Over this summer I was forced to not contribute to ‘society’, because I couldn’t. I had permission from all the world and from myself to survive surgery, to rest, to mend, and to stop feeling that I ought to do anything else. Of course, this tribulation has had quite an effect on me. As I gradually depart from that invalid condition, questions bubble up: What to do next? Who am I now? Should I reflexively return to who I was before, or am I no longer that person? Read more
We Are the Way We Move
I feel so odd. THR surgery has brutalized the soft tissue in and around my hip sockets’ joint capsules. During the first stages of healing, pelvic and femur bones fuse to titanium and ceramic implants, meanwhile the soft tissue must scar tightly so the prosthetic joint won’t dislocate. My physical therapy protocol of strengthening without stretching—the latter would be dangerous for me—feels strange. My inner voice repeats and repeats: Bulk muscles around the bones, compact, tough, to guard and brace. At least for now, while deep inside layers are still fragile. Let them knit and bind. Build a barrier wall. A barricade. I draw into a geological centrality, the way gravity makes the Earth’s crust adhere to the iron planetary core. My limbs and head pour toward my spine as planets cleave to the sun. Read more
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