Little Elegy

Withouten you
No rose can grow;
No leaf be green
If never seen
Your sweetest face;
No bird have grace
Or power to sing;
Or anything
Be kind, or fair,
And you nowhere.

– ELINOR WYLIE

— sending all my love, sweetheart. Thinking of you always,

mom

April 7, 1960 -October 1, 2016

My beautiful, smart daughter told her doctor to stop giving her chemo in June 2016. At the time, she asked for a prescription for Death with Dignity drugs so she could end her life on her own terms.  Due to delay after delay, the prescription wasn’t written until 2 days after she died. She was so tired at the end that when I kissed her goodbye, she made a gigantic effort to give me a big smile. It was an honor to be her mother and to be able to look after her for the last two months of her life.

Her memorial was beautiful and at least 100 people came from near and far to show how much they adored her. Many more were unable to come but sent cards and flowers. She was well loved.
Laura Lynn Thompson | PASSAGES

Oct 18, 2016 at 10:36AM
Laura Lynn Thompson –

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The Hallowed Ground.

Cancer: My Journey Back to Health-Kicking & Screaming the Whole Damn Way

'Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.' N. Bonaparte ‘Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.’ N. Bonaparte

Today, I am going to just write. I don’t want to think too much today. I want to just be present.

I don’t even know what that means. I am still so restless and tired. I thought maybe, just maybe, it was time to look at some other blogs on cancer. I shouldn’t have. The poor people. The pictures of their smiling faces. Why did I do it? I want to know what I can do for myself. The community. But all I did was scare myself. I didn’t steel myself to a new resolve. I didn’t learn a fact to help in my fight. I reminded myself of a 5 year of pretending I wasn’t scared of the monster under the bed. Still wanting the night light on. Too proud to ask.

Naturally I was automatically drawn…

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A Day In the Life…

Mom and Liza keeping me laughing-who could find the funniest Meme on the internet.

Mom and Liza keeping me laughing-who could find the funniest Meme on the internet.

Tuesday is chemotherapy day for me.

It's not just Tuesday though...when you start to dread the hospital, it can poison every single day that leads up to it. Tuesday is a day of trying.

Trying to pretend that you don't mind. That you're strong. Pretending that I am NOT afraid. Afraid of being sick afterwards, that something could go wrong, that the needles will hurt-they always hurt. It took 3 people and almost 45 minutes this time. Trying to pretend that it doesn't hurt because the nurses job is hard enough without me groaning and crying

Joos Von Cleve 'The Suicide of Lucretia'

Joos Von Cleve 'The Suicide of Lucretia'
This would have been a faster, less painful way to get that needle in...

Trying to eat something or drink something...I don't like eating or drinking much. It makes me nauseous. So Liza tries to bring me crackers and pudding and ginger ale and water and cookies...anything, if I'll just have something she would be happier. But I don't want to get sick and I have a long way to get home.

Trying to distract myself.

Trying to keep my patience and my smile in place when all I wanted to do was to close my eyes and try not to throw up.

Tuesday...used to be karaoke night.

I sang karaoke last month. In a strange place during a contest. With 3 judges. But that's another story and I'm needing to focus on something else. Like sleep.

I'm lying here in bed full of drugs and nausea and I feel like crap. But I am writing. I'm wondering why I bother. This is not a happy post. I didn't have any fun today. I wasn't happy. It wasn't a good day...was it?

Lets see...I was with Mom and Liza. That's always great. The food in the cafeteria looked really good and Mom and Liza had a delicious lunch while I waited for my results. (They were crap-but that's another story for another day) I had soup for dinner and tea. I chased my kitty around the table cuz he wanted to play. I did a load of laundry. I found a working fridge on FreeCycle and the lady said I could come and get it tomorrow. So we can get rid of the leaking, broken one we have. That's good.

I am in a nice warm bed and if I got up and looked out the window I would see a million stars. The neighbor across the field is having a bonfire and I want to walk over there and sit down with a nice cold beer and just look at the fire. I don't know them though. Maybe I should introduce myself. Just ask them...listen, would it be alright if, when I saw the light from a bonfire, if I just came over and sat quietly. I wouldn't be any trouble at all. I just like fires. Yeah...I should ask.

So, maybe not a total wash out. Once some of this crap is out of my system I will feel more inspired.

I already feel better.

Thats me trying.

How I feel on Tuesdays How I feel on Tuesdays

Merry Christmas. Really.

So I’ve been sulking.

I don’t know what else to call it. I sit around and think of all the horrible things that have gone wrong in the past two years and I brood. I’ve even asked ‘Why me?’, the immortal question for which there is no answer.

I would look at my computer and I just wanted to scream at it. Maybe I did once or twice. Everything turned black. My humor was gone. My tolerance was at an all time low. Who would want to read this shit? I have nothing to say. I am mean as a snake, as cruel as a house fire, as discerning as a rat in a garbage can…seriously, why would I write?

Then I got an email from a friend named Cheryl. And it was Christmas morning. Somehow she joggled something and suddenly I wanted to write again. I wanted to draw a picture. I wanted to punch my right wing Uncle Dave in the head for being an asshole and having asshole opinions.

I started feeling better.

It all happened in a minute. There I was sitting on the couch with my iPad taking pictures of my nephews who were trying to be enthusiastic about the socks and pajamas and ties they got (Did I mention I can be evil as well?)
I thought I’d read some emails while the unwrapping of gifts went forward

(‘Ooh look, a sweater that’s too short in the sleeves!’)

I got a simple, short email from Cheryl. She had cancer too. She has a tough row to hoe but for some inexplicable reason, she seems to get through it all without whining and crying and blaming and feeling sorry for herself. And she somehow, out of her crazy busy schedule, she somehow took a minute to write 4 sentences and, I don’t know why, but it fixed a broken part in my brain.

(‘Is this a coffee mug with your little dog on it. Fabulous!)

I tuned out for a little while and thought about what I do. The things I do that would inspire a smart, busy woman to take a minute out of her holiday morning to write to someone who has been unresponsive and silent for months.

Am I a good person? Am I a good writer? Can I be funny? Am I smart? Am I a good friend? A good daughter/sister/auntie? And then I realized…

I bought socks and ties for my teenage nephews. I’m a jerk.

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But not always a jerk.

I occurred to me that I think about you. Yes, you Kate. And you RedDog. And Jackie Mallon and Wingmother and Mr. Sugar Bears and Andra and Nate and that policeman in St Louis who is so funny and that young mother in the midwest who makes videos with her chihuahua…I thought about you all while I was in this black hole. It was something…it didn’t make me responsive or inspire me to write, no. But it made me feel guilty. And sometimes that’s a good thing. Just ask Mrs. Roz, my friend Cindy’s jewish mother.

I was guilty of not contributing. I didn’t even try to shine a small light into the world. It’s not that hard to do. I have a little, tiny, weeny flashlight in me and I just let it lie there.

I’m a jerk but not always.

I want to say thank you.

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Thank you Dora, for being on my new coffee mug even though you peed on the kitchen rug.

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Thank you Christmas tree for cheering me up and being so pretty.

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Thank you Walter for being so gracious about the Wolf tee shirt I bought you.

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Thank you Martin for the trip down memory lane.

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Thank you Ryka for being so cuddly and…and…never mind.

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Thank you all. I am sending a hug like this one to each and every one of you.

I’m going to write again. Even if I only have rants and raves and curses. I can make them funny, and maybe that will help me look at them in a different way. Maybe I will stumble on an insight and maybe if I do that I will find a moment of peace.

Maybe, when I am back in that chemo bed on Tuesday I will draw a picture or…write? I don’t know…but one thing I do know.

I’m taking the sweater back to Macy’s.

How not to be a Prick – A Few Ideas for the Celebrity Driven Culture We Live In.

I think I wrote about my cancer making a return appearance. Having to go back into chemo, different drugs etc…the drugs seem to be slowly working, but it’s not kicking ass and taking names this time around. It’s more like inquiring softly, with a lavendar scented pen.

“Pardon me…are you a cancer cell? No? I’m so sorry, pardon my intrusion, have you seen one? Oh really? Just over there? If you’ll excuse me…Hello! You ARE a cancer cell? Could I, perhaps, see you’re invitation? Yes, yes it IS invitation only I’m afraid…’

It’s left me totally exhausted, mentally and physically. Another summer down the toilet. It’s just hard to do anything. Even sitting in bed, lying on the couch, sitting outside, it’s all so tiring. I was reduced to online shopping for pants! Ladies out there, I KNOW you feel my pain…couldn’t even try them on and the colour is never what they say it is…I settled finally on purple pants…just sheer exhaustion forced my hand. Purple pants. They can be pulled off by many people. GET your mind out of the gutter! I only meant that certain people can pull off certain ‘looks’. I am attempting to join those ranks. The ranks of people who wear coloured pants and pretend they wanted them and it wasn’t a case of ‘the only pair left in your size.

And the other thing, since I’m going to be crabbing anyway, are the docs, not so much my oncologist, I think she knows that if she suggested any such thing I’d kick her in the shin with my good foot…but other docs and healers, and friends, them too, truth be told, who tell me that I should ‘get up and get some exercise, walk and stay active!’.

(DAMN IT, that was hard as hell to punctuate and I’m NOT going back to check and see if it’s correct. I just don’t care, not right now. Anyway… )

You gotta be kidding me? So I feel this way because I’m lazy? I want to? I can fight off this feeling of exhaustion? REPAIR the damage to my feet?! This is MY FUCKING FAULT?! Are you telling me that if I’d only show a little spirit, I’d feel like taking the dog for a run on the beach? If I weren’t so damned lazy and stubborn I could go out there in the sun and play badminton and weed my garden and THEN go grocery shopping and make a fabulous dinner and head out to the casino and dance til they close. Just like I used too? Well, hell…if only I’d known.

Yeah…some anger there. It sucks and it’s kind of boring. It’s very unmotivational, having cancer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, some cancer fighters seem to leap to their feet and run marathons! WTF? I can’t.

But then I couldn’t before.

Some of them have masses of people in their lives who are always joining cancer runs and showing up with kooky cheerleader outfits or organizing benefits and selling quilts or funny hats or something cute and wacky. AND THEN THEY GIVE THE MONEY AWAY!? Shit….

I’m jealous of them, acutally. It looks like fun. Like, those people are great! At the same time, I think to myself ‘Argh…how long would they STAY? Would they want lunch? I’d have to wash that couch pillow Ryka threw up on again. It still has a mark. Stoopid cat. And she’d probably do that butt washing thing…where she is sitting all elegant, looking off in the distance and then with a galvanic jerk suddenly glares at her ass and starts washing it furiously.’
(This is usually just after someone remarks how tiny and sweet looking she is…if they only knew.)

But seriously? Fundraisers? I’d say don’t give the money to research…give it to me. At least some of it, for gawds sake, it drives me CRAZY to see those famous people raising money for cancer research. Millions of dollars and I’m sitting here with a stack of bills, a fridge full of crap food and purple pants! In an orange room…picture that, assholes. It ain’t pretty.

Hah! I’d know how to spend it. I’d fix my motorcycle for one thing. And get new tires for my car before I skid off the road. And a tune up. I’d pay off those phone people so they can go and harass someone else who is better at fighting with them. I just agree with them…

‘It’s terrible, I know. I SHOULD give you money. When can I? Hmmmm….I think I should be able to start working full time at some point and you ARE on the list…it’s a long list…I KNOW! It’s terrible. Not only that, it’s pretty long and I’m sort of selfish. Yes, those doctors don’t work for free…nope, I don’t either. I like working for money. Yes, it would be annoying if they didn’t pay me. But they do. Just enough to barely get by…You aren’t in the money loop here. Unless you’re a corn dog and I can eat you. No, I’m not trying to be funny. I mean it. I’d have to say, urm…next April? I usually get a check from Grandma. We could split it.’

Yeah, fundraising. I wish people would fundraise for ME. The Run for Laura. That one would be all the people getting dressed like pirates and running from bar to bar and pounding a beer and a shot and then OUT, to the next bar, full tilt, waving swords…Yes…they could buy a punch card and everytime they hit a bar and pound one back they get a punch. Doing a shot also? that gets you two extra punches. Who ever gets the most punches AND makes it over the finish line without throwing up too much wins a fridge that doesn’t leak.

And if you live in a small town, like Canal Flats, that only has one bar you could just periodically all run out of the bar and around the block waving your swords, maybe run into someones house and capture a person eating cheese doodles and make them a prisoner. Until they joined.

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Seriously…I’d make a good pirate. I’d even switch to dark beer.

Hah!!!<

Or Laura's Place. They could raise money so I could have the carpets cleaned and a fridge that doesn't leak. And maybe paint my bedroom so it isn't school bus orange. That would be nice. And Liza would love a clothes line. I don't know why. It rains so much here…

No, that's thinking small…Laura's Place would be nice little pied e terre's or however those fancy frogs call a 'foot on the earth', you know, nice little one or two bedroom places, maybe with a fold out couch, so you could bring someone and cancer people could go to that city for a vacation. Watch Monday Night Football from someones lake house in Minnesota or Coral Gables Florida. Maybe eat some good bbq.

Gawd forbid that I actually get to see Venice or Athens or Sydney before I die.

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Here’s a pic of me on my way to chemo, thinking about all the FUN I’m going to have when I get there. C’mon, for once can you assholes get it together and donate to the people who need it and NOT to some frickin’ hospital research place? They have plenty of money to fuck around with and it wouldn’t cost a million dollars to give me a vacation, would it?

That’s right, celebrities! All you pricks out there doing commercials for cancer and getting paid for your time at about a million dollars an hour, (or even if you donate your time-I KNOW you either have a vacation house or you KNOW someone who does and who would loan it to you for a couple days) how about YOU?! All I’m asking is for a break. Just a fricking quiet little mini break from all my woes. I’m not some frat loser scum who’s going to trash your house. In fact Liza is as neat as a pin and she’d be coming along so…

Or WAIT, if not that, how about you just throw me a bone and give me a chance to get out of these horrible clothes and wear something decent? A make over would be lovely. Maybe some shopping for a pair of jeans that fit.

Or the sports stars? Hey, RIchard Sherman?! How about 3 tickets to see the SeaHawks play? You know what? I can’t afford to pay $300 for a cheap seat…seriously. You gotta be kidding…and they sell out? Or better yet, how about a chance to see the Super Bowl, or the Indy 500 or even a frickin’ hockey game. I’d take it.

GIVE us a frickin’ VACATION asshole researchers! Ever think of that?! That maybe sitting around being sick is boring and making us sick?! Sickness is really boring and boredom is debilitating. I am still sucking on the fumes of my first vacation in 10 years and that was a year ago.

I went to see The Americas Cup Race in San Francisco. Sick as hell, bald as an egg (well, a fuzzy egg…eww) and I LOVED it. I swam in my brothers pool, went to the fabulous art museums in SF (clicking my cane and wondering why there aren’t more seats?) and got lost in Oakland and ended up crying under a freeway overpass near the dockyards (dangerous and yet sort of pathetic) I wouldn’t rent any more cars. Chemo brain, and all that.

Laura’s Place would supply you with a volunteer driver who knows how to get around San Francisco or Kansas City or where ever. Mini vacations…C’mon Rich Bastards! There’s gotta be a place you aren’t using. Donate a week and some airfare, maybe a fridge of food and feel good about your conspicuous comsumption fucked up fake life for a second. In fact if you are reading this and you have a nice place in San Diego or New Orleans, don’t be a dick…just loan it to me. I swear I won’t call you a dick.

And I’ll leave Ryka at home.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

I wonder sometimes, lately, why I’m not happy.

I know I have a bad form of cancer. I’m in treatment and it’s making me feel awful but…

Why am less happy than I was before I had cancer?

Drugs?  A shorter lifespan than I thought I’d have? A wish for things I don’t have? Can’t have? Shouldn’t have?

What have I done that I have lost my capacity for happiness?

I have conquered adversity in my past. I may have been unhappy, but I got over it. Eventually.  And somehow I always knew, at my saddest and most desparate, that I would. I embraced sadness and unhappiness because they are part of life. Part of being happy.

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I want to be as happy as a dog at the beach. Is that asking for too much?! I don’t think so.

I have lived a full life without asking for more than I can usefully have. I never wanted fame, fortune, beauty or a towering intellectual genius. I wanted peace, friends and family around me. I wanted to go dancing, cook better, draw better, and sing better.. Even sad songs made me happy. Hearing Bonnie Raitt sing ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, which is a terribly sad song and makes me remember a sad time in my life, made me happy. I learned so much when that song made me cry every time I heard it.

Cooking made me happy, friends all talking to each other, playing a game, sitting in a pub, sketching something…writing.

These are the things that created flow for me. The things that I could lose myself in.

But I’ve lost something that has nothing to do with my health. I’ve lost my happiness.

There are sick people in this world who have happiness. Why am I not happy?

My brothers are here to visit. They’ve brought all the kids and the wives. The house is full. Uncle Dave came too. And I am not happy. I’m tired and feel harassed and bored. I want to be alone. That’s not right.

There’s a devil in me. There’s something that’s wrong and it’s not cancer. It’s my ability to reach out and feel the happiness that was always at my fingertips. It’s my joy when I saw happy people. It’s vanished. When I read your blogs and comments, happiness was at my fingertips. A challenge made me happy. Cats made me happy. Dogs…music…there is so much to be happy about. And I have lost it…it seems as if I expected that it would always be there to grasp. I wait patiently. It will come back, won’t it? It always has. A small push in the right direction and it will come back. Of course it will…

But it seems that I was wrong. Happiness must be pursued. Ha. The Benjamin Franklin quote. The Constitution of the USA guarantees the pursuit of happiness, but you still have to go out and catch it.

I LOVE my chickens...me and Nina

I LOVE my chickens. They’re hard to catch, too.

So here’s the thing…I have been sitting here for the past 6 months, waiting for the moth wing brush of happiness to touch me again. Since it hasn’t, I am going to find it. I am not waiting any longer. Not wasting any more time hoping it will come back.

I am angry in a way. My little niece, Momoko, was here and I couldn’t be really happy. My nephews, my brothers and sisters…oh, I was mad. How can I be unhappy when I am surrounded my family. By the best food and drinks, by dogs and friends, vacation time?

But I STILL love you!

Sick as hell but I was STILL happy…

I deserve to be happy. To hell with this fog. This gray, blah feeling. This irritation and desire to be alone.

‘Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive, I want to wreck my stockings in some junk joint dive…’ Thank you Joni Mitchell.

Yes. There is a way. I can fix this. One thing I can do is participate. In something.  In anything.  In something outside of myself. There is a way back from this. I’m going to find it. I am going to start blogging again regularly. I’m going to write again and listen to music and I’m going to walk in the rain. I’m going to listen to music again and shake this gray out of my life.

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I WILL find happiness. Even if it means taking a selfie where I look as if someone is pointing a gun at me and I’m not sure if it’s a real gun. I want to just lie down and read a book or watch a movie and eat dinner and not think but…that is not the way to happiness.

I have to get up and find it. It’s there.

The Dangers of Not Drinking

Here I am, feeling much better thank you. The infection is under control and I have much to look forward to. Sort of.

Family is coming. I love family visits. I think I share most peoples love/hate of those visits though. I want to see them, my brother and his wife and the 3 kids. SO want to see them. Look forward to seeing them. It’s been too long…However, it’s a bit of a strain, the anticipation of this visit. There is a unending list of things that must be seen to and the date of arrival is looming ever closer.

So much to do…

The house needs dusting, the bbq needs cleaning, the spare bedroom needs attention, the dogs have fleas and now the cats do too. (Can you hear my scream of rage?) There are too many books everywhere and no where to put them, so they need sorting and donating. There are chachkys and knick knacks and interesting pottery and fabulous bowls and they’re all over the damed place!! Where’d this all come from?

And shoes. I’ve bought more pairs of shoes this year than ever before in my life. I was trying to find the elusive pair that won’t hurt my feet.
I would have been willing to bet that THESE would have been comfortable.

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No, they wouldn’t be. I know they aren’t out there. Even ugly shoes are uncomfortable. The beautiful ones are painful. Trainers, boots, ballet flats, sandals, espadrilles, you name it I’ve tried to put my feet in them.

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Just looking at those makes me drool and gag at the same time. Oh the torture…maybe it would be worth it?

No.

I’m going to try using big zucchinis next. We have a lot of them in the garden. But…but…my high heels! High heel shoes are especially heart wrenching to donate.

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I know I won’t be able to wear them again. So they must go. {sob} along with all the trainers, joggers, flats, boots…everything. I have to harden my heart. It must be done. But maybe not sober.

I went to get a drink and I noticed that the liquor cabinet was neglected. I started dusting the bottles and almost began to cry. Really. Dust!? On our vodka? A thick film over the 12 yr old whiskey? My beloved rum is almost depleted but I can’t remember the last drink I had…and I didn’t replace it. Have I not been drinking?!

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I ran over to the fridge and lo and behold, the thing is FULL of beer, mixers and 2 bottles of white wine, tentatively opened to entertain visitors and left to languish 2/3 full.

No one is drinking…it’s summer. If that doesn’t make you want to weep you’ve a heart of stone. I grew three different kinds of mint this year, dreaming of mojitos. I stoned peaches and readied them for margaritas. They’re in the freezer. Alone. Cold. Hard, Ignored.

It was sad seeing the freezer. Along with the organic strawberries and our secret stash of raspberries to use in the champagne, I have the makings for fantastic Pina Coladas with fresh toasted coconut strips-I have a damned COCONUT sitting on the bar! Rhubarb Collins, Cosmos, Caesars, Bloody Marys with pickled asparagus spears and fresh horseradish and these shoes.

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I have darling straws and flavored rimmers and tasteful cocktail napkins…I have strainers and shakers and a soda siphon…it doesn’t matter. No one is drinking…not even me.

Well, I’m not supposed to but that’s not the point. SOMEone should be drinking, shouldn’t they?!

Merde. If I had a sick friend who was a former champion bartender with a full liquor cabinet I’d be over at least a few times a week until it was gone…bastards.

This is Wednesday. I have until Sunday. No problem. I’ve decided that the only way I can steel myself to give away books and shoes {Sob…sniff-my two favorite things in the WORLD} is to get drunk after work tomorrow- I’m off antibiotics as of 6pm tonight. I’ll stuff it all into my car before I can change my mind. Or will I be overtaken with nostalgia and refuse to part with anything and risk having a cascade of high heel shoes and much thumbed novels rain down on my unsuspecting brother when he opens the guest room closet? hmmmm…if I could get his reaction on camera it might be worth it.

Wish me luck.

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Pull The Other One…

You ever had one of those ‘you’ve gotta be kidding me’ days?

One of those days that begin to snowball into a couple of days…and then a week?

One of those weeks where nearing the end of it you can’t do anything but laugh or scream or jump off the ferry? Not that it would do any good. They train for that kind of thing on our ferry system.

I am having a week of incredible bad luck, and at this point I’m wondering if this isn’t proof that there is a God and He has a really strange sense of humor. I mean how can things go SO consistently wrong unless someone up there is waiting to see if I crack? Just waiting to see if I can still be grateful and pray with thanks for the lovely wonderful things that have happened to me in the past. Can I be grateful? Can I retain my sunny outlook? Or will I suddenly start laughing and not be able to stop?

This week, if it could go wrong, it did. With fireworks and bells and whistles.

I had a simple cleaning at the dentist. Easy peasy…no problem. Except no one told the hygienist that. She decided that I was getting the SUPER deluxe UNDER your gums cleaning. The kind of thing one normally leaves to a trained periodontist. Yes. She was about 20 yrs old. Maybe.

She stuck me with about 4 needles of numbing agent-all in the wrong spots and far too quickly. My left side of my face was numb to the eyeballs and she managed to numb out my nose and then wash extra novocaine or whatever it was DOWN MY THROAT so that was scarily numb. Then she hosed a bit more into my sinus cavity attempting to wash out whatever bit was left from NOT GOING INTO MY GUMS!

That’s when she got to work. With something that sounded like a drill, and pointy implements that she stuck under my gums until they bled. Then she suctioned out the extra water/saliva with a freezing cold blast of air on my sensitive teeth, followed by icy water. At this point I was pedaling an invisible bicycle gripping the arms of the reclined chair with a mouthful of implements and going “MPffmmmHH!!!!”
‘Do you need more numbing?’
‘I don’t know…I’ve never been in so much pain during a cleaning. That novocaine isn’t having much effect.’ (But it sounded like ‘I Oh mo yat movopain irt habin ush uhfuc.’)
‘Oh, you have sensitive teeth…hold on.’
And she stuck more novocaine into my mouth. Now my entire face is numb, my tongue is numb and I’m scared of her. She has the prettiest eyes and she looks SO sweet…but she’s an alien. She has no empathy. I begin to see her eyes are cold, I think at one point they were glowing.
It was exquisite pain, the kind that you think you can overcome and are reminded second by second that you can’t. But you do. I did. I sat there and sat there until it was over. Finally. One hour and 45 minutes of this.

When I got out to my car I sat there drying my weeping eyes and looking at myself in the rear view mirror and wondering what the HELL JUST HAPPENED!!! Why didn’t I STOP her?! Can you believe it? I’m an idiot.

Then there was the surgery I had to have, the nurse put the IV into the wrong arm, then forgot to draw blood…chemotherapy didn’t go well, I got bad news…you know what….I’m not even going into it. Suffice to say THAT day at the dentist started the whole ball of wax to melt and ruin day after day. After day.

I don’t know why. This is day 8 of late ferries, gasoline spills, bad waiters, strange customers, a guest, a good friend, that came days early-before my surgery- they were supposed to come for a two day visit, today, the 3rd, NOT on the 1st!!, do you know how awkward that was?

‘Oh…you’re on your way NOW? Really, you’ll be here in two hours? No no, that’s fine…’

Shit…they forgot about my hospital visit and I came home sick as hell and unable to do anything but lie in bed. The two days turned into a week and their little dog ate my teeth last night.

Read that over again. I had to. I have to wear a plate to replace missing teeth , don’t ask how this happened, it was a series of unfortunate events among many more and the result is that my teeth, my FRONT teeth are chewed up in pieces and I have July 4th, dances, bbq’s, guests and no front teeth.

My life….

…. and I can only laugh.

Tonight is July 3rd. It’s the Winslow Street Dance. I’ve GOT to go. Something’s gotta give, am I right? I’ll have a great time, I’ll dance to Michael Jackson-they ALWAYS play Michael Jackson- and I’ll finally remember all the moves to Thriller or someone will toss off a firework and it will land on my head and set my hair on fire. I could just stay home and hope for the best.

But that’s never any fun, is it?

Happy Fourth of July to all of you out there that celebrate. Lift one nice cold one up for me and hope that this is the mighty hump and that I’m over it!
Plain sailing, clear skies and NO LITTLE DOGS!!!!

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Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time there was a girl. Nothing she did was forced upon her. She had choices. Fun. Love. Happiness. Then it all began to crumble around her and because she had no experience of the horrible things that life could throw at her she was flummoxed. She tried to find answers to questions like ‘Why would a man who said he loves you, hit you?’ But there was no answer and so she left him. She floundered and made things up. She wouldn’t tell anyone the truth about her life. She said ‘It’s okay. I got this.’ She said it a lot even when she didn’t. She’d smile the whole time. People liked her.

Even when she’d go to her torn up, cheap, falling down rental house with a tarp on the roof. She would smile all the way up the driveway and up the back porch stairs, because someone tore the front stairs off years ago and there was no front door. She’d smile her way into the house and then sit on her sprung sofa, with the sharp edged linoleum floor that never got clean, and she’d cry and cry and cry. Because she didn’t have this. She didn’t know who to ask and for what. She would cry and take bathes. Sit on the back porch and look over the fence and hope no one came to disturb her because she was tired of smiling.

Then she left. One day she packed one suitcase, loaded her 3 cats into the front of her 1985 Dodge pick up truck, and she left everything she owned behind. It was time to start a new life. Start off with nothing again. She had nothing, now she had nothing again.

And for 6 months it was wonderful. She got a job she liked. She found a tiny 450 sq ft house in the driveway of a mansion. A gate house. It had a porch and was surrounded by pine trees. She painted it green and raspberry and hung up curtains.

Then there was an accident. It killed the best man she’d ever known. It almost killed her sister. It tore up her family and it tore a gaping hole through her shiny new life.

She went back to the town and arranged his funeral. It was the hardest thing she’d ever done. No one was there to help. He had family, he had hundreds of friends but everyone was so shocked that they were immobile. And the sister was going crazy. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t answer questions. Her brothers and her mother and her sister were all there but no one talked to her. Every day for 5 days she would get up and start doing things that needed to be done. It’s not easy to bury a man.

The girl had sat beside his coffin in the funeral home alone, waiting. For something. For someone to come. But no one did. She handed them the clothes she’d brought to dress him in. The ones she remembered he liked. His favorite hat, his shorts, his tee shirt. She wondered if that was right. She remembered him teaching her to fish in the river wearing that very pair of shorts and hat and that tee shirt. They left her there and she sat for a long time and finally she said good by to him and she told him she would take care of his wife and she left.

She drove to a lake and watched the clouds in the water. Then she got up and smiled. Yes, it was time. She arranged payments for the services and made notices and drove around putting them up in his home town. It was up the valley a ways. She put the notices on telephone poles and in bars and grocery stores, smiling when she thought someone was looking at her. She was trying not to cry.

When there was nothing left to do she sat in the parking lot of the funeral home and waited for them to bring him out in the urn she’d found at a store. It wasn’t a real urn. It was a Chinese vase. And she’d found a lid made of ceramic that they could glue on top. There wasn’t much money and she didn’t know how to get any more. So she waited. It was in a parking a lot across the street from a Circle K quick mart. She just sat for hours watching people go in and out. And finally they gave him to her.

And as she drove home, back to the town that was once her home, with his urn on the front seat beside her, it was still warm. And she talked to him. All that long drive home she talked to him. And when she got to the sisters house she got hit and punched and screamed at because the sister couldn’t handle her grief and there she was with her husband in a jar. She had to leave at midnight in her truck and go park in the dark on a dirt road and try to think of a reason not to just drive over the edge.

And when the funeral was over, and there were so many shocked and grieving people, the Mom decided there was no chance for grief or goodbyes. Not for her. She didn’t see her sister or her brothers again. The Mom and her, they left early in the morning the next day when it was still gray and dim. It was time to leave. Immediately.

And so she swallowed it all down again, all the grief and sorrow and terror and she drove and drove back to the place she was living and she went into her raspberry and green house and she realized that the second half of her life was going to be about crying. Eventually she brought her sister and her niece away from that little town and got a bigger house and they lived together. She knew there were things that were going to be taken away from her. She needed to work more to pay the bills. To support her family. She needed to be careful. There was no time for travel or vacation or writing or painting. No. All the time, loss was the new lesson she was learning. It was going to be rammed down her throat. She would accept loss. Small losses, big ones, didn’t matter, things would be taken from her. It didn’t matter if it was dignity or pride, it was going to be taken. She lost her beautiful niece. She cried and when she stopped, she would smile and smile.

It wasn’t enough.

She started bleeding one day and it didn’t stop. She lay down on the bathroom floor and looked at the beautiful, cool linoleum and she was dying. She didn’t call out for help. She didn’t do anything. She lay there bleeding.

And her dog found her and got her sister to come and there was chaos. The new life she was making for her widowed sister, the nice clean rental house they’d found, the excitement of moving in, even that had fallen apart. It was gone.

She had stage 4 ovarian cancer and it was all through her. There was surgery and radiation and chemotherapy and she got sicker and sicker. Then her dog died. Then her cat died. Then the other cat died. It was all too much.

She smiled in the face of all this shit storm because that was the only thing she knew how to do. She is still smiling. She was smiling when they told her it had come back. She was smiling when they told her there was more surgery and new drugs. She is still smiling. There is no difference between smiling and not smiling.

I just lean out the window and look at the field. I’m so terribly tired. I’m not sorry about anything. Not anymore. I feel empty. I am hollow.

Now, I am in chemotherapy again. I am on new drugs. They are terrible things, these drugs. They make me feel as if I have the flu, while suffering the worst hangover I’ve ever had and I tried to fix it with a few grams of cocaine.

And my boss talked to me about smiling. She wants me to smile. She said I needed to be nicer to the customers at work. Two days after chemotherapy, after all this news, she told me to smile.

Really.

Once upon a time there was a girl and she used up all her good times when she was young…and in the end there was nothing left to do but smile.

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