Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for the End of the World

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~ T.S. Eliot

The Thanksgiving selfie.
The necklace is a gift from Sheila.
There are crushing periods in many of our lives that I think of as The End of the World As We Know It, when we experience catastrophic change that evaporates our comfort zones, rips away what we believe we hold most dear, and leaves us feeling sucker-punched to the point we can't breathe, much less cry. Sometimes The End comes without warning, and sometimes it arrives in a slow motion, inevitable slide downwards, one that we can see coming - but wish oh so hard never will.

We know that Very Bad Things happen every day. Most of us have seen The End of the World as We Know It within our own families, among our friends, and on the news. We cry then, and we try to help as much as we can - but it doesn't change the fact that someone's world as they know it is ending. And maybe we even imagine The End happening to us, but it seems like a remote impenetrable theory rather than anything real that we can apply to our own beloved comfort zones, our own experiences of holding people, habits, and what we think we know dear.

When The End of My World as I Knew It happened this year, it arrived with no warning, but also with plenty of warning. It came as complete surprise when a life-saving chemotherapy medication that had worked for eight years stopped relieving the symptoms of my youngest daughter's painful and incurable disease. Yet I saw the handwriting on the wall for at least a year, probably longer, before a career that defined me professionally, and perhaps too much personally, for most of my adult life ended. I'm not much of a crier in my middle age, but twice, I fell to the floor and cried great gulping tears – oddly months after I was sucker-punched with devastating medical and job losses. The rest of the time I sleep-walked through each day, and clumsily grieved for the end of what I believed I knew about myself and my future, and for the failure of the medical science that had held my fears of losing my daughter at bay.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Selfies and Self-Ageism

Taking pictures of yourself goes hand-in-hand with being a style-blogger - even if you hate being photographed, like I did for most decades of my life - and still do. Extreme camera shyness goes hand-in-hand with my extreme every day shyness, and my homely childhood and adolescence. Learning how to present myself, personally and professionally, and even learning to photograph myself in my preloved clothes, never increased my eagerness to get my picture taken. But turning 50 weirdly did increase my fascination with Oxford Dictionaries' 2013 Word of the Year: selfies.

Who'da thunk getting more wrinkles would pique my interest in taking my own head shot, like almost every day? Maybe if I wanted to go all Photo Shop on myself it would make sense, but as technologically inclined as I can be, my few forays into even Photo Shop for Dummies have made me feel like a single-celled organism. Plus, I hate Photo Shop and air-brushing and all of the techniques that make pictures of people look fake. I want real people, peeps.

But in this, my 50th year, I have suddenly gone off the rails with the selfies. I know what that looks like, since I live with two teenage girls. They are so adorable, youthful and photogenic that I completely get their fixation on taking their own pics anytime and anywhere. Not being so adorable, youthful or photogenic, I was genuinely puzzled when I started snapping my own pic anytime and anywhere.


Self-ageism might be the culprit. I know, other people are supposed to discriminate against you on the basis of your age, not yourself. But I wonder if I try to sink my own ship simply because of a number. 50. Don't get me wrong. I'm so glad to be alive. I'm even delighted to be mature (mostly), because my immature self never learned anything unless she banged her head against a brick wall repeatedly. Now I'm more likely to lean against the brick wall and hope it's not crumbling.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Drinking Game, or Readmission to the Bone Marrow Unit

I don't think I have the words to convey the shocking turn of events that has landed The Teen back in the Pediatric Bone Marrow Unit, a/k/a 5200. I kept thinking of all the humorous ways I could spin this into an entertaining read, as I'm used to doing as a blogger. Then I thought, "Lynne, this just isn't damn funny."

An ultrasound this week revealed that The Teen has a large blood clot in her neck. (I could bore you with the medical terminology but I'll spare you). The cause was likely a series of unfortunate events, including her central venous line, the steroids she takes for Graft vs. Host Disease, and her pre-existing narrow blood vessels due to her Sickle Cell Disease. That last condition was one of the main reasons she was a candidate for a bone marrow transplant to start with - but the good news is that her blood vessels should fully recover within a year or so of a successful transplant.

The bad news is that another series of unfortunate events prevents our medical team from using the anti-coagulant therapy normally used to treat blood clots, at least for right now. That wonky central line, so hated already, and now a huge contributor to the problem, cannot be removed, due to risk of moving the clot. Interventional measures are on hold due to the high risk to The Teen - but would be implemented if the situation gets worse.

So what IS happening? In many cases, this type of clot simply self-resolves (again, I'll spare you the medical explanation). For now, we watch and/or wait and see. Our family is playing an imaginary drinking game every time one of the many specialists comes in, evaluates The Teen, and then says, "Well, we're just gonna watch it, and wait and see." (If you feel super sorry for me, please bring a cocktail shaker and the ingredients for a Cosmo by the hospital, so at least one of us can turn this into a real drinking game...)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Big Labels on th' Cheap at Salvation Armani

Okay, it's really Salvation Army, but I heard someone call it Salvation Armani once, and that's the only way I think of it now.

The Deets: Jones New York wool blend jacket (Salvation Army); Loft top (Salvation Army);
Talbots trouser jeans (thrifted); Life Stride loafers (old); 
Doggie pin (Amazon last year. I really wanted a doggie pin).

After moaning and whining in my last post about why I can't stop shopping, even if it's only at Goodwill and secondhand stores, I'ma confess that I felt really stressed out earlier that day, and that this new-to-me blazer and top were merrily being washed even as I was writing and whining.

Blue girl, happy funky blue wool blend girl.

I did ask y'all why I could not stop shopping, and Aya of the lovely blog, Couturgatory, enlightened me and made me feel tons better about myself (hey, this secondhand style blogging thing is almost like free therapy, except for the part where I spend money thrifting part...). Aya's comment at my last post was so awesome, I have to share it:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Training for a Marathon - with a Vacuum Cleaner and Rubber Gloves

Some of you have told me that you can't access my blog posts about The Teen's road to recovery from her bone marrow transplant at our COTA site. I usually post the links on my Facebook page, but I'm going to re-print them here as well. Her journey is our whole family's journey, and we've all changed forever. You'll see some of the changes in both this blog, and my secondhand style. 


* * *

I know it's been a while since we've posted. Sometimes minutes, hours, and days pass in such a blur of activity, I turn around and find the months have changed - but I'm still stuck in the last one, at least in my head.

The Teen in June 2013
For months, our lives have revolved around The Teen's transplant, and all of the necessary care-taking activities and home-preparatory tasks that go with it. As we approach the 100th day marker post-transplant, I can honestly say we're all grateful - but tired, so very tired. I've started telling people who ask that this is the hardest miracle we've ever experienced.

More than anything, The Teen just wants to go home. She wants the Hickman catheter, now only 50% functional, removed. Lab draws from the catheter are nearly impossible for everyone, whether it be parent or experienced nurse. The last couple of draws have been done via peripheral stick.

Still, even a partially functional catheter is a fact of life for a while longer. Minorities who receive cord blood transplants from mismatched donors are at the highest risk of post-transplant complications, including Graft vs. Host Disease. Her attending physician is conservative - when he says she can go home, we'll know it's truly the optimal time.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thanks to Readers.com, I Live My Cool Glasses Fantasy

I want to give y'all a heads up; this is a product review (I promise there is an outfit at the end), but it's about an accessory that I have already waxed lyrical about BEFORE I started style blogging. Lemme quote myself (how obnoxious, right?):

So I have reading glasses EVERYWHERE: in my purse, in the car, on my night stand, in my laptop case, in the loo, on the kitchen table, in the kitchen drawers, on the coffee table and often, on top of my head.  
And, yes, before my kids rat me out, I've been known to wear reading glasses on top of my regular glasses - but only in the privacy of my home. 
~ "Got Reading Glasses?" (May 2009)
The Blythe frame (black/purple); (scarf gift from Megan at Megan Mae Daily)

So when Readers.com offered me an opportunity to review their products, I said, "I'm your girl!" And by girl, I mean 50 years old, kinda abashed owner of a trifocals prescription, and so vain that I rarely wear said way-too-thick-lens-because-I'm-pretty-much-blind glasses in favor of the ol' contact lenses and reading glasses combo. (I can't afford Botox, so this is as close as I get to not accepting my age.)

The Blythe frame again, with my antique beaded collar (worn backwards)

But I love glasses as a fashion accessory, and I always think they look so cool on other peeps. The inexpensive reading glasses I usually pick up on the fly at Wally World or my local pharmacy don't even pretend to look like real glasses. (And why should they when they're part of a three-pack for $7.88?)

The Bates frame (black/green) (animal print purple scarf, thrifted)

However, when I started perusing the cool collection of readers at Readers.com, I nearly hyperventilated. I was going to get reading glasses that were actually trendy, pretty, and cute. (If you're younger than 40, and you're completely puzzled by this post, bookmark it and come back when the print on your fave e-reader becomes blurry and you're too embarrassed to increase the font again.)

The Wild Thing frame (red) (scarf gift from Gracey at Fashion for Giants)

Even though I have a huge head when it comes to hats, I have a small face when it comes to glasses. So I picked size small in readers, and then selected three styles I thought would make me look extremely intelligent and hip, you know, that whole uber-geeky old school glasses thing that's going round right now. (I hope it stays 'cause I like the view through the super large lenses.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

If the Shoe Doesn't Fit, Wear It Anyway


Er, no. Ixnay ill-fitting shoes, because your pinchy feet will drive you mad. Same for squeezy clothes, right? But maybe not for brilliant squeezy clothes?

I've had this secondhand dress since The Absent-Minded Professor treated me to a long Mother's Day weekend earlier this year, visiting The Costume Technician in NYC. On the day she had to work, I visited every single thrift and consignment store within walking distance of her apartment. Because that's how I roll when I travel.

The Deets: ROGAN dress (designer label made in NYC, $13 thrifted; vintage rhinestone brooch (purchased in 1980s); Miz Mooz Tillman pumps (Amazon last year); tights (Marshalls last year, I think)

I fell in love with this dress, but it was a wee bit snug in the hips - so snug that the cool gingham lining of the pockets puffed out like small party balloons on my hips. Sigh. Too small. I was puzzled and bummed because the dress fit my broad shoulders with room to spare, and I don't actually have much in the hip department, being built like a pencil.

That didn't prevent me from trying the dress on a second time before leaving the store, because I thought it was the best dress ever and that I would gladly throw all my other dresses away if this one would just stretcccccccchhhhhh and fit me. Dammit and waaaaah. Still too small. I reluctantly put on my Big Gurl Panties and left it.