The Eighth Day

Now reading: The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

Yesterday I was looking forward to reading my book after work. I’d missed out on my usual bus reading time, because on Tuesday I drove to work for the first time since I started my job in 2008, so that Sang and I could go to the suburban Powell’s in the evening and see Atul Gawande. And yesterday we drove across town for breakfast with Sang’s parents, who were on their way home from a reunion, and then parked on campus again. Such decadence. Actually, driving to work was completely tedious, even with the radio. I am relieved that I’d actually much rather ride the bus (since it’s way cheaper and greener).

But yesterday I walked through the pouring rain to the Stott Center before six p.m. to get seats for Sang and me for Winona LaDuke’s talk at seven. Sang was tutoring until 6:45, so it was just me and my book and my notebook on our two little white plastic folding chairs.

The Eighth Day is about a boy who turns twelve and suddenly starts experiencing a day between Wednesday and Thursday. No one else is there, the first time this happens. AWESOME, right? I love extra-time tropes! Except, they are always ruined. Nicholson Baker’s Fermata, so icky. I remember liking Jane Louise Curry’s Parsley Sage, Rosemary, and Time, but it turns out it’s a  time travel book. Where is the book about a character stopping time and catching up on studying, getting a little extra rest and tidying up the house? It’s like that wouldn’t make a good story or something, sheesh.

Anyway, this one turns into an Arthurian thing, with descendants of Merlin and the Pendragon and others in various factions, and for some reason it’s a bit of a trudge. It felt weird to be reading a Merlin story in a hall full of Indigenous Studies and Sustainability people. I overheard greetings in Chinuk Wawa nearby!

I’m glad I went to hear Winona LaDuke. I look up to her for finding a way to live as an activist and a leader without giving up on doing the cool stuff that’s important to her, her way. Growing corn and teaching the kids at her grandkids’ school how to braid it, and also running for vice president. Last year she and other Anishinaabe and Lakota riders traced the routes of three proposed oil pipelines, on horseback. Sometimes I feel like being an activist consists of going to a lot more meetings, ugh, and it’s good to see that it can be much more. Sang said on the way home that she’d been worried it would be like two hours of listening to Mo from Dykes to Watch Out For… but it wasn’t at all.

Celebrity dinner party: Winona LaDuke, Eileen Myles, Sarah Schulman.

2 thoughts on “The Eighth Day

  1. I’ve noticed a lot of books seem to veer in a totally different direction which can be okay, but can also be frustrating if you liked the direction it was already heading.

    How was Atul Gawande? We wanted to attend that but everyone was sick with sore throats and coughs.

    Winona LaDuke sounds fascinating. I too have come to think that activists of any note basically live their lives in meetings and doing interviews nowadays. Checking out proposed pipelines on horseback sounds a lot more hands on and connected to the issues.

    Your week sounds awesome!

    • I remember being seven or eight and feeling very frustrated about James and the Giant Peach, because we never find out what would have happened if James had used the magic stuff as instructed instead of spilling it on the peach pit. (or however it happened… really need to reread that one.) :)

      Atul Gawande was great. I’ve admired him for so long, and was not disappointed. It was a standing-room-only crowd of mostly medical/healthcare professionals and caregivers. He didn’t read from the book, but gave a beautiful talk framed with the story of his daughter’s piano teacher who was dying of a leukemia-like condition brought on by previous chemotherapy, and how when she and her husband asked him for advice, he realized how ill-equipped his medical model was to even know what the goals should be for end-of-life care and decision making, let alone how to accomplish them.

      He talked about how his view of palliative care and hospice changed. He had been thinking of it as “giving up and going into hospice,” but came to see that it was more like an inversion of the mindset of the rest of medicine. Instead of giving up some quantity of health and quality of life (by undergoing surgery or chemical therapy) in order to get better health and function in the future, hospice is medicine with the goal of making today the best day possible.

      Elizabeth said she appreciates the way he finds things he doesn’t understand, and goes and talks to a lot of people about it. And not just finding an expert to quote, like many journalists, but talking to twenty people who have lived and worked with the issue from different perspectives for years. He’s humble about it. (He called on people in the very back during the Q&A.)

      So yeah, I’m still a total fangirl! If I used “trying to be more like Atul Gawande” as a guideline in my life I don’t think I’d go far wrong.

      Ridiculously busy week (for me)! I got home from work tonight and planted myself on Spaceship Couch. Hope you all are feeling better and have a good weekend!

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