Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I don't know what to say.

I admit to being exhausted. I stayed up almost all of three nights with a terrified post seizure good dog. JB is temporarily on crutches. Two young women who lost their mother to cancer a few years back will now lose their father. And it is my favorite holiday. I can't bring myself to decorate y-e-t, but I've bought fresh bough for the fence and I want pine scent in the house. I've also given thought to the gifts I will give this season. I love that part; more than getting, I love the giving.

I am rightly concerned and consumed with the writing of my second book. It feels endless. Part of the problem is time: I don't have enough of it. My best style is to write for 8, 10, 12 hours at a time. I barely come up for air. But I don't have open stretches like that these days. This is not a gratifying or enjoyable book to write and I'm not sure when it's truly done that I will let it find its way to the outside world. I hope so, but I'm not sure.

I went to a writing conference a few weeks back and the first page of my book was read aloud for a panel of three agents to critique. They gave some helpful criticism, and they told the audience of 200 people that my opening preface was pretty fantastic. I was floored and stunned and of course determined to keep going.

But I have other characters that are starting to pull at me. They are impatient. Claudia and her eight year affair with a married man. Her brother Cole, the journalist who longs to hear his Mother's poems. The wacky landlady in her baby blue chenille bathrobe. The married man and his too tender infidelity.

But for now I have a book to finish. To finish the edits, decide on the names and the locations, write the bridges, improve the verbs. And discover the ending. This last part is pretty perplexing. I should know the ending by now. But I know I will know by the time it's time. 

I imagine there will be some good cheer on my blog during this month. I love the season. If I sound somber tonight, I possibly am. But mostly I am so damn grateful. 


FYI: Here's the opening that landed some compliments from the agents:

Some of this story is true and some of it isn’t. A wise reader will probably figure that part out. Please don’t ask me. I have enough angst worrying about Bee’s reaction and whether Catherine will sic a Filipino dragon on me.  

Also, don’t ask me if hearts heal. I have no idea.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

There Is No Word For Goodbye

Do you remember the first time you lost someone? Living means losing the people you love sometimes. 
There's no way around it. 

I hope when you read this poem, written by an Alaskan woman and gratefully shared with me by a friend and writer, you will never forget it. I hope it will bring you comfort in the times when you must let go and in the times, like today, when you have the chance to say thank you for the precious people who grace your life.  

Happy American Thanksgiving, with love

by Mary Tall Mountain

Sokoya, I said, looking through
the net of wrinkles into
wise black pools
of her eyes.

What do you say in Athabascan
when you leave each other?
What is the word
for goodbye?

A shade of feeling rippled
the wind-tanned skiin.
Ah, nothng, she said,
watching the river flash.

She looked at me close.
We just say, Tiaa. That means
See you.
We never leave each other.
When does your mouth
say goodbye to your heart?

She touched me light
as a bluebell.
You forget when you leave us,
You’re so small then.
We don’t use that word.

We always think you’re coming back, 
but if you don’t, we’ll see you someplace else.
You understand.
There is no word for goodby

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Special Thanksgiving Recipe from Me

As a public service I once again offer you this recipe for turkey stuffing:



Monday, November 19, 2012

Ah Dr. Seuss

Hello Dr. Seuss,
I hate to tell you
I hope this won't fell you
but did you know
poems that rhyme
are considered low
(er) than a fairy tale
the kind that bob
but don't much sail?
I write rhymes too
and one bad time
they gulped mine down
like bitter lime.
But that was then
when I cared a bit
now i'm just a happy twit
so Dr Suess, do you mind
if I follow you
the way you rhyme?
Your cat in the hat,
my rabbit in the jam
they both for sure
don't give a damn.
Pass the candy,
throw the eggs
and when we tire
we'll go to bed.

maybe in 2013 I will follow the rhythm and line pattern of Cat in the Hat and write myself a long Dr. Seuss poem. maybe I just will....


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Distraction of a Mish Mash

I can't write another post on my dog Chase's seizures. Not front and center, anyway. Some of the drama and difficulty of the past few days has been trumped by my partner JB's unceremonious fall from which she is now in a full leg cast with a most painful knee. This is not the way she or I expected to welcome the start of the holiday season. But hell, why not enjoy the lemonade in the few moments between caring for a very pained dog and a very pained JB?

So here comes another mishmash. This is Whalers Wharf in Provincetown. I had an office on the third floor for a couple of years, one of the worse jobs I will ever have but valuable none-the-less. 

I wish you had asked me, Governor Romney. This voting line says it all. The Big and little Birds of the country voted with their beaks :^)

Ah Provincetown. Someday I am going to walk every single street and stretch of beach and bay and photograph it all. I like that I have introduced Ptown to so many of my friends and visitors here. It is as beautiful as I make it sound. It is also outrageous and expensive and creative as anyplace on earth could be. 

Where oh where is Emily Rabbit? Why isn't she writing her weekly column? If any one has heard from her would you let me know? She hasn't asked me for bail money for some time now and that worries me. 

This is Logan, my third grandson. He gets short rift because all the firsts have already taken place with Mr. Ryan and no-longer-baby Drew. He is a leo the lion and he has had the necessary perspective of observing his brothers from day one. I wonder who he will be. My birthday book says he will be an important and impassioned leader. I know he is as sweet and easy as sweet and easy can be....

Okay: an update on Chase. It is now day four and finally this morning he was able to stop pacing and racing and whining and looking so lost and so confused. I have essentially not slept in three days. We don't know what to expect ahead. Tomorrow we get a new medication for partial seizures to add to his medication for full seizures. At this point we can only hope for a life for him that is not consumed with sickness. JB and I are cautious about that. But we want to hope for his sake. The whole thing sucks. I will say again he is a good dog. Now he is also afraid of falling because the phenobarbitol knocked out his back legs for two days. And he doesn't want to be alone. JB and I go back to work on Tuesday except JB is probably not going anywhere any time soon. 

Would you under any circumstance pay $ 10 for this bowl of soup? (it might have been $ 12 and I am too embarrassed to say.)  I did. It was one of a kind ORGASMIC. As in: priceless :^)

So. The season is upon us. I am a fan of these holidays. I write cards and see friends and bake and cook and search for stocking stuffers. This year I have already ordered gifts from Etsy and I am pretty sure I am going to like the presents I give to my family and friends and maybe a little something to my coworkers. I've bought chocolate coins for some of my clients, especially the kids. Who wouldn't like a netted sack of chocolate coins? 

And speaking of chocolate: I have lost nine pounds. I've munching on popcorn instead of chocolate. Until four days ago....


Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Update on Chase

For some reason I am unable to leave responses to comments about Chase. And so much has happened since his seizure several days ago that I've decided to post again.

The news is not good. Until last night when we essentially knocked him out with 510 mg of phenobarbital and I can't even count how many milligrams of his regular anti seizure medication-all this after the emergency Valium did not stop his pacing, anxiety, sudden 'spikes' that caused him to jump up and pace as if he'd been hit in the head.

This has been exhausting and heartbreaking. I have stayed up with Chase all night for the past two nights and finally this morning he is lying down and resting, but he is so drugged he splays when he tries to walk. 

JB and I knew that Chase had seizures and an ankle injury when we adopted him now two months ago.  No regret, we feel good about offering family and love to this sweet dog in need, much as we did Stella, who gave us so much back. Two months ago we didn't know what we now know: Chase likely has a closed head injury. That probably happened during a collision on the racetrack, perhaps when his ankle was broken as well. Both vets involved and helping us have now mentioned 'quality of life' issues and we know what that means. This sweet dog also has an rear foot that he often lifts and that prevents him from running and playing without consequence the next day. Maybe he and we can work around that. But if these seizures cannot be controlled, coming once a month and lasting for several painful days with all these partial seizures, that is something JB and I will have to face. I'm not sure at all that she and I could handle that and I am sure that we cannot let Chase suffer like this.

Yesterday JB fell. Her ankle is swollen the size of a grapefruit and we are looking at one another in stunned disbelief. I should mention we have also had news of a close family member (not my Mom) who is very ill, unexpected and in its own way tragic. Combined, this is also called a two by four to the head. 

What a week. I know I have to squeeze in enough sleep so I don't get sick. I know we are going to stay with Chase totally until we are due back to work on Tuesday. I know we pray this round of seizures has been resolved, that we pray the new anti-seizure med works and we are not on eggshells a month from now. I pray that Chase does not suffer, whatever that means. It has been agonizing to witness his distress. Is this the story: this dog is in a major collision at a West Virgina racetrack, he sustains a closed head injury with seizures and a broken ankle that is never treated and he is rescued rather than euthanized and now he has been adopted by two women who didn't know the extent of his struggles and it is not certain his struggles can be helped?

Where is the fault here? The first line of fire: a dog who is a commodity to a corporation that owns hundreds and thousands of greyhound racers. But what about the next piece? The Neurologist in Boston said yesterday, "I don't believe in adoption for dogs with epilepsy like this. They end up suffering."

Should we blame the rescuers, clearly well meaning and the carriers of good works? Should JB and I have been more prudent in understanding the whole picture--we, who suffered ourselves helping Stella die last December?

And now: we love Chase and his hardship pains us. Thankfully we can and will get him through this. I told JB yesterday, at a moment of feeling totally overwhelmed: "We have to look at this as a privilege. We will help him and he won't be alone no matter what. We can do that."We both nodded. 

I have this way of prettying up adversity. But isn't it true that this is a privilege?

I'll keep updating my blog about Chase. For now I won't be able to respond to your comments but I sure as hell appreciate every one.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Let me tell you this is not easy.

He is the sweetest guy. I won't say he's bonded with us yet: he spends a lot of time alone, sleeping, sometimes in another room. He isn't necessarily affectionate, but we can tell he's appreciative. I understand greyhounds sleep a lot. But Chase, I think his anti-seizure medicine knocks him out. And he has an ankle he can only run and play on so much before he will suffer for it the next day. 

He has been with us two months. He is of course unfamiliar with many things: doors, toys, walks, even cookies. Our lack of a routine has probably wrecked havoc in his very controlled life as a racer. But all in all he and we are coming along pretty well and I can see trust and loyalty building. What better gift from a good dog than loyalty?

But these fucking seizures.

Chase had one this morning at 11:30 and it lasted I'd guess two or three minutes. That is a very long time to helplessly watch the terror of thrashing and teeth clattering and head banging. JB and I have been given a heavy duty drug to use if he has more than one seizure within hours, which worse to say, seems to be the case. We are supposed to attach a clean needle to a syringe, inject the needle into the liquid medicine, attach a catheter, lubricate, and inject through his rectum. This is not in my comfort zone, not one bit. I am a wreck about it.

We feel so helpless. Chase suffers In eight weeks we have now witnessed four seizures and each is  equally horrible.

Can we do this? Yes. But not easily. The whole thing sucks.

How is it that of all the dogs in need of adoption, we ended up with a breed unknown to either of us, a dog with a unattended broken ankle, thyroid problems, and these horrible seizures?

This is the answer. Stella. Somehow she managed to send word to me in my dreams to seek and find a dog named Chase. This is true. 

 So here he is. All three of us are on edge tonight. Please we hope there will be no more seizures tonight or tomorrow or any time soon. They seem to be 5-6 weeks apart. I think JB and I will get use to preparing that damn syringe and not freaking out so badly when we are forced to watch Chase afraid and thrashing. We want to love him and help him. 

But did I mention this is not easy?


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Through The Seams

What can I tell you?

Of course the world is turned upside down:

Wars and worries wear thin

Even though the seams.

But the sweater of the years was knitted tight,

Weathered wool that softens and warms 

The prickliest skin.

I’ve had that sweater for many years

And I’ve faced the nighttime shakes

Until then, never did the chill

Overtake me.

Until then is too often still now

But I am better. 

With better comes hope

And hope is the warmth

Of days to come. 

So why am I not writing more poems? It is because I work in the city three days a week? Because I'm trying to finish the novel that won't quit? Because I don't see Jess and Mike and the kids enough as it is? Because I have this new research gig? Because I try to visit my Mother several times a week? Because I love the holidays and I'm getting ready! Because I blog surf with glee? Because I have chores? Because I can't write about loss one more time without thinking myself ridiculous.

In any case. here is an old and new poem and I'n glad to post it.

With love

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Mish Mash: Before & After

Before the wall came down..

and after...

Before a commercial athlete

 after (now) a family member.

chase, age 6, newly adopted 

Before too long this is good to know

because it makes after a whole lot easier

Before JB makes these wristlets, 
she is not as confident as she is after, 
when it's so obvious how fabulous they are...

Before I get too down for any reason 

I remember I have this in my life 

and shortly after I stop lamenting...

Before a five year old little girl and I sat here, 

under the stairwell of her school, 

because bad things happened to her. 

Now, after all that, she has been adopted and has a family...

and finally: 


Before, a favorite picture of my soon to be 

97 year old Mother  

but she says she looks strange

so after, the one she likes better....

Wishing you all a very good week, 

Monday, November 05, 2012


I bought organic chicken tonight. I buy eggs from cage free chickens. Before my beloved friend Willa died of cancer, she told me if I did nothing else to buy organic butter and and milk and eggs. I can't bring myself to yet drink organic milk.

My friend's plea is not why I bought organic chicken. 

I can't bring myself to direct you to this website called Occupy for Animals, If you want to look, you will be able to find it.  But it is gruesome. You will see the mistreatment of animals throughout the world to a degree that I know will make you sick, because it makes me sick. Humans eat animals and that is not the judgement. The judgement is about cruelty. No animal should have to suffer. If an animal is killed let its death be humane. If you go to this website you will learn about the slow torment of the bulls in Spain who never have a chance and the dog meat market in Korea and the red blood waters in Japan in the killing of the whales and dolphins. Brutal stuff. I will leave it at that. 

I wish I had never come upon this website and I wish I do not know what I now know. But because I know I will now be more thoughtful. I don't want any part of animal cruelty. When animals are killed, let it be humane. It must be humane if we believe life is sacred. 

I now have a dog who spent his first five years living in a crate from which he was let out four times a day. He raced from age 2 to 5 and his track record shows he was in several crashes running at 45-48 miles an hour. He collided with other dogs, he failed to make a turn. It was painful to read. He has a  broken ankle that never fused because it was never set and more than half his teeth are missing because of poor nutrition. He has nicks over his body. I never thought about dog racing before we adopted Chase. Initially I thought it was pretty cool that he was an athlete racing. 

I feel differently now.

 So I bought organic chicken tonight. Not just for health reasons. I paid more for it. And I am going to learn how I can be sure I do not support places and people and governments and businesses who do not treat animals humanely. I hope you might think about this too.

One more thing. That adorable greeting card of a kitten hanging by its claws or a dog dressed in sunglasses and a bow: chances are those animals have not volunteered for that assignment. Chances are those animals do not live with a family and chances are that animal is viewed as a commodity.

If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks for listening. There is an election in America tomorrow and I can't help thinking about morality. 


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Thoughts on Therapy...

Are you laughing? I hope so. This could be my favorite cartoon ever.

I don't talk much about my work as a psychotherapist. The background is that I've always wanted to achieve these two things in my work life: one, successfully running workshops without so much anxiety, and two, being a psychotherapist. 

I am now a psychotherapist even though I don't think I really qualified for the job. But I work in a small mental health agency that serves "culturally diverse" and often very poor clients, many of whom who have had some very serious trauma or neglect or marginalization or abandonment at some point in their lives. I do this after a career in the private sector, often earning four times what I do now. I can do this because I'm at the tail end of working. 

I like the job a lot. I may not continue past next summer and while it is my choice, that also makes me sad. Lately I see half my clients at the clinic and half in their homes. I've been doing this for four years and I'm not sure but I think I may be a very good therapist, even if  I lack the normal training and background.

For this post I wrote out a little background on each of my clients. But I've had wise second thoughts because of confidentiality. So I've deleted all that. Instead I will just tell you this:

age 6, Hispanic, little boy
age 20 Portuguese, young woman
age 48, white, female
age 50, white, male
age 45, black, female.
age 34, black, single mother 
age 40, white, female
age 45, black, male
age 45, white, female
age 13 black, male
age 16, Hispanic, female 
age 37, Hispanic, female
age 29, black, male
age 32, Hispanic, female
age 19, Hispanic, female

I wonder if this information tells you how privileged I am to have such diversity in my life, how much I have learned about poverty and resilience and children and teens and families and culture and trauma and strengths and needs and listening and helping. Would you rather be pushed or understood? I sometimes ask my clients this question. They are often startled for a quick moment, but they get it. Their answer helps me know how to help.

I don't know if there is a point to this post. Other than one day I will not do this work anymore but what I have learned rests in my heart and head for my lifetime.

And you, my friends: would you rather be pushed or understood?