Sunday, January 31, 2010

Look what a trip to Newbury Comics did......

I feel at home in most places. I have worked with gang members, drug addicts, sex offenders, and students of all ages. I have worked in clinics, psychiatric hospitals, schools, and recreational programs. I went to school in Austin, Texas and Northampton, Massachusetts. My hair has been blue, dread-locked, and shaved on one side. I feel like I have earned some street cred. Here are the ways it is oozing through my fingertips:

1. The latest singer/musician/band I have heard of is Ingrid Michaelson and that is because Michelle went to see her in concert and posted a video. The two clerks at Newbury Comics were talking about a genre of music I have never heard of...New Rave. What is that? I did listen to Slipknot today at work but on the recommendation of a student, which means I don't get full credit.

2. When my students check in with me and they have pierced something, I am more worried about infection than hipness. Ditto with the gauges in the ears and the stickpins in the eyebrows. I get it, just keep it clean:)

3. I made my son get a haircut yesterday. His father had hair down the middle of his back most of the time I have known him. I think it is a yearning for my son to have a little cowboy-energy type deal but not in a Freudian way...although everything ends up there, really so it must have to do with my dad.

4. I have not been arrested at a protest, well, ever. As soon as the kids get a bit older, I am renewing my efforts in this much is worthy of protesting!

5. I have not shopped at the Garment District for a couple of years. My favorite skirt purchased from there was a refashioned denim number with red velvet chickens. I no longer have clothing with red velvet farm animals of any sort.

6. I have not been skinny dipping, ice-climbing, or polka dancing in five years. All of which should be done on the same week-end, if you want the full experience.

OK, now I'm just depressing myself. The thing is, it is all still in there and I know that. Sometimes, parts of ourselves have to lie fallow. Maybe your heart has a little patch on it, or maybe you have to stop and listen to those parts of yourself that are softer and less rambunctious. They will demand their turn.....So, I am knitting and writing and turning inward. I am reading about karma and being broken open. And I might just listen to some New Rave.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chicks with Sticks

I'm happy to report that I actually finished a knitting project today (see the action shot to the left). I love knitting for the following reasons:

1. My grandmother taught me to knit when I was five and then proceeded to finish every one of my projects for the next twenty years. This kinda got me in the habit of knitting up to the 75% point. I am teaching my daughter to knit on some of her old needles. I will happily finish her projects until she rebels.

2. Knitting is so old-fashioned it is now hip again. I hope to also become hip again, maybe by guerrilla knitting. These are the folks who go out in the community and knit wild accessories for parking meters. No reason but the reason.

3. Knitting is subversive. You create something that is all you and step outside the mass market culture. Screw you Old Navy...although I draw the line at throwing a curse toward Anthropologie. I need to steal some of their looks to create my own unique vibe.

4. You get to ask a group of women to come together and form a knitting group. You get to name it after a radical knitting book and form a community that bonds over creating. We are One Sisters!

For those of you who knit, the pattern for the gloves is as follows: Gauge--12 stitches/24 rows equals 4 inches with a 10.5 needle and garter stitch. Pattern calls for casting on 30 stitches. I used size 6 needles and a sock weight yarn, switched to stockinette and cast on 40. Knit in pattern until piece measures 8 inches. Bind off. Then sew 1 inch, leave 1 and 1/2 unsewn, then finish seam to bottom. I think this is a Lion Brand pattern.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Little Green Shed

New England gets cold. The kind of cold that doesn't allow for uncovered body parts of any type, the kind of cold that makes you pay thousands of dollars for a week-end of warmth, and the kind of cold that gives you bragging rights (at least to your Texas clan.) Your pipes, car locks, and metal mailboxes can freeze up solid. You can't run for fear of the black ice and you can't quite skate on the pond for fear of thin ice. Still, you can take a quick walk, look across the pond and see the little green shed. It kind of sparkles against the backdrop of dark gray.

New England gets cold but we learn what do. Go out and find a little green shed, it will warm you right up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Notes from the Pew/Reasons to have kids

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time; but if your liberation is bound to mine, please take my hand and we will work together. Aboriginal saying
(order of service at First Parish, Northboro)

I didn't really want to go to church yesterday. It was a lay led sermon on confronting one's own racism. Big bummer on a beautiful Sunday, I have had the confronting racism course at Smith College, thank you very much. In fact, we got so outraged at the institutional racism we found there, we did a sit-in to change the format of the course. Here is one of the things I remember from one lecture by the then Dean of Boston University School of Social Work: Ask yourself this question, how many African-Americans would attend your funeral?

The answer then was one...the answer now is just a handful. Racism in this country is hard to talk about, hard to tackle. If you chose to live in a community that is not integrated, you will continue to have friends that look a lot like you do. I tried to talk one of my African-American friends to moving out to my white community. She responded with "I don't think I want my kids to be stared out every time they walk out of my house." She was right.
I needed the sermon, I needed the reminder and one course, fifteen years ago isn't enough. We are bound to Haiti, and to Pakistan, and to every sentient being.
And the reason to have kids? Two things: Emma was the reason I went to church yesterday and heard what I needed to hear and she gave me the greatest artwork, ever.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to ruin a good run

Many of my 9 readers know and love running and I've run with a few of you and so I know that you all have the good run down. The scenic jaunt through the middle of town, the bucolic run down the dirt road in Peterboro, and the heroic push up Lamplighter.

I am now going to share with you how to ruin a good run, to expand your repertoire and keep you posted on how it is going 5 weeks post-op and give you a snapshot of the magic of marriage.

Last week, I went in for an Echo cardiogram and was giving the go ahead to run. I mentioned to my doc that my heart rate was jumping around a bit and he advised to "take it easy" during my first couple of runs. Take it easy, in my book, means don't can come close, but don't die mostly because you have kids. Cut to this morning.

My little family was headed off to ski....which they have gallantly continued to do despite my absence, and I told my husband I was headed to the Y to run. He mentioned that we own three heart monitors and would I like to wear one? No, no I would not. Why not, he says in that engineering type way that has the effect of making me dig in my heels for no good reason at all. Because they are cumbersome and ruin the flow of a good run...which they that is the first way to ruin a good run...wear a heart monitor.

Because we have a great marriage and understand each other perfectly, he ignored my actual words and rounded up the heart monitors. Then, he spit on the thing that goes around your body and stuck it to me. Then, I tried it and it showed a heart rate of 30. It needed new batteries. Luckily, my heart rate is not germane to the story and I barely noticed that it was so low. Scott did some math and worked out some percentages and my ideal heart rate should stay at 80% which was 140. Cut to the Y.

The second way to ruin a good run is to try and keep your heart rate at 140...I have never run so slowly in all my life. Even then, periodically when I stopped paying attention, I would look down and it was 160. Several times I had to stop and walk to get things down where they were safe and sound. At one point, I was air-running which is like the bionic women in the slow motion scenes. Beyond ridiculous. I hung in for 40 minutes and then decided I should try and cool down.....I couldn't get my heart rate down and sometimes it even jumped to 170. Now, the third way to ruin a good run is to get anxious about your cool down and jack your heart rate back up. Cut to home.

Scott and the kids return from skiing and I have a million heart rate questions for him:

kd: Does your heart rate jump around when you wear that thing?
Scott: It could be reading the electrical current of someone else running on the
high did it go up?
kd: was kinda scary
Scott: Those monitors have always been quirky on me.

I hope you read that last sentence husband thought it might be a good idea to give me a quirky heart monitor after heart surgery. And the funny thing is, he was right....the fourth and final way to ruin a good run is to not make it home afterwards. So quirky data is better than no data. I love you honey:)

Friday, January 22, 2010

A little dab of faith

I have been reading "The Seat of the Soul" by Gary Zukav, renowned author of The Dancing Wu Li Masters....renowned being a relative word. This is a book about the karma of your soul:

When the soul returns to its home, what has been accumulated in that lifetime is assessed
with the loving assistance of its Teachers and guides....if the soul sees that it is necessary,
it will choose another will draw to itself the guides and Teachers that are
appropriate to what it seeks to accomplish.

Mr. Zukav, in the spirit of mystics and true believers, writes with great conviction about the evolution of life from 5 sensory beings to multi-sensory beings. He writes with scientific fervor but I can't tell you where he garnered his information. So I sit at the intersection of faith..wanting to believe that my struggles are in the service of moving my soul toward wholeness and light and the idea that some kind of theoretical underpinning to a brand new evolution of the soul would not be untoward.

The wisest teacher I have had is Thich Nhat Hanh who speaks powerfully about the simplicity of our energy taking different forms. I sense that he feels pity for the Western mindset that one life is all we get. It is an expansive view that our actions in this life inform who we are in the next and that some of our struggles in this life started in the last. Is it True? Is faith about an absolute truth? I don't think so...I think faith is about where we place our doubt and who we trust.

I trust my Buddhist teachers...they are not infallible but they are filled with joy, compassion, humor and light. I will start there...

Each soul takes upon itself a particular task. It may be the task of raising a family,
communicating ideas through writing, or transforming the consciousness of a community.
Whatever the task that your soul has agreed to, whatever its contract with the universe,
all the experiences of your life serve to awaken within you the memory of that contract.

Amen, Namaste, and give 'em hell.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Hard to pick one favorite moment from work today....clients headed to DYS lock-up, getting lectured on the intersection of executive functioning deficits and ADHD, being told I must be depressed because some of my students are failing in school. Still, as I drive home down a busy highway, I think how blessed I am. Blessed to be trusted by the most resilient and hardy kids I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Blessed to have the opportunity to travel outside my class, race, and gender and learn a thing or two. Blessed to come home to my kids who are so excited because their teachers let them sled and do snow dances during a quintessential New England recess.

Now, I'm headed out to make art with a group of friends while my husband listens soberly to the story of a sledding injury and gently cleans the wound. Oh yeah, I'm blessed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ted, we hardly knew ye

A dear friend told me when I started this blog that there were two things a blogger would do well to steer clear of...politics and writing when one is in a bad humor. So, clearly when politics puts you in a bad humor, that would be the kiss of death. Nevertheless, I am stunned into writing a few small thoughts about the senatorial election in Massachusetts that I witnessed up close and personal.

When I moved to Massachusetts some twenty years ago from Texas, I felt like I had come home. True, I had to get rid of my shotgun and I had to learn that saying "Texan" was not a valid response when asked about one's ethnicity. I missed the cowboys in wranglers and two-stepping but I was in hog heaven when talking politics. For the first time in my life, I was not an outlier when discussing issues of class, economics, social policy, and social justice. In fact, I was quite ordinary and sometimes, gasp, even centrist. Massachusetts had the Kennedys and a college or university on every street corner. Massachusetts was the promised land where a liberal could espouse their political opinions without fear of getting a Shiner Bock dumped unceremoniously on their protest papers. Massachusetts was home.

I am a yellow dog democrat. I would vote for a yellow dog before voting for a Republican. I am less proud of this than I used to be but I have enough insight to know that it still holds true. The democratic party is the party for working people,labor, and believes that there is a strong class system in this country and that many of our citizens are disenfranchised. We have a moral obligation to take care of our most vulnerable citizens. Ted Kennedy believed that and worked his entire senate career to equal the playing field. How in the hell could we honor his memory by electing a centerfold? And, for the record, if any female candidate of any party had posed semi-nude, she would have had no political career, ever. A post for another day.

I don't dislike Scott Brown and I see clearly that Martha Coakley did not run a stellar campaign. Still, this state...a safe haven for people like me...seems a little more ordinary today.

Monday, January 11, 2010


As my recovery progresses along, I have been finding comfort at the indoor track at the Y. I have checked in with the heart center about the following activities to be told that I can't do any of them for several more weeks: climbing, yoga, light stretching, biking, snowshoeing, hiking, running, and ping pong (that call went out today). What I can do is walk...for as long and often as I would like.

Yesterday, I grabbed my music and headed over. It started innocently enough, as we were all walking together. I chuckled to myself as I watched the ping pong players below set up their tables. I wondered why they needed knee braces for the lightweight sport of ping pong. Have you watched the Chinese National team play ping pong? This was comparable and hard core. I was amazed at the full body force thrown behind every shot and realized that one knee brace was probably insufficient except this was only a practice. This intense ping pong practice started me down the wrong path.

I respond to competitive energy by wanting to compete, even if the competitive energy is one floor below. Right about then, the perfect storm converged: the walkers on the track started running, and this song came on YouTube - sinnerman ninhttpn my MP3 player:

This is my running song. The song that for the past 15 years has allowed me to go one more mile, climb one more route, ski one more hill. This song is irresistable. So there I was....what did I do?

Luckily, I started talking to myself:

They didn't tell you you couldn't jog................jogging isn't running......jogging one lap and walking one lap certainly isn't running.....jogging slowly isn't running...........hell, running slowly isn't running.

Holy shit! I sound like an addict. Someone who throws away their recovery and their future health on one moment of pulsating, in-your-face-fierce-ping-pong-playing-dudes pleasure. I'm not going to say how close I came to messing up but suffice it to say that I am now on Y restriction....I will now have a tracker at the track. Good luck honey!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

2 hours

The new dead weed picture that proudly has "begin anew" in black type rather than green type represents 2 hours of work. It is the start of a new header....the progress of which I am going to blog about. It is a circular little world, really.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I'm ready to write a happy post, a this-is-going-to-be-a-kick-ass-year-with-a-bionic-heart post but I am just too tired and worried that I am becoming "that" friend. You know the one....the one that a lot of stuff happens to and she sometimes calls you at odd hours to tell you that both cars in her driveway were demolished by a falling tree that came down in a freak ice storm. The one that used to be a good listener, but lately is doing a lot of talking.

Balance is a tricky thing and it is easier to stay balanced on the high beam than on the dusty mat sitting on one's butt. I want back on the beam. I want to risk the spectacular fall instead of being lapped at the Y by the Silver Sneaker set. Note to self, when you are aged and in good shape do not cluck at a middle-aged walker in a rodeo Tshirt. Clucking is never good form.

I went back to work this week, fully prepared to go all in.....the stories I heard knocked me back to the mat....none of which I will share because Dr. Drew is a narcissist(thanks Lorette for the article) and a horrible therapist role model. Narratives are personal unless you are a blogger. Even then, one's son can happily come down the stairs at 9:30 and announce he has read your blog book from cover to cover and don't you think you used a few too many curse words? Note to self, put the blog books on a top shelf.

Emma's teacher called today to tell us that she was teary and wanted to see me. Scott picked her up early and when I got home, she was laying on the couch. She had a nightmare last night that I had died and Gollum had become her new mother. She seemed so sad that I contemplated consulting a grief/loss specialist....then, I felt her forehead. She has a temp of 102. I have never been happier to feel a fever. Note to self, never forget to rule out the physical before jumping on the specialist's bandwagon.

Since I am not climbing for 6 weeks, I thought I would try a french manicure. It might take my mind off the 10 pounds I have probably gained. It has not.

So, sometimes to regain balance, listen to a poet:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of
your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will
tell you mine.
Meanwhile, the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean, blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely
the world offers itself to your imagination
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Birthday Monster Doll

This little guy started in the middle of the night when I needed to be creative to stay awake. He is based on the "ugly doll" and has morphed into the "birthday monster doll." My favorite part is the dainty pink tail.

Here is the thing about creativity; we need each other to flourish. This doll started over at my friend's blog (random posts). Then, I took him to our bi-monthly studio sessions and one of my fellow artists came up with the idea of one button eye, one pom-pom eye. Genius, really.

And speaking of genius, the New Yorker has a thought provoking article on Van Gogh and his missing ear. It seems like he had a dream, in the middle of his ascending and escalating insanity. He wanted to live and work communally with artists. He leased an old decrepit house in a small Dutch village, known for its pious prostitutes. He had struck up a brief friendship with Paul Gauguin while they were both in Paris and invited him to come live and paint with him. Gauguin was a bit of an ass and hot-tempered and carried a sword...for self-defense. Well, things got out of hand and one theory holds that Gauguin sliced Van Gogh's ear off, rather neatly and then ran back to Paris...and then on to the islands. I can see the beauty of the dream and I can see artists losing body parts. We are a persnickety bunch. I also recommend Gertrude Stein's Autobiography of Alice B Toklas, another rollicking tale of french artists. I don't know how Van Gogh lost his his own hand or at the hand of a fellow artist. I do know that he created amazing art during his years in an asylum but that ultimately, that wasn't enough to save him. It does save part of us, though.