Tag: back pain

Howling at the moon

Right now, i feel like Godzilla.  i am stomping through-out my house, absolutely graceless, quivering with agony.

The dog must have eaten something particularly appalling, because he has been sick all day, taking out every blanket, towel, sheet and quilt covering every soft surface in the building. He even nailed one of the cats. If he weren’t still begging for food and acting ridiculously cheerful for one so gastrically challenged, i would be more worried.

Thankfully, i think he will make it through this prodigious mess.  For the past two hours, he has been content to sleep on yoga blankets on the floor.

As i watched him suffer today, i realized, i don’t think i am doing much better.  Most of the time, i force myself into this state of magical denial. All is well, my body loves me, i can do anything – and then, on the odd night, all the illusions are stripped away. No matter the power of distractions, i start to feel it. pileoartMy mind starts to list all the things that i have to do, projects on which i have fallen behind, all the price paid for my current situation. Between the physical discomfort and the psychological torment, i am reduced. What remains is the most brutal fundamental: i am suffering and right now, there is no miraculous solution.  i am stuck with this pain, with this frustration, with the sheets being slowly cleaned of various disgusting things, so i can’t even lay down and take what comfort that could bring.

Thwarted, i did what i do – i made art.  Now that my brain is coming back to itself, realigning after stopping the antidepressants, two qualities have returned to me: the need to create and the hatred for being idle.  No slack is given for feeling this desperately bad, other than to shift what work i would do.  Since i could not throw as i had planned – i started working on pen and ink drawings.  The stack above includes most of the poems and drawings of the past three days.

dieoflonelinessPoem after poem poured out of me.  Drawing after drawing.  i lost myself in the world of art, and delighted in it as long as my focus lasted.  For the past hour – between one and two am – the pain finally reached the stage where i could do nothing. i howled at the moon, absolutely impotent against this misery. But in the silence between breaths, i kept staring the pile o’ art i had made.  Tears of rage streaming down my face, i looked over some of my favorite poems from today. i was comforted.  One soothing thing in the middle of the boiling cauldron has been this recognition: i have finally become a champion of my art.  i love these poems.  The images are smooth and i find them lovely.

Even on a night like tonight, when i am shouting at the laundry for taking too long, when i am wild with distress, when i ranted at the moon about the injustice of these ridiculous burdens, i have made some beautiful things.

And, i am grateful, even in this agony.

Jesus and $10,000,000

movetomyheart  thisboldfiercemadness It started two days ago with a varmint. Something is in the wall upstairs and in order to make life easier on my tenant (for i am aware of how much sleep deprivation sucks,) i bought things to capture or smite said creature. Alas, yesterday i got home from the errand too late to do anything with the supplies.  However, i awoke with determination today.  Sadly, following the recommendation to put the trap in the basement (the most likely place the critter got in) meant i had to shovel a path to the basement door.

lovelostAnd that is when my back started to be unhappy. Three shifts between shoveling and then laying on a heating pad with one break to go to the bank and i was done. It took all my strength to get to the couch – going the extra four feet to the bed was out of the question. i realized i wasn’t going to be writing when i had left my pen on the table at the wrong end of the couch and could not get myself up to retrieve it. Back onto the heating pad i slumped, when almost immediately a neighbor called. The phone chasinglovewas just out of reach and my attempts at psychokinesis were still a disappointing fail. valentinesdancerMy cell phone (which cannot hold a call at home, but can text) was beside me, so i texted her – she said we could talk tomorrow – at which point the dogs went insane. Barking, growling, racing through the house, dancing.  “OHMYGOD!”  They kept barking “SOMEONEISHERE!”

i don’t care if someone is here, i texted to my neighbor and a friend with whom i was also messaging, it could be Jesus with $10,000,000 and i still can’t answer. i just can’t get up.

Don’t worry, came the response, Jesus would just shove what he could under the door and come back tomorrow.angelandspirit

dancewithspiriti found myself grateful for friends, for having a sense of humor when i can’t quite manage standing, for the snow that was coming so i wouldn’t feel guilty about going nowhere tomorrow so i can be gentle to my still screaming back. About an hour ago, i had to push myself to get the dishes done in case we lose power in the blizzard they keep predicting to hit.

Yet, physical complaints could not dent my joy. Today was a lovely day. i wound up getting a tremendous blessing. In the middle of this irritation, while moving from heating pad to cool, from prone to sitting up, i made some lovely art. It is Valentine’s day and i thought to make images of love – not love of a person specifically, for that is not my situation, but love in general, love that was lost but still lingers, dancing with Spirit, or alone, but filled with the rhythm of love. Even in this cobbling situation, i could at least draw dance. And that made me happy.

Just a reminder about yesterday’s blessings, if you missed it on my twitter, facebook, linkedin or Google+ feeds.  Any purchase ($10 or more) on my online store is 20% off with the coupon code HUZZAH! to celebrate getting credit card processing set up independent of paypal!  Woo Hoo!  If i got too mopey when i couldn’t sit up and draw, all i had to do was think about that… and huzzah! If you want one of today’s pen and inks before i get a chance to put them on the store, just email me at asha@ashafenn.com

Now i think i have the strength to make it to bed.

She survived!

10006958_10202718071224416_1017235673_nMy sculpture portraying the fires of endurance, survival and the amazing ability of clay – and people – to adapt survived the bisque firing! Huzzah!

After I lifted her out of the kiln, joy poured out of me.  Much singing and some dancing filled the space, although I had been cleaning the floors of the studio for a couple of hours already so that limited the physical manifestations of joy.

Cleaning the studio’s floors, for the record, is the absolute worst aspect of my job. Hands down, the biggest irritation of being a sole proprietor.  I literally cannot even pay someone to do it for me – I know this because I have tried very hard. Granted, all cleaning strikes me as somewhat tedious, but this task is extra special onerous.  Not just because it’s messy clay, you have to wet it down before you can use the wet vac to scrape it up (so dust won’t fly everywhere) but because of the pain bending and scrubbing stokes in my body. Mud is heavy to move.

photo 2
this was the “before” shot

All day was lost either to the actual cleaning, or laying on a heating pad to get my back limber enough to go back to cleaning.  No art was made.  The closest I got to making art was lifting the sculpture out of the kiln and seeing if she could stand on her own without assistance. (She could!  Yay!) Otherwise, no art.  Not even a poem managed to creep past my fingers.  Cleaning – heating pad – cleaning – heating pad. Much whimpering and complaining burbled from my lips. I felt vaguely jealous of the dog’s contented snores, floating down to me from the couch upstairs.  When a neighbor asked me for some tech support for her new computer, which I knew would take a few hours tonight, I nearly wept.  It meant I had a valid excuse to put off some of the cleaning until tomorrow.

But, alas, that means I have to clean tomorrow, too.  And, somehow, find the strength to glaze afterward so that lovely sculpture can be finished!

Oh, I shouldn’t whine.  My sculpture survived.  This battle with the studio floors shall fade into memory soon enough.  Honestly, if this is one of my biggest complaints, I live a charmed life.  I can deal with pain, having had a lot of practice with it – and once the floor is spotless, I get to corrupt it with clay again.


Last Saturday, I hurt my back.  For the past few days, I managed to either ignore the pain or work through it.  Unfortunately, denial did not endure forever.  Last night, I barely managed to function as a human being – I was reduced to tears loading the kiln – and today I have not wanted to push it too far. Standing in the studio, I looked at the filthy floor so desperately in need of cleaning, the list of things that need to be thrown immediately, the other kiln that needs to be loaded. I knew better than to attempt any of it, lest I be in this state for many more days. So, after I did what I absolutely had to – cleaning the work table for tonight’s event – I came upstairs to write.

As soon as I could coax my back into a more comfortable position, the world became a better place.  The book is treating me well, flowing quickly, and I am grateful.  The only catch has been my frustration over not doing what I feel like I should be doing. Shoulds and oughts can really ruin a moment if I let them. My sense of responsibility carries a vicious whip. This seems like a cheat, really, to be writing instead of throwing.  In a sense, this is a study in patience: I have to hold myself back so I will not make my pain worse.  On another level it feels totally hedonistic, because I want to keep going with this story.

Mostly, I’m grateful that my life is structured so that I can redirect my impulse to create into what I can do at a given moment.  I can sit on the couch and throw myself into poetry, this story, and the brainstorming that will become the next story.  I am blessed and joyous…  as long as I don’t try to lift anything terribly heavy, move sharply or stand for too long.