A VIRTUALLY INVISIBLE DAY

I was gone all day yesterday. Not really invisible, but invisible on the Internet.


By the time we got home in the evening, it was late.  Too late to start going through email for sure. So most of my email got dumped because if I don’t get to it on the day it arrives, the odds are that I will never get to it at all.

I’m never going to get through today’s emails either. I’m totally overwhelmed and I apologize. I hope I might catch up eventually. I keep trying, but somehow, I never quite make it.

I went to the cardiologist. It’s an hour’s drive to get there … a little more with traffic and there was more than enough traffic. Then there was the test to make sure my pacemaker is working, the echocardiogram to make sure the replacement valves are doing their job and the rest of my heart is pumping nicely away.

On the way to Chestnut Hill

Everything works. I suggested maybe it was time to reduce the amount of medication I’m taking and we did that. I’ll have to check in a couple of days and see how it’s going. I also should get in touch with the surgeon and ask about fixing my broken sternum.

The problem is, there’s no way to fix it without cutting me open. For what I think are obvious reasons, I don’t feel like doing that. Meanwhile, it’s pretty loose. It pops and crunches all the time these days. It takes all the fun out of exercise. Who knew my sternum was attached all those other parts of my body?

Doctors are so specialized, they don’t realize how much of you they miss. If you go to the hip guy, he won’t even look at your spine, even though the problems are actually one thing. Everything in medicine is so specific to a single little piece of you that the whole “you” gets lost. The cartilage in my sternum never healed and every other action I take makes it bump and grind.

No part of us is entirely on its own.

Sometimes, I wonder if all of my problems are not one problem and the reason no one can figure them out is because no one see the whole person with all those interlocking pieces. My primary guy gets it, but to get anything worked out, there are specialists and they only work on specific body parts. I got four calls this morning asking about setting me up for an MRI of my head except they can’t do that because I have a pacemaker. I can’t even be in the same room as all that magnetic equipment. It would kill me, suck the pacemaker right out of my chest. That is an image from which i may never recover.

Later this week, there’s the psycho-pharmacologist and next week there’s the oncologist and probably more tests because I didn’t do them last year, but sooner or later, you can run but you can’t hide.

Almost home

I will be invisible again next week and the week after and probably again after that and finally, I’ll be done with all this stuff and hopefully, no one is going to tell me that I urgently need yet one more surgery because I’m seriously anti-surgery at this point. Short of death, I’m not going there again.

Just around the corner – back in the icy hills of home

The best news? I will never be an unidentified Jane Doe on someone’s slab. At least four different pieces of me have embedded code.  My body parts have code numbers. That’s pretty good news, isn’t it?

LOVING THE WORLD IN PICTURES

Weekly WordPress PHOTO CHALLENGE – Favorite Places

This week, share an image of your happy place, a secret spot you love, or a faraway location you return to again and again.


The road home

I’m a really happy traveler. When I finally actually travel — more and more rarely as I get older — I always love wherever I am. Whether it’s a tourist trap in Pennsylvania or a fairy circle in Sligo, the Church of the Manger in Bethlehem or one of our local dams and rivers, it’s a favorite place. I love cities and the country.

Arizona

I prefer living in the country, but I loved living in Jerusalem, adored the weeks I spent in London and wished we could have spent more time in Dublin and tons more in San Francisco.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong

I loved Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Manhattan. And before you tell me that Brooklyn and Manhattan are really one city — in theory they are, but they are sufficiently different to not be the same to me. Since I’m the writer here, I get to say.

Beacon Hill – Photo: Garry Armstrong

Yesterday, for a few hours, I even loved Chestnut Hill.

Every place is – in its own way – different and interesting. Even the gritty and grimy places have their own charms.

Spillway on the canal
Bridge over the Blackstone

If I had one favorite place and absolutely had to choose, it would be the mountains and I am not that choosy about which mountain range. I love when I am up above the world. The sky seems closer and the air weighs less.

ALMOST ACCEPTING AN AWARD BUT I’M NOT EATING THE CRUSTS

I don’t do awards, not because I think there’s anything wrong with them, but simply because I’ve been blogging a long time. I’ve done a lot of awards.

When we first start blogging, awards are a pat on the back that someone “out there” has noticed us. In those early months when a hot post got five or six views, we needed all the pats we could get. It kept us going, kept us thinking, writing, and believing. If we just hung on, our blog was going to “be something.”

MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD: What is it? “Its an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging and they do it with so much love and passion.” Created by Okoto Enigma.

Most of us had no idea what that something might be. I’m still working on it and whenever I think I’ve “got it,” I realize within the following 24 hours, no — I really don’t.

This award was given to me by:


sparksfromacombustiblemind
EMBERS FROM SOMEONE DOGGEDLY TRYING
TO MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL…


I will never “get it” because I think it isn’t “gettable.” We blog for whatever drives us and that changes with the times, our age, the seasons of our soul. Art or photography, music, writing — or everything. What we blog about changes as we change. And I am always changing. I don’t even agree with me, much less the rest of the world.

This month, the weather seems to be my hot (read very cold) topic. When winter finally blows itself out, I’ll probably be back to deploring the fascist government we’ve (hopefully accidentally) deployed.

Nominations for this award — which I’m sort of doing because I really like the lady who bestowed it — is supposed to go to ten or twenty other bloggers. This is not going to happen because all of the people with whom I am in contact are really busy, so I will offer this to anyone I follow. You can rightfully assume — without any fear of correction — that if I follow you, I really like your blog.

Probably,I also really like you! Even if I don’t comment all the time, that is simply because I sometimes feel silly trying to create a comment when I don’t really have anything to say except “Nice!” or “Lovely” and so I click “like”letting the blogger know I was there. “Like” is my calling card.

Any of you are welcome to join in if you like. Or not. Feel free to plunge or pass. I’m good either way.

These are the questions I’ve been asked:

QUESTIONS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO PARTICIPATE

1.   Your favorite Season of the whole year and why.

Autumn. Absolutely. The best weather, the most wonderful colors. I could live in a 12 month autumn — if it were offered and it hasn’t been.

On the street where we live.
October canal and river

2.   What’s the most mystical or magical thing you ever experienced?

Doing a Tarot card reading and seeing my subject’s death. It was not a happy experience.

3.   Do you enjoy a lot of company or are you happiest when in solitude?

These days, solitude. Funny how solitude creeps up on you. Time is a strange and wondrous thing. The funniest part of it is that we find we are happy in places and times we never imagined we could be happy. Go figure.

4.   Would you do something dishonest if there were no witnesses?

Define dishonest. If I were starving, I’d steal food. If we were freezing, I’d grab some wood. Would I take that pretty thing because I happen to like pretty things? Probably not. I have enough pretty things. When I was a kid, we used to steal small things that had no real value to prove we could, but we were children. We learned better with time.

5.   What is one destination you’d like to visit before you die?

New Zealand. Or Paris. Maybe Greece or Rome. Or maybe, we’ll just stay home. Home is fine.


Is there anything about me you don’t already know? That I can’t sew, but I can cook. That I have a really severe case of spinal arthritis and a few years ago, my heart got repaired — and surprisingly, it works quite well. I also lost both breasts to two different kinds of cancer. We call that a two-for-one-sale around here.

I don’t know if I have a favorite blog. I might, but I can’t necessarily remember what it is. There are more than 7,200 blogs on this site and I’m pretty sure I wrote at least half of them. My definition of “favorite” shifts too.

What was my favorite five years ago probably wouldn’t be now. Feel free to cruise. Maybe you’ll find something you like and it’s entirely possible it won’t be one of mine. Other people also write and some of what they write is better than mine.

I have a few posts that have received a lot of views. They aren’t my favorites but for reasons I do not understand, they remains extremely popular. If you’ve been blogging awhile, you understand what I mean. If not, you will. A post that wasn’t a big deal gets a ton of exposure and the things you think are really great … not so much.

Finally, here are a few questions I’d like to ask you:

1. Why did you begin blogging? What got you started? What keeps you doing it?

2.  What — if anything — do you hope to gain from blogging? If you think you are going to get rich, I might not stop laughing until sometime next week.

3. What do you do in the blog world that makes you feel the most proud?

4. What makes you follow a blog?

5. Do you regard the people you meet online as real (not-virtual) friends?

AHEAD OF HIS TIMES – ELLIN CURLEY

Most of us believe that our current beliefs have been our beliefs forever. Of course we know that germs cause disease and that the earth is round. But people didn’t always know these concepts as “facts”. We once thought the earth was flat and had no idea what caused disease. Someone had to propose these “new” and “revolutionary ideas. And someone just as assuredly had to argue against them and give the proponent of the new ideas a hard time.

Father-4-Edited

My father was a brilliant, innovative thinker in the fields of psychiatry and the social sciences. All he got initially was a lot of grief and aggravation. Even today, only a few academics have heard of him.

His name was Abram Kardiner. He had a long and varied career in the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychiatry from the 1920’s to his death in 1981. He deserves at least part of the credit for three major contributions: the idea of interdisciplinary studies, the concept of early, “pre-school” education, and acceptance and understanding of PTSD.

Father-2-edited

Everyone knows that interdepartmental studies are the best way to thoroughly understand at least history and cultures. Didn’t we always apply the tools of sociology, economics, political history, art history and other cultural history to the study of history? The answer is no. In fact, the concept was anathema until the 1960’s.

When I went to Barnard College in 1967 (the sister school to Columbia University), I was one of the first classes to be able to take an interdisciplinary major. At the time, I was old enough to understand that my father’s struggles at Columbia University in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s had cleared the path for me to be an American Studies major in the 60’s.

My father studied with Sigmund Freud in 1921 and came back to New York to help establish psychoanalysis as an accepted and respected “new” field of science. But he was also interested in sociology and thought that using psychiatry to better understand the individuals in a society would help understand the society as a whole. So he decided to study more primitive cultures (anthropology) to further establish the interrelationships between the individual (psychiatry) and the society (sociology).

Father-3A-edted

Unfortunately at the time, each academic field was considered a totally separate entity. No one was allowed to stray into another academic’s carefully guarded territory.

For more than 30 years, my father was bounced back and forth between the psychiatry, sociology, and anthropology departments. No one wanted to claim him. He was “tainted” with methodology and ideas from a different discipline. This sounds ridiculous today. But even now, the only department at Columbia that recognizes his accomplishments is the Department of Psychiatry, the department he helped found.

When I had my first child, I enrolled him in play groups and I planned to send him to preschool when he turned three. My father, once again, had been on the front-lines years before, espousing the importance of the first three years of life. He believed that early childhood intellectual and social stimulation was necessary to foster a child’s ability to learn and to adjust socially throughout it’s life. His writings became the basis for Head Start, President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s program which provided pre-kindergarten for all kids. Dad also focused attention on the optimal environments for preschoolers to develop well intellectually, socially, and emotionally.

Father-3-edited

Reading to your children, playing counting games, and talking to them — these concepts, now so familiar, became part of the standard of early child care, in part, because of my father. He helped prove, scientifically, how important these activities are both for children and for the society.

When a member of our family was ten, he had a tonsillectomy — and awoke during surgery. This resulted in PTSD as well as a myriad of other issues. Guess who was one of the first people to study PTSD and recognize it as a psychiatric syndrome?

You guessed it. My dad! He studied World War 1 veterans and built on Freud’s concept of psychiatric trauma. He published a book called “The Traumatic Neuroses of War” in 1941. But it wasn’t until the Vietnam War, in the 1970’s, that PTSD became a hot topic. Luckily, by 1991, further advancements in this field, building on my father’s work, helped our family cope with the aftermath of childhood trauma.

So, thanks Dad! You cleared the way for me to have the college major of my dreams, a well-educated toddler, and a family member with doctors who could understand and help him. I wish I could tell you your name is now known throughout the world for your amazing contributions.

But I understand and appreciate what you have contributed to society and now, maybe some blog readers will know, too.

SQUARING THE SQUARES IN A SQUARE

Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler?

The keyboard of my life

Seeking squares and circles for the month of March!

Squaring the SQUAREs IN MARCH