I used to have this blog

July 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

I had started blogging because my friends Aimee and Meredith were blogging and I wanted in on the conversation. Aimee and Meredith were witty, or at least lucid, and I mostly posted tight little paragraphs of cryptic political fury. And lists of words I liked.

I pretended to myself that the reader (I had 12 at my height) would infer profound meanings through the associations I wasn’t really drawing. Eventually I got bored or distracted or I moved or the network I belonged to imploded and I stopped blogging.

Last weekend I had a fantastic conversation with someone who swore she was happy to talk to me despite 1. my earlier political rant about U.S. education (to sum up: the system is set up not to educate–it’s a success) and 2. my current topic of ekphrastic poetry.

Anyway I was talking about language as clumsy and inexact and how frustrating this is and how good poetry uses the slippage between language and meaning to create an experience.  This is why summarizing a poem is often unhelpful, even deceptive.  This slippage (which is my best experience of reading a poem) is why I love poems.  The lists of words was an attempt to do that on the cheap.

The real deal, the really interesting thing for me, is what happens in between the thing we expect and the thing that actually occurs.


My mom forwards email.

July 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

I love her very much even though she’s got the hair-trigger on the forward button of life.  She worries.  She wants to keep us safe. Readers (all four of you, hi!) this means you too.  Everbody should be safe, everywhere.  The email forward is but one arm of a total safety strategy–if we care enough everyone will be safe.  I am not (just) making fun: have inherited this from her whole.

It might even be true that Johns Hopkins did originate the 16.3 (there are numbered subtopics) point newsletter detailing how not to get cancer.  Or, rather how to make sure (probably) that the free-floating cancer cells that already live in your body won’t metastasize.  Eat healthy.  Exercise.  Don’t microwave plastic.

And then there’s point 15 (all the underlining is theirs): Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit.  A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, un-forgiveness and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.


Right now this very second I am enjoying life AND PLUS I don’t smoke.  (Did get sunburn in Budapest though.  Honeymoon was great.)  However, I remember being sicker before the wonder-drugs. People dealing with depression and other forms of mental illness sometimes have trouble with the enjoyment thing.  Is true.  Thus we bring our cancer on ourselves.

Susan Sontag first published her long-form essay “Illness as Metaphor” in 1977.  It frustrates me (a cancer emotion for sure!) that it’s still totally relevant.

Supporting the theory about the emotional causes of cancer is a growing literature and body of research, and scarcely a week passes without a new article announcing to some general public or other  the scientific link between cancer and painful feelings.  Investigations are cited–most articles refer to the same ones–in which out of, say, several hundered cancer patients, two-thirds or three-fifths report being depressed or unsatisfied with their lives, and having suffered from the loss (throught death or rejection or separation) of a parent, lover, spouse, or close friend.  But it seems likely that of several hundered people who do not have cancer, most would also report depressing emotions and past traumas: this is called the human condition.

Go on ahead and read Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors by Susan Sontag. It goes quick. It’ll help with clear thinking. This will keep you safe.

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