Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with a Concussion

Monday night was supposed to go a little differently, but a Hang Out subject canceled. I posted on social media calling for folks who might like to step in, but by the time I received responses the aching around the crown of my head--that I had woken up with that morning and had been present all day--had intensified. I knew if I left the house I’d hardly be able to move the next day, when I had to run around lower Manhattan for several hours. The pain started above my right ear, as it has since I first got a concussion in March, then swooped upward to my forehead and then around the back of my head. The feeling is similar to having been beaten upside the head with a baseball bat three weeks earlier. And then the sting forms itself into a throbbing ring of sorts, like the children’s arcade game where you press a button to stop a neon light in hopes of procuring a jackpot of tickets. Except there is no button to stop it.

And yet, somehow, I have never missed a deadline or an interview or work of any kind. Until now. Knowing my Tuesday evening was full, there would be no way for me to complete a Miss Manhattan Hangs Out this week unless I did one with myself. And maybe that might be interesting, spending my Tuesday setting up shots of myself in different locations around New York, but I knew I’d also have to carry my laptop to do work, and the thought of carrying both all day made my shoulders ache. What else could I do? I decided instead to take a bath and forget about it. But I am not, nor have I ever been, a person who can sit still.

I had an idea as hot water filled up the tub. These headaches had been an on-again, off-again experience since March, this throbbing pain that stops me in my tracks for hours at a time, and I was tired of it. I was frustrated and annoyed and I wanted to feel like myself, to move around the earth like I wanted to, without inhibition. There were a lot of good days, more than not, but it’s scary waking up every morning not knowing what it will feel like to lift your head off the pillow. Fuck it, I thought. It’s time to make some art out of this nonsense.

I lit the candles I kept in my windowsill and got my camera. Looking rather “oyskevepte katz” as my mother would say in Yiddish, meaning “wet cat,” I decided to document this moment, camera on remote shutter. Here I am, concussion headache in full swing. Seeing it now, it resembles (and feels?) like The Death of Marat a little bit. It’s not pretty or glamorous, there’s no makeup and my eyes are even a little swollen. But this is what it looks like when my concussion and I hang out.

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