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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The King of Norway

The scent of parsley, shallots and wine coming from the kitchen is delicate but pervasive; it consumes me. I let myself surrender to the bowl of moules marinières that has been delivered on my table by the thin, long-necked waitress with beautiful posture yet, very little manners. But I don't make a fuss. Not tonight. The room's dimmed lights, the sound of come down in time in Sting's husky voice and the pink chewy flesh makes me feel a flow of goose bumps in the middle of the back and up to my neck. That is, simply put, the joy of being in Brussels.
The day after, I wake up with a minor headache but nonetheless hit the city to benefit from the mild 12 degrees hoping to finish "The discomfort zone" by Jonathan Franzen over a cappuccino and a pastry at Place St. Boniface. The metro is unusually crowded and all seats are taken by either people, bags or vomit so I decide to stand at the end of the car and listen to an interview with Jennifer Egan and Siddhartha Mukherjee, the latter being the author of an interesting book called "The emperor of all maladies, a biography of cancer". I learn in shock how an effort to fight the disease might actually wind up killing you as it happened to Susan Sontag who died of the blood cancer caused by the chemo against her breast cancer. I regain some hope hearing the description of the drug Gleevec, which has shown positive results against chronic myeloid leukemia. The interview moves on to Jennifer Egan's "A visit from the goon squad" the moment I leave the metro and start walking for that cinnamon roll. I get to the terrace, remove my headphones and start reading the weekend newspaper - is there a better way to relax and get away from routine stress?
On Sunday, half sober and full-bellied,  I decide to treat me and read some fiction on the plane back to Oslo. It's a short story written by Amos Oz for the New Yorker and as I start to get into the psyche of the main character, Zvi Provisor, the end of the story hits me with sorrow and despair: "Did you hear? The King of Norway died last night. Cancer. Of the liver"
As much as it was fiction, it made me wish the results one awaits on the day tests are due, come negative.  

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