Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking Ahead Without Real Hope

Ooo that sounds dreadful, doesn't it?  But I'm talking about my annual list of books I intend to read next year.  I so rarely manage to read any of the books I intend to read.  Oh, I get the books, and I line them up on a shelf, and I look at them.  Sometimes I will crack one and read a chapter or two.  Then something else will call my attention.  I'll get a curiosity going and dart off to some other book, then another, then another, until I look up and the book I was reading is dusty.

But I make the list anyway, because I'm like that.  Here are my good intentions for 2013.

titleauthor Up_arrow

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hangin' In There

Well, so far, aside from a helluva wind outside, it looks like the world is pretty much here still.  Of course, I expected that it would be because, really, the whole Mayan thing was completely misinterpreted just so certain media outlets could have a story, but every time one of these things gets into the news, there's a little superstitious part of me that is sitting in an imaginary cave with  her shirt collar pulled over her head.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And in Less Exalted Spheres...

So, after rehearsal on Monday, I could sing but my throat still hurt.  I went back to the clinic for a check and from them got a referral to an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist.  Lucky for me, I got an appointment there the for that afternoon.  And I had my throat scoped.

Scoping.  Let me tell you about it.

As medical investigative procedures go, this one is on the mild side -- no blood,  no complicated preparation, no anesthesia (if only!).  First, the doctor shoots some nasty chemical numbing agent into your nose.  Did I mention this stuff is nasty?  Now, it's not nearly as nasty as it could have been if it had gone in my mouth, but even at the back of my throat, well away from my tongue, it made promises of nastiness via fumes.  So there's that part.  As things I've had to swallow in the name of good health go, it's not the worst (the worst was Barium in a giant cup of Raspberry Crystal Lite, but that's another story).

So, after this numbing agent gets to work, the doctor brings out the scope, which is a long, thin, flexible tube on a sort of handle grip.  The end can twist and flex around in a way that was admittedly cool.  It has a light and a camera on the end, of course,and this also goes into your nose and down your throat.  You feel it but you don't feel it, which is in itself pretty weird.

Now, among my many mutations, I have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex.  I can set myself to retching by something as simple as gripping a pencil in my teeth.  However, this reflex has never served me well -- I don't vomit easily at all.  I can retch and gag like a sonavabitch, but many the time when I wished I could just throw up whatever was in my stomach and be done, I could not.  Still, I have the reflex and it's fully operative.

The good news is my vocal cords are all healthy and in good shape.  The bad news is I have a kind of silent acid reflux that is burning the back of my throat and causing all the trouble.  The better news is this is easily treatable and my throat will heal up.

The worse news is that the doctor put that scope VERY far down my throat and it triggered my gag reflex.  Oh boy, did it trigger my gag reflex.  He pulled the scope out before I fell prey to the whole body curling, eye-watering, coughing, retching part of the experience.  I was still coughing and retching 10 minutes later.  In fact, I was a little hypersensitive for about an hour, fighting to control the desire to retch and coughing a good bit.  None of this did my throat any good and so it's sore today.

But I feel I have conquered yet another of the various Scopings I will have to endure as I proceed in life.  That's 2 down.  How many more do I have left now?

Review: The Testament of Mary

The Testament of Mary
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a slim little volume, a novella really, a sort of long prose poem. It is small, but heavy.

Mary, wife of Joseph and mother of Joshua, is facing her own oncoming death and is compelled by her own desire for simplicity and hoping it will make a difference despite her conviction there is no difference to be made, to tell her truth. Her truth is formed of anger, grief, shame, and pain. She denies the stories her son's followers are writing about him, refusing to go along with their attempts to shape events into a great story.

"I know that he has written of things that neither he saw nor I saw. I know that he has also given shape to what I lived through and that he witnessed, and that he has made sure that these words will matter, that they will be listened to." (page 3)

On another level, this little novella takes a small chisel and hammer to the Christ story and the to creation of the New Testament that is likely to upset many a Christian, in particular fundamentalists or literalists. Luckily, this book being a short list Man Booker nominee, it's not likely enough people will read it to create much of the controversy it opens. For the less literal Christian, the nonChristian, the non-religious, and those who do not follow the Big Three monotheistic religions, however, it makes for interesting thinking. It posits Mary as a human being, fallible and weak, yet clinging strongly to a truth that is not popular -- that her son was the son of her husband, not of God. Her son's death was a matter of chance and poor choice.

"I was there," I said. "I fled before it was over but if you want witnesses then I am one and I can tell you now, when you say that he redeemed the world, I will say that it was not worth it. It was not worth it." (page 80)

What caught me about this fictional recreation of Mary's voice was the woman Colm Toibin envisioned and brought into being, a woman who was a simple creature content with her life, with her family, with her husband, with her God. She loses all of these things, and must replace them with a grim, even heartless, self realization and truth. She isn't stupid or unaware -- she knows of the unrest in her ancient world. She understands that people change, places change, lives change. But she is not agitating for those changes. She longs for a peace made up of sunlight, quiet, her husband and her child. She is a creature of flesh as well as of mind. This Mary inevitably faces the truth she carries and refuses to support any other arrangements of events, any easy narratives or comforting stories.

In this book, in which she recounts several of the Biblical stories as well as the story of the Crucifixion, she brings us a new viewpoint, one that sees Jesus Christ as a baby and a child and then as a man drawn away from his mother, becoming something his mother cannot understand or want, but to which she is nevertheless still connected. Mary in this story is a very angry woman, but resigned. She wishes and dreams of things not turning out as they did, but accepts that she cannot change the past. However, she's determined that, even if it doesn't matter, she will speak her truth before she dies.

"All around there is silence and soothing, dwindling light. The world has loosened, like a woman preparing for bed who lets her hair flow free. And I am whispering the words, knowing that words matter, and smiling as I say them to the shadows of the gods of this place who linger in the air to watch me and hear me."

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Worst Case Scenario

A week of mostly silence -- no speaking, no singing -- because my voice has gone out.  After a week of silence, liquids, vitamins, and so very many throat lozenges, I took a trip to the doctor.  After a lot of looking and listening, he reported no particular signs of infection (so no tests) and prescribed some pills (steroids and antibiotics) as a sort of "throw everything at it" treatment.  I get a week and if there is no improvement, I go to a specialist to see what's up.

What could be up?  At the worse -- at least in my mind -- would be nodes on my vocal cords.  Now, these can be removed with surgery (and not everyone ends up like Julie Andrews.)

My livelihood does not depend upon my singing voice, but my sanity certainly does.

So I have this particular terrifying thought tucked into a little locked box in my head.  I'm not allowing myself to feel much about it because if I do, I worry I'll go right into the darkness.  So, not thinking about it, not taking it into consideration, not spending time on it.  Not going to mourn something I may not have really lost but just temporarily misplaced.  I have a week to concentrate on the medications, vocal rest, and all the other bits of regimen I've learned from years as a singer.  Stick to right now for right now.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What a difference a year makes

Wow, I go away for a while and Blogger gets all changed around and Googlized.

Google+ is probably the big reason I decided to try blogging again.  For the last year or so I've kept an (almost) daily journal and it satisfied me.  Then, suddenly, in mid-November, I kept forgetting to write, even a few lines, and when I did right it was little more than a weather report and maybe a quote from a book.

And, of course, November was another run at NaNoWriMo which died barely a week in when I could not get involved, interested, or arsed to write anything on the story I'd started.  My mind wandered.  I cleaned and organized things instead.    I started checking online more often.  Something it out of balance.  Something is off.

I'd taken to writing about my Crazy on Google -- I might transfer some of those posts over here.  I imagine there will be a period of cross over and double posting while I get used to the new interconnectivity.  Anyway, it seems like I've been in heavy battle with my Crazy in the last couple of years and am reaching a new higher level of handling it.  I look back on my life since I really learned about the Crazy and see it as a series of waves.  I have periods when I felt ok, thought I was doing alright, but then something terrible would happen and I'd be sliding down again -- being separated from The Husband for 4 months, moving away from the only area where I'd ever lived to another state, living for 2 years in a state of stasis, not knowing the future, my miscarriages, my father's death -- a series of stressful situations that, if I didn't have the Crazy hanging around in my head would have been tough, but not so tough as they were with the Crazy.

I still get visits from the Crazy.  This area is bisected by a river that, because of a dam further south, has been swelled into a considerable series of lakes.  One particular two lane road crosses this river/lake.  It's an old road, a local road, and I drive it frequently because it's the most direct way to church.  There is water on both sides for a considerable distance (the actual bridge is fairly short, maybe 20-30 yards ) and there are no lights along it. People go there to swim and party on the shore.  I particularly hate driving home on it at night.  There's a railroad bridge on the south side -- to the right as I'm driving to church for chorus rehearsal or a meeting or something -- but nothing on the north side as I'm driving back.  As soon as I see the guardrail I start thinking about driving my car through the rail and into the lake.

I don't want to do this, you see, but the thought won't go away.  I find myself picturing, imagining in great detail, the sounds, the water rising into the car, my panic in trying to escape (the Mythbusters episode gave me lots of material for that).  I find I get more and more tense as I near the center of the bridge, pushing away the impulse to jerk the steering well to the right.  It's dark, trees grow along the lake edge, faint lights reflect on the water...and I'm always so relieved when I get off the bridge and away from the water. I'm usually driving too fast by then, which is bad because it's not a high speed road and the local constabulary often camp there.

I don't always have that struggle.  I frequently get across it without even noticing, thinking about music or getting home or whatever.  But I struggle with it often enough.  There is an alternate, longer way home, but it also crosses a bridge -- admittedly a 4 lane, brightly lit bridge where I've only rare had those thoughts.  But the part of me that is stubborn and won't give in to the crazy won't take that option.  Besides, I rarely know until I'm there whether I will have a bout of Crazy or not, so there's no chance to think "Ooops, Crazy!  Better go the other way!"  That's how Crazy works.  It knows you.  If you want to try to arrange your life so you don't get the Crazy going, you end up either living in a box or developing a whole new style of Crazy as you go around trying to bubblewrap the world (or, worse still, expecting others to bubblewrap it for you).

At least two or three times I've had Zeus in the back seat, and the thought that I could not kill him, that I'd never do that to my wonderful dog, was a good anchor against the pull of the water.  But it doesn't make sense to take him most of the time.

I don't think I'll ever do it -- I really don't look forward to death with any eagerness -- but, as I said, it's the Crazy and it operates by its own rules.  I have to keep an eye on it, and I have to tell those who care about me what's going on so they can keep an eye on me, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You know, I haven't been here in over a year.  I've played on G+ a lot, I've been on Goodreads, and I've been just plain silent.  Didn't have anything to say, really, not that I could be arsed to post about.

And I thought "Maybe it's time to take the blog down."

So maybe it is.  But I've let it lie fallow for a year and haven't really gone to the effort of taking it down.  I thought about it fairly often.  So I'm back, to see what I can do with it.  We shall see.