This was the scene on the backside of Ingram Hall on Vanderbilt campus Sunday morning, the day after Freshman move-in.

Cardboard carcasses. De-shelved shelves. Umpteen empty Target boxes. The privileged litter of eager students and well-stocked dorm rooms. A mind may be a terrible thing to waste, but so is a forest of packaging.

On the front side of the dorm, doors open to a manicured green quad, and beyond that biology and chemistry buildings, research labs, classrooms, libraries and their quiet, old-fashioned “stacks.”  A future to open and explore on one side; a pile of toss-aways on the other, and somewhere in between, my daughter deciding what she unpacks and leaves behind and what she takes with her. What will be recycled, reused, reclaimed as her own as she makes her way.

Before I got too bummed out, I spotted workers with box cutters tackling another nearby pyramid of entombed boxes, transforming them to a recyclable pile. There is hope.

And then I get home to this News Flash — hope indeed:

Northwestern University researchers said they found that the basis of ALS is a malfunctioning protein recycling system in the neurons of the brain and spinal cord. Efficient recycling of the protein building blocks in the neurons are critical for optimal functioning of the neurons. They become severely damaged when they can’t repair or maintain themselves.

Or as another report stated it:

In people with ALS, Feinberg researchers found ubiquilin2 isn’t doing its job. As a result, the damaged proteins and ubiquilin2 loiter and accumulate in the motor neurons in the spinal cord and cortical and hippocampal neurons in the brain. The protein accumulations resemble twisted skeins of yarn — characteristic of ALS — and cause the degeneration of the neurons.

Unrecycled accumulations. Twisted skeins of yarn. I think of Susan’s magical textiles woven from skeins of wool, spun silk, luminous linens. I think of theories, ideas, concepts, hypotheses, unsolved equations —  all loitering, waiting, to be discovered, embraced, untwisted, interwoven, in those university halls.

ALS is a recycling glitch? Pull out the box cutters; haul out the big blue bins. I have no idea what ubiquilin2 is, but I hope some body some where starts setting it straight.

~ by Stephanie on 08/23/2011.

3 Responses to “accumulating.loitering.skeins”

  1. I read that news, too, and felt a surge of hope and then some sorrow for you and for Susan.

    As for your eldest off to college, well, I have no comment. It’s just hard to believe, that’s all. 🙂

  2. Again, Stephanie seamlessly finds a thread within seemingly unrelated circumstances. I love to witness her weave her magic. Write on!

  3. A recycling glitch. Perfect way to imagine much of the inefficiency of our patterned life – our loitering too long in the face of such crises of the earth, our vast accumulating. I’ve got my box cutters out. You inspire me to slice through all the junk I do not need, and find the skein of yarn that I do. Thank you for the great weaving job you did in this piece, as in your life.

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