I Woke Up Wanting to Write Again

I woke up wanting to write again. It has been a long time, and I dearly missed my old friend, that part of me that on earlier occasions had multiple pieces all whirling around my head at the same time, taking shape with each spin.  As themes and descriptions and story lines brightened with each mind lap, the hardest part was choosing what not to write. Some pieces would just have to swirl a little longer.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a matter of weeks and the ideas slowed and I felt tired. I jotted several things down, but didn’t publish. Then I just stopped writing. I even stopped looking at my blog’s Stats page where I follow how many readers look at my site, and from which country they hail. I didn’t have interest in knowing which themes my readers preferred. Yes, I still had a few ideas swirling, but they weren’t taking form.

This lapse, something like a little death, came after a dear friend of mine passed. She had been ill for years, but referred to her illness as “an inconvenience” and stated numerous times, “I don’t do ‘sick’ well.” We saw a lot of each other, including spending a good deal of time in the car driving to and from the hospital. We hung out in clinic rooms together when she received treatments. We laughed a lot, and once in a while grew testy at each other, as good friends sometimes do. We shared stories of our families, our kids, and her grandbabies. How she adored her grandchildren.  After settling into a treatment room, and after a tech had taken vitals and a nurse had visited, my friend would pull out her iPad and we’d watch a new entertaining video of her grandkids. Boy did this make her smile!

At treatments, she and I caught up on TV shows about fashion, and usually we provided our own commentary, verbally ripping apart the garments on the runway and laughing a lot. One time we elected to stay in the clinic an extra ten minutes, after a grueling seven hour treatment day, just so we could see exactly which “whadding dress” (we used to emulate Martin Short’s character, Franck Eggelhoffer, in “Father of the Bride”) the bride-to-be finally chose. We talked about new recipes we cooked up or wanted to try. She brought me up to speed on who is working where and who just moved and who is doing what; it is no surprise that she had more, true, good friends than anyone I have ever known.

We enjoyed the tastiest chocolate chip cookies the hospital bistro served, and in true form, my dainty petite friend savored hers I while I wolfed down mine. We listened to Bill Cosby CDs in the car, and “Noah” and “Ice Cream” and “The Buck Buck Championship of the World” really had us roaring. The nurses and staff looked forward to her appointments and her smile and banter and quick wit. I knew she was well liked; the nurses even hugged me for bringing her.

Recently she had expressed sadness that she couldn’t see some long-time high school friends who were getting together; she had to receive a transfusion that day. She was annoyed. Yet she still acknowledged that while plans for that day weren’t going to gel, she did appreciate that we had become closer friends as a result of all our time in the car and treatment rooms. That was a gift.

And now she has passed and so I grieve. Some days are better than others. That’s normal. Death is a part of life, and what a life! Even on my toughest days I can still smile when I picture my friend laughing, or playing with her grandkids. Her petite frame and giant spirit celebrated life to the fullest. It has been several weeks now since she has passed, and of course, life goes on, although I admit I haven’t felt like participating fully.

But today I woke up wanting to write again. And in so doing, I welcome back a piece of myself that I have sorely missed and truly hoped I would find again soon. In finding this spark, this impulse that I had lost, with the beginnings of a few potential topics starting to swirl in my mind, I hope to bring to my writing the energy, creativity and zest for life my friend brought to her life. I hope to connect with my readers in the way she connected with those in her large circle of family and friends who held her dear. I dedicate this piece to her memory, her spirit, and am grateful for this renewal and connection with my readers again.

Kathy Galgano

February 15, 2014

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To Hell In A Hand Basket – Day Sixteen of Shutdown

“So, the mortgage [or rent] is due, but for sixteen days, nobody’s worked. Hmmm. What happens if I can’t pay?

You really don’t want to be the doc telling your patient the devastating news that he or she has cancer. There is a bit of a bright spot, however, because at least there’s an appropriate clinical drug trial that just might help. But oh yeah, even though the cells are multiplying like crazy, the treatment’s off limits because the government says so.

Federal courts have enough funds to continue until the end of this week. Then each Federal court will have to decide what’s essential; most likely, “essential” doesn’t cover civil cases at all. And, if you’re in the jury pool and actually serve, don’t expect to be compensated until this mess is over.

If you have been waiting for your green card, you better dig in your heels because the wait just got longer.

It’s Okay, Kids. Mommy’s not worried that our WIC money to buy food will go away in a few weeks. Everything’s going to be fine. Just fine.

Oh well, most of the people who inspect the food aren’t working anyway. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the government has stopped U.S. food inspections overseas.

But the little one may not be able to go to her Head Start school.

Here’s some more non-essential stuff “With two-thirds of personnel sent home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks such as the flu or that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East. The FDA has halted the review and approval of new medical products and drugs. Nearly all staff at the National Science Foundation has been furloughed, and new scientific research grants are not being issued.” (NY Daily News, October 14, 2013*)

In case you like to get ready for Christmas and Hanukkah a little early, here’s an uplifting bit: “The Consumer Product Safety Commission is no longer screening products at ports of entry to prevent potentially dangerous ones from reaching store shelves, such as children’s products containing excessive levels of lead.” (New York Daily News, October 13, 2013*. Merry Christmas.

Just in case there’s a problem with the car, auto recalls are on hold. You can still file a complaint, of course, but don’t expect anybody to look at it.

Here’s something that really instills a lot of confidence. The Guardian** reports: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed most of its operations on Thursday, though on-site inspectors will remain on the job and the government says it will handle any immediate safety or security issues.” Are they kidding? We’re expected to trust that the NRC will be able to handle problems while employing a skeleton crew, and that the government is going to keep us safe? Has the government been paying any attention at all to what it is doing? I’m speechless.

Oh, but here’s something that’s still working: “The more than 12 million people who requested automatic extensions on their spring tax return must still file their returns, which are due on Tuesday.” (The Guardian, Monday, October 14, 2013.)**

I can’t make this stuff up. You know what they say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Here are my sources:

*New York Daily News, AP, October 13, 2013, SHUTDOWN IMPACT: 13 Days after the federal government closed, affects are felt across many agencies: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/shutdown-impact-13-days-federal-government-closed-affects-felt-man-article-1.1484061

**The Guardian, October 14, 2013 by Amanda Holpuch, “US Government Shutdown: which agencies are next to run out of money?” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/14/government-shutdown-closures-money

Kathy Galgano

October 16, 2013