Monday, March 30, 2009

The only thing that Bennett wanted for Christmas this year was a sled. A real one. Made from wood and metal, with a steering mechanism. He didn't beg for Pirates or Pokemon or Playmobile.

Santa was kind, and brought him exactly what he wanted. For two weeks after Christmas, the sled lived in our living room. Bennett pretended to ride it: face first, on his knees, on his bum, all the while making swooshing noises and fake screams. Sad thing is, it hasn't snowed enough here this winter to do much of anything........
Until now.

On Friday of Spring Break, after the infamous "Blizzard of '09!", we met up with several friends for a spontaneous sled-fest. In the words of John's immortal grandfather, "You can't beat fun!"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

grammar rules!

For Halloween of 2007, I was a "Grammar Nazi". Part AP English Teacher (grey wool suit, glasses, hair in a bun) and part SS Officer (swastika arm band, SS lapel pin), complete with red pens and white out in my pockets. I don't think I will ever top that costume. Even the punk rock fairy godmother from 2008 pales in comparison. So here's this:

Friday, March 20, 2009

vernal equinox

For some reason, it just doesn't seem right that the first day of spring should coincide with the 6th anniversary of the Iraq War. But that's how it is. Perhaps that's why, after so many days of sunshine, today finally feels like rain.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

seven random shingly things

1. I always thought shingles was an old-lady disease, on account of the fact that the only person I ever knew who had it was my grandmother. Turns out LOTS of people I know have had it! And they're not old.

2. Because I have shingles, chemo has been postponed AGAIN!

3. Tomorrow should have been my last round, number 12, if all had gone as planned. But because of all the delays (neuropathy, liver functions, low WBC, and now shingles) I still have three left. That's six more weeks.

4. They hurt. Kind of like having a knife jabbed into your back.

5. I'm banned from hot springs and swimming pools, two of my most favorite places.

6. I don't really even care anymore about chemo being postponed, or not being able to soak at Mt. Princeton. I'm not sure if that means I'm less depressed, or more depressed.

7. I am learning to live beyond "should have" and "as planned".

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

my first rejection email

Hi, Sue.

Thank you for sending your work, which I really did enjoy reading.

Because the volume of work received (over 1,000 poems) far exceeds the
space available in the Poetry While You Wait book, I have had to make
difficult decisions regarding which poems among so many fine ones to

I am sorry to say that we will not be able to include your work.

Please do, though, keep writing and supporting poetry in our community.


Aaron Anstett

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On the suburban street where I grew up in the 70's, there were many kids. We played together in the park that was situated in the middle of our neighborhood. For some reason, it had 100 foot Douglas Fir trees, and I realize now that the whole area must have been covered with a forest, before they cut the trees down to build our houses and streets.

But this was not meant to be a post about my park, amazing though it was. It was supposed to be about friendship.

Picture me, age 10. Scrawny body, long blond hair, hand-me-downs. 1977. Purple bike with banana seat and big handlebars. Quiet suburban neighborhood, born into existence the same year as me.

At the far end of 39th Avenue was my friend Holly's house. Around the corner and down a few houses was my friend Lynn's house. My house was pretty much equidistant from both of them.

I was friends with Lynn. I was friends with Holly. Lynn and Holly were not friends.

Or they tried to be, sometimes, if we all happened to be together for some reason. But those moments I remember as awkward, and filled with meanness. I could not figure out how, when they were both my friends, they couldn't manage to be friends themselves. So for the most part, I kept these two friendships separate. It was as if there were two circles, and I was the point where they intersected. My house was the literal and figurative center.

Fast forward to high school, with its cliques and cliches. I was lucky enough to have a "best friend" at this time, but beyond that, I never had a group of friends that I hung out with exclusively. I had "volleyball friends", but didn't do much with them outside of practice, bus rides, and games. We might hang out together during the season, but after it was over, not so much. I had "waver friends", but didn't do much with them outside of dancing in clubs and smoking clove cigarettes and discussing music. There were the popular kids, of course, and though I was certainly never ostracized, and was sometimes even included in party invitations, I was never truly a part of them (as evidenced by the fact that I was never voted onto Prom Court!)

I had friends who were jocks, preps, punks, waver, and outcasts. (I loved the outcasts best.)

I seemed to exist on the edge of many circles.

I was the place where several circles intersected.

This is what I have been thinking about lately. Especially tonight, after hosting my son's 10th birthday party earlier today, and seeing children and adults from several different "circles" in my present life, all together in one place.

For several years, when I first moved to Colorado, and during the first few years of my sons' lives, I didn't really have any friends at all. I had an infant, a toddler, a husband, and a mother-in-law, and that was about it. I look back on those days and wonder how I ever managed. Then I met Sara at my new teaching job (Hi Sara!), and knew instantly that I wanted to be her friend. Now, eight years later, I think I would call her my "best friend".

But just like with my best friend in high school, Sara and I don't necessarily have the same friends.

In my present life, I have managed to surround myself with several circles of friends. I value them all. Each circle. Each individual. Each one brings something unique and special into my life. Some are for dancing. Some are for crying. Some are for sharing soup. Some are for spiritual kinship. Some are for creative inspiration. Some are for fun. Some are for shared interests. Some are for the neighborhood. Some are for art. Some are for the intellect. Some just are. And of course, these are not exclusive categories!

And I never tire of meeting new people, and getting to know them, and expanding the circle, or creating a new one. Most of all, I enjoy bringing the circles together. They overlap in all kinds of places, not just me.

But sometimes I wonder if it isn't all too much. Sometimes I see myself on the edge of circles, and not really a part of any of them. At these times, I long for the relationships you read about in books, you know, the four women that have been friends forever and ever........

But then I look back on my past, and I realize: I am not that person, the one who has the same friends forever and ever. I live within and among many. It's just who I am.

Today, I observed this same phenomenon with my son. At the party this afternoon, there were his old friends, his school friends, his Dungeons and Dragons friends, his neighborhood friends. Like mine, some of these overlap in several places, but others are completely separate, joined only together by HIM.

I hope he can see himself, not on the edge of many circles, but as the center of them all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

bye-bye nine!

I'm ashamed to admit that my first thought upon opening my eyes this morning and reentering the world of light and life was not, "Hey, it's my son's tenth birthday!!!" but rather it was, "Oh, chemo."

I lay there for a short while. After I had slowly crawled out of my own ego, John and I walked downstairs and sang Grant awake.

Later, after taking the boys to school, Brandy drove me to chemo. It was, thankfully, uneventful. Grandma came over for Chinese food and cake. At the end of the night, Grant popped balloon number nine. He's no longer nine. I'm no longer stuck at nine. These two events, his birthday and my chemo, will be inextricably linked in my memory for as long as I live.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

it's all about the process

Too often, I don't think I give myself enough credit for my creativity. I see it so readily in others, perhaps because I tend to surround myself with so many talented and creative people.

Here, though, is an example of what I can do (with a little help from my friends and family) when I put my mind to it. It's taken roughly two years, but the tile mosaic in my bathroom is FINISHED!

The shell angel(above) is a tribute to my mother, who, I believe, really did see angels once.

The sun was the first design to go in (of course!). Followed shortly by the volcano that Bennett helped to create.

Thanks to Sara, who assisted me with this lupine. But mostly she helped me get over my self-doubt and sluggish mentality. To the right of the lupine, you will see pieces from my mother's broken hotplate from Alaska, with Mt. McKinley in the center.

Into this blue-green montage went the pieces of a small bowl I broke. It was one of my husband's favorites, a piece of Russian Gardner porcelain passed down from his parents. I still feel horrible about it. (Advice: never, ever, get a stone kitchen floor! Everything breaks instantly when it hits.) Also some cool polished glass found in the creek bed behind our park.

"Mad-Eye Moody", named by Grant who assisted with this design, is made from some pieces I bought last summer from a local guy. I wish I knew his name so I could give him credit. He makes tiles and magnets and jewelry and barrettes from plastic he finds in the streets and paints with fingernail polish. Is that cool or what? If you look closely, he has a wand in his hand.
And the moon, of course.

Finally, in the corner, a trilobite and fish fossil, surrounded by some leftover tiles given to me by Chris Alvarez. They gave me the inspiration I needed to finally finish it off.

So now it's finished!

Well... almost. I still need to decide whether to use white or gray grout. Then I need to grout it. Then I need to clean up after myself. Then we need to get a shower curtain (clear, of course). Then perhaps, we'll actually be able to shower in it! Could take another year or so. Don't hold your breath.