Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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To Boston and Back

Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston

I flew to Boston last weekend for a special event that I anticipated for weeks. I left Boston in 2007 for a new job in New Haven, a whole 2.5 hours to the south, but rarely went back even though it was close. But I’d missed it. I missed the history, the bustle, the traditions, my church and the choir, the weather. And then I moved to Texas; quick visits weren’t possible anymore.

So I was super excited to get an invitation to go to a 25th wedding anniversary party for two special people, having sung at their wedding years before. The bride was a member of our choir, and her father described the wedding as a “concert accompanied by vows.” I knew there would be many other choir friends present, and I’ve missed that choir like my right arm. I had to go.

Saturday night was magical, seeing my happy friends and meeting their talented, creative children. Catching up with those I hadn’t seen in years as though that time was just a blink of an eye. As one friend said, “It was like, ‘Yes, that’s you, I had you on my heart all the time’.” I had spirited conversations with spouses I’d never met, gave and received hugs, shared wine and song and delicious food with wonderful dinner companions I haven’t seen in ages.

And there was music. How could there not be, given how important it is to the happy couple? The band was fun, playing Motown and standards, for dancing and for the caberet songs that seemed spontaneous but weren’t. It was like old times – and then they called the Trinity Kwah alums up to sing two pieces that we sang at the wedding 25 years before (“Rise Up My Love” by Healey Willan, and “Ubi Caritas” by Durufle). And for other occasions, to be sure – we all knew the music by heart and hadn’t rehearsed, but the sound knitted together seamlessly under the direction of our fearless director. It was Magic.

Trinity Church Reflected in the
John Hancock Building, Boston

Sunday I went to church at my former church, the gorgeous and historic Trinity Church at Copley Square. And I was disappointed. It was not realistic to think it would be the same but in my mind, I thought it would be all that and more. Congregational singing was minimal which made me crazy because music was such a huge part of my life in that place. But in a way, it’s good that I wasn’t blown away because then I would be even sadder to have left it behind.

After church, I lunched on Newbury Street with a law librarian friend, comparing notes about her new job, cats, and Irish genealogy among other topics. The afternoon was an adventure on the “hop on, hop off” trolley which has graduated to buses instead of trolleys. I’ve seen the inside of all the historic places and walked the Freedom Trail dozens of times. What I really wanted was just to ride around and see Boston without trying to drive in it, to see the changes post-Big Dig – and boy, there were many. So much construction everywhere! A little shopping after, a lobster roll for dinner, and early to bed before an early morning flight home.

What I hadn’t really understood was that traveling itself would be very hard. I hadn’t flown in almost 4 years and plane seats – and bathrooms! – have gotten a lot smaller. My body is not in good shape and I traveled with a folding cane to provide extra support and balance. Hiking through the airports was exhausting. Walking through the city was slow and lumbering. My sciatica was in full force with pain up and down my right leg. I couldn’t walk far or long without stopping, short of breath and hurting. I felt like a cow. And I was actually ashamed to see how hard a time I had getting around. I have things to work on before I can consider taking another trip but at least I know what they are.

Trinity Choir at Salisbury Cathedral

Taking the trip, taking the time and expense to travel back for something as frivolous as a party, was important. And it wasn’t frivolous at all to be there. Thank you, Carrie and Jon, for the invitation. Thank you, so many choir friends, for connecting and for sharing a few things that you remembered that shone crystal clear once you spoke of them. You matter. You all matter. What we did then mattered, and how we are connected now does, too.


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Mostly Lunch Dates Now

I’ve been booked solid for lunch every day for three weeks. Well, week days anyway, though I did have brunch on Sunday with my friend and catsitter. The other lunches, though, are with work friends and colleagues from the law school and main library. It’s funny learning lots of new things about them after knowing them for 8 years – one started her career in accounting before library school. Another was a professional singer before library school, and his library mentor and good friend of 30 years is someone I went to library school with 40 years ago in Texas. Things come full circle.

View from my new back porch

Above is the view from my Texas back porch, looking out at the golf course. Huge yard, lots of green, which someone else takes care of. It’s very peaceful and open and I’m looking forward to seeing it every day.

I ordered moving announcements from Vistaprint to make it easier to let folks know my new contact information. While I was at it, I also got new genealogy business cards. I still haven’t really thought about a business name or plan but I do need people I meet through genealogy circles to know how to reach me and what my credentials are. New cards are easy and inexpensive to get when I do decide on a name.

There are so many things to do when I get to Texas, getting started things. Car things to do – transfer insurance, inspection, registration, driver’s license. Find a new vet for Tessie. Figure out where to get her food. Investigate Texas medical insurance. Register to vote.

Some I can’t do until my stuff arrives, which could take up to 18 days because it’s such a small load. I want to completely reorganize the kitchen, taking out everything, cleaning the cabinets with wood cleaner and lining the shelves and drawers. Dad doesn’t care as long as he can find the basics, and those won’t be moving. But this will be my kitchen and I need to be completely comfortable working and finding things in it. Doing a little thinking now means final decisions on what I will take.

Doing things is easier than processing what’s happening. I’ll have time for that. For now, it keeps me focused to have lists of tasks with deadlines.


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Too Independent For My Own Good

I’m independent and proud of it, and it sure is necessary since I live alone.  Rather than whine about being too short to change lights, I got a taller step stool.  I sign legal documents, shovel out my car, meet deadlines, clean up the cat hairballs, pay the bills, and go “make the donuts” to pay for it all.

But one side effect of being so independent is that it’s very difficult to ask for help when it would make it easier or even possible.  At work I’m expected to run my own ship and consult with colleagues and staff, but even there I tend to take on more than my share and have trouble delegating some tasks even when it’s appropriate.

I hate asking people if they could take me somewhere, even the airport or the hospital.  In fact, I took myself to the hospital for all but one of my many surgeries (three knee ops, two carpal tunnels, two sinus, and the lapband) and except for getting a ride home, managed on my own at home because I’d done all the prep to make it work.

This time is different.  I’m taking myself to the surgical center a week from Wed. for plastic surgery.  The operation will take 4-5 hours (they’re doing a tummy tuck and tidying up my upper arms) and in some magic way, I’ll be transported from the outpatient surgery center to the university health infirmary, where I’ll stay for 3-4 nights.

I already asked a friend if she could come to see me that night and bring a small bag that I would bring to her house over the weekend, with some toiletries, a book, netbook, and chargers for the netbook and cell phone.  Although she’s a good friend, it felt like an imposition to ask.  I don’t want to put anyone out or have them go to any trouble for me.

But I need them to.  I need someone to bring me stuff, to take me home after my few days there.  I can’t lift anything heavier than 5 lbs for at least 4-6 weeks, plus I won’t be able to bend easily with my incision and compression binder on.  Which means I’ll need help with bagging and dumping trash, changing the litter box, clearing snow, stuff I don’t even know about yet.

It’s time to stop being so damned stubborn about it.  To let go of the tight hold on making sure everything is in place.  No matter what, there will be things left undone and help needed.  I’m hoping to be able to do with humility and grace, knowing that people are happy to help if asked and if the task is reasonable & achievable.

Just in case I haven’t said it lately – thank you for the help you all have already given me.  For your friendship and advice, listening ears, gentle nudges, recipes and food ideas, comfort when things are hard.  I’ll let you know how things go.


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Flu shots, travel, friends and protein powder

Pumpkins on the StairsDid you get your flu shot?  Not the H1N1 version, the one for regular seasonal flu?  I got mine yesterday on campus after standing in line for about 3 minutes.  A simple verification that I’m not allergic to eggs and never had a bad reaction to a flu shot, a little stick, a round bandaid and I was on my way back to work.  Most of my colleagues have had their shots, those who aren’t home sick for days.  Now that our staffing levels are reduced, one person’s absence really makes more of a difference than ever before.  But I don’t want germy people who are feeling lousy to come into work and that includes me.  I do better work if I’m healthy coz my head doesn’t get all fuzzy.

I had a great trip to Chicago last weekend.  The flights were on time and even landed early.  We escaped the tornado watches/warnings.  The AALL work went extremely well; the committee members were in synch and pumped to select and schedule67 programs from 192 proposals for next year’s annual meeting.  You learn a lot about how and how not to write a successful proposal.  It’s amazing how much following directions makes a difference.

After the meetings, I spent the rest of my time with my best friend Phyllis and her family.  She’d moved to a new (to her) house and this was my first time to see it.  I”m a visual person and it helps enormously to be able to picture someone in a place – provides a context.   We went out to eat, played with the adorable shih-tzu puppies, checked out estate sales and did a little shopping – and talked and talked non-stop.  We haven’t seen each other in far too long and this visit was very needed.  Love you, Phyllis!

This weekend one of my errands is to visit the General Nutrition store to investigate samples of whey protein.  Although the expectation is that I will be eating real food as a lapbander (though not in the first two weeks post-op), many patients report using powdered protein in smoothies and to mix in with other foods like soup, pudding, and cottage cheese to boost the protein levels.  I’m to eat a minimum of 60 gm of protein per day and the more I eat, the more I’ll lose – except my hair, which would start to fall out if protein levels fall.

But I need to be able to eat it, not gag.  And obviously all protein powders are not created equal.  All I know is that whey protein is the way to go, and I want to figure out what I want to at least start with since I won’t be out driving around for a week or so post-op.  If you use protein powder yourself, let me know what you recommend.  I’ve heard good things about Unjury, Optimum, and Isopure – but haven’t tasted any of them yet, so what do I know?


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Reconnecting with Friends

While many of you were running around traveling or hosting family, I’ve been connecting with friends.  I spent Thanksgiving afternoon with a friend and work colleague I’ve known for over 20 years, who opened her home and her family to include me.  Today I caught up with another dear friend who lives in VT and was down in Connecticut visiting family for the holiday.  They’re splitting the visit between two sets of family and stopped here for a long lunch visit.

It’s been at least two years since we’ve seen each other and we just picked up where we left off.  Really, it’s remarkable how easy it is these days to stay connected using email and Facebook for contact, but there’s nothing like giving each other big hugs and having eye contact while talking and talking.  We went to a local Irish pub for lunch – a place I’ve driven past every day but never actually tried before.  Food was great and we had a nice relaxing time.

We are born into families, marry into other families, and build families of our own from our circle of friends. Sometimes those different groups overlap and other times, for other people, they are separate entities.  My family of friends means the world to me.  They are people I’ve forged a history with through the years and through shared experiences and adventures.  Reconnecting with them matters as much as reconnecting with my family of origin.


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Good News from the Hospital

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers and concerns. Knowing I have this web of community through the blogosphere is a great blessing and support.

My mom and dad holding handsMy mom is doing very well tonight. Last night at this time she was in the OR and tonight she’s resting comfortably in the ICU. The infection was not MRSA or the flesh-eating bacteria thing that sounds like it should be in a science fiction movie. Whatever kind it is, it’s controllable.

My brother and sister in law joined my dad at the hospital this morning and talked with the doctor, who answered their questions and really reassured them about Mom’s condition. But nothing reassured them as much as seeing her talking and being feisty and giving Dad a big long “to do” list. When they saw her tonight at 5pm she was looking even better than she did at the morning visiting time and there’s a chance she’ll be moved out of ICU tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Mom had already prepared the Christmas sweet potato casserole (in the freezer) and baked a bunch of Christmas cookies for the grandchildren, and finished wrapping all the presents. My brother and sis in law are charged with taking the food and the presents for the Houston branch back with them tomorrow so they will be there for Christmas Day. They’re coming back the day after Christmas with a few grandchildren and hopefully will be able to see Mom back in the regular ward.

It’s hard to be 1400 miles away from everyone right now. I want to be sitting in waiting rooms or holding my mom’s hand, or giving my dad a hug, or doing SOMETHING. But here I sit in Connecticut while everyone else is in Texas, alone in my worry. Except I’m really not alone, I have this whole web of friends as family who have been there for support and distraction and reminding me that I’m part of more than just myself.

Although I haven’t been going to church much of late, I will find one for Christmas Eve to give thanks for all my family, that of blood and that of friendship, and to celebrate the birth of the Christ child with a full heart.