Tracy Chapman & Medical Oddities

Tracy Chapman’s self-titled, debut album should come with a warning label.

Do Not Listen To While Operating Heavy Machinery

I had no damn business playing that album as I drove home from Dallas last night. I was already in quite an introspective state of mind, and her buttery voice and haunting lyrics just punched me in the gut. Tears did indeed “well up in [my] eyes,” and I found myself examining every decision I’ve ever made, every opportunity I may have passed up. Let’s just say I was driving a several-thousand-pound car at 70 MPH and was kind of a wreck.

Tracy isn’t entirely to blame, however. She was only the bitter icing on a somewhat moldy cake.

I was in Dallas for my narrative writing class, and as we went around the room, sharing our ideas for our deadline narrative stories, I realized that once again I didn’t have a subject I felt passionate about. While others’ eyes lit up as they spoke, as they gestured wildly with their hands, I sat quietly, unsure of what to say. What was there to say?

After a long class (three hours) during which I spoke very little (for me) followed by a long dinner with a few fellow classmates, my amazingly talented professor George Getschow, and the distinguished writer Lee Hancock, I realized something about myself – I have trouble finding interest in things outside of myself and my own small world. Sounds a little ego-centric, doesn’t it? I know…but I can’t help it! I want so much to care about the stories of the homeless man on the street corner, the first-generation American restaurant owner in the next county, or the all-women’s knitting group, but the drive just isn’t there.

So I started to think, really think, about what I’m interested in. And I came up with three total things: atheism, animal rescue, and medical oddities. Hmm. If I could just find an atheist poodle with a bum leg. But alas…

I’ve tried writing a profile centering on atheism (it went…okay), and I feel like covering animal rescue (and the subsequent euthanasia in shelters that comes with it) could very easily lead to me entering a deep depression (which, hey, might help my writing). But medical oddities…that could be something! I’m fascinated with medical shows on TV. You know that ones I mean – The Woman With Giant Legs or Two-Ton Man. That kinda shit. Is there someone like that in North Texas that I could write about?

So here is my request – if any of you know someone with, say, an extra limb or someone who eats their eyebrow hairs or can only walk backward – please, send them my way!