being creative, which is why i write. and paint my house. and was a makeup artist for as long as possible. but i don't miss being an actor. especially in hollywood.
many, too many, moons ago my friend, j, commented upon my future plans to move to l.a.
"i just don't see you there"...
instantly wounded and hyper sensitive as i was in my 20's, i took offense. but her reasoning was complimentary, if not enlightening.
"you're just too real for a place like that".
[isn't there some platitude about people knowing you better than you know yourself?]
there's a inauthenticity in this business; insidious, as it invades and spreads quietly and steadily like a fungus.
"you look 18. say you're not married. take your wedding ring off. lie about your age. wear no makeup. look young. pretend you just got here and haven't been struggling for years. schmooze. get new headshots. you need retouching. whiten your teeth. straighten your hair. workshops. work out more. take classes. you're not pretty enough. you're too pretty. fuck. off. fuck. off.
there is no artistic, emotional or psychological fulfillment in compromise.
breed art with business and your offspring is compromise.
when i look at my cousin, j's, painting, i feel his joy, his torment; his soul. no compromise.
and that's where i want to be.
so this weekend, while uberhubby piped artistic fulfillment throughout his lungs, i sat, legs elevated, alone, attempting to redefine it for myself.
my kidney is pooped. she's done and she can't keep up.
but, she's trying. so i will, too.
i can no longer be beholden to a philosophy; the unexpressed mandate that governs commercial artistry. i will no longer pretend to be something i am not.
so despite the eye rolling and deep sighs i am narcissistically convinced i evoke, i challenge with my own version of "survivor", the following...
take one week of your life. sleep 10-12 hours a night. include a 90 minute nap. you can't work. you can't exercise. you can't drive long distances. medical bills...side effects...food restrictions...
take away everything you love to do, then add 19 prescribed medications and a body you relate to in no way whatsoever.
[it sucks, right?]
it just plain sucks.
like modern art, my body is foreign to me now. at first glance, a canvas of chaos and confusion. but, in staring at j's work; i find the calm, vibrancy and beauty underneath the superficial violence.
and through my own effigy of disorder, i have evoked the same.
admissions of addiction, profound emotional connections and liberation.
liberated from a business i wasn't comfortable in from the beginning, and now liberated from myself.
i feel terrible. like elastic bands are twisted around every muscle of my body. tomorrow, i confer with dr. dauer over the anticipated increase in lasix. the reduction of nortriptyline to reduce my tremors. and what lies ahead.
[la, la, la...dialysis...la, la, la]
so i stare at this painting; enthralled. and i stare and stare at my body. foreign. strange. beautiful.
for there is beauty in authenticity. unretouched, raw, naked. that is where beauty lies. not in the retouched neck of "sex and the city"'s sjp. or on the glossy covers of magazines. or in any idea of what it should be.
beauty lies in acceptance of what is.
and what i am now is swollen. uncomfortable. scared.
there is beauty in my triple chin. my swollen feet. my distended stomach. my high blood pressure. and my sweet prednisone mustache.
because it's all authentically mine.
so, this thanksgiving, i might have something to be grateful for after all:
my husband steading my tremoring hand as i ate my soup tonight.
the medications that labor to keep my kidney alive.
and the fact that i still have the opportunity to try.