Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown

I can't forget it, which is why I'm returning in about 10 days. Today I had my last VA appointment with my cancer surgeon, a lovely, skillful and thoroughly professional Kashmir-native female surgeon, Dr B.

I've had a small crush on her since the beginning, mostly fascinated by her accent, dark eyes, caring but objective bedside manner and the careful way she must tweeze her eyebrows. As she examined my stoma (what's left of my colon poking through my stomach) and pronounced it "lovely" and certified my surgical wound as healed (as if I had anything to do with either of them) I focused not on my surgically mutilated midsection, but on her eyebrows and imagined watching her tweeze them carefully preparing for a night out away from the VA hustle.

"Good luck in China!" she said cheerfully. "But if there are any complications, you know where to find us."

Uh huh. I told her I'd done my homework for cancer care and ostomy supplies in Beijing and said I was glad to meet her despite the circumstances, gently shook her hand and left hoping I'd never see the place again, though her gentle Kashmir lilt and eyebrows will stay with me forever.

Got to think forward. Bob Marley, himself a cancer casuality, was earworming through my head, "Exodus, movement of Jah people" ... along with Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers to Cross.

Back at my sister's place she'd gone through one of her physician prescribed amphetamine day-off cleaning frenzies and inadvertantely thrown out a white garbage bag I stow my clean clothes in onto the curbside trash. This did not deter me either. I simply hacked her hands off with a machete and rescued the clothing before the garbage truck swung through and then I began trolling through emails.

There are few job interview possibilities, nothing rock solid yet, but I will prevail even it's writing copy for incomprehensible pirated Chinese IT supply catalogs. And a nice email from C. A rare treat. I told her I'd be staying in Beijing temporarily in the apartment of an elderly widow of an American communist journalist who'd elected to make China his home after the revolution.

He's a lesser figure than Edgar Snow but, like Snow, one whose memory is still honored by the PRC. For this he also served a few years in jail during the Cultural Revolution but emerged saying he'd learned from his mistakes. Whatta tool, I think. But I'm not him and can't imagine what he was thinking except he'd prefered hard time in China to returning to live in the USA.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but part of me understands it in an odd way.