Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rich, Robust, Bold, Full-Body!

I have a major crush on Bob! Dream come true!
Suddenly, this rushing sensation of glee filled me and I knew, I knew down to my pinky toes, up to the tip of my hairy pate, MY LIFE IS AWESOME.  Until that moment, it had been a mellow vacation.  My typical malaise, my hereditary and horoscopical melancholy had put down roots.  I blamed summer and its complete lack of uninterruptable space and the impossibility of goals (other than the one that goes: "make it to the next moment.") Lacking goals is difficult for we goal oriented folks. Also, goals that are too big, poorly defined, and unaccomplishable are also depressing.  But I had set before me a goal this summer of not having any goals other than enjoying the days with my children because I had Buddhistically blamed goals as creating stress where none needed to be.  So, away with stress = away with goals.  And that was the root of my suffering. 

Blue did learn to surf "the soup" this trip, just not in this guise
What changed this malaise?  I had an effing cup of coffee!  After 15 years.

My father has always been a 10 cup-a-day guy.  And this helps him just maintain an upright position. Some times.  I grew up thinking this was normal.  So when I started legally working, not in berry fields but in what I suspect was Bellingham's first expresso cafe, I started drinking, heavily.  Lattes are not bitter black church coffee. Mochas are like candy bars.

When I transferred to South Carolina, a sympathetic teacher told me to go into the teacher's lounge and get myself some coffee.  "I can do that?"  I asked.  "Just pretend you're getting it for me.  Ninety percent of life is looking like you know what you're doing, like your supposed to be there."  That was both a disconcerting statement coming from a teacher but also the truest moment of education in my entire educational career, and yet I still have trouble with it. So I drank coffee at school.

This picture is a funny story that I don't have room to tell in the caption
Coyote's drip-castles
But some time in my early 20's I realized that it might actually be possible for me to pass myself off as "normal" if I cut down on coffee. Why would I want to do that, be normal and all?  At that time, I was working 40 hours a week, plus taking 25 credits at the community college (causing serious mono), plus having just been royally dumped by my first husband I was experiencing massive stress over my value as a person, my likability index, my sex appeal and my future, plus having relocated to my old hometown in which NONE of my old friends lived, except the one that was WAY too busy doing cool stuff like snowboarding to hang out with me (that's what she said! especially nice to hear in my time of lowest self-esteem) caused the unfortunate epiphany that I was being summarily rejected by MY hometown = anxiety attacks!  And I quit coffee.  Quit Sudafed for my sinus infections.  Quit wondering if I should try cocaine or meth. And recently had to quit a dentist who insisted on using epinephrine in his Novocaine.  

Legoland's depiction of my fav Star Wars scene
Black tea, green tea, herbal tea.  The past 15 years has been a menage a trois of low caffeine.  First there was this one morning in Wenatchee in May 2012 where I had the best cup of coffee from Alpine Coffee Roasters (I have a birthday coming up in two short months: HINT HINT) Followed by an occasional so-so cup here and there. And I started to think that the doctor may be calling me again.  So then I drank this cup at Mission Beach. And I suddenly knew what a brilliant success I had made of my life.  I knew that I have done everything I ever wanted to do. I traveled the world when I wanted to travel. And I have Chosen to be a stay-at-home mom/farmer.  I am not at all stuck in some algae-green backwater of civilization watching the river of life pass me by with it's unattainable white water adventures.  No, I chose tranquility when I was ready for it.  I chose a sense of place, meaningful rich relationships with people and animal and land.  I have claimed my destiny as human-extraordinaire.  And damn it, if I'm not grand at being human.  A small human, with a small life, but an exquisitely beautiful life, like a ruby, like a finely restored one-bedroom bungalow, like a potato beetle, like a grain of sand reflecting the sun and the stars as it sparkles beneath the pounding waves of life.  Yes!  My life is effing amazing!  Hell, I AM AMAZING! 

Blue and Lego-Tut
And so, I took stock of the moment.  What could possibly be causing this euphoria, this foreign un-malasious moment in my life?  And in the morning, of all the godforsaken, unlikely times of day, especially after a night of non-sleep on the raucous, engine-rev-y, siren-y Mission Boulevard.  And I looked in my hand.  And in it was this brown 1970's flowered cup.  And like the layered petals of a rose, within that cup was something even more wonderful and fragrant.  It was coffee. The "wine of the bean."  With milk.  I will never be the same again.  Dear God, or myself, or the grand universe with whom I am one, with deep gratitude, I want to thank you this day for keeping anyone from making this beautiful drug illegal.  I want to thank you again but for a new reason for the ancient Sufi's of Ethiopia, the perceptive and creative  fathers of coffee and who I now want to marry and have their babies.  Amen. AMEN!!!!!!!  AMEN!!!!!!!










Sunday, August 5, 2012

What I did during my Stomach Vacation

I think I did forget.  I completely forgot how much fun it is to travel solo.  Last Saturday I drove to meet my kids and my family at my brother's estate deep in the North Cascades.  I stopped where I wanted, when I wanted, for how long I wanted.  I visited Grand Coulee damn and thought about all those Shanghai'd Coulee's buried within the monolithic monument to Western Power turned headstone for lives lost without a blink in the face of progress.  I visited the Winthrop Museum and stopped at Washington Pass to pose in front of the Liberty Bell and exchange photo ops with the friendliest toothless bikers.  There was a roadside shack for organic apricots and coffee and a hand-made sun hat.  And no one complained about their back, how much they hate road trips, why we couldn't have taken a more direct route, how they just want to get there, no more stops, etc. 

My least favorite things about road trips as a kid, the moment I dreaded, that colored the whole trip with a tinge of agony, was when the car would finally stop and we would be there.  I hated that moment, the loss of motion, marking the final death of this adventure, this life moving through infinite possibilities and spontaneity.  I have long fantasized about becoming a long haul truck driver or train engineer, but am pretty sure the reality, and loss of my family, plus deadlines and schedules would all be a harsh reality.

Huck opted to not go with me.  I was kind of ticked.  He tried to change his mind at the last minute, but work obligations wouldn't flex.  In the end, I loved my solo trip.  It'd been too long.

But now I don't mind the stop at the end quite so much.  And there was a party at my brothers and we hiked to the still cold river, fat yet with too much winter snow stored on her hips.  And we feasted on roadkill venison and coyote.  And the zucchini from my garden and the cherry salsa I just canned. And there was the mesquite gluten-free raspberry pie which made my tongue swell, but I didn't break out in hives! And the next morning, without electricity, running water, bathrooms, etc, I tried to wash up the kids for some family gatherings.

I see my extensive extended families about once every other year.  And this was the year.  Every year, my mothers says, "This might be the last time you can see your surviving grandparents!"  And about 1/2 the time the guilt trip works.  But occasionally I wonder who among my relatives would ever drive 14 hours round trip to visit me.  It doesn't make sense 'cuz it's just me in Spokane and they're mostly still assorted in proximity to the Dutch "ghetto" of Lynden.  But if it did make sense, would they?

Breakfast was a thick coffee and a duck egg.  And my sister and my kids piled in the "new" Prius.  And that's when the fun began.

 WARNING: this story gets ugly from here on out!

Ten minutes south of Bellingham, I felt the first wave.  I'd pick up some slippery elm bark tablets at the co-op in Bellingham to settle my stomach, I figured.  But at the exit ramp my body began to seriously question it's existence and I began crying, like it was vomit, the nausea so intense I had to get something, anything out, and fast.  Tears apparently were the first thing to spew. Crossing the parking lot, I thought I was going to the herb section.  But when I opened my mouth to ask where that was, the word that came out was not "medicinal herbs" but "bathroom" and then I knew.  And I sprinted.  And I rattled the doors in the restroom and I collapsed in the only open one and my hour and a half on the floor of a public restroom began.

A woman asked me if I was okay.  And I thought about that.  I thought, I don't want anyone seeing me, helping me.  And then I thought, "Who the hell am I kidding?  Everyone blows it out both ends some times."  So I unlocked the door for her.  And this effing saint of a STRANGER held my hair, put cold compresses on my neck and forehead and brought me water. I've never experienced that before. It was transformative. When she told me she had to get back to work, I imagined her still there. I lost track of time.  I struggled to stay conscious.  I sweat like my pores were puking.  I was definitely not okay.  I was wearing white pants on the tile floor of a public restroom. Thank god the bathroom was so clean, the pants remained pristine.

My sister, meanwhile was caring for the kids, feeding them, and after an hour encouraged me to get professional help.  She basically had to carry me to the car as I kept collapsing. I was scolding myself: get up off the floor, lazy bones!  Pull yourself together!  But none of it worked.  My body was unresponsive to anything I said or desired. And when she held my hand as I attempted to instruct her how to drive my push-button car, I realized that, yes, this wasn't just any old thing going on here.

The doctor gave me an injection.  And gawked at my unlikely list of food-offenders: roadkill venison and coyote! mesquite pie! Turns out it was a severe allergic reaction to duck eggs. 

And I missed one family gathering.  I made it to the other, but instead of filling a plate with jello salad and hot dogs, I curled up in the guest bed with a bucket.

So I drove 14 hours to make it for 5 sickly minutes to half the family.

I hit the graves on the way out of town. The kids and I meandered back across the state, riding horses, camping, visiting museums (which they didn't hate as much as they thought and we all creeped out at the history doctor's office!).  We even tried a 2 mile hike but I was still a little weak for even that, so it involved a lot of stopping and laying down.

So by comparison, last night's evacuations felt easy and simple.  Uncle Barry served the ritual, habitual pre-"green flash"sunset Pisco Sours (an intense Chilean beverage as he spends half his time in Chile) on the rooftop here in San Diego.  And I wasn't quite ready for that apparently.  But it wasn't anaphylaxis and for that I was so grateful.  Some day, some weekend, my stomach will hold, right? Some day soon, I will not be afraid of food, right?

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