July 25, 2001

The city is so hot and humid that everyone is moving slowly, as if underwater. Girls dressed in slips schlump along the sidewalk. Even a cellphone is too heavy to lift. We are the place-holders. All the real people have gone elsewhere. There are only ten or so people at yoga, a real treat since Genny has gotten so popular there's no place to put your mat most of the year. The job search has gone straight to my back, which is twisted up like a barber pole. The alignment of energy from the class sent me into an altered state where I couldn't talk. I learned through the Alexander technique that my back is a barometer of, and a reflection of, my thoughts. The less I honor the special needs of my spine, the more circular and frantic my thoughts, and the further twisted my spine. My Alexander teacher felt the genesis was repressed anger. It's as good a theory as any the mechanistically oriented orthopedists have to offer. The scientific term is "idiopathic," which is AMA-speak for "we have no clue."

These are the months to read Bruno Schultz's "Street of Crocodiles." Treat yourself if you've not read it. I lucked out with two stellar novels back-to-back. "Passage" is about a psychologist studying near-death experiences. It's part scientific mystery-thriller, part character study, and all smart. Plus, you get to learn more about the Hindenberg, Titanic, and a big circus fire than you ever dreamed you would. The entire book functions as a metaphor; the hospital's endless construction and paging system echoes the passageways of the Titanic echoes the neural signals of the brain. Highly recommended. As is "A Small Death in Lisbon" by Robert Wilson (no, not that Robert Wilson...no, not that Robert Wilson either). A fairly masterful literary-historical mystery, parallel stories move through time, weaving Nazi economics with human brutality and the fate of Portugal. I learned an incredible amount about the complicity of 'neutral' countries during WWII, about Portugal's political history, and the atmosphere of Lisbon. One thread of the narrative is a straight police procedural, the other a tale of greed and power. This is the sort of well-researched, compelling mystery that puts most thrillers to shame. The book won an award. It's very dense and very worth your time.

Still a deafening silence as if cyberspace has eaten my faint cries for employment whole cloth. I did get one "that position has been filled" email and one "please send writing samples". I am not alone, however. I am so not alone that it explains the silence. Panic Attack. Good thing that getting a publishing job isn't the main goal of my life.