Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ten things that make me happy… tempered with a healthy dose of bitter

Sometimes it helps to list shiny, happy things out especially when I am feeling dark and curmudgeonly…. as a clue as to how dark and curmudgeonly I am feeling I am fighting the instinct to start out this paragraph with “Some people have told me that this is a stupid thing to do but sometimes it helps…”

It seems like I am one angry mother fucker as of late. Just ask my mother, she would agree.

1.  My son, when I feel all dark and evil inside, I look at my son in the eyes and there is so much goodness in there that he saves me from myself (at least in terms of letting the dark win), I also feel really guilty that I do this, seems like a lot of pressure to put on him though he has no idea what goes on inside my head, So, my son, he makes me happy.

2. Giving – giving of my time mostly, since I don’t have a lot of money. My husband hates this part of me, told me the other night “I wish I were a charity so you would be with me”

OMG – I am two in and already they are deeply tempered with crotchety…. how do I fix this?

3.  The color orange. It makes me happy. This is in spite of the fact that I was told by an “wu-wu” artist that orange is the low color on the totem pole and that only real cool people love purple – what a douche!  I still love the color orange, purple reminds me of mean old ladies that hit you with their umbrellas.

4. Stupid games on my phone; Yahtzee anyone? How about Draw Free (I play this with my son, which is actually awesome), Cascade, Smurfs 2, Criminal Case, Words Streak, Words with Friends, or Trivia Crack.  It is treasured mindlessness.

5. My Fitbit – love it for its reminders of how crappy I sleep when I am in a uptown funk!

6. Meat. I love meat. It is something dead.

7. Boots, I love boots. It is cold out now, they help keep my feet warm.

8. Friends, they always manage to come out when I need them most. I can’t imagine that I am an easy friend to have.

9.  Coffee. I have brought myself to the point where I only take one cup a day, and I take it with cream only. But it is a glorious 12 minutes of so of my every morning!

10. My husband. Paragon of patience with me.  He reminds me to be happy, even when he is his grumpiest self!

 

Advertisements

QEPD – Saracita

I was sitting on a short wall that was facing a Japanese pagoda house  set upon a pond on the campus of my University in Ecuador.  The waft of acrid smoke from the Belmont cigarette curling around my head. I was horribly homesick, and slightly uncomfortable with my leg stretched out in front of me heavy with my hiking boots. My leg was sore from falling off of a moving bus, and I was thinking I was grateful I had access to healthcare through my schooling, which was to say my fellow medical students.

In the midst of this pity party this sweet perky girl sat down next to me and in halted spanish, asked for a cigarette. I handed her one and my lighter and we struck up a conversation.  She eventually asked me if I was Brazilian… and I started laughing. I was delighted to finally be considered to be from somewhere closer to the country in which I was born. I turned to her and began the long explanation that usually accompanies this kind of question.

I had met a dear, dear friend. We spent quite a bit of time together, laughing about our respective “viejo verdes” and other assorted scholastic  adventures.  We would sit in our college cafeteria eating french fries dipped in a sweet mix of mayo and ketchup telling stories about our lives. I was in medical school and she was doing a research project on homosexuality in Ecuador and we had access to a plethora of surveys given to our fellow alumni about their sexual attitudes, beliefs and practices as a part of her project.  Analyzing that data was fun and a part of our shared love of things anthropological.  We traveled together and developed a sound track to our friendship. I loved hearing about her friends and family back east.

We would dish on our favorite professors; the plastic surgeon turned medical anthropologist from Colombia, the Jewish philosophy professor that  specialized in the German thinkers, the nutrition professor that shared our love for anthropology. She helped me manage a friend (acquaintance really) that came to visit me out of the blue. I helped her realize the hearts of palm farmer was a poor love interest. We both loved, we both cried, we both laughed.

It was the first time I had a girl friend that shared a similar intellectual curiosity. Sarah was also incredibly girly, and it was a welcome change for me… to have a girly friend that let me be me. She was about ten years younger than I was, so I was able to live vicariously through her. I am filled with fond memories of her.

Sarah and I stayed friends from that day she sat down next to me and I am ever so grateful for her presence in my life. When she died this past October, I was devastated.  I wasn’t done being her friend yet, at least in the kind that involves voices and hugs and contact, I still am not.  I miss her emails, I miss her phone calls, I miss her writing.

She was a wonderful writer, she had a clean way with words that was always a pleasure to read, even if the topic was outside the scope of my  interests.

I miss Saracita so much.

1271672_10151898427788584_800170766_o

volunteering yet again… (day 8)

This day I brought in my fellow members of the Junior League of Phoenix to come help! They saved me, most of the other volunteers did not show up!  I did, however, bring my son. He was actually a good volunteer! 

My co-chair showed up in the afternoon and I told her to go watch traffic, she only had to do it for a couple of  hours – but  still.  I am so relieved the experience is over, but I am still so proud of the event!

volunteering day 2 … (day 7)

The next day was open tot he public, and again traffic needed to be managed. MY co-chair had left me in the dust and canceled her shift to help out for the day. One other volunteer helped with traffic, yay for awesome volunteers who will do even most unpleasant work!

This is my friend, she was adopted into the logistics team and was super valuable! 

This woman is a heritage and preservation (and arts) human of awesomeness! 

This is a picture of what we called our “chair” when we volunteered to manage traffic! Not pleasant to sit on!

I talked my husband and son to join me at the end of my shift!

and we got one of those fun picture things taken too!

Volunteering at the gala… (day 6)

I have been serving as logistics co-chair for the grand unveiling of a historic home in Tempe, AZ.  Doing so has been a labor of love for me for several different reasons. It was a historic home, and since my family has ties to Arizona back into its territorial days, keep that alive is important to me. The other facet is that it is a water conservation project as well. With my maternal grandfather building and working on many of the dams (in his era) and helping to make sure that Arizona got its fair share by giving testimony to the American Congress as it tried to deal with water rights for the Colorado River, this project seemed like a perfect storm for me.

The day of that gala came, a wonderful party that showcased how beautiful the house was to those who attended. The idea being that it will be rented out to the community for events. The home is an adobe house built in the 30’s, and it looked stunning on a hilltop with lights.

One of our needs for the event was traffic management. Since I believe that one cannot take on a job without being willing to do it, and no one wanted to volunteer for it, I went down and was traffic controller. It was a quiet time, but I had fun!  I was able to get a glass of wine to keep me warm and took a lot of selfies. I tried to photograph the house, but the phone did not really capture how beautiful it looked! 

There were fun shadows and I played with those instead:

I went back tot eh party only to be told that all the water conservation toilets were stopped up. Actually what it was is that the buttons for the flow were stuck and thus no one was able to flush – still, it was gross. Of course, it took 4 people to fix this issue, me to clean it, two men to look like dorks and watch, and my co-chair Debby to photograph it!

 

In the period where I had to live the life of a citizen – a life where, like everybody else, I did tons of laundry and cleaned toilet bowls, changed hundreds of diapers and nursed children – I learned a lot.~ Patti Smith

I did have a wonderful time, the grand majority of the volunteers were awesome and I  am proud of the event and my role in it!

 

… (day 5)

One or about the day I celebrated one year of remission I was invited to join a group of women and talk about how fucking important it is to join the pro vaccine bandwagon and make sure our sons and daughters get their vaccinations, specifically the one that will help their bodies fight HPV related cancers. To make the whole thing even more valuable to me I was charged with supporting a program that dealt with cervical cancer detection, treatment, and prevention along the Napo river in Peru. While the Ecuadorean in me will always be suspicious of Peru, I do know and love the Napo River. So I ran to this group and pleas the case. The group is a chapter of Dining For Women. I was blown away; the room was filled with smart and thoughtful women that were enjoying themselves and supporting vetted programs around the world. Tonight, I did this again, only as a member. 
I learned the chapter has a wide range of members, though all women. I also learned they call themselves Wining for Women… And even got a semi temporary name tag.

The idea is that you and your friends gather for a potluck and learn about and donate to a charitable organization that’s been screened by the umbrella organization. This group of women are a hoot, and I felt so honored to be included and invited.

  

One should always be drunk. That’s all that matters…But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you chose. But get drunk.      ~Charles Baudelaire

The parent organization;  http://diningforwomen.org/

the sleepers in that quiet earth… (day 4)

I woke up this morning in a jolly mood, probably because I was able to get relatively uninterrupted sleep for over 7 hours… considering I was averaging 4 – 5 hours, it was a vast improvement.

I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.
~Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights

When I woke up, I listened to the silence in the still dark house, then took inventory of my body… which is a silly way of saying I paid attention to all my parts to take a chance to notice anything… usually it is the things like “headache”, “sore feet”, “happy heart”… Today it was just jolly, not from or at a certain spot, but just jolly.

I love silence, I love it very much. When I can be in silence with people is when I know we are good friends. Now, it isn’t that I demand we not speak, but when those moments that are silent, which can be as awkward as they can be beautiful… those moments are like a big reveal.

I love having a house full of people and waking up that next morning and taking my moment of silence, and being able to hear the love from the previous day still resonating off my walls.  I love those moments.

As I sit here writing about it, I realize that somehow I have forgotten this habit of mine this past year. How wonderful that it has returned.

A quiet moment
Let’s all sit, silently, and feel the magic in the room, the possibility of connection and the optimism we gain when we know we are in it together.
~ unknown

 

Another day without the dark tinge… sometimes, I imagine that the tinge looks like the gravelings in Dead like Me.

gravelings – creepy little shits

 

Shit I obsess about when I am not drinking… (day 3)

which is ironic because I only drink as an after thought…  as in “oh yeah, we have that bottle of red wine   scotch   rum  hard cider   beer   red wine  that we should open”.

I like drinking but it is not something I think about or have to do… in all honesty, some friends think I am a borderline teetotaler, ready to take a hatchet to en evil barrel of alcohol. It is a nice after thought, and can be awesome when used and abused in certain circumstances.

The medical school drop-out in me tends to get all worked up about talking about alcohol because we were taught to double what most people tell us they drink… alcohol and sex are two things most folks are willing to lie to their physicians about.

Which brings me to the think I have been thinking about…

I mentioned in my last post that I went to see a dermatologist because… “hey, skin cancer is another form of cancer and I have proven excellent at making that nasty beast grow, so get checked girlfriend, you live in Arizona”.

Which was good, because at the end of my appointment my deliciously “young American of Brazilian ancestry but in love with Medellin, Colombia” doctor grabbed my shoulders, looked me straight in the eyes and said “Your skin looks fine to me. Nothing suspicious. See you in a year, unless something changes”.

Phew, right?

So, as he held my gaze to tell me the fabulous news that my body had managed to not get “the cancer” again… I noticed something.

He had a bruise under his left eye… like right under his eye. My hot young doctor had a freakin’ black eye!!!! it was a beautiful yellow bruise with a slight magenta center, like an under eye sunset. The colors were rather beautiful!

like this, only a bruise, not make up, and with man eyes.

And I think I must have tilted my head when I noticed it, which I think he must have noticed because I am pretty sure he smiled at me in that “lets keep that between us” kind of way that only hot Latin men are wont to do!

So, since that moment I have been thinking about it, and considering the plethora of things that may have caused it…

Can I tell you how magical that has been? I can try, but I don’t think I can…

It has been so wonderful to think that he got into a tele-novela style fight over a girl while dancing away wearing too tight shirt and pants while in a trendy dance club, or that he opened a bottle of wine incorrectly as he was trying to pour his beloved a glass of wine, or he had a momentary lapse of muscular coordination while trying to cook a date some dinner and opened the cupboard into his eye due to his nervousness…  really, the stories in my head have kind of been endless.

So the magic?

Not once has the dark tinge invaded my space today!

 

Time may change me… (day 2)

But I can’t trace time…

 

I have always loved this song, it is allegedly a happy accident of a song that was written during a good time in Bowie’s life.  It has always been so  sober a song for me.

This year, as I reflect on how time has changed me… I am ever so much more aware that I can’t do anything about time… other than perhaps to prepare for it.

This came to me as I sat in my dermatologists office today getting screened for skin cancer. I have never been checked out, and have a history of sunburns so bad that I went into shock.

I am currently running this weird mind game where I vacillate between knowing that my post cancer survival rate is beyond awesome, but it is also no guarantee.  There is some country music star that had recurrence, her cervical cancer had spread to her colon and she decided to terminate treatment and go home to live out the rest of her life. So I see this news and i get that feeling of dread all over my body, like something awful has happened… and I feel a little nauseous, and teary. My illogical brain has taken over.

This was something I have observed in others who have gotten the cancer diagnosis, this paralyzing fear of recurrence. In my case it is so ridiculous, my cancer was found so early that my “5 year survival rate” is the same as someone who has not had cancer… But “The Cancer” it changed me, and I can’t do anything about it really. Sure I can choose how to manifest it all but the fact is that there is a change that would not otherwise be there. I don’t think I can come out of this transformed into a new magnificent Blair, where some form of transcendence has occurred and I am a “child of god”, this has a dark tinge to it that I don’t yet understand. As I weave my way around this new dark tinge, taking it all in, I have to consider how much I will let it own me. Own me it does, this dark tinge. I saw this only because this dark tinge wound its way around me and changed me. I am still trying to figure it out, but I am better at being immune to crazy and even more so about knowing what I am going through.

​These children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they’re going through.
~ David Bowie​

The world was moving… (day 1)

and she was right there with it (and she was).

The world is a shockingly cruel place. I grew up with that, a poverty among a large part of the population that seems to permeate the walls, a father that, along with his friends ritually and habitually killed bulls, earthquakes, mudslides, riots, threats of kidnapping… to name just a few.

The crazy thing was that in spite of all this harsh brutal reality there was an ability to see the world for a magical place. It is that kind of place that inspired writers and artists like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Frida Kahlo,

So, I am not sure where I lost the internalized potion of this influence.  But, lost it I did.

I found it again, in a simple post that talked about the importance of grieving.

Grieving is not pretty, it can be dark and stormy, a swirling mass of emotions.  It is, however, a part of “the process”.

So when considered in that light, grief can become glorious… except that glorious is too strong a word.

Grief however, was the thing that was hard coming to recently. It became lost in platitudes like “you are so lucky”, “you will come through this a better person”, and “life is tough, get a grip”.

Grief is a very natural by-product of life. Hold it closely, don’t fight it. Don’t ignore it.

 

Grief is like a moving river, so that’s what I mean by it’s always changing. It’s a strange thing to say because I’m at heart an optimistic person, but I would say in some ways it just gets worse. 
~ Michelle Williams