It’s been too long, readers. Far too long. And for that I apologize. I never intended to take such an extended hiatus. But life has a way of telling you that things aren’t as they should be. For the past 10 months, Life-With-a-Capital L has literally shoved me down and sat on top of me in an attempt to get my attention. (And I can say literally with complete impunity, because I fell in November, broke a bone in my foot, and it was the end of March before I was in a full and upright position.)
Turns out there was a reason for the delicacy of my metatarsal. I had primary hyperparathyroid disease, rendering me hypercalcemic. Lots of medical jargon, I know. Let me put it more simply: my excellent endocrine surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic removed two-and-one-half of my parathyroid glands during an operation on July 2 because there were tumors on them. (Thankfully, they were benign.) When bad things happen to good parathyroids, all hell breaks loose. Think of those tiny, rice-shaped glands as the traffic cops for the calcium in your body. When they break bad, they blow their little traffic-cop whistles to tell your system it needs more calcium, resulting in a widespread evacuation from your bones and a flood in your bloodstream, wreaking widespread havoc.
The extraordinary result of my surgery was evident in about a week. I soon had more energy than I knew what to do with. My aches and pains subsided. I could sit at my desk and concentrate, which is a good thing, because a writing deadline loomed. Which brings me to where I’m going.
When Life Hands You Lemons, Write.
I began writing in earnest while stuck in bed with my fracture, which seems like an excellent use of my situation. I started what I thought would be a memoir, but at some point during the process my reliable instincts told me that what I was really doing was writing fiction. I was also reading Dani Shapiro’s beautiful and wise memoir about the creative process, Still Writing, at the time. My instincts, like Life, had shoved me down (without breaking anything) and sat on top of me to get my attention. I listened, and then checked to see whether I could find a space in one of her workshops.
Shapiro’s fiction and memoir workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, was the one that I wanted—”Transforming Chaos into Art.” The class was full. I was first on the wait-list.
And then, in March, I got the phone call I was hoping for: a spot opened up for me. I was in! I secured my registration and located a place to stay. And then, in May, I discovered how sick I really was.
For weeks I worried about whether I’d be well enough to travel, and whether I’d have the energy to do the writing I needed to do.
And so, the surgery. And hence, during my recovery, the writing.
You can see why I wasn’t blogging.
I still won’t post as frequently as you’ve become accustomed to, but I hope you’ll understand that I’ve taken on a whale of a project, and I need to keep working away at my manuscript. I will check in when I can.
I leave early Saturday morning for Boston. A bus will take me to Hyannis, where a good friend will pick me up and take me to her home in Harwich for a visit. The next morning, she’ll drive me to Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod. That will be my home for a week. And there, at the beautiful Fine Arts Work Center, I’ll be sitting in a classroom for the first time in 23 years.
Given where I’ve been, I’m looking forward to where I’m going.