Forget the purple slippers

This morning I finished reading Andrew McCarthy’s 2012 book, The Longest Way Home. In the chapter on Kilimanjaro, his guide Zadock tells Andrew:

Old women are the best to guide. They listen, they go slow, and they nearly always make it to the top. I had an eight-two-year-old last year. She was great.

Now I know when I must go to Kilimanjaro: when I am an old woman. I already wear purple and clothes that don’t always go together. I already eat poorly and have my quirks about what I will spend on money. My husband and I have been together 23 years this summer. During that time, we have hoarded pencils, pencils, and erasers in a box. They will outlive us. If growing old means I spit without shame, then I am willing to keep some of that kind of propriety. And is it a good thing really to plan on growing fat?

I understand the poem’s message. Don’t wait until you are old to show your individuality. Don’t be so obsessed with appearances or what other people think. Cut yourself some slack instead of trying to be perfect. I get it. I really do.

However, when I get old, I will go to Kilimanjaro while I wear purple. I will don my hiking shoes and bring extra layers of clothing. I will follow the guide, and take deep breaths. Step by step, I will walk up dirt roads. I will sleep under stars posing in the open evening skies at base camps. I will look into a crater at the top, rejoice that I made it, and then head back down. When I finally get back home, I will know that I can make it no matter what mountain looms in front of me. I can see the mountain now, but I am not sure that I believe it exists.

Until I get there, I will conquer each Kilimanjaro I encounter. I will try to remember that it is the experience of the journey, the connection with others, and the growth in myself that matters. If I am wearing purple plaid or purple sweaters, I will move and grow and learn until my last too-brief day upon this blue pearl that I call home.

What’s a life like?

I am not sure anyone ever sat me down and explained what my life would be like. I looked up to people doing what I wanted to do, usually art related, such as painting, drawing, acting, or singing.

After years of doing the opposite, I found a way to reconstruct my life so that I can spend time writing about technical topics, preferably software related, from home. I received a Masters of Science in Technical Communication, moved, helped my dad, mourned my dad’s passing, and decided to start my own business doing freelance technical writing. I want to be home near my mom, who is without the love of her life for 65 years.

That is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about living with chronic pain and fatigue. I wanted to talk about the fragility of my health. I wanted to talk about how one day of stomach pains sets off a stress chain reaction inside me such that I sleep 14 hours and then get up and feel tired all day. How I live with tension and sinus pain on a daily basis for which I do not take meds every single day. How I want to take care of myself, but taking care of myself means I am not out working. I am not out pounding the beat. I do not have the energy often to move my brain cells into activity. Even working at a job 40 hours a week means that I have energy for not much else, not cleaning, shopping, laundry, or hanging with friends.

That is my dilemma — get “out there” and exhaust myself, or take it easy when I need to. I feel isolated. I miss my Massachusetts friends. I miss my simple Victorian home in Cambridgeport with its lush garden hidden behind an eight foot wooden privacy fence. I miss biking around town to run my errands and the wind on my face. I miss the homeless and those with drug addictions who camp out at the Central Square bus stop. I miss Veggie Galaxy, a vegan/vegetarian dinner, and the staff, including (but not only) Michelle, Josh, Sam, Amanda, and anyone else who served me but whose name I forgot. I apologize.

I love photography and inspirational ideas. I am including a photo that I found on Facebook. If you know the author, please tell me so I can give the proper attribute to them. Here’s a bit of inspiration for you:


The best I can do is write about my life, what I think, what I feel, and try to inspire myself to keep on chugging. Right after I take that nap.

What I wanted to write

After yesterday’s post, I solemnly swore that I would take step one towards eliminating my internal struggles with writing. I remembered an idea I heard once to keep a list of writing topics nearby. That way, I could have a handy list of ideas and get to writing. No excuses!

I took out my book of square lined paper, wrote ‘Writing Topics:’ with an underline, and put down the first thing to do: I wanted to write about what I will write about in this blog. That was properly serious enough to get back into the habit of daily writing, whether or not anyone reads it.

My black-and-white, mask-and-mantle cat Norman, however, had other ideas.

I went downstairs to visit my mother and help make phone calls for her. I asked her where he was because I had not seen Norman in a while. She said she remembered him going upstairs. So did I. I walked around and I called for him in my apartment but heard nothing. In the first floor foyer, I could hear him crying. It sounded like he was in the closet behind the foyer or in the basement ceiling. I retrieved a bag of Whiskies tuna treats from my bedroom dresser drawer. I walked around my apartment, the entire first floor, and the basement, shaking the bag and calling for Norman. I checked closets, opened closed bedroom doors, and stood under open basement ceilings. He answered a few times but did not come.

If you know Norman, then you know his hiding from you is not normal. Finally, my mother decides to look underneath the recliner chair because she was sitting in it earlier. Norman was not under the chair. Nope! Instead he was here:


Normie was inside the back of the recliner chair. Although we looked, we could not find an entrance to the back from underneath. The back flap, seen here were Normie is sticking his nose out, was velcroed inside the back. Off came the velcro and out came Normie. I gave him some treats.

My mom said, “You know, Norman’s probably going to think that if he gets stuck in the chair, you’ll rescue him and give him treats.” After the way my heart pounded and my stomach churned when I could not find him, I think I am pretty much OK with that.