Li

li’l crumple

The lipstick in my purse is the one I wore Wednesday. I’ve been ill. I mean I haven’t even put in earrings since. The worst I’ve had in years. Just a flu of some kind, is all. But it’s knocked me out.

Night before last one kid went to bed in daylight hours; last night, t’other.

It’s been rough.

Being down has meant an incredible amount of film time – and several reviews on my B-movie site, including a sensitive 70s enviro sci-fi, a sleazy, greasy, & uneasy neo-noir, five excellent melancholy cop tele-dramas, a z-grade alien remake, and of course – a Mexican “head on a platter” horror film. Keep in mind on top of all of this I managed to start and finish two other television series.

A roll of tweed awaits, my pattern pieces resting atop the yardage. My house is clean enough, but I haven’t been able to do any of that work myself in a couple days.

It feels like weeks since I was able to do anything.

It’s just been a couple days.

Li'l Crumple

Bairn

st. bernadette

Today, I don’t understand what happened. I get up and discover that some time in the early morning, before anyone was up, a neighbor came over to report a cat killed by a motorist – a Siamese-marked kitty. My daughter woke, answered the door. Threw on her shoes and went out to investigate and – thank goodness, it wasn’t our Pip, but rather a semi-feral little rascal living and snooping around the neighborhood. R.I.P., little kitty.

But this morning my daughter tells me this and I’m a little knocked sideways. Amazing to me she handled this like a grown-up. I guess she’s becoming a grownup.

Something is off, though. Her color looks terrible and retires to her bed, to wake in the early afternoon. I make her a breakfast; I charge Nels with the dishes. When it’s finally time for her to rise, something is wrong. At first I am thinking she has some kind of sore throat. A little fever. She feels nausea. But then she doubles over in pain after trying to eat. She is suffering, and says so. My heart flutters. My daughter doesn’t complain about jack shit. Something is wrong.

We wait a while in the doctor’s waiting room but I don’t mind. I’m glad to be there. Her doctor gives her lungs a listen and I can see his concern. He orders a breathing treatment right away. He tells her, “you’re too tight to even check for pneumonia.” He goes out the room a while while she gets her treatment. She’s laying on the table because she can’t move around much without feeling terrible. I’m stunned because just yesterday she was running around like normal. And the doctor comes in, he’s a good doctor, and eventually he brings me over, loans me his stethoscope, for her lungs. I am not a doctor, but I am very upset by what I hear – and what I don’t hear. And the doctor says, “I’m amazed you haven’t passed out,” to my daughter. What’s really cool is he talks right to her and always have, even since she was little.

My daughter is sardonic but straight-forward. We get her a few prescriptions called in; we head up and get an x-ray. Her color is a little better; maybe the breathing treatment helped.

And, in my mind’s eye, I’m still hearing the pop and growl of her lungs. Her pink little lungs, in distress!

It’s funny, because this morning before everything went down I was fetching my first cup of coffee and feeling kind of ugly about the normal trifling concerns of life and I thought, I should be grateful I’m still breathing, that I can draw breath.

I am anxiously awaiting the results of tomorrow’s chest x-ray.

To say I’m anxious is a bit of an understatement. There aren’t really words.

Bairn

 

i know who i want to take me home

My child has a standing group-counseling event miles away once a week; this means I drive even more than normal to pick the child up, early, from a rural school. As well this week I am running back and forth for a sporting season (basketball: Nels). I am logging hours on a backwoods road which regularly yields heron, bald eagles, elk, and the occasional owl – but rarely-to-never deer or hawks, more often seen alongside the thoroughfare highways.

I have not yet adjusted to having the children out of the home during daylight hours. I have been working on sleeping more – discovering, half a year ago, that even when I did not need to rise at a particular time, I could only sleep six hours at a stretch. (Thanks to practice, patience, and some supplements – calcium, magnesium, wild lettuce, and melatonin – I’m up to nine!)

With more sleep comes a (seemingly) less productive schedule. Made (seemingly) less-productive still by my practices of meditation, volunteerism – and resting while I recover from a deep cough.

My son wants me to take a job at his school: his idea of paradise is to play kickball (or this week’s fad: sproutball), selectively partake in hot lunch, play with friends, and get cuddles from his teacher/playground-aide mama. His simple demands for childlike needs tug at my heart. My son is remarked upon by strangers often for his advanced vocabulary and speech patterns, his good manners, his dress – but at the same time, his younger nature. While other boys have followed suit of their peers and the television programs in their home, Nels is still childish in some ways. He dresses his own style; he is quick to cry publicly. Gentle at heart with animals and small children. As excited today as he was years ago – at a common snail or dun-brown snake:

 
 
My daughter has developments in her personal life as well; her age, and the increasing sophistication of interaction between boys and girls in her peer group, require that I am less forthcoming in sharing them here. You can imagine, reader, how honored I am she shares with me, privately – that I am her confidant.
 
By way of illustration: each child, on separate whims, affixed a valentine above their bed in a position of honor. Nels elected the cheerfully silly card I made him (“You’re The Shark To My Tornado!”) – while Phoenix displays a folded handmade heart, with words handwritten in a cribbed boys’ hand. The children are two years apart, and as close as siblings can be. But as ever, they have their own separate worlds.
Nels

the longest

Is it special, when you’re lonely?
Will you spend your whole life
In a studio apartment
With a cat for a wife?

On my mind today is a sense of illness – it steals upon me during a perfectly sunny walk in the woods this afternoon, and creeps through my belly, blooms in my chest. My head swims a bit. I want nothing more than to rest, to lie down. Instead I get to drive and haul children, a dog, a friend or two.I get to do the minimum amount of housework at home so we can visit a new family with a new – brand-new, as in born today – baby!

My children’s interests, activities, appetite, and clothing consumption seem to have escalated here, in their pre-teen years. Their needs for scheduling, and for talking out peer issues, and our plans for their upcoming birthday celebrations, do not make for idle time. Tonight I sit on bleachers in the rural school’s immaculate gym – splashed everywhere with the school colors of black, orange and white – and watch my son and other boys dribble basketballs, run pass-drills, and work on shooting form. I feel a softness in my chest for these boys – the little boys, and the “boy” coaching as well. I stand up and pocket my phone at four as Nels proudly hauls his backpack up his shoulder – before asking if I’ll carry it. My son puts his arm around me when we leave; he is growing so tall, so fast. His neck is flushed and his body elastic and warm from practice.

Nels' 1st Day At Basketball

Preachers Slough

Greedy For Babies

 Today’s exertions have left my cough a little deeper than it was this morning; my neck and head ache. My body feels ill-used, and misses the weekend-night cuddles of my children, who go to bed before I do on school nights.

But tonight I am grateful to have once again discharged the day’s duties; to have remained true to the purpose. To have walked the dog and pet the cats and helped the children and held hands with my husband and looked into his eyes deeply and when he asked me how I was, to tell him, “I love you.”

Life is a gift and today although my bones are cold and brittle I’m grateful to get the chance for another 24. Breathing in, breathing out.

A Little Rough

January:

The days are short,
The sun a spark
Hung thin between
The dark and dark

The rent money: it isn’t here (but thanks to a friend, we’ve got groceries! and – thank you thank you thank you!).

Two cats are sick; yesterdays’ gratis vet appointment fell through due to flood.

An unexpected bill (or two). An overdraft fee. Memories of when that was a lifestyle. Let it go. It’s not that way, today.

This morning: my daughter is diagnosed with asthma. The doctor can tell this is a bit for me to process. So he begins speaking slowly, explaining things in a thorough, calm manner. His kindness and dignity are so moving I feel the sting of tears in my chest.

(outwardly: I am stoic!)

I am ill – a head cold – but I do my job. I do the laundry, and the housework, and I drive a kid or two here and there. My head hurts. But I ask after people. How are they? How is their day?

I drink my water. I feel nausea. I swim in it, for a bit. I breathe deep.

(outwardly: I am stoic!)

Yoga class – a more challenging class than I’d expected. My back is strong – my leg strengthening work has clearly evidenced itself as we move through warrior, side-angle, triangle.

Headstand. I fear the attempt against a wall; I want help. I don’t ask for help. I try it. I bang my head against the wall. Everyone says, “OMG are you okay?!”

(outwardly: I am stoic!)

Lit candles: in awareness for our neighbors who have been affected by, and devastated by, the flood.

The truth is, I do have a pretty good attitude. And days like today it shows. And I need to keep a record so I can treat myself with the kindness I’d wish, in the future, I’d had the sense to enact today.

 A Little Rough

A Little Bit Damp

here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool

We’ve been hit unbelievably hard with flooding.

Sunday night after yoga class I noticed the rain was fantastic – even for an area known for its rain. Deep in that evening while we slept the county – especially Aberdeen, and to a lesser extent Hoquiam – absolutely went awash.

By nine in the morning my entire family and I had (carefully) made our way to a grocery shop to get enough supplies for a day or two – as many roads were impassable. I passed someone in the aisle I’d known since I was eight – I was to find out later, they’d lost a house only hours before.

Both the kitties’ trip to the vet (offered by a friend helping us out) and my daughter’s doctor’s appointment were cancelled. School was cancelled. Ralph’s workday: cancelled. Almost all the roads in and out and everywhere: closed!

My social media stream began trickling in photographs of basements and homes flooded – cars submerged, streets absolutely awash. I comforted my friends and neighbors, I updated my own feed with our day’s events. I thought a bit about those working hard to help – especially the road crews, police, aid workers, and all who had to brave the elements.

Our house stayed warm, and dry. Our animals and human family members stayed safe. Nels even made a little newscast last night.

Life goes on even during catastrophe. Last night at 1:30 AM, and quite improbably, the neighbors across the street – who yesterday had a lengthy, out-of-doors, screaming, I’m calling the cops! fight – suddenly blast a soulful, sexy R&B tune.

My son: kept up into the wee hours by night terrors. This morning, my heart is sad.

The doctors don’t seem to be in just yet. My attempts to reschedule Phee’s doctor’s appointment – I am concerned with her cough – go in vain. A glass of water, a couple ibuprofen for my own sore throat – and then falling into bed with an anxious little boy, who is home from school.

A Little Bit Damp

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

on hospitality

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party

Today is less peachy-keen than yesterday. Still very low levels of kidney pain – most of the day, non-existent – but I am fatigued, and suffered a good deal of nausea rising in the later part of the day.

I do the best I can: rescheduling an appointment, making a few more. Laundry (a neighborhood gentleman came over and helped inspect our dryer), dishes, and food – cupcakes and chicken sandwiches for our later event. Drive to the bank to make a deposit.Thankfully, the deposit gets there before the check for rent pulls funds.

Put the house in order; light candles. Cut out three layered t-shirts; return pattern to envelope and filing system. Fold clothes and make a pot of hot, strong tea.  Drive the rainy distance along the river out to pick up my children, and one other young one, at the bus stop. Put a call in to a friend.

The sandwiches, the tea party: a few visitors today, one very special. My friend E., my daughter’s best friend A. – and the kitten new to A.’s home. A kitten almost identical to our own Pip, but of a fluffier nature with a hard, round, low-slung belly.

You can see why it was pretty important we make it a real Occasion.

Jon-Won Kitten / Cupcake Party 

A. and her kitty leave a little after 8; I tidy up. It’s 9 PM – my makeup is fading; my body feels ill. My son collapsed at six PM, clothes and all, in his bed – lights on. His early bedtime somehow leaves me feeling lonely, sad and ill. The early sunset isn’t a great help, either.

I remind myself that just because I am not feeling well, does not mean those in my home are similarly afflicted. It is so important to give them all the love I can.

No matter what!

waiting in the wings

The light is on in the hallway; the dryer is running, keeping my son company while we hold one another close in his bed. He twines his arms around my neck and tells me, “I wish you’d sleep with me.” I am not at all tempted, because I can only fall asleep in my own bed. But there is a pang – I love him so!

Nels tells me he will “tempt” me, and starts listing all the soothing things he can think of to put me to sleep. “A nice chicken dinner,” he whispers, referring to our evening’s repast. And now – I’m stifling laughter. His hair, his skin, his breath – so sweet. And I am sad I will be leaving his arms.

Today – I was exhausted. I was so glad to be experiencing a manageable level of pain for our matinee performance that my time onstage was simultaneously joyful – and also monstrous, because with each bar of music I remembered the night before. I came home, had a late lunch, a hot shower, and retired immediately to pajamas for some junky television.

My daughter has a dry cough that’s gone on for quite long enough: tomorrow, a doctor’s appointment. Moving around a few dollars to cover the rent check. Canceling crafting out at the child’s school – probably, unless I feel much better. Tackling the handful of bills we can’t pay this pay period.

Tonight, though: gratitude for another day, for friends who are loving, helpful, and supportive. And that I didn’t vomit onstage.

 

 

Backstage, JCS

a hand on a hot stove

Backstage, JCS

I get these little sticking points, these moments of non-acceptance. I’m cast from my place of ease and serenity, or at least my finger on the pulse of the dharma – into confusion, a small smudge of despair – rudderless.  Tonight it’s in the car, as we drive to the hospital and my 12 year old daughter hears her mother praying aloud and crying, the helpless cry of abject suffering. Finally pull over at the side of the road – this is at about 9:30 PM – to vomit. Drive up to the ER and check in for pain relief. Pace and pace and breathe – finally on the bench in the lobby, rhythmic humming sounds. Placing myself in a trance to endure.

My daughter knows I won’t die, I’m only in severe pain. She gets to learn what it’s like to offer someone moral support – a loving presence. She puts her hand in mine. I tell her it means so much to me that she’s here.

These days, kidney stones pass about every three weeks. Most are a couple hours of pain – intense, distracting, maddening – but often such that I can walk about and focus on the business of others. Most times the pain eventually eases off – blessedly.

Tonight wasn’t like that. The pain started at about 2:30 and came and went, getting worse. Bringing a nausea that kept me from eating for about eight hours. At seven – right when we’re ready to take the stage for tonight’s performance – it steadily worsened. It took all I had to stay in the show to the end. The memory of getting through each bar of music, each song, each act. I was in a small, fourth-dimension place of a pain so acute the world seemed a Victorian-era vignette, unreal and distantly depersonalized.

I am home now. Exhuasted, but pain-free except for the ache in my lower back.

The hospital was kind. I am fretting about another medical bill. I haven’t yet moved off of that (futile) worry.

Still – today was, somehow, a good day. I kept a glad spirit – or I started off that way and it sustained me. And then: help, from so many quarters. A friend took me out grocery shopping. Another friend bought us our Christmas tree (!) and then delivered an oilskin envelope along with it – folded twenty dollar bills. Another friend sent me an online donation. Another friend let me help her with a home repair project. Another friend hosted my son this evening and took him out to a diner, and played video games with him besides. Another friend asked me along to her lunch. Castmates gave me hugs – castmates who aren’t particularly demonstrative.

If it weren’t for friends, if it weren’t for kindnesses large and small – my life would have little meaning.

And now, exhausted, I am back to pacing myself. Tomorrow: a matinee. I am behind on work for clients. I am tired and will need to recover further.

I can’t figure out tomorrow, today. That is for certain. I am grateful for the help and support I get. May it always remind me how worthwhile it is, to help and support others!

ER

amanita bisporigera

In the living room I hear my mother turn down the bread my husband offers; Nels asks if she’s on a diet. No, she says. Well, kinda. Her tummy – she tells my son – her tummy is real sick.

From the next room I can feel his demeanor change. He asks, “Have you been eating mushrooms?” He has that alert tone I recognize since he was about three. Like, The Cobweb. Like “Kibbleland”. He’s ten years old and so bright, but he’s still my baby. 

Because I know what he means about the mushrooms. Sure enough, Nels now tells his grandmother: “There is this one kind of mushroom, if you eat it you feel okay at first. But then you get sick and die. And there’s no antidote.”

“Oh!” my mom says, taken aback. A bit impressed, really.

I’ve been so tired lately it’s like something’s wrong. Maybe more rest? Maybe more walks? I think of red meat, I think of fresh fruit. I think of Cher in the film Moonstruck, fixing a steak: “You’ll eat it bloody to feed your blood.”

I spent our Christmas money – I spent it on food for the family, and I “spent” it in the form of a loan to a friend who had to move. I don’t regret either, although sometimes I think I am not practical. I’d offered a loan back in the summer when she was imminently homeless and I had a little bit of savings.

But since the money is gone, I am oddly at peace. Mostly. Some moments, my mind chews on things. The seals in my car are gone and it makes the car wet, cold, and truth be told a bit unsafe to drive. My daughter needs cloth menstrual pads and new bras. There is something about puberty, it’s like leaving home with your baby and finding you are without coat or shoes, it doesn’t feel decent not to immediately provide – and provide as best as one can.

I need to fix my cracked tooth (going on two years – ha!). My husband needs jeans, and I’d like to get him a new wool coat (the green one he has, I bought it for him before we had children together). These little things, it’s my job for them to swim in my awareness, swim away as I rise for the day, wash my dishes, take the dog for a walk. Feel a profound gratitude for all the good things we have, not least of which are these children. They are my heart, they are anything that was ever good about me.

My children, I know, will have a wonderful Christmas. I sometimes get sentimental like most parents: wish I could be lavish and ridiculous and buy them something incredible. It’s okay to think on this a bit, because again the thought floats off and I’m left in the sunshine, in the cold, walking along the bay – I’m left at peace.

And I think to myself how fortunate I am we are satisfied with the life we have. Enough ingratitude, enough envy – and the fattest bank account won’t do the trick. Like Nels’ beloved poisonous mushroom, there is no antidote.