Amanda's View: Inappropriate pain

By Amanda Knox

The pain started Sunday when I was on a plane for five hours. It was a dull ache across my lower back, like I had been punched in the kidneys the day before. A few days later, the dull ache was accompanied by stabbing pain in my abdomen, especially on my right side. It hurt to hinge at the waist, sit up or down, get into a car, carry a bag over my shoulder. It hurt to laugh.

The least uncomfortable position was to lay prone on my back, which I did. I lay in bed in the middle of the day, alert but weary, willing the pain to go away. Despite the fact that my partner was there to care for me, my anxiety spiked. The pain made me feel estranged from the functional world of people uninterrupted by pain.

I cried. It took a lot of talking to get me through what felt like a baby panic attack. The problem was, though the situation of being nursed by my partner for a kidney infection was as far away as you could get from the isolation of imprisonment, the feeling of physical pain triggered the memory of existential pain. 

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Amanda's View: Run-away

By Amanda Knox

I grew up with two mutt dogs—a chummy, runt named Ralph and his fretful, dominant sister, Britta. They always escaped from the backyard when we were away at school. It didn’t matter that we walked them everyday or that our backyard was bigger than our house or that they had plenty of food and water and each other to entertain. It wasn’t enough. It was like Ralphy and Britta just had this itch to be elsewhere.

I was an easy kid back then, my mom tells me. I put myself to bed early. I played nice and fair with other kids. I ate what was put in front of me. I did well in school, even if I didn’t do all my homework. I never felt the need to act out or object or rebel because everything seemed good and abundant and I never felt measured up against anyone else. There was nothing I could think to change, within me or without. I was just happy, and happy to just be.

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Amanda's View: A book by its cover

By Amanda Knox

While cataloging new inventory at the bookstore, I’m consistently surprised by the market value of individual books. Sure, textbooks tend to be expensive, mass market paperbacks tend to be cheap. Most of the time, I’m dealing with titles somewhere in the middle—paperbacks going for $7-15, hardcovers going from $15-25, depending on the condition, the author, the publishing house, the date of publication, the earlier or later the printing, the popularity. But there are a surprising number of surprises. A dusty hardcover in frayed dust jacket going for at least $200. A pristine art tome coming in at a penny.

People are so much more complicated than books, very much thanks to our ability to discern meaning from pattern. But there’s a fine line between discerning meaning and injecting it, and I’m so sensitive about it. Even making inaccurate assumptions about the market value of a book reminds me that I’m ever confronted by situations where I discover people, including me, making this same mistake.

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