Book 1 of 52: Clear Cut: One Woman’s Journey of Life in the Body by Ginny Jordan

I had a hell of a medical year in 2012. I spent many hours in doctor’s offices and labs, having one test, another, a repeat of the same. I had nine vials of blood taken from me at one time and, when that wasn’t enough, another three. I’ve had to face the possibility of very bad news too many times to count. Fortunately, it seems that I can put the worst of those fears aside. Maybe. More tests must be done.

So I came to Ginny Jordan’s Clear Cut: One Woman’s Journey of Life in the Body
 I already feeling like my body had betrayed me. Hers has too. Jordan has undergone two mastectomies – 17 years apart – surgery for Meniere’s Disease, and had her ovaries removed. I felt ashamed of myself for self-pity on my year of horrible testing compared to what she’s lived through. Despite the aching pain throughout, it’s a beautiful memoir. I don’t usually go for these types of books, but she choose her words very carefully, poetically, and the lyricism in her prose is enchanting instead of overwrought, even about such difficult topics.

In a passage about time leading up to having her ovaries removed, she writes: “In a few weeks, my ovaries will be tossed up on the beach, like bleached nautilus shells. I fantasize that some little girl with a ponytail and a tiny bikini will collect them in her turquoise beach bucket. She will take them home along with the other shells and place them on her bedside table and store them together, inseparable. I hope she keeps them her entire life and tells her daughter the story of how she found them on vacation with her parents, how the shells glowed in the dark–like moonlight, like little lamp oracles–and contained a miracle.

“I came home renewed. The ocean moves inside of me, washing up and down my legs. The full moon rises in my belly, and my uterus is lined with shiny wet sand.”

I had to put the book down and take a deep breath after reading that one. It’s so sad, yet so beautiful – this passage and the book.

I’ve had a copy of Clear Cut: One Woman’s Journey of Life in the Body since the summer, and couldn’t bring myself to read it. I think I needed to get through the worst of the questions first. The timing, a year later, was just right.

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller

Jen A. Miller is a an author and freelance writer. Her memoir, Running a Love Story, was a Philadelphia Inquirer best book of the year. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, SELF, Buzzfeed and the Guardian, among others.

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