The Truth Board

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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Scar Tissue

As of last week I have physical evidence at how tired and stressed out I am. The fact that I am stressed out and overworked did not surprise me--the academic year started with a number of "additions" to the list of my responsibilities. I currently juggle classes, teaching and The Truth About the Fact among other things. Additionally, I live in Los Angeles and the daily commute takes up about 2 hours of my day and you get... well, the physical evidence that I am very stressed out and tired.

It was a fine Thursday afternoon (sentimental beginning intentional). I went on a before-class coffee run with my colleague Jessica, and after grabbing coffee we went to get some snacks. I had two cups of coffee so I decided that it was a good idea to stack the smaller coffee cup on top of the larger one and lean it against my body, which would give me the chance to decide between salted vs. unsalted peanuts. In retrospect this incident reminds me of a passage from something I read--I believe by Fitzgerald--that included a description of a woman that blocks a sheet of paper from falling with her body, and the author comments on women's ability to use their bodies to do things that men would never do. So I guess that if I were a man, I would not have thought to hold two cups of coffee with my body, but I did. What happened next is not quite clear to me, but I am guessing the cup that was on top tilted and the next thing I felt was heat and moisture.

My first thought went along the lines, "My class starts in 3 minutes and there's coffee all over my dress." I distinctly remember wringing the coffee out of the front of my dress while seriously considering that I could just wait for it to dry. I remember thinking, It's uncomfortable, but the dress is black so you can't really tell. Soon, however, my worries about how long it would take for my dress to dry were replaced by overwhelming sense of pain and heat. I realized that the moisture and the strong coffee smell were the least of my worries and that the coffee was hot enough to have done substantial damage to my skin. I remember removing my belt to reduce the pain and picking up a T-shirt and a bottle of water because I was surrounded by an overwhelming sense of heat. I managed to work the T-shirt and a long cardigan into a "normal" outfit to get myself through the day, and headed to class.

Besides the fact that 5 days later it is still impossible for me to get through the night without waking up from the pain, and no band aid is big enough to cover my burns, I am still amazed at my body's reactions towards the burn. I have already developed a compulsion to protect my stomach and most of the time have a hand hovering around the burned area, not quite touching it, but trying to protect it from other things. At the same time, I am still not used to seeing the angry bright red skin and the blisters that now cover most of my stomach and every time I notice it while getting dressed I get genuinely surprised. I feel frustrated at the fact that it is taking forever to heal and that at the end of the day I have to manipulate my seatbelt in a way that it is not too painful to drive.

This experience made me think of all the times the klutzy heroine of a romantic comedy spills something over herself to show how corky and adorable she is. No movie, however, at least from the movies that I have seen ever shows the heroine wandering in drugstore aisles at midnight and wondering which ointment to smear across her abdomen next, hoping for fast relief. As a lifelong klutz, I assure you there is nothing appealable or adorable about spilling and dropping things, or walking into things.

Lilly Berberyan


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