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Dinner napkins and barbecue ribs

“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.” Arthur Golden, The Memoirs of a Geisha

You get hit by a truck. Not in the figurative “I feel like I got hit by a truck” sense. In the literal, “truckers were on strike for two weeks in the Balkans and they still made an exception so they could ram into a car in which I was riding.” Your body creaks as you move. Broken ribs here, dislocated shoulder there. And what is on daytime TV, ready to welcome you to Day 1 of six weeks of prescribed bed-rest? A cooking feature on barbecue ribs and lamb chops.

The world has a sense of humor.

Besides learning how to cook other mammals’ dislodged ribs, daytime TV enlightened me in the following ways today:

  • The synthetic traces of women’s hair dyes will always help investigators pin the murder to them.
  • And, by the way, it is no longer the butler or the eavesdropping maid who killed the boss in crime series. It is now the wife or the estranged daughter. (Learning credit: CSI, Law and Order, and NCIS)
  • There are at least twelve different ways to fold a dinner napkin for a wedding.
  • Penelope Cruz is pregnant.
  • Capricorns are having a great, stable, healthy month. (Learning credit: Καφες με την Ελενη morning talk show. Clearly misinformed.)

Last time I was bed-ridden with malaria, my loved ones got a glimpse into how impossible it is for me to actually stay in bed. I am the delinquent patient who will be alphabetizing a bookcase thermometer-in-mouth when you are not looking. The trait runs in my family and I inherited it from the womb. My then ever-energetic mother decided to paint the nursery by herself while 7 months pregnant and with osteoporosis plaguing her bones. Slipping off the ladder splattered paint on our wood floors and kept her in bed for two months, contemplating the fetus in her belly and paint removal techniques for her floors. For the first time, I am going counter to her and my rhythms and hitting the brakes (Because, Mr. Truck Driver who hit me, someone ought to.)

Worry does not require mobility. As Ray LaMontagne put it in one of my favorite songs, “worry just does not seem to leave my mind alone.” I cannot help but worry about the effect of my injuries on my job, my field work, my ability to be as animated and energetic as I like to be when I am delivering workshops and interacting with communities. I am worried about feeling like a blob. I am worried about being unable to engage with the world in any way that does not involve a remote control or keyboard.

Then I remember: There will be time for everything. My transition to the Middle East will be bumpier and more uncertain than I had hoped. There are many questions to which I do not have the answer. It may be a while before I can return to feeling productive and doing what I love. But that does not mean that I cannot still love it. I can continue to dream and learn and try hard and look forward, while taking a cue from Kavafis and “not hurrying the voyage at all.” So, for now, I am embracing my bed and consuming my energy in my four de facto pastimes: Learning how to fold dinner napkins, reading every article, manuscript and business school application my friends send me, becoming an expert criminal investigator by way of CSI: Miami and devising ways to laugh and hug despite the pain.


  1. I am so incredibly touched by your well-wishes and the outpouring of love. Thank you for standing by me – you remind me of all the important and lovely things in life.

  2. Lisa says

    You are so loved. So loved. Even when you are badly hurt, you are an example of positivity. Please stay safe and let someone take care of you!

  3. Christina says

    I hope you know that you break bones and we all feel our hearts cracking too. Your facebook wall is a testament to how many people love you. Please be ok soon because we do not know what to do otherwise.

    I love you girl!!! Nothing breaks you!!!

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