September 6th, 2007 - Kate Senecal
I spend the morning in a basement classroom that’s been repurposed as an office for the local synagogue. I work there part time as an administrative assistant. I’m not Jewish, but a regular at the cafe where I work the rest of the time is. He likes to rest his hand on my lower back when he talks to me, and so he gave me this job. The windows just below the ceiling have bars that break up the sun-glare and sections of the Shop Rite sign across the street into small cubes. I drink iced coffee with cream, sitting in a hard, straight-backed chair. I probably skip breakfast. I send emails to synagogue members asking for their dues, to old professors, asking for advice about applying to grad school and to friends who live far away dissecting a recent break up in tedious detail without asking how life feels for them. Hours later at my other job, I cut oranges, freeze bananas, make smoothies, drink more coffee, flirt for tips and complain. Afterwards I walk to the bar with Chris - my roommate, my coworker, my most reliable friend. She drinks gin. I have whiskey. We complain. At home, maybe I sleep some, but probably not.
The six months on each end of this day are relatively the same flavor. I’m behaving badly. I’m self-absorbed and shitty to my friends. I know this logically, but feel entitled to it or at least able to justify it later because of this situation with my ex-boyfriend who I want to be in love with still although it’s clear we’ve run our course. But really it’s that I feel generally unmoored. I don’t exactly know why, but I obsess about the probable becauses: my non-starting professional life, my inability to navigate my parents since their divorce, my rapey college boyfriend who had an affinity for fat shaming and Wheat Thins. Everything is a wound. I am a wound. Meanwhile, my body is behaving badly. I’ve forgotten how to sleep and take long walks in the middle of the nights to pass the time. I have a gut full of something thick and sharp that sometimes I ignore, but never goes away. I throw up a couple of times a week and poop just as often if I’m lucky. A doctor tells me “having emotions is hard” and that some people are so bad at managing them they get sick. I don’t know how to have a body. It’s clear that I’m sick because I’m fundamentally the wrong way.
In 2017, 2007 is a weird year to try to write about. In many ways it’s an outlier in the context of the greater trajectory of my life. No weddings, no graduations, no new jobs or new friends. 2007 is a throwaway year if I’m thinking about my life in a linear way, but it did lead me to consider that what I was dealing with was a malfunction of the body, not a malfunction of the soul. I decided I could manage that. I could solve that. So, I cycled through doctors until I found one who didn’t tell me I was insane, saw about as many alternative practitioners and coaches, and adjusted my diet in drastic ways until I found things that made me feel better. Six months into huge dietary shifts, I felt like I had a completely different brain. Now, years later, my nervous system feels like a smooth, soft thing (most of the time). I can digest food. I sleep every night. I am profoundly changed. I am exactly the same.
Kate Senecal received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2013. She is the co-director of Words Are Power: An Empowerment Writing Workshop for Girls, a fiction workshop facilitator for Writers for Recovery, an instructor at Pioneer Valley Writer's Workshopand the director of Evolve Tutoring in Western Massachusetts. Her short fiction has been published in The Laurel Review , The Foundling Review, and inStorychord.com where she is now the fiction editor.
Kate urges people to learn more about the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund. The CSLDF was established with one goal: to protect the scientific endeavor. Learn more by visiting climatesciencedefensefund.org.