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Maybe all I need is a little seawater, sand, coconut water, and time with MKL to cure what ails me.

Great Exuma, Bahamas.

Quote of the day: “That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” — Elizabeth Wurtzel

Daily gratitudes:
Color coordination
Flocks of birds with white underwings
That the grass is still green by the Prairie Flour apartments
Remembering clothes from your childhood from out of nowhere
Sleeping with the window open

As a former ballet and modern dancer, I am no stranger to broken toes. The first one – the right “piggy that stayed home” – was broken in high school as I twirled off stage during a class, misjudging and running into the red velvet stage curtain. And the metal flagpole behind it. The second one, also in high school, was broken during a performance at UNC-Chapel Hill. I performed a leap and landed smack on the tip-top of the left “piggy that stayed home”. The show must go on, so dipping offstage as part of the planned choreography, I gasped to a fellow dancer “I think I just broke my toe,” and then went back on stage. Sure enough, x-rays the next day proved that I had split the bone smack down the center. That one took a bit longer to heal. That’s also when I discovered that, no matter how bad the toe break, as long as it’s not a compound fracture, all they do is tape the toe to its neighbor toe and let it heal up on its own.

In other words, doctors are often a waste of time and money.

Moving ahead a year to college, the right pinky toe was the next victim. In that case, the perpetrator was not myself, a wood floor, or a metal pole, but a rather large woman in very spikey heels who took an unfortunate lurch back onto said toe with said heel spike while we were crammed together in the subway. I can still remember the pain, my sharp exhalation, and her titter of “Oh, sorry.” Poor little pinky toe. I believe that was in the Fall of freshman year, because I still danced on it.

That spring, I broke the right little piggy that went to market. I have no idea how. I believe it was a stress fracture from class. As soon as it healed, I broke the left one in the same way. My early demise of my dancing days was starting its slow approach. Both healed, and I danced on through another two years or so, but finally a torn back muscle, and knowing that I just wasn’t good enough, made me hang up my slippers with a few regrets and lots of happy and proud memories.

Last week after work, my big toe hurt. I didn’t really think anything of it, because I’m at that point where things just hurt inexplicably. Perhaps the weather was changing. Maybe I had caught it in the sheets while I slept and sprained it, Who knew? It felt mostly better for the rest of the week. Then I went to work on Saturday, and by Sunday, I knew it was broken. Another stress fracture. Bruised, swollen, tender, and exquisitely painful, particularly when moved or touched in certain ways.

Having learned how useless doctors and x-rays are in these scenarios, I lathered it was BF&C, taped it to its neighbor, and am letting it heal. Note the charming mustache duct tape. In the absence of paper tape commonly used for such medical procedures, this was all I had. My other option was duct tape with flames, but I found this more amusing.


So here’s to all the toes out there. They do an awful lot of hard work for as small and fragile as they actually are. Let’s hope that the next time I share them with you, they’ll be dug in the white sand or somewhere like this.


Marina Cay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe. Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?” — Mark Nepo

Daily gratitudes
The sound of rain on the woodstove pipe
Tidying up
Roly-poly glasses
Feeling happily tired


To start this tale, I should tell you I’ve been sick. But sick in a balanced way. A kidney stone on the left and an ovarian cyst on the right. That’s me, always balanced. Pain on both sides. A post-bath collapse as I tried to feed the cat. A trip to the ER on a busy Friday night. Pills to kill the pain, pills to make me relax, pills to help me sleep. As many pills as a 92-year old woman. Enough of that. Now, I’m just going to get better, since medicine doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.

But perhaps cat treats will help.

The night after all the hoopla of pain, after my hero MKL had gone home, I crawled into bed and felt something hard. Upon further drugged investigation, I discovered a single cat treat – Purina Whisker Lickins, to be exact. I didn’t really think anything of it. I wasn’t really thinking anything about anything. And I slept. I think that was Sunday. I spent Monday on the couch with pain pills and a heating pad and my computer. When I got in bed on Monday night, I noticed that there was a lot of …. debris in the bed. Like crumbs. I often produce sand in my sleep (yes, it’s a thing), so I wasn’t really that concerned. I figured Mr. Man had tracked something in, since I hadn’t made the bed that morning.

Tuesday was another at-home-drugged-on-the-couch day, though this time I did make the bed before moving to the couch. When it was time to shift back to the bed, I again found the debris, and after sweeping it out and crawling in, I discovered another cat treat. I was puzzled, but still not too aware of my surroundings to be curious.

Let me say that Mr. Man does like to be in the bed, but he has consistently crawled between two of the comforters – never between the sheets. When I look everywhere for him and can’t find him, I know to look for a lump on the bed, and if I pet it and it’s warm, I trust that it’s Mr. Man. But he has not left my side since I got back from the ER.

So now we come to Wednesday. Another day at home. The bed made, and again kibble debris on Wednesday night. When I awoke this morning, I went to make the bed, and found three cat treats positioned neatly in a triangular shape on MKL’s side of the bed, near the pillow. And now I’m stumped.

I wondered if Mr. Man was somehow getting cat treats from the bag on the Boat Anchor and bringing them into the bed, but have ruled out that theory because:

1. He can’t reach the bags on the Boat Anchor

2. He doesn’t have opposable thumbs to open the bags, even if he could reach them

3. When he gets a treat, he wolfs it down completely as one watches.

He’s not one to squirrel things away.

Then I thought perhaps, horror of horrors, a mouse had made some kind of nest in the bed and was nibbling breakfast and saving lunch for later. So I have stripped the bed completely, and found no sign of rodent. If I had, I’d have had to burn the house down.

My next theory, which I have not ruled out, though no doubt most of you will, is that the house spirits are leaving treats for Mr. Man, as a way to help me out since I’ve been sick, making sure he’s taken care of. It’s possible.

My final theory is that I’m doing this. The sleeping pills I’m taking (and have been taking for a month or so) are ones that do not make people inclined to sleep-eat, sleep-drive, or sleep-murder (my doctor and I discussed this), but it does happen, and back in my college days, I had a tendency to sleepwalk. Is it possible that I am getting up at night and bringing Mr. Man cat treats? And further, was the unexplained extremely strange taste in my mouth of late evidence that I have been eating the cat treats? And all this in my sleep?

This would make me just about the best cat mom ever, and would assure future purchases of Listerine by the case if I ever want MKL to kiss me again.

So tonight, I have washed all the sheets and comforters. We’re starting fresh. I have woven a complex maze of my work badge lanyard around all the cat treats. I am about to drug my pain-ridden self and go to bed. If the treats are disturbed in the morning and there’s kibble in the bed, I’ll have my answer.

If not, perhaps I’ll fall back on my Mother’s explanation of “A man came in and did it.” (Kelsea uses that phrase now.)


My Mother died this night eight years ago, and I miss her beyond words. (Maybe she’s been feeding Mr. Man.)

Sometimes silence is a good thing, and sometimes it’s not. The silence of a sunrise is a good thing. The silence of a loss is not. My daughter has been struggling with the suicide of a beautiful, bright friend, which is especially painful considering how she wants to help people. It hurts me to see her pain, when I can do nothing except be there. It was been 10 days now, and she is getting better but she’s still sad, which I reassure her is normal. She and I have both been sick. I have been overworking and not seeing enough of her. It is a hard transition into Fall. On a happy front, MKL and I have set our wedding date for next August at the spot in this picture, which will make everyone, including my dear departed parents, very happy.

I understand suicide. I have wanted to commit suicide. I have come achingly close. Only a promise to Kelsea has kept me from it. Depression lies, and one of the lies it tells you is that the world would be better off without you. And as a teenager, everything is so immediate that it is hard to see past the moment, past the pain, past the despair, to remember that yes, many people care about you, that you will have a bright future, that your parents will not ruin your life, all those things. I wish there was a way of showing every teenager who feels like this life is too hard that there is a future worth living for. If you are reading this, please, always remember that.


Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “Some people are just not meant to be in this world. It’s just too much for them.” — Phoebe Stone

Daily gratitudes:
Love and MKL
Cleaning out the refrigerator
Wedding gowns
Ice cold pillows
Mr. Man

It was one of those days when my depression got the best of me and I was enveloped by blues – and not the good tropical kind of blues either. I jumped to erroneous conclusions, berated myself for everything, and questioned the choices I’ve made in my life. I felt all my losses and all my regrets and relived pain in excruciating detail in my head. I was too cold. I was too hot. I was just all wrong.

MKL made things a lot better. He gave me a biiiiiiggggg hug at lunch. He helped me remember who I am and what I am and how loveable I am. That I am worth having as a partner. That my ability to love and that the love I give is as deep as the space beyond the stars. And for all that, I thank him. I feel better.


Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” —  Louise Erdrich

Daily gratitudes:
Feelings that pass like storm clouds
Happy bus drivers
Giving little old ladies directions downtown

On top of my own scare today, my heart is aching for the families of Moore, Oklahoma who lost homes, loved ones, and children. This image of the children’s garde at the lovely Oklahoma City Memorial seemed fitting today. Wishing you all as much peace as you can find tonight.

Oklahoma City Memorial

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Quote of the day: “What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” — Suzanee Collins

Daily gratitudes:
People who stand by me


On Regrets

I once gave you a two-headed coin
to protect you from fates that hurt you.

Now, you choose to hurt me with your words,
And I am thrown into the River Styx,

I do not want to be here,
trying to breathe.

I hope the ferryman
will accept that coin as payment.

Please ask him to take care
not hit me with his oars
as you pass by
for I have been hurt

Three Yellow Balloons (For Boston)

Three yellow balloons drifted away.
This city that took much of my naiveté
Lost some of its own innocence today.

My old city shines and celebrates.
This day is a vacation day, a play day.
Everyone is your new friend,
The chill of a New England winter
finally shaken off our shoulders.

Music plays at the bandstand,
And the Charles sparkles with
Little jewels from the sun.

It is Race Day.

Runners start far away, but still
the streets are lined with people,
cheering on strangers.

We set up chairs on the roof of a brownstone,
Bask in the almost-forgotten sunshine.
Skip class. Skip work. Skip under the blue sky.

Runners start arriving
At the foot of Heartbreak Hill.
We yell and shout and clap and encourage
and find our favorites to root for.

The runners struggle on with an end in sight,
A goal
Worked for and earned with sweat and time and pain
and pride.

And then

Everything changes
In an instant
In a blast
In screams
In silence
In leftover puddles of blood.

I see
three yellow balloons
drift into the air
above it all.

Just floating.
Released by the hand of a person whose life will never be the same.

Goodbye, balloons.


Love Last__

She looked and saw
and silently loved,
outside of confusion,
understanding only what lived in her heart
though others were dismissive.

She tried to stop,
but there is no stopping
a true feeling;
only time can do that.
But time, for her,
feels like an ancient turtle
crossing an L.A. freeway.

Never gonna happen.

She reached out,
that whole heart
carefully and cautiously
crafted into well-placed
words from the soul
which were met with silence

And now, she nestles,
Against my shoulder,
A few teardrops being
the only words she has to say.


This was a week of nightmares, destroyed dreams, and lives forever changed. The damage done this week to children, parents, families, and communities is irreparable.

Many of us who are not intimate with this tragedy will go on with our lives, the holidays, and return to joy.  A small piece of my heart has left me now, and is with those parents who are going through unthinkable. Yes, their little sons and daughters experienced unimaginable fear in their last moments, and the thought of that is impossible, especially for those parents.

Those little people are little souls looking out for their parents now.  But those parents, agonizing over what their child must have been feeling, and devastated by all the reminders of future and promise, now nothing but dust – for them, there is no peace. Christmas presents never to be opened.  No more bedtime hugs from a small warm body made from the love of two people.  No more laughter. No more hope. No more….anything. Just pain and tears and loss.

I am grateful every day that my daughter is still here, and that I have the privilege of having her in my life and in this world. Not every parent is as fortunate, and for them, my heart bleeds. I wish I could make it better, but I can’t.

Nothing will.


November 2015
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