DO NO HARM: Aneurysm, Part 2 (SPOILER ALERT)

Wonder what the woman patient in this chapter would think of Henry Marsh’s book? Doubt the hospital administration would have told her:

We tried three times to clip the aneurysm but the first two clips were flawed and the head surgeon ended up throwing one of the flawed clips across the operating room. You’re damn lucky.

Anyhoo, the day after the operation, when Marsh visits the patient, she has a huge black eye and a swollen forehead. Marsh may not have appeared sufficiently concerned about the patient’s appearance because her husband, who happens to be there, glares at Marsh angrily.

Marsh explains his nonchalance thus:

  • Perhaps I should have expressed more sympathy but after the near-disaster of the operation I found it difficult to take her minor post-operative problems seriously.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

A Student Submits a Piece (Assignment # 2: Create a List)

I.

A woman is hungry. She searches her house and all she discovers is a piece of stale white toast. She takes a bite and discovers it is soaking wet.

II.

A woman’s dryer is full of water. Her first thought is to read the dryer instructions on removing water. She squats down but cannot see/read the instructions around the control button. Suddenly, a stranger is standing right behind her. The woman realizes all she has on are “mini tiny shorts.” She feels naked.

III.

A woman is in “a poorly lit place” having a manicure. She realizes she left her purse in the car. She retrieves her purse, but she finds that the way to the manicure place is now uphill, and she is wearing high platform shoes. The manicurist tells the woman she owes $400.

IV.

A woman is with her son by a pool. It is time for some scheduled pool activity to begin but the boy stays outside the pool, playing and teasing his mother, “for what seems like hours.” The woman begins crying hard.


Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Sunday, 2 July 2017

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Exhibition Catalogue, SFMOMA: Jim Goldberg’s “Raised By Wolves,” Photographs of Seattle’s Street Children (1995)

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A Parent of a Runaway, Quoted in the “Raised by Wolves” Exhibition Catalogue

#amreading: Saturday, 1 July 2017

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FAMILY: by Anna Moi for Air France Magazine

Early 1960s. The “war” was the Vietnam War, which pitted the North, where Moi’s parents were from, against the South, to where they fled:

How long does it take for a mother to read Alone in the World and The Story of Perrine to her child? My mother read to me almost every evening, because my parents went out only three or four times a year, and never had guests. It was wartime, but that doesn’t explain it — war had only just begun and nobody imagined at the time that it would last some 15 years and that we’d face shortages of everything, especially freedom, the basic freedom to move around as we chose.

This sense of frugality was something my parents were born with, just as others live with a heart murmur or an irregular heartbeat. It was the region of their birth, the North, that had triggered this simmering anxiety.

At bedtime, my mother would decide on a number of pages, but I would beg her to carry on, and she was always happy to continue the story of Rémi the abandoned child or of Perrine Paindavoine, an orphan searching for her family . . .  From one episode to the next, in those days before TV series, I traveled from one family to another, and from town to town, in the comfort of knowing I would fall asleep sated with emotions.

#amreading: A Friend’s Memoir

The friend is Kathleen J. Burkhalter, and her memoir is called The Greatest of These Is Love: Selections From Kathleen’s Celebration of Daily Life, edited by David Bell

  • It takes courage to begin writing because to write is to reveal. When you live in a critical environment, it is hard to write authentically. Even to begin writing is an act of bravery. But on the other hand, writing is a form of liberation. Like singers who sing, or composers who make music, or artists who paint, the use of one’s talent is an essential element of being happy.

— p. 116, The Greatest of These Is Love, vol. III

Kathleen Joaquin Burkhalter was born in Augusta, Georgia and grew up in Baguio, Mountain Province, in the Philippines. Her mother was from plantation families in Pampanga and Marinduque, and her father was from a colonial Georgia family. Kathleen would proudly say, “I am 100% Filipino and 100% American.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

IN COLD BLOOD, p. 150

Self is full speed ahead on this book.

The excerpt below is about Alvin Dewey, lead detective on the Clutter murders.

He’s stepped into a coffee shop and gets heckled:

“I got a houseful of women who won’t go to the bathroom alone.”

Dewey had become accustomed to this brand of abuse; it was a routine part of his existence. He swallowed the second cup of coffee, smiled.

“Hell, I’m not cracking jokes. I mean it. Why don’t you arrest somebody? That’s what you ‘re paid for.”

“Hush your meanness,” said Mrs. Hartman. “We’re all in the same boat. Alvin’s doing as good as he can.”

The ranch hand waited until his quarry had reached the door, then fired a farewell volley: “If you ever run for sheriff again, just forget my vote, because you ain’t gonna get it.”

Self teaches memoir writing. The trickiest part of it is that remembered dialogue is far from accurate.

But, in this case, the “remembered dialogue” is by a third party who wasn’t even there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mourning for Isotope, edited by Christopher Cokinos

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper,they would look like a series of waves. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

— from self’s hybrid essay/memoir/short story The Lost Language, published in Isotope

Isotope was a literary journal based in Utah State. When that university began to make steep budget cuts, the magazine lost the heart of its funding. In 2009, editor Chris Cokinos issued an appeal for support. Terrain.org posted it.

Alas, Isotope lost the fight. Self mourned. It was the only literary journal of its kind, combining science writing and creative writing, a place that joined physicists and playwrights, biologists and memoir writers, and created an exciting new kind of community.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Sentence of the Day: Basho

You’re floating in a sea of tranquil words. You’re lost in reading Basho:

In their ecstasy of a single night
Under the moon of summer.

Nothing can be more tranquil than a Basho haiku.

And then:

  • That rugged mountain in the village of Sarashina is where the villagers in the remote past used to abandon their ageing mothers among the rocks.

Bam! It’s like a sudden blow to the head. You never see it coming.

“A Visit to Sarashina Village” is in Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which self started reading about a week ago and which is going to be — self can feel it — the defining reading experience of the summer, if not of the entire 2016. It is a very, very thin book, but self advances about a page a day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Basho left Edo in the spring of 1689 and travelled the great arc of the northern routes (Oshukaido and Hokurikudo) in six months, arriving in Ogaki in the autumn of 1689.

He got to the River Oi and wanted to cross but it had rained all day and the river was too swollen to allow it. He continued without crossing the river until he got to the “steep precipice of Sayo-no-nakayama”:

Half-asleep on horseback
I saw as if in a dream
A distant moon and a line of smoke
For the morning tea.

Self was mistaken about the entire work being written in haiku. Here’s a prose passage:

My head is clean shaven, and I have a string of beads in my hand. I am indeed dressed like a priest but priest I am not, for the dust of the world still clings to me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

Stay tuned.

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