Saturday, November 26, 2011
After 14 years I am still in the throes of learning what it means to be close to an engineer – someone with that kind of precision running through his veins, uber-focus, odd-world-out kind of mentality – and now, due to no choice of my own, I have run into another being so strange as to fill my mind with question after question, so bizarre as to boggle my every fiber and cause me to obsess about why he does what he does. The mysteries of Edward Cullen have nothing on this guy.
I am speaking, of course, about the masked one, who scrubs up to his elbows, the one with the steadiest hands, the beast known as (Say it!...Out loud...) Surgeon. (How long have you been cutting people open? ... A while.)
I am constantly thinking about the man who will perform the operation on Rhys. He is my age. He is personable (I'm told a rarity among his kind) and handsome. When we speak his name among nurses and other doctors, they sparkle like Hollywood vampires in the sun, clearly enamored of this person. When I finally met him I stared hard – looking for the trail of magical pixie dust in his wake, listening for the sound of the clouds parting and hymns of the chorus of angels to begin.
What possessed – and I do mean possessed – him to take up this profession? (I actually asked him and he told me some tired answer about seeing the difference made in people's lives, blah blah blah.) But, really, what is in him that brought him to medicine and then, to the freakish specialization of children's surgery? Is this the result of a happy childhood in which he learned he could do anything? Or a tortured one which taught him he must push as hard as he can to do better, be more perfect, and haunts him still?
What does he do in his free time? Does he have free time? What will he eat for breakfast the morning before he cuts open my perfect baby? What will he eat for lunch afterwards? Will he remember to look at his name on the chart or will it simply be another tiny body he must fix? Why does he think it normal to go to work and pick up a scalpel? Why does he shrug when I ask him details about ideal weights and ages for this to be done? How does he feel when things go well? When they don't?
When I flub my job, verbs fall flat or phrases fail to find a foothold in your mind's imagination. And for him?
Two weeks before Project Insanity in which I offer up my Rhys to surgery at Children's Hospital Boston. Escape is a very necessary tool at this point. And so, if you had told me a week ago that I would reach a time in my life when I would spend what small wakeful free time I have disappearing into a laughable fantasy world where a girl goes to her prom with a vampire, I would have said you were nuts. But thanks to a friend's suggestion (Yes, I blame you, Nicole!), there I go. Werewolves, baseball-playing vampires, armies of the newly undead, I embrace it all, while I place my faith in another kind of creature which to me doesn't seem all that different with regard to his rumored super-human abilities.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Two things Isaac is obsessed with right now are world records and looking things up on the internet. As you might guess, these two passions combine to make for hours of entertainment for my son as long as there is an adult to tell him how to spell and read what pops up.
About as skilled as I am with finessing his search language, Isaac sees the computer as a kind of a boardwalk palm reader -- “Ask it 'What is the biggest baby ever born?' Type in, 'Who-is-the-person-with-the-longest-ever-mustache-ever-in-the-whole-entire-world-ever?'”
“Let's look up 'Who is the most important person in the world?'” he pleaded recently.
“Who would decide who the most important person was?” I ask, devil horns sprouting from my curls. “Most important for what? To whom?”
“You know, just most important.”
“But that's a complicated question. To Rhys right now I'm the most important person in his world. Without me, he doesn't eat.”
“No, but you know. The most important person, like, the president or...like that.”
“Rhys doesn't care about the president.”
“Forget it,” my six-year-old says, and, disgusted with me, stalks off.
I can't decide if I should be happy or nervous that our surgeon carries the name of a mythical deity. I can't decide to be grateful or not when our cardiologist squeezes in a voicemail to me “between meetings” and inquires as to my “availability.” Why “between feedings,” dear doctor.
Etymologically speaking, there is this --
doctor = c. 1300 “Church father”
mother = Proto-Indo-European, from “ma,” meaning breast
Latin - mater
Greek - meter
French - mère
German - Mutter
Russian - mate
Icelandic - modher
Sanskrit - mata
Irish - mathair
Welsh - mam
Arabic - oum
Hebrew - em
Swahili - mama
Chinese - ma
Hawaian - makuahine (maka first, beloved < *ma-k Proto-Polynesian, the mother (?) + wahine woman)
I've decided to spare you the ins and outs of how we came to this point, but know it is hard-won: Surgery date - December 9.
Friday, November 04, 2011
Doors red, blue, brown, white standard sizes, white one skinny closet door. one blue with window and glass, I collect doors but can't take them! 10 each
That is an actual line from a Craig's List ad. The person was moving and listing a variety of things for sale. After the hand-painted boogie board and before the list of mirrors was this list. Doors.
Collecting doors? Maybe he or she didn't want to miss Opportunity. It might knock on the beige one with the half-circle of stained glass at the top. Or, it might favor the steel door, impenetrable though it may seem. The screen door, flapping gayly open and closed through summer nights might be where it comes to call, or the one painted white and red with the ornate handle.
The call and the challenge for the writer is to notice. Through this year of chaos, I try. Often anymore, it is the only thing I can do. I can't seem to do anything about things, either because they are out of my control to begin with or because I notice them while walking a fussy baby, or while falling into bed, exhausted.
Before I moved, I had started on a longer work, now temporarily abandoned, that deals with my mom's passing and my tendency to search for and, by turns, embrace or reject what might be signs of messages from the other side. One of the main things I am grappling with in writing it – or should I say grappling with and so writing it in hopes of at least (and this is no small part) laying bare the questions though the answers may never find me – is even if I were to find what I believe with all my being is a sign, so what? A sign of...? The meaning of which is...? Because of it I'm supposed to believe...?
That's where the noticing comes in. For now, I just notice. It is what it is, as they say. What to do with the information, I have no idea.
I just notice, for example, that my mother declined open heart surgery before she died. And that the last time I saw her was in a cardio ICU unit. I just notice that a year after her passing I had a baby that requires open heart surgery. And that I will be spending time with him in a cardio ICU unit.
I also notice that I have bought a house with a lot of issues regarding doors and passage ways. I refer to it regularly as a Feng Shui nightmare. None of the doors to the rooms close right, entrances are obstructed, unnecessarily complicated, blocked. If everything in the world wasn't at the top of my priority list right now, from buying winter boots to scheduling surgery, I'd say I'd have those doors fixed ASAP. My baby, born to this house in so many strange ways – born at home the night we moved in, his middle name meaning “new house...” -- has passages in his heart that are blocked and other spaces that are open where they aren't supposed to be. Just noticing.
I laughed and laughed at the door collector when I first hit upon it. But really, why should this hobby be any odder than any of our other neuroses? French doors teeming with possibility. Barn doors with their two halves swinging independently. We live among closet doors, pocket doors, solid wood doors with see-through key holes. All the while, looking for a way out