Loose Ends

Review is good.  It was not a strong point for me in my younger years.  Every chore or event was completed, put behind me, and filed in “history”.  I found it extremely difficult to review even simple things, like a “to do” list, once they were done.  I know this sounds crazy given the purpose of the “to do” list, but I was a resident before I mastered the discipline of going back over the list and actually checking off items and seeing what was left to perform.  I can’t remember rechecking questions on a test.  So much of this writing, this blog, is investigating my own history, presenting episodes from my past and mulling them over-as I’ve said before, I think I’m overdue.
So I went back to do my monthly review of the comments for this blog, feeling proud that I can attend to such details so efficiently now, and I found that the comments have outgrown this monthly review.  I’m going to have to deal with them concurrently, maybe at the foot of each post, in order to truly keep the conversation moving.  And I’ve placed the most recent comments in the right-hand column of the blog, right up front where we can all see them and address them.  If you’re interested in getting your teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy millisecond of fame, here’s your chance. 
That said, I did reread every single comment submitted since mid-February, and I am so happy for everyone’s feedback.  I’m so grateful for all the birthday wishes and feel better messages.  There is a palpable difference in how my day goes when someone offers encouragement.  Seriously, even Lucy giving me that teeny little leg lick helps.  Not that I want any leg licks from the rest of the readership.  That would be, um, strange. 
While I hate to sink into that “this awful disease has brought such wonderful things into my life” rhetoric, Carla was absolutely right in noting that slowing down can add to your understanding of personal value and to your sanity.  I became much saner as soon as I wasn’t the last parent to pick up my child from the after-school program every day.  That was my first clue.  Lupus made it possible for me to spend more time with my child.  Another benefit:  despite the clutter, people tell me often that my house feels peaceful and they come over for a little relaxing break.  I haven’t started offering the use of my spa tub (for a modest fee) but maybe I should. 
I’m still surprised at how many people have auto-immune disease connections.  I know I shouldn’t be.  Mary Z reminded me that the group includes LOTS of distinct conditions, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (a part of my symptomatology, too), psoriasis, scleroderma (PSS), polymyositis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, vasculitis…and on and on.  I am fortunate to have trained at Hopkins.  When I was there, a powerhouse named Mary Betty Stevens was the head of the rheumatology department.  She was a legend for her research on lupus and vasculitis, and for her amazing teaching ability.  I can still hear her resonant voice.  She was the first female department head at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  I went to the Hopkins faculty roster and saw that two people who were teaching in the rheumatology department during my training are still there:  Michelle Petri and Carol Ziminski, both of whom have impressive clinical and research credentials.  I noticed in passing that Susan MacDonald, a super resident during my training time, is now the associate chairman of the department of internal medicine.  Go Susan!  You probably don’t mind my remembering that you were gorgeous even when you were on call, and came to codes with curlers in your hair.
So cool that Tracy Chapman evokes good vibes for you!  I’m still trying to pinpoint the year she came to the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga.  The Riverbend website is working on a page that will show the artists for the entire 28 years.  It had been going for four years when I came home, and I’m still in awe that such a massive display of so many genres of music occurs here, every June. 
When I said “the stuff is starting now” was I a prophet?  Of course not!  It was inevitable, with this country’s history, that race would come to the forefront of this campaign and have to be addressed.  It’s just as inevitable that any discussion of it would make 98.9% of Americans uncomfortable in some way.  We have got to get better at having this discussion.  I think some of the younger folk are learning a more humorous, tolerant way to go there.  The popular blog Stuff White People Like (http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/) and the website Black People Love Us (http://www.blackpeopleloveus.com/) (written by white people and black people, respectively) are examples of the way some of the dialogue is getting presented.  Self-deprecating humor, making fun instead of attacking, learning to know each other in more subtle ways…these are way more tolerable than the wildly inflammatory rhetoric that hasn’t advanced race relations (what an old-fashioned term!) in this country one bit.  Word to Barack Obama’s pastor:  we don’t need more fire.  Word to white people (remember I’m part white):  you can hardly set foot in a Black church without at some point getting a discussion of slavery and ongoing oppression in America-unfortunately, that’s the history.  Don’t blame Barack–he had to belong to some church, and you get the spiritual with the political (which isn’t all evil).  Something you may not know:  I was raised on a bunch of Army bases by a father who was a career officer.  I have a fierce love for my country but I don’t express it with symbolism or by ignoring its darker truths.  My father fought in World War II and the Korean War, gave up 28 years of his life and retired a Lt.Col.  I really don’t think I need a flag flying on my front porch to prove that we’ve done our part. 
I’m really wound up today.  But I’ve gotta knit.  Last night the sound of little frogs in your backyard wasn’t because of the heavy rain.  I was pulling out the neckbands of the sweater I’m finishing.  I was not pleased with the way I knitted them, and I couldn’t let it go.  I can finish reknitting this today, put the tiny crochet border on, and be finished.  Hallelujah! 

Finally Writing

This day has become another two-fer, a day when one entry was not enough.  Can you become addicted to the writing?  Does having a small audience create a monster who thinks every load of laundry, every conversation should be documented, described, examined?  I don’t think that is happening here.  I think I am just giving in to my natural tendency.  I know that I should have done it long ago.  

I have a lifetime of unwritten words to place here.  Not just here.  I can carry them around in my pockets and scatter them wherever I go, leaving a trail like Hansel and Gretel.  If I follow them backwards maybe I will be a child again, and make a different choice.  I could choose to have faith in my desire and follow my heart, and be a writer.  I could choose to ignore the adults who cautioned me that I could never support myself as a writer.  I might seek out writers and make them my friends and mentors.  I might follow the childhood stories of my friends’ escapades with essays exploring my thinking and then tales describing my life, once I had one. 

I would have been a healthier teen with writing.  There was no way to express myself in my household without being told my ideas were incomprehensible, stupid and crazy.  But there was also no safe, hidden way to put those ideas on paper, write them down and release the emotions that accompanied them.  I grew up without hiding places or privacy.  There was no keyboard that led to a password-protected, encrypted vault where my words could disappear onto a disk or chip and be secret.  The words gathered in my brain and were extruded in acts of violence;  I hurt myself to shed the words and feelings. 

I am entering a poetry contest at Interweave Knits this week.  http://www.knittingdaily.com/poetry/index.html?ET=knittingdaily:p1016:121147a:&st=pmail&utm_source=KPCRulesRegs-T4t&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=KP080219 

They have a list of words that you can draw from to create your poem.  The words are about fiber arts.  My poem is about love.  Interesting to see what particular words evoke in us.  For instance, I hear these lyrics as the last love song.  Written by Tracy Chapman, this is the song that you sing to your last love, the one you are with in your rocking chair days.    And maybe it is also your first real love.

Tracy Chapman I Am Yours (If You Are Mine) 

When all my hopes and dreams
Have been betrayed
I stand before you
My hands are empty
I am yours
If you are mine
When I fall and stumble
Flat on my face
When I’m shamed and humbled
In disgrace
I am yours
If you are mine
When voices call me
To question my faith
When misperception
Taints my love with hate
I am yours
If you are mine
When time decides
It won’t stop for me
When the hawks and vultures
Are circling
I am yours
If you are mine

Tracy Chapman I Am Yours

Peace.  Peace.

Tracy Chapman and the Red Sweater

Yesterday I got my exercise by pushing a shopping cart around a huge grocery store.  I was out there in the late morning at prime little old people time, and many of the elderly were out-pacing me by strides.  I wasn’t worried, as I’m just beginning my conditioning.  Soon I’ll be winning the race to the discounted produce, and toting those cartons of fizzy water without grunting.  I was excited to be able to stock up my freezer again.  For a while I didn’t have the energy and strength for hauling a lot of heavy frozen stuff, but yesterday I felt like I was winning a prize as I loaded up a 10-pound bag of skinless chicken breasts and a huge bag of pears that won’t ripen for a while.  Those B-cells must have been lazy little buggers, impeding me from doing the work I need.  Death to the B-cells!  This increase in energy and strength alone is cause to take the next treatments in June.


I’ve been noting my travel music, and while the errands yesterday barely totalled 15 miles, I still had notable music:  Tracy Chapman.  Several years ago she performed at the Riverbend Festival in Chattanooga.  If you’re not hip to Riverbend you should become enlightened:  http://www.riverbendfestival.com/.  Anyway, I was sitting in the crowd in the heat and humidity (what we call weather in June in Chattanooga, Tennessee), and I was enchanted.  Most of the time she performed with her acoustic guitar as the major accompaniment.  Her lyrics were stark and sometimes hard, telling of experience and age, sometimes ironic, never cute.  These were tales I had followed since her debut with Fast Car.  My eyes couldn’t leave her as she performed.  She had a strong, solid presence, a beauty that was simple, uncolored.  Her arms were shapely, perfect, as if carved-well-muscled and sleek, unusual for a woman, but not masculine.  I don’t recall ever focusing on arms the way I did that night; I wanted my sketchbook and a charcoal pencil.  Here is a sample of the deep, resonant voice:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xZEbcELgpQ&feature=related.


I’ve had my professional v. amateur question answered by Think Outside the Sox.  Because I have knit for pay, I am considered a pro.  The contest is primarily for amateurs (25 of 26 categories) but I am still IN.  I’m gonna put on my big-girl needles and be a pro!  For the rest of the year, I’ll be muttering in my sleep about innovative techniques-”socks made from feathers”, no “anti-tickle socks”, or maybe “socks knit from rubber bands”…hey, I can innovate with the best of them! 


Speaking of innovating, I’m going to show you where I am with the Berroca cardigan.  Remember, the one I started back in the 5th century BC, knit in mistake rib?  These are the fronts:mistakeribcardiganfrontsa.jpg 


Here is the stepped shoulder, sloping down from the neck to the sleeve edge:

mistakeribcardiganfrontsshoulder.jpgIt looks as though there may be curves shaped at the sides and upper neckline, but there are no curves – it’s just the flexibility that the loose mistake rib makes in the fabric.  I’m a few inches up the back, and I’ll show you again when I bind off the back neck. 


I couldn’t get to the latest knitting group, and I miss my friends.