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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #6

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi, The Guest House

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Real

About a month ago my regular annual check up came back with abnormal results. My doctor wasn't so concerned, but suggested a couple other tests. One came back inconclusive and the other indicated that I should have surgery, which I had 5 days ago.

The whole thing has been pretty hard. I didn't want to tell very many people because I was sure (and still am sure - biopsy results in a week) that it will turn out to be "nothing." I was afraid that talking about it would make it more real (it did), I was afraid that people would minimize it and tell me I was overreacting for being scared (they did), I was afraid I wouldn't be able to determine how much I wanted to say and how much I didn't want to say; that sharing a little bit was opening the door wide and would require me to answer all questions. I guess I struggle with boundaries more than I thought I did. So I only told a couple of people and left out several people that I feel pretty close to and ended up exhausted and feeling alone and angry about, well, almost all of it. Not all of it but almost.

Leading up to it, going through it, recovering from it the last few days - at times I've felt so alone. How can a person feel upset that they are alone when they don't tell others and give them the chance to be supportive? The friends I did let in were really wonderful - one drove 3 hours to be with me overnight and take care of me - I still can't believe this, one brought me flowers and went on a walk with me, one sat in my quiet house for 10 hours while I slept. All of that was beautiful and humbling in many ways. I feel broken sometimes - I don't feel the right things at the right times.

And now I am recovering. It's not so ladylike - my throat is killing me from being intubated during anesthesia, I'm constipated from the narcotics I've been on to control my pain, I'm comically bloated from the constipation. I'm oozing icky stuff from strange places. I have a slight hobble in my walk and I keep hitting my hand on things on the exact spot the IV went in and that hurts. But I return to work tomorrow because I guess I'm ready and I feel like I should be and if I waited any longer to go back I'd probably just develop greater anxiety about the whole damn thing.

That's my health update. Thank you for listening. More soon.

Update: Thanks for the kind comments, my people. Results received - all clear. :) xo

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #5

your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light
but it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

- Charles Bukowski, The Laughing Heart

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #4

Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

-Philip Booth, First Lesson

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Few Little Things

It's mid-May, for godsake, I don't know how that happens. I should dig a little deeper, but for now I'm just going to tell you a few little things:

  • I'm back into jogging a bit. My god, it feels good. I'm just at about 2 miles now, but I crave it after a long day, and I love the feeling of taking cold air into my lungs. I've put on some significant weight this past winter and I just appreciate the chance to try to get more physically healthy and to spend time clearing my mind. 
  • My job. Good gravy, my job. It's fun - which is something I haven't said for a while, y'all. I like it quite a bit. It's very challenging and it takes a lot out of me. I haven't had a job for a long time where I know I am and will be making mistakes. Regularly. It's humbling and hard and good for me. I'm spending too much time at work, but I'm trying to figure that out. 
  • I wish there was never an offseason. My Portland Trail Blazers did so, so good this year. They gave me so many amazing moments and truly brought me a ton of joy. I can't say enough about how much I appreciated this season and how much I'm looking forward to the fall.
  • It's been so long since I've surfed. A year this month. I feel like if my life could have just a little bit of these 3 things in it, I would pretty much be ok in almost all circumstances: surfing, basketball, Al-Anon. 
  • I've been isolating a bit too much lately. It's hard not to with work - I'm juggling chickens every minute of the day, and when the day is finally over? I don't even want the TV on. I don't want to look at humans, interact, be polite, listen, nod, smile. I just want to be. But I want to learn to do that around others better. It's so much not my natural state, but I'm trying. 
  • These guys:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #3

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the dessert,
repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your
body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell
you mine.

-Mary Oliver, excerpt from Wild Geese

Saturday, April 19, 2014

B.

JJ

Two years ago, my kitty of 16 years died. For reasons I don't even need to go into right now, in addition to all the normal ones, it devastated me. I'm not sure how I got through the following days and weeks. His last few days, when I slept on the floor in the closet with him, and took time off work just to lay in silence on the couch and cuddle him for hours on end, and then when our vet finally came to put him to sleep at my house - a true horror - broke me and broke my heart. I'm not a nutty "animal person," so I would never have thought that would have been the situation, but it was.
JJ taking a nap in his usual spot

After JJ died, I couldn't even consider another kitty. I live right by an animal shelter, but couldn't imagine going in. After about a year, I started visiting occasionally to see what kitties needed homes, and I would stand and look at the cute fluffballs behind glass and cry. But I kept doing it because I missed having a little buddy to love and care for, and because I was hoping that my heart could at some point heal enough to adopt one.

Two weeks ago I got a kitty. Susan B. Anthony, or Bonnie, was a tiny, stinky, 10-year old cat that had been picked up by animal control when her owner was admitted to a mental health hospital. She'd been given a clean bill of health by the county and by the very popular and critically-reviewed local shelter, and I visited her a few times before deciding I might be able to open my heart to love a cat again.

Bonnie

The shelter cautioned me that it might take her 2 or 3 days to come out of the guest room (where they suggested I start her), but after 20 minutes, Bonnie was exploring all 3 levels of my house, and an hour later, she was asleep on my lap. She would purr from stress, I could tell, but I figured she was doing alright as I observed her outstretched between my knees for hours as I watched TV. And the first night, when she hopped up on my bed and positioned herself on the pillow next to me and slept there the whole night, I figured she was going to do just fine.

One thing that was so cute from the first day is that she followed me around, right on my heels, every single minute. If I walked to the laundry area, she was there. If I went to the dining table, she was there. If I was by the sink and started to go in the direction of the fridge, even for a step, she would as well. She was a little shadow.

And although I cared for her and was happy to have a little friend around again, I have to admit that for the first few days I'd wondered if I'd made the right choice. All I could think was that I didn't love her like I loved little JJ, and it didn't seem right to have an animal that you only tolerated. That's not really the spirit of caring for someone. Anyway, another few days and there was nothing to worry about. We fell into a lockstep routine like many owners and animals do; Bonnie knew when the shower started she should run and wait on my bed pillow because that is where I would be headed next. I started to feel the warm, quiet gratitude that comes from sharing your space and heart with a pet.

I think you understand where I was at and how hard it was to discover that she wasn't actually healthy at all; she was quite sick. During the first week at my house I felt she wasn't eating enough and was concerned about the odor she had. I decided to take her to my vet for a full check up, the results of which were quite sad.

I think at this point all I want to say is that I took Bonnie back to the shelter for surgery a week ago, and the results of that procedure were even worse. I had to make a choice between bringing her back home to give her a type of hospice care, and letting her stay at the shelter to be put down. I took this past week to finally decide, and I feel like a bit of a monster for it, but I can't care for her. Logistically, the amount of meds and special food would be difficult for just one person. But it's really my heart - I truly don't think I have the capacity to love another animal so close to death and make it through without closing my heart off to a degree that would be quite bad. I kind of can't fucking believe it - on the phone with my sister last night I laughed a bit in the middle of crying. It's the perfect combination of events for the saddest story ever. And more - I had a good friend pass away suddenly a few months ago (I haven't been able to write about that yet), and she told me often after JJ died that I should get another cat. I would tell her I wasn't ready, and then a few weeks later she would tell me she thought I should get a cat. When I got Bonnie, I thought every day, "Ok, Kaply, I did it!" I mean, could this be more pathetic?

In the middle of a generally tough time in life, Bonnie was a joy and a heartbreak. I know I only had her for a couple of weeks, but I'm grateful for that. Hanging out with a warm, purring Bonnie watching basketball was peaceful, and I think she enjoyed it, too.






Note: 
The kind comments on my last post mean so much to me - sincerely. Thank you very much. I HATE having another sad little tale to express, but I am going to stick to the only thing I know to do, which is to be genuine about what is going on for me and express it in a way that I think might help me in my process. Thank you, my people, for being so kind. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Even Now

I've been in my "new" condo a year and a half this month. My old kitty, JJ, died two years ago next month. It's weird - time just keeps going. It's been 11 months since I had my last surf. It's been just over three months since I got my current job. I turned 43 last month. Crazy. The first time I mentioned my birthday on this blog (although the blog was called something else back then) was in 2005 when I just had turned 34 and was living in Japan. Time, you are a thief.

Aging is crazy. I like it ok, I guess. The physical toll, of course, is hard to deal with. There's a lot of disappointment in realizing that I'm not just tired or overworked; this is my face now. This is my body. These are my weak wrists and my aching knees. I have to let go of ideas or ideals over and over. I think I still harbor slight "waiting for the big thing to happen" tendency that isn't helpful or realistic.

I feel lonely a lot. I am alone a lot. I feel confident that this isn't how we are meant to live. And yet . . . here I am. I've struggled with depression the last few years, which I'd never previously even felt for a day, so that's been an adjustment. It's like learning to live with a roommate you hate.

I feel hopeful. At times. Although it seems whenever I start feeling good about the future, some kind of smackdown comes. But what is hope if not still believing, even then?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Poems for People Who Don't Like Poetry #2

Who brings a drum to a funeral?
Who tells dirty jokes?
Who laughs so hard that Diet Pepsi geysers out of her nose?
Who brings a drum to a funeral?

Who uses the bacon grease to make fry bread and apple pie? 
Who uses dynamite to dig a grave in the frozen ground? 
Who brings a drum to a funeral? 
Let this goodbye be Coyote's wet dream. 
The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream. 

In his coffin, our father is cold to the touch.
He is dead, dead, dead. There is nothing to touch.
His skin is no longer skin.
His eyes are no longer eyes.
His bones are no longer bones.
He is a fossilized hive.
If I picked him up, I could shake him like a gourd rattle.

Let this goodbye be a death scream.
The only shaman is the shaman of ice cream. 

-Sherman Alexie

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sucre et Beurre, S'il Vous Plait

24 years ago, when I was 19, I took my first airplane ride. It was to Russia. Not too long after, although I forget exactly when, I went to Paris for the first time. I was in my early 20's, I guess, and I'd saved enough money for the ticket and that was about it. I went alone (most of my travel has been alone) and I remember meeting this young couple on the plane beside me and they didn't have a place to stay their first night so I offered the floor of my hotel room. I also remember that I'd messed up my travel plans and when I arrived at the hotel after the trans-Atlantic flight, my reservation was for the following week. And that I wasn't sure I'd ever even make it to the hotel because the cab driver from the airport turned out not to be a cab driver but just a guy with a car, but I didn't realize that until we were in the basement of the Charles de Gaulle parking garage. And when, finally, all of that got sorted, I spent several days wandering around (thanks to a pre-purchased museum pass) the Lourve and the d'Orsay and the Memorial des Martyrs de la Deportations, but I couldn't afford anything else, really; I could barely afford to eat. And for every meal that week I ate sugar and butter crepes (the cheapest kind) from street vendors. There was this one older guy at a little rolly cart at a corner near Cathedrale Notre Dame who was nice enough to let me try to pronounce my order, the same every time, as he waited patiently.

Anyway, my point is that I'm sitting here at a crepe house this morning. I'm having a little breakfast and enjoying a lazy Sunday. It's sunny out right now, but here in Portland we've had every flavor of weather imaginable in the last week or two in Biblical proportions. Did I just misplace my modifier? I never know.

I have a:
  • new job with a lot more responsibility
  • pain in my mid-back that isn't debilitating but it won't go away
  • hair cut and color appointment coming up, thank goodness
I need a:
  • surf
  • far-away vacation
  • jog
I want a:
  • kitten
  • more easy-going temperament
  • macroon
I just wanted to say hi. Things are going better overall with rough patches here and there. I feel old lately and am trying to make sure I don't use it as an excuse for too much. 42 is a bit early to get crotchety.