I am deeply touched by a BBC news piece about the forgotten 7th century hermitage on Skellig Michael off the Irish coast. Beehive-like domes of stone that resemble the Persian earth architecture of the same period, snuggle into craggy inclines connected by stone stairs. The island is ringed by sheer cliffs dropping to crashing waves. Utter romance. And because of its volatile sea approach discouraging visitors, enforced solitude. Read more
…I am ten years old, on the island in July. One night, I sneak out to meet my neighboring friends, each of us clutching a pillow and blanket. We cut through the woods, clamber into the loft of a neighboring barn, and bunk down, giggling, in the hay. Above, in the rafters, sleepy swallows stir. Read more
Many dancers use bulimia as a solution to getting and staying thin, but I have never been able to stomach it. In fact, I refused even the occasional necessary illness purge. Through a recent Ayahuasca journey in Brazil, I got from that fear and loathing to gratefully accepting my body’s grace.
I am in an airless anteroom, under fluorescent light, with two hundred people, all wearing white, crowded close. Anticipation mingled with anxiety, nervousness, glee swell the murmuring. Some bring memories of previous journeys. Others have never had this experience, though experienced or not, everyone acknowledges that expectation is a hindrance. Read more
I sit under a tree on a summer morning reading, out loud to myself, three pages of Proust. I savor the syllables shaping my tongue. My mind imbibes his. Time stretches over the frame of described action so that scenes stain and shimmer on his writerly canvas with greater permanence than had I absorbed them silently. When I reach a stopping point, I sip my tea, watch two dark quacking ducks pass overhead, let my mind float. Read more
I have been at Mass General Hospital in Boston for a surgery to replace my hip, then several days afterward in a rehab facility. For me, these are all one hospital experience.
Time has stopped. It moves back and forth, stuck in a groove without progressing. Overhead fluorescent lights flip on, blanching the close corners of a room that is better left in shadow. Weary dusky rose walls, linoleum floors, and acoustic tile ceilings. Stuck time, stuck time, stuck time, stuck time, stuck time…is stagnant. Read more
Someone has moved all the living room furniture to prepare for the lecture. I say no, put it back. They refuse so I must put it back myself. I go to move the red chair; its arm is broken; a tattered Indian throw covers grimy brocade upholstery. The stained blue love seat verges on collapse. The paintings are not paintings at all but cheesy magazine pages pasted onto thin, rumpled cardboard and put in a flimsy dime-store frame. Rather than a charming installation of venerable, valuable antiques, the room has been a farce. It should all be thrown out. Read more
Soon I will get detailed about this condition and operation but today it’s about meeting my surgeon.
I pass through the revolving doors of the Yawkey Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, between the glass walls then the brushed titanium elevator doors that whisper shut with efficient deference. The folks at Reception hand me an iPad with survey questions about my pain levels and can I walk 0-2 blocks, 2-5 blocks etc. etc, that feed right into their database. Next I hit Radiology with technicians who x-ray every angle, and now, in the small, tidy, dim examination room an intern yanks my legs too fast and far, like all the previous doctors in the diagnostic process. Seeing me wince appears to be an essential data point. At last Ric and I sit quietly, waiting. So much depends on the next person we see.
I lean forward, my feet tucked under me, slightly suspended as my arms press down on the armchair arms. My iliotibial band glows gold with streaks of iridescent peacock blue. The chair bottom falls away. I hang over a chasm. A river crashes through the gorge far below, its roar faint I am so far up. I grip my legs to me but they grow heavy and slowly unfold, and hang down, and now I know that they hang by the merest thread from the sockets. The threads will break soon. My legs will fall and smash on the rocks jagging up through the churning white water. Read more