I should be upset, but when I think about it, I’m pretty fucking happy…mostly

I haven’t been blogging much lately because a little over a month ago I was in the hospital with an intestinal bug.  The symptoms were akin to (and may very well have been) an E-Coli 0157-H7 infection.  They didn’t bother taking a sample of my uh… well, you know… so they don’t know for certain what it was.  Suffice to say it was super horrible and gross and I was in the E.R. for 13 hours.  It took a week before I was able to walk around without being bent over, and two weeks before I was vaguely close to normal again.

Last Thursday, I started coughing.  And coughing and coughing.  And suddenly my throat is on fire.  Friday morning I woke up with a sinus infection–a really bad one.  Are you kidding me, life?  What the hell.  Oh and P.S. this infection has triggered two migraines so far, one of which I’m getting over right now.  I have a job.  It’d be nice if I could keep it.

Okay I am upset.  I feel a little targeted by the fates lately.  I just want to go to work, clean my house, cook meals, play pinball, and go to fun places in the East Village in peace without my body incessantly fucking me.  Stop FUCKING me!

On the other hand I really can’t deny that I feel strangely happy when I think about those same things.  I know the sinus infection will go away and I will enjoy my everyday activities more when it’s over.  When I was over the intestinal bug I was so much happier, really enjoying things, even cleaning.  Who ENJOYS cleaning other than maybe someone with mild OCD, where it doesn’t interfere with their life?

This is a hidden benefit of having chronic illnesses, or in this particular case, just being some kind of magnet for illnesses.  You appreciate shit (sometimes literally) that other people do NOT appreciate.  They don’t even notice.  They drag their feet when it’s time to do chores, you get excited that you’re having a good day and grab a vacuum.  When it’s time to pick up something from the store, you’re happy and strangely proud to do it.  They complain about cooking a meal whereas you’re grateful you’re able to handle it today.

I think that’s how cooking went from being something of a chore to a genuine joy in my life.  When I cook, I take out a cutting board and my favorite knife, placing the necessary ingredients for the meal around me in a ritualistic way.  I enjoy looking at the ingredients because I took time to select the highest-quality items I could find.  I show my boyfriend particularly colorful vegetables or fruits and say, “Look, isn’t it marvelous?!”  I try to create a piece of edible art.  I take care in the cooking process and I try to present the finished meal in a beautiful way, because life is full of enough ugliness.  When the meal is over, if it was successful, I make certain to write down the recipe or write notes to myself in the recipe if it wasn’t mine so I can reproduce that experience in the future.  I also take pictures of things and throw them in a folder called “Food Porn”.  (Below is a pan-seared Alaskan sockeye salmon, steamed asparagus with fresh garlic, and brown rice with tarragon and cilantro)

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Never in a million years would I think I’d be the type of person to give a shit about that stuff.  Only a few years ago I would have rolled my eyes at myself.  Sometimes I think if present me met past me, present me would tell her to fuck herself for not appreciating what she had.  Unfortunately I don’t think telling someone to fuck themselves really opens their eyes to the ways they’re lucky in life.

I’ve said this before in a few different ways and I’ll say it again: Life sucks so much of the time.  It sucks and sucks and sucks.  Nonetheless there are things worth living for.  Loved ones, pinball, cupcakes, a perfectly prepared meal.  Whatever it is that floats your boat, hang onto it for dear life.

And I’ll tell you something else: I don’t think a person CAN really appreciate something–really, really appreciate it–unless they can’t have it or do it whenever they want.  I’m unlucky in health, but I’m only 29 and I know what the word gratitude means.  I think I learned that pretty early.

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