Sunday, September 8, 2013

On 'and.'

One of the things that has recurred over the past few days is people asking me "and?"  Like, ok, DG, you are doing this recovery thing. But then what? And? 

It's a good question: What does come next? What is the thing that comes after the thing I am doing now? It's a bit of a puzzle because it's never really going to be done; it'll always run along the edges of whatever else is happening in my life, piping around the edges of big piece of cloth.  But I also get the meaning behind the question. It can't just be this. It has to be for a period, but eventually (to stick with the fabric metaphor), my recovery will need to be strands woven through my larger swath of fabric.

So I have been pondering "and."

There's a lyric in the musical Into the Woods that I've always loved:
Must it all be either less or more,
Either plain or grand?
Is it always 'or'?
Is it never 'and'?
I love that final line, that plea for compromise or open-mindedness or in-between-ness. It's about multi-tasking and not controlling things and letting other things crowd in without sacrificing the larger things that matter or freaking the fuck right out when they do crowd in. We can have "ands" in our lives and still have lives.

A few years ago, I got involved with a project called "Skin." It's a short story written by Shelley Jackson that only exists as a series of single-word tattoos on the bodies of people who volunteered to receive a word at random from Jackson. There were some ground rules: you had to get the tattoo in a typeface that might appear in a real, published book and if you got a word that was a body part, like say "hand," you could not get the tattoo on that body part. Then you were supposed to take a picture of yourself and the tattoo and send it to Jackson, who would then send you a typewritten copy of the completed story. But nowhere would the story actually be published or readable for anyone not involved with the project...that is, only the "words" would ever know the whole story.

Needless to say, I jumped right on it and sent an application to Jackson and was accepted. I've had the reply hidden away in a box for years, waiting for the right time to get the tattoo (there's no time limit). I was never really sure when that right time might be, but I think it's finally here. I'll choose some upcoming anniversary - my 47th birthday or my 60-day-sober mark, something like that. I wonder if you've figured out what word I got back in 2005. Eight years ago.


Leah Kenworthy said...

I didn't have to figure it out because I remembered it. And it looks like your hesitation all those years was because the timing wasn't right until now. Do you know where it's going?

Tana Butler said...

One of my dearest friends has a tattoo:

"yes, &"

Not "yes, but." That's a negator.

And no, I don't know where it's going. That I'd love to know.

Lisa said...

This is the second time I've seen that Sondheim quoted online this week. The first was in an article titled "Perl, the first postmodern computer language"—make of that what you will.

And I'm still jealous that I didn't get in on that Shelley Jackson tattoo thing when I had the chance, dammit. But I'm at least glad you did.