Sometimes it’s nice to be part of something

Not long ago, my friends and I were discussing the way that eye exams make us all nervous. Or perhaps not nervous, so much as uncomfortable—none of us are afraid anything bad will happen, exactly, except that we might make a mistake and doom ourselves to the wrong glasses. If you’ve never had an eye exam, they go like this: you look through a small lens while the doctor makes incremental changes, asking you which version of an image is clearer—this one, or this one? Sometimes, the changes are slight, and you have to go back and forth a few times to make a decision; I assume that optometrists correct for human error and indecision, to some degree, but it feels like 50 opportunities in a row to make the wrong choice.

All of life is a performance opportunity, if you’re anxious!

I don’t have to get new glasses for at least another year, thank god, but yesterday I did have a hearing test to get a baseline for how my left ear is doing following the surgery I had on it, a little over a year ago, to remove the benign tumor that I’ve been dealing with for a while. I was less stressed out about this test than an eye exam, I guess because I already knew that my hearing wasn’t great, so there wasn’t any pressure to pretend otherwise. (I remain vain about the fact that I didn’t need glasses until I was 20, despite the fact that I have needed increased prescriptions every couple of years since then; I’m not saying I’m the best person, I’m saying I’m a person.)

It turns out that, while my hearing is in fact below normal on the left, it’s better than the doctor expected—it just seems bad to me because my right ear is outstanding. Did you know that infants have exceptional hearing? Well, infants, and me. In my right ear. For my left, I might get a hearing aid, at which point I assume I’ll be some kind of hawk-like superhero, aurally. The only problem being, from my point of view, that most hearing aids now, apparently, come with Bluetooth, so you can receive phone calls right into your body.

Whomever dreamed this up and didn’t assume it would be a nightmare: please get therapy.

Another thing that happened at the ENT—aside, that is, from preparations for my future as a marvelous cyborg—was that I was chatting with my doctor and recalled how it hurt somewhat less than I’d expected when he took the miles of gauze out of my ear, after the surgery. He looked at me very seriously when I said this, and replied: “I’m glad you remember it that way. Because it actually hurt you very much.”


He then reiterated that my ear has, weirdly, regrown the skin in the rough shape of the ear canal that he tore down (so he could remove any future tumors in an office visit; it’s minorly gross, but way better than surgery), which it wasn’t supposed to do; I have to admit, I’m a little bit smug about this (he can still clean it, I haven’t subconsciously botched the surgery), the fact that my body not only can heal, but can heal in an appealingly human shape. Never mind the fact that my body also grew the tumor—twice!—in the first place, and allowed it to eat two of my ear bones and part of my skull.

All this is to say that I bought myself a cinnamon roll yesterday as a reward for the tumultuous experience of being human, and I recommend that everyone else does the same.


Oh hey, also, the paperback of INVITATION TO A BONFIRE is coming out in May, and it looks gorgeous! The UK edition is also gorgeous, and I will show it off it due course. Maybe buy one? Why not, right? Spring is here, read about the perils of intimacy, literary ambition, and murder, just as you’ve wanted to all winter.