Ordinarily, I'd look back on a day like today and feel bad for not getting more stuff done. Productivity is how I define who I am.
I do, therefore I am.
But today started with a cough that was so powerful I thought I might crack a rib. It was time to get this checked out... I have been sick for a week and a half. Some days I feel better, some days I feel worse. At 4:00 in the morning, when I took the average of the last week, I realized that I felt pretty darn bad every day: losing sleep from coughing, not wanting to go to the gym, and not feeling motivated to make or keep plans with friends. Definitely not Normal.
So I dragged myself to Urgent Care (but not until after I made a half-hearted attempt to meet with Amy, my trainer at the gym... and also scored well above average in number of sit ups in a minute. Hooray). Dr. Patel said I have bronchitis and gave me some antibiotics so I'll be better in a few days. I go into surgery for my tonsils in a week and two days, so I don't want to be coughing up a lung all over the place and dislodging my throat scabs.
Mmmm. Tasty throat scabs.
Speaking of miracle, I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which was completely heartbreaking and totally amazing. It's the wrong movie to watch when you're not feeling well... but actually, I can't think of a very good time to watch it anyway, so I guess when you're sick is about as good a time as any.
It's the true story of a guy who has a massive stroke and is paralized completely, except for a single eyeball. He dictates an entire book just by blinking his eye. He tells his whole experience of the new, still world. Since he is paralized, he must be bathed and cared for as a vegetable. It's hard to watch, but it's beautiful because he decides to embrace the world that he can see through that one eye. He lives a very active imaginary life, even as his real life is confined to the dull routine of a hospital.
If you told me what the movie was about, I don't think I would have ever watched it. It sounds depressing. It is depressing. But it's beautiful in the way that seeing human spirit triumph over horrible situations is beautiful. You hate the horrible situation, but ... I guess you can't really hate the horrible situation.
Typing that reminds me of Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina blew one of my favorite friends into my life: Miranda Robbins. Miranda lived in New Orleans before Katrina. She was going to University of Louisiana, New Orleans studying geology and minerology. When Katrina hit, she was evacuated.
At this same time, I was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was at the middle of the rise of the real estate boom, so I was there to buy a fourplex to make rental income (later, I would discover I am not a good landlord and hate owning property, but that's a different story). Having purchased this fantastic fourplex and fallen in love with a boy from Oakland, I was preparing to leave Albuquerque.
I posted an ad in Craigslist and this is how Miranda, with no references except friends (all the work she had done in New Orleans was washed away), showed up to rent my charming one bedroom.
We instantly hit it off. I really loved her at once, and she also really loved me at once. It was like introducing a creative spark to two tins of gasoline. She would send me CDs and even enclose her rent checks in eyeball-covered envelopes which she drew herself. I would write her long letters. She sent me a care package of assorted items. I sent her a package of things I had found around Oakland.
For years, we have continued our correspondance. She moved to New Orleans and I visited. She moved to Oakand and we kind of lost touch... Now, she lives in Inverness and is studying sculpture and I live in Los Angeles working as a Product Manager. I think our relationship is best in letters. We both think best in a nonverbal medium, I think. Even now, there's an unsent postcard to her sitting next to me on the bookshelf. I'll send it Monday.
And if it had not been for Miranda, I wouldn't have gone to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and met Paulie and Prost. Who knows what will come of that, if anything? Also, I wouldn't have gotten bronchitis and therefore would not be writing this post right this very minute.
Truly, the mind boggles.
Every chance meeting... it reminds me of that movie Sliding Doors (1998). I know it's just a dumb Gwynyth Paltrow movie, but it has stuck with me all these years. So many places that you happen to be just by a second lost or gained here or there. Just by a passing chance. And you meet someone who completely changes the trajectory of your life. But why? How? And how many chance meetings are we missing every day? If I had gone to the fabric district today instead of staying home, would I have met someone who had left Japan because of the earthquake and subsequent nuclear scare?* How many people are making connections around the world -- life-changing connections -- because of this disaster?
Out of such horror, amazing things can come. Who can know what lines will intersect in the middle of such chaos?
On a similar note, I also watched Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is the Banksy film about a guy who is kind of making a movie about some street artists and who ends up becoming a street artist. I had heard that it was pretty crappy and boring, but I found it fascinating for the same reasons I've been going on and on about in the rest of this post: how some random intersections can cause huge changes in the trajectory of people's lives.
I loved the movie.
It also reminded me that once, I used to be creative. Before the whole street art thing, Art Criminal reminded me that we were out there doing posters. Yes, really. We went out and pasted up hundreds of bombs and dollar signs ($!) before street art was popular. I hadn't even really remembered that, but when he reminded me, I thought of how thrilling it was to paste up these papers in patterns. Because I was just using Kinkos, we had 8.5" x 11" pages that we just pasted over and over and over.
It wasn't art. I know it's fancy to say that this stuff is art, but it isn't. I'm not an artist (though the recent photo shoots have made me feel more like an artist than before).
And I guess that's what I loved about the movie. This Thierry guy doesn't set out to be an artist. He sets out to fulfill some OCD-driven need to film every damn thing. Once people start expecting an acutal outcome, things start kind of going sideways. People feel like he's a hack once he reveals that he's not professionally trained. But who the heck cares? I'll tell you who cares... REAL ARTISTS CARE. They care because it devalues their actual art. All that training and attention, only to be upstaged by a guy who has no formal training who is just playing around.
And on top of that, the film is made buy a guy who isn't a filmmaker, HE'S AN ACTUAL ARTIST. It seemed so meta. I couldn't help but love it.
So then where does that leave me? I have a ton of work to do tomorrow (we're in the middle of usability testing on our new redesigned website and I have to watch about 10 hours of videos and take notes), but I also am looking with an eye towards a creative project. I've been thinking we should get back taking photos, but my interest in going outside of the LA area declines as Diva's health declines. I can't see leaving the area while she's --well, I've got to be honest-- really facing the last year or two of her life.
Putting my life on hold for Diva may seem sad or crazy, but she's been the only consistent thing in my life outside of my family for 13 years. Places, friends, situations... all these have come and gone and still I have this companion. And now the companion can barely make it around the block without stumbling. But she still is enjoying herself and as long as she's happy to be alive, I'm happy to have her alive.
So all creative projects are local and will involved dog hair.
On that note, it's time for another cup of tea and a nap. See you on the other side of the codeine.
* Side note: my cousin, who lives in Tokyo, said that the radiation scare is far overblown in the US news.