April 2018

Friday, September 21, 2012

My peeps will read my book.

My friend Tim, a colleague from the beginning of the century, called today, and it was great to hear from him. He’s had some rough physical times like I have.

One day, his knee was hurting. Then it hurt a lot. Then he couldn’t walk, so he went to the doctor, who gave him a shot to help him walk. The next day, the doctor called to say, “How soon can you get to the hospital? You have a virus in your knee that will kill you if it goes untreated, and I need to see you right away.”

He spent time in a wheelchair, time with a walker, and time learning to walk again, like I did.

It was great to connect with Tim in this new way.

Wednesday, in my yoga class, a young man who walked with a cane and his mom talked with me a little about their story. The young man, a nineteen year-old named Harry, was a straight-A student (his mom told me that part) and a dancer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet company when, at the age of fifteen, he contracted a virus that changed his life. The virus still has him sleeping 20 hours a day. He can stand for seven minutes, but then he’ll have to sit down or he’ll faint. He says that before the virus, he was a brat. He certainly doesn’t seem like one now. He seems like an old soul in a young body that doesn’t work as well as many young bodies do.

Harry’s life has changed and his mom’s life has changed, too. She’s his full-time care-giver. Her other son was born with brain trauma and then was one of the Jack in the Box children who had E-Coli.

After leaving yoga, I met with my neighbor Joanie who has stage four metastatic breast cancer and is going through chemo for the third time. My friend Kathy also has breast cancer and is going through chemo.

The list of people I know with life-changing health conditions keeps growing.

The year I started radiation for a second brain tumor, an uncle underwent  surgery for prostate cancer, a long-time family friend underwent radiation and chemotherapy for lung cancer, a friend was treated for a  tumor in her eye, and two friends shared debilitating mental health struggles.

 Though I am only in my forties, I am learning that health struggles are a normal part of life.

 I am also grateful to learn how many of us are grateful for each moment in our lives. Each person with whom I’ve talked sees the gifts of new perspective and new experiences with their condition.

I’m not sure that I would call us disabled. Gifted maybe. Wiser maybe. People of grace, for sure.

 Two years ago, when I first started talking with publishers about my memoir that included my experiences with brain tumors, a publisher’s representative told me that she thought my memoir would have a very small audience of others who have had brain tumors.

 I don’t think so. This summer, I finally brought that book, called Adventures in Recalculating: Finding New Routes at Life’s Detours, to a close. (I suspect that I could work on it for the rest of my life, but it’s time to move on.)

 I have other books in play. I have a lot to say.

 In October, I’ll start looking for an agent who understands that many of us will face life-changing health conditions. Heck, aging is a life-changing health condition. I’m looking for a big audience because I believe that I have a big story to tell.

 My title, Adventures in Recalculating: Finding New Routes at Life’s Detours, introduces the memoir’s theme, derived from my experience riding Access, Seattle’s public transportation vans for people with disabilities. The drivers sometimes ignore the direction-finder’s pleas to turn. As the van driver repeatedly ignores directions, the direction-finder seems to sigh, “Recalculating.” Access riders must surrender to a lack of control as our driver takes unexpected turns. As a person recovering from two brain tumors and learning to live with disabilities, I now recalculate my life’s journey, seeking to live fully in this now changed life.

Anne Lamott, in her reflections on her progressive faith, and David Sedaris, in his witty and kind portrayals of his Southern family, might have co-authored this book, a serious book with a sense of humor.

Who will read this book? My peeps will read this book. (And I have a lot of peeps.): Readers who appreciate a witty, smart voice; Progressive faith types; Gay people (all of them); People who did not follow their parents’ plans; Parents, teachers, yogis, heath-care providers, patients, ministers, Southerners and Seattle-ites. Goldilocks will love it: at 71,000 words it’s not too long, and it’s not too short.

Mean people will not like it.

Where can you find this book? In the memoir and the health sections of a book store. On your kindle. On audio, told in a deep, Southern female drawl. At the Lesbian Resource Center. At the hospital. In medical schools and teaching schools. Anywhere in the South. At the Home for Recovering Southerners.

Who will help this book come to life? I don’t know yet, but I believe that someone will. If you know that person, please connect us.





1 comment:

  1. Mary! Congratulations on having this book both put to bed and ready to be born!! You sum it up so well: I can't wait to read it! I'm sharing this blog on my FB page, as I usually do, with a shout out to anyone in publishing. Prayers fly, in all directions.


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