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change

Ocho's out surfing.

I'm on his soft couch, my smelly dog by my side, looking at the fog.

This is beginning to sound like a haiku.

So, its July 4th, and I have the day off work. But instead of feeling a sense of freedom, I'm feeling a sense of ennui creep in. Like the heavy fog. Falling on wet leaves. Sitting there. Blankly.

Christ. I need a change.

Which was one of the topics of the political discussion I had last night with my brother and his wife, my Mom and my Dad: change.

My Dad an I often disagree on political topics. But on this topic, we are united: Change for change's sake is meaningless unless you know what it is you want to change, why you want to change it, how you're going to change it, and if the change makes sense.

So, for me to just say I need a change means nothing. What do I want to change, and why and how?

I love my life, actually. I have great kids. I have a partner who loves. me. I have friends who make me laugh and think. I have challenging, meaning…

Chemo Curls

Enough said. Actually, if you have a minute, I have a short story (honest) about my hair.

Ocho, I, my brother and his cute wife went to the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley last night. We had to park far away, and the air was smoky (from all the NorCal fires) and foggy. So foggy, in fact, that it was misting. After about three minutes, you could see my hair curling. Like slow-motion photography of a tender little shoot pushing through the earth and growing into a plant. Only faster. And curlier. By the time we got to the Greek, I was Linc (see Totally Mod).

Fortunately, Ocho thought it was cute. Yet another reason to love him.

The concert last night was stunningly beautiful. As I sat there in the dense fog, listening to the improbable but perfect duo of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, feeling my hair curling and twisting, I felt a peace settle on me and sink into my soul.



PS: To my big sis: Jannie, doesn't my hair like this remind you of when I was i…

Mothers with Cancer

I recently was asked to be part of a new blog called Mothers with Cancer. These women know how to deal with adversity with that perfect blend of intelligence, compassion, spunk and bite that just wags my tail!



Go read what these 17 women have to say, including the creator of the site, the brilliant Susan (really, she's a NASA scientist), who also blogs at Toddler Planet.

Another of the 17 is Andrea of Punk Rock Mommy. This articulate, feisty mom of six was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer the day after she got her college degree. She's fighting the good fight, but she needs love and prayers now. Send yours her way, if you would.

Also read Jenni Ballantyne of The Comfy Place. She's just gorgeous. Inside and out.

Heck, take the rest of the day off and read them all. They're all truly amazing.

Love to you.

Succulent

Ocho and I drove to the City this afternoon, hoping to get into the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the De Young. It was sold out. So instead we ambled through Golden Gate Park and into the botanical garden cactus sale, where Ocho bought seven vibrant green succulents.

The stress of selecting only seven of those luscious plants must have exhausted the guy, because it’s 9 o’clock on a Saturday night and Ocho’s in bed sleeping like a rugby player.

No worries. That means I can stay up late and write about a topic that is difficult to write about—my changing body.

I was extraordinarily proud of myself after going through chemo without gaining a pound. In fact, looking back, that was a sweet time. I was flat, and I was bald. But I was loved. And I knew I wasn’t always going to be flat and bald. Those were temporary experiences.

Then I went through 28 sessions of radiation. I would arrive at the Dorothy B. Schneider Cancer Center at 8 a.m., have Tony or Wayne radiate me, apply anti-burn gel to my rad…

Here.

I’ve been gone. I took a break from my blog to tend to my kids, my job, my man, my house, my health, my spirit.

I’ve also been tending to my sobriety.

I quit drinking five months ago. Not a long time in recovery circles, but long enough to know that this has been a life-changing decision for me.

On December 23, I came home from work. I opened a bottle of chardonnay and poured a glass while I cooked dinner. Such a civil way to end the day, to take the edge off. I stirred the spaghetti sauce and poured another glass.

An hour later, I went out to the garage to put the empty green wine bottle in the recycling bin with the other empty green wine bottles.

There have been times in my life when I took my recycling down to The Recyclery so that my empty green wine bottles wouldn’t be exposed out there in the bin on the curb, clearly visible to my neighbors. Fourteen wine bottles in the recycling bin looks like you had a party. Unless you have fourteen wine bottles in your recycling bin every two w…

Hair.

Deena requested a photo of my hair these days. Here ya go, Deena! I am not hating it. In fact, after the hour and a half it takes to get it to look like this, I kinda like it :) More later xo

Nodding Off

On my current to do list:

1. Figure out new job
2. Finish freelance project for old job
3. Get a chemistry tutor for Mike
4. Do my taxes
5. Lose final 12 pounds
6. Go to 6 a.m. strength training class
7. Walk dog
6. Update blog
7. Help Kate with essay
8. Help Mike get a summer job
9. Maintain yard
10. Pay bills
11. Teach Mike to drive
12. Get oil changed
13. Clean my house
14. Have a garage sale
15. Laundry
16. Get dog to vet
17. Summer camps for Kate
18. Fix home network
19. Laundry
20. Get healthier food in the house
21. Learn to meditate
22. Meditate on the laundry
23. Paint house
24. Figure out house drainage problem
25. Figure out how to pay for house drainage problem
26. Get out on my bike
27. Clean out garage
28. Go through attic
29. Go to Kate's softball games
30. Figure out second reconstructive surgery (who/where/when/how...I know what and why)
31. Doctor's appointments
32. Kids' doctors' appointments
33. Plan Mike's birthday
34. Organize files
35. Read work books
36. Get haircut
37. Change ba…

Lucy III: Integration

When I was in kindergarten, my class had a little graduation ceremony in June to commemorate our promotion to 1st grade. I remember this because I fucked it up.

I simply had to walk down an aisle with my partner, who would turn left to proceed up the stairs to the stage, while I, on the other hand, turned right. On graduation day, however, I froze at the end of the aisle. Right? Left? Crap, I don’t know! I don’t remember learning this part!

As usual, I had been preoccupied with more important matters. Like wondering why, Melinda Lacey didn’t think the empty Signal toothpaste box I gave her was cool. (Did she not know it was a sexy new brand?) Or why at our recent field trip to the dairy, the cow I was attempting to milk dropped a load on my new pilgrim shoes with the shiny brass buckles—even though I was sending her my most powerfully positive vibes. (Could she not feel my loving kindness?) Or why my mom thought it would be a good idea for me to go to school with a giant, oozing eye i…

Lucy II: Imperfection

In this image, Lucy’s damage is plainly visible. But in spite of the damage she’s suffered, she is still unmistakably Lucy.

I like this image of Lucy because it symbolizes the fact that people can suffer great damage and still retain the essence of who they are.

This idea used to be important to me because for years I felt damaged on the inside and was absolutely certain it was visible from the outside. It’s important to me now because, while I no longer feel damaged on the inside, I am visibly damaged on the outside. And I am still unmistakably me.

My physical damage—the scars that extend across what used to be my breasts—are road maps that indicate where the cancer lay beneath my skin. Sometimes they piss me off. Sometimes they make me sad. In more lucid moments, they make me grateful and happy beyond expression. I now look different. I now feel different. I now am different. But I am not less; I am more. I am more me. With everything that was taken away from me--my breasts, my youth,…

Wag My Tail

Here’s what really wags my tail: nice people. There is just nothing on this planet like being in the company of people who make it their business to make you feel good.

Jena at Bullseye, Baby! is one of those people. Ms. Feral at Gone Feral is another. (Warning: If you like your language clean and your thoughts pure, don’t check out Gone Feral. Mom and Dad, that means you…)

Jena and I connected a few months ago. When I found her blog in November/December, I knew I’d found a new landing pad. Jena’s blog visually reminds me of Apple’s packaging: the gorgeously minimal design, the simple instructions, the tightly constructed copy. Like Jena’s blog. I like everything she writes, but here's one that hit the mark: Letting Go of My Russian. Jena is smart, funny, wry, compassionate, genuine and creative. And check out her poetry. (Crimony! as my grandma used to say. It's that good.) I love reading Jena's posts. She’s one of my daily reads. So, I was beyond honored when she emailed …

The Lucy Plates

My answer to the burning house question: I would grab the kids’ art. And, maybe, a couple pair of really cute shoes.

I’m not much of a collector. So I surprised myself when I bought my 2nd Lucy plate. And totally bowled myself over when I realized one day that I had seven Lucy plates. I hung them in a row above the big kitchen window.

They’re not actually called Lucy plates; they’re the Julia series, more than 500 versions of the same woman painted by artist Piero Fornasetti and produced by German china-maker Rosenthal. I call them the Lucy plates, because the woman’s circular, blue eyes remind me of Lucille Ball.

I took the Lucy plates down when I repainted the kitchen Adams Gold, and I let them collect dust on top of the fridge for a couple years after that. Ocho recently helped me put the plates back up. “What made you get these?” he asked me. “What do they mean to you?”

I loved the question. I just love that kind of thing. I love it when someone says, “Tell me something about you I do…

I've Got the Power!

At least that's what Sherry at "Sage and Thyme" and "Journal of the Wandering Muse" thinks! Thank you for the "Roar for Powerful Words," Sherry! I am really honored to have gotten this from you! I'd like to pass it back to you, (especially for the recent True/False post) but I think that's against the "rules."

So, I'm giving it to Jena, Hedge, Katie and Deena (Sherry already honored Bella, who's not only prolific but brilliant, and Jen at Jen's Musings has this one, too.) So, here's to Jena for writing so lucidly and artfully about life's clean and messy topics; Hedge for writing with intelligence, creativity and total fearlessness; Katie for her grace and humor; and Deena for her generosity and openness. All these women have the power! (I'll provide hyperlinks this weekend when I have a little more time.)

I'd also like to mention Church, for our offline talks about life. She's the real deal.

Hope you al…

Kato

My daughter Katie was reading the Roots: Part III post, when she said, “Isn’t this Ocho: Part VIII? How many posts are you going to write about him? And how come I’m not in your blog?”

I hesitate to write about my kids here because it feels like an invasion of their pre-teen/teen privacy. But Katie not only has given me permission to write about her, she is bullying me into it. Actually standing here as I write…

Here’s what I’d like to write about Katie: I named Kate after Katharine Hepburn. I had a gut feeling her personality would match, and that gut feeling was accurate.

If you look Katharine Hepburn up on Wikipedia, the entry uses adjectives like outspoken, independent, adventurous to describe her. The word that comes to mind, for me, is audacious, defined on dictionary.com as:

1. extremely bold or daring; recklessly brave; fearless: an audacious explorer.
2. extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive: an audacious vision of the city's bright futur…