there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow

It’s 11 PM and it’s not a good neighborhood in Aberdeen but we’re pulled over anyway for a while. Ralph is checking a few bank balances on the phone, and his phone is slooooow. Eventually he figures out that between two accounts, we have $50 – enough to get supplies for Phoenix’s first day of school, and to pick up a few special items for her lunch. While he’s figuring this, though, we’re sitting along a nasty part of town – as in No, Nels, You Can’t Go Outside And Play and while I wait patiently, a raccoon runs in front of our car and into the lights of the convenience store’s frontage. “Heading to Smoke Town,” I say in my raspiest, very-sketchy-raccoon type of voice.

Ralph still has traces of his Rocky Horror makeup on. He’s tired and his hair is spikey and between that and the eyeliner, he looks like a 90’s made-for-TV-movie version of a drug dealer. He’s tired and his temper is short. I guess I’m kind of the same. But I’m not irritated with my husband, or with checking our balance, or with being up late and tired with a sore throat coming on, or with my car at home on “R” and not sure how I’ll get to school to get my daughter tomorrow heck only a little over twelve hours from now.

In fact I’d been thinking of the low gas tank precisely when we set out from our darkened driveway for these late night errands. And I’d felt this total peace come over me and I’d thought of the book of Matthew, Chapter 6: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day’s evil is enough for the day.” I’d thought of this today while talking to a friend and I’d taken the time to look it up in a book and everything (The Unvarnished Gospels). Yeah, I’ve lived long enough and suffered long enough I know the wisdom in setting worry aside. Or like I told my friend today, who wanted advice on a few matters: “If I thought it was a good idea for you to worry, I’d tell you to worry.” Today yeah, I know this practice is a form of self-absorption, and like all self-absorption, it steals my life. I experience that sublime peace when I know I can just Be Here Now. And I’m feeling that serenity now, in the car, tired, cranky husband and all.

After groceries, apples and olives and juice and a special orange candy treat for our daughter’s lunchpail, we hit Walmart for the school supplies. It is surreal and not in a good way. There is a man arguing loudly with his own appearance on a security camera screen. There are two young men about as high as I’ve ever seen anybody, in the video game section. A family loudly argues at the checkout, seemingly oblivious to their own amped-up energies. The school supply section has been so vigorously raided there is no longer any college-ruled paper sheaves (come to think of it, they were even out of wide-ruled – now that is dire!). But – Ralph and I take care to pick the items we think our daughter – home now asleep – will appreciate. I feel at peace and grateful for my husband, for our little family.

Nels trails along with us – the child, tonight, a bit neglected as Ralph and I are focused on the task at hand. And he’s very patient but he’s still a bit that Lost Child and I have that pang when I feel I’m not being Enough. But then I turn away from that pang, I smile at it a bit because I know I still have time with my son, I’m still here.

I’d promised this child a pizza date with just he and I, on Phoenix’s first day of school. Another to-do item for tomorrow like the gas tank – something I know I can figure out when the time comes because I know I’m supported by the Universe.

It’s a good life, Times One Million.

& NOW – impressively large quantities of hominy. Nels asks me what it is. “It’s like corn. But gross.”



The day was at least half-over by most people’s standards when Ralph and I agreed to get up to painting at the new house. Yeah, that’s just how we Hogabooms roll. While doing our typical thing – caring for kiddos, ours and other people’s, and cooking, and doing housework, and dealing with cats, and a meeting I get to chair at the Treatment Center on Sunday nights – we also shopped for supplies and got our gear to the house. Ralph and I cleaned and taped three large rooms and primer-painted two of them, getting home a little before midnight. Yeah, even though the house had white walls we had to primer, and grey primer, because like a total pain I opted for deep, vibrant, lovely colors, none of this taupe or melon or whatever. So that’s like, a thousand gallons and many many coats of paint. But I think it’s going to look lovely. I just need to do that trick where I am patient, mindful, and apply myself to the task at hand without letting my mind race on to the many things that will need to be done, to be settled in. GUESS WHAT, being sober helps with this A LOT.

The cleaning was big-time, at least in the kitchen, which is my opinion the (potentially) dirtiest room in a house. It was cheering though to scrub on a new domicile we’ll soon be occupying. We had music, and coffee, and hot water and lots of rags. We listened to Lady Gaga and Pink (while Phoenix was there; she quite helpfully unscrewed all the light-switch plates), and then Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, then some Springsteen, and then when it got to the late-night painting with Ralph he suggested one of my favorites, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, which I love Times One Million. And I told Ralph, “If you don’t sing along to JCS you’re fired,” and he said in a hurt tone of voice, “I don’t know all the words!” and I said, “Get. Out.” But actually I needed him because he did all the painting up high where my tiny forearms can’t reach.

But yeah, it was an honest day’s work, and of course there was some excellent, and shrill, rock opera emanating from my golden pipes. You shoulda been there. No I mean I really could’ve used the help.

Now I’m going to soak my feet in a hot bath and get my ass to bed.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes / The Nerves sit ceremonious, like tombs

In the ER they have these fancy little barf bags I don’t remember from eighteen years ago when I suffered, I suspect, from the same malady that brings me here today. Back then the Emergency entrance was on the north side of the building and the whole bit was a little more pinched and darker and dingier; I remember throwing up on the floor between my feet while the intake lady looked on in disapproval, her nails angrily clack-clacking my low class to her keyboard.

But today I cough and vomit into a tidy little blue bag and the personnel there are cheerful, trying to make conversation while I’m a bit blind from sensation, except to note my systolic blood pressure is up thirty points due to pain. My daughter strokes my back and puts her head against mine and eventually I’m on a narrow bed in my own room writhing around. After a while the grip of convulsions slow a bit and I can lie still and formulate some thoughts; I instruct Phoenix to call and cancel her own dentist appointment, and to call Ralph, to cancel this or that (like a little VIKING I finished a meeting commitment today, the last twenty minutes distinctly uncomfortable, before driving myself directly to the hospital where I got up to the weeping and choking), to let my mom know where I am as she has my son. Meanwhile they put a needle in the hollow of my elbow and take blood and ask for urine and put stuff in an IV and my arm is cold.

I watch some bad television but it really is Bad. I click it off and stare at the thin cotton blankets not keeping me warm. Soon Ralph is there and more stuff is put in my IV and them I’m wheeled in for a CT scan where the operator pulls down my jeans, belt and all, and has me push up my bra, and I lie on my stomach under blankets and tubes and curiously comfortable but in the most undignified state of sartorial disarray. The operator is friendly too, and he wheels me back and I feel distinctly odd at being wheeled anywhere, and it also occurs to me how fun it would be to have remote control and bang through the halls like a maniac.

The pain is rising again and they give me some more meds. The doctor comes back in eventually and tells me bad news. I am kind of shocked although I kind of also knew what was likely wrong. I am told to call so-and-so Specialist tomorrow. I sit helpless on my little gurney under blankets. My blood pressure is finally down to normal again, thanks to a rather effective pain medication that unfortunately makes me vomit again, although this time I don’t mind nearly so much.

All in all it’s exhausting to go through but you can imagine how relieved I am to not feel pain, and when I get home my mom comes over with my son, and they’ve brought roses. But they bought the roses even before they knew I fell ill which kind of is the Best Thing Ever.

You never know what the day will bring. Here I thought I’d be making a double-chocolate bundt cake, sewing a Halloween costume, going to a book study, and up late on a date with my husband. Instead I’ve been on the couch a while, only breaking for a bath and to sit up and eat pizza, and Heather is up late a few feet away writing a poem about pancakes. I try not to worry about the onset of more pain and I shall instead use my time to appreciate the sensations in my body now, agony-free.


Fireworks in Aberdeen

4:30 AM
What I Saw When I Came In At 4:30 AM The Other Night. The kids had put themselves to bed, as Ralph had fallen asleep before they. I love how each one bundled hirself up separately.

Phoenie & Amber
Ladies’ Night! We’ve been having a few of these. Phoenix loves them Times One Million. You know what’s good for kids, great role models. Like Jasmine and Amber who kick all kinds of ass and are the sweetest women besides.

I gave Harris a tasty dish of food. He staggered around a bit and then fell asleep like this. I found him because I was ready to take a shower. He stayed in with me there for a while.

Exactly one year ago: a trip to Elton Bennett Park here in Hoquiam.