A Gleam of Light Shining

by jkatejohnston

27 March 2014

Dear Max,

Driving Enzo and Jonah to school yesterday:

Enzo: “Does Brennan (Jonah’s little brother) know what is a bomb?”

Jonah: “Yeah.”

Enzo: “What about a sonic bomb?”

Jonah: “Just a bomb.”

Enzo: “What about a nuclear bomb?”

Jonah: “He just knows about a bomb.”

Enzo: “What about a mom?” That cracked them up for a while, and then Enzo added, “Actually, ‘mom’ and ‘dad’—those aren’t actual words.”

Jonah: “That’s how bigger kids talk about their mom and dad. Like Ever (Jonah’s baby sister) says ‘Daddee.’ ‘Mommee’ and ‘daddee’—those words both end with an E.”

A few minutes later I heard Enzo telling Jonah that Xiphactinus starts with a Z, followed by other facts and figures about ancient boney fishes.

I also must add that quite a while ago I told Jonah that I like his long red hair because it makes him easy to spot on the playground, and he said, “If you ever see a gleam of light shining, that is me.”


I’ve reached the age of follow-up—that is, all these routine health tests seem to require more inquiry. I got a robo-call from Kaiser: get your crotch done. I did. And the nurse-practitioner thought my left ovary was enlarged, so I had to get a sonogram of that. And a few years ago I had to get a needle-biopsy because some radiologist didn’t like my mammogram. So they stuck a giant needle deep in my boob and afterward they were like, “Do you have someone to drive you home?” I felt like saying, “Is that all you got? I’ve had dental work worse than that.” I told them I had a ride—didn’t mention it was on my bike, ha ha.

I have a kind of inverted hypochondria, where I’m sure I won’t ever get seriously sick, and even my eventual painless and classy death at an extremely old age seems unlikely. The main bummer about the sonogram was that I had to drive to work because the appointment was in the middle of the day at an unbikable place and it was raining. I hate driving, especially in the rain. I can’t see anything. And any change in routine just makes me anxious. Plus, I would rather cut myself and bleed than pay for parking.

And then there were all these detailed instructions: empty your bladder an hour and a half before your appointment. An hour before your appointment drink the first of three eight-ounce glasses of water. Do not empty your bladder until instructed to do so.

So I’m driving through rain and traffic, dying to pee, just annoyed, and I began to feel that I’d better have cancer just so there’d be some point to the whole ordeal. The sonogram itself was no biggie, just boring, and it took my whole lunch break, but then when I drove back to work, I got such a gorgeous gift-from-the-Universe parking place, a metered slot with TEN hours on it, that I began to feel that the parking place alone was worth all the trouble, and there was no need for me to have cancer to justify the waste of time and spirit.

I also must mention that my boss, a devoted student of downtown parking, actually drew me a map of likely parking coups, and I couldn’t wait to get back to the office and tell him how beautifully it had all worked out.


Enzo has picked up quite a few expressions from The Great Brain: “What in the name of Jupiter!” Also doing anything “like sixty.” And he was asking Teresa about the Normans.

“You mean the Mormons?” (The books are set in Utah.)

“The Normans.”

“It’s the Mormons.” And she explained Mormons as well as she could.

“How come they don’t touch alcohol?”

So she explained how Mormons don’t smoke or drink alcohol—or even coffee.

“No—they drink it! They just don’t touch it.”