Saturday, May 30, 2020

df parizeau : Your (Small Press) Writing Day: Field Notes from an Ailing Body

You wake up. Not to your alarm, but to the power-line thrum of Left-Ankle. You roll over, check your phone: you tentatively have 30 minutes left, before you need to get up. Left-Ankle continues to buzz, Bladder groans. The daily game of chicken with your body begins again. In 15 minutes, you will get up to use the toilet, but not before you contemplate pissing the bed as an act of protest.

The kettle rattles on the burner. You toss 2 tablespoons of Nescafe Gold instant coffee into a mug printed with the Edmonton, AB skyline, then hover over the toaster. You fiddle with the knobs, try to decide which setting will grant your morning a little extra time, without rendering your toast inedible. A bubble wrap pop warns you that the joints are catching up to your state of alertness. Left-Knee creaks a steady yawn. You try to shake it back to sleep but its too late.

“Sooo what’s on tap for today? We working on that one about the time you tore me up at summer camp?”

Left-Arm and Right-Arm cross themselves in response, “No, it’s our turn; he’s been milking the bad knees thing since high school!”

The toast pops up and you spread a healthy coat of peanut butter over its tawny face, smash a banana on top. You pull the kettle off the burner just as it begins to whisper and fill your mug—top it off with a splash of maple flavoured non-dairy creamer.
Right-Knee strains to chime in, “That’s an unholy lie: L-K gets all of the attention. I’m just as, if not more, arthritic, you know.”

You sit at the breakfast table and rub both Temples. The stress from the bickering is climbing the base of Neck, the tremor of another long day swells.

“Actually, I was thinking today I might spend time with Fing…”

A seething crescent flashes in Right-Foot before you finish your thought. You leap from your chair and try to muffle the irritation rocking Right-Foot back and forth like the kinesiologist showed you.


You crouch into a deep lunge and the protest from Right-Foot slackens. You feel bad: both Right-Foot and Left-Foot carry a lot of your day-to-day burden, but neither has the same passion or aptitude for storytelling as the rest of thSe gang.

You reach Arms as high as they will allow and sprawl each joint and muscle out to attention. Left Hip and Spine conspire to limit the depth of this stretch—anchors holding you down. You push through their resistance, the satisfying succession of snaps confirming that you finally have everyone’s full attention.

“I’m spending today with Fingers. That’s that. They spend everyday helping me compile all of your ramblings, the least you could all do is keep quiet for a day and show some respect.”

You fall out of the stretch, waiting for protest. To your surprise, the only sense of disdain is a mild chatter from Right-Knee. You gently massage Fingers. Despite favouring your left side your whole life, you have long considered all Fingers—both left and right—in the same breath; perhaps this is a product your latent desire to be ambidextrous. You take your time, stretch their joints with care. You have always known Fingers as reserved, comfortable in their utilitarian role and not much for making a fuss.


A titter of excitement crackles from Fingers. Long the stenographer of your writing project, it is finally their turn to add to the narrative. You place your plate in the dishwasher and replace your coffee with some tap water before settling in the living room. You ease into the armchair and stretch out over the ottoman.

“Aren’t you going to grab a notepad or your laptop?”

You explain that you want to listen first, to home in on the kernel of their story, before committing any text to paper or screen. You ask them to trust the process. Remind them of all the motion that occurs each day before you set them to work. This includes but is not limited to:

Pacing the circuit between the living room, kitchen, and bedroom multiple times.
Checking the pantry to see if it has restocked itself, once every half hour.
Annoying your youngest cat daughter, twice every hour.

Contemplating trimming Face’s beard.

Trimming Face’s beard.

Screaming at the Twitter void.

Texting your best friend to tell her that you miss trends like ex-libris, Pogs, flannel shirts, and inflatable furniture.

All while you keep keen attention to Fingers, as they spill months worth of pent up anecdotes. Together you recall the texture of the seams on a Rawlings baseball; how they feel as you change your grip from two-seamer to slider, to changeup. You appreciate that they remember how cool it felt to finally get your first Thinsulate half-mittens and you both get a kick from your short-lived attempt at learning the transverse flute.

After confirming the stock in the pantry is still the same—for the eleventh time—you jot down some notes, form a few sentences, careful to kill the adverbs before they take root.

You thank Fingers for being candid, for working double-time, tell them that you have got enough for a few new pieces. Right-Achilles barks that they have never been granted a full day of attention. You dismiss them, promise enough literature exists on the topic of them and find your way over to the couch.

You turn the TV on and decide to reward yourself by ending the by playing a couple of hours of Persona 5, pleased that your body was quiet enough to put in a full day of writing.

df parizeau is a Pushcart nominated multi-disciplinary writer who still has all of his wisdom teeth. You are more likely to find him eavesdropping than working on his craft. Despite his aptitude for procrastination, df’s work has been or will be featured online and in print, by publications such as Funicular Magazine, Chapter House Journal, and Rejection Letters. He is currently the creative nonfiction editor for mineral lit mag. You can find him trying to convince folks he’s funny on Twitter @belowtheeaves.

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