I had some of my writing peers look over a slightly modified version of my first post this month and their feedback to me was that they didn't quite understand what I was trying to get at. Fair enough. If even one person gives me that sort of feedback, it is a fair assessment that I need to write better.
In my opinion, certain blog writing should be raw; in a way unfinished so that the reader can cook it up just right. I want my blog to be an open reflection of what I'm thinking, not what I think you should think about what I've written. Sure, I want it to make sense, but what if I make you fill in some blanks? You aren't duty-free as a reader. I won't make you reel until your brain is upside-down from hoping to find some semblance of sense in abstract and disconnected rambling, not intentionally. But I don't want to carry you; I want to move you.
You've got a brain, an imagination. It needs exercise. It is always my intention for my sentences to offer breath to your expanding mind as your eyes jog along, each word a stride toward an energized view of language, life, yourself.
In my creative non-fiction class it's been a pretty consistent feedback on my writing that I should look more closely, take advantage of utilizing meditation in my stories, so they have an ability to reach to a reader and make a connection. While I personally felt that I got out what I wanted to say in my first post, I can always order it better, or be more clear, or something. Writing raw, the way I do on my blog, without peer review before publishing, may not produce perfectly sensical material. I'm a consistently almost really good writer. I'll keep practicing.
So, just to be clear:
My point in not wearing a bra for the month of November is to be veritably aware of breasts, particularly my own. I intentionally left out the word cancer. Not wearing a bra will not somehow make me aware of cancer, any more than seeing pink will make me aware of breast cancer. I'm not wearing a bra to remind me to research about cancer, so that I become aware of it.
----so far this has been interesting. liberating in some ways, inconsequential in others. Mostly I've been keeping a jacket on because going braless is always colder and so in winter even more so. I'm unaware of what other people have perceived, if even they've looked at my chest; only my roommates or the guy I'm not exclusively dating have really had anything to say, and usually only if I bring it up. Anyway, because I usually keep the jacket on, I don't think many people are aware, and that's okay because that wasn't the point; I need to be aware. I'm doing this part for me. No bra as an action to improve my own awareness.
My point in choosing November is because breast cancer doesn't end after halloween; it's not "pretend" or "dress up for fun and then go back to normal life." Traditionally, November is gratitude awareness month. I am grateful for thus-far healthy breasts. And bras. I think it will feel peculiar when I again wear a bra, but bras sure are useful for rounding things up, for grading on a curve...
My point when I made the comparison between breast cancer awareness propaganda and TV commercials featuring starving children, was to question why two such serious issues receive such different attention. World hunger, does it have an awareness month? Nationally, yes: June. I didn't know that. June has always been about me, since it boasts no national reason to celebrate except that I was born its eighth day. (Someday when my writing makes me famous, and then I die, June will finally have a holiday.)
----we always use something humorous or infantile or cartoon to represent our holidays. Santa, turkeys, Easter bunny (seriously, what a joke), etc., so that we can make an easy connection, feel like we're celebrating awareness---even if we don't think for one second of Jesus' birth, a peaceful harvest feast between foreign settlers and Native inhabitants, or Jesus' resurrection, etc.
Some look beyond the plush toy turkeys and use November as a time to gather in canned food and donate it to shelters and food banks. A true spirit beams behind the propaganda of every holiday that is reached by awareness. Once you step into the rays of awareness, your attitude changes and you let yourself be moved by that spirit, and that is when a difference can be made, when you can feel that satisfactory joy of the season.
My point is, you don't become truly aware of anything unless you do something proactive. Having a perception of some thing or situation or fact is nice and all, and weakly qualifies as awareness; gaining knowledge of any thing or situation or fact takes initiative on your part. No one else can think for you; not even my words will succeed in making you truly aware unless you personally desire to do something about things, situations or facts in your own way.
I don't care if you don't want to learn about breast cancer. Maybe that doesn't affect you very closely. Well, then what does? My words are etching a template for action.
My point is, pink means nothing to you if you don't know what it's signifying. What it's signifying doesn't mean anything to you unless you learn about it. If you're not concerned with eventual cancer, then maybe it's heart failure, Alzheimer's, any other mutated component of "normal" that may lurk in your own future. Your participation must be your own: you must become aware by knowing the risks, the preventative measures you can take, and when the time comes, when ultimately those precautions may have had no power to change your course, then you need to be aware of how you will care for yourself. What will you decide if your options are limited? Which treatment, any treatment, are there treatments?
If you have a question, seek its answer. Ask, and it shall be given you. Unless science doesn't have an explanation quite yet.
And that's why they're handing out bumper stickers that say "save the TaTas" or "save second base", or "I love boobies", etc.: to supply money for research. I haven't put energy into researching where exactly the funds and donations go, but so many good and concerned people donate money, goods and time to furthering the search for cures, for treatments, for machines that provide early detection. So I support the efforts, I am glad everything turns pink and people buy in to it. The money furthers research and treatment, I hope, more than less.
I went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah on Friday. The building is absolutely beautiful. There are two sides to it: the patient and hospital side, and the research side. The hospital was so unrestricted, inviting---it didn't even feel like a hospital, actually. Every floor has an amazing view of Salt Lake valley. The sincere care and individual investment of doctors and nurses and volunteers and other workers was palpable, breathable: instead of a hospital smell, a hospitable feeling. That was the most impressive thing I take away from the hospital side. Cancer is taken seriously there, but the hopeful feeling is unmistakable. That's what I personally felt aware of.
The sixth floor is home to their research library. I want to go back and browse and ask questions before the month is through, but I'm not sure that I will get to it. But, so that you are aware, there are specialists there who offer answers, comfort, motivation and solutions if you or someone you know needs any info. It's a way to get tailored research tips from an actual, experienced human versus the impersonal Google database. Not saying Google isn't vast and helpful, but at the Institute these counselors can narrow down and point you in the precise direction you personally need to go.
My tour guide Judy pointed out several donated furnishings as we moved through the building. Every piece of art was donated. One painting right outside the research library was even raised into the building by crane before its outer walls were even constructed because the mural is so big; it wouldn't fit up any staircase or elevator. The top floor was literally built around that painting.
I took only one picture during the tour (okay two, counting the description) of another masterpiece:
My phone camera couldn't capture the whole puzzle, but only just barely. 24,00 pieces, one by one! There was another puzzle like this one on a different floor. It is truly an aesthetically comforting building.
Judy then took me over to the research side of the Institute. Actually that's where things started to appear more like the typical hospital: a running track of florescent lights above, squeaky tile floors below, echoey halls and very little art the closer we came to the labs.
Now, my friend Ryan (whose humor would produce medicine of the cure-cancer level, were laughter somehow transformed into something absorbable by blood) had prepped me for my tour. He works in a lab there at the Huntsman and he mentioned how every PI (Principal Investigator, essentially a specialized research doctor) has a lab and research workers or interns such as himself, and the room of individual labs just went on and on.
When Judy opened the door to the labs, at first we entered a small entry room with enclosed, refrigerated shelves, like the kinds in movies that hold vials of world-ending viruses. Then we passed through an open doorway and I beheld something I've been trying for two days to find words to describe. I should have taken a picture, but even its thousand words wouldn't adequately represent the feeling of what my eyes were gulping down. I couldn't see if the room ended, but certainly it must, since the building has outer walls.
Little machines whirred and swayed and spun and yet a controlled silence prevailed. The unending sight of lab cubicles offered to stretch my brain more than I could allow in one day, so I focused on the lab immediately before me. Clean, orderly, but how do they keep track! So impressive. I think most of all I sensed a profound respect for the efforts being made to find better treatments, to discover more about the body and its mysteries. The measly word I vocally managed to employ was "wow."
What would be most valuable to you, if it interests you, is go tour the Institute yourself. It was totally simple to call and set an appointment (To schedule a tour, contact Roni [said like Ronnie] Whittle at 801-587-9315), the tour is free and less than an hour, and Judy was super nice, and everyone else I saw had an appearance of niceness, and it's good to see things you don't live very far from---to become aware of what's right under your nose.
If you don't want to tour the Huntsman center (or don't live in Utah at all, say), go tour something that interests or puzzles you: 24,000 bits of question can be pieced together, no joke. You just need to do a little research to cure curiosity. Arrange a visit to a bank, a library, a historical site, a government building. I imagine pretty much every place is open to sincere inquisitors. If people have taken the time and made the effort to build a whole building around one painting, one idea, one cause, they obviously want people to know about it. Seriously, arrange a visit. You'll be thrilled with what you dig up in your own back yard.
In the very least, go take a can of tuna to your nearest food bank. Happy Thanksgiving.
Next up, the story of my mock mammogram experience. This post is long enough.