Saturday, November 30, 2013

I love this fiercely beautiful poem by Jack Gardner

A Brief For The Defense by Jack Gilbert, another early SF poetry artist that got overlooked.

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered caf├ęs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

And now this is me talking:  it is really worth years of sorrow, and deep loneliness is sorrow for me, to hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowbow slowly rows by?

Yes it is.  And it is in my yes that hope lives eternal.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I went to the city today

I had an ambitious agenda. I was going to do the DeYoung, catch a docent tour of the Hockney show. Then take the bus to Land's End and walk to the Legion of Honor. And then, if I had time and energy, I was going to go to Rainbow Foods to stock on on spices. I am flat tap out of nutmeg, which I miss in my chai. Low on allspice and cardamon.

Rainbow was busy, as one might expect the day before Thanksgiving, but not mobbed. I did get there pretty early, like 10 a.m. Plus Rainbow does not sell meat or fish. It does sell milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese. I am not sure about eggs.  Turkey seekers would not go there.

I scored something special. I learned today, for the first time, what untrimmed celery looks like. The celery I have always bought has all the leafy greens on the top, which can be considerable, I discovered today, are chopped off. As I passed the celery, which I was not planning to buy today, cause I just bought a trimmed one at my farmers market, a woman grabbed one, sniffed the untrimmed greens and exclaimed "Why do they always cut off the leaves? The leaves have the most nutrition. Smell this!" I did smell it and bought one. "And look at how cheap it is!" this woman exclaimed as she moved away.  I had to buy it.

I chattered about my celery with the woman in front of me at check out. She had not known that celery greens have oodles more nutrition than the stalks. The cashier knew. When he overheard us, he said "We usually trim the greens, too, but today, we are so busy, we didn't."  I said "I hope they do something good with the trimmings." And the woman in front of me kinda snorted negatively. I said "You know, at least to feed animals." Then I paused and said "well, at least compost." I felt glum. I want the nutrition in celery leaves. The cashier said it is unlikely I'd ever see it again, except maybe the day before Christmas or next year at Thanksgiving.

An untrimmed celry stalk is about twice as ig as what I have bought all my life.  I don't get why the more nutritious leaves would be lopped off. If large scale farmers lopped it off, and used the leaves for some processed foods, like celery soup, I wouldn't approve but at least the leaves would not go to waste. But shipping the full ceelry to stores and trimming them before customers get a chance to buy them seem irrational.

So much about our food system is irrational, eh?

My whole apartment is fragrant with my celery leaves. Now they are in the fridge but I left the out for several hours before I remebered to put them in the fridge. I came home and collapsed.

Once I got on BART, I debated my options, and particularly the travel routes. The DeYoung and the Legion of HOnor are neither convenient for a public transit traveler. It takes a long bus ride beyond my BART ride to get to either one. And walking through the museum can wear me out. I have not been well.  I am never well. Or not enough. I feel fine when I am sitting at home but when I go out and try to do things, I tire so easily.  Once I got on BART, as I silented debated my options, I realized I absolutely had to get nutmeg, which I was completely out of. Two days without nutmeg, since stores will be closed tomorrow?

It was somewhat absurd. I definitely had enough energy to do something and do Rainbow but suddenly, I couldnt focus on anything but the spice bins at Rainbow.

cure & prevent disease with nutrition

"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."

Thomas A. Edison

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Overwhelmed: what to eat, which health care advice to trust, when will I feel loved

I am in my third process of planning to have bariatric surgery.

The first time was in 2006. I was afraid. My instinct was that the surgery was wrong. I weighed a lot more then than I do now. A year ago, I weight about 30 pounds less than I do not. Last year at this time, I was down about 120 pounds from my all time high. I was so proud of that.

Then I took a four day insulin class for Type I diabetics. I don't think I am Type I. I think I am the new category, 1.5

Monday, November 25, 2013

When did I meet my muse?

When I Met My Muse

by William Stafford

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.
William Stafford

at the first sign of conflict

When someone new comes into my life, if there is even a hint of conflict between me and the new person, I drop them. Oh, I can maintain a collegial or acquaintance relationship with them but I do not consider such a person a friend. I don't try to get close to them. If there are sparks of negativity early on, even faint, instinctive hints of negative sparks, my instinct is to avoid the person. I believe such negative 'sparks' are spirit guiding me away from that person.

to dream an impossible dream

I want to get five likes on a blog post someday, dreaming an impossible dream, fighting windmills. Now to the pool. It is a sunny day in Berkeley. The sun is the best source, of course, of Vitamin D.

pumpkin spice flavored crappola

A couple years ago, breaking my vow to never do sugar and before I gave up dairy, I ordered a salted caramel something at my neighborhood Starbucks. Well one of my neighborhood Starbucks. There are two Starbucks, a Peets, several local-name coffee spots within two blocks of my building. This was the big Starbucks across the street from one of the big entrances to UC Berkeley. A two-story Starbucks.

For over ten years, all I buy at any coffeeshop has been coffee. No latte. No espresso.  As it is, two bucks for just a cup of coffee is a lot. I have not, fyi, drunk any coffee since February 2012.  Boring details.

Adds in the windows for salt caramel lattes got to me. It was the salt. And the caramel. So I go into a Starbucks, something I almost never do, I swear, and ask for a salt caramel latte. The kid says "Darn, we just ran out of the caramel stuff."  I looked up at the menu behind him and must have looked confused. I have never actually read the stuff up behind the cashiers, or would they be baristas working the register?. It's not really a menu. It's too much information. But I glanced around, giving the kid the impression I was considering other options. I wasn't.  I was merely ordinary confused self.

The helpful cashier-bariasta, no-doubt trained to cross sell, sweetly said "how about a pumpkin spice latte instead?" and I said "Gag me" and he said "So that's a no, huh?" We both laughed. I left, sand cafe. Came home and had homemade coconut milk with my homemade chai spice blend.

Pumpkin spice yuck, I say.  There is an article on today about how, thanks to Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, introduced a decade ago, the world is now saturated with chemical processed crappola food vaguely spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger -- supposedly the main pumpkin spices. What about cloves and allspice? These, coincidenetally and admittedly boringly, are also the spices I use in my chai. Plus cardamon. And anise.

I love cardamon. Yum.

never say sorry for being honest

I like this saying so here it is again:  never say you are sorry for being honest. Have you ever started to say something with "i'm sorry to say this but . . . " What I think is energy seeding the field between me and others whether I voice the thoughts or not. I aspire to seed my truth in the fields between me and others.  So yeah, lots of people say I am too direct, too blunt spoken.

Truthtelling scares people. If I think something, doncha wanna know? It's in the field. Don't you want to know what energy is in our shared fields?!

winter squash: carbs be damned

My mom used to bake winter squash, usually acorn, with butter and brown sugar where the seeds were before she cleaned them out. Off dairy and sugar, I am getting used to how delicious foods are without stuff added. I am also learning to savor savory seasoning. (alliteration, anyone?)

Squash.  Yum.

Hubbard squash posing as your turkey?

When I was still in my twenties, and vegetarians were still a bit exotic in the Upper Midwest, it was a standard trope that hippie vegetarians would use a gigantic Hubbard squash as their Thanksgiving meal's centerpiece.  I love winter squashes, truly I do. I could never see a squash filling in for a turkey. I thought, then, and still think this way now, that if you were going to have a vegetarian Thanksgiving, you had a duty to make the food really delicious, interesting, even exciting. Right?

If I were making a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast this week, which I am not (poor me, all alone again), I'd make something with mushrooms. Right now, mushrooms and greens braised in garlic-infused olive oil seems like supremely wonderful food so my T-day feast would include mushrooms and greens.  Maybe a mushroom pate.  Avocado something. I saw a recipe for a kind of deviled egg where the whites of the egg get refilled with some yolk but also avocado. Or good ol' guacamole. And legumes. You can make a lot of awesome truffle-like pates with legumes and savvy seasonings.

Is this a vegan feast? Cause if it is just plain vegetarian, there is always the incredible, edible egg.

Gluten-free, sugar-free, cow-dairy-free, so maybe apple crisp instead of pie?  Pumpkins pie, maybe a blend of pumpkin and sweet potato?

A quiche. I bet quiche with coconut milk is delicious. And say, quiche lorraine uses my beloved spinach.

Sesame, Spinach and Artichoke dip with slices of cucumber instead of crackers.

You know, the more I explore vegetables, the more I realize eating a plant-based diet is more interesting, more satisfying and more delicious than hunks of dead cow, dead chicken and even perfectly poached grilled wild Alaskan king salmon. Although I can't imagine ever turning down that salmon.

I'm hungry. My breakfast today was anasazi spiced beans, pumpkin seed salsa and avocado. I was suddenly too hungry to wait to cook a runny-yolk egg. So I'll probably have the same meal for lunch with the egg added. Getting into my legumes, eh?

I am about to more fully explore winter squash, carbs be damned.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I am such a geek

I write about myself for significant chunks of time every day. Why?

I am reminded of the one time I consulted a psychic. She had told me to come with a question. Before I could tell her my question, she got a strong hit. She said she didn't know what it meant but she got that I should be writing about myself, doing a lot of writing about myself. She said she didn't get, necessarily, that this writing would lead to being published. She just 'got' that I should be writing a lot about myself.

It has been my habit since forever to write about myself a lot. Always.  Before I actually knew how to write, I would sit at the desk in my bedroom, with blank, unlined paper and scribble up and down, pretending I could write. And as I scribbled across that page, sticking to straight lines and doing my best to emulate writing, I was, in my mind, writing specific thoughts. It was not just scribbling. I was writing. I knew that what I wrote was just scribbling. I did not yet know how to write. But I wrote anyway.

Now I know how to write but what do I write for?

letting go of protein shakes

I have been drinking at least one protein shake a day ever since I moved to CA in 2006. I started going it to have a pure protein breakfast. Quickly, I shifted into using my breakfast shake as a conduit for flax (omega-3), psyllium (makes you move), cinnamon/tumeric/ginger -- all beneficial for the metabolism. More recently, in the past year, I learned that chocolate, sans sugar, is also very good for my metabolism and full of great nutrients.

I am bored with protein shakes and know that eating food is better but I have struggled to change this habit. Then, talking to a friend who follows the nutritional approach I am trying to shift into -- an anti-inflammatory diet -- she told me about the breakfast muffins she makes, the recipe for which is in the set of books she gifted me that explains the To Quiet Inflammation The Abascal Way diet. She pointed out that I could add all the things I listed in the above paragraph to the muffins.

The muffins use egg, almonds flour*, squash or sweet potato, mashed banana and baking powder. Maybe a couple other things. From there, you can add anything.  Of course I can add flax, cinnamon, tumeric, ginger, even chocolate and even some frozen blueberries. Wouldn't a muffin with the moisture of blueberries that are frozen as the muffin bakes be delicious? The blueberries would be warm, yummy surprise bites.

I begin each day with a resolve to make some breakfast muffins but I don't have any muffin papers.  I did my big weekly grocery shop yesterday, going to the farmers market and then swinging by Trader Joe's. Mostly, I go to TJ's to buy bananas. My farmers market only allows local food, food grown within something like 100 miles. No one grows bananas in N. California. I believe bananas require a tropical climate, which most definitely is not found in N. Cali.

Even though I have not yet made the muffins, I have stopped doing the protein shakes. I have a lot of protein powder. I have whey protein -- cow dairy is not allowed on the anti-inflammatory plan. I have almost two pounds of a raw begean protein powder made from cranberries, hemp seed and peas. If the TQI plan would ever allow protein powder, it might be this blend, which is proportion between fruit, vegies and the hemp seed. Who knew cranberries had meaningful amounts of protein?!  At first, as I began to shift to TQI,  I thought I'd stick with the raw vegan shakes just to use it up. Something in this raw vegan protein disagrees with me. And part of the TQI approach is to pay attention to how different foods affect you. If I feel painfully bloated each time I eat this raw vegan protein powder, and I virtually never feel this kind of bloating feeling, there must be something in there that is not optimal for my biochemistry.

TQI has you do elimination for just three weeks. After the elimination phase, you can introduce foods back, one at a time, paying attention.   About a week ago, I decided to set aside all my protein powders and surrender to the TQI guideline to never drink my food.

It's so hard to track all the changes.

I am eating the most interesting, tasty food I have eaten in years.  So far, I have limited myself to things I can quickly braise in my main frying pan. Today, however, I am going to make a curry of broccoli and cauliflower, vegies I bought last week but have not yet used.  Today, cruciferous curry. And make my first batch of TQI muffins.  Big day. And I already know it is going to be a very delicious dinner. And the muffins represent, for me, letting go of my long reliance on protein shakes. I am glad I am eating food, not protein powder.

The TQI recipe states that I should use unbleached muffin papers for my breakfast muffins. I suppose I should walk to Whole Foods if muffin papers are what I seek. I resist the idea of unbleached muffin papers. They sound more expensive than the cheap pastel muffin paper cups I have used all my life. I keep thinking I should go to Safeway. Plus I haven't been in a Safeway for ages. And Trader Joe's doesn't sell shrimp, which sure puzzles me. They sell a lot of frozen fish but no shrimp? What's up with that? Safeway sells big bags of frozen shrimp.  My TQI friend told me about a quinoa and shrimp stir fry thing she does that I want to try. I most def am not buying shrimp at Whole Paycheck. 

I see that I have to go to both stores. They are in opposite directions. I go into regular grocery stores so rarely.

And I need to make a Rainbow run, to buy bulk chai spices. I need cloves, nutmet and anise. Rainbow is over in the city.

Boring post, eh?  I write for myself. Writing seems to sharpen my mind, clearing the cobwebs.  I am making big changes in how I eat. What is more central to life than eating?

my great breakfast

I feel like I cheat by buying side orders of frijoles from the organic Mexican joint around the corner. I put some frijoles on my plate, then a runny-yolk egg, then pumpkin seed salsa. and today I added half a diced avocado.  Lots of protein. The antiinflammatory diet I am trying to follow suggests lots of protein at breakfast, and is looser about the proportions of veggies and fruit at breakfast. This program counts avocado as a vegie, plus there is tomato in the salsa, plus chilis. Pumpkin seeds count as protein. Pinto beans count as protein. Maybe too much protein.

But awesomely delicious.  The avocado makes up for the cheese I have been missing.

I spend time every day trying to understand food, nutrition, biochemistry, my biochemistry and, for sixty years now, my whole darn life. 

I learned, just yesterday, that egg yolks have B-12, potassium, vitamin D, Omega-e and more. And cholesterol.

I read, somewhere, that a raw yolk is even more nutritious. Raw egg white is not good for you. Raw egg yolk is. This explains, at least for me,  why people often like runny egg yolks. It's more nutritious to have a raw yolk. Runny yolks are raw. Or rawish.

One rabbit hole and then another. The more I learn, the more there is to learn.

Adding the avocado made my breakfast way more satisfying.  Yummy.  I could skip the pinto beans, stick with egg, salsa and avocado and still have a high satiety experience.  The beans have good fiber.

And another thing I learned. Crimini mushrooms, which are less mature portabellos, and the kind I have been eating lately, are much more nutrient dense than most other kinds of mushrooms. I am so pleased that I instinctively bought the right ones. Or best ones. Or better.  Criminis are a nutrition powerhouse, to quote some blogger.  My my.

So much to learn.

Most days, I write a note to my recently fired endocrinologist, the guy who told me "no one really knows much about food and its relationship to the body and health". Duh. The guy knows all about the human body, about the glands, about our metabolism, hormones.  Isn't endocrinology more or less biochemistry of the body?  How could a good endocrinologist, especially one who conducts nutrition research, say "nobody really knows all that much about food"?

I find life complex and, too much of the time, overwhelmingly so.

Is 60 old? elderly?

A friend treated me to a desert safari in the high desert of New Mexico, just north of Albuquerque. The tour guide is a former cop who loves New Mexico.  He has the privilege of being the primary caretaker for a massive ranch owned by a rich family in Texas. There are several sites of old, even ancient, habitats, as well as lots of petroglyphs and, well, the gobsmacking beauty of the place.

As my friend and I got into his Jeep to begin our tour, he noted that he had watched us walking to use the restrooms, on his excellent advice. He said he could see that neither of us would have any trouble for the tour he had planned. I am not used to being evaluated by a trained eye for my fitness. Or was he evaluating me for feebleness?

Once we set off and he assured us we both appeared to walk with no limps or kinks or whatever he had been looking for, I said something about turning sixty on my birthday this year. Then he used the word elderly and I objected. I said something to the effect that I don't think of sixty as elderly, that I am not even sure it adds up to old. I knew I had edged out of middle age, I said, but I did not see myself as elderly.  He said "Spoken like a lawyer!".

I guess an ex-cop knows a lot of lawyers. Or knew them. I think he is retired, put in twenty years, or however many a cop in Albuquerque has to put in.

Man, the world should have all cops like this guy. He is smart, caring, brilliant, loving, tender.  And a great storyteller. He seemed to be living his whole life in the golden tunnel. And so happy.  He said several times that he could hardly believe how wonderful his life is, how he got to do the work he does, living a dream.

And he said his wife was fully supportive of his choice to decide to run a tour business after retiring as a cop. Her only condition was that he not take on debt.

He was such a happy man that he has to have a very happy marriage.

He seemed just about perfect, other than not being clear that I am not yet old.

tragedy has befallen my Versacart

I have this lovely cart, made from a collapsible metal frame that looks like early, cheap umbrella strollers. Nowadays, strollers are like mobile homes and cost hundreds. I think I paid about ten bucks for Katie's umbrella stroller. It was quite a lot like am umbrella, had no bins to carry things. I did hang plastic bags on the handels sometimes but mostly that stroller just held my baby.

It was great in airports.

portabello mushrooms and spinach: perfect food

©Today, at my farmers market, I bought two pounds of portabellos. Last week's pound just wasn't enough.  I toss in a bunch of spinach at the end to have a wider range of nutrients in my meal. I was cooking small servings of fish, such as mahi mahi patties from Trader Joe's but mushrooms loaded with protein.

I know this is a boring post buth mushrooms and spinach sauteed in olive all, with everything organic, of course, is as satisfying as anything I have ever eaten. I have an urge to say "it's as satisfying as a perfect petite filet" but it's better because it is much healthier than any piece of beef.

After the market today, my fridge is jammed with food.

Most years, the day before Thanksgiving, I go to Whole Foods. WF usually has an approximation of the classic Thanksgiving dinner at their food bar at such times:  turkey, stuffing, gravy, green beans.  That food is about all I have done for Thanksgiving in many years. This year, not doing gluten, I can't do the stuffing. I still might do the turkey. I might buy a turkey breast and just cook it! I might eat some of the wild salmon I bought today.

Or I might make mushrooms and spinach my Thanksgiving tradition.

I bought some squash. I could have some squash.

Trying to make room in my freezer, I found 3/4 pound of organic butter. I keep butter in the freezer, sealed twice in two plastic bags to prevent freezer burn and freezer flavors. Now that I don't do any cow dairy, I have no way to use that butter so I offered it to a neighbor.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

awesome food this week

Several times this week I sauteed a pan of mushrooms in garlic-infused olive oil.  Garlic-infused braised (sauteed?  not being much of a chef, I don't know the difference) mushrooms with a bunch of spinach dumped into the pan for the last minute or two is very delicious. 

I know kale is a superfood and I eat lots of kale but I love spinach.

I am working to love chard beccause I read that some holistic health practitioners believe chard can contribute to healing Type I diabetes. Healing Type I diabetes is analogous to finding the Holy Grail but it does happen, esp. my kind of type I, which was mostly likely caused from all the drugs I took for about ten years that are now known to damage the metabolism.

Drug companies knew these drugs made people pack on weight so, duh, of course it messed with our metabolism. They have had successful class actions but I didn't join them. I tend to stay away from legal energy. When legalistic thinking flares up in me, you can assume I am very unhappy, even that I am in a lot of emotional pain.

Just recently, I learned that there is now a class action against Lipitor, also believed to cause the onset of diabetes. I took Lipitor for about 8 years. There is no evidence that statins help protect humans from heart disease, or that using statins to lower cholesterol reduce heart disease but drug companies make something like 24 billion dollars a year on statins so of course they want docs to use him.

Anyway, I don't think I have the autoimmune Type I diabetes. I think my diabetes was brought about from all the drugs I took dutifully for over ten years. The drugs fucked my metabolism, made me pack on weight really fast. And I hated myself as I puffed up, and blamed myself. I used to wonder how the heck I could get so fat because I didn't binge eat. Sure I overindulged once in awhile but I don't know anyone who doesn't do that once in awhile.

Lately I have been eating huge amounts of very deliciously prepared vegies. It is so easy. Everything is delicious when braised in garlic infused extra virgin, and organic, olive oil. And a bit of Himalayan salt.

This week, my food winner has been mushrooms. I'll be buying some later today at my farmers market, you betcha.

Wait for the person who pursues you

Wait for the person
who pursues you, the one
who will make an ordinary
moment seem magical,
the kind of person
who brings out the best
in you.
Wait for the person who will
be your best friend,
the only person
who will drop everything
to be with you at any time
no matter what the circumstances.

My favorite part:  the person will drop everything to be with me, at any time, no matter what the circumstance.

I wait patiently. Come out come out.

The Panther by Rilke

This poem occasionally pierces me just as the panther is pierced in the poem.

The Panther by Rainer Maria Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

Rilke on coping with solitude: Rilke rocks

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast.

Be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend.

Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust.

And don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

never too late to be who you were supposed to be

George Eliot, a chick writer who published with a  male pseudonymn because women writers did not sell books as easily as male writers.  She wrote Silas Marner, among other novels.

She is dear for me for the quote "it is never too late to be who you ought to be".

Gee, I hope she was right. Because I aint never been who I ought to be but I keep thinking that any day now, I'm going to start being that woman, the one I am supposed to be. Lately, and this scares me, I have been thinking I am supposed to be a poet. How great is that? Don't get me wrong:  being a poet would be kick ass cool, like being Lou Reed only me. 

Actually, Mary Oliver, a successful, well known poet writing today, discouraged me. I read something she said that knocked me back from considering being a poet, maybe ten years ago. Time to let it go?

I read her say that one should only be a poet if one had studied the history of poetry and knew about all the many genres of poetry, the rules of poetry.  As I say, the comment knocked me away from poetry writing. I didn't see how I could read all poems and learn all the styles and know all the great poets.

Lately, however, I've been thinking she was speaking sarcastically, or teasingly. Or stupidly. Even 'famous' poets can get things wrong, eh?

I wait for you like a lonely house

My undergrad university required all seniors to write a thesis related to their major(s).   I wrote mine on Pablo Neruda's prose poems. One of our Spanish professors wanted to reject my thesis, about three days before graduation. He completely disagreed with my take on Neruda. I would not budge. There has always been an implacable streak in my nature. My brother Joe once said, which quite surprised me for he and I rarely disagreed and even now, 40 years later, I am unsure what he was referring to:  "You are the most stubborn human being I have ever known."

Me, stubborn?


I do not lightly change how I feel about people.

Anyway, this little quote from Neruda is alive in me in this moment:

“So I wait for you like a lonely house
till you will see me again and live in me.
Till then my windows ache.”

Friday, November 22, 2013

welcoming Elijah & Thanksgiving

I tend to conflate what I know about the Passover story, which has a tradition of welcoming the stranger, or the Old Testament character Elijah. You welcome whoever shows up. it might be the Christ, or the Buddha or the perfect person to complete your celebration.

Once, while living for two years in a rental unit in a large co-housing community, I heard that a Jewish family was having a huge Passover feast in the common house. Everyone who lived there could use the common house whenever it was available and many scheduled large family and also professional gatherings in the great common house. It had a restaurant quality kitchen and seating for about 75 -- more if you did buffets.

The community had shared dinners twice a week and I always participated in those, including helping to cook them and to clean them up.

When I heard about the big Passover party, I asked the two women hosting it, a couple, if I could come. They hesitated, because they already had a huge crowd coming. Then one woman said if you bring a lot of wine, yes, you can come. And the other said "We have to welcome her. She is Elijah."

During the middle of the feast, another co-housing resident who had been unaware, somehow, that a big Passover feast was happening in the common house, walked into the common house while the feast was going on. He was also Jewish so he walked in, told a brief story about Elijah, declared himself Elijah and joined the crowd.

One has to welcome the stranger if one wishes to be aligned with the Passover spirit. I also believe welcoing whoever shows up. Meeting the need of someone you know is alone on a holiday is welcoming Elijah, or the Christ, or the Buddha.

I have friends, and they all know I have no family and that I am always alone on holidays. Yet since 2001, the last time I spent Xmas with my daughter, no one has ever invitd me to spend a holiday meal with them. Not even pretty good friends.

It's about me. And in saying it's about me, I don't mean to suggest my friends reject me. I think friends don't think about me, or if they do, they don't feel that their family gathering is quite right for someone who would be a stranger to everyone but my one friend.  When I say it is about me, I mean that something within me is blocking me from better connection with others.  I know this. I don't see how to shift it. If I did. I would.

Some have suggested I work at a place that gives food to the poor and homeless on holidays.  I am too fragile to plunge into a team of strangers. I am too fragile to become even more aware than I already am, of all the need and suffering that surrounds me. I am aware of my blessings but my loneliness at holidays makes me very fragile. Someone who loves me would have to invite me, and put up with me.

Welcome Elijah if you are reading this. You don't have to invite me. Invite someone. I promise you that someone in your life will be alone on Thanksgiving and would welcome an invitation to your holiday meal.

Bay Area folks: anyone taking in strays for Thanksgiving dinner?

I am available. I cook. I clean. I behave well.

And I am fun and funny and smart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

do I do it? and the holiday hellhole

I just scheduled some major surgery for Jan. 16th. The surgeon wanted me to have it on December 2nd but I choked. I had been expecting a January date for a long time. When a staff person called and said "you have been approved for your surgery and we can do it on December 2nd, I choked." And then I had to work through shame that I choked, shame that I have doubts.

A decision like this reveals to me how poor my support system is.  No one can decide but me but I wish I had one or two true intimates. I have friends, don't get me wrong. But I don't have any intimates, I live alone. No one ever invites me to share holidays with them -- I have long since decided that no holiday invites is a good measure of intimacy because apparently people mostly invite intimates to share holidays with them.

With Thanksgiving bearing down, I can't help but revert to old habits. I began to think of the time from Thanksgiving through Three Kings (the end of the Holy Nights) as the holiday hellhole. It is a time when the world tells everyone it is a time of good cheer, peace, love and sharing with those we love. And I watch myself spending the season alone, never invited to any holiday gatherings, and it sure seems clear to me:   no one sees me as an intimate friend, no one includes me in their holidays which are usually family-centered.

I hear about families of friends having great gatherings. I long to be part of such gatherings. But it doesn't happen.  The last time I spent a holiday with people I felt close to was in 2000.

Last year, I went to a Thai place on Christmas Day for lunch with a group of people from a support group I was attending. I had just joined the group, didn't really know anyone but I went, forcing myself, actually. I thought I'd unleash some bad mojo if I didn't accept my first holiday invite in 12 years, even if it was not particularly appealing.  Eating dinner with relative strangers is not the holiday I long for. I know the Norman Rockwell holiday is delusion but I don't think warmth and conviviality with people I like and would like to know better is an unreasonable standard.

Last year, I totally avoided the holiday hellhole energy. This year, I am so unhappy that I am sliding into holiday hellhole mentality.

I want live, in-person, intimately loving relationships

I was just looking at my blog 'stats', which Blogger tracks automatically.  I wish I could know who actually reads my posts. These days, it looks like I have about three regular readers. And someone -- for no particular reason, I am sure it is one person -- likes every post I published. I'd sure like to know who that is.

I am interested in the 886 unpublished posts I have written, I save, but do not publish. I think they share some commonalities. I think many of the unpublished ones are about my daughter; the ones that aren't about Katie tend to be very personal reflections about other people in my life, past and present. And some are about me and I feel too vulnerable to share them. I think some part of me wants to share them but not with the anonymous, microscopic audience of my three regulars, whoever they are.  I want to share my most private self live, in person, face to face, with people who love me live, in person and face to face.

Monday, November 18, 2013

damaged metabolism, kicking heroin, Wendall Barry

©My weight issues are complicatd by having been misdiagnosed as a Type II diabetic when a new endocrinologist, about a year ago, confirmed I am Type I. !2 years misdiagnosed. and for another 12 years before that, I took  meds that damage the body's metabolism, with no warnings that one side affect is serious weight gain. I ballooned up on those drugs, sent myself ceaseless message of self hate. I used to wonder if I was sleep-eating but as the only adult in my home, I was the only person who brought in food and it didn't disappear so it was unlikely I was eating unconsciously. Note:  years later when my teen daugter became anorexic/bulimic, I would certainly notice when large quanities of food disappeared overnight.

At a ten day silent retreat once, on the final day when they let you talk, a bulimic living with her parents had taken the retreat just to get away form food cause she couldn't afford any medical treatment (altho if so sick she could not work, and she was, she was likely eligible to be disabled and get on Medicaid and even Medicare . . . another story). I told her I was pretty sure I knew within just a week or two when my daughter's eating disorder got serious. The young woman panicked, wondering if her parents 'knew'. She pressed and pressed me to tell her how I 'knew'.

I told her I did not see how a parent living with a child could not know. Either you see your child is losing weight rapidly or you notice massive amounts of food disapearing. You don't bring in groceries into your own home, and then see they have disappeared and not notice, IF you are living consciously. I suggested that maybe her parents didn't know but that could only be because they were in denial. The poor gal pressed and pressed me to tell me exactly what I noticed. She was so panicked to think her parents might know.

I don't see how someone could live with their child, even an adult college grad child, and not notice if mass quantities of food disappeared from the kitchen overnight most nights. That young woman was positive her parents didn't know. I said "If they don't know, they don't want to know. It's called denial." Poor thing. She couldn't wait to get home and look for signs indicating whether her parents 'knew'.

Some think anorexia-bulimia are different disorders but many medical experts see it as the same disorder, at different ends of the spectrum. Food addicts likely fit into the spectrum. Many bulimics are fat, many are not.  When my daughter stops starving, she invariably slides into binge eating, unless, I imagine, she is in recovery programs and taking very good care of herself. And I sure hope she is, of course. Once she shared an apartment with a non-lover guy (the guy was gay) and she would often eat every bite of food in the house, even things that are unpalatable, like a jar of relish. Then at a box of laxatives.  When my daughter got into better treatment programs -- the quality of eating disorder treatment ranges greatly, as in most things -- she was told that eating laxatives as she did turned some of her organs into messy sponges, causing permanent damage from the harsh chemicals in the laxatives. Knowledgeable docs could exam her for two minutes and know she was binge-purging.  Her roommate would be so angry. He'd get up for breakfast and there was no food in the house. He was abusive to her, apart from issues of her binging on his food. Several years ago, he contacted me on this blog asking how to get in touch with her. He said he was in recovery and wished to make amends to her. I was glad to hear it but I could not tell him how to contact her. Now I know where she works. I think he found her anyway.

Eating disorders are like alcoholism in that one is in recovery but never fully recovered.

For many, bulimics can be hard to spot. Some bulimics gain weight, even with lots of purging. But some don't. And some eating disorder experts now consider folks who compulsively overeat but do not urge to also be bulimics, bulimics who don't purge.  Some bulimics appear normal size but they maintain that appearance of normality through purging, which is wicked hard on the body.  Your spleen, liver, pancreas, etc. all become like sieves and spongey if you are putting a whole box of laxatives through your body every day.  Other bulimics make themselves vomit and all the vomiting destroys their teeth:  the stomach acids are wicked hard on tooth enamel.

So do I have an eating disorder?  I don't think so. I believe prescription drugs have destroyed my metabolism, which caused rapid weight gain in my early thirties. Once a human body develops lots f fat cells, our evolutionary biology is designed to hang onto the fat for survival, which is why folks lose and often and easily regain.

I very genuinely do not believe I have an eating disorder. Maybe I am in denial. Denial is tricky. I believe I have a damaged metabolism. Three of prescription drugs I took daily for over ten years have had class actions won against them for causing the onset of diabetes and this happens because the drugs affect our metabolism. And recently, I have seen ads on my gmail mailbox informing me that Lipitor is being sued in class action because it is now believed to cause the onset of diabetes in some women. I don't think I fit that criteria because the women who develop diabetes on Lipitor tend to be slender.  I did take three drugs for over ten years that have also been been sued by class action and the petitioners won, proving the drugs damage metabolism and seem to contribute significantly to the onset of diabetes.

Can such damage be healed? And if so, how? Not more drugs, that's for sure. And not the typical highly processed American crap diet.

I don't think about the damage prescription drugs have done to me too much. It's hard to know where who I am, how and what I ate and how drugs I took for over ten years affected my body.  My metabolism is definitely very damaged.

On the bright side, I am down 90 pounds from my all time high. I haven't been at my all time high in many years but my set point seems to still be a pretty high one, a fat one.  I can get down much lower than where I am now but I quickly bounce back to my set point.

So. I am way down but still fat. And I would like to move through the world as a not-fat person.  I've been obese about 30 years. I've always thought I'd lose it. I have lost a lot but I can't seem to get to onederland, which is below 200.

And being fat is, by no means, my only issue.  I am lonely, with poor support in my life.  I am so unhappy. I long for a life partner but I am not really fit to be someone's life partner.  I don't see how a pereson can be happy and well if they are as isolated as I am but I am so vulnerable these days that I am not really fit to form close bonds with anyone.

I know many people find support at support groups. And the world is full of them. Which ones are aright for me? And when I am as vulnerable as I am just now, going to any event with other people around is overwhelming.  I keep thinking if I just had a couple best friends, like I always used to have.  But I am too shakey to develop new friends.

I read somewhere, once, that someone with borderline personality disorder is a bit like someone with no skin. That makes me think of a burn victim, also someone without skin.  When I am emotionally unwell, I have no skin and I am unfit to be around others but i can't get well in isolation. Chicken. Egg.

I feel like I am the emotional equivalent of a quadriplegic -- not to downplay the serious nature of being a quad. I feel I can't control anything in my life so I hunker down in my home like I'm in a bunker, holding on to just survive. Just surviving is not enough.  I don't feel I am living a life worth living. But who wants to befriend someone in excrutiating emotional pain.

I just remembered an exchange I had about 8 years ago with someone i met at a conference. I wrote to him that I felt excrutiating pain and he wrote back in what I am sure was unintended condescension telling me something like "Tut tut, I am sure exrutiating it an exaggeration."  I think he felt uneasy imaging me in excrutiating pain so he just tried to erase my truth, like he was editing a paper only I had shared my truth. I am often in excrutiating emotional pain. It is very hard to love someone in the kind of pain I get into. But I am lovable. And with understanding and caring and love, I can, do and have formed some rich, loving, lasting friendships. Just not lately. No new hones.  I have peopple who love me but they mostly live far away. The few locals that 'love' me spend little, if any time with me and time with people is what I need.

Around and around I go. What to do?

Have you ever done a major housecleaning project and as you work on the project, everything reaches a point of chaos and it is easy to feel overwhelmed? But you know if you just keep going, doing one thing at a time, order will be restored?  I feel like my emotional and social lives are in a damaged, chaotic state but at any moment, things could improve. And in the meantime, I can eat carefully, exercise and maintain my physical health as best I can.

Maintaining my emotional health seems impossible when I am as isolated as I am but going to groups is just beyond my capacity. So I sit. Which reminds me of a lovely verse by the farmer-poet-essayist Wendall Barry:

willing to die'
you give up your will'
be still
moved by what moves all else'
you move

I am being still, waiting to be moved. It's hard work. Harder, I suspect, than kicking heroin.

The Golden Notebook, by Doris Lessing

The Golden Notebook was one of the most important reading experiences of my college years. Most of my friends ducked it, even though it was a big seller at the time. Most had heard it was about a very depressed woman and friends would say "who wants to read that?"

I inhaled The Golden Notebook.  I read it several times. It was the first time I had read anything that captured so much of the inner experience of being me. I guess I had been depressed most of my life because, gosh, Lessing nailed what I was like on the inside.

When a writer has such an impact on me, I tend to read everything they publish.  I read a lot more of Lessing and loved a lot of her stuff but then she veered into stuff I just couldn't get into. It was hard, letting her go.

In reading of her death, I read that when she was told she had won a Nobel Prize, she said something like "that doesn't mean a damn thing to me". She must have been a prickly, acerbic and probably wicked bitchy woman. I bet she accepted the huge chunk of moola that comes with a Nobel. How churlish to dismiss one of the world's highest honors. On the other hand, if that was her truth, it was her truth.

With most writers whose work I love, I tend to think I would love the writer. I never felt that way about Lessing. Her books were hard. Being her must have been hard. I guess she knew who she was and never bent, not for nothing.

Peace be to you, Doris. I hope wherever you find yourself next gives a damn about you.I hope you give a damn about being recognized and appreciated.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

We--tell a Hurt--to cool it, by Emily Dickinson

The Black Berry—wears a Thorn in his side—
But no Man heard Him cry—
He offers His Berry, just the same
To Partridge—and to Boy—

He sometimes holds upon the Fence—
Or struggles to a Tree—
Or clasps a Rock, with both His Hands—
But not for Sympathy—

We—tell a Hurt—to cool it—
This Mourner—to the Sky
A little further reaches—instead—
Brave Black Berry— 

©I am not a poetry scholar, altho lately I have been thinking I might be a poet. I am making some serious poetry attempts. Not necessarily serious poems, either by tone or talent, just serious in my effort.

And I am not a literary critic or analyst.

But I love this poem and I esp. love my interpretation of it. I believe Dickinson uses the blackberry as a metaphor for how fragile we humans are. The blackberry surrounds itself with thorns, is prickly in order to be able to grow. Without prickly brambles, birds and other animals would make off with all the blackberrires. It's perfectly okay for animals to eat blackberries. Food is not on earth just for humans.

I think the central line, and theme, of this poem is "We-tell a Hurt-to cool it". She beautifully descrbes how blackberries make their way but in doing so, she also describes how tender humans, surrounded by prickles of protection, make their way. And sometimes, when hurt, we have to tell our hurts to cool them.

Brave Black Berry. Brave humans for taking chances to love, to seek to be loved, brambles gnarl our path. Pricks can hurt us. And, being human, we can voice our hurt and lessen it. We tell a hurt to cool it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

high glucose feels a lot like low: how to know?

©I awoke this morning feeling just as sick as the morning I awoke with very low glucose, like I was sick hung over. I tested but this time my sugar was sky high.

I hate having Type I diabetes. When I still believed i had type II, I was full of hope that I could manage it, even get it into some remission. But not Type I.

the beginning of love: Thomas Merton

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them” ~ Thomas Merton

camping alone in the Boundary Waters

©One time, with my daughter visiting her dad for most of the summer, I decided to head up to the Boundary Waters by myself. The Boundary Waters, for those who don't know are a watery land that is on both sides of the USA/Canada border. It is one of the last mostly pristine wilderness areas in this country.  There used to be constant public quarrels about allowing motorboats in the BW.  One side just wanted canoes, reasoning that the noise of motorboats was not pristine wildernesss. I sided with the anti-motorboats but lots of folks really wanted both motorboats and snowmobiles allowed. There were economic reasons, supposedly, for allowing mechanized noise polluting the wilderness experience of everyone.

There were no motorboats when I went.  I was driving a new Dodge Caravan, one of the first minivans. The first, I think. I had a tent with me but I never pitched it. It was cool up there and I slept inside the van in the back.

Mentioning sleeping in the van reminds me of the time Katie and I went camping in Western Pennsylvania, near Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater, a house he build for a department store magnate from Pittsburg, but built out of the city. The house literally juts out over a waterfall.

It was pouring rain the whole weekend. Katie and I were using a borrowed tent that was a piece of crap. It did not keep out rain so we got soaked. We never even tried to bed down in the tent. We had set it up, gone off exploring and come back to find it hanging with water. We were glad we had not put our sleeping bags in there. And glad we had the minivan for shelter. It was freezing cold even with sleeping bags, which were probably also borrowed. After that cheap borrowed tent, we bought a very good Eureka dome tent. A big one that kept us bone dry in many downpours.

When we went to Fallingwater, which was our real destination, they were giving our yellow garbage bags with holes in them for arms and heads to tour the house because sometimes, to see the whole house, you had to step in and out of the rain. Katie and I stole two of those yellow garbage bag, reasoning they would not hold up to many uses and we had a couple more days of camping ahead.  We did check in the gift shop to see if they sold those yellow things and when we learned they didn't, we just took two.  A cold wet weekend. But happy because I was with Katie. That was the first time I let her tell me where to drive in the state park using the map given to us when we paid admission and campiong fees.  I thought it was a good way to develop skill in reading visual cues and mapreading. After that, Katie always navigated with any maps we had.

On my way up to the Boundary Waters, I stopped at a state park for one night. All the camp sites were walk in. I did not want to walk in to a campsite but if I paid for  a campsite, the camp gatekeeper noted my car license plate and that meant my car could be parked all night in the parking lot. I remember keeping myself below the windows in the back of the van so no park pattrols would kick me out but they wouldn't have. It was perfectly legal to be in the car since I had paid to be there overnight.  I had a four inch blue tv and I had it with me. I only got one channel and I remember watching a national convention, a Democratic one i think.

The boundary waters are as much water as land. The real experience requires canoes and moving around.  Being alone and canoeless, it was kind of dull. Except it was the first time I had been in such wilderness and I loved being there. I felt a little guilty sleeping in my van instead of the tent. Dont remember why I did. Probably because the van was so comfortable.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

who gives my posts 1+? who reads this?

Since I switched my blog to post on G+, my pageviews are much higher.  It's weird, suddenly having a bunch of people read my posts. And by 'bunch' I think I average 3 reads per post, so not very many read me. Which is fine.  I vacillate. I did G+ awhile back then undid it. I like journaling online as I do. I don't see this as a way to monetize my diary-like posts but it's interesting to see my page view spikes. And interesting to see which posts get spiked. I think a golden rule of monetized blogging is to keep posts short. I don't write short posts. At least not often.

What has me the most curious, however, is that I get some 'likes'.  Usually only one. I think my all time high 'likes' was four or five, not too high. Some posts on my G+ streams get hundreds of posts. The ones who get hundreds a short, pithy and often about spirituality or love, easy verbal bromides.  Not my style.

I think I should be able to see who is plussing me.  I cannot. And it's interesting to watch myself. I think I don't care about being read but it is fun seeing that four people read a post and even more fun to see one or two people hit the like click.

I bet it is one person who knows me who likes my posts. Come out, come out, if you actually know me.  Please.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

arguing with my (now former) diabetes endocrinologist about statins

©Last spring, my endocrinologist told me he wanted me on a statin. I was on Lipitor for 8-10 years. Recently, through google ads alongside my free google email, I have been invited to join a class action suit against Lipitor. Lipitor has been shown to cause the onset of diabetes in certain women. I don't think I fit this particular class, even tho I took Lipitor for many years, because it is for women with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), i.e. women thinner than me. Still, the class action proves to me that Lipitor fucks with a person's metabolism.

I took three other drugs for over ten years which have all been shown to damage metabolism and greatly increase the onset of diabetes. It's not just the poor American diet that causes diabetes. It's drug companies. Geez, first the pusher man, er, drug company, gets you to take high profit drugs for years and then you develop diabetes which condemns you to a lifetime of needing more drugs to control the illness that very well came on because of prescription drugs. They make money by making you sick, or sicker, and then they make money helping you cope with the illness their drugs contributed to, if not directly causing.

Not to mention these same drugs are all well known to make the people taking them experience rapid weight gain. That's how I got fat. And, by the way, I took these drugs for a mental illness I did not have. Women are grossly overdiagnosed with mental illness. Women get sick in this culture because we are not allowed to thrive as readily as men, although plenty of women do thrive. I, sadly, have not.  My life sucks. I sometimes, seriously, think I am in hell in this lifetime, paying for sins of past lives.  I don't like thinking that way. Sometimes I am in the golden tunnel, where life is brilliantly beautiful and everything radiates love. but I am not in the golden tunnel now. The golden tunnel seems like a fake dream, a trickster trick.  I hope the golden tunnel will return. I know it does me no good to dwell on being in hell but it is hard not to dwell on being in hell when one is in hell.

Anyway. Dr. World-Renown-Endocrinologist, prestigious diabetes expert who conducts nutrition studies on diabetics is, on the surface, very charming. Until you disagree with him. Then the charming face goes away. He reminds me of those old margarine commercials where people would taste a certain brand of margerine, say "It tastes like butter". Then the viewer hears loud thunderclaps and Mother Nature appears above the fool who said the margarine tasted like butter and she snarls "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature!" I don't remember the rest but I want to say then Mother Nature tastes the margarine and agrees that it is very tasty, that it does 'taste like butter'.  Well, Dr. World-Renown sparked anger and I heard thunderclaps the first time I rejected his advice.

He wanted me to go on a statin. I will not take any statins. I take insulin and metformin because, however it may have been caused, I have Type I diabetes and I suffer a lot when I do not manage it carefully. Diabetics are at much higher risk of heart attack so diabetes docs push statins hard, even though there is no evidence that statins reduce the chance of heart attacks.

So, if you are paying attention, you know that I have taken four different prescription drugs, each of them for at least 8 years, most of them for ten years or longer, which are known to damage the body's metabolism and believed to contribute, if not directly cause, the onset of diabetes.  I won't take drugs.  I have to take the insulin. The average life expectancy for a Type I diabetic who does not take insulin is one year. It might be a way out of hell, to let myself die from untreated diabetes but based on how sick I am when my sugars are out of control, I have to believe it would be a hellish way to go. Lots of suffering. Anyway, right or wrong, I grudgingly take insulin and metformin. Metformin helps the body use insulin.

I saw my hematologist today. There!  Not everyone has a hematologist. I have a hematologist, who I see at a cancer treatment center so I am guessing most of her work is with cancer patients, because I have been on Coumadin since 2006 for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary emboli.  I last saw her about a year ago and she had said I could go off it. I misunderstood her. I found out from another one of my doctors, my surgeon, that she was surprised to hear I was still on coumadin because her report from my hematologist said I could go off it. So I hurried back to the hematologist to listen more closely to her. Anyway, I am off coumadin for good, unless I have another blood clotting issue.

Get this. I chatted with the hematologist about my new diagnosis as Type I, griped about the weight gain that I know has been the result of all the insulin, but which Dr. World-Renown insists is the result of overeating.  I eat less than a thousand calories a day and I gained 30 pounds in the first six weeks on the new insulin regimen.

Anyway, chatting with her, she said it sounded to her that I have both Type I diabetes and the insulin resistance that is the precursor to type II. With insulin resistance, my body has lost its ability to use insulin to do what it is supposed to do. It is insulin resistance that makes lots of people gain lots of weight. And I bet lots of these people took drugs that mess with metabolism and then these people blame and even hate themselves for being fat.

So my hematologist showed more empathy and insight into my insulin issues that my big shot diabetes-expert endocrinologist.

I am blessed to have a real person as my primary care doctor. She told me months ago that she used to work at UCSF, altho not as a diabetes specialist. She is a primary care doc, and a good one. And I really like her.  She said "You can't talk to any doctor at UCSF the way you do, empowered, well-informed. You are going to piss them off every time."

Anyway, Dr. Well-Known went and got his iPad when I said I would not take a statin. He scanned it to find some graphs showing study results of people who took statins. He pointed to one study that had five graph lines representing different categories of people in the study. He pointed to one line and said 'this line is for diabetics, this is the only line you need to look at'. The line just below the diabetics line on the graph said "Placebo". He actually told me to ignore the other lines on the graph.  He pointed to where the diabetics on statins ranked in terms of heart episodes while on the statin during the study. And he said a couple times "Just ignore the other lines." But I can read. The placebo group had the lowest rate of heart incidents during the study.

The fellow was in the room with us. I turned to her and said "Dr. Know-it-all has just shown you how to deal with a recalcitrant patient."

After that visit, I met an acquaintance for coffee in the Lower Haight in SF. At Cafe du Soleil, a very pleasant coffeeshop, btw.  When I told him about the conversation he said "You should have told the fellow you had just given her a lesson on how to deal with a doctor that won't listen to you."  He said that, I think, because I finally got the doc to stop pressuring me to take a statin by saying 'you can write me a script but I don't promise to take it."

I am never going to take a statin again. If I have a heart attack, so be it. I am unpersuaded that statins matter. And statins are in the news.  It is clear from the news coverage that no one really knows that statins provide any benefit, other than yielding gigantic profits for drug companies. Put someone in their forties on a statin and the drug companies recommend keeping them on them for life.

When Dr. All-Knowing ask me "Now what does this study tell you? What do you see here?" , tapping his iPad as he spoke. I actually said "I see some drug company making money off me for the rest of my life for an unproven drug that has not been proven to help me."

I should have broken up with him then.  But I did break up with Dr. Know-all last week. At the end of our very brief consultation, he said "I have a sense you do not want to make another appointment with me. Do you?" and I said "No I do not."

weight loss surgery: yay or nay?

I was all set to have weight loss surgery in Jan 2013. But in the run up to the surgery, following the pre-op diet, I lost 60 pounds. I was getting close to onederland!! I reasoned if I can stick with starvation for a year, I can just go on doing this. Besides, I have to eat very restricted amounts of food for the rest of my life. So I backed out of the surgery.

Then I regained 30 pounds.  I got diagnosed as a Type I Diabetic, which is treated differently than Type II.

Some nice things:  the nurse case manager, the nurse, the insurance manager and my surgeon were totally cool. They have seen it all. They have seen people do what I have done, lose a bunch of weight, back out of the surgery and then return to them, humbled by their inability to keep it off.  It is nice to have a bunch of health care professionals who are not judgmental about weight loss surgery and losing then regaining some weight.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

my newborn's dark eyes

©In my family of origin, four of the siblings, including me, had blue eyes. My baby bro Dave had green ones. And my older brother, Chuck the fuck, has brown eyes.

I was sure my babies with Katie's dad would have brown eyes because he had  very dark brown eyes. She did get all his coloring but, alas, my hair texture. His hair was kinky curly and his sisters all had full, thick heads of hair, as does my sister. Katie got the straight limp hair that doesn't want to do anything but be straight. Brown hair. And she had an olive inflection in the tone of her skin that no one in my family of origin had. We Irish are all very fair.   People with an olive tone in their skin tan. Katie's dad's family was half German and half Croatian. I think the olive skin came from Croatia which is almost Mediterranean, right? Wherever it came from, she did not had my skin tone. And she tanned tanned tanned.

I was mesmerized by everything about my newborn. Her tiny fingers. Every movement of every part of her body. Her feet could make me swoon. And I was in great awe of her deeply dark brown eyes. No one related to me ever had such dark eyes. Plus I discovered that the diameter of the part of the human eye that has color comes in different lengths. Some are bigger. Some are smaller.  Until Katie was born with her very big brown diameter eyes (or circumference), I had unwittingly assumed all eye color widths were the same. Nope. Some are much bigger than others. I thought that when someone in a movie spoke of 'big' blue or 'big' brown eyes, they were talking about the brightness or depth of the color. Staring at my newborn, I saw that the brown circles in her eyes, besides the pupil, which operates a big like a cameera lens and gets bigger and smaller depending on light conditions, was much bigger than mine.

We had awesome executive insurance so I could have had a private eroom. Katie's father, a jerk, insisted I get a double room, imagining his frugality would be noticed by his bosses. Noticed and admired. The company completely self-funded their own health care so in his mind, it was his boss writing checks but that is not how self-funded private health insurance plans work. And I am positive no one told anyone that I took a dobule hospital room instead of the private room I would have loved to have had.  When I checked in, I could have asked for a private room anyway and it would have been too late for him to forbid it.  Then I would have had to deal with his anger. So I had a shared room. 

My roommate was not only nosy and pushy, she had huge crowds of visitors. I say she was nosy and pushy because I stayed in the hospital five days, a day after she left and she had come in a day after I had arrived and she nagged me for being in the hospital so long. She berated me a lot for staying so long, like it was any of her business. A complete stranger. It was awful sharing a room with her, too, because she had so many visitors. I used to sit in the waiting room off the lobby on the floor. Sometimes a nurse would find me in there crying. Postpartum crying, not a big deal.  Then the nurse would go and kick out the crowd in my room. Nowadays, I think most moms are in and out the same day but we had this awesome insurance and I was not in a hurry to leave. I would have no help once I got home. And no emotional support. So I stayed. Plus Katie was jaundiced when born and her pediatrician wanted to keep her there. I could have gone home but I was not going to leave my baby.  I actually left a day earlier than I had intended to because my roommate had shamed me.  I never quite let myself have what I want. Now it seems too late to start trying.

One day, when the pediatrician made his daily visit, I remarked on her big brown eyes. I must have mentioned that all the babies in my family had blue ones because he said "You never know. The color of a baby's eyes can change from the day they are born. I've seen it happen."  And I said, staring into those big brown beauties, "Dr. Murphy, have you actually looked at my daughter's eyes? There's no way, no way, such dark eyes are ever going to become light blue. Her dark brown eyes are perfect. I don't want them to be blue." I had longed, all my life, for a mini-me, another blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter but as soon as I saw Katie, I knew I had the perfect daughter.

I remember how much I enjoyed saying 'my daughter' in those first days of her life. It took a long time for the pleasure of savoring that phrase wore off. My daughter.

My ex just didn't know how to give me emotional support. And my family lived far away but, truth told, they didn't know how to give me emotional support either. Never did.  And I was new in town and only had a couple friends, wives of my husband's friends, who all had new babies that year, too. A couple couples visited me in the hospital. And the extended family of my husband all came to meet Katie. 

A typical visitor was my mother-in-law. She would arrive and showily announce that she was here to help. The first time she came in and announced "I am here to help, to do anything you need" I said, with the question in my rising tone, "The breakfast dishes?" and she said "how about I hold the baby while you do the dishes?"

The first check up I had with my doctor, he asked me if I was getting lots of help. And I told him that vignette about my mother-in-law and he laughed and said "So the only time you get to rest is when no one is there to help you and you can let the dishes go and be with your baby. Ban the visitors."

I couldn't.  My husband would have punished me.  So the stream of unhelpful visitors who only came to hold the baby kept coming.

When she was six weeks old, my mom and fourteen year old sister visited.  They had stopped at some hippie commune en route. My mom was always taking classes at the local college, although she had graduated while I was still in h.s. and her live-in child care provider.  She told a funny story of how one day at dinner, which was something like oatmeal - a vegetarian, frugal commune, I guess -- she put a spoonful of something into her mouth. She thought it was a chunk of tofu and she did not want to be ill-mannered so she began to chew it. It was a big hunk of butter. Then she just kept eating it because it would have been ill-mannered to take it out of her mouth.  My mom hardly ever told a funny story. I can see my sister giggling, filing in various details.  Staying with a bunch of hippies had been quite an adventure for both of them.  My mom was mostly an awful mom but she got a few things right. She eschewed norms and conventionality.

Now Katie, my daughter, did ot get the eschew-conventionality trait. Her dad worships convention and lives to fit in. He worried obsessively about what others thought of him. I hope she doesn't have that tendency still but she did as a child and teen.

My daughter was born with the darkest, biggest brown eyes imaginable. And she is very petite, very fine-boned. All the Fitzpatricks are big with big heads. Katie got a small head. She looks more like her dad's family than mine, because of her coloring. One day, I took a photo of Katie and my mother, both of them looking down at something beyond the shot.

Katie looks like my mom, but without the blue eyes and fine skin. We could see it in that photo of the two of them, side by side. My mom was great beauty when young, fine-boned and full-bosomed. And so is my Katie.

Except for the perfectly big dark brown eyes.

You know that song, 'row row row the boat' that ends with 'life is but a dream'?  It is true. This life is a dream. I dreamt Katie.  I dreamt Marc. I dreamt me and I am a nightmare.

I know this is an imperfect piece of writing. I ramble. I meander. What's the point? Why do I write write write?

typhoons, aid and Republicans in America

I am aware of the tragedy that just hit the Philippines, of course.  I want all humans in need to get their needs met.  I read reports of the challenges of getting aid in quickly. Every news story about the typhoon in the Phillippines prominently mentions whatever the U.S. is doing. I confess that I mostly read U.S. media and U.S. media focus on the U.S., still buying into the myth of America being a great country, which I don't think it is. But it is a human country and, like any human, it has its imperfections and is a work in progress. Progress in America has sucked in recent years.

Here is a question I am sitting witih.  Why it is assumed that the U.S. will send ships, airplanes, lots of food, water, medical assistance and, one way or another, money, and why do no Republicans speak of withholding food from the victims of this typhoon but Republicans callously and happily begrudge hungry Americans food on regular days free of natural disasters?

Are good people only supposed to help in times of disaster? And define disaster, please. It sure seems like a disaster to me every time a human being, adult or child, goes hungry while millionaires and even a few billionaires get agricultural subsidies. We can spend billions and billions funding corporate agriculture but we are supposed to drug test hungry people and maybe make them work for their food?

Don't misunderstand me. I want as much aid as possible to rush to the Philippines.

I just don't understand why hungry humans in America, homeless humans in America, sick humans in America without decent health care are acceptable things but a typhoon hits and, at least for a little while, everyone cares about the unfortunate victims of a disaster.

And, with disasters on my mind, I am recalling the tsunami that wiped out a lot of Indonesia several years ago, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, that earthquake in Chile a few years ago, and now the Philippine typhoon. Typhoons have names, it seems, but I don't remember the name of this one.

What's the difference between a typhoon and a tsunami? and does it matter?

What is the difference in how people end up hungry and homeless? Why should we rush to help some but begrudge help to others because of how they came to be in need? Meeting human need is the point of having a human economy. Yet we allow the economic realm to be controlled by greed. Our economic realm is insane and we allow it.

We were never friends, just two people who met at a conference.

"We were never friends. We're just two people who met at a conference."

Someone that I have wanted to be my friend for a long time said that to me just about a year ago. It cut me like a hot knife cuts through soft butter. We were walking from Costco, which is nested underneath a freeway and the walk to BART was in an unfamiliar neighborhood and seemed a little sketchy to me. I don't know if it is sketchy. I don't know SF well. But it was winter so it was dark and I had asked this man I had met at a conference to walk me to BART when we made our plan to go to Costco.

I wanted to see if I wanted to shell out $55 a year to join Costco. And found out that I do not. We bought a pair of free range organic feed frozen chickens and split the price. And something else. Mushrooms?   I forget.  That' s not enough incentive to shell out $55 a year.

After he said "we were never friends" I did not want to walk down the dark streets with him. In this part of the city, the only thing open late in the evening was bars. Doors from bars would open, light spilling out, noise from the drinkers spilled out. It felt unsafe for a woman walking alone but after he said that, I asked him to let me finish walking alone. I told him he could get on his bike and I'd be fine.  I kept saying "you don't have to walk me, I changed my mind, you can go" but he doggedly walked me all the way.  He had apologized.

We both trudged all the way up to Market and then had to walk several more blocks to the first BART entrance. I kept telling him he didn't have to stay with me. He kept rolling along, but we were walking funny by then, walking far apart.   I was in a lot of pain. I was in physical pain, which is chronic, plus I was lugging heavy groceries. I was in emotional pain, which was probably heavier.  Just before we got to the BART entrance, he said something, but I don't remember exactly what. Something about how I had to make a choice about him. This was, incidentally, months after his secret move when I was hurt but not angry. I felt humiliated by that secret move, to tell the truth. Completely humiliated. I asked him many times "Which of your friends did not know you were moving?"  He never answered. What was his question on Market Street that night? Something about how I seemed to be facing a tough choice related to him. I said "It would not be a tough choice at all. The right choice, the easy choice, would be to give you up and that is the choice I would make if I had not seen your white hairs dance like white neon in a halo around your face." This is true. Maybe it was psychotic?  I thought it was love, mystery, magic when dancing light would seem to frame his face. I had thought seeing that dancing halo around him was the goddess pointing to him and telling me "pay attention to this man, he is special to you, he is your man."   I've never seen anyone else radiate the way I have seen him glow. He is so beautiful, so fine. But he does not see me that way. He says I am untrustworthy, that we were never friends. And yet he also says he loves me and doesn't give a fig if I don't believe he does.  We were never friends. He loves me but doesn't want me to contact him ever again.  Huh?

One sad truth about me:  I forgive but I don't forget.  My hurt needs to form a blister, and the blister can take a long time to go away.  How could someone who has also told me he loves me tell me we were never friends? or ask me to never contact him again? And what is wrong with me that I keep holding on to him as much as I can?  We met at that conference in January 2006 and we aren't friends? What the heck are friends then?

I did say to him "Are you aware how unkind you are being to me?" and he changed his behavior.

I think he spoke a truth, one of those inadvertent moments when someone unintentionally but maybe intentionally unconsciously speaks their truth. He does not see me as a friend. He's never invited me to his home, never shared a holiday with me, never introduced me to anyone in his life. He moved last year without telling me and wouldn't tell me where he lived for 8 months while all his real friends got to see the new place. All his real friends knew he was moving before he moved. Me, he was telling me he loved me while he was deliberately hiding the move.

This is not how a friend behaves.

The worst part is he thinks I am a rogue lion, savagely unsafe. He said the idea of me knocking on his door in his high end San Francisco neighborhood was 'horrific'. And yes, that is a quote, a direct quote. Me showing up at his place is a horrific thought.

The worst part, though, is he thinks I am the rogue lion, that I am untrustworthy, unsafe, dangerous.

Here is one of life's great truths:  never trust someone that tells you they don't trust you. That means they are untrustworthy; otherwise why would they even be thinking about trust. He assumed I am as trustworthy, or put more accurately, as untrustworthy, as he knows himself to be. He does not speak his truth, evading answering questions, withholding truths (like moving without telling me).

He was right. We were never friends.

So how come I am so sad?

Monday, November 11, 2013

raking, then burning, fallen leaves

Here in Berkeley where I live now, what leaves we have are quickly falling. No reds and oranges. The leaves might turn a pale green, leaning into yellow, but mostly they just fall down. And not all that many. Fall doesn't seem like fall, at all, here. Not to me.

I lived in Mountain View for two years, which is home to Google and the heart of Silicon Valley so it is a very suburban-y suburb so it has trees but, not like MN has. Take a look at the Stanford campus which makes an effort to look natural; the campus is dry, what grass there is is the colot of wheat and you don't see the fall color and everyhing looks dry as bone. Still, and this is my point, I think every single minute of the two years I was awake while iiving in MV I heard leaf blowers. Endless underpaid immigrants, likely some of the ones that would stand outside Sears each day hoping for day jobs, would blow mowed grass.  In my apartment complex, I swear, the workers were blowing noisy blowers all the time.  I guess it is a well groomed suburb but I never quite figured out what the heck they were blowing.

Seeing this photo, I'd know what to do with a leaf blower. I'd get some jumbo bags and blow leaves into them, altho plastic bags are killing ocean life, eh?  Just read about a huge whale who died from plastic bags in his stomach.

When I was a kid, we fought to rake leaves. And we'd go up and down the block volunteering to rake neighbors' leaves, the ones without kid slaves to do it. Our reward was burning piles of leaves. Can you imagine burning piles of leaves at the curb on any city street today? Certainly not in Chicago where I grew up. Did they ever do that in MInneapolis?

Gosh, I loved burning leaves. Loved the smell, the smoke, the darkness which its hint of mystery/danger. Staying out after dark was new. Tending a fire was thrilling.

My brothers and I squabbled over who got to burn the leaves. Usually it was me because I would pounce on fallen leaves whereas they would wait to be told to do the chore. I actually liked raking, truly. I like burning piles of leaves and carefully tending the piles more. Good times. Olden times.

Nowadays I am sure it is illegal to burn piles of leaves in the street, not to mention pollution of the air.

Still, I loved raking and burning leaves. I esp. loved getting the jump on both my brothers and other boys on the block cause once a girl got started, other girls joined in. And it became a girl project. The boy's usually owned the street but once in awhile, we girls got our chance.

Not enough.

We were never friends; just two people who met at a conference

"We were never friends. We're just two people who met at a conference."

Someone that I have wanted to be my friend for a long time said that to me just about a year ago. It cut me hard. We were walking from Costco, which is nested underneath a freeway and the walk to BART was in an unfamiliar neighborhood, seeming a little sketchy to me. I don't know if it is sketchy. I don't know SF well. It was winter, dark and I had asked this man, just someone I had met at a conference seven years ago,  to walk me to BART when we made our plan to go to Costco.

I wanted to see if I wanted to shell out $55 a year to join Costco. And found out that I do not. We bought a pair of free range organic feed frozen chickens and split the price. And something else. Mushrooms?   I forget.  That' s not enough incentive to shell out $55 a year. So I have not joined Costco.

After he said "we were never friends" I did not want to walk down the dark streets with him. In this part of the city, the only thing open late in the evening was bars. Doors from bars would open, light spilling out, noise from the drinkers spilled out. It felt unsafe for a woman walking alone but after he said that, I asked him to let me finish walking alone. I told him he could get on his bike and I'd be fine.  I kept saying "you don't have to walk me, I changed my mind, you can go" but he doggedly walked me all the way.  He apologized for his comment after I said "Do you have any awareness of how unkind you are being?"  He pulled himself back, shifted how he behaved. I think, and I am keening in sadness as I write this, tears streaming down my cheeks, he spoke his truth.

One sad truth about me:  I forgive but I don't forget.  My hurt needs to form a blister, and the blister can take a long time to go away.  How could someone who has also told me he loves me tell me we were never friends? or ask me to never contact him again? And what is wrong with me that I keep holding on to him as much as I can?

I think he spoke a truth, one of those inadvertent moments when someone unintentionally but maybe unconsciously speaks their truth. He does not see me as a friend. He's never invited me to his home, never shared a holiday with me, never introduced me to anyone in his life. He moved last year without telling me and wouldn't tell me where he lived for 8 months while all his real friends got to see the new place.  He has never introduced me to anyone in his life. We met at coffeeshops or, once, at Costco.  Like a secret he is ashamed of.

He has also told me, over and over and over, that he fears me, distrusts me. How can I feel safe with someone who tells me I am untrustworthy and he fears me? How can he not see that when I feel unsafe, and I feel unsafe when someone tells me they distrust and fear me, I actually become unsafe because I feel unsafe. Which comes first, chieken or egg. Fear or fearful behavior?

He thinks I am a rogue lion, savagely unsafe. He said the idea of me knocking on his door in his high end San Francisco neighborhood was 'horrific'. And yes, that is a quote, a direct quote. Me showing up at his place is a horrific thought.

The worst part, though, is he thinks I am the rogue lion, that I am the untrustworthy, unsafe, dangerous one.  He does not see that he is untrustworthy, unsafe and dangerous. He does not see that by being guarded and fearful with me, he created a fearful, guarded, unsafe connection. The worst part is he blames me for our conflicts. The worst part is I blame myself when he blames me and he goes off happy as a lark.  Are larks happy? What does happy as a lark mean?!!  There's my humor. He has a lovely sense of humor, too. He is a wonderful man. He just doesn't love me the way I want him to.  I am so sad.

Here is one of life's great truths:  never trust someone that tells you they don't trust you. That means they are untrustworthy; otherwise why would they even be thinking about trust. He assumed I am as trustworthy, or put more accurately, as untrustworthy, as he knows himself to be. He does not speak his truth, evading answering questions, withholding truths (like moving without telling me).

He was right. We were never friends.

So how come I am so sad?

it's almost 5 a.m, have to be up at 7:30

so do I try to get two hours sleep or go to my early meeting and then sleep all day?

I have two errands to run today. One is on the way to and from the doc appointment so that's easy. The other one could be on the way. I don't own a printer. It works out pretty well because I only print something when I absolutely have to. When I had a printer, I printed things all the time, wasting lots of paper and ink.

But on the way to my 8:45 a.m. appointment, there is an internet store that charges a buck a page to print off the internet. A block down the street in the opposite direction from my errand, but only a block from home, is  a print shop that lets me put in a data stick, print one page for four cent. Geez, who's gonna pay a buck when I can print for four cents? Besides, last time, the one guy running the printing store didn't want to stop what he was doing to collect my four cents so he just let me have it free.

Four cents or free is better. And the walk if good.

And I could keep on walking and get to the pool for laps.

I'll take my suit with me to the doc appointment. I'll be lucky to be out of there by 11, so that would get me to the pool just as lap swim begins at 11:30 by the time I change.  I usually wear my suit to the pool but sometimesm the doc actually examines me.

I guess I have decided to stay up until the appointment.

Boring post, eh?

Rilke : wisdom

"“Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that needs our love.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Icarus, coming to the end of a triumph

©I posted a poem by the recently passed, great poet John Gardner. He is writing about the end of a marriage, using Icarus's flying and his fall from the sun brilliantly. At the end he says Icarus was not failing when he fell. His success was ending, which is not the same as failing.

I like poetry.  I wouldn't mind, goddess, if you sent me a poet to be my man.

The poet wrote 'maybe Icarus was not falling, maybe he had come to the end of a triumph'. I like that.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

walk me to BART

©About a year ago, more or less, I asked an acquaintance to take me to Costco. I am not a member, he is.  I wanted to see if I wanted to pay $55/year to shop there. Costco in San Francisco is under a freeway, in a part of the city I don't know. This part of the city seemed dark and sketchy to me so I asked the acquaintance doing me the favor of getting me into Costco to walk me to BART. He was on his bicycle. 

Since then, he has walked me to BART, once to a Muni train station and a few bus stops, even in broad daylight.

In August, we went to a movie in San Francisco, me traveling over there from Berkeley because he was due to come to Berkeley for my sixtieth birthday so when he offered to come to Berkeley for the movie, I said I'd come to SF even though I had just seen him in SF.  It was his turn to come to the East Bay but since he was coming to take me out to eat for my birthday -- he suggested dinner, I alternatively suggested lunch to make it less costly for him.

Anyway, the walk to the movie theater in August was over a mile from BART. Afterwards, we visited in a Peets, talking. When he became restless hanging out with me, he said "I'll walk you back to BART." And I said "You don't have to walk me to BART."  It was only about 4 p.m., summertime, broad daylight. I said "I asked you to walk me to BART back when it was dark when I would have walked alone. Now it's daytime."  His relief was visible.  He even seemed to rush away from our visit faster, which seemed unchivalrous since I had just saved him a 1+ mile walk and then the bike ride back.

It's been a long time since I worried about walking alone at night.   I rarely go out alone after dark so it never comes up. My pattern with this acquaintance involves crossing the bay, with me going there a lot more than he goes out of his way to see me. 

Cheryl's rose quartz ball: feeding her heart

©My now-deceased friend Cheryl got $100 for Xmas. She knew right away what she wanted to buy:  a ball of rose-quartz. She had just visited Lynn, then my business partner. Lynn owned many crystals. One was a very large rose quartz ball, perhaps 6-7 inches in diameter. It was big.  Cheryl had slept with it during a visit to Lynn's when Lynn still lived in Balltimore. In fact, on my next visit, I insisted on sleeping with that same rose quartz. Lynn tried to talk me out of it. I only realized tonight, as I considered writing this post about Cheryl's rose quartz shopping trip, that Lynn had not really wanted me to sleep with her rose quartz ball. I insisted. Lynn said "it is cold too sleep with it, you won't like it" and I said "Nonsense, I will warm it up." And I did warm it up.  I think Lynn did not want my energy sleeping with her rose quartz.  I missed that cue and insisted on sleeping with it because Cheryl had spoken of how much she had loved sleeping with it. Why Cheryl and not me?

It was cold sleeping with it, but only at first. It warmed up. I never felt any special energy with it.  Lynn was, and I am sure still is, a very powerful woman. She probably put a block on the rose quartz for me!  Cheryl spoke of the great dreams she had, the powerful energy she had felt sleeping with that big rose quartz ball. For me, nothing.

Just after Christmas,  Cheryl asked if I would be willing to drive her to the rock shop in my car. This involved taking her non-motorized wheelchair, with me collapsing it, putting it into the car, taking it out and then lifting Cheryl into it. Work, but work I was happy to do.

To go in her motorized wheelchair, she needed her gigantic delivery van with a ramp. And the only van with with a ramp for her 300 pound electric wheelchair was her van, which meant she would have to drive. The only place to lock down her wheelchair in her van was at the driver's position, which had a tiny steering wheel with a doorknob-like handle on it to facilitate steering. Cheryl had very short arms and she could not manipulate a regular size steering wheel so part of the customizing of her gigantic van involved putting in a tiny steering wheel and then making the gas and breaks accessible near that steering wheel, accessible to her very short arms. Cheryl had explained to me that sometimes she liked to go out in a regular car like regular people.

Cheryl, now deceased, was a deformed dwarf with an extremely rare genetic disorder. The deformity was not merely being a dwarf. She had a regular human's sized head, her arms and legs were too short for her small body. On her tiny body, her head loomed large and many saw her as a freak.  Cheryl could have been in those old, gruesome circus freak shows. She was very strange looking and lived life in  a 300 pound wheelchair. Between her different appearance and the wheelchair, she was isolated from what she imagined was regular people, from ordinary living. She had mostly friends who were also very disabled. I got to know most of her disabled friends. Most of them came to our intensives over time. Quads, paraplegics, lots of cerebral palsies. I learned that all of them longed for social connections with normal people but they rarely achieved such connections. Coming to our intensives, during which participants tended to form deep bonds and then continue in the ongoing weekly community gatherings we held year round, allowed Cheryl's disabled crowd to form some close friendships with people living in normal bodies.  Cheryl and her private care attendant eventually became my main babysitter.  I sometimes wonder what my daughter thinks of that time in her life, from age five to seven or eight when her main babysitter was a deformed dwarf and a young man with mild cerebral palsy. On her own, Cheryl could not babysit because if something had happened to Rosie, Cheryl could not pick her up or tend to a cut. But Tim could.

Her arms were so short that she could not reach anything so she could not reach into the fridge to get a soda. She could not reach a stove to prepare meals. She had a 24/7 365 private care attendant. She could not get in and out of bed on her own. Or in and out of the bathroom on her own.  I believe the unmatched head and limbs were related to her genetic disorder, which was Morquio's Syndrome. The average lifespan for someone with Morquio's Syndrome is 18 years. Cheryl died when she was 32.  With Morquio's Syndrome, the bones in the body very slowly deteriorate, sorta melting away.

Cheryl had multiple spinal fusions in her life because the bone around the spinal cord protects the entire nervous system. People with Morquio's Syndrome usually die when their spinal cord has disintegrated and their spinal cord collapses and the person becomes completely paralyzed. Our spinal cords are fragile, delicate and integral to life.

I drove Cheryl's van a few times. We could put in a regular driver's seat. If Cheryl was on any outing in the van, she had to drive because the only spot for her 300 pound chair was at the driver seat.

For some reason, she asked me to take her out 'like a normal person' in my car. This meant more work for me. I had to lift the regular wheel chair in and out of the car and it was not light. And I had to lift Cheryl in and out of the car. She was not light. Having lived a sedentary life, she was very heavy.  It's not like she could exercise.  She looked like the size of a young child but she weighed over 100 pounds. A lot for me to lift.  I dropped her getting her out of the car at the rock shop. She was very nice about it, especially considering that it was late December in Minnesota. I dropped her onto ice and snow.  She said as long as I didn't mind her weight, she didn't mind getting plopped in the slushy snow.  I felt bad but not for long. Cheryl was too happy to be out on what she called a normal friend outing, in a car, not in her gigantic van.

Nowadays, minivans can be retrofitted to accommodate electric wheelchairs but Cheryl had gotten a retrofitted, jumbo delivery van before the dawn of minivans.  Voc rehab would give disabled folks in wheelchairs retrofitted vans so they could work. Lots of folks told voc rehab they wanted to work, got the vans and then stopped working because all they had really wanted was the van.  I imagine scoring a retrofitted van from voc rehab is a lot harder nowadays.

Anyway.  I could say more about that van, and esp. the surreal experience of navigating a gigantic van with super-hyper-power-steering from a five inch steering wheel. The wheel was so small I had to use the doorknob-like stub on it, too, because the span was too small for me to use as a steering wheel, too small for me to turn it without the knob. The knob was for Cheryl, because her very short arms could not turn the tiny, five-inch steering wheel without the knob.  The gas and brake pedals were hand-operated, right next to the tiny steering wheel. Surprisingly, I got used to the weird driving set up quickly. All cars should have such sharp, easy steering.

We got into  the crystal store. Cheryl knew exactly what she wanted. If the store had any rose quartz ball for $100 or less, she was going to buy it. It had one, one that was about three inches, maybe 3.5 inches, in diameter. It was actually perfect for Cheryl since she was very small. It was about as big, proportionally, to her, as Lynn's big ball was to Lynn. Lynn's rose quartz ball was about six inches in diameter. And that was, ultimately, what Cheryl wanted, to be like Lynn.

That's all we did. I picked her up, loaded, unloaded, loaded, unloaded. The wheelchair was hard to unload and load. Cheryl was hard to unload and unload.  Cheryl's joy at being in my shitty old car -- I think I still had the Geo Metro at that point and it was on its last legs, chugging just barely -- and being out in the world like, as she kept saying, a real person, and spending her $100 Xmas gift from her parents on something they strongly disapproved of was worth the slight burdens.

Cheryl squealed delightedly as she told me her parents would be appalled to learn what she had spent their $100 Christmas gift on. This added, I think, to the joy of owning a rose quartz ball.

I can hear Cheryl laughing, smirking, giggling about how she had told her mother she was going to spend the money on a rose quartz ball. Her mother was upset, said it was a waste of money to buy something Cheryl didn't need.  What was she supposed to do?  Be practical with a present?

She was being practical, I told her.  She was feeding her heart.