reading deprivation

I’m not allowed to read this week. I’m not supposed to read any books, newspapers, extraneous websites and emails — anything. It’s like someone told me to stop breathing. It’s part of The Artist’s Way and is supposed to, I guess, keep me from anesthetizing myself with other people’s words. I can just hear some of you snickering right now, but really, I haven’t read anything I’m not supposed to. Sort of. Okay, mostly. I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but words are just about everywhere. How can I not read them? Once you’ve learned to decode letters, life is never the same. You can’t just unlearn it. I know I’m overstating it, I get the point of the exercise, but it is driving me insane.

I’ve spent this weekend numbing my mind instead with a stupid computer game and trying not to cough up a lung. I had an invitation to dance this morning, but any sudden movement was met with a coughing fit, so it didn’t seem prudent. This cold is the kind of thing that made me worry that Jasmine would catch it in the Before world. I feel a little weird being careless with my germs now.

Tonight I was standing outside, waiting for the damned dog to pee, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a little flash of light. I turned my head and looked again, and there it was… a little green phosphorescent flash. A firefly. I breathed a little “oh” and immediately had tears in my eyes. Jasmine loved the fireflies. She had a little plastic bug box and every year she was out there in the twilight, hunkered down in the damp green grass, trapping fireflies. They’re kind of ugly up close, but that didn’t deter her. The first time she did it, she wanted to keep them inside. They’re so magic with their flashing little heinies and she wanted to keep a piece of that with her. I can relate. But reason prevailed and we convinced her that it wasn’t right to keep them boxed up inside and so she put the box outside and let them fly away. The metaphor is not lost on me.

I realized today that part of me is waiting for the joke to be revealed, for my cat-grace to save me and for all this unpleasantness to be a horrible mistake. I was standing in the kitchen when I had this realization and it slammed home almost audibly. I am waiting for someone to tell me that despite what I saw, despite what my head knows, Jasmine will be home soon. And she won’t. Ever. And I just want to cry, wail and gnash my teeth and I can’t, it won’t come. Maybe this is why I’ve been avoiding my artist date — that time alone I’m supposed to be spending every week. Time alone would invite this release, wouldn’t it? And boy, how scary is that? This huge tidal wave of emotion just waiting to crash down on me. I know it is inevitable, I know I will have to face it sooner or later. I hope it’s sooner. I really hate having it hanging there.

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