Books giveaway, eyes, and mortuary science

The print edition of Harpur Palate 20.2 with my short story, From Scratch, is finally out in the world! Also! I have an extra copy of the journal that I would like to give away along with one other gently used book that I’ve enjoyed this past year (you can choose between: The Midnight Library, The Glass Hotel, or The Body Keeps the Score (non-fiction)). To enter, send me a message with your choice of a gently used book you’d like to receive with it and a good mailing address. While you are there, feel free to ask to be added to my infrequent newsletter. Your chances of winning are pretty good. My goal is to get more than 4 people to enter.

Harpur Palate issue 20.2, From Scratch was included.

I started writing what I think is a speculative non-fiction piece about my time at the ophthalmologist’s (had to look up the spelling for that one!) office. It’s making me reflect a lot on sight, something I’ve taken for granted all my life because I’ve had 20/20 vision up until recently. To be fair, my vision is still good and I don’t need glasses. Don’t roll your eyes just yet. It has come to light that I need further testing for glaucoma, it runs in my family and I have a couple of factors that are pointing to a potential deterioration in my optic nerve in the near future. Of course, I had to look up an anatomy of the eye chart which led to this diseases of the eye chart.

I’ve also been thinking a bit about funerals and sitting with grief. I’m thankful for places like The Dougy Center and people that can sink into the discomfort of another person’s pain. I’m working on this in myself and think about how meaningful it is for someone to be there for you when it’s hard for others to be there. Environments like hospitals, funeral homes, or simply being near someone in tears and having feelings of hopelessness are not places anyone clamors to. In terms of my life, I’m wondering how I can serve others in this way, to sit with them and their grief. Listening without judgment or solutions. Allowing the pain to wash out, to ebb and flow, but knowing that the shape of grief is never still. Never in one place. Anyway, I’m thinking a lot about this in terms of what my next career move might be. I’m a member of the Order of the Good Death founded by Caitlin Doughty already and a degree in Mortuary Science is not off the table. I need to go back and watch some Ask a Mortician YouTube series (also Caitlin Doughty). That may help me decide.

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Inevitable Certainty

This post is going to be a little scattered. I have a couple things on my mind and I want to talk about both of them. To be fair, the subject of each idea is linked closely together.

IMG_9680First, on Twitter, I follow Caitlin Doughty, mortician, activist and founder of the death acceptance collective The Order of the Good Death. I made a pledge to The Order of the Good Death a few years ago. I quietly advocate for a death positive existence, but I don’t push the topic on people. It means a lot of different things to different people. My main goal in life is to somehow “normalize” death for myself and to be able to talk about it in meaningful ways in my writing and to others. Some people are more receptive to it in conversation than others. I’m not a doom and gloom type of person, I can be serious, but overall I hope to figure out a way to deal with the overwhelming emotions that come with it, a practical response to an inevitable certainty. Granted, I fully believe that any reaction is appropriate to the death of a loved one. Emotions can’t be controlled, nor should they be. Doughty makes these conversations funny and serious at the same time. If you are interested, Doughty recently posted her 7 Habits of Highly Effective Death Positive People on YouTube. 

Now, there are many different ways in which the inevitable happens so it’s not about the actual event, but more about preparations before it happens. One way to do that is to make sure you have an Advanced Directive. Doughty has a Youtube series that talks about all kinds of things, but this is just one of many that are super important if you can wrap your mind around the inevitable. I will admit that I still need to get this done. I’m planning to sit down with my husband, make a living will and create advanced directives for both of us. I’m giving myself a deadline of two weeks from today. I’ll check in with you on the blog and let you know. It isn’t an easy thing to make yourself create. I get that.

Now to switch it up to a different but related event . . .

The second part of this post is about saying goodbye to a fantastic and well-known Portland-beloved writer. I was fortunate enough to attend the Literary Arts tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin a couple days ago. I was late to reading Ursula, but she sparked my interest again at an event about eight years ago. It was another Literary arts gathering called in conversation with Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. LeGuin (thank you to Gina for giving me your extra ticket!). I’d long admired Atwood and that night I was struck by the vitality and wit LeGuin exuded from the stage. I’d only read short pieces by her. Soon after, I read The Left Hand of Darkness and then a friend gifted me her book, The Dispossessed. Both are fantastic. I also read a few books in her EarthSea series. Anyway, her willingness to be part of the literary community not only by participating in it but in supporting other writers gives me a lot of hope. Yes, we are living in scary times, but LeGuin has given us many guidelines on how to move forward through social justice and speaking out in whatever voice you call yours. I remain optimistic.

Drop me a line or comment below. What are your thoughts on death, Ursula LeGuin, or anything else?