Dani Shapiro
May 19, 2009

On The Questions People Ask

I hadn’t seen the acupuncturist in five years. The last time I had visited her office had been for fertility treatments. This time, I had injured my back doing yoga, and was hoping that perhaps a session or two with her would help. She reviewed my chart as she brought me into the treatment room. The sound of a waterfall played through speakers in the background.

“Still writing?” she asked.
“Yes…still writing,” I replied faintly.

Seven books into my writing life, this question still is one of a small handful of questions that makes me insane. I resisted the urge to ask the acupuncturist if she was still acupuncture-ing. She was about to poke me with a series of needles, after all. But why is it that people ask artists if they’re still practicing their art, as if maybe the whole thing had just been a lark and a hobby–traded in for, say, needle-pointing? Can you imagine asking an attorney if she’s still practicing law? A doctor if he’s still performing surgery?

At the end of my session with the acupuncturist, she talked to me about vitamins. She suggested that I take calcium, magnesium, and a multi-vitamin. She was just trying to decide which one.

“Still menstruating?” she asked.

I limped home–my back in worse shape than before. Shook off the indignity of it all. And sat down at my desk, back to my little hobby.