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Snow is falling, inches of it, maybe even feet by the time the storm passes. We walked to the hardware store to buy a second snow shovel, as we love to be out in it together, tag team.

I can’t remember if I’ve already said this, but snow, and our sheer pleasure at its falling in Portland last winter, was one of the signs we were ready to move on. For the preceding years of our residence, we were the killjoys who wanted only rain and wished the snow away, and the sooner the better. It was, in many ways, a reminder of what we left behind.

That, I suppose, is the nature of change. Fifteen years of Portland rain proved adequate. There is comfort in snow, and I am happy for it, to watch its delicate descent, to stomp and shovel it, to have its white blanket quiet the land.

Pittsburgh weather, at least thus far, has been more variable: a few days of rain, a few days of clouds, a few days of snow, a few days of sun. It is colder here, temperature wise, but I am decidedly and happily warmer, for it lacks Portland’s winter humidity that chilled me so.

It also lacks the green, with the majority of neighboring forests deciduous, save a token few evergreens. Carpeted with brown leaves (or snow) and spindly, skyward climbing branches, it is jarring at first, and holds fewer secrets. I remember walking in Forest Park and hearing movement, the rustle of leaves, the crunch of twigs, and never once seeing what creature was responsible. It is possible here, and I’m reveling at the opportunity.

I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to all who reached out after the passing of my Grandma and our sweet kitties. The loss and the resulting change in our lives has been more difficult than we ever imagined it would be. Your kindness, much like the blanket of snow, has been a tremendous and most appreciated comfort. Thank you.

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Have you read the blog post by Revolva (a fiery vaudevillian, literally and figuratively), relaying her experience with an Oprah producer who asked her to perform for FREE on the The Life You Want Tour? To say that I was utterly deflated and depressed by it is an understatement. I mean, jeepers, Oprah is supposed to be the one who gets it; who understands the big picture; whose magazine is chock full of thoughtful insights and well curated quotations; Oprah, whose rags to riches tale is an inspiration to women everywhere. This same Oprah wants people to work for FREE? In the name of exposure? On a tour called The Life You Want? Bummer.

As someone who considers herself to be an artist, the life I want does not consist of working for free, though something in my nature must smack of it because that is about all I am offered. A million and one great opportunities by people unwilling to pay for my talent. And they’re so enthusiastic about it, too!

“Oh my goodness, your pictures and stories are so awesome! Could we reprint them? We’d give you credit!”

“We could really use someone with your vision, enthusiasm, and skill. Have you ever considered volunteering?”

Don’t get me wrong, volunteering can be pretty awesome, and I have done an awful lot of it for some pretty terrific organizations: serving meals to the homeless, helping distribute books to youth in juvenile detention, being a Big Sister (how I met sweet Solveig!), planting trees, stuffing envelopes, organizing files.

I’d also like to mention that I am as frugal as the next person, maybe even more so, but I do know the value of good work, and it is NOT nothing. So I asked the hubster how often he is asked to volunteer. The answer? NEVER. His LinkedIn profile is not littered with job “opportunities” for unpaid positions. He is, quite to the contrary, actually asked to apply for well paid jobs, because he is a skilled software engineer and deserves some respect, but someone who dances with flaming hula hoops (Revolva), tells stories, takes pictures, draws, or paints? That person apparently doesn’t deserve anything?

It is an interesting question.

Good evening, Pittsburgh! I am here, in permanent fashion, at last! Bone tired from unpacking, fresh from a row in the basement, bowl of cereal and handful of almonds devoured, stinky and deserving a bath, but eager to post is how I am. I have missed this space, brain sputtering before sending my fingers racing. I made do with my phone while dealing with the pressing matters of unpacking the essentials and shopping for yet more, oh, and getting lost. Again and again. New territory. New me, I hope, of a fashion, anyway. But, not yet.

First, the road. The glorious road to our new home. I shed many a tear on it; sometimes joyously, in light of what lay ahead; sometimes sadly, for what cannot be recovered, for what is past; oftentimes for the simple beauty of place – earth, river, sky; of being present and privileged with breath, a beating heart, and love.

Our travels took us through Denver and our first homes, then Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, nearly the whole of Interstate 70, our family of three rolling along, sometimes quietly, sometimes in raucous laughter punctuated by meows, oftentimes singing, Elton John and America and Radiohead, The Doors. Glad of heart for our gumption and bravery to drive 2,713 miles(!) and start anew, for the kindness of strangers, for gas stations, hotels, the blessings of sunshine and frost, for the world that is.

 

Pink

Pretty Pink Peonies.

One vase, three exposures, kind of like life.

How others see us.

How we see ourselves.

How we truly are.

I’m not sure which I care to be, though I suppose I am all three.

Greetings, peeps! Oh my goodness, if you are a Portlander, do you have the windows open right now, to let that warm breeze in? Hoot and holler! It’s sunny! I have sheets and clothes hanging out on the line. It is a good day, great even.

And then there is the title to this post, which is not so great. Not at all. If you’ve been here a while, you know that I had surgery nearly five years ago to rid myself of the constant and very debilitating pain of endometriosis and the majority of my reproductive hardware it destroyed. If you haven’t, here is a brief recap: in one very long surgery, for which I am grateful to have been under the deep sleep of anesthetics, I lost nearly half my blood, one ovary, my fallopian tubes, uterus, and scores of scar tissue and adhesions caused by years under the wrath of some of the worst endometriosis my specialist had ever seen. If you’d like to read about it, use the sidebar or the tag at the bottom of this post for a fancy search. Much was written! There is also a picture of me looking dorky in farmer hat and nightgown. I have no shame!

But, I digress. I’ve spent the majority of the last five years pretty happily pain-free, which was fucking fantastic, as you can imagine. But it’s come back. Bit by bit, inch by inch, and the pain is constant again. Double drat. I knew it was likely, and my specialist told me that I might have to have surgery again in five to ten years. I would have preferred ten. You can’t always get what you want.

So, next week, I’m going under the knife again to rid my body of the insidious tendrils binding my insides and giving me such exquisite pain. I might lose the last vestige of my internal female-ness, too, that little left ovary that could, which saddens me some. But I am smart enough to know that if it’s hurting more than helping, I will be better off in the long run.

As one would expect, I am hoping for the best. I hope you will, too. If you are willing and open, please say a prayer, send good juju, jump up and down while laughing, pick your pleasure. The hubster and I would be most grateful.

And in the meantime, get out there and enjoy life. It is marvelous and precious, truly!

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