by Kelsey Mars
December 26th, 2016
"The only journey is the one within." - Rainer Maria Rilke
When conceiving this issue, I always had the intention of it being atypical. It is a holiday issue, with no Christian (or pagan) themes. Indeed, it is not holiday-thematic as well. There are no mentions of trees or presents, or a mystical overweight man in red. I did this with the utmost intention.
What I did not intend, was illness.
For the past year, I’ve been struggling with my own body. I went to the urgent care in January of 2016 in some of the worst pain I’ve experienced in my life. They told me I had indigestion, my stomach was too acidic. I was given a strong dose of Prilosec and I was sent home. I recovered and, after three weeks or so, I felt fine.
Two months later, the pain came back.
This has been going on for the better part of a calendar year. Three weeks ago, it became so bad I was finally prompted to go to a gastroenterologist.
It took all of one ultrasound for them to discover I had hardened bilirubin in my gallballder. Gallstones. When I ate heavy meals, or especially fatty foods, my gallbladder would contract on itself. That’s what was causing the pain.
I’ll be having my gallbladder removed in a month, and I’ll be all the more better for it, but until then it’s a struggle. I don’t eat enough. A misstep, a bite of something that doesn’t agree with me, sends me into pain that doesn’t allow me to work or write or think. Because I don’t eat enough, I feel tired. I’ve pushed myself in the past year to experience more, do more, say yes more, but I’ve realized that I’ve done this at my expense. I listened to other people over my own body. There have been times when this realization washes over me and I feel angry. I feel ashamed and sad that my body can’t function well enough to digest what I eat and turn it into energy.
This issue was delayed several weeks because I didn’t feel like I had the strength or courage to publish it. I’ve been gripped with fear or being left behind, or crippled by illness. I realize I am in such a position of privilege to even be writing this, but it has scared me.
I publish these works, as always, with pride. However, when compiling and editing them for publication, I discovered something that had hidden itself from even me. These works reveal a certain kind of strength. One that is, in essence (like most strength) female. It is gentle, it overcomes, it is sexual and it lights itself like a modern gas fire in a bougie McMansion.
(I love McMansions.)
This issue also marks the first time I publish a short work of my own. It is a work of non-fiction and might not feel any different than these letters I post to you tri-annually. Please approach it with different eyes. It was written in the fall of 2015, last year. It was written in haste. Reading it back, it has the sense of urgency of being chased.
Please know that you are not being chased. If anything, we are chasing something, you and I. What it is, I do not yet know. But I think it’s pretty fucking special to make us run this fast.