Sunday, January 27, 2008

At last!

I got out, so I have something to write about.

I've been working on a mixed media collage for the Hygienic Art Show (there's a story behind the name--it used to be a restaurant where my mother worked, and after it closed, the city tried to tear it down, and the people rose up, and created a populist art gallery ;-) ). I woke up yesterday thinking, I'm not going, my work's not good enough, why do I bother trying, etc. Then I let my ego go and just thought, this is supposed to be a fun thing for people of all levels who want to express themselves. It is what it is.

Anyway, I did go. What a bunch of fun stuff!...including a five-foot-tall red penis with a print of Che Guevara on the back (?); a beautiful carving of driftwood; a large abstract rusty metal assemblage; a wonderful acrylic of Bast, the ancient Egyptian goddess of music and joy, with a woman in front of her holding a black cat; a piece that was astonishingly similar to Jackson Pollock's work, titled something like 'Homage to Pollock; and a papier mache head of the wildly white-haired and bearded Jim Stidfole, an artist who is on the Hygienic's board. John took a picture of the latter; I'll get it from him and post it here later.

We got to look before the main show started, a good thing because at the official show it's impossible to move or see anything. Then we went to Bangkok City for Thai food. They brought us the wrong food, but we had no idea, since neither of us is very familiar with Thai cuisine, so we ate it. It was delicious. Then they showed up with the two dishes we had ordered, so we paid for them and took them home to eat tonight.

Anyway, here's me looking incredibly goofy, holding my piece, which is titled 'Woman Rising'.

I know it's hard to see what's on it, so... In the lower left and upper right corners are matches. The upper right corner also has a quartz crystal glued to the canvas. The writing is the word 'nativitas', Latin for 'birth', on the lower left, and in the upper right corner is 'flamma', which means 'flame'. Most of the images are genuine vintage (not scanned), including the young teen on the left, who was taken from a medical text published in 1895. You can't see it, but she's looking up as if to say, "Why me?" The elderly woman is a studio photo, also from the late 19th century.

Anyway, I'm getting out of my usual January funk. I just bought a container of half-and-half that's dated March 3rd, so that reassures me that spring will come. I can't wait!


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Overheard while blog surfing

No changes have been made to these quotes...they are copied and pasted verbatim. They are all from adult native English speakers. Here we go...

My last few posts have been fairly verbatose...I have a droor full of pins and a few blanks spaces -- just waiting for the next creative to come and add to the wall...This exhibition truly represents the collective understanding of life in many shoes...Pat and Guido were everywhere weilding their wands to make the boys seem more alive...Surprise your loved ones this coming Valentine's Day or other Happy Ocassions with a gift delicated from your heart. (the blog is titled “Heartfelt Delications to your Loved Ones”)...Trash Talkin': A blog created to bring attention to the overwhelming and often overlooked problem of litter in our communities...What does luck have to do with dying?...Look ye to the warnings lest ye regret...The hallways that once buzzed with blow dryers and gossip alike are now silenced, and the only commotion comes from the soft hums of my heater...Depite all this, it is only because he is so inamid [enamored] with this claening device that I can write this blog now...When I'm feeling blue, all I have to do is to pour it out from my heart onto a piece of paper through a pen. With this, I hope to colour my daily life with rainbow...

Yes, I know. I'm mean. But hey, I'm allowed to be a bitch every now and then. And as some of you know, I am a member of the Grammar Police.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Caboose of Life

Just heard from my old friend, Danny Boy.

He's concerned because I haven't been posting much on my blog lately. He's afraid I'll ascend to the heavens without bidding you all a fond farewell.

Actually, I'm fine. It's just that in this weather, I don't get out as much, so there's not that much to write about. I'm a dyed-in-the-wool New Englander, but that doesn't mean I like cold weather much.

Danny thought it'd be a good idea for me to describe the dirt on my computer desk, but I'll spare you.

Here's an altered-in-Photoshop picture of the door of a caboose. I took it last year some time.

Hail and farewell!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Life in the slow lane

This is Zen with his new little elf buddy.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I see a red door...

I lied about posting a pretty picture, but you probably didn't notice.

Today is the fourth anniversary of my excisional biopsy (lumpectomy), yielding a preliminary diagnosis of breast cancer.

It was an epiphany, of sorts.

None of us continues in exactly this form forever. I'm rather attached to it though, warts and all.

I was supposed to have what is known as a sentinel node biopsy, where dye is injected into the lymph channels in the breast, and they remove the first lymph node in the underarm that it travels to. The node was buried deep, though, and the surgeon couldn't find it, so rather than leaving me under anesthesia too long, he did a full axillary dissection, removing all levels 1 and 2 nodes from the armpit.

If he hadn't done that, I wouldn't have had chemo. All nodes were negative for cancer, and the tumor was small. But the pathologist located a tiny tumor in the fatty tissue removed with the full dissection. The tumor was identified as a metastasis (spread) in transit, i.e., cancer cells on their way from the breast to the nodes. Another two tiny tumors (try saying that three times fast) were found in a second surgery to get a larger border of non-cancerous cells around the tumor. So I was finally staged at IIb, and told my chance of recurrence in five years (either a second primary cancer or metastases) was about 30%. Fifteen months later, despite two surgeries, chemo, radiation, and a hormonal treatment, I was diagnosed with metastases to the bones.

It's an existential dilemma, it is. How do you balance hope and genuine living with being realistic? Hardly anybody gets out of this alive. I am not the same person as I was before the diagnosis. I live with death on a daily basis. No matter how "reasonable" you are, there's a visceral fear that's hard to deny, and a reluctance to lose all this.

No answers here.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

A woman on one of my lists just completed testing for the mutations known to cause breast cancer. (Her daughters were uneasy that a gene may have been passed on to them.) She happily reports that she tested negative for the known mutations, and that it was "purely a random act of God" that she got breast cancer.

Read that again. Purely a random act of God.

I have slowly and studiously begun to read about Buddhism. I am interested in Theravada (also called Hinayana) Buddhism, where Gautama is seen as an awakened or enlightened being, but not a deity. I'm reading the book I mentioned a couple of posts ago, Buddhism Plain and Simple. It suits my chemo-burned-out synapses just fine. I'm also thinking of joining a small Yahoo group where I can ask questions and learn. I'm still pagan, but I think the philosophy of Buddhism will help me to deal with the changes in my life with more serenity and equanimity.

Not much more to say tonight. I'll post a pretty picture later.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I added some more red to 'A Little Bird Told Me' (click here for the old version).

You know the saying, right? If you can't make it good, make it big. If you can't make it big, make it red.

Anyway, here she is:

She does have a ne sais quoi...oh yeah, it's the red!


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Wherever I am, there I go

There's a saying people are fond of in AA: "The way things are is the way they're supposed to be." I've never believed that and don't think I ever will. The way things are is the way things are.

That doesn't make them any less poignant, though.

Last night I watched the concert honoring Paul Simon with the first annual Library of Congress Gerschwin Prize for Popular Song. Musicians there included Ladysmith Black Mambazo, James Taylor, Alison Krauss (she just gets better and better), Stevie Wonder, Lyle Lovett, Buckwheat Zydeco, and finally, Art Garfunkel. Art seemed out of voice, as if he never sings anymore. It all brought me to tears, at first because of its beauty, but as the concert went on, more simply because it brought home how much time has passed, the way young people think it never will. I cried more than I have in months.

Afterwards John listened to me as I struggled to tell him how my sense that there's some meaning to it all has faded. I'm having a hard time staying in the moment, a hard time maintaining any serenity.

I had some sense a couple of weeks ago that studying Buddhism might help me, and I purchased a book called 'Buddhism Plain and Simple". I started to read it this morning.

Of course, the coming of New Years Day reminds me that one of the (few) upcoming years will be my last. That's very hard. I have vowed to make this, and any possibly last years that succeed it, the best year I've ever had. Not by striving, though--by simply seeing all that is around me.

In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says, "The kingdom of heaven is all around us, and men do not see it". I want to get back my perception of the feast that is right in my house, my yard, my world. I want to live again.

Christmas Eve with my kids here was beautiful. My daughter is suffering, but she seems happier when her brother is around. I have to accept what is now, and let go of my fear that that beauty--my good relationship with them--won't be permanent, a fear that tortures me. Right now all is well, being what it is.

I hope you all have a new year filled with growth and openness. I hope that for myself as well.