Sunday, November 26, 2006

Surrounded by posse love photo gallery

Alan Lessik (in his famous babushka, the one that started it all)

Kimo, looking none too happy to be so shorn and babushka'ed.

Eileen's famous "kinda short" haircut of solidarity.

Lisa's "Brooklyn Babushka'ed look.

The girl posse as we call ourselves, was with me for the whole journey, via e-mails and visits when could. This baldy head shot is from June 2006. From left to right, around me, are Pam, Brenda and Lisa. Eileen and Pat were our hosts that evening. Seems a long time ago now! Obviously, I should have worked on a fake tan for that white head.

I will attempt to post some more later, must go cook now!

More fashionable shots

This one is for mom, who so wanted Sofie to wear those adorable Hanna Anderson dresses. This one Sofie calls her candycane dress. The accessorizing was her idea, I swear!!!

Starring Sofie

I wanted to share a few photos of the girl, since she is getting older and taller by the moment. She is still not showing any of that toothy stuff of the first and second grade. But any time now, I bet!

Sofie painted as a tiger, one of her favorite animals. This one was done by a professional, not her mom! This is from a few months back, in spring.

Comfort Food

Today, I am preparing to have a small party to thank those that helped me on the road to recovery. Many will be missing at the table, since they live so far away. Carrie and Sue, mentioned in the last post. Alan, who called me weekly from CA or wherever he was at that moment, to check in and remind me I was loved. Susan Q and others who just called, often getting the voicemail, to say hi. And my family who worried I was making it all too pretty, not telling the truth about how I felt who called or emailed to express that worry.

I am making mostly “comfort food”, chicken pot pie, pumpkin bread, veggie chili and cornbread. Food that feeds the soul. I expected it to be a cold, damp day when I planned the menu, as Thanksgiving was. Instead, it is brilliant and sunny, about 70 degrees. But perhaps by the end of the day, the warm food, hot cider and candles will seem appropriate.

I need to do these things in this house, to try to work out the things that still make it feel not quite like home. The house itself is looking good, but I still find myself missing my “old” house, or some of those features, most specifically: the storage space and the fireplace! But this is our house now, and it does mostly work for us. In a few years, I imagine that Sofie will need more space, either a larger bedroom so she can have her own desk or some other space in the downstairs, carved out for her use. The large “playroom” space here is very underutilized. I keep imagining that I might have one of those home show people from HGTV come and tell me what to do to make it all work better. You would think I would know, since I have watched enough of those shows. My big fantasy is that I have the folks from Mission Organization, Design on a Dime, Curb Appeal and who knows what else all meet, fix it all and leave me with my Barbie Dream house. Oh well, I should be happy that we have a house and work from there.

I still find myself keeping stuff I don’t use much or need. I use my alone time to organize my closets and things. Other people would go out, shop, etc. Not me, not this year. This is the year of the nesting. Finally making peace with where I am, the next step is to make the where work better!

The weekend went by too fast. I had Sofie until Friday PM, after we went to a movie “Happy Feet” she went to stay with Jamie for two days, until later this afternoon. I also have a new, or rather returned family member: we are trying to reunite Boone, the boy cat, with his sister Gracie. The poor cats have been way too traumatized by all the moves, separations, etc. So far, Boone has been hiding non-stop, but I am hopeful that in a few days, he will realize he is “home” again, and safe. That is truly what it is all about, not the decorating.

Oh, a note, before I close, on the hair, since many have asked. It is growing back, in kind of a silver mixed with the old brown. The texture right now, with the very short hair, is kind of pettable, like a cat! About three weeks ago, I went to work wearing the wig. I got hot (it was one of those nearly 80 degree days) and I took off the wig for a bit to cool down. And never put it back on. I realized that day, I was done, my short hair is a symbol of the survival and besides, it looks kind of cool. So now, with my eyebrows back, and my very short hair, shorter even than the buzzed hair, I am back in the world, wigless and proud! And sometimes, cold. I was sorry not to see the hair come back in thick (dark) curls, but it remains to be seen how thick it will actually be and how silver. I might just not color it again, but don't quote me on that. I have had nothing but positive feedback and that has stroked my ego, but also reminded me that I am strong, and I did survive this whole period really well.

Gratitude Attitude

(orignally sent as e-mail on 11/22/06)

I am in denial, despite the holiday ads, the relentless profusion of holiday foods in the supermarket, and the fact that I have already shipped holiday gifts to my nieces and nephews. I cannot believe that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Wasn’t it just a month or so ago that the first cool crisp fall air made me smile? Mid-October (the 20th to the 22nd), we traveled to Western NC (near Asheville) to attend the Leaf Festival (on Saturday) and watch the leaves turn their brilliant colors on what seemed liked thousands of trees?

Now, not only does it feel more like winter is truly approaching, but tomorrow, we are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving. The temperatures are so variable, from very chilly when leaving for school in the early am to warming into the 70’s some days. Very odd. But a few heavy duty rainstorms have taken most of the leaves off the trees for the season. So now I am more comfortable about getting the leaves blown off the lawn (or whatever the heck you call all this land) and bagged. It seems a weird thing to do month to month leading up to this time, as they simply fall down again. What exactly is the point of blowing them week to week? Still one of those cultural things that baffles this ex-Californian.

This season, I am truly celebrating, in a most profound way, the year that has been, and still is, 2006. What a path to travel in a short span of less than a year.

Last year about this time, I truly doubted that I would be in NC to celebrate anything at all this time of the year. I was sure that we would be back in CA, where our spirits and hearts felt at home. But that was not what the year had in store for me.

In March, with one ultrasound, my world was turned around. The diagnosis of cancer is a scary one and although I was blessed to have a “good” diagnosis, caught early and treated aggressively, it was still a life-awakening event. And so in March, the path veered quite a bit from the plan to pack it all up and move “back” and slowly I realized that I was planting my roots in Southern soil. Granted, at this advanced age, the rooting might take a longer time, and perhaps there will still be doubts from time to time, but the rules of the game changed last March. And I cannot ask for a “do-over”.

When you have cancer, you become, in this crazy world of private insurance, a much higher risk. So if I were to be self-employed again, I would be too expensive to insure myself! At first, I felt that this was like a bad hand of cards I had been dealt. But now, in retrospect, I see it differently. Perhaps the universe was simply telling me to just let it be, to stop trying to un-do the move, the whole east coast thing, and to just settle in or down, or something. Whatever it was, I don’t feel like I am fighting anymore.

This year, tomorrow, Sofie and I will join friends here and celebrate that we have relearned what “family” means, that I have learned to trust again, in a way I was sure I would not, could not do, that I have begun to feel settled in a place that seemed an impossible fit a year ago, and that I have taken in the kindness, caring and generosity of many, which I hope has made me a better person. I had to allow that to happen, to let myself receive when I needed to. It took the cancer diagnosis and treatment to make that happen, but whatever the reason, I am profoundly grateful for little things, and for the big thing, that I am still alive, feeling almost like myself again, that I have eyebrows and hair, and that Sofie made it through this period apparently unharmed by all the fears, changes in routine and visible signs that I was sick. And she entered the first grade just like any other little six year old.

I want to take this time to thank all of you, each of you who wrote encouraging emails, made phone calls, brought me to chemo, gave me a massage, took Sofie for a few hours, stayed with me for a week at a time (thank you Sue Hirshon from Los Angeles and Carrie Helser from San Francisco), and generally entertained me through the five months of treatment and discomfort. I will always remember this time, and mostly in a very positive way, as being, well, life changing and very enlightening.

As you gather tomorrow to celebrate (or in Brenda’s case, board a plane to run a marathon in Italy!!!) please take a moment during your day to feel deeply appreciated and loved. I plan to send out that energy all day tomorrow, non-stop, so that everyone who is reading this might feel it just a little bit. You are all part of my circle, my safety net in life, and for your presence there, I am most grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.