6.09.2006

books for the soul
i seem to fill my time up more with reading than drawing as of late. if it not fluff to make me forget my pain for awhile or research for a possible idea for a webcomic, i have noticed that i'm leaning more towards books with a spiritual side.

ken's parents presented me with a copy of The Journey by Bill Graham for my birthday, along with other nice things. Jocelyn treated me to dinner and a copy Henri J.M. Nouwen's Life of the Beloved. i haven't started The Journey yet, but i am in the middle of Life of the Beloved and am enjoying it so far.

but it was a week or so ago, while at the library, i picked up a couple of Madeleine L'Engle novels that i had never read in my youth and decided to try for light reading. one, A House Like A Lotus, turned out to have some passages that made me think...I wasn't even looking for something with insight, but here God places it in my lap.

Ursula, a neurosurgeon, is speaking with teenage Polly:
"Sometime I'm going to take a real sabbatical. But it's been good for me to keep my hand in during all these months. Norris Ormsby called me in today on an interesting and tragic case, a young woman in her thirties who has had a series of brain tumors. Benign, in her case, is a mockery. After her first surgery, some nerves were cut, and her face was irrevocable distorted, her mouth twisted, one eye partly closed. A few days ago another tumor was removed, and several more smaller ones were discovered. I agreed with the decision not to do further surgery. She said that she is looking with her mind's eye at the tumors, willing them to shrink, seeing them shrink. And she quoted Benjamin Franklin to me: Those things that hurt, instruct. An extraordinary woman. A holy woman. She looks at her devastated face in the mirror, and she says, she still does not recognize herself. But there is no bitterness in her. She sails, and as soon as she gets out of the hospital she plans to sail, solo, to Bermuda. At sea, what she looks like is a matter of complete counter to general thinking today, where we're taught to avoid pain and seek pleasure. Pain needs to be moved though, not avoided."
Polly, speaking with her older friend, Maximiliana, who is speaking of loss and life after explaining about her infant daughter that only lived a few days:
"There isn't anything that happens that can't teach us something," she said, "that can't be turned into something positive. One can't undo what's been done, but one can use it creatively." She look at me and her eyes were seasilver. "I'm glad I had the experience of having a baby. I wouldn't undo it, have it not have happened. The only thing is to accept, and let the scar heal. Scar tissue is the strongest tissue in the body. Did you know that?"
"No."
"So I shouldn't be surprised if it's the strongest part of the soul."
Maximiliana, reads a passage in a book to Polly, after talking about just what a soul is:
She took a long drink and put her glass down. "Do you believe in the soul, Polly?" Max never hesitated to ask cosmic questions out of the blue.
"Yes." I thought maybe she'd turn her scorn on me, but she didn't.
"So, what is it, this thing called a soul?"
This scarred thing, full of adhesions. "It's-it's your you and my me."
"What do you mean by that?"
"It's what makes us us, different from anybody else in the world."
"Like snowflakes? You have seen snow, haven't you-yes, of course you have. All those trillions of snowflakes, each one different form the other?"
"More than snowflakes. The soul isn't-ephemeral."
"A separate entity from the body?"
I shook my head. "I think it's part. It's the part that-well, in your painting of the harbor at Rio, it's the part which made you know what paint to use, which brush, how to make it alive."
Max looked at the silver pitcher, sparkling with drops, as though it were a crystal ball. "So it's us, at our highest and least self-conscious."
"That's sort of what I mean."
"The amazing thing is that one's soul, or whatever one calls it, is strongest when one is least aware. That's when the soul is most aware. We get in our own way, and that diminishes our souls." She pushed up from her chair and headed toward the table, which was already set with silver and china. "Be an angel and bring the food out to the verandah."
We ate comfortably together. Max had a book with her and began leafing through it, looking for something.
"There's a passage our conversation reminds me of..."
"What?"
"In the Upanishads-a series of Sanskrit works which are part of the Veda. Here it is, Pol, listen: In this body, in this town of Spirit, there is a little house shaped like a lotus, and in that house there is a little space. There is as much in that little space within the heart as there is in the whole world outside. Maybe that little space is the reality of your you and my me?"
what did i learn?
that in this current culture, this current day and age, we run from pain, when it is what makes us stronger. Oh, no one ever said it would be easier to bear and live through, but it makes you a better person, if you let it. If you wallow in grief, despair or bitterness, you will never grow or become strong.

jocelyn and i had a good long talk while she was here. she says she thinks i'm going to make it.
we talked of many things, but i think, from what i can remember...it has been a week, about the soul and where you go at death and such.
"You're doing all the right things and saying all the right things," she told me after explaining that she's seen some folks wither away or let bitterness take over after a death. She said that she could see me become the person who i'm meant to be...like she was awed to get to see it.
it make me think, who am i? who was i before ken died and who will i become?
even i can see some difference, but i just don't know what's to come.

i don't talk about religion much, simply because i don't want to seem the pushy type of christian who shames or guilts you into church or the type that beats you over the head with a bible into submission. no one ever converts anyone in the manner truly, but they have given us all such a bad rap, so i keep silent and avoid awkward situations or accidentally insulting someone.
i do believe that God is going to help me through this and that he will make it work out for the better. no, it's not what i wanted, but i will deal. it'll be okay. He knows i'm hurting and He'll find a way for me to use that pain into becoming something else, someone better, maybe even who i'm meant to be.

i am aware that it will not be easy, pleasant and could even possibly be scary. but i cant' just sit here and wallow until i die. ken wouldn't want that. i think he would be very disappointed if i did. just like he would be if i gave up art and life in general. i've come to believe the suicide is the most selfish act a human can do. they think it's an easier way or that it will be better for everyone else, but it's not. it's worse...i can't explain it well, but it's the reason i have for keeping going everyday, besides the fear of disappointed ken and well, who knows what the Big Guy Upstairs has in store.

today is one of my better days. misty-eyed but no uncontrollable sobs. and that brings me to another thing...
i have learned a few things over the past few months about that fateful day when ken was taken from me.
as they were trying to keep him awake until the ambulance arrived, ken's parents heard him speak, slurred and mumbly. they weren't always able to make out what he was trying to tell them. through krista, i learned that ken's father thought he heard ken say, "take care of kathryn for me." i got teary-eyed when i heard.

and at the hospital, after the surgery and the terrible diagnosis, krista decided to go see him one last time before they took him away for the organ donation. she laid her head on his chest.
their cousin, dennis, and krista's boyfriend, greg, both swear they say ken turn his head to krista and try to move an arm, as if he was going to give her a reassuring hug. krista didn't notice anything. dennis and greg told her and the family. ken's folks see it as God gave ken a chance to say goodbye to krista, for she needed it greatly.
i admit, i'm a little jealous when i hear about it, but i don't begrudge her either. it has been hard on all of us, and she knew him far longer than i.

i think i've done enough introspection and thought for now.

3.25.2006

the gigcast has created a tribute to ken.

i want to thank everyone once again for their thoughts, prayers and kind words. you guys, my friends, and family are what's pulling me through this.

i miss that goofball of mine.

c, thank you and doug for coming to hospital with me. when the doctor told us the news, i would've fallen on the floor if it hadn't been for you.

alice, thank you for being there and for you idea to use one of ken's drawings as a subject for one of your art quilts. i know it will be beautiful.

jo, thank you for being an ear and for driving so far to come. the same to you, becca. i think you closest of all know what i'm going through, since you lost a friend back in high school.

glych, thank you for that phone call. it meant alot.

to tim, madscott, trantor and everyone at nightgig, thanks for the flowers and your thoughts.

to brad and all of ken's friends from DMI, thank you for the long drive to be here. it mean so much.

to bill, joy, danny, keith and chris, i am so glad you guys came. i'll keep in touch.

i still miss that goofball.

just yesterday, i received flowers from my landlord. they were so pretty. a little while after, i thought, "wait 'til i tell ke-..."
and then i realized that i couldn't.
that's what's been the hardest. losing my confidant, my best friend, the shoulder i normally cry on and warmest and most loving person i've known. and then realizing it all over again when something like that happens. *sigh*

i checked on ken's folks last night. we are all doing as well as expected. i went back to work on thursday because i knew i'd go crazy if i didn't.

ken's sister, krista, had a good idea to create a scrapbook about ken. i think i'll make one, too. i'll be emailing his friends for amusing stories, ancedotes and general thoughts that i can put into it. anyone here who knew him is welcome to contribute.


thanks again.

3.18.2006

i'm numb...at least when i'm not sobbing or raging at the way of things.
last night, ken, my best friend and lover suffered a stroke. there was massive hemmoraging.
the doctors have pronounced him brain dead.
i feel sick. i always told him that i didn't know what i'd do without him-now he's gone.
God, i miss him already. he's only 32. why!!???!?

3.05.2006

what a way to spend a saturday night!
last night, i'm at ken's parent's house...say it's about 8:40 p.m. i get a call from mom.
"i've fallen and hurt my ankle. i think i broke it this time. i need you to come get me and take me to emergency."
the previous time was about 30 years ago, she slipped on wet pavement in the rain and really messed up her left ankle. the doc said it would've been better if she had broken it, but she didn't.

well, i know mom's tolerance for pain is high, so if she's calling, she's hurting bad. ken offers to come along and thank goodness he did! we took his folk's minivan and headed for weiner.

once there, we try to figure out how to get mom to the van. she's not good with crutches yet, so her idea was to set her in her office chair by her computer and roll her out to the door.
this was complicated by all the crap in the floor. 9.9
so we get her there, ken carries her down the two steps to the sidewalk. this is one of the reason why i'm glad he came. he has to help whenever his back messes up his bad leg, so ken's used to some of these.
i go move her car so ken can get the van closer to the sidewalk. as i'm walking back around the house, i can see her climb into the passenger seat. i get in the back and we're off.
mom says she not in that much pain, but she felt the foot give whenever she tried to put weight on it. not a good sign.
"which ankle did you hurt?" ken asks
"my good one," is the reply. her right one. uh-oh.
"how did you hurt it?" i inquire.
"i slipped and fell."
"where?"
"in the kitchen."

>8^(
the kitchen was the room i wanted to clean up first when i saw what mom's living conditions were back in january. i knew something like this would happen! i warned her it was a hazard. 9.9 if only i had been pushier, we could've had that room cleaned up, or at least clean enough not to trip and fall on the soda cans, papers, trash bags, and assorted junk on the floor.
>8^( *rant over*

about 30-35 minutes later, say...10:30 p.m. or so, we are in emergency waiting to be called back. mom gets an x-ray of her ankle and we wait for a room in the ER to become available. it's saturday night and the place is packed and therefore, slow. her ankle starts to bother her and they can't give her any pain meds until she's in a room.

i say about...30 minutes maybe, we we're in a room. ken stayed in the waiting room while i went back with mom. eventually the doc comes and says it's broken alright. in two places. surgery will be needed. oh, boy. as if mom doesn't have enough expensive medical bills-she has no insurance.
he orders another x-ray, this time of her knee in case it got torqued in the fall and a chest x-ray.
samples of blood are taken and mom finally gets some pain meds. it helps.
the poor guy next to us sounds as if he's in a lot of pain and is puking loudly every five minutes.

i go back and forth from her room to ken to keep him informed. there is no chair in that room, i'm standing the entire time and i'm getting tired.
while i'm visiting with ken the chest x-rays are taken. i get some water and some ding dongs (healthy eating, huh? at least the chocolate and sugar help me pull through.) back to wait with mom.

my legs get tired and i'm sitting on the metal under one of those bed tables, you know, the ones that can allow a patient to eat in bed? a nurse must have seen me as she walked by because she brought me a chair. 8^) that was nice and very thoughful.

around 3 a.m., we get news that the knee is ok, mom's ankle will be splinted and she'll be sent home. we are given the name and number for a bone doctor to set up an appointment for the surgery. i'll have to call that tomorrow since they'll be closed today. by the time we got out and got mom back to my place it was 4 a. m.!
ken went back home and i'm so glad he came and helped. i don't think i could've handled it alone tonight and i don't know if my brother, carter, would have been much help right then. maybe he can help in the next coming days.
i gave mom my bed, put a pillow under her foot to elevate it and put some makeshift ice packs on the ankle to reduce swelling.
i made a pallet on the floor out of a sleeping bad and blankets and proceeded to pass out until 10:45 this morning.

well, this is going to be a lesson for me in strength and patience. mom is usually the strong one and since january i've had to be the stronger person. we'll see how well i learn. God give me strength, cause i don't know if i can do this alone.

2.10.2006

life is a roller coster
and i have went over a very steep hill this past month! oy, where to begin...

early january, my aunt carole and myself discovered how bad mom's depression has gotten this past year.
i should back up...when i was about 9, my mother was diagnosed as bi-polar with a "chemical imbalance in the brain," as she calls it. taking lithium helped her for a long-time, but i'd say about...junior year of high school? or maybe early college...anyway, she had a reaction to the lithium and can no longer take it.
mom's a fighter, a survivor. she tries to shake the deep funks her illness puts her in, she battles the panic attacks like someone riding a horse (if you fall off, you get right back on,) and she is very good at hiding how bad her syptoms are-i myself am just learning how bad it is even though i've known she had this illness for years.

well, this is one of the worst depressive spells she's ever had. i don't think any of the anti-depressants she's been perscribed have worked well.
she's in trouble finiancially since her insurance wouldn't pay for some things and then she forgot to pay her insurance and now had been dropped. and her anti-depressants alone are about $300 or so...

mom has not had energy for anything, i mean anything. she forces herself to go to work and eat. she says even chocolate doesn't taste that good anymore. 8^(
she has been so tired that the house is a literal diaster. she just hasn't had energy to clean.
i hate saying this because this is my mother and i love her, but it would only be slightly more sanitary and healthier if she just pitched a tent in the middle of the county dump and lived there. yes, it's that bad.

i feel...ashamed. not only of the filth my mother is living in, but because it went on for so long and i didn't notice.
i didn't notice, until now. i'm horrible. i hate to admit it but i should have noticed this eariler. the the best i can do now is help her anyway i can. i'm still working part-time at graphix so i'm on a limited income. i can do small things and i've been going over to her house to clean. i hope to go over tomorrow and get some more done. there are still many, many days work left. it'll go smoother once i teach her 2 cats that the floor is not a litterbox! grrr. ken thinks sprinkling the area with cayenne pepper after i clean it will help. he said it worked when they were house-training one of their dogs who was very stubborn. well, we'll find out.

i know some of you (don't know exactly how many would read this or care, but...) may think that mom is lazy. no, she's not. she says the way she feels right now is very stupid, like the depression is a fog in her mind and it takes more effort than normal to do the simpliest things correctly. and when you don't have the energy to do much, that makes it hard to clean.
the lithium she took over the years has destroyed her thyroid gland. she has to take a snythetic via pills to get what her body needs and since she's lost her insurance, she hasn't had any medicine.
i think part of her exhaustion stems from:
  • the depression itself. let's face it, depressed people sleep a lot.
  • her lack of thyroid medication
  • she's simply tired after pushing herself to go to work and all her other co-workers are my age. and she struggles to keep up with them.
she did try to go back on to disability, but her claim was denied. she needs to appeal that decision and mom's friend Ruth Ann is helping. she's been a big help to me and my aunt. i can't thank her enough.

ken has been most understanding. i don't know what i'd do without him.
this is the most responsibilty i've ever had to undertake and it's not easy. he's been patient and caring, being a ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on when needed. i'm lucky to have him.

so that's most of what i've been dealing with this past month.
if anyone who reads this is a religious person, a prayer for my mother and her health would be appreciated. for my friends who already have us in their prayers, i thank you.

---------------------------------------------------

today, it snowed. it's the first time this winter that it actually felt like winter.
mom is crashing at my place tonight. she doesn't have to work tonight but does tomorrow and should the weather take a turn for the worst (thought i doubt it will,) she will be able to get a ride into work.

the work at graphix continues ok. cindy's been hinting that she could use me full-time. 8^) here's hopin' it's soon.
ken has been working on animating with flash a bit. maybe he can bring In Shining Armor back to life that way. the story for it has progressed a bit in his mind and i like how it's developing.
Blue Canary progresses very slowly, now that i'm helping with mom. i'm in the middle of pencils for page 15 of chapter 1 of the restart. maybe i can get some drawing time in tonight.

1.01.2006

clean slate
it's a cliche title, but that's what it feels like today. it's a sense of wonder at what this new year will hold. i can only guess and my hunches will likely be wrong.
for now, it's time to contemplate on the hope the comes with another year. new challenges and ideas, fresh starts and

let's backup a bit and let me list what's been going on since i posted last.
i'm still doing the "Madison Street Shuffle," but i have a part-time job at least. yup, the freelancing at Graphix has become a full-fledged part-time job.
Cindy was very cool, she gave us the 23rd and 26th off last week and the 30th and 2nd of this week. 8^D yay!

yesterday i was a very productive girl. after hearing of a chinese tradition of cleaning the house the last day of the year (because you sweep away the good luck if you wait and do it the first day of the year,) i tidied my apartment up a bit:
  • picked things up off the living room floor and vacuumed.
  • cleaned/organized my "studio" room! i can actually get to my drawing table now!
  • did some laundry.
  • put clean sheets on the bed.
  • put some pictures on the walls that i've been meaning to do since i moved here in aug '04!
  • took care of the ol' "to shred" pile full of credit card applications.
and you know, i felt better for doing it! the cleaning, i mean. i haven't had time over these past months to do much other than laundry and cleaning dishes. now, my pad still isn't spotless. i still need to clean the kitchen and bathroom, vaccum the "studio" and bedroom and dust everywhere, but on the whole, it looks tons better.

after this i went to visit ken. his mother had received a gingerbread house kit and asked if i would be kind enough to assemble it. it looked like fun.
well, the powdered sugar icing was too runy and the roof kept trying to fall off, one wall kept caving in and the candies didn't all want to stay put. next time, i'll use a canned white frosting so things will stick!

also, good news! i'm back to drawing on blue canary. page 14, which was started in the beginning of november, but left unfinished is now drawn and today i hope to start on page 15. i think after the christmas gifts for ken and his folks, i may be hand coloring alot of the pages.

i've been posting to my sketchblog for six months now and i'm enjoying it. even though i don't always get a comment on every sketch, i like doing it. it makes me feel like i am getting something accomplished.

last week (christmas) went well. it turned out better than i could have hoped. dad and my brother got me the foodsaver i've been wanting (i'm tired of my dinky freezer burning all my food!) and a rice cooker, if not the one i wanted, one that should do the job. i'm anxious to try it out and attempt to make japanese rice balls.
mom got me the muppet show first season and i've been watching it this past week. jo got me a cool OK Jones cd and some N├╝rnberger Lebkuchen (the world's best gingerbread cookies.) doug and c gave me the complete chronicles of Narnia! (Thanks, C! *hugs*) I'm proud of how the gift for C turned out.
ken's parents loved the present i gave them and ken liked his, too. his family surprised me with an mp3 player! *squee!* i was reading what all it could do on the outside if the box, when ken said, "if you'd rather have the ipod shuffle i can always return it..." and after that there was no rest for the kit. if he had not mentioned it, i would have been content with the one i unwrapped. i was just tickled to get a nice gift.
so on the 28th, we exchanged it for a shuffle and it's great. yes, i know there's supposed to be a next gen of shuffles to come out the month, but they are supposed to be smaller and frankly, i'd only lose it if it were smaller.

on the 25th, we had the usually feast at ken's cousin's place in cardwell. i think i go so full on the cookies and sweets that i had no room for the turkey when it was done. and i think i got holly and hannah addicted to katamari damacy. hee hee! >6^)

i visited alice onthe 30th. she treated me to lunch at fuji! o.0 wow! thanks again, alice!
it was nummy. she made me the cutest cover for my shuffle! 8^)P i'd show a picture, but the design is still in progress and alice doesn't want her pattern stolen.
later, ken and i went out to dinner and a movie thanks to the gift certificates his sister gave usl! (told you i had a great christmas! there was enough on lazarri's gift certificate for another meal!)
the movie was awesome. we saw the producers. they did leave 2 songs from the broadway version out, but overall, it didn't suffer from their loss.

i also need to get started on kellie's wedding invites, i promised to design them and they need doing. maybe i can get started this week.

today i'm off to ken's again for another holiday feast. it should be fun. 8^)