Marketing 101 teaches that if you want to sell an idea or product, sexualize it or fetishize it. Recently, I was visiting family and dipped into a Hardee’s to grab a quick nutritious bite. There on the side of the building is this giant frozen image of an attractive young woman attempting to devour a burger in the most seductive way possible. The image is more than suggestive; it is demanding: Think about sex and buy something! I won’t delve into the neuroscience and cognitive research on why this may work so well. In fact, this post isn’t about neuroscience, sex or selling anything. Far from it. Rather, this post is about the black hole that I’ve been living in and trying to emerge from.
During the month of April 2013, I attended an outdoor meeting that turned rainy and cold. I kept thinking that the mist would stop any second or that we would adjourn to an environment sans falling water. Neither happened. Minutes rolled together and accumulated into hours, as they tend to do. By the time I left, I felt wet on the inside—like the moisture somehow seeped into my bones. Subsequently, I fell quite ill. Multiple courses of antibiotics, steroids, breathing treatments—the full gamut. I consider it an amazing blessing that I avoided hospitalization, although admission might have been the wiser and more judicious route to recovery. Nevertheless, here I am months later.
The first few months of that year brought many unexpected and (probably) unwarranted accolades and acknowledgments within my small sphere of academia. It felt like after marrying Jamie, the love of my life and my best friend, that all the world was coming up roses! Those precious weeks were an armistice from all the troubles, trials and tribulations that attend daily life. We both knew that this unprecedented season wasn’t sustainable, so we drank deeply from the cup of good fortune—drought after drought! It came to a screeching halt when I got sick. 50 shades of grey, that’s how I felt and, due to the sallowness of my skin, probably looked too.