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Monday, September 26, 2005

BEING KIND TO MYSELF

MONDAY, Sept. 26

I stayed in all day today and actually got some writing done. It felt good to be emerged in the novel again, that other distant world with the characters who are now like old friends.
I didn't even notice the weather outside was mild and sunny. I needed to stay here, in my protective bubble. Actually I was nursing another stomach ache that started after breakfast. All I'd eaten was yoghurt and an apple so I'm not sure which was the culprit. I'd say the apple.

I worked away with the intention of later going to the hospital. But the stomach ache wouldn't go away so I phoned there about 2.30 and explained I wasn't feeling well and would come perhaps tomorrow, definitely Wednesday. His voice sounded weak and barely audible, but I think he said he was having a better day. I felt bad though, as he was alone, and I know he likes company. After that I kept getting periods of great sadness.

Just before the writer's group was to come here this evening, I got a call from my friend who has been out of touch since I was so angry with her last week. It was good to talk, but I don't really feel things were that resolved as it ended up with the onus being placed on me. Anyway I'm letting it go. No use ruining a long friendship over pettiness and I think I made my point.
Everything was okay at the meeting tonight, friendly though somewhat distant. No hugs, no well-wishes, not one single word of comfort regarding A. Others were more sympathetic.

Still I have such a great empty feeling, a hole in my heart, and I just feel like I want to cry and cry but if the damn bursts it's never going to stop flooding so I'm holding it in.

Tomorrow might be a better day, lunch with the grad class ladies and maybe a hospital visit in the afternoon. And other things planned during the week to fill in the spaces and keep my mind occupied. Then there's the writing. I just have to tidy up these last pages and that's the end of Part IV (yay!) and a whole new section coming up, part of which is pre-written. So it's kind of exciting and I just hope I can keep focused on it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

SWIMMING AGAINST THE TIDE

SATURDAY, Sept 24

Parts of this week were so good, and parts were really rough. Those rough days are the ones when my friend is suffering. Monday and Wednesday turned out to be good days, but emotionally exhausting. Wednesday was also my first night school class (Prompting the Muse). It turns out they made it six weeks instead of eight and also failed to deliver my handouts to the school. So I was stressed over that as well as the long day at the hospital.
By the time I got home that night I was completely exhausted and ill with stomach cramps.

Thursday I was sick, cramps and flu-like symptoms that have been plaguing me at least by mid week for the last few weeks. I know it's stress but it's also food-related. In this case, the 'comfort' food I ate Wednesday -- a mushroom burger, fries and some pretzels for a snack when I got home from class. So I suffered all day Thursday but had a Memoir class in the moring and a Travel Writing at night. Went straight home to bed with the heating pad.

My apartment is freezing. More hassles with the landlords who refuse to turn the heat on although it is now Fall the temperature has dropped considerably. I have threatened to go to the Tenant's Right's Board if they don't fix my thermostat and turn on the heat. I suffered all last winter with the same problem. They are such liars and cheats.

Friday I was reluctant to go for a hospital visit, but as I had to go downtown I did. A. was not having a good day and wanted me to sit and hold his hand. It's the meds he's on making him anxious and I am afraid they are going to make things worse for him (morphine). I didn't stay long, enough for me to feel really upset. When I was waiting for a bus I started to cry and could hardly hold back the tears.

I had a birthday invitation that night at an Irish Pub and went, t hough my stomach was aching. It turned out to be a very nice party with some excellent people and in no time I felt better. Later went to the LQ though, and immediately got into a blue mood, wished I hadn't gone there. It was so hard.

Today two friends wanted to visit A. so I phoned him and he was very weak and sick, said he was having another bad day. So we didn't go. Instead, met my friend for coffee, later ran into another friend and passed the afternoon. Tonight, determined to have a good evening, I went with my Havana Buddy to an excellent concert to hear Mariza, a Portugese fado singer. (A woman with the most amazing voice I've ever heard!) Even though I kept reviewing the situation with A. in my mind during the concert, I found myself relaxing and the stomach ache went away. After the concert we went to the LQ and it all turned into an excellent evening.

I am so fortunate to have these kind friends around me to help me through this rough patch. I feel as if I am swimming against the tide, barely keeping my head above water at times. But caring friends are around me and I am safe.

Tomorrow I'm going to surround myself with writers at the Words on the Street Writers/Readers festival at the Public Library. And later my pal George is coming for dinner. He's been so good, phoning me nearly every day to ask how I'm doing. So I know tomorrow I'll be in good hands once again. My life savers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

COUNTING MY BLESSINGS

TUESDAY, Sept 20

A lot has happened in one week. First, by the end of last week I was feeling pretty down because of lack of money, friend's illness, night school class cancelled and computer crashed!
What more could go wrong. Had words with a friend on Sunday which really upset me further, though Sunday afternoon was great fun doing a photo-shoot for my pal Lyn who has amazingly lost 170 pounds since last year and looks fantastic!

Monday (yesterday) I went to the hospital and spent six hours there, a very worthwhile way to pass the day, helping my friend out and keeping him company. Our private visit and conversations were moments to remember. I opted out on going to my writer's critique group because he asked if I could 'cancel' my meeting. It meant a lot to him, and a lot ot me to be able to stay with him.

Today I felt quite exhausted, emotionally and physically. But before noon came, there were already two answers to prayer: I got a paycheque from the daycare covering the days they hadn't paid me for last week. And a letter from the gov't saying they were raising the rental subsidies for low-income seniors (me!). What a bonus!

My friends MJ and her techie husband came late this afternoon and while she took me out for a delicious Ethiopian dinner on the Drive, Brad fixed my computer....at no cost to me!

Three blessings in one day! I feel so fortunate, and grateful and thank God for answered prayers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

KEEPING BUSY

TUESDAY, Sept. 13

It's good to have lots to do and in that way you don't spend too much time dwelling on unhappy thoughts. Since the weekend there was a remarkable improvement in my friend's condition (which could be temporary but we must always hope for the best). So my visit yesterday was quite different from the one last Friday.

I've been having some good times with friends since the stressful time last week. Sunday my writer gal friends invited me to a lovely lunch at the grand old Sylvia Hotel, in the dining room overlooking the Bay. Later in the afternoon I ran into another girlfriend up on the Drive and enjoyed her company for awhile then got home and had a nice dinner with George and a long insightful talk during the evening.

So by yesterday I felt much better and spent the morning writing. Then I went to the hospital and was delightfully surprised to find A. quite perked up and in less pain than before. The visit was full of pleasant surprised (for me and him) and other people dropped by to make it even cheerier. After I left the hospital I went ot have dinner with my pal M.J. who is such a terrific cook! Then we went to our weekly critiquing goup. I read the draft of what I'd written in the morning and got favourable commentaries on it. That kind of rounded out the whole day for me.

It occured to me that I can not put my own life on hold because my friend is so ill. I have to take care of my own emotional health and if I am so stressed and sad like I was last weekend, then I am unable to write and enjoy my life. So today I got up early with the intentions of going to water-fit, but when I got there the pool was closed for maintenance. So I came home and spent some hours writing again and preparing my program for the Memoirs group that starts on Thursday. Tonight I went downtown to the West End Writers and chaired for the last time. It was a huge meeting, 18 people, many of them new, making a very stimulating night.

That excellent young man Wes was there who I met last year (he was in my Prompt the Muse class in the Spring.) We rode part way home on the bus together. I find him fascinating, so articulate and interesting. I hope we can keep in touch as I really like him and feel he has great untapped talent as a writer, just needs more focus (I think he told me he has ADD).

I just got home and I feel more relaxed than I have for awhile. In the morning I'm going to make some of that special avocado/zucchini puree soup for A. and take it to him tomorrow afternoon. I'll visit whenever I can (daytimes) because next week my night school classes start and I'm going to be very busy. I know A. will understand that and appreciate that I'm using my time doing writer's things, having a bit of fun in between. He knows I won't forget him. How could I? But I also have my own life to live.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

HOW CAN YOU ABANDON YOUR FRIENDS?

FRIDAY, Sept. 9.

A friend of mine who recently broke up with her Chilean boyfriend has nothing at all good to say about Chilean men (my friend A. included). She has ranted on to me on more than one occasion, the most recent being yesterday, advising me to "Forget him. They are all liars. Don't give him your sympathy."

I find this poisonous tirade not only disturbing but offensive. My Chilean friend is in the hospital (in Palliative Care, very serious) with cancer. Should I abandon him?

I think not. And especially today when I went there and found he was alone and suffering so terribly from pain. (Apparantly they are readjusting his meds) How could you ever imagine abandoning a friend when they are in such a plight? I sat with him all afternoon, holding his hand and comforting him through the terrible spasm, in between talkiing and sometimes philosophizing about life. Why has this happened to him, in just three months? Has he done something bad to deserve this?

I cannot imagine how anyone could abandon anyone in this situation. And the attitude of my friend is highly disturbing. What kind of woman is she? How can she be so cruel-minded toward her fellow man just because he is of a certain ethnic background?

Perhaps it's situations like this that bring out the true nature of people. For sure, I am seeing her in a new and clear (not so nice) light. But no matter what, I will not abandon my friend.
No matter how tough it gets, I 'll be there for him, holding his hand and encouraging him to be brave.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A GOOD BEGINNING

MONDAY, Sept 5.

Summer's over, now it's Fall
Quite the nicest time of all!

It sure felt like Fall tonight when I was walking home from my friends, bare feet in sandals and a light jacket. No buses in sight so I had to walk all the way, freezing!

But it's been a good beginning to this week. Perhaps starting yeterday (Sunday) when I went to visit A. and ended up going to Mass with him, his daughter and grandson in the hospital chapel. That set the tone for this week, I think.

Today I had a two-and-half hour filmed interview with this man from Toronto for a docu about older women and relationships. Rather fun. I talked so much my jaw hurt. Funny!
I wonder how much (if any) of the footage he'll use? I know I kind of look dorky on film but the interview was fun.

Then tonight I went to my Havana Buddy's to watch an excellent docu about Fidel Castro. We also watched a DVD of Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note in New York. P. had already given me a copy of the CD but to see the concert 'live' was excellent. He basically plays the same sets he played at the jazz concert here. Really excellent music. We also watched several cuts of a collection of Saturday Night Live shows that were very amusing. Drank Mexican beer. Ate pizza and taco chips with salsa. A very nice evening!

When I got home I found out my "Sailing to Hades" article has been published in one of the weekly newspapers and I found it on two sites on-line which makes me happy. Not that it pays a lot but just to finally see it in print is always exciting!
www.travel-wise.com and www.vancourier.com (under travel) It think it also get published in a couple of the Valley newspapers.

So tomorrow I really hope I can get some writing done as well as a visit to my friend. And in the evening I have to chair the writer's club downtown. Might even go to waterfit in the morning if I get myself into gear early enough. I feel like I'm on a roll!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

MUSIC THERAPY

FRIDAY, Sept 2

On Wednesday night this week, the guys from the band that my friend usually plays with on the weekends, went up to the Palliative Care ward and played a concert for him and other patients who were able to attend (most just heard the music from their beds). It was one of the most heart-warming experiences and truly a wonderful and therapeutic thing for my friend.
Several of the group from the LQ attended as well as his family members and grandkids. A couple of patients dropped in, one with his family, and other people stopped to listen. It was great to see A. participating, even trying to sing along although his voice is hoarse right now from the radiation. One thing the event showed us was what a 'family' we are, those of us who are regulars at the LQ. And the warm and loving cameraderie that is between us all.

Today when I went for my visit, he was looking bright and happy and much stronger. Evidently yesterday his daugher arranged for a harpist to come and play for him. More music therapy! Apparantly the harp has been used as a healing instrument for centuries. So he meditated while the harpist strummed. Definitely the best kind of medicine for him.

I went out for some of my own music therapy tonight, but unfortunately my favorite dance partner wasn't there. The crowd was mostly strangers, and it was a strange energy too. But as usual the music was excellent and I enjoy just sitting and listening and singing along.