Archive for July, 2012

Kafka had nothing on this

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

So I’ve learned today a lot about T4 and Hashimoto’s and taking thyroid replacement and me. So the thyroid meds I am taking lose their effectiveness by degrees as your body is supposed to create the same matching amount and thereby reducing your need of the drug by a certain amount.

Only sometimes humans don’t work that way and sometimes you don’t create enough of it, and sometimes you need more of it, and sometimes things just go awry, as they have for me. The initial lift in the meds created an initial lift in me but soon my body absorbed and matched but soon lost capacity and now again I am not producing enough hormone to regulate my thyroid which explains why my hair grew, fell out, grew, fell out, grew, and stopped.

Thank god my doctor is also my friend and was able to communicate with me here in Cadiz and so now I’m upping my dosage and hoping that will get me closer to where I need to be – of course, I need another TSH test to determine, but I’m hoping I can wait on that till I get back to NOLA.

The thyroid, the butterfly gland, the gland that basically is the conductor for your entire ecosystem, my butterfly keeps going back in the cocoon and sometimes it emerges a caterpillar, sometimes a half winged butterfly, and sometimes it doesn’t emerge at all. Metamorphosis is taking on battle ground dimensions in my body on a daily basis.

So I’m just one of those that is hard to get – the medicine takes and wanes, my hair grows and recedes, we take one step closer and then two back – it’s the cha cha I’ve been doing all my life only now it is concentrated in one little gland that looks like a butterfly and acts like king kong.

Penultimate day in Cadiz

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Tomorrow we leave for Zahara de los Atunes – where we have no WiFi, no internet, no phone, no nada. Woo hoo – hello beach, hello sun, hello the books I have remaining to read. I’m in the midst of Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men, which I was digging until last night when I was going to bed I was reading the prose and it felt so contrived I paused several times to see if my mind was functioning differently. But I got back in again today – it’s reminiscent of David Mitchell, of the new genre, TransLit, and extremely compelling to me.

But we’re leaving for Zahara tomorrow – Tatjana visited a cork farm, a pig farm (the famed pata negra pigs), a bull farm, a mercury mine (complete with the leaching sauna room to draw out the mercury poisoning the miners – or inmates – prisoners were given the choice of dying or going down into the mines, they mistakenly chose the mines).

I have shopped for food and cooked, done lots of laundry to hang on the roof, taken lots of walks, hung out in a lot of cafes, plazas, parks, talked, smoked, drank beer, wine, tinto de verano, gin tonics, ate tortilla, manchego, bread, peaches (the flattened kind called paraguay here), figs, cherries (the black red types called piquotas), tomatoes, cucumbers, shrimp, udon, fish, olive oil, olives, honey – shall I go on infinitum?

Now I’m cooking our last meal – udon with peppers, spring onions, garlic and shrimp made with soy sauce and sesame oil and beer, accompanied by a tomato, cucumber and pepper salad with olive oil from Cordoba that is so delicious you could drink it out of the bottle. We are serving a bottle recommended by the owner of Magritte – a mencia called Tilenus – muy suave to accompany our lunch. Our friend is coming who retired here in Cadiz, not to say good bye because we will see her in Zahara as she makes her Sunday trek there religiously, but to bid farewell.

So Cadiz – our last night with the city sounds that will morph into sounds of the beach. I can’t wait!

Where did this gift come from?

Monday, July 30th, 2012

I spent the last twenty four or so hours in a state of mind that I’d like to throw out the window. You know the state – the one where you question everything you have ever done or are doing. I needed to be by myself so I could wring the frown right out of my face. Instead, I wasn’t alone and I picked up another book that I had brought – Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Someone mentioned this book, said they were re-reading it, and I bought the digital version for the iPad that Tatjana brought for class.

I read the book overnight and it was exactly as if it were prescribed for me. Lindbergh managed to touch on every issue on my hot plate – time alone, the many phases of life, love, and a woman, the centrifugal activities that draw us into a tighter and tighter world, and more importantly the intermittency of life. Highly recommend.

It was a tonic to read especially as she relates middle age to a shedding of old habits, old ways of being, old relationships, and a welcoming of what is new, strange and unfamiliar.

Isn’t that where I find myself? Often I have said I wanted to travel and here I am in Cadiz, soon enroute to Zahara and next Croatia before home to the LaLa. We are speaking about Russia next year – St. Petersburg and Moscow. Who is this person I sometimes wonder – who is traveling all over with no firmness underground? It’s me one side shouts and it’s who? the other questions.

I walked to the market this morning boldly bald in my Prada sunglasses (vestiges of my past monied life), and people indeed stared but I decided they were staring out of awe not out of pity and that helped. I came home and there was a message from my Boston friend – check out Happiness Project was all it said, so I did – and I think she meant to refer me to the post “Try not to talk in a mean voice. Try again. And again” because that is what I tuned into. My mean voice was out big time in the last 24-hour flogging – why am I bald, why did I do this, why did I choose that, who is this kid, who is this partner, why am I here in Spain, where will I go when I leave?

My nice voice came slowly – it happened last night when Tatjana returned with Tin from the beach and before the door was opened he was yelling, “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY” and then wanted me to read his Why? book that he knows by heart. Or when Tatjana and I sat and watched the rest of Season 1 of The MisAdventures of Awkward Black Girl. And then when I finished Gift from the Sea this morning, and returned to my friend’s email about the Happiness Project. I started speaking in kinder words – even to myself.

We always say when Tin is acting out that his evil twin Skippy has arrived on the scene, and for Tatjana we always call her by the name people who can’t pronounce her name say – Ta-Tonya. For me, I will name my unkind voice Lady MacBeth – because surely when she arrives I feel unsexed, unloved, and unmotivated:

Lady Macbeth:
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promis’d. Yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way.

write it down , lest you forget

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The last post I wrote before I left New Orleans at the end of June – I forgot to post it. So I came across it today and posted it – only it seems out of place with my universe right now. The Croats left and with them nightly indulgences of cookies and cigarettes and all sorts of things that I told them would have to leave with them – and they did, on Saturday morning, we began to detox from our friends’ vacation.

Only, the little bit of time smoking cigs has caused me to jones for them and so here we go again – quitting time.

So it could be that that is what has contributed to my out and out depression that I woke up with this morning. Or maybe it’s the fact that the hair growth that started when we arrived has receded and once again I have a bald head. I looked up alopecia and when the hair should grow back and one medical site said that if it does not grow back in six months chances are the hair loss is permanent.

Say what?

So I sank further into my depression and just decided to withdraw. It’s not that hair is the most important thing in the world – it’s not. It’s just that I really don’t even know who I am anymore – I don’t know whose life this is I’m living, I don’t recognize myself in the mirror (I stuck my tongue at myself in the restaurant the other night), I’m just this stranger walking around with my soul inside.

So when I read the post that I forgot to publish I thought – oh yeah right. But I know this will pass – it’s the craving for cigarettes and sugar that is mounting an anti-Rachel campaign. Gone are the inspirachels – a word straight from Mudd Lavoie – instead it’s hello baldness my old friend.

I visited numerous sites about alopecia and baldness. I even liked the alopecia site on Facebook. Joining the team is not helping one iota.

Tatjana took Tin to the beach to get him out – he hadn’t napped – he ripped a foot off of cow.

I know how he feels, I’d like to rip a foot off of someone. I just finished Autobiography of a Yogi and I am mystified at the whole writing – his secretary, Richard, was a tad too hot, and the sleeping with the gurus part of the equation gave me pause, and I’m sorry but I can’t understand how being godlike got this mega ashram built in California – something about the whole book depressed me or at least made me suspicious of the world in general.

The only good to come from the last two days is that we discovered through Anne Flournoy – Issa Rae’s The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl – and watched six episodes last night.

Oh well – let’s just call today a day in the hole – tonight I get to be distracted by more episodes of ABG until this dark cloud passes.


Sunday, July 29th, 2012

My spirit animal is the elephant – gentle giant, playful creature, strong. Every day since alopecia universalis and Hashimoto’s Disease became the outward manifestation of my inner turmoil – I have grown stronger – I’m getting back to me, only me has changed, is changing, will change. My doctor prescribed two months in Europe, to take the healing waters of Spain and the Adriatic, so I am heeding his advice and on my journey.

Goodbye bayou, until we return, goodbye friends here – you are in my heart, goodbye stress.
Hello beaches, hello friends there – I have missed you, hello spirit.

Sunday morning in Cadiz

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

The fruiterias are closed
The grand market is closed.
The groceries are closed.
The bakeries are closed.
The cafes are closed.
The noise is absent except for the clanging of bells.
Everyone everywhere is lounging for the lord.

Things can and do go wrong, often

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

I’m often accused of being a pollyanna – and okay, yes, I do tend to look at the bright side most of the time – not all of the time. The last couple of days I haven’t been able to get to my computer because a friend was on it trying to do damage control. He’s got a project in La Biennale and the group has fomented anarchy.

The problem with being a bystander is the ability to telegraph back to events in your own life that make you say, “yikes” this could go very wrong for my friend. Because in the end things don’t always work out or end up fair.

I’ve been pulling my analogies from personal experience out of the ether here to share with him that in some ways he just needs to get out of the way of the freight train because it’s not carrying his baggage but someone else’s – which again I am here to say doesn’t mean that person’s shit won’t soon become his shit – because it might or already has.

I recalled for him my teenage trip to Israel when one of the boys on the group spread the word that I was coming onto him when exactly the opposite had happened (and blech, the guy was a real twerp), flash forward to my present life when my own nephew in law accused me of the same nonsense and in both cases – the boy’s word against mine was what stuck. In both cases, a lot of damage was done by their delusion.

Or how about at work, someone I managed who to this day hates me so much they seethe when they think of me – and all because this person was going through their own personal hell and decided it was ALL my fault. Or another who did something wrong that came to my attention and yet, I was the one who had to sit with that person’s fall from grace.

Oh yes, there have been many times where I was a victim of someone’s drive by garbage dumping and you know what – it ain’t pretty. So I sympathized a lot with my friend and the pickle he finds himself in.

Which brings me to the trash – the Cadiz garbage collectors are still striking – except I think this morning they actually picked up the trash because the street looked slightly cleaner for the first time in four days (240 tons of garbage lined the streets of Cadiz after four days of the strike). But it is coming to an end, not without drama – apparently in asking for a raise in the middle of an economic crisis that has more Spanish people out of work than at any other time in modern history – this union, these trash collectors have won the heart of no supporter and the head representative was actually stabbed leaving his house. Who said violence doesn’t happen here?

He’s okay – it was a minor stabbing if that is even a way to describe something like this – but now the police are escorting the little bit of garbage collecting that is occurring. The city is in the midst of the Tall Ship Regatta and it stinks – literally – stinks with piles of trash that make this look like a third world country.

And yes, the Regata will be over, and the trash collecting will begin again, but in the meanwhile, these trash collectors have used this occasion to hold the city hostage for more money and that sucks – and it can’t now be rectified because the people who came to Cadiz to see the Regatta (a real big deal here, bigger than it was when it launched the 4-year event in New Orleans earlier this summer), have gotten instead a big stinky city that looks awful.

Much like these incidents when someone dumps their shit on you and leaves you there stinking to high heaven and having to either mount your own defense or live with the consequences of what other people now choose to believe – the Regatta will be remembered more for the trash than for the tall ships.

So for my friend whose Biennale project had been so sweet a victory that has now soured – I say unto him, darling, this too shall pass.

A scary thought

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Meanwhile, back at home I read the headlines and they are still stuck in death death death. Someone is killing someone every day in New Orleans. The New York Times this morning said that there is going to be a major overhaul of the police system – but the whole system is rotten from the top down. Someone commented, where is Vice President Jindal while this is all going on – you tell me.

Here in Spain what’s rotten is the trash on the streets – normally the City that Smiles (Cadiz) has trash pick up daily, but the trash collectors went on strike to protest the fact that the dock workers who are preparing for the Tall Ships (that actually started in New Orleans) are getting paid more than them – so no trash pick up, stinky, stinky, stinky.

But what stinks more is New Orleans and the police corruption and political corruption that has colored our grand city since the get go. Sure they could perhaps put some procedures in place to clean up the corruption but wouldn’t it be better if every young black male had an opportunity and saw another way out rather than depending on the federal government to clean up the city government?

Bless you boys – you deserve better.

Nice moment

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I walked up the stone city wall and followed the elevated path – there were only a few fishermen and some youths on bikes when I went up on the wall but all the way at the end before it turns and blends into Plaza España an old man was standing and looking out at sea. He beckoned me to look and I didn’t catch what he was watching – and he said, “Transatlantico” pointing at the big cruise ship leaving port – he looked with joy as the city on floats glided by – “Se va,” he annotated.

I stood and watched the ship leave and took the moment to really view its size, its magnificence, its wonder. When it had crossed our paths, the man kissed his lips as if to say vaya con dios. He had a sparkle in his eyes as he stepped down and headed on his way.

To think that a cruise ship, usually a point of derision for me, became a sudden awesome sight to behold. And to share it with that white haired guy was the cream on top.

A day alone

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Rare are the days that I have to myself but today is one of them. Tin and Tatjana left early this morning for Bolonia and Vejer de la Frontera on an excursion with the students. This is the last week of school and I finally had time to myself. I walked to the sea first thing – to breathe in the fresh salt air then I went to our favorite wine store – Magerite – and purchased a bottle of Protos (a wine introduced to me by one of Tatjana’s Spanish students in New Orleans), a Ribera Duero – extremely drinkable and I bought an Abadal Rosado (rose) because I had a white Abadal that the woman had recommended and loved it (this rose is Cabernet Savignon).

The wine owner is adamant that Robert Parker has ruined wines globally with his point system and his preference for strong California cabs and oaky Chardonnays. She said it has made major producers adjust to the bold taste and leave behind hundreds of years of softer flavors. She said Rioja and Ribera Dueros are mostly ruined because of Parker. The Parker effect, she snorts in disdain, is a horror.

Another horror is the restaurants that now use a premix for their tortillas españolas, once the province of every home cook in this land, now conveniently packaged to just pour and cook – now this is the horror. We have noticed it at many restaurants and cafes much to our chagrin.

Then I went to ECCO (Espacio de Creacion Contemporanea) near Parque Genoves and saw two wonderful exhibits – one is called Zones in Danger (Zonas de riesgo) and it featured ten international artists interpreting our complex and fragile world and my absolute favorite was by Shirin Neshat that showed on one screen a male vocalist and audience and on the other a woman solo on stage and with you in the middle – you get to negotiate the space where women in Arab world must be kept out of the public eye and you, the viewer, decide who to look at – I looked at the woman who used her voice to transcend any pain or disquietude she harbored. It was an amazing exhibit and I can’t wait till my friends return from their excursion to take them there.

On the second floor of this contemporary space was a Marimekko exhibit that was fabulous. If I could construct a space to live one room would be lined with Marimekko fabric and the other as open and airy as the gallery with its interior outdoor space. The stuff that dreams are made of.

I had not eaten breakfast so I stopped into Plaza Mentidero and ate a falafel at the Kurdish restaurant while I enjoyed the plaza and the passersby.

By the time I was ready to do the grocery shopping the stores were closed for the mid day siesta – a ritual unaffected by progress. And rightfully so.