Self care

The exam room’s white ceiling offered up a future in disconnected constellations; the ceiling’s many dots connect and form nothing, and the adhesive is cold to the touch. I wince each time the nurse applies an electrode to my body—one each for my legs and arms, and four along the left side of my torso—because they’re cold and I’m apprehensive, silent. Right, the future, yes—some distant time from now, a handful of decades, if I’m lucky, I’ll be in this exact same position: On my back, splayed on hygienic paper, as the good doctor’s EKG will just be an app on a phone, or some other device, a wand maybe, waved over my heart.

The exam room is hardly different from all the other exam rooms I’ve frequented, on occasion, during my life. The cold air from the ventilation above is anathema to the human need for warmth, of which there is little here, like all exam rooms. The nurse smiles as a matter of business, and I consider her no more a friend than the talkative ride-sharing driver angling for tips, except she’s not looking for me to give her anything, but rather keep some things to myself. Complaints, for starters. Or demands. Needs. I save these for the stranger doctor, though I doubt even she could warm this room. There’s nothing to read here except my copy of Negroland and my undisturbed iPhone.


“She comes to feel that her life has gone wrong. Some of this is the usual thwarted ambition—she’s good, quite good, at her profession. She should have been outstanding. She is, by some measures, but she’s not phenomenal. She knows she’s privileged to be a writer. She should love what she does. But she doesn’t. Much of the time she convinces herself that she hates writing and therefore feels hate toward it.”

I dog-ear the page as the nurse summons me from the waiting room.

I’m thoroughly disgusted by computer keyboards—such an odd thing to think while on my back, the EKG silently measuring my heartbeats in space and time, the peaks and valleys captured digitally then printed. The thought of sitting in front of a computer to write upsets me. It’s stupid I know, but the computer feels so clunky, and the mobile so light and stupid, so stupid, I let it get this far, let the fat pile up on my bones, allow the mass of me to gather around my heart, or at least that is what I imagine. The nurse asks me to make a fist for the needle. She fills two vials.

I tried writing all weekend but the words were stupid in the way bad writing positions each word incorrectly, each idea posited a foolish attempt to arrest shadows. “Attempting to put my most hidden and subtle sensation into sentences—and disobeying my strict need for truthfulness,” wrote Lispector. I got some words down though, a page or two, dull writing. I spoke to my father on the phone on Saturday, an irritating conversation, and Sunday I spent the day thinking, but not writing, about Frank Ocean.

I adore Blond(e). I want to write the adoration. The actual feeling of listening to “Seigfried.” I don’t want to frame the adoration within a narrative, and I don’t want to prove the adoration exists by attaching it to other examples of personal adoration, or raw information, and I don’t want to yell at you. I want the sensation of Blond(e) to appear in my words, not the truthfulness. I’m playful with the doctor as she reads me the reading from the EKG, reading me down, the read is heard but ignored until I’m outside the building, holding paperwork I wish I didn’t have to read.