Thursday, May 05, 2005

One Week!

One week left until chemo! And then I'm done with ABVD! I'm back to trying really hard to think of myself as normal and to do normal things. To whit: dinner tonight is salmon on the grill, asparagus, a cucmber and carrot salad called pachadi (tossed with yogurt and indian spices) and rolls. And a champagne mango (Barth! They had them at my grocery!) I don't cook for awhile right after chemo because the chemo schedule is Week 1 nausea, Week 2 neuropathy. (Week 1 I avoid groceries. Week 2 I take a vicodin at night to sleep.)

But cooking, unlike writing, makes me curiously happy. I don't hate writing. I'm working on a short story today and there were moments of real pleasure. But every story is a shot at a once in a lifetime moment. Is this story great? Have I really reached? Is there that moment when the page is smarter than I am? It's hard and worrisome. Cooking is immediate gratification. Bob will come home and say happily, "Salmon!" Last time I made salmon, he liked it. I'll use the same marinade today, he'll like it. And next time I make salmon, it will work again.

The thing about writing is that it's a composing art, not a performing art. The performers are the readers. Unlike music, where the vast majority of the people who like music don't make it, most people who like fiction must take the raw score and perform it in their head. Used to be that people sat around in parlors and read to each other. We don't do that. Which is why books on tape are so wonderful because they bring back that pleasure of having writing performed for us.

There are all sorts of performance aspects of fiction that are rarely done anymore but thanks to things like books on tape or the internet, they're coming back.

One of the things that has nearly disappeared in the written word (but not in drama for example where it is a staple of television) is the serial. Years ago a writer took a book she couldn't sell and put it online a chapter at a time and I was rivited. Each week for something like half a year, I went to read the latest installment. Only near the end of the book did I discover that what was carrying me was as much the anticipation as the actual quality of the book. It was a book that turned out to be rather predictable and probably really not particularly publishable. In a different, but still serial performative way, Greg Van Eekhout asked for readers of his blog to give him words and each day he writes a short piece using the day's word. I know the word for tomorrow (pennywhistle) but I have no idea what Greg will do with it. Only that it won't be what I expect. I go every day in to see what he's done.

This blog started out as a kind of serial, although not fictional. It had a plot--would I or wouldn't I get better. (I would like to think that most of the suspense has been blown, although nothing is certain. And there's always the subplot about whether or not I'll leave a prescription in a library book again.) We're wired to like serials, I think and I hope they come back. I'm thinking someone, somewhere should do a podcast serial but I'm not up to doing it right now.

So I'm just a normal kind of girl tonight. Cooking dinner. Watching C.S.I. in a vicodin haze.


Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

This season of the Maureen McHugh show has been absolutely gripping. Next season, however, I'd like something with jet packs and fish-bowl helmets. Grocery shopping and cows and what the dogs are up to would be fine, too.

May 06, 2005 12:03 AM  
Blogger David Moles said...

I’m with Greg on this one.

One week! Yay! — So, I haven’t been able to figure out how to send a case of champagne to Ohio and my only fallback so far is the Bacon of the Month Club. My friend Lara says “When you’re sick, you should get ice cream” but I have a feeling that wouldn’t keep, unless it was Astronaut Ice Cream (which, once the novelty has worn off, is frankly kind of wretched). Any better ideas?

May 06, 2005 12:59 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

David, how 'bout you buy me a drink at a con sometime. You going to Wiscon?

Greg, I promise, next season, I'm done with the illness thing. I mean, it's been good, but I'm worried I'm running out of ideas and I'm going to jump the shark.

May 06, 2005 1:13 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

I just realized that "jumping the shark" has that property of being awkward to negate, in that "I don't want Maureen to jump the shark" sounds like you're rooting for the shark.

It might be interesting to have a full-fledged, multi-episode crossover between the Maureen McHugh show and the Greg Van Eekhout show: "Maureen's latest case leads her to Arizona..."

May 06, 2005 2:39 PM  
Blogger David Moles said...

Wiscon, absolutely.

May 06, 2005 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Mango and Vicodin...


May 07, 2005 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it would be a nice post on your blog if you told the story about how you drove 4 1/2 hours to visit your nephew and fixed salmon on the grill, asparagus, a cucmber and carrot salad called pachadi (tossed with yogurt and indian spices) and rolls, and a champagne mango.

May 07, 2005 9:58 AM  
Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

Hey, if David gets to buy you a drink at WisCon, I think I should get to as well!

May 07, 2005 1:48 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Bill, I'd love to write that post, but unfortunately, I don't write fiction in this blog.

Greg, if you and David both buy me a drink, I'll be delighted, but I'll probably fall asleep at the bar.

May 07, 2005 3:46 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I won't be at Wiscon, but next time our paths cross I will happily join the Buy Maureen a Drink Movement. Do we all get pins, and a secret handshake to identify ourselves?

May 07, 2005 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My big plan for the day is to go about the internets and wish the folks I know to be moms a happy mother's day. And, so, Happy Mother's Day!

Somehow, I know my plan will be derailed by things like making dinner and changing diapers, but let's see how far I get...

And, yes, what will be the secret Buy-Maureen-a-Drink handshake?

May 08, 2005 9:26 AM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

There is no secret Buy-Maureen-a-Drink handshake. It is enough to say in a clear voice, "And one for my bald friend here!"

May 09, 2005 8:32 AM  
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