Mary Beth Writes

Outpedaling "The Big C": My Healing Cycle across America Elizabeth McGowan Bancroft Press (Sep 6, 2020) Hardcover $28.95 (268pp) 978-1-61088-514-0

Elizabeth McGowan lost her father to melanoma when he was forty-four and she was fifteen. She rediscovered him during a bike ride across the US, following her battle with the same disease. Joyful, introspective, terrifying, and sobering, her memoir is about reconciling her mortality with her father’s.

In the spring of 2000, McGowan marked five years of remission. Her intensive, eleven-year battle with cancer began just after she graduated from college. Her cross-country ride was undertaken, most often, alone; she sent journal entries home from local libraries and mailed home rolls of film. While riding, she made casual, unexpected connections with other survivors; some gave her checks, a bed for the night, a new story, or a tip for the road.

Transitions between the bike trip and McGowan’s childhood are seamless. She recalls her explosive and complex father, as well as her own health challenges. She experiences hospitality and kindness via little gestures that magnify human connections. As she moves through the Grand Tetons and across Yellowstone, American authors, including William Least Heat-Moon, William Stegner, and Edward Abbey, move with her; and American history informs the way she sees and understands the landscape and its people.

McGowan digs into the past to make sense of her present, and her reflections are frank and unsentimental. She sees both herself and her father with brilliant clarity, acknowledging the traits that both impeded their progress and made progress possible. She argues against the rhetoric of war that surrounds cancer and acknowledges her own fears and reluctance to engage in further testing.

Outpedaling “The Big C“ journeys through illness and America, viewing the ability to put one foot in front of the other as a gift. McGowan makes sense of her circumstances and develops strength across her powerful, 4,250-mile bicycle trip.

CAMILLE-YVETTE WELSCH (September / October 2020)

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Preaching, Cheating, Thanking & Eating

I am preaching this coming Sunday at my church. I think if you check our website Sunday morning (11/29) between 9:20 and 9:30 - the URL for the service will be there. The November theme for UU’s  is Healing, so that’s what I am preaching about. https://www.uniteduuc.org/

The Gales of November

Today is November 10th which is the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Listen to the song here!) 

11/6/2020 Wow! It's happening!

I wrote this yesterday: “I’m all over the place. How about you?”

Today I’m: “I think I lost weight last night and it was some of the heaviness of persistent stress.”

It’s happening, Friends. Yes, we all know nothing will be sensationally simple going forward. Right now, the Senate is where it was pre-election. (Though hold on, Stacey Abram’s Amazing Georgia is having TWO senate races in January.)

Several things NOT about the election 11/3/2020

(Unripe tomatillos are beautiful.)

Today I am sharing some thoughts not about the election.

I plan to have very strong feelings once the winner of the presidential election, plus the many down-ballot contests, are known. If there is craziness and violence and civil uproar, I will care right away.

But right now, while we don’t know, I don’t want breathless reporting on how dry the paint is.

We've got a few more hours. 

Remembering Stuff

“I’m getting so old. I just can’t remember anything anymore.”

Okay, I understand and accept that forgetfulness is weird and awkward. We talk to someone about this movie and that house repair and that small restaurant from which we ordered amazing food a few weeks ago and it feels as if we are talking with 95% of the words we used to know. What was that guy’s name? Where did I read that really powerful thing about political strategy now?

Ayad Akhtar's "Homeland Elegies" & Do We Understand Colonialism?

I heard part of an NPR / Fresh Air interview with writer Ayad Akhtar so I borrowed the book from the library and read it.

In the 1960’s his parents earned medical degrees in Pakistan and then emigrated to the US where Ayad was born and has lived all his life. (His parents are now deceased.) His dad was a highly respected cardiologist. In the 1990’s, when Donald Trump was having heart issues, Dr. Akhtar was flown to NYC to examine Trump.

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