When do I write?

When are you getting the time to do this?

It’s a question I get asked every now and again (usually in relation to why there’s a new blog post but not a new diss chapter or the like). Occasionally I ask it of myself, too, so I decided to try to answer.


It’s 1:45 am and I’m writing this in the smallest room of my apartment. I tried a new recipe. It didn’t work… meaning it might have tasted ok and even looked all right, but my body can’t handle it. Some days are just like that, and even what worked Friday night won’t be acceptable Monday. I’m an adult but my stomach is stuck in the terrible 2s. It’s all temper tantrums and sulks. It’s a lot easier to blog curled on the floor than write my comps.


I’m in a waiting room right now. It’s much later. It is all bright murals and cartoons on the television. I walked here in a late spring snowstorm, and I can feel the burn of a mast cell flush, probably from my jacket rubbing skin… and fear. I have the Dead South playing in one ear bud, an attempt at balancing the almost relentless cheer of the children’s hospital. I actually love this place, its colors, and its commitment. But right now I need the Dead South, too. I’m desperate with the need for help and answers, and worried as always that behind the anonymous white coats and under the perpetual smiles there is … nothing.


I write on the campus shuttles too, that 20 minute trip I take about twice a day, three times a week. Not for long, because the smells of students crowded into the seats and the bouncing of the bus on whatever passes for suspension usually makes me feel queasy, fast. It’s not a bad time to edit photos, at least.


I’m actually in the exam room, waiting, trying not to scream. It’s a fine place and the doctors are friendly and helpful. I’m hopeful this will go well, but my skin is already burning as a mast reaction feeds off the high temps, pollen, and my own nervousness. I hate that I can’t control it just a little better.


I’m waiting for a shuttle. I spend a lot of my life, especially in summer, waiting for these clunky rolling ovens. I couldn’t have done this last year of school without them. I know I need to be grateful for that, and I am. But geez, why must it take me 40 minutes to travel a mile?


None of these are really very good times to work on my dissertation. That is at a ticklish stage that is like trying to assemble three different jigsaw puzzles blindfolded — and in 0 g. But all of the above have proven to be fine times to look at pictures of butterflies, to write about recipes, and to process what life as a chronically ill graduate student is like for me.

That is when I write.

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