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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Life, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,839
1. Novemberings

Life lately has included illustrating book covers, a Tweed Ride, a whole lot of The Great British Baking Show (see above) and rose tea. So that's that.
Also, goodbye foliage. You outdid yourself, Mother Nature. Fist bump.

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2. For a Good Deal, Call Kevin

Kevin has become a hoarder.

Okay. No he hasn’t, but it sure feels like he has and if you look closely, it sure FEELS like he has.

Kevin and Roy haunt yard sales every weekend. Every. Weekend. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, without fail. And to be perfectly honest, it’s sort of amazing how much junk stuff they have found that has actually been pretty useful.

For example:

Washer/Dryer $75 for the washing machine – they paid Kevin/Roy to take the dryer and they fixed the dryer for $12.
Pressure Washer: $30 – retail $275
Lights on stands: $10 for both – retail $35 for both
Hedger: $5 – retail $75
Dresser: $20 – retail $150
Six/Seven pairs of sneakers for Roy: $4 – retail: $60 (one was a pair of Nike Jordans)
Leather Cowboy boots: $5 – retail $150
Coats/Jackets for Roy, Kevin and the boys: $3-5 – retail: $40 average
Two ceiling fans w/ lights for Roy: $3 – retail: $75
Two ceilings fans for our house: one for $3, one for $.50: retail $75 each
56 inch TV (works perfectly) for $15 – retail: $200
Antique cabinet $20 – retail $100
Nightstand $5 – retail: $35
Two gamer chairs $2 / $5: retail $80
Two brand-new pairs of jeans $10: retail $35
Air mattresses for the pool $1: retail $5
Painting over our sofa $8: retail $30
IBM Thinkpad $1 (and it works like brand new!): retail $150
Countless DVD’s and XBox games: $.50 a piece.
StarWars DVD set $3: retail $80 (!)
TV FREE: retail $150
25 lb weights $12 total: retail $20 each
20 lb weights $10 total: retail $17 each
Free toolbox (it’s a red toolbox on wheels): retail $30
Shelves $5 each: retail $30
Powerstrips $1: retail $5
Laser printer $5: retail $150 (yes – it works great)

That’s what really surprises me about all of the stuff he’s gotten at these sales – they were all in new, or like new, condition. Whenever I think of garage sales, I think JUNK. And not just JUNK – JUNKJUNK. Like broken, missing parts, dings, scrapes, nicks JUNK. But honestly, God was watching out for Kevin and Roy. And here’s why I think that… Remember, Roy moved into the house with virtually nothing. NOTHING. And not a lot of money. He gets a monthly paycheck from the government every month and that’s it. And because our government welfare system is so messed us, he HAS to spend all of his money every month – he is not allowed to save any of it. And if he gets a job, he can’t work over a certain number of hours or he will lose his benefits.

Tell me that’s not asinine.

But I digress.

So, he has enough money to pay rent and buy food. He doesn’t have a lot left over for any extras. And remember, he’s not allowed to save his money so you can see our challenge – he’s on his own, doesn’t have a lot of things he needs and doesn’t have the money, or the permission, to save for said need.

Kevin and Roy started garage sale hopping. And it would ASTOUND me becasue not only were they able to find everything on their list and the things that Roy needed, but that the items they found were not only dirt cheap, they were in good shape. I think that’s a pretty big testament to Kevin and Roy’s faith. What are the odds that they found exactly what they needed, and it was in great shape, for dirt cheap?


No. I have not gone with them when they hunt for their goodies. Garage sales have left a bitter, BITTER taste in my mouth. I have nothing against garage sales, per se, but I grew up on garage sale stuff and hand-me-downs. Now mom, don’t take offense, you did what you had to do to feed and clothe three children. And might I add, you did a DAMN good job of it. Though I knew the stuff I had was used, second hand, I never wanted for anything, not really.

But when I left my family home to make a life for myself, I was DETERMINED I was not going to live on other people’s hand-me-downs. I wanted my own stuff, call it a pride thing, I guess.

So it seems almost like I’ve come full circle now that Kevin has been bringing home things from garage sales. And though I’m not entirely thrilled that he’s doing this, I have to admit, I’m impressed. It takes a lot of patience to go to ten garage sales every weekend just to keep an eye out for specific things. And he must be doing something right because he’s bringing home some pretty good stuff.

For example, the ceiling fan in our bedroom and the spare bedroom (Brandon’s old room) are from garage sales. He bought the one in our bedroom for $3 bucks. THREE BUCKS. And it’s brand-spanking new. And I like it. And it looks nice. And Kevin says every time he looks at it, he gets a thrill because he remembers stumbling across it at the sale and immediately knew it was a good deal and where he wanted to put it. If we had bought that ceiling fan from someplace like Lowe’s, it would easily be $70 bucks.

But I am concerned. He is wracking up quite a few things and though he finds places for these things, and a lot of times we need these things, we’re getting to the point that he’s having to be creative on where he’s placing these things. He’s talking about opening up an eBay store and running it with Roy which I’m okay with, but the problem with Kevin is, he gets attached to things. I mean REALLY attached to things. He has trouble letting anything go.

Hence my concern.

Kevin says he feels like a rich man because of all of the deals he’s found these past months. And now, every time we go shopping, I hear, “there’s no way I’m paying that much for that item when I can find it for a quarter at a garage sale.”

(Sound familiar, mom?? HA!)

I’ve married the male version of my mother. HAHA!

Filed under: Life

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3. Chicken by Chicken: Panic Attacks a Life

Hi folks, I'm writing my series called Chicken by Chicken. I spend this month writing the real, especially my challenges. This is a difficult post to write. My life hasn't been normal. It has been defined by panic.  Panic attacks. I don't remember my first attack, maybe I was 5 or 6. I estimate I have had more than a thousand panic attacks in my life. It is strange, even writing about panic attacks makes a nervous feeling in my chest, but I'm going to press on.

For years I didn't know what was going on. It was clear to me early on that a few specific thing send me into panic. I 'd lose my glasses, or go to the dentist, or be picked on at school. I also had panic attacks about lost keys, missed school assignments, and bank errors. Sometimes I have had random attacks about speaking in public and entering new situations. Some of my panic triggers make sense to me. Some do not. 

In my worst seasons, I had panic attacks that happened once or twice a day for months.  I have multiple panic attacks in a day. The first mega attack day was in the third grade. I had 10 panic attacks in a row. I lost my glasses and I started a new school. I still remember the waves of panic crashing over me.  I sat at my desk and struggled with attack after attack for the whole school day. I was moved into a special ed classroom. These mega attacks have hit me through the years.  It's always if I'm hit with many triggers.

I've seen things turn into panic triggers. Here is my worst: I sought help in my early twenties, but unfortunately, my mental health provider did something human and stupid by having an affair with a guy 25 years younger than her.  The guy was being torn apart by the relationship. The guy was also a very close friend of mine.  My mental health provider stopped my sessions, informing me that she was having the affair with my friend.  I was dropped and left without care. Yeah, and then speaking to a mental health provider became one of my triggers. Dang. 

Here is reality of my panic attacks. They hit like a tornado. The shortness of breath. Hyperventilation. My heart races. Trembles shake my body. Cold sweats and goosebumps follow.  I often throw up. Uncontrollable sobbing. Dizziness. Wailing. It doesn't make sense. It's terrifying to those around me. It's terrifying to me. 

To know me is to know my panic. Most of my attacks last about 20 to 30 minutes. It's taken years to build strategies to survive and to find drugs that actually help.  I sometimes think it is beyond ridiculous to think I'm going to be a writer. What if a panic attack blindsides me?  People who love me understand. Everyone else is not so forgiving. 
I wish I could say I got the health care I needed for this right off and it has been all good. That is not my story. It took time to get help because mental health workers cause me to panic. This is the first time in life I've ever had the moxie to even speak of this. I do have healthcare now. I do have good medication. I can still have a panic attack now and then, but it is down to maybe two a year and never multiple attacks. 

I have solid ways to deal with panic. When it comes, I recognize I'm having attack. I speak my mantra: "This is a panic attack. It is a problem that is not the problem. It cannot hurt me. It cannot stop me. It just chemicals poured into my body. My fight of flight system is messed up. The chemicals will dissipate and then I can deal with the real problem."  I breathe slowly, repeating the mantra, until the panic ends. 

I am a person with a rare gift for words, but I'm also this broken person, who has been broken for most of my life by panic.  I hope that my struggle helps you to be brave and face whatever you are facing. I hope that you say what you need to.   

I will be back next week with more of Chicken by Chicken.  

Here is a doodle. Girl in the Moon. 

Here is a quote for your pocket. 

Listen to God with a broken heart. He is not only the doctor who mends it, but also the father who wipes away the tears. Crissi Jami

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4. An Autumnal Addendum


Here and there, this and that. I've been working on two book covers lately, staying busy with that. In the meantime, here's what's occupied the spaces in between.

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5. How did life on earth begin?

News broke in July 2015 that the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander had discovered 16 ‘carbon and nitrogen-rich’ organic compounds on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The news sparked renewed debates about whether the ‘prebiotic’ chemicals required for producing amino acids and nucleotides – the essential building blocks of all life forms – may have been delivered to Earth by cometary impacts.

The post How did life on earth begin? appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. The real pros and cons of being a writer

I wrote this for the Oregonian back in 2006.  Nearly 10 years later, it's all still pretty true. Sadly the Oregonian is a shadow of its former self.

I'm a mystery writer and now I have a clue.

I used to imagine what my life would be like when I was finally a published writer.  I envisioned fancy book parties. Standing-room only crowds at signings.  Seeing piles of my book at Costco.  But I didn't really understand the true pros and cons.

Pro: I will no longer get up to the blaring of my alarm.
Con: I get up to the blaring of my husband's alarm.

Pro: Good riddance to co-workers. No more hearing one clip his fingernails in his open-air cubicle, or being forced to look at another's endless vacation photos.
Con: It's lonely, being by yourself. You can't ask someone which word sounds better. You can't discuss bad reality-TV shows. When you start work on Monday, no one asks about your weekend because no one else is there. About all you can do is blog. And talk to the UPS guy every now and then.

Pro: No boring meetings! No buzz words! No pretending to care about the latest branding strategy!
Con: That's all true. But I sure used to get a lot of writing done in those meetings. I furrowed my brow and looked like I was taking detailed notes. But in my notoriously bad handwriting, I was really scribbling things like "Poison? What's untraceable?" You can write a lot of murder scenes in meetings. Some meetings even inspire them.

Pro: Everything is material. Writing a book opens you up to the world. In search of information about characters and plot possibilities, you'll read stuff you wouldn't have read in a million years. For example, because of Torched I learned how to build a pipe bomb. I cried about something the other day and I actually remember wanting to take notes about how my nose burned right before I started crying.
Con: Everything is material. When bad things happen to you, everyone says, "Just think of what great material this is --you'll be able to put it in a book someday!" People say this after my car breaks down hundreds of miles from home, or we end up sheltering a neighbor when her husband turns out to be an abusive nut case. Then they smile as if this silver lining completely negates the cloud that has just rained all over me.

Pro: You'll be a mini-celebrity. When we bought a new sideboard, the salesman asked me my name. "You're the April Henry? The author?" A fan in the furniture store! And he even waived the delivery fee. Now if only I were really famous - he might have given me the sideboard!
Con: You're more mini than celebrity. When my first book showed up on the paperback rack at Fred Meyer, I felt like I had truly arrived. An employee was kneeling on the floor, stocking packs of gum. "That's my book!" I crowed. "I wrote that!" She looked up at me and shrugged. " I don't read," she said, matter-of-factly. It was clear that she could read, but didn't want to.

Pro: You can recognize others. There's a tradition in the mystery community of naming characters after real people. These opportunities are often raffled off at one of the mystery conventions as part of a literacy fundraiser. Mary Mason, who also goes by Maggie Mason, a bookseller in San Diego, has shown up in probably a dozen mysteries I've read. She's been a hospice patient, a murder victim, and in my favorite instance, she made an appearance in a Robert Crais mystery. Her alter ego was actually two --identical twin 6-foot hookers with dragon tattoos --one named Maggie Mason and the other named Mary Mason.

Con: Others will recognize themselves. Stick to your guns, no matter what anyone asks. You write fiction. You make stuff up. If anyone thinks a character resembles someone in real life: deny, deny, deny. It's simply a coincidence that the bad guy looks remarkably like your old boss, or that a whiny character uses the same annoying catchphrase that your old boyfriend used to use. The only thing I admit to: The characters in "Circles of Confusion" had the same last names as kids in my first-grade class.

Pro: You will have fans. It used to be hard to connect with authors. I know, because I used to write actual letters on paper to authors in care of their publishers. And usually, after many months, I would get a note back. That's why I have a postcard from Roald Dahl I got when I was 12, as well as letters from Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, David Brim and Elinor Lipman. Now it's easy to get in touch with writers. Almost everyone has a Web site, and quite a few have a blog or a MySpace or a Facebook. (I have all four.) You can drop your favorite author a note and usually get a reply in a day or two. Every author enjoys hearing that you liked his or her book.

Con: Some of your fans will be crazy. I've known authors with stalkers, including one woman who wrote thrillers and actually ended up carrying a concealed weapon because she feared her fan turned stalker had threatened to kill her. Mostly I run into people with oddball questions at readings ("Compare and contrast your character to one of the singers on 'American Idol' "),

Once, though, a gentleman at a Borders genuinely did scare me. At that time, women's bodies were turning up in Forest Park, dumped there by a serial killer. The guy seemed to think one of my main characters was a real person. He kept asking me, "Does Claire like to run in Forest Park?" Even when I told him that Claire was made up, he kept repeating the question, until finally I stammered, "Yes, sure, if Claire were real I'm sure she would like to run in Forest Park." The event coordinator ended up walking me to my car. Just to be safe.

And my favorite pro: You could be hot!
Most mystery writers and readers are on the far side of 50, sometimes the very far side. My first book was published when I was 39, when I felt like my salad days were long behind me. But when I showed up at my first mystery conference, guys hit on me (granted, mystery writers in their 50s). Women thought I was skinny and cute and young! I didn't feel like any of these things, but I wasn't about to dissuade anyone.

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7. Star Island


I spent the past weekend on Star Island for Gatsby on the Isles. A 1920's themed shindig, it's a real delight full of top notch company, sharp dressing and hot jazz. I didn't get as many photos as I would have liked, but here's a few snaps that I did manage. The top two are of the Oceanic Hotel (as well as a few revelers) and the bottom is Sunday's sunrise.

And I brought my sketchbook, too. Here's a small sketch I made of Smuttynose Island.

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8. What is life?

Did you learn about Mrs Gren at school? She was a useful person to know when you wanted to remember that Movement, Respiration, Sensation, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition were the defining signs of life. But did you ever wonder how accurate this classroom mnemonic really is, or where it comes from?

The post What is life? appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. How I lost over 20 pounds without going on a diet or going to the gym (more)

Me, a year ago (left) and me now (right)

A year ago, a reader at an event asked to take a picture with me and posted it on Facebook. When I saw it, I didn’t look at our happy faces. I focused on the roll of fat around my waist.

I hadn’t been happy with my weight for a long time, but that really struck home.

Things I had tried to lose weight

  • Weight Watchers. This actually mostly worked, but I was always hungry and I got tired of constantly counting points. Due to some quirks of the time period I attended, I cooked atrocious things like Black Bean Brownies (just because they are the same color doesn’t mean they taste like brownies - but WW used to give you lots of credit for fiber). Once at a family reunion we all got food poisoning and took turns hurrying to the bathroom. But the next day I had my lowest weigh-in ever at WW, so food poisoning FTW!

  • Being mindful of every bite, taste, sensation. I actually think this is a good thing, but I usually read when I eat, so my concentration is fragmented.

  • Eating 35 grams of carbs a day, two days a week. I remember sitting with my friend Amy every Thursday for 17 weeks when she did her chemo treatment and glumly regarding my turkey breast and hard boiled eggs. It turns out all kinds of high protein or high fat things have some carbs in them - and they add up fast.

  • Living on 600 calories two days a week. A friend did this and lost eight pounds. I would pour over the menus and wonder how I could possibly do it since I am so active.

And that’s the thing. Even though writing is a sedentary occupation, I have always been otherwise active. I was fit AND fat, or mostly fit and fat. Last fall I had had to switch to walking instead of running, after having been diagnosed with moderate to severe arthritis in both knees. I asked my doctor if I could run again if I lost 20 pounds. You could practically see the thought bubble over his head: Like that will ever happen. Despite my knees, I was still active: walking, jiujitsu, kung fu, and weight lifting. However, study after study will tell you that you can’t lose weight through exercise.


I had heard of friends of friends who lost a lot of weight once they started using a treadmill desk. And last fall I unexpectedly got some German money for Shock Point, which nearly ten years later still sells well over there.

So I bought a LIfeSpan treadmill desk, found an old computer (from 2008, but still runs what I need) and started using it when I wrote (and sometimes when I watched Netflix). I wear a Fitbit and went from putting in 12K steps a day to 25—30K. In the first eleven weeks, I lost eight pounds.

The pace has slowed now, but I’m still losing a pound every couple of weeks. Not that much different from Weight Watchers, but I am eating whatever I want! (Caveat: I mostly eat healthy.) I’m running again, and my knees feel fine. Every pound less is 3-4 pounds less on the knees.

And this morning I was down 22 pounds!

How to replicate this yourself

  • Get a Lifespan desk

  • Or try making one yourself (google DIY Treadmill Desk)

  • Or try housewalking.

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10. This is the kind of relaxation I wish I had

Our fat black feline, Moses, spends more time on his back than on his feet.

A few days ago I pondered the possibility that the reason Jim Dear and I feel like the summer has flown by is because through some twist of cat magic Moses actually pulled all the ambient relaxation out of the atmosphere around us. Then he sucked it into his skin and stored it up like a bear stores berries in winter. Therefore we get to spend all summer feeling like we are working hard, chasing kids and yard projects and Moses gets to open one eye and watch us once in a while.

Here's a few slices of work in progress:

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11. South by Southwest


I'd painted up some odds and ends for a new pattern, then got a bee in my bonnet to turn it into a plate design. I was in Texas last weekend and my head is full of new palettes, places and plants. Case in point, above. See also, below.

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12. Breaking Tradition

We didn’t buy fireworks this year. I don’t know, we just weren’t into it this year. In years past, we bought fireworks at a place where Kevin’s parents knew the owners and we would get a really good deal. The owners would pack us a bag full of goodies (because let’s face it, fireworks look the same and you really don’t know what they are going to do, but the fireworks stand owners know and are a great resource if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck. [pun intended]), and we would split the cost with Kevin’s parents.

We’ve gotten some REALLY good fireworks with that arrangement for the past several years.

We would then have a cookout at Kevin’s folks’ house then shoot off our awesome fireworks. Me, Kevin’s mom and dad would sit on their pergola and Kevin, Blake and Brandon would run their butts off and light the fireworks.

Then, when it was over, we would all go out with bags and pick up the aftermath.

Fun times.

We did this for two reasons: Kevin’s parents live outside of the city limits thereby giving us a venue to blow our money [pun intended] and it gave us a chance to spend the holiday with Kevin’s parents. Because for whatever reason, Kevin’s sisters have never included Kevin’s parents in their 4th of July festivities.

However, we broke tradition this year. Money is tight and having us over for a cookout is a lot of work for Kevin’s parents, who are getting up there in age. Everyone agreed with this plan except Blake – he was disappointed. I think 4th of July is his favorite holiday. He loves blowing things up.

(That desire has always sort of bothered me, to be honest).

This year, Kevin’s parents came over to Roy’s house (i.e. the rental house) and we, (i.e. Kevin) cooked hamburgers and curly hotdogs. Kevin, Roy and Blake swam and Kevin’s mom and I sat on the edge of the pool and chit-chatted. Kevin’s dad napped.

When it got dark, we drove over to the nursing school parking lot and mooched off the spectacular fireworks show at the country club.

I imagine that will be our 4th of July plans for many more years to come. Cheap and easy.

And now it’s way past my bedtime and my eyes are drooping. I have a lot of chores and studying to do tomorrow before the boys come over to swim and then have nachos with us.

Happy birthday, America. You’re not the same awesome country you were twenty years ago, but we still love you and haven’t given up on you. You’ll be great again someday …

Filed under: At the Moment, Life

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13. It only took me months to get this! A stripe on my belt in jiujitsu

I am the wrong sex (F) and age (56) for Brazilian Jiujitsu, but I still freaking love it! I'm getting to train a bit extra for a month at Alive MMA (normal school is Westside Academy of Kung Fu) and today I got a stripe on my belt.

Me! A stripe!

When I was a kid, I used to walk home from school reading a book (with brief interruptions when I ran into things). The only reason my high school GPA was less than 4.0 was because of Cs in PE. In my senior year, we played round-robin tennis and I was beaten by EVERYONE, including the mainstreamed developmentally delayed girl and the girl with juvenile arthritis so bad she couldn't even use one hand.

You have no idea how proud I am of this stripe!

(Photos of everything but stripe courtesy Rich Kolbell.)

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14. Throwing knives (and hatchets!) and getting black eyes

My kung fu school is offering a knife-throwing class. It is very satisfying when you stick one. The throwing knives are heavy-about a pound each.

I got asked to stay after Brazilian jiu-jitsu class today to demonstrate my technique for the blackbelt but did not get a stripe on my belt.  I'm close though, I can feel it.  My partner was 22 years younger than me and weighed 250 pounds. (He also hasn't been doing it very long, so it's not as bad as it sounds.)  I got kneed in the forehead Wednesday (by a different partner) and kept waiting for the bruise to show up.  It finally did, mostly in a small black eye around my tear duct.

I am feeling very bad ass these days!

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15. Flooded Trails

We’ve gotten a lot of rain this past week. And for the life of me, I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me that the Nature Trails would be flooded but …

… they were.

We were able to cross smaller sections of water, Kevin took his walking sandals off, I did not and my feet are soaking wet in the picture above. But by the time we reached this section of the trail, we had to turn back.

We were supposed to be walking, not wading.

No. This doesn’t mean I’m back into walking. This does mean that I NEED to get back into walking. My poochy belly has baby poochies.

It sounds cute, I can assure you, it’s not cute.

I bought an armband for my Samsung Galaxy S5 the other day. That’s what you see on my elephant arms in the picture above. That was the first time I tried it out and so far, I like it. My phone didn’t completely fit inside it, probably because I have an Otterbox case on it to protect it. (Those cases are freaking expensive! But it would be more expensive to replace my phone … so my extravagant purchase is justified, I suppose). But I like that it doesn’t completely fit inside – I was worried it would get too hot and burn up. My last phone case (different phone) did that. It didn’t ruin the phone, but it got so hot that I didn’t feel comfortable using it anymore.

I’ve been researching hiking trails in our area. I’m sort of on a hiking trails kick. I actually saw a really cool one in Ponca AR, but I’m not sure I can talk Kevin into driving 1 1/2 hours to get there and back. We’ll see. I also saw one in Branson MO too, but again, not sure I can talk the old man into driving down to it. In fact, there are quite a few things I’d like to do at Big Cedar Lodge. Horseback riding, for instance. I’ve never been and would like to try it, at least once.

Maybe one of these years (months ..?)

Filed under: Life

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16. Drawing the Undrawable: An Explanation from Neil and Amanda.

posted by Neil Gaiman

So that, as they say, was a thing.

The Neil and Amanda guest-edited New Statesman came out a couple of days ago. It's what we wanted it to be – an issue about saying the unsayable, filled with writers saying stuff. We are in it too. Everything is perfect...

Except the cover isn't the Art Spiegelman cover it was meant to be, the one that went up online at the New Statesman site and then vanished again. It's an Allan Amato photo of Neil and Amanda instead. A beautiful photo, with text over it. But it's not the cover we told people we were putting out, the cover that people have been asking us about.

This is what it looks like with the flap covering the left of it:

We owe you an explanation for why this is, especially as it gets into strangely self-reflexive territory: an issue about saying the unsayable that loses its cover for reasons of, among other things, freedom of speech, human error, and whether or not you can say the unsayable. Or show the unshowable.


Of all the things we were excited to attack with this "Saying the Unsayable" issue, the cover was at the top of the list, because it posed such a great braintwister: how do you draw what can't be said? Neil and I spent a few weeks chatting through all the various options - one of the nice things about being a musician and graphic novelist who have both been collaborating with artists for years is that we had a list of art-geniuses a mile long. Art Spiegelman won, in the end, because he was perfect for the theme. I remember seeing, in a newstand the week after Sept. 11, 2001, the cover of the New Yorker - thinking, at first, that it was a solid black image. And then, as the issue caught the light and revealed two magically disappearing towers, painted in ghostly gloss with a single antenna thrusting through The New Yoker masthead, I knew I was looking at the work of artistic emotional genius.

Art's been a fighter for visual free speech for ages: his seminal graphic novel "Maus", a profound commentary on family and nazism, has recently been banned from sale in Russia because it featured a swastika on the cover (though one could argue it was hardly "nazi memorablia - not to mention Art has already won the argument in Germany that Maus was culturally significant enough material to allow it onto shelves). Art's also let us crash at his apartment. So we were gleeful when Art agreed to do the cover, even though he had his grumpy doubts about the British press (we'll get to that in a second), and I traipsed over to Soho to have a long chat with him about what we might do for an image.

For three hours, over two walks and three locations (one cafe, Art's studio, and we stopped by to visit the artist JR: you'll note that that gave accidental birth to the use of JR and Art's Ellis Island graffitti/drawing collaboration in the issue), we discussed the potential for the cover, and I told Art about the fantastic writers we had on board, writing about the unsayable. I wound up getting a three hour crash-course in banned comic history, including the life and times of Fredric Wertham, Comics-burning, and the Comics Code.

In his studio, Art showed me some of his recent covers and comics following the Charlie Hebdo massacre. We batted some ideas around. An image of Me and Neil? Only if it was a really strong idea, I said. I didn't want this being about our egos - and we had balked at the idea of just using a nice photo of us on the cover. There's certainly nothing Unsayable about that.

Art showed me a comic he'd drawn about what you can and cannot say as a cartoonist, which I found smart and hilarious, and hardly controversial: Notes from a First Amendment Fundamentalist. It pictured Art, shown as the mouse-headed narrator, explaining what images were for, and why editors were scared of them, preferring to show smiley faces with “Have a Nice Day” on them instead. The comic had run in The Nation in the US, in many European countries and on the cover of a german paper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine. It hadn't been run in the UK, Art said, so we could have it as an exclusive. Brilliant, I said. Art told me the New Statesman had already passed on running it, back when Charlie Hedbo happened, not - they'd told him - on the grounds that it was controversial, but on the grounds that they'd felt they had enough Charlie Hebdo coverage. Art had been in China when the massacre happened and didn't get cracking on this drawing until a few weeks after the main news explosion. The London Review of Books had passed on it because “they disagreed with what Art said in it”.

It was something he felt really strongly about, and he was disappointed that it hadn't been seen in the UK. Would we run the comic as part of the issue? Neil and I both loved it -- it was a comic about saying the unsayable. We let the New Statesman know, Art sent over the image of the comic, and we got to work on what we thought was the hard part, the cover itself.

(Click on it to read it at full size.)



The phone buzzed and Art and Amanda were together in New York. We talked ideas for covers.

Art is a cartoonist: he writes beautifully and well, but his medium is pictoral, or that combination of words and pictures that become more than either alone.

“I don't think you need me,” he said. “They could do it with just a photo of you guys on the cover.”

“We need you,” we told him.

We wanted an image as powerful as some of his iconic New Yorker covers. Art retired from New Yorker covers, mostly because he didn't like having to negotiate or deal with magazine people, but he was willing to do it for us.

“The problem is,” he warned us, “that you can write about the unsayable, and nobody will mind. But if you draw the undrawable, you're in trouble.”

We tell him we are game for trouble.

Ideas are discussed: Me and Amanda as Paper Dolls surrounded by the costumes we could wear, all of them evoking things different groups would find offensive. Amanda and me about to be burned at the stake, with other burnable things. The see-no-evil monkeys.

We settled on me and Amanda drowning in our own word balloons, and got Art photoreference of us.

He called the next week. The word bubbles cover wasn't working. But he had an idea: a man drowning in shit, unable to talk about what he was drowning in.

The man would be calling out baby names for shit, loudly...

Art sent us a rough of the image.

It was great, except, it wasn't right. I showed it to Amanda.

It was a powerful image. And some days it feels like we are drowning in shit.


I talked to Art after the Pen Gala, and explained my problem.

“It doesn't say Saying the Unsayable to me,” I told him. “It says, We Are Drowning in Shit. It's the cover to the Drowning in Shit issue.”

Art had already had another idea. He showed it to me. I took a photo of it and sent it to Amanda. She said “YES!” and we had our cover.

A week later, Art sent us this:

And it was perfect. Amanda was concerned people would look at it and see only a disempowered woman, not an angry woman. The New Statesmen people liked it (some of them loved it) but they were also concerned it might be misinterpreted.

We wrote a piece that was meant to go into the New Statesman talking about it:

We actually can discuss the unsayable. We are doing it here, in this issue. In that sense, “unsayable” is almost an oxymoron.

We can talk about something without actually showing it. We can discuss “drawing Mohammed”, we can write entire books if we wish about the traditions involved in representing Mohammed, the problems inherent in it, the issues of power, offense and violence involved, and nobody will try to kill us for writing it.

Once you draw the picture, it’s a different story: when you “draw the undrawable”. The moment that you draw a picture that shows something transgressive, even if you are simply commenting on it, you have drawn it. (In 2010 Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris attempted to satirise and comment on the issues involved in representing the prophet in a humourous way, by drawing a cotton reel, a cup, a domino, a purse, a cherry and a pasta box, each claiming to be an image of Mohammed. She was placed on an Al-Quaida deathlist, and has been in hiding for four years.)

Images that shock or repulse us have power, in a way that words will not.

 Amanda walked with artist Art Spiegelman through downtown New York for an afternoon, getting schooled in the long history of banned drawings, comics and the wake of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations.  She and Art got Neil on the phone and for an hour discussed "see no evil” monkeys, people and stereotypes being burned at the stake, and how to represent offensive images without actually offending people. We wound up with the idea of Neil and Amanda trapped and drowning in their own speech bubbles. But Art wasn't happy with it.

The first cover design he actually showed us was a glorious depiction of a man drowning in a sea of shit, unable to say the word. It almost worked, but not quite. (We worried that people would think, not unreasonably, that this was the “we are all drowning in a sea of shit” issue.)

When he sent over the sketch of an angry woman bound, “see no evil” blindfolded, but still trying to swear through the happy-face on her ball gag, we knew we had our cover.

And we stopped worrying about the cover.



Putting together the contents of the issue was a blast, and a tsumani of emails flooded between me, neil, the new statesman folks, and the various writers we were hoping would write for the issues. Some people got their pieces in within days of being asked, some people wrote thousand-word pieces only to spill tea on their computers at the last minute, missing the deadline. Some interview questions went unanswered, some people called in sick.

Some incoming material led to new inspirations, which was where we really felt the beautiful synchonicity of concocting a magazine in realtime, on a deadline. JR's haunting Ellis Island graffiti images seemed to hunger for context about today's heated immigration issues; we pondered who could write about that, and the new statesman suggested we bring in Khaled Hosseini (whose work I'd read, but it would have never occured to me). We ran into Laurie Penny in a cambridge coffee shop and she offered to work with a writer of a piece we liked but felt wasn't there yet. We emailed with our friend Stoya to see what her take was on the unsayable issues in her workplace, porn. I happened to be talking with two different friends on the phone when it occured to me that they should write about what were were chatting about: both of those moments found their way into the "Vox Populi" sections. It was a lot of fun. The New Statesman folks were incredible - they caught the balls as fast as we were batting them and worked tirelessly on laying out the perfect issues. Everybody was really excited.

Two nights before the launch of the issue - the night before the final pieces of the magazine were to go to the printer so the magazine could hit the stands on time - we got a distressed email from Art. He was going to have to pull his cover, because he'd gotten an email from the magazine saying they they wouldn't run his comic.

Because of timing, or because of the content? Timing, probably. My brain did a few frantic calculations. Had we sent it over? Had we missed it in the master list? Oh shit. Maybe. I admitted to Art that we hadn't been the most organized editors - but we'd call the magazine right away. The worst thing that would happen was that it would miss the print deadline, but it would make it into the online version, which was, hopefully, going to see even more traffic than the printed issue, anyway. Art sighed and said he'd be happy enough with that, but he needed a promise from The New Statesman. It was 7 pm, We phoned the New Statesman. It was too late for the comic to get into print, they said. Could we run it online? They froze. Apparently, there had been a New Statesman-wide meeting and consensus that the magazine wouldn't print any images of the prophet mohammed. But Art's comic didn't depict the prophet, it depicted Art tearing off his mouse mask and revealing a smily-faced, turban-wearing.... Neil and I sighed. We hung up the phone. We looked at each other, glumly. This sucked.

"Okay. What if...." I said, "you write about the evolution of the cover for the online version of the magazine, and in there, just put a thumbnail of the comic which linkes to the full-size version of the comic which is already up online? You could interview Art about censorship. That way the comic gets the attention it needs, the new statesman doesn't have to actually run it, Art will get his way, and we won't have to lose our beautiful cover. Because honestly, the heavy irony of the fact that we're sitting around here discussing losing the cover of our 'Saying the Unsayable' issue because we can't run a smiley face with a turban on it..."

Neil furrowed.

"We can try."

We called The New Statesman. They said they could live with that.

We called Art. He said he'd go for that.

We breathed a massive sigh of relief. Neil called Art and did an interview with him about pictures and art and censorship and why artists need to be able to do art to communicate, for the blog. Neil couldn't work out why the Skype calls kept failing. (I was in bed on the internet, downloading things.)

But after three calls, he came to bed. We were saved.

The next morning, at 10 am, I had voicemails and texts to call the New Statesman. I gulped. We called. The peace treaty had broken down overnight. Art's agent had put The New Statesman's promise to run the thumbnail, with the link, in a blog written by Neil, into a contract and sent it over. They wouldn't sign it, as they explained, if they failed to do as Art requested, he could have the whole issue pulped. They said they'd rather pull the cover. It was 11 am, and Neil and I were on a train to go and visit his family in the countryside, with phone service coming and going. We spent the train ride on the phone convinced that we could re-assemble the agreement we'd managed to put together the night before. The absolute deadline for printing the cover was 12pm.

We couldn't do it.

By 11:45pm, it became clear that Art's cover was going to be pulled. We started disucssing, reluctantly, what could possibly replace it. The New Statesman mocked up a simple cover using the press photo by Allan Amato that was taken four years ago, with the words "Saying the Unsayable" printed across our faces. We sat in a cafe in the English Countryside that happened to have wireless and downloaded it.

"This is fucked. This is an issue about censorship, and it looks like the cover of GQ." I said.

"We could just go all black...." said Neil. (Of course).

We sent some half-hearted remarks to The New Statesman to improve the size and placement of the text, but we didn't have any further time to discuss it. The cover went to press.


It was a complete cock-up. Art's ironic prediction of a photograph of me and Amanda on the cover proved correct.

Art's real frustration is that the British press can write about freedom of speech while at the same time having blanket policies which mean that an image like this one becomes unshowable. (In context: the Art Spiegelman self-image Maus character has removed his mouse face to reveal a smiley face with a turban, telling you to have a nice day. You can interpret this in a number of ways. The New Statesman took it as showing an image of the Prophet, something that they had agreed amongst themselves they would never do. I take it as Art's logical conclusion to a comic on Pictures and the power of pictures, even the simplest, in a post Charlie-Hebdo massacre environment.)

I suspect that if the New Statesman had had longer to talk amongst themselves and to think about the Art's comic it would have made it in, but I could be wrong.

The night before the New Statesman went to press, when the agreement was that I would blog about it on the New Statesman site, I interviewed Art for the blog. He said a number of cogent things about image and cartoons, about why the UK press wouldn't show images, like his comic, which had been on the front covers of newspapers in Germany and prominently published elsewhere in Europe. On why, in a secular society, it is vital not to bait, but to debate – and that people who use pictures to communicate needed to be able to use their pictures, as those of us who use words use their words. That there cannot be a Kalashnikov veto on what is published.

(The blog didn't run, and as Art says, he gave the interview being still kindly disposed to the New Statesman, and he doesn't feel that way any longer, so I'm not going to quote from it.)

Art feels angry: angry for the wasted work, and because he wants people in the UK to see his comic.

The New Statesman editors felt aggrieved, trapped between the rock of having to show an image that might, conceivably, have been interpreted as showing Mohammed in order not to lose their cover, and the hard place of their discomfort with the Wylie Agency.

Amanda and I are sad and disappointed. I'm mostly disappointed because I thought that the proposed solution (of blogging about it on the NS site, with a thumbnail of the comic that you could click on to take you to a larger image, so the comic could be seen, and in the blog Art and I could talk about the issues involved) was something that worked. I'm still sad that the New Statesman backed away from it, when it was put in writing.

It's obvious, going back in the email chains, to see the breakdowns in communication between Art and the New Statesman and vice versa, while Amanda and I were riding the magazine guest-editor whirlwind (writers dropping out and coming back in, pieces coming to us or going directly to the NS, people we waited on for articles or think pieces or interviews until the last moment, while still trying to keep our lives and our real, paying work going). It was our cock-up as much as anyone's: we knew he wanted the comic in and had sent it over, and didn't actually think of it again until the end.

Neil and Amanda:

So that's what happened, and why Art's cover isn't there on the cover of the New Statesman.

Running a magazine is insanely hard work, and having to deal with the crisis at the last minute was no fun for the New Statesman team, who have been supportive of us all the way, and who wound up, at the end, face to face with, and having to deal with, what is and isn't unsayable. (And from their perspective, as they expressed it to us, it was also a freedom of speech issue: they didn't want to run the comic, and couldn't be pushed into it.)


This is how we get into this mess in the first place. "We would, but...." "We should, but...." "We believe in freedom of the press, but...." It's death by a thousand buts. We wanted to say the unsayable, and draw the undrawable. We ended up feeling like we'd tried, and, due to human error on our parts and on the magazine's, failed.

We're really, really proud of this issue, and we're honored that the New Statesman gave us a chance to gather all these artists and writers together. We have the former Archbishop of Canterbury writing about why religion needs blasphemy and Stoya on porn, and Michael Sheen and Hayley Campbell and Kazuo Ishiguro and Roz Kaveney and Nick Cave and...

We just wish we were as proud of the cover as we were of the content.

Have a nice day.

Neil and Amanda

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17. Our Not-So-Epic 25th Anniversary Dinner Out

I usually make fun of people who post pictures of food …

But …

(And may I just point out – this picture was taken with my phone. Damn!)

Tell me this doesn’t look scrumptious.

And it was. Even though Kevin ordered it, I forked several veggies for myself.

The sauce drizzled on top looks like chocolate – it’s not chocolate, it’s some sort of soy sauce-ish thing. And though it was delicious, it was too much. I think if we ever go to this place again, (it was Bambinos – Italian food place), then we’ll likely order it on the side.

Kevin and I don’t eat out very much. We have “go git” nights and that’s usually about once/twice a week. Which actually sounds like a lot when I put it like that.

We eat out more now that the boys are on their own. In fact, if the boys didn’t practically come over every night to eat dinner with us, we’d probably eat out a lot more because who wants to cook for only two people?

It was a nice dinner. Bambinos was a quaint, quiet, intimate place and the prices weren’t too bad. We enjoyed ourselves. We might go back – in another 25 years.

And that was the extent of our 25th wedding anniversary. Since our gift to each other was a Hawaiian cruise and we felt like we had already celebrated our anniversary, we didn’t feel like doing much.

What? I haven’t written about our Hawaiian cruise yet?

Patience .. I’ll get there, eventually.

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18. Twenty-Five Years Strong

me-and-kev2A May 26, 1990. That was the day my life changed for the better.

Kevin and I have been married for 25 years. And I could write a novel of the events that lead up to this day, but I think instead, I’m going to copy what my sister-in-law did on Facebook and just bullet-point our lives:

  • We worked together at a bank – that’s how we met.
  • Our first “date” was the company Christmas party. And we met there, in separate cars. Because I was a strong female and didn’t want him to think I was easy. *smirk*
  • We lived together for two years before we got married. *gasp*
  • I had to give him an ultimatum – either we get married, or we go our separate ways. (Remember that strong female part? I was terrified he would walk out – but I guess it was better than wasting years together).
  • I had to shop around for a church. We didn’t belong to a church and a friend I worked with recommended a pretty little church in Nixa. Done.
  • Our wedding day: Kevin thought I stood him up since I was late getting to the church. That same friend that recommended the church also did my hair. A fancy little braid number and it took longer than we thought it would. Kevin said he lost a few years waiting for me.
  • We paid for our wedding ourselves. Well. Technically, we used one of my school loans to pay for our wedding.
  • My mom’s wedding gift to me was making my wedding dress.

  • I still have the dress packed away in a garment bag. I couldn’t fit into it now to save my life.
  • We toasted each other with paper cups because I totally forgot to buy glasses for the occasion.
  • Our wedding photographer was horrified because Kevin forgot to wear dark socks with his tux. The photographer had to place my wedding bouquet over his feet to hide them.
  • Whoever was in charge of music played the wedding march (the song you exit to) when my dad escorted me down the aisle. I wasn’t even aware of that faux pas until Kevin and I watched the wedding video afterward.
  • I had to wear ballet slippers instead of gorgeous heels because I didn’t want to be taller than Kevin for our pictures. (At least I was comfortable).
  • I couldn’t wait for the ceremony to be over. And who was the idiot that picked three songs to sing, during the ceremony, so that it lasted WAY longer than it had to? (That would be me).
  • We honeymooned in Cozumel, Mexico.
  • It was the first time I had ever been out of Missouri, let alone the country, and I cried like a baby.
  • I smashed my pinky in a lounge chair on the beach. I later lost that fingernail.
  • We rented a moped to get around the island and I don’t think we wore helmets. (We were young and stupid).

  • We ate lunch at a shack on the other side of the island and wrote our names in this pole. We later went back to Cozumel years later and the shack was gone.
  • I remember Kevin and I being horrified because the little prop plane that took us from Cancun to Cozumel was literally held together by duct tape.
  • I absolutely did not pack the right type of clothing for Cozumel. All of my shirts were too heavy and all I had with me were jean shorts. I’ve since learned tank tops and breezy skirts are your friend if you ever go to a tropical island.
  • On the plane ride home from our honeymoon, the landing gear wouldn’t come out and one of the flight attendants had to open the floor and crank the gear down. That did not help my anxiety over flying one bit.
  • I did not fly again until our 10th anniversary cruise to the Caribbean.

    and lastly …

  • I can’t imagine my life without my best friend, lover, confidante and husband.
  • Thank you for putting up with me all of these years, sweetie. I love you to the moon and back.


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    19. Ink (and mermaids)


    Current likes and/or loves:

    * Fabric printing.
    * Elderflower cordial
    *This kickstarter project being run by Andy Warhol's family.
    *Above freezing temperatures. High five, Mother Nature.

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    20. The Lonestar State

    I made a whirlwind trip down to Texas the other weekend to visit family. It was the perfect antidote to the most brutal winter I can remember.

    Needless to say, my camera is filled to capacity with pictures of flora, fauna, nieces and nephew. And all I want to draw are succulents and cacti (ergo, the pattern at the top of this post).

    Thanks for the creative shot in the arm, Lone Star State. I owe you one.

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    21. The show must go on

    I recently had school visits in Central Oregon. Two memorable things about that visit: the librarian got deathly sick the morning of the visit, and despite our best efforts, I picked up what she had and took it with me to Wisconsin a few days later.

    But the second, much better thing, was that while I was there I met up again with old 7th grade history teacher, Mr. Perkins. I loved him as a teacher, and meeting him again, some 40+ years later, I remembered why. He still asks thoughtful, intereting questions and he listens attentively to your answers. It was nice to hang out with someone who was more my parents' peer.  Fewer and fewer of my friends have living parents.

    I got home, hoped I had escaped getting sick, and then the day before I flew to Wisconsin, I started coughing. I remembered the librarian doing the same thing, but hoped it was allergies.

    After taking three flights to Appleton, Wisconsin - and for the longest flight, my seatmate was 6 foot 3, which meant he physically did not fit in the seat - I landed and quickly realized I was in trouble.

    I ended up walking to a nearby Target and getting every OTC cold remedy known to man. The next day, my ride bought me chicken soup  By that time, I was trying to refrain from even making small talk, because my voice was going. In between speaking engagements - 9 school visits and/or writing worshops and one book festival visit - I did everything I could to keep myself going. Lozenges, throat spray, Throat Coat tea, honey and water, sitting by the hot tub at the hotel, using saline nasal rinse, and drinking at least one bottle of water an hour (Appleton has sweet tasting water, so it mostly came from the tap).

    The Throat Coat tea helped the most, but it was no match for how bad I was feeling. By my second to the last visit, I started thinking I might pass out. For my last talk, the kind librarian sent kids on a scavenger hunt to see if any teachers used stools with backs. They came back with two. Somehow I made it. I just didn't want to disappoint the kids.

    I actually think I did a pretty good job.

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    22. I Don’t Want to Get Older – I’m Not Ready to BE Old

    Weepy glees – have a box of tissues ready.

    I cried like a baby from start to finish after watching this video. I think this scenario affects us so much because we have an innate fear of getting older. And an even bigger fear of not being loved because of how we LOOK/ACT when we get older.

    I lost it when the guy commented about how beautiful she was to him, wrinkles and all. And you can tell he really means it, he’s just not saying it to be nice. That’s love. Pure and simple. *sigh*

    And I love how they kept a sweet sense of humor about everything. That’s exactly how Kevin and I are – we often giggle like teenagers like that.

    My age has never really bothered me before now. But I’ll be honest – I’m going to be 50 this year. The big 5-0 – half a century old. I don’t feel it and people tell me I don’t look it but when I stop to think about it, it sort of shocks me. How did this happen? Inside, I don’t feel a day over 30. Knowing I’m going to be 50 this year just feels … surreal. Unnatural. It can’t be real. There must be some sort of mistake.

    I’m fortunate. I work with people half my age so they keep me young. I stay physically and mentally active. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I have no plans to retire – why? I ENJOY working. I always have. I get a high out of being productive. And there’s NO WAY Kevin would ever let me stop – I can barely keep up with him now.

    Do you think if I stay busy enough I’ll stay ahead of the aging process?

    Well I’m going to try, damn it.

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    Now Playing -  Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis   Life -    .... Once again, there's been a gap and much has happened!  We are still living in Idaho, working on the shop and trying to get back to writing as well - I'm going to a lot of comic cons - about 1-2 a month and we are starting to get the house in order. We lost Pooka to cancer just before Christmas, the rest of the

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    24. I'm flabbergasted

    I was on ebay tonight - I buy almost all my clothes there - and out of curiosity typed my name in the search box.  Lots of books and audio tapes and a few ARCs (kind of makes me wince, but whatever).  And then this:

    Why? Who would want a photo of me with my first book? Why can't I still look that young?  What happened to that shirt? I loved that shirt.  And it's being sold by Historic Images. Does 2000 really count as history?

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    25. Taking Care of Our Elders


    One of the many things I like about Facebook? You get to learn things about your family that you otherwise probably wouldn’t have known.

    The man laying on the ground in the picture above is my grandfather – my dad’s dad. He fought in World War II.

    I’m just going to post what my Aunt posted on Facebook …

    Dan said his dad never talked about the war much (who could blame him) but he would tell us this story often.

    One day there was an order to head out, so some of his buddies got into the jeep. Right before Leroy got in, his commanding officer said “Hutton you stay”. That jeep was hit and Leroy lost good friends. He would say to us, “If I would have gotten in, you all would have never been here, that saved my life”. Glad he didn’t get in!”

    Isn’t it amazing to think that one moment in time, that one split second decision my grandfather’s commanding officer made, led us to this moment: Four children, ten grandchildren, nineteen (?) great grandchildren later.

    It sort of boggles the mind when you stop to think about it.

    My grandfather is in his early nineties now. We lost my grandmother, my dad’s mom, about … three years ago (?). She developed dementia toward the end of her life and it was a terribly sad way to say goodbye. It was very hard on my parents, I know. And now my grandfather is being moved to a nursing home today because we have reached the point where he can’t take care of himself and it’s physically too hard on my family to help. (He’s wheelchair bound and he requires physical assistance to get into bed, go to the bathroom, etc).

    This is INCREDIBLY hard on my grandfather. He’s FIERCELY independent, has been his whole life, so now that he is being forced into this situation, well, it’s been difficult, to say the least.

    My parents came over yesterday and they filled in the details. It was heartbreaking to listen to the anguish in their voices and watch tears gather in their eyes.

    My grandfather begs them to take him home. He doesn’t want to go to the home. Who can blame him?? But though my family tried to take care of him in his home for one week, the situation is simply more than any of them can handle. They’re trying to make deals with my grandfather, work hard, participate in physical therapy, work on his strength so that he can at least walk on his own again and then they can take him home and work on a schedule to have someone with him at all times. But my grandfather is being stubborn. I’m sure the whole situation is embarrassing and humiliating for him. I see this in patients every day at work. It’s SO HARD to succumb to physical restrictions and have to rely on other people to help you when you’ve been so used to being on your own, taking care of yourself, your whole life.

    This situation makes me think of my own parents a lot. They’re getting up there in age, too. Though they are still both relatively young and stay physically active (they go to a gym to walk and socialize every day), I can see early signs of dependency. It brings a lump to my throat to think me and my siblings may be in a similar boat one of these years. And though you can promise you’ll never, ever, put your loved ones in a home, you can’t TRULY promise that. I think this situation with my grandfather has taught me that. All you can do is the best you can do for the situation you find yourself in.

    I also wonder how our boys will react when Kevin and I reach that age. Getting older has never really bothered me before, but honestly, seeing my grandfather’s situation has opened up doors I never really knew existed before.

    I learned that being in a home, a DECENT home, is terribly expensive. This will likely put a huge dent in my grandfather’s money. I have no idea how much he has, it’s really none of my business how much money he has, but knowing my family, he likely has a nest egg somewhere he can rely on to help him through this stage. I feel terribly sorry for people that DON’T have that money to fall back on.

    Kevin and I have talked about making sure we have a will. But I’m not sure we have ever really discussed our plan if one of us ends up in a nursing home. I have made Kevin promise me he will never put me in a home, and vice versa, but my grandfather’s situation has taught me, it’s never quite that black and white.

    I worry that dementia runs in our family. I mentioned my grandmother had it and there are signs my grandfather might have it, too. I’ve always worried about my own memory – I have trouble remembering things NOW. What will I be like when I reach my twilight years?

    I think that’s one big reason I refuse to retire. Which, I realize is unrealistic, my body will deteriorate … I realize this. But I hereby pledge to work on keeping my mind active. I’m not saying my grandparents did not do that, dementia is not something you can likely prevent, but I will do everything in my power to keep it at arm’s length.

    In the meantime, life trudges on. All we can do is try and keep pace with it.

    Filed under: Life

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