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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Grateful Friday

It is with trepidation that I write this post; what I'm thankful for this week is my colon. Yes, I mean that sausagey, coiled, serpent-like organ that makes funny noises and collects and eliminates the waste my body produces.

I was looking for a picture of the large intestine to add to this post, a picture of the real thing, not those mild, inoffensive, euphemistic crayola-colored diagrams in anatomy books. I wanted to get down and dirty. I wanted to confront messy reality and make peace with it. Well, I'm not strong enough for that. The colon, friends, is an ugly thing. Especially when it's taken out of context, removed from the body and placed on a white table and cut open so that you can see inside it. I have seen a colon, however, inside a pig, when I was young and my family used to slaughter a pig every year before the winter holidays. I've seen it and, most importantly, I smelled it. Talk about messy reality.

But I'm grateful for mine with all its messy reality. I'm so happy it does its thing, makes its noises, purges me of what would make me sick if it stayed in my body. I'm grateful, although more than a little embarrassed. I've internalized without a murmur of protest all the societal taboos about feces and flatulence. I'm mortified when I hear a man (men do it more than women) break wind in yoga class, in poses that are meant to make you break wind, to eliminate the toxins from your body. But how do you go back to thinking that these are natural processes, that there's nothing to be ashamed of? How do you give up the myths about the body passed down to you as if they were genes, they are such an inextricable part of us?

I have seen only three reactions when the colon and its workings are mentioned in a conversation: a frantic change of subject, embarrassed silence, or slightly hysterical laughter. The thing is, though, that I can't imagine how else one could react. I've lost completely the habit of thinking of my body as an animal's body, as a marvel of engineering, as a thing of complicated beauty.

This post is a first effort to break that habit. So here is to you, my wonderful colon -- thank you for everything. Let's eat some whole wheat bread to that!


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