Saturday, July 18, 2009

sometimes we write with pen and paper

During the next week I am going to write on paper with a pen. I will have no computer access. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh vacation! Love it.

but a bag is not a blog

Sewing a purse is not writing a blog; it is a prelude. I bought all the batik fabrics in Alaska last summer. The favorite stop was in Sitka, where I not only found the last three fabrics, but where every store in town featured a quilt sewn by a local. My friend Cheryl and I walked from store to store up and down the streets and admired quilts made by talented locals, probably during long winter days. And now during these wonderfully lazy days of summer, I have the luxury of time enough to sew. While cutting, ironing and stitching, I have lots of time just to think. The thoughts become inspiration and tear me away from the sewing table to the computer to write, write, write. NO! Back to the sewing table with you, woman... you can write later. NO! The ideas are flowing. Tough decisions have we in this lifetime. (German sentence structure...verb second) Forget the blog! Admire the bag! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Letter to a Tailgater

This delightfully sarcastic letter was written by a former student of mine and one of my favorite writers, James Schroeder. He has given me permission to include it my Blogspot. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dear Tailgater,

First of all, calm down. We all would like to get around this slow car in front, but this road is too curvy to allow passing, and crowding my bumper won't help.

No, really, we can't possibly go faster than the slow car in front of us. And besides, we're approaching a stop sign anyways.

Seriously, I assure you, the speed with which we approach the stop sign has very little bearing on how fast we get through the stop sign. We still get there in roughly the same order, and we must all wait our turn, you see?


I see by the rate you are flailing your arms about and shouting that logic is not your strong suit. Look I'll prove it to you. First I'll slow down...

What? Well that certainly was a rude gesture...

Listen, the minimum legal speed limit for a road, unless otherwise noted, is 10 under the posted limit. I'm not breaking any laws by slowing us down further, you see?

I'll be honest, tailgater, the level of detail I see of your face in my mirror is disconcerting. You really shouldn't be this close to my rear bumper....

I KNOW! Let's play a game!

This game is a little one that I call "Who-values-their-vehicle-more?"

I'll warn you though, I'm not too fond of this hand-me-down-Honda...

Now then...

Slowing a bit...



Ooooh, close one...

Still riding my bumper? Not a good way to win...

steady as she goes....


Shouting again, are we? Well I admire your enthusiasm...


How are you feeling n-


No, no, no, I'm not retarded. I just wouldn't mind having your insurance buy me a new vehicle.


Wow, you're getting GOOD at this game!

Oh look, you're in luck, we're about to get another lane!
And you signaled your lane change!

I'm so f***ing proud!

I know the hand motion you're making is not an amicable one, but you've still earned an exaggerated, sarcastic smile from me, my dear tailgater.

Ohhhhh, and now for all that acceleration you're stuck at the same red light as myself.

Don't you feel stupid now?


The Nomad

PS: Tell your friends! When in traffic, if you ride my ass, I'm only going to go slower and slam on my brakes randomly.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dexter controls, but does not feel

During these past three days I watched Season One of Dexter, episodes one through twelve. I'm haunted and intrigued by his lack of feeling, his emptiness and his need for control. When his psychiatrist questioned him, Dexter questioned him right back to get the psychiatrist to talk about himself. However the doctor immediately called him on it - accused him of changing the subject as a means of grasping control of the situation. During these past twelve episodes I have been thinking about control.

I'm both controlled and controlling. I'm up to the brim in control issues, flooded, deluged and could easily drown. My two little brothers and I jump out of the boat and into Higgins Lake. I playfully swim in deep clear water, looking at green and brown stones lining the bottom of the lake. I swim closer to shore, thinking I can stand and rest. The bottom becomes a garden of long billowy seagrass. It tickles my legs, but frightens me. I imagine arms reaching out to pull me down and deliver me to the lake villainess. I bounce up and down and then swim back into deeper water over my head and close my eyes so that the blades of grass don't cut me. I am a mermaid navigating through the grass when I am captured. Once again human, the seaweed encircles my ankles, wraps around my legs and grasps me tightly. At first I panic and pull. The tendril of the green weed tightens its hold and I weaken from fear. I will my entire body to go limp, relax and descend. I simply surrender. As I near the bottom, I feel the long grass brush against my face, my arms. I gently flutter my feet and scull with my hands and feel my ankles release from their footcuffs. Free, I float to the top, float towards the rays of the sun reaching into the water. My chest is bursting, but I dare not breathe, not yet. In an upward breaststroke, my head breaks the surface of the water and I gasp for air. I flail my arms and legs to get back to the safety of the stone bottom and then fall into a facedown float. The mermaid has become a jellyfish and I take enough time to once again find the calm and allow my heart to slow its frantic pulse.

I couldn't control the seaweed, but I controlled my reaction. It was not the first time I had to "give in" to a firm controlling grasp, nor was it the last. I am alive today because when squeezed, I release, surrender, let go and let God.

Also like Dexter I worry that I don't feel anything and am going through the motions. Other times I feel too much and too intensely. I'm frigidly cold or simmering hot, yet refuse to settle for ordinary warm.

Most important lesson of today: I should NEVER drink coffee at dinner parties. It's 3:42 am (eastern standard time). Time now to simply surrender to a serene sleep. G'nite.

(revised after coffee this a.m.) G'morning.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

How does it feel to get measured for a radiation mask?

After getting an intravenous infusion of radioactive glucose, I disrobed and lay on a metal table with a scan machine at my head. One technician draped me with four warmed blankets. Another technician boiled a water solution and dipped a thirty-inch square of plastic mesh into the solution to soften.

“Are you claustrophobic?” one technician asked.
“I am afraid of radiation. I have hidden from doctors and treatment for the past nine months,” I answered.
She looked at my chart. “You were diagnosed in October and this is June.”
“I told you. I am afraid.”

She was concerned that I had not taken tranquilizers.

I continued, “My nose is running. I won't be able to breathe through my nose and will suffocate in the mask.” She told me I could part my lips just enough to let air into my mouth. I felt a wave of panic subside.

The technician took the plastic mesh out of the hot solution with tongs, held it to allow it to drip and then gently draped it over the top half of my head, my face, ears, and entire throat. The intense shock of the heat on my face was like that of my hot tub when I first step in and submerge up to my neck. Just as I wonder if I am going to scald, I get used to the heat. The plastic cooled down quickly. Two technicians massaged the plastic to conform to every curve it enveloped and then stood quietly by my side as it hardened. After ten minutes, they removed the mask and allowed me to rest while they took it away for processing.

When the technician returned, she held the mask in front of my face and introduced me to myself. It was a perfect mold, one that captured the pointiness of my nose and the “O” of my slightly parted lips. My chin was lifted up high to expose the complete length of my neck, the primary target. The plastic mesh was framed in a flange of metal with holes. It was time to put it on. I lay back onto the table and rested my neck on a platform so that when my head fell back to touch the table, the platform dug into my neck, immediately aggravating me and putting me on an inner defensive. They strapped down my shoulders so they could not move. Next they put a sloped knee rest under my knees to relieve the pressure on my back and then banded my feet together. Only my hands were mobile.

When the technician encased the edge of the mask in metal, she needed to fold its edge under, which made the mask smaller. She fitted the mask onto my head and neck and fastened it to the table with four bolts. No movement whatsoever was possible, not the flutter of an eyelash. I was imprisoned. The first wave of panic churned my stomach and sent chills down my legs. As it rose, my heart raced. I heard it thumping in my ears, but the sound didn’t release through the mask, rather echoed through my head louder and louder. My breathing began to speed up, and I couldn’t get enough air. It was like an unsatisfying yawn that doesn’t reach deeply enough to release the tension and demands second and third yawns. However I was not able to yawn. I was indeed going to suffocate.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our <$200 wedding in 1974

Interessant, these blogs I've seen on blogspot. I thought I would run into writers, but am finding instead lots of stores. I even found a set of naked photos of my daughter on a site belonging to someone I don't know (yet). Strange world, this cyber space.

Today's entry is inspired by the "Broke-Ass Bride."

Tom and I got married thirty-five years ago for $100 out of our pockets and $100 paid for by my Grandma Wilson/Woodside for the picnic. Tom's parents were coming down to visit us from Michigan and didn't want to stay with us, because we were not married, and yet "living in sin." And so we decided to get married while they were visiting. We quickly alerted the whole family and so my mom and dad made plans to come to Florida, also. We invited my sixteen year old sister Heather to be the maid of honor and our excellent friend Leo Peters to be our best man. That obliged them to come to Florida. We gave everyone six weeks' notice, if that.

What to wear? During the summer I had worked as a breakfast/lunch waitress at the Holiday Inn in Vero Beach on the ocean. On my very first day, I was trained, yet still earned $5.00 in tips. After work that day I went to a fabric store and bought three yards of natural colored muslin fabric, twenty bright colors of embroidery floss, and a pattern for a man's shirt. The shirt was to have long flared sleeves, a deep V-neck, and be hip length. I was going to embroider flowers all around the V-neck. Total price for all materials: $4.74. That became Tom's wedding shirt. It was a beautiful shirt for a long-haired hippy man with blond hair and sparkling eyes.

My dress - we had zero money. We had just moved from Vero Beach to Cocoa and didn't have jobs yet. Tom was enrolled in the community college to become an electronics engineer (which lasted exactly one semester before he got too bored learning about things he couldn't actually touch) and I was substitute teaching French, even though I had only every had one semester of French in college. (My students never knew that; I acted as though I were fluent and pulled it off for a full month!) VoilĂ  - my grandmother Nana sent us a wedding card with $50. I drove to a fabric store in Titusville, bought five yards of yellow polyester knit, thread, and a pattern for a beautiful long dress. $8.00. I made an error that I regret to this day... we didn't have a washing machine and I didn't take the time to go to the laundromat to prewash the fabric. Every seamstress knows that polyester shrinks if put into the dryer... but I was in a hurry.

The dress was beautiful and fit me perfectly. It had a softly scooped neckline and gathers under each breast in the empire top. The sleeves were long and slightly gathered around the shoulders. The dress was long and flared slightly in a princess style with seams down the front.

Flowers for the altar: On the morning before the wedding I stopped off at Walgreen's Drug Store to buy flowers for the altar. I choose a $3.00 bouquet of fresh white daisies, my favorite. When I brought them home, we had no vase. I washed out an orange juice bottle and covered it in aluminum foil. Good enough. When we arrived at the chapel the next day, the minister asked me, "Are those all the flowers you have for the altar?" He chuckled and asked me, "We have a funeral this afternoon in the church. Would it be okay with you if I borrowed some of their flowers for your wedding?" He reappeared carrying a large arrangement of fall colored flowers, which complemented both my dress and Tom's shirt. The daisies stood next to them on the altar.

My flowers: Yes, Tom and I sprang for a professionally designed bouquet of daisies for me and one flower corsages for each mom and dad, my grandma, sister and Leo. Total cost: under $25.00. My best friend Sandy was not at the wedding, but Tom's mom took the bouquet back to Michigan and threw it to Sandy.

My dad paid the minister $25.00 for his services. That included one counseling session and the marriage ceremony. During the counseling, he gave us the most important advice we have ever received: "Never argue about money." To this day, even during the most fraught times of financial disaster, we discuss our situation. We never argue. And we never go to bed angry.

Twelve people came to our wedding: our moms and dads, our sisters Heather and Amy, my brother Dave (wearing plaid pants and a paisley tie), Ralph and Cindy Turnberg and their son, who wore a shirt similar to Tom's, but with marijuana leaves embroidered on the front, and our duplex neighbors Aurora and John Wayne, who gave us a gift we used more than any other, a set of light green Libby glasses. Our Melbourne friends had moved back to Michigan and we thought they were gone for good. What we have since learned is that everyone eventually comes back to Florida. They were just on vacation.

I baked my own wedding cake. It was a disaster. I wanted a tiered cake, but only owned two pans, a 9x13 inch cake pan and a loaf pan. I baked two chocolate cakes and a pan of vanilla icing. I iced the large cake and then put the loaf shaped cake on top and iced it. The icing under the loaf cake caused it to slip and slide. It finally settled in one spot in a Leaning Tower of Pisa position. I bought a tube of red icing with which to decorate the cake, but didn't know you also had to have special tips and so the writing looked like it had been squirted out of a toothpaste tube. I could only outline the loaf cake and squirt a few dabs of red in the corners. It was one sorry looking cake, but tasted delicious.

On the morning of our wedding, everyone came over to the apartment for breakfast. I stood in a pair of shorts and an old tube top and made perfectly folded cheese omelettes and bacon. After we cleaned the kitchen, I had an hour to get ready. The family whooshed off to give me time to dress and Cindy stayed behind to help me. I put on fresh underpants and slid the dress over my head. I didn't wear a bra, though in retrospect, it certainly would have helped to fill out those gathers. I slid on a pair of flat white sandals. I brushed my shiny auburn brown hair, which was long and parted down the middle, as was the style for about 90% of American women in 1974. Cindy looked at me and decided to add some flowers. She brushed the sides of my hair up into a small high ponytail and arranged daisies in the rubber band. I didn't wear make-up, but I can't imagine ever leaving my house without mascara and lip gloss, and so I am certain I was true to myself even back then.

Cindy took a snapshot photo of my hair and one in the backyard with Tom and me and then we drove to the church in my little blue Volkswagen.

The wedding was a sweet Methodist ceremony, through which I cried. I assume they were happy tears; I dearly loved Tom and was very happy to get married. I'm just a crier. A healthy crier. Afterwards, we took a few more photos and returned to our duplex apartment.

It was October 19 and therefore cool enough to keep my dress on. Everyone else changed into shorts, but Tom kept his wedding shirt on. We had a picnic across the street in the neighborhood park. Tom grilled hamburgers and my mom served her potato salad and baked beans.

In the evening, the family went over to the Campbell motel to give us privacy. Mom gave me a short bright pink nightie and a bottle of gin. Before we turned out the lights, I remember thinking that Tom was the cutest guy I had ever seen.

Cost: $4.74+8.00+3+25.+25.+eggs and cheese+two cake mixes, etc = under $100. plus under $100 for the picnic. = under $200.

Regrets: I wish we had taken better photos

End result: Tom and I are still married, have two absolutely beautiful and successful daughters, and we all four love each other dearly.

P.S. Tom is still the cutest guy I have even seen and his eyes still sparkle.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Where's my book?

First blog ever, first day of vacation. Where's my book? I've always thought that everyone has a book inside of him or her that is patiently waiting to be written. My life is beginning to become quieter and so I have posed the question - where's my book? In response I have just come up with an excuse: I don't have anything to write about that anyone would want to purchase and read. I can't write with the same finesse as my favorite authors. And so I am simply going to begin to write. For myself. If it turns out that someone else reads this, Hello! If ten people see this and one person likes it, then I'll have an audience of ten and an adoring audience of one. It's a beginning.

During this past week I purchased two books that curiously had similar beginnings. Each author began her first page writing about a near death experience that changed her life. One of my absolute favorite authors, Carolyn Myss once made fun of people who had talked about their near death experiences as conversation starters with people they didn't know. Then and again this week it hit me that I have never had a remarkable near death experience and so I cannot gloriously and impressively begin my book recounting it. I have never been whisked into the heavens, enveloped by the light, taken through the tunnel, met deceased friends and relatives, been shown my unconscious body lying below, felt the unconditional heavenly love or been given special powers to incorporate back into my life after making the choice to live after all. I don't even know if I have flown around at night during dreamtime in a cool astral body. I'm the gal who wakes up in the middle of the night and sleepwalks her body around the house and says things like, "Help me to find the kittens; they are suffocating" or "Where's my mom?" or "Who are you? Prove it; what's your middle name." I have been clunkily earthbound. I can tell some hilarious sleep-walking stories. But they are not going to make up a book.

The closest I got to a near death experience was while driving down the road just behind my neighborhood. Behind the wheel of my big blue Aerostar momvan, I was gunning ahead at 45 in a 35mph zone and was not paying attention. All of a sudden I noticed that the momvan in front of me was stopped to make a left turn. I saw the long-haired head of the driver and two small heads in the back seat and realized that I was going to crash full speed into the back of them. There was no time to think, only to whisper, "Help me, please," and fully stomp on the brakes. I heard my tires screaming and felt the back of my van fishtail to the right towards the ditch that certainly held a submerged alligator. All of a sudden my van stopped dead. My front bumper was two inches from the back seat passenger door of the van into which I did not crash. I looked into a set of a child's startled eyes and then the van turned left and kept going. No one was coming behind me. It happened so quickly that my body did not even release a surge of adrenalin. I straightened out the tires and started driving. It had been a miracle. I first said a simple thank you and then reviewed everything in my head. It was simply a miracle that my van had stopped so dramatically and so whisper close to the other. And then I spent the next five minutes saying an elaborate thank you accompanied by amazed squeals of delight.

See? I really don't have much to write about.

To conclude, I have twenty-seven days of vacation, nine of which are going to be spent far away from a computer. I woke up early today, walked, breathed in and out striving to connect each and every breath, and took a bike ride. I'm going to make every day count for something creative. This blog is going to be a part of my creativity. If there is an audience, then I am surprised and happy to meet you. Be patient. I think I really do have something to say. It's coming. But it's probably not a book.