Omg. I have been experiencing the most excruciating allergic reaction to getting tattooed! And it's been going on for two months, I couldn't figure out what was happening at first and then finally put it together a week or so ago. The quickie rundown is massive breakouts and dry patches on my face, hives everywhere (and I do mean everywhere), constant itching followed by dryness and a general feeling of non-well-being.
I have been unbelievably uncomfortable and feeling unattractive for quite a while. So for those of you in NYC that I usually spend time with, this is the reason you haven't seen me lately and I'm not taking anyone up on invites unless they're really important. I'm just laying low, taking benadryl, smearing myself with healing lotions, and waiting for it to pass. I'm so self-conscious at the moment that I can't relax into face-to-face conversations. But it is getting better and since the tattoo is finished for the time being I know it has to end at some point.
Also, I want to mention that I am very appreciative of the comments I receive on the blogs, it feels like a visit from friends, and I often think, "Oh, yay, Julie!" or whomever when I read them. And then I get lost in the day and don't contact directly, which is I guess part of the life that we all lead on the interweb. There's only so much time to type at the monitor. But I am very grateful for the contact and read everything written to me thoroughly, and if you are feeling unloved you're always welcome to email me and ask, "Wtf, Mary? Why haven't you written??"
So, down to it...
When Lila left her body I had a lightbulb moment (apologies for the Oprah reference) that feels worthy of sharing. It was such a peaceful passing that I was able to remain present in the moment and observe what was happening. Last time I lost a pet it was my dog Panda getting hit by a car, and that was such a screaming vortex of blood, guilt, sorrow and panic that I didn't have any space to process the actual process of death, if you know what I mean.
When the vet euthanizes your animal he or she first injects them with an anesthetic. In Lila's case she was already kind of out of it, although awake and aware. She screamed at him angrily when the needle went in, but then drifted pretty quickly into being completely stoned, and then further into unconsciousness. After the drugs have a chance to take effect, the vet then gives a second shot which is the killer (literally), and the effect is almost immediate.
So the interesting part of this situation is how different the two states are, even though the cat remained in exactly the same sleeping pose. One minute she was there and sleeping, the next we were petting an absolutely empty shell and as saddened as we were to never be able to touch her again after that day, it seemed pointless to stay in the room petting her lifeless body for too long.
Which leads me to the lightbulbing: At that moment I understood in a deeper way than before that we are not our bodies and are simply using them as vehicles. Which is not that new an idea, but I felt it throughout my being rather than only as an idea in my brain. It is so easy! Our souls are noodling around in various vehicles, some slick and fancy, some utilitarian and puttery, but all just vehicles, and all vehicles that we will step out of once they stop working.
A few nights later I visited some bartending friends (wearing 3 layers of makeup to mask the current delightful skin condition), and they were so busy and I am so antisocial at the moment that I had ample time to sit and and observe the crowd without conversating. As I watched everyone interact I thought about the choices that each one of us had made--clothing, hairstyle, job, friends, and yes, body and brain. It was so clear to me that we are just playing our roles of the moment and that we get so wound up in the parts that we're playing that we don't know how to step out and be amused by ourselves and our lives. We can't see our true selves in any sort of objective fashion because we're peering out from inside our bodies. And these bodies and lives are heavy trucks to drive at times.
So my question is, if this body/life is temporary, why am I taking it so fucking seriously all the time? Why am I not enjoying my (generally) healthy, attractive, intelligent state instead of stressing about my waist size or whether some dumb fuck at work doesn't understand my needs or desires? Why am I wasting one second feeling angry or stressed about bullshit when it's just a game that will end at some point? And the primary question is, why not just entertain myself with this game and try to make it as comfortable for myself and others while we're on the playing field together?
Obviously easier said than done. I still have to earn a living and suffer the occasional fool and not eat a pound of pasta per day. But it feels freeing to me, and I'd like to hang onto the feeling that I am a visitor and a co-conspirator with those around me. Try it next time you're in a crowd, I think you'll be surprised at how easily you can step out of yourself when observing others.