Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Missed While Moving

I am moving. Yesterday we took two vehicle-loads of boxes to the new house. While we were there, we met our two-doors-down neighbor. Today I unpacked seven boxes, inspected the new fence, and read two mail order catalogs in the new house. All this busyness has me missing the blog. I write all the time in my head, but it's not being transmitted.

These interesting events transpired in the no-writing interval:

1. The dog ate my pizza. We have very little food prep equipment left at the old house, so we've been ordering out. Today I left 70% of a wonderful barbecue chicken pizza on the couch in the box. I was hurrying to meet the fence guy at the new house. He wanted his money. When I returned home after three hours, the poor old crippled dog who hasn't been on the couch in four months had jumped way high and devoured the pizza. She'd better not throw up tonight.

2. I restarted my point-counting for Weight Watchers. Because it works and I needed to. Already lost some lbs.

3. I took two Rituxan treatments. At the second one, a couple was referred to hospice for end of life care for one of them. The patient asked questions and tried to sound light-hearted. The partner stood silent.

4. I visited the barber. He gave me a great haircut, then killed it with some awful sticky gel that turned my do to plastic. It was okay once I came home and washed it. No more hair gel! Who likes that stuff?!

5. Packing has continued in fits and starts for weeks. Recent concentration has been on essentials - kitchen equipment, dry goods, bathroom necessities, clothing. I've left a minimum to get me through the next week 'til the movers come.

6. Better than packing, sorting and discarding has continued. Many carloads of gently worn goods have made their way to charity. The trash volume has quadrupled. Faced with a 1325 square foot dwelling, your definition of "necessity" changes quickly.

7. There is a science experiment in my garage. Weeks ago I purchased 40 lb of kitty litter. My daughter and a friend pried the lids off every old paint can in the place and put in kitty litter to absorb and dry out the old paint. When they are dry and hard, I throw them away. Fourteen down, at least ten to go. My daughter recognized most of the paint. She pointed out that some was left from when we painted her bedroom yellow and purple - that's right, alternating walls. Because that's the kind of mom I am.

8. I've come across many reminders of my first host son, Kris. Dead of suicide at age 17, he was a bright light and happy voice in our lives for several years. We moved after his death. The house no longer felt right without his frequent visits and insistence on sleeping in the family room where the sun rose shining through all the glass. Moving again, now five years later, I am reminded of the emptiness and grief I felt that year. I found a photo of Kris in a stack of papers, and while I debated about my readiness to frame it and view it daily, the tears came without warning. Five years is so short and so long.

9. I purchased the carbon fiber plate to put in my shoe, and I'm walking on it daily. It reduces the pain in the one tiny area of arthritis in my right foot. Ridiculous for such a small area of osteoarthritis to produce so much pain. Meanwhile, the left knee is begging for steroid injections and the left shoulder is making terrible scraping if I move it right (or wrong).

10. At least three times a day something happens that makes me want to grab my computer and begin writing. I've gotta start making notes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Abstract Me

Today I was crocheting a water bottle holder and it turned into a cosmetic/jewelry pouch. A circle done in crochet can easily get out of control. One or two extra rounds and you have the base of a purse. Another couple of rounds and it's a placemat. Keep going, it's a bedside rug. It doesn't take long to knit a house cover when you're going round and round in crochet. That is one of the things I like about using that crochet hook. You can pick a stitch, use it mindlessly, and just keep going. When you are finished, you cut the yarn, pull it through one stitch, and voila! it's a whatever-you-want-thinga-ma-bobby. It is very easy for me to make three-dimensional shapes with crochet, making rows turn and take off in other directions, connecting parts to form cones and rings and knobs, or satisfying my desire for caffeinated, off-the-charts asymmetry. I know that there will come a time when I stop worrying about the sale-ability of my crochet pieces, and turn them into the abstracts that they long to be.

Sometimes I think I was meant to be an abstract. I am older, with the softened jawline and fuzzy dumpling shape of a 52-year-old who has lived on prednisone for almost two decades. As parts get saggier, lumpier, more affected by gravity and medicines and lupus, they show their asymmetry more. Seen in the dark, or as a shadow on the wall, I can imagine myself a mysterious, amorphous creature that is the sculpture made by a mad scientist-artist like...myself. Oddly enough, I appreciate this, or at least I do not run from it. I can look in the mirror and see interesting shapes and evolution without crying for that past body. I know that my slim, crisp, muscular shape, the 35 year-old body just before lupus, was healthier and more conventionally attractive, but this is the body that holds me now. Now I am older, wiser, experienced, more compassionate, much more patient. Now I let my creativity reign, enjoy my own humor, and listen to my feelings. In its own way, the body works well. It is hearty, flexible, endures pain well and expresses pleasure luxuriously. It is not a shell to be discarded.

I think about this when I meet new men. Can they appreciate the miracle of health and life hard-won, the number of treatments this body has endured to be functioning so well in the present? Or do they just see the asymmetry and lumpiness and "lack of self control" that modern morons see as the basis for all bodies that blossom with obesity? Unlike the stereotypical woman polled, I do not prefer death or stupidity (a kind of death) to obesity. I'll take what I've got and live in it.

In elementary school, my daughter would say, "Mommy, you are soft." She never asked if something was wrong, or why I wasn't thinner or harder like other moms. Now 21, she draws and paints abstracts.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

...Like a Chicken with His Head Cut Off

You probably think I haven't blogged because I'm laying out on my deck enjoying the sun and the mild weather, but no...that's not been on my agenda. In the words of my mom, I've been running around "like a chicken with his head cut off", taking care of all the details in my life (and a few others). It's time to move, my new place is ready for us, and that necessitates contracts like the fence-building and movers, shopping for a new refrigerator, and acquisition of fancier packing supplies such as dividers for crystal glassware.
In the midst of this, there is the unceasing health care stuff. I finally saw an orthopod (oops, orthopedic surgeon) about my year-long foot pain, only to find that there's some weird process making cysts in my bone and calcifications in the soft tissue of one of my foot joints. "Probably some lupus thing," he says. I lay on a hard, narrow table and slid into the ring of the CT scanner today so that thin cross-sectional pictures could be made to further delineate the process.
Oh yeah, not just my health care stuff. I have one sister in the hospital with a stubborn kidney stone, a child with an infection, and a dog still fighting ringworm. (Yes, the dog counts! Who do you think gives her the pills and the alternate day baths with fancy medicated shampoo?)
Actually, the fact that I'm able to move through all of this without a break or paid help is great evidence that I'm a lot healthier today than I was this time last year, and not even in the same league as I was in two years ago. Recovery is all relative.
So, what's interesting now? I've missed every political health care rally planned for this area. Today I got a notice about a meeting including speakers from various health-care and political arenas. It is planned for my county by my favorite state legislator, Andy Berke, and will take place Friday, September 11. If all goes well, I will have pushed aside some of the other work (maybe even completed it!) so that I can attend. Speaking of work, lately I've had some invitations to do easy, temporary work. It's nice to still be thought of as a doctor. I knew I should keep up those continuing ed credits for something other than lingering interest.
Other interesting developments include blossoming friendships. I could not have looked at my knitting group a year ago and predicted this, but I have grown much closer to some of my knitting mates, and it is lots of fun to be learning about them on a deeper level. I should have a visit to a scary three-D movie coming up tomorrow with one of them.
I know you are holding your breath, wondering what I am knitting. After all, that has to be included under "interesting". I'm two-thirds finished with a little boy's vest, using two balls of blue and grey Lang's Mille Colori, wool 50%/acrylic 50%. That's not a mix I use commonly (acrylic production is heavy on hydrocarbon use), but I bought it on sale, it feels soft and nice, and will be easy care for some busy dad. Photos soon. I'm on my nth Beehive Hat. More photos of those soon. (My model has been busy with school.) I've got a longish list of things for a custom client, including two baby blankets and two hand towels. Both the cotton crochet baby blanket and the hand-dyed cotton baby blanket are finished, and I am happy with the completed products. Photos soon, no model required.
Altogether, a very busy time. If you see me on the street and I give a blank stare, bear with me. Insist that I take a chat break. I'll love you for it.