Tarot, Deep Work, Many Woolfs, Nerd Things.

A photo of eight books standing on their ends, as if on a shelf.
A photo of eight books standing on their ends, as if on a shelf.
A rather poor photograph of a few of the books I’m reading.

The Paris Review

Issue 229, Summer 2019

Because my amazing friend Mary Terrier has a story in this summer’s issue, and it is so good. Also, her story appears on the very first page of content. So thrilled for her. Go read it.

Call Me Ishimaru

Image of the cover of the academic journal Leviathan
Image of the cover of the academic journal Leviathan

Karen Tei Yamashita

Leviathan, Volume 18, Number 1, March 2016.

I haven’t finished this essay — only just started. But a few months ago I got this fantastic concept for either a lit course or an essay: link movie monsters (e.g. Godzilla) to literary monsters (e.g. Moby Dick). I love Godzilla. I own the box set of all the original Japanese films, including the full version of Gojira, which was later cut and dubbed for American audiences. …

Watching My Father Die

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The view from my father’s bedside after the first emergency surgery.

While my father was dying I wrote an essay about how he was going to live. It was about the ICU, and the tubes and machines, and the white cotton mittens to keep him from pulling out his IVs or scratching himself in delirium. It was about how traumas in the ICU are all the same, but the tragedies are meaningfully different. But my dad didn’t live, and the essay is now an anachronism.

My father was supposed to die of bladder cancer but first he died of sepsis. Had he survived the massive infection brewing in his gut and lungs, the cancer would have killed him quickly. Bladder cancer at Stage IV is aggressive, said the doctor. …

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Image for post

I have been laying in bed for an hour with my hand over my heart in a sort of horizontal pledge-of-allegiance pose, feeling the beats. Every so often, my heart hiccups. My chest swells up suddenly and briefly, like it’s taking a deep breath, then gets back to its normal work. I think this has to do with the heart murmur I have had since childhood, but I am not sure and until recently I never bothered to learn exactly what a heart murmur is.

Last week I went for an echo-cardiogram. I put on a hospital gown backwards so the gentleman who runs the machine could reach in and press the sonogram wand against my ribs. It was cold due to the conductive gel, and rather uncomfortable — he had a firm touch. But I stopped noticing after a minute because on the screen, in a fuzzy greyscale, was my beating heart. Underneath, a sound wave, with peaks and valleys indicating blood flow. An audible whoosh whoosh and thump. At points, the technician would switch the display to a bright neon blue and red: blood rushing in, blood rushing out. My heart’s valves opened and shut like thin, rapid-fire wings. He pushed the wand around and then it was all from a different perspective. My aortic valve. The convulsing muscle. He asked me to take a deep breath and hold it: to expand my ribcage, get my lungs out of the way, and allow my heart to fully expand, maximizing blood flow. …


K. Lee

Queer writer & professor in Baltimore. I write about writing, queerness, memory, mental health, & sometimes Godzilla. Lyric essay is my jam. https://klparr.com/

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