Notes from a Clamshell Path | No. 17
And just like that, it's MAY! I told you I might be absent for awhile but I really didn't expect it to be this long. I've had stuff to say and cool things to share but I've been conflicted about how much detail to put out there in the world about my surgeries. So I've said nothing. Between the privacy issues on the interwebs and the continued threat against healthcare -- and women's health in particular -- it just hasn't felt safe. I know that my story would be useful to other women and I HATE that the current climate makes me fearful to say too much. I feel censored and I am angry about it.
Instead, I will share someone else's inspiring story.
The beginning of the year as incubation time. I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to figure out that you don't have to start all the things right away on January 1. It makes so much more sense to use the dark, cold wintery days and nights of January to do some deep thinking and then start it all in February. Or even March. OK, or April. Actually, May.
Patience. Have you ever asked the Universe, "what exactly would you like me to be learning right now with all of this?" The last few years have produced a number of challenges -- none of them with quick fixes. Real healing takes time. My body may have fused the pieces together and can function close to normal, but there are things that will take longer. I have new sensitivities (hello, bandaids!) and my natural lion-in-the-grass nature is turned up super high (I got HIVES driving to my surgeon's office I was so worried that I had an infection. I didn't. It was a spitting suture. Look that up.) I'm trying very hard to be patient as I figure out what normal looks like for me now.
The Super Mister. I came across this quote recently: “Life is sad. Here is someone.” -Lorrie Moore. The Mr. sure is my Someone! And I want to tell you all how wonderful he has been through this past year. First, he has been there for every appointment. He supported and encouraged me every step of the way. When he talks about my situation to other people, he uses the word "WE." Not once has this been my problem alone to manage. He picked up all the slack around the house in addition to feeding me, emptying my so yucky drains, washing my hair, cleaning my troublesome incision, and putting on my socks like a toddler. He even learned to put my hair up in a BUN! He so deserves his promotion to SUPER MR.! And really, he's been that all along.
Ways to make surgery not feel so scary. Let's just be clear, I WAS TERRIFIED. So I did what I usually do when something scares me: plan my outfit and accompanying theme music. I wore this kickass RBG Squad sweatshirt to the hospital for my surgery in January. And in the weeks before, I played RuPaul over and over again. And, last week, when they wheeled me down the ramp to our car after my latest surgery, I whispered, "Miss Vanjie. Miss Vanjie. Miss Vaaannnnnnnnjie." The bravest of the brave -- drag queens and Ruth Bader Ginsberg -- helped me keep it together!
Queer Eye. EPISODE FOUR!!! I was sobbing! I love their energy -- not a mean girl in the group. Karamo is my favorite. Remember he was on Real World: Philadelphia?
The Eurovision 2018 Instagram stories. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this competition! And watching all the rehearsals has gotten me pumped for the main event. They say this song is the frontrunner. Stephen and I have been dancing around the house singing, "I'm not your toy. Not your toooo-oooyyyy."
Drag Race(s). True confession: I was #TeamShangela (Halleloo!) even though Trixie spends her summers here in Provincetown. We had a chance to watch the finale at a viewing party in town where the crowd was overwhelmingly #TeamTrixie. Season 10 is dazzling me and I'm finding I need to watch each episode at least twice. Right now, I'm rooting for Miz Cracker. Also, in related news, BenDeLaCreme will be in Ptown all summer.
Nan Goldin joined Instagram. She is responsible for my favorite Provincetown photo. And she's taking on the Sacklers for their role in the opioid crisis.
Dance in the Real World video series from The NY Times. My favorite? The JB-style skating video from Chicago.
Oversized sequin embellishments. Having all this time on my hands has made me anxious to make stuff. I'm trying very hard to keep new purchases from coming into the house so I'm looking at what I can do with what I have. Lately I've been obsessed with giant paillettes and how I can use those to jazz up a clutch, bracelet, or tote.
Swimming Lessons. Officially, the first book I finished in 2018! The plot: a woman who went missing left handwritten notes in the books belonging to her writer husband. The mystery unravels steadily and very satisfyingly. It was a good one to start the year.
The read-a-thon calendar on Little Book Owl. Find one you can add to your calendar. And read like your life depends on it.
West Cork series on Audible. Lately, like most of America, I've been totally into true crime podcasts. Years ago, the Mr. and I spent some time in West Cork (Kinsale!) and I made him drive all the way to Mizen Head. It was beautiful! This story, though, is pretty freaking creepy. The series is FREE until May 9. Chop! Chop!
Like I said, SO MANY true crime podcasts. -I've also been obsessing over Missing Maura Murray. I remember when she went missing! One second she was in a car accident and then the next she was GONE. Tip: there are a ton of episodes so if you want most of the info, just listen to the ones from the Oxygen series. -Crawlspace. Especially the series on the missing Boston men who were eventually discovered in the water near where we used to live. I would half joke with The Super Mr. that I was going to make him wear a flotation device when he went out at night. But it's possible these cases might be CONNECTED. -Atlanta Monster. Remember the Atlanta child killings?? Well the guy they said did it, was never charged for any of the murders of the kids, only the adults. What?? -Season 4 of Someone Knows Something. Someone sent a bomb to this guy in Canada with a weird-ass note. Every episode makes me think, "OK, THIS guy killed him!" -Up and Vanished. They made an arrest in this case last year, but if you don't know anything about the puzzling disappearance of teacher Tara Grinstead, give this a listen.
Above and Beyond's Common Ground. I often put this on with my noise-blocking earphones for napping -- it's a little over an hour in it's entirety and has been perfect background noise for sleeping. Eluvium's Prelude for Time Feelers, and Lindstrom's space disco, Tensions, are also great for background noise -- with totally different vibes.
This eerie Omens playlist on Spotify. It starts with "Walking Through the Upside Down" from the Stranger Things soundtrack.
Eating + Drinking:
Protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber. My diet has basically been eggs, chicken and turkey, almond butter, Trader Joe's Hi-Protein Veggie Burgers, Greek yogurt (I especially like the Chobani "hint of" flavors), Kashi wheat cereal, and this juice smoothie (watch out for the sugar content though!). The body needs protein to heal!
Fish Taco Summer Tour. I LOVE a good fish taco but I am particular about what I like -- crispy fish and the perfect ratio of fixings. I've already started testing my criteria at different places and have started a short ranking system. Follow along on the gram this summer!
Organic Madagascar dark chocolate (85% cacao) and dried mandarins from Trader Joe's. I don't have a huge sweet tooth (I'm more of a salty crunchy snacker) but sometimes you just need a little boost. This combo is so yummy.
NOT LEARNING. I read this and thought, YES! This is exactly what I need. I am one of those people who never finishes things. I LOVE to start a new project -- all that newness and research and synapses firing. Inevitably, I lose interest and move on to the next thing. This idea of just going deep with what I have makes so much sense.
Golden Warm Liquid Meditation. I've combined this with a section of my pre-surgery meditation to create a few minutes of calm and peace in my day. The pre-surgery guide instructs me to visualize my "higher self" -- which strangely looks exactly like Cher in her "Believe" video -- pouring warm healing light over me. My visualization of this is VERY sparkly. And I always feel better afterwards. Try it!
John Waters' Christmas card last year. Just wanted to make sure you all saw it!
My solar-powered rainbow maker. I attached mine to our front living room window. As soon as the sun hits it, there are rainbows everywhere. And if I'm really lucky, the sun also hits one of my disco balls and it's rainbow disco hour!
Chief Flamingo Officer! Baha Mar is looking for someone to take care of their flamingos. Why didn't someone tell me this was a career possibility?
My Trefle Otter Box cover for my phone. So summer-y!
Geronimo and the NYC Ballet. Dazzling! (Small brag here: I boogied with Jihan at a space-themed party in Palm Springs. She was dressed as a fancy space-y alien and I was dressed as one of my favorite things in the universe, the sun.) For the record, because you all know how much I HATE finding balloons on the beach, she uses biodegradable balloons and disposes of them responsibly.
Shiny metallic accessories. This bag. This purse. These slides.
Stagnant juju. After being mostly house-bound for months -- partially because of healing and partially because of those six million freakin' nor'easters in a row, I needed to change up the energy in our house. Tired of sage and palo santoing, I found a fir stick to clear out the bad energy. Unfortunately, I bought the last one. Here's something similar.
Anything complicated. I'm keeping it simple. Rest, good food, hydration, fuzzy snuggles, meditation, and time with my support network. The rest can go for now. Also, I finally found a daily tracker app called Done to help me make sure I'm drinking enough water and doing the habit-type stuff I want to make part of my basic routine. And it's color-coded!
Many Moons 2018 (Jan-June) Workbook. This was SOLD OUT all over the place but I managed to track down a copy at The Alchemist's Kitchen. The next version is available for pre-order and it's the last one she'll produce in this format.
Embracing my new health prerogative. One of the upsides of my health status (which is best described as neither sick nor healthy) is that I seem to have been given the option of traveling in the fast lane for medical intervention. Even though surgery isn't quite in the rearview mirror, I'm turning my attention to the next phase, which will give me access to tests not normally given at my age and to medical specialists in Boston.
Planning + Organizing:
SUNSHINE. We currently have THREE warm weather trips booked!! It was a tough choice to forgo our usual March trip because of my surgery (we could have gone but I wouldn't have been able to go in the water ... what IS the point then?). We'll be making up for it, though, with two trips to Negril, Jamaica -- the most awesomest place on earth that isn't Ptown -- and one to the Caribbean side of the DR, Bayahibe.
THE FUTURE. Even though it will take a while for me to feel like I'm no longer in this weird limbo period, I feel like I can start planning ahead again! Everything was on hold for SO long but now I am planning day trips here and there, those warm weather trips, outfits and costumes for the Ptown season, my next career move, our garden this year. SO MANY THINGS!
Canine Cancer Genome Project. Did you know that 50% of dogs who die after age 10, have cancer? If you love your pup, consider donating a few dollars to the scientific research they are doing to map canine cancers.
The spycam at the local doggie daycare. We've had to take Stephen to the Provincetown Pet Resort during my activity restriction periods. I got to watch what he was doing on their webcam app, though. Sometimes I watched a bit TOO much!
"The Life and Times of the World's Oldest Performing Drag Queen." In Oregon, of all places.
"How a Black Girl from Chicago Fell in Love with Depeche Mode." For all my fellow weirdos out there.
"The Women who Run the 'Star Wars' Universe." How much do you want to be a part of this writing group??
"Eau de Nil, the Light-Green Color of Egypt-Obsessed Europe." "Eau de Nil (“water of the Nile”) is a tricky color to pin down precisely. It is a light-greenish hue, more saturated than celadon, less gray than sage. It has tan undertones and a cool bluish cast. It is, confusingly, an entirely different color from Nile green."
"I am a 'Master Chef' Survivor." More like an episode of Black Mirror!
I've collected so many interesting things over the last few months that I have a few posts in the hopper to share with you in the coming weeks. See you back here soon!
Note: You may have noticed the "Resisting" section of this newsletter is missing. I've chosen to block out the political nastiness and horrible news in the world in order to create the best healing environment for myself.