Storm Head

Zombie Attack by https://www.123rf.com/profile_ecadphoto

I know the storm is coming because our old dog, Fortinbras (named for the dog in my favorite childhood book, A Wrinkle in Time, and not directly after the Shakespeare character) is whimpering and pawing at me.

At his insistence, I wake up, and immediately I’m assaulted by a splitting headache and beg my husband to make it stop. “My head is going to explode, I say.” But the storm is already in full force – it crept up on us while we were sleeping. “Or implode,” I correct, because what I feel is immense pressure, as if someone is trying to crush me from above.

“Take your meds,” he says gently.

“They make me into a zombie,” I complain.

“Better zombie-wife than screaming-in-pain wife,” he counters. “Take. Your. Meds.”

I roll my eyes at him, but I sit up in the bed and twist, so I can reach the bottle of blue pills on the shelf of the headboard. They’re uncoated. They’re bitter. I hate the taste, the texture, the size. But I shake two of them into the palm of my hand and reach for the glass of lemon-water on my nightstand. It must be lemon water. Plain water makes me puke.

I screw my face into a horrible expression, but I swallow the pills.

Then I wait.

Outside our bedroom window, lightning sizzles and I can taste ozone. “That was close,” I observe.

“It’ll move away soon,” he says.

“Yeah.” The thunder rumbles, and I imagine it, embodied, as several cranky old men – traveling salesmen from the sixties – knocking on the door. “Sorry sirs,” I address the sound. “We’re not interested in vacuums or blenders today. Maybe next year. Or never.”

“You’re doing it again,” my husband says. He’s sitting up in bed now, too. “Talking to the thunder.”

“It’s trying to sell us stuff we don’t need,” I explain.

“O-kay.” His tone is half-way between merely dubious and maybe-my-wife-should-be-committed, but he puts his arm around me anyway.

“How long has it been?” I ask.

He has an almost supernatural sense of time.  He doesn’t even have to look at his phone to tell me, “Ten minutes.”

The pills take thirty to work. I rest my head against his shoulder, let my right hand fall to his thigh. I reach across my body with my left hand and place it over his heart. The steady beat, the darkened bedroom, his arm around me… these things ground me.

When the lightning flashes again, it’s less bright, further away.

“How long?” I ask again.

“Twenty-five minutes.”

I close my eyes and count to sixty once, twice, three, four, five times. And then I feel it: the bubble inside my head pops and the pain and tension are gone.

The thunder makes another attempt at rumbling, but it’s barely a murmur.

As the storm abates, so does my ability to be awake or lucid. I slide back into the bed, and turn on scoot backwards, into my husband’s embrace. “Sit in your chair,” he says, meaning that I’m supposed to nest myself within the curve of his arms and bend of his legs. “Sleep. I’ll keep you safe.”

But what he really means is, that he’ll keep the animals safe, because while the pills soothe my aching head and send the storms away, the zombie part isn’t entirely an exaggeration. The last time this happened, I ate the neighbor’s cat when it jumped our fence.

I was picking calico fur out of my teeth for days.

“Remember when I used to love storms?” I ask softly. “Remember when they happened because of normal climate patterns, and not because my brain is wonky?”

“You’re obsessing,” he says. “Clear your mind. Go to sleep.”

And I do, but my dreams are nightmare memories of the dengue fever I caught after our summer planting trees in Costa Rica. The doctors and chemists and virologists and entomologists had no idea what I’d eaten, what had bitten me. They only knew that when the fever left me, I’d been altered.

The symptoms developed slowly: the nausea-inducing migraines, the storms that always seemed to come whenever my head hurt, the craving for hot animal flesh and blood when the medication that stopped the pain and storms finally took hold.

Other people talked about their migraine medication as making them into zombies… but for me, it wasn’t an exaggeration. It was a harsh reality.

 

 

DDoP: Pictophone

Originally written: June, 2008
Inspiration word: Pictophone
Inspired by: Clay Robeson

Random sentences inspiring even more random drawings, which lead to other sentences, or just the connection between word and image in the slideshow of our own brains? Which is more real? More creative?

The answer? Both. And neither. To see a picture and be inspired is magic whether you share the results or not. To find a poem in a photograph, a novel in a portrait, a scandalous love story in the naturally occurring vignette of two people in the park…this is what the creative spark provides.

Whether with verbal pointillism or a game of pictophone, we connect the dots.

Listen: Bathtub Mermaid: Pictophone

DDoP: Polyurethane

Transcript of yesterday’s entry for The Dog Days of Podcasting. Transcript may not match final recording.

Listen to the episode at The Bathtub Mermaid.

PolyurethaneThe first time I heard the word “polyurethane” I was nine years old, and begging my mother for new roller-skates – the kind that have the smooth wheels like the rental skates at the rink. It must have been around my birthday, or maybe Christmas.

Shortly afterward, I received a pair of roller-skates with white leather booties sporting blue stripes, and happy reddish-pinkish polyurethane wheels.

Every day after school, every Saturday after the usual cartoon hour (which I never watched), I would walk sideways down the three floors from our condo to the ground, holding onto the rail so I wouldn’t roll off the edge of a step. My daring friends and I would skate in the local park, racing down the steep hill and across the low bridge over the creek, and then up the gentle slope on the other side.

We never missed the sharp turn onto the bridge, or went careening off the unprotected edge, but sometimes we almost did.

Sometimes I think we secretly wanted to.

The most recent occurrence of the word “polyurethane” in my life was earlier today, when our hired contractors sanded our kitchen cabinets and painted them with a coating of the stuff.

I’m convinced the fumes have made me slightly high.

I’m also convinced nothing was as awesome as being nine years old, and roller-skating down a steep hill and across a bridge.

Polyurethane…it’s everywhere.

Fall in Love

couple-with-heart-smiling_by_laskvv-via-istockphoto

An excerpt from a letter to a friend’s daughter:

Fourth, fall in love. Fall in love hard. And often. Enjoy it, because love – real love – is messy and exciting and kinda scary. But don’t get married. At least, don’t get married until you’re over 25, have seen Europe, have lived on your own for at least a year, and have experienced at least one TRULY TRAGIC love affair.

You can hear the whole letter, and a wee bit more in today’s entry for the Dog Days of Podcasting.

Link: DDoP #16 – Unsolicited Advice.

Dog Days of Podcasting: Steeping

Steeping

I wrote a cafe vignette called “Steeping” yesterday, and recorded it for today’s entry into the Dog Days of Podcasting project.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I can’t believe you lingered here long enough to let espresso go cold, as busy as it is in here today,” Sarah ventured once they were alone again.

“I was working on a poem,” David confessed.

“I had no idea you were a poet. Are you published? Can I read your stuff?”
“I am, when I’m not wearing bike pants and delivering documents around town,” David answered, taking each of her questions in order. “I’ve published a couple pieces here and there,” he continued. “And as to reading it…the stuff I’m working on right now needs to steep a bit.”

“Poems steep?”

“Just like tea,” David said.

You can listen to the whole piece at SoundCloud or click play in the applet below:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/107408428″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Dog Days of Podcasting

Dog Days of Podcasting: Strawberry

Dog Days of Podcasting

Today’s almost-daily podcast offering is a very, very old vignette from the vaults, “Strawberry,” that was inspired by a father and daughter who used to come in to the cafe where I worked when I was 18 and 19 years old.

You can listen to it on SoundCloud or play it in the applet below:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/106444422″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Dog Days of Podcasting: Listen

Dog Days of Podcasting

Tonight’s entry into the Dog Days of Podcasting project is another piece from the vaults (I plead continued migraine!), this time from the autumn of 2007.

Those folks who used to frequent CafeWriting may recognize the piece – it’s an unofficial prequel to the super-secret project I’m working on. Another cafe vignette.

Enjoy it at the SoundCloud website, or in the applet below.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/105642032″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]