RIP, Mr. Nimoy

>> Friday, February 27, 2015

I'm sad there will be no more blooms in his garden, honored that he invited us all into it, full of memories of those perfect moments he had in the public eye.  I'm not sure there's anything else I can say, except maybe to thank him, and to tell his family (should they ever come across this) what they surely already know: that Leonard Nimoy was beloved, honored and made an enormous difference to millions of people who will not forget him.
This was a much longer piece, originally.  But it wasn't the right piece.  The only part of it worth keeping besides the previous paragraph, which was originally the last paragraph, is simply to say that Nimoy made a powerful impression on me in later years for his thoughtfulness, gentleness, kindness, and the way he seemed at peace with his place in pop culture.  He appeared to be happy taking his photos and writing his poems, and popping up occasionally as Mr. Spock or to talk about Star Trek.  The sole word I could think of and can still think of, absurdly enough, is Douglas Adams' facetious neologism, frood: a really amazingly together guy.  That's how Leonard Nimoy came across, whether it was in interviews or cameos or car commercials--effortlessly charming in the way he simply seemed to have it all together.

I could write about what Star Trek meant to me, and about Nimoy's part in that franchise, but that was the mistake I made in the first draft.  He was more than that, obviously.  We'll miss him, and he gave us so many good reasons to miss him.  And that's all there is to it, really.



>> Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Idaho lawmaker received a brief lesson on female anatomy after asking if a woman can swallow a small camera for doctors to conduct a remote gynecological exam.

The question Monday from Republican state Rep. Vito Barbieri came as the House State Affairs Committee heard nearly three hours of testimony on a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing abortion-inducing medication through telemedicine.

Barbieri later said that the question was rhetorical and intended to make a point.

Dr. Julie Madsen, a physician who said she has provided various telemedicine services in Idaho, was testifying in opposition to the bill. She said some colonoscopy patients may swallow a small device to give doctors a closer look at parts of their colon.

"Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?" Barbieri asked.

Madsen replied that would be impossible because swallowed pills do not end up in the vagina.

"Fascinating. That makes sense," Barbieri said, amid the crowd's laughter.

The thing was, was that it was fascinating.  They'd wondered about this so often when they were small children: his sister and he, sitting out in the summer heat, and she would eat things--at least she seemed to put them in her mouth, and she seemed to swallow them--and seeing if they would come out when she peed.  He would do it, too, would put bugs in his mouth and swallow them to see if they would come out his pee-hole, but they never did.

And then, of course, inevitably, he had a thought: what if she was cheating?  What if she put something up to her mouth, like so, and covering her mouth with her tiny fat hand she palmed the clover or the ant or the pebble or the bottlecap?  And then pretended to swallow, like so, and then smiled and said, "Well, that'll be a while coming out, now you try something."  And naive, innocent he, he picked up a bloated drowned earthworm from a drying puddle, and he put in his mouth--"Don't chew," she instructed--and he swallowed it whole.  And waited for it to come out.  But what if it was all a trick to get him to eat the worm?  Or the beetle?  Or even, that one time (and how did this not end in a hospital visit?) a rusty nail pulled from a rotten board out by the shed in back?

Years went by.  And sometimes he sat up, even now, even as an adult, and he thought about the betrayal with bitterness that swallowed him like a swallowed baby.  Then, other times, he imagined himself full of all these things, all these things still in his belly, wondering when he would pee them.

There was one time his pee turned dark and he felt the worst pain he'd ever felt, pain like his back was breaking.  And he was certain, just absolutely certain all the things he swallowed as a child were going to come out, having waited all these decades to finally work their way from his stomach to his penis.  He was doubled over and just screaming, and so frightened, and he couldn't explain it to his wife, couldn't tell her that he knew the rocks and the worm and the beetle and the ants and the old nail and the twigs and the grass and the little seashell from the beach that was white on one side and rainbow the other were all returning to him like eaten sin.  She drove him to the hospital telling him he would just be all right, just a little further now, just a little; and he wanted to tell her, no, no it wasn't alright, it would never be alright his pee-hole was about to rupture forth with his misspent childhood and his sister's bad joke.  But at the hospital, they told him it was a kidney stone, and they would give him something to dissolve it; confused him, because he'd eaten stones but never, to his recollection, a kidney.

But when he told Dr. Madsen he was fascinated, it wasn't the word he meant most; the word he most meant was relieved.  Because there was one thing worse than the guilt and shame he felt over the wicked game he played with his sister, the eating and swallowing.  There was this: that his sister and he were the oldest of six children.  Two of them twins.  And he'd asked her, his sister, the inevitable question when his younger brother was en route, momma's belly swelling over the summer of swallowing.

"Why does momma have a babbie in her belly?" he asked her, and his sister told him--well, she asked him a question, first, asked him how anything got in someone's belly, the question that had prompted so much chewless swallowing this summer and last and the next several.  And he said, "You eated it."  And she looked knowing and wise and smiled and nodded; and his eyes went wide and white with terror like a mad horse a-feared.  His mouth parted and a little sound came out of it, and she just smiled and nodded twice and said uh-huh.

And he couldn't see anything else when he looked at momma anymore.  Even at the funeral, when he looked at the big silver box they put her in before a mouth opened in the ground and swallowed her whole like a bug, a rock, or almost anything; he had the picture in his head, the picture of momma craning her neck back, back like she was watching the highest airplane in all of heaven fly over, and her jaw dislocating like the blacksnake in Miss Pearson's class (and why, he wondered now, didn't the Miss Pearson's blacksnake ever have a litter of white mice? that surely should have said something, he realized of a sudden), her neck muscles working, and with her throat all ready Momma lifted the next babbie, the new brother, the new sister, over her face and dropped the pale pink hairless thing down her gullet which swelled up with life in digestion.

Probably, she'd never eaten a baby ever at all.


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