No Trace

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It was just yesterday. I see the occasional familiar face, a tired-looking, hobbling person, someone wearing a shirt matching mine. Other than that, there is no trace we’ve been through here. Only we know, and those who were with us. We wear our scars on the inside from a war fought within us as we battled to carry on. Now we walk taller, proud. Our smiles wiser, knowing. Our gaze distant, remembering.

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The Fever Burning Within

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I’ve been roaming around most of the day staring up at the mountains around me every chance I get and marveling at the fact that I just ran through them to get to this place.

It wasn’t easy. There were several periods where I struggled, mostly uphill. Periods during which I questioned what I was doing and why I was there. Thinking how I really don’t enjoy running. Deciding that when it was over I’d (A) never come back, and (B) stop running altogether, maybe occasionally go hiking instead. I also decided to never do anything hard again. Ever.

It’s barely 24 hours since I stopped running. My body heats the space around me, afire from the effort put forth these past days, while a fever smolders deep inside. So deep I often forget about it. A crazy sickness that has me staring up at these mountains wanting to run back out there again.

For These 5 Seconds

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A metal roof
the flicker battered
calm shattered
quail scattered
grey fluffy-tailed squirrels pattered
a million birds chattered
an azure sky lathered
with faded strips of contrail tatters
In a world of mad hatters
for these 5 seconds 
nothing
else
mattered

Let Yourself Bloom, Taking Notes From Nature

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The springtime sunshine warms the earth, coaxing dormant seeds and plants to burst forth with life.

Follow nature’s example. Seek out the people, places, and things that warm your spirit and bring you to life.

Let yourself bloom.

Think You Are Healthy? Think Again

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I have always considered myself healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink very little. I don’t do recreational drugs. I run a few times a week, more frequently and longer distances during spring and summer.  I have been going to the gym for personal training and workouts since September. We grow our own vegetables and fruits and eat fresh eggs from our own chickens. I stay pretty darn active and generally eat pretty well. Except for that sweet tooth I have. I am now on a mission to kill it off.

My recent oral cancer diagnosis was an eye opener. For those who don’t know the latest, I had a tongue biopsy done Jan. 2nd, margins were good and the surgeon got all the cancer out. A neck dissection was done on Jan. 25th to make sure the cancer hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes. Lucky me, none of the lymph nodes removed were malignant. I am considered cancer free and I am going to do my damnedest to stay that way.

Which is where killing off my sweet tooth comes in. Sugar feeds cancer. Sugar is BAD, BAD, BAD. But I love sugar and am addicted to it. Well, I did love sugar. I am working now on breaking that addiction, severing ties with that wolf in sheep’s clothing. I am reading all labels on packaged food, so many products have added sugar! Because of that, I’m trying to avoid packaged food altogether. Instead choosing fresh veggies and fruits, and lots of whole grains. I’ve been making healthy meals from scratch every day rather than eating from a box. Tough to do when you just want to grab a snack, but so very important!

I have recently discovered the magic of mushrooms. There are so many and most are extremely good for you — so good that several have even been said to help fight cancer. Yes, several help fight cancer! Don’t like fungi? There are extracts and powders, coffees and teas, and all kinds of good things you can get that are made with powerful shrooms.

I’m also easing off on products I use on my body, discovering natural products, and seeking out recipes so I can make my own. If you have any suggestions or favorite websites for this, please send them my way!

Most of you won’t give a dang about any of this until either you or someone you love gets a nasty diagnosis. I wish I would have paid attention earlier. Fortunately, I have a second chance here. My cancer was caught early but there is nothing to say it won’t return. In fact, chances are it will someday show up again. And it is likely to reappear even faster if was to stay on the path that I was on. One warning is enough for me. I will now be proactive with my health. Better now than never.  At the end of the day, your health is your responsibility. Doctors can only fix so much, you have to do some work yourself. Start now and do so much work that you don’t ever need a doctor to fix you. Your body will thank you and so will your loved ones.

 

 

Free Trial Month

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We definitely got a month worth of trials this January.! I’m over the moon (and a super blue blood moon it was!) to be able to make a fresh start this month.

Most of you know that on January 25th, due to a diagnosis of oral cancer, I had a neck dissection done. I ended up having approximately 45 lymph nodes removed from the left side of my neck, the same side the spot on my tongue was. Apparently the concern is that because the fluids drain into those nearby lymph nodes, the nodes could become malignant. The only way to find out if they are for sure is to remove them and have them biopsied. So, that was done and IT WAS NOT FUN. (I already wrote about that situation, so if you missed it and want to see how that went just take a look at my previous blog post.) Along with the discomfort of the drains and the swelling following the neck dissection there was another problem, my intolerance to strong pain meds.

Backtracking to Jan. 2nd, when I had my tongue biopsied, oxycodone left me curled up in bed in a pathetic ball at my parents’ house trying not to throw up. Every little twitch sent my head reeling. I was on a liquid diet at the time because of the pain and swelling. Having a chunk removed from your tongue will do that. Oxycodone did not help the situation. It was an ugly storm. At that point I realized what the problem was and stopped taking the oxy. After an afternoon on the couch in a zombie-like state my head finally started to clear.

Fast forward now to this neck dissection. Before surgery I told my doctors of my reaction to oxycodone, so after the surgery they gave me Dilaudid IV instead. I was still having some dizziness but when given a very low dose it seemed to work. I was released Thursday evening prescription for a low dose of oral Dilaudid. The following morning after getting out of bed, while Glenn was draining my drains (or milking as they call it – which somehow seems apropos for the dairy guy), I briefly passed out and then remained woozy all morning. No more Dilaudid for me! I would just have to get by with Tylenol and ibuprofen .

How I tolerated five days with those drains in, I don’t know. I briefly described them in my previous post. I can’t even think of them now without becoming almost irrationally squeamish and sick feeling. I was sooooo looking forward to their removal but also terrified. There were tubes under my skin! They ran across my throat UNDER MY SKIN and were going to be pulled out. Where they entered on the side of my neck, the skin was taut with swelling and sore from the weight of the tubes and their suction cups.  I had also bumped them multiple times and even accidentally gave them a yank one night when I grabbed one of my pillows to move it. Can you say ouch? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I said something more vulgar than that. My appointment for their removal couldn’t come soon enough.

I won’t go into detail but the drain removal was not fun. There was some tugging going on and my legs wouldn’t stop shaking. Tears wanted to flow but I managed to keep them mostly behind my eyelids. The relief I had hoped for once those damn drains were gone did not come. There was no magic loss of swelling or discomfort. In fact, it felt the same. I still had a tight band across my neck, a lump in my throat, a raspy voice, and a very puffy neck and chin. The only bonus at that time was not having long cords dangling from my neck.

After taking me to get the drains removed, Glenn headed off to Japan on a work trip as we both expected me to be feeling good the next day. All afternoon after he left the pain was tolerable. I even got out for a little walk, taking Nala out for a slow 2 miles, enjoying the fresh air. I went to bed late that night propped upright on a stack of pillows as I had been every night since the surgery and awoke as usual to the harassment of our hungry pets. I felt lousy. I got up to feed them all and do the morning animal-related chores then took more ibuprofen and Tylenol and crawled back into bed where I remained for hours. I had a headache that wouldn’t go away. I felt sick to my stomach but made myself get up to eat a little. My neck was still puffy as heck. I couldn’t tell if it was worse or not but it seemed warm to the touch. I felt warm. I took my temperature. It was normal but I couldn’t come around to feeling any better.

I finally sent some pictures of the swelling to my doctor. Since I wasn’t feeling well he wanted to see me, but I was in Bend and he at OHSU. I inquired about seeing someone here in Bend but after messaging back and forth a bit I decided the better option was to head to Portland to see him since he had done the surgery on me.

I wanted to drive myself but when talking with Glenn about it he was worried I might get dizzy. Since I had been experiencing that lately, I agreed with him, and reached out to a couple of friends who had previously offered to drive me to up there at any time. I got in touch with Kelly and Renee, both were willing to drive me the 3 1/2 hours it would take to get there. Renee was stuck in the middle of an important test and couldn’t leave for a few hours and there was no way I could wait any longer, I’d already waited too long. I knew I’d arrive after the doctor had gone for the day and was hoping I’d somehow make enough of an improvement to get through the night. He said he would be in at 8a but I could come in through the ER if I needed to. Kelly said she would gather her things and head right over. Did I mention that I have some of the best friends a girl could have?

I contacted one of our pet sitters, packed a few random things, and in less than 30 minutes we were on our way. I generally love the drive over Santiam Pass but it was all I could do to keep it together, to not lose my cookies in my friend’s car. I had my eyes closed much of the way and couldn’t really look at anything without feeling worse.

My daughter, Chelsea, happened to be in Portland. She was staying at my mom and dad’s for a few days. They planned to meet us at the hospital when we arrived. I wanted Kelly to be able to dump me off and go. I really didn’t want her or my family sitting in the ER. The flu has been running rampant and has caused a lot of deaths this year, even in healthy people. I didn’t want any of them exposed to that, I didn’t want to be exposed to it. Kelly dropped me off at the ER door and went to park. The minute I stepped inside I put a face mask on.

I was triaged quickly around 6:30p, had blood drawn, vitals done, and was given ginger ale and crackers along with something else I can’t quite remember, an antiemetic maybe. Things are a tad foggy, I was in my own little hell. They couldn’t give me what pain meds I needed yet, I can’t remember the reason. I ended up having to wait a few more hours for that.

After triage, they sent me back out to the waiting room. Kelly came in and I convinced her to put a mask on too. My mom and daughter arrived. I said goodbye to Kelly and booted her out then asked my mom and daughter to wait in a waiting area upstairs in the hospital away from the ER. It was a nice space with a fireplace, less busy, more open, and not flooded with ER germs.

I suffered for what seemed like forever in the waiting area before I was taken to the back again. Now it was 8:30p. One of the docs from my surgical team came in to see me. He took a good look at my sutured neck and the swelling there. He didn’t feel it was infected but suggested I get admitted for pain control, IV hydration, and monitoring saying they could easily take me in for a CT scan if infection or a hematoma was suspected. I was told my doctor would be in to see me the following day, in the meanwhile they’d find me a bed and get me admitted. I sat back there for another hour, still without pain meds, and at 9:40p was finally moved to an ER observation room for a temporary stay until they could get me another room.

The temp room wasn’t bad at all. It was private with sliding glass doors that muted the noise. There were even curtains to keep it private. My mom and daughter came to see me there and brought my things so I was able to grab some stuff I wanted to have with me. I finally got some pain meds and began to feel better.

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I spent the night in the temp room and early the next morning two doctors from the surgical team came by, one was the same one I’d seen the night before. They were satisfied with the way my neck looked and did not suspect infection.

My doctor came by around 4p. He still had not received the biopsy results. He also thought my neck looked good. Yes, it was swollen but it was also soft. He wanted to keep me one more night for pain management and try me on Tramadol, an opioid alternative. I was hopeful but it didn’t do a thing for me.

Around 5p I was moved to the “real” room. It was on the acute care floor. When I got there the other bed was empty. I had a great view from my room but it was tough to turn my head long enough to get a good look.

Chelsea and my parents came in and we had a nice little visit in my “private room.” Chelsea stayed after my folks left and we watched a movie until she had to leave. At 9:30p I had a fabulous message from my doctor saying that the biopsies were all negative. There were no malignancies and no radiation treatment would be needed. I called Glenn and my folks and sent off a bunch of texts that led to a barrage of messages lighting up my phone.

Around 11:30p or so there was a flurry of activity in my room. Bodies hurried in and out and a roommate showed up. I couldn’t see her, I only heard soft voices, nurses in the hallway talking. Someone whispered “cancer patient.” Oh god, I am now a cancer patient, I realized. I hadn’t quite thought of myself that way. Come to find out, they were likely talking about my roomie. With a curtain between us, I didn’t see her until early in the morning when she had to pass by the foot of my bed on the way to the restroom. Later on she called out to me from her side of the curtain, apologizing for the late arrival and commotion. Like me, she had come in through the ER. Unlike me, she had breast cancer that had metastasized to her bones and liver. I was sad for her and it hurt a little to share with her my good news. Later on I heard the doctors talking with her. She had cancer in her spine and discs were compressed. Luckily they weren’t effecting her spinal cord but I understood that she was in a lot of pain and would have a rough road ahead.

I spent a little extra time that morning saying thank you for the good news I had received, saying prayers for this woman, prayers for my friend Linda who is dealing with multiple myeloma, prayers for my friend Patti whose breast cancer has returned after 9 years.

Around 9:30a, after the oral Dilaudid and antiemetic combo proved effective, I was discharged. I went home to my mom and dad’s and got to be spoiled by them for a few days.

It is now Monday, Feb. 5th. This coming Wednesday I will be 3 weeks post-surgery. Although a swath of my tongue still has a slight loss of sensation following the biopsy there, I can eat without any issues. I have a lovely line etched across my neck that feels a bit like a choker with two holes on the side that look like bite marks, so I’m told. My neck and chin are still swollen and the underside of my chin is still almost completely numb. The bottom left corner of my mouth doesn’t fully want to function.It makes my smile somewhat crooked, more so than before. But the good news is it still works!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year?!

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As 2017 came to a close, like many people I set some intentions for 2018. Little did I know that these intentions would totally, almost instantaneously blow up. They came to light, full force almost immediately. As the saying goes…careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I guess in the future I should state more clearly EXACTLY how I’d like things to unfold if I set an intention. Lesson learned.

What the hell am I talking about?  Let me start at the beginning and with a huge apology to anyone this catches off guard.

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View from OHSU 

It’s been a whirlwind year so far. On January 2nd I went to an appointment at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University) in Portland. I’d been referred from an oral surgeon here in Bend. The doctor at OHSU took a big chunk from my tongue to biopsy, removing a sore spot that had been there for months. It was actually the 2nd spot I’d had there. The first one had been removed back in April here in Bend. The first one was biopsied and the results came back negative. On January 4th, I received a call from the doctor at OHSU, this biopsy came back positive. I have oral cancer. It was not a shock to hear the news, I was prepared. I couldn’t imagine what else it could possibly be. Especially since the 2nd one came up so quickly following the removal of the first one. 

The OHSU doctor wanted to remove a few lymph nodes in my neck to make certain that the cancer hadn’t spread, and that was our plan. So in preparation, on January 9th I returned to OHSU for CT scans of the neck and lungs. The results showed enough enlargement of a couple of lymph nodes to warrant the doctor changing his mind, deciding to remove many lymph nodes (approx. 40) instead of just a few. It’s possible what was on the CT scan was something stemming from the trauma of the biopsy but he didn’t want to take that chance and opted to be more aggressive with it.

Which takes me to Wednesday, January 25th, when I checked in to OHSU for a neck dissection. I was told I’d have a 3- to 4-day hospital stay. We rented a place 1/2 a mile from the hospital so Glenn could be nearby.  Surgery went well. The doctors and staff there were all wonderful. I actually got released the following day with 2 drains left in, a request to stay nearby for the next couple of days, and an order to see my doctor in Bend to remove the drains on Monday. It was a tough couple of days following surgery, mainly due to pain killers. My body doesn’t handle them well. At all. I get dizzy and nauseated. They switched me out to another drug, which we thought was working initially. It ended up having the same effect on me so I stopped taking them and have since made do with Tylenol and ibuprofen when I’d prefer to be in the comfortable, sleepy, non-dizzy haze brought on by something much stronger. The drains are awkward and super uncomfortable. Imagine a piece of rubber sewn to your neck with rubber tubes running underneath the skin, under your chin, and over your throat. I feel like I have food caught in my throat, there’s a lump there that refuses to go away.  I can’t turn my head well in either direction. I accidentally catch the tubes on stuff and pull the skin. Ouch. I look a bit Frankensteinish and feel like it too. But tomorrow they come out and I’m hoping to feel significantly better.

We should be getting biopsy results in the next few days. I return to OHSU on February 6th for a follow-up appointment. We expect there may be some radiation therapy needed but I’ll worry about that when I need to worry about that. Or I won’t worry about it. I heard a quote recently before this all came about and it stuck with me, “Either pray or worry, don’t do both.” So when I find myself worrying, I turn it into a prayer instead and let it go. Worry is no longer allowed to linger.

I feel very positive. I’ve been turned on to some great books and have learned a lot already. I’ve changed up my diet, eating more anti-inflammatory foods and trying to eliminate processed foods. I was born with a sweet tooth but I’ve cut out most things from my diet that have added sugar of any sort. Sugar feeds cancer. Did you know that? I did know that but I really didn’t think about it, I didn’t think it would effect me. I’m becoming a label reader. I’ve gone to reiki (energy healing) a couple of times, I have a wonderful friend who has a practice here in town. I found a guided meditation online to help fight cancer. It takes only 15 minutes a day and has helped to calm me when I struggle with turning my worries into prayers. I have had amazing support from the few friends that I have already told, and both of our families totally rock – of course.  Glenn has been the best nurse I could ever have, dealing with my wound and these nasty drains – all the stuff that makes me queasy when I look too close.

So what were some of those intentions I was talking about? To be healthier, to eat healthier, to be stronger. Although this is a roundabout way of getting there, that will be the outcome. I’ll be healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally. In fact, I already am. Another intention? To see my family more. I’m only 3 hours away and yet sometimes a few months will go by before I get to see them. In these first few weeks of 2018, I’ve seen them quite a few times. Unfortunately I’ve not been at my best during most of our visits, but things are looking up. I’ll be up there every month for at least the next year, if not even more often. Another intention, I wanted to get those creative juices flowing strongly again, including getting back to a regular writing practice. It’s been awhile since I’ve written much. And here I am. I think I just might have found a few things to talk about.

What the heck are those things for?

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It’s my guy’s birthday. Friends will be here soon and I’m in the process of making coleslaw. My laptop sits open on the kitchen island displaying a five-star recipe with 250 good reviews.

The cutting board lies in wait with its faithful companion, the sharp knife, draped across it. Half a green cabbage and half a purple one laze on their sides, gutted, their outer leaves splayed limply around them. My plan? To meticulously slice them into thin little ribbons. Painstaking and time consuming, but it works.

While standing there getting ready to do some slicing, my computer called me over. “Hey dummy,” it said, “why don’t you look up how to use your food processor to shred the cabbage?” My fingers were already typing away on the keyboard before I could even get the words, “What a novel idea!” out of my mouth.  (Okay, so that’s not exactly how the scenario played out but I’m pretty sure it’s a close depiction of what really went down.)

Even though it might not sound like it, I have used my food processor before.  I’ve chopped nuts and other things. I’ve made pesto and other things. I just can’t remember right now what any of those other things were. But I do know that I used the same blade. Every. Time. It was familiar, easy. I knew how to use it. It generally did the trick, it sufficed.

I drag a chair over from the kitchen table so I can reach that one big cupboard above the fridge.  You know, the one where all the awkward kitchen items hide out, the ones that take up too much counter space or don’t get put to use very often.  After a little banging, clanging, grunting, and shuffling, I pull out the food processor and its bag of accessories. Dumping the contents on the counter, I spy an unopened instructional DVD, a stem-like plastic piece, and a few blades still prominently displaying their caution tape. If you’re thinking that I’ve never looked in the bag before, you’re wrong. I have. And each time I did I would just wonder what the heck those things were for, but instead of trying to learn about them I just kept them tucked away.

According to some article on Google, that little stem thing from the accessories bag? That just slides right into the back of those blades that were in the bag with it. You pick which blade you want, slide the stem into the back of it, put the long stem onto the short one inside the food processor, and then feed your veggie pieces, or whatever you’re shredding, through the feeder.  A M A Z I N G. In less than a minute I had a bowl full of ribbons of cabbage. Why, oh why didn’t I try this before?

It works with carrots too! Normally I would have used a handheld grater, gingerly holding the tip of the carrot in an attempt to avoid shredding a fingertip or knuckle in the process. But this time I just stuffed the carrots into the shoot and watched them instantly get pulverized into beautiful little pieces.

I was giddy with my newfound knowledge while simultaneously kicking myself for not having made an effort to learn about this feature sooner.

This phenomenal discovery got me to thinking about people. Myself included. How many tools do we have tucked away, rarely or barely used, their full potential yet to be realized? For example, I enjoy photography. I’m not bad at it but do I know the verbiage, do I know how to use all the tools available to me on my fancy camera? No. Would I be a better photographer if I did? Would photography be easier for me? Well, duh! Of course!

Gifts, skills, interests. You know these things are there, denied, dormant, tucked out of sight. For me, birding, gardening, and spirituality are just a few things I’m interested in and wanting to learn more about. Have I? No. But I am paying more attention now and expect I’ll gradually bring them out to work on them. I find I do better working on one thing at a time. I’m working on writing right now.

Do you have tools sitting right there front and center, waving at you, calling ME, ME, PICK ME? Each time you go to look for something, do you reach right around those waving frantically at you and grab the same old ones you use time and time again?

Do yourself a favor and spend a little bit of time rummaging through those dark, cluttered, hard to reach spaces inside you. Do some poking around in there, do some rearranging. As with all storage spots, there may be junk left over in there just taking up space. Do some culling. Take inventory. Get curious. Examine your tools, all of them. Take a look at the obvious, pay attention to those things that are calling your name, but make sure to shine a light back in the farthest corners for any pieces that may have gotten lost in the clutter.

If something there intrigues you, bring it out into the light of day. Clean it up if it needs cleaning and give it a whirl. Focus on it. Read an instruction guide. Ask a close friend to help you with it. Save yourself some shredded knuckles, or worse. Open up those packages you’ve tucked away and learn to use everything inside. You may just make your own phenomenal discovery!

 

 

Plywood, Tumbleweeds, and Cartoon Animals

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In response to today’s daily prompt.

Hideout

I used to love hideouts. Just between you and I, I still do. Always the social one, I’m feeling the need more often than not these days to have my own space, a get-away, to be left alone with my thoughts, a book, pen and paper.

Not counting all the blanket forts draped between the couch and coffee table, dining table and chairs, or both,  my first hideout was a little shack I threw together in a small wooded area behind my childhood home in Portland. I was in the 4th grade, maybe 5th, and would play out there pretty much every day. A tomboy at heart, I loved the dirt and playing outside. I’d climb trees, splash through puddles, and run through the woods with my friends while we pretended Bigfoot was chasing us.

When a construction site of new homes cropped up on the other side of this tiny forest, we started scavenging the site, looking for leftover soda cans and bottles that we could trade in at the itty bitty convenience store down the road. We’d get a five cent refund for each one and then turn around and buy candy with it. Back then there were all kinds of small candies that were only  five cents each.

As construction on the homes progressed, the workers tossed out pieces of plywood and carpet remnants. I would drag off each piece to a spot not far from our backyard fence. There I created walls by propping up the pieces of plywood around the base of a tree. I put one big piece across the top as a roof. It resembled a house of cards and was full of just as many awkward angles and cracks but it was pretty darn cozy. I made a little bench to sit on and draped a piece of carpet over it. Another piece of carpet covered the damp ground like a tiny little rug.

I remember sitting inside my hideout, daydreaming and writing. I’m not sure what I wrote about back then other than a play that I put on at my elementary school. It wasn’t a play that I wrote but one I put together from the book, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I also used to draw a little.  I was never very good at it, rendering drawings of cartoon-like cats and dogs. cartoon-dogThe next and only other hideout I created was made from tumbleweeds, actually from clearing out some space in a field of tumbleweeds. We had moved to Eastern Oregon and for some reason I found it fun to crawl around through that stuff. There was no cozy setup like my previous hideout and this one wasn’t the least bit weatherproof. I also had company in there with me quite often, the unwelcome company of big yellow and gray spiders. Although they kept to themselves, they were a little unsettling.

Hideouts continue to intrigue me. While house hunting we found a house with a narrow, low-ceilinged little space hidden behind a bookshelf in a spare room. It was a tiny, carpeted space with a small window at the far end. I couldn’t begin to stand up in it but I was enthralled, envisioning myself laying in this little hidden room… and writing. We didn’t end up buying that house but I still think about it often.

I’m writing this now in the house we did end up buying. It doesn’t have a secret hideout but it’s pretty darn sweet just the same. I am upstairs in one of our guest rooms, it’s part guest room, part office – an adult “hideout” where I can sit (mostly) uninterrupted. The door has to be open a crack for the cats and dogs. A shut door is an invitation. As with children who inevitably stick their fingers underneath a closed door when a parent is on the opposite side, a closed door in my house sends a signal to all the animals that they must come immediately and scratch at the door. Again, and again, and again. With 5 house pets, that adds up to a lot of door scratching and disruption.

When it comes to me and my wanting a hideout, not much has changed over the years yet everything is different. The days of daydreaming are gone. I’m more likely to ponder, to mull things over, to process, to muse, to remember, to contemplate. Instead of carpet remnants on the ground I now have cork. There are no cracks, no sagebrush walls, and my house doesn’t exactly sit in the middle of the woods or out in the desert but I do have a window that looks out on a hillside full of pines, along with miles and miles of mountain forests and high desert nearby. Nowadays I take photos of my pets instead of drawing them. And, much to my dismay, when I do try to draw, my animal drawings still look like cartoons.

 

 

 

The Taste of Regret

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What does regret taste like? That was our writing prompt in class this morning. When discussing regrets, I tend to say I don’t have any, that everything – good or bad – has brought me to where I am today, to the life I have today and made me the person that I am today. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t experienced regret or haven’t tasted it. I’ve had some big ole bites of that nasty stuff. From our pen to paper, no editing (which I unintentionally fudged just a bit by crossing out a sentence) stream of consciousness writing this morning, this is how regret tasted to me:

Regret. It tastes of salty crocodile tears that flash flood down my cheeks and against my lips, like the monsoons, unpredictable and violent. Sometimes a flash of lightning preempts the storm, at other times it rolls in silently, catching me unprepared. Sometimes a light shower, at other times a raging flood.

Regret tastes of a broken heart, despair and desperation. Barely able to breathe, barely wanting to breathe.

Regret tastes like a hangover in the works, strong alcoholic beverages burning a trail down my throat, creating more salty, stormy tears. If I drink enough, maybe it will reach my broken heart and numb the aching or fuse it back together. Maybe it will burn all the way down to my lungs and I won’t have to worry about breathing any more.