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TO BE HEALTHY

TO BE HEALTHY

“Pick up the weight and swing it between your legs in a squat, then up over your head and straight up, Arms straight! Lean Back!” Kathy exclaimed with the sound of a woman enjoying this (or a sound somewhat close to the familiar shrill of Aunt Lydia from The Handmaids Tale depending on your mood in the morning). Was anyone else in the class today finding her commands amusing?

I am almost fifty four years old standing in a class filled with women, some my age, some far younger and was struck by how fast time had flown. It was just yesterday it seemed that I was the twenty two year old head to toe in Jane Fonda aerobic tights, thongs and goodness knows what else was the eighties workout fashion of the moment watching a woman in her fifties teaching the class thinking , “Wow, she looks good for her age.” Hard to believe that this was almost thirty years ago and now I am that woman. I felt like we should all have pictures of ourselves on the wall with our age and life experience next to it to explain why I was finding it necessary to use some of the time to just hang out in child’s pose instead of one more over achieving push up.Why wasn’t anyone else resting, sweating, stretching in between change overs?

Yes I signed up for this, yes I paid for this, continue to pay for it, and actually as much fun as I make of it, love it. Can’t really live without the wackiness of the almost daily routine of the grind, pound, move, and an accelerated heart rate that astounds me all these years later. Who actually enjoys this? I do. I love the camaraderie of mostly women thinking that we are in some sort of control of our health, our lives and this in itself makes me smile. I smile a lot in these classes because I so often am in utter disbelief that I am one of the insiders, one of the regulars, not a stranger showing up quivering filled with potential embarrassment that I may have to give up. Nope. Not me. There is no giving up as I jump and twist and burpee and mountain climb my way through an hour of my life. “If your shoulders can’t take any more spider man twists, then there is no shame in lying on your back and doing bicycle crunches,” Kathy yells. I peek out the corners of my eyes to see if I am the only one too happy to take her suggestion, tired shoulders or not. Any excuse to be on my back for even a brief moment I relish in.

I will never be one of those workout chicks who have the discipline of an army general. When I am on, there is no stopping me. Deliberate, consistent, clear headed gym girl. Then I feel really good, really fast, like in a week, and then I start to go down the path of least resistance, but I have learned to semi enjoy this despite the fact that I know I will have what I refer to as spinney head. Or as I have heard in countless Alanon meetings, washing machine head. It is okay to take a break from myself and for myself, it is okay to rest once in awhile. I don’t know how often I try to convince myself of this. I know there is a distinct rhythm to habits. Wake up, check the clock, make sure it is at least 5 am, brush my teeth, wash my face, put moisturizer on, walk into the kitchen and make coffee. This is definitive every morning, never breaking from the routine. Once this all happens though, there are lots of am choices for me. Workout? Write? Type? Watch the news? Read the paper? Read a few pages of my latest book? They are all vying for a segment and this is all before the start of my day at around nine am. Waking up at five am gives me four full glorious hours, and each one of these choices feeds me and in a unique and stimulating way and this is where my discipline usually goes out the window. Lately I haven’t been writing as much because the morning gym takes so much time. I have to fit work in there too, paperwork takes a lot of time, and I forgot to mention that I have signed up and been taking three different writing classes each week. I love working out so this has been my morning priority lately. And as a result my morning writing has taken a hit.

Here’s what I know though. I am off kilter when I am not healthy. My mind starts to spin and takeover in a way that doesn’t serve. My partner has a sign hanging in the house that says, Don’t believe everything you think. When I am not writing or moving or eating healthy, my mind takes me hostage and I have been known to go into a tailspin. This may not be obvious to the people who are not in my inner circle, the ones who really know my insides, because there is the outside alayne and the inside one. As much as I try to speak the truth 24/7 sometimes I need a nap from the incessant mindspeak that is my brain (likely my closest friends do too). Health, meditation, creativity, movement, eating well are the cures for a calmer head. I know this is part of who I am.

The entrepreneurial spirit I have been blessed with is sometimes a hindrance, but most often it is a welcome creative force to be reckoned with. The question I often ask myself with the wisdom of hindsight is what is the spark that ignites the tailspin? When I take a deep diaphragmatic breath, you know that breath that cleanses you from top to bottom, that delicious calming and soothing free meditative sigh, I know. I know it has to do with the pain of loss, grief that still lies within like that little shard of glass you know you missed when the dish dropped on the floor and shattered. There is always one fragment left to be found by a bare foot some time in the future when you have forgotten all about the broken dish. Grief will never be something I can check off my to do list and it is an absurd notion to even consider this as a possibility. What I always know is that working out and writing and being in nature are the trifecta of calm and better energy for me. Though wine and sugar feel so fucking helpful at the time going down, they are smothering band aids staving off the air necessary for healing. But it is so much easier and fun to wake up, stay in my pjs, buy typewriters (or cars), make chocolate babka and drink wine in the afternoon. My perpetual cross to bear isn’t so bad when I say it like that.


a small rainbow that still takes my breath away. Nature is always a salvation.
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL

“Get Out!” my six year old brother at the time screamed at me. I was ten and in his room taunting him like any bored older sister would be doing. I can’t remember the weather, the circumstance or why he was trying to boot me and why I would not be booted. I just remember him yelling at me to get out of his room, reasonable in hindsight as he surely was entitled to his privacy. I was his older sister, though and I had to save face, after all, who is the boss here? I dug in and wouldn’t budge. This was around 1976 when to tell time, you actually had a clock by the side of your bed rather than a cell phone. And a small orange and white circular plastic clock was what came flying at me slamming into my face. Right below my upper lip causing the bottom long part of the stand to make a connection with my skin causing a nice diagonal slice.

I can still see his face, somewhat disbelieving he had done this coupled with total satisfaction that he would indeed have the last word at last. That was until I bolted downstairs to report to my unsuspecting father of his crime, bloody face to prove it. I am not sure what became of my brother’s punishment for this, but I am sure my father was upset by this. This is how it often went with my brother and I imagine many siblings have stories that fall into the theme of protagonist and antagonist between the stages of their lives. My brother though was usually the one who got into trouble, but at the same time, I was a fierce protector of him in the outside world. He was my little brother and I loved him until the day he died which unfortunately was almost twenty three years ago, one month to the day of his 25th birthday. Today would have been his forty eighth year and the age difference is not as great, but this is something I will never know. I remember like it was yesterday having the conversation with him about death because it was at the time where we knew he would not be getting out alive. He was obsessed with videoing his every waking move with those old big cantankerous video recorders that held a full size tape. I was interviewing him Oprah style, tripod and all. We were both baked, smoking pot out of some gigantic water bong, better for the lungs, he would say and I was asking him questions. 
 “Are you afraid of dying?” I asked him this so matter of factly like I was asking him to stop at the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up milk and eggs. It was a courageous question for a 29 year old sister to be asking her 24 year old soon to die of advanced lung cancer baby brother. He never smoked a day in his life other than marijuana once he was diagnosed to help the pain. Before medical marijuana became legal.

He paused, took a long bubbly hit off the water bong, held his breath to feel the soothing effects of the THC that would be a saving grace for him. As he released the smoke he said, “The one good thing about dying young is that people will always remember you at this age.” Always had a funny twist to his words, usually looked at the bright side, old soul for sure, my brother Michael was. I know these words almost verbatim because I videoed him and have the videos to refresh my memory anytime there is a chance I could possibly forget. Unless I got dementia this conversation is not something I will ever forget. No one gets out alive, but burying the love of my life when he hadn’t even started his was one of those moments in time that will never leave my memory.

My brother knew the idiosyncrasies of our inside lives as only a sibling can understand. When he died, so did my personal collaborator of the mom and dad stories that only he would be able to recall. I can see us in my fantasy world of sitting around the dinner table at my fantasy relationship with our mother recalling all of our childhood adventures that she never likely knew about, that mothers shouldn’t know about until this very time. Of course even if our mother would have known, she couldn’t have because we lived with my father for most of our adolescence, my brother when he was ten, me when I was fifteen. But that is for another story, this story is to celebrate his memory on what would have been his forty eighth year today.

He was the first white boy most of us knew to have dreadlocks, back in 1985 in Portsmouth, RI back when white boys didn’t have dreadlocks. He also had a tattoo of a wizard smoking out of a bong that covered almost the entire right side of his very muscular and long back that made my grandparents in Florida demand full t shirt coverage when he visited. Michael was charming, handsome, kind. He had a sense of humor and a pragmatism about him that made him a desired friend to have around. He also lived on the edge, taking way more risks that I surely did at his young age, diving naked off of Fort Wetherhill cliffs with his friends, tossing fireworks back and forth causing my father to have to take him to the hospital for a burn that could have been much worse, BMX racing and stunts, skateboarding all over Jamestown when he was little. There was always an air of mischief around him and he seldom got caught doing anything unless it was something with his older sister so she could blame him. He loved peaches and cottage cheese as a snack and white cake with chocolate frosting and frozen chocolate chip cookies just like I did. He loved Reggae music and Seal and Lenny Kravitz. Michael Andrew Horowitz was an amazing human being and since November 20, 1995, i have never had a day go by when I haven’t thought of him.

As my own son comes into his 21st year, I try to stay calm for the next few years as I watch him climb his early twenties praying that he sails through 23–25 unscathed, undiagnosed. I am fully aware that everything is out of my control, that worrying about this is not helpful, but no matter how much I breathe, write, meditate, it looms. Trauma is like this, scars heal, but they show up like a tattoo. Every time I look in the mirror, that scar from that clock under my lip is a tattoo my brother gave me and I smile every single time I look at it. I will never know what would have become of my brother and my relationship if he had the chance to age right alongside me, but I do know that the time we had is etched into my heart and my face until the day I die.


hard to believe this was taken in 1992 when Michael Horowitz was 22.
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SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY

SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY

There it was, in the cookbook section of the small independent bookstore I have made my way to every year for the past six in the stunning fall foliage of the White Mountains. I had found myself with some alone time, meandering through the small shops of North Conway, New Hampshire and decided to visit my favorite store for the second time this week. My partner was back at the condo reading and resting, I was out on Main St. trying to support the local New Hampshire economy like a good tourist. I don’t really buy books any more. I relish using the library now, the smell, the neatly covered books with their plastic protectors, the interaction with the librarians and volunteers. But here I stood in the aisles among rows and rows of glorious possibilities and found myself scanning the cookbooks.

One book almost impossible to take out of the library is a cookbook. First of all, a cookbook needs its butter smears and gravy drippings on its pages, eliminating it immediately from being a library contender. For a while I was taking books I had purchased to the beach rather than the library book I had taken out for fear of getting it greased with sunscreen. Now that I am a seasoned library book borrower however I have graduated myself to a successful beach outing with the loaner. But cookbooks still don’t really fall into a successful library book borrow so here I was gazing. I surely don’t need another cookbook, I have plenty I haven’t even made my way through yet, but there she was in her aerobic clothing, midriff bare like a teenager, hair coiffed like Farrah Fawcett, perfectly blonde feathered bang, lovely and firm cleavage gazing out at the camera as if she were posing for seventeen magazine in the seventies. Except the difference was she wasn’t seventeen. Unless she got married at thirteen, she had to be at least forty- five since her bio on the inside jacket fold said she had been married for twenty five years with two teenage daughters.

The person I am speaking of was or rather is Denise Austin of famed workout DVD kind, like Jane Fonda fame. I have never worked out to a Denise Austin video, but I have seen her on morning talk shows back when I was a young mother and she was too. She is a successful famous woman who made a business and a name for herself in the fitness boom way before YouTube and Amazon TV. I picked up the book somewhat startled at myself for doing so. I am not generally interested in books like this screaming at me that skinny is the desired word of choice for my future body. Skinny coming from who has a six pack and her real breasts, probably still has her ovaries too for that matter. But for some reason there in the independent book store filled with my peeps and their natural hair color and birkenstocks I bent down and picked the book up. As my fingers made their way to lift the book I did look out the corners of my right and left side to see who might be witnessing because this book was a bit embarrassing to be seen with. Its cover not only screamed SIDE EFFECT: SKINNY, it had a disclaimer on the bottom. WARNING: Reading this book may cause thinner waistline, toned tummy, slender thighs & a sudden burst in confidence.

I laughed a loud. Denise, really? Did you just come from a time warped seventies Cosmopolitan magazine? For some reason I found myself opening the book to the peruse its pages filled with “Denise’s Tips for the first time!” Words like long awaited and redefining the word skinny showing us that “you don’t have to be rail thin to look gorgeous and live healthier.” I stood there speechless, but enamored with her in a twisted sort of way in what seemed like a very dated message. If I don’t have to be rail thin to look gorgeous, then why is she showing her rail thin scantily clad body as an example? She got my attention. As I read on in this granola book store , she, just in the jacket cover alone, used the word tummy and trim making me think I was reading a Good Housekeeping magazine article on keeping my man happy.

I decided to buy the book. I don’t know why. Something came over me as I read her encouraging yet dated words of wisdom. I felt like I was cheating on my entire female tribe by buying this book so I slithered over to the counter purchasing a second book that I could place on top so as not to be discovered by the gender neutral person at the front desk. Did she just roll her eyes at me? Did she think I was to be pitied for having the type of personality and self talk to warrant the purchase of this book? I wanted to let her know I was buying this book as more female research than as a diet book. I don’t believe in diets or diet books I wanted to say, but I didn’t because actually turns out I didn’t care what she thought about my purchase. What a relief.

When I got back to my room, I opened the book and began reading. I can’t remember the last time I read a book like this if ever, but I loved her enthusiasm for skinny, flatter tummies, smaller hips and yes she even used the word sexier (Helen Gurley Brown would have been proud). Her tips and lists of how to start this seven day fat blast diet (which by the way is twenty one days) is really designed for women or ladies as she likes to call us to motivate us with her cheery words who have a lot of time. Her Super Splurge lists on the mandated “cheat day” on the seventh day of each seven day run are foods I wouldn’t let pass my lips even on a dip into the dark side. Kit Kats, Hershey bars, “You may have anything you want on Super Splurge day as long as you keep it to under 1500 calories!” She proclaims like this is some anointing of goodness coming our way. Am I reading a Saturday Night Live skit? For some reason 1500 calories and Super Splurge seem to be on opposite ends of the reality spectrum. I forge ahead though for some reason I am sucked into Denise Austin’s approach despite its warped sense of reality. If my new gal pal Denise was sitting down on the couch next to me she would likely be saying, “Alayne, did you try any of it before you criticized my theories?” My reply would of course be no Denise, I haven’t, but I am open to giving you a try.

I really enjoy starting new food plans, I love the beginnings of them, the shopping to fill up my cabinets and fridge with all of the allotted foods from the convenient grocery list provided at the back end of the book. I love the Sunday prep day cutting and dicing and slicing the inordinate amount of vegetables to get my little plastic baggies ready for quick on the go snacking when I am running late (or starving because I have been eating vegetables for twenty one straight days whatever comes first). There is hope and starry eyed dreams of the twenty first day where the promises of flatter tummies and slimmer hips await. Her advice is counter intuitive to all of the Whole 30 advice I have worshiped mainly because it has worked for me.

Ditch the mirror, the hell with the scale, figure out what foods make you feel shitty (sugar, wine, carbs) and bask in the glory of not having to worry about how you look (because as a feminist and modern woman, looks shouldn’t matter) but how you feel, this is the desired goal. Denise on the other hand aims for us ladies to look skinny, to have flat tummies, which in turn will give us a sense of confidence we didn’t know we were lacking. She wants me to weigh myself at the same time every other day. I can’t remember the last time I got on a scale (which by the way could be the reason her exclaimed Side Effect: Skinny title got my attention. I don’t have to weigh myself to know I have gained weight since my surgery and let’s face the truth here, there is only so long I can use surgery and recovery as a scapegoat for my gain). Excuses and more excuses, but I read through her fat blasting plan with its prescribed daily commitments like morning stretching every day, Denise Austin’s super slimming seven minute walking training every other day and countless other lifestyle changes that require a full time job. But Denise manages to fit it all in and she has a multi million dollar fitness empire, so anyone can!

She has countless ways for us ladies (I am not exaggerating here when I say every time she uses the word ladies to motivate, I have a vision of Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale coaching her lovely handmaids to ready themselves for their “celebration nights” with their commanders in Gilead) to move even when we weren’t aware we could be. When we are talking on the phone, (walking the length of whatever room you are standing in), standing in grocery store lines (five tummy tucks), brushing your teeth (leg lifts of course) and about ten other possibilities I was completely unaware of until Denise and I met in her book. Denise in her happy blonde and sparkly way has made me realize that fitness and food planning can be a happy choice we make for better lives for all!

She believes in low fat everything. Has she read the sugar content in all of this lowfat? This is a bit of a shift from all of the otherwise rationale nutrition thinking I have been reading about since I had my first diagnosis almost four years ago. She believes in egg whites mostly, rather than those very fashionable egg yolks that have caused me to buy four dozen eggs at a time from my local farmer (6.00 a dozen thank you very much) She believes that Super Splurge days aka cheat days should consist of an array of shitty candy and fast food which she gives the calorie counts for. Two tablespoons of m and m’s, 1 reeeses, 2 small Halloween candy size Hershey bars, 1 small Wendy’s chocolate shake. Even when I have done a super splurge BD (Before Denise) it surely wasn’t with m and m’s. And even if it were, does smiley Denise think I am the type of woman who would eat only two Tablespoons of m and m’s? As I said though, I am going to give this a try to see if all of the promises deliver. The one thing about me is when I park my mind on a new food plan, three weeks is easy. Who knows, maybe I will be fifteen pounds lighter, thinner hips and flatter tummied. I don’t think a diet is going to make me more confident, though, I think building my own business empire, buying a 3900 square foot historic building on my own, three breast cancer surgeries in three years, not to mention two fabulous new tits, have secured my place in the confidence checklist.


Denise and Alayne hanging out together in beautiful New Hampshire Mountains. Confidence Indeed.
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WELCOME TO THE GRAND ILLUSION

WELCOME TO THE GRAND ILLUSION

“Getting in a new shiny bad ass car is like a great push up bra,” my long time incredibly body confident friend, Sara said so matter of factly as we discussed the car the other day on the phone. She called me because she had read my writings chronologically last week and thought they sounded like something was awry. We share the same birthday and have known each other for over twenty years. She is a great friend and knows me on a highly spiritual level and she has witnessed my sometimes erratic shopping behavior as well as lived through several of my previous car purchases. They usually are symbolic of something going on and as usual, she was right. I didn’t have the heart to remind her that push up bras are unnecessary these days, my upper body is a walking push up bra, but point taken. Buying new cars is clearly connected to something deeper and complex, but in the moment, all of this is completely out the window.

“No I don’t want the apple car play,” I kindly said to Gary Garafolo, the smart salesman at the car dealership. “I actually have this in my car right now and I find it incredibly distracting. As a matter of fact is there any way to get this car without the almost ipad look alike screen daring me to tap it as the bluescreen simultaneously screams at me “Warning, using the screen while driving can be distracting!” No shit. But there is no option B, this car as all the cars on the lot come with the blue screen, your only choice is apple car play or just blue tooth. But as I sighed with the knowing that when you are purchasing a high end car that looks like a cross between a bat mobile and a shiny black portable Royal typewriter, tinted windows and all, there are certain notions assumed by the people designing them. I am trying to not see the car as one of those black beasts frequented on THE HANDMAIDS TALE sending shivers in my spine every time I watch just one more episode. I am guessing that the majority of the design team are men and I am making a broad assumption that like a bathroom layout in a sporting arena, they aren’t thinking about a woman behind the wheel as the one hundred percent driver and purchaser.

A new car is invigorating, the smell, the neatness, the shine. Learning all of the buttons is a full time job in itself and with all of the computer generated commentary going on every time I get in and out of it, Gary let me know when I purchased it that the car would take some time to get to know my style. Creepy to say the least. Why did I even want this car, one may ask. The main reason (at least on the glossy outside who people on the outside think I am) is the pick up and delivery, the your wish is our command at the dealership, the we’ll pick it up, pick you up, bring you a car, drop you off kind of service I just really was willing to pay for the older I get. And older I get is what I hope for.

There are bells and whistles and more bells and whistles, there are three different navigation options, not including the voice command I have to practice like a language enunciation class so that the she voice recognizes my tone. She still hasn’t figured me out and I haven’t appreciated her help when I am trying to dictate where I want to go. This happened last week when I got lost in Fall River looking for Flint Street so I could take my aunt to Sam’s bakery for our beloved Lebanese pies. After speaking in a calm tone, then a slightly raised voice, then a slow deliberate one, I finally had to pull over and put it in my iphone and use Google maps which completely defeated the purpose. Then I remembered about an app on my phone that allows me to put the address into it and like magic, the address was projected into navigation. The app, by the way also allows me to lock and unlock my car and turn my car on from my living room ten minutes before I am ready to depart. No wonder the world is getting lazier and fatter by the minute. I can’t believe I have purchased a car that does these things. In most ways it is completely out of character. At least my inside character to people who really know my insides, not the glossy outside chick that people assume is the one on the inside too. It’s like I live in a camoflauge. When I pulled up last weds after picking it up to drive my friend Chris, the first words out of my mouth were, “Does this car make me look too Jewish?” He had no idea what I was talking about. Leave it to a full bred Wasp. “What does that even mean, he asked, somewhat startled by my question. I didn’t have the heart to explain to him that if I had to explain it, he likely wouldn’t get it anyway.

I brought the car over to another friend’s house to show him, it seems that this is the protocol when purchasing a crazy car like this and he looked at the back of the car where it said 4matic. “Does this car have four wheel drive?” he asked curiously. “I have no idea.” Among many other features the first week that my new set of wheels likely has that I have no idea about because honestly it never would occur to me that someone would even think to put a feature in the car in the first place. He asked me where the spare tire was, yep forgot to ask that too. “It must be somewhere.” I half said. I love the weird button by the super large skylight that I can push at any given time and be connected with the magic Mercedes person. Need a dinner reservation? Push the button. Need help on the road? Push the button. Who needs Triple A when I have Mercedes on demand. Running late for a meeting? Push the button and Mercedes will send to the navigation an alternate route. I love America. Or maybe I should be saying I love Germany, but I can’t bring myself to say that. I love the absurdity that I can decide I want a new car, go to a dealer and in less than 24 hours, drive away in one. Irresponsible, impractical, careless, all these words spin wildly like my grandparents voices in the back seat telling me to be more pragmatic, my father rolling his hippie eyes from the grave disbelieving he has a daughter who would even want to drive a car like this let alone buy one. But see this is what cancer does, it gives you a quick jolt into the LET’S LIVE NOW.

As I approach my second week with this new sparkly set of wheels, I looked down and noticed that I have a cd player, old school. I also remembered that on my last minimize jag of cleaning and having a yard sale I didn’t end up selling my stellar collection of CDs. I went into my basement where they have been patiently waiting for my return, like they knew I would need them again someday and pulled out a few round discs to take with me hoping they wouldn’t skip. Mary J Blige, a cd I had purchased when I bought my Cooper convertible when I was forty. Seal, a cd that my brother turned me on to when he was alive, we had listened it to in in a rent a car driving from North Carolina to Dc to our cousins’ Bar Mitzvah a million years ago. Santana, because the guitar at almost full volume makes you feel like Carlos is in my back seat giving me a private concert. And Styx. Welcome to the Grand Illusion. I put it in the player at as loud as my ears could handle and I was transported to an CYO dance in the basement of St. Marks Church, I was time traveled to times spent hanging out with my friend Joe, whose nickname in his former pre AA life used to be Toad smoking joints in my 63 vw bug at Beavertail. The music made me smile as I reminisced about a group of us misfit kids with absent parents hanging around an island with barely a hint of adult supervision, walking barefoot, around town and not realizing how great our little and free lives were despite our missing mothers and fathers. I had to call him immediately to tell him, he didn’t answer, but I knew he would recognize my zest for these times. It is easy to sensationalize the good stuff and forget about the painful parts.

Life is and can be a grand illusion. There is something energizing in approaching my second year of the cancer survivor story- something that makes me throw cares to the wind, live on the edge, jump in naked and full throttle. No one gets out alive. Why not enjoy the ride?


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SUPER SHERO

SUPER SHERO

Her cape came off along with her breasts, well actually it was her breasts first, then the cape, but she didn’t know this until after. In fact she didn’t even realize she was wearing a perpetual cape all that time until her upper body came off in that swoosh of surgery marked up with black marker like a Singer sewing pattern in her family’s old textile mill. There was no warning that the cape she didn’t know she had been relying on would disappear too. She didn’t know this was part of the surgical plan, no one had told her that part until after she awoke from the sleepy haze of too many greedy pushes of the morphine button. When she did finally awaken though she could feel a shift, a metamorphosis actually. There she stood, shimmery salty hair blowing in the imaginary wind, feet planted as firmly as a New England oak, thigh muscles contracted ready for battle, hands on her hips, brave, emboldened almost. There was no battle, though, only the battle cry of the war that had come and gone with her life before. Her life before the one with her trusty cape always on her back that gave her the false protection she thought she needed. Rooted, solid, naked -she after two years, three surgeries and major parts of her body removed, there was immense power in the realization that she had kept her superpowers and that those powers had even strengthened was cause for complete celebration. There are major parts of a body you don’t need, those parts can come off and go through the petri dish to be analyzed and poked at, then discarded.

Turns out capes, especially the shiny red satin glimmer ones, have their way of disguising what lies beneath, creating that shell of illusion that the exterior is the abominable strength, the façade that people- both heroines and villains see with their supposed x ray eyes. But they never really know the core beneath the magic flying swirling cape. The core of vulnerability and humility where truth and light really lie. There was a great rawness in the stripping, the unbaring of the literal upper body that shines the flashlight in the dark crevices and fissures where the dirt once lay. Exposure is interesting, liberating almost. The year of no cape was where her power recharged, like her pal Superman getting taken down by a speck of kryptonite, except he needed lots of external help to strengthen, she was taken down so she could rise again with her own volcanic eruption.

And rise again is exactly what she has been doing, rising, blooming, from the volcanic ash of being torn down, the hint of the first green sprout among the barren land began as soon as she could stand again, as soon as the drains that weighed her down came off, as soon as the plastic tubing disconnected from her skin, she broke free from the harness that wouldn’t allow her out until she was good and ready. Being stuck, and brought to a prone position was where the start of her life began again though. She realized she didn’t need a cape, the bold brightness that had become her was one in the same. She was her own cape now. No more sparkly sequined bedazzled fabric claiming magic when all along the magic was her. She finally asked the most obvious question in the room no longer considering that this exterior was what people wanted to see, whether she wanted them to see it or they wanted to see it with their own way of looking. What did she want to see? She was the one who needed saving this time. And she dove into the old cold salty sea to reclaim that which was lost because she had been lost under the cape and never knew this all of this time.

Her superpowers came from the blatant awareness that she got to live, that she would have two new round silicone warrior shields always with her protecting her front from the harm that comes when too many people want a piece. Her coat of arms was a double shield of breasts, tall straight out, like her ally, Wonder Woman, but without the points outward. No offense to her friend, but she didn’t need an invisible plane or sparkly gold bangles, she didn’t need a dramatic spin or a starred crown in the center of the front of her head, she didn’t need anything exterior anymore to show her strength or purpose to the world. Rather than the outside in, this new found power was hers from the inside out. No one needed to see the cape, the cape was folded and placed in the attic trunk for her future granddaughter to play with one day. The magic of its secrets tucked neatly away for later discoveries by the next generation who she hoped she could teach that capes are only necessary as a guide not a buoy or a life raft. Losing breasts and gaining new ones made her a warrior and there was no turning back now. Who she wanted to be was who she is, emboldened with the gift of mortality in question, the cape would always be there for her to play with and look at, maybe to even play dress up with, but that is all it would be for in this next part of her life. So she got into her new bat mobile and drove off to the beat of the sound system that only a bad ass car with a black shiny armor and tinted windows can make. She knew who was driving now.



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WATER IN MY DREAMS

WATER IN MY DREAMS

I wish I were the type of person who would write their dreams down when they woke me up, like today at 2:40 am, but this would mean that I would have to put the light on ensuring that I would remain awake. I always think I am going to remember my dreams when I wake up at a normal time, but of course time after time, they are never as vivid as they were just four hours before. I can have large spans of time when I don’t even recall if I had a dream, but for the past three weeks I have dreamt ever single night of water and family. Rain, ocean, lakes, all of my immediate family have shown up in each dream at some point. Grandparents, my parents, my son, my brother, my aunts, my former husband, my present partner. None of the dreams have been scary or nightmarish, no fear in them, more like an old friend showing up to remind me of something. I am not drowning in the dream nor is anyone else. There are lots of animals though. Last night it was seagulls, there have been squirrels, manatees and of course my old friend the snake. I have never dreamed like this before and I am struck by the themes. Interestingly, I have had some water spots show up in my ceilings from some leaks in my roof. Yes, I am aware that this comes with a house built one hundred years before I was born, 1865. 153 years ago, but I do find it interesting that it is water again. Also last Friday the fire alarms went off and I couldn’t get them to turn off when it occurred to me, maybe there is something going on besides a battery and promptly called the fire department. Thankfully they didn’t have to use any water, it turned out to be a faulty smoke detector, but still fire and water, the opposites, the yin and yang of it all did get me wondering what the heck is going on. I like the inner work of messages. Dreams have that ability to give you a story maybe before you are even ready for one. I have looked up “dreaming about water” and the meanings are all a little vague, a bit over generalized, and like a horoscope, I only want to see the lovely, not the worry. My goddess of a therapist, who is a Jungian dream analyst had her own take on the dreams involving my deep connection to creativity and something brewing, to pay attention and keep creating. This speaks to me especially since I am in the throws of new branding using typewriters and silliness as an excuse for creation. She had something to say about my new obsession with typewriters, the weight of them, the mechanics of them and the possibilities of what they represent. This is for another essay though, too complex to add and possibly too esoteric for even me. If I were to sit quietly and meditate on this perhaps I would have a sense. My instincts say, something is a brewing, go with the literal flow. My birth sign is Pisces and when I look up today’s message, it says,

It could be that you feel a bit of pressure today to start or create something that you aren’t quite ready for. There is hesitation on your part that indicates you should take it slowly and learn more of the facts before you jump into the fray… (where was this horoscope last week when I decided to lease a high end car?J

Then there is this one which I like better, A SWEEPING MOMENTUM carries you through the entire day and its quite a ride! But don’t get too caught up in the excitement or laughter that surrounds you. There are many details you need to pay attention to if you want to keep on a positive track. Thinking big or getting distracted by the long range ideas won’t help you right now. Listen to the words people are using and the dates being chosen. These small details will have a huge influence.

There is so much water significance to these. Go with the flow, don’t get bogged down, don’t jump in. Of course we all know how much we can read into horoscopes to have them fit our own ideas of how they should read, but this is the fun. I can feel something though, my need to meet like minded women and take them to lunch, to create. Just yesterday, I met a fabulous new superchick and we made a connection that felt old and wisdom filled. It was like we had known each other for many years and it felt immediately comfortable and rich. As I write this I am moved by the awareness of creating the space for new female friendships. I have written about and spoken about old female relationships moving on and out and through knowing that as painful as it has been it has also created space for new loving and meaningful ones to enter. Perhaps the significance of all of the water in the last three weeks is movement, cleansing, and some form of rebirth. After all, we come from water, water is what we are made up of, water is what is the majority surrounding us. Water is cleansing and purifying. All of this is a nice way to interpret these dreams. And to consider that when old friends move on, perhaps it ultimately is for the right reason allowing both of us opportunities for new births to take place. After all of this rain the past week too, the flowers continue to bloom and the grass gets greener by the minute- just in time for a beautiful October. What lies ahead is out of my hands, but what is behind serves no purpose any longer. If this is what my dreams are letting me know in their own unique way, then I am satisfied.