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Entries in Florida (3)


The writing life: From Beirut and Cambodia to New York, Florida, and parts unknown


Because summer in Beirut was so brutally hot and because the grandparents missed their granddaughter and because the dream was still alive and I had signed up this winter for a low-residency creative writing MFA program in Tampa, which required me to travel from Lebanon to the Florida campus for 10 days in June, I began to sketch out an entire summer in America, anchored by that MFA residency and then two weeks at a writing conference four hours north of New York City.

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The little things my father would never do again

SALON - 11 AUGUST 2011

I entered the darkened shop, a wreck of a man with an unkempt beard, and the barber flipped a switch. Lights hummed, a singer began to croon from a crackling radio, and a steel fan creaked to life. What did I want? I had no idea. I had stopped caring months ago, and my face was a wall of curls.

The barber nodded. With a sigh, I took a seat, and he wet my head with a spray bottle. It made sense at this point to close my eyes. Then my head began to spin. I was hung over, and the foul funk of grief burned in my throat.

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Embedded at the Mayo Clinic


Your correspondent is no longer based in the Middle East. I am instead reporting from the ICU floor at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, where my dad is battling cancer.

This is my sixth day here and it's been a constant state of siege. Basically, we're battling to keep my dad stable enough in order to undergo the daily radiation that could prolong his life. Every hour, it seems, we confront a new and significant hurdle to that plan.

In our tiny room, my mom, sister, and I take shifts staying up all night, holding his hand, skipping meals, trying to cater to his every need. He can't talk anymore, so we talk for him, charming the nurses into giving him his pain meds on time and to treat him like man, not meat. We listen carefully and take notes and ask tough questions, and when a doctor appears to discuss some new terror, we remain calm.

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