Written Under the Influence


There are so many sex best-sellers – erotica – that I’ve been thinking there must be something there.

But when I read the books, I’m frustrated by the emphasis on the compliant/innocent woman and the bad-boy-with-a-heart-that-can-be won trope. It’s boring. And it doesn’t fit anybody I’ve met in real life.

My people have never been a color-inside-the-lines folk. While I admire art that is precise, it is the great leaps of color that draw my tribe into any gallery, or even the subversive pointillist, creating whole worlds and whorls of color so tiny that you have to step back to see how far outside the lines of convention they have painted.

I see myself as one of these defiant ones, walking with long strides, flirting, refusing rejection. I have been the one to push for one more drink before the bar closes, the one who leaps out of the plane as a dare to myself, who has taken the challenge of one taste of that cricket-as-food, chased by deep-fried ant.

I always assumed I would bring my loud, colorful self to any situation and, either they would embrace me, or fuck em.

I’ve reconsidered.

I’ve gone quiet and dark.

I have had a back spasm going on two weeks.

Back spasm is such a gentle word for the gut-twisting, breath-stealing pain that freezes me in my tracks, too much in pain to complete the movement, too much in pain to move another inch that might relieve the pain a bit.

Sitting up in bed is a negotiation of inches, clutching the mattress and pushing with my arms. Going to the bathroom is a slow shuffling race to see if the shocking pain will void my bowels before I can hobble slowly, pre-pull the toilet paper (because bending and twisting is out of the question), and slowly, holding onto my quivering thighs, lower myself down.

I have had pills, I have had shots. The relief is short, like hope dangled and snatched.

Writing deadlines are sliding – it is hard to concentrate when all I want to do is sleep from the cocktail of medicines keeping my body from clenching. If only I could write the sweaty dreams the drugs give me – now those would be some fine horror genre writing — but they wake me with a gasp then roll away swiftly like morning fog.

And when I sink into sleep, I do so knowing the price upon waking is the agony of getting my spine upright.

I have newfound respect for those living with chronic pain, more so when they write with beauty and clarity. I find that the pain intrudes in every story: “Their gazes met and she slid over on the seat (ow!). He bent her back to kiss her (“no, no, not like that, oh, god, my back isn’t moving that way, help me up!”). He threw her legs up to enter her (“Oh god, I can feel that all the way up my spine, how about legs down? Yeah, but now you’re rocking my body and that hurts. Oh god, god…no, these aren’t good oh god! Can you just get off and hang around until I can levy myself up to go to the bathroom and then can you just wait to make sure I make it in time?”

Sexy stuff.

I know that sex is possible long after those of us who are younger would like to believe. No one wants to think of granny getting it on, but they do.

I want this pain to go away, leaving just a smudge on my memory. When I’m not drugged, I have so much more to say, so much more to write, and it’s not Granny Grinding.

Man With Back Ache