Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How My Garden Grows

Lady Katy, angry lately
How does your garden grow?
Without your help, it's just as well,
Vines! Up and over, Go!

It's been dreadfully hot... and I worried all spring that I would'nt set these vines up to thrive when the drought came. I watered, and retied them as the wind beat the poor weak spindly vines against the fence. I whispered sweet things to the one vine that appeared dead, and watered it anyway, hoping it would eventually come around and catch up to it's siblings.

I've been known to nurture something so intensely that it gets used to the care, and then when I get distracted or have other things to attend to, it suffers as I pass it by each day until it's time to dive in and save it again. Enzo, our sick cat, has been the only exception. He can manipulate me into caring for him regardless of the circumstances. But other living things around here, Bart included, sometimes suffer from my attention span.

Grandma's moses in the cradle plant, for instance, sits drier than the sahara in my back window right now. I fought cutworms and fungus to keep the cutting alive and then got busy doing something else and now Mosie is almost toast.. burnt toast.

The muscadines appear to be a different breed. 5 of the 6 plants are over the 6' fence now, even with infrequent waterings. They're putting on new shoots, beautiful regular leaves, and amazingly - fighting the aphids and ants off on their own! And even the sickly vine that I might have given up on has 6 small perfect leaves, late for the party.

Every day I walk through my yard is a constant reminder that life goes on. It did before me, when vines like these grew by streams and rivers all over Texas. It does now, when the relentless heat and wind batter the poor vines with their intensity without my intervention. It will when I'm no longer nurturing them, and they're left to their environment to struggle up and over a fence on their own.

I love my grapes. When faced with adversity, they put out horizontal roots, grab on to what's nearby and flex as much as they can to survive and reach the next height. I have a lot to learn about living.

Is It Too Much to Ask?

I understand there are neanderthals out there who can't spell.. I even understand poor typing skills that result in short, blunt phrases. I'm willing to forgive grammar, irritating cliches and plenty of repeating.

But please, I'm begging the universe, with all of my being, can someone have the common decency to answer a craigslist ad or reply with a FUCKING COMPLETE SENTENCE?!


Excuse me? did you read my ad/response/title/posting? Could you elaborate on the info you seek? Give me something to go on here...


Not even a complete word?! I posted pics you asshole! At least qualify your caveman grunt with a 'more'..

"ugh. more. pics."

I vehemently disagree that craigslist is the best classifieds idea ever. It seems like nothing less than an excuse for people to revert back to a few evolutionary states ago when we first starting making noises at each other.

Here's my response: "Piss off." That's a complete sentence, it says everything I need it to say, and gets my point across. Anything else is a waste of my time and above your head anyway. Every action gets an equal and opposite reaction in my world, pal.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Deep breaths of reality... Past due.

I have been undecided my entire adult life. Republican or democrat, progressive or traditional, cat person or dog person, gay or straight, happy or sad, viscious or passive, alone or alienated...

But none has tortured me more than the dichotomy of religious or atheist.

I have suffered the worst of both. And seen the benefits, and I'm getting old enough that I should choose, but like my students learning myers Briggs type for the first time, its hard to separate having a preference for one choice over another and having the ability to flex outside those preferences.

For instance, this week, I prayed. I asked for my own suffering in return for another's comfort. I lost two very important things to me, but I saw them as tiny miracles if they comforted someone else. After all, things are replaceable. Even if they are custom works of stained glass.

I just want to know if there is some sense to this relationship between asking and receiving. Maybe I have learned of a higher power that listens. Even if it communicates through pain.

I can't say what that means, besides only more questions.

My uncle Paul should have been on my mind instead. I am comforted by hospice and their gift of respite for the weary, but he is beyond weary. I am as sad for him as I could be. I only "pray" he's the last member of my family who dies from colon cancer. And that he is paid all the dignity he is due. I learned from you, Paul. I hope that someone is there when you take your last walk to show you the way home.

Perhaps people only find religion when the hole inside them is so big, no worldly thing can fill it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yes, This Girl's Gone Wild.

I suppose it's time we talk about it.. yes, I finally decided.

We all have our reasons, and if you were to ask me 10 years ago why breast augmentation was on my 'to-do' list, I would have given you a completely different answer than now. Back then, I just wanted to be 'normal'. Growing up with a chest deformity makes ballet class and clothes shopping constant reminders that you are different, and no teenager wants to be different unless it's on their own terms.

Back then, the average doctor knew so little about Pectus Carinatum that it was written off as a harmless, cosmetic, growth-related defect that caused the chest to bow out like a pigeon's. The only research that my parents ever found were about affected males, since the condition affects boys 3:1 over girls. I was told I'd grow out of it, it wouldn't cause any problems and that I should learn to love myself the way I was.

So I did just that. I grew up, got a job, went to college... and then my new doctor mentioned to me at one of my many appointments that the constant upper respiratory infections and breathing trouble might be more than just bad luck. He suggested I look around for an opinion about my chest wall deformity and I searched on the internet. Because serendipity was on my side, I found the only surgeon with published research on PC in California, and got laid off from my job right after, so I scheduled the first surgery that would change my life. Dr. Fonkalsrud published research that proved that PC patients can't move their ribs and never completely exhale, leaving them persistently starved for oxygen. In May 2005, I flew to California to have an open chest deformity repair procedure.
The next few months were seriously uncomfortable. The surgery involved removing sections of the cartilage between the sternum and 4 ribs on both sides, with an implanted brace to allow the structure to heal in the right place. Immediately after waking up from the surgery, my life was different. I awoke in a dark hospital room with a start, as for the first time in my 23 years on earth... my ribcage moved when I breathed. I remember taking several tiny breaths and then nearly hyperventilating because of the strange painful sensation.
I fought with insurance companies, I struggled with healing, learned to lean into pain, and after the subsequent surgeries to fix a few more ribs and remove the brace, my favorite side effect was being a 32A instead of a 34-36AA. I had tiny boobs where there was nothing before.
There were some cosmetic improvements, to be sure. In a t-shirt, I looked like a 'normal' skinny girl. I was able to find bras at some department stores. But the costs were pretty high too, I couldn't wear such a bra for a year because I had a 6-inch piece of stainless steel under my skin, right where the bra sat. I have a scar that runs down the center of my chest and under each breast like an upside-down 'Y', and two more below where drains were attached for a week. I have no feeling in a patch that runs from one nipple to the other and all in between, except for a lightning-bolt once in a while when my bra moves the wrong way. The scars may be deeper than you can see as well, I'm terrified of drowning now... after waking up with my drains full and not being able to breathe - literally drowning in my own body.

I can't tell you how ironic I find the fact that after all that mutilation and scarring, the insurance deemed the surgery 'Cosmetic' and refused to pay.

Now, several years later, I finally decided it was time for me to have a breast augmentation.

As you know, I struggled with this decision, because I really have worked my entire life on loving my body the way it was.. imperfect and unique. I learned how to stand up straight and throw my flat chest up in the air like a supermodel. I have beautiful legs, very few stretch marks, shapely arms and even pretty nice feet. I was stoked when I gained some weight with age and got a curvy butt to go along with everything. But I still wanted to be 'even'. I want to buy a dress instead of separates because the top is too big when the bottom fits. Still, I tossed on a ruffled blouse and asked myself what I would tell my daughter, or my niece if they weren't happy with their bodies.. would I tell them to love their unique figures? More than little girls, what kind of message was I giving all my girlfriends who had ever had a glass of wine at my house and complained about their big thighs or their weak chin?

One day I just woke up in a particularly selfish mood, and decided I had struggled with the decision long enough, and it was time to pull the trigger. Clearly I want them, since breast augmentation has been in my plans since I was 11 and first realized I had missed the boob train. In that moment of clarity, I knew what I would tell anyone who ever complained about their bodies around me again... worry about it for 10 years or so, and then do whatever you can to change it. Live the rest of your life worrying about something else.

The rest is history. I had my surgery May 27. I deserved this, and it's another beautiful change in my life. Most people don't even notice if they don't know I had it done, and that's probably best, since I didn't do this to attract attention. I'm a tall girl, and they 'fit' my figure. I'm not sure what I expected, probably to wake up with stripper ball boobs... but what I ended up with are natural looking and unless you're looking for something wrong, they look perfectly even and normal.

More than any of that though, what I bought myself was control. Life is not about what you have or don't have, what you conquer or fall victim to, it's about how you are all of those things RIGHT NOW. And right now, I'm typing this blog post behind a perfect rack, that I earned. And you know what else I earned? The right to say what's best for me. From now on, I follow my rule... what else am I counting down toward 10 years on?

and right now, they are measuring 32DD for those of you asking the big question, although they look nowhere near that big. To honesty, in the present!

On another note... today my friend Perry is in my heart. His strength inspired me to say a prayer for the first time in many years. And even though I'm not really sure who I offered the prayer up to, I know where it came from, and I'm sending that same love to his family. It's an honor to witness the passing of a soul from this life to the next, but a burden as well and he's carrying more than his share.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I must be one if those girls who has a paradoxical reaction to Valium. I've had a total of probably 1000 calories in the last 4 days and can't sleep.

I shopped today for a comfy bra... Kohls had some things on sale. Best part of my day? Telling mom the new boobs are smaller than I wanted and her telling me to lose weight to make them seem bigger. FML.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Much Love

There are tons of opinions about love. Some people define it as an attraction, a bond, something that is unconditional and unbreakable. If you ask me, that sounds a little more scientific than the real thing. Love is not chemistry, or biology, or psychology, really...

I knew love as a child, but from the receiving end. If I got a boo-boo, my mom disinfected it with bactine and blew on it as it dried so it wouldn't sting so bad. If I woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream or upset stomach, one of my parents would calm me down or get me the puke bucket (every family has one) and make sure I was okay before they went back to sleep. But receiving love is different than feeling it for another, giving it, or nurturing it.

I've thought a lot about what it means to love someone lately. The older I get, the more complicated relationships become, and, surprisingly, the more forgiving I become in return. We've all done it, forgive the crazy grandma for saying something mean, forgive a husband for being inconsiderate of your feelings, even forgive yourself for being a less than stellar mom/dad/brother/sister/husband/wife... all because you love.

In the beginning, I took love for granted. Until college, I never had a stomach flu without help. I said "I love you" to people who, in retrospect, I probably didn't love at all. Love was a duty that was served within families or social units that meant very little outside my juvenile perception of love.

Then there's the crush... we've all been in 'love' with someone or something from afar that feels very different from grandma kissing you on the cheek.

There's even a special love that goes along with loss. I'm pretty sure the first time I experienced this was with the death of my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up. That love was an excruciating thankfulness. I missed (and still do) her like crazy, but when she left, the love she had given me was palpable. Something so strong that whenever I get sad and miss her, that thought is very soon overtaken by a comfort, knowing that she had given me the real thing... not the iterations of love I thought I knew.

Now, at this time in my life I'm realizing that love is both simple and complicated. It's certainly hard to say why I love Bart... there are many things about him that I love, but those are just pieces of a whole.... Other times love gets all twisted up and you end up loving someone who drives you crazy and you're inexplicably bonded (damn you, chemistry) even though you experience pain as a cost of that love.

But every great once in a while, you get a glimpse at what it simply means to love, when someone else's happiness is more important than anything in your life.

Could be anyone, family, friends, sometimes even relative strangers (I am a teacher, after all). But whatever it takes to make them happy - celebrate a success, comfort a defeat, distract a worried mind, occupy a bored one... these are the times I'm most willing to love, and when it's most satisfying.

I'm sending all my love toward one special person this week. To say she's got a big day coming up is grossly understating the truth. The has THE day, and even worse, has had to wait a long time for it. I'll just say this, Tiff... I love you, and if Friday turns out to be the Rapture for you, I'll happily take care of your dogs while you're gone!