Bloggity blog blog

No

I’m coming home from another successful bike ride. It’s Monday night and I’m on the 9:30 pm Sound Transit going South. The muscles in my inner thighs are aching from the last hill ride we all took. Exhilerating to have the rush of something stiff and cold between your legs and commanding your legs to charge up the hill. I end up scrolling cat pictures on my way home. Then I notice him.

The grubby looking man starting to come over and invite himself over to talk to a couple of women just a few feet ahead of me. It’s not the grubbiness that caught my attention. It was the uninvited conversation that took place.

That familar hair behind my neck start to rise and I watch him behind my mask.

“Hey ladies, I was just noticing how fine you both look”.

I ask myself has this pick up line ever worked on anyone besides a bad cheesy porn movie?

The two women shift uneasily in their seats. The brunette move close to her friend and pretend that she is sleeping.

The man shifts himself in the seat and clears his voice.

“I said, you two are both fine. I said hello!”

The brunnette opens her eyes and meekly says “Hello.”

At this point, the neck on the back of my neck are standing at attention. How often have I been in their situation. Ignoring the attention of strangers and then having to be brought into uncomfortable awkwardness of conversation. The train is silent of all conversation as other people start to notice but they don’t do anything. Everyone is quiet.

The man takes this as his invitation to continue.

He extends his hand and introduces himself.

“My name is Jim. What’s yours?”

I squint behind my mask and look at the brunette. I feel for her. We are taught to respond accordingly. Good little girls who respond accordingly to parents, brothers, uncles.

Say hello to the nice man, Lisa.

But what happens when those men take advantage of the goodness of complacency. Sheep to the fold? I find myself gritting my back teeth. My dentist tells me that I need to stop grinding my teeth. Grinding your teeth will further erode the teeth. Even that is complacent.

The brunnete looks at the man.

“Listen. I’m tired. We’ve been traveling all day.”

“Ok, ok. “The man chortles as if that was his way to admit he was turned down.” I understand you don’t want to chat. Have a good day.” He then gets up and looks across the train. He spots me eyeing him. My bad, I guess.

I think not, buddy. I too shift my attention back to my phone.

Just then, my stop arrives. I get up and start to move around him. He pretends to walk past me and me and the two women walk out onto the platform. The man starts to shuffle his way down the aisle and there is a small part of me breathing a sigh of relief.

There are other customers walking towards the elevator, me and the two women. We welcome the inclusion of strangers. Then in the corner of my eye, he gets off the train and heads towards us. My heart races as I start envisioning the conversation that is about to unfold.

I start thinking of all of the things I wish to say to his advances.

Stop. Stop talking to us. Why? I want to look at him and yell.

“Because I’m the Mother of All Things Sacred!” And I command you to stop thinking of us as pretty little things! You Mother Fucker!”

I want there to be music playing in the background when I say this to him. I want Rage Against the Machine, Killing in the Name to be blaring behind me when I say this to him. God, I love that song.

I think of all of the pent up rage that I could summon. Demons stuffed deep within me. All of the rage that I could summon when I’m told to be silent. To be good. To be not heard but seen. Neat and tidy.

I imagine the look on his face as I face him toe to toe. The look of shock that a woman stood up to his advances. I imagine the awkward silence between the two of us. The quiet unfurling anger that rises.

I imagine feeding his fear to my carnivorous plants and taking pleasure in watching this take place. Does this make me a monster? Does this make me a psychopath because I am defending myself?

He comes towards us and we all get into the elevator. The two women are huddled together and me and my bike are standing next to them. He advances. I stand firm next to my bike. My steel stead. My defender of all things good and fun.

He starts to ask me something. It’s muffled and I can’t hear.

“No.” I say firmly back “No. I don’t want to talk to you.”

I look at him straight through my mask and I’m frowning. I’m trying to conjur up my face into the most squinched up version of myself. Ugly and horrific. I am conjuring up Medusa. I’m bracing myself as Athena.

He tells all of us “God Bless You.”

The women and I stand together.

“God has nothing to do with this.” I tell him flatly.

The elevator door opens and all of us flee outward from the cage. We are birds taking flight. Freedom from the cage.

My heart is racing. I hop on my bike and my heart is now in my throat and I am riding as quickly as my legs can pump.

I see from the corner of my eyes that the two women are running towards Red Apple. The man stands alone on the street.

Standard
Bloggity blog blog

Second Chances

I need to remember that I got a second chance. The SCAD heart attack I had in January was a wake up call for me and I got a do over. This time, player number 2 may not get so lucky so I’m going to have to think this one through. Looking back, I can see all the warning signs. The continous drive in my life thinking that I could do it all with what I have, as long as I work hard and play hard. Ignoring the physical fatigue and emotional fatigue.

The body wears out. The heart is weary and parts tear. I get it now. This was my chance to evaluate my life and see what needs to be streamline and trimmed and what things need to be discarded.

I don’t need additional stress and taking on other people’s stress is exhausting. Wanting to be “available” for my grown adult child is exhausting and really not healthy for me or my child.

I am grateful for who she has become and the next adventure in her life. Without me hovering over her. This will be healthy for her and for me. My role as mom will always be there but I need to stop thinking that she won’t thrive without me. She will thrive without me. I’m so proud of what she has accomplished. And she did it without me. That is the most important thing I need to remember.

I need to stop taking on additional stress from my work. Work is work. And I love doing what I do for work. Work will still be there. Shutting down at 4 pm is what I need to do instead of carrying that stress during the evening and weekend hours. Just like my child, I need to distance myself from work. This will be a work in progress. *sly grin*

I guess this one will be a hard one to wean off of. This one is deep rooted in my own emotional feelings of guilt and anxiety of failing. Failing my family and those who I support and failing myself. I aim to please because no one is going to support me if I fail approach. This one is deep rooted from my days as a freshly seperated and soon to be divorced single mom. Hearing my soon to be ex husband matter of factly tell me that I will be destitute without him and I will be living in the streets without his support. No one would hire a single mom. I will be dependent on his financial support.

Those words still haunt me now. They are the stuff my nightmares are made of. This is why I work so much. This is why I am afraid of not working. My little anxiety driven brain goes into hyperdrive when I think of being broke, destitute, unable to sustain any income. I live in survival mode.

I need to stop this manic thread of thought and look around me. Stop the voice inside my head. And truly listen. What do I hear around me.

My breathing. What do I see around me? A truly beautiful life I have surrounded myself with. A wonderful relationship with a emotionally engaged person who loves and encourages me to just be me. Friends and family who love me and encourage me to just be me and I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.

Just breathe I tell myself. I don’t need to try to do everything all at once at full speed all the time.

I need to remember that this is my second chance and life is beautiful and I will get through the slowness of life right now.

However, that takes patience. Something that I need to learn to master.

Two week, I started to ramp down on my anti-depression medication and my high blood pressure medication. I told the doctor that I was feeling apathetic towards everything and I don’t want to feel that way and that I was feeling super dizzy and confused all the time. My resting blood pressure was 90/85. A tad too low.

She suggested that I could start ramping down on both medications and see how I felt.

Now begining the 2nd week, my heart is throbbing and feeling very stabby. Like serial killer stabby. Uphill, sitting, just minding my own business – stabby, stabby. Did I mention the feeling of being of breath when walking, accompanied by wide swings of dizziness? Yeah, this is definitely not asthma.

I send a quick note to my doctor and her team responds back the next morning. One of the nurses tell me that I am to ramp back up on my medication and if the stabbing pain in my chest and breathing issue comes back, that I am to go to the emergency room. Do not pass go.

I am disappointed that I have to start the medication over again but I get it. This is the long game. There is no short cut or cheating with this.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to many things that don’t involve riding my bike and working like a salary man.

I will learn to take time to stop and admire the birds in our front yard. How wonderfully sinister my carnivorous plants are thriving and capturing flies and yellow jackets (I may have helped in the capture of these flies and yellow jackets 🙂 ).

Also, I am getting married. Remember that wonderful, emotionally engaged man I was referringto earlier. Yes, we are getting married next month. I waited a lifetime for someone like him to walk besides with in this journey called life.

We are from two different worlds yet we have many common things together we share. Bike riding is only one of those things. Everything seems just so right when we are together.

Meanwhile my heart still goes ping and pang. I take a full dose of my evening medication and I start over again. Two steps forward, one step back.

Thanks all for listening to me.

Standard
Poetry

Reminders – For Sarah L.

I thought I saw you tonight,

The impish turn of your smile,

The twinkle of mischief in your eyes,

Your punkish haircut,

But it’s been over a year and you are gone,

Friend,

Sister,

Fellow cyclist,

Wasn’t it just yesterday that we laughed riding home?

You drunk and insisting that alcohol makes you ride faster,

I laughed at your inability to steer straight and faked being too tired to ride,

And we compromised by taking the train home,

I think you would be pleasantly surprised that Rick and I are getting married,

Something you joked that it would happen and I was too shy to utter the words,

Perhaps you saw something I didn’t,

Joked that I needed someone to take care of me,

As you took care of others,

You infectious laughter,

Your ability to bring people together,

Summer is here again and I find myself riding by your house,

I almost want to stop and say hi but I stop myself,

These are the things I miss most about you and so much more,

And so much more.

Standard
Poetry

Heart Attack

The thing is,

When you have a death dream,

You wake up,

You are yanked from the exact moment when

The car hits the water,

The split second before

Metal arms wrap themselves neatly

In a tight cocoon

Where you are grasping for air

Then you are yanked before the jaws swallow you up whole,

You are always brought back to where you started,

The thing is,

That moment when

You wake up and your heart is pounding through your chest

And every breath you are exhaling is struggling to find release,

Your chest feels like an anvil is crushing down on you

And the world is spinning deliciously around you,

Death is just around the corner

Waiting and the real Death,

Keeps on a tight schedule,

Well there is no do overs

Where you wake up and start over again,

Sleep is forever.

Standard
Bloggity blog blog

The silent killer – SCAD

Last week I was diagnosed with a condition called SCAD. Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection.

I had all the classic symptoms of a heart attack. The shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, the swooshing in my head, rapid heartbeat, and the crushing pain in my chest.

Except I wasn’t your typical heart attack victim.

I’m in my early 50s. Active and healthy. Yes, my blood pressure may have been a little high. I have a family history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease but I rode bikes, schemed about planning dinner parties. Heart problems was no where on my radar.

What seem like a flurry of rapid doctor visits, tests and finally an angioplasty to conclude what I know now.

I am forever grateful to the staff at my cardiovascular team. They acted swiftly and compassionately to give me the care I needed.

I’be been home a week now and the new reality has now sunk in. I’m moving slower than I’m used to.

Every breath, every ache in my chest set warning bells in my head.

I’ve been instructed to slow down and go easy. I’m on a micromanaged regiment of blood pressure and cardiac medication. I have more tests coming up to see if there are other artery tests in other organs. More doctor visits and cardiac therapy.

I trust the team in getting me through this. They’ve been down this path before.

I am trying not to panic. I am trying not to bury myself and hide.

Trying to slow down and move one step at a time.

Standard
Poetry

Valentines Day 2021

I am reminded of a kiss captured on film,

Some obscure black and white film that your parents lived through,

I am reminded of how fragile life is,

Snow falling around us

Is a sharp reminder that what we are experiencing,

This exact moment will too,

Also fall around us,

Fade into memories,

Scratchy old jazz songs,

Long felt wishes,

I close my eyes,

Listen to the snow falling around me,

Dizzying,

The absence of.

I open my eyes and

You are smiling,

Eyes glittering in the firelight,

Holding a pair of icicles you snapped off a branch,

One for you,

One for me,

I stick mine in the snow and named the mount Mt. Gnome,

Out hearts,

Glorious life blood pumping

Life,

Reminds us that life is precious.

We have been through so much,

This.

Reminds us that a whisper can be heard in the still of the night,

The whiteness of snow,

We go back inside with the knowledge that tomorrow is yet another day.

Standard
Poetry

Dreaming About Houses

Let’s break this down. The house you dream to buy is an old, familar house.

The house that you and your ex built a life around.

It was familar and comfortable.

Two kids, a dog, a farm to grow things,

to grow old together.

I get it, she took off with all of the appliances.

The mechanics that make a house work.

What good is a house without the food you put in it,

the memories to feed you?

Your life now.

New. Uncertain within the confines of the political landscape.

This. Has you seeking the old and familar but not in the same way as your old life.

Your “girl”. The one you call girl. Laughs at these old fashion names. She is different than the others.

A sojourner, like yourself. Alway seeking answers. Needling and questioning the way things because not everything is neat and tidy.

The politics of life is built around the constructs of things we have learned over a lifetime.

Always building and rebuilding. Tearing and applying patches.

Busy ants trailing the tree trunk we call our body.

The scar tissues we build up around us.

So I ask you this.

Is the house you are seeking to buy, in your dream something you want to rebuild again or are you willing to

tear down the walls and start something new.

To build the foundation of something bright and glorious.

To start the new day,

uncertain yet hopeful that the dawn will awaken the earth from it’s nightly slumber.

Standard
Poetry

The Gods Must Be Crazy (to my friend Sarah Leyrer)

I remember our brief time together,

Sharing yet another bike adventures,

Whooping glorious to the sun,

The sky,

To Mother Earth,

And to the magic of avocados.

Your go-to-food,

I forgot to ask you,

Did you ever watch that movie?

You know, that one with the obscure reference of the Coca Cola bottle dropping to Earth and

How dropping it, changed everything we know as true and beautiful.

We are weaving and winding our way up the bike trail,

You are yelling at me that there is only one more ‘small’ hill to climb,

I am laughing hysterical because every hill you say is small, is a mountain,

And that is how you saw life,

Every challenge accepted and easy to surpass,

Just when I can’t take it anymore,

I see you looking back at me,

Lit and full of laughter and yes,

Every hill can be overcome,

I had the fortune to call you friend,

As I am writing this,

I also know that you touched so many others,

You were loved by so many others as I had,

The Gods must be crazy,

I see the irony in this now,

You were a shining moment in so many lives,

that went out too soon.

Standard
Poetry

No Longer Maintaining

I’m writing to you as a parent of a child who lives with mental illness.

At age 7, my daughter was a cheerful,inquisitive and playful child. She ran around outside and was loud and boistorous. I encourage her
joie de vivre. Like many parents of active children, I indulged her spontanity and creativity. I enrolled her in ballet classes, art classes and music classes. She thrived in music.

When she hit puberty, things changed. It was like a dark cloud visited our house and never left. Like many who go through the onset of puberty, we perserved and pushed forth. I remember being a teenager and the angst that puberty brought. I also remember coming out of it relatively ok.

I remember her singing “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie in the downstairs bathroom and I cried upstairs. I could hear her angst and anger and frustration. Her body was changing and she was angry at the world. She was angry at me. At herself. I heard her sadness and I wanted to run downstairs and wrap her in my arms and turn back the clock of change.

Change happened. First in little increments. She developed a new set of friends. Girl friends who were just as dark and moody as her. She hid things from me. I hated this. We were thick as thieves and close. Now she chose a new set of friends.

At first, I didn’t notice the cuts on her arms. She hid them by wearing arm warmers. Punky style she fashioned from striped socks. I also noticed she lost her her baby cheeks. She started looking sleek. I didn’t say anything because she still ate just as much as she used to.

What I didn’t recognize was the tell tale signs of anxiety and depression lurking around her like a dark presence. A stranger you invited into your house that never left.

She struggled in middle school. Her academic achievements were amazing. Her draw towards danger and rebellion sky rocketed. In my effort to reign in the control, I enticed her with enrolling in an alternative high school.

I moved our little family out of suburbia into the inner urban city. She once again thrived. Thrilled with the idea that she would be among the creative people.

Let me tell you about symptoms of anxiety and depression. Highly creative people struggle and mask their struggle with it. They will often hide their true feelings by resorting to a time of their former life before symptoms started to take over. As a parent, you are lulled into thinking that everything is ok. Everything has reset back to an earlier, better time. You want to believe that everything is ok. But looking at this 10 years later, there is no ok. There was really never normal. You start to question if there really ever was a normal.

A little after we moved to the big urban city, my daughter came out and told my then husband and me that she thought there was something wrong with her. She had been forcing herself to throw up after she ate. She started controlling what she ate as a way to maintain control of her emotions as well as cutting herself with razors that she swiped from our bathroom cabinet. She came out and told us after she had gotten caught shoplifting snacks from Uwagimaya, a local Asian grocery store. We cried and held each other and I told her everything was going to be ok.

Eating disorders, anxiety and depression. Those three things are linked together and often go hand in hand with each other. They are a vicious, never ending circle that often disguise themselves with other mental disorders.

The thing you begin to really start to understand is that this cycle is now the new norm and maintaining the health and integrity of your child becomes the new normal. Maintaining this mode of operation is exhausting and the thing you begin to understand is that it starts to take a toll on you as the parent. Something has to give.

As a parent, I took a hard look at what was around me and started to break down. Everything I once believed in. If I worked harder and brought home more money. If I took care of everyone first, things would fall into place naturally. I had to rethink all my internal processes and reset myself.

As my daughter was going through recovery, she attended therapy. DBT. Dialetical behavior therapy. Mindfulness. It is the one thing that attributed to her getting back to state of calm. I too, started down a path of my own.

Somewhere along the months after her getting out of Children’s hospital, I stumbled upon an article on a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Greenwood area. I became intrigued with the idea of meditation and decided to visit the monastery. Something compelled me to attend. For me, this was the turning point that helped me maintain the calm during the rough patches and helped me continue to provide comfort for my daughter as well as myself.

The practice of meditation. Breathing. Inward reflection and mindfulness was my way of maintaining.

There was a moment during her recovery when my daughter came upstairs demanding I make her breakfast.

I learned from the doctors and specialist from Children’s that eating disorder patients follow the Maudsley method. Meaning, the control of food is no longer theirs but they must eat everything that is on their plate. Food is medicine and every bite of food will bring them back to physically and medically healthy.

So she came stomping up the stairs demanding breakfast and I was starting my morning meditation practice. She barged in and I look at her.

“Make me breakfast. I am hungry!”

I looked calmly at her and said “I’ll make it after I am done meditating.” She went from zero to 100 with that statement.

Screaming obcenities that I was a bad mom and I was starving her. I smiled and said “I love you. I am meditating right now.” and I firmly shut the bedroom door on her. There were definitely a few scuff marks from her kicking the door but I continued to turn my attention to the lit candle and the breathed in the heavy perfume of incense. I could of rose to the bait of her yelling at me but I turned up the stereo that was playing a playlist of Tibetan monk chants.

Ohm Mani Padme Hum. Ohm Mani Padme Hum. Ohm Mani Padme Hum.

It’s not that I am choosing to ignore my daughter. On the contrary. I am learning to let her grow by letting her go. She is an adult. She has been for a while since she left my home at 18. She has struggled for sure. And I have been there to pick up the pieces when she has fallen.

The thing that I am learning. Still. Is the re-focusing on myself will eventually get her to focus on herself. Perhaps, she will learn by watching me focus on maintaining the calm and compassion that paints my life, that her own life will follow suit.

Anxiety and depression will continue to follow and remind her that they are her constant companions. Perhaps she will learn that they are not her only companions.

The main takeaway from this experience for me is to constantly remind myself that all things move on. It’s time for me to move on as well.

Standard
Poetry

Saying I love you is a reminder that nothing is permanent

Did you love someone so deeply that you never saw an end to this line?

Were you confident in your trust that forever meant for keeps?

Childhood sayings and the knowledge that waking up means the dream ends and we all end up facing the day,

the quiet of a morning dawn,

the breathing of a child in the next room,

quietly reminding you that

parenthood is forever,

even if your child grows up.

I often think of what you were like,

another lifetime ago,

we, in our current musing,

often relay stories of possible crossings,

however,

you and I are from two different galaxies,

we just happen to be currently in the same orbit now, you see,

I often wonder if you would recognize me back then,

frazzled mom on caffeine high with energetic child in tow,

determined to make the most of a 12 hour day and then some,

what were you like, back then?

You talk of your commitment to family, your wife, your life on the island,

must of been nice to have it all,

picturesque and quaint until it wasn’t,

We all have ex’s, I seem to have collected a few,

Yours I find an interesting specimen and I find myself quietly observing in the background as you and her still exchange curt emails.

My exs’ and I,

we do not have those exchanges.

Nothing to bargain with,

not even mutual children,

just a trail of old memories,

I was never the one for them,

not like yours was to you,

so you see, why I quietly observe?

silent, blinking cat.

Standard
Poetry

Valentine

To those out there exposing their hearts on this day,

I give you some considerations to take,

Valentine is but one day out of the year,

Consider the courage to expose your heart to someone near and dear,

364 days out of the year,

This brutal expression of love whether forlorn or not,

is but a reminder that the heart is a mighty organ,

it beats strong and loud,

again and again,

in all sorts of inclimate weather,

a rose with thorn is but a flower,

a day to remind us,

be in the moment before love is but a memory.

So I tell you this,

Expose your hearts, my friends,

beat it loud and strong,

Loud and brash,

quiet and gentle,

whatever your liking.

One day out of the year is nothing compared to the other 364,

However take a moment to cherish yourself and others.

 

 

Standard
Bloggity blog blog, Cycling

The Art of Patience

The day before Christmas eve, I had a major bike accident.  My bike bag straps got wrapped up in my front wheel and it threw me over the handlebars and in a split second, everything changed.

I remember that day vividly, the burning sensation to the left side of my face as I hit the ground, my body thrown like a rag doll and the splattering feeling when my body hit the ground.  I remember feeling frustrated with the fact that I couldn’t get up from the ground.  My legs and arms not working to pull me up in a sitting position and my head, the wet, warm liquid dripping down my face. I remember voices around me telling me to to not move.

I remember crying out that everything hurt and I need to sit up to make sense of what just happened.  I was cold and shaking.  I remember hearing my boyfriend telling me to not move and a kind person who said she was a doctor to stay very still and that an ambulance was coming.

In that brief moment of impact where my body laid crumpled on the ground, everything became really quiet and then the rush of noise and pain as my face felt it was on fire.

What happened next was that I realized I was alive and everything hurt.

Now that I reflect back on this moment.  It actually reminded me of giving birth to my daughter.  The act of labor and giving birth synonmous to death.  Both acts very violent and sudden.  And in that suddent switch, nothing will be the same again.

Considering all the different scenarios that could of taken place, I think I came out lucky.  Yes, a fractured neck and torn ligaments but I am grateful to the Universe, the bike gods and everything that I hold sacred that I only had a fractured neck. I had a month to reflect on this event and I am truly grateful.

It’s been a month now and these days I am learning the act of patience.  All over again.

Three years ago, I underwent a hip replacement and I recall going through similar motions.  What I want and what I am faced with are two very different things.

I crave people and socializing with people.  I am continously in motion, whether on the bike or looking for the next urban adventure.  These things currently are not in the realm of possibilities for me now as my body recovers.  For example, a simple outing or sitting upright can have it’s challenges.  Turn the wrong way and all the sudden, neck spasms and headaches. My body shuts down and I am left frusrated and learning to slow everything down.

Trying not to anger the spasm gods is high on my list of to dos.  However, being stubborn and persistent by nature, I sometimes need to be knocked down a few notches to remind me that the spasm and pain gods are not to be messed with.  So I am turning inward.  Listening to what my body is telling me and paying attention to all the aches and pains.

And I am also learning to let go of some controls.  Perhaps I can look at it this way.

This accident serves to remind me that I am not alone.  A community of compassionate and caring people rushed to my aid when the my accident occured that fateful afternoon.

Among those that have been my constant is my  boyfriend.  My bike riding and bike loving boyfriend.  But he is more than just my bike riding companion, he is my partner and his compassion through this entire event reminds me that life is precious.

I feel very lucky to have come through this major event in my life with only a fractured neck.  I realized it could of been so much worse.

What did I take away from this experience?

Safety wise – always wear my helmet.  That helmet saved my life.  The crack and dent to the left side a sharp reminder that it did it’s job.

Never going to use front bike bags again.  I now have a keen fear of anything touching my front wheel.  Safety first, 2nd and third.  Double and triple check all my equipment, no matter how insignificant the noise might be.

Love my life and appreciate the little moments around me.  My body will heal.  I will get back on my bike again.  I’ll be able to race down the hill and feel my legs and arms pump life as I climb hills. My lungs will fill up with air and I’ll be able to smell the sweetness of Spring and Summer.

Share in the laughter.  Savor in the quiet of the day. The moment when the dawn peaks over the city, light peaking out over the rooftops.  The quiet purr of a sleeping cat.  The knowledge that I was given another chance to reflect all of this.  In this moment.  Life is precious.

Ohm.

Standard