On Being Optimistic


At my last doctor’s visit, I said, When I am in so much physical pain, I tend to get low. I get very depressed.

She said, I’m sure not as bad as some.

My doctor thinks I’m her most optimistic patient. She said this the day she diagnosed me with fibromyalgia.


I bring this up because I am sick in bed with a terrible cold and I am again thinking about my body. I can’t remember the last time I felt healthy. I mean, what I used to think of as healthy. The kind of healthy you take for granted, that I took for granted.


It’s true that I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. It’s also true that being ill is why I find it necessary to curate a reading series. When I’m feeling somewhat okay, I organize these events. When I’m feeling less than okay, I still organize these events, except from bed in between naps.

At a reading in Echo Park, my friend said, Let me get this straight. You’re inside all day and when you leave the house, it looks like this?

I looked at the people gathered on the back patio and they looked content and warm underneath the patio lights.

Yes, I said and smiled. I guess that’s right.

Curating a reading series and editing on Saturdays feels similar to me. I always thought of The Rumpus not as magazine but a community filled with people who tell me stories I love and long to hear.


A few months ago, when my whole body would ache from pain that emanated from deep, deep within my muscles, I would concentrate on my right pinky toe. There was no pain in my right pinky toe. About a month ago, I’d get a half-hour of relief. I’d feel okay. This month, I’ve gotten one or two days of feeling okay.

I am trying to remind myself that there are times when I am not fatigued and not in pain, that though they happen in small amounts, they do seem to be increasing. I tell myself that maybe one day I won’t be ill.

Zoe Ruiz is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. Her work has appeared in The Weeklings, Salon, Two Serious Ladies, and Ohio Edit. She studied creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and now lives in Los Angeles. More from this author →