Saturday, November 13, 2010

S'mores in the Fire Pit: Summers in the Berkshires

Still inspired by my last post, I decided to write about the other set of Grandparents. This piece I wrote about two years ago and came back to it this weekend. This is a home my Grandfather has owned for upwards of 55 years, in an area where he grew up. There is no running water, no shower, no indoor toilet, but there is laughter and memories from my mother's childhood and ours. And I love it there.

This piece is something I'd love to perfect, because I know it's not quite there. So any advice would be very welcome!! (Photo credit goes to my Aunt Pam and Uncle Sean.)


North Chester, Massachusetts

As you arrive you have to honk the horn so everyone knows you’re there, even though yours is the only car to have passed by that afternoon. You honk and everyone puts down their books or their rakes or the wood they’re collecting for the fire and comes up from the yard or out the screen door that closes hard against the doorframe, BAM, which echoes across the road and gets soaked up in the field of ferns.


Grandpa says Heeellllllloooooooooo! And waves and smiles, just as you knew he would. And you can’t help but grin, because that means you’re really there, finally arrived. You pull onto the grass and turn off the motor and the quiet pours in through the car windows. Suddenly even being near the car feels wrong, like you’ve brought some newfangled contraption into a time and place where it doesn’t belong.

The grass smells damp and Grandma takes off her gardening gloves and gives you a kiss, saying ooooooooooh, it’s good to see you! And Grandpa holds your shoulders tight and tells you how good you look and calls you honey. You carry in your bags and your cooler and you fill up the fridge, so old it has a long handle and round door. You bring your bags upstairs, the wooden handrail rattling with each step, the smell of mothballs and cedar and stovepipe surprisingly satisfying.

Later, once people have picked up their books again and settled back into the chairs on the porch, you wander out to join them, still not used to the lull, the calm that covers the field in front of you, slips off the apple trees down by the outhouse.

You sit and hold your hands together to slow yourself, take deep breaths and sip lemonade from a paper cup.

Grandpa holds his hands together in his lap, as you are, and asks you questions. You tell him about your work, about your love, about your drive up, and he nods strongly and says Good. Good. He smiles his proud smile, because he can’t help but be proud, and that makes you glow warm inside, makes you want to go home and do even better.

He points out past the meadow and tells you they saw turkeys, and a porcupine. Your Mom, petting the lab’s head, tracing his nose with her finger, fills in the rest of the story as Grandpa nods. An ant crawls over the tablecloth. You ask if the river is cold, and everyone makes excuses, saying that it’s not so cold once you get in.

You all go down to the river later, out the screen door, BAM, and down the dirt road to the swimming hole. You listen to the water streaming through the dam, the rocks gently knocking against each other in the current. The dogs wade into the swimming hole, lapping the water, stirring up the moss.

You lay your towel on one of the rocks, longways or sideways depending on how you feel about the sun. You sit and open your book and a dog comes over, coming closer and closer as you tell him no, no, go back! He loves the attention, licks your face and shakes water and sand and dog all over. Your sisters and your love laugh.

When your soaked suit is finally dry, when there are no more snacks in the canvas bag, when the light moves from yellow to a deeper orange, you decide to trek back up to the house, where dinner, like an inside picnic, is waiting on the other side of the screen door, BAM.

As always, Grandpa says, Gooood dinner, Ruthie. And even though Grandma has plates full of cookies, everyone knows its time for s’mores. And as always, Grandpa says the fire is just right now, but he slowly rises to go make sure.

Your arms full of graham crackers and marshmallow, you head out the screen door, BAM, and find Grandpa across the road at the fire pit, carving long green branches to a point. They have to be green, he says, then they won’t catch. You all roast marshmallows in the fading light, swatting mosquitoes, blowing out marshmallow infernos, tummies and eyelids getting heavier, until the only light is from the embers and the rivers of stars overhead.

And it feels like midnight but really it’s not so you all snuggle back on the screened porch with candles and flashlights and books and a faded deck of cards. And you have been doing this for as long as you can remember, since before there was even a screened porch to sit on, since before you remembered to remember the sound of the screen door closing hard against the doorframe, BAM.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A visit with Grandpa. And Grandma.

My grandfather is 92. He moved last week into an acute care facility, from his apartment in an assisted living home. He was getting disoriented, falling down, and landing himself in the hospital time and again.

My grandfather's name is Bernie. Bernard Stanton Crone. He's a funny man, and spent most of his years as a traveling salesman. My father has stacks of postcards from my Grandfather's travels. Grandpa Bernie had the most meticulous garage I've ever seen. I remember visiting him, sitting in the garage with him, looking at every tool, every nail, every nut, tucked into a jar or hanging on a peg board. I remember exactly how the garage smelled--like a mixture of oil and wood and pine needles. Grandpa Bernie had a martini every single day, at 5 o'clock. He used to keep his gin, vermouth, and olives in a little gray carrying case with a black handle. He calls us sweethearts, and has the most distinct voice: low and soft and gravelly.

My grandmother, named Margaret but known to my sisters and me as Muma, passed away about 10 years ago. When I think of my Muma, I think of her softness. Everything physical about my Muma was soft: her graying red hair, her hands, her smile and eyes. But she was strong-willed, had strong opinions, a spirited giggle, and a fierce love for chocolate. She wore a lot of amethyst, and had several diamond rings that she would point to and tell me would someday belong to me and my sisters. Muma did a lot of needlepoint, and had a love of birds. Especially Cardinals. She had Cardinals on her sweatshirts, on her window thermometer, on her needlepoint. She gave amazing hugs.

My grandparents met, around 1935 or so, when Muma got a job at a department store. She began to walk to her bus stop every morning, which was on a corner with a gas station. My Grandpa Bernie worked at this gas station. And she caught his eye, getting on and off the bus each day. He finally asked her on a date, and they eventually married and had two sons.

I'm not sure Grandpa Bernie remembers any of this right now. I know he does in his heart. But I'm not sure what is in his head.

I went to visit him yesterday. He asked me, often, what time it was. I would tell him and he would seem surprised, but would nod. I joked that I would try to sneak him a martini at 5 o'clock. And he smiled and laughed.

He said, several times, "So much has happened...".

And it has. But I don't think he knows exactly what.

I held his hand, and he would sometimes turn to look at me. Sometimes he was surprised and confused as to who I was. But twice, twice, he looked at me and squeezed my hand. He said, "thank you, sweetheart." Or "love you, dear." And he would squeeze my hand. And I would squeeze back. That's pretty much all I can do right now. That, and not letting him see me cry.

This morning was gray, and cold, and I made tea and toast and sat at the table, looking out the window into the backyard. Seconds after I sat down, a brilliant red cardinal landed in a bush, directly in my eyeline. It was stunning. It sat there, looking at me, looking away, and back at me.


I know that was my Muma. I know it was.
And because of that, I know Grandpa is going to be OK. Whatever happens, it will be OK. She will hold his hand, and he will call her sweetheart. And they will fly off, together.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mom's Cookies

When I was growing up, my mom hung this image on the wall in my bathroom. There were four bears. Three of them looked exactly the same, but the fourth bear on the far right had a little bow tie. Underneath the bears it said:

Be yourself. An original is better than a copy.

It was just a little image on the wall. But it helped. I still have it, in a box, in my basement. And I feel better knowing it's there.

My mom also hung multiplication tables in my bathroom. But the bears spoke louder.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crafting Cookies

I spent the majority of last weekend at the Salem Literary Festival, participating in workshops and feeling like a writer again. It was so fun. I LOVED my writing classes in college. The amount you learn in a workshop is invaluable, even if it's not your piece that is being workshopped (most of the time it isn't). Talking about specific words, word order, word choice, tense...in a nutshell, craft, is, believe it or not, fun. And inspiring. I'm such a dork.

The workshops I took at the festival were not specific to a piece, they were specific to a genre. But they were small and so informative, and by the end of the day my hand hurt and my head was spinning...you know, in a really good way. In both workshops we did exercise after exercise, writing and sharing, writing and sharing. So I want to share here what I wrote last week...with the caveat that these were 10 minute exercises that I have not polished since scribbling them in a journal. But I'd love to hear which ones catch your curiosity, and decide if there are any here that I should pursue further.

Really. 10 minutes. I'm not kidding. Keep that in mind before you laugh. The exercise and goal are written at the top of each.

Random Word Throw Exercise: Started with “I haven’t been the same since…” were thrown the words Squid, Gelatinous, and “The phone rang” while writing.

I haven’t been the same since yesterday, when I decided to get a cup of coffee. He stood at the register, smirking, like I had a blob of grape jelly on my face. I actually reached up to check, my hand fluttering over my lips: my jelly, my nose: no hanging boogers, my hair: no bird poop. I looked quickly down at my chest to make sure I wasn’t exposing a nipple, and then glared back at his smirk. It didn’t change when he said:
“Squid?”
“Excuse me? I asked.
“You’re not squid?”
“Ummmm…no.” I started to laugh but turned it into a cough because I didn’t want to insult the man. He clearly had mental problems.
“I’m sorry,” He said. “Can I get you something? I don’t recommend the coffee cake.” He pointed at a sagging frosted ring in the case. “It’s gelatinous.”
I laughed this time. “Just a cup of coffee,” I said, still smiling.
“I can do that.” He turned, and while pouring my cup he asked, “do you know Squid?”
“No.” I couldn’t handle the 5 seconds of awkward silence. “…Is squid a person?”
He turned, the smirk smacked back on his face like a red colorform. He placed the coffee in front of me. “Squid,” he said slowly, “is not a person. Squid…”
The phone rang shrilly and as he turned toward it his smirk melted. “I need to get that. $2.53 please.”
I took out 3 dollars, laid it on the counter and walked out, clinging to the coffee, warm and solid, with both hands.

"I remember" sentences

I remember the sound of the bullfrogs, vibrating in the heavy dark, as I tried, I tried, I tried to sleep.

I remember how he looked straight at me and said: Why can’t you just say you’re sorry?

I remember peeking past the curtain, feeling the cold rush at me through the glass, and seeing him walk steadily through the snow, axe over his shoulder, down to the frozen pond.

“The first time I heard X song, I was doing X” Exercise

The first time I heard Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, I was spying on my older sister, sitting curled up at the bottom of the stairs to her third-floor attic room. Just because she was older she got an entire floor as her room and the closet was so big it had two doors, but it also meant the only door she could shut was at the bottom of the stirs, and she couldn't hear me open it or hear me sit there for an hour or more, listening to her sing: “like a vir-her-her-her-gin…”
Sometimes I would creep up step by step, so I could hear her talk to Tommy, her greasy boyfriend with hair in his face, on the phone. They said I was like the hippo in Fantasia once. Well, Tommy did. My sister just laughed. Therefore, the spying was deserved.
“I’m so bored” she would tell him. "I miss you." She'd lie on the carpet with her legs up in the air, and sometimes I could see the tips of her toes on the wall and I would think how mad my mom would get if she saw that.
But here’s the truth. I didn’t know what a virgin was. I didn’t even put two and two together: "Gonna give you all my love boy. My fear is fading fast.” I didn’t understand enough to know what my sister was starting to feel, what singing those words meant to her. What I did know was that she lived in this brand new third floor world, high above me, full of mystery and longing, and sitting at the bottom of the stairs and listening was about as close as I could ever get.

Story in 54 words exercise: First sentence is 10 words, second sentence is 9 words, third sentence is 8 words, etc!

The grass is long enough to hide us almost completely. Hearing the loud count down, we sit, feeling small. The sunlight makes stripes on our faces. “Shhhh,” she whispers, “they can’t find us.” I smile under my sweaty hand. We huddle closer, feeling giddy. A bird flies overhead. I hear footsteps. Grass rustling. “Boo!”

Dialogue Exercise: You can use a maximum of 5 non-dialogue sentences.

“There isn’t anything left to say.”
“That is crap and you know it.”
“Well I don’t have anything left to say.”
“That’s because you’re been talking for an hour. And you haven’t listened.”
“I don’t really want to.”
“Did I ask if you wanted to? In the very least, you owe me one listen.”
“One listen? That’s not even correct English.”
“You’re a shithead.”
“Whatever.”
She took a deep breath. “What you just spent the last hour telling me is a really nice way of trying to justify your actions.”
“Thanks.”
“That wasn’t really a compliment.”
“Well--”
“—Shut up, it’s my turn. Really. I mean, really? What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t really matter what you think your story should be. Here is the truth: you did this. You did this. It’s your fault. It will always be your fault….And I am no longer your sister.”
“That’s impossible.”
She took another deep breath. “What you think is crazy.”
“That may be.”
“That is.”
She got up, stepped out of the pew and walked down the aisle, the casket silent and alone at the other end.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cookie Dough. Forever.

I sat quietly on my back deck, in the shade, pen poised, with a brand new journal in front of me. And nothing happened. Well, that's not completely true. There were several birds that flew by, and I thought about the out of control bushes I need to prune. But the first page is still blank, because I sat there, completely intimidated with the first blank page of a brand new journal, even though I have a trunk full of finished journals in my basement. Who said I was any good at this, anyway?

So I stopped thinking and went inside to watch last week's episode of Mad Men. And as I watched the well-dressed, well-conceived, well-endowed, and well-written women on that show, it hit me. Women.

I spent the majority of this long, blissful weekend with girlfriends. Friends that I've had for years, and friends that I've had a few months. When I made my weekend plans, I was excited to see these friends, but I didn't realize how much I needed to see these friends, until I was with them. I think most people know what I mean: the talking, the wine, the laughter, the cookies and the cookie dough, the shopping, the laughter, the talking, the wine, and the laughter. There is a part of the female soul that glows after time with her friends.

I just finished a book this week called The Girls From Ames. It's a journalistic view of 11 female friends, now in their 50s, who literally grew up together. It wasn't phenomenal, but it was thought-provoking and nostalgic and made me feel equal amounts happy that I have some amazing girlfriends and ashamed that I don't have 10 female friends with whom I have yearly reunions. This book talked about how women live longer when they have close girlfriends, and, when diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, women actually heal faster and heal more often when they have close female friends. It certainly made me think about the women I love, the friendships I have, and the friendships I wish were different.

What I don't think the book captured very well is how difficult it can be when women who are so close start to feel dissonant; how difficult it is when a friendship, for whatever reason, is no longer the kind of friendship it was. I know I've shed as many tears over certain friendships as I have over romantic relationships in my life. And I think that is because there really is that part of a woman's soul--that part of my soul--that grows and shines and dreams because of and with her friends.

And what The Girls From Ames touched on, and what I've recently learned, is how friendships with women change as you become an adult. Time is so precious when there is so much else to be responsible for: your job, your home, your marriage, the family you are creating, and the family you came from. It is so hard to find the time to spend with your girlfriends and those friendships can sometimes suffer for it. But what is so amazing to me is how, despite all those distractions and responsibilities, I can call my friends I haven't spoken to for weeks and, spend the entire conversation being immensely grateful that it feels like we spoke the hour before. There is an understanding between us that life is busy and life is also really, really hard, and because of that and through that, we'll be there for each other.

Obviously not every friendship works like that, and those are the ones I did shed tears over and sometimes still do. Sometimes there are people I want to call but it's just too hard to dig through the emotional crap as out of control as the bushes in my yard that need to be pruned. I'm sure “better people” would say it’s worth it, that they would dig through, and sit on the phone, or across the table, and nod and smile and listen and emote. And sometimes it truly is worth it. But I'm also going to be brutally honest and say what those “better people” would not: when I have one hour to myself every day, and during that hour I am commuting, I would rather call one of the friends who isn't going to judge me for not calling the week before.

So this weekend was special. I saw four different girlfriends, each a different degree of important to me, and I'm definitely glowing brighter because of it. From eating cookie dough to buying new journals to sitting on the beach collecting different colors of sea glass, I valued every second of it. And while we may not be as well-dressed, or well-endowed as the women on Mad Men, we are certainly just as, if not more, well-conceived. Partly because there is that one thing the Mad Men writers missed—women don’t just cut each other down. They make each other glow. And the best friends do so without even realizing it. They do it by being who they are, and by understanding that who we are is all we can be.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Small Friday Cookie

Flowering

Yesterday, my alarm went off, I dragged myself out of bed,
felt the pain of an injury in a leg growing older,
washed, goodmorninged, hugged, ate, kissed, and climbed into the car.
Listening to the overwhelming headlines, I pushed the buttons
six times, still inundated, and then
pulled onto the long highway. A few miles in, out
of the corner of my left eye, I saw a flash of yellow.
It was a solitary sunflower,
standing tall and bright in between
the brown and gray metal dividers on the grassy median.
It was almost smiling.
I drove past and blinked, wondering: really?
And as the cars passed, it bobbed, happily nodding yes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

One Brave Cookie

There are so many things I can use to describe bravery.

I can think of a dozen off the top of my head: a 5 year old on her first day of kindergarten, a soldier leaving on the bus for boot camp, a woman giving birth, a victim facing an attacker or abuser; bravery takes on many forms every day. And if you asked these people, I think they would describe bravery as digging as deep within yourself as you can, and standing up to whatever it is that frightens you or threatens you. And those same people would tell you that bravery comes with a side of fear, a cup of unknown, and a whole plate of gratitude.

In the past few years, people have called me brave. Quite a few people, in fact. And every time I would shake my head, mainly because I didn’t feel brave most of the time, and when I did, it was usually because my loved ones had just given me yet another pep talk.

This is why.

Six years ago I was a live-in nanny. One night, after the girls were all tucked in and the only sounds were people walking in the apartment above me, I was washing my face before I, too, climbed into bed. As I was rubbing my face, I felt this jolt on the left side of my forehead, a sensation I still, to this moment, have a hard time describing.

That first jolt came with a hesitant mix of fear, surprise, and an odd feeling of fascination. I touched my face again, poked and prodded it, and nothing happened. So I splashed water on my face, and it hit me again: a bolt of lightening through my face, hot and electric, hard enough that I had to grip the sides of the sink to keep standing. That time, the fascination was gone and all I felt was fear.

I called my dad that night, to discuss that “jolt” with him. My father is a pediatric anesthesiologist and the running joke in the family is that Dad would tell you to “take Tylenol” if you told him you broke both your legs. But that night he didn’t tell me to take Tylenol. In fact, he said “huh” a lot. He told me to call him in the morning. I figured, like most things, I would be completely fine the next day. But I wasn’t.

The next day, in fact, I remember walking to my then-boyfriend’s apartment in Harvard Square (this amazing man has since become my husband). It was windy, and the electric pain came back so hard and fast I stopped dead in my tracks on the sidewalk, and turned my back to the wind—turned away from the wind and away from the pain. I must have looked ridiculous, spinning on the sidewalk. And then I froze. I was afraid to move. I remember thinking that I was going to be stuck on that sidewalk in Harvard Square, forever. But I turned, slowly, and made my way to my boyfriend’s, where I climbed into bed. I was in that bed for days. I was in too much pain to do anything. Every time I touched my face it felt like I was holding a live wire to the top of my head, as the current ran down, through my eye, to my front tooth.

Meanwhile, my father was doing some research. He called the head of Neurology at one of the best hospitals in Boston, also a friend. My father told this man that he thought I had Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN) is described as “a nerve disorder of unknown origin that causes sudden, shock-like facial pains, typically near the nose, lips, eyes, or ears. It is said to be the most excruciatingly painful human condition in the world.” Trigeminal Neuralgia is considered a “rare” disease by the NIH: “for every 100,000 people, an average of 4.3 people will have TN with a slightly higher incidence for women (5.9/100,000) compared with men (3.4/100,000).” What still remains a mystery about Trigeminal Neuralgia is the cause.

I knew none of this at the time, and my father’s information was limited as well, which is why he called the Neurologist he knew. The Neurologist asked how old I was, and my Dad told him I was 25. The Neurologist’s response was: "That’s impossible".

This man’s reply set the tone for the fight I was about to step into. My father, too, was incredulous at his response. “As a physician,” he told me, “you don’t say the word impossible.”

Most people develop Trigeminal Neuralgia after the age of 50. Most people. But I soon learned that thousands people who are under the age of 55 have Trigeminal Neuralgia or facial nerve pain. Teens can develop it. Babies are born with Trigeminal Neuralgia. Try looking at one of those tiny babies screaming in pain and saying that it’s impossible they have a disorder that causes the worst pain known to humankind. Try telling me that, and see what happens.

The short story is this: I spent the next 5 years in excruciating pain with cyclical periods of remission. The bad days were truly awful, and therefore the good days were truly a blessing. On a bad day I would have over 200 nerve “attacks”. On a good day, I was a normal girl with an intense job, a fiancĂ©e, a wedding to plan, and Thanksgiving dinner to cook. But on a good or bad day, I quickly learned I had to work to help myself. I saw 6 neurologists and read countless articles, studies, and dissertations. I read two books. I elected to have sinus surgery because my clogged sinuses made the pain even worse. I have horrifying stories about how doctors treated me. And I have magical stories about how doctors treated me. Sometimes they are stories about the same doctor.

I saw three Neurosurgeons, one who said he wouldn’t touch me, one who agreed happily, and one who tried to cancel my surgery the night before it was scheduled. I took a path that was full of detours, holes, rocks, cliffs, sunshine, and green lights. I took this path not because I wanted to, but because I had to, because there was no one who would help me, truly help me, except myself and my loved ones who would help point me in the right direction.

This isn’t to say that I knew all of this. I had no idea what would happen to me. I had no idea where my life would go. I was scared to death. Sitting in pain, drugged beyond rational thought, unable to kiss my husband, unable to eat anything I had to chew, unable to shower or dress without tears, unable to sleep without narcotics, all of that was not in my life plan. I cherished my relationship, I dreamed of children, I loved my job and was proud of my work. I had so much to give to the world. It wasn’t time, yet, to give it up.

I just kept all of those things in my head. I wanted my life back. And as my mother said, “It’s a good thing you’re so damn stubborn.” She’s right. I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I wasn’t going to give up to this monster. There were times that I thought I would have to, times where my husband or my sister had to hold me as I sobbed, talk me down through my anger and fear. The fact that I owe certain people my life will never leave me, because despite what they say I couldn’t have done this without them. They led me through the moments of darkness so I could be fueled to fight some more.

The turning point came about four and a half years after that first jolt of pain, when I read two books that I ordered from the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association, a nonprofit and an online network where I was able to connect with other patients and learn a lot of information, which, in equal amounts empowered me and scared the living crap out of me. I read about all the surgical options and found the one I knew, I just KNEW, was my answer—a Microvascular Decompression. I also knew, because of my research, that a Microvascular Decompression (MVD) is most effective for Typical Trigeminal Neuralgia (which I had) and is most effective if done within the first five years of the onset of pain (a milestone I had just reached). I had developed allergies to the most effective TN drugs—3 of them—and I saw this surgery as the only option I had left.

Microvascular Decompression is a neurosurgery that focuses on the root of the Trigeminal Nerve, located behind the ear. The theory behind an MVD is that a blood vessel is pressing or looped around the nerve, wearing away the protective sheath and rubbing against the nerve fibers. Moving the blood vessel away from the nerve and putting a protective layer between the two—often Teflon—removes the compression, and, more often that not, the pain itself. Often a thin-slice MRI will show any compressions, but in my case, after 3 different MRIs, no compression was visible. I knew I was just about to have my skull drilled into, and my brain moved over with, essentially, a little brain shoehorn, all without proof that a blood vessel was to blame. But I had to do this—from my perspective, it was a necessary step.

It was a Thursday evening in late January, 2009. I had an amazing day at work—so much love and support from my coworkers, including one friend who braided my hair, leaving out the part that would be shaved off. I came home determined, with plans for a huge dinner and an evening in the arms of my husband. I got a phone call almost immediately after I returned home, from my surgeon. He mentioned that there was a slight problem, and that the Chief of Neurosurgery wanted to meet with me. Next Tuesday.

It was almost a cartoon moment—I shook my head for a second and said “but my surgery is tomorrow morning.” Yes, he said, that would be canceled.

And I just said “No”, like that could have made a difference. “No,” I said, “I don’t understand.” And then I got mad.

I told him everything I had done to prepare; I told him I took two weeks off work. I told him my mother had flown in from London. I, ridiculously, told him my hair was already braided!

I was shaking. Everywhere, shaking. He told me he would look into another option, and we hung up. I pressed the button on my phone and just started to pace, talking to myself like a crazy person in the street, never having felt so helpless. I called in reinforcements.

My father answered the phone, groggy, as it was about 1 AM in Italy, where he was working. He listened and asked for the surgeon’s phone number. I gave it to him and hung up, wringing my hands, still pacing. When my husband came home, I didn’t even know what to say; I don’t think I was coherent, but I did get most of the story out between my tears. And as I did, I felt the last threads of hope drain from my body. I became so angry and so hopeless. I said, “This is it, I’m done. I have no more options. I’m done.”

At that moment, I had nothing left, no more fight. I was exhausted from pain. I was tired of fighting, tired of swimming upstream, tired of being so numb. I was tired of being drugged to the point of not being able to spell 5 letter words; I was tired of living a shred of the life I knew I wanted and used to have. I was done.

However, the moments tick on. My husband, my mother, and my sisters just kept telling me, “we can do this, we will get through this.” After another hour of weaving a phone web between the Neurosurgeons, my father, myself, and a nurse, the agreement was made that I would meet with the Chief of Neurosurgery at 8am and if he felt comfortable, I would then take the afternoon surgical slot, at 2pm.

I’m not completely aware of what was said on those phone calls, but I do know that my father was able to play some medical and political cards. As grateful for that as I am, it still makes me angry that without him, I wouldn’t have had that meeting, or that surgery.

The next morning, my husband and I drove to the hospital in an odd fog. At the meeting, I was seething, yes, but I was also petrified. This man sitting before me had just tried to toss me aside, and he could do so again. He had the power to change my life, and I was acutely aware of that. I was like a Sunday school student, my hands folded in my lap. I answered his questions, I nodded politely; I even smiled. He told me he had to be sure I did not have MS. I said that the 6 specialized physicians I had seen all agreed I did not. I had Trigeminal Neuralgia. And at the end of the meeting, he told me that yes, he would do the surgery, but he also very clearly said that he did not think he was going to find a blood vessel pressing on the nerve, and that we needed to have a plan B. We decided a plan B would be for him to “rough up” the nerve to help prevent the errant pain signals from being transmitted, and that there would be some numbness associated with this plan. I said yes, knowing, knowing, knowing with everything in me that he would find a blood vessel.

I will never forget slowly waking up from surgery, slowly becoming aware of sounds and voices, being aware of how ill I felt, being aware of how people were talking to me and I was talking back. And then the nurse said to me, “Someone is here to see you…” And I opened my eyes to see my husband’s sweet face, smiling. I saw him and I closed my eyes again. Seeing him was enough.

Then he whispered to me, “Baby, you were right; they fixed it! They found the veins; you were right!” And I remember nodding, and smiling, and squeezing his hand, not having any words. There just were no words.

After that there was a stream of people, two at a time, coming in. I remember their voices; I remember their words, I remember their kisses. I remember feeling pain and discomfort and nauseous and semi-conscious, but never, ever, had I felt as whole.
And never, ever have I been as grateful as I was for that moment, for those people, and for the fight we fought. For the fight we fought and the fight we won.

What I did I would not describe as brave. What I did was a necessity. From my perspective, I did not have an option. The bravery came from the people who supported me, who stood by me, who held my hand and understood, who lifted me when I needed it, and who helped give me the gift of my life back. Those people are brave.

And it is because of those people that today, when the wind hits my face, I do not turn away. I turn toward it, I close my eyes, and I say thank you. Thank you.



Footnotes:

About Neuropathic Facial Pain and TN, The Facial Pain Association, Inc.
Mark Obermann, “Treatment Options in Trigeminal Neuralgia, ” SAGE Journals Online, 29 Jan. 2010 < http://tan.sagepub.com/content/3/2/107.abstract>

Monday, August 2, 2010

Song and Dance

When we were little
we'd make up dances
& practice all the steps over and over,
& perform them in the living room
for our dolls & our mommy & our dog,
wearing costumes picked out from
the trunk downstairs.

We still dance together
to songs we know all the words to,
but now we wear heels
& sometimes have drinks
& don't care about the steps so much.

It's hard to, when we're
trying to hold each other up
from all the laughing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rocky Cliffs, Grilled Corn, and Thanks

Chad and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in one of our favorite towns last weekend. Imagine a cove, quiet and rocky, with a little cottage on a cliff to the right and nothing but grass and birds on a cliff to the left. And ahead there is ocean, ocean, and a little more ocean, with some sky at the end. Sometimes a sailboat slowly whispers across. That is where we were, sitting at a copper topped table at the window, the sound of silverware and plates and clinking glasses and chatter with some laughter stirred in around us.

We ordered enough food for all four seats at the table and proceeded to eat it all, slowly, smiling. I had scallops grilled with bay leaves and orange rind, and grilled corn and a beautiful green salad with mustard vinaigrette. Chad's calamari had chick peas and paper-thin slices of lemon battered and fried with the calamari itself. Everything was just so good. I had this overhelming feeling of gratitude while sitting there, full of all of this food and scenery and just plain old happiness.

We had been there some time when the mother and daughter sitting at the table next to us finished their meal and got up to leave. They stood, and the mother turned and pointed at my grilled corn. And she said exuberantly:

"How was THAT?!"

It took me a second to answer her, because I swear to God, if her fingernails had been one day longer, she would have been touching my corn. She was that close. I finally stuttered that it was amazing, and she turned to Chad and said:

"And how was the Peekytoe crab?! I saw you had that!"

But Chad had his mouth full and couldn't answer. Because we were EATING DINNER. So I said:

"Actually, that's the buttermilk fried chicken."

And she said, still exuberant:

"No, I mean his appetizer!"

"Oh, that was the calamari." I tried to smile, but I was really distracted by her hands floating over my food.

The woman's face literally turned to stone. "No! It was the Peekytoe crab!"

And here is where I had that slow-mo cartoon moment, where I stood up out of my body, everything frozen around me, and took a good hard look at the situation. Then I sat back down into my body, looked at the woman, smiled really really big, and said:

"Oh RIGHT, the Peekytoe crab. It was great!!!"

The color came back into her face, and she clapped. "Oh, I'm just going to have to get that, next time!"

Then she and her daughter shuffled off, and I thought about how completely ridiculous that last minute of my life was. And then I thought about my mother (no, not because my mother is like that, but because she isn't). My mother is a stickler for manners--and when I say stickler, I mean there was never a time when manners didn't matter. They always mattered. ALWAYS. My mother and father took us to "training nights" at restaurants when we were little, where, if we were not behaving well, we were brought outside and told very firmly how we should be behaving. And then we went back in and did so.

I always found these manners extremely annoying. But I can also say that the older I got the more I appreciated them. And now I know, because of last weekend, that I am officially old. I am an old person who wants everyone to have manners and not point their fingers at my corn.

Thanks, Mom.

PS: I didn't take this picture. But this is really the place.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Old cookies = OK?

So I went digging last weekend, in a trunk, in my basement. This trunk was full of magical treasure--from pictures to diplomas to old letters from old loves to lots and lots and lots of writing. So I took a smattering of it and brought it upstairs to lose myself in my silly old self.

Just to give you an idea--this smattering included a "book" I had written in the 2nd grade, about my favorite pony. In my story, Misty the pony wasn't just a pony that I took lessons on, but was a famous racehorse, of course. And the story was a mixture of two of my favorite Little House on the Prairie Episodes and a Ramona Quimby book...with Horses. I laughed out loud at points--especially at the "illustrations" I added, in magic marker.

It was funny to read the pieces from my early college years, too--not only to see where my brain and heart and soul were at that time, but also to see how much they changed over four years. It really is amazing how much you learn in college: about your past, about yourself, about how those things affect each other, and about how they affect your path.

As a whole, the essays and stories painted a picture of a girl trying to learn to like herself and deal with the cards she had been dealt. And they're melodramatic and girly and nostalgic. But at least they're not recycled episodes of Little House (I learned SOMETHING!).

And one of the pieces, only one, I actually was really impressed with. It was my final story in a creative writing/short story class I took my sophomore year in college. It's complete, and it's creepy, and I love the ending. But here's my big question--is it OK to go back to something that old and resurrect it? I think I can improve it even further...but is that...allowed? It feels like the new me cheating off the old me!

In any case, I'm going to keep digging in that trunk. I think there are a few years I missed. And I miss them.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Morning Tea and Books

When I get into work in the mornings, it's either just me, or me and one other person. It's so quiet and special to be in a normally busy studio with laughter and art bouncing off the walls all by yourself.

I unlock the doors, turn on all the lights, including the fish tank lights, at which point the fish go nuts because they know food is coming. I feed them the stinkiest fish food ever (was fish food always so stinky?) and chat with them for a minute or two, especially since a few of their fish friends have gone to fish heaven over the past months. I try to get them to talk about it, but they just flip their tails at me. Then I warn them that they'll eventually need major psychotherapy unless they start expressing their feelings.

Then I put on some music and open the blinds to look out over the harbor. This morning is dark and rainy and the water looks almost black. It's so quiet, just so quiet, and people walking over the bridges to work hurry below me while I feel so still. I sip my tea and breathe and then settle in for the chaos.

These are the simple things that I never write about but that comprise my day, my-almost-every-day. Which means that they're probably the things that I should be writing about, right?

In other local news, I have been hit by a great children's book idea, which really, is a lot like a bird flying above and aiming poop directly at your head: it doesn't happen very often and everyone says it's good luck, but it does require a lot of work.

I'm so excited about it. I'm working on my (as Anne Lamott says) shitty first draft, and then I'm going to sit in a pile of my ultimate favorite kids books (like Vivian, here) for hours and hours.


To get me started, does anyone know any good names for giraffes, monkeys, turtles, and horses? Especially non-gender-specific names?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A tall glass of milk with your strawberry waffles?

Milk reminds me of my little sister, Abby. She refuses to eat cookies without milk, and though she is almost in her 30s now, she still drinks a glass of milk with her dinner, like a good girl.

My sister has moments we call "Abby" moments--moments of complete hilarity and unbelievable foolishness. These moments are so funny mainly because my sister really is a very intelligent person. Really.

Here is an Abby moment: we were at brunch, studying our menus and deciding what to eat. The server arrived to take our orders, and asked if we had any questions. Abby, with every shred of confidence and poise, said:

"Actually, yes, I do. What kind of fruit is on the Strawberry waffle?"

THAT is an Abby moment. And there are a LOT of them. My sister is a highly entertaining person.

My favorite Abby story, though, isn't so funny.

Growing up, we had a golden retriever. Her name was Muffin--mainly because, at ages 2, 5, and 9, my sisters and I named everything after food. Abby's doll was named Cheerios. Our dog was named Muffin. We had a lamb named Cookie. I'm really not making this up.

In any case, Muffin was a truly amazing dog. She was our best friend. She was the heart of our family. And she lived to be 16 years old--extremely old for a dog, especially a larger dog. During her last weeks, we knew that Muffin only had a short time left: she was having trouble with her hind legs and was almost immobile. She was in pain, and we didn't want her to live in pain. The day finally came when we knew it was time. My mother, Abby, and I prepared ourselves to bring Muffin to the vet.

I came slowly down the stairs, ready to go, when I saw Abby sitting with Muffin near the front door. Abby had her hand on Muffin's belly, and in her other hand was one of our favorite childhood books, called Morris' Disappearing Bag, by Rosemary Wells. My sisters and I had memorized that book; every word, every illustration, every tear or spot on the page.

And there Abby sat, trying to read it to Muffin though her tears. I asked her what she was doing, and she looked up at me and said softly, "Reading her a bedtime story".

And in that minute I saw pure golden heart of my sister, unchanged since the moment she was born. But I didn't completely understand what this moment meant for her until after we had gone to the vet, after we had kissed and hugged Muffin goodbye. While my mother talked to the vet, Abby went outside and sat on the curb. I followed her out, sat down beside her, and put my arm around her. After a few minutes, she said to me, "So, I guess this means we're grown up, now, huh?"

I hugged her and said that yes, I guessed it did.

But I knew, and still know, that my sister's golden heart will never grow up completely. While she is no longer naming things (like her daughter) after food, I know she will always have "Abby" moments. I know she will always drink milk with her cookies. And thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A blessed smattering of pasticcerias

My husband and I just spent 10 days in Italy. Even though I had been there before, there was a lot that surprised me on our trip: the ancient streets, the bewilderingly stunning cathedrals, the espresso, the hidden art on street corners, the haute couture, and, of course, the food.

The food; the fooooood. Our days would begin with a croissant and a cappuccino. We'd then walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and eventually walk into a trattoria or cafe for lunch. We'd spend at least an hour savoring every bite, letting our feet rest, recharging as we basked in the pasta, relished in the truffles, sank into the wine. And that was just lunch.

There was usually gelatto after lunch, an yes, also after dinner. (It's vacation, people!) While the flavors ranged from lemon to hazelnut to caramel, my tasting menu included dark chocolate, chocolate, and very dark chocolate. I could actually feel the cocoa on my tongue, and most of the time it was so rich I couldn't finish the smallest portions, despite desperately wanting to. (The Italian word for the largest portion is "maxi". But late one night Chad asked for a "mega." I imagined this surfer dude mega-gelatto and was giggling so hard I became the obnoxious American and had to leave the store.)

There was fresh penne in saffron sauce; there was fettuccine with duck ragu. There was crusty bread and pecorino with black truffle. There was thin, sweet, plate-sized pizza with creamy mozzarella and there was prosecco. There was minestrone with mashed eggplant and bread, unlike any "soup" I have ever seen. There were foamy smooth cappuccinos. There were fresh cookies in the pasticcerias, so so many pasticcerias that it was hard to commit. What if there was a better one around the corner?

But that was the thing...it is Italy. There are always surprises around the corner. There are ancient fountains next to revolutionary-minded graffiti, and Fiat parades with proud owner-drivers honking horns and waving flags driving by 16th Century statues. Women riding bikes in stilettos. Very, very old men driving loud, little Vespas. Amazingly beautiful little girls coming home from school on a water-taxi, meeting their fathers at a "stop" down the canal.

Were these all surprises to me because we were in a different world? Or because we actually had the time to notice them? Probably both, but either way, our routine that we came home to I am seeing with new eyes. There are always surprises around the corner here, too. A different shape, a different flavor, a very different age. But always surprising, and if I use the right eyes, always beautiful.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Baskets


Last weekend was full of sunshine, candles, Easter eggs, and family. And I had one of those moments where a 21 month old reminded me what was true and right--what I, as one of those silly adults had completely forgotten.

I set up an Easter egg hunt in the backyard for little Maddie--which meant it wasn't so much as an egg hunt as an egg collection. But she immediately started picking up the eggs, and didn't want to put them down. For a while, she had a marshmallow peep in one little hand and a pink egg in the other little hand and couldn't figure out how to then pick up another. Thanks to the 6 adults, her basket was soon full of plastic eggs.

Once we had settled onto the porch in the sunshine, Maddie and I started a game. She would choose an egg, and I would open it, revealing either a marshmallow Peep or an empty inside. With each reveal, we would say PEEP! or EMPTY! I should mention that there were about 5 Peeps hidden among 35 plastic eggs. So most of the time I was saying, EMPTY! But here's the thing: Maddie got so crazy excited about the empty eggs. As soon as I popped the plastic apart and said EMPTY! She would giggle and bounce like a jellybean, like I had just showed her the best thing she'd seen all day. Over and over and over again. EMPTY!

And why shouldn't she be excited?! Why shouldn't we all be? I think as we grow up and as life becomes full of choices and responsibilities and schedules, we somehow learn that the quiet moments, the unscheduled time, the gift of a quiet mind--the EMPTY--is second-best, not as important. We are trained and required to be busy and productive, and, more often than not, are doing fourteen things at once.

During the winter of 2008-2009, I usually couldn't sleep at night due to a nerve disorder. Pain would wake me up and lying in bed was so frustrating that I would just get out of bed and come down to my quiet living room to sit on the couch. I would read, or even just lie in the silver early-morning light, thinking about all of those difficult things that chronic pain forces you to face every day. And every time, when the first pinks and yellows began to hit the ceiling, the birds would arrive. They would find their breakfast in the bush outside our living room window, snap the berries off the branches and twitter at each other as if it were funny. I loved watching them, I loved how they arrived together, enjoyed each other, entertained me. I loved how, watching them, I could forget the pain for a few minutes, and truly lose myself in the stillness, in the moment, in the commonplace and ordinary act of the birds going about their morning. Many times it was being able to watch those birds that then gave me the strength to face the day.

I'm not sure I ever would have made my birdie friends if I hadn't been forced to find them, downstairs, in the quiet light of morning. Those moments, they were EMPTY. I wasn't working on the computer, I wasn't researching Neurosurgeons, I wasn't watching TV, or cleaning, or worrying about the future. I was just sitting, just breathing, just watching. I was sitting in the empty. And it's sad that it took pain to lead me there. But it's also a blessing, because, like Maddie and her eggs, I began to love those empty moments. And I actually began to need them.I never want to forget how important it is to appreciate the empty as much as the full. I never want to forget how sometimes it is the empty that fills you the most.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Horse Cookies

I've always wanted to write about the ponies who live at the Barn where I ride. They are amazingly patient and kind and so full of personality. And most of them are rescued ponies, coming from sad, unknown, and better left unknown situations. I've yet to find the perfect story, but in honor of just sitting down and writing, in honor of making sure I'm writing something, here is something about the ponies.


Pickle and The Mighty Hercules

Rainy days at Ocean View Farm were quieter than normal. On rainy days the barn was gray and dark enough to keep the lights on. It was hard to tell what time it was, and to keep warm, everyone drank lots of warm coffee. But the air smelled wet and green and full, and the mist outside sat on the tops of the trees, like a sugar frosting. On rainy days the leaves looked shiny and silver, the puppies played in the puddles, panting, and the horses settled in their stalls, munching on their hay and rustling in the shavings, peeking outside every once in awhile, looking for the sun.

The day the ponies came was a rainy day. The silver trailer rattled up the stony driveway pulled by an ancient red pickup truck, rust decorating its edges. It rolled up to the blue barn doors and stopped. The man who stepped out looked just as ancient as his truck, except that deep wrinkles instead of rust rimmed his smile and his eyes. His hands were rough, and he wore overalls that had worn to the color of dirty.

He greeted us with a nod, and said “I have the littlin’s for ya.”

We stepped out into the drizzle to watch him pull down the ramp of the trailer. He walked up, and led two ponies out of the dark inside. One pony was black, the other a grayish roan: speckled, like someone shook cocoa and flour all over him. The black pony was bigger, with a kind eye and a shaggy coat, and the speckled pony was tiny and so scared that he looked like he would dig a hole and hide, if he could.

Holly went and put her hand out toward both ponies. The black one stood her ground and stared, but the little one jumped, startled. His head stayed high and his eye followed Holly as she ran her hand down his back. Both ponies looked like they hadn’t been brushed in weeks—they had little scars and nicks that seemed to speak of scary chases and snarling dogs, or barbed wire. Holly sighed, and said, “Looks like you’ve been in a pickle or two.”

And that night she named the black pony Pickle Lilly; Pickle in honor of the life she used to have, and Lilly in anticipation of her new life. But naming the tiny, scared pony was harder. She was just going to have to get to know him better.

The ponies spent that night and every night after that together, in a big stall heaped with cedar shavings and a few flakes of sweet hay. They smelled the wet, full air, took deep drinks from their fresh water, and munched on hay, peeking out the window every once and awhile, looking for the sun.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Peanut Butter Pine Cones

Remember putting peanut butter on pine cones and rolling them in birdseed and hanging them in the trees for the birds? I wonder if the birds must see those and just squeal: dessert time!! I also wonder how much bird seed is ingested by children while making peanut butter pine cones and licking their sticky fingers.

I didn't post last week and the little gnome inside my head is bashing me with a guilt stick. But just like I told the little gnome, I'm working on something BIG! And I was away for the weekend! And violence is never the answer!

But I did want to post something very small that just made my morning glow. While I was eating breakfast, looking out the window at the powdered-sugar layer of snow on the grass, I noticed three or four birds hanging out in a very bare shrub, pecking and twittering and hopping.

A minute later, a cardinal joined them, regal and striking; and not a minute after the cardinal took off, a blue jay took his place. My heart did a little dance after that, because SPRING is coming! It really really is! I know because the birdies told me so.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cookies in a lunchbox

I have a favorite writer and her name is Anne Lamott. She has, through her books, literally guided me through the craziest moments, just because she has documented her life and the lessons she's learned so very very well. She turns the everyday into breathtakingly clear moments of hilarity and honesty and truth.

Now that I am starting to write again, I am also going to start following some of her advice: she says to start with short assignments, like "school lunches". Here are my (probably crazy)thoughts on School Lunches.


Paper Bag Pots of Gold

My mom is a teacher, and when we were growing up, she would leave for work before we left for school. But she always made our lunches, healthy and well-rounded, and she understood the social importance of the plain brown paper bag. And our lunches, on holidays, would usually have a surprise, usually chocolate, and a note. The notes would always fill me with a ridiculous amount of excitement, even though, publicly, I would scoff the babyness of it all. But really, there is something about opening a note from your mom in your school lunch that makes you feel so purely happy: someone LOVES me!

I am not a mother yet, but for a few years I was a nanny for three girls, aged 8 to 18. Being a nanny, especially a live-in nanny, is an extremely rewarding and confusing and lovely and unnatural thing. I loved those girls ferociously. I still do. But not quite like daughters, not quite like sisters, not quite like friends; like a daughter-sister-friend. A combination, that when combined with the fact that they already had a mother, sisters, and friends, and so did I, got extremely complicated.

Regardless, I found myself making school lunches for these girls and I loved making lunches for these girls. I wanted so badly to put in surprises and little notes for them, like my mother did for me, to give them that Someone LOVES Me! feeling of warmth. But I was not the mother, and that would be a clear step over the line in the ongoing political mother-nanny campaign. What was a nanny to do?

The nanny made the most kick-ass lunches ever.

I found myself waking up early to figure out what was in the fridge, what would be nutritious but also be very, very cool. I would not be the nanny who made sandwiches that were soggy, I would not throw in water crackers instead of cheez-its, and I would certainly not press two dollars into their hands as we rushed out the door. I packed trade-able items, items that really made a difference in the social hell of the lunchroom. I popped popcorn, I baked brownies, I cut apples and poured little Tupperware bowls of honey. I made Nutella and banana sandwiches, I sliced brie and avocado. In a nutshell, I rocked their social and nutritional worlds. I made paper-bag pots of gold. And they knew I loved them. I know they knew.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cookies in a Tube

Cookies in a tube are the kind that my Grandmother makes--the kind that you slice, that have little pictures in the middle, of stars, or bells, or creepy Santas. The kind of cookies that Cher, in Clueless, didn't slice but instead threw the whole roll in the oven. "Honey, you baked."

Anyway, that brings me to that old saying: write what you know. But here's the THING with that damn saying; sometimes, I feel like I know something so well that I can't even begin to describe it. I don't know where, or what, or how to write something that is so ingrained in the person that I am.

For example, my Grandparents.

I, for some reason, am a little obsessed with my Grandparents and their pasts, how they grew up, how my parents grew up, and how that then influenced my sisters and me. We grew up going to my Grandfather's house in the mountains during the summers, and I can't tell you how many times I've tried to explain that place. I've never been able to do it RIGHT. I've never been able to describe just everything--the house, the mountain, the river, the history, the love, the spiders--everything that it is or everything that it was and how that all mixes together. I'll probably never quite be able to do it, but I know I'll keep trying, even if it means throwing the whole tube in the oven.


Etta

My Grandfather and I were fixing
a white closet door;
I propped and held and pushed as he hammered
and ho-hummed and pondered, until
he stopped mid-bang and turned to me: you
have my mother's hands, he said, and he took
them, held them, turned them over
in his strong, aged palms.

His mother was Etta, Etta Fisk until
Mark Munson sauntered in and swept her up
to the Berkshires, where her memories began as vividly
as mine, as my mother’s, as my grandfather’s:
clumpy dirt roads, the Westfield river
with its slippery rocks and sunfish, the wind
through the grasses, stirring up
the mosquitoes, the smell of chimneys and rain.

In the evenings, my mother, very young,
would beg Etta, beg
and plead to brush her hair, her long
long hair, longer than long.
And Etta would smile and her hands
would reach for her braids,
two of them, wound up
and around, every day.

Her fingers would unwind, unbind,
pour the softness so it fell like
water, and my little girl mother would run
through it, play peek-a-boo, pretend inside.
Then she would brush and brush and brush it,
until Etta, with her long fingers,
would tickle her away.

My Grandfather held my hands and shook
his head, smiled. I wanted to tell him that
I would wear them proudly, that I was honored,
that I would make a difference
with her hands, and he squeezed
them as if to press in love, as if to say only
one thing: Remember.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fear

the terror comes back sometimes,
cocky, swaggering, like it owns this town.

when i feel it i hide,
bolt behind the saloon, peek out
through the slatted swinging doors, i let
it stay as long as it wants.

but someday. someday soon,
i will see the dust rising beneath its boots,

i will feel its shots, feel pain, and i will

get up, plant my feet, cock back
the hammer and stand firm.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FIrst Cookie: Seven layers

This is an obvious thing to say:
it's my first blog post.

Is that even what I call it?

Anyway, it seemed time. To make the first one, I mean. I set up this blog months ago. And then, I was really motivated and excited, but also...blank. And for a myriad of reasons, I'm not anymore.

I learned something this week...and I'm going to admit that it, too, is obvious. But I forgot it and learned it again this week. And it is this:

I have today.

Living in the moment is a very hard thing to, but when the voices stop, the tornado passes, and the eye of the hurricane is above me, I need to remember that having today...is really all I need.

There are more layers to this, but I'm just going to leave it there. For now.