Indulge me. Otherwise where will all these passages live? I randomly opened a writing group notebook and found this prompt response. I may do more of this.
Not that you need to know to appreciate my response, but these words were written about six months after my brother’s hemorrhagic stroke. The novel mentioned is Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam.
Who’s to say why the coagulation goes awry and what shoves the blob skyward to lung or brain? I don’t mean chemistry, but rather destiny.
Flannery O’Connor said anyone with a childhood has enough to write about for a lifetime. Two things: what if you don’t remember is one, the other is had she lived past 39 would the assertion have held?
Next up: a novel written about end times. A white couple in their forties rents a house from a Black couple in their sixties. The initial conflict centers on sympathetic flexibility — to exercise it or not — toward the Black couple. One of the younger characters in defense of helping them out keeps repeating, because they’re so old.
I’m so old. What an unexpected place to land critiquing a novel.
The radiology tech ticks through her questions: surgeries, Jewish genes, forebears with breast cancer. No. No. No. The final No gets an asterisk — none of my forebears having lived long enough. Same regarding hip fractures.
Without looking back (to childhood), what is there to say? My socks are damp. I hear a truck passing on Route 9. For some reason, my ears are ringing. What’s for lunch?
If I wrote an end times novel, the first floor would fill with water and the deer would swim all the way to Worcester to claim higher ground. Wouldn’t we be clever, crafting a boat out of an armoire, diving into the pantry to claim all those cans of beans and a can opener. He did scuba. I can sew. Does anything ensure survival?
The water froze on Saturday. A beautiful skim of ice not welcome or expected in the white ceramic pot outside where it awaits spring annuals.
Beautiful, cheerful, colorful spring annuals. Let the adjectives march off a cliff after I fill my pot. I want the thing instead of its description.
One child gets the bum thyroid, another my soft teeth. Their father imparted a singular disinclination to converse.
Check the bloods! Get the teeth polished! This week I learned that most hip fractures are from falling sideways.
It still knocks me back to hear my doctor ask, “Have you sustained any fractures that you know of?”
Husband and I would paddle out the second story window and collect the neighborhood cats, relieved that at least we wouldn’t have to listen to children screaming at the nearby playground anymore. The school and its surround submerged.
So much of privilege comes down to being able to effectively manage one’s annoyances.
Raucous, repetitious, grating. Adjectives that speak to the inability to control things.
Last week, I said to the Dive Master, “We’ve got a screamer this year. First period.” I blame the teachers.
He hasn’t donned a scuba mask in years and most of my sewing is of decorative items. Make a top why don’t you? Cover the goddamned ripped chair?
Marshaling skills in non-income producing venues is another sign of privilege.
Soon I shall reduce myself, not to a fine, ineluctable syrup, dense with flavor and mystery, but to apology. I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.
Everything is happening at once. The reefs dying off, the burning of the West, forests under stress. And here we are twiddling our thumbs as if we had all the time in the world.
I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.
Destructive, greedy, corrupt or willfully blind. Those adjectives feel necessarily to name what gets in the way.
Not to be too reductive. But it’s white men, specifically Republicans.
Chomsky called the GOP ‘the most destructive organization on the planet.’
Noun — GOP. Adjective — destructive. We get tired, all of us, tracking the damage. The clot gathering density, the vein about to collapse and send blood northward, glacial ice one-fourth the size of Rhode Island letting loose.
I got cold. Put on a sweater. My feet feel dry now. Sometimes that’s all we have — the noticing of damp, the preference for non-damp, and the gratitude for dry socks.