How to Cut Carrots for Soup (or Another Night with the Schizophrenias)


I want to think he is sleeping peacefully right now. It is 11:06 and I am at my desk working on my computer. Things have been rocky these past few weeks. He might end up back in the hospital. Maybe he will trash his apartment again tonight. That would ruin everything, get him evicted from the nice, subsidized apartment we sat on the waiting list for two years to get. Maybe everything is already ruined. How much Valium can I give him to stave off the inevitable? How much Valium is there in the world?

I haven’t gotten any alarming texts from his caregivers tonight, so he must be calmer. I want to believe that with all my heart. I want to just slip into sleep and trust that all is well. Can I do that? Wait. A notification from the hospital lab dances across the screen. His test results are back. Hmmm. Lithium level not great yet, but at least it’s nudging at the therapeutic range. Okay. He must be swallowing the pills. It’s getting into his body. Given some more time he will stabilize. Maybe I can go to sleep.

What’s this? Another result? What is this test, something about CBC? It says he has GIANT PLATELETS. What the hell is that? 

I turn to Google. Giant Platelets? I can’t make sense of any of it. All I know is that I was going to actually lay my head on my pillow tonight with some sense of optimism, and now I have to ponder the implications of giant platelets. Is that a good thing? Like the way giant head of lettuce could make lots of salads? Or is this going to kill him? Perhaps the immensity of his platelets will damage him, cause his heart to stop beating.

When my son Nick was still inside of me, a tiny little tadpole boy swimming about, my husband and I heard his heart beat for the first time. Back in those days they didn’t do sonograms without a reason, so the mystery of an unborn child was a universe of questions. We sat in the doctor’s office as she placed the stethoscope on my belly, and the sound came whooshing through some sort of speaker. It was like the faraway repetitive slap on some distant ocean shore. My husband blanched and reached behind him for a chair, they had to give him a paper bag to breath into. He was overwhelmed by the sound.

 Afterwards, we went to a small Armenian restaurant to have lunch. I ordered soup. It was particularly delicious, and I tried to figure out why. Staring at the bowl, I noticed the way the carrots had been cut. They weren’t the usual uniform disks, graduating in size from the thick part of the carrot to the tip. They were random shapes, as though the cook had performed a wild cutlery dance, shiny blades flying. There were circles, half-moons, rectangles…little snippets of carrot that defied description. That was why the soup was so good. Something about the constellation of shapes enhanced the flavor, made it more interesting. When something arrives in an unexpected form it holds adventure, interest, mystery.

 Nick himself arrived six months later with a perfectly beating heart and filled our world with configurations of unexpected stars, some were beautiful, some had sharp edges that cut.

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