Thursday, February 3, 2011


When an accident happens, and you are a mordant person, ever at the ready to laugh at your own small vanities, you might remember the sense of industriousness you had that morning when you set out to work exceptionally early, your bags packed with all your work, carrying a few more items to decorate your new, wonderful office, and two meals, as you would be there until late. 
Industrious! Well, that was smashed to humility.
I had a car accident. I stopped at a red light and a car plowed into mine from behind. He "wasn't paying attention," and hadn't seen the light. We were in Newark. I signaled to a police car and was given a central accident number to call. That voice on that line told me police don't come out to accidents unless an ambulance is needed. Neither of us was badly injured. I wrote down his information, and we parted ways.
I stayed at work, though my colleague Tayari told me tales of brain injury and urged me to go home. By evening I knew she had been right. I had a bad headache, felt very sick at my stomach, and doubt I made much sense in class. 
The next morning I went to the body shop--both kinds. The doc confirmed I have a concussion and should rest my brain. Just when I had the notion that I could watch French and German movies and understand them without subtitles? Killjoy!
The headache and nausea remain. I have misplaced my insurance card. The back of my car looks like a jack o' lantern mouth.
But Egypt...Egypt...Egypt...


  1. Hey Alice--though I am terribly sorry to hear about your crash and I am relieved to know you are recovering well this brings to mind a story: A million years ago I sat in a crowded room in Baltimore listening to Borges tell a group of writers and critics that he attributed the unleashing of his deepest creative self to a head wound he had suffered during a car crash. I couldn't tell if he was simply poking fun at the creative post mortem fascination of critics with his work (as he leaned toward his interviewer, a deconstructionist, and offered him the chance to feel the residual bump on his skull) or if he was serious. You've been speaking so beautifully this winter about process I couldn't resist sharing this story. So much art does seem to be a form of aftermath--a response that is an attempt to repair what's broken, to reimagine what is lost. . ..

  2. Tama, you are as always, in uncanny touch with my present. Tonight in class we discussed tales of artists whose work had changed completely after brain injury. Thank you for this story.