Thursday, January 15, 2004

On Being Uncoiffed And Embodied In A Loud Cold World

As promised, it's cold. And getting colder and windier.

The Lad returned from snowboarding intact. The bunny survived my clueless husbandry.

And I survived the quarter mile trek from the Brigham to the doc's office, thanks to long underwear, double socks, a major hat and the famous red scarf. It was actually bracing. It felt good to be alive, walking in the sunlight; Brookline Ave parallels The Muddy River -- it and I go back a long way, 1985 to be precise, poetically -- little wisps of fog were rising from it, and a lone duck floated in a ring of concentric ripples.

My eyes were cold.

What was harder to survive were the hospital TVs. A blaring TV in the CAT scan waiting room. Another TV blaring in the ambulatory radiology waiting room. TVs set to morning talk programs. Peppy, chipper anchor people blabbing on and on. Yucking it up. Audiences laughing on cue. I was trying to read. I'm reading Susan Bordo's Unbearable Weight, a classic feminist text on women and food and bodies that I'd somehow overlooked; it's quite interesting and enagaging. But reading something that references Foucault with morning TV coming in my other channels just didn't work. I gave up.

What was coming in those other channels, appropriately enough, contained plenty of the usual TV references to diets and food and weight loss. As if to illustrate the book I was failing to read. Later, a woman somewhere behind me began talking. Just loud enough to intrude and be impossible to ignore. Her stream of speech was punctuated by briefer responses from a male voice. Again, the topic was weight gain and loss.

First, he lamented gaining weight after the age of forty. This elicited from her a much more elaborate narrative that began with an dramatic opening sentence that hinted at a much-told-tale: "The minute I hit puberty I gained 25 pounds. In one week." Over the decades there ensued, she said, multiple instances of major (60-100 pound) weight loss, regain, reloss, cycling with stress, surgeries, more stress. The gains were precipitated by the need for soothing "comfort food," the losses by the need "to like herself more." As she warmed to the subject, his answers became briefer, less interested.

Another living illustration of Bordo's text.

As is this ugly racist, homophobic, misogynistic assault on the marvelous and lovely Margaret Cho by a mewling gang of internet yahoos.

As is, in fact, Maureen Dowd's vapidly pre-feminist scolding of Howard Dean's doctor wife for not standing by her man, preferring to continue to take care of her family and patients, and also for, well, kinda sorta acting and dressing like me. ("In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled...")

Have you ever noticed how the white noise of an xray processor can be quite beautiful ?

(Thanks to Atrios for the usual important news references.)

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