Illusions, Delusions and Regrets

Non, je ne regrette rien

Image by Jon at NDHU via Flickr

“Our job is to fill the page.  Don’t you remember telling me that?  You always said that,” chided Anita earlier this week when we talked about our long-ago job together at a Chicago marketing boutique.  I sheepishly admitted she was right as of course she was.  When we slaved away years ago fashioning copy for annual reports, press releases, ghost-written articles for executives who had neither the time nor the inclination to put their own thoughts on paper and other types of written drivel, I was that annoying megaphone encouraging us on, reminding us that our work was to ‘fill the page’.   

It was ironic then that I couldn’t fill my own pages these days.  I was suffering from a rotten bout of writer’s block.  After talking with my literary coach K, we outlined a plan of attack that included daily writing and the heart-warming illusion of words appearing on the page with lightning-quick speed.   The plan seemed so clear.  And yet, I used the pretext of a busy schedule of business travel as the subtext for doing nothing.

Fueled by growing guilt, the prospect of regret loomed.  I simply inserted my flash drive into my laptop and pulled up the draft.  My fingers began plucking away like a chipmunk and I was on my way again.  I couldn’t answer the question of why it took some 40 odd days to stave off my misguided procrastination.  It infuriated me.

“Non, Je ne regrette rien,” Edith Piaf* sang so hypnotically.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88

 No regrets.  Thinking about what held me back won’t push me forward. 

Why does anyone procrastinate?  How do you overcome it?

*Lyrics:  Non, Je ne regrette rien

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
C’est payé, balayé, oublié
Je me fous du passé

Avec mes souvenirs, j’ai allumé le feu
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs, je n’ai plus besoin d’eux
Balayées les amours, avec leurs trémolos
Balayées pour toujours, je repars à zéro

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Car ma vie car mes joies
Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi

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And Now, A Message from Our Sponsor

Graphic depiction of number of posts per year ...

Image via Wikipedia

Regular readers of Anne On Fire know there is no sponsor for this small blog.  However, after six months of regular posts it seemed appropriate to take a commercial break from the storyline to update readers on a couple of things.  First, we just hit our 3,000th view.  This seems, well, ridiculously miniscule given all the big bloggers out there.  But when Anne on Fire started, I wasn’t sure it would make it past its second post.  Now, there have been dozens of posts (hopefully not too many but as in the story of the Three Bears, something “just right”) and more importantly,there have been more comments than posts.  In fact, more than double the comments for each blog post.  This either tells me people like to comment, or that there is a wonderful support network out there, or that maybe these posts hold the interest of our dear readers – or some combination of all of the above, none of the above or just some good stuff.

 Also on the good news front, my critique professional “K” let me know she saw some hope in moving ahead with the Anne on Fire book.  This is certainly encouraging and certainly means more work for me on that front and more posts to come as the blog continues to be the platform for research and an unfolding storyline.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging…….

Getting My Voice On

Some people might find getting burned in a fire difficult to connect with how, when and why I became an actor but that is essentially part of my story line and are inextricably linked.  As the burn story goes, my sister Susie always told me how she “smelled” me from her perch in the basement that morning and told my mom who was ironing away down there with her to check on me. There she found me, stuck to and burning on the stove. As Susie tells the story, I was silent. Not crying out or calling for help. It seems I had lost my voice.

 So today when I voiced tags* for 29 tv commercials across the country, I silently counted my blessings. A number of years ago, I found my voice and I don’t think I would have realized it had I not gone through the fire. The story is too long for a single post but this blog helps me tell it in my stylish, compartmentalized way.  Even this snippet focuses me on two things:  1) I need to have another conversation with sister Susie to see if the wives tale I’d heard is still her story today; and 2) Soren Kierkegaard‘s quote mirrors my own thoughts these days, “Life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward.”

Cabinets Above Stoves

The old kitchen stove

Image by Andrew_N via Flickr

In my day I’ve remodeled two kitchens, which is an undertaking in itself if you’ve ever been through a gut rehab. There are myriad details involved and more than a fair share of stress. Through them both, my primary concern was the stove. Not the brand nor where to put it but more importantly, how to position it. Since I burned myself by climbing up a stove to get some crackers in the cabinet above it, I’m uber-sensitive on stove-cabinet placement. That is, no cabinets above stoves. In one kitchen, I went with a cooktop on the island. In the other, a range with a hood above it. I’m not sure anyone noticed then or now since it was one of those odd-yet-still-mildly-compulsive-but-hardly-obsessive things. In fact, I’m not sure if anyone but me thought of what can happen when you put cabinets above stoves (and why would they!) but it was something always in the back of my mind. This may sound batty, but sometimes I find myself looking at my stove and cooktop, nodding approvingly that there are not cabinets above them.

Medical Records – Poof! They Are Gone

looking for  medical records

Image via Wikipedia

“I just want to warn you not to be hopeful,” Terry in the Business Office of a medical practice said when I asked her about finding my medical records from the 1960s. That said, she said they would manually look through the ‘old books’ of records from the 1980s backwards to see if they could find mine. I saw Dr. Sullivan from the time I was a kid through college in the 1980s and despite the warning, am hopeful my medical records from the critical 1965-66 years still exist especially since I’ve hit so many dead ends. My original plastics surgeons are dead; their records destroyed. The hospital only had my records from the 1980s (and ironically, the woman assisting me in the medical records department was named “Bernie”). Dr. Hoops became my plastic surgeon in 1967, well after the original accident (and I do have all his records of me now). But my curiosity rests in the original records. Cross your fingers. Dousman Clinic may still come through.

Time-and-Space Leg-Look-Lag, or How About Some Denial?

Well, I finally did it. I actually opened and read the medical records I’d ordered about 18 months ago. I know this sounds strange. When they arrived in separate, non-descript manilla envelopes last March 2009, I quickly ripped opened one packet. Doing a quick flip through, I saw the unthinkable: My leg. I was 7 years old and the plastic surgeon took a full leg picture from various angles. While it was thankfully taken in black and white, the sight was such a shock to me that I put the package back in its envelope. Unbelieveable as it was, I had never seen a photo of my own leg. Truth be told, it looked awful and made me feel that way too. Good god that must have hurt, I thought realizing at the same time that I was starting to detach me from myself. That’s a long way of saying, I wanted to forget about the picture for a while. And so I did. It’s one of the many ways that this “project” of mine continues to surprise even me. More on what was in the two packages later.

Another Strike-Out

When I emerged from my initial burn hospitalization after 3 months and countless surgeries, I headed to a place called the Curative Workshop (www.newcurative.org) for rehabilitation. I remember putting on a bathing suit and going into a round metal tub filled with warm water (maybe this was precurser to the modern-day hot tub but a whole lot less fun and definitely without the jets). Today I called the Curative Workshop and records from the 60s are long since destroyed. John, the medical records historian, has only been working there for 17 years which unfortunately didn’t help me. He also didn’t remember a worker there named Audrey. Another person I remember as the woman who helped me in that metal tub so many times over so many months. So, another strike-out today on the information front.