Thursday, June 9, 2011

The provocation of poison ivy

I am loving taking Valley Haggard's class, Creative Non-Fiction.  In it, we read a few pages which she has carefully selected, then she gives us a prompt and we're on our own to write for ten minutes.  Then we read outloud what we've written to the other students.  Valley then fills our heads with how wonderful our writing is, and we begin the cycle again.  She is incredibly gifted at finding whatever morsels of genius might be found in those 10 minutes of free writing and helping us see their beauty.  What a gift she gives us each time!

When we arrive at class, the first free write always begins, "Right now..."  It gives us the opportunity to arrive and to become present to the class.  And to discharge whatever distress we may have brought into the classroom with us.  It's a brilliant way to start and is very helpful for getting to more interesting stuff afterwards.

Here's what I wrote last week.  The class suggested I share it on my blog, so here goes!

Right now I'm aware I've been writing since 5 AM and don't know what more I have to say.  I feel pretty clear and calm.  I guess I could describe the feeling of waking up at 5:03 AM scratching myself almost to the point of bleeding until the burn is stronger than the pleasure.  Then I could write about the remorse as the burn remains and the urge to scratch remains and the desire to scratch remains and the mind wakes into full consciousness to deal with the disparity between comfort and desire, unclear which is which.  Desire to scratch and feel that pleasure, comfort in the release of the itch?  Desire to control myself so I experience the comfort of no pain/ less pain? - the itch still wants to be scratched.  Tiny microcosmic pins inside the dry scaly red patch on my arm beg to be satisfied.  Peaks of dried pus on my knee, flea-sized, beg to be picked and released, scratched and freed.

This is so gross to write about - these people are going to think I'm a walking mess of painful and gross physical symptoms - I feel that way too these days.  AND I guess it's allowing me to explore another aspect of women's body image - how to love, appreciate and accept my body fully when it's offering me challenges like debilitating headaches, rashes and obsessively demanding poison ivy?  I worry I'll have something else crop up before the filming next week and I'll end up looking like Job times three.  Thank goodness my message is about loving and accepting our body no matter what - what an opportunity to practice.  No vanity is possible without great humiliation when my inner left arm is red and bumpy from three inches above my elbow to my wrist where the red patch ends in tiny little flea bit sized bumps, ready to burst at the slightest provocation.  Better not point to anything with that arm.


More entries to follow.  (The rest don't contain quite such graphic descriptions!)

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