On Mugs, Cancer and Transforming Our Bruises

My husband and I used to have a housemate named Vanessa in a big, stately old brownstone in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. This was in the 1990s, when the neighborhood was kind of like the O.K. Corral and every day, there were fresh bizarre car accidents to puzzle over. (“But how did the car end up upside-down without anyone in it???”) We lived on the top floor, our landlord lived on the main floor and…