The Crane Wife, by CJ Hauser (tw for abusive relationships) — about leaving behind a relationship, and about studying cranes
Here is what I learned once I began studying whooping cranes: only a small part of studying them has anything to do with the birds. Instead we counted berries. Counted crabs. Measured water salinity. Stood in the mud. Measured the speed of the wind.
It turns out, if you want to save a species, you don’t spend your time staring at the bird you want to save. You look at the things it relies on to live instead. You ask if there is enough to eat and drink. You ask if there is a safe place to sleep. Is there enough here to survive?
Wading through the muck of the Aransas Reserve I understood that every chance for food matters. Every pool of drinkable water matters. Every wolfberry dangling from a twig, in Texas, in January, matters. The difference between sustaining life and not having enough was that small.
If there were a kind of rehab for people ashamed to have needs, maybe this was it. You will go to the gulf. You will count every wolfberry. You will measure the depth of each puddle.
The Sea of Crises, by Brian Phillips (tw suicide) — about sumo
Some Japanese stories end violently. Others never end at all, but only cut away, at the moment of extreme crisis, to a butterfly, or the wind, or the moon.
This is true of stories everywhere, of course: Their endings can be abrupt or oblique. But in Japan, where suicide is historically woven into the culture, where an awareness of life’s evanescence is the traditional mode of aesthetics, it seems truer than in other places.
For instance: My second-favorite Japanese novel, Snow Country, by the 20th-century writer Yasunari Kawabata. Its last pages chronicle a fire. A village warehouse where a film has been playing burns down. We watch one of the characters fall from a fiery balcony. The protagonist runs toward her, but he trips in the crowd. As he’s jostled, his head falls back, and he sees the Milky Way in the night sky. That’s it. There is no resolution. It’s left to the reader to discover how the pieces fit together, why Kawabata thought he had said everything he needed to say. Why he decided not to give away more than this.
The first time you read a story like this, maybe, you feel cheated, because you read stories to find out what happens, not to be dismissed at the cusp of finding out. Later, however, you might find that the silence itself comes to mean something. You realize, perhaps, that you had placed your emphasis on the wrong set of expectations. That the real ending lies in the manner of the story’s turning away from itself. That this can be a kind of metamorphosis, something rich and terrifying and strange. That the seeming evasion is in fact a finality, a sudden reordering of things.
Maybe It’s Lyme: What happens when illness becomes an identity?, by Molly Fischer
Once Bernard Raxlen, the midtown doctor, has diagnosed a patient with Lyme, he places him or her on a regimen of herbs and supplements — “supplements that treat biofilm. Supplements that treat cystic forms, and so on,” he said. These include turmeric and oregano, as well as liquid stevia drops. “Then you have the oral antibiotics, and you don’t just stay with doxycycline” — that is, the standard mainstream treatment for Lyme disease. “There are many which are used, and you rotate them so as not to build resistance.” If treatment with oral antibiotics fails to produce results, “after a certain designated period of time, somewhere between three to six months, you would change your course of direction into an intravenous protocol.” He estimates that between 20 and 30 percent of his patients require this treatment, which he recommends they undergo for “no less than six months.”
And here is the crux of the medical establishment’s objection to the treatment of chronic Lyme, the source of the mutual distrust between the chronic-Lyme community and mainstream medicine: the demand for a treatment as extreme as long-term and intravenous antibiotics. From a mainstream medical perspective, Aronowitz explained, the situation is something akin to patients who have not been diagnosed with cancer deciding to seek out “cancer-literate” doctors willing to administer chemotherapy. “It wouldn’t be just like, ‘Oh, there’s an alternative construction of things, let people be people.’ ” After all, “ ‘Do no harm’ is the first ethical principle in medicine.”
Patients come to a doctor like Raxlen despite a multitude of things you might think would keep them away. Not least among these is the expense: A first visit, which lasts two hours, costs $1,350 out of pocket; subsequent visits, every couple of months, are $600.
Maria Joao Pires expecting another Mozart concerto during a lunchconcert in Amsterdam (tw: if you’ve ever been a performer, this very well might give you heart palpatations)