Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Stuff that's really good

Drinking a cup of iced coffee on a sunny, crisp morning.
Two of the world's best cookies.

Sitting in the coffee shop, upstairs, writing quietly with other quiet people.
Talent.  Here it is.  None for you.

Downstairs, music is playing.

Several folks are picking up their orders and getting muffins.

At home, I'll be making pumpkin and pecan pies.  I am talented, rest assured.

My parents will be here this afternoon.
My Mama!
My Dad!

Someone told me that she reads what I write.  I don't know who she was.  I felt really honored.

I'm making Christmas plans.

I get to talk to a favorite writer and thinker.

Another friend gave me an ideal gift.

Sweet, hot green tea.

Eating the bits of pie.

Making turkey and learning from my mom's skills.

Have a look at this.  No, really, have a
look.  This is a delicious part of the turkey
gravy maker.

 My Dad brought box after box of delicious food.

I don't feel like listing the food.  But it's good.

And now, the Stuff That's Really Good from my Dad:

This is Alison's dad.  If you think Alison is smart, you should see how smart I'm.  

Lots of good things have happened today:
Naked turkey.  Hello, turkey!
  • The Mom is making a super-turkey that cooks at 180 degrees for four days.  
  • She's making giblet gravy, but it's too gross to look at.  Tastes good, but we hate watching her. 
  • Alison is typing this, and her hair looks good--I don't care what she says.  
  • Brian has gone to get us yummy tacos.  
  • The house smells like turkey, and we have two pies:  pecan and punky pie.  My children Aaron and Trey and their significant others, Mary and Olivia, get no pie.  
  • We have cookies and raspberry swirl pastries and carbonated water, but we keep that away from The Mom.
(Says my Mama, "You know it's all lies.")  (Says my Dad, "You hear her snorting?")

Saturday, November 14, 2015

NWSA, day 3, and I'm exhausted

I left the hotel this morning at 7:50am, and I haven't been back here until now.

Now, people!  At 8:00pm!

I'm not sure how I could do it.  Honestly, I'm so tired right now that it's an effort for me to blog about today.  But I'll do the quick, picture-laden approach.  We took 7,000 pictures, but they weren't on my phone, so we'll have to wait for them.

Taylor and I worked together since my first year at the College of Charleston.  She kicks ass.  She'll have a Ph.D. soon.  Two other WGS students I got to see today were also very close to having their Ph.D.s soon--Rachel in May, and Lindsey in another year.

Heather Hewett, Rory Dicker, and I were snuggling together in the snacking-drinking bar we've been at every day.  This was our third evening there.  I'm a bit on the sick side of the food (they only offer five snacks, and we've eaten all of them at least once), but, as always, it was great to see my friends.

And finally, an important component of the conference:

I'm handing something out, and I love the way I'm striding.  Karlyn took the picture and agrees.  There is Alison Piepmeier, walking through the room, ready to hear what you have to say.

Friday, November 13, 2015

National Women's Studies Association, day 2

Today was exhausting.  In lots of good ways.  I just left the big event early tonight because I was exhausted.  Of course, according to my body it was 9pm when the person was speaking, and that's just too late.

I came back to the room and ate six Fun Size Snickers, an excellent way to end the day.

Since I don't have the energy for my descriptions of my day, I'll give you some pictures.

Chris and I are presenting as part of an excellent discussion that I'll tell you about tomorrow.  Tonight, Chris got to meet a lot of my NWSA friends.  Here we are.  It looks like we should be discussing biology and WGS tomorrow morning.

We're in Milwaukee, so cheese is a big deal.  Here we got cheddar cheese squares, cheddar cheese blue cheese, and other cheddar cheese.  Plus some olives.

I've have more pictures soon, but apparently we didn't get as many pictures as I wanted.  So have a look at this.  I was cleaning out my purse to find the Vaseline lip stuff, and here's what I got out of the small part.  Do you see what's significant?

I have a rubber band to pull back my hair in a pony tail.

I haven't been doing it for about a year, and I won't need it again for another year if I keep letting it grow.


That's where I'm going.  Right now.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

National Women's Studies Association, day 1

Alison, Karlyn, and Rory with a great big selfie. I am
waiting for my food to emerge.  Come on, food!
I ran twice today to get to the airplanes I was riding.  I sat between two very nice people in both flights.  When I got there, I headed to the hotel I'd reserved, but I changed my reservation because now I'm a block or two closer to the conference.  The windy, freezing place.

And here I am!

Today I have eaten a bowl of cereal, a medium sized bag of M&M peanuts, a small bag of popcorn, and the random stuff they give you on the plane (two cookies, one tiny bag of pretzels).  Finally, after I'd gotten to the conference and had made my first presentation, and after I'd gone back to the room and reemerged to the bar with everybody, I got some food:  cheese and crackers.

Cheese!  Because we're in Milwaukee!

At the cheese-loaded bar, I got to hang out with some of my best National Women's Studies Association friends.  I've been attending this conference for about 15 years.  Two years ago I was at another conference and couldn't go (let me assure you that NWSA is much cooler than the place I went).  Last year I wasn't able to go to NWSA--at the last minute I withdrew because I was just too tired rising up from the radiation.  I wasn't fully functional last year until December.

This time, though, I think I can do it.  It's been two years.  I want to be here.  I'll rest--I'll take it easy--I promise.  This is an opportunity to practice communication and to get hugs every time I turn around.  I have three presentations (maybe not the GREATEST thing, but still) on three different days, so I'll have time to rest.

I'm grateful and excited.  Let's see what happens.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

This year, it's easy to feel sick. But I don't have to stay there.

I'm having a day that's been all over the place.  Sometimes just fine, but other times I've felt like I was driven over by a big truck.  Today I threw up twice--seems that when I eat today, my body rejects it.  And it's Halloween--and that always means I get to eat loads of chocolate.  Instead of looking forward to the candy, I've slept for most of the afternoon.  It's not a flu, it's just what happens sometimes when my body is processing things in its own mysterious way.

And that processing can suck.  Like, What the hell are you doing?  It's Halloween!  My friends should be out together taking our kids trick or treating, so that I can get eat some of what they catch.

It's easy for me to go into a sad, frightened space.  If I let myself spin, I start wondering if I'll have this Halloween experience ever again.  Is it over?  Will I be feel so dizzy that I can't participate this holiday?

It was the perfect time for Maria, a wonderful former student of mine, to send this article:

"5 Simple Ways to Fall in Love with Life during Illness."

Sometimes the "Leverage" folks come home after a big day, and
they'd like a little chocolate.  Even if it makes them vomit.
 Caryn O'Hara--like me--has had meaningful connections with Maria back when she was at CofC.  And we both have cancer.  I'm reading this, and I'm feeling a bit inspired.  I might not be up enough to be an active person for Halloween, but I could go to Netflix and watch more Leverage.

And if I have a big empty bowl in front of me, can I eat a few chocolates and be prepared?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

And there are other ways that sickness can emerge.

It's easy for me to think about myself, the chemo, the effects on my body and availability of communication, my nausea, my exhaustion.  Every two weeks I have this experience that is tricky because of how it operates--makes me ridiculously exhausted as well as needing to be filled up with various kinds of anti-nausea drugs.  After the chemo day, I have at least two days when I'm wiped out and unable to drag myself into coherence.

She's trying to be happy in the picture
with Christy.  But damn, this is NOT
Maybelle with a happy expression.
But five days before my chemo experience was in gear, we had to take Maybelle to the MUSC children's ER.  She had developed the step beyond pneumonia.  I could look up the name of this sickness, but I don't really care:  it means that her breathing wasn't working.  She couldn't breathe enough to fill her body.  At one point she required 70 percent of her oxygen provided--typically, the human body has 20 percent.

Maybelle stayed in the children's hospitals for six days.  Initially they'd her in the basic children's situation, but in the second day they moved her up to the next-to-last most important section of the children's hospital.  At that point she was connected to wires, and her machine observed her oxygen all the time, putting oxygen and liquid into her.  She screamed and cried.  She was uncomfortable and couldn't be made comfortable.

We had a powerful group who was carrying this challenging, difficult time for Maybelle.  I'm now going to offer gratitude for some of the work people have done with Maybelle.  If you'd rather not read this, then now's the time to quit reading. For those of you who care to go on:  Maybelle had loads of family vibes sending to her.  But even more helpful was the fact that Maybelle was surrounded by people who were right there with her.  Brian was crucial to me.  Walter and Karen were there.  Claire, Cindi and Lily, Conseula.  Amanda, Anthony, Chantelle.  Maybelle's principal and one of her teachers.  And of course Christy and Patricia, who were there for this process, getting food, taking care of Maybelle in and out of of the hospital.
I was reeling from chemo.  Maybelle was
reeling from having been a week in the
hospital.  And here we were--finally.
 The amount they did as they process was 1) a recovering child, 2) with a mother who wasn't fully functional, 3) when a partner was working 14 hours a day for a (terribly timed) particular professional week.

Rough, people.  

Maybelle is home, and she's so happy that we're trying to keep her energy level low so that she can go to Nativity School on Monday.  My body has been under a lot of stress for the last eight days, so I'm not at 100%, but it doesn't matter.  Maybelle is here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

My mom and I are similar in so many ways.

My Mama, Maybelle, and me.  Or Nonni, Maybelle,
and the other Mama, the names from Maybelle.
My Mama and I are noticing this as I get older: she and I have the very same smiles, and the same laugher. We often say the exact same thing to the exact same person. Yesterday we both said, “Oh, Maybelle definitely needs her bath.” And then, of course, we laughed in exactly the same way.

We deal with Maybelle in almost exactly the way I do.  It's not that much of a surprise, I guess, but it's awfully comfortable when we behave the same ways.  We're not clean at all.  We have similar emotions and responses.  These days my hair is like hers: she’s chosen short hair, and mine is just what I have, but we look more and more alike.

And my Mama and I are taking on this brain tumor in similar ways. This isn’t what I would have thought: she’s the kind of religious person who believes that everything is God, and that everything will come to the best place. I, on the other hand, am trying to breathe. I’m trying to imagine myself at my imaginary table with many, many feelings, all of which are there.  But we're able to respect each other.  Neither of us is trying to make the other right.

Right now, people online are righting hundreds and hundreds of comments and checks on my mother and my Facebook. My Mama wrote an incredibly happy statement when we were at Duke and were told that my tumor has stopped, and that it’s probably shrinking a bit. It’s great news.  And when I'm feeling funky about this, Mama is there--totally there.