Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
- I love it when people write what they know. A friend of mine once accused me of reading only depressing books (you know who you are, my dear) and I will admit that many of the memoirs I've read are sad tales. The story doesn't have to span a long period of time so long as the details ring true. I want to know that, fiction or non-fiction, the writer felt what they were writing about when they were writing it. That is what makes me feel it when I'm reading it. That's what I love.
- Energy. The story has to have energy. I want to know that it will continue to move along and progress. I love stories that I can't put down. I had a professor in college who used to walk into trees because he read as he walked, careening off sidewalks, tripping over 100-year-old maple roots and not even noticing. That is how engrossed he was in the reading material. Gimme that kind of book anyday!
- Please don't make it predictable. Please don't follow a formula. Surprise me. Give me a reason to turn each and every page, holding my breath in suspense. Find a way to twist my expectations upside-down until I can't even come up with a guess for what's next.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Spending the last several days with my mother, sister and brother gave me the opportunity to reconnect and watch my daughters forge ever-stronger relationships with people whom I love. As my stoic brother's face cracked into a huge grin, he wrapped his arms around my youngest and wrestled with her. Opening gifts quickly turned into a 'snowball fight' with crumpled wrapping paper, adults and children alike giggling and ducking behind furniture to avoid flying gift wrap.
Moving on to my father's house, my urgency to add layers to the ties that bind becomes even more important. I scanned his face for any sign of illness, anything that might betray the eight bb-sized tumors embedded in his brain. My girls piled into his lap and began tickling his ears, his chin, pulling his slippers and socks off, hooting with laughter. He has regained the weight he lost after battling chemotherapy for three months. His face no longer looks as though it was dusted with flour, and he moves through the house like a young man again. Late night talks revealed his fears, though. He has seen the brain scan and the glowing cells that spell disaster. He knows that radiation doesn't work on brain tumors. He is on his way to the university hospital to look for new treatments, experimental procedures that might buy him some more time.
The girls and I arrived home yesterday afternoon, eager to put the house in order and greet Bubba as he came home from work. The last of the gifts were wrapped and placed under the tree for the cat to play with. The girls put their things away and settled back into their bedrooms. I was relieved to be in my own space, relaxing on the couch and stroking the dog's silky fur. I was so pleased to have had the time to spend re-connecting. The phone rang. My mother was calling to say that my grandfather who has been battling cancer for two years is on the verge of death. His last coherent act was to sign Christmas cards to each and every person he knows, including one each for my girls, addressed to them individually. He then laid down in his bed and slipped into a coma. They don't expect him to live out the weekend.
Connections. Ties. Relationships. I can't imagine the world without my grandfather in it. I am incredibly sad that his end is imminent. But I know that the connection will not be lost. The connection does not rely on physical existence to remain. The work we did to establish and maintain the mutual love and respect we had for each other is not lost. I see my grandfather in his children, my mother and aunts and uncle. I see him in the connections they have with each other and me. The memories I have of him will last a lifetime. I am reminded that the efforts I make to connect with others are important and lasting. Every time I strengthen the ties between myself and another, I will be rewarded by finding myself more intimately connected to the world around me.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Bubba is leaving his job - his only ever grown-up job, the first one he got right out of college and has had for over 15 years. Starting in February, he is following his dream and it's about time. I'm thrilled for him and completely supportive. Mentally. I know I'll struggle with keeping my nose out of it. I will fight to zip my lips and sit on my hands when I start to see that he's running out of printer toner or business cards. Too easy to have my accomodating 'fix-it' style spill over from wife to business partner. Too easy to forsake the time at my laptop chasing MY dream in an effort to help him with his. Deep breath.
The phone call that came yesterday burned a path from my head through my heart and it's not done yet. Amazing how such small pieces of information begin a chain of devastation almost instantly. The cancer that was cut away from my father's lung in February has taken hold in his brain. The CAT scans and x-rays showed nothing, but his bloodwork continued to alarm the doctors who followed him. After a summer of poisoning his body with chemotherapy there should be nothing left of the cancer. But it appeared there was. Their job was to find it. Mission accomplished. Eight tumors in his brain, glowing on the brain scan. I was calm and clinical on the phone - 'get a second opinion before you start radiation', 'go to the university hospital in case there are some new therapies.' All it took was the touch of another, her arms around me, warm hands pressed against my shoulders, and I erupted into hot tears and shaking, the fear and sadness carving out my organs and leaving only darkness in their wake.
As my father struggled to recover after his surgery, depressed at his inability to heal more quickly I tried to encourage him and give him realistic information at the same time. Knowing that he would spend his summer having weekly chemotherapy treatments I said, "By Christmas you'll be back to your normal self. I know that seems like a horribly long time, but when Christmas comes, you will feel terrific." Ironic, here we are ten days before Christmas and he is back to work more often than not. He is walking on the treadmill and has an appetite again. "I feel fine - great, even!" he assured me on the phone. Both of us wishing that that truth had the power to erase the eight glowing spots on the radiology film.
My palms sweat. My heartbeat is picking up. In one hour I will buckle my girls in to their car seats for the five hour drive to his house. A planned trip to play Santa and visit my fully-recovered father. I am afraid to look into his eyes and see the fear there. I am afraid he'll look into my eyes and see the same. I am afraid he is dying.
"Don't be his doctor. Be his daughter," Bubba said softly in the dark last night as I lay on my pillow, tears streaming down into my ears.
Being his doctor would be so much easier.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
The guest was explaining that he fully expected the economy to continue to suffer. He believes that after the first of the year retail spending will drop off considerably and Americans will tighten their money belts. He talked about the way that we as a people have been borrowing money and spending more than we make and fully embracing our consumer lifestyle for too long. He thinks that we have reached the outer limits of our comfort zone and will now begin curbing our appetites for material things, instead turning our attention to our woefully starved savings accounts. He didn't sound shocked or horrified or even the slightest bit frightened about any of this. I think that's why I continued to listen. You may remember this post when I talked about measuring our lives by other means. I was intrigued at his non-reaction.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
- I spent seven years of my life training to be a ballerina. I performed onstage as Clara in The Nutcracker, Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, and in multiple other roles. There was nothing I wanted more than to spend my life backstage getting made up and hairsprayed and costumed for another show. My primary teacher was an ex-Russian ballerina who stalked the studio, pounding her cane on the hardwood floor and barking orders at us. I loved every minute of it. Moving to Wyoming unfortunately ended that portion of my life.
- The first time I attempted to ride my bike without training wheels I was so worried about my father letting go of the back of the bike that when I turned around to make sure he was still holding on I ran into a parked car.
- In high school I had to go without any caffeine (chocolate included) for two years because I had such fibrocystic breast tissue that they were afraid I might be at risk for other complications. Those of you who know anything about me will find it difficult to believe that I could go for two days without chocolate, much less two years.
- After a decade of swearing that I would never ever get married or have children, I proposed to my boyfriend during Spring Break in my senior year of college. His response? "You can't ask me that." I was crushed. I got into my car for the 200 mile drive back to school wondering whether our relationship could survive after this. Turns out I had stolen his thunder. He'd already purchased a ring and was planning to ask me to marry him when I graduated. We stayed together despite my misgivings and he asked me on the beach in Maui. We've been married for almost fourteen years.
- From the time I was 14 years old I have had the following jobs: ice-cream schlepper at Dairy Queen, customer service at a gift shop on the beach, busser/waitress/hostess at a five-star resort, re-shelver at the university library, calculus tutor, veterinary assistant, medical assistant in a family planning clinic, scheduler/assistant for women's radiology department at teaching hospital, secretary for international shipping line, microfilm processor for regional power company, surgical assistant for plastic/reconstructive surgeons, surgical assistant for dermatologist, office manager for a physical therapy clinic, quality management assistant for longterm children's mental health authority, database administrator/consultant for children's mental health inpatient facility, freelance writer.
- Before I had children I swore like a sailor and, in the proper company, I've still got it.
- I hate anything having to do with beauty pageants in any form or fashion. I find them useless and demeaning.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
- I would rather get shots or have my blood drawn than experience the singularly uncomfortable feeling that comes from having the dental hygienist scrape the metal hook across the surface of the inside of my bottom front teeth.
- There is nothing that activates the excuse-generating portion of my brain more than lying back in this chair with my mouth wide open, knowing that my brushing and flossing habits are betraying me.
- Being a dental hygienist is a job I cannot ever imagine enjoying even for one minute.
- It cracks me up to feel the air being pulled through my nostrils into my mouth when I close my lips around the suction straw.
- The mere thought of berry or bubble-gum flavored tooth polish turns my stomach and makes me wonder how old my daughters will be when they begin to have that same reaction and fervently hope the dentist hasn't run out of mint.
- Even though it has been ten months since I last sat in this chair it feels like it hasn't been nearly that long.
- Crossing my ankles and clasping my hands together is strangely comforting in its ability to distract me from the skin-crawling reaction I get when a huge piece of tartar is being chipped off of my teeth.
- No matter how much I dislike sitting here the day after Thanksgiving, I'd still choose this chair over fighting the holiday crowds at the mall any day.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
My local NPR station is doing an hour on word origins and they have invited the founder of the popular Wordsmith/A Word A Day emails to join them in the discussion. My brain slowly begins to churn his words around, folding them in to the crevices in my brain and allowing them to seep in to my consciousness as the voices in the background fade away.
To me, this means that both yesterday and tomorrow are equal in Hindi. Equal in that they are NOT today. Equally unknowable and uncontrollable and perhaps not worth dwelling on. Considering that I've spent most of my life in a concerted effort to plan for tomorrow so that I don't replay the events of yesterday, I find this incredibly interesting. Considering that I am right now attempting to spend more energy realizing and enjoying the moments of my days as they happen and less energy agonizing over and anticipating future events, I find this comforting. The origins of the words 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow' in English arise from the negative - the fact that neither of these days is today. I think that somewhere over the generations many of us has lost the true meaning of these words. I'm going to do my best to remember their Hindi translation.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The method involves making a small incision along the testicle into which doctors place a tiny tube.
"The tube functions as a filter that blocks sperm," Wu Weixiong, the director of Guangzhou Family Planning Technology Center"
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu Chinese philosopher (604 BC - 531 BC)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
This is what a car looks like after a 600 pound cow lands on it. On. It. Not hit by it as the cow crosses the road, but hurtles downward, having fallen off a cliff, and lands squarely on the hood of a minivan. I'm betting these tourists are wishing they'd purchased the extra insurance on their rental car. I'm also betting that this particular trip to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate their anniversary might cause them to reconsider next year's destination. Perhaps they ought to find a place where meerkats roam. Or cockroaches. Stay away from cattle ranches. They narrowly escaped injury this time, but it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
As the day and night wore on and I continued to wedge my fingertips through the twists and turns of this knot I found myself picking up Lin Jensen's book "Pavement." Here is his take on my struggle:
Friday, November 02, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Something made me bite. Even though Bubba is (still) out of town and I'm the 'numero uno' parent right now (although not the preferred one if you ask my girls), I took the initiative to find a date and a babysitter and thought, "why not?" Even if her music wasn't my cup of tea, at least it was a way to get some time for myself with a friend, right?
Let me just say that it surpassed all my expectations. We were asked to bring a brunch item to share (a potluck concert? I thought) and some cash to buy CDs or drinks (mimosas and bloody mary's sounded good). Pulling up to a distinctly residential neighborhood I worried that this might be a little hinky. Walking through the front door and spying the view of the water and distant islands and the table piled high with homemade goodies, my worries evaporated.
Edie Carey is a terrific singer-songwriter. Should she not be able to make a living at either of those things, I suspect she would have a good shot at earning money as a stand-up comedian. There were perhaps 40 people in the room, most of whom had not heard her music before. She joked with us, told us stories of each of the songs before she sung them, and signed CDs for us at the break. She chowed on our homemade brunch items and gave most of us sincere thanks for supporting her today. One of her songs in particular gave me pause. She told us a story about an email she received from a man who wanted to hire her to perform at his wife's 30th birthday party. He then wondered whether she would write a song for his wife. He enclosed seven years' worth of love letters that they had written for each other in case she needed some inspiration. The result is a gorgeous song called "What Love Looks Like" that moved many of us to tears.
And so I began to wonder. After seventeen years of friendship (fourteen of them spent married), two children, multiple pets, two houses, three apartments, several jobs and a lot of time spent apart due to business travel, what does our love look like? I still consider Bubba to be my best friend. I am in love with him and relish any opportunity to go on a date with him. We make a very good team when we're running the household and parenting our children. We are capable of communicating at times without uttering any words. What does our love look like?
It is being excited for each other when one of us wants to embark on a new adventure. It is not worrying whether it will take too much time away from the family, but trusting that it will strengthen us as individuals and that, in turn, will make us all happier and better.
It is being able to recognize when the other one is feeling overwhelmed and step in to support them without making them justify it.
It is remembering the reason we fell in love in the first place.
It is not getting so wrapped up in what is going on today that we forget how much we loved each other yesterday.
It is feeling brave enough to speak our own truths, regardless of whether they match up or not.
It is knowing that when I feel like I'm going to fall down, all I have to do is yell, "Catch!" and Bubba will be right there, hands outstretched, no questions asked.
It is hating the fact that his frozen toes will press up against my warm shins just as I'm falling asleep at night. But hating the nights they aren't there more.
Friday, October 26, 2007
- Van Halen
- ZZ Top
- The Scorpions
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- REO Speedwagon
Lest you think I was only a 'rocker chick', I also saw Depeche Mode, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD), REM, and INXS. This was back when concert tickets could be had for $15 at most and you didn't have to pay for parking. Sadly, I suspect my girls won't have these same experiences at $65 a pop and an additional $20 to park. Guess they'll have to settle for pay per view...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The power was out on the island so we couldn’t call anyone to come get us but they said it wouldn’t be down for long, so we decided to walk and wait. We came across this house with two pigs, an adult and a baby. They were both grey and dirty and ugly and the adult had huge sores on it’s back, filled with finger-width size worms burrowing in. I almost couldn’t stand to look at it. At some point the third person with us remembered that she had a house on the island and invited us to come have some food. By now the sun was shining and we followed her into the house and sat down at her kitchen table all together.
Friday, October 12, 2007
- My best 'writing' is done in one of three places: in the shower as I talk to myself, while I'm walking the dog, or in the grey, predawn hours as I'm between sleep and waking. I carry a mini-recorder in my pocket as I walk the dog because so often as soon as I get home the best phrases have flown the coop.
- My daughters think it's cool that I am working on writing a book and my oldest collects spiral notebooks and has begun dozens of children's stories in the last few months.
- When I was in high school and college, I firmly adhered to the formula of making an outline before writing anything. Now that I write for me, I can't even manage one powerful word if I use that method. Instead I have to firmly engage my creative mind and throw the rules out of my office on their a** in order to make magic.
- Writing longhand is incredibly difficult for me. I type almost 120 words per minute and can't write nearly that fast. Because my brain works so fast when I'm writing, I can't keep up as I write. Typing is the only way.
- The posts that I've dashed off without thinking about them too deeply are the ones that have gotten the most positive responses from readers. They are the ones that come from the top of my head and my heart and I doubt them every time - every single time. I am always blown away at the response to those posts and one day I'll learn to trust that process I hope.