A concerned local reader recently observed me yapping away on the reference desk and asked how I was doing.
“Like this!” I said, and proceeded to produce a veritable discordant symphony of nonsense for him. He laughed. I laughed. We both knew it wasn’t funny, but whatever. We laughed and that usually feels good.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Tourette’s, and sadly, there just hasn’t been much to say besides, “I’m back in the middle of it and it sucks and things have been a bit desperate.” It’s exhausting. It hurts sometimes. And the stronger and bigger I get, the faster my movements are. There’s a trade off. Boo hoo.
So here’s a rambling recap from Last Exit to Twitchville.
A camera crew came to the library recently to film a book trailer. That was an odd experience. I’m highly susceptible to open light bulbs right now. I am compelled to look at them in a very specific way, and then blink in a very specific way, and it’s intrusive as all get out. But there are lights, and then there are weird umbrella TV lights one foot away from my face.
Just look at that enthusiastic weenie in the blue shirt. You’d never guess that he’s squawking his fool head off between takes. The trailer was fun, besides the tics. I’m excited to show it to you soon.
At work, I’m okay on desk, but in the back room I’m making terrible noises. I know it’s annoying everyone because it’s annoying me. Everyone is too nice to say so, bless their hearts.
Staying indoors is becoming increasingly tempting, but I can’t do it. I always feel like I’m about two missed shifts away from never coming back. It’s a silly feeling, but it still feels true. I don’t want to find out.
I’m not sure when my next down spell will be and I try not to think about it. This isn’t Tourette’s-specific: when something hurts, the best way to go nuts is to start looking ahead to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. From Infinite Jest, here’s a character in a misery greater than anything I hope I ever see:
He could just hunker down in the space between each heartbeat and make each heartbeat a wall and live in there. Not let his head look over. What’s unendurable is what his own head could make of it all. What his head could report to him, looking over and ahead and reporting. But he could choose not to listen…everything unendurable was in the head, was the head not Abiding in the Present but hopping the wall and doing a recon and then returning with unendurable news you then somehow believed.
Every moment is endurable. I like that and I’m glad it’s true.
I’ve gone to a couple of support group meetings recently. It helps, just not with the symptoms. It can be a very lonely disorder, and there’s something in everyone ganging up and venting, being lonely together, I suppose. It breaks my heart to see kids with Tourette’s who just haven’t gotten through enough twitchy days yet to make their peace with it.
Most of the things that used to help me–“used to” meaning two of the last three years–aren’t doing anything. Some are making it worse.
I’m getting the most relief right now from writing, which is useful from a productivity standpoint. Once I finished the book I immediately started the next. The problem was that I wasn’t sure of what exactly the project would be.
But I type and I type and I forget to blink often enough and my eyes get dry and tired. But I’ll tell you this, aspiring writers who struggle with output: I’m sitting on top of a mess of about 500 pages that I’ve been pounding away at since early September. My typing speed has nearly caught up to my IQ at this point. An online test tells me I’m consistently hitting 101 words per minute.
This pile of writing is not a book, but it’s a book-length mess. I go back and look at some of it and have no idea where it came from. Some of it’s good. Some of it’s awful. Lots of it is pretty hilarious, if utterly without context. Some of it’s just strange. My editor would have an aneurysm if I sent it to her. Anyway, I’m not contractually allowed to for a while. First things first.
Does any of this matter? It does not, not as far as decision making goes.
I’ve got work to do, so I’ll do it. I go to the library. I write. I lift. I try not to be too obnoxious. I try not to let my temper get short. I whine to you guys. I used to say I didn’t want sympathy when I actually did. Now I say I don’t want sympathy because it doesn’t do any damned good.
“You’re brave,” someone said recently.
It isn’t courage–I’m past worrying what people think about it all. It’s some weird combination of irritation and rage and spite. I’ve got what I’ve got and so do you and we’re all dealing with things that feel unbearable now and then. But if they were unbearable, we couldn’t live through them, and if you’re reading this, I hope you’re alive. But if you have a zombie gravatar please comment so I can see you.
When I talk with David Cain from Rapitude, we have actually been signing off with “Good spite!” instead of “Good night.” He laughs. I laugh. And we both know it’s not that funny.
Despite it all. Life is good. I’m happy. I’m glad I have you knuckleheads to pal around with and bounce ideas off of, and I know things will get better. I’ve seen this pattern before and I’m sure I’ll see it again.
I will give a signed copy of the book to the first person who says, “Josh, you’re so handsome! You’re far too gorgeous for anyone to live without!”