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January 13, 2013

on my feet, trying to find the joke.

for the past two weeks i've had no less than five saved blog posts sitting in here. sickness hit right after christmas. then it left. my final quarter of graduate school started. and the sickness came back. with a vengeance. 

"you have both strains of the flu. i've never seen that."

never what you want to hear from your doctor.

i'm at about 93% now and i stopped being contagious on friday. i feel so much better than i did just a few days ago. im thankful for expensive miracle medicine, dayquil, vicks, cough drops, hot tea, mrs. grass soup, the west wing on netflix, and the wonderful people who've been taking care of me. 

as i sit here with coffee and the new issue of oprah i came across an essay by veronica chambers titled, there's a joke in there somewhere. there isn't a link available online, but i encourage you to go to your local walgreen's/cvs/barnes & noble, turn to page 120, and read it.

chambers writes about getting sick with organ failure after giving birth to a sick/underweight daughter. she writes about losing her youngest brother in a car accident. she writes about getting a phone call from her chaplain to inform her her husband had been the victim of a hit-and-run. 

she responds, "are you f-ing kidding me?" 

i love the honesty of that response. to her chaplain. honesty and anger and fragility. and humanness.

she writes about her husband's approach to everything: jokes. 

we laughed every day, and despite all that we had endured, i was happy. 

it's important to try and find the jokes in things. like your boyfriend calling you "patient zero." or your doctor needing to stick a cotton swab up your nose a second time because you flinched and freaked out the first.

and you start to cry and laugh at the same time and as you apologize to her you say, "there has got to be a better way to do that test. i'm sorry. i've felt so shitty lately." 

and your doctor says, "i know." and puts her hand on your leg.

we're in a lot of trouble if we forget how to laugh at things.

i am not comparing my past year to that of ms. chambers. no one deserves that much pain. pain happens. it's unavoidable. it's our response to the pain that matters. 

she described that year as "soul-sucking." i will borrow that expression. so much good has visited me this past year. but my soul is tired and it feels a bit cracked in spots. 

i feel those cracks slowly, sitting-at-a-stopped-train-while-you-continue-to-peer-down-the-tracks-slowly sealing themselves. 

i was supposed to meet with jim on thursday. still being contagious we spoke on the phone. we talked for forty minutes and like clockwork i felt better after we spoke.  

"you've got to take care of your body to take care of your spirit."

it's funny how easy it is to forget these things.

"get well and go from there."

so here i am, at the start of a new year, once again getting back on my feet, trying to remember to laugh.

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