I’m not dead. Just sad.
But it’ll all work out. It always does.
Still a little shocked that the incredible doctor at the med school here is sincerely interested in my oral narratives project for his medical education reform project in China. It would mean creating and analyzing an archive of oral narratives with older health professionals and hopefully patients, nurses, family members, etc on the history of China’s health culture and how we can address doctor-patient communication and medical ethics from here on out. This probably sounds like a jumble of medical or academic jargon, but I’ll essentially have a platform for making sure that people’s stories and experiences with health care will be heard and translated into concrete changes! And it looks like it’s feasible! And happening!
But it’s also one of two things that are going well this quarter. There’s been a lot of talk on campus recently about how unhealthy the normalization of self-deprecation and stress is. And I’ve given in to that. In fact, I’m so far swamped in the fiction that this level of stress and academic anxiety is normal that I didn’t even notice until now. I have an abusive relationship with time, I’ve been cutting myself off from people, and my work-ethic is totally unsustainable. And wrong. I’m going to take better care of myself. I mean it this time. Or at least, I’m more honest about what I mean this time.
I’m awfully sorry.
Well, I think that if there were a Heaven to go to, it would have to be a place where all the limits of our expectations are lifted; and whether or not there’s some external afterlife I’d like to think that the only betrayal against those we’ve lost would be to keep their memory tangled up in such finite, mortal, dead things as the expectations and plans they had for us, etc. That’s a kind of entombment in itself.
You don’t want to bury your mom a second time by wrapping her memory up in limitations she’s no longer stuck by; instead you take the core of her—love, unconditional & perfect & unlimited—and you disentangle her and yourself from the rest, let go, and let grow: you in life, she in you.
Chopin’s mother wanted him to compose symphonies & operas. Chopin wanted to compose nocturnes & barcarolles for the piano. Now we have Chopin.
There’s no betrayal.
That’s the best I can offer.
to the sun:
I trick out shadows from simmering trunks,
their petty ghosts gulping your glow
as you cling to horizon and I ax
your straight beamed fingers one
by electromagnetic one.
I taught this land to smirk, fool.
Just twilit, she landed on his browbone
as he limped and hummed onward,
her arms going first,
unfinished farewells curling
at edge, her ankles
next, gaunt and quiet,
her thighs then, and last
the torso, absolved
at the puttering decrescendo
of a geometric heart,
and she was gone.
He hobbled onward with her entropic glint
as all around him
crystal limbs broke.
— Charles Wright
A bride leaves for the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow, New York, 1987.Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic