Broccoli, Anyone?

I haven’t had coffee in two weeks. No booze either. And I basically only eat broccoli now.

This, dear reader, is no way to live.

I’m kidding. Mostly. This actually might be the only way to live. To get healthy.

I bought a home blood pressure kid. You know, like a 97 year-old man. I take my blood pressure each day. You know, like a 97 year-old man. The numbers are improving. It might be the medication. It might be the broccoli. It might be the lack of caffeine. Maybe all those things. My hope, as I wrote last week, is to make some changes and give up the medication. We’ll see how this goes. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted, dear reader, because that’s what I do. I’m an open book about some things. Most things, I guess. My blood pressure seems to be one of those things.


“What are you doing over spring break, Sam?” one of my new colleagues at The University of Iowa asked me this last week.

“Trying to get my blood pressure down,” I said.

I actually said that. What a socially silly thing to say to somebody I don’t know all that well.

“How are you doing, Sam?” Somebody asks.

“Well, I take blood pressure medication now,” I answer.

I think I’ve told most of the College of Education that I’m on blood pressure medication by now. I won’t shut up about it.

I’m not after sympathy. I know that. And I usually coat the information about my blood pressure in a joke that makes people laugh. So it’s not that annoying, though it certainly must be a little annoying.

It might be that, by talking about the thing I’m most anxious in public, I’m trying to strip it of its ability to scare me? I become less afraid of things when I joke about them out loud. I know that much. And my blood pressure was a very scary thing to me a few weeks ago. I’ve calmed down a little. Maybe telling every random person I meet about my new medication is a defense mechanism. Tame the serpent’s bite. I don’t know.


I’m hopeful I’ll have my science fiction novel out soon. It’s the strangest of books, and so I failed to find traditional representation in the form of a literary agent. Not for lack of trying. I pitched the book to hundreds of people over the last few years. I did get some encouraging feedback, but folks felt they’d have a hard time selling it to a major publisher given the market. Which is fine. I’ll still get the work out through a smaller, independent publisher. Again, open book. I wrote something so I’ll put it out there.

Anyway, I described this book, in my query letters, as being about learning to survive death. Which I think it is. I think the book, which blurs science fiction, memoir, and all sorts of other genres, is about staring death in the face. Looking at mortality. Making peace with the ways things are with hope about what yet might be. I reread the manuscript recently. I really like it, regardless of my ability to find an agent. So I’ll be happy to put it in print and be done with it. Even if there are typos.

Learning to survive death. I love that phrase. And I can’t help but feel my fear of my outrageous blood pressure numbers a few weeks back is connected to that lesson.

All of this is to say, dear reader, I don’t drink strong coffee anymore. And I’ve cut ought booze. And I’ve eaten a lot of broccoli. Strange days, my friends. Strange, indeed.

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