Today I left home at 4 am to get to a 7:45 appointment in Bellevue. Afterwards I explored the Bellevue Mall. This is a view from one of the sky bridges.
I go in the sea
open the chest
Empty the dirty laundry
On the floor
Grief and joy
Fear and hope
There is a place
I see you in that place
It is very old
And very young
It is so frightening to go there
The first time
It is haunted and hunted
Are you aware
Of that place
Do you go there
Of your own volition?
Or do you struggle
Fight and suffer in the
Choppy boundary between air and water
Water surrounds you
Above you too
You are in the wordless place
Over your head
Are you too deep?
Open your eyes
In the green water light
A mermaid waits to lead you
To a rope to a raft
But first you must open your eyes
What do you see in this rock?
My daughter is home and we went on a beach walk yesterday! The stupid oxygen keeps me from going fast. She went for a bike ride afterwards. Hooray!
Yesterday evening she brought up social distancing and how careful she should be. She has about 5 friends who are home that she is going to walk with. I am still wearing a mask over my oxygen tubing most places. She will unmask if they are vaccinated and they don’t have a cold or anything else. Even a cold would make me worse at this point. It makes me grumpy to be vulnerable, but I appreciate the discussion.
Warning: this post contains some time out words.
How do I process the game you played?
I am the subject of the game.
Or the victim.
Or no, I refuse. It is your game. I was not playing. I am the honey badger, metabolism so fast that I have to run from one meal to the next or else I will starve. I eat whatever I can find: cobras, bees, anything. I eat or I die.
You have tethered a honey badger to oxygen by playing a game.
I am the football and you have been kicking me, throwing me, catching me, slamming me to the ground as hard as you can in the end zone.
And now that I am worn and damaged and torn, you’ll toss me away, not even notice me, and find a new ball.
You will need a new football. To play with.
I don’t envy that person.
The truth is, it will be one of you. The group will rest on their laurels, oh, we nearly killed her, wasn’t it great? We showed her. She is so stupid, took her what, 21 years to fucking figure it out? And she thinks she’s so smart.
I was looking for food because I am always hungry. The food insecurity goes back to infancy. Maybe to the womb: my mother says she was not to gain weight and spent the entire pregnancy longing for a gigantic ice cream Sunday. Think of being in a womb, attacked by antibodies to tuberculosis, and starving all the time. Might be a little bit worried when birth happens. Fuck, I am going through a tunnel, what horrors await me here? But maybe there will be more food.
Maybe someone will love me. Maybe there will be someone for me to love. And feed. We can give each other food.
My advice to you is don’t be the ball. I was the ball for 21 years. I was so hungry the whole time, for food and for love, that I kind of noticed but dismissed it as unimportant. Food and love were more important. Work and my patients were more important. You don’t matter and your games are trivial.
It will be the weakest one who will be the ball. You worry that you are the one. You should worry. You had better look strong right away. Post some horror. Write something really tough. Don’t show anyone any niggling doubts. Um, the ball is wearing oxygen. I am feeling a little bad about this. Are you feeling bad about this? The ball isn’t just crazy, it’s hurt. Actually crazy is an illness too: I know that you discriminate and think that cancer is a legitimate illness and that mania isn’t, but you are assholes. No, you’re too small and pathetic to be an asshole. You are a one celled animal that is clinging to a hair on an asshole and you get shat on daily. And you know, deep deep in your tiny shrunken heart, that you deserve it.
I am so glad I am not you.
I am tethered to oxygen. But I am healing. I don’t think you can. You are locked in your small sick pathetic triangulation competition and pretending that it’s a game that it’s ok that you are just playing.
Meanwhile, the oxygen is portable.
I have food and I have love and I have work to do that lifts me on wings. I will go too near the sun and light on fire and fall burning, but that’s ok. I’ve done it before. The ocean heals me, always. It is so much fun to fly!
This is in memory of my mother, my father and my sister. I miss all three and I love them and they love me. Today is the day my mother died. The longer we live, the more days are days when someone that we love died. But they are still here. They are in the rocks and the sky and the trees and the coffee cup. They are not in sugary donuts or foods that cause heart attacks. But they are all around us, cradle us, still love us. Joy to you and the memories of your loved ones who have gone on. Blessings.
…..I keep thinking of new ways to nearly strangle myself. I keep thinking that I have hung up the oxygen tubing on every possible thing I could hang it up on. But no, this was a new one. At least with this one I did not lock my car keys in the car. And even if I did, I can take the nasal cannula off. There is that moment of panic: AUGH I AM TRAPPED, but I am not really.
Today’s blog is especially for B who is not trapped.
Have a wonderful Saturday.
Qia is in her first year of college, 1200 miles from home. She joins the ski team, hoping to ski. There really aren’t mountains in Wisconsin. They are hills. She doesn’t have a car so she has to get rides to the ski hill. She does get demo skis, because she is on the team. It’s mostly guys, a few women. The guys chug a beer at the top of each run. The runs are ice after the first time down. It is very poorly lit and very cold. Qia is afraid of the ice and the guys and the drinking.
At Christmas she goes home, to Virginia. She really wants ski pants, she tells her mother. She is cold. She is still skiing in spite of the drinking and the scary guys and the ice. They yell at her to go faster but she goes the speed where she will not die. It doesn’t matter anyhow. She goes to a formal race and they have three foot tall trophies for the boys and nothing, not even a ribbon, for the women.
At home, her father is laughing. He is giggling, silly. He doesn’t make any sense. He gives Qia the creeps. Her mother sails along like nothing is wrong. Qia’s little sister has gone from the extroverted life of the party to locked down so hard that her eyes are stones. Fungk, thinks Qia.
Her father loses his down jacket, leaving it somewhere. Then he borrows her mothers and loses it too. Qia’s sister has out grown hers. On Christmas morning there are two down jackets and a pair of ski pants.
The ski pants are two sizes too small. Her father laughs. The down jackets are the ugliest colors, cheaply made, junk. Qia watches her mother and sister try to smile.
Qia leaves the ski pants and returns to Wisconsin. She gets a spider bite. It spreads. She goes to the doctor. He gives a laugh of relief and says it is shingles. He has to explain what shingles is. “It either means you are very run down or have severe stress.” Qia laughs. Worst Christmas of her life so far.
She realizes the problem. Her father has been abducted by fairies and a changeling put in his place. She reads everything she can find about changelings. Adult changelings are rare but not unknown. She pulls out every stop on top of her heavy schedule to learn about how to fight fairies. She can’t afford to hire a fighter. She finds an iron sword at a second hand shop. She hangs around the gyms and watches the fairy fighters fight. She goes home and practices every move. She collects herbs.
She sets things up before spring break. She arrives home and asks her mother and sister to go with her to a specialist in changelings and fighting fairies. Qia is sad but confident. Her mother and sister both cry after watching the movie about the behavior of changelings. Qia asks her mother and sister to help her.
They both refuse.
Qia can’t understand it. But she has studied and read the books. She will do it alone.
She meets with her father. She tells him how awful and frightening Christmas was. She tells him how ashamed and scared she was. She reads him a letter that her sister wrote to her, emotionless, about having to watch him when he is curled in a fetal ball at the top of the stairs. Her mother asked her sister to watch him, so he wouldn’t hurt himself. Her sister says that she wanted to go out with her friends. Her sister is in tenth grade.
Her father doesn’t say a word.
Qia begs him to tell her the key. The word that will open the portal. She shows him the sword and lists all of her herbs and describes her training. She tells him that after she defeats the fairies he will go home and her real father will be returned. She says that she knows he isn’t happy here, with mortals.
He doesn’t say a word to her for the rest of spring break. Her mother and sister do not say a word about it either. Her father drinks more heavily. Qia returns to college.
Qia refuses to come home for the summer. She stays in Wisconsin. She does not want to be around any of them.
Her sister is three years younger. Qia wishes that she could scoop her up and take her to Wisconsin. Qia frets and is in pain. Qia’s second year starts and her sister is in eleventh grade.
Qia’s mother calls. Qia’s sister is on her way. 3000 miles away. “At the last minute, C invited her to live with them in Seattle.” says Qia’s mother. “C was leaving the next day. Your sister decided and went with her. It’s a relief because your sister was getting A’s on tests but refusing to turn in homework, so overall she was getting D’s. ” Qia is relieved. C and S have a son named after her father. He is younger than her sister. Qia also has a cousin 6 years older who lived with C and S and still lives in Seattle. Qia wishes her little sister the best.
Years later, after her mother has died, Qia asks her father about it. By now her father is back and the changeling is gone. I was angry, says her father. But your sister was getting into lots of trouble. Really bad trouble. What could I do, locked in fairyland. He does not go into what Qia’s sister was doing.
And after her father dies, Qia finds a letter. The letter is from C to her mother. It is talking about her sister going to live with C and S. My mother lied to me, thinks Qia. I am not surprised. I wonder why she lied to me. Qia thinks it is probably because her mother set it up with C and did not tell her sister. Qia thinks that her mother lied to her sister. Qia thinks how much that would have hurt her sister: that her mother chose the changeling over her. Her sister would have been terribly hurt and angry.
But so many are dead, what does it matter? Qia’s mother is dead. Her father is dead. Her sister is dead. C’s son is longest dead. S is dead. Even the changeling is dead. Friends in fairyland let Qia know. Actually, Qia and C are the only ones left living.
C did not lie to Qia or her sister directly. She let Qia’s mother do the lying.
Qia does not talk to C again.
Qia is tired of liars.
This is not a story about fairies. It is about alcohol or any addiction. We must support families, because the whole family becomes ill. Triangulation, lies, competition, enabling. In my maternal family, the enablers die before the enablees. I have chosen to leave the system and I refuse to be either an enabler or enablee. If you are in that sort of system, you may find that the family resists you leaving and tries to draw you back in to it. When you do finally succeed in leaving, there will be a strong reaction. When the pirahnas run out of food, they eat each other. Stand back and don’t get drawn back in. The newest victim will need to make their own decision to stay or leave.
Some people act mean. Not only do they act mean but they are cereally mean. They are mean about cheerios, about count chocula, about granola, about oatmeal.
Not only do they act mean, and cereally mean, but stupidly mean.
They are stupidly mean because they heard that you like cheerios. It doesn’t matter if you actually do or don’t like cheerios. Someone told them that you like cheerios, they think cereal is sinful and you are LABELLED. They have you labelled as liking cheerios and you are a sinner.
And it doesn’t matter what you say or do. You can say “I don’t like cheerios.” Yeah, they don’t believe you. They think that maybe YOU EAT CHEERIOS when no one is looking, behind curtains, in the basement. They did a search on the internet and you bought Cheerios in 1997. You are a sinner.
You can show photos of your breakfast. “Look! Yohgurt and raspberries!” Doesn’t matter. They whisper, she eats cheerios in secret. You are still a sinner and you are a sinner and a liar.
You can be an upright citizen for years, join the Rotary, volunteer, donate money. Doesn’t matter. The whispers circle back to you: cereal.
So finally you figure it out: fungk them. You do not have time in your life for cereal mean stupidity. You put those people on ignore and leave them there. You cheerfully help if they have a flat tire or appendicitis. You commiserate when they complain that they are miserable. Well, actually, fungk that. Your goal if they call is: get off the phone. “I got a pan burning on the stove, I gotta go to the bathroom, I gotta trim my nosehairs…” Anything but talk to one of them. Because your life is a lot of fun, once you stop trying to change their minds.
And it doesn’t have to be cereal. It can be bipolar disorder or race or politics or the country you are from. Cereal mean stupidity is rather rampant. We have the choice to ignore it and live with more joy than ever.
This article came up yesterday on Facebook:
How never to say the wrong thing….
Well, now, wait. What the hell is your goal? To always comfort people? To always say the right thing? Peaceful and sweet and niceness all the time?
And isn’t it dishonest?
Isn’t a true friend that loves you the friend who says, hey, this guy you are dating sounds just like the last one, didn’t you say you weren’t going to do that again?
Even if it makes you mad. And you forgive them because damn it, they are RIGHT. You might not forgive them right away. It might take a while. You might shun them and then have to do some crawling and apologizing.
Our society is terribly afraid of emotion. Don’t say the wrong thing. Do not make someone angry, afraid, never ever hurt anyone.
Except…. I am a physician. And I’ve had my mother and then my little sister die of cancer.
With my mother, we did what she wanted. She was home for 6 weeks in hospice. My sister and I cried for two minutes after I told her the surgeon said feeding her iv would kill her faster. We took her home on iv fluid and morphine to starve. She was tough tough tough. We had over thirty visitors from as far away as London.
My partner was her doctor. She did a home visit and she cried. Afterwards my mother said, “I didn’t appreciate that.” So we did not cry.
My sister did one day when I was at work. She started crying after my mother was asleep in the hospital bed. She called me. “I started crying. And everyone left. Everyone left the room. Not one person stayed with me.”
Ouch. Now I can see that once my sister started, everyone was afraid that they would start too. So they all left.
I stopped talking. In the fifth week, family called and I was handed the phone. “How is she? Are you ok?” I just held the phone. I knew I was supposed to say reassuring things, I am ok, she is ok, but I wasn’t and she wasn’t. She was dying and I was broken, weeping inside. So I just held the phone, silent.
My mother died. We were all exhausted. And for the next two years I thought about it…. and one thing that I thought was, I wish she had let me cry. I did what she wanted. We all did. But in the end, I never got to cry with my mother and say how much I was going to miss her.
And maybe she would not have appreciated it. But I am her daughter! Don’t my feelings and wishes matter? There are two of us in this relationship!
Then my sister got breast cancer. At age 41. Stage IIIC. And this time I thought, I will be different.
I refused to do what she wanted. I told her I loved her, I told her when I was mad at her, I told her when she was hurting my feelings and when she was being wonderful. I held BOTH of us close. I held her close but I refused to let her go into the cancer bubble where no one was telling her the truth.
I was dating a man who complained. He told a couple’s counselor: “I want her to do what her sister wants or cut her off.” I explained about my mom. I explained about the cancer bubble, where people stop being honest and only do what they think you want. The counselor defended me.
And I think I did the right thing. For me. AND for my sister. Because our last day together, she thanked me and she even apologized for something… and I got to say “I love you anyhow.” I meant it to my bone marrow. People yelled at me for being grumpy, bitchy, not doing what she said…. but I was my real self with her. And she knew it. And she also knew I love her and stayed real with her.
In the hospital when someone is very sick, families fight. They argue. They get angry. The emotions are running high. The doctors, the nurses, the janitors, the desk people, we are used to it. People yell, they cry, they behave badly. But their hearts are breaking, why would we expect them or order them to behave well? Honestly, sometimes they work off some of the anger part of grief by fighting with each other.
In clinic sometimes I am handling a room: a person with cancer with a spouse and one or more children. Adult children. People handle death in different ways. Siblings fight before and after a death, “You aren’t doing right.” We are all different. The way I grieve is different from the way you grieve. There is no wrong, there is no blame.
My sister wanted to handle her cancer with grace. Grace, it’s complicated. For me, the greatest grace is honesty.
I want to die singing, crying, going to see the people I love that are gone, and honestly. The I Ching sometimes says there is no blame. Think if we could all accept each other’s honest emotions. The most beautiful harmony is sometimes the resolution of dissonance. Goodbye, goodbye, I will miss you so….and there is no blame.
For the Daily Prompt: harmonize. I took the photograph of my sister four days before she died.