Magic in Vietnam and Catching Up on Manhattan, 1937

What Has Suzanne Been Doing Lo These Many Days?????

January 30th, 2010, Brattelboro, Vermont

Today am catching you up on one, two of my grandma’s long lost days because yours truly has been lolling around in bed with Lyme Disease, feeling very much like I got in a fist fight with a Sumo wrestler. And lost said fight. (to left example by Darby Sawchuck).   Millions and millions of people have called up and written since hearing of disease, some saying sweetly I’ll be fine, take good antibiotics and rest and others alarming me (quite cheerfully) that I am on my way to blindness and living my life from a wheelchair.

Ran right to my doctor’s office and told him to please just drown me in the biggest dose of antibiotics possible, I will build up lost flora later. But doctor very unyielding, and we had a little tug of war, very politely and prettily, about dose of antibiotics.  It’s not his fault.  Insurance won’t pay him if he gives me too many antibiotics. Some lady in her desk in St. Louis will say it’s too expensive.  So, we see what a mess our poor president is trying to fix. When really the person with the infected body and the person with the medical degree have their hands behind their backs, pleading.

Saxton’s River Parade:

Thank goodness for my friend, Margie Pivar, who had Lyme Disease for years and years and years and now she is a local expert.  She right smack away took me under her wing and gave me all her hard earned secrets which involve electromagnetic machines and drinking something called choline.  I first met Margie when I was in her samba troupe, and we danced in the Saxton’s River Fourth of July Parade, with live drummers and percussionists following us.  It was 1996.  Saxton’s River, Vermont has the best parade in the state and maybe all of New England with gigantic puppets and fire hoses spurting water and foodstands and bands on stilts.

Margie first  had symptoms of Lyme disease when she climbed to a high sacred site in Vietnam and her legs swelled to the size of smoke stacks. She was in Vietnam because she was working on her book.  A most amazing and very famous book called Fourth Uncle in the Mountain: A Memoir of a Barefoot Doctor in Vietnam, published by Saint Martin’s PressFourth Uncle in the Mountain is the true story of a little orphan boy in Vietnam, Quang Van Nguyen, who got adopted by a sixty-four-year-old Buddhist monk, a barefoot doctor named Thau, who raised Quang to follow in his footsteps and so saved him, and part of Vietnam’s magical knowledge, from the Vietnamese holocaust.

Quang’s father was wanted by the French regime, and he had to escape into the jungle where he was very happily at home among the plants and animals. Thau wasn’t your average monk; he practiced an ancient form of Chinese medicine and used magic to protect animals and people. Tau brought Quang to study in the mystical Seven Mountains at the Cambodian border, where he was surrounded by crocodile-infested flood lands. The mountains were filled with scary animals like elephants, panthers, tigers, and the largest pythons on earth. The villages there had hidden much of South East Asia’s esoteric knowledge for the past hundred years.  And Quang learned it.

Yesterday Margie took me up over the mountains of Vermont, and I actually got to meet the Fourth Uncle in the Mountain, who has lived here for years and years as a refugee.  Lucky for us. Right straight away when you sit in Dr. Quang’s very plain office, you feel better. First of all because he speaks gently and laughs in a kind way. He takes your pulse and tells you a million things just from your wrist.  Like, well, your left kidney isn’t working so well, and your liver is quite taxed and your circulation needs a jump start.  But he says all this with no judgment.  It is like he’s just reading a script, and the script is just fine and everything will be balanced in good time.  There’s absolutely no ego involved, just the plain, bald truth.

And while I was sitting there, looking at the woods out his window and waiting for him to prepare tinctures to help my system through Lyme, I realized that usually when I go into a doctor’s office it’s a sort of violent experience. I mean no one shoots you with a gun or anything, but you all of the sudden feel like you have a big black mark across your face stamped loser, and you are altogether short of what you are supposed to be, and too bad you weren’t perfect like the doctor, who sits across from you, hoping you’ll hurry up with your aches and pains because he’s an hour late for the next loser.  But somehow all that is absent in Dr. Quang’s office where he wears leather sandals and blinks quite happily at you and tells you without attitude what the terrain of your body looks like. Just like he might relay the terrain of the pretty landscape out his window, where he knows every fungi and mushroom and leaf and tree that might help the human body reach a happy harmonic balance, which is after all hard for a body in this world. Especially a sensitive artist body that would just as soon like to experience everything, pretty please.

So, I went home feeling glad that Dr. Quang came to our country and that Margie wrote a book about him and that Margie is my friend. On the way home it was about 3 degrees and the wind blew the snow across the road and we were toasty warm in Margie’s car and she told me that Hooray!! She’s all cured now of Lyme. And now it’s my turn.  We talked about dancing and fathers and how lovely our men at home are and we talked about writing and Dr. Quang and how, when he first came to this country from the Seven Mountains of Vietnam, he worked as a janitor, and you could see him walking the woods around the Bennington Campus, tasting leaves and bark, just to see…

Now I will leave you, and catapult you into the very different world of Manhattan 73 years ago. Where our dear Maggie Duffield is traipsing into her own doctor’s office with, thank God, a pregnant belly that is acting very appropriately. Tomorrow I will post a few more to catch us up…. Tralala happy Saturday!!!

What has Maggie been doing these past few days on Saint Mark’s Place, Manhattan????

January 27, 1937

Set up crib last night.  M. Revealing himself as mechanical genius, figuring out in spite of mislaid parts.  Bobbie called, said had job as resident buyer for out of town stores, stationary and handbags.  Loves the job. This morning to Doctor who said nothing.  Had lost two pounds.  Bottle of Graves from Hearns on sale at 88cents, pretty good.  Anne Wolf down to call and I bound rubber sheet while talking to her about practically nothing.  M. home disgusted with Herald Tribune, read history of T. and intrigued by parallels in careers of Whitelaw and Ogden, also amused by caginess of book: Author got job on paper on strength of his Ph.D. thesis. Backgammon and bed.

January 28, 1937

Had hair done. In evening Ned came down with friend had picked up in Yale Club whomehe called “screwy” over the phone.  Friend, John, turned out to be screwy only insomuch as he had some sense and was interested in what went on in the world.  He had been in Navy and explained to us that Navy wants merchant marine so that merchant ships may be turned into supply ships in case of war. Said he favored “Cash and Carry’ method of export in case of war as would be most likely to keep us out of a war, but did not think people would take to it as it would mean depression.  Of course if you get into the war you get the depression anyway a little later,* but he does not think people would look ahead that way and is probably right.

He works for importing company which brings China wood oil over for paint and varnish. Said olive oil industry in terrible state as Mussolini had cut off exports, the trouble in Spain has also made it so they have cut it off, too. The only other place to get it was Greece and Germans, so his company recently sewed that up. On top of this Federal Trade Commission has landed on guys who sell fake olive oil which this guy said is really tea seed oil* though not very clear what tea seed is. Threw the gentleman out about 11 and to bed.  Had my hair parted in the middle hoping to look like Madonna but did not succeed. Very restless and M. too though silly to let ourselves.  Have promising feeling pangs every evening or so then to bed and they away.

*If only Bush had known my grandma!!!

* Essential oil extracted from the leaves of the paperbark Melaleuca alternifolia and used for medicinal purposes. With its high smoke point (485°F.), tea seed oil is the main cooking oil in some of the southern provinces of China.  (even back then we were getting fake things from China and renaming them!)

PS: Tomorrow is the due date.  We’ll see what  happens…!

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9 Responses to “Magic in Vietnam and Catching Up on Manhattan, 1937”

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