Category Archives: friends

There is something so very very wrong

This is a post from my friend’s blog

She has had quite possibly THE WORST year ever.  Sometimes people fall in a rut of bad luck, but Chandi’s luck would test the patience of even the most saintly person.  Read her experiences in Italy, when she almost died of peritonitis.  Read about her divorce. And read about her relentless efforts at facing each and every struggle with the most open of minds and hearts.

But her latest struggle, this time with the US health care system may very well be the last straw.  This system is failing so colossally in providing its citizens with a humane and decent level of care.   Something needs to change – for Chandi, and for every one of us.

And in other blood-curdling news, the new recommendations on breast cancer screenings are downright absurd – breast self-exams are no longer recommended? Screenings delayed by 10 years?  Just because there’s a risk of over diagnosis??? How about spending more time and money on fine-tuning the diagnostics? How about continuing to develop more precise treatments depending on the increasingly precise diagnostics?  But none of these advances will do us much good if we find the cancer too late – which it seems is what this “panel of experts” is suggesting we do.

Suck it, experts. I will keep checking myself, and I hope you, dear readers do too.  Listen to Dr. Jack Black!


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no voice

while this title might seem like an apt reference to my serious lack of posting lately, it is in fact the affliction that has befallen me for the last week.  i am croaking along by now, well enough to make myself understood by my 80 students, but not well enough not to pay the price afterwards (hot tea and silence de rigueur).

i lost my voice upon landing in brussels last week.  i flew out there for a week over spring break.  planet’s sister has been taken ill with the same disease that killed planet (planet = nickname of best friend who died of breast cancer 2 years ago).  i wanted to be with her for so many reasons, but many times it felt like we were both visiting a very cruel ghost.  the ghost of her sister’s -my friend’s – killer, the ghost of her struggle, the ghost of her boredom (chemo is sooooooo boring), the ghost of her. and then sometimes the ghost was gone, and we used the strange parenthesis offered by her illness to go to the movies at 11 am, eat way more than we should and make all sorts of inappropriate gallows jokes.

the last time i lost my voice was at planet’s funeral. it started going during the funeral, when i couldn’t stop crying, sobbing all the way into the car that drove me back to planet’s empty home, empty of her and full of mourners who would all get very drunk that day, the day during which i lost my voice.

i lost a lot more than my voice that day, and it better not mean anything that i lost my voice this time. this better just be a freaky coincidence or some psychosomatic response. it just better not.

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Gala in Oregon, for a week-end

happy happy happy

PB,  friends, espresso, wine, whiskey sour, polenta with ragu, friends, fresh chanterelles bought off the truck, red leaves on trees, red leaves falling off trees, cozy morning with PB, runny nose, warm socks, harvest dinner, more wine, blue sky, geese flying south, more cozy with PB

happy happy happy

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Gala in Oregon no more

Or Gala in Oregon, the cranky edition:

Sorry dear readers dad*, this moving back to California business really threw a wrench in my blog plans. It has thrwon a wrench in EVERYTHING.  California is HOT – and I don’t mean in a Daniel Craig way. It’s the middle of October, almost Halloween for eff’s sake, and yesterday at noon it 97 bloody degrees outside.  HRH has not stopped panting in 3 weeks, I am convinced I have taken her back to California to die, to die a slow, heat-induced death.  To top it off, the street I am on has daily, DAILY, trash removal service, apparently one for each house on the street, and the trucks make the panes on my lovely but quite inefficient french-doors-to-a-rickety-balcony shake. And they wake the almost dead Highness up from her geriatric slumber.

Mmmh, let’s see, what else irks me here? The noise, the wastefulness, the lack of a single small deli-type store that I can do my shopping, my forced reliance of Trader Joe’s or Wholefoods, that icky flavor of tap water, the dry, brown, drabness of the views. Million dollar homes in the Hollywood hills are nice, but they hold no candle to this

That’s my gorgeous mom looking at a beautiful tree behind our house, and that’s my hand shielding my eyes, looking at the wonderful PB who was taking the picture this summer.

It doesn’t help that since this Gala is no longer in Oregon, we have had too much bad news – it would sour even the biggest optimist in Optimistville. Friends are ill, friends have died, friends are going through traumas the likes of which I cannot imagine going through without a generous helping of Scotch, valium, or both.

So is it such a wonder that I can’t find much pleasure in my academic life again, that what little satisfaction I get from it is completely drowned out by this avalanche of ick?

But November 4th is aorund the corner, and next week a w-e in Oregon, and this w-e a visit from my peeps from Oregon, and soon Thankgiving and Xmas, and more Oregon, and more peeps and more PB.  I keep my eye on the good stuff, trust me, but sometimes, when it’s a million degrees above what is seasonal and humanly allowable, and when your old dog can’t stop panting at you, a transplanted Gala gets cranky.

* my dad commented on my Nike sneakers – the ones I posted about last month, the ones he could not possibly know about unless he read the blog!

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Totally awesome

today i walked 5K for my friend claire and for all of us who would like to kick cancer to the curb.

thousands of awesome people, Komen Race for the Cure, P'land2008

it is a rare occasion when you feel like you can actually DO something against a disease that so often made me feel so useless and helpless.  and it is completely awesome when you can do that with seven totally amazing women and friends, who together joined you to raise almost $4000 dollars, and woke up at the crack of dawn after working till late, or after dropping off a daughter on the other side of town, or after driving on hour, and hiked 5K though a rather cold and clammy portland morning with about 45 THOUSAND other awesome people.

more awesome people

more awesome people

am i using the word awesome a bit too much? no.  this was AWESOME. it can’t bring her back, but she’d have liked this.

i miss you

i miss you

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40th birthday countdown

cases of wine purchased: 6

cases of champagne on order: 3

magnums of champagne on order: 2

bottles of belgian beer: 90

metres of string-lights: at least 100

number of calls to caterer in last week: 8

number of people coming to party: 65

stress headaches: 1 (so far)

thank you speech to parents and friends that does not sound like a treacle-ey pathetic sopfest : 0

knowing that no matter what i end up saying in the speech, there’ll be enough champagne to make me forget it : priceless

ps: what would eddie izzard say at HIS 40th birthday???

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writer’s block not

not so much that, but it’s summer in oregon, which means visitors. PB’s cousin was visiting and i spent quite some time taking her to town for brunch, for coffee, for shopping, for a pedicure. unlike yours truly, she has a 12-hour a day job, with a team of underlings and a salary that is 4 times mine. i took it as a personal obligation to make sure that her short week of vacation should be as relaxing as possible – i think we succeeded. she had tons of great food, loads of wine, plenty of sleep. so did we – except for the bit about sleep. she left on saturday evening, and we spent all day yesterday lounging about, went to the movies in the middle of the day (“wanted” – fun, but no more), ate nothing but fruit and veggies, in a vain attempt to purge all that food and wine we had with the cousin.

all this to say that i haven’t written bc i haven’t had time, and what time i had was devoted to editing the manuscript that is no longer haunting my dreams.

to those of you writing a book, all i can say is : it gets better. once the book is written , once your soul is on paper and all you have left is the empty shell of your brain, you’ll actually enjoy it. it’s the sweet bliss of the lobotomized, but i’ll take it for now.

and now, for something completely different, some of my favorite children’s books:

  1. cronin & bliss: diary of a spider – (and i hate spiders, so this is meaningful)
  2. rosenthal & corace: little hoot. a-do-ra-ble.
  3. patrick mcdonell : the gift of nothing. stunningly sweet and moving.
  4. mo willems: the pigeon series – yeah, thems pigeons rock
  5. albert sixtus “Die Häschenschule” – germany’s answer to beatrix potter, except – and i know i am risking my hide here- i think it is better. it has less of an obvious nursery look to it, and it is teutonic and old-school. so retro. i love it.
  6. and of course the entire collection of tintin – belgium’s greatest contribution to rainy summer afternoon activities

that is all – have a good day.

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