Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hard times

And I don't mean by Dickens either, I mean by me. Okay, so I didn't write a story about hard times, but I did have hard times writing a story. What can you say that is positive about Alzheimer's? That your mother/father/brother/wife/fill in the blank no longer nags or yells or screams or jumps down your throat? That you enjoy changing adult diapers and taking care of bed sores when they become bed bound? That you don't mind waking up in the middle of the night scared out of your mind because the door is open and they're gone? That isn't not difficult and embarrassing and sad when you find them naked in the middle of the street?

It's hard remembering the good things when they come so few and far between and make them not only positive but uplifting and worth reading when you need something good to cling to in the midst of the hard times. It's even harder writing about them and not making them sound like Pollyanna on fairy dust and just as believable. I've thought about it, chased around ideas and images, and scribbled two or three thousand words without coming up with anything that moved me enough to write. I know, I should just keep writing until something finally gels, but it doesn't work like that for me. I read and research and play with images and words and ideas like puzzle pieces until I figure out how they go together. No wonder people think I'm odd when I talk to myself. They probably think I'm either someone with multiple personalities or used to live in a mental hospital before I was dumped on the streets. I don't care. It works -- or rather lately hasn't worked -- for me . . . until today.

I had a few hours left before the deadline and I really wanted to see this story published, so I started writing, using my notes and scribbles, arranging and rearranging sections, adding bits I had forgotten and some that still stand out clearly in my mind. I already had the title, The Bed; all I needed was to pull it all together, and writing like this isn't as easy as putting together an article from interviews and research and a ton of reading when all I need to do is pull the right thread so it all falls into place. I was still editing and rearranging and spell checking right up to the deadline, then I held my breath -- for two hours, figuratively no literally. I'm good, but not that good.

The word just came. I made it just in time and a decision would be made by November 1st. Suddenly, it's not such a long time to wait, almost two weeks. I have things to do in the meantime, but this story is written and off my list. I have another story to write for Chicken Soup for the Runner's Soul and I know what I want to say but not quite how to say it. I'll get there. I usually do. Then there are stories about suicide and relationships and monsters and so many others, some of which are already giving me trouble. Like, what can you write about monsters that hasn't already been done to death and doesn't involve romanticizing?

I sat down last night and listed all the things that scare me, but it's a really short list. My life has been full of things that one time frightened me but have been faced and I'm no longer scared. Most anything can be -- and has been -- dealt with and I'm still here. They've lost their power over my imagination and my life. I can imagine a lot but when you've faced what I have, nebulous fears seem so . . . nebulous. One thing that doesn't scare me is running out of words or ideas, and I am not really afraid of not being able to write or even capturing them in some way. Some may never see the light of day beyond my journals and others . . . well, that's what blogs are for.

One thing I know for sure is that we make our own hard times and we can unmake them, shine the light into the closet and under the bed, face down the bullies, and heal from nearly fatal wounds. Nothing is impossible, not even finding something positive in living with Alzheimer's disease.

That is all. Disperse.

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