MRIs, the Khmer Rouge and Love Medicine
What does it say about my life that I found my MRI restful yesterday. Just two years ago, I had to be heavily medicated and even then I almost did not make it. Horrible things, MRIs. But this time, I clamped my eyes shut and stuck the headphones on. My only job was not to freak out and to lie very still. My book would have to wait. I could not write a test on the short stories we have been reading in my Intro to Lit class; I could not not write my speech for the Italy conference (13 days away but who’s counting). I could not eat too much chocolate or miss my son who’s with his dad. Although it did strike me that the rat tat bang of the MRI machine is a fine simulation of The Green Zone soundtrack, which I had just seen on Saturday night, I remained calm; I observed that my heart rate did accelerate with each new bang, but I was fully aware that I was not in Baghdad. I was not even on a movie set of Baghdad. Besides, my heart rate used to accelerate when I listened to “Come on Baby Light my Fire” (The Doors) when I was my son’s age. I admit that I did worry about what the MRI machine might be doing to me. I thought about Love Medicine, the book I was teaching the next day. You know, Indians, Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris — a tragedy — I hope Erdrich is ok now — more Indians, Sherman Alexie, but then I was back with the MRI. People say that it is a magnet, but the only magnets I know stick on fridges, or are those little black ones I used to play with, so I tried to superimpose those on the huge machine they had tucked me into. Impossible. Besides, how can magnets take pictures? of spines, bones, invisible things? So, I worked on being grateful that I did not live in a war zone, even though this is what it would sound like to be in a war zone. Say, Phnom Penh in April 1975, a city my genocide students had never heard of until last week when they encountered Operation Menu, Nixon, and the Khmer Rouge for the first time in their lives. Of this I can be proud. (That now they do know).
When it was over, I was disappointed. There were so many things I had to go not do, like re-read Love Medicine which I just talked about in class today with my Women and Lit students. They wanted to know why it is so confusing. But then this is what they wanted to know about Wuthering Heights. I suppose I could have made them a flow chart of the characters and their relationships to each other , but I spent last night shopping online for guidebooks to Pisa. I also bought a street map of Florence.