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Spring 2014
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Feature Story
Getting Around in Oz
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Sometimes it feels to me as if I have become enclosed (or even encrusted) in a kind of membrane that in some way half conceals the outside world from me. This veil is physical and perceptual, but itís more mysterious than that. It both narrows my field of vision and shrouds my psychological take on the world. Only when I am motionless in the grip of a riveting film or some marvelous narration can I mobilize my sensory apparatus the way I used to. (Getting a massage, watching ďThe WireĒ on a DVD and eating an ice-cream sandwich are blessedly the same.) Otherwise my world is constricted and translucent, rather than transparent. To bring another analogy from the kidlit I like so much, sometimes I feel as if I have been caught by the spiders in Tolkienís Mirkwood, like Bilbo Bagginsí dwarf comrades, and am struggling in the gluey folds of their webs.

Rage of an Optimist

Most aspects of daily life are in new ways a struggle. Getting my wallet out of my coat pocket, extracting the right billsó No, not that one, stupid! Thatís a twentyócan take an eternity.

Salespeople try to be patient, usually. Many objects are now determined enemies. Very few are neutral and none are friendly. When it comes to dressing and undressing, for instance, Iím a child again. Getting my clothes on is a project, as it was when I was three and my mother in desperation made a game of it. My clothes have lost all of their former docility and responsiveness. They are now outlaws. Buttons simply refuse to go through the button holes. Socks, which used to slide on and off my feet in the most obliging way, have grown surly; they wrinkle and stick, bunching around my feet, below my ankles. They are uncompromising. How did they shrink and rigidify like this? I tug at them furiously. Sometimes I rip the tops off or suddenly plunge my heel through the heel of the sock. I rage helplessly, again like a 3-year-old. I feel stupid, but then remember that my Parkinsonís doctor told me that rage is good, as it shows that Iím basically an optimist. But I wonder.
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