Thursday, March 13, 2014

down the rabbit hole

There comes a time, I think, when the mind simply cannot accept one more stressor. When the proverbial straw has been placed upon the camel’s back and that spine is rapidly collapsing. It is a delicate skill that I have developed – knowing when I am approaching this breaking point and only then taking a forced break from all known stressors in order to reset my internal balance.

The warning signs hit this past Wednesday. No, that isn’t true. The warning signs have been pinging for the past two weeks, but there were things I had to do, things I could not reschedule or delegate or avoid, and I forced my reset to wait.

Wednesday I realized I’d pushed myself to the breaking point. The actual breaking point. Without being too detailed, (I know, that’s a first for me) I had to deal with our truck blowing up (kind of literally – the radiator cracked and a head gasket blew out and the head possibly cracked), three (no, make that four) birthday parties to squish into one party on one day – one of which I’ve been planning for no less than 6 years, a presentation to give to a large group of coworkers from around the state, a surprise award (jacking up the emotion level there – it doesn’t have to be only negative emotions that add stress), issues with the computer systems at work – which I have zero control over but do quite a bit of work on, a vast array of changes at work – nothing horrible - just lots and lots of slightly different, and a photo op /write up regarding the aforementioned award. Oh, and the electric bill being roughly three times its usual price and several unexpected bills that came due all at once making me watch in dismay as my bank account dropped into double digits… and neared single digits. And things going on with family members that I’m not allowed to talk about because I’m sworn to secrecy even though it’s good things but I completely understand and respect that. And finding out that I’m no longer in remission. Okay, most of the stress came from that last bit. And that’s a pretty big bundle of stress all in itself. None of the treatments we’ve tried have been working and there isn’t much hope to cling to, but by gosh I’m clinging to the very threads and will keep clinging because death won’t take me quietly – I’ll be kicking and screaming every inch of the way.

So, yeah. There’s stress.

And I knew for sure, for sure, that I was nearing the end of my rapidly fraying rope. So I asked for, and received, 2 days off – Thursday and Friday. With the exception of going in Friday for the above noted photo op. Two days and then two weekend days… four days… plenty of time to decompress, to block all the stress out of my thoughts to breathe and let it go.

Except that isn’t quite how it is playing out.

First, work calls. A couple of times. Bright an early Thursday morning. Okay, I manage to wrap my groggy mind around the issues at hand and send the necessary email. Back to the business of not stressing.

Then, spouse arrives home from work and a car testing marathon begins. To city one, test drive, ponder, to city two, listen – reject, listen – look – reject, to second place at city two, get aggravated at overly pushy salesman – reject. Back to city one, haggle, end up getting first vehicle we looked at. Neatly going into debt for an extended period of time for a vehicle that is in fairly good shape and has fairly low mileage but that is 14 years old. Kind of stressful. Yes.

Getting settled in for a good sleep before tomorrow’s photo op and receive a message with the casual note that I’m to wear “Sunday best” for the pictures.

And the world comes to a screeching halt.

Sunday best does not exist in my wardrobe… or my world. I do not have “church clothes”… I have work clothes and not-work clothes. This translates into the following. Work clothes: men’s polo shirts and a small selection of garishly printed cotton shirts with emphasis on glitter and odd colors which I pair with one of the following: black pants, khaki pants, other black pants, grey pants, or jeans (on casual Fridays). Not-work clothes: things too tight to wear in public, knit capris in strange colors, t-shirts with tiny holes in them or odd stains on them – essentially the clothes I can wear to garden or clean house or paint things but cannot wear to town or work. I also have two dresses. Neither of the dresses fit. Not even close. Well, one is kind of close, but not close enough.

And it hits me. Hard. I have absolutely nothing I can wear that is suitable for this photo op. Even though I bought a brand new polo shirt and had intended to wear it with my khaki pants… that is hardly something considered “Sunday best”… and would look rather sketchy in a line up with people in suits and ties. So, no, that won’t work.

And I’m crushed. The straw has found the back of the camel and the camel is going down. In a shuddering, sobbing heap. Which, of course, is exactly what needs to happen in order to release the build-up of stressful emotion, but it could not have happened at a worse time.

I appeal to friends and family to see if anyone near my size has anything I can borrow… and the closest people are an hour and a half away… and that won’t work. But finally someone comes to my aid and offers me a blouse and a potential skirt… and the blouse works with this one pair of black pants that are kind of silky and swishy and dressy-ish, and I can put my long grey sweater over it to pull the look together, and all I have are brown shoes, but they’ll do because they have to… so I have an outfit.

And as I come to my senses with this crisis averted and a solid plan in place to get me to water tomorrow in the mid-morning (post photo-op) because water is what I need to re-balance myself… I realize that I’ve let myself be less than all-together in front of my boss. And how do you explain to someone that you aren’t crazy without sounding like you’re crazy? And maybe I am crazy, but it’s my own brand of crazy and I know how to handle it when I am afforded the chance.

And I am crying again now. Not for me anymore, but for all the people out there who live with this sort of stigma every day of their life. People who put on a mask out of desperation and play at being normal enough to get by without anyone finding out just how hard they are having to work at it. People who can’t fake it and who are ostracized, outcast, rejected… and seen as being less than human simply because they are wired differently. I am crying because I recognize that I have been on both sides of this bias and I want to reach out and say “we aren’t different, you and I. We are people, struggling to make sense of the world and of ourselves and sometimes we do a good job and sometimes we don’t get it, but we are people, together. We are someone. We are important. We should not have to be afraid of being who we are or feeling how we feel.”

But I can’t say that. Not yet. Not out loud. Not where and when it matters.

Instead, I do my best to return to the perceived state of normal, certain that if I do not, all that I have struggled to achieve will be lost.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

dumb luck

Trigger warnings: Cancer, stress, death and cram-it-down-your-throat evangelism.

Yep, that should just about cover it. If you're not new to this blog, you know how I write and what I rant about. If you are new to this blog, hold on to your guts, this is about to get ugly.

Damn it's good to be working. Not just working, but working at a job that makes me happy. Working with coworkers that are as sarcastic and snarky as I am. Working in a field that makes a measurable difference in people's lives. Yes, I'm a lucky little duck.

Hold on a second. Back that up a little. Lucky? Lucky? I have busted my ass to get to where I am. I have gone to hours and hours of classes in all sorts of weather, regardless of my health issues. I have earned degrees and suffered through round after round of interviews. I have forced myself to stay up late and get up early in order to accomplish above-and-beyond job performance. I scoured employment ads, filled out countless applications, applied for hundreds of positions from janitor to educator, and when I found a spot, I dedicated myself to being the best I could possibly be. That is what earned me the position I have now. Not luck. Not sympathy. Hard effing work.

So when you look at me and give that little smirky smile and tell me how "lucky" I am to have such a great job, know that back in the part of my brain that is ever so carefully controlled, I am envisioning myself slapping the ever-loving crap out of you.

But other than that, self, how was your day?

Sometimes it really sucks to have a body that looks relatively healthy. Obese, yes, but otherwise healthy. It sucks because it makes me feel like I cannot acknowledge the pain that I am dealing with. The people who know me best can tell. They see the tightness at the corners of my eyes, the darkening of the patches on my cheeks and the hesitation when I move to sit, to stand, to walk. And, like the best of all humanity, they keep their mouths shut and trust that I will stop when I reach my limit and ask for help when I must. It's a damn shame that I don't. I don't stop at my limits. I don't ask for help. I'm wired so strangely that to do either of these things would be tantamount to letting the disease win. There's no way I'm going to let the disease win. Not without a fight.

The news from the medical world is not good. Since chemo and radiation are essentially out of the question, there is very little that can be done for my stubborn self. The cancer continues to gnaw its way through my smooth tissues and I continue to hurt. Some days less, some days more. My hemoglobin continues to be deformed and my reserves of iron are again lower than medically acceptable. No, I don't think I will agree to having another 4500 mg of iron pumped into my system, thanks anyway. It didn't work before, and there is no evidence that it will work now. I'd rather stick with the sick I am used to being instead of adding on that extra level of excruciating pain.

I will continue to get up early and make my way to my desk before everyone else arrives... not through any desire to be the early-bird, but because I'd rather as few people as possible see me making my painful way down the long sidewalk. It's difficult enough maintaining the positive attitude and projecting the bad-assery necessary to work in this environment. Having to explain why the tears are gathering in my eyes by the time I open the last gate would be too much to bear. When I arrive early, I can arrange myself into a semblance of order before facing the world. I need those few minutes. They help me stay sane through the day.

Yes, I'm going to go to the restroom after lunch. Every day. That food I just ate won't stick around for long. No, it's not an eating disorder. It's the cancer eating my guts. It might be delicious, but there's no way it's staying down. And yes, that's why I have a box of hard candy in my desk. The sugar keeps me from crashing. I know I'm fat. I also know my body. This is what works for me. Making a casual and not-so-offhand remark about the diet you're on isn't going to change what I have to do in order to continue to work. It's just going to make me seethe.

And while I'm at it, I'm glad you had a Merry Christmas. And, yes, I did have a nice holiday, though I don't celebrate Christmas. Gifting me the pocket-sized New Testament when you know without a shadow of a doubt that I am not Christian... and doing so at WORK... and going so far as to tell me I can keep it in my DESK... and doing all of this in front of another co-worker... not cool. I sit quietly while you pray over your food. I wished you a respectful Merry Christmas. But I can do without your conversion tactics. I am quite happy with my beliefs. I am an honest and a moral person. I hope that highlighter that was lifted from my desk over the holidays makes its new owner happy.

Ask me for nearly anything I have and I will gladly give it to you, take it without asking and I'm going to be grouchy.

Speaking of asking for things... I realize you were being somewhat sarcastic when you said you'd trade your health problems for mine. And in all honesty, I don't know if the health problems you have described exist or not - I'd think it would be difficult to power walk with multiple stress fractures in both feet - but maybe you have a very high pain tolerance. But considering the way you look and the health issues you say you have... I'd think you'd be more aware that someone doesn't have to look sick to be deathly ill. So when I responded to your offer of a health problem trade with "Really? You'll take ALL of them?" I was more than a little serious. After all, stress fractures eventually heal and kidneys are difficult to get but they are available. It seems like a good trade for cancer crawling through your innards, a body that won't digest vegetable proteins and which has lately refused to digest much of anything, coma-levels of hemoglobin and ferratin stores, progressive rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia, migraines, severe abdominal adhesions, surgical scars that randomly open up and seep lymph, internal (soluble) stitches that have calcified and work their way out through lesions, hive-inducing allergies to aloe, catfish and artificial sweeteners, patellas that tend to subluxate and a propensity for falling off porches. Somehow, I doubt you really want to trade.

So, it's 1 am and I'm up writing this instead of sleeping because dinner didn't stay down and I have fiery pain running up and down my spine. The numbness from the nerve damage in my left thigh is from about 3" above the hip to just below the knee on that side, so staggering to the bathroom is a challenge - and that numbness now has a new associated pain. The bottoms of my feet have cracked in several places and the headache that teased me all afternoon now rests firmly against the back of my eyeballs. No big deal. I'll just grab a nap for a couple of hours and be my bright and cheerful self at work tomorrow.

How did I get all of this? Just lucky, I guess.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

oh, poop

I have some sort-of good news. I'll be insured once again starting December 1, 2012. This means I'll be able to go through the process of locating a new GP and oncologist and rheumatologist and hematologist and dermatologist and will hopefully get all of my issues back under the watchful eyes of people who "practice" for a living.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I've been sporadically taking my herbal concoction. It does work - when I take it regularly my hemoglobin levels maintain between 6-8 and sometimes climb as high as 11 or 12, my energy level is subjectively better, I sleep (a little) better, I have improved focus and my guts aren't all stabby-twisty-pully feeling all the time. However, when I take it regularly my guts are all burny all the time and I have a greatly decreased appetite along with a greatly increased incidence of massive heartburn.

The migraines exist either way. Hmph.

So, an update... My left thigh from 2" above the knee to above my hip joint continues to be numb to the point where pain does not generally register in that area... or pain that doesn't exist randomly registers in that area.

My knees continue to sublux (aka the kneecap slides off its normal position to the side, then snaps back into position) roughly 2 - 4 times per month, depending on my activity level.

My bones continue to be brittle in my extremities and I'm dealing with several cracked metatarsals at the moment (poor footsie!) and an ominous grinding sensation in my right wrist.

The pain has settled for a level 4-5 daily, without medication, occasionally spiking to an 8-9 and on rare, blessed, occasions giving me the empowering relief of a 1-2.

The migraines exist. Persist. Linger at the fringes of my vision. Ready to be triggered by flares of light or sound.

And the rheumatoid arthritis, though it hasn't begun to show dramatic twisting of my joints, has increased in incidence of flares. I can now expect my fingers and toes to "lock-up" at least 2-3 times a week... larger joints lock, ache, pain flare in accompaniment to these incidents.

And I can't seem to poop. I'm usually like clockwork. Wake up, brush teeth, poop. Come home from work, have dinner, poop. But lately it's gone DAYS between movements and I'm a miserable human being. My guts are hard (and still burny and twisty and rippy and shreddy)and my clothes don't fit. I may have to resort to assistive technologies... yep, considering an enema.

And now for the weird stuff. And by weird, I mean that the italicized portion below is the "gross" stuff that you may want to skip right over. Won't hurt my feelings at all and might save you some nightmares. Really, you can just rejoin the rest of us gluttons for punishment after the italics stop. You were warned.

As my dear readers know, I no longer have any female bits... my cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries are sitting in a jar somewhere being marveled at by medical students. It's been this way for quite some time. So, imagine my surprise/shock/horror when while walking through a local store, I was hit by an excruciating round of "oh my goddess, my guts are ripping themselves to shreds" that, quite literally, brought me to my knees. Yep, my chunky monkey self, on my knees, right there in the dog food aisle. Whimpering. After several minutes, I managed to climb to my feet and use the cart as a walker to get to the bathroom.

Hello. What the everloving frack?

Now, perhaps one of you can enlighten me about this, because I cannot for the life of me figure it out. How does someone who has NO ovaries ... and who has NO OPENING at the place where the cervix "used to be" manage to not only start spotting... but also pass a freaking DERMOID CYST? And yes, I'm very, very certain that's what it was. I have -extensive- experience with these horrific globules of broken dreams. But it begs the question - if I don't have the generating bits anymore - where the heck did this thing come from?

And spotting. Yes, spotting. Okay, maybe something tore loose. Sure. It can happen. Maybe the incision opened up a little to let something through. Okay. I'll even buy that. IF it were an isolated incident. But is isn't.

For the last 4 months, every month, for a couple of days, I have had pink-to-red spotting.

What? I haven't suffered enough with this? Has my crazy body decided to regenerate and curse me once again? Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised.

Okay, enough with the ick.

In happier news, I've been promoted at work. I'm now in a career service position with much better pay and actual benefits. Plus I get to teach, which is freaking awesome.

I've been attending EPI (Educator Preparation Institute) courses at the local community college and will be finished with them by early summer - then I'll snag my English 6-12 and ESE endorsements for my teaching certificate and all will be right with the world.

Guess that's about it for now. We'll see how the great doctor hunt goes in December. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Monday, June 25, 2012

dangling participles

First things first. Yes, I've been away from this blog for a while.  I've been taking the herbal formula and celebrating the little successes - the hemoglobin level that seems to be staying stable around 8, the occasional restful sleep and of course, the new job.  I think it's the job that has been most responsible for keeping me away.  It's only 30 hours a week, but it's a big change from what I have been doing while struggling to regain my health (or at least a semblance of health) over these past few years.

I alternately love and hate my job.  I love that I am a Librarian... in charge of two libraries... one a law library, the other a general library.  I love that I am effective and useful and that I am doing something toward keeping my family afloat financially.  I don't love the fact that these libraries are within the penal system and that I am expected to supervise inmates on my own.  And the paperwork.  I'm not too keen on the mountains of paperwork.  But overall, I'm happy with the job and I'll stay as long as they'll continue to pay me to do so.

What brings me back to Diagnosis Impossible?  More blood work.  I guess there'a a yay involved, because the hemoglovin hasn't completely crashed.  But there are other things which are far less "yay" in nature.  The level of iron in reserve has dropped to critical levels once again - down to 2 now, when it should be near 100.  So I'm not storing any of the iron long-term even though I'm taking in enough to keep my levels in the 8 range.  That's not good news, but it does explain why when I start feeling my body go into flare-mode I can offset most of the crash with a massive protein intake.

But the worst news is the upsurge of cancer markers in my blood.  It seems the wee beasties are alive and well and multiplying happily within my bowel and other smooth muscle tissues.  I can't say I'm surprised.  I knew they would eventually get around to making themselves known again.  I just hoped I'd have more time before they did.  No such luck.

Which brings me to this post.  A well-meaning co-worker discovered my illness today and reacted with sympathy... but not too much sympathy... which was both appropriate and appreciated.  However, she also said, in a very shocked tone: "But you look fine!"

How many times have I or my friends heard those words from some well-intentioned (or sometimes a not-well-intentioned) person?  Why is it that our society bases their perception of illness or disability upon the outward appearance of the individual?  I was met with disbelief, shock, even a little mistrust, simply from admitting that I do, in fact, have cancer. 

I am not emaciated.  I'm a fat, sassy and often cheerful individual.  This flies in the face of everything society says illness should be.

This same lady continued to comment along the lines of: "But you're so cheerful!"

To which I calmly replied, "It doesn't make sense to me to be upset over something beyond my control."

She asked about treatment options.  I gave the standard "I can't tolerate it" responses to radiation and chemo... which, I will admit, are the easy answers.  It is much harder to explain that I would rather let the disease have me than submit to something that will definitely cause me excruciating pain and prolonged illness - especially when my particular circumstances and complications will circumvent those treatment options anyway.  I did tell her that I take an herbal formula.  She started to ask if it was created by "one of those Far Eastern doctor people" but was fortunately interrupted by a call back to her work area. 

I know, from my prior interactions with this individual, that she means no harm and no disrespect with her comments and questions.  She is genuinely concerned and is trying to make sense of what she sees as a disruption in her world and in her perceptions.

Even so, it is never okay to respond to an admission of illness with "but you look fine!"  It may seem nice, I mean you are indicating that you cannot see any outward signs of such a serious illness, but it actually hurts.  So many people struggle with invisible illnesses.  It is time we shift the dialogue from how we look to an honest assessment of how we can help.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I was talking with a friend today, about the usual - bills, financial woes, the sucky state of the job market, that sort of thing.  During the course of the conversation we came to the tentative conclusion that the only way to break free of lower class poverty is to win the lottery.  My response to that became this post.

I'd love to win the lottery.  Problem is, I never have the dollar to spare to PLAY the lottery. As for paying bills and eating at the same time?  You've been nibbling the mushrooms again, haven't you?  I'm in a terrified panic because my freaking student loans start going into repayment in August and here it is April with zero jobs and the one job I -might or might not- have is only part-time with no benefits.  But even with that, I'll take it.  Heck, my husband has been getting extra hours at his job over the past few months but he still only works 30-35 hours, and with all the bills - yeah, and my credit is wrecked because how was I supposed to come up with the roughly 10 grand that insurance didn't cover for all that medical crap when I had the news "Happy Birthday, you have cancer!"?  And now, I'm puking my guts out for going-on three days and I don't have a doctor in the area that will touch me unless I suck it up and go to the ER - and then they will demand $200 up front just to see me since it's not my heart and I'm not overtly bleeding out. 

I want to know - how do people "make it" in this country?  How do people locate and successfully navigate that elusive "ladder to success"?  And people need to can the "work hard and you'll succeed" crap, because it simply doesn't work.  I work hard. My husband works hard.  My friends work hard.  And we're foundering.  We're dying.  And yet we make too much for any sort of public assistance.  Too much.  We grossed right at 10k last year - combined.  So how do these people live who have house payments of over 2k/month along with car payments and insurance and electric and cell phones with internet access.  What is the damned secret?  We don't even have a television, much less cable or dish or directTV.  Our only source of entertainment/splurge is internet access, and honestly, if I didn't need to have it to find work and upload my writing/editing stuff, we wouldn't have that, either.  Right now our house phone won't dial long-distance.  We can get calls, but to call out we have to go over to my in-law's house.  We have power - but our a/c is set at 78.  I cook on a single burner hot plate and with a tiny microwave because we can't afford to get gas for an oven and the house isn't set up for an electric range. 

Yet I'm thankful.  I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head and floors under my feet (even though they are starting to get weak in places).  I'm thankful that my husband has a job at all.  I'm thankful that we have lights and a refrigerator.  I'm thankful that we have a washing machine, because I don't know how I'd scavenge change to do laundry - much less drive the half hour to the nearest laundromat.  It doesn't even bother me all that much that the dryer is once again broken.  I can hang the clothes outside, no problem - and I'm thankful that I have a little bit of land that allows me to be able to do that.  But damnit, there has to be a way to get out of this rut.  There must be something I'm overlooking, something I haven't figured out yet, something that will let me have just enough to catch up and stay current.  I don't even ask for enough to get ahead - because that would be a freaking pipe-dream.  But just enough to be able to pay every bill, every month and have enough for gas and groceries.

Meanwhile, I have this fear that even what little we do have will disappear and we'll be left homeless.  I've been homeless. I don't want to go there, ever again.  But with every step I take forward, with every bit we accomplish, a half dozen new things go wrong.  If you know the secret, please, pass it on, because I know we're not the only ones going through this.  I know there are people going through an even harder time.  I know we're all in this together, but it sure does feel like we're the ones getting trampled by the masses.

So, yeah, I'd love to win the lottery.  I'd love to be able to play the lottery without having to choose between a ticket and a dozen eggs... because the eggs will feed us for a week and that ticket?  Well, it's probably nothing but disappointment clothed in false hopes.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

inch by inch

I am happy to report that my hemoglobin remains stable at 15.  I've had to back off on the new medication a little because it started to cause a few unwelcome side-effects, but overall everything is going well.  I have a noticeable increase in my energy level most days, and I continue to ever-so-slowly shed weight.

Now that I no longer have impending demise hanging over my head, the little day-to-day annoyances are creeping back.  While out with friends, we stepped into an overcrowded, cramped eatery for beverages and I had that gut-wrenching sense of fight-or-flight adrenaline rush.  Rapid exit ensued, and after several calming moments I was able to regain my composure enough to continue wandering through the flea market.

It's not all angst, though.  I made it though two levels of vetting for a potential job - working as a library tech in a correctional institution - and now am waiting to hear if I am the one selected from the three finalists.  Meanwhile, I continue to fill out applications and tutor my remaining students as the need arises. 

I've been struggling with my publisher lately.  It seems some of their timeframes for distribution are not exactly accurate.  Although both Solerna and The Schubark Chronicles: Tales of Wagging Tails, In Their Own Words are available through the publisher's site and, they have yet to post in the iBookstore.  I pushed their listing through on myself, so they are at least available for the two most popular e-readers: Kindle and NOOK.  It would be nice to have them available for Apple devices sooner rather than later, but at this point it looks like I'll just have to be patient.

Meanwhile, the paperback version of Solerna is receiving rave reviews - and even has a fanfic following.  I am happy with the reception of my work, but need some new ideas for promotion.

My Relay for Life fundraising seems to have hit a wall as well.  I can completely understand people being unable to donate considering the difficult economy, and am thrilled that I've been able to raise what little I have thus far. 

My website is now live! will get you there.  It is fairly basic for now, but does have links to most of my current projects.

Speaking of projects, the writing never stops!  I am currently working toward the deadline for The Schubark Friends, my second volume of children's stories told from the point of view of companion animals.  This time, I solicited suggestions for companion animals from friends and relatives, and I've ended up with a nicely diverse list.  In addition to one Chihuahua, I have a rabbit, a rat, a snake, a cat, and five other assorted breed dogs.  It will be interesting to find out what these guys have to say.

I have the sequel to Solerna in the works as well.  It is in the rough outline stage, but I continue to fill in details and story arcs nearly every day.

Another exciting project is the current Call for Papers for Pagan Ethical Dilemmas, a non-fiction essay anthology that I will be editing.  Response has been slower than expected, but the deadline for submissions is over a month away.  I've noticed that locating collegiate Pagan Student Associations is rather difficult, and compiling email addresses for those PSA groups is akin to herding cats - and just about as effective.  I think more emails have bounced than have gone through. 

I am excited to see my gardening efforts begin to unfold.  After a week of watering and countless wheelbarrow loads of thistle remnants carted away, some of the seeds have begun to germinate!  In fact, the only things that have yet to poke above the ground is the lettuce and the spinach.  We have baby radishes, carrots, cucumbers, pumpkins, several types of beans, beats and kohlrabi.  Oh, and sunflowers and cabbages!  And I think the cilantro may have sprouted as well, but the leaves are tiny at this point so it's difficult to tell the plant from any weeds that may have rooted in that pot.  Inch by inch, row by row - goes the gardening song that seems to be my theme song of late - I'm happy to gather those inches and rows, those hours and days, and weave them into my tapestry of life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

kicking buckets

Now that I have a little more breathing time, I thought I'd revisit that bucket list and see what needed updating.  Come to find out, I've completed quite a bit of the list.  The original list can be found here.  Thanks to several very helpful friends and family members, I was able to cross off all except the following items:

1. Throw away/give away/sell/recycle all the stuff I'm not actively using and/or don't love.
2. Grow cotton.
5. Busk as a bard. 
9. Read aloud to a group or an individual:
         - The Schubark Chronicles
10. Grow orchids.
11. Learn to identify 10 constellations. (I already know 5!)
12. Make an amigurumi.
14. Spend 24 hours in silence and without technology.
15. Get certified to teach in Florida (and Missouri?)- halfway there - got my certificate of eligibility for FL!
16. Go to Dragon*Con in 2012.
17. Wear a lolita outfit.  In public.
25. Watch a Cirque du Soleil show.
26. Make a basket.
29. Go on a road trip with no destination and no plan.
30. Build a cabin.

Leaving fifteen of the original 30 items.  Not bad.

I've even made progress on several of the remaining tasks.  I'm slowly working my way through the accumulated treasures in the office, donating and discarding with a severity I've never before attempted.  The results are slow in coming, mainly because of the sheer volume of things I need to go through and the amount of time I'm able to commit to each session of sorting.  I have made some inroads, however, and am quite content with that for now.

The cotton is another story.  I am having a heck of a time finding a source for seed.  I will continue to search.

I'm nearly confident enough in my storytelling abilities to attempt busking, though it would be better if I had a singing voice and/or musical talent on a stringed instrument.  Though with the persona I've developed, it doesn't really make that much difference.

I have had the pleasure of reading several things aloud to various groups and individuals, but am still trying to schedule a children's story-time event with one of the local libraries for a reading of The Schubark Chronicles.  Soon, I hope.

The orchid growing continues to wait for the building of a permanent greenhouse, which is waiting for gainful employment and a steady income... so we'll see.

I'm getting better with the constellations.  I have Orion, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Canis Major, and Taurus so far.

I have a plan for the amigurumi, just need to sit down and do it.

The silent/no tech thing will happen - again, soon.

I applied for and received my certificate of eligibility for teaching in Florida.  The English part went off without a hitch, but apparently I need a course in Mass Communication for the Public Speaking bit.  Or just pass the test.  I'm thinking it's nearly test time.

Dragon*Con hotels are completely sold out and the alternate hotels are nearly gone as well, but I am working on a couple of angles that may still let me go.  I continue to have hope!

The lolita outfit will be finished by this weekend... and I'll be wearing it while I serve at a Red Hat tea party.  I think that counts as "in public."

Cirque du Soleil is still a dream.  Perhaps next year, now that I have a next year.

I very nearly made a basket out of mimosa bark, but I waited too long and now the bark has dried.  I'm going to soak it soft as soon as the chickens get out of my bathtub.

Though the road trip sounds like fun, the only one I'll be taking soon definitely has a destination and plan.  I am honored to be presenting at a Pagan Student Association workshop for the gang at my alma mater, FSU.  That event will be this weekend, and I couldn't be more excited!  The topic is "Kitchen Witchery," and I will be engaging the participants in hands-on cooking activities as we charge and cook an entire menu of deliciousness.

I've begun to design my dream cabin, and intend to construct this diminutive dwelling as soon as finances permit.  Believe me, photos will be taken and shared, because no one would believe I'd done it otherwise.

So, that's the rest of the list.  I think it's a good list, and I'm still happy with it.  I look forward to crossing off the rest of these entries... all the way to 30.  Of course, that won't mean I'm finished - it will just mean it's time to make another list!