Thursday, March 31, 2011

And on top of it all, I don't have a roommate...Update 1

I'm going to write here because there isn't really anyone to talk to. And isn't that fucking pathetic.

I may call Reva later, but I unloaded on her last night and a good friend should only be asked to listen to so much darkness.

I hate it when people go into great detail about their health, so I'll try to make this short. I haven't felt well for a year but in the past two weeks, I've just felt awful. I decided to go to the doctor AGAIN, and she thought as she did last time, and as the doctor before her did that my symptoms were mostly caused by stress. However she is thorough and had me do blood work day before yesterday. She also said that she heard something in my lungs and wanted me to have a chest x-ray. I thought I'd put that off a couple of weeks so the bills would not come at the same time.

So I got a voicemail from the 'nurse' at work today and her message was that they had found something in my blood work and that I needed to call them TODAY..... that they were open until 8p.m. and really needed to hear from me TODAY. If you are as terrified by doctors, hospitals and health issues as I am- this was not a good way to get vague news. I went out to the car to call her back.

And let me say, when you get news like this (and you're someone like me) it is not conducive to sanity when calling back you are told they are experiencing high call volumes and then play lots of ads about cancer and diabetes and epilepsy.

So, I reached her and she said that tests showed that I have some sort of infection but they don't know where it is, and I needed to go for a list of tests.... like, NOW. I went back into work, found my manager who was with the HR person, to tell them I had to leave and promptly fell apart. I just feel so alone.

I drove to the hospital and this was no regular blood test. They weren't vials, they were bottles the shape of airplane cocktails, and bigger. And there were two. I got through that and the rest of the tests and came home an emotional wreck.

Aside from my usual fear, there is some extra basis for it. For years I've been telling doctors that there's something going on on my left side. I've been through an MRI and other big tests that financially killed me, and they found nothing. But it's still there and gotten worse and none of their remedies has really helped it. Obviously I may be wrong, but no one knows their body better than the person who lives in it.... I'd bet that's where the problem is.

I've been going back over my past and trying to sort out where this extreme fear comes from. I've always known it's had something to do with surgery at 3 days old, but please. This is out there.

I notice that when I go for tests I feel like I'm being punished for something which leads to an amorphous feeling of shame. This doctor and hospital I go to is one of the best. You get your doctor visits online... all the tests, what they showed. The hospital is more like a hotel, and they are lightening fast and kind.

And lately I've been watching people with health issues and marvel at the way they view them. Two women at work just had major surgery, and to them it's "get it out and over and lets move on". Most people view doctors as just the people who know how to determine and fix a problem... not as judges and harbingers (if not outright instruments) of pain. ( And that part of my fear, I get.)

So, as fast as they work I imagine I'll get a call tomorrow. I dread when the phone rings now... and I'm sitting here now, some moments okay and some moments in tears.

And on top of it all I thought I had a roommate and so felt some relief and hope... but found out last night that I don't.

I feel like I'm in a no-mans land. I stare out at the water and I can't own it. I look at Meander and wonder how I'm going to care for him. I can't afford to move and I can't afford to stay and tomorrow may blow everything out of the water several months early.

I'm trying not to throw a pity party but I can't take much more of this. I'm tired of feeling bad, being afraid, feeling like I can never catch up...

Posting this for family....

Told you they were fast. The chest x-ray shows not much of anything. It did notice the damage to the arm I broke. But that's not the test I'm worried about....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

They're Back!

Ma-ma and Pa-pa. How many years, now? I walked out of Reva's and they
were on the roof across the way. It's early yet... March and only 35 degrees, but they're hungry. It's gonna be a long summer.... And I've gotta get to Home Depot for corn.
(It will help the story if you click and enlarge the pics....)

"I dunno, Mildred. I think that's her, and it looks like corn..."

"She DID throw something, but I don't have my glasses."

"I don't know about you, but I'm goin' in."

"Fine. Fine. Just leave me here."

"Sigh. Alone again. Naturally."

"What the hell. I'll need my strength to deal with him another year."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Magic Everywhere

Woods - Taliesin orchestra - Forbidden forest - Impressions of George Winston

Just click.

Walk Over It

(Not my photo....)

Growing up in Kentucky I would often visit my grandmother, Momie in her small town. Sometimes we would walk the four blocks to Main street, the major shopping Mecca. Her husband was the Postmaster (Kids, do you know what a Postmaster is?) and they were big in the church, so we stopped often along the way to speak with her friends.

Imagine a young girl, aged 7 or 9 or 11 decked out in her fresh, dewy skin, hair thick and lustrous waiting for an age when it would be gold on the market.... eyes bright, foot quietly, politely, but incessantly tapping the ancient, broken sidewalks, sometimes made from tombstones tossed face down to create a walkway... waiting and waiting as the elders, the older women, the wise crones exchanged the latest health issues, if not death issues of all the friends they had in common. Which was just about everyone in town.

It was black and white. Oil and water, this mix of child and wizened warrior. No matter that she taught me how Cardinals sound in the spring, why Peony's are special, that cornbread made into pancakes is far better than cakes... that no matter how broken you are when you arrive, there's still room at the table....

No matter what she taught, we were 7 and 57 and I just didn't get all this illness and death talk. Truly, I still don't. Not in certain ways. But...

I have one friend going though an incredibly hard bout with cancer (I refuse to capitalize it. Illogical, I'm sure). Another is just out of the hospital, having battled pneumonia and drug side-effects. A third is lucky to be walking. I'm going to the doctor tomorrow and everyone knows just how much I don't handle that.

I don't want to embrace the illness, the ache, the pain as a daily ritual. Not mine or anyone else's. But I do realize that it's becoming (like a quickened sunrise) a part of my age's 'neighborhood'.

Sadly, I've been through this before. But it was different.

I remember the AIDS epidemic. At the height of it, you would walk down the street with all of your emotional nerves exposed, though trying to act like everything was fine. You knew that at some point someone would say, "Did you hear about ___", "____ went into Hospice", " I don't know what to do with ___'s things". "He has developed Kaposi's Sarcoma. He has dementia."

But in those instances, the breeze in the trees overhead weren't moving across the cycle of life, but were grating against what was wrong. There was no solace in knowing a 24 year old man was soon to die, hadn't begun to touch the life my grandmother was familiar with, that her friends had been familiar with. In truth,

what I've been familiar with.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm trying to embrace this part of life that we all go through. Carmon, who is so depleted by drugs and cancer is planning to sit by her new garden, soon. Can you imagine how wonderful it could be, if the 'bestest' thing you hoped for was sitting next to new plants? Sick or not, young or old, investing yourself in the burgeoning world around you has to be one of the most powerful things you can do.

It occurs to me that as my Grandmother and I walked down those broken sidewalks, and she spoke to me of birds and flowers, and told me through her stories that I was as valuable as anything in her life, she was investing in a brand new world, was shaping me and holding me, even unto this moment as I sit telling her story to a 'machine' she couldn't have imagined.

Maybe we are crayons, rubbing up against new life, shading it; defining the lines. Maybe we see the black frame that encompasses the picture and say, "Walk over it.".

Thursday, March 24, 2011

No other land but this....

Almost a year ago I posted this on the 'quotes' area of my blog, because.... Because I had been left.

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other land but this.
--Henry David Thoreau

The heart obviously knew it, but every logical and emotional part of me just wasn't ready. I think that's human nature. I couldn't have 'found my eternity' to save my life, the moment I posted it. But obviously the heart and the spirit had different ideas and quietly introduced us.

I am sorry to acknowledge this, but I'm going to because I think it's important. There isn't a piece of me that could commit suicide, but I remember sitting on my bed in sheer terror, wondering, back then. And as I wondered, I knew it could never happen in that way you just 'KNOW', but I did finally understand how those that have just too much pain might opt for it. I could see how life could somehow be too much to take. That's an understanding I will hold dear.

There have been people who have bolstered me. I sometimes think/thought that comments like "Hang in there.", "Have Faith", "It will improve." was so much fluff, but what else is there to say? Those comments come from either people who have gone through what you have, or those who are afraid to. And when push comes to shove, they mean the best and you're going to survive as you will... knowing they cared for you enough to write something kind is a testament of some wonderful kind.

This morning I went out to my car late for work, got in, looked up, grabbed the camera and shot.


I suppose I could zoom in and get the pretty image of 'almost' sunrise' but I choose to keep it as I saw it... far away, muted, dusky, rich.

That didn't keep me from hurrying to the wall to grab a closer shot, but the sun was quicker. It was rising whether I was ready or not. I just kept shooting.

There are people who have left my life, and there are people who have arrived late to my party. In that realm there is sadness and wonder. What am I leaving, and what land am I headed for?

A year ago I couldn't imagine this hope.

I'm afraid to imagine, but nonetheless I am still searching, and glad of it.

And that's good.

This is just sad....

'Muffin top' added to Oxford English Dictionary

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I want to live here....

Better yet... I'd love to be taught how to build my own. For more info, go to

Friday, March 18, 2011


I am not a morning person.

As I get older and my ideas change, I wish I were.... but let me state again.... I am not a morning person.

Nonetheless, this week my manager has found it important to have me at work by seven (Yes, that one vehicle in the parking lot... you know, the red pick-up?.... is there simply for a Peace Lily.)

If I'm to be there at seven, I have to be up by 5:15 at the latest. It's dark then. Dark used to mean bright lights and loud music. Now dark means; where's my soda, cigarette's, pants and the dog? Because we have to either walk or play.

At six in the morning we usually walk, and oh, what glorious walks they've been these past two mornings. This morning I just stopped for the sound in the trees. It was so unexpected Meander just stood there with me as I listened.

The birds are coming back and they are feisty. I've never heard them like this before. They are insistent and strident and loud. There is one song I've heard only occasionally, but I come to think it's from a Robin.... singing some weird, "I'm here. Where are you', thing.... but it's so full and liquid in the hearing. There were other songs... many other songs... and when you listened you heard call-backs. All that communication, just in sound.

As we stood and listened I saw the sky over the lake. The sun had a good way to go before cresting, so there were only dusky blue clouds creating a comma in front some clear, pink and lavender sky... far out. Mostly, it was dim.

The thing that I noticed was that as I stood there and took in the sound and the sky and the water, which was only a lazy lapping... I could ( somewhat) hear traffic, but it didn't matter. What I was truly, quietly 'witnessing' as I stood there with Meander, was what the world has always been no matter what we've etched upon it.

You think about what's happened in Japan, close to the sea.... caused in part by the sea. I imagine as people sit amongst the rubble and contemplate, fear and try to realign their future, they hear the birdsong... see the dawning sky. When you are in that much pain and confusion, does the sound and sight of it offer certain solace because it's one thing you know or sorrow because it's something you know that goes on forever without you?

I have reason to think that my life might get better, but I don't think it would matter.

There is wisdom in understanding that every spring the Baltimore Oriole will stop by a park in a northern suburb before going on to his summer home. That the Robins will be everywhere. The that Barn Swallows will be back to our porches, looking for last years home. That Reva might be able to feed her Hummingbirds again.

I might be able to watch the Swallows again, thanks to a friend. I might be able to do many things, but it's sweet to know that in the end, nature will out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trying not to leave before I leave...

I'm trying not to leave before I leave. I'm talking about my home, of course, and moving which I must do.

I'm trying to remember before memory is all I have, what the lake sounds like from the bathroom. It sounds like wind. Not water.

As I walk Meander out the back door and down the steps, past the cement duck, the pot of two year old grass broken during the blizzard, around the stairs and on to the gangway, I try to see things. Is Pepper the dog on his porch? What is the water like today? The sky? Has anyone left anything new on my potting bench, the one that will likely remain when I am gone?

On the beach, chucking-the-ball-chucking-the-ball-chucking-the-ball, I imprint the nature of the waves on something etchable inside me... and notice how the lake bed seems to have changed in one place and sends the waves south, instead of west.

Back home, my porch ceiling is Reva's porch floor and I try to imagine with an open heart what it will be like, months from now... sitting above my old perch while visiting her... knowing that I can no longer go back down the stairs and into the home, that housed me as I went, without a desire to... from inside out to outside in.... twisted and burned and nearly extinguished and then came round again.

As I come to terms with old friends who are now strangers and the anger and hurt they have engendered, I try to remember that we were all damaged early and come to reckoning late... and I don't write the cruel words that match their bitter silence.

Yes, trying not to leave before I leave... because that's what I do. Well, did. Always did. And it's time, now that I may have some inkling why that for fifty-four years I've done it, to stop.

I wrote this in an email to my Dad several days ago..

"I heard, not long ago on the radio that until the 1960's doctors believed that newborns couldn't feel pain, and so didn't give anesthetic to them during surgery.

That explains a lot. Why I'm terrified of doctors, pain; why I leave so abruptly when hurt. Why I am so unforgiving.

Still, once you see that, you can't use it as an excuse. You have to factor it in, but I have to take responsibility for some of it."

Born with a cleft palate in 1956. Surgery on day three.


That's not to say that my leaving some people and situations were wrong decisions. But there have been 'leavings' that have always had me wondering.

When Keith and I left Kentucky to come to Chicago, I think I slept as he and Carey packed the truck. Though Chicago was where I wanted to be, Kentucky was all I knew of home.

When the apartment on Bittersweet went south (the home I've loved most), I did my best (Jay was not helping) but I remember laying down at the end of moving day on my mattress on the floor and going to sleep wrapped around Casey the Golden Recliner as if he were a lifeline. Keith and Kevin were left to deal with the aftermath... as I drove a petulant husband north to a cabin in the woods. I didn't see it then, but I had long before left before leaving.

There are people I've left. Much more serious situations, where I've left. To some extent, I'm ashamed. But now I think I have a clue to lead me out of the fear.


My mantra lately has been to face my fear. So far, 'whatever' fear (as the adage goes) has been far greater than the true situation.


I've always felt there was something that happened when I was young that set me on my peculiar path. Therapists are always quick to ask, "Were you sexually abused?".

Emotionally abused, yes. Sexually, physically.... no.

But I believe my body and psyche has remembered all these years what must have been a tremendously lonely and terrifying time in my life when 'superpowers' created great pain and I had no voice, just a cry like all the others so misused.

And so now, I'm trying not to leave before I leave but instead to mark the love of something before it's time to say goodbye.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I was in the break room this morning and people were staring at photos in the newspaper of Japan. I'll give them this... they were really quiet, which does not happen.

I asked them if anyone had seen some of the video that's out there that was taken during the earthquake and tsunami. For a room full of people who do nothing but stare at their 'technology' (phones, iPads, Kindles, laptops) in any given empty moment.... they all shook their heads.


I told them there were four entire trains with people on board, missing. There is a village of 10,000... gone. You could see them trying to parse it, as I had.


I came across these. So much is hard in my life right now and when it's devastation began it only took about an hour. But what if my world were LITERALLY swept away within an hour? And I was left walking through, well nothing... with only a plastic shopping bag of things in my hand?

Watching the videos I notice the birds. What did they or didn't they know? Sense? They could stay aloft, see the difference, fly to dry land.

It makes me think of 911, though this is different and geographically so much larger. But I think the comparison is good, because I realize that their sorrow could be ours. That it is ours; and ours... that day almost ten years ago... was most likely, theirs.

As I was clicking through the pictures I thought these were books. For some reason, fallen books always capture photographers attention.

Not so much. They are cargo carriers.

Just..... nothing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Amazing Thing

I've never seen a plant react like this.

A couple of months ago I had to throw out a Prayer Plant at work (not unusual, as they are hard to deal with in a store) and I pulled what was left of it out of it's pot and put it in my pocket. I put it in this pot when I got home, and for some reason put it on a little table in my bedroom.

What was left was a large piece of an adult plant and I put it next to the window since I thought it wanted low light and the window faces north.

It slowly began to fade and spider mites got at it, but all of a sudden there was a new shoot. And another. And a third. I think it did as well as it did because I have water by the bed at night and if there was anything left I watered the Prayer plant with it. (My other plants are not so lucky.)

But lately, it's few leaves have been looking rather peaked and so I looked up how to care for it. Well. It wants high, but not direct light and lots of humidity. Lack of humidity (not helped by the fan right next to it) was what was causing the edges of the leaves to brown.

I don't know why I'm so taken with this plant... maybe it's stubborness, but I looked at it this morning and it's leaves were laying down on the soil and it just looked tired. So, after cleaning the bathroom I moved it's little table in there. Though the bath faces north as well, it has white walls and if I remember to pull back the shower curtains it's bright in there. I did not water it.

And there it sat, forlorn.

I took a shower and when I finished made sure to leave the door closed for maximum humidity. Several hours later I went in, and what you see in the picture says it all.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Driving an 'Old Man' car....

I love to drive and think I'm fairly good at it, but I know nothing about cars in general.

My first car was some large, old red thing I got from a friend around 1978 and sold a year later when we moved here to Chicago. I do remember it's name was Kelly and the woman who bought it from me totaled it in no time.

I bought the next one outright in 2000, a Chevy Tracker named Scrappy. I was in awe then of the differences in vehicles since I'd last owned one, even though it didn't have a lot of bells and whistles. I do remember missing the button on the left hand floorboard that let you put on your 'brights'. I still miss that feature. I have no idea why.

I know now that the 2008 Jeep didn't have many bells and whistles either. It came with a sunroof, told you what direction you were going and what temperature it was outside. It was also Sirius ready... which is something I've come to love. But, truly if you don't know what you're missing... you don't know what you're missing. And I didn't.

So, I got the Hereafter. I bought it nearly sight unseen and didn't find it's 'goodie's' until I got it home. Since it's a 2006, I'm sure there's lots more out there I'm still not aware of.... but I love the heated seats, the information center that tells you so much, working the radio from the steering wheel.... yadda, yadda, yadda.


The first time I took the Hereafter in because of the Check Engine Light they gave me a Ford Focus. I couldn't figure out how to move the seat up (the bar was waaay under the seat); they showed me and I drove away. It had some cool features that the Hereafter is sorely lacking, and it was vastly more powerful than any car I've owned.... but it felt like a highschooler's car. But, I DID come to love the power, and that will be part of my next car if I, the economy and ecology are still intact.

Anyway, I took the Hereafter back today, because it seems to have bonded with that Check Engine Light. The service guy who was introducing me to my loaner said they had kept me in a Chevy and pointed vaguely at something he called an Impala. Unless it's the animal, I'm not going to recognize it.

Up drove this large, gold thing.

I'm driving an 'Old Man' car.

First off, I couldn't find out how to move up the seat. I wasn't about to ask again so I slung my lower body forward and moved on. I hold no illusions that I look cool driving that way.

Secondly, the gear shift is on the steering column. Can we say, 'Grandpa'? As I'm driving home I'm looking at the interior. For the life of me it seems like an old car, but there are some of the highlights they offer these days, which means it IS younger than God. I looked. It's a 2007.

The seats have this cream colored, smooshy fabric that reminds me of old chenille bedspreads. There are no nooks and crannies for things, unless you count a 1"x 3" dip near the door handle. And it smells like, well similar to, Old Spice. I don't know if it's something they sprayed the interior with or something the guy who drove it up was wearing, but it's nasty. And I got 'a' key, not a key and a fob to open the doors. If you want to put something in the back seat you have to first open the front drivers door with the key and then open the rest with an interior button. Don't ask me how to open the trunk.

And I looked. There is no owners manual.


Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the loaner. I'm grateful they're figuring out what's wrong with the Hereafter for free. I just feel so out of place in this car, and it's humorous for someone who's so ignorant about them.

It also makes me thoughtful.

I told a friend never to get an Android, or similar phone, because he will find so many ways and reasons to use it he will then 'need' one. It's happened to me.

I'm not going to get angry, as some people do, that technology is speeding faster than they can think. It's what life is these days. And I'm not going to be stubborn and turn my back on it because it requires some effort on my part to join the party.

But, what I said is so very true. If you don't know what you're missing, you can never put it into play. The trick for me, and I'm up to the task, is to remember the basics... Starlings in the trees, tricking me with fake birdsong; dogs that find a stick as exciting as a ball, winter that gives way to spring.