miércoles, noviembre 29, 2006

To contemplate while awaiting a post on L*'s hair

thumbnail image of Karin Stack's hair growth after chemo

Karin Stack's Hair Stories chronicling the regrowth of her hair after chemotherapy. Photographs are one-week intervals.

lunes, noviembre 27, 2006

Tofurkey Day

We spent it with L*'s familia--or rather--with my in-laws' in-laws' in-laws

(in-law to the the third power)

Although this is complicated because I don't think any of the relationships are "legal"; thus we are all really outlaws.

We and L*'s parents drove to L*'s brother's and his (female) partner's house (about 100 miles north of the Hood), and were joined there by her father and his new wife/girlfriend and her father.

Not even Spanish has a word for that (though we do have a word for (in-law+): my sister-in-law's sister to me is my cuncuña.)

I feel like I'm writing mathematical formulae.

I missed my own family, but didn't miss the down-side

Like the time my dad Don Fon brought home my uncle freddy [a schizophrenic with a glass eye who is institutionalized at the state hospital] on a three-day pass, and then just as dinner was ready, we discovered uncle freddy wandered off to get a mcdonalds hamburger and we all had to split up and go searching for him.

Though, as L* reminds me, that was the high point of that weekend.

An odd part of thanksgiving this year was that there was no thanks given. No blessing or prayer. We (L* and I) weren't really sure if this was a matter of inter-faith decision, unclear precedence, or a conscious choice.

Part of the family is muslim, part of the family is Catholic, some of us are unOrthodox (at best) and other are unknown (the in-laws to the third).

The precedence part was that there were three fathers in the room, and it was unclear who was the paterfamilias and thus empowered to give the blessing. (Although it was clear who was supposed to carve the bird).

Anyway, if anyone had the power, it was clearly the hosting couple, but they didn't give a blessing. They did, however, give a prodigious amount of work, gave a great spread, feasted us with crabcakes before dinner, and live live music.

One fun part was the drive to the north, where we all listened to scary radio programs from the 1940s (The Mysterious Traveler). And of course, I got to crochet little bags (for keeping pokemon cards) for the little girls, and that was very gratifying to me.

Also, dinner was accompanied by some deluxe non-alcoholic sparkling cider: blood orange, pear, and a couple of others. yummm!

I talked briefly with my mom on the phone. All the women were in the kitchen drinking, and all the men had wondered off god-knows-where for god-knows-what reason. My cell phone reception was lousy. I always wonder if I'd have better cell phone experience if I didn't have the bottom-of-the-line cell phone.

How was your Tofurkey day?

PS. L* and I exchanged thanksgivings at bedtime

miércoles, noviembre 22, 2006

Connecting Dreams

For the past few months, I've had recurring dreams of travel. They're generally anxiety dreams: that's I'm going to miss my connection, I don't have my ticket, I don't have my passport, I'm late.

Sometimes it's about a flight to Europe, which I may be taking with my familia. I think we're supposed to be at the airport something ridiculous like three or six hours before our flight. And we're not (I'm not). And then we ride this shuttle at what seems like the last minute, and then we get to the the plane and there's another really long long line to get on the plane. And in the line I realize that I don't have my ticket, or I don't have my passport.

But lately, it's been about New Mexico. Driving trucks and riding trains. Getting lost in the mountains.

There's one part in particular which involves taking these hilly little roads with lots of forks, and I'm driving the truck as fast as I can and I don't know 1) if I'm going to make it or 2) if I'm already lost.

Sometimes in the dream I'm driving with my folks to Pecos, to catch a train there, but I've messed up the departure time, so it's very stressful and I may not make it. Then when we get to Pecos, the train station is like this funky tourist trap (like a cross between Clines Corners and Mystery Spot). And I'm having to run back and forth between the different buildings.

Sometimes I'm on the train, and it's cold and I have a bag full of stuff. And my train is going literally to the middle of nowhere, where the connecting train will arrive and I'll transfer there. Sometimes I have enough food in my bag and sometimes I don't.

When I was at Notre Dame, I took the bus from South Bend to Albuquerque. I didn't have very much in the way of money, and I didn't really have food with me, and I spent a lot of time worrying about the next stop and whether I would have enough money to eat anything when I would get there, or whether there would be candy machines. I was a poor little waif.

Back to the train dreams. It's funny that the train connections are always in Pecos or else somewhere in Mora county.

When I visited my folks last January, I took the train. My mom picked me up at the train station in Albuquerque, and then my dad took me to the train station in Las Vegas.

My grandma always used to take the train.

When we were little, we took the train from LA to Las Vegas NM, and then to Houston Texas, and then to Virginia...or at least that was the plan. But my sister got sick on the train--she got a terrible migraine--and I think we had to get off and get in an ambulance? And then we ended up flying after that. I should my sister christine about this, because I don't really remember it.

Oh, but back to the train. In real life, the train station before Las Vegas, New Mexico is Lamy. Named for the evil archbishop (for whom death comes not a moment too soon.) But in my dreams, Lamy is under erasure, and instead I'm choosing Pecos, which has ruins from Indian settlements.

Pecos, Peñasco, Pojoaque, Picurís

viernes, noviembre 10, 2006

Suck it up, princess...

I’ve really been dragging my feet on this, but it’s time to start blogging again!

Life is not on a hiatus! We’re going full steam (though sometimes it only amounts to half-speed).

L*’s hair has been coming in. The last two friday’s, we clipped it with the #1/2 clippers, but this Friday we’re holding off so that next week we can move up to the #1. L* complains that she still sees a lot of skin, but there’s definitely hair all over, coming in in both dark and light shades.

For Thanksgiving, I may take up a mascara wand and make all of her hair longer, thicker, and more dramatic!

And we’re juicing! El Paso is gonna laugh at us, because she offered to sell us a juicer six months ago, and that just wasn’t where our heads were at (chemo=no raw foods), but now the juicer is a big ol’ spot of sunshine in our lives. L* makes us these delicious concoctions using granny smith apples, lime juice, ginger and a little carrot. Zowie! Let’s just say with a bottle of tequila, she could make the world’s best margaritas. Oh, my gosh, she made one last week la tuna --that’s red prickly pear for those of you who are culturally deprived--it’s was pink and foamy and heavenly.

Pedacito de mi Corazon, by Carmen Lomas Garza

and this week she did something with la granada which reached deep down into heart and history of this desert mujer.

La Granada, by Teresa Villegas

I finally made it to the end of this week: Graded and returned all student work, finished my annual review file, attended a work retreat on Saturday and Sunday, and finished the first round of graduate student letters of recommendation. Whew! Now if I can just find the steam to take care of some much needed infrastructure things like laundry and cleaning house.

L* is a dreamboat. She’s been cooking great meals every day, and she helped me with my annual review file, giving advice on color-coding, formatting, printing tabs, and so forth. We’re both funny in that the annual review gives full rein to obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Last year I had a short review, which means I didn’t really need to have my act together. L* on the other hand, had a full on review that she turned in at the end of January. A big bold binder with careful categories, sheet protectors used as packets of information, consistency of font and design. Of course she spent all January working on it, while I was off visiting my folks in New Mexico. But about two weeks ago--when I realized that the far off annual review stuff “sometime in November” was now “a week from Tuesday,” I suddenly started feeling very very sorry for myself! Poor me! All I had was a box full of disorganized material, and here Luz had this beautiful binder! She should just give the whole thing to me, and then I could turn it in. But no. She was a big meanie, and made me do it myself.

I believe her exact words were "Suck it up, Princess!"

Now that I’m on the other side, I really appreciate it.

Today we went shopping for a present for L*’s dad. I won’t tell you what we got, in case he’s reading this blog, but I will tell you about something we spotted in the window of a card and gift shop. They’re called Perfect Petzzz--have you seen them? Here’s a picture.

Picture of stuffed animals that breathe

Alas, it’s not animated, because the little toy darlings actually “breathe”! no lie! their little tummies go up and down in time to their sleeping breath. (if only they were heated!)
L* and I had great fun looking at them, and then she declared “It’s kind of disturbing, though, when you realize they’ll never wake up!”

L* has in fact come to realize how loveable a stuffed animal can be. Before, she thought they were cute, but never actually wanted to hug one or anything. But during chemo, her parents got her a toy chihuahua, whom she named “Chihuis.” There’s a story behind this... There’s a little boy in the bay area undergoing chemotherapy, and his family got him a little chihuahua that they named “Chemo.” A couple of months ago, “Chemo” was stolen, and this was big in the local news but ultimately the little dog was returned safely to the little boy. And we were watching the news story, and crying out “I want a Chihuahua!!” and lo and behold a week or so later, “Chihuis” arrived in the mail.

Now L*, you know, already likes to pose our cats together into cute little loving scenarios. Which they resist. She’ll keep nudging them closer to one another when they’re asleep, so they look like yin and yang, but then at the last minute one of them will wake up, and pop the other one, and the whole harmonic scene will come crashing down.

So now, with Chihuis in the mix...well, you can imagine.