Birthdays and a Fast Fashion rant

Now we are Six – and the love of dinosaurs continues.

I had big plans to write a loving letter to Oonagh for her 6th birthday (which was on Friday) and something about World Cancer Day – which was yesterday – but things got away from me. We have had multiple illnesses in the family culminating in my own body deciding to purge everything yesterday. The answer to the question, ‘why is mummy sick?” I think can be easily explained away by the fact that I have had a sick Oonagh practically on top of me at all times for the last two weeks. Not every illness is about cancer even when you have cancer, but sometimes I wonder if I get hit harder because my body is so busy fighting everything else.

So instead of any of those things I’m just moving on and looking at today as a fresh start – like every day should be but I’m better at living in the past and wallowing in regrets even if they are minor.

I had my “Monday morning meeting” (with myself) this morning instead of yesterday. I’m building up my to-do list for the week and even managing to cross some things off of it. I’m pretty sure Oonagh had a good birthday. I knit her a beautiful sweater which she will most likely never where except for the one time I’m going to try and get a photo of her in it (which I haven’t bothered to do yet). She is going through a phase where everything is uncomfortable except one pair of black leggings and a Pokémon t-shirt and I’m not going to fight it. She is the third child after all and I have been down this road before.

I made her pants too but haven’t finished putting the elastic waist in because I suspect these pants will also be rejected so what’s the rush. It has been years since I’ve sewn an article of clothing and I had to re-teach myself so many things but managed to enjoy the process so I’m counting it as a win. Those pants were also made from fabric that has been languishing in my stash for almost a decade and it feels good to use some of it up. It is hard to compete with the cheap tackiness of stores like Justice with their cutesy unicorn-barfed-on leggings. The Justice website say they are “empowering girls” – and they mean that by way of slogans on their shirts – but have sketchy labour practices in countries known for not doing enough for workers rights. On their website they say they have Supply Chain Transparency but according to the Good On You app their labour rating is “Not Good Enough” because they “source from countries with high or extreme risk of labour abuse.” So, I suspect this “empowerment” doesn’t stretch to the girls making the clothes. (Duh.) Also, their environmental rating is “very poor” which doesn’t surprise me because the clothing is already falling apart before it even leaves the store.

Anyway, to end today’s post here is an oldy-but-goody of our birthday girl.

Kicked out of my own kitchen (because it isn’t just “my” kitchen).

We had a great weekend. I knit. I sewed. I even left the house and hung out with a friend (one of my goals this year: to say yes to invitations). Yesterday Miss Oonagh woke up sick so I got a lot of snuggles. Plus we had book club on Friday which means I am DONE with Us Conductors and never have to read the book again. (Why no, I did not enjoy it, thank you for asking.) Today Oonagh and I are home and I’m taking a break from snuggles to write. Also, what I have dubbed as my “cancer period” has finally started so I am basically hemorrhaging right now and can’t leave the house anyway. (Really looking forward to a nap!)

This weekend I also thought a lot about how important it is to empower your children.

On Friday Fionnuala made cupcakes. Saturday morning she made pumpkin pancakes and then planned out lunch for Sunday – which she also made: Oh She Glow’s Mac and Peas (It was delicious).

She’s eight.

Of course, I had to help her but I tried to step back as much as possible and just be near enough to answer questions. During the course of the weekend she learned to double a recipe, peel potatoes and get over her fear of knives. I was nervous about her being around the stove but tried not to freak her out by showing my nervousness. I didn’t always do a great job because at one point she told me I had to leave the kitchen. (Small child! Hot stove!)

Fionnuala, age six, cooking at the stove.

Years ago we tried to have a schedule where the kids helped out in the kitchen one night a week – but we aren’t that great with those kind of schedules in this house. Of course we have a rotating chore chart so they always have chores to do (and no, they don’t get paid for them – just like we don’t get paid for them) but the cooking thing never worked out and they were young. I find it works better for us if someone decides they want to spend time in the kitchen – like Fionnuala did this weekend. Initially it seems like a lot more work for me but it really wasn’t – I mean, one of us would have been in the kitchen cooking anyway because everyone still needs to eat. But my initial reaction when confronted with a child who wants to take over in the kitchen is “ugh” because that involves a lot of patience and guidance on my part for something I could just do myself.

My initial reaction to a lot of things is “ugh” but thing almost always work out well – I just need to get out of the way of myself.

From day one my parenting philosophy has been to raise people I can stand being around as adults. (The fact that I most likely won’t be around when they are adults isn’t lost on me but the goal hasn’t changed.) When I was first diagnosed we also knew that the girls had to become more independent because I just couldn’t be relied upon to do every little thing for them anymore and their dad still has to put in a full day at work. Unless I’m making porridge they all get their own breakfast in the morning. They can make themselves snacks (smoothies are popular). They have to make sure they are organized and ready for school because if they forget to bring a snack to school or their homework I’m not bringing it for them even if the school is across the street. This frees up a lot of my time and brain space – which I appreciate.

Also, I know so many people who reached adulthood and didn’t know how to cook (or do laundry, or clean a kitchen) and I just can’t imagine. I love cooking because I love eating. And while our whole foods, plant-based diet might seem strict or limiting to some it has felt like one big culinary adventure for me.

I will admit, however, that it is kind of nice being kicked out of the kitchen once in a while. Giving up control is hard but I am getting so much more back in return – and so are the girls.

Meeting of the Cancer Club

Image is from a walk we took in the fall.
“Mum, take a picture of me in this tree!
Now take a picture of me in this tree!
Oh wait, this one too.”

Yesterday there was an impromptu meeting of the Cancer Club – which isn’t really a club and only has two members in it: myself and my friend with multiple myeloma. Our daughters dubbed it “the cancer club” because we try to get together for our bone juice (bisphosphonate infusion) appointments every three months. But this month she couldn’t come because her cancer took an aggressive turn for the worse – thankfully it has turned back but her story isn’t really mine to tell.

What I do want to talk about is the discussion we had which seemed so normal to us but upon reflection might seem weird to others.

Here is the thing about Stage IV cancer – you can be ticking along stable for months and then gone two weeks later. That is always in the fore front of our minds. It has happened time and again to women I know with metastatic breast cancer. It isn’t always like this of course, sometimes it is a long drawn out process. Sometimes it isn’t. None of us ever know how long we are going to get top-side but some of us know we aren’t going to get as long as we would like.

Anyway, this friend had a book to recommend about raising teenage girls. She and her husband are reading it and as there is the very real possibility that he will be left alone some day raising teenage girls (their girls are already teenagers) she thought, especially after the recent health scare, that it was a good idea they read it together. And she thinks it is a good idea that Mister and I read it together because there is a very real possibility he will be left alone raising teenage girls. These are the things you talk about in the cancer club. You don’t always cry about them either – often you laugh (at least we do) because what else can you do? Do we want to leave our husbands – who are also our partners and our very best friends – to raise our children alone. Not at all. But this is our reality and the longer you live with it the more you come to accept it. Cancer club discussions also include showing off your recent war wounds, discussing what you want for your funeral and what you definitely don’t want, and telling your friend that it is okay she hasn’t organized 10 years of family photos because it will give her family something to do when she is gone. (I’m the friend in that scenario and I appreciated this advice SO MUCH but I will probably still stress about those photos.)

We also talked about making plans. Because you can never stop making plans – and I didn’t realize how hopeful this action was until I was giving my dad the break down of our summer plans the other day. Because I am a PLANNER our summer holiday is booked, the AirBnB is booked, the summer camps are booked and all that is left to do is live our lives until it is time to leave and hope that cancer doesn’t throw any road blocks in our way. But back to my dad. We were on the phone and he needed the itinerary (I am his daughter through-and-through) and he said, “you’re making plans – that is so great” and he sounded so happy for me and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized how important making plans was – not just for myself but for every one around me. It gives us all hope and, as a mom with cancer, I feel like that is a big part of my job. (A job made much easier when one is feeling well I should add – when you are constantly battling sickness things tend to get a lot darker.)

Our plan for the summer is to take the girls out of school a little early and go on a road trip to the coast – and then come home and enjoy our city. My friend’s plan is to take the family to visit family in Europe. Let’s hope we both make it.

My little treehugger turns 6 in a week. That’s a whole other post but I couldn’t resist sharing these photos.

The Back to the Blog Movement

I have taken that title directly from Kerry Clare’s post on her blog: Pickle Me This. If you haven’t read her post I strongly encourage you to go click the above links and read it. But even if you don’t it’s okay, I will be quoting heavily from it.

“I blog to make sense of the world,” is the way that I’ve always explained my attraction to blogging, the way that I use my blog as a workbook, a scrapbook, part of a process toward understanding. But in the last couple of years, the world hasn’t made very much sense at all, and in ways great and small, I’d started to suppose that blogging was futile. Certainly people weren’t reading blogs anymore, and enticing readers to do so required wading into the mires of social media, where standards of behaviour were abysmally low and one gets the sense that with every scroll, the world becomes a place that’s slightly worse.

Kerry Clare: The Back to the Blog Movement

I think the decline in genuine personal blogs in the past few years is a real tragedy. There are so many – too many – ways for people to (over)share their lives on the internet these days that the world of social media seems filled with a whole lot of noise. Back in “the day” people wrote blogs because they had something personal to say, because they were processing something, because after years of writing in a diary it was nice to have someone to share these thoughts with. Then the monetization of blogs got a hold of the movement. Then Facebook. Then Twitter. Now Instagram (and I’m sure there are others but I’ve stopped at Instagram – a platform I both love and hate depending on my mood and the time of the day). Some of my closest internet friends I met through the blogging community almost 20 years ago (TWENTY YEARS Jen! *insert old ladies of the internet joke here*)

I noticed the shift almost 10 years ago I was contacted by a marketing company asking me to cover the opening of a new shoe store. They were looking for Calgary’s hippest bloggers (their words). I asked them if I they had actually read my blog. Moira was a baby and I was struggling with this new identity of motherhood and the lack of sleep that accompanies all newborns but in particular ones who are born TEETHING (oh, hindsight). Anyway. I directed this company to some actual hip, young, pretty local bloggers but they kept at me until I went to the store (not the opening – that was in the evening and I was on a very tight night anxiety schedule at the time) and talked to the people and picked out a pair of ridiculously expensive boots that they gave me for free. And then I didn’t write a blog post about it because I honestly had nothing to say about a shoe store – even a decent one. I still feel guilty about it and have never agreed to do anything like that ever again – because if you think I felt overwhelmed then then imagine how I am feeling these days with the constant SELL SELL SELL of the internet.

The boots are gorgeous by the way, and I still wear them on occasion .That teething baby will probably be wearing them soon.

Over the years I’ve tried to figure out what kind of blogger I am. Even though I wrote about motherhood in those early days of motherhood I never wanted to be labelled as a mommy blogger. I devoured craft blogs but I could never commit to something like that either. I tried to be a book blogger but I hate writing book reviews and am quite terrible at it. I tried to be a food blogger but the market was already saturated then with new vegans creating recipes and, to be honest, I feel like an idiot every time I pull out my phone and take a photo of my food in public (and at home). Even now I don’t think of myself as a “cancer blogger” although I do use this space on occasion to work through what I am going through on that front.

And I think that is what the best blogging is really about. As Kerry says in her opening sentence, “I blog to make sense of the world.” I find this is still true for me. I blog to make sense of my world – and by not blogging I haven’t given myself the opportunity to organize my thoughts and see where they lead. I too am affected by the shortened attention spans our phones have created. I too am affected by collecting “likes” on posts and scrolling by the lives of other people while not living my own in the “authentic” (barf) way I want to.

It has been over six months since I’ve last posted on this blog. My last post was a goodbye. We packed two backpacks and took three girls on a month long holiday to Ireland. I posted about it on Instagram but for the most part those memories are starting to fade. Also, those snippets on Instagram were never the whole picture – the travel fatigue, the stress of organizing our family from one stop to another. The stress of the Mister navigating the totally whack Irish roads with a wife who really wasn’t feeling great for most of it because she had large cancerous tumours making her uncomfortable with every movement. There are members of my family that now refuse to get back on an airplane.

Things happen and I think about writing about them, but then I feel guilty for not writing and that guilt keeps me away. It’s the same thing with the other writing I’m trying to do. Because I haven’t been able to label myself as a blogger in the new world of blogs I’ve felt like a fraud. But what are labels anyway? Usually something to throw off. Maybe I’m not any kind of blogger which makes me every kind of blogger. A blogger’s blogger if you will. And I think it is great if you can figure out a way to make a living writing for your blog but I’ve never been able to do that, I’ve never had enough of a following or a loud enough voice for people to hear me. But I’m still here and I’m still writing and with Kerry as an inspiration I’m going to do what I have done every day since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer: get up and try and try again. Get sick. Stop. Fail. Get up and try and try again. Succeed. Get sick. Etc. It’s the only life I know right now. With all the noise out there I think blogs that focus on the words and not the flat lay or the aesthetics are needed more than ever.

What if we stopped spending our time on websites owned by multi-million-dollar corporations that are demonstrably making the world worse all the time? What if the forty-five minutes I spent this evening having my brain turned to jelly trying to fathom the perspective of some guy on Twitter cheering on a right wing politician had been spent on anything else? What would life online be without the bots and the manufactured outrage, stupid algorithms, the trolls and the racist uncles? Totally meme-free, with unlimited characters, and nobody’s sharing any fake news article created by a shady network in Outer Siberia.
It would be a blog, of course. Right back where we started in Web 2.0, with stories and voices in a range that the world has never before been able to read, voices not in chorus, but not so polarized either. Connected, but not in a thread, more like a quilt, if we’re thinking in textiles. Niche onto niche, something for everyone. With room enough for stories, and questions, and nuance, and reflection, and changing your mind. And also for changing the world, in the small and subtle ways that blogs have always mattered—turns out I’m not ready to give up on that one just yet.

Kerry Clare: The Back to the Blog Movement

Last day of school, first day of vacation

Tomorrow we are off on our month long Ireland adventure. Not sure if I will get a chance to blog about it. Part of me wants to and part of me wants to just disconnect as much as possible. It’s been a hard week with so many celebrity suicides and non-celebrity suicides and I have felt like social media is the wrong place to be when you are feeling sad and sensitive. I feel like everyone in our house is a bit of a mess these days. It’s time to go sit on a beach or a cliff (but not too close!) and reconnect with my little girls and my mister for a while. I won’t be able to resist taking loads of photos though so I’m sure many will find their way to Instagram.

 

The nice thing about pulling the girls out of school early for vacation is that we get to come home and spend most of the summer in our city which is really the best time to be in the city. I’m looking forward to getting away but I’m also looking forward to having a month home before I have to go for surgery. I’m going to try not to think about surgery or cancer while I’m away. (At least as much as my body will allow me to not think about surgery or cancer.)

 

See you all soon.

Thirteen Days

In thirteen days the five of us will be getting on a plane to spend a month in Ireland. But in between today and the 13th of June I feel like we have eleventy billion things to get done. This weekend alone is nuts with the Writer’s Guild of Alberta conference, a birthday party for the girls to attend, a night out of town in the mountains with the Mister’s company, and a quick drive back to the city the next morning because Oonagh has her first violin recital on Sunday afternoon. Maybe this level of activity is normal for a lot of families but it really isn’t for us. A typical weekend for us consists of having zero plans – or maybe one thing planned – and just seeing what happens.

 

Also this is the extent of our luggage for the five of us:

Plus small backpacks for the girls to bring their stuff on the plane for the almost 24 hour journey.

We are all getting really excited. (Oonagh keeps asking if she can pack and, “can’t we just leave right now?”) However, waiting to travel is an exercise in living in an odd sort of limbo. The first time we took off on a long road trip we made the decision and left the next week. Last year’s trip was similar. But this year we are traveling to a different country which requires a lot more planning – and a lot less stuff.

I’m excited to be traveling so lightly and to show the girls just how little stuff we really need to live. (There will be zero f**king Shopkins traveling with us.) But in the mean time I’m trying to make sure we pack all the right stuff and continue to enjoy our life and not just be waiting to leave. I don’t want the girls to miss out on the day to day joys of the end of their school year or all the good things June has to offer in our city. (We really need to plan better and leave town when it is -30 out, not when things are just getting hot.)

I also have: a sweater to finish knitting, a new piano teacher to interview (because we try and have our activities as close to the house as possible), a child with strep throat to keep an eye on so that it is gone before we leave. There is the meeting with the breast surgeon to try and get my surgery nailed down for the latter part of the summer, and other various medical tests.

Plus there is the writing conference starting today which had me stress eating Mexican Chili chips in the kitchen at 8:30 this morning before I realized what I was doing. Today I’m going to a memoir writing workshop with the amazing Sharon Butala even though I don’t think I have the right kind of memory to ever write a memoir. Tomorrow I’m going to a workshop with author/blogger Shawna Lemay from Transactions With Beauty. This year I promised myself I would get out of my comfort zone where writing is concerned and, honestly, I don’t think I have been doing a great job at that. But it is a process, not a destination, right? Much like writing.

And Mexican Chili chips are delicious, even at 8:30 in the morning.

 

My first newsletter will be coming out this Monday. It includes a recipe for super easy & healthy cookies – which are basically like oatmeal in cookie form. I don’t really believe cookies need to be healthy but when you are supposed to avoid sugar AND want a cookie you need to do something, right? If you want the recipe you should sign up for the newsletter.

 

 

The last time I ate a meatball sub. To be filed under: I can’t believe we are still dealing with this shit

Next Friday the people of Ireland are voting whether or not say Yes or No on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution which gives the unborn child equal right to life as the mother (as adopted in 1983). That’s putting it in very simple tones. Abortion has been criminalized in Ireland since 1861 and what the 8th Amendment really does is give the unborn child more rights than the mother. The only way a woman is allowed to have an abortion is if she is going to die from having the child and even that isn’t always taken into consideration.

From The Conversation.com:

Instead of stopping abortion, what the 8th actually prevents is doctors intervening to protect the health of their patients if that would jeopardise foetal life. It prevents elected and accountable politicians from making laws to respond to real-life need. It says that as long as a woman is still alive when her child is born the state has done its duty to her and, more importantly, to her child.

There are so many fantastic articles out there right now about it and here are a few:

This one has a great video explaining the whole thing way better than I can

Here are the 170,216 reasons to Repeal the 8th amendment on Friday, May 25

I’m not Irish and I can’t vote but I’ve been following along very closely because it seems unbelievable to me that this is still a freaking issue.

So here is my story:

Oonagh was a planned c-section because I had already had two c-sections in the last four years and the risks were too great. But I went into labour early and while I was lying on the operating table the Obstetrician called everyone over to see how my uterus was being held together by a thin piece of skin that “looks like stretched Saran Wrap.”

“Another 20 minutes and both mom and baby would have died, good thing we got her on the table.”

It turned a happy moment into something traumatizing.

Then the Obstetrician asked if I was planning on having my tubes tied. Since we had already decided that this would be our last baby I said that I was.

“Good.” She replied. “I’m taking out extra because you can never, ever do this again.”

I was later told that should I get pregnant (the chance was small but still a possibility) I would not be allowed to carry that baby to term.

And you know what, the thought still makes me really sad. Not because I have an overwhelming desire for another baby but because I just love my husband so much and my daughters so much and, lets face it, we are really good at this whole baby making thing. But my option was abort or carry to term and most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Imagine right? Oh wait, I can easily imagine because two years later I was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

You know who else usually shouldn’t have babies? Terminal cancer patients. An attempt to do so would most likely leave my family without a wife or mother.

Sensing a theme here?

Women in Ireland have been denied abortions even if they are terminally ill. They are denied medical treatment if there is a chance that treatment will harm their baby because doctors hands are tied due to legalities and both doctor and mother can face up to 14 years imprisonment.

 

But here is a different story.

When I was 19 and ridiculously in love with my then-boyfriend we got really drunk one night at a Christmas party after being apart for months. The next morning was a hungover, panicky did we or didn’t we debate (most likely did). We went to a walk-in clinic and got the morning after pill and then went to Subway and got a meatball sub that I ate half of and puked up. I don’t know what the morning after pill is like these days (this was over 20 years ago) but back then it was kind of like taking a whole bunch of birth control at once. The doctor told us that I most likely wasn’t pregnant even if we did because of the time in my cycle but he gave me the choice to do what I felt comfortable with. The pills made me sick and my boyfriend slept in my parents basement that night because he was worried about me but to be honest I have thought more about that disgusting meatball sub over the years than I have about this incident. We dated for six years after that and were always super cautious and never had a scare again. Now we have children with other people and great lives and once in a while we will email each other about kids books (mostly Harry Potter). All because I had a choice.

The woman in both of these stories deserves equal rights to a choice no matter what the reason.

So why is this bothering me so much since I don’t even live in Ireland? Well, what I do live in is a fairly conservative province with a known anti-abortion activist who is the leader of the United Conservative Party and wants to be our next Premier. There are also people who leave anti-abortion propaganda in my mailbox as they troll the neighbourhood. The mailbox that my children excitedly check daily. My front lawn looks like I run a daycare so if these people really cared about children they would not leave their hate literature in the mailbox of a home that is over run with children.

Also, these pamphleteers are usually older women – why? Why you gotta love God more than your own sex ladies? But maybe that is a different conversation.

If you believe that women should have autonomy over their bodies then any reason for an abortion does not matter and is none of your business. It certainly isn’t my business and it really really isn’t the Church’s or politicians business. And let’s be honest, it really isn’t men’s business either. At what point in history has a group of women ever sat around making decisions about men’s reproductive rights?

So I care what is happening in Ireland because I care about what is happening to women all over the world. A Yes vote doesn’t just effect women in Ireland – it effects women every where because every time a woman is given more power over her own body the scales balance out just a little more for all women.

 

 

Reading With My Daughters: Sophie’s Masterpiece

 

Sophie’s Masterpiece by Eileen Spinelli, Illustrated by Jane Dyer.

I bought this book years ago as a discard from our local public library. Moira was most likely a baby at the time I bought it but I will confess to buying picture books before I even considered having children so I may have had it for even longer than I have had children. Oonagh pulled it out again the other day and, even though I have probably read this book hundreds of times, it still makes me weepy at the end.

 

The story is about a talented spider who just wants to spin beautiful things but because she is a spider her work isn’t always appreciated. Sophie lives in a boarding house and one day discovers a young woman who is going to have a baby (alone!). After being kicked from one room to another Sophie is too old and tired to move but the young woman doesn’t freak out and leaves Sophie alone (which is what we do in our house when we see spiders for the eight months of winter we live through each year – the other four months we take them outside). The young woman is too poor to be able to afford a blanket and so Sophie weaves one for her.

 

Sometimes the girls laugh at me when I get weepy because Sophie gives her life for that blanket, and sometimes they are getting teary right beside me. It’s a beautiful story and the soft illustrations by Jane Dyer (who illustrated that staple of children’s home libraries: Time For Bed) are pretty much perfect. Even Moira still enjoys it when I read this book aloud and I’ve been reading this book aloud now for 10 years – and sometimes I find her reading it to herself. That’s the sign of a great book.

(Also I’m so grateful that the girls still want me to read to them I thought I would do a whole series on the books we read.)

Mothers

I thought about writing a Mother’s Day post this year and all the things I could say and then I went on the internet and kept getting told that not everyone is happy about Mother’s Day and to please think of all the women who would like to be mothers but can’t be, or the women who have lost their mothers, or the women who have chosen not to be mothers and to not make them feel bad about their choices. And it isn’t like I don’t think about about those women all the time (I can’t even watch movies that involve women who are unable to have children because my heart cracks into pieces and I ugly cry) and am so grateful that I do get to be a mother and the whole thing was overwhelming and my family was grumpy and I felt like I was supposed to be happy about being a mother but not too happy so I just didn’t write about it.

But I did call my mom whom I love so much and then I spent time thinking about how grateful I am to still be here for another Mother’s Day and wondered how many more I will get. So even though my day consisted of three loads of laundry and I made my own breakfast and cooked dinner (because I wanted to and it was awesome), it was pretty much just another day but with homemade presents from school that I will treasure forever and a weird sense of not knowing how I am supposed to feel about everything. Like, we are constantly being told we are supposed to celebrate ourselves these days but also not celebrate the things that make us different if the things that make us different are going to offend other people and the internet is the worst when you are a non-confrontational peacemaker with a guilt complex for being white, well off, and middle class.

Last night my friend Jocelyn took me to see David Sedaris and I kept thinking about how much I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my mom this joke or tell my mom that joke – and especially tell my mom the fisting joke or the one about having sex with Jesus because I know she will appreciate it and how awesome is it that that is the kind of mom I have?

Whenever I think about how my life is turning out I keep telling myself that I least I have my daughters for how ever long I get to be with them. I try not to think about what Mother’s Day will be like for them in the future. I hope it isn’t a day they hate or avoid. Maybe they will get together and get drunk and listen to Hamilton really loud and remember their mom who loved them sooooooo much and then Fionnuala will tell totally inappropriate jokes about fisting and Moira will act horrified but still be laughing so hard her drink will come out her nose and they will all agree that “mom would have loved that one.”

 

The chaos of a few short years ago.

 

Housekeeping: Some people have asked me to set up an email subscription for this site to be notified when new posts are up. Well, I finally did it! So if you look to the right —-> you will see a Subscribe button. I will probably send out updates in a newsletter format once every couple weeks unless my writing goes back to being really sporadic then I will send them out whenever a new post appears. I’ll include things in my newsletters too that won’t be on the blog – like links to recent articles I am loving, recipes (since I don’t really want them on the blog), dirty jokes, or discounts and special deals on… NOTHING (ha!) because I have nothing to sell. Except myself I guess.

What else is there?

Currently we are reading Catch-22 for book club. I think our book club is currently being called People Who Actually Read the Book club but I haven’t been following along with the discussion. In my head I call it Mensa Book Club Drop Outs & Their Spouses (I’m the spouse, not the Mensa person in case there was any doubt) but either way I’m not sure I’m going to be finishing Catch-22 this time around which I feel rather bad about since it was my pick.

 

I’ve slowed down my reading a whole lot lately. I came across this bit this morning and didn’t want to continue until I had ruminated on it for a while. In this chapter Dunbar is talking about how much he loves skeet shooting because it is so boring and makes time pass slowly – to him the slower time passes the longer your life. Dunbar and Clevinger bicker about it for a while (there is a lot of bickering in this book) and then Clevinger concedes:

“Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?”

And as you can see from the photo above Dunbar wants one – as do most of the men in this story because it is set during WWII and all they want is to get out of the war and go home. I think most people facing death would trade it for a long life no matter how boring.

Which comes to the thought that has been circulating in my mind lately: what the hell am I doing with my life these days?

When I was first diagnosed I didn’t want anything to do with thinking about death (or reading about death) but now it seems like it is constantly on my mind (and a lot of my reading is focused on people talking about death). Not in the sense that I am thinking about my death all the time but I am thinking about this culture of living grief that seems to be surrounding us as medical science is able to hand you a terminal diagnosis these days and then keep you alive for an indefinite amount of time.

I remember in high school when we had to put our beloved Dalmatian, Belle, down. My dad was away on a business trip and we were waiting for him to come home so we could do it. At the time I likened it to living with a criminal on death row because we were just in the odd period of limbo while we waited for her death. Every day she was with us but not. Then one day I got off the bus and I knew, I just knew that she was gone. I told myself “if the car is parked the driveway then Mum took her to the vet today.” And so I started running and sure enough, there was the car in the driveway (Mum should have been at work) and when I went in the house Mum just said sadly, “I just couldn’t’ wait anymore” and I understood, I really did. I wasn’t mad, we had been saying goodbye to Belle daily for weeks. I was just sad – we all were (Dad was relieved that he didn’t have to be a part of it, old softy that he is, he hated that dog for years but would never have been able to watch her go) – but at least we didn’t have to watch her deteriorate anymore.

Sometimes I feel like that criminal on death row.

For the past couple months I have been thinking about starting a podcast where I would talk to other people who are also living with a terminal disease. But then my friend Jocelyn told me about how much her friends who have started podcasts ended up hating them because of all the work and now I’m not sure that is the direction I want to go in. I still want to interview people who are facing death – and not just women with Stage IV breast cancer either – but writing has always been my medium of choice and that is probably the direction I will take. I miss interviewing people and writing articles. I miss writing and having purpose but I’m trying to slow down and figure out a good balance. To not worry when I don’t finish a book. To not beat myself up when I am not feeling well enough to go to yoga. To sit down and focus on one task at a time.

Our trip to Ireland is coming up and so there is a lot of little things to get ready for that as well. I’m also attempting to knit a sweater for the first time and trying to get it done to take with me. (And nowhere does my perfectionist nature shine through than when I am knitting because I have cast-on this sweater eleventy billion times and switched yarn so I can get it just right.) Plus I was hoping to finish a story to submit to a contest before we leave.

Slow fashion.

Slow reading.

Slow writing.

Long life?

 

Let’s hope so.