So you may have noticed that I haven’t really been posting, like, anything here in a while. And there’s a reason for that. I’ve been sick.
Not like flu sniffles sick. Like ended up in the hospital for three weeks and then again for two days and now I have several months of treatment to deal with an illness so weird and rare that was actually on House one time sick. (Legit. We even did the “it’s not lupus” thing.)
I have chosen NOT to look up anything about this autoimmune disease and trust my doctors to tell me what I need to know because apparently some cases are pretty scary. And I will totally freak out. So I’m not going to name it here because if you know me personally you already know what it is and if you know me personally you know the temptation to Google this disease and read about the scary is killing me so I don’t want the Google to bring this post up for other people Googling and end up with links to info on my blog post.
Basically, my kidneys went rogue and I’m lucky to be alive. Very lucky.
I spent my 33rd birthday hooked up to a plasmapheresis robot. I also spent my birthday with some really good friends who came in to see me, which was really amazing, because who wants to party in a hospital? Anyway…it’s weird how after two weeks of plasma exchange, it felt almost normal to have a franken-neck catheter sticking out of my jugular. (And, yes, that’s why I didn’t do my annual Dear Teen Me letter on my b-day. Sorry, all two of you who were looking forward to that.)
Coming home was hard for a lot of reasons. For one, I actually had to move while I was in the hospital. My parents came down and did this for me and I can’t find anything! (Has anyone seen my tweezers? My eyebrows are a mess!) I also had been on bed rest for so long that my muscles atrophied. I had no idea this could happen so quick. And my body is still adjusting to the medications I’m on. And the (hopefully temporary) weird dietary restrictions so that I can keep my kidneys on the mend during treatment.
I haven’t been able to do a lot of “normal” things like walking to my Starbucks or eating tacos. I’m having a hard time focusing on reading or writing (which is why it’s taken me so long to get this post up) let alone promoting my new chapbook that came out while I was in the hospital. (Go buy 17 DAYS here. It’s the “B-Side” to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!) I am having a hard time standing up for long periods of time, so cooking is hard. Chores are hard(er). I’m sleeping a lot more than I usually would. (No more middle of the night poems for a while, I guess!) And I’ve fallen behind on magazine submissions. A lot.
I’m grateful, though, for the friends and family and members of the writing community who have been helping me out in so many ways. My parents came all the way from Maine to help me move and recover. Local friends new and old (some I’d only previously known from Facebook groups!) have been visiting and bringing food and cooking for me and helping with chores. And I’ve been receiving thoughtful care packages from poets all over. I really can’t imagine how I’d be doing this without these wonderful people. If I never get around to thank you notes (and I probably won’t because I’m terrible at this), know that I appreciate it so much that it makes me happy cry. And I’m not a happy crier. Like ever.
PRAY, PRAY, PRAY is dedicated to “the people I can call in the middle of the night, and those who might call me.” And that remains true. I didn’t know I’d need this so soon, but I did and I do. Even if I’m not making these phone calls in the middle of the night (although I think I might have woken up my grandfather once or twice), it’s so crucial that there are folks on the other end right now. And I really can’t wait to pay it forward. When I’m well again (which is the hope within the next five months or so, touch wood) you’ll probably see me at a lot of launch parties and readings around town. And one of my big goals is to be healthy enough to make it to AWP in the spring as planned. There will be so many super hugs there. Probably more crying. Sorrynotsorry.
One thing I’ve learned from this is that asking for help isn’t weak, it’s strong. And that when I asked for help I found out I had more friends than I ever could have imagined. What a gift this is. I’ve seen people close to me struggle with the grief of realizing that their friends aren’t who they thought they were when shit hits the fan. Y’all are amazing people out there and I can’t help but feel my heart swell with faith in humanity and a love for the community that we build every day.
There are lots of projects coming out from me this year, though, which I luckily already wrote/curated and which I will hopefully be able to promote and get out to y’all and enjoy because I am lucky to work with such awesome publishers. Grey Book Press just announced FIRE IN THE SKY which is my forthcoming chapbook of Lana Del Ray “scramblerasures.” (I scrambled her lyrics and then erasured the new text.) This one is definitely not for the kiddos or, like, anyone related to me who doesn’t like when I swear or talk about sexytimes. So you know. But I’m proud of it and I think readers will enjoy it. I also have ACOUSTIC BATTERY LIFE coming out with ELJ in March and SHE WITNESSES with dancing girl press later this spring, both experimental found poetry. Consider yourself warned: I’m up to stuff. Like I’m doing a thing with Lucky Bastard Press that some of y’all already know about and some of y’all don’t but I’m going to shout it big and wide and loud when we’re ready. Which I hope is soon. Gotta fix these kidneys first and foremost, though.
Meanwhile, like I said, 17 DAYS is out, it’s more confessional poetry I wrote to Prince (during the day this time, but, you know, Prince), and if you dig/dug PRAY, PRAY, PRAY this should be something you dig, too. ELJ Publications released it under their new Magpies imprint and I am so grateful to editors Ariana D. Den Bleyker and Samantha Duncan for their hard work with me revising the manuscript and creating a beautiful book. So I really hope you enjoy it. I’m working on treats for those who buy (I have some adorable beads and stuff ready to go, just gotta get to making), so save your receipts if you buy direct from ELJ. I’ll remember you if you buy a signed copy from me (email e.kristin.andersonATgmailDOTcom). Just…does anyone know where my needle-nose pliers are?
Thanks again to everyone’s tireless support through what is turning out to be both the toughest thing I’ve been through and something I’m seeing a lot of silver linings in. Because silver linings are there. I had to look hard this time, but they’re there.