“I have bad news,” I told my friend earlier this week, “news that sounds bad but is really good, and actual good news. Which do you want to hear first?”
“I’ll take the bad news first,” she said. “Let’s get it over with.”
So I told her about Jitterbug. I didn’t cry, but I did find myself saying “I’m not going to cry,” several times. After several searches through the house, including heavy furniture in rooms that haven’t been used in months, I’m convinced she managed to get under the fence. There’s a hole in the far corner of the fence, a hole I’ve plugged with large chunks of broken concrete. The woods hosts many animals, dogs and cats and snakes and squirrels, and the dog likes to hold rather aggressive conversations with them. She prefers that they don’t enter her territory, but she’s not above digging through to theirs. Thus the rocks.
The wild thing, the gray, nearly tailless squatter, however, likes to push the rock through the bottom of the fence. She, who has been a climber since she was a wee thing, climbing the playpen in less than three minutes when I first brought her home, prefers to go under the fence when she returns from her adventures. She climbs to go wandering; she goes under to return.
I’m sure there’s a message there.
I didn’t think that Jitterbug could fit through the hole, but I noticed that, not only was the rocks missing, but that a bit of dirt had been dug out as well.
Plus, day five and no discernible smell in the house. So, there’s that.
My friend then asked for the news that sounds bad but is really good. I told her that my labs had come back, and it looked like I might have rheumatoid arthritis. The good part of this is that I have a starting point. Feeling like shit is in an actual diagnosis and unfortunately, while you can try all sorts of things to feel a little less like shit, it’s kind of a stab in the dark. Now I can find a specialist, do research, and adjust my lifestyle. I haven’t felt this hopeful in a very long time.
One of the best conversations I’ve ever had was with someone I didn’t particularly like. We talked about labels, and how people tend to use labels as a container rather than a starting point. Labels tend to be reductive, forcing everything but the label into a secondary (or worse) position.
Those gays like their pizza.
Labels, especially when we group people together under a common label, are not just boxes but prisons, only they imprison the labeler rather than the labeled.
“Those blacks,” Livia Soprano said when complaining about someone stealing her jewelry that she had most likely given away.
It doesn’t matter that those “gays” or “blacks” are parents, teachers, volunteers, blood donors, dog lovers, or even psychopaths and terrible, terrible people that has nothing to do with “gayness” or “blackness.”
I find it interesting that labels that are imposed by people who have power, even if they deny it, are what drives the narrative. I enjoy looking at all manner of power exchange, and how it affects personal relationships (primarily in fiction), and society as a whole.
But, as I am often wont to do, I digress.
That conversation helped me formulate what I thought about labels. My language changed. My syntax changed to match the focus. The way I used words changed. The way I defined people or objects changed.
Which, incidentally, changed the way I use active and passive voice.
That was a catalyst for a whole new perspective, in fact, a whole new vision. And now that I have some sort of possible diagnosis, it is merely a starting point and not an end point.
And that gives me hope.
The good news I told her, was that despite what was quite literally the worst weekend of my life, a four-day weekend no less, and the chaos of a missing cat, I was still writing. I knew Jitterbug didn’t have very much time left; she was old and senile, confused most of the time, and in otherwise declining health, and so I was pushing—in my slow and tedious manner—to finish the book. I was convinced that, when she died, I would no longer be able to finish her story. That in my grief, I would stick it on shelf or keep it on the laptop till it died and just not back it up, and let her story go untold. I thought I would lose heart for it, but instead I dived right back in.
I’m still learning how to use Dragon, but my word count has exploded, as has my creativity. I have a bazillion things I want to write about, and I’m taking notes. But Jitterbug’s story isn’t finished; in fact based on the premise, it has only begun.
It’s a fabulous Friday indeed.
“It’s not what they call you, but what you answer to.” – W.C. Fields