Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wheel of Time

Somewhere in early 1990 I picked up a book in my favorite haunt du jour.  It had a typical fantasy cover with uncharacteristically bad artwork.  I started it three times before the world sucked me in.

I found the world to be richly crafted and borrowing liberally from Jung and shamanism.  The characters were believable and I was well and truly hooked.

I was 29 in 1990.  I hadn't had cancer.  My dad had been gone for only a short time.  I had been in my job for less than 5 years.  My whole life was ahead of me.

Fast forward 23 years, I have just quietly laid down the concluding book in this series.  I have outlived the author whose work was left to be finished by another.

There is a sadness for me in reading a book with characters that are like old friends, knowing there will be no new adventures with them.  Oh, there will always be the old ones, but it's not the same as setting out with them across new white pages and seeing where they go.

RIP Robert Jordan.

And thanks for 23 years of entertaining reading.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Random Monday Small Stone

Photo from Cornell Ornithology

to speak to chickadees
you must learn morse code

squirrel's coming

Saturday, February 23, 2013


One of my friends recently invited his friends to share their origin stories.  I realize that I have written to that prompt many times.  You can find them sprinkled in here if you're interested.  This is perhaps one of my favorite attempts.  Enjoy

I come from the frozen tundra of the North American plains
I come from a Crayola 64 pack with built in sharpener
I come from generations of farmers who broke back, broke the land
I come from rising yeast, humming motors and the clash of mismatched spirits
I come from old dusty stacks of unread books
I come from barefeet on the cool marble floor
I come from icy Vikings and earthy Huns
I come from birchless forests
I come from big dripping blocks of ice
I come from impossibly unequal DNA strands
I come from telephone wires and Victory gardens
I come from silent women and even more silent men
I come from chasubles, incense and children's voices in the dark
I come from going last
I come from emerald green, royal blue and plain white
I come from small colored bottles in the kitchen window
I come from paper dolls, Spirograph and Mystery Date
I come from Betelgeuese and the small blue planet

I come from a place to which I will not, cannot return

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Well not much anyway.
And not all the time.

What I am is an inveterate counter. 

WHEW!  There I admitted it. 

I don't know when it started, but I have done this for as long as I can remember.  Maybe it all started at some random birthday party with a jar full off guess-how-many jelly beans.  My competetive asshat genes were activated by not winning (Winning is something I would remember.  Winning sugar I would absolutely remember.) and I decided to count things in the future in case I were ever presented with another potential jar of jelly beans. 

It's not an OCD thing.  I don't count everything.  I don't care what the outcome is.  I won't fret if the outcome is odd v even or more blue than red.  Mostly I count steps.  Sometimes I count them in paces.  I blame letterboxing for that new trick.  I don't HAVE to count although I do find it calms and centers my thinking.  I am especially prone to do it on the way home, but never in the morning.  Maybe it's a tired brain thing. 

On the way in I am more prone to poetry composition.  I think it's the rhythm of feet hitting the ground that is a good metronome for poetic meter.  I often don't even know I'm doing this until something falls out near done.  Yesterday, I noticed I was sing-songing something in the quiet and dusty corner of my brain in time to the cadence of my walking. 

This is me being tall. 

I know - right?  I mean I'm 5'7" and that isn't going to get any taller.  Maybe it was a subconscious reminder to stand up straight.  I tend to slouch due to a big rack and youthful years as a non-conformist and arrogant little burk. 

The thing is that even though I wasn't aware of chanting it in my head, I was walking more upright. 

That of course got me thinking and pretty soon I am head chanting

This is me being tall.
This is me being happy. 
This is me being free.
This is me being me. 

Dunno why those things felt important to say, but saying them in this head chanty way made me feel better for the first time in weeks.  So I continued all the way to my desk. 

The weird thing is that my whole day yesterday felt quite magical.  I'm sure the head chanting lope had something to do with it. 

Just in case you're wondering -

It is between 800 and 1000 steps from the lab to my car depending on where I park and whether I tunnel or walk streetside.

There are 11 stairs in one flight of the research building and ten in the other. 

But I am NOT OCD.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

February 16

There's been so much going on these past few weeks
     - troubleshooting failed experiments
     - the daily saga of the car with my mom
     - pain in my legs, knees, ankles and lower back that make walking painful

Mostly I have been keeping my cool.  I'm sure my family and co-workers might tell you otherwise and they might be right.  But I can feel how thinned out I am right now.  A stiff spring wind would make me cry, or rage.

Yesterday, the universe added one more item to my list.  The absolute douche who contracted me to write a book with him, who has the book but failed to pay for it, is now publishing short excerpts to his blog as if he wrote them.  When it was brought to my attention, I dropped an all-time record number of F-bombs intermingled with stellar new swear word combos.  Pretty sure there's a special circle in Dante's hell for fuckwads like him.  Fuckwads who pirate the work of someone else and name it theirs. Fuckwads who break the tender unfurling fronds of new trust.

So, that pretty much sums it up.  Overworked - check.  Emotional whirlwind - check.  Physical hell- double check.  Overwhelming WTF - check.

This morning as I rolled over to get up, the peeps kinda asked (read demanded) that I lay back down and have a convo with them.  What happens next is among the most stellar of experiences I have had and there have been many of these.  It starts really small, like Who's chanting - We are here.  We are here.  We are here.  It stays soft almost inaudible.  I strain to get it.  But it's like pushing through industrial plastic.  It's blurry and muffled.  I want to see and want to hear what they are saying, but can't.

I know that the barrier is me.  In order to deal with all the turmoil around me and not kick puppies and slap everyone who comes across my path, I have the heavy armor on - the diamond plate.  The one that basically removes me from the world in all ways except in body.  With it I can be hard and unfeeling in ways no Cancer girl could ever be.  With it I can survive the nuclear winter that is my life right now.  But without that connection to the heart of me, I might as well be dead.

And that's kinda how I've been feeling these past few weeks.  D.E.A.D.  Dead.  Just a little blue gheist floating in a void.

I try to let them in.  I want to hear them.  I want to see them.  I want most of all to feel them.

But it isn't easy to tear down this construction.  All the time leaning into it still hoping that I can get what I need from them without having to do that.  In the end though, it all comes down.  That's when I hear why they are chanting with increasing volume.

 We love you.  We love you.  We love you.

There is a spear of light that pierces me through accompanied by the usual sensation of being filled with energy.  For a moment everything around me is eclipsed by the light and the chanting.  When it is over there are hugs all around.

I feel better.

Not one of those parts of my life has changed.  But I feel more equipped to deal with what comes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Small Stone February 15

A little slice of moon
grins at me above the horizon
like Alice's Cheshire cat.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Small Stone February 11

Orion has wheeled about me
and I know spring is coming
as surely as the aconite knows
pushing through the snow.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Waiting for Drugs to Warm

A 10 minute fastwrite while I wait for my mouse drugs to warm......

I have been feeling off for a while now, ubersensitive to the slightest touch, or sound.  Breaking into tears at the slightest show of kindness or care.  I have lived alone the majority of my life now.  I love easily and am loved by my close friends.  I know that.  I am kind to strangers unless they are asshats.  No.  That's a lie.  I'm kind even then and will write a story in my head about why this person behaved that way that exonerates them. 

As I was falling asleep the other night I was thinking about how many successful relationships I have built, how amazing they are, a few that tanked horribly, always circling back to the fact that my life lacks that one significant relationship.  My science brain checking all the variables and trying to identify why this is so.  It has been offered, but never by the right person.  Usually as a last ditch effort to keep the relationship together.  My science brain always coming back to the place of personal appearance.  I did something then I almost never do and get pissed at science brain,pointed my finger and made it get out.  I do not believe that is the hurdle.  I believe there is someone(s) out there just waiting, like me, to plug our lives in together.  And rather than settle for something less, I have chosen to wait.  I don't see that as fucked up, I see it as brave. 

Most of the time I don't mind my solo life, in fact, I prefer it to the eternal compromise that is a relationship.  But times like this where the world scrubs at my skin in every waking moment, I wish there was a shoulder where I could rest my head for amoment, a ready ear that really listens, a person with whom silence is as important as life.  I wish there was someone to brush my hair, help me into my penguin pants and tell me everything will be OK....with my mom, with my job, with my aging body that sometimes scares me.

I cannot even begin to imagine someone who sings my life to a higher place just with their daily love and support.  I used to tell my then friend Brent that I have a hard time imagining something I have never experienced - especially an emotional something.  This is one of those pieces.  Having never had this kind of support ever it's hard to imagine it into being.  But I know it is out there.  With every cell in my body I know that as truth.  It is only the science brain that doubts and questions.  But that is waht science brain does best and I love it for that. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Magic Specs

I got new glasses this week.  I know that probably doesn't sound all that eventful, but for me it is.  It's been over five years since I got a new pair and I was feeling it was time.  I have perfectly servicable tortoise shell and rimless specs that I still love.  But still I felt I needed a new pair.  I wear them everyday and am not always kind to them, so they take a beating. 

Usually glasses shopping is a dismal failure, like trying on pants.  This time it was so easy.  I had some time to kill and moseyed into LensCrafters which was oddly empty.  I went in thinking vintage cat eye specs.  I had to laugh at those and the clerk joined me saying "You may want those, but your face says no way."  Then she started pulling frames that were more the shape that look good on me, but that also had that same vintage feel, some even had a little flair at the corner.  By the time we were done, I had a half dozen pairs that I really liked and one that made me feel all zoomy inside.  A lovely dark teal green that just shouted I belong with you.

The zoomy pair had a price tag of $250 that made me feel decidedly less zoomy.  I had her put them aside anyway.  I needed an eye exam before I could make the purchase, so I would have to wait and I have learned not to impulse buy things with the big ticket price.  I got home that night and there was a coupon in the mail for $100 off glasses at LensCrafters.  Zoomy feeling returned. 

I got my eye exam a week later on a snowy day.  The store oddly empty again.  The woman helping me this time had spectacular spectacles that were hand painted in France and we chatted and laughed as she rang my order and did all the calculations.  Her 30% off trumped my $100 coupon by a mile.  We discovered we both loved Dauphin Island, a place most folks don't even know exists and it would be fine if it stayed that way.  The only disappointment is that they no longer do glasses in an hour and I would have to return.

When I picked the glasses up a couple days later, the tech from the back fitted them for me.  He was a man about my age.  He seemed happy to be out of the stock room and I can't say I blame him.  Months in the scope room made me crazy and any excuse to leave it was a treat.  I didn't notice anything about him except his hands.  His fingers were long and calloused, the nails short.  I expected his touch to be rough.  Instead, it was soft, almost a caress, but without all that sexual bullshit.  More the way a parent would touch a child.  There was such tenderness in it.  I sat in my chair poleaxed by this feeling of comfort coming from a complete stranger, a man stranger, and a man stranger who didn't seem to want into my pants.  I was baffled by it and days later I am still thinking about what the feel of his fingers was like as it brushed back my hair, slid the glasses on my face and tested them for fit.  Slow, gentle, easy. 

I wore them out the door.  I feel amazing with them on.  Bouncy and full of sass. 

Due to a slight change in the prescription, there's a little parallax that I'm adjusting to that oddly makes me feel taller and somehow thinner.  No lie.  I'm sure my eyes will adjust, but I'm kinda hoping they won't. 

One of my friends called them magic specs and I think that's about right. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Defining Family

Everybody probably defines that differently, structures it to their own liking.  For me family is not so much the big Thanksgiving hoohah or the perfect Christmas gift.  In fact, it's nothing like that.  Family for me is quiet most of the time, behind the scenes.  It's selfless, but not in that self destructive way.  It's calling my brother Phil when I need some help and knowing he will be there.  I think that's it in a nutshell.  Family for me is knowing they will be there.

As my mom has gotten deeper into her Alzheimer's this concept stands out in stark relief in my life.  Part of my family is pissed off by my choice recently to limit my mom's participation in their big events (this is intimately tied to how they see family - pretty packages wrapped in foil).  The thing is that most of the time at these shindigs, my mom sits on the couch or in a chair and none of them even talk to her.  I have explained to them that mom doesn't do well with some things anymore - lots of commotion, noise, children, people or less familiar places.  But they just don't listen.  All they see is the pretty wrapping sliding off their big family and somehow that's all my fault. They insist that she go and I relent sometimes even though I know what it will cost her to sit on that couch and be ignored all evening. 

It will cost her 3-5 really bad days where nothing makes sense.  It will entail hundreds of phone calls to me and Phil (this is not an exageration).  It will require days of hand holding and care taking to get her back to where she was before the party.  I explained this too.  But, since this family does none of the caretaking, they don't care if it inconveniences me or Phil or if Mom struggles against the bad days that happen after to the point of tears over and over and over again.  It only matters that their picture of family stays unchanged.  It is the most selfish thing I can imagine.  It is not about what's best for Mom, it's about getting what they want. 

This part of my family has long sheperded the holiday celebrations and most of us went along with it because we are a laid back crew.  The thing that I am only now realizing is that being forced into someone else's version of family year after year is not good for you.  So, when there was a break a year and a half ago over Thanksgiving in which my sister-in-law lost her ever fucking mind and blamed me for pretty much everything in history (sorry conspiracy theorists I'm sure that I was responsible for the Kennedy assassination) I was not too unhappy to go my own way.  

Like I said my version of family is small and intimate, like my friendships.  It involves food and travel and story-telling.  But mostly it involves what's inside.  Their version of family is loud, flamboyant, populous and all surface.  Partaking in that over the years has been difficult because our visions are as similar as pool water is to the ocean.  Both wet and that's about where any similarity ends. 

The drama recently has just made me re-evaluate what I need from family and where I find that.  I do not find it there with them and I never have and I am chosing to go a different way without allowing their name calling and trash talk to make me feel other than blissed out by this decision. 

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...