Some Stories are like Ringworm

I took a break from the internet (kinda) yesterday. I've had a rough week and I am the queen of compartmentalization. I told my brain that I was Fine but it turns out I was much closer to FINE (in the world where FINE stands for Fucking Insecure Needy and Emotional). So after two rough nights and then realizing I was walking around looking around for confrontation, I decided to go Facebook/Twitter free for twenty four hours and just sit with my own thoughts.

(PS, I swear this is relevant and this isn't just a Personal Information Overshare. Bear with me.)

It went OK. I didn't STOP checking Facebook and Twitter (I think I'm an addict) but I refrained from posting, commenting, sharing, liking, or favoriting anything for twenty four hours. 

This is what I did do. I watched The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. If you haven't watched this independent webseries/modern remake of Pride & Prejudice, I really recommend it. There are 86 episodes at about 5 minutes each. It's extremely well done and has spawned a...ah, um, devoted, fandom. I found new music via these mixes on 8track made by a Lizzie Bennett Diary fan. I laughed at these literary valentine's cards from Nouvella. This morning I got really excited about Book 3 of the Divergent Trilogy news. I read this article and pondered the title question because it's a good question even though I don't read or watch anything to do with Vampires (I don't do fangs, okay?). Then I thought this was adorable and cute and if I ever have a bookstore or a library, I'm totally doing this. And from earlier last week, but reread yesterday during my day of abstinence from the Book of Faces and Dramaz, this sweet article in the Washington Post

So yesterday, I didn't do anything on Facebook and Twitter. I watched some really well done art and listened to music. I read things that made me happy. Things where there are happy endings and nothing's perfect but it's okay and it's beautiful, because I needed that in my life.

And I wrote. I write every day, but yesterday was exceptional. I needed to pour out some very painful things and I tugged out an old story that I've been playing with since the fall of 2009 in some way or another. I wrote just over 13,000 new words for it. In a dayWhen I was not manic. I don't think I've ever written that much in a single day when I wasn't a little out of my mind. In fact, writing yesterday was probably the most present I've been in my life for the last week.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Sometimes, stories are like ringworm.

Last week, I found a plastic bag in my room that contained a pair of adorable flats. I had forgotten about the flats and I was super excited to find them. Excited enough not to initially question why they were in a plastic bag that was knotted shut. I wore them all day before I suddenly looked down and went, Oh shit.

I remembered. The last time I wore the flats, it was when I had a cat with ringworm in my house. 

When you foster cats for a high volume shelter that takes in approximately 20,000 cats a year, eventually you are going to foster a cat with ringworm. Ringworm is a highly contagious but non fatal skin fungus akin to athlete's foot. It has an unfortunate name. It's probably not going to kill you, but it is persistent and occasionally hard to get rid of. And it lingers, for years in the environment. Bleach and white vinegar are the only things that kill it and it's almost impossible to get out of carpet and furniture. People FREAK OUT over ringworm. I mean, volunteers at the shelter refuse to walk dogs that have ringworm and cats who have ringworm are not likely to find foster care (and at the shelter where I volunteer, face euthanasia as a result of lack of space and they are carrying a highly contagious fungus).

I stared at my shoes, and realized that I'm probably definitely possibly maybe going to get ringworm again because I walked all over my house in these shoes and I didn't wear socks because duh, it's me, and socks were so much effort for my currently a little frazzled brain. And when I get ringworm, my cats will probably get ringworm. And we'll go through this again.

And it's annoying. 

But we always come out the other side. 


Some stories are like that. Some stories you pull out, SUPER excited to look at it again, and then a day into working on it, you remember and/or realize why you put it away in that folder that said DEAD STORIES. It might be your conflict, your plot, your characters, the voice. Something might be off and you can't quite put your finger on it, but something is off.

Sometimes, just like when you have ringworm or might get it again, you have to realize that   it's not that big of a deal. You just keep going because you're already in it, and whether or not you pick up that story again, or you finish it this time, or you fix the problem this time, doesn't really matter. Because you always come out the other side, relatively unscathed though possibly a little tired, and you still write. 

This story? I figured a few things out. I still might not finish it this particular breakdown. I might need another one in a few months that help me get over the hump. I might still have ringworm then. Neither are crises or emergencies. 

by Mary Oliver