Spring Fling

It’s out: Tin House VOLUME 20, Number 3: Spring Fling

Over the past month, Valentina had attempted every procedure, from reputable to highly experimental. She’d bathed Lenin’s body in hydrogen peroxide and potassium acetate, employed benzene wipes, adjusted the dosages of intravenous polymer, applied refined paraffin wax in a thin layer over the face to maintain the appearance of skin, even resorted to botulinum. But the corpse had ceased all cooperation. After seventy years of successful maintenance, Lenin’s body was deteriorating faster than the morticians and biochemical scientists could keep up. Patchy dark spots bloomed across the dome of Lenin’s skull. His eye sockets collapsed like sinkholes. That morning, as Valentina inspected a gray fleshy protrusion on his temple, his left ear had fallen off into her hand like the handle on a poorly made clay mug. Most worryingly, there was a new smell about him. A damp, ghoulish, subterranean stench.

—MARIA LIOUTAIA, “Preservation”

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Memories of Ice Cream

images.jpgWhen I was in High School I suffered a debilitating lower back injury that forced me to withdraw from all strenuous physical activity. I sold my surfboard, tossed my athletic supporter in the laundry, deflated my volleyball, and transferred from Physical Education classes to become a library assistant.

Working in a High School library taught me a lot about the tasks and skills needed to maintain an apparently large collection of reading materials. I look back at it now and can only smile at how quaint and primitive it all was. Needless to say, it was a time before computers (our word processor had to be sharpened regularly).

In between lettering book spines, shelving returned books, checking out new acquisitions, and even sweeping the floor, I had plenty of time to roam around the library, discovering new and interesting materials. One book I recall pulling down from the reserved shelf more than once was a big thick one full of quotations (Bartlett’s?) that when I was seventeen seemed fresh and profound but would now be considered clichéd at best.

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A Quick List of February Suggestions

downloadDespite being out of service for several days this last month, I had gotten ahead of my list of suggested reading so if you don’t remember my suggestion for any day, I was probably laying in the hospital enjoying the regular rhythm of the plastic blood-pressure cup strangling my arm and the monitors regularly beeping to keep me well rested.

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Reading From the Pneumonia Cycle

images.jpgYet another month interrupted by a sudden trip to the hospital to recover from my annual bout of pneumonia and again they caught it just in time. I don’t totally understand: I had been coughing and there was an ache in my upper chest for the last day or so, but I ws feeling fine: strong and active. But then I lay down for a short nap and couldn’t get up two hours later.

I was weak and feverish so I was shoved into an ambulance and rushed into the hospital emergency room where I lay on a gurney for two days since the hospital was overbooked. Then several days of antibiotics and I was well enough to send home with a two-inch thick collection of papers telling me what to do and what not to do.

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