Sunday, April 19, 2009

Summer's a-comin'

Time for the hot weather breasties. If only such a thing existed. I suppose I could make a pair out of lightweight fabrics like linen and silk (and stuff them with cold packs. Whee!). At least they'd be cooler than plastic.

Anyway, that's not why we're here right now. Today's sermon is about words. I had occasion recently to spend some time with Carny and she was sharing her feelings about words. And personal stories. And she got me thinking. I hate when that happens.

She got me thinking about the times when I think that there's no point in relating any part of one's own story to anyone other than the shrink who gets paid to help you make sense of that mess. It all seems so freaking pointless. I mean, in a thousand years, these words will probably be forgotten, never read by more than a handful of humans, and even if they survive there will probably no longer be the proper version of Windblows that could enable someone in the future to read them.
But here's the thing. I also started thinking about other people's words and how they've affected me. We could go down the list of the usual suspects, like Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll, Joseph Heller, Katherine Dunn, and every author of every cookbook I own, but there's one author who stands out in my head as someone who gave me an important gift at a time when I really needed it.
His name is Evan Handler, and he's an actor who also happens to be a cancer survivor. His first memoir 'Time on Fire' leaped off the sale table at Big Corporate Bookstore right after I'd been diagnosed with the first cancer.
Time on Fire

I read that book and clung to it like it was a lifesaver in a sea of soft focus PG rated cancer books.
Having spent half a year in the hospital when I was a mere sprat I was familiar with the horrors that can come with living in a ward with eight other girls in a hospital that was understaffed with nurses and overstaffed with roaches. I learned the art of diplomacy dealing with the humans and a deadly aim with whatever was handy dealing with the bugs. And that was while I was bedridden.
But getting back to the PG books, I found at the beginning of the cancer tour that many aspects of the experience are cloaked in pastel colors and spoken about in restrained tones. This was a bit of a challenge for me given that my brain was needing to express itself more like it was dressed in black with and sporting a safety pin through its cerebellum. I needed one other voice in the world of cancer that resonated with mine. I found it in this book. It's not that he was so defiant and off the wall and crazed beyond what would be considered appropriate under the circumstances but rather it was that his story, his words, didn't read so much like a Hallmark TV movie but more like a twisted indie film that few people see but those that do no longer feel alone.

So to my comrade in arms I say, the words may still count for something, so don't give up on them just yet. Besides, in fifty years when we are creaky old geezers we won't remember most of them anyway, so let's play with them while we still can.

You never know who's reading.

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