12/26/02 Day Five of the

12/26/02

Day Five of the Post-Partum Mixed Agenda Control Freak-a-thon Road Trip

Kalona, IA

I could have been better company this Christmas, I freely admit that. Occasionally I lapse into a bit of non-Buddhism when it comes to family gatherings; I just like having everyone together. It seems important to me after the nerve-wracking year and a half we’ve had in America (and New York in particular) that we stick together when we can. But I know even that won’t quell my anxiety attacks for long, so I lapse into more solipsism and suddenly I’m trying to be present in a situation when I’m not even emotionally there.

All of which would be fine were it not for my extreme physical discomfort. Now, I’ve read other people’s blogs. Nothing is more boring than the daily litany of physical misery most others indulge in (you know, students at NYU talking about their sniffles, etc.), but I’ve been feeling crappy enough to earn my own little laundry list of shit going on in my body right now. If you’re not into it, stop reading now.

I mean it, stop.

Okay: First off, this 3-month-old flu has driven me right to the edge of my fucking sanity. It’s one thing to feel down for a fortnight, but it was summer the last time I felt totally healthy. The sheer amount of god-damned mucous I’ve created in the last 12 weeks, if converted to energy, could power a small midwestern town. My nose has been rubbed raw and I can’t even touch it anymore except I have to, because only sociopaths let snot run down their faces.

Thus I’ve been on three different antibiotics over the last few weeks, all of which take turns raking the hell out of my large intestine, making rest stops a thing of infinite displeasure.

And in a slightly unrelated body part, I have begun to suffer these jabbing, nightmarish pains in the lowest part of my right back too low to be more kidney stones, yet too internal to be a back muscle, it’s the kind of thing you could spend $4700 at a doctor to learn they don’t know what it is any more than you do. It feels like I’m being stabbed by a terrifying knife, spasming a muscle that is attached to my kidney. It doesn’t feel like a stone; the pain vanishes almost as quickly as it comes, leaving me all knee-buckled on the floor, having just dropped the dishes. it SUCKS. AND I JUST HAD ANOTHER ATTACK WHILE WRITING THAT SENTENCE.

*five minutes deep breathing*

As my body is pissing me off, let me just say for archivism’s sake that we spent the afternoon in Kalona, IA, which is a thriving Mennonite community. We bought great cheese, wool socks, dishware and spices from ladies in plain blue dresses and white lace headgear. There seemed to be no electricity in northern Kalona; at the general store, our total was tallied on a calculator powered by a 12-volt battery and heated by oil lamps fizzing from the ceiling. It was very comforting, being in that peaceful community with no wires or power (which makes it a perfect candidate for the town I’ll power with my mucous).

It’s a sparse landscape, cold and dusty, with horses trotting by with their buggies full of Mennonite farmers shuttling errands by the last light. There are parts of Iowa I love, the vast countryside stretching into infinities of fallow corn. Winters here are serious business, where generations have taught their children how to scratch their way until spring. It is not an easy place to live, and like New York, its difficulty keeps it razor-honest.

a farm in Kalona, IA fifteen minutes outside Iowa City – at sunset

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