Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mind Follows Body

Pursuant to Section 51-17/6, Subsection C, Mother’s Manual, “Pursue All Activities with Adolescent Daughters They Will Tolerate Doing With You,” Shea and I have been doing a puzzle and have just started watching Bones. The premise of this one is a good deal sillier than the other series we’ve watched together, but still interesting. Our puzzle is also coming right along, though taking a hiatus right now while she’s as sick as she is. Meanwhile, I’ve finished the parent recommendation for her colleges and she’s approved it. In the course of writing, we went back to the Kearney's parallel document, which is an interesting snapshot in time. It makes me wish that I’d followed through on my initial impulse to write something about each of them every six months or so throughout their childhoods—so many of the stories we used to share all the time, that were so palpable as we were living them, turned out instead to be ephemeral and are now lost. At least to me and to Michael. We have friends who still recall particular incidents, and of course each girl recalls her childhood with her own perspective and key events--including ones neither Michael nor I remember at all. I wish we'd kept our own version as we went.

That got me to reflecting on self-reliance on times before Google. I got the tune to Yankee Doodle Dandy stuck in my head the other day and couldn’t quite come up with all the words. (Right now, I have no clue why this was on my mind, though I think at the time I could connect it to some recent event.) I could, of course, have Googled had been presented instantly with all the words in their entirety, but there was something more pleasing about about working through it until Michael and I had reconstructed it to our satisfaction. If you were on the prairie in the proverbial sod hut, what did you do when you got a song stuck in your head and couldn’t come up with the words? I’m guessing, made up your own. The sod hut looms large in our family history: as told, my father’s grandfather was a Civil War veteran and claim-staked his veteran’s allotment by building and living in a sod hut the first winter on the South Dakota prairie. I’d thought the stories were apocryphal until we found a letter written by this ancestor. It begins “Dear Wife” and describes throwing his flat iron at the rats to keep them from eating the grain stored in the hut until it was time to plant. Now there were some hardy and self-reliant souls. It all makes our lives look cushy beyond words.

Today brings the presentation cancelled due to feeling crummy last week. Here’s hoping it goes better than the activity we slotted into its place. Even though I sat down throughout, my brain was fuzzy enough that I did a truly terrible job leading the discussion. The med students this year are a really pleasant group and were very kind, but I still cringe thinking about it. Today also brings MORE dealings with AT&T and exchanges with the surgeon’s office: in the end, I did call about the persisting vertigo, though I haven’t yet talked with anyone other than the receptionist. Of course the return call came during my class yesterday, so I missed it. The good news on that front is that the last two areas of the incision scar that have been so sensitive and inflamed seem finally to be on the mend and to be receding. Even the odd area that was like a blister is lower, smaller and less angry than it’s been, such that it’s possible to imagine that it will disappear one day soon, along with the rest of its pals in surrounding areas. (As predicted by the surgeon, the scalp sensitivities yet hang on; those are supposed to be the last to disappear, if they ever do. Some report that the changes become permanent. I'm hoping they, too, will pass.)

As my physical health slowly improves, my outlook improves. Kathy wrote yesterday about having lost most of the month to this flu, or whatever it is that’s going around, and her observations, always interesting, highlighted and helped bring perspective to the larger experience of the aftermath of tumor and surgery. The nether-period we all experience after being really ill correlates directly to my whole recovery experience, except of course for how much longer and strung out it’s been. Once again, the inter-relationships of body and mind demonstrate their power. Hope yours are all hardy and strong and that you’ve either avoided the flu entirely or are recovering.

1 comment:

  1. My teenage daughter and I love "Bones"--yes, it's network TV fluff in many ways (everyone is way cuter than people with serious jobs in real life are, etc.) but I love that the real star of the show is a brainy, socially awkward woman who uses science in her every day life (OK, so she uses it to solve crime, which is apparently the only thing Hollywood thinks that scientists could possibly do that would be interesting to everyone else, but I digress) and makes it seem like this would all be pretty cool. I've often wondered if one of the reason we haven't seen the kinds of gains in female enrollment in the sciences that we've seen, for example, in the professional schools, is because we had no popular images of women in the role of scientist. Sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, TV and movies started showing, at least occasionally, women as lawyers or doctors, but we've never seen many images of women as engineers or research scientists until relatively recently. Since "modeling" can have such a profound impact on so many issues we try to educate and train our young people about, the lack of women in these roles in our public narratives may have had a strong, albeit largely invisible, impact on girls as they were growing up and trying to imagine themselves in their roles in the larger world. So I'm thrilled that shows such as "Bones" are starting to give our girls models that they haven't seen before (plus, David Boreanaz is TOTALLY cute :-)).