25 January 2010

20 January 2010

Interesting post on Girl with Pen

BODY LANGUAGE: When your own body becomes the terrain (by Alison Piepmeier)

Posted: 19 Jan 2010 01:02 PM PST

Over the holidays I had several seizures, which led to me being diagnosed with a brain tumor. It’s a low-grade glioma, which is the good news. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the language center of my brain, which is the bad news.

I tell you this in part to let you know why I might not be around for the next few months. I’ll be having brain surgery in February, and I expect at least six weeks of recovery, time in which I’ll be exhausted and may not be up for blogging. I hope to bring in some fabulous guest bloggers for those weeks.

The other reason I’m sharing this, though, is because having a brain tumor in the language center of my brain has raised a lot of hard questions for me, questions that relate to the theme of this column. I’m an academic, a scholar who writes books and teaches classes. I’m the mother of a young child who is doing great but who needs more help, intervention, and encouragement than a typical child. My Ph.D. is in English. I have been a ravenous reader and passionate writer since I was a little, little kid. Potential damage to the language center of my brain feels like something that threatens the heart of who I am. Who will I be if I don’t have the fluency or facility with language that I have right now? I’ve been poking around in the academic world of disability studies for the last several months, but this diagnosis brings disability even more intimately into my life. It’s not only someone I love who’s experiencing life with a disability (my daughter); it may well be me.

Indeed, no matter what the long-term effects are (and the prognosis actually looks quite good), I certainly will be living with disabilities for the weeks and months immediately following the surgery, as I’ll have brain swelling that will lead to some language difficulties and motor function challenges. I’ll have a kind of insider’s perspective on disability.

Who will I be? It’s an academic question as well as a deeply personal one. I can go around and around in my mind, wondering–imagining what it would be like not to be able to talk off the cuff about feminism with the same ease that I do now, or to hear a sentence and not to be able to understand it immediately. These aren’t effects that the neurosurgeons have promised; in fact, one of the frustrations has been that they can’t tell me much. We’re very much in a wait and see mode. One friend pointed out that this may be a great opportunity for me to learn that who I am is not the same as what I do, but she was quick to add that this life lesson is no justification for a brain tumor.

It’s really weird for me to think about so many characteristics of my life—characteristics which in some way feel transcendent or inherent—as being tied to a physical organ. It gives body language a whole different meaning.

07 January 2010

living in the past.

woke up this morning in the past after dreaming about a conversation with victor vincent, an old high school friend. We were talking about how we missed Mr. Hemwall, an old high school teacher who died a while back.

Somehow, as traveling down memory lane does perhaps, I was led down the rabbit hole of nostalgia, came across old writings (I used to write a lot), emailed old snippets of correspondences to old friends), contacted old loves, and began to cry.

Here's the first journal I can find (the ones written earlier are missing, but I hope to find them soon -- I may have printed them and they are in my garage) from my first real traveling abroad time -- England.

october 28, 2000 - saturday, oxford, England

dear mom and dad,
isnt wonderful that life is so paradoxical? It struck me this morning when
I read in II Kings of the lepers being white as snow. paradoxes keep me
guessing. It is like a riddle sometimes.
well, I em up and doing these days, doing what I do. Of late, I have
fallen further into movie watching. but, never fear, I do it at night in
exchange for sleep! just kidding.
on thursday when i left off writing you i realised i was too late for bell
ringing class (i guess i had too much fun writing that silly poem). i thus
just walked about oxford for a bit and then returned to st michael's hall
a bit later to catch a bit of news on the telie (i am trying to climb
without the classical world). soon i was in bed reading winnie the pooh so
as to turn my children's books in to the library the next day.
friday i woke early and celebrated morning prayer with the keble chaplain.
i was also able to connect with him about all saints convent for he had
just this past sunday preached there. i then dined at keble hall for
breakfast with friend john. by 9:30 i was studying away in the library
(shelley), at 1 i caught lunch at keble meeting a bio-genetics grad and a
french/german fresher (freshman). i was able to detect that tom, the bio
gen chap, was from northern england!!!!!!!!! i found it quite an
achievment. from thence, jotted back to st. michael's to check out books
on shakespeare and then dashed to eagle and child. i had a splendid
evening working. i discussed medicine with many customers (one a nurse and
one a biochem major). at 7 i "got off" work and returned to st. michael's
for a shower and a movie marathon of sorts....elizabeth (the virgin
queen), an ideal husband (adapted from oscar wilde's play), and primal
fear (which i do recommend. i found the topic, how to detect and blame
guilt or innocence, intriguing). in between i made a stop at the pembroke house where we discussed how so many people are now "night owls" as well as discussed the
bitterness britains feel for now not being a world power. both, i must
admit, were not my topics, but nonetheless i was able to sneak in a couple
depeche mode songs.
today, this morning, i awoke about 10 and tromped about the part of oxford
i had not yet been, down botley road. and i can tell you, tis best i didnt
go for all i found was sad sad industrialization. the kind, which i think
made phillip larkin and auden so bloody bitter (this brings me to a
thought i had when i woke this morning...england aged like bob
dylan.....badly). what, perhaps saved me from insanity was a good walk
through the grandpa's attic section of the Ashmolean museum. i saw some
gloves on Queen elizbeth, some shoes of Princess Anne, signatures of
CHarles I and II, and the death mask Cromwell wore when he was murdered. i
stopped in at the theatre house to buy a ticket for tonight's performance
of "the importance of being earnest" but alas, they were sold out. i then
melted into a seat at the coffee republic with a warm cup of steamed milk
with irish cream syrup. mmm...hmmm. soon the sky began to bless the earth
with its life giving waters in such an extreme way that i was driven
indoors. the blustr'y morning had turned into a wet afternoon. what better way to
celebrate the occasion but then with a movie? "welcome to sarajevo" is a
sad, realistic, well made movie that recalled to my mind the hatred
mankind can bare eachother. therefore, i am now off to "the turf," a pub
where friend blake works. I am hoping to read shelley in an old fashioned
atmosphere. if this fails, i will retreat to blackwells bookstore, to read
in at least a literary atmosphere. perhaps even borders for they may have
live jazz (they had some last night).
forgive me but i have forgotten to mention that live music is about these
days. the other day i walked down cornmarket street (the main strip) and a
folkish/fiddling band called the "huckleberries" was a playing. i thought
of jane-alice, my huckleberry friend. today as i walked down the same
street a jazzy band was playing "summertime and the living is easy..."
mmm,hmmmm, it was wonderful!!!!!!!! life is all about these live music
interludes. i hope your day finds such a joy today.