Do you know what I discovered this week about my sorry-ass body? It’s falling apart! I suppose I should have expected it since it seems to happen to everybody if they don’t die young. But here’s a news flash for you: It is a terrible thing to get old. (WARNING: don’t do it—don’t ever do it!) The worst part of the aging process is that stress seems to accelerate the wear and tear on the body costume, both inside and out. And in case you haven’t noticed, stress is everywhere in the world—it’s totally unavoidable. You can’t go anywhere without hearing about some imminent disaster, some caustic disease rolling your way, some major terrorist plot, or some public humiliation. (Naked pictures hacked from the iCloud . . . really? Seriously? Oh, my God, I just had a horrible thought: TSA, what have you done with my orgasmatron airport security pictures throughout the years—the ones I know you’ve been laughing about behind my back? Don’t you even think about uploading my chunky-little ass into The Cloud, or I’ll call your mothers and tell on you!)
Used by permission: TSA, RJ Matson
My job as a blogger is to keep up on the news (I read twelve online news sources a day plus Time Magazine via the mail), and I think all this bad news is really taking a toll on me. By the time I had my annual physical last month, my doctor was apoplectic over my weight gain (I tend to nosh when stressed), blood pressure elevation, cholesterol numbers, and glucose levels. She was so pissed at me that she threatened to fire me as a patient if I didn’t straighten up and fly right. She gave me one month.
Feeling rather blue, I plunked down some hard-earned cash to get myself a massage to see if it would relieve some of my stress and promptly did what I always do when someone is working their magic on my epidermis: I fell asleep and dreamt about my organs, digestive apparatus, chromaphil and cortical systems, et al, holding court and trying to decide if they were going to abdicate my body in protest of the way I had been taking care of it over the past 66 years.
BRAIN: Hear ye, hear ye, this meeting will now come to order. Mouth, sit down and shut up. You can talk all you want after the meeting is adjourned. We have exactly 90 minutes before our host wakes up. On trial is the author of Monsters’ Throwdown and the blogger Eleanor Tomczyk for gross negligence of her temple—mainly due to severe stress. I’ve called this meeting to see if we should just give up on her or give Ms. ET one more chance to get her shit together.
BLADDER: Ooh, ooh, ooh, can I go to the bathroom before the meeting starts?
SMALL AND LARGE INTESTINE: Bladder, you’re such a wuss! The older you get; the leakier you become.
BRAIN: Stop it you two. Sometimes I think you don’t have the brains you were born with. Absolutely no eliminating while our host is on the massage table! While the author is asleep we have a full agenda to get done in a limited amount of time. So behave—all of you.
BLADDER: Can I help it if she’s getting old and slightly incontinent? I wasn’t built to last forever, you know.
THE KIDNEYS: You think you’re worn out. Word on the street is that she’s got what Black folks call “the sugah.”
LIVER: What the fuck is that?
BRAIN: Type II Diabetes. Just got the diagnosis a month ago. The good news is that it was a wake-up call. She’s already changing her ways (says she’s eaten enough gourmet meals and drunk enough wine to last a lifetime). After a last supper of the best wine her money could buy, the best steak she could find, and the finest chocolate cake to be had, she became a dark leafy-green veggie, bean eating, sugar denying, dairy scorning, pasta/rice eschewing queen, and it is working! Consequently, her glucose numbers are almost down to normal, and she’s even shaved off a few pounds. I say let’s give our girl a round of applause.
ALL ET’S INNARDS: Hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hurrah!
L&S INTESTINES: Yeah, we know. More beans have passed through us in a month’s time than she has eaten in her entire lifetime. What a gas! Get it? What a gas . . . .
LIVER: [groan] Don’t quit your day job, Intestines.
PANCREAS: Not so fast, y’all. Half of me is only producing insulin. Our girl becoming a vegan now is like locking the barn door once the horses have escaped. Tried to send her distress signals of tingly hands and feet and an onslaught of dizziness as a warning that I was shutting down, but did she listen? No! Kept on trippin’ the light fantastic, so to speak. Sometimes she can be so obtuse.
GALL BLADDER: Oh, come on now; don’t be so hard on our girl, Pancreas. This is mostly hereditary. It’s part of her DNA. Did you know African-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans Asian Indian, and Pacific Islanders are at the highest risk of getting diabetes? Need I remind you that she is ¼ Cherokee Indian and ¾’s African-American? Need I also remind you that she was born into one of the worst ghettos in America in the Jim Crow era and still bears the heartache and the scars which took a toll on her body before she even knew what was happening? Twenty years of poverty can give you such a body ache! Just the racism she has had to endure in her lifetime would send a body into tilt eventually. Just be happy she doesn’t have cancer. You read her book, Monsters’ Throwdown. Haven’t all you organs suffered in some way due to the abuse in her life?
ALL ET’S INNARDS: Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course we’ve suffered from being her black person innards in America. And every time I hear some well-meaning white person yearning to turn back the clock to the “good ol’ days” in America (i.e., the 50s), I want to send them back in time as an African-American and immerse them in a saturated pool of slavery DNA, Jim Crow terrorization, and debilitating systematic poverty. Then we’d check out their vitals and see if they still longed for the “good ol’ days.”
BRAIN: Which is why I’ve called you all here for this meeting. Conquering the diet is not the primary issue with this one; it is her daily stress level. We have to help her lower it.
HEART: Don’t I know it! I get it that she has to keep up on the news to stay informed so as not to come off as an idiot in her blog, but can’t the sistah cut me some slack? I am stressed all the time because of the news she consumes! If it isn’t the story about the Chinese chef who was making cobra soup with the body of the snake whose detached head bit and killed him, then it is the nine-year-old girl who was allowed to shoot an Uzi and accidentally killed her instructor. I’ve got to tell you that just sent ET over the edge. I thought I was going to succumb to a “me attack” at the NRA’s chilling announcement two days after that horrid abuse against that poor child’s mind. Did you all hear about it? The NRA released an article on “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range.” WTF! Did you hear our author/mother/human being screams? And don’t even get me started on Ferguson, Missouri.
EYEBALLS: Well, I don’t know if I can take any more news articles, period. You’ve got your Ukraine, Ebola, Gaza, Afghanistan, and now your ISIS. Not one more decapitation can I witness. God, my eyes, my eyes . . . Chaos, murder, and mayhem is everywhere for my orbs to feast upon. Evil has always been here—it will always be until the end of time. I say ears, mouth, and me should make a pact: hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.
LUNGS: Seriously, Eyeballs? There have always been bad times (there will always be bad times)—there just wasn’t any cable news or the Internet to overwhelm the senses with the revelation of them all 24/7. The best we can do is: Stay calm and carry on.
EARS: The best thing we can do is teach her an empowerment song against all the evil forces assailing her psyche that she can use as a mantra: “Let it go, let it go. . .”
BRAIN: No . . . I swear to the God who created us, Vocal Chords, if I hear you sing that song one more time, I’ll rip you out by the throat and flush you downstream through the bowels. Do you hear me?
Used by permission: World Falling Apart, Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune
VOCAL CHORDS: Fine! Then you come up with a better idea of calming her down because I just heard from Mr. TV News that NASA’s “Near Earth Object Program” estimates there are thousands of asteroids that could threaten Earth. Wait until our blogger finds out about that. She’s already on the edge—she’ll flip out. She doesn’t even know that one of them passed by the Earth on Sunday, and that in 2013 a 60-foot-wide meteor flung itself into our atmosphere and exploded over a city in Russia with the strength of 30 nuclear bombs. It injured 1,500 people! You know the first thing she’s going to think? When will it hit the United States—specifically, when will it hit where her children and grandchild live so she can take them to Europe for an extended holiday and out of harm’s way?
EARS: VC, you made that shit up. Who did you hear that from? Nasty-ass Spleen?
SPLEEN: Hey, hey, hey, there’s no need for name calling!
VOCAL CHORDS: Amanda Barnett from CNN (“Newly found asteroid to pass close to Earth on Sunday”). Nanni-nanni-booh-booh! Take that and stuff it in your ear canal.
BRAIN: Shut up, everybody! She’s waking up. The last thing she needs to hear is all her organs and whatnots kibitzing. She’d truly have a heart attack then. Back to your stations, and may the force be with her!
Used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune
I am discovering (again and again) that bad news just keeps on coming. It does so because, for the most part, we are human, and we have free will to choose between good and evil. Even if you could get half the planet to “do the right thing,” the other half would probably reject the coercion of the “do right” group and scream bloody murder: “Fuck you—you’re not the boss of me!”
Then there are the things none of us can control like tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, asteroids, auto-immune diseases, and cancers that come along and kick our asses when we’re on our way doing something else.
If bad news will keep on coming, how do we live without debilitating fear? How do we find a modicum of peace from the terror of the unknown? I’m beginning to think that we can do so by recognizing life for what it is instead of as the fairy tale we’ve been taught as Americans that we can control our lives:
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”—Scott Peck
Then all that is left is a trust and belief in a power higher than ourselves who can help us through the damaging effects of a difficult life and give us the grace to endure—hoping that it all sums up to equal strong character that can influence a better society. Of course, one should be free to not believe in God (no one should ever be coerced), but as for me, I can’t imagine my innards being able to survive the onslaught of the stress of living on this planet without a holy presence infusing my being with courage and grace.
Nelson Mandela reflecting from his prison cell of 27 years
“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.” ― Jane Wagner
“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”—Kris Carr
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”― Amit Ray, Om
“Chanting and Meditation I was a little excited but mostly blorft. ‘Blorft’ is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”― Tina Fey, Bossypants
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