The Cover Story

Posted on August 25, 2014. Filed under: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Introducing...Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd

Introducing…Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd

After writing several posts recognizing illness as a smack upside the head to make fundamental changes in areas of life that hold one back, I looked at my bucket list and am I tackling #2. Number 1 was getting a website. The second item is getting my poems and “wall poems” published. This is a long-overdue project and I’m not very patient these days.

I took a chance and filled out a grant application for an Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago last spring and guess what! I got it, which means I can’t procrastinate anymore! Introducing Lending Color to the Otherwise Absurd.  With the help of some design cohorts, the book’s cover looks great and uses a painting I created with the book in mind.

I didn’t want to send my manuscript to a zillion editors, wait for one to accept it and get sent to market my book for them, so self-publishing seemed a logical choice. BookBaby.com has talked nicely to me and can accommodate the grant budget, so I’ve given the project to them. Hopefully, all will go smoothly. I am planning on a fall release date.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Making and Keeping Connections

Posted on January 28, 2013. Filed under: Art, Cancer, Just fun!, Poems | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Last time I wrote, I was anticipating a dentist visit. I’m happy to report that my dentist rebuilt the broken part of my tooth so no root canal will be necessary. Yay!

The Power of the Blog
A few weeks ago, I received a comment from a young woman who also had been diagnosed with APL. Within hours we exchanged emails, phone numbers and had a great conversation about our shared experiences. She lives in the area and will celebrate her two-year anniversary in a couple months. (Congratulations, Marci.) If you’ve ever suffered from ANYTHING, you know how rewarding it can be to share details with someone else who has gone through the same thing. Thank you, Marci, for sharing.

tret0808

Evil Potion

Tretinoin is Back on the Menu
Three weeks without Tretinoin and my scaly, red skin cleared up. I even had a little more energy. The achiness and fatigue still hung on, but I felt better overall. Amazing. Now, after another week of the evil potion, I am back to lying in bed until 11 a.m. and lathering on oodles of lotion. Urgh.

Since the drug is also used to treat psoriasis (in lesser quantities), I have now have great skin. Not that I have a skin problem, but there’s definitely an improvement. Now if I could just make it less scaly.

On an even brighter note, I went for my second haircut! I’m keeping the short look. It’s really thick, but the salt and pepper is not exactly close to my formerly dark blond hair. I’m wondering if this is the new color or the interim color. We shall have to wait and see.

Other than those symptoms, I’ve only had a few moments of chemo brain…like when I totally zoned and got a call from a friend I’d scheduled a lunch date with. She called me from the designated restaurant at the designated time wondering if she’d mistaken the time or place. She didn’t. I left the house and luckily was there in less than ten minutes. Sorry, Susan.

To Flu Shot or Not
With the doomsday reports about the flu epidemic, I considered getting a flu shot, but decided to pass. After all, my system has been pummeled by drugs over the past year and I think I’m better off risking it. I still feel a little guilty—kind of like I decided to leave the door unlocked. None of my doctors have even suggested it. They have asked if I want one, and when I say, “not really,” they move to the next question without even telling me to wash my hands. It’s like they want to tell me not to get one, but they can’t. So far, so good. I haven’t been sick…knock on wood.
IMG_6815Another Poem in a Painting
I started art classes again and last week, I finished another poem in a painting. This one was a challenge to lay down the poem in the piece, so we made some adjustments. Here’s the text:

Counteract
Who counts
the bodies?

How many missing limbs
equal one?
Which body bags,
lost tags
add to the tally?
Bodies that fall
seconds before the declaration?
or minutes
after the truce?

Who counts the body
of knowledge lost
in clouded memories?
Who counts
the piece in the parent
when the epaulets show
through the peephole?
Or the low voice on the phone
asks for his parents?
Who counts the child’s body
if it’s the enemy’s?

How many are missing in action?
Covered under smoldering ash?

Who counts the spirits
when bodies become armor?
when eyes become empty bowls?
when people become photos?

I now have about 15 paintings with one of my poems in them. I’m excited about getting my book of poetry together and will include them. I’ve got about 80 pages so far. That should be enough. One has to stop somewhere.

20130126_211001_resizedReliving the 80s
Last night Scott and I went to the Old Town School of Music for a student/teacher tribute to Madonna and Prince. It was pretty funny and brought back memories of my kids listening to Madonna songs. I’d read about it on www.gapersblock.com, which often has events that you’re not likely to find in the Tribune’s art section. The show was great fun. There’s so much more soul to a low-budget show than the big-budget program. However, we bowed out a little early. I was yawning and Scott had met his 120-minute limit for sitting still in one place. That’s another good thing about small productions: You don’t feel obligated to stay longer than you want to just because of the price of your ticket.

100_2715Pink Flamingos…Here we come!

Scott and I are SO overdue for a vacation, so we booked flights for a Florida fly/drive trip. Our friends are snowbirds and invited us for a visit. They live south of Tampa from December to March-ish so we are flying in and out of Tampa with a mega road trip through the state. I also have a friend in Jacksonville, so I am looking forward to seeing her and soon basking in some sun.

FlamingBirthdayCake1Birthday #59

This week, I will be 59. Geez. Creepy. Although, I’m truly lucky to have lived to be 59. Part of me wants to have a huge party and another part of me wants to roll into a corner with a candle  and a chocolate cake. I’ve always wanted a “garden” party, but a Chicago January is not the time to host an outdoor party. Then I thought maybe I’d have a 59-1/2 year party. After all, that’s an age when one can start eying those retirement funds, but that would encroach on my daughters’ birthdays, which both land in July. Plus, my oldest will be 40, which actually makes me feel older than being 60!  😛

I think I’ll save the party for the big 6-0 and settle for the chocolate cake.

Considering it took me a few weeks to gather up this much to say, I think my days are winter-slow. Oh sure, I have stuff to do. We finally cleaned up the holiday tree and ornaments, but the frenzy is over and it’s sort of quiet. I have learned to appreciate that.

Stay warm. Have fun. Thanks for reading!

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Thursday, September 13, 2012 Peace, My Friends

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , |

Last week’s toxins have seeped into my cells and it’s time bloodwork and possible damage control. This involves a transfusion to replace anything that is dangerously lacking—i.e. white blood cells; red blood cells; platelets… hair implants, anyone? I started to feel better, but I’m not sure if I’ve been through the worst. We’ll see.

Now that I think about it, the worst is getting up for a 7:30 a.m. appointment. What are they thinking!? I’m supposed to have an unstressed life and they put early morn appointment times in my calendar! So I called the previous day and begged for a later time. I got a callback from the scheduler stating that “Nothing is available, but if you get there late, what can they do.” That statement was followed by a, “Don’t tell anyone I told you that.” I still managed to get there at 8 a.m.

When the numbers came back, everything was A-OK! No transfusion. My cells are all playing nicely in perfect harmony and so unlike the videos looping on every news channel. Cool.

Gumby Does Elmwood Park?
Scott and I came home and later went to a soiree held by a colleague of Scott’s. The man’s printing company was celebrating their 40th anniversary. We got a tour of the presses and watched the Pioneer Press photographer grab his photo op with the Mayor. There was a band, food and lots of giant plastic blow-up things. One of those was the 20-foot hollow Gumby-like guy whose flailing arms and body keep him dancin’ in the street. You’ve seen him. I love those guys. They’re so free and full of energy. How can there be any discord with one of those guys around??? Needless to say, even though the sky threatened rain, the event was very relaxing and peaceful.

Sonia Sanchez

But Wait, There’s More
I figured the afternoon festivities might put me under for the day, but I was wrong. In my “back pocket” was an email with details to an event at The Poetry Foundation.  The organization was featuring Sonia Sanchez, an incredible poet to truly understands the value of reading out loud. I was determined to go if I felt up to it. The poet’s father was a musician and Sonia grew up in Harlem. Each poem rolled off her lips like a jazz lyrics. She wrapped the audience with love and they felt it. She spoke of overcoming war by figuring out how to make it less profitable than peace. She gave away a book to a young woman who’d stood in line, to tell her how much she admired her work, but couldn’t afford to buy her book. She said we are all taught that justice is fighting back when it’s really about elevating the “enemy” to our level—not reducing ourselves to theirs. And when that seems difficult, we need to evolve. Plus, you gotta love a 78-year old woman with dreadlocks.

At the end of the day, peace had settled in every cell of my being.
Peace.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Posted on August 28, 2012. Filed under: Cancer | Tags: , , , , |

Well, the good news on Friday propelled me into “normal” weekend activities that I spent yesterday recovering from. Well worth it though.

Scott took me out to one of our haunts for a Thai dinner on Friday. The highlight of Saturday was going off to Foster beach by myself and taking a swim! It was awesome. I arrived about noon and have to admit that it took much longer than usual to get used to the water. With all the hot days, I expected warmer, but eventually I talked myself out of being such a wimp and jumped in. I was up to my neck, swam along the shore and I could still see the sand at the bottom. Beautiful. I even took off my hat and scarf, let my new do show. I was careful to avoid the sun by using my towel as a tent. Some of the meds I have are not sun-friendly.

Another highlight was attending the Guild Complex fundraiser in Evanston. Great to hang out with respected poets and writers!  Scott didn’t join me because he had a horrible cold. I think his system finally rebelled under the pressures. On Sunday, we took it easy.

I finally organized all the papers hiding the top of my desk. I also finished a poem based on an experience I had at Target. A few months ago, a man in Army fatigues stood in line in front of me and tried to recruit the cashier, who wasn’t old enough to check out alcohol by himself. It was creepy. Luckily, the BOY wasn’t buying and was perfectly happy to make change and bag diapers. I read the poem at the Mill Sunday night and was rewarded with extended applause. Nice. It’s great to have new work. My brother, here from Dubai, arrived late so he didn’t see me perform, but we had fun after the show when Marc teased him about being a terrorist.

Yesterday, Scott and I went for a mile and a half walk down the river and back through the park. My left heel is killing me, like I have a bone spur or something, but if I have to make one more doc appointment, I’m going to scream! Scott suggested some Dr. Scholls orthodics that you can get after standing on a machine in the drug store. Pretty weird, but he said they’re working for him. I might try that.

By late afternoon I was back in bed. Guess I pooped myself out. Today, I’m still dragging, but later am meeting the mayor of a French town I stayed in back in 2002 during a Sister Cities exchange. I look forward to returning. Then I’m babysitting my grandchildren. Meanwhile, I’m in low gear, but determined to go for another walk. I always say, “You can feel like crap and sit feeling miserable, or you can feel like crap and force yourself to do things that help you forget you feel like crap.” Take that, side effects!

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    About

    A writer and cancer survivor chronicles her renewed dedication to art and words..

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