Sunday, July 16, 2017


I was going to go see Sherman Alexie at the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham. He was on tour promoting his latest book, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, a memoir about his relationship with his mother. His mother died in 2015, and he wrote this book as part of his grief process. I ordered it and read it in preparation for going to see him, but then he cancelled the majority of his tour. He explains why on his website.

Some weeks ago, I saw a book on my co-worker's desk called H Is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. At my co-worker's invitation, I picked it up and paged through it. Chapter 2, "Lost," starts out with her account of the phone call from her mother telling her that her father is dead. I also saw references to her reading Elizabethan and other-era treatises on falconry, a literary touch that appealed to me. She wrote well. I gave it back to my co-worker and said it looked like a good book. My co-worker offered to loan it to me after she read it.

After I read the Sherman Alexie book, although she had not yet read the Hawk book, my co-worker told me to go ahead and read it, as she would not get to it for a while. So I have started it. I'm in Chapter 3, "Small Worlds." In it, the author is reading The Goshawk, by T.H. White, an author I like, though I haven't read this particular book by him.

Sherman Alexie, in his memoir, mentions a number of visions and feelings of encounter with his mother that he has after her death. Ironically, he claims not to believe in life after death. He says that, even though he doesn't believe in ghosts, he sees her ghost. In the letter I linked to above, he recounts more mystical experiences of his mother's presence, and he says:

As I write in the memoir, I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time.

As I also write in the memoir, I don't believe in magic, but I believe in interpreting coincidence exactly the way you want to.

I don't believe in the afterlife as a reality, but I believe in the afterlife as metaphor. And my mother, from the afterlife, is metaphorically kicking my ass.

It's frustrating. I do believe in the afterlife as a reality. I don't believe in magic, but I believe in miracles, prophecies, and visions. And I don't believe in ghosts, but I believe in the eternal life of the soul and the coming resurrection of the body. But I never hear from my parents now that they've passed on.

Sunday, July 2, 2017


So I was getting into my car this afternoon according to my usual method, which is to put my right foot into the floor well, keeping my left foot on the ground next to the car, sit down in the driver's seat, then pull my left leg into the car. Well, as I sat down, angling my left leg as necessary, I suffered an agonizing twinge in my knee.

As I sat recovering from the pain, a light bulb turned on over my head. Actually, it was already on—it was just the dome light in my car. But, in a completely unrelated event, I had an idea. Maybe the way I've been getting into my car is the root cause of my knee pain. Before the popping event on Friday afternoon, I had wondered what was causing my knee pain as I so seldom exert myself. It's not like I play contact sports. But I do bend my leg awkwardly getting into the car.

So now I'm going to see if a new method makes the pain go away. I shall sit down on the driver's seat with both feet outside the car, then swing both legs in.

A few years ago, I had a similar aha! moment with the plantar fasciitis I had been suffering. Plantar fasciitis is an excruciating pain in your heel. It bothered me most when I first got up in the morning, but I felt it at various times. Then one day I parked in a strip mall parking lot and, as I walked to the place of business I had come to visit, I walked across a grass median. I noticed that walking on the pavement hurt, but walking on the grass did not. If I had been in my car, the dome light would have turned on. I realized that, living in a basement apartment, my floors were basically cement, I walked my dog on the sidewalk, and just in general trod hard surfaces either in bare feet or thin-soled shoes. I bought thicker-soled, more cushioned shoes, including Birkenstocks to schlep around in in the house, and voila! my plantar fasciitis disappeared and never came back.

I confidently expect the same for my knee pain.

On my knees

I'm thankful that my knee is much improved today. It's not completely healed. It's still a little tender, and I still have to be careful how I move and walk, but it's much improved.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


My knee hurts. My left knee. For a while, recently, it has felt not-good, as though I had hyper-extended it. It felt stretched-out and often painful in the back of the knee. I felt like it was improving, though, until yesterday after work. I was jay-walking across Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham to get to my car to go home. The way was clear, except there was a car, far off, to my right, that would be coming through a green light into that further lane, so I walked quickly. Mid-way through that crucial lane, I felt something pop—I may even have heard it pop—in the back of my knee and the sensation was extremely unpleasant. I still had to hurry the last painful three steps to the sidewalk, and then I stood realizing the discomfort.

Writing this, I just remembered how, when I played Barbies as a little girl, my brother would occasionally rush in, bend the Barbies' legs forward at the knees, and then rush out again. My knee feels like I did that to myself.