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?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the rules


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.