Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Renewal ... in a T4 State of Mind

In my quest for "living light" and being oh-so true to my T4 bad self, I am emptying out my closets and storage areas of things I no longer use or wear.

Metaphorically speaking, WHY am I releasing things I love into the Universe? Why, to make room for more of what I love, of course. No. I'm actually doing this for some very practical reasons and am assuming the metaphorical stuff will show up on the Universe's time table.

First of all. I have too much stuff, plain and simple. I realize part of my discomfort in my 1k square foot apartment is that I have too much stuff in my closets. This means even doing laundry or purchasing a new pair of jeans is cause for despair. Because to get something OUT or put something AWAY means moving too much stuff. I'm wearing thin of this stuff maintenance. Every Item I Own is being Scrutinized. Do I love it? Do I use it? Does it need a new home for some physical or emotional reason? If so ... into the E-bay Room it goes. I figure four years of grieving the loss of my teaching career is enough, who knows what the future holds ... but I can tell you what I WON'T be wearing. My former teaching wardrobe! Gone are J. Crew winter skirts (no matter how "timeless.") Gone are jewelry items I never wear but aren't worth holding onto for the kids/future grandchildren. Gone are six pairs of dress slacks. Gone are sweaters I no longer wear. Gone are T-shirts that are no longer public worthy but are good for gardening/cleaning/bathing the now deceased, but still loved Olive Veda. Gone are T shirts that were "good enough." Now they aren't. Gone are too-many-to-admit-to pairs of shoes and coordinating but not matching purses. Gone are all the scarves I accumulated but rarely wore. Gone, gone, GONE. Not all sold, mind you ... but gone.

The second bedroom/would-be-sewing room (if only I could remember in which box I packed the foot pedal) is now the official E-bay Room. For awhile I just gleefully threw in unworn clothing and shut the door but the reality is, I love Law and Order.

No longer able to do things in a Single Bound (anything, really) I have meticulously broken down the cleaning up and out process into manageable steps.

1. Remove all unwanted items and banish them to the E-Bay Room.

2. One corner at a time, sort them by usability or sellability.

3. Develop a reasonable selling time table (this alone took three weeks to get down.)

Then I had a break down. It was/is overwhelming to try and get rid of all this STUFF. Now I remember why when I sold the house I just GAVE so much away. Dealing with STUFF is OVERWHELMING. But now, with a pressing need for cash I didn't feel so acutely last summer, I am willing to go where I've never gone before. Selling online. I don't mean I want to open an E-bay store or turn this into a living ... I mean I'm willing to hold an online garage sale for which I have to write pithy descriptions of each item. But I digress.

4. Spring into action. Or, consistently move at a snail's pace which is what living with ME/CFS is all about. Being the tortoise and not the hare ... and realizing there are days when the tortoise pulls in, shuts out and down, and generally makes no movement at all. For days.

5. The E-bay Room now makes sense to me and this is soothing. I have piles of things currently listed. Piles of things I've listed twice, not sold, and will pack again to try again in the fall. Piles of things yet to wash/iron/list. Piles of things not destined for E-bay at all but for area charities. A "sons" pile in which I toss things about which I think I should ask the guys One More Time. Are they SURE they don't want my watercolor pencils or my sealing wax from the 7th grade???? Really???? Does anybody REALLY know what time it is? Does anybody really CARE?

I now have room to walk in and survey my Kingdom of Renewal (or Old Stuff Purgatory depending on my frame of mind/heart.)

5. And repeat.

And Ruth said, "It Is Good."

I am pleased to say I have sold several items on E-bay for more than a consignment shop would have given me. I'm enjoying writing those pithy little descriptions more than I had imagined and fancy myself a writer yet unborn ... J. Peterman catalogs awaiting me, newspapers and online zines banging down my door. And the ability to scream "Get OUT" like Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Facial -

Of course we must remember that EXHAUSTION is the hallmark of this PWC so I literally dragged myself to my facial and felt comfortable saying, "I didn't even wash my face." Normally I don't say things like this out loud. Ever.

A Nice Young Woman made me fill out a form that I THOUGHT might include detailed birthing info. about all of the four sons (but didn't) and then helped me hang up my bag and coat (yes, it is March in MI!) I was instructed me to lie down on a draped chaise. No problem there.

She hemmed and hawed and did NOT tell me I looked YOUNG for being 56 and having four adult children. (I did have to write down how many live births I'd had. Guess she's not concerned about that little miscarriage. I still think about him/her though ... and play that "Sliding Doors" game until I remind myself I can drive myself crazy thinking like that.) She asked if I had any problems with my skin. Oh come on. Who likes to admit to their SKIN problems. Wanna talk PROBLEMS? Let's talk ME/CFS. Or diabetes. Or kidney stones. Or aging. Or pretty much ANYTHING ... has she seen the news lately? But she wanted to know about my skin ... which really did make sense given her job. So I offered up, "I get a little dry in the winter." YES. Now she's happy. I have skin issues. YES, my skin is dry because, YES, I am 56 and didn't use the right astringent as a teenager; I used SeaBreeze. YES, I probably don't drink enough water. And, OMG, YES, I picked my zits as a teenager. YES, there IS a scar down there near the bottom of my left (facial) cheek. ARE WE HAPPY NOW? I had a terrible complexion as a teenager (and upon finding my birth family realized this was GENETIC, not from eating chocolate or "doing things to myself" as my mother often suggested. Gutter mind.)

So we agreed upon dry skin and yes ... some clogged pores. Ok. Let's get on with the pampering.
Oh. Not yet. First I learn the difference between black heads and white heads (apparently I HAD both.) Black heads are clogged pores that have sebum built up in them that are EXPOSED TO AIR. (I knew this but didn't interrupt to say so.) White heads, on the other hand ... or chin, as the case may be, are NOT exposed to oxygen because in MY case ... there has been insufficient exfoliation. Good. More skin problems. More products to push.

The Nice Young Woman decided upon what products to use and commenced. This is MUCH better for awhile. She patted, she spritzed, she wrapped (loves me a warm towel!) and then ... she steamed. I lay there quietly trying to encourage myself to enjoy this freebie facial. To relax. To remember to breathe from my diaphragm. And to drink water when I got home.

Until she asked, "How's your pain tolerance?" This gives me pause. Yes, I did put "high" on the four paged questionnaire I filled out. And it is. Four kids, many surgeries, ME/CFS. Yeah. I shoot up w/B-12 every morning. Yeah, I can do pain. Especially when lying in a salon draped with warm towels. Uh huh. Bring it.

And she did. First she went after the white heads in my hair line. MY HAIR LINE? Yes. I now have a blemish free hair line. Next? My chin. No brainer. I knew I had bumps there. I was quick to point out I probably had some white heads hiding in the crevices on either side of my nose. Yup. Those were next to go. I was actually getting into this "cleansing" as was she ... we discussed the condition of my (facial) cheeks as she happily dug into the left one, over and over and over again. Just as I was wondering if my RIGHT (facial) cheek was about to undergo such vigor she asked, "What do you do on your left side?" I dunno. Apparently my right (facial) cheek was unblemished, but the left? Attrocious. Finally she asks me what on side I sleep. Ok, my left. MYSTERY SOLVED. But not until she asks, "Just how much time DO you spend in bed?" This is a dicey question for a PWC. On a good day, maybe 12 hours. On a bad one? 24? 48? More? With potty breaks.

I give up "12" hours a night and keep my eyes closed so I don't have to see her reaction. Then she asks how often I change my pillowcase. Ok. We've discussed my childbearing history, my adolescence, my (H2O) drinking habits, my sleep regime and now my laundry techniques? Will she ask for my home made detergent recipe? REALLY??? I'll admit to once a week, and no, I don't change my pillow case every day. Well ... apparently all the grinding of my middle aged face into a grubby pillow case makes me break out. I find myself mildly jacked up. WHAT? I'm DIRTY? ME??? I mean, I know I am when I don't waste my "spoons" on showers but in general? ME? HECK NO! She herself washes her sheets on Sunday but on Monday flips the pillow over. On Tuesday she turns the pillowcase inside out. On Wednesday she flips the pillow over again. And then .... from Thursday through Saturday nights she sleeps on a DIRTY PILLOWCASE.

I'd have sat up and stared her down if I wasn't in a supine position with her looming over me with an "extraction" device. I will admit she did have great technique. It really didn't hurt very much at all and I was pleased by her audible sighs of relief when she had achieved her mission. I envisioned the clear skin of youth I never had.

One my face was CLEAN I was then exfoliated and masqued. It was lovely. At the end of the hour I actually did book another facial for late April, a week before Mr. Sensitive's college graduation where I will posses a youthful glowing appearance, and I actually DID purchase the exfoliant she recommended as insurance.

Before I left I took a look in the mirror when she was done and thought, "Hey ... you are NOT BAD for 56 and four kids. NOT BAD AT ALL." Then I went next door to TJ Maxx and bought more pillowcases.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Flax Seed and Facials

According to the Everything Good young woman who gives me massages, flax seed comes in two types, "regular" and "golden." Little did I know I actually HAVE both of these in my cupboards.

So today, equipped with slightly more energy than yesterday afternoon, I made flax seed muffins. I omitted the suggestion of the addition of artificially sweetened flavoring and just added more cinnamon, some Stevia, and chopped walnuts. Although Panera Bread and Starbucks will not be beating down the door for my recipe (it's really not MINE) I have already eaten three and still been a "good" diabetic.

These may become a staple around here.

Tomorrow? Either the flax seed crackers or the bread. But I'm thinking the crackers. Both involve parchment paper and a rolling pin, so I'm not THRILLED but something to crunch on besides nuts? A definite possibility.

But now I'm off to get a facial. Yes, a facial. I've technically never had one of these before, but I "won" it in a drawing and am about to drag my achey breaky body out the door. Hopefully it will be relaxing and not involve excessive amounts of exfoliation. Life and my face, are fragile ... they'd better handle me w/care!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Food -

What's up with the love/hate thing most of have with food?

I want to eat well, and I want to eat what I love. Right now that's a contradiction in terms. I live to eat ... and I eat to live, but unfortunately, what I can eat is more and more restricted thanks to ME/CFS, Type 2 diabetes, and being prone to kidney stones.

Pre-kidney stones I had it down ... fairly high protein, fairly low carb. No grains although "seed" flour tends to work pretty well. I recently found muffin, bread, AND flax seed cracker recipes that I'm dying to try if only because I'm dying for a little variety around here.

Dragged myself to the grocery store to get the elusive missing ingredients, dragged myself back and the groceries sit on the table where they'll just have to wait for me to get the energy to put them away.

Baking? Maybe tomorrow. Tonight? Soup with extra veggies thrown in.

The good news is that I WANT to. Sometimes I'm too tired to even have motivation.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pleasantville, NY

My earliest days as "Ruth" were spent in Pleasantville, NY where my dad worked nearby for the Boy Scouts of America.

I only lived there until I was four although I have some distinct memories ... or at the very least, memories of stories I've been told. I suspect I can remember which are stories and which memories are mine ... as mine just aren't so cute.

1. I had a neighbor from Germany. Her name was Gretchen and her father drove a VW with a stick shift (duh.) Her mother stayed home and had a vast garden and fruit trees. Not too shabby. I was impressed and wanted to have a garden at MY house. We planted rhubarb which I loved w/such great intensity that I ripped it right out of the ground and ate it raw. I never touched the leaves which my mother guaranteed me would kill me INSTANTLY if I ate them. So I threw them aside, shook off the dirt and bit in. Rhubarb. Raw. Yeah.

2. My pediatrician was a woman who lived at the intersection of Martling Ave and Whatever. I don't remember much about her, except she answered all my questions, but I was ASTOUNDED at the fact that every spring she tapped her sugar maple trees and made maple syrup. My daddy would take my up there to watch her and later she would let me watch her boil it on the stove (I would stir) and then take some home for my pancakes. I loved that woman.

3. My best friend was Pammy Barrows whose father was a doctor (apparently there are a lot of those in Westchester Co. How they let a BOY SCOUT in is beyond me, although he was the head of their National AV Dept) Pammy had a COOL mother who let us do all KINDS of things ... like cook, and plant seeds in the ground, and dig in the dirt.

4. My house was on a hill such that the garage was underneath the house. As it was in upstate NY .... my dad had a thing about houses on hills. But I digress. The house had two bedrooms, the one my parents lived in and one over the garage ... which was "saved" for my mother's Son. Where did I sleep, you ask? In a cordoned off area of my parents bedroom.

Here's one of the best stories. For privacy reasons I assume, I was taught, "When the door is closed I am not to go in." Apparently I recited this often, especially when I opened the door. Majorly interruptus.

But I think that's what you get when you decorate and save a bedroom for a child you don't even have; and make the one you do have, despite her gender, sleep in a closet in your own bedroom behind a shower curtain. Yeah.

5. From the back left corner of my fenced in back yard I could see the field where the high school marching band practiced. THIS was most awesome. My dad played many woodwinds and he would hoist me on his shoulders so I could watch ... calling out to him when I'd see or hear a clarinet, an oboe, a saxophone ... never really even thinking that he could see them, too. Nor did he ever tell me. He'd just tell me, "yes, yes, yes ... you have a good ear. You are so talented."

6. My neighbor uphill, to the right of my house, was Jewish and I loved him. Whenever my parents couldn't find me (I had a habit of taking off) they'd look at his house first. Usually I'd be sitting at their kitchen table eating figs and listing to him tell stories of HIS childhood. (Which, compared to mine, was fascinating.)

I supposed I should say that I was a very confident little girl. Overly, in fact, to the point that my dad would tether me to him in crowds as I was likely to go in whatever direction looked most interesting.

Where was my mother? Good question.

7. The Son finally joined the family when I was three. It was the end of the world as I knew it. His arrival involved much fanfare and began the use of his Blue Room Fit for a Prince. All I knew is that my mother was never my mother again. She bragged about how much he needed her. How she had to hold him all the time. She could vacuum with one hand. Fry an egg w/one hand. Change linens with one hand. In the other? Her son.

Cute story time. At one point I had had enough and said quite bluntly, "It's time to take him back now." It was explained to me he wasn't GOING back. I repeated it often enough until reality finally sunk in. My mother had her Son now ... her need for me had been satisfied and discarded. (Ok, that's just sad ... not cute at all. But it is what it is.)

Oh. Did he really "need" her? I think not. What I've learned since is that he, at six months, grieved his own foster family ... particularly the grandmother who held and rocked him all that time. And when he became a drug dealing adolescent? I learned new terms. Reactive attachment disorder. Not mine. His. Yeah. Fry an egg w/one hand. This is something about which to brag? I think not. But she needed to be needed ... and in her mind, with him, she was. What she never seemed to catch on to was that her quiet yet independent daughter needed her too. Maybe even more than a Son who never could attach anyway.

8. My daddy continued to be my Knight in Shining Armor and was until the day he died 2.5 years ago. He took me to concerts in the city, museums, bought me GIGANTIC pretzels and let me squirt the mustard myself. Played house with me. This was HIS favorite memory of our time on Martling Avenue. Playing House w/Ruth. I was never a girly girl and so wondered why on EARTH I'd play HOUSE! He explained it this way. "It was never about playing house. It was about doing it correctly. I'd sit on the couch, you'd sit on my lap and you'd explain it to me. If there came a time you didn't like something you'd said, you'd just change all the rules until it was exactly the way you wanted it. THAT was playing house."

(DYT moment ... when it came to having to pick my "type?" This story came to mind. T4 3 year old.)

9. I vaguely remember the layout of the house. What I mostly remember is that there was one bathroom ... upstairs. The house itself was a bungalow with stairs that turned back on themselves, meaning one could race up a few steps, do the potty dance, and gear up to race up a few steps more. It also gave great meaning to the question, "Do you need to go to the bathroom before you go outside IN YOUR SNOWSUIT?"

10. I do remember "coloring" with wax and stencils on the front windows for holiday decorations, and I know that my "Sunday coat" was burgundy velvet with form fitting leggings I zipped into. Huh. By age four I knew I was totally into clothing ... just not the stuff my mother picked out. Handmedowns from Germany? INCREDIBLE!

11. I loved living outside of NYC. I loved taking the train in with my father and sitting in front of some bandshell listening to music. As I recall a lot of people played the accordion in NY! I loved the smells of NYC in the second half of the 50's. Its elevators with friendly attendants, skating in Rockefeller Center, watching the Nutcracker Suite every Christmas, Barnum and Bailey at Madison Square Gardens, subways, subway TILES. The smells .... hot dogs, pretzels, chestnuts in the winter, steam coming out of grates in the street. Amazing.

And that's pretty much it. What I remember most about Pleasantville is that for the most part, it was indeed, a very pleasant time of life. I also remember it was there that I learned things in my heart that I could not articulate for decades.

But such is the life of a preschooler .... amassing memories and instincts. Pleasantville. Where I began to know my intellectual IQ and my emotional IQ were far, far apart.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And the beat goes on ...

Yes, I turned 56 at some point yesterday. As an adoptee of the mid-50's we don't get to know too much about ourselves, including exactly WHEN we were born. It's an odd feeling as even 21-30 years later after the birth of my own children I can tell you the SECOND they were actually outside in this part of the Universe we call Earth.

The day started with a phone call from My Mother ... who despite oh, 55 rocky years of knowing each other, I love very much. Ironically she at 83 and beginning dementia, and me at 56 with ME/CFS don't lead drastically different lives. Except for the income thing. She wakes up, contemplates GETTING up, showers, dresses, fixes herself breakfast, does what she NEEDS to do, and heads for the oh-so-crucial BLUE CHAIR. Except there are days I can't get up, shower, fix myself breakfast, do what I need to do or anything of the sort. Because ... ME/CFS ain't aging, nor is it dementia where one doesn't realize one is slipping away. I'm well aware of it. I remember that there are things I wanted to do today, or yesterday, or tomorrow ... even well into the summer, yet I know I won't be able to do much of it, or any of it. But I can't remember what I was going to say next. And that's not aging because 56 isn't really THAT old. In fact, according to magazines it might be the new 36 (when I was still changing multiple people's diapers.)

My dear friend called and offered to take me out to lunch to which I replied, "I'm so tired." She offered to bring in a couple of salads, but no ... I rallied. I went out to lunch, pretended I didn't have Type 2 diabetes which I control by my diet and had Basil Bousin Tomato Soup, a grilled cheese sandwich with three kinds of cheese (including Havarti) and a Mocha Torte as my birthday cake. It was lovely. Until I had to get up. It was probably 5 feet from the table to the car (handicapped parking place) but it seems like the 5k I used to run. Marathon Woman no more. Not even 5k Woman.

I rested all afternoon and in the evening talked to one of my favorite four sons for a rather lengthy time. Then, exhausted, I attempted to go to bed. But first? I called Vito ... a calming nighttime ritual (actually I returned his call as the phone call w/the son was of primo importance to me.) And then, I snuggled down into my bed ... talked to God for awhile and promptly did not fall asleep. Some two hours later after I had pondered the future of the Universe (literally,) made a mental list of things I want to sell on e-bay ('Can you say "medical bills?" I knew you could,') and wondered HOW LONG I was going to stay awake I drifted off to sleep for two blissful hours before I was awakened, oh ... just because.

So for a few hours more I tended my imaginary herb garden at my still imaginary barn on some very real lovely property where I hope to GOD I get to actually live. I quasi slept until about 11 AM and then got up. It's a "no shower day" (we folk with ME/CFS guard our strength like a watch dog) and I spent the afternoon photographing clothing I no longer wear because I no longer have a place to wear them on e-bay. I love taking photographs ... and used to be pretty good at it.

Vito took me to a LOVELY butterfly exhibit at a local arboretum of sorts on Saturday ... and I wished I could remember how to work my camera (which is an automatic.) I longed for the days of film where I knew if my light was right for my subject. The Musician has that camera now and I'm thankful to pass on little pieces of me to those I love best. The Sons.

This afternoon another ME/CFS friend called to recount her drive (ride) home from Florida and the subsequent unpacking that needs to be done. A long ride (even when not driving) is enough to drive a PWC to his/her knees let alone contemplating the unpacking.

I did eat half a salad. I did list some items on e-bay. I did put the bills in their appropriate pile and added more to the "call the insurance company about this" pile.

And now I sit. Too tired to pick up. Disgusted not to.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New plan -

I was going to post today about life in Pleasantville (really, I lived in Pleasantville, NY for a portion of my first five years of life) but instead I went to a PROTEST. I love to protest. Almost anything. I never wondered how or why I knew Alpha was going to be a lawyer at age 4. I wish I had already told my STORY but nay ...

I have to introduce my oldest brother to the story now ... but I don't know what to call him. I know what I WANT to call him, but I won't do that. I want to call him "Doctor Such and Such" (seeing as he was a doctor pre-retirement) but what he really is is a Freedom Fighter. So that's what I'm going to call him "The Freedom Fighter." Really. He'll fight for anyone's freedom. Anyone's. I love being his little sister. Love knowing that freedom fighting pours through my veins legitimately. Ok, I was illegitimate technically speaking, but that passion for protesting? In my blood. Hard wired in my brain. Transferred by DNA. Ok. I'm getting all passionate here. ME?

So. My favorite Freedom Fighter lives in a state of unrest. Literally. Happens to be the same state in which Mr. Sensitive goes to college. Freedom Fighter is LOVING both of these things and I bet he's called me more in the past few months than he has in a loooong time. Of course part of it is the brotherly + professional concern over the kidney stone debacle, but most of it? Plain old excitement. He's INVIGORATED by unrest. Loves the Constitution (me too!) and isn't afraid of a night in jail if necessary. But I digress. He calls me to tell me he's going to the capital on Saturday again just to be amongst the throng of the passionate and then tells me about an email he'd received from a mutual friend.

Here be the link: (which I realize you'll have to cut/paste into your url thingy.)

I put off watching it for awhile because, still post-surgery, I'm not sure if it's a good idea for me to get all jacked up about my own state (literally) as I'm in the two categories on the chopping block (elderly and poor.) But nooooooo ... a friend posted it on Facebook where I became unable not to watch. Drawn like a moth to the political flame. My friend wanted to stage an impromptu protest and I posted her link on my page. MUCH flaming occurred (yes, I live on the Red side of the state) but my friend and I soldiered on. She made the signs, sent out emails and after a doctor's appointment I drove down there to get in on the action.

There were just the two of us ... but I'm happy to say no one drove off the road to hit us or gave us the finger. We got many appreciate "thumbs ups" and friendly beeps. If it hadn't been freezing cold I'd have been in heaven. I'm pretty sure this was not heaven (which probably has weather more like CA ... where I've never been either.)

I'm now home on the couch ... and have not listed the requisite number of items on e-bay today (focusing on living light.) BUT, for one hour I was the me I remember the best. The me that is passionate about social justice, the me that thrives on political convos, the me that was up for anything if it sounded "right" to me.

Tomorrow may be payback but that's ok. Chronically living is mostly about life!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So. WHY am I doing this?

Bottom line? I don't want to be forgotten ... and we folk w/invisible disabilities are.

First of all. Let's define disability. I have friends who say, "Yes, yes, we're all disabled in one way or another." Some have ADD, some are diabetic, some have seizure disorders. Oh. Another claims her glaucoma is a disability. Ok. We're all disabled. But what we're all NOT, is able to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. I am. This makes me, in the face of the courts, DISABLED. I have a cool license plate to prove it. (Pardon the double negative.)

So. I'm doing this because, although I think I am a GOOD human being, I want to be remembered.

And I want my sons, and their families, to remember who I AM long after I am gone. (even if it's just through words.)

Today, I start w/Day One.

I was born in Manhattan at Le Roi hospital, a lovely place for the upper class. Two days later I was taken out of the arms of my birthmother and placed in a foster home. Why? Because she was not married to The Judge and it would not seem fitting for a person of Position to have an illegitimate child. (Although based on the number of adoptees in my Sunday school class in NJ there was a WHOLE lot of something going on over there in NYC, from whence we came.)

Spence Chapin ... the toniest of adoption agencies in the mid 50's where "good girls" signed over their babies so upper middle class people could buy them. Whoops. Adopt. No credentials needed, a W-2 will be fine, thank you.

But it didn't work that quickly for me and I spent time in the foster care system. I can't find my foster mother, will never know her, but love her from the bottom of my heart (this is something I cannot say about "Babs" but that's another post. Maybe tomorrow if I'm not passing kidney stones through my nose.) WHY do I love this woman? Because she loved me. Fair enough ... she had me preconscious memory, but what I have from her, is a stuffed rabbit that I slept with for years. Purpy Rab (what else does a kid name a purple rabbit?) One could tell he originally had those googlely press-in eyes but she has taken them out and sewn on red buttons instead. Mothers do that. Make thing safe for their kids. This is love. As I would look at him at arm's length I studied him hard, to the point that I can tell you, 55 years after the crime, that she didn't stitch in parallel lines but rather like an "X" which makes them stronger. Hence, safer. Yes. She loved me.

My father (the man who raised me now to be spoken of as Daddy) told me my adoption story as often as I would ask.

He was at "Scout Camp" when they received the call that a baby girl was available. Darn. My mother wanted a boy (another post) but my father insisted. So they raced to NYC where they sat in one room and my foster mother and I both sobbed in one adjacent. My father said he couldn't hear her words distinctly but that it was very obvious she was worried. She wanted me to wear what she had dressed me in and as the agency owned these clothes, I had to wear what my parents had brought. The social worker went back and forth between the room saying as little as possible. (I have little respect for those 50's social workers. Tabla rasa ,my ass.) Eventually my foster mother dressed me in clothing that had not been washed and she worried wold scratch me. I'm telling you, she loved me. And then she handed me over. I'm gonna guess she kissed me a lot before she let go. She took me as a new born and got me all the way into solid food and crawling phase.

When I asked my Daddy what he remembered most about the day he said, "We brought you home (Westchester) and laid you on a green blanket in a Universe you'd never been in before. We called you "Ruth", a name that was new to you. You didn't respond to it but looked up at the ceiling fixture. I flicked it on and off and you roared with laughter. Belly laughter out of this little tiny girl who was too small at birth and had a heart murmur. Belly laughter. I knew I was in love like I'd never been in love before. Belly laughter."

But back to Purpy Rab. Who, having been purchased by my foster mother, was allowed to come "home" with me unlike any clothing I was wearing pre transfer.

Years later a NJ neighbor was a foster mother who fostered one baby after another (no doubt from NYC.) I was most awed that she would take these babies and GIVE THEM AWAY. I mean, how much being given away does one person have to GO THROUGH in their lives? Although I was only in elementary school she would let me hold them, rock them, and play w/them. She would let me kiss them. I asked her if she cried when they were adopted and why didn't SHE adopt them if she loved them so much (these were questions I would have never asked my mother or father ... from whom I tried to shield against Adoption Pain.) She said of COURSE she cried ... every single time, and explained to me that she felt called to love these babies, to give them the BEST start in life she could, and to pray for them forever. I showed her Purpy Rab once (her daughter "Jeffy" was one of my closet friends.) I remember she held him as if he were made of fine china and pronounced him "beautiful." Jeffy's mom was European (French?) and she admired his eyes in particular. She noted the FINE work that had gone into securing his eyes (which were really slightly askew.) He WAS beautiful and still IS beautiful although his fur is all gone and I have repaired one of his ears so many times I won't try again ... because there is simply no fabric through which to stitch. His eyes, however, are still there, solidly sewn. Yes, she loved me.

Purpy Rab used to reside on the bed I made every morning. I had a slick trick down for this bed making (which I found ridiculous.) I'd lay in between the sheets, straighten them out. pull up the bedspread and ssssslip out. Smooth out the top, fold back the pillow area, arrange the pillow, flop, fluff, and then the bed was ready for its final adornment, Purpy Rab.

The greatest angst came when it was time for me to go to college. Purpy Rab and I had never been apart. Only HE could remember from whence I came ... when I was Constance, and not Ruth. How do you leave the only thing who knew you before you did? It was very difficult. In the end, my Daddy helped me decide he was safer at home in my closet than in a college dorm closet. We took a picture of him that I kept in my underwear drawer where no one would look. I didn't look often myself, but yeah ... there were nights I just needed to see his red eyes. Just to know that somewhere, Constance still lived.

And when I married? Frankly, the Professor didn't care. He told me of Bear (for whom he had made a sleeping bag as a child.) Bear lived outside of Chicago in the top drawer of a dresser. Yes, he had been left resting comfortably in his sleeping bag.

Purpy Rab is now in a plastic bag in a plastic tote in a storage unit. Eventually he and his plastic will come live with me in The Barn (ooh, look forward to Barn stories) although I will never again hold him face to face.

My immune system has been rendered "compromised" due to toxic mold exposure and as Purpy Rab lived with me through the floods and later many older apartments and homes, he's toxic. In the most loving of ways. I suppose I could try and wash him ... I have some nifty sporicide that probably has a half life I don't want to know about, but the thought of him disintegrating in the wash is more than I can take. I'd rather have him entombed in a zip loc bag for all eternity.

Yes, I've read "The Velveteen Rabbit" maybe a million times between being a parent and a teacher and yes, I recognize that both Purpy Rab and I have the many, many scars the "real" wear. My own sons, are unimpressed by him. I wish I could say this is because they bare no scars of their own, but I'd be lying. And I don't lie. But my students? There's another story. My students were mostly urban minority kids with their own hard stories to tell ... and every time I'd read "The Velveteen Rabbit" I'd bring in Purpy Rab. The greatest humiliation he ever suffered was disinterest, but the greatest joy he ever brought and received was a from a fifth grade boy in a school where I was substituting for a teacher who had broken her leg. He touched him and cried. Ironically or not, this boy, now young man is my sons' father's wife's child. I don't say step brother. To my knowledge my kids and hers have never slept together under the same roof. The Wifey didn't really want my kids polluting hers. Now THERE'S a post that will go unwritten.

And, a brief DYT fashion report ... after shooting out nine kidney stone shards last night I am attired in a bright red bathrobe adorned with a real live black cat w/a red collar. My very own, Larry. Laurence of 11th St., to be exact ... although his location evolves.

I do, too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Revenge of the Body -

Just when you think you MIGHT have a wee it of control over a particular faculty, it dumps you ... so to speak.

I willed my way through the weekend and Monday was feeling like it was just possible w/a couple more surgeries I MIGHT beat the kidney rap. Until tonight. I'm running a fever, my bladder is in spasms and I can't even put my hand on my lower back. The Good Doctor called me and suggested I head straight for the ER. But I can't AFFORD another visit to the ER. Unfortunately my T4 calm fell completely to pieces and I cried like a two year old. I'm so sorry I call doctors after hours. I'm so sorry I end up in the ER. I'm so sorry my body doesn't cooperate like other people's. I'm just so SORRY because all I want to do is fade to black (which happens to be an EXCELLENT color on me.) I don't mean fade to black forever, I mean I like to be in the background ... or SO in the foreground that I don't even SEE the background. I just don't like feeling stuck in the middle of not a lot of great options. Which is all I can see right now. Not a lot of great options (although I did list a bunch of stuff on bay!) What I am NOT is a "middle woman." I am strong. I am independent. I am my own authority. Until I'm begging for morphine ... and at that point I guess I'm not me at all. Or I'm a me I don't like and need to find a way to assimilate. GEESH. How DO people do disability with grace and style? The DYT's helping w/the style but the grace?

So, I am going to do all those things I say I don't believe it. I am going to visualize my kidneys properly flushing out toxins. I'm going to coach my bladder not to spasm. And I'll be drinking a WHOLE lot of herbal tea to wash down the antibiotics, painkillers, and other assorted pills.

I called Vito and sobbed into the phone ... he, of course, did not ANSWER his phone but it was reassuring just to hear his voice "This is Vito. Leave me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can." Except that he inserts his real name, which is actually more Italian than Vito.


Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Humanity -


Ok. So I'm handicapped and have had oh ... five surgeries and three ER visits w/in the last two months. I'm tired, it's true. And when I'm tired I am one cranky girl.

Went to Meijers to get some chicken stock and shallots to make my own chicken soup (no energy to boil a chicken right now, thank you very much) and ran into the poorest excuse for a man I've seen all year. And I'm divorced ... KWIM?

This MORON has done a "create-a-space" parking job next to my where I was parked in a handicapped parking space. Vito was w/me so I knew I wouldn't get TOO lippy because:

1. Vito, despite his rockin' Vito looks, is a very gentle soul. He is very concerned about things not getting "out of hand." Me? I like an occasional out of hand every now and then. This may be one of the things that draws us to each other. I know he won't let me get hurt. He knows I won't let him get bored.
2. I try not to pop off just because I physically hurt.

Well, I slid sideways between the cars to try to open my door, turned and stared down the man in the passenger side of the vehicle next to me. He finally looked at me and I just shrugged. It was a meaningful shrug but not a "I want to hurt you" shrug. More of a, "COME ON, Dude. REALLY?" Vito insisted on standing and staring him down while I backed out. In truth? I think he knew I was hurting a lot and was probably on the edge of a meltdown ... and when I get like that it doesn't take a lot of throw me under the bus.

So. I back out, whip out my iPhone and take a picture of the guy's license plate. I mean, really, if you're going to be willing to go out on the inconsiderate AND illegal limb, one must consider the possible consequences.

WHAM. He hops out of the car and yells at me, "YOU' RE TAKING A PICTURE OF MY LICENSE PLATE?"

Me: "Yes, I am."

Him:" My wife went into the store because she forgot some stuff. You took a picture of my ((^(#^^$&%#% LICENSE PLATE?"

Me: "Yes, I did."

Him: "She's gonna be in there for like five $&#*^*@%^ minutes and you're giving me THIS $(*&#($^#?"

Me: "Guess so."

Vito steps in. Literally. I am still in my car but this guy is now reaching for my door handle. Vito says, "Sir, the problem isn't that your wife forgot something. The problem is that you are parking illegally to begin with NEXT to parking for the handicapped. This is rude. You could have chosen a lot of options besides this."

Me? I'm still pretty ticked. My stomach hurts, I have a fever, the whole kidney debacle has not gone well the past two months. I feel it rising inside. What the movie "Mean Girls" calls "word vomit."

The pasty faced young man looks at me again, "You really going to call the cops because of something my WIFE did?" That did it. Crossed all lines. Really. He's' going to blame HIS behavior on his WIFE? Nice. Really, really nice. Top notch hubster and human being. And then it comes out. I realize I'm sitting in the parking lot of a grocery store in the hinterlands of the midwest yet every second spent being raising in NJ and NY is rising to the surface. Out comes,


I stop. I cannot BELIEVE I have yelled this at a complete stranger. Even Vito is silent. He knows this, um ... urge to strongly voice my opinion comes out when say, watching the news, but he's never seen me raise children and he's never sat in any of my classrooms. He's never see me hold anyone responsible for their behavior before and I could tell he was stunned. So stunned, that he began to laugh.

Laughing was not a good choice. Not now. So he hops in the car, slams his door and says, "WOW, I so wish I had that on voice recording. I'd send it to your KIDS!" I have to explain my kids have heard me hold them accountable before. I ask, "have you never heard me 'do' this? IN FIVE YEARS?" Apparently, I've been on my very, VERY best behavior!

A drive to my little slice of heaven is in order. Where the birds and horses and I will become one with the wind. Where I can see the tops of the dunes of Lake MI. Where I can HAVE my LLBean buoy and no one will care. Where the air smells FRESH and I can hang out my sheets. Where there are no condo or apartment police. Where I can be as looney as a jay bird and as long as I'm not hurting anyone or anything no one cares. Where I can live my imaginary fantasy life undisturbed, grow herbs, make soup, and KNIT (while wearing T4 clothes, yes, yes, yes.)

We drive on to a lovely small town where I can get what I loving refer to as "my ginger water." They just take a hunk of ginger root and shoot it through a Vitamix w/a lemon before they dump in the hot water, but it's nectar of the Gods to me. Vito gets coffee. But before we can go sit at the beach we have to wait for our order. And that's when it ALL turned around. Apparently the store's credit card machine was broken and the woman behind me didn't have any cash. "Never mind" she says politely to the coffee chick. And then, in that moment where we all wonder "do we buy her hot chocolate?" the gentleman behind her says, "Oh please, put her hot chocolate on my tab." The place goes silent. A holy hush. We exchange a glance this young woman and I. She's blinking wildly and I realize she's close to tears. Like I said ... when I don't feel good? Under the bus? In an nanosecond. Now I well up. Pretty soon the two of us are crying and Vito is thanking the man for BEING a decent human behind. The guy was perplexed and asked, "Isn't that what a person SHOULD do?"

"YES" we all respond in chorus. My faith in humanity has been restored. My resolve to never shop at Meijers again confirmed and I am at peace. Slowly Vito and I work our way out of the coffee shop and onto the sidewalk where I continue to expand on my fantasy life. I'm never going in a big store again. I'll go to the fish market and buy veggies from local farmers. If it's not in season I'm not eating it. So on and so on. Finally he suggests maybe I'd prefer Europe to the United States ... maybe Belgium where I can both get jacked up about their lack of government AND shop locally. Until they split the country in two. And rusty as it is, I do speak French. No Flemish.

We go sit at the lake where I can remind myself how much BIGGER Lake MI is than the Meijer's parking lot. Where dogs run gleefully up and down the beach so HAPPY to be released from there cages/houses. Where people are leaning against their cars breathing deeply and sighing to each other, "who'd have thought we'd have lived until March." Everything in me relaxes and I realize I haven't been out of the house since two surgeries and an ER visit ago. I take other pictures w/my iPhone. Happy pictures. Almost-time-to-take-down-the-snow-fences pictures. Dogs Gone Wild pictures.

We drive home, unload the groceries and Vito heads for home. I'm in bed again ... but, for you DYT fashionistas, wearing a black night shirt. It's the best I can do and that's good w/me.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Empresses' New Clothes

No clothing posts yet! Just back home yesterday from another emergent surgery. What a nightmare.

This stay my room mates consisted of the following (thank God I was only in a two bed room!)

The first one. A middle aged Spanish speaking woman awaiting dialysis who, at 3:00 AM when I was wheeled in vomiting into one bag and pushing that morphine drip with the other hand, had the TV blaring some "cha cha cha" station with overweight, overbleached, over made up women squeezed into little its bitty baby doll halters and "swim skirts" gyrating around an aging man. Not a good look. On ANY of them. I asked if we could PLEASE angle the TV so I didn't have to watch this. Morphine is good, but only to a point.

They got her to agree to angle it. Why she need to agree,I ask? Does my medicare not pay the same amount hers does? Of course it does. But she isn't old enough to have medicare and she certainly isn't working. Must be on medicaid. The dreaded of all dreaded. The need based. The shunned. I feel a political rant coming so MUST DIVERT. Let the television dance begin! I turn it down, she turns it up. I turn it down. She begins to cry. Did you know one can cry in a language? I did not know this. Now I realized she curses on the "down side" of the loud sobbing. I buzzed a nurse who spoke spanish to come into the room and asked, "Is she swearing at me?" She cocked her head, looked at me and said, "She HATE you!" I said good, maybe should could direct some of her hatred on my kidney stones and encourage a little action. THEN at too early o'clock she begins to make noise. NOT exactly singing, maybe praying? She throws open the curtain (good morning) and asks, "You Christian?" I shake my head yes. "You speak tongues?" I give the blank stare. She goes back into it. Maybe she's still cursing the kidney, who knows.

Finally, around noon she leaves for dialysis. Ahhhhhh. But when she comes back she is crying. HARD. I asked the nurse, "Does dialysis hurt?" "No." Who knows. Maybe the thought of sharing a room (her side had the window) with a non-tongues speaking, no-spray-on-tan loving woman withOUT red lips (just toes ... one does not need to remove nail polish presurgery) threw her over the edge.

Finally she left. I actually do know the general dialysis story. These women come into the country and their husbands leave. They raise 5 or 6 kids on government aid and then get kidney disease. They drink hard, smoke hard, lead a HARD life. And then all medicaid will do is "treat" them. Kind of like fishing: catch and release. So they get into a medical crisis, go to the hospital, get dialysis until they are stable, and then released. All the while the family doesn't want them back. (I only know they because my one of my dearest racist nurse friends even admits the way older Mexican woman are treated is horrific! In FRONT of them their families say, "We don't want her anymore, YOU keep her!") So maybe she was crying because for four hours in dialysis she felt "ok" and she knew she was going to go home and have to reach the "not ok enough" stage to go back to the hospital, where they feed her, care for her, and make no demands of her. Or maybe she was just in a bad mood. I certainly was.

The second roommate only spoke DUTCH which caused much positive attention. People swarmed around her asking where was she from in the "motherland." Excuse me? Now I think her attempts at English sounded VERY germanic indeed. Of course, English speaking Dutch DO sound germanic. Apparently SHE had kidney issues as well and her sister was coming from the Netherlands today for a party on Saturday. Her big concern was that the house wasn't clean enough and there wouldn't be enough food. She complained the sun was too bright so shut the curtain (remember, I'm on the OTHER side of the room with the curtain between us already drawn.) The good nurse closes the curtain and the woman begins to snore. And I mean SNORE. I can't turn the TV on (rude) and I don't speak in tongues. Dang. So I just lay there playing Suduko on my iPhone while 15 people walk in and out to see her. Many of them her many children with their adult children with them. I listen to one young women show off her photos of MONSTANTO where they make the GENETICALLY ALTERED hybrid corn seeds for her and her husband's farm. Do they realize what they are doing? Yes, getting the biggest bang for their buck. I shake my head. Only in America.

She's exhausted (kidney issues really do leave one feeling like dog doo ... when one's body doesn't filter out the toxins correctly it really is yucky.) So on she snores and the friends come to ME. I say, "She has a stomach ache and is tired." (I've heard this often enough. I'm not a nurse ... screw HIPA. I used to be a teacher ... we're mandated reporters. So I dutifully document.) I whipped out a paper towel and suggested to her visitors that they sign a nice note she can read when she wakes up. THEN her minister comes to visit, wakes her up, reads b the one of the lamest of verses I can IMAGINE and tells her to envision the vista (not visa) God has planned for us. And he prays a prayer anyone could have said for free. I wait four more hours for someone to sign me out. Four long boring hours. I knew I was leaving in the morning on Wednesday. Who sleeps in a hospital? The door (my side of the room) is just as much a disturbance when HER nurse walks in then when mine does. Can they not keep a similar schedule for those with room mates? Of course not. That would be silly. Why not just come in twice as much ... so maybe every 20 minutes in the night to check vitals.Why not, indeed.

WAIT. Here comes some clothing news! I so wait for four hours in my non- vomit proof black tunic that has now hung in a "closet" for over 24 hours, my leggings, and no longer chic looking back Uggs. I realize I wore them when I off roaded in my Honda Accord on my "country" property a few weeks ago and had never cleaned them. Who cleans when writhing on the floor midst kidney stone attack?

So I got home. Turns out His Highness, The Baby is going to see his father in a play. Hugged me, asked if there were clean towels, must have showered and left. Must be the same play Alpha and the DIL came to see ... but forgot to come see me.

I'm a little more than pissed at these children who are so lovely to others. What do I do? Text them and divvy up the amount they said they'd get me for Christmas? (Contribution towards an iPhone. I totally WRECKED their best Christmas surprise ever. And the ever thoughtful DIL did get me a SEPHORA gift card. I am so glad Alpha married that woman!!!!) The Musician presented me with a great hand made photo album of the cool places he frequented in his "hood" in Laurel Canyon. I've never been in CA and miss him like crazy ... we moms love envisioning our kids in their environs. I love thinking of him living in this beautiful area full of rustic beauty. Able to be musician by night/appt. and neighborhood resident the rest of the time. The musician is a peace lover and he lives amongst peaceful people. Moms like that.

So ...yes, I know exactly what I'm going to do today. I'm tired of having my feelings hurt ... yes, my feelings will still be hurt but at least I won't pine for being "owed." ReleaseTHAT into the Universe!

I slept fairly well last night ... but I wish I had slept about 12 hours more. Maybe if I get in another six tonight I'll feel slightly human for the stent removal tomorrow.


That's my life .... I am miserable. It's my job to figure how how not to be. I think the secret lies in loving yet not caring about being loved in return. How does one get there?

Oh. In case you read this blog because you want to hear about my DYT style antics? You will. You'll also get to hear about my steel beamed Barn I'm going to live in and all the nifty green ways to NOT poison oneself within four walls.

But mostly? You'll just hear about my days. Which are not filed with decorating, child rearing or any other humorous thing. You'll hear a lot about invisible chronic illnesses that befall hard working, graduate degree owning individuals (mostly women) and how our governments AND our churches are willing to let them slip through the cracks of their own lives ... because it's so much prettier for them that way.

Me? I'm not even that angry about it anymore. Just determined to slip through that crack ONLY when every breath of fight is gone, grasping at the edges with my unadorned T4 nails.
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