Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Clawing my way back onto the happy wagon

No matter how fast or slow the wagon moves along, there's always a chance of falling off. Sometimes, I'll peak over the edge of the carriage to see just how far down it is to the bottom, other times I'll lay back, snug and secure, and make make faces out of the clouds above. I don't know what compels me to hurl myself off, but from time to time, it seems like the thing to do, but it never turns out to be a good idea. I think I snuck off the happy wagon sometime during my thesis writing and forgot to take notice of what direction it took. I always forget that I need to wait for it to come to me. If I chase it, it moves faster, grows thorns, and hides down dark alley ways. It's only when I remember to let go that I have the firmest grip.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Back on the trail

When Ted and I lived in TN, we would go backpacking at least 3 weekends a month. We may have fallen in love at the drop zone, but we grounded our relationship on the trails of Savage Gulf and Big South Fork. After moving to New England, we spent some time hiking the Whites, but for the past 5 years, I've been preoccupied with children, and ...other things... and have only been able to squeeze in the occasional trip to Monadnok or Watchusett for a day hike. It never fails though, put me on a trail and I end up walking back in time. It's as though time has a place holder for me, and when my boots break the first twig, I'm invited back into the moment. We went to Crow Hill, taking the long way in so that we could hike and climb. Ted carried all our gear, but we ended up on someone elses rope, so the extra tonnage on his back was totally unnecessary. Oh well. We were back where we were always meant to be, embraced by a gentle breeze on a hot day with nothing but the next step to worry about.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Defense

Ted and John suggested that I wear a flak jacket and Kevlar helmet to my thesis defense, but I didn't want people to think it was ok to actually start shooting at me, so I wore jeans, a pair or Robby's old Vans and a button down shirt instead... Charly asked why I was so dressed up:). I like to present, so i wasn't nervous about getting up in front of all the smarties and selling them my science, I was however a little worried about the general audience questions...you just never know what chink they'll find in your armor. It was all good though, I got through the presentation with only one set of eyeballs struggling to stay open, the questions were more out of interest then out of "what the hell did you just say-ness", and the defense was actually kind of fun. I think the general expectation from people was that there would be this tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders as soon as it was done. The weight didn't actually fall off when I was called Dr. Painter for the first time, in fact I decided to carry it around for a couple more days, maybe I was afraid of the unbearable lightness of being (thanks Kunderda). It's only been within the past day or two that the, "I'm really done" feeling has started to sink in...it's niceeeee. I've been watching cheesy movies and snuggling with Ted..by by grad school quagmire!

Friday, May 13, 2011

#14 Make believe story

I love making up stories with my little girls. They tell me an animal, give me it's name and give in broad strokes what adventure the animal is to go on, then I make up the story. Charly's old enough now, but I want to wait til Maddy is old enough to illustrate these stories so that we can publish a series of childrens books:) Here's one from last night.

Elizabeth the Pink Striped Zebra:

Once upon a time there was a Zebra named Elizabeth. One day she was drinking from a pond when all of a sudden a frog croaked up at her and said “ribbit ribbit, why do you have pink stripes?” Elizabeth looked back at the strange little frog and said, “What on earth are you talking about, my stripes are just like all the other zebras.”
“Well, they are the same shape, and they are the same size, but they ARE PINK!” he insisted.
Elizabeth went back to her heard and asked her friends if her stripes were different. “No, of course not” they all replied. “They’re just like ours”.
Feeling better about things, Elizabeth went out for a run when all of a sudden she noticed a bird was following her. “What is it? Why are you following me?” she asked.
“Because my dear zebra, I’ve never met one of your kind with pink stripes!” the bird replied.
“What?” Elizabeth asked astonished, “have you been talking to the frog?”
“Frog? Yum yum where’s the frog? I love to eat frogs” the bird merrily chirped
“Oh my, I don’t understand why you both would say my stripes were pink hen they’re not! They’re just like every other zebra’s”
“Tell me Elizabeth, what color is the sky? The bird inquired
“Grey” she said
“And the grass, what color is the grass?”
“Grey of course” said Elizabeth
“What about a rainbow? What are the colors there?” the bird asked.
“Oh, that’s easy” she said, “grey, grey, grey, grey, grey, grey and grey”.
“Oh, I see the problem” said the wise old bird.
“Problem?” replied Elizabeth
“You don’t see colors, you and your friends don’t see that the world is painted with fantastic colors, so to you everything looks the same.” Said the bird
“Does that mean I look different to you?” she asked
“You look stunning, but you’ll have to trust me that you’re one of a kind, even if you can’t see it yourself. I can see it, the frog could see it, and I bet that there are creatures that you’ve never even met that can see it.” said the bird.
Elizabeth returned to the herd. She knew she was different, even if no one else could tell. She wondered if each of her friends had something unique about them too. Maybe she’d be the only one to see it… if she looked hard enough.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Best Mothers Day Ever

There most have been 40 "I love you mommy's" 25 "mommy, you're the best's", 200 hugs, 1,000 smiles and a giggle or two before the end of lunch. Each one of these sentiments flowed into my parched soul and filled my veins and arteries as though my heart itself was pumping them. My babies made this day so special for me simply by being happy. I loved the warm sun, the bare feet, the frisbee, the flowers, the indulgent lunch (and dinner), the lizards on the playground, the singing (with the voices of the mountains), but best of all, I loved the way my babies loved each other. This is simply the best that life has to offer, and man is it good.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vera, oy vey

This past year has been chocked full of physical, psychological, emotional and intellectual challenges. I can't say that it was all pretty, nor can I claim that I handled it all with grace, but who the hell could keep it all together all the time under these circumstances. I'm kind of proud that I don't have a custom fit white coat waiting for me in my own personal rubber room. Writing my thesis was a little like torture. I've never personally been water boarded, but there's no way any more information could have been retrieved from my brain regardless of the extraction method. Throughout the balancing game I played with the thesis writing, the family raising, the angiosarcoma fundraising and scientific development on one hand, and the feeling of standing helpless as I watched too many friends suffer and die from this god awful disease on the other, the resounding thought that I could NOT shake from my brain was, why , WHY did we get a puppy?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Moulting away on the thin ice of a new day

Ted just looked at me and said, "you know what today is, right?". I searched my brain and said, "yup, it's May 4th". "No no, it's been a year since time stood still". He was right, my first angiosarcoma diagnosis came one year ago today. I wish I could go back in time and give that scared little girl a hug and tell that scared little boy that it was going to be ok, no matter what. I feel like we've changed so much that we should have a matching set of moulted skin hanging in the closet as reminders of how much we've grown.