Click here to Download Into the Magic Shop PDF Book by James D. English having PDF Size 1.8 MB and No of Pages 181.
The anesthesiologist counts him down to sleep, I place the boy’s head in a head frame attached to his skull and then position him prone. I get out the hair clippers. Although the nurse usually preps the surgery site, I prefer to shave the head myself. It is a ritual I do. And as I slowly shave the head, I think of this precious little boy and go over every detail of the surgery in my mind.
Into the Magic Shop PDF Book by James D.
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I cut off the first bit of hair and hand it to the circulator to put in a small bag for the boy’s mother. This is his first haircut, and while it’s the last thing on his mom’s mind now, I know it will matter to her later. It’s a milestone you want to remember. First haircut. First tooth lost. First day of school. First time riding a bike. First brain surgery is never on this list.
I gently cut away the fine light brown strands, hoping my young patient is able to experience each of these firsts. In my mind I can see him smiling with a large gap where his front teeth should be. I see him walking into kindergarten with a backpack that’s almost as big as he is slung over one shoulder. I see him riding a bike for the first time—that first thrill of freedom, pedaling feverishly with the wind in his hair.
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I think of my own children as I continue to clip his hair. The images and scenes of all his firsts are so clear in my mind that I can’t imagine any other outcome. I don’t want to see a future of hospital visits and cancer treatments and additional surgeries. As a survivor of a childhood brain tumor, he will always have to be monitored, but I refuse to see him in the future as he’s been in the past.
The nausea and vomiting. The falling down. The waking in the earlymorning hours screaming for his mother because the Ugly Thing is compressing his brain and it hurts. There’s enough heartbreak in life without adding this to the mix. I continue to gently clip his hair just enough so I can do my work.
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I make two dots at the base of his skull where we will make our incision, and draw a straight line. Brain surgery is difficult, but surgery in the posterior fossa is even more so and in a small child excruciatingly difficult. This tumor is large and the work painstakingly slow and precise. Eyes looking through a microscope for hours focused on one thing.
As surgeons we are trained to shut down our own bodily responses as we operate. We don’t take bathroom breaks. We don’t eat. We have been trained to ignore when our backs ache and our muscles cramp. I remember my first time in the operating room assisting a famous surgeon who was known not only for being brilliant but also for being a belligerent and arrogant prima donna when he operated.
I COULD SEE RUTH through the window of the magic shop that first day as I rode up on my orange Schwinn Sting-Ray with its white banana seat. I remember that bike so well because it was the most valuable thing I had, and I had bought it with my own money. Money made from mowing lots of lawns in the heat of those long summer days. Into the Magic Shop PDF Book
As I pulled up I saw that she wore a big blue headband that held her shoulder-length brown hair away from her face, and her glasses dangled on a chain at her neck. Her dress looked almost like the big smocks we had to put on over our clothes during art class at school. It was exactly the same color as the Lancaster sky in the morning—the lightest of blues with horizontal wisps of white.
Every morning when I woke up, the first thing I did was look out my window. For some reason seeing that blue sky always made me feel hopeful. Ruth gave me a big smile, and I smiled back, but I could feel my heart hammering in my chest. I knew it was partly from riding there so quickly and partly because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
And I didn’t know why it was happening. It had sounded like a good idea the day before, and this morning it had seemed better than another day riding through endless fields of tumbleweeds on my Sting-Ray, going nowhere but always hoping to end up somewhere. Yet at that moment I wasn’t so sure. What was I walking into? Into the Magic Shop PDF Book
What if I wasn’t smart enough to learn whatever magic she was going to teach me? What if she found out the truth about my family? What if she was really some crazy lady who was going to kidnap me and take me out into the middle of the desert and do black magic with my dead body?
I had seen a movie called Voodoo Woman a while back and suddenly I wondered if Ruth was a mad sorceress who was going to turn me into a monster she could control with her mind and then take over the world. My arms went weak. I had the door halfway open, but suddenly it felt heavy. It resisted me.
I looked at my bike lying on its side and at the nearly empty parking lot. What was I doing? Why had I agreed to this? I could get on my bike and ride away and never come back. Ruth smiled and called out my name. “Jim, it’s so good to see you. For a minute I wasn’t sure you were going to come.” Into the Magic Shop PDF Book
Clearly that was the case with Ruth. That first encounter changed everything, putting my life on a far different trajectory than it would have been on. Ruth wasn’t a supernatural being, even though at twelve I liked to imagine she was. She was simply a human being who had the profound gift of empathy and intuition, of being able to care about another human being without expecting anything in return.
She gave me her time. She gave me her attention. And she exposed me to a type of magic that I still use to this day. There were some hours in the magic shop where I was convinced that being there was a waste of time and that I couldn’t possibly learn what she was trying to teach me. There were other times when I truly thought she was pretty close to crazy.
Today I know that the techniques Ruth was teaching me were in many ways age-old and had been part of Eastern traditions dating back thousands of years. Now science acknowledges that neuroplasticity is not only a reality but an inherent part of how the brain functions. Now I know that the brain can be trained to improve one’s focus. Into the Magic Shop PDF Book
And attention and also to not respond to the ongoing dialogue in our head that distracts us from making clear and useful decisions. Today this is well understood, but at that time what Ruth was teaching me was unheard of. When Ruth told me she was going to teach me to turn off the voices in my head, I had no idea what she was talking about, but I decided to go along with it anyway.
“Relax your shoulders. Relax your neck. Relax your jaw. Feel the muscles in your face relax,” she said, all things that I now knew how to do. Ruth talked me through relaxing my body yet again, her soft voice making my body feel so light I wouldn’t have been surprised if I was hovering over the chair, levitating like a playing card out of one of Neil’s magic rising decks.
“Now I want you to empty your mind.” That was a new one. I suddenly felt the weight of my body against the chair. What was Ruth talking about exactly? How was I supposed to empty my mind? My thoughts were off and running and I opened my eyes to see Ruth smiling at me. “This is another trick,” she said. “OK. How do I do it?” Into the Magic Shop PDF Book Download
The big guy was hunched over the kid, and when he heard me, he stood up tall. He gave me a snarly grin and then kicked the kid on the ground one more time in the stomach. It made me flinch and feel like I had just been kicked in the stomach myself. “Who’s going to make me?” Their attention diverted to me and I saw the kid on the ground roll onto his back and start to get up.
It was a kid I kind of knew from school. I couldn’t remember his name, but I knew his family had transferred here last year. His dad was out at the air base. The kid’s face was bloody, and his glasses were in the dirt next to him. He had to be half the size of all three of us. I was as tall as these older kids, but they outweighed me by at least thirty pounds.
I watched as he got to his feet and started staggering toward the church. I couldn’t blame him for getting the hell out of there. “You going to take his place?” The two boys took a few steps toward me, and I felt my mouth go dry and my ears start to buzz. I tried taking some deep breaths the way Ruth had taught me, but I couldn’t seem to get the air to fill up my lungs. Into the Magic Shop PDF Book Download
This was not going to be good. “So, you think you’re a hero? Some kind of freaking hero?” I didn’t say anything. I tried relaxing my legs and my hands like I had learned in the magic shop. I bounced up and down on the balls of my feet and cleared out my thoughts. If I had to fight, I would. I wasn’t going to run. “I’m going to kick your ass and then we’re going to take your bike.”
I still didn’t say anything. I sensed the sidekick moving behind me a little, but I just stared straight at the guy who liked to punch and kick. He was the one who called the shots for the pair. He moved his face so close to my face that I could see some sort of white gunk in the corner of his mouth. It was getting hotter out by the second and his face was sweaty and dirtstained.
“Unless you want to kiss my feet.” I thought of Ruth and Neil in the magic shop. They would be waiting for me to ride up right about now. RUTH HAD LIT a large candle and placed it on a small table, more like a TV tray than a table, in the middle of the back office. I had never seen this candle before. It was a tall red glass cylinder with brown and orange swirls around the outside. Into the Magic Shop PDF Book Download
The candle inside was white and set about a third of the way down inside the glass so the swirls made the flame look like it was moving and dancing. She had the lights off in the room, so it was fairly dim and seemed more mysterious than usual. “What’s that smell?” I asked Ruth. “Sandalwood,” she said. “Good for dreaming.”
I wondered if we were going to have a séance or if Ruth was maybe going to bring out a Ouija board. I was excited and nervous like it was my first day all over again. “Have a seat.” Ruth smiled at me and put her hand on my shoulder. She knew I had been waiting for this trick. She sat down across from me and just stared into my eyes for a few minutes.
“Jim, tell me what you want most out of life.” I didn’t know what to say. I knew I wanted money. Enough money so that I didn’t have to worry about anything ever again. Enough money so I could buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. Enough money so that people would be impressed with my success and would take me seriously. Into the Magic Shop PDF Book Free
Enough money so that I would be happy and my mom wouldn’t be depressed and my dad wouldn’t need to drink. “Be as specific as possible.” I was a little embarrassed to say it out loud, but I did anyway. “I want a lot of money.” Ruth smiled. “How much money? Specifically.” I had never thought about exactly how much money it would take to make all these things come true.
I had no idea. “Enough money,” I said. Ruth let out a little laugh. “Jim, I need you to say out loud exactly how much money is enough money.” I thought about it. I had seen a man drive a silver Porsche Targa by my school often. He must have worked or lived nearby. He looked so cool. I swore one day I would have one just like that. I remembered a classmate whose father owned his own construction company and who had invited me to his house to play.