From My Commonplace Book - 5 - memoir excerpts

excerpts: Two Kinds of Decay: A Memoir

by Sarah Manguso


My mornings were occupied by bathing, eating, drinking a protein drink, having my central line dressed and flushed by the visiting nurse, and exercising pathetically little with the visiting physical therapist. After the fourth or fifth hospitalization, I remember just lying in bed for hours every afternoon. I had too much to think about to do anything else. It must have looked as if I weren't doing anything, but I was very busy.

. . . .

I believed, though, that I would stop secreting antibodies forever only after I had intercourse. And though I looked worse than I ever had in my life -- thanks to steroids I was fat and swollen, covered in acne, and had a gruesomely round face -- I knew I would have to go through the humiliation of finding a man who would agree to have intercourse with me.

. . . .

My existence shrank from an arrow of light pointing into the future forever to a speck of light that was the present moment. I got better at living in that point of light, making the world into that point. I paid close attention to it. I loved it very much.

. . . .

A crow stands outside my window all day, reminding me of the best thing about my life -- that it ends.


Sarah Manguso suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder. She wrote her memoir during a long period of remission.

Comments

hard hitting Mary! She sounds very much like someone with a severe case of CFS.

She was too busy.....wow...thinking I guess...

What an eerie ending

A crow stands outside my window all day, reminding me of the best thing about my life -- that it ends.
 
What a life!

I believed, though, that I would stop secreting antibodies forever only after I had intercourse. And though I looked worse than I ever had in my life -- thanks to steroids I was fat and swollen, covered in acne, and had a gruesomely round face -- I knew I would have to go through the humiliation of finding a man who would agree to have intercourse with me.
It amazing what life dishes up for some people! (Why?) and how ironic that sex would make her feel better when she was in that condition....
 
Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Cort.

The belief Sarah Manguso held at one time that she'd be made well or better if she engaged in intercourse, struck me as an example of how desperately ill people wager and engage in magical thinking. If only I did this. . . . If only this would happen. . . . Sexual desire can fuel such thoughts, and, of course, intimacy does have the potential to make people feel whole.

Sarah's young adulthood was interrupted by illness.

I read the book a few years ago, but my memory of it is that it is not as grim as these excerpts suggest. She didn't write her memories of that time of illness in chronological order, and she made clear that she was writing during a period of health. I don't know what her health status is today, but a robust Web presence suggests that she continues to enjoy good health or at least better health than the years described in Two Kinds of Decay.
 
but a robust Web presence suggests that she continues to enjoy good health or at least better health than the years described in Two Kinds of Decay.
That is hopeful. I wasn't sure if she made it or not.
 

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