It’s summer, August maybe, and our family’s boxy purple Peugeot is parked at a rest stop gas station. My father pumps gas in his leather sandals. My 13-year-old sister, Rachel, slumps in the backseat, listening to her Walkman with her hood up over her ears. My mother, in a billowy fuchsia sundress, stands next to the passenger’s side of the car with the door open, one sandaled foot propped up on the runner, one palm resting on the top of the car, waiting. Her gray hair is cut very short. Her oval glasses take over much of her face.
I’m five, and have gotten out of the car to dance around on the cement for a few minutes, my white Tretorns, striped T-shirt, and shorts glistening in the sun. I skip over little puddles of oil between the cars, making a game out of not getting my feet wet.
There are several adults clustered around the pumps, filling their cars. I hop over to one of them, look up and say, “My Mommy had babies that died.” Then over to another: “My Mommy had babies that died.”
My mother did, indeed, have babies that died; so did my father, of course. I guess my sister did, too — baby-siblings. But these babies — a boy, a stillbirth at 23 weeks, and a girl a year later, at 24 weeks, both big enough to swell my mother’s belly but small enough to fit in the palm of my father’s hand — died seven and eight years earlier, respectively. I came next; I was the one who made it.
Read more at Modern Loss.
I had the delightful experience of talking with the folks over at the new podcast, Restoration Row, about chronic pain, identity, mental health, and recovery. How does pain change us? And is that okay?
(Yes, yes, it is.)
Click over here to listen to the podcast. (Interview begins around 14:00.) To hear my Lenny Letter piece read aloud (beautifully–that accent!), don’t skip ahead!
Happy Friday! I’m delighted to be in Lenny today, with the story of how I healed from chronic back pain. If you want to go back and read Part 1 of the story on Longreads — all about my dance career — click here.
I’d love to hear all about your woes of pain and (hopefully) recovery.
A million Fifteen years ago ( when did we all get so old?), I was a professional modern dancer in New York. A hundred thousand ten years ago, I got injured, and the injury — two herniated discs in my lower back — eventually ended my career.
I did everything shy of seeing a Shaman I could think of to heal, but nothing worked, until —
went to Versailles saw a brilliant but terrifying yogini/witch in Paris, who taught me how to sit (see above) and stand (see below) anew. She also taught me how to dress like a real Parisian woman.
I just wrote about it for Racked. I’d be delighted if you took a peek.
Miracles are possible.
This is how most mornings go around here these days: The baby wakes up between
let’s be honest, one never knows 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.. We play for a few hours and then we she goes back down for a nap.
The truth is that now that she’s sleeping better (every parent will tell you that now that I’ve written this down, she will
proceed to TORTURE US FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE continue to do so), I have the energy to take a shower and watch American Idol write while she sleeps.
The other day, while she napped, I decided to send out some essays, and they were quickly picked up by two literary sites I like very, very much.
I’d be absolutely delighted if you
shared them with everyone you know read them:
I wrote about growing up in the shadow of my parents’ two stillbirths for The Morning News.
And, on a lighter note, I wrote about being a modern dancer in New York City for The Nervous Breakdown.
Have a lovely weekend.
People, I’m going to cut to the chase on this one.
That’s me. On the Contributors’ Page in O, The Oprah Magazine. I’m dying of excitement. Now you, too, can die of excitement because you can read it online!
I’ve been a huge Oprah fan since age 12. From 1988 to
2011 1991, I honest-to-God watched every single episode. Even though it aired at 4pm in Montreal, I tuned in while eating dinner. (I had gymnastics practice every night from 6-9pm so couldn’t join in our family meal. What can I say? I wanted to go to the Olympics.) I learned all about how to catch a man and what to do when it turned out he was gay lose weight. Don’t even get me started on the 20th Anniversary DVD extravaganza.
Anyway, I digress.
This month, I wrote a piece about the amazing Rita Charon, who founded the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia Medical School, and has been the leading force behind the Narrative Medicine movement. (Incidentally, this is the Storytelling/Books issue, so you can find all sorts of juicy recommendations, as well as an interview with Cheryl Strayed.) Read my piece by clicking here.
Let me know what you think!
PS: I had to recommend a book, too, so I told people to read Emma Forrest’s Your Voice in My Head. Do it.