Monthly Archives: September 2012

Beautiful Dancers

A week and a half ago, some cloudiness on my annual mammogram triggered two more mammograms, an ultrasound and a core needle biopsy. With our recent and plentiful family history of breast cancer, this was worrisome. However, my time-honored strategy of dealing with problems on a strictly intellectual level and forcing my emotions into a long but fitful nap served me well. Really, what had changed? Except for some bruising from the biopsy I was exactly the same as I had been the blissfully ignorant week before. Being aware of a potential problem without verification is really, bottom line, an exercise in stress management. Try to save the panic for later, focus on breathing now.

Over the weekend after the biopsy (but before the results) I packed for a trip to my younger sister’s to help look after her boys (with our other sister) for a couple of days, prepared my house as well as I could for a bunch of impending company (Mr. Wordtabulous’ cousin was getting married the following weekend and we would need place for five additional beloved people to sleep,) and rode that mental teeter-totter that goes, “I am in trouble; I am absolutely fine.” Regardless of what the results turned out to be, I knew that I was fine. I have everything I need and I was (and am) grateful for that. Still, it was wearing. Due to a technological black hole and some phone battery issues, it took the nurse two days and eight tries to reach me (they don’t leave messages,) to tell me all is well, which (even though I knew I was fine,) was still a relief to hear.

My time with the nephews was wonderful, and spending time this past weekend with Mr. W’s family was just as much so. At the dance after Becky and Brandon’s wedding I watched people gather, hug, eat and laugh. But not everything was awesome. Beneath the celebration there was heartache: for the passage of time, for loved ones departed, for one of our shining stars who is waging war on cancer. I felt the surge of  emotional riptides.  Out on the dance floor tiny girls in party dresses spun and hopped with mommies and daddies, next to luminous young women I first knew as tiny girls twenty years ago, next to teenage youth surrounded by people who have loved them their whole lives. Aunts and uncles and parents, new loves and long-time marrieds were out there. People facing crumbling marriages, homesickness, illness, disappointment and loss abandoned their cares and joined in. Survivors of those very same challenges turned and stepped in rhythm and in joy, reminding us that the dance isn’t just for the one moment, celebrating the vows we had witnessed a few hours before. The dance is the celebration of the enduring hope and love that makes us powerful in the face of pain, love that extends generations into the past and into the future.

Thank you, all of you made beautiful in your love and struggle, for the dance.

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Working Girl: Bright Lights, Big City

Starting on Tuesday last week I began the new job, still aching from moving uncounted bins to the dumpster and a vanload of heavy cartons of potentially useful but ultimately elusive stuff from the previous job to the new office in downtown Minneapolis. I don’t know how many times this week I have said, “Where in the world is…?” or how many circles I have walked checking those cartons looking for a device, a file, a cable or a tape dispenser. After four days of trying to get one computer talk to another, or talk to one of two printers for more than thirty minutes, my hottest fantasy was a day without someone saying, “Why isn’t this working?” Everything I accomplished unraveled by the following day. Oh, I got a picture hung, I was instrumental in getting two light bulbs changed, and my boss’ office no longer looked like a storage room by the end of the week. But there was still the electronic communications issue which slowed everything down, and while I love a creative challenge,  this is not my area of expertise. Following a *headdesk* moment  I groaned, “It would sure be nice if we had an IT person,” and Patrick, the new guy, laughed and said, “We do; it’s you.”

It all moved at a frenetic pace: everyone working their own variety of magic with a lot of keystrokes, edits, meetings, searches, and phone calls. Finally on Friday, at four p.m., when a lot of people in the city might expect to be heading home or going out, we gathered for a meeting about some time sheet and invoicing software, which thankfully evolved into a conversation about the strangest jobs we’d worked (you know I said the rat lab, right?) our favorite movies, dream vacation destinations and the kinds of topics that turn colleagues into friends. The white wine my boss brought to celebrate the end of week one smoothed the day’s jagged edges and even though I came away with more to-do items on my list, I was happier than I’d been going in.

As I finally left for the day, clouds cast the sky in indigo and the streets were quieter than I’d seen them all week. The cars that had packed the parking ramp when I’d entered that morning had dwindled to a scattered few. I had to exit via the open top level, where I was greeted with a view into Target Field, where the Twins were playing beneath lights as bright as the sun. The Target dog, sketched enormously in red and white neon, grinned from the wall of the Target Center, and the looming buildings either glowed in light or glowered in shadow. It was beautiful. I wanted so badly to take a picture, but there was an issue with having to climb on things to get a good angle and on the top of a seven-story building, that just wasn’t something I wanted to do.

I wish I could tell you that the IT issues have now been worked out. They have been worked, strenuously, but they remain in ever new configurations. I HAVE been able to make a few creative contributions and been assigned some writing which is awesome. I have figured out the bus schedule…mostly. I love my walks between the bus stop and work, and to get lunches or supplies. It isn’t perfect. There are random gusts of what smells like raw sewage here and there. There are blocks that feel marginally less safe than others, but I am figuring this out quickly. The commute isn’t stressful, but it does make my day long. The thing is, I like it here. I am glad I have been given this opportunity.

So this is here and now. Thank you for visiting, for your patience in waiting while I pulled myself together to share this, and for your indulgence as I rattle on.