I look like Sluggo, Nancy's pal in the comic strip. My hairline is lower than my tattoo-line was, and I look like a Neandertal.* My tattoos are mostly faded. I want to get someone to rewrite the US out of Iraq on the back of my head. My scalp still shows through the hair. My eyebrows are growing in but I still use pencil to darken. My eyes are close together (an oculist told me, and it's true) and I think it's more pronounced now that the tattoos are gone. I am vain and obsessed. I think about 50 percent of the time about my hair/non-hair and the rest of the time about food, students, writing, the world brutality du jour, cancer coming back. Not in that order. The order keeps changing. I suppose I should be thinking about the Cubs' major win. They are Midwest division champs of the National division. Or something like that. Only 11 more wins and they are world (US and Canada) champs. I applied today for a fellowship from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation. I regret never writing to him. He has been dead about 20 years. A friend of mine wrote to Meridel LeSueur and kept up a correspondence. I regret not sending my books to Grace Paley, who would have read them or not, but at least she would have been aware of them. A critic wrote that Paley wrote English as if it were Yiddish and someone once said that about my work. She was much much closer to Yiddish speakers and inflection than I've been. I interviewed her over the phone and then met her here, but before I had any books. I didn't mention my breast cancer on the personal statement to the Isherwood Foundation. I would have if it were for nonfiction writers, but it was for fiction, so I put my best fiction foot forward. I almost wrote: I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and finished chemo this summer. I am writing a nonfiction book about it and that takes time away from my fiction so I need money to buy time for my fiction. That was all I could think to say so I didn't say it. Other than: I had breast cancer, feel sorry for me and send money. My time may be short. But think of all the writers with AIDS who may be applying. Breast cancer seems like chump change. At least my kind of. It is garden-variety-ish, and that is why my oncologist (soon to be my former) seemed bored with it. Or maybe he is without affect. I will see the new young female oncologist on Friday. The old oncologist seemed indifferent to my case. He didn't call my shrink back to talk about drug interactions and when they did talk (after she called again) she asked him about monitoring of something or other in my liver and he brushed her off. I want an oncologist who at least feigns interest and goes through the right motions. Is that too much to ask?
I have tried to find pictures of Sluggo on line to link to, but it's hard to find good ones. In most, he's wearing a hat. I remember him as being nearly bald, with stubs all over, and a low hairline. But in this comic, it's not so low.
*"Neanderthal" sounds more natural, but I want to sound smart, so I'm spelling it without the H. Mr. Neandert(h)al was not available for comment.