Monday, February 25, 2013


Yes, stuff. Have you ever realized how much we define ourselves by our stuff? We all have too much of it. And it's like getting rid of a dear friend to cull it from our lives. For some, stuff is a physical manifestation of the stuff in our heads. Cluttered minds and cluttered living spaces make it difficult to live a calm life.

I got to looking at the stuff I've collected over the years. Even though I purged huge truck loads when Terry and I moved to the lake, we still have too much. And this is after implementing a one-in-two-out rule.

Let's take a look the story my closets tell. If I buy a new shirt, two leave the closet. That's all well and good to keep hanger proliferation under control. My house has seven closets for two people. Six are in guest bedrooms, but each of those closets has outside hooks for guest clothes. That mean, each "guest" closet is full of stuff we don't wear.

How do I know we don't wear it? Easy. At the beginning of each year, I turn all hangers around so the hooks point outwards. If we don't worn an item in the next twelve months, I have a visual aid. But that hasn't always led to filling trash bags for the dump or boxes for Goodwill.

I culled a guest closet a couple of weeks ago. What was in it, you ask? Clothes, every expensive clothes, that no longer fit either of us. Yes, Terry and I have put on a few pounds since we worked in the corporate world. Our life style no longer requires us to wear suits and ties, dresses and blazers, all the time. Since some of these (honestly, a lot of these) items no longer fit, I took the largess to Goodwill. Terry's suits and dress slacks were generally two sizes too small. Mine were worse. I hate to admit it, but I had pants and skirts that were three sizes smaller than I am today.

I had to face a fact: I will never be small enough to wear my skin-tight, size eight black leather pants again. With a huge gulp and a tiny whimper, they went in the box. As did silk trousers. As did wool slacks that I can't wear at the lake, because they are too heavy. Out went various jackets I no longer need. Maybe someone else can use them.

I felt healthier for accepting that I'm no longer a size eight. I also felt emotionally lighter for getting rid of almost an entire closet of business clothes.

I looked around at the rest of the house. I need to de-stuff more of it, but that will come later. And will result in a different post. For now, I am at peace with a leaner closet. More closets remain, but they'll be easier now that the first one has survived a purge.

Does your stuff tell a story about your family's history? Did you consciously collect your stuff? Or did it seem to appear in bits and pieces over the years?

So tell me. What do you need to get rid of in your life?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Me and Hillary

January turned out to be a schizophrenic month. The first and second halves of the month didn't match. Let me explain.

The first half of the month saw Terry and me traveling to Florida for a vacation. We rented a little bungalow at Ft. Myers Beach. Sun and sand were right across the street. Terry gave me the trip for my birthday. We got a bit scorched in the winter sun, took long walks at the water's edge, breathed in salt air and sampled a lot of sea food. My birthday dinner was at Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill. If you don't read Randy Wayne White, you don't know who Doc Ford is. White licensed his main character to two restaurants, one in Ft. Myers Beach, one on Sanibel Island. I got some good writing in as well. Felt like I was channeling Hemingway while working on Max 2.

After a week, we drove across Florida to Palm Coast and hooked up with our daughter to watch the playoffs in her hot tub. The hot tub was a tepid tub, so we decided being couch potatoes was good enough. Daily long walks ended with sports on TV, good food and great conversation.

We returned home, tan, rested and ready to put the finishing touches on my book launch. A box of advanced reader copies waited for me. The bear and Puss in Boots figure in Mad Max Unintended Consequences. I barely had time to do a happy puppy dance around the living room when things changed.

A day after returning home, I started feeling unwell. I mean, really unwell. I had chest pains. I was so short of breath I couldn't climb the stairs. Terry took one look at my face and said we needed to get to the emergency room. Turned out he was right.

I underwent a battery of tests. Heart attack? No. Ruled out with a blood test. Listening to my lungs for pneumonia? Negative. CT scan of my chest. Positive for pulmonary embolisms. Oh shit! Not what I wanted to hear. No one wants to hear she has PEs. Most people find out they have them too late. We found out in time. Dopler tests on my legs to see where the clots originated. Not in the legs.

I spent a night in ICU getting no sleep, then four more days in a regular hospital bed getting anticoagulant shots to keep more clots from forming and Coumadin to thin my blood. All the time I was in, an earworm roamed around my brain. With apologies to Paul Simon, Me and Julio turned into me and Hillary. Why? Because my guess is that Hillary had the same shots and the same oral meds I had.

I looked at my abdomen and torso when I got home. The bruising from the shots made my abdomen look like I went ten rounds with a boxer. Multi-colored bruises would make any tattoo artist green with envy. They can't get these same colors in their inks. My torso looked like I'd tangled with an octopus. Sucker marks from the EEG and heart monitors left round, red bruises.

So, now you ask how I feel. I feel good physically. We still don't know what caused the PEs. We have a couple of clues, but we don't know for sure. Yet. How did I feel when I was first diagnosed? Scared. Shitless.