Saturday, July 23, 2011

Call Me Chatty Cathy

You know those people who you are barely aquainted with that feel the need to tell you their whole life story?  Ask a simple question and those people go on and on chronicling their entire existence without taking a single breath.   

Ever meet someone like that?  Well, now you have.

I am one of those people! 

My daughters would get so annoyed at me out in public when I would just talk to anybody about anything. 

A young woman is interning with me on several projects.  She is a non-talker, 

which for someone like me is excruciating to be around.  I have to fill in all the silent moments with incessant conversation. 

Today, my neighbor asked a simple, mundane question and by the time I made myself stop talking, I’d shared with him about three pretty personal life stories. 

I’ve been this way my entire life.  I always got in trouble in school for talking too much. 

My grandmother, worried about my husky, raspy voice and throat cancer took me to a specialist all the way in Buffalo.  I’m sure it cost a lot of money.  I know she had to take a day off of work for the appointment. 

After the examination the doctor called my grandmother and me into his office and gave her the diagnosis. 

“She talks too much.” 

Rather than be mad at me for the waste of time and money, my grandmother laughed all the way home.

I know when I’m doing, too. There’s a little person inside my head that tells me so but by that time I’m already in the middle of my exposé and I think it would be rude to stop. I really wonder what is going through the mind of my trapped victim as their eyes glaze over and they probably think, “All I asked her was, ‘how’s it going?’”     

Yes, I’m one of those people that if you know their tendency you try to avoid at all cost.  And that’s just when I’m sober.  Imagine sitting with me over a bottle of good wine……………….

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I love My Blogging Friends

The blogging world is just the place for me - I have established friendships with people I have never met, who are my counterparts because we love to write and to share with the outside world.  Each of us recognizes the effort it takes to maintain a blog and once in awhile we acknowledge that we just need to have a little fun.  My blogging buddy, Just Stuff From a Boomer, has honored me with a mention in her blog and given me material for today's post. 

The game is fun - I am to share seven random facts about myself and then pass the game on to five other bloggers.  So, let's see what I come up with!

1.  I have a secret desire to start walking and never stop and see where my feet take me. I am hungry for the adventure of the unknown: places to see and people to meet.

2.  As much as I love the efficiency and swiftness of email, I love to receive U.S. Postal mail, especially when a package arrives!

3.  No matter how hard I try to be organized, I can't seem to stop making messy piles or leaving cupboard doors open. 

4.  I have seen the miniseries, Lonesome Dove, at least 50 times.  I'm in love with Gus McCrae, Robert Duvall's character and I wish I could meet him to tell him.

6.   I will only write with a fat pen.

7.  Sometimes I think I want to be famous but other times I am so embarassed to be recognized for doing something important.

There.  My seven required facts.  Now, Just Stuff asked some other questions that I'd like to answer:

Do you always sleep on the same side of the bed? Not just at home, but in hotels, when you rearrange furniture,etc.  I am not that consistent! However, I do need to fall asleep on my left side.

Can the food on your plate touch?   Yes, not a problem for me. In fact, I like to mix because flavors are enhanced.

My favorite soda, when I drink it is Vernor's Ginger Ale - nothing better!

Do you shut the bathroom door when no one is home?  Nope.  Too much trouble. And speaking of trouble, if I don't and my husband is in earshot I get into lots of it. He hates the sound of tinkling water. 

Now, to pass the honor on and hope those I list will play the game as well.

Sweet Tea

Mystical Journeys

Apparent Parent

Middle Age Ramblings

This Stop Willoughby

Please stop by these wonderful blogs and share your thoughts.  This writing business is a lonely one at times, but thank goodness for cyber-friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jaycee's Lighting the Way

I am only on page 58 of Jaycee Dugard’s just released book, “A Stolen Life.” 

What was it about this story that made me head to Barnes & Noble shortly after it opened, pluck down twenty-plus dollars and crack the spine the minute I got home?  Just reading the introduction caused me anxiety; then the description of the moment she was stolen was too much and I had to put the book down to collect myself.  Hours later I tackled it again, only to feel such an overwhelming sense of anxiety and outrage, I had to stop. 

Why do I need to read this tale when I refuse to watch television news or read beyond the sensational headlines of newspapers?  Why subject myself to what I am pretty sure will be a sleepless night as I ponder what that brave, innocent, frightened child endured?  Why?  Because her story matters, and because her bravery in telling it deserves to be acknowledged.  And, most of all, because of what she is saying, in all of its gory detail, will shine the light on a practice that has happened to countless little girls and boys the world over; not in as horrific a fashion, but so much so that no child is safe from the predators out there. 

I know I wasn’t.

When I began this blog two years ago I set out to tell my story.  Over the course of that time I have shared many, some poignantly revealing, some funny, all of them sharing with my readers the journey I’ve taken to survive a life filled with trauma and loss.  On one occasion I attempted to write about my own experience with sexual abuse.  I titled it “The House on Kraus.”  I posted the blog but after less than an hour, I removed it.  I saw that in that span of time, one person had accessed the story and that was one more than I was comfortable with. 

For all of my ability to reveal the heartache and pain I experienced at the loss of my parents when I was a year old, there was this one story I was unable to tell.  I know it’s because I feel shame.  I know it’s because to tell the story right, I need to tell it in detail and I just can’t do it.  To tell the story I would have to unlock feelings that I have shoved deep down inside of me, telling myself that sexual abuse of that young girl that was me is nothing compared to the bigger story of my life. 

But I know I don’t really believe that.  I know because when my girls were little, I never let them out of my sight.  I know because I have a warped draw sometimes to sexual fantasies that revisit those moments with my abusers.  I know because Jaycee Dugard’s story has tapped into something inside of me that has awakened what happened to me over forty years ago.  I know because I want to castrate Jaycee’s abuser and every other one I see reported on in the news. 

I will continue to read Jaycee’s story.  Just as it was difficult for her write it: “I want to not be afraid of letting people know what really happened to me all those long years ago.  When I was first found I was adamant that there would be no book, no one would ever know what happened  (pg. 49), it will be difficult for me to read her words. 

Jaycee, you will be heard.  You will be seen, after not being seen for eighteen years.  And, sweetheart, if you are able to give me and so many others an ounce of the courage you possess, we can finally, once and for all, expose these monsters and banish them forever.  After reading your book, perhaps I, too, can release the feelings of shame and begin to tell my own story. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mammo Mia

Mamma mia! My mammogram chronicles continue.........

Went in last Friday for the follow-up on the questionable screening I had two weeks before (I See One Hundred In My Horizon). The first thing on the agenda was what they call a "spot compression," a more detailed look at the area of the breast where density had changed from a screening in 2008. Spot compression means just that - they need a much closer look at a particular spot deep within the breast tissue and they must compress the breast to do that. I've written about the squish experience before (Boob Job and Pink Ribbon Day) but, oh, boy, this was worse. No breathing or moving allowed, just grimace and bear it. That done, I was escorted to the ultrasound room.

The technician was nice and allowed me to ask as many questions as I wanted.

"What do you see?"

"How can you tell the difference between nothing and cancer?"

"What's that black spot?" "How do you know it's a fluid-filled cyst?"

"How do you handle it when you see someone's scan and it's obviously cancer?"

"Does mine look okay?"

To all of those questions I was given professional, truthful answers, which I so much appreciated. Her words convinced me in the wisdom of screening and the power of knowledge.

I have two very dear over-fifty friends, both of them highly intelligent and worldly: one has spent decades in therapy working on her mental stability, the other decades working in the heath care field as a nurse, yet. they are both woefully lax in caring for their physical well-being. Neither one has had a colonoscopy, a simple, albeit semi-uncomfortable procedure that is HIGHLY effective in catching colon-cancer early on. Colon cancer is HIGHLY fatal if allowed to progress unchecked.  They both need to heed my persistent nagging and get screened NOW.

Asking questions, just as I did, is another way we can protect ourselves, as well. 

The tech shared a story of a 40-something woman who came in and upon getting her ultrasound, it was painfully clear to the technician that cancer was looming in her breast tissue. Her job is not to tell the patient the news, all she can do is say, "Your doctor will be in touch."

Six months later the same woman returned and upon another examination it showed her cancer had spread considerably. When asked why she had not been in to see her doctor, the woman replied, "No one called me."  The tech never saw the woman again, however, from the advanced stage of the cancer in the second screening, she did not feel optimistic about that young woman's outcome.

The lesson in these two examples, at least from my perspective, is to be proactive: don’t shy away from unpleasantness, take advantage of the medical opportunities we have that can keep us health AND ask questions and demand answers that satisfy you.

As for the tech’s answer to my last question, “How does mine look?”, she said “Good.”  As wonderful and professional as she was, and I thank her for her care of me, I will follow up on my own and MAKE SURE that everything is good. 

That’s my responsibility to myself and it’s one I take very seriously.  I hope YOU will, too.
I've asked the ultrasound technician to be a guest contributor to this blog, providing the health care professional's perspective on cancer screening, so look for that post in the near future.

Friday, July 1, 2011

To Aiden, With Love

Each of us parents want our kids to have what we did not, to live a little bit better lives than the ones we experienced; to not make the same mistakes or travel the same rough roads we did.  I recall so clearly when I had to accept that my daughters would travel their own paths, make their own way in this world, including repeating mistakes I made or experiences I wish I’d avoided.  It began when my youngest daughter said to me, “I’m pregnant.”

She was too young.  She had not planned for this, and the father of the baby was as immature in mind and life experience as she was.  It took her awhile to tell me.  She assumed I would - what? Disown her? Abandon her?  While this was the LAST thing I wanted for her at that time in her life, I could not, would not treat her differently than I had her whole life – she would have my love, support, and whatever else she needed. 

I allowed her to make her own choice and when she said, “Mom, if I did anything to stop this pregnancy I could not look at myself in the mirror, I said, Okay then, we’ll make this work.”

That was nine years ago. 

I wasn’t there for the birth of my first grandchild.  I had been given an amazing opportunity to work in Yosemite for the summer and wouldn’t you know the day after I left to report to work, my daughter went into labor.  But I believe in the power of the Universe and this experience solidified my faith in Its wisdom. 

My best friend since the age of 9, Nancy, is the godmother to both my girls.

 She and her husband decided long ago that they would not have children, so Erin and Adrian became hers by extension.  Nancy has always been there for me no matter what the circumstance and when I called upon her to take my place at Adrian’s side, she readily agreed.  This would be the first time she witnessed a birth.  She was amazing and although I felt I was missing a beautiful moment, I was so grateful Nancy could be there and so happy for her to have this experience.
I was on the phone the whole time Adrian was in labor.  We knew it was a boy, knew what his name would be.  I could not be there in person, but I was able to be there in spirit. 

On his birth day I purchased a book from the Yosemite National Park bookstore.  I made my first entry and this is what I wrote:

Since that day I have come to know this little boy who is, along with his new brother, Noble and his little cousin, Rain, the greatest joy of my life.  Aiden is funny like his mother.  He is tender, yet shows his protective side when necessary; he would (and says so) defend his mother, his brother, and me to any “bad guy that would dare try.”  Aiden is very much like his mother; he doesn’t want to be told what to do, rather he wants to make his own way in this world, and that includes any mistakes that he has to make in order to learn from them.  

I have been there to mark his birth day ever since I missed the first one.  I have had the privilege to watch him become an amazing little man.  I am so grateful that I am here to know him. 

And that little book that I started writing in nine years ago?  It is filled with my words and those of many others that have had the good fortune to know Aiden.  He will know that from the very moment of his birth he was cherished by me and many others. 

Happy Birthday Aiden.  Thank you for teaching me that there are no mistakes in this world.  You were my very first lesson in that. 

And if any of my readers wish to, I invite you to send a submission to Aiden’s Book. 
I will print them out and add them to it. 
Newborn Aiden

Mother and son

I look just like my daddy!

Aunt Nancy

Fun with Nana

Welcoming baby brother

Two boys tired after play


Holding a Mammoth tooth fossil