Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"the blood is the life!"

Blood.  The Elixir of Life.  Always moving, it carries oxygen through our veins, flows out in menses, brings color to our cheeks, makes sex enjoyable, keeps us warm, and is always red, never blue.  I will never, ever again take it for granted.

I understand now, the Vampire's need.  For I have sucked another's blood and have found it to be to my liking.

The Christians drink, symbolically anyway, the blood of Christ.  Catholics take it a little further. I have often wondered about this paradoxically shared love of blood among seeming opponents. Perhaps Vampires and Christians are really not that different after all. 

I have just spent three nights in a hospital bed.  I found myself there after I finally realized on the day after Christmas that the way I had been feeling for the past couple of days was definitely not normal, even for a chemotherapy patient.  Unable to stand in the shower for any length of time, with chills that wouldn't end, and an inability to accomplish even simple tasks, I finally checked my temp. (102.9 at its highest) and called the doctor.  

Which landed me in the hospital for three nights, due to having next to zero white blood cells, and a dangerously low red blood count.  There I lay, hooked up to IV antibiotics, watching Gremlins and Westside Story and other great classics on the AMC, playing Quiddler, and finishing a fantastic novel.

On the third day, they gave me two blood transfusions.  I immediately felt like a new person, with a new life. Only slightly more blood-thirsty.  

So if you see me on some dark night, staring at you rather hungrily, please take precautions.  

Consider yourself warned.



(Title quote from Bram Stoker's Dracula)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

on the existence of santa claus

It's Christmas Eve. The candles are lit. The cookies are out. Neighbors and friends have dropped by. The children are asleep. The stockings are stuffed. The only thing left to do is bring in the sled and the skis and the backpacks from the garage and put them under the tree. Eat the cookies (leave some crumbs), drink the milk (but not all of the milk). Don't forget the carrots outside. Most importantly, make sure any and all evidence of parental Santa-playing is taken out to the trash.

This year, however, it's a bit more complicated. There are letters to be answered.

My sons have left notes for Santa to wake them up when he gets here--so they can see him. This year, they have put on Mr. Claus the burden of proof. They have also admonished him to not forget the animals. And they have questions. They just don't seem to trust jolly old St. Nick as much as they used to. "Do you have duplicates from time-jumping?" the letter asks.  Next to the cookies, they have also left a blank sheet of paper and a pencil for Santa to write them back.

The myth that is Santa was fully put to the test this year by our two sons. So far, his reputation is holding up, but not without some rumors. 

A rumor came home from school with my older son.  Apparently, he said, some of the kids were saying it's just your parents who leave the presents under the tree.  He's not quite buying it yet.  Grant is intrigued and fairly convinced by the seemingly scientific NORAD sleigh specs. (you'll have to click on the far right building to get them). He has reasoned that there are multiple Santas, but this has not shaken his absolute faith in the man himself. He thought he was terribly clever for discovering all on his own that cloning is responsible for Santa's dopplegangers.  Well, either that or time travel.

As for Bennett, this year he noticed that the Santa from one year's photo doesn't quite match up to the one in another. He brought two pictures from where they were perched, and forced me to look at them. "See?!" he demanded. "Hmm.. why do you think that is?" I asked. He didn't answer...... just kept staring at them.

Their powers of observation and discernment are coming into play. They are looking at the world with new eyes; eyes that see not only the stark red and white of Santa's suit, but that will soon see the subtler shades of pink. Their minds are teetering between reality and fantasy. Accepting answers given to them, perhaps, but with a twinge of doubt. They are struggling and searching for the truth in a way that is constructivist and meaningful. This awakening has been fascinating to witness.  I want them to figure it out for themselves. I will not tell them that there is or is not a Santa Claus. I'm just going to patiently wait until the year they figure it out for themselves. The way I see it, they are gaining the skills that will serve them well in a world that will often attempt to feed them false prophets and propaganda.

Last year, one of my favorite Santa conversations happened while G and B were getting tucked into their bunk beds:

Doubting B the Younger (from below): So how DOES Santa get to all those houses all over the world in one night anyway?
All-knowing G the Elder (looking down from above): "Duuuhhhh...... He's MAGIC!?"

It's not quite that easy this year. But the magic is still present. Neither of them seems to ever question how reindeer can fly. That just seems to be a given.

I have to go now. NORAD says Santa will be here soon. And if I want him to answer those letters, I better well be fast asleep!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Does Kelly Corrigan miss anything?

I don't think so.

Consider this my early Solstice gift to all the amazing women I know: to those who sit at my kitchen table, those who live across oceans, those who have become my friends because our children were friends, and those who I know only through blogging:



If you want to attempt to understand what it might possibly be like to experience the loss of one's hair, you can also watch her read the chapter from her memoir, The Middle Place, on Going Bald. It's chapter 13. Another reason to love that number. I've tried to read stories of breast cancer survivors, but so many of them fail me, for some reason or another. Hers is the first one that has resonated; that has made me smile in self-recognition.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

ask dr. science

My house is a fucking wreck. The kind of wreck that happens when you sat through chemo on Monday, had an activity or two every night of the week, and before that you decided to get out all umpteen green and red plastic tubs from storage late last Sunday afternoon so they're still all half-unpacked in the middle of the living room.

My life on this beautifully snowy morning has been reduced to moving things from one place to another, in the hopes of some semblance of order.

During my shuffling, I very nearly threw away something rather valuable. It's a note written on the back of a "Student Pass" (more affectionately known at my child's school as a "purple slip"):

Dear Mr. Jon Spengler,
I have a questchon. If the world fliped all at once woud we feel it?
Please let me know. I am one of bennett's frends. Thank you.


Following this, there is a crude drawing of the earth with "Antarctica" labeled at the top.

I imagine he (or she) asked the question in class, and Bennett eagerly proclaimed, "Ask my dad. He'll know." Trusting my son, the child very respectfully wrote out the question, Bennett put it carefully in his backpack, and then it entered the chaos of my house, where it could have been lost forever.

All I know is that there's a first, second, or third grader (Montessori classrooms are multi-age) out there somewhere wondering (worried?) about what will happen if (when?) the earth flips over.

I'm going to make sure he gets his answer next week. I want to know, too. But what I really want to know is: If the world flips over, will the contents of my living room magically shift into place?

Friday, December 12, 2008

from somewhere safe


Let not your heart be disturbed.
Do not fear this sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish.
Am I not here, who is your mother?
Are you not under my protection?
Am I not your health?
Are you not happily within my fold?
What else do you wish?
Do not grieve nor be disturbed for anything.

-Our Lady of Guadalupe

Thursday, December 4, 2008

yoga and poetry before laundry

Yoga And Poetry Before Laundry


how did she know
to come in from the gray 
looking like an orchid
and carrying a basket full of
purple mirth?
she told me I had an eye in the back of my head
i realized later how cool it was to have just one
i mean, no one ever says, “she’s got an eye in the back of her head.”
a violet light pulses gently 
breathing the future
while behind, a blue net waits quietly 
to catch the past
cats do not just like yoga
they are yogi
in continual asana
isn’t everything?
even
this
po
e
m
?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the rules

“THE RULES HAVE CHANGED. TRUE POWER IS HELD BY THE PERSON WHO POSSESSES THE LARGEST BOOKSHELF, NOT GUN CABINET OR WALLET.”
ANTHONY J. D'ANGELO

My bookshelves have been collecting dust over the past few months. It's time to retrieve my trusty feather duster out from under the kitchen sink!

As you may or may not know, about a year ago I began collecting photos of people's bookshelves, and posting them at over at Expose Yourshelf. There was a flutter of activity in the beginning, and then I pretty much forgot about it for quite a long while. Thanks to a recent surprise in my inbox from Gabe, a complete stranger, my interest has been renewed.

I'd love to add yours to the collection, and have you pass along the word. Thanks!

Here are the rules.

Rule # 1: You may submit up to 3 photos. Send them to ssdoula@yahoo.com or give me links to your flickr photos. Try to make them of the largest size and highest resolution possible.... all the better for voyeuring in. However, any photo will do!

Rule #2: I will publish what you send me as is. I will neither censor nor judge nor crop.

Rule #3: Please do not rearrange or organize or dust or manipulate your bookshelf in any way immediately before its photo-op.

Rule #4: I trust that you will follow Rule #3, because to doubt you would be foolish and completely unprovable.

Rule #5: I will publish photos anonymously, or with your name as the title, and/or with a link to your blog/website. The choice is yours-be sure to let me know your desire. You may be as transparent or as obscure as you wish.

Rule #6: Optional: Write some sort of explanation or description or history of your books/bookshelf, in prose or in poetry, and I will publish it along with your photo(s).

Rule #7: I can change the rules at any time.

Monday, December 1, 2008

10 things

I tried to write my "Giving Thanks to Chemo" post on Thanksgiving. Yeah, right. I was feeling particularly UNgrateful last Thursday. Now that I'm on the other side of Round Number Four, here goes:

1. Significantly decreased hair care product budget.
2. Amazing technicolor dreams.
3. The oddly creative lesson plan that always seems to come the Monday night of chemo when I'm wired from the Decadron. Upon awaking in the morning, I doubt it, but do it anyway, and it rocks!
4. Korean rice snacks with seaweed offered by the man who is always in the seat opposite me every Monday morning. We may have a language barrier, but he holds my hand and smiles in such a way that I know it's going to be ok.
5. Yoga before laundry.
6. Actually getting to SEE the scar on the back of my head where I had four stitches in sixth grade after banging it on the monkey bars while spinning and spinning. It's so cool!
7. People rubbing my head as if it were a magic genie lamp.
8. Coming to the dinner table when I am called, instead of doing the calling.
9. The blue hair and the mohawk.
10. My mother-in-law's 1930's Austrian hat with feathers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

best. concert. ever.

Michael Franti and Spearhead played a matinee at The Fillmore for families today.

Cherine Anderson borrowed my sons' friend's hat for a song. She fucking rocked.

Word was that if you had the craziest hat, you might be chosen to go backstage. Or something. Anyway, here's Elise and me. I decided to go bald with a pink tiara. (thanks, Olwyn!)

After the show, Michael Franti kissed me. Then he asked me for my name, and the names of my children. He bent down and pulled two yellow picks out of his pocket and placed them into Grant and Bennett's hands. He chatted with them for awhile about music. Then he hugged and kissed me again, looked me in the eye, and said, "Shine on." A secular blessing that felt rather holy.

There's more I could write, but what else is there to say, really, after "Michael Franti kissed me"? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Here's what I wrote about them back in September, if you want more.......

Friday, November 21, 2008

gratis grains


there's art now!
and chemical symbols!
and multiplication facts!
and italian!

but my favorite is still vocabulary.

go and play

let me know how many grains of rice you donated today

Thursday, November 20, 2008

nice shoes


Goddammit. God fucking dammit.
RIP Bill.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

triskaidekaphilia

He loved her
for almost
everything
she was

& she decided
that was enough
to let him stay
for a very long time

Today, we have been married for 13 years. My parents' marriage broke up in its 12th year. My father's second marriage broke up in its 12th year. My brother's marriage broke up in its 12th year. I'm not saying we're special somehow, or better in any way. I'm just saying that 13 is now a very special and significant number to me.

I have never really been afraid of the number 13, but today I am truly in love with it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

breast cancer can be funny


12-Year-Old Boy Scouts Volunteer To Give Women Breast Exams

the truth about chemo

It's Friday night, and I am clawing my way up out of Hades. Having descended into hell, I am now ascending into, if not heaven, at least something remarkably better than hell. We hear much about "The Resurrection", as if it were a static event, as if one went from being dead to being alive in an instantaneous flash of golden light. Not so.

Chemotherapy is like dying and being reborn every two weeks. Monday is my Chemo Day. Wednesday is my Good Friday. Friday is my Easter. The requisite three days spent entombed. You slowly fall into a catatonic state of being able to do absolutely nothing. It's like the first trimester of pregnancy, with a good dose of flu, hangover, and depression heaped on top for good measure. "Don't touch me." "Don't talk so loud." "Slow down." When you move at the speed of the elder and the toddler, you realize that the world moves much too quickly. The grocery store is a maze of people moving too fast, talking too loud, buying too much stuff....... so you just don't go. The sight of children running on the front lawn of their elementary school is a scene from another lifetime, and you can't quite comprehend it. Everything is seen through a haze. The body becomes so heavy that to lift it out of the chair is a monumental task. You see the dirty dishes, but are absolutely powerless to lift one pinky to even open the dishwasher.

It's only for three days. But still.

And now, on Saturday morning, the sun is shining and I feel like going for a walk and I'll probably (gasp!) go contradancing tonight. I can read. I want to make soup and plan my son's birthday party and do the laundry and pay the bills(overdue for the first time in years). The living room is filled with golden orange light. I am resurrected. The memory of the past three days slowly slips away. I am nearly giddy with gratitude for the ability to see clearly.

I think I may possibly have a better understanding of what bipolar disorder must feel like.

The first two rounds were bad, but at least then it was novel, something new. I thought I'd try different things to see what works, what doesn't. I thought of it as a great experiment, with myself as the subject. Now, after number three, I see clearly the work that is before me. The fun is over. The hair is gone. I have to do this nine more times. We are entering the dark days of winter, and never before have I felt such a need to withdraw, to curl up, to truly experience the dark night of the soul. I go willingly, because there is much work to be done there, and many things to be learned. There is no way around, under, or over. No shortcuts. No portals to other dimensions. There is only me, and a long dark tunnel that must be traversed.

Monday, November 10, 2008

from 52 to 48 / from 48 to 52..... with love

Here's a little taste. Go see the rest. Send it on to your Democrat and Republican friends.








I'll share mine after it gets posted..... I have some ideas.

(Via Newspeak. Thanks, Aaron.)

i wish i had written these words

NO MATTER WHO’S ELECTED president, daffodils will bloom in the spring. Men and women will fall in love and, sadly, out of love. Inconsolable grief will still be inconsolable. A broken heart will nonetheless keep beating one hundred thousand times a day. No matter who’s elected president, writers will write. Painters will paint. Three in the morning will still be three in the morning. The door in our psyche we don’t want to walk through will still be just down the hall. No matter who’s elected president, life will hand us the invisible thread that connects us all; love will hand us the needle.

-Sy Safransky, Editor of The Sun. Click on the word "Sunbeams" in the title bar to get to their website. If I could, I'd buy you all a subscription for xmas.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

192 hours later......

after Samhain, that is.

I've been thinking about posting Halloween pics for a week, because it was probably the best ever, but the election kind of took over for awhile. Thank god we only do that once every four years! I'm thinking six would be even better. Maybe we should change the constitution to let whoever's in there just stay put for half a dozen trips around the sun. But I digress......

Kristen, who cut and colored my lovely sky-blue locks, gave me a card that read, "If I could, I'd find you a fairy godmother with a magic wand and combat boots, so that she could make all your dreams come true and kick the crap out of anything that got in the way of your happiness."

That's it! I had already bought a fairy costume, but wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with it. Kristen had given me my answer.

And then my hair started to fall out, just in time to shave it into a mohawk! I've wanted one since I was 14, but my mother wouldn't let me do it then. Now I'm 41 (reversed numbers, interesting.....thanks Lynn), and my mother is dead. Being a cancer and chemotherapy survivor herself, I KNOW she would approve heartily!

Halloween afternoon, I was just coming out of my "chemo coma", the friendly term I've given to the three days of hell endured once every two weeks. It's like the first trimester of pregnancy, with the flu and a hangover thrown in for good measure. It sucks. Totally fucking sucks. But I digress........

Halloween afternoon was lovely, and the evening promised to be as well, for the first time I can ever remember since I moved to Colorado 13 years ago. I placed a chair out on the sunny porch, found an extension cord, and plugged in the razor. John made himself a margarita. He took great pride in getting the part just right.


I remained incredibly calm, considering that my husband had an electric razor on my scalp and my children had knives in their hands!


A few accessories and a whole lotta hair gel later, I AM your punk rock fairy godmother in combat boots! Let me know if anything's making you unhappy, k?

I cut out the words from the card and taped it on in between my wings. Can you see it?

Me-n-John:


Me-n-Jen:


I know holidays are for kids, but this one was so much fun for the grownups, for some reason.



Thursday, November 6, 2008

48 hours later.......

I'm still, like many of us, reflecting on the Obama victory. It's one of THOSE nights, one of the "Where were you when........?" moments for which you will never, ever forget the answer.

I was snuggled into a comfy couch in a crowded little living room with a dozen or more adults - some were close friends and others I had just met. Chicken and dumplings simmered on the stove, dark green split peas and potato chips graced the kitchen table. Strider had promised to streak if Obama won, and I had promised to take off my head scarf. The children, four girls and five boys all between the ages of seven and eleven, vacillated between running around, playing in the garage, watching the states turn red and blue, and making up an Obama song to be performed for us later from the stage set up in the garage.

When the MSNBC livestreaming became too ADD, we switched to the BBC. When the BBC became to droll, we switched to MSNBC. When the pundits kept talking over the Star-Spangled Banner, we changed to something else.

The moment the polls closed on the West Coast, and California, Washington, and Oregon began blinking blue, you could feel the air become lighter, the haze lift, and that indescribable hope/doubt questioning moment: Is this really going to happen? You mean the Republicans aren't going to steal it? Do we dare believe?

Yes, it was. Not, they weren't. Yes, we can.

There was much hugging and high-fiving and tears flowing. A flood of relief and joy. The children exited out the front door into the streets and we followed, hooting and hollering. A neighbor brought out sparklers for the kids. Luckily, they were so preoccupied with the fireworks that they missed the naked man in his boots running up and down the darkened street. And yes, I took off my headscarf, and shared my beautifully-shaped, clean-shaven head with the crowd. It was good to be with people on this night.

McCain's speech was genuine and gracious.

Obama's speech....... well, yeah, you saw it. Damn!

And yet..........

Things will never change. I cannot change them. Revolutions and their leaders come and go. Only hearts can be changed.

But I guess that's what I see happening. It's not so much a political victory as it is a spiritual one.

I don't have faith in Obama to fix any kind of a broken system..... he can't and he won't. But I do have faith in him to inspire people to be maybe just a tad bit better and more involved in the process than they were before. Before you can make your voice heard, you have to believe that it will be heard. We, the people, must hold his (and the rest of the Dems) feet to the fire. The difference is that now, many more people believe that that is possible. Will it happen? I don't know. But I have to believe that it will. If it does, then we truly will have a "chance for us to make that change". But if we drift off into complacency, the fault for what comes will be ours as well as his.

Perfection in our leaders doesn't exist. Never has, never will. Those who hold out for it will always be disappointed. The populace needs something to believe in, something that inspires them to believe in themselves. We cannot treat this man, Barack Obama, as an idol or the new messiah, lest we neglect our own duties, our own responsibilities.

Something tells me I don't think he will forget to remind us of them.

Before closing the boys' door, at nearly 11 PM (They had NEVER stayed up that late on a school night before!), I looked at them all drowsy and worn-out and snuggled in, and I said softly, "You will remember this night for the rest of your lives."
I wonder what their version of it will sound like, 10 or 20 years down the road.

Where were YOU on the night of November 4th, 2008?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

michelle







thank you for....... (take two)

Take one, in case you missed it.

Anytime goodness comes my way, I want to record it. I have been thinking and worrying about this ever since I laid out my first list. I want to record EVERYTHING. I want to say thank you personally to each and every one of you!

But I've lost so many, I'm afraid. Just like all the first words and funny phrases of children. We say, "Oh, of course I'll remember that one!" But time slips away, and we forget. Just when I want to take some time to reflect, something new is on it's way, something to do, somewhere to be, someone to see.

And so, now, finally, I sit to record.

Thank you for...........

a gallon of apple cider and mulling spices, a shoe box filled with chocolate, magazine articles torn out and mailed, chocolate with hazelnuts, a hand-knit shawl that is unexpectedly warm, waltzing, picking me up and taking me contradancing in Denver, "you're going to be fine", a hat in a box on my porch, nausea bracelets with flowers on them, nausea medication, garlic cloves, emails out of the blue, understanding when I don't answer them, scarf shopping, July 5, socks, "I saw this and I thought of you", Whole Foods pizza, bath salts, offering, seed stock from your garden, cards in the mail (this has been the biggest shock to me-people still send cards!), advice from a river, a circle of golden autumn leaves, puns, rubbing my feet during chemo, stopping by for a chat, homemade pizza, Wise and Otherwise, making the boys' lunches, Come Alive! The Spirited Art of Sister Corita, a journal that I made for a friend 10 years ago that has come full circle, surviving, meatloaf, earrings, to-die-for-all-organic-yummy-quiche, listening to me whimper on the phone, believing that I can, even when I say I can't, giving me blue hair and a fairy godmother with combat boots card, bringing me chili and Izzy soda out on your sunny porch, a mysterious enormous pumpkin, telling me I look like Sinead O'Connor, stories of Buddhist nuns, prayers from Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Teresa, a bouquet of yellow flowers, asking questions, lightening my way, bringing the boys home from school, then making a snack for them and emptying the dishwasher, red beans and rice, chili, apple cobbler, sacred sandstone iron concretions, letting me cry, rice with a spice just mild enough to be tasty and not strong enough to upset my tummy, playing Jumping Pixies and Carcassone on the floor during chemo number two

It's just this unending thoughtfulness that continually comes my way. Please know that this thoughtfulness is returned, even though I may not get around to a personal thank you. Blessings to all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

obsession

The other night, as my husband and I were divvying up the evening's chores, he chose the laundry and I chose the kitchen. After loading the dishwasher and wiping down the table, I came into the living room and found him playing with his English ships. He said, (immediately in his defense because I was probably giving him "that" look):

"I folded the Pirates."

I looked over at the chair, and, indeed, the clothes were neatly stacked. But it was still funny. We couldn't stop laughing. And I still chuckle when I think about it.


There's a 100-point tournament this Sunday. They've already spent hours putting their fleets together. I have to admit, it really is a pretty cool game.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

our daily rumi

The beneficent and marvelous Kat Tudor came over to my house today for a private yoga lesson. How this came about, and what happened during our first session, is another one of those serendipitious occurrences that make me sometimes believe the universe is not chaotic, but rather ordered and purposeful.

First, I participated in a human chanting Yogic Spiral with Kat, and then interviewed her for Colorado Culture Cast. Must see!

A few days later, a friend sent me a magazine article about the benefits of a private yoga instructor to help heal from breast cancer.

Later that night, in a pile of scattered papers, I found a postcard of Kat's that l had picked up at the Spiral event. It said she was now offering private yoga lessons. Hmmmmmm.........

The area under the right armpit where I had 11 lymph nodes removed is still painful. Whenever I reach for something with my right hand, everything stretches and pulls uncomfortably. My first round of chemo made me feel sick beyond belief for several days. My spirit was temporarily crushed. I knew I needed to do something for both my body and my soul.

I found it today.

After I was relaxed and breathing and had done this amazing opening the heart pose that made me feel both vulnerable and powerful, Kat asked me for my birthday. I told her. She picked up this book, opened to a page, paused a moment, and then said, "Oh, this one. I guess I'll just have to read it then."

January 11
Backpain

Muhammad went to visit a sick friend.
Such kindness brings more kindness,
and there is no knowing the proliferation from there.

The man was about to die.
Muhammad put his face close and kissed him.

His friend began to revive.
Muhammad's visit re-created him.
He began to feel grateful for an illness
that brought such light.

And also for the backpain
that wakes him in the night.

No need to snore away like a buffalo
when this wonder is walking the world.

There are values in pain that are difficult
to see without the presence of a guest.

Don't complain about autumn.
Walk with grief like a good friend.
Listen to what he says.

Sometimes the cold and dark of a cave
give the opening we most want.

-Rumi

It was just so wickedly eerie and I shed tears of amazement and I think we were both just blown away by the power and perfection of it. I think I have a new favorite poet. Say goodbye to Our Daily Rilke.

Monday, October 13, 2008

feelin' bluevy

These first two weeks of October have passed by in economic crisis and bullshit politics. But they have also passed by in perfection. The Aspens and Cottonwoods have turned yellow and pink. My friends just got married in a uniquely symbolic ceremony at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. The weather is such that you get to put on funky tights in the morning, then take them off and put on a tank top at noon. I chanted in a giant human yogic spiral and made a rock spiral sculpture with the Spiral Scouts. Halloween costumes are in the planning! We have all settled into our school routines. I have been volunteering in the boys' classrooms once a week, and am remembering what I loved so much about teaching children.

For the past few weeks, I have been living in a blissful denial. A sort of post-surgical-pre-chemical limbo. Now, on Columbus Day, I am about to set out and explore a new world.

In about an hour, I will have a needle placed into the port on my left side, and Adriamycin and Cytoxan will begin dripping into my body. Healing poisons. In about three days, I may (or may not) feel like shit. In about seven days (because of risk of infection), I will not be able to go contradancing (see next post below!) In about three weeks (just in time for Halloween!) I will lose my hair.

It is both a terrifying and a liberating feeling, this idea of losing one's hair. Here's how I chose to deal with it.

First, the cut:











Then the color:

















Finally:




My friend's daughter, aged 12, asked me yesterday, "So why did you dye your hair blue?"

"Well, I'm going to be losing it in a few weeks, so...."

(Interrupting) "You just figured what the heck right?!"

You got it, girl!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

moving meditation

I've been trying to meditate lately........to no avail. Sitting quietly and peacefully is attainable, but it's my mind that can't sit still.

Contradancing, I believe, achieves the same effect: an inner calm, an outer joy, a mindful mindlessness. There comes a moment in the dance when you are so focused that you become lost, and all attachment to rational thought ceases. Linear history dissolves into timelessness, and smiling faces abound. It is as close as I have ever come to the divine. (Well.... except for maybe that Dead show in Eugene about 20 years ago!)

There are many different definitions and descriptions of contradancing, but this one is by far my favorite:
"A contra dance is like an amusement park ride we make for ourselves." --Unknown
I like this one as well:
"Contra dance is a form of dance that thrusts a different person of the opposite sex into your arms every 30 seconds."

Here we are in Denver last Friday night.



And here's a short clip that truly captures the diversity of dancers and the spirit of fun. I dare you to NOT be smiling at the end of the next two minutes:



I sometimes believe that if the whole world would contradance, we just might have a shot at world peace.

Find a dance in your neck of the woods

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

compound solution

the spacey girl’s sacred girl space came later

after the atomic bomb
the ionic bond
the give and take finally done
electrons gone

resulting in a positively charged change
leaving room for teal and purple to bloom

there can only be so many electrons in
a shell
before you need
another layer
and a buttercup kitchen

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted

Sunday, Oct 5th

My hands ache.



I have been busting up heads of garlic all day, and my hands ache.

It is a pleasure.

It's a sit-down-pull-up-a-chair-have-a-beer-and-a-brat kind of day, down here on Dan and Allison's garlic farm.




Look what Bennett found growing in the compost!


October is supposedly harvest time. Time to gather in the few remaining tomatoes before the frost, and pluck the last squashes from their vines. Time to store, save, prepare for the long dark winter ahead.

The Harvest Moon just passed. This is not planting time!

And yet today, from the back of a tractor, we put garlic cloves in the ground, one by one by one.




They will have to survive a long winter filled with icy winds and snow drifts and freezing temperatures. Planting at any time is an act of faith, but planting in the fall is jumping off a cliff and believing you can fly.

To have such faith in the resurrection that you start planting its seeds when everything else is dying seems contrary and absurd. I like it.

It just doesn't seem possible for the little cloves to stay alive under there all winter, only to regale us with their perfection in the summer.


I can't wait to return in July and pluck up that which is planted.