Friday, February 29, 2008

bigger than my body.

Many people celebrate the anniversaries of blissful or tragic events.

I celebrate each injury's anniversary with a new one.

Wouldn't want to be stuck in the past, now, would we? Who wants to reminisce about last year's two hour-plus hospital visit when Cortland Memorial is a mere two blocks away?

Two years in a row, Fat Tuesday was the day. First, my knee cracked and then swelled up to the size of the early post-surgery days. Back came the ice, training room stim, Ace bandage. Even the limp returned as a touch of nostalgia. A month or so later, I made myself fine by tumbling on the Spins floor (death-defying, to be sure).

If Tanya hadn't been in the training room with me last year when they'd poked at the crepitus in my foot, I most certainly would not have gone to the hospital. Why such a hassle when clearly all I needed was ice and a day or two of taking it easy? Okay, how about four months? How about the fact that, for all I know, that damn fifth metatarsal could still be broken?

Oh, and I thought I was being clever this year. Tuesday passed. Then Ash Wednesday. No practice for me until Saturday's competition; I'd avoided giving up gymnastics for Lent this year.

Nearly a week from last Thursday, I was in a similar position to the year before: waiting waiting waiting at the Cortland Hospital, listening to American Idol, and wondering, What'd you do this time?

But this year, I knew that prayers on x-ray tables do not work. I knew that despite how much milk I drank or the "careful" activities I participated in, the bone would still heal at whatever pace it chose, and most likely not one that I agreed with.

But I'd competed on it -- and pretty decently, too. As voices approached and then roamed away from my little room, I began to almost hope that I'd done something that would show up on an x-ray. It would justify Emeline's patience in the waiting room, the tug I felt whenever I breathed (or laughed...walked...jumped...flipped...), the moments of my life that I'd spent making noise in hopes that someone would hear me and just lead me to the x-ray table already.

Just as Tanya had been correct last year, Emeline knew what was up this time. We scampered into her room and loaded the x-ray CD onto the computer. We found the magnifying glass tool. And then we searched high and low until we found the intruder: a fairly straightfoward crack of the tenth rib. Nothing like last year's lengthy and perplexing sine wave.

I'll believe "four to six weeks" when I see it. And you'll see me compete. Experience and adrenaline: stronger than any dosage of ibuprofen.


Lest I feared building up too much bad karma, I discovered that I have been accepted into El Paso's MFA in Creative Writing program. The one I've been talking about for several weeks now and finally applied to at the last minute. I wouldn't actually get in, of course.

I still can't believe it.

Now May is not so terrifying - I may actually do somehing that I enjoy with my life. Imagine??

Monday, February 25, 2008

the fiction, the romance

I just want to write something fictitious and potent. Apparently I can't do either right now. So:

"Chelsea? Chelsea?"
I turned around. "No."
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, sorry."
As I walk away, one of the guys observes, "That's not Chelsea."

"My mile time is faster than my GPA."
"Dude, a 2-minute mile is impossible."

"How can a girl show a guy that she loves him without intercourse?"
"Send him a card."

"A kidney is 10G. That's all I'm going to say."

And yes, it was said to me:

"You don't even know the shit I've gone through because of you."

Monday, February 18, 2008

"You really like this club thing, huh?"

In the 11th hour (and 11th year) of my gymnastics career, Doug Gallagher FINALLY witnessed that I do not, in fact, compete on "the chains."

As we look for a parking spot at Cornell, the CD Caroline made for me turns to a familiar pop beat. "Piece of Fucking Me," Caroline declares.

"Can you write a story about me?" she asks the next day. "Put me in the circus. Or as a prostitute in France...I'm speaking at your wedding."

"TAKE IT TO THE STREETS!" Mindy yells as I'm about to vault.

Emeline glides forward for a switch kip- begins to turn -and tumbles to the floor.

"Emeline!" I exclaim. "What would Amy Himes say?"

And then I burst out laughing.

The Pinger + the Heap: FINALLY competing together since 2008. :-) (And yes. We are jacked.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just to set this down

because in the past twenty-four hours, everything went right:

-at 1 a.m., it hit me. It. Whatever it is. But it hit me and I wrote straight towards 2 a.m., rearranging words, finding connections, honing in, cutting down, seeing directions in what had been vague outlines.

-The Publishing Industry, 10:05 a.m.
Phil: Did you hear about the College Writing Contest yet?
Me: No, why?
Phil: You won something.
(Of course, I checked my e-mail and found nothing. But apparently it's true. :-))

-2:29 p.m. "The examencitos weren't too bad," Prof says, handing back the papers. I see a red mess on top of mine and arrows all over - pointing to a 97. (Which, of course, really helps in figuring out a life direction!)

-8:30 p.m. "That was that day. This is today!" Emeline declares after I express my fear of crashing on the second pass of my floor routine. I listen to her and make the entire routine -- with energy left over.

-The energy kept me after practice to nearly 10:00, creating Beth's floor routine to wonderfully dramatic music (and holding her head still when she got a bit too rambunctious). "This is what happens when I start editing," I tell Emeline. "I can't stop."

-and by 12:45 a.m., I have a 32-page fiction portfolio (I'd thought I'd only be able to eke out three pages), a "personal statement," a "critical writing sample," and last but not least, the application payment form for Friday's deadline.

For once, I can say it sincerely: Good work, Gallagher!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wie geht's?

Wie heisen Sie, bitte? There's just too many words we're never meant to learn, I heard as I drove into the whiteout, thinking of raising the volume as I struggled to see brakelights traffic lights anything besides white. "This is the best song ever" - Damn right it is - I am glad to be here, glad I found all of you, and glad I know this before I leave. Wie sagt man (algo, algo) auf Deutsch? Do I have any idea what I am doing? If you call my name out loud, do you suppose I'd come running? You're a natural. I don't know what that means. I had thought perhaps I was meant for one thing, but now it seems to be everything - words written and spoken, movement that rips lungs ever so gracefully. "Trust me, I understand," she laughs when I tell her how I feel off-pace, how I wish to wake up and find myself back there. I am off-centered but if I keep spinning, the gyrations will keep me from collapsing. I rush too much for commas these days. Do you suppose I'd come at all? I suppose I would.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'll keep [all our] dirty little secrets

(start from the bottom and read up)

If you had been here, you would have laughed.
(But you weren't. And it doesn't make a difference.)

And by the time Emeline reads this:
the "secret potion" will be on the kitchen table.

After Diana participates in and survives her first "power hour":
"I'll keep all our dirty little secrets..."
"Left or right?"
"I just threw a shovel and it hit a car..."

As we stroll past the Magic "City Championships" at the Carousel Mall, Rachel muses:
"You know, we're really close to being that."
"Oh, I know," I agree. "Only a few degrees off. There's a fine line, and we're on one side."
"Or a shelf. If you will."

Waking up to the text message:
"I hate Dr. Boynton." (You can do it, Rachel!)

Many hours later:
Gas: $20 (that Emeline threw onto the counter)
Admission: $5
After-dancing Twix: $1.07
Water: $.50
Direction off of 81: Left (this time)
Making poor life decisions, doing handstands in apartment hallways in Syracuse, learning the Rubiks cube, watching Annia Hatch on YouTube, being "wingmen," learning that we (apparently) have tight butts (all of this courtesy of our random amigos cubanos), reminiscing about our past innocence on the drive home ("Do you drink?"), and eating a 5 am breakfast before going to bed: Priceless.

After a solid practice and before salsa:
I alone love you
I alone tempt you
I alone love you
Fear is not the end of this!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

After moving from (nearly) nothing to (almost) something:

I feel cranky and disjointed without exercise, I know, and so it should go with writing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This is why (2.3.08)

Why do I still do this sport?

I cross my arms and stare straight ahead. 7.8. On a front handspring. I shouldn’t be receiving anything lower than an 8.0 on a vault I’d been competing since I was 13. Ridiculous.

Maybe there's a conspiracy. The judges know I'm 22. Or they think I'm a freshman who needs to be broken in with inexplicable start values and lower scores. Either way, I shouldn’t have bothered to compete. Sure, sure. Scores don’t matter. I open my grip bag and yank on the rubber blue wrist bands. Put it behind you, as always. I buckle the chalky straps. You know, you don't have to do this anymore.

Shut up. I know that. I know I'll keep doing it anyway. But right now, I have no idea why.

We stride over to bars. I am not nervous; I am pissed and feel a vague sense of dread. I should not be doing this. I should not be attempting a free hip and only able to eke out a cast back hip circle.

I rub chalk onto my hands as the touch warm-up comes to a conclusion and wish I didn’t have to compete. I wouldn’t even touch bars if we had someone else, if I didn’t have a cleaner routine (or a routine, if only three elements long) than others, if I did not remember how badly I had burned for so long to be able to compete, to be able to flip, to be able to walk.

Jess lands her flyaway and salutes the judges. I walk between the bars and wait for the judge to acknowledge me. Leave out the uprise and instead kip-cast-flyaway-hopefully not land on my face as I did in the warm-up? Missing B, I’m already missing two other B’s, but this will be one less…

I am never this unprepared.

She raises her hand. And the moment I hit the bar, I know exactly what I am doing.

Here I do not have words. I feel myself hitting angles and reacting with the precise balance of aggression and calm. I feel myself leap to the next bar, I am swinging, I am spinning, I am on the floor saluting.

This is why.


For the first time in my life, I’m excited to compete a beam routine. Beam was my first love, long before I danced in imitation of Riverdance, dramatically struck the floor in time to Speed, tumbled up the “Stairway to Heaven,” and engaged in imaginary sword-fighting pirate duels.

I used to feel invincible on beam, at least in practice. They groaned. I stepped lightly, always lifting my chin and flicking my wrists. They wobbled. I recovered and moved on quickly. They fell. So did I, but when I stayed on, I was on.

Then I changed levels, my hands missed the beam one too many times, and love turned to exasperation turned to separation. When I made myself step across the beam, it was almost a mockery. Remember when you loved beam? When you were good at it? When you weren’t afraid to do things?


But this past week, I forced myself to do something new – no, not something that would shock a crowd, but something I had never made myself do before. And I’d landed solidly. Not accidentally. I did it again. Every time, two feet striking the beam and staying put.

My hands begin to sweat a bit as I wait for the judge. No adrenaline, I advise my body nervously. I don’t need the extra energy now.

My hands hover over the surface as if I am about to play the piano. This is between you and the beam.

“Yeah, Diana! SHOW IT OFF!” Mindy shouts and I have to smile as I land on the beam after the press handstand mount.

I land my roundoff and burst into another grin, then recall that I am in fact on beam and not floor. Who would dare show joy on beam?

With every move hit I surprise myself. Switch leap tuck full. Straddle jump tuck three-quarter. Yes. I become a bit more nervous. Stay on – yes! Okay – yes!

And of course by the time it’s necessary to dismount, I pray that nothing goes wrong, swing my leg, flip backwards, hit the floor, take a small step, and salute.

Remember when you loved beam? When you were good at it? When you weren’t afraid to do things?


This is why.