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4.9. SATC = Sex & Taipei City

Interviewed here by her favorite librarian, Mimi, Yu-Han Chao is the author of a new short story collection, Sex & Taipei City (available now with Red Hen Press).
Mimi: That’s a really cute book cover. Did you draw it?
Yu-Han: Why, thank you, and yes, I did.

Mimi: Judging from the cover, these are cute stories about sex?
Yu-Han: Yes and no. The opening story is more explicit than the others, the lingering result of edits requested by a Zyzzyva editor when the story appeared in the journal. There are betel nut beauties and a grandfather obsessed with Japanese porn in the collection, but most characters are ordinary people, and the “sex” here has more to do with repression, gender concerns, failures of intimacy, and social (in)justice.

Mimi: Can you cite any direct influences or inspirations?
Yu-Han: Growing up in Taipei city in the 90s. Pai Hsien-yung (白先勇)’s Taipei People (台北人).

Mimi: So a sort of updated Taipei People?
Yu-Han: Not as up to date as it was when I first wrote it, be…
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4.8. Sharp Objects: 3 Personality Disorders

Sharp Objects, a novel by Gillian Flynn (and also made into an HBO series), centers on reporter Camille Preaker who returns to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. All three female main characters in the book exemplify Cluster B personality disorders, which exhibit dramatic, emotional or erratic behaviors. *Spoilers below.

To discuss the familial pattern of personality disorders, we may begin with Camille’s mother, Adora, who always has an alcoholic drink in hand and is a candidate for Histrionic Personality Disorder. People with this disorder fail to develop richness of inner feelings and lack the ability to provide people (their daughters, for example) with genuinely sustained affection. Adora also has Munchausen By Proxy (MBP), or Factitious Disorder by Proxy. It’s implied in the book that Adora’s mother had dosed her and sickened her just as Adora does her three daughters (one of them she poisoned to death; the remaining two have issues discussed below.)

Ce …

4.7. Code Red = Fire

To say one's life (or the state of the nation) is a dumpster fire is too vague. What, exactly, is burning? We have to find the cause/flammable material and deal with it as is appropriate.
Class A fire: ordinary trash fire, dumpster fire. Flammable materials include bills, marked-up novel manuscripts, bureaucratic paperwork, annoying ordinary things gone wrong. Extinguish with water, monoammonium phosphate, class A extinguisher. Don't take things personally, pay the bills, sign the papers, put it behind you.

Class B fire: flammable liquids and gas fires. Drama, fighting, tantrums. Do not give histrionic people more fuel or water, which will only increase their surface area. Cover with a blanket. Class B extinguisher. Walk away and do not engage.

Class C fire: electrical fire. Sometimes the (internet, human) connection is like an addiction, and rumors, gossip and obsessions do more harm than good. Facebook Insta Snap Tweet Tinder. Unplug; cut off power source. Do not use water.

4.6. Ship of Fools

In the Middle Ages, people with mental illness were sent off into the open sea in a sailing boat to search for their lost rationality. 
The ship of fools is a Bosch painting, the title of several songs, and the name of a few modern films. In The Republic, Plato describes a gang of foolish sailors who take possession of a ship, chain up the captain and throw people they don't like overboard. More interesting, perhaps, is Foucault's discussion of Narrenschiff, ship of fools, in Madness and Civilization, as the symbol of the (changing) status of madness.

Madness was fascinating because it was unknown, and the "madman" seemed to possess some kind of forbidden knowledge that related to the end of the world. Madness, like death, was a mystery, and in a religious era, that also became linked to the theme of apocalypse.

That's what Bird Box was about, right? That maybe "mad" people aren't actually mad, but are the only ones who saw the truth this entire ti…

4.5. EKG = electrocardiogram

Because studying all the abnormal heart rhythms is giving us paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, here're some EKG poems instead.


The dangerous valentine’s fib
what she saw-
           toothed           electrical chaos
hogging oxygen
 no output
rapidly fatal to relationship in
           3-5 minutes

faint pulseless apneic
no blood pressure
           absent heart

fixed, dilated pupils
cold, mottled skin

           won't work if heartless tho

Ventricular Asystole

           no impulses left
no depolarization QRS contraction
only P
           sometimes not even that
electrical           silence

inadequate cerebral perfusion oxygenation
after cardiac arrest comes respiratory arrest

CAB it but
   don’t shock
           don’t shoot
implantable converter
           no magnet
vest that if conscious
           press button to prevent shock
otherwise a donkey’s kick to chest

4.4. BLS Algorithm = Make Your Own Adventure

The theme song to this post is Stayin' Alive, at about 100 beats per minute, the recommended rhythm for high quality chest compressions.

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk
I'm a nursing student, no time to talk
Bed alarms loud and bedpans warm
Answering call lights since 6:30 this morn
And now it's all right, it's okay
And you may look the other way
We can try to understand
CPR's effect on man
Whether you're a student or whether you're a patient
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Feel the epi pushin' and people compressin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive
Code Blue somewhere, somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me, yeah
I'm stayin' alive

The Basic Life Support & Advanced Cardiac Life Support algorithms are probably some of the darkest flow charts available outside of thos…

4.3. Circles of Trust

Intimate distance is 0-18 inches, personal distance 18-40 inches, social distance 4-12 feet, and public distance more than 12 feet. But that's just physical space.

The tricky kind of space, with invisible walls erected all the way to the clouds, hidden bear traps and quicksand that surprise visitors, and boundaries that crumble when they're most needed--that's all metaphor.

Whose negative words do you let in when you shouldn't? Who should you reach out to more? Whom should you hold close? (This is becoming a terrible who/whom grammar exam.) If Kevin no longer sparks joy, but instead incites murderous rage or brings endless dilute tears, maybe he needs to go out with the other boxes of stuff you Marie Kondo-ed to the Goodwill.

In a world of strangers, room full of acquaintances, lifetime of relationships come and gone, how many people remain in your inner circle of trust? Two? Three? Now that one has died and is forever watching over you, how many remain? 
You are Freud…