Monthly Archives: October 2009

Samhain Thoughts: My Companions

Maybe I’m a cold-hearted bitch, but when I think of those I love who have passed on, it’s not the people I miss.

Today, I honor them.

My first cat, Sylvia was the best cat ever (so sayeth my mother). She came to us from a friend, who’d opened her door to Sylvia (who’d been living in Golden Gate Park) and dealt with the litter of kittens she had a few days later. We had a nasty problem with rats and needed a mouser. A formerly feral cat seemed like just the ticket. It was clear to all of us that Sylvia *chose* to give up her feral ways for the warmth and steady food of a house. The rats were gone within a few days, btw, and the mice only lasted a little longer, being harder to get to in the walls of our house.

She’d sit, peering intently into the coils of the refrigerator motor, for literally hours. If there’d been a visible thought bubble, it would have read ‘give up, it’s hopeless, you will not escape me.’ Sure enough, a mouse would just run out and into her waiting paws.

Moles and gophers in the garden were her other prey, and I’ll never forget the ferocity of her combat with a gopher one afternoon. She won, but it was a tough battle.

Her intelligence was unquestioned. I remember my step-father making a disparaging remark about her just sleeping and eating and being a useless cat. The next morning there were three dead mice laid out in a line on his side of the desk he and my mother shared. Sylvia looked particularly smug that day, and he never said a word against her again.

She lived a good long life but finally came down with cancer (stomach or intestine), and we had to take her to the SPCA where they put her down. I have always regretted that she spent her last night in a strange place, likely afraid and bewildered, and then died alone at a stranger’s hand.

Yaffa came to us a Christmas when we’d had Sylvia for four or so years. Yaffa was a golden/lab mix and just a sweetie. She shared my bed and chased birds at the beach. Yaffa had been with us for maybe 10 years when she got ill overnight with something unfixable (or so vastly expensive my literally poor family couldn’t afford it). I held her in my arms when they put her down and although I’d been crying for hours, when she went, I finally got my calm back. (I knew she didn’t hurt anymore, and that was all I needed at that point.) She taught me that I have a responsibility to be there to witness death.

When I first moved to New York after college, I had a dream with a gray tabby in it. The next  day a  work colleague brought in the kittens a stray had given birth to on her back porch. Morpheus was a 6 week old male and I fell in love with him immediately. The first 3 nights I didn’t sleep at all because he loved playing ‘jump on the feet under the blanket’ or cried all night outside the closed bedroom door. He, of course, slept all day. So I decided to get him a playmate.

I went to a local shelter and got Thanatos, a tiny black kitten about the same age as Morpheus. When I got home I opened her cardboard carrier up and put it in the middle of the floor and let her decided what to do next. Morpheus stuck his head over the edge and she whacked him on the nose, then jumped out and ran under a chair. From then on, it was their relationship: she was his toy and the apple of his eye. She’d be sleeping on a chair and he’d jump up and lie down on top of her with her head poking out between his front legs. She loved it. She never got any bigger than 7 pounds, although Morpheus got to 21 pounds.

At Christmas she’d climb into the middle of the tree and sleep on the branches. She rarely meowed, but often made a little ‘chirrup?’ sound when she wanted attention, or to ask a question about the service provided. Her favorite place to be was underneath Morpheus on a kitchen chair, completely covered by big big body, only her head peeking out between his front legs, for all the world like a turkey with a chick.

When I brought her in to be fixed I was told she had feline leukemia, the worst form of it, and wasn’t expected to live more than 12-18 months.  She lived to 3.5 years in perfect health until the very last week. Then, it was as if the timebomb in her body went off and she only declined, quickly, not eating and only raising her heard to drink fresh water. I didn’t hesitate, but took her to the vet to confirm what we all knew was coming. I held her as she was put to sleep, her little body taking one last breath and then growing still.

Not long after I gave in to Morpheus’ sadness and sought another playmate and so Shasta came into my life. She was a petulant little thing that knew only that the world was no ordered to her specifications, and that made her grumpy. She was loved, but (I am sad to say) not as much as Morpheus and I think that showed. She was a good cat, full of charm, sass, and attitude and I will miss her.

Now I tell you the hardest tale of all, of Morpheus. My boon companion through countless moves, including one terrifying one in a plane across the country, and several relationships. Each was told he would not come before Morpheus if I had to make a choice, so live with it. Each did, until he left (and the one that didn’t has stayed with me still.)

What can I tell you of the 21-pound cat who could jump from a sitting position to the top of a 7-foot bookshelf? Who would become one with the earth and sky as he lay on the bed so that you literally could not pick him up?  Who would grumble like an old man if you disturbed him. Who could give you a cold shoulder like it had never been done right until him in all the history of man?

He grew older, and slower, and in his 18th year he grew ill. Both he and Shasta were developing stomach cancers (or so the vet thoughts) and were growing weak and unable to move well. Once again, I was there, midwife to death. First Shasta, then Morpheus. I still grieve, I am crying even now. I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.

One day

we’ll float

take life as it comes.

~P.J. Harvey “We Float” (youtube video link)

2009 Litany of the Dead

Every Samhain for the last several years, Dagonet Dewr has compiled a list of the year’s dead. Dagonet is an author and one of the co-founders of the International Pagan Pride Project.

October 28, 2009
Dagonet Dewr and Friends

As always, permission is given to distribute this list far and wide, as long as it is done without editing and with attribution. Omissions are solely the oversight of the author. Just because someone is on this list, it does not mean the author in any way endorses their personal agendas. Also, there is a change this year; I have left off the nation of origin of the renowned dead. There are a lot of reasons behind this, ranging from the sublime (we are all natives of the same place — Earth) to the rational (we have become a globalized society) to the ridiculous (I’m lazy).

The countless dead in Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, Indonesia, South Ossetia, Pakistan, and other places around the globe due to war, famine, natural disaster, or human stupidity. Goddess bless us and keep us from our own folly.

Joseph Wiseman — Actor; “Dr No” from the James Bond films.
Vic Mizzy — Composer; “The Addams Family” theme song, “Green Acres” theme song.
Clifford Hansen — Politician; former governor of Wyoming and US Senator.
Soupy Sales — Comedian and TV personality; “The Soupy Sales Show”.
“Captain” Lou Albano — Wrestling manager and television personality.
David Lake — Winemaker; pioneer in Washington State winemaking.
Sheila Lukins — Chef and restauranteur; the Silver Palate.
William Safire — Writer; conservative columnist and speechwriter.
Susan Atkins — Criminal; member of the Manson Family and murderer of Sharon Tate.
Bob Stupak — Entrepreneur and impresario; creator of the Las Vegas Stratosphere.
Crystal Lee Sutton — Labor organizer; inspiration behind movie “Norma Rae”.
Henry Gibson — Comedic actor; “Laugh-In”, “The Blues Brothers”.
Mary Travers — Musician; member of Peter Paul and Mary.
Patrick Swayze — Actor and dancer; “Ghost”, “Dirty Dancing”.
Jim Carroll — Musician and poet; “The Basketball Diaries”.
Larry Gelbart — Television personality; writer and developer, “M*A*S*H”.
George Eckstein — Television personality; writer-producer, “The Fugitive”.
Norman Borlaug — Scientist and plant breeder; won Nobel Peace Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Army Archerd — Columnist; “Variety”.
Gertrude Baines — World record holder; world’s oldest person at 115.
Adam Goldstein — Disk jockey; “DJ AM”.
Ellie Greenwich — Songwriter; “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Chapel Of Love”.
Dominick Dunne — Essayist; “Vanity Fair”.
Edward “Ted” Kennedy — Politician; longtime US Senator from Massachusetts.
Robert Novak — Columnist and television personality; “Crossfire”.
Les Paul — Musician and inventor; developed the solid-body electric guitar and multi-track recording.
Allen Shellenberger — Drummer; member of Lit.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver — Activist and political figure; founder of the Special Olympics.
Willy DeVille — Musician; multi-genre performer, founder of Mink DeVille.
John Hughes — Filmmaker; “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
Budd Schulberg — Scriptwriter and novelist; “On The Waterfront”.
Merce Cunningham — Choreographer.
Sir Bobby Robson — Football manager; longtime manager of the English national team.
Corazon “Cory” Aquino — Politician and political activist; led the Philippine revolution that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Gordon Waller — Musician, half of Peter And Gordon; “A World Without Love”.
Frank McCourt — Author; “Angela’s Ashes”, “‘Tis”.
Walter Cronkite — Newscaster and journalist; longtime voice of CBS News.
Robert McNamara — Political figure; US Secretary of Defense and architect of Vietnam War policy.
Allen Klein — Record label owner and businessman.
Mollie Sugden — Comedic actress; Mrs Slocombe on “Are You Being Served?”
Karl Malden — Academy Award-winning actor; “On the Waterfront”, “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
Fred Travalena — Comedian and impersonator.
Billy Mays — Television personality, TV pitchman, and entrepreneur.
Farrah Fawcett — Television personality and actress; “Charlie’s Angels”, “The Burning Bed”.
Michael Jackson — Musician, performer, and celebrity.
Ed McMahon — Television personality; Johnny Carson’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show”.
Koko Taylor — Musician and Chicago blues singer; “Queen Of The Blues”.
Richard Quick — Swim coach at SMU, Texas, Stanford, and Auburn; holds records for most collegiate titles.
Harold Norse — Poet; “Hotel Nirvana”.
Huey Long — Musician; former guitarist for The Ink Spots.
Charles D Aubrey — Pilot; co-pilot of the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
Millvina Dean — Last survivor of the Titanic.
David Carradine — Television and movie actor; “Kill Bill”, “Kung Fu”.
Jay Bennett — Musician; former keyboardist and guitarist for Wilco.
Lucy Gordon — Actress; “Spiderman 3”.
Dom Deluise — Comedic actor; “Blazing Saddles”, “Cannonball Run”.
Danny Gans — Entertainer; 11-time Las Vegas Entertainer Of The Year.
Jack Kemp — Politician; former US Congressman and Vice-Presidential candidate.
Greg Page — Athlete; former heavyweight boxing champion.
Bea Arthur — Actress; “Maude”, “The Golden Girls”, “Mame”.
Ken Annakin — Film director; “The Battle Of The Bulge”.
JG Ballard — Author; “Crash”, “Empire Of The Sun”, “The Atrocity Exhibition”.
Bruce Snyder — Coach; former head coach, football, University of California.
Svetlana Ulmasova — Athlete; two-time European 3000M champion.
Peter Rogers — Film producer; the “Carry On” series.
Harry Kalas — Sports broadcaster; longtime voice of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Mark Fidrych — Athlete; former Detroit Tigers pitcher and American League Rookie Of The Year, 1976.
Marilyn Chambers — Adult film actress; “Behind The Green Door”.
Jane O’Brien Dart — Movie actress; “We Are Not Alone”.
Dave Arneson — Co-creator, “Dungeons And Dragons”.
David “Pop” Winans — Gospel musician; patriarch of the Winans Family.
Lou Saban — Coach; first coach of the New England Patriots.
Helen Levitt — Photographer; known for her photos of New York street life.
Monte Hale — Movie actor; last of the “Singing Cowboys”.
Andrea Mead Lawrence — Athlete and environmentalist; won two skiing golds at 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics.
Irving R Levine — Journalist, economist, and television personality; NBC’s “Meet The Press”.
George Kell — Athlete; third baseman and member of Baseball Hall of Fame.
John Hope Franklin — Historian; father of African-American history studies and author of “From Slavery To
Dan Seals — Musician; member of England Dan And John Ford Coley and solo singer. “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”, “Bop”.
Jade Goody — Television personality; English “Big Brother”.
Ron Silver — Tony-winning actor; “Speed-The-Plow”.
Elizabeth Bradford Holbrook — Sculptor.
Anne Wiggins Brown — Musician and actor; original Bess in Gershwin’s “Porgy And Bess”.
Natasha Richardson — Actress; “Blow Dry”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
Horton Foote — Playwright; “The Orphans Home Cycle”.
John Cephas — Musician; Piedmont blues guitarist.
Francis Magalona — Musician, actor, and political activist; father of Filipino hip-hop.
Paul Harvey — Broadcaster; “The Rest Of The Story”.
Wendy Richard — Television actress; “EastEnders”, “Are You Being Served?”.
Philip Jose Farmer — Hugo Award-winning author; “The Riverworld Cycle”, “World Of Tiers”.
Socks — Former US First Cat.
Webster Lardner Kitchell — Author and minister; the Coyote sermons.
Kelly Groucutt — Musician; longtime vocalist and bass player, ELO.
Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez — Musician; bassist, Buena Vista Social Club.
Lux Interior — Musician; lead singer and frontman, The Cramps.
James Whitmore — Tony- and Emmy-winning actor; “Command Decision”, “The Practice”.
Lukas Foss — Composer, conductor, and pianist.
Guy Hunt — Politician; former governor of Alabama.
Billy Powell — Musician; former keyboardist for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
John Updike — Pulitzer Prize-winning author; “Rabbit Is Rich”, “The Witches Of Eastwick”.
Kay Yow — Coach; member of the Basketball Hall of Fame from North Carolina State.
Mariana Bridi — Model.
Jose Torres — Athlete and author; former light heavyweight boxing world champion.
Tapan Sinha — Film director; “Aponjan”, “Sagina Mahato”.
Bob May — Television actor; The Robot from “Lost In Space”.
Andrew Wyeth — Painter; “Christina’s World”.
Patrick McGoohan — Television actor; “The Prisoner”, “Secret Agent”.
Ricardo Montalban — Actor; Mr Rourke on “Fantasy Island”, Khan on “Star Trek”.
Pat Hingle — Actor; “The Grifters”, “Batman”.
Helen Suzman — Political activist; longtime anti-apartheid leader.
Claiborne Pell — Politician; former US Senator from Rhode Island.
Ron Asheton — Musician; former guitarist for The Stooges.
Freddie Hubbard — Musician; trumpeter and member of the Jazz Messengers.
Robert Graham — Sculptor.
Delaney Bramlett — Musician; member of Delaney and Bonnie.
Harold Pinter — Nobel Prize-winning playwright; “The Caretaker”.
Eartha Kitt — Musician and television personality; “C’est Si Bon”.
Robert Mulligan — Film director; “To Kill A Mockingbird”.
Mike “Mad Dog” Bell — Wrestler.
Majel Barrett Roddenberry — Actress and wife of Gene Roddenberry; Lwaxana Troi, Nurse Chapel, and the Enterprise’s computer.
Sam Bottoms — Actor; “Apocalypse Now”.
Sammy Baugh — Athlete; Hall of Fame quarterback with the Washington Redskins.
W Mark Felt — Political figure; “Deep Throat” in the US Watergate scandal.
Bettie Page — Model; legendary pin-up queen.
Odetta Holmes — Musician and political figure; longtime musician of the Civil Rights movement.
Betty James — The namer of the Slinky (and co-founder of the company).
William Gibson — Playwright; “The Miracle Worker”.
Yma Sumac — Musician; the “Peruvian Songbird”.
Michael Crichton — Author; “Jurassic Park”, “Sphere”.
Studs Terkel — Pulitzer Prize-winning author; “The Good War”.
Norman Whitfield — Songwriter; “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.
John Daly — Film producer; 13 Oscar wins including “Platoon,” “The Last Emperor”, others.
Madelyn Dunham — Grandmother of Barack Obama.
Edna Parker — World’s oldest person (115 years old).
Andrew McKelvey — Founder of
Oliver Selfridge — Pioneer of artificial intelligence and childrens’ book author.
De’Angelo Wilson – Actor; “8 Mile”.
Jim Mattox — Member of the US House of Representatives.
Mitch Mitchell – Drummer; “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”.
Herb Score — Baseball pitcher and broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians.
Abraham Woods — American civil rights leader who stood with Dr. King during the “I Have A Dream” speech.
John Costelloe — Actor; “The Sopranos”.
Paul Benedict — Television actor; “The Jeffersons”.
Donald E. Westlake — Wrote mysteries as Richard Stark; three-time Edgar award winner.
Nahla Hussain al-Shaly — Iraqi women’s rights activist.
Maurice L. Albertson — Peace Corps architect; founder of “Village Earth”.
Lillian Willoughby — Peace activist; founder of “Take Back the Night”.
Martin Delaney — HIV activist; founder of “Project Inform”.
Eluned Phillips — Writer and poet; only woman twice crowned bard at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
John Scott Martin — Actor; “Doctor Who”, “I, Claudius”, others.
Millard Fuller — Co-founder of Habitat for Humanity International.
Tom Brumley — Steel guitarist; “Buck Owens and The Buckaroos”.
Molly Bee — Country singer; “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.
Ed Grothus — Former Los Alamos employee turned anti-nuclear activist; owner of “The Black Hole” in Los Alamos.
Blossom Dearie — Jazz singer; “Schoolhouse Rock!”.
Andy Hallett — Television actor; “Angel”.
Maurice Jarre — Academy Award-winning film composer; “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Dr. Zhivago”, others.
Frank Springer — Comic book artist; “Dazzler”, “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, others.
Vern Gosdin — Country music singer; “Set ’em Up Joe”, “I’m Still Crazy”, others.
Tom Deitz — Science fiction author; “Soulsmith Trilogy,” others.
Nick Adenhart — Baseball pitcher, Angels.
Randy Cain — Singer; “The Delfonics”.
Thomas Nordseth-Tiller — Screenwriter; “Max Manus”.
Rodger McFarlane — Gay rights activist; executive director of “Gay Men’s Health Crisis”.
Wayman Tisdale — Hall of Fame and Gold Medal-winning basketball player and jazz bassist.
Buddy Montgomery — Jazz vibraphonist and pianist.
Harve Presnell — Actor and singer; “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, “Paint Your Wagon”, others.
Gale Storm — Actress and singer; “My Little Margie”, “The Gale Storm Show”.
Sky Saxon — Rock musician; lead singer of “The Seeds”.
Neda Agha-Soltan — Student; shot during the Iranian election protests.
Ken Roberts — “Golden Age Of Radio” and television announcer; “The Shadow”, “Candid Camera”, others.
John Houghtaling — Inventor of the Magic Fingers vibrating bed.
Dave Simons — Comic book artist; “Conan”, “Spider-Man”, “Forgotten Realms”, others.
David Eddings — Fantasy author; “The Belgariad”.
Lorena Gale — Actress and playwright; “Battlestar Galactica”.
Michael Roof — Actor; “xXx”, “Black Hawk Down”, “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
Gidget — The Taco Bell Chihuahua.
Mike Seeger — Grammy-nominated folk musician.
Naomi Sims — First African-American supermodel, businesswoman, and author.
Robert Ginty — Actor; “Baa Baa Black Sheep”, “Paper Chase,” “Exterminator”.
Myles Brand — NCAA president and former Indiana University President.
Peg Mullen — Anti-war activist; subject of film “Friendly Fire”.
Donna Mae Mims — “Pink Lady” of auto racing, first female SCCA champion; portrayed in movie “Cannonball Run”.
Norma Fox Mazer — Chidren and young adult author; “After the Rain”, “A Figure of Speech”, others.
Chuck Biscuits — Drummer for “Danzig” and “Social Distortion.

Plain Beauty, Disguised Power

I’m not usually a fan of Rob Brezsny, but this week’s horoscope for Virgo strongly resonated with me:

“The more beautiful the bird, the poorer the singer,” wrote L. M. Boyd. “Peacocks scream, macaws screech. Birds of Paradise croak.” Among the most interesting singers, on the other hand, are birds that are far less spectacular in appearance: the Black-capped Chickadee, the Willow Thrush, and the White-throated Sparrow. Keep that in mind as you navigate your way through the coming week’s dilemmas. My personal inclination is to favor inspiring singing over comely appearance, but you may have a different bias. The important thing is to recognize the nature of the options before you. Halloween costume suggestion: Incorporate the themes of plain beauty, secret genius, disguised power, and open secrets.

Today I met with a therapist and talked about me, how I feel, what is happening, and who I am. In no particular order. It was (no, I will not pun!) very good for me to have done this. Strengthening. Healing, even. Because I know myself well enough to know that I’m not that great at emotional situations and I am great at making expedient decisions that are good choices 95% of the time. Having a mastectomy and deciding about reconstruction/reduction surgery is not an expedient decision to make.

This is an issue of vanity and I am struggling with that.

I’m not the kind of woman who spends a lot of time on her appearance. I forget my earrings most days. I rarely wear makeup. I dress for comfort much more than style. People do not look at me and say ‘Sexy!’. I have never had a strange man (or woman) buy me a drink.

How much trouble do I want to go through to physically look like I do right now?

Here’s a call to everyone — and feel free to pass the request along.

I am looking for gorgeous images of women with only one breast. Classical images of Amazons come to mind. ‘Art’ photo portraits of post-mastectomy women. Things like that. I’m afraid to do a search myself, quite frankly; I don’t want to be scared by horrible images of gouged chests and fierce scars.

Oh! And post-mastectomy tattoos would be really interesting to see.

21 Rules for Halloween

The 21 Rules Of Halloween
1. When it appears that you have killed the monster, NEVER check to see if it’s really dead. Just leave.

2. Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke. In fact, don’t even read it or look at it for too long . . . just in case.

3. Do not search the basement, especially if the power has gone out.

4. If your children speak to you in Latin or any other language which they should not know, shoot them immediately. It will save you a lot of grief in the long run. However, it will probably take several rounds to kill them, so be prepared. This also applies to kids who speak with someone else’s voice.

5. When you have the benefit of numbers, NEVER pair off and go alone. Even if you’re horny. ESPECIALLY if you are horny.

6. As a general rule, don’t solve puzzles that open portals to Hell.

7. Never stand in, on, or above a grave, tomb, or crypt. This would apply to any other house of the dead as well.

8. If you’re searching for something which caused a loud noise and find out that it’s just the cat, GET THE HECK OUT!

9. If appliances start operating by themselves, do not check for short circuits; just get out.

10. Do not take ANYTHING from the dead.

11. If you find a town which looks deserted, there’s probably a good reason for it. Don’t stop and look around.

12. Don’t fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing.

13. If you’re running from the monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice, and more often if you are female. Also keep in mind that, despite the fact that you are running flat out and the monster is merely shambling along, it’s still moving fast enough to catch up with you.

14. If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, fascination for blood, glowing eyes, increasing hairiness, and so on, kill them immediately.

15. Stay away from certain geographical locations, some of which are listed here: Amityville, Elm Street, Transylvania, Nilbog (you’re in trouble if you recognize this one), anywhere in Texas where chainsaws are  sold, the Bermuda Triangle, or any small town in Maine.

16. If your car runs out of gas at night on a lonely road, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house to phone for help. If you think that it is strange you ran out of gas because you thought you had most of a tank, shoot yourself instead. You are going to die anyway, and most likely be eaten.

17. Beware of strangers bearing tools. For example: chainsaws, staple guns, hedge trimmers, electric carving knives, combines, lawnmowers, butane torches, soldering irons, band saws, or any devices made from deceased companions.

18. If you find that your house is built upon a cemetery, now is the time to move in with the in-laws. This also applies to houses that had previous inhabitants who went mad or committed suicide or died in some horrible fashion, or had inhabitants who performed satanic practices.

19. Dress appropriately. When investigating a noise downstairs in an old house, women should not wear a  flimsy negligee or heels. And carry a flashlight, not a candle.

20. Do not mention the names of demons around open flames, as these can flare suddenly. Be especially careful of fireplaces in this regard.

21. Do not go looking for witches in the Maryland countryside.

~author unknown (with small edits from me)

The Bad News Just Keeps Coming

Let me start by saying that my thinking/decisions are changing fairly rapidly. Last week I had a 2nd biopsy, I was also on the verge of getting a cold, so I stayed home in an attempt to not actually get sick. In that, I succeeded. On Thursday morning my surgeon called.

To heighten the drama, let me digress a  moment. Dr. M was on her way out of town on vacation, but stopped by the office to take care of a few things and to check whether my results had come back. They had, so she called me to give me the news, even though she knew the nurse navigator was going to call me. She then spent 45 minutes with me, discussing the options and possibilities.

The news? Both of the two lumps biopsied are cancerous. This has gone from a fairly straightforward and moderate procedure to one that likely requires major surgery. Dr. M favors a partial mastectomy, mostly because there is now a fairly substantial amount of tissue that will be removed, all along the lower quadrant (the lumps are basically at 7, 5, and 4 o’clock). She also recommended that I talk with a reconstructive surgeon about doing the partial mastectomy and a reconstruction all at once. She also felt it was entirely possible for me to have breast reduction surgery on the right breast.

(Because, post-surgery, I will not be asking that my left breast be returned to D cup status, so my right breast will need to be altered to match.)

It was a fact-filled 45 minutes, and I don’t think I took it all in.

While we’d talked, V (the nurse navigator) called and left a message. So I returned her call. Good thing, too, because I suddenly remembered the other lump — the one at 10 o’clock, the one that can’t be seen except with an MRI and is very tiny (3 mm) so it is going to be very difficult to biopsy. When I reminded V. of this, she immediately said, “OK, in my experience, you need to start strongly considering a full mastectomy.” We’re talking about 2 quadrants having cancerous lumps, and now the possibility of a 3rd quadrant being infected has entered the picture.

If I have a mastectomy, its radical surgery, but I will not have to worry about getting breast cancer in that breast again *and* I won’t have to have radiation therapy *and* I won’t have to do that (HORRID) wire localization procedure. Peace of mind, one less therapy, and one less surgical procedure — that’s a silver lining.

That night, my Dad raised a question: what about the right breast? Did I need an MRI of it as well so we KNOW there aren’t anymore hidden tumors? I was on the phone with V. the next day. She told me that they *had* done both of my breasts and the right breast is completely clean. GOLDEN lining!

So, where am I now?

Looking at a lot of major paths to take, all of which branch off multiple times, and some of those branches overlap and intertwine. Each path offers benefits and problems. What was a fairly straightforward path initially has become complicated.

1. partial M, with lumpectomy of the 10 o’clock; reconstructive surgery and reduction surgery
2. full M with reconstructive surgery and reduction surgery at the same time
3. full M with reconstructive surgery and reduction surgery at some point in the future
4. no surgery, only radiation therapy
5. something not discussed yet

In every case, I will be on hormone therapy (Tamoxifen). This is because my cancer cells are estrogen positive (not all cancer cells are). This means that the presence of estrogen in my body feeds them, so one treatment I will undergo (a pill a day for 5 years) is to stop the supply of estrogen. As V. put it, I will basically go from 0 to 60 on menopause, except that I will likely still continue to ovulate (put another way: all the downsides of menopause, none of the positives).

I don’t know what I want, yet. I don’t know what my instinct says, yet. I don’t have all of the information I need, yet. I know that I am not my breast(s). I know that I am not very vain or particularly caught up in my physical being as needing to be attractive for my self-esteem to be stable or positive. I also know that I can’t envision how hard surgery will be on me.

At this point we don’t know when the surgery will be. I’ll let you know when I do.

The limbo continues.

Ok, that was really awful

I had my second biopsy.


It was much worse than the first one. This was partially because I knew what was coming, and the first time was no joy, you know? It was also just plain harder.

Remember what I said about breasts being full of all sorts of stuff? Well, when that stuff is muscle and solids the needle still has to go through it to the targeted lump. And that means pushing.

Yes, my friends, a large, long, needle was pushed through my breast today, several times, no less. That needle was pushed in, pulled out, and then pushed in again at a different angle. And yes, I paid a lot of money for this — and I’m not even kinky.

My breast feels like a man was leaning on it, and pushing on it, and leaning on it again. They used 3x the ‘normal’ amount of lidocaine to numb me up — and it did NOT hurt.


Now, I have stabbing pains (sort of like when you get a stitch in your side), and an intensely bruised feeling. Tylenol hasn’t helped much. Or, Tylenol is making a huge difference but I am hurting more than it can ease away.

Btw: I’m not allowed to take either aspirin or ibuprofen — they both increase bleeding and bruising. There, now you learned something.


TV and Movies: Occupying my Time

Last week, in preparation for my surgery, which is now postponed a month, I increased my Netflix account to 8 DVDs (from 3). Much I’ve what I watch on Netflix is old TV shows — La Femme Nikita, Highlander, etc. — and I’ve been enjoying the 1st season of The Profiler. Burn Notice’s1st season continues to be truly magnificent, with the BEST EVER season finale. I may remember all of the plot lines, but I’m still enjoying the ride. I think I have Dexter coming in this next week.

As well, I’ve been rolling through some movies, including The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. I actively avoided this movie when it was released, because I’d seen the news that it was deliberately being purged of ‘pagan’ references. Since those same pagan references being a key component of the storyline, I didn’t care to support the movie’s release directly. As Jason Pitzl-Waters said, “they didn’t respect the original story.”

And they didn’t.

The original story is book two in a series, all featuring young adult/children (8 to 16 yrs old) who are caught up in a series of tests and battles between the Light and the Dark. Two of the books (Over Sea Under Stone and Greenwitch)  feature ordinary children, Barney, Jane and Simon. Two are based on Will Stanton (The Dark is Rising, The Grey King), and the fifth (Silver on the Tree ) brings them all together for the final battle. These books are gorgeous, magical, and based on Celtic mythology.

The Dark is Rising book tells the story of how Will Stanton, youngest and last-born of the Old Ones, comes into his power on his eleventh birthday as he finds the six signs of Light, long hidden in time. His only clues are the poem

When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.

The signs are all shaped in the form of the sun cross — a circle crossed by equal-armed lines.

In the movie, the Stantons have moved to a village outside London from California. I’m not at all sure why that was necessary, unless some dweeb decided that it would make the storyline accessible to more Americans. I appreciated the updating into modern life with ipods and the like all around, it doesn’t touch the core elements of the story. I also thought the time travel element was well-handled, and the girl they found to be the betrayer was perfect. Actually, all the actors were great (with what-his-name playing Will Stanton the poorest, but still serviceable).

But there’s a confused attempt at merging physics into the (cough) equation, and while I’d be ok with that in most circumstances, I am offended that it comes at the expense of the spirituality. Even the one scene in a church lacks all sense of the sacred, of the eternal grappling of the soul to live a good life in trying circumstances. And why they chose to make Will a twin whose a brother was stolen from the family and14 years old (instead of 11) I truly don’t understand. Moreover, two of his sisters are replaced/merged into just one and his family seems to think of him as an afterthought, with most of them forgetting his birthday and when he does get a gift its a single sock (the 2nd will be for Christmas). This is not the loving, close, supportive Stanton family of the books.

One of the things I liked about the book was that the hero (Will) was an ordinary, loved, boy. Most young adults advertyure stories have a misfit as their hero.

Moreover, the six signs are violated — instead of being elemental, they are more like game tokens acquired in a video game. In the book, iron is crafted by a blacksmith, bronze from The Walker, wood from the Yule log, stone in the walls of a church, fire from the Great Hall’s candleholder, but water was found in a circumstance similar to the movie.

I can see (although I think its a bad idea) cutting Herne from the storyline — as Cooper herself said, “You do have to do violence to a book to make it into a screenplay – the two mediums are so different.” to reproduce the book faithfully would be too long a visual feast.

On it’s own, this was not a bad movie. But it wasn’t a good one either. But when compared with the magnificence of the original story, it is a flatulent misguided, poorly-conceived, and worthless piece of dreck.

Poor Susan Cooper. Maybe someone will tell another of hers stories, and this time, get it right.