Filtering by Tag: DEATH
An excerpt from an unpublished essay:
“The tumor was mine. Arguably, it was my malignant baby, for my body had created it, and it was growing inside of me at an aggressive pace. But I did not want it. I wanted it out. There was a lot of debate over the best way to address the monster within me. The first oncologist wanted to chop off both my breasts and yank out my reproductive organs. After that, a plastic surgeon showed me his photo album filled with pictures of women whose heads were clipped out of the frame and whose breasts had been ravaged by cancer, the interior flesh of which had been removed by him, and which had been reconstructed in ways that did not, to my eye, look at all natural. Finally, a physician’s assistant came in the room after the plastic surgeon had left. I said I didn’t realize it would look like that, and he said he understood. He held one hand in the air palm up, and he held the other hand in the air palm down. His top hand made a tent over his bottom hand. He said my breast was like a circus tent and having a mastectomy was like taking away the tent pole. With that, he flattened his top hand against his bottom hand like a circus tent collapsing, crushing all the circus animals, carnival performers, and acrobats in the process.”
Buy my short story "The Tumor" — it’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."
I mean, is anybody a fan of Lars von Trier, really? I happen to be intrigued by him, because if you can say one thing about him is that he’s never boring. Or, at least, even when he’s boring, it’s because he’s doing something outrageous to death. Speaking of outrageous and death, LVT has a new flick out, and you don’t have to walk out of a theater at Cannes to see it. “The House That Jack Built” is available for streaming on Amazon. Convenient! Nothing like home delivered endless slaughter of women and others in scenarios in which the victim fairly makes the killer kill, I always say. The movie’s best kill, if you will, is the first one, when Matt Dillon, aka Jack, kills Uma Thurman, who plays a really annoying woman. Because this is LVT, you’re not sure if you’re supposed to laugh hysterically, feel grim, or just hold on for the duration of the ride. But, boy, can Uma take a jack to the head. In any case, you can look at the movie as a series of vignettes in which Jack murders people, or you can look at it as a meditative study on the creative process as told through the persona of someone who happens to use murder as his tool d’art. Frankly, the mutterings of Jack to a Virgil stand-in are the most interesting parts of the movie, particularly when Jack waxes philosophical about how matter dictates its form in art. Don’t search #thehousethatjackbuilt on Instagram, like I did, if you don’t want to have the penultimate shocker spoiled for you. It’s crude, but this is LVT, isn’t it? I won’t mention the part with the windshield wiper; I mean, that’s just ugly (or is it?). We have come to expect this sort of thing from the enfant terrible of Dogme 95. What I could never quite resolve with Jack is if LVT is trolling masculinity or wallowing in it. Toxic masculinity is a fair thing in which to flail. To attempt to redux The Inferno, the place to which the film devolves, is a mistake. Stay in your am-I-a-misogynist-or-not lane, LVT! Alighieri you ain’t.
Buy "The Tumor" — my short story that’s been called "a masterpiece of short fiction."
Awhile back, a screen grab from an article I wrote on my Forbes blog was circulated on social media. The original story was "A Porn Star's Widower Delivers a Moving Speech at the Oscars of Porn." The portion of that piece that was widely disseminated focused on the fundamental challenge presented to women who work in adult. While everybody watches them, no one truly sees them. This tension -- between being visible and invisible -- is a fraught place in which to live.
Buy a copy of my digital short story "The Tumor"! It's been called "a masterpiece."
BBC Radio 5 Live had me on yesterday to talk about the social media controversy in the wake of the death of Hugh Hefner. On social media sites, feminists celebrated the demise of a man they asserted turned women into objects while others (like me) celebrated the life of a man who'd helped pioneer the sexual revolution and was a longtime champion of freedom of speech. The debate starts at the 1 hour 22 minute mark here.
I woke up in the middle of the night, checked my phone, and saw there was a text from the BBC. Was I available to talk about Hefner? There was only one possibility: Hef was dead. Not long ago, I received an invitation from his son Cooper to attend the annual Midsummer Night's Dream part at the Mansion. I couldn't attend, and in declining, I wondered if it was my last chance to visit the Mansion while Hef was alive. I've been there two or three times before -- for various events. I worked for Playboy TV for five years, and at one event at the Mansion, I met Hef. He was smaller than I expected. I think he was wearing either a pink or a lavender shirt. He was friendly, and I was gobsmacked to be meeting a legend in the flesh. Wandering the grounds of the Holmby Hills property was another experience altogether. Pink flamingoes picked across the lawn. Little monkeys danced around enclosures in the yard. The grotto was unreal. It was a kind of Shangri-La. Here's to presuming Hef now presides over some equally paradise-like dominion in the sky, surrounded by bunnies.
I wrote an homage on my Forbes blog:
"For years, I proudly wore the Playboy bunny on the front of my shirt, in the shape of a pendant I hung around my neck, on a baseball hat. Unlike the feminists who had attacked Hef for his portrayals of female sexuality, I found in his entrepreneurial spirit, his unabashed love of women, and his unrelenting curiosity about our sexual selves a role model that gave me someone to be."
I came across this writing prompt yesterday:
"Write a love story about two inanimate objects."
Let's give it a shot.
The Married Couple
The dead husband and the dead wife were hiding in their drawers. It was late, and someone had turned out all the lights. Inside the drawers, it was dark. It was impossible to hear anything -- not the soft whir of the refrigeration stopping them from rotting, not the absentminded whistling of the coroner who had gone home, not the endless buzzing of thoughts in their minds for there were none. The bank of drawers was like a condo overlooking a river when a hurricane is coming: windows shuttered, blinds drawn, toilets flushed. Time itself filled up the spaces where their dreams, and their feelings, and their memories used to be. Briefly, a neuron lit up, then flamed out, vanishing into the blackness.
Over the years, I've owned several Mary Roach books, but I've never read them. This week, I finally got around to plowing through Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. People accuse Roach's books of being formulaic. One Word Title. Semi-Colon. An Odyssey Through Something Weird. In Which the Author Relates a Lot of Facts. And Cracks a Lot of Jokes. Titter. Titter. At first, I was dazzled. I mean, this book opens in a room with pans in which human heads are sitting. Impressive! And there are all kinds of strange and dismembered things along the way, as Roach undertakes to answer the question: What happens to dead human bodies, anyway? A lot, apparently. But even though Roach is a significant presence in the book, she is sort of like a shadow figure. I mean, you never really get why she's standing there watching a transplant surgeon pry a still-beating heart from a woman's brain-dead body. I suppose if you don't want your author in your story soup, that works just fine for you. But if you're going to show me a still beating heart, I think you should get me to understand why I should care. And I guess I know that I do, but I don't know why, and Roach never says if she does, or if she does, why. The closest thing to an explanation that I happened across is that her father was sixty-five when she was born. So maybe that explains her fascination with bodies and death. Who knows?
Order the perfect holiday gift today! Buy THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by Susannah Breslin.
A really long time ago, I went to see Prince in concert. I believe he was playing the Cow Palace in Daly City. It was the eighties. So it would've been a "Purple Rain" tour, I imagine. My dad drove me and a girlfriend there and dropped us off in front. I was wearing a sort of Madonna-meets-Prince ensemble that involved white lace gloves with no fingers. Our seats were on the north side of the arena. I remember having a great time, but here's the thing: I really don't remember Prince. It's not that I didn't love him. I had a jaw dropping reaction to "Kiss" the first time I heard it -- wtf is that? -- and I listened to many of his songs on a Walkman after I went to bed, and I had his posters on my walls. You know what I remember? His opening act: motherfuckin' Sheila E. "The Glamorous Life" was my jam. I remember her pounding a surrounding of drums like fucking insanity, and I was just awestruck, because never in my life had I ever seen any woman do anything like that. Thanks for that and for everything else, Prince. You taught me how to be an original, and make a career out of what others took to be a pervert but wasn't, and a woman who can do whatever the fuck she wants in this life.
"Flogging the Freelancer" is a blog post a day on freelancing in the gig economy. Browse the archives here.
In the depths of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. —Camus (via Clayton Cubitt)
About five days ago, I stopped eating sugar. I don't eat a lot of sugar, or sugar-like things, but I stopped it altogether. It was making me crazy, having all that crap in my system. Now I feel about 50% less insane.
Since, my dreams have been much more vivid. In most dreams, I'm dying. The cancer has returned, the cancer is in my heart, death is inevitable. The dreams aren't about "cancer" or, really, "death," for that matter. They're about dying. In the dreams, I'm always managing the process of my mortality.
The project upon which I'm spending most of my time is focused on a kind of resurrection. You go into your past, you dig up the bones, you sift through the dirt for whatever you've lost. You mourn, you wonder, you move on to the next hole. You get tired from the shoveling, but it seems like some part of it is worth it: the shedding, the unpacking, the letting go.
I was thrilled to see this tweet from friend Sarah Wambold on the last day of last year:
"I've seen some impressive death positive growth on my twitter in 2014. Most notably @susannahbreslin and @J_Utah. The rest of you, good luck"
What's "death positive"? It's about being "open to exploring their thoughts, feelings, and fears about mortality." Death negative, one can surmise, is about pretending the inevitable isn't going to happen. It's like sex positive -- but more fatal.
Death, after all, is just an event.
I've been practicing since childhood, making paper chain razor blades, fashioning shoelaces into nooses, drowning myself in public swimming pools. For Halloween: I was Plath (my head in an Easy-Bake Oven), I was Rothko (my arms dripping blood), I was Cobain (my face shattered). Today, I focus on my career as an accountant and remind myself that tomorrow is a new day.
Time: 12 minutes
Word count: 62 words
Every year on the dead father's birthday, the alive daughter pulled the dead father's ashes out of storage, dug out a spoonful of the dead father's ashes, and ate them.
Time: 1 minute
Word count: 30
Sickness is grammar. The needle inserted, one may adopt the position of a comma (curled on chair, legs as tail, head as dot). Over time, one may reconfigure as a question mark (spine curved, head tucked, question unanswered). If prognosis proves dire, one may assume the exclamation point (rigor mortis body, death the full stop point). Semicolons are loved ones (disjointed reactions, blind third eyes, space between items mirroring fractured relationships). See also: ampersands (problematic reworkings of memory post-separation form Gordian knots).
Time: 15 minutes
Word count: 82
The accountant's eye was caught by something moving swiftly past the window, which was, he discovered, another accountant, from the floor above, who had jumped out the window, and whose tie was waving in the breeze, causing the accountant's hand to raise in a wave in response, although, by the time he did, the falling accountant was gone, headed to destinations unknown.
Time: 4 minutes
Word count: 62
Earlier this year, her brother by another mother and father died. You'd think, judging by this photo, she's sad about that. She isn't. She recognized that for what it was: the freeing up of more resources for her. Now, as the only dog, she gets all the cookies, all the dinners, all the cuddles. She doesn't even like to cuddle. She likes chasing balls on deserted train tracks, and drinking filthy rain water, and my husband. I figure I'm her next target. If she can get rid of me, she'll have him all to herself. And all the cookies she wants, to boot.