Friday, October 28, 2011

P.S. I'm Still Alive

I had a couple of health scares recently that left me quite sick. But I've also been fortunate to participate in two writing workshops led by Pamela Des Barres.

I'll write more later. I just got back from Portland yesterday and am coming down with a cold. (HOORAY!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I'm Back; It's Been A While

Our friend Kirstin died just before 8 pm on July 1. I've spent the ensuing weeks alternately mourning and celebrating her life. I've also been trying to understand statistics for one of my required classes. (Failing.)

Here's a note I wrote for Kirstin:

I saw you out of the corner of my eye: something luminous dancing out near the water garden while I was outfitting my brand new study/office (yes, I finally have one). You visited as a perfect white butterfly glowing in the bright sunlight. As soon as I stopped to stare, you were gone.

Your life seems like that: 40 years, a mere blink of an eye. Yet your wings touched all of us, from Olympia to Sacramento and San Francisco, New Orleans and all over the world. You spent time in soup kitchens, ministering to the lost, the lonely, the forgotten. And you didn’t stop there. You walked the streets looking for people in need of help in alleys, under bridges and anywhere the homeless set up camp to stay safe at night. You helped rebuild homes in post-Katrina New Orleans. You lived the very essence of Jesus’ message in the Gospels: lead by example, accept nothing and go forth.

I miss you. I miss our late night, prednisone-fueled chats. Since you’ve been gone, our lives haven’t been the same, and even my beloved sun feels like an insult. Facebook and blogging seem less interesting, although Facebook does remind me now and then that you’re a fan of Pema Chodron. You always had the best taste.

Of course our greatest bond was the one that took you from us. I remember how I wept when I found out you had melanoma. At that time I was two years into my own cancer struggle. It broke my heart to see you go through surgery and interferon treatments. After all, you had bigger things to do. As you did with everything, you faced cancer with dignity, grace and brutal honesty. You didn’t sugar-coat it when it wasn’t pretty – and let’s face it, cancer’s not pretty – and you showed the strength of your faith as well as your fears when things didn’t go well.

One thing no cancer patient wants to hear is that The Beast is back. One day I was reading your posts about finding new tumors each day while you were still joking with me about my stiletto heels. I never had a sister but I felt a sisterly bond with you. The day I found out you were entering hospice, first I cried (Nehemiah 1:4), then I pulled myself together, booked airline tickets, a rental car and a hotel so I could visit you. It never occurred to me to even check to see if you had time for another visitor. As far as I was concerned, that day you were Commissioner Gordon and I was Batman, ready to fly into action.

The day you actively began to die I felt it. I was writing in my journal at the time, and right in the middle of a wholly different topic, I wrote, “K is dying.” Something akin to a chill came over me, although I wasn’t cold. It felt like a tiny earthquake only I could feel.

Although I miss you more than I can say, I imagine you in a place so beautiful that our words cannot describe it. Maybe at first its beauty even startled you and hurt your eyes. Then maybe you sat on a pillow while our Savior washed your feet – feet that had spent a lifetime dancing barefoot on holy ground.

I love you, my sister. You will never be forgotten.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dad in hospital

Please, if you have a moment, say a prayer or think positively for my dad today. We're admitting him to the hospital. He has a number of uncontrolled health conditions and really needs to be evaluated by specialists.

Oh sigh.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gumby Does Cardio

I'll just be honest: I don't have the body I used to have. I have maybe two or two-and-a-half times the body I used to have. So while I still can put my palms on the floor when I do a forward bend, two kids could probably tap dance on my ass. This is no good. Recently I signed up to be a Team Beachbody Coach (hahahahaha, I know - ME? Seriously?) and N turned out to be my first "client." Well, he just took to cardio like I take to a bag of Hershey's Kisses when I have PMS.

I was shamed. So, I thought I'd do the 10-Minute Trainer. I thought, I can do anything for 10 minutes, can't I? Yes, like DIE, or so it seems. Okay, onto Debbie Siebers's Slim in 6. Oh, wait, that's six WEEKS, not six minutes at a time. For the time, I'm sticking with Debbie, but I'm also not giving up on my bend me/shape me routine. Yoga, Pilates, BalleCore, you name it, I'll stretch it.

As soon as my hamstrings stop shaking like delicious, delicious Jell-O.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Seven Years Ago Today

My life was turned upside down by a phone call. The caller ID showed up as my husband's cell phone on my phone. Obviously I assumed it was him.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I had no idea how much he was hurting, how hopeless he felt, the sense of self-loathing he had. When the sheriff's deputy told he had "passed away" it was as if the air had been sucked out of the room. I threw up my oatmeal breakfast. I'd been staying with my parents during a trial separation. I ran upstairs screaming to my parents that he was dead. I collapsed on the floor of my dad's office. Then I remember the deputy telling me that I needed to "calm down" because I had to go out to our friends' house to speak to the police. I couldn't write down the address. My dad wound up using the phone book to find the house.

I remember my dad refusing to let me go with him. My mom and I stayed behind, wondering what he'd done. Had he overdosed? That was our initial thought. Then my dad came home.

My husband of 11 years had hanged himself just 29 days shy of his 40th birthday.

My life has never been the same.

I won't lie: there was a reason (several, actually) that we were separated. Ours was not a happy marriage, particularly in the later years. But one cannot be married to another for that length of time and NOT feel something - anything - guilt, grief, rage, sorrow.

Those who have "survived suicide" know what I'm talking about. One day you're in your bright and festive kitchen making Cuban food, then all of a sudden  you take a quantum leap to a funeral home. Do you want him to be cremated in the clothes in which he died, the funeral director asks. I could not form words, I could merely nod. A man who deals with death for a living took such pity on me that he only charged the pre-paid cremation plan fee. A brief, graveside service. Cards, flowers, phone calls.

Then the emptiness. An emptiness that feels as big as the universe. I was a grain of sand, I realized, as I grocery shopped at 3 am, or as I swigged cheap Chardonnay out of the bottle. The nights were the worst. I never slept at night; instead I sang along with songs like "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" by David Bowie, or "Madman Across the Water" by Elton John.

Time has marched on. I'm remarried. I'm now a three-time cancer survivor. Since then I've lost my mom, four cats and most of my idealism. But each day I know that life is worth living, that the darkest hour is just before dawn, that time does heal a little but love heals a lot. I learned who my real friends were. His death has made me more sympathetic to people, and that little things can mean a lot.

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wherein I say no to my doctor and yes to drugs

Yesterday I was bitching and moaning blogging about waiting for my doctor or her nurse to return my call when - alack! - halfway through, my doctor called. Basically she wanted to do a sterile catheter draw, which is what she did before I had my surgery. I thought about it for a while (an hour, maybe, tops) and decided that's not what I wanted. Look, I know I have a freaking kidney infection. I've probably had more than a dozen of them. I need antibiotics and I happen to have a full bottle of Cipro from a previous run-in with bacteria.

She argued that I'd just spent a week on Levaquin, a close relative of Cipro, so I should be better. I shot back that I did feel better but that I should have had more than seven days' worth of pills.

You know what doctors hate? Being confronted by their patients and being slightly accused of making a mistake. Was I better on the Levaquin? Absolutely! Then I got sick again three days later - even sicker, in fact. At any rate, to wrap up this gross and tedious tale, I put myself on Cipro, even though it makes me sick as it makes me better (kind of like chemotherapy).

We're meeting with our priest today and I just feel like something on the bottom of my shoe. I'm sure he gets that a lot in his line of work.

Speaking of  lines of work, as I mentioned I am now an independent stylist for Stella and Dot jewelry (see Facebook badge at left). I'd love it if you checked out my page and "liked" it. Even better, go to my website and see some of their beautiful items. Right now they're running a 20%-off sale but items are limited. Please don't hesitate to ask me about the product if you have any questions. I'm personally in love with it; I've been wearing it daily for a while now, since way before it ever occurred to me to sell it. I'm also going down to San Francisco (open those Golden Gates!) next month for their convention, where they'll unveil the new fall line. I'm so excited!

And I just can't hide it!

Well, on that earworm (you're WELCOME), I'll bid you all adieu for now. Thanks for listening to me rant. I lost about 20 followers on Twitter yesterday. I guess no one wants to hear about the human bladder. I wonder why?

Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm In A Phone Booth, It's The One Across The Hall

I've been waiting all freaking day for a call back from my oncology nurse. All. Day. This, after being sick as a dog since last Thursday with a kidney infection. I'd been on a really strong antibiotic since shortly after my cancer surgery but apparently it wasn't enough. Last night I was flat-out delirious and felt like I needed to go to the hospital. That's always great.

At any rate, enough of that garbage, let's talk nutrition, fashion and jewelry. How's that for a segue way? Nice, huh? Well, N is starting Beachbody's P90X today. He even ate a decent breakfast for the first time since I've known him, I swear. By the time he's done with this, he is going to be SO. HOT.  I mean, he looks great now, but this workout is super-intense. So that's a good thing.

Fashion: Oh dear, you know how I mentioned earlier that I go a little crazy on these discount websites like Gilt Groupe, Rue La La, HauteLook, etc.? Well, since the surgery, the crazy seriously increased to the point where a couple of days the UPS guy actually brought his handtruck up to our door to deliver the boxes.

Breaking News: Oncologist has called, I'm going in for a cath draw tomorrow, oh joy. Bummer.

Anyway, back to fun things. I recently became a rep for Stella & Dot. It's the greatest, most affordable and cutest line out there. Do you want everything? Leave me a message & let me help you pick your summer accessories. Adorbs!!!!

All righty, well, I'm going to scream into a pillow now. Ta ta, chickadees!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Random Thoughts: It's Back. (Or Maybe It Never Went Away.)

All five or so of my loyal readers know that I've been battling cancer off-and-on for 4-1/2 years and recently had my third bladder cancer surgery. This was followed by a nasty kidney infection. To be honest, I just haven't felt right since the surgery. I've been lethargic (even more so than usual) and have had a lot more pain than I've had with previous surgeries.

Last night I discovered more blood when I used the bathroom. I'm sorry for being graphic, but it's important to talk about bladder cancer, just as it's important to be honest and open about prostate cancer, or colon cancer or breast cancer. Hematuria (blood in the urine) is the main symptom of bladder cancer and should always be taken seriously and checked by a doctor. It's one of those symptoms that "could be nothing - could be cancer" that doctors love to tell us.

For someone with my history, this means a phone call to my doctor as soon as her office opens. I just finished a round of antibiotics, so it's likely that she'll put me on more. The problem is that examining the bladder with a cytoscope can actually make an infection worse, so we'll probably wait until the bleeding is gone.

In other news, I had a great long chat with K yesterday. She's on a lot of pain meds but seemed in good spirits after having a friend visit. Although she and I are not in the same boat, there is an isolating quality to cancer. Often we're too physically ill (pain, chemo side-effects, etc.) or tired to go out. And people - understandably so - have reservations about visiting someone ill with cancer. Often people are afraid they'll pass a virus or bacterial infection onto the person, but I think it's most likely that it scares people. I've been in that place. You make arrangements to see someone who was vibrant and healthy the last time you saw her two months ago. Now she has no hair and the skin tone of a starving vampire. I don't blame people; it makes me uncomfortable too.

So an online chat or phone call is nice. I also don't want to be known forever as That Woman With Cancer. I'd like to be acknowledged for my other qualities too, y'know? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. But no matter what happens, I keep on fighting.  There's just too much to see,  do and experience in this amazing world.

Love to you all!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I love my niece and nephew

Our niece is the happy, ladylike Southerner. She's 8 months old and already has manners. Totally precious. Our nephew is a perfectionist. He separates his food. I'm not going to label him Mini Adrian Monk quite yet, but I'm  keeping my eye on him.

Because I love them, and because I love to shop (naturally), I've outfitted her in the cutest stuff, if I do say so myself. She has two Lillys, and I just ordered her the most adorable Freckles & Kitty playsuit that would have been perfect for our wedding reception (except she hadn't been born yet)! Bummer that I don't have any pictures or links - HauteLook for some reason doesn't let you download their photos. But you'll just have to take my word for it - it's very sweet.

I bought N a new laptop today to replace the one that one of our dogs spilled diet Coke all over on Saturday night (we're cutting HIM off for sure). We tried taking it apart and drying it, but the screen is shot. Ooh, he's going down now to get the info off the printer! YAY!

Gotta go! He loves it!!
Walk in beauty,
Cinderella xoxo