Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Breast cancer chic... mostly just woozy

Laurent and I decided that it might be best if I just cut my hair off, to avoid trauma for all. For 48 hours Lucy was insisting that I should glue it back on. But then, it had been the ostensible reason for her tears when we told her about the cancer. Poor muffin.

It is very hot these days, 90 degrees plus, so we have taken to running Emile after the sun starts giving in to gravity. Always hard to keep up with a toddler, but especially in heat with chemo queasiness.

We bundled little Lucy off to France yesterday, and skyped long enough today to hear all about the pain au chocolat and her bike ride with her cousins. Kisses, Lucy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Now I am sitting in the chemo chair, which has a warmer and a back massager. I love Dana Farber.

Well, this is not exactly comfortable, typing with a big plastic jigger sticking out of my arm. I am over the moment of queasiness, which was remarkably short. 

My sister just went out to buy espresso pods on Newbury Street for her fancy espresso machine. I am glad she went out for a bit, so she isn't stuck in the hospital, and I don't feel guilty that she is trapped among wires and sealed windows, and I have a moment to write. 

But I am grateful to tears that she came with me, and stayed with me, and came back from France. I am very lucky to have a wonderful sister. Not everyone has such a good hand dealt to them. She was there during the birth of each of my children, she was there for each of my graduations. 

Oh, except the one from art school, where I cried even though I had been miserable while I was there. Perhaps I cried from relief. Nevertheless, it was embarrassing, up there on the stage, grabbing the diploma while grimacing with tears.

My body is full of toxins now. I've been hooked up to an I.V. for two hours. 

The Haitian nurse, Andrea, is discomfitting the young man who is with his mother next door, by telling the woman what a handsome young man she has... Aside from making young men blush, Andrea is lovely and warm, with a beautiful talent for making people feel cared for. 

I have promised to bring to her next week the name of the Haitian linguist who spoke at UMass last fall about education in Haiti.I must remember.

The queasiness is back, escorted by dimwittedness. Thank goodness my sister is driving us home.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A haircut

It is very hard not to look on the internet. Generally I shouldn't, because of the scary pictures of swollen limbs, urgent recommendations for cold hats, and strident imprecations against Locks of Love. But it's also hard to do anything else, except maybe sweep the floor. 

Before I had children I had an infinite ability to lose myself in projects and work. My husband, then my boyfriend, had to wait months before I was ready to take time out even to watch a movie together with him. Now I hesitate, endlessly prevaricate, thinking I don't have time... 

Something is out of balance when I feel selfish for writing or drawing or painting instead of watching a TV show. It isn't just the selfishness that holds me back, though. It's also the work. I have become not exactly lazy, but without hope. It does not matter if I make this painting or that, because I will not do anything with it. The time and materials will only add up to one object that must be well treated, but never sees light or love.

Must go. Children crying downstairs, Laurent overwhelmed.

Now it is night, and I am the one putting Emile to sleep, which consists of trying not to engage in his conversation until he eventually drops off, usually with his book open and gently glued to his face. He isn't reading, because he is only not quite three, but he loves to look at the pictures. Even this little act makes me proud of him, makes me feel that he is somehow of a literary mind.

Emile does not stop talking, unless it is to make some sound effect. He has questions about everything he sees. 

I am not ready for tomorrow. I don't think I could be ready for tomorrow anyway. If I could, it would only make me anxious. 

Chemo. It can't be real. I don't have breast cancer. You must be talking to someone else.

This weekend I will go to a hair salon with Lucy, to get a really short haircut. 

This will, I hope, soften the shock of losing it all in the shower, bald as a cue.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sharron Loree

There are so many comings and goings these days that I can't keep anything straight. I will just share one end point of an internet thread I pulled ("surfing" sounds too pointless, less tangible).

Emile has loved something I picked up for a dollar outside the bookstore, a hardcover called The Sunshine Family and the Pony, written and illustrated by Sharron Loree, published in 1972 by the Seabury Press, New York. The images are a simple black and white style, accompanied by minimal written storytelling, recounting the experience of moving into a commune and acquiring a pony for the children.
On a whim, I started to poke around to find out how the hippie story really went.

Sharron Loree, born in 1938, was on the vanguard of the 60s revolutionary guard for women. Many of her paintings reflect her complex understanding of the differing family roles, particularly when both the woman and the man are painters.

Loree is mentioned as the person who helped writer Valerie Paradiz diagnose her son's autism in a book about the subject. Loree herself had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

She still seems to be making 60's style work: here is one of her books at Lulu.com.

So why am I so interested? Aside from a sweet and peculiar overlap that this woman has with painter Joan Mitchell, I am generally fascinated by the why's of the hippie era, particularly surrounding children. I am, in many ways, a hippie parent myself, and yet I abhor the selfishness that I perceived in my parents' generation. A child born in the 70s to free thinking young parents, I could not help but be swept into their emotional whirlwinds. They never grew up. Some of Loree's photos from the era capture, to me, the downside for the children, a kind of lonely, the-wolves-may-take-me feeling.

But it wasn't all bad. I see why they wanted community, especially after the soul crushing 50s, particularly for their mothers. I see why they wanted love and freedom, and why they hungered for a more natural world. We ourselves have all but given up that fight, ironically enough because of many of the technological and industrial decisions of our parents.

It was sweet, but it hurt. Maybe it was growth, but it wasn't always healthy. Nor was it always unhealthy. And so I like to eavesdrop and peep back down the tunnel of time, to understand a bit more what they were thinking, and what exactly happened.