Read Reduction

Used to be I had a reading pile. A to-be-read stack of whole magazines or just torn pages, books I picked up for free, printed online articles I didn’t have time to sit down and devote to immediately and knew I’d never find them again. Links can die, you know. Especially after a few years.

Well, I stopped all that physical periodical hoarding. Inspired by an accidental find years ago. 2014; while perusing positive topics for what used to be an email and US Mail based Midweek Encouragement Newsletter. ME News existed in an era otherwise known as ‘pre-blog.’

In the basest form of self-trickery for knowledge seekers, I canceled nearly all of the clutter subscriptions that lead to clutter. Nearly.

Costco and AAA send me monthly periodicals whether I want them or not. I subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer monthly rag. I could stop them simply, but then, how would I know where all the good stuff is happening in Michigan, or discover why a certain product is better than another? Without endless key-word internet surfing for hours, I mean.

Plus, I’d also lose out on letters and phrases. Grade school, I’ve always loved collage. Went through an interesting and a bit obsessive, huge, collage cut-and-paste phase in college. Began as sorority-sister aimed birthday cards on budget. Ala kindergartener-ish: find a pretty picture, add some happy, descriptive 1500 level words and voila!

I also went through a band-love phase where I would use every print version of the band name I could find and pauperize it into wall hanging. I had a double 8”x14” pair-themed set of Duran Duran fonts proudly displayed in my first dorm room. Hmm. Who am I kidding?

So, maybe both of those things weren’t phases. I’m obviously still in a band-loving stage. And, I still cut out words and phrases. Anyway, the point is, now even just those three founts of info tend to heap on my coffee table. Not a real problem. I break them down, take what I need as I read through, recycle the bulk and end up with smaller piles.

My digital stash is overwhelming, though. I leave large articles unread until I have the time. I gold-star articles that may be of use in the future. I subscribe to a few special interest daily/weekly emails for things I am truly interested in. I’d really like to engage with these lurking lessons. I’m really a little stressed out that I will never catch up and, yet, I continue to pull and hold.

826, 180, 11, 109 emails awaiting my attention. Some are new. About 600 are marked for future, do not delete articles, updates, initiatives. Surprisingly the 826 is not my junk box. It also dates from 2010 forward. Pictures, scratch writing, thoughts – these aren’t a concern to me. I’ll get to them. When? Well, when I do.

There’s def a need to tackle. Do I start with one source and read straight through? Oldest to newest in unrelated order? Sort and scour by topic? By informative value or creative enjoyment? Ugh.

This all sounds way too much like a lot of pre-work to manage my actual desire.

The Minimalists, Podcast 286: Enoughism

Around the Corner

I didn’t have to listen to AC/DC on the way home, either, but, I happily did.

Jeff was asleep before we even made it to the highway, not five minutes away. I was tired, too, so high-energy, head-banging was necessary.

It’s hard to fall asleep while scream-singing. Actually, I’ve never fallen asleep singing. I’ve never fallen asleep eating, for that matter.

Multiple trips from Nashville to Michigan, and back, were always well stocked. Eating M&M’s one at a time. Munching mini pretzels. Chocolate covered raisins, only on the overnight drives, to avoid messy melt.

Anyway, I had no food stuff for this short trip. I wasn’t hungry anyway, because we’d eaten. But, I did have Jeff’s chosen music that, historically, sounded best played loud. So, that is what I did.

Jeff slept through. He didn’t stir when we slowed. He didn’t notice when exiting where Interstate 94 meets US 223.

There were a few, follow-the-roadway-to-the-right, definite stay-awake curves to navigate on our usual route home. I’ve been looking at a map to try and match the terrain and the place logic.

It might have been near the Slee Highway intersection, or, might have been Gilbert Road – a little further down. I’d have to drive it again to be sure. Maybe, I’ll do that on some future western-to-northern excursion, just to pin point the memory.

If he’d been awake, Jeff would have probably launched into his habit of mimicking NASCAR announcers. “A- rrrround the corner we gooooo!” Jeff (also, sort of often) used the saying to express the notion that I’d cut a street corner a little close, for him.

Fair enough, since I almost amputated his already bleeding leg, that time I pulled into Herrick Hospital. Silly enough, even though he was totally zonked out, the lovingly familiar, would-be comment, floated around in my head.

It popped up out of nowhere on the approach; a double rainbow, though there hadn’t been any rain. At least, none that we drove through. Travelling 55 mph, in the time it took me to second glance, the sight had significantly changed.

I pulled over abruptly, but Jeff didn’t budge. I called out. I shook his shoulder. I yelled, and pushed some more.

Panicked, but not sure why, I resorted to louder stimuli. I blew the car horn three times, in quick succession, then, let one long loud one linger.

That sort of worked.

Quote for the Week:2019 08 12 It’s funny how the things people say linger jakorte

Dodge and Clear

I worried and analyzed – our finances, our budget, our life-style which already wasn’t high on the hog. I researched mouth cancer and mouth cancer treatments.

Scouring the house, I angrily purged as many wayward rounds of chew as I could find. I already knew his favorite hiding places.

Bottles of spit hid under the computer desk. If a book looked out of place, I would likely find a tin behind it. In the laundry room, behind the soap. In the pantry, behind the home-canned vegetables. Under his recliner. Under the car seat.

Two weeks later, we were back in the waiting room. Jeff had told me he didn’t think I needed to come along. I told him we were a “we” therefore “we” needed to handle this together.

It was a weekday, so we got there early and waited for a little while. Not long enough for Jeff to be antsy, but he was. He got up and started to walk away.

“Where are you going?” I asked, adding, “They could call us soon.”

“I’m gonna go ask a question,” he said.

“It’s not that late,” I commented, “Only five minutes – wait a few more.”

“Nah…” Jeff took a step backwards. “ I’m gonna go ask.”

I started to gather up our things, and he flipped his hands at me. “Why don’t you wait here? Save my seat.” he suggested.

“Did you find out anything?” I asked when he returned. “Yeah,” he said, “we’re on the list.”

About a minute later, it was our turn. Jeff was sweating bullets. I was holding his hand.

The same clinic physician met us in the exam room. He came in, abruptly dropped a file on the desk and crossed to the other side of the room. Leaning against a counter with his arms crossed, the doctor blew out a breath. We waited, holding ours.

“I’m here to tell you that the results…. were… clear.”

Jeff let go an exhale, and dropped his head. Stunned I blurted out, “Are you sure?”

“What?” Jeff looked at me. “Did you want me to have cancer?”

“Of course, I didn’t!” I smacked Jeff’s arm. “It’s just … I’m surprised. He was so sure!” I pointed, stammering on.

“Believe me,” the MD quipped. “No one…. was more surprised than me.”

“So, that’s it?” I asked.

His answer was aimed directly at Jeff. “I don’t like those spots,” he said. “I recommend you stop chewing tobacco. Immediately.”

“Ok.” Jeff said.

“What about something to help him quit?” I wanted to know.

“There’s gum and lozenges. Most stores have them.” With a short shrug, he strode across the room, shook Jeff’s hand and said, “Good luck to you, sir.”

Clearly. We’d dodged a lethal bullet.

Quote for the Week:2019 02 12 Expect the worst jakorte.jpg

 

Snapping Turtle Spots

In his mind, he’d committed a grievous crime showing unusual temper. Per usual for Jeff, though, he found a humorous way to apologize.

Despite what the cute card said, his reaction wasn’t “for no good reason,” and the real crime wasn’t losing his temper.

Before we’d reached this point, before disability, and a long while after the honeymoon backseat-bottle incident, I saw a notice for a free mouth and throat cancer screening. 

I signed Jeff up. I was thinking ‘scared straight’ and ‘this is how much I care’ combined.

I’d already given him facts and articles. I’d already cajoled and nagged. I’d already yelled and cried. I was hoping a doctor could get him to quit, and offer a way to help him do that.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go that way.

He resisted, of course.

I insisted, of course.

We drove to Ann Arbor for the weekend clinic appointment. I accompanied him into the exam. When the doctor asked Jeff why he thought he’d need a screening, Jeff pointed. “It was her idea.”

I explained the chew and the diabetes and what I knew from internet-research. The doctor concurred, and said we could certainly talk about ways to quit after the exam.

The exam was brief. I mean, very brief. He asked Jeff how long he’d had dark spots on his gums, under his tongue and inside his lower lip. Jeff said he had no idea. There were many of them, but two in particular were large and concerning.

So concerning, that the doctor immediately halted his examination. He rolled away and bluntly reported: “I’m 99.9 percent sure what I’m looking at here is mouth cancer. You’ll likely have throat cancer, as well.”

We were stunned. He went on to explain that the only question was what type, which would determine the degree of aggressiveness. 

Turning to pull some supplies, he announced, “We’re going to biopsy those.”

“Now?” Jeff asked, echoing the panicked look I was aiming his way.  The answer was a firm, curt, business-like, “Yes. Right now. Is there a reason why you don’t want to do it now?”

“Nnnooooo,” Jeff drew out his answer, shaking his head.

He was advised to immediately stop tobacco use, and we were given a return appointment in 2 weeks. At that time, we would know what type of cancer Jeff had, and would be able discuss treatment options.

The timeline, itself, was an urgency marker – a 2-week turn-around. High priority. 

I drove us to a nearby restaurant, parked, took a deep breath and turned to Jeff in tears.

“Aw, might not be anything…” he waved it off. I stared at him in disbelief. “Did you not hear him?”

“You don’t know what you don’t know.” Jeff tried to reason with me.  “99.9% sure!” I countered, crying out. “Jeff! What are we going to do?”

“No sense in worrying about it for two weeks, yet.” Jeff turned his head away and looked out the window.

“Not gonna change anything…” he softly shrugged.

Quote for the Week:2019 02 05 Sometimes pushing a person to the edge jakorte2019 02 05 snapping turtle card jakorte

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Goodly Abandon

For the greater good, I’m going to abandon the condo crises (plural) for a few days.

Mostly because I can do nothing about being stuck; partly because I’ve been told I’m starting to look like Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat has been internetly credited with obviously unreal verbalization of issues scarily close to my heart. While I find her amusing, and adorable in a weird way, I certainly don’t want to be permanently associated with an unusually high level of grump. Even though, admittedly, my recent level of grump has been unusually high.

It’s easy to ask, over and over, “Why Me?” I’m not amused by the “God only gives you what you can handle” rote. I think there’s been a whole lotta name confusion. I theorize my name has made it onto the “little tests” list one too many times. I supposed that’s what I get for changing my name so many times.

It’s easy to believe we have been abandoned; that we are alone. It’s infinitely easier to feel this way during a forceful holiday season. We abandon good sense. We over-spend; we over gift, we over please. Lineal, I cannot image Mary and Joseph not feeling abandoned. Why would God not have a room saved for them? Why didn’t someone last-minute cancel a reservation or change a plan to make way for a comfortable evening before an uncomfortable birth?

Perhaps our view of abandonment in context of negativity isn’t all there is to say. Moses was abandoned. Laid down in bull rushes, carried to greater care and cause; a life redeemed. Our view of abandonment as negativity isn’t all there is to say. Holding on is only a precursor to letting go, somewhere between Moses’ “Let My People Go” and that song that even those of us who have not seen the movie cannot ignore.

My Let-it-Go list will never see paper. I’ve heard its cathartic, but I can’t go there. I should have let some things go a long time ago.

I enjoy art as a consumer and creator, despite the fact that 15 years of creating and tweaking the same design, has given the same result year-after-year. Steadily unsuccessful at craft shows, I thought my luck would change if I wasn’t standing there like a nervous ninny hoping to make enough to cover the cost of the table. I thought I’d lucked out when there was interest and a generous offer to set them alongside other creations. It was disappointing that only 3 out of 51 sold, and that the plain, brown-paper hatbox I meant to decorate more than a decade ago remains crammed full of unchosen pieces.

There’s a put-off that’s been stress-listed for months; falling lower and lower, not even warranting a check box after so long. Weighing every little task against sleep, I’ve abandoned hope, and so much more. December’s Art Abandonment theme popped up in my feed three weeks ago and made me smile.  Noted and forgotten.

It passed by again today. Starry, Starry Night re-played, conjuring Don McLean, VanGogh, and painful artistic poignancy. It’s not unusual to love the things we create. The disappointment begins when these things do not love us back.

It’s important to pay attention when a blank mind begins to buzz, repeating until understood, waiting for that click of a moment, turning into “I know it’s in there… exactly what is needed.”

Today is my first day of goodly abandonment – a simple thing that could make a spirit bright.

They say timing is everything. I certainly hope so.

 

Quote for the Week:

It’s not unusual to love the things we create 12 23 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Positive Abandonment: http://michaeldemeng.typepad.com/art_abandonment/

Where to Find Good Stuff: http://www.artfaircalendar.com/

Let It Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk