Wednesday, August 27, 2008

thank you for..........

a red rose from your garden, sitting in the waiting room with me, spinach lasagne, using the word fuck, a limerick, cards sent via us postal service, coffee on my bedside table, homemade veggie burritos, letting us drop off the boys at 6:30 am when your own weren't even up yet and you were making pancakes, coffee and tears at cucuru, your anger, emails, listening, facts and figures (81%!), the dnc diversion, text messages while driving to surgery in the early morning, picking the boys up from school, the chance to slay some goblins while on percocet, slow-talking self-hypnosis man, cheesecake, brownies, pizza, the red jewel of a heart, your tears, prayers, raising arizona, reefer madness, and other cult classics, dr. susan love's breast book, your porch swing, cosmos to drink, camels to smoke, spreading the word, 40 bucks to go see a movie, enchiladas, flowers, taking the boys for 7 hours on a saturday, doing the laundry, the dishes, and the tucking in, helping me get dressed, a phone call from brooklyn to awaken, chicken quiche, the best damn purple potatoes i've ever tasted, fresh greens, peach pie, stopping by, surviving to tell your story, text poetry, tabouli, sitting on my bed, calling the boss when I was too drunk to, chocolate, love, positive and negative thoughts, "an army of friends", a morning walk, doing your chores without being asked (ok, let's be real... after only being asked once), hugs, supporting john too, retsina wine at jake-n-telly's, forwarded funny emails, wisdom, zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, offering to fly out to be here, washing my hair, telling your own children, giving me a ride to work, giving me a ride home, friendship, holding my hand, telling me it's gonna be alright, invitations to go out, commenting on the blog, making the scar match the outline of my areola, flowers, taking care of your son while he is taking care of me, 100% agave tequila in a wicked cool bottle, homemade peach frozen yogurt, phone calls, taking all the recycling on the front porch to recycle america, understanding

Monday, August 25, 2008

wish i were here.....

sort of. The Democratic National Convention is taking place a mere hour's drive away, in Denver. Just in case you didn't know. Some people don't. A LOT of people don't. Which surprises me.

Anyway, some people I know WERE there over the weekend. Here are some pics.

More pics here

And video:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

it can't be helped

by Shel Silverstein

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Fifteen years ago, when I was a young, energetic, inspiring teacher of sixth graders, I thought I could change their lives with poetry. We made poetry books with marbled paper covers and "self-published" them. We had an open mike at the middle school for their friends and family. We wrote the usual haiku and rhyming couplet, as well as plenty of free verse and exquisite corpse stuff (I didn't call it that, though) But one of my favorite activities was to take poems that the students already loved, and then they would modify them to become their own. My eleven and twelve year olds had bucketloads of fun with "Whatif" by Shel Silverstein, I think because it is simultaneously silly and serious. It speaks to that place where ego meets self-doubt, and middle school meets the world.

I had my students all start with the first four lines, then add their own in the middle, and finish with Shel's signature last two lines. I remember being amazed at their willingness to share their real fears, as long as they were embedded in humor.

For the past few days, as I've been fishing out my insurance card for every smocked receptionist, and lying on tables waiting for needles to poke me, and listening to the strangely calming whir and hum of the MRI machine, and, of course, lying in bed at night, I have been finding myself in the dark murky realm of the Whatifs. Nasty little creatures, they are. Possibly even worse than zombies. But they have a place. A serious and silly place. Where fear meets love, and middle age meets cancer.

Anyway, here's my poem, a la the style of my 6th graders all those years ago. It's more like a ramble. It doesn't rhyme. Ask me if I care.

Last night while I lay thinking here
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song
Whatif the pathologist's boyfriend just left her for her best friend
and she's so heart-broken that she can't think straight or see straight?
Whatif my surgeon can't cut straight?
Whatif the electricity went off and my boob was stuck in the mammogram machine?
Whatif the sentinel lymph node is positive?
Whatif I've got the gene?
Whatif I have chemo and can't muster the energy to cook dinner for my kids AND it puts me into menopause?
Whatif I get 'em both cut off and get to pick perfect ones out of a catalog?
Whatif I can't feel 'em?
Whatif the anesthesiologist starts drinking at 7 AM?
Whatif I can't go to Seattle next week?
Whatif I have to miss tons of school and I don't have enough sick days?
Whatif all the techs and nurses are wearing fake ID badges?
Whatif we had caught it sooner?
Whatif breast cancer does the same thing to me that it did to my mother?
Whatif I throw my wine glass off the porch at Jake-n-Telly's?
Whatif all the love in the world were visible?
Whatif the radiologist forgot her glasses that day?
Everything seems swell and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

thanks, sister sarah!

It's about 30 seconds long. Totally worth it.

What old people do for fun

Monday, August 18, 2008

for patrick

I wrote this when I was 27. It seems like an eternity ago. Or yesterday. I've finally compiled and edited (Thanks, Brian!) most all of my poems from yesteryear to tomorrow, but I'm not sure what to do with them now. Except post them every once in awhile for strangers and friends. It's fun for now.

We are not lucky
There is no poem only
Jealous pride and anger
And not even an
In the whole story-
Yours so different than mine
where it got all confused
and misinterpreted
as poetry
expecting too much
from metaphors

And why did you
Conjugate the verbs of my mind
and not the curves of my body?
At least the other way around
Would have been an
Exclamation! And
An interrogative.

All I have is a fragment
Not even enough for a poem
Or a sentence

I hear echoes
Your words
I remember my dreams
You in them
The last one
You riding away from me
In some great big tractor-like machine
And you waving goodbye and me
left to harvest
the fragments

help me
to create a period now,
that I may begin a new sentence
with a Capitol letter

OUCH! Points hurt, but
are as necessary as

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

another bennettism

We told the boys today. The first words out of Bennett's mouth were, "Are you going to die?" Believe it or not, I did NOT break down in tears at that point, but answered him honestly and calmly, much to my surprise.

Later that night, while we were eating dinner at Il Vicino, we were talking about the lump and the boys were asking how big it was compared to Daddy's kidney stone. When I used the word "tumor", Bennett immediately asked, "Are there dead people living in it?"


All of the sudden, I had this vision of a bunch of miniature zombies wandering around inside the 2 cm marble in my right boob! Which then made me think that maybe cancer cells really are the "undead" of the corporeal self.

Anyway, I tried not to laugh, because I didn't want to hurt his feelings or make him feel bad (especially after we had just made a very strong point earlier about wanting them to feel free to ask us any questions they might have).

Despite our attempts to suppress it, John and I both started chuckling, and I think one of us finally asked him what he meant. He said, "Well, dead people live in tombs, and you have a tumor ......"

When we, as adults, enter the symbolic world of the written word, sometimes we lose the music. For me, because "tomb" and "tumor" are spelled so differently, they have absolutely no connection whatsoever. For a child, language is all sound and rhyme and rhythm and feeling.

I am pretty sure, however, that he really didn't believe what he was asking (the part about dead people living in my tumor)
No, I think he actually knew that he was making a pun.
Not only that, but he was doing it to make me laugh.

I'm working on my turn undead spell. Failing that, I'll just blow the fuckers to bits. (see pic below)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

makes sense to me

"Will you combobulate my covers?"

-Bennett, at bedtime, while wrestling with his duvet as if it were a sea monster.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

pink schmink

Today I carried some mammogram and ultrasound pictures in a big pink carrier to an office with pink walls. I put on a pink gown and watched the nurse fill in my temperature and blood pressure in a pink file folder. The surgeon gave me a pink card that said, "Hang in There" in pink letters. On the way home, I saw a sign on the corner that read, "We buy houses. Call 577-PINK". If I believed that the universe took a personal interest in my life, I would say that it was having a good laugh at my expense today. Remember how I told you I hated the color pink?

I still do. Only now more than ever.

Two rosy consolations:
1. Mike's pink Cosmos with pink sugared rims and Bettina's pink Camels on the night I found out. (I had a free pass, you know.....)
2. Paris Hilton's plans for the White (Pink!) House (Watch it now)

Monday, August 4, 2008


can’t keep marshmallows from sticking
in your hair
or the spruce's new blue from glowing
around the edges
or a summer rain from drizzling
out of the sun

it’s time to say yes

to the come here’s
and the follow me’s
of children

because Tuesday feels like next year
and every day is an eternity

time, at least,
keeps everything
from happening at once