• J. S. Chlapowski

Here's what I'm doing to get through restrictions: When I work out, I look at all the exercises I could do, and if there's one I really don't want to touch, that's the one I choose, because that's the one I should do.

This last year has made me a lot less disciplined. Games like this seem to help. I feel stuck between walls I can't impact, so I shift the paradigm, and I push inward instead.

This reads like a bucket of bullshit, and it probably is. Let's keep rolling in it. It's not like there's anything else to do.

When not working out, when not working, I sit on the couch a lot and think about how much I don't want to just sit on the couch. I sift through books I bought on impulse, the ones that will make me better, maybe. The ones I don't read. Why don't I read them? Sometimes I take a few steps forward, and stop. Something scares me. I cringe away and slink back to the couch.

I have songs like that. Songs that I shove into playlists in ones and twos that I only ever listen to on accident, when my fingers aren't close enough to trigger the skip button. When I hear the song, I feel a little more adult, like I'm closer to the person I thought I'd be by now.

When it's over, I don't change my behavior, and linger on those comfortable, predictable lists. Why? Why don't I want to be better? What's holding me back from growing up already?

If I get anything out of this pandemic, it's this realization that I'm not who I thought I was, and I'm the one holding me back.

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  • J. S. Chlapowski

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

My grandma passed away a few days ago. We didn't interact very much, but others in my family did.

"She ruled with an iron fist," my dad said. He was talking about her stint as president of her nursing home, dementia be damned. I knew her well enough to believe it. I suppose this extended to other parts of her life, and isolated this could make her seem imposing. I believe that, too.

But then her dementia got worse. She passed on her title to someone else in the nursing home, hand-picked. He didn't believe he was up to the task. "And then she peered down at him and said, 'You can.'" When my dad shared that with me, I heard her voice, not his, her face filling my head, still imposing, but also with a strength I sometimes find difficult to emulate. I remembered that I liked her a lot.

Today her ghost is distracting and I find it difficult to work. Instead my mind looks for reasons to regret. Sometimes I indulge and it hurts. I guess that's grieving.

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  • J. S. Chlapowski

I met some friends and Snorre at a bar after work on Friday at a table with a bench, a few chairs, and some seats against the wall. One got up when I arrived. He offered me his seat along the wall. His back was bad, he said, but mine was worse, which isn’t quite true because it doesn’t quite work that way.

But some days it does work exactly that way. On both kinds of days, good and not-so-good, I hate talking about it. I don’t like it when people remember that I might have it hard sometimes.

HuffPo says there’s a celebrity with the same condition as me. Dan Reynolds, part of Imagine Dragons and now forever in my head as fellow anklyosing spondylitis…I don’t know, sufferer? Is he suffering? Am I?

I didn’t read the whole article but gave it a quick glance. I started tuning out the second I read that he needed to take time off to recover. I didn’t want to know the rest.

I didn't want to know what his threshold was for too much because I don’t want to look for my own threshold. I don’t want to be less able, because people remember that, right? The nice ones are accommodating, but it’s still an acknowledgement that I'm weaker than they are.

Most of my days are good days. I can walk without a limp, usually, and I’m pretty sure my back is more bendy now than a year ago. I haven’t had an MRI in probably ten years or more, but I haven’t really felt the need to get one.

I don’t want to read that maybe I should be more diligent, that I’m ignoring a slow boil that’s going to tip over if I don’t keep my eye on it, because, here’s the thing: watching a pot is fucking exhausting.

There are days when the water gets a little too hot, when the steam rises and pushes against the pot lid enough to make it jiggle and shake, and on those days I really do need to sit down and take it easy. There’s not always a seat available, and usually I’m not offered one. I don’t really look like the kind of person who might need a little more support now and then.

But then I have friends who offer a seat even when I don't need it, and on those days, I take it, as I'll need the seat to still be there on days worse than Friday.

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