Monday, May 29, 2006



i was extricated after one lap. and given a little talk about how i should have registered as a beginner.

but last year i won sport; you're not supposed to bump down.


anyway, i was wrong: the state championships have moved AGAIN and i think they're at mt. snow, home of both nationals and the world-class, planetarily famous naked crit.

they're serious about that. it's a standard short course dirt crit in which you are allowed to wear only socks, shoes, and a heart rate monitor. if you are a woman the crowd will boo you if you try to wear your transmitter over your nipples. not that it should make that much difference, unless you have little to show anyway, in which case i don't know what the point is.

i don't know any of this firsthand; i have never been to mt. snow for any races, clothed or otherwise. the crit sounds to me like an excellent way to get dirt and sticks in places where you might not want them.

i ride what is called a "relief saddle", so the idea of riding a dirt track is all the more daunting to me.

i first found out about this august event while i was on the lawn waiting for my start at the eastern cup one year and this woman i didn't know came tearing up to me , announcing that pictures of her from the naked crit had just been posted online.

i'm stuck there. my friends are all backing slowly away, making no sudden moves. and i'm getting an education.

anyway, i think it's been three whole days since i was suicidal; that's quite a thing. today i had a moment in which i was uncomfortable and i am so accustomed to simply falling back on suicide thoughts that i couldn't cope. didn't know what to do with it. what could i put in its place?

boggles the mind.

tomorrow my brother in law will come pick me up to take me to the hospital. i am listening to They Might Be Giants, only the coolest band on the planet. i have to go talk to bob now. you come, too.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

standing in the need of prayer

tomorrow is the coyote hill classic; it just happens to be the vermont state championship. i just happen to be the defending champion, so i feel obliged to show up and defend.

find your own darn links.

the reason i am the defending champion is because last year i was the only qualified applicant; there were no other vermont residents in the middle aged women's sport class.

and it was a horror show, too. five minutes before the sport class start the sky opened up and it poured. the trails are technical enough when they're dry; roots and rocks do not become easier to navigate when they are moist.

anyway, if you're following the story, you know that i've been sick for a long time. you know that i have been in for ECT and that it's making me tired and wiping out my memory.

if you're paying attention enough, you also know that i always carry a coin that rumblestrip gave me; it reminds me to have courage or at least to ask for it in my prayers.

tomorrow i will need courage and strength, balance and stamina. i'd be lying if i told you that i truly don't care about the race result, but i am not hopeful of being this year's champion. still, there's the possibility of another attendance anomaly.

more than anything, though, i want to finish the blasted thing. it's a challenging six mile loop and i have to do it twice. i hope above all things that when i come unbiked i will not go over the bars. there's no good way to endo. once i went over the bars at a speed slightly in excess of thirty-one miles an hour. i probably should not have to tell you that it was painful.

so i hope that when i fall tomorrow (and you will notice my use of the word "when") that i will fall sideways onto a soft landing.

i know that some of you pray for me; i will appreciate very much your prayers tomorrow. i'll be wearing the green uniform, riding an aggressive-looking red full-suspension bike (the rocky mountain ETSX-30, in case you care).

if you've ever been on relatively new hiking trails, you have an idea of what the course looks like. roots and rocks. loose dirt. trail kind of narrow. easy to hook a bar or catch a pedal.

i'd like it very much if you could see me strong and balanced, fast and smooth.i had quite a few words with bob about it today and i think it helps. i rode some things i would normally be afraid of. and got off and walked some places i would normally be stupid enough to try to ride.

i'd ask you to wish me luck, but i hope to create something better; i hope to be carried in bob's Own Hand.

this evening i went to Mass at st. denis in hanover. it was beautiful and i was struck by how much i have not been good or trusting or obedient, how much i have not listened to bob's voice, even when i was being Spoken To in no uncertain terms. i have fought what help i was given.

maybe tomorrow i'll be ready. it's late and i have to take a shower and have a few words with bob. i will ask for courage and strength and balance. not just for a couple hours tomorrow.

i want to get better.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

kielbasa and kraut

that's what's for dinner: kielbasa and kraut. only tonight it's not the usual sauerkraut; for some reason while i was at the store i picked up new kraut. similar, but different. not as salty. sweeter, but still plenty tangy. and i just happen to have some green & black's 70% dark chocolate, which i washed down (as may become habit) with strafford dairy chocolate milk.

the green & black's is good and dark, astringent on the tongue but yet a little fruity, and it folds right into the sweet creamy flavor of the chocolate milk. it's better than, well, let's just say it's good and leave it at that. it's been a long time and my memory just isn't that good anyway.

i have the chocolate left over from dinner last night with rumblestrip; it was still in my cooler this morning. had i been kind or generous or even polite i might have sent the remainder of the chocolate home with rumblestrip, who made the tunafish sandwiches.

ordinarily i am not a fan of the tunafish sandwich and in general i prefer my tuna to be uncooked, but when rumblestrip proposed it i was put in mind of a tuna sandwich that okillezzzz made once and i was predisposed to enjoy it. i was not disappointed. now i will add rumblestrip to my list of people Who Can Make a Sandwich.

while i was with rumblestrip last night i just happened to have been going on about the topic of really good sandwiches and kind of got stuck on this one in particular.

rumblestrip is good and kind and patient and tolerates me going on and on about long-gone sandwiches and other Things That Matter Not One Bit In The Larger Scheme Of Things; this is only one of the reasons to love rumblestrip.

i know that when i am with rumblestrip i am fond of pointing out to her traits that qualify her for exceptional geekiness; she wears the label "nerdy" as a badge of honor but the truth is that rumblestrip is very, very cool. she is loyal and true, thoughtful and compassionate, a sharp thinker, an articulate writer, and a musical workhorse.

we were out for a paddle on shelburne pond and at the end of the day rafted up the boats and had a little picnic in the late day light. i could not tempt her into visiting this geocache.

probably just as well. it had been a very hard day for me. you might categorize as a Very Bad Day any day in which you find yourself on a park bench at the burlington waterfront uncontrollably crying. which is how i spent part of my morning with my mom.

"i'm done", i kept telling her. this is a very sad and fearsome thing to be telling the mother who loves you so. but my mother is very brave and heard what i had to say and then took me to a very nice lunch and a little light shopping at city market, which made me think of k and this cache on a much happier day and in spite of everything i was able to laugh a little.

it was still pretty grim when i got to bert, though. and rumblestrip could sense it but we did not talk about it for a long while. sometimes it's just good to be with someone who knows without having to talk about it.

my plan had been to finish out the day and then make my exit. but on the way home rumblestrip had a couple things to say that kind of stopped me in my tracks; we talked about bob and she asked me to tell her about this trip, which is when i had the courtesy to notice the presence of bob in the universe anyway.

by the time we got the boats unloaded i was crying again. it has to be difficult to be a close friend of mine; you're not obliged by familial ties, and what good am i? i was still crying when rumblestrip left me to go home. that has to be hard.

here's an excerpt of what i wrote her:

it is the crying of a beast, wild and out of control, as if my soul is being ripped out. i do not know how you stand me, but then you keep saying things that suggest that i am actually of value to you and it boggles my mind.

i keep you in this horrific yo-yo state where you never know what to expect and sadly it's only one step removed from what it's like to be me (...)

i was going to do it today.

i knew exactly how. and when. but you had to go and open your mouth and i couldn't bear to do it (...). my choice or not, you would still be very sad.(...)

the problem is that i'm not cold enough.

i still don't feel secure in the knowledge that i'll live until morning; it is a very strange uncertainty, a special kind of hell. and i demand to know what bob has in mind; what's the point, bob? o, creator of the universe?(...)

and just for reference, you are eminently qualified to speak to me about matters of spirit. you know it's true.

now i'm going to go follow directions: i'm going to have a hot shower and i'm going to light that candle and have a few words with bob. of course the decision to live or not, to be obedient to the will of bob, to accept that great love and light, all of that ultimately comes down to my choice. but your wishes, your opinion figure into it whether you want the responsibility or not. you cannot make it so or not so. you can tell me over and over that i am important to you, that you prefer me living, that you would be sad without me.

it never comes down to just that but i hear it and it colors much of the rest of what i hear.

i am not well enough to picture my own joy in living returned to me (i had it once, i'm certain), but i can imagine how happy you will look on that great glorious morning when i can stand well and healed, out of danger. sometimes it's enough to live on for a few days.

i am thankful for the care you take with me, the help you give, the easy companionship. i am sorry for the hard parts. you are a better friend than maybe i deserve; demand that i give you my best.

it's late. the horrible, dreadful morning and its attendant discomfort will come too soon.


and in the morning my mom came to get me and we went to the hospital. i was so tired out i was bearly able to stand up, and mom had to take me by the arm a lot to get me across the lobby and down the hall, through all the familiar steps to ECT and of course there was some trouble starting the IV and they had to call the IV nurse but i had my ipod and was barely conscious anyway so i cared little about the new additions to my really big collection of bruises.

and don came as usual to give the annoying little exam and as usual i couldn't tell him what the date was. i never know; it's not information i use lately. i haven't been to work since 21 december and i haven't been keeping current with my geocaching logs, so outside of special events, i never know the date. and i've never been able to count backward by sevens.

but they get me into procedure room #4 and everybody is very pleasant and they remember without me telling them that i like them to replace my earbuds in my ears after they're done with the treatment, and they begin sticking on all the electrodes for the monitors and i would almost sleep through it-

first they pump in the lidocaine, and that stings a little. they've changed the electrode placement from right unilateral to a kind of compromise bifrontal, so they don't use the caffeine. they drop in whatever they use to help with the post-procedure headache, and then the muscle relaxant and the sedative.

and it is so painful going in that i scream and cry and the last thing i remember before passing out is flailing and clenching with my free arm.

when i wake up in recovery i'm groggy and i stagger from bed to wheelchair to car, but i'm starved since i haven't eaten since dinner (always NPO after midnight) and my mom always takes me to mcdonald's where she gets me a mcgriddle, which i choke down. i do pretty well with the swallowing today; often it's hard for me to get anything down.

when we get to my house i write some checks (thanks to my mom for organizing that) and i put on a hat and gloves even though it's warm out and crawl into bed, where i sleep until two thirty. i haven't been able to read my bible lately (new living translation), because i don't have the concentration and i have a little rule about not reading scripture while under sedation, but i keep it with me while i sleep. i need the gloves or at least a glove because i keep the coin rumblestrip gave me in my left hand. i have to wear the hat to keep the green goop from flaking off on the pillowcases.

my mom has been making sure that i have clean sheets, which i would not be able to manage, left to my own devices. i adore crisp sheets. and while i sleep, blissfully oblivious, my mom does laundry and dishes, mitzvoth of first magnitude.

only thing bad about that is she insists on flattening my underwear before putting it in the drawer. i prefer to simply crumple it and stuff it in, which actually makes it easier to manage. i have just the one underwear drawer. five drawers of socks (which i DO sort and roll together), but only one underwear drawer. and if it's all flattened and organized, it's hard to root around in there and get out what i need.

tomorrow i'll pack my bags and rack my bike and head off to fairlee to preride sunday's course. i don't expect to do well because i've gotten fat and out of shape but the coyote hill classic is the state championship and due to an attendance anomaly i am the defending state champion. i don't expect to win, but it would feel really, really bad not to know how it would turn out. i am not a big fan of "what-if"s. so i have to go defend my championship even though i'm going to suck toast.

the great thing is that i'll get to stay at the Flyingfishers' and if i get really, really lucky, Flyingfisher will stay home from the game and we'll watch it together on TV. over the summer, immediately following my breakup, i spent a lot of time at the Flyingfishers', and i've missed it.

it's getting late. morning keeps getting closer and closer and i still have to have a few words with bob. there's going to be some hard riding to do. it's raining and my boys are out there singing. it makes me smile, 'coz every time Flyingfisher drives by she rolls down the window to listen. she loves those little guys.

tonight i found myself standing tall, walking down my front hallway and up the stairs. Flyingfisher asked me how i was feeling and i couldn't rightly tell her; i'm so uncertain of it. do i feel better? is it just a break in the pain? i have spent my day since waking this afternoon Very Purposefully Keeping Busy. this is what i wrote to rumblestrip:

for a while i had the opportunity to be in an outpatient program run by (name), who used to listen very carefully to what you had to say and then kind of make an analysis of the important points, beginning to help you know how to proceed.

"the challenge is..." , she'd say, and usually hit the nail right on the head.

so i woke up this afternoon with a nearly unprecedented degree of suicidality. i have decided Not To Think About It; even passing examination of how i feel leads to the howling, yammering maw wherein not only must i find a way to die, but i must do it NOW, without fail and before i have time for anything else.

so this is what i'm going to do: i'm going to force myself to write the logs i've been putting off until i felt better. i'm going to watch some stupid TV. i'm going to keep at some level of activity and i am not going to suicide.

i am also going to briefly notice and then put away my resentment: it is a terrible thing for anyone to have to endure. when every simple activity, every tiny thought has to be a purposeful avoidance of suicide, something has gone horribly, terribly wrong.

i do not have any idea what it is that bob has in mind for me with this; i am finding it difficult to inhabit the thought in which a just and merciful God could require this of any of His people, even if i can fathom a God who would use punishment as a tool for correction.

the challenge, as (name) would say, is simply to continue breathing, to carry on the simple activities, and to refuse to relinquish love for and trust in bob.

wish me luck.

Monday, May 22, 2006

just the facts, ma'am.

i was going to wait until i had some kind of cohesive thoughts to put together, but really what i have is a bunch of bits that are unrelated except that they are part of the general narrative.

friday i went in for ECT and after dr. r. got me all hooked up for the EEG and ran the test strip, he rolled up the strip and put it in my pocket. so here's what it looked like: "blink your eyes three times and then hold them tight shut".

and then afterward my mom took me home so i could sleep and of course i couldn't drive, so mrs. crashco came to pick me up in the afternoon when i woke and we went to perellie's for a buffalo chicken pizza and a little light dessert.

then we went to rumblestrip's concert, which we liked quite well. i was familiar with much of the music on the progam, which puts me at liberty to be attentive to the performance instead of having to wrap my brain around new material as well.

i got to see some people i hadn't seen in ages, and the crashcos and i got to marvel at the level all this rain has brought the floodwaters to. the crashcos brought me home and it was interesting to see where my road was more washed-out than it had been earlier, and we speculated on how long the road would remain open.

my plan was to wake in the morning and go to the geocaching event in barre, but as the night wore on with less and less sleep i became less inclined to go. i'll spare you the details about the night horrors, but i will tell you that it really sucks to wake up choking back vomit.

i finally got to sleep sometime after the sun came up, but then around the ten o'clock hour the phone calls started coming in.

my friends are bulldogs and will not let go. they promised to harrass me until i agreed to get in my car and come down. and happily rumblestrip, who had already decided not to go, came with me for company.

we were both on some sort of schedule; rumplestrip had another concert at which to be, and because i had a bike race in the morning i needed to find a place to attend a saturday afternoon service. i have not missed a week since i started going to church, and although i prefer my home congregation, i have been among congregations spread pretty wide across new hampshire, vermont, and new york. people of God are pretty easy to find if you're looking for them, and all i wanted was to go and be among those gathered for worship. call me a radical or call me sloppy, but i do not believe bob is all that fussy as to which day of the week you show up.

bob's time is now and ever, eternal.

anyway, on saturday afternoon there aren't that many choices. and in addition, crashco and i needed to go inspect and preride the racecourse and this church is nearby and Mass is at 5:30. so i got into some presentable clothes, bike clothes on underneath.

and i went. i wonder how badly i stuck out as non-catholic?

and then crashco and i went to have a look at the course. all you really need to understand about it is that it has been raining for twelve days and that the ground is wet. where the trail is usually packed, it is loose. where the trail is usually loose, it is like pudding. places that usually sport hardpack and grass still had grass, but there was a lot of standing water. all the exposed rock was slippery.

lovely conditions if what you like is hub-deep quiver-sucking mud and spongelike waterlogged turf. i don't run very well on these conditions anymore, so it was not enjoyable for me. i say "anymore", because when i started out it was a very rainy summer and i learned to ride in that nonsense; i was a mudder.

but no more.

so. i managed to get some sleep and i managed to get to the starting line in time to go. it was close, but i was there. and i finished the course. i had to; i'm the defending champion and although i harbored no illusion about the likelihood of actually winning, i knew that finisher's points will go a long way toward defending my championship.

and it IS my championshp to defend.

i will not trouble you with all the details, but i will tell you that it was a difficult afternoon. i came in DFL (= "dead last") by such a large margin that by the time i came up the chute, the awards ceremony had concluded and the last of the cars was pulling out of the parking lot.

i've been DFL in a lot of races. some of them are my proudest moments. so don't try to pin what happened next on my placement:

i came home with a crushing, heaving depression. i came home wanting to give up completely. "i'm done", i said to no one in particular. but i was ok with it. it's ground on which i'm familiar.

but later on when rumblestrip called, it clipped me off at the knees. i could not stop crying.

so now i'm hung up on The Great Ambivalence. people say that the ECT is helping, but i don't see it. and i hate the treatments. a sense of dread is accumulating in my soul and the sorrow is visceral.

some days i remember some of what happened; today i can't remember anything. and i still feel weird, like i'm still partly drugged. there's probably a good reason why they don't like you to drive on days when you have treatment.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

put your head down and go

that's what eric gave me as advice before my first time trial. it was good advice, although if he'd been giving me advice about how to ride a TT in huntington, he might have included some advice about not getting run over. sometimes you say it like a stupid see you later: "hey, don't get run over!" but in huntington it has special meaning because the locals will run you over if they get the chance, or at least they'll honk and laugh if you fall off your bike, and they will threaten to kill you. they have to lift their knuckles off of the ground in order to shake a fist in your general direction, but once they remember the muscle sequence, they manage to make it intimidating.

of course, i have just unfairly categorized the population of an entire town, some residents of which have two eyebrows that lie quietly side-by-side as opposed to one on top of the other. i wish to excuse rumblestrip, her husband, pets, and any neighbors of whom she is fond from unnecessary hyperbolic vitriol. come to think of it, i wish to excuse the enmans as well.

as for the rest of you, when we stop getting death threats, i'll reconsider my position.

but of course, tonight we weren't riding huntington; we were riding jonesville, which is long and although it is flat-ish, it is quite painful if you do it right.

my legs are sore. my lungs have been sufficiently punished. my squishy bits hurt. and out on the course i was passed by four riders and then kicked it up and passed that one rider back.

now, at these venues, you actually hear people say "allez, allez", and it's what i said to crashco as he passed me, but then when i overtook him again i remembered enough french in addition to "allez, allez" to make some peppery suggestions about what he might go do with himself and i called him a name besides.

he doesn't care. he faces this kind of abuse with equanimity and the knowledge that somewhere in my bag i have brought him a very fine, very dark bar of chocolate. i got some for myself, too, which i am washing down with chocolate milk from the strafford organic creamery, drunk right out of the bottle.

besides this sort of decadence i also am not as practiced at the quick change as i used to be, and therefore mooned the southbound lane of interstate 89 for a while, because they're too distant and moving too fast to hear the traditional call of "if you don't want to see my butt don't look over here!"

the official figure is in, too: i am fifty (FIFTY!) pounds heavier than i was the last time i rode this or any race course, and despite the extra weight i think i rode pretty well. while i was standing waiting for my start, the train went by. route 2 is very close to the tracks here, and i stood, watching. remembering. knowing and being thankful that it's not my train. maybe it isn't my train, but my hand goes to my heart and then i lift it heavenward, and the engineer waves.

do you ever find out things about places and then wish you hadn't? there's a place on route two (i won't tell you exactly where, but the racecourse passes over it) where the brother of a man i used to know was assaulted. he was struck in the face with a tire iron and didn't even live to see the inside of the ambluance.

i can't ride that stretch of road without wishing i didn't know. can't avoid it now, but i can say a prayer for the repose of his soul. couple other things, too. i saw bert today and i don't think he's ever seen me when i'm feeling well. i'm not sure, but i think this was day four. and as i was just telling rumblestrip, i know where the gratitude is properly placed.

so i'm going to go have a shower and wash this day off of me. tomorrow i'll go have some ECT and mrs. crashco will pick me up at my house. we're going out for pizza, probably with the Tharaglebs and we're going to go hear a concert that rumblestrip is in.

besides standard road dirt, there's always a lot i have to wash off of me at day's end; i am never as kind or gracious as i want to be. i rarely get to the end of the day and feel as if i have used every breath, every gift to best advantage. i can hope, though. every day i hope to be a better person today than i was yesterday. i have better luck some days than others.

rumblestrip says she doesn't really believe in luck; so okay, some days i create better circumstances than others. i'm going to go have a shower and light a candle. i'm going to have a few things to say about gratitude and forgiveness. i'm going to trust bob to help me sort it out.

you have a good evening, too. i hope you'll be a better person tomorrow than you were today, and i hope you'll recognize where gratitude is properly placed. i hope you'll be kind and gracious, and that you are treated gently. i hope that while you're riding the roads that you don't get run over, and that you always manage to keep the rubber side down.

we tell each other that sometimes on the start line.

stay safe. go fast. and i hope that when you cross the finish line, you are pleased with your ride and that you can look back on it and know you chose the right gears, stayed out of the potholes, and used every breath to push hard and ride fair.

remember, it's rubber side down.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


sometimes, if you get very lucky, you can point to a specific juncture where you can see quite plainly that someone's life is better because you were there. i wish i could tell you this story, but it verges on being not my story to tell, so instead, i'm going to tell you about an unrelated thing:

on my desk is a jawbone. i don't know what kind of animal it belonged to; a carnivore, by the look of the teeth. there are four teeth still in it; aggressive, pointy-looking teeth. the large canine at the front is loose and comes out if you just tip it upside down. it is oddly satisfying to do so. it has an interesting sound and feel, taking it out and puting it back in. the bone looks rough and pitted but it is smooth and cool to the touch. it is difficult to refrain from comparison with my own jaw, of roughly the same length.

yes, well. anyway.

tonight for the first time in a long time i feel happy. i think it bears repeating. tonight for the first time in a very long time i feel happy. not the lifting of sorrow as when there is something pleasing or comforting in the midst of everything else; happiness. real and unqualified.

it has been so long and it feels so strange that for a while i could not puzzle out what it was. i could not identify it. realistically i can't expect it to last; i can't expect months of illness to evaporate in one afternoon and i don't know that i would wish for such a thing either, it's so unnatural.

but i was looking up into the sky and i noticed five birds flying, chasing and looping and dodging as only happens in the spring. and even though it was raining, a neighbor dog sat placidly motionless. he's a husky or some other such sled dog breed; what does he care for the weather? a little light rain? piffle.

in time i will heal. i know this as certainly as i know anything. yesterday was hard on me. in church there was a baptism and it was Barbara's last sunday and i was so overcome with emotion that as Barbara walked down the aisle after the service i could not hold my balance and fell right over.

of course the well-meaning folks had to call rescue. oy. this, i don't need. there is nothing so unusual about me getting all emotional and falling over. i wish i were tougher, but i'm not. once i passed out cold at the end of the bruckner motet "christus factus est", and that was back in the pre-conversion days.

so instead of going caching with me as planned, rumblestrip came over and made us a little light lunch and read to me and kept me company for a while while i had a nap. sometimes there is no better comfort.

anyway, my brother-in-law (bless his heart) came out to pick me up to bring me to dinner at pauline's. probably a bad idea for me to drive. we have never had a bad meal at pauline's, but we were a little hacked that they gave away our favorite table. i am not in the habit of eating red meat and i am no longer in the habit of drinking coffee. i don't care; i went right ahead and had both.

now it seems like weeks ago.

bob spoke to me this afternoon. i don't imagine it's like being even a minor prophet, but bob left me with a message for other someone else who just hasn't been listening well enough. the trick, apparently, is to be able to recognize that You Are Being Spoken To. bob speaks all the time. you just probably don't notice. do me a favor: don't make me have to take down messages. i have a hard enough time trying to remember my own phone number.

remember this: you are bob's own precious child.

and i'm coming up the stairs and all of a sudden i want to rededicate my life, to offer it up with love and gratitude, and i want to be worthy of it. now if you'll excuse me, i have to go light a candle and i have to wash the green goop out of my hair.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

maple barley malt

i'm not in bed, sleeping. it was a hard day, and it's not over. what i'm still doing up is baking bread; i have not baked bread since before saint patrick's day, when things went very, very bad. the full moon has risen over my mountains and my peepers are out, singing. "good luck, boys", i always tell them. i know that the girls always go for the good singers. i could fall in love with a species like that.

the bread that's rising (too slowly) in my kitchen is my own recipe (as always). it is maple barley malt, a hearty, heavy, dense nut brown sweet bread made with (just as it sounds) barley flour, barley malt, and grade b dark maple syrup. it is heavy and takes for-honkin-ever to rise.

i bake a lot of bread. i have adopted a practice where i bring fresh bread to church: a loaf is reserved for the pastor. a loaf is reserved for you if you are rumblestrip or if you won the right in the auction, but there's always an orphan loaf, unspoken for and left quietly in the back of the sanctuary. people are shy about taking it.

tomorrow it seems very important to bring bread because tomorrow is the last sunday before Barbara goes on sabbatical; for a while an interim pastor will be receiving "her" bread. i do not think the interim pastor knows this yet.

tonight while i wait for the bread to rise i'm drinking malta goya, which is an oddball carbonated beverage that i think you have to develop a taste for.

now that the bread is in the oven i can relax a little. tonight i saw the revs play and that was good. blame the Flyingfishers if you need to assign blame for it, but somehow i care about how the revs are doing, and it's "revolution", not "reverends".

yesterday i went geocaching in the rain with Flyingfisher, and we met some lovely and interesting cachers but it was weird because they treated me as if i'm famous, which is a little awkward, if satisfying. as a child i always wanted to be famous, but i thought i was going to be a famous musician rather than a well-known finder of ammo cans, so it's a little strange.

it rained all day today, too, and i had an appointment with Barbara partly just to talk to her and partly to help clear out her office and i can't really explain why, but i cried a lot. i'm going to miss Barbara powerful much.

and it occurred to me (and maybe this is an asshole thing to think) that maybe part of my rush to suicide was based on a desire for her to do my funeral. once she leaves there'll be no suicide until she comes back, if that's an operating force.

and, see, even though funerals are partly an occupational hazard for her, it's kind of a crappy thing to wish on someone and i'm sorry for it. i love her. and then i think: "when it's time for my funeral, i hope you're too damn old."

and i was stopped in my tracks for a while by the sound of the train going by. Barbara asked me about it: did it still get me?

well, yes. but it's not my train. happy news for her. and you, probably.

me, i'm waiting for that bread to come out of the oven. then i'll be able to wash this day off of me and crawl into my bed (which i love) and spread out like a liquid. i'll be nameless and faceless, insensate.

i will light my candle and have a few words with bob. i had a few words with bob this afternoon when i was down at the church (i never can resist) but there's always something new to say to bob. lately and perhaps unaccountably, i am especially grateful for the color green and i say a prayer of thanks for it.

i ask bob to watch over Barbara and rumblestrip (whose proper name gets a capital letter, but you will never see it here) and deanne, whom i have never met or even spoken to, but who i hope has gotten a good job, and k, whom i miss and i'm so thankful for them and the Tharaglebs and the crashcos that there isn't room here in my chest for it all. please, bob, watch out for skipper and fritz and linda and betty and the Flyingfishers and all the oggs.

i'm too overcome and maybe if i have a hot shower i'll be able to stop crying and maybe rumblestrip will laugh, but it's saturday night so i have to shave and i think i'm going to sleep right up until it's time for church. i haven't even marked up my hymnals even though i have the bulletin in my pocket but bob always understands, and if i get very lucky tonight i will sleep.

i'm maybe not entitled to sleep the sleep of the righteous, but i'm doing my best over here to make my life mean something and to simply get through the rough patches, so maybe i'm entitled simply to let breath pass in and out of my lungs without rasping thorough the crying, and maybe i'll get lucky and just sleep a quiet sleep.

often i don't really want to die; i just want respite. so please, bob, if ever i did honor you, if ever i did love you, bring me a gentle, dreamless sleep. Flyingfisher says i have courage. love is good enough for me. i love you; goodnight.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


today i woke up at home, in my own bed. this is no small thing. the hospital bed was uncomfortable and confining and there was no air flow and too much light. my room at home is the kind of green that when i first saw it, i thought "this will have to be painted over." but then the first morning i woke up in there i thought: "i am never painting over this"; it made me so happy to wake up in there on a sunny morning. my bed is in the window nook. i slept there all night in beautiful, blessed darkness, with only the sound of the peepers to serenade me. there were crisp fresh sheets and once i navigated the attendant hazards (very emotional day; unsteady on my feet. somewhat dizzy, more than usual) i crawled in there and spread out like a liquid. it was lovely.

i woke in the morning just in time to go see dr. n, and afterward i stopped at city market where i purchased a delightful if not entirely nutritious lunch of a green & black's 70% dark chocolate bar and a bottle of very excellent chocolate milk from the strafford organic creamery.

then i went to see bert, and after that went home to get my road bike and get suited up for a ride. for no particularly good reason, i decided to ride from jonesville up to rumblestrip's house and back, and from there i got into cambridge in just enough time to time the GMBC time trial up there. kevin was a little put out that i hadn't responded to his email, but "hey, it's my first day out of the hospital" seemed to be a good enough excuse.

last night for the first time in a long time i was able to light my own candle at evening prayer, and the Very Dear and Loyal rumblestrip was present with me and stayed until i was ready for bed.

thank you to all of you who have lit candles for me during my absence, and deanne, i very much appreciate your continuing to do so. it was such a joyful thing to go to choir practice that when i got there i picked skipper right up off the ground and wouldn't put her down.

we had a little impromptu ceremony in which they cut off my hospital bracelets.

it is good to laugh again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

fifteen minutes

there are fifteen minutes left to my day. fourteen. at a quarter to eleven, my nurse will come by with my HS meds: seroquel, ambien. no benzos, because benzos taken after eight will interfere with tomorrow morning's anesthesia.


it's been a hard day; tomorrow they're releasing me and although i have a good plan for the day, it's enough stress for me to feel bad.

i develop a distinctive and unpleasant odor when i am under significant stress. i do not smell good tonight.

shep 6 has been a hard place to be all day; there has been much yelling, shouts of people in pain, yips and barks that are regular and startling. they are the sounds of people in intense pain. it sounds like their souls are being ripped out, string by string.


but tomorrow after my ECT i'm expected to sleep for a while and then i'm getting sprung. my mom will come and take me home.

wednesday is choir practice and of course i won't be permitted to drive, so rumblestrip will pick me up at home and bring me. afterward, she'll return me home and stay with me a while; if i get really lucky she'll stay with me until i fall asleep.


i love rumblestrip as well as i love anyone. i try not to be too mushy because it spoils my curmudgeonly persona that i work so hard to project, but rumblestrip can get away with calling me by a term of endearment that i not only tolerate but enjoy.

but YOU can't call me that and hope to live to tell about it, not unless you're rumblestrip.

well. i'm overdue for my meds, which means i'd better find my nurse. i'll have time later to go on about rumlestrip in rhapsodic fashion.

and you know i will, too.

Good Night, Good Friends.

Friday, May 05, 2006

cinco de mayo

it's not really a holiday i observe, but i couldn't resist having an entry with the date on it.

it's been quite a day up on shep 6.

this morning the IV meds were less painful than usual, but it took me honkin' FOREVER to wake up in recovery and when i got back upstairs nobody had ordered my breakfast. usually my nurse orders it up for 1030, so it's here when i get back and i can choke it down before i crash.

so today i was already crashed when breakfast came. and i was still crashed when lunch came. and every time someone came and knocked on my door i woke in a panic. you know, the kind of waking up ou do where you scream and fly vertically right off the bed?

you'd think that after a half dozen wakings like that they might just let me sleep. you'd think it, but you'd be wrong.

i have the feeling back in my right arm, but i have small red splotchy patches.

and the other patients are driving me nuts. the TV is too loud, and for some reason somebody likes the canned auto-play music on the keyboard. there's a woman up here in what appears to be moderately advanced stages of dementia and sometimes at night she weeps and howls with such ferocity that it sounds like her soul is coming unhinged.

there are a couple of other patients who are, uh, intense and challenging to be around. one has a lot of anger that's partly political and another has echolalia. go ahead. look it up.

there's one patient who is quiet and no trouble at all, except i think he has a little crush on my mom.

i have a really brutal headache; one that is accompanied by both visual and olfactory "enhancements". there are bright, sparkly lights and i keep getting that feeling you get when you get water up your nose. on top of that, the headache is so bad that it's actually nauseating. i have felt sick all day. and none too stable on my feet, either.

the weather was nice, though. breezy and sunny on the porch. and when my mom came to visit, she took me for a walk outside and we looked at some pretty sculpture. we like sculpture.

well, my nurse du soir has tracked me down and given me my night meds, so i don't have long before i pass o

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

what fresh hell is this?

that's how dorothy parker used to answer the phone.

very stylish, i think.

here's my complaint du jour:

large portions of my right arm have gone numb and the place where yesterday's IV went in hurts like all get out.

the current operating theory is that swelling at the IV site is choking off a nerve.

so i'm going to go refill my ice bag.

Monday, May 01, 2006

little pinch

that's what they tell you when they go to put a needle in you: little pinch.

this morning when i was down in procedure room #4 (which is where they do the ECT, but you probably have some reasoning skills and know that already)

anyway, i was in there and someone asked me how i got all the bruises up and down my arms.

"they're from the IV's" i told them.

it's the kind of moment when you can hear eyebrows go flying up into hairlines.

so this is how my morning goes, three days a week:

i wake up and put on something with short sleeves and usually a minute or two after that the IV nurse comes in to start the IV and often as not puts it somewhere i'd rather not have it go. it hurts more when it passes over a joint, and the smaller the vein they use, the more painful the medication is when it goes in.

lately she puts it in the back of one of my hands, no matter what i have to say about it. i have heard the explanation about why it needs to be placed so far out. i understand that when it goes higher up my arm, there is increased risk of blowing a vein.

apparently when you nick it, it can't be used again for a while.

so. after the IV gets started, the guy from transport shows up with a wheelchair to take me down. i always decline the chair; i prefer to walk.

when we get down to the pre-op/PACU units (which are separate but yet connected) i climb up onto a stretcher and wait. i listen to my ipod (only the most brilliant invention of the century)and usually a nurse comes and covers me with a warm blanket. often i fall asleep.

when it's my turn they wheel me into procedure room #4 and everybody gets to their jobs. there are a lot of things that have to be done: i have to be hooked up for EKG and some other things and the folks from anesthesia have to go to work.

the med lock has lots of tubes; four or five and they pump in lidocaine first which is good, because i can only guess how insanely painful the next meds would be without it.

i'm trying to learn to identify the different meds by taste. i'm not having much luck because the whole experience tends to wipe out your memory.

when they put in the muscle relaxant your eyes relax and go all funny and you have to close them. and the sedative goes in so painfully that i am usually screaming or crying when i pass out.

i wake up on the stretcher in PACU and they roll me back upstairs where i choke down some breakfast and fall asleep. "choke" is really the operative term, because after the anesthesia i have trouble swallowing.

then i sleep for a while. today i slept until three in the afternoon, which means i missed almost an entire nursing shift.

there are a lot of new people up here, so the place has a whole different feeling to it. they've moved my room to the east side of shep 6, to a single.

and i have to make a correction: my old room isn't the only double up here.

i have a nicer view, though. i can see my mountains from the window: mt. mansfield right in the center. ricker mountain is easy to pick out since there's still snow on the trails, and bolton mountain is farther front and a little to the left.

the weather has been nice, so the views have been pretty.

the stuff they put in my hair to help the electrodes conduct dries crunchy like papier-mache.

there are two TVs playing too loudly at the moment, and someone is playing with the keyboard. the worst of it is that two of the patients are screaming. it is the rhythmic shouting of someone in advanced stages of dementia, and it set off a very psychotic young woman, with her own very rapid and repetitive garbled speech.

i wonder if they're going to end up putting her into seclusion.

at any rate, it's goign to be a bumpy night; the kind of night where you are painfully aware that you are on shep 6 as opposed to shep 3.

i've got to go. i think the trays have come up and dinner is here.


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