Bitches

1. Competing bitches
I'm starting to think more and more of this blog as a potential book. I just found out that
Da Capo Press is publishing "Cancer is a Bitch: Reflections on Midlife, Mortality, Motherhood and Marriage" by Gail Konop Baker in October 2008. Does that mean that I should axe my title, "The Cancer Bitch Diaries"? I thought of "Cancer Kvetch," but that lacks gravitas. Any ideas, reactions, comments?

2. Public bitch
This weekend Cancer Bitch made her first paid public appearance without hair. I spoke to an audience of strangers (seven students, a professor, and a fellow presenter) at a program on the business of writing at Intellectual University. Beforehand, in the hallway, I saw a number of people who I hadn't seen for a while. I intimated to some of them that chemo had dictated my new henna-head, but didn't tell everyone. Of course I would have answered directly if anyone asked me directly about my lack of hair. I managed to slip in the name of this blog into my presentation; I wanted people to figure out that cancer had led to my latest head-fashion, that this isn't my idea of the most attractive face I could put forward.

3. Peevish bitch
I'm fascinated by memoirs by Iranian women. I guess it's because Iran has been shrouded in mystery and Iranian women have been shrouded in chadors. I've read at least a half dozen of them. The first was Honeymoon in Purdah: An Iranian Journey, a travelogue by Alison Wearing, a Canadian. That doesn't count. The first real one was "Saffron Sky: A Life Between Iran and America" by Gelareh Asayesh, who was an intern at the Miami Herald when I was. I remember her as amazingly beautiful and uncomplaining about having to sit and listen to the police radio for crime news. I've read a number of memoirs since. I was immediately skeptical of Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," because it paints American and British literature as be-alls and end-alls. The book seems to exist in order to make Americans feel good about our literature. (I admit I read aloud from the book when I taught The Great Gatsby.) There's a new book, "Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran" by Fatemeh Keshavarz, which criticizes Nafisi for stereotyping Iranian women. I'm planning to go to Keshavarz's reading May 30 at Women & Children First to see if she addresses my concerns. But that's not the peevish part. This is it: I'm reading a memoir by an Iranian woman, who will go unnamed. The book is supposed to be poetic. I'm feeling bad because here's someone writing a bestseller in her second or third language, and she's ten years younger that I am. Both treasonable offenses. And as I go along, I notice that she misuses words. She is not adept at English. Didn't anyone else notice? Apparently the reviewers didn't. So I am alone in my peevishness. And peevish about that.

4. Chemo bitch
My third chemo session is tomorrow. P is accompanying me. She will grade papers and I will read the above unsatisfying but still interesting Iranian memoir.

5. A confused bitch
The latest piece I like by an Iranian-American woman is the short "Iranian Women" by Mojdeh Marashi in "Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora," edited by Persis M. Karim. It consists of three very similar scenes of secular and religious women eyeing one another on the street. Cancer Bitch likes repetition. As in reggae. As in Philip Glass. As in drumming. Gregorian chants. And certain poetry, like the pantoum. And in Etel Adnan's "Paris, When It's Naked," which I discovered and bought at Small Press Distribution in Berkeley. I remember walking to SPD. It was both a warehouse and a store. From its website I can't tell whether you can still go into SPD and buy books. You'd think a person would be able to tell, but it such things can be difficult in the 21st century. You try it.

8 comments:

jzbrapp said...

I'm back after being out of town for three weeks. First thing I did was check up on the blog. Glad to hear you are still scrapy. Keep moving, then bad things can't catch you....

Anonymous said...

Cancer Bitchin
or
Cancer Bitches

Betsy said...

Hi Sandi - I was one of those folks that saw you this weekend - didn't want to poke in on your conversation with Stephanie but wanted to ask you about your amazing head decoration - and that was without having a look at the back! Props to Sharon for that. Look forward to hearing you on 848. I have no titles for you. Cancer Sucks? Not as good.

bc said...

Cancer Bitch Witch Snitch Glitch or something ... you'll find the right one ...

barbara said...

The CancerBitch Confessions?
I just realized tumor rhymes with humor, but somehow I can't see that in a title.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Intellectual University loves your henna'ed head (well, at least this representative of it does). It's smart and sassy, just like you!

Alice said...

Sandi--I too was one of those who witnessed your shorn head and didn't quite have the chutzpah to just ask you...then--I heard your piece in the car on Thursday & put my hand over my heart when I found out is was you. Lovely, affecting, unsentimental. Bravo Cancer Bitch! Odd to be on the other side of it--my husband's just on the 2-year after side of a bout with throat cancer--and he and I had the unsettling experience over and over of people complimenting him on either his thinness (it's America) or his baldness (he's an artist). I just emailed 848 urging them to continue the piece.

Anonymous said...

anonymous: reflecting on Iranian writers with MOST extraordinary, therefore painful, perception, one is compelled to say that Gelareh Asayesh, moving between Iranian and American cultures, seizes most exactly a humanistic view far more profound than either of these two "worlds. Her VERY special grasp makes her writings a "must" to read.