Shiny Pretty Things

Once, when I was little and my grandfather was babysitting me, I picked up a beautiful shiny green stone off the sidewalk. At least I thought it was a beautiful shiny green stone, but of course it was a piece of glass. I was wearing a yellow and white poncho which quickly became sprinkled with blood, as I excitedly showed off my treasure to my grandfather. Poor Pop, (that’s what we called him), he was visiting from Hartford and he had been charged with picking me up from school which was just a few blocks away. He scrambled to stop the bleeding as he rushed me home.

My grandmother gave him serious Irish side-eye when we came zooming in looking for first aid supplies. I still have the scar on the palm of my hand and honestly I could not love this memory more – to me it’s the funniest metaphor for life.

I still love shiny pretty things, but now I look a little closer before picking them up.

Photo by Lisa Larsen, 1953. The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

May 2023 Mental Health Post

I thought having “boobs to pubes” cancer surgery, including the removal of several organs, followed by hot chemo being poured into my abdomen, was going to be the most difficult part of my life. Turns out I was wrong.

For the last year my personal relationship has been imploding and I no longer recognize myself. It’s as if I started off as a colorful, vibrant painting and have been reduced to a black and white sketch. I’m also not the partner that I would normally aspire to be and that makes me feel horrible.

To deal with the pressure I’ve developed two new coping strategies, though they’re not ones that you’ll find in self-help books:
compulsive cleaning/organizing and binge-eating.

By eating disorder standards my binges may appear small – think ten cookies eaten really fast while standing up. But since I don’t have a normal gastrointestinal tract, (due to the boobs to pubes surgery), this is equivalent to eating about 25 cookies. I don’t purge – I hate throwing up, it scares me – so I usually end up in bed with a horrible stomach ache, hugely bloated like someone filled me with helium. For me it’s not so much about eating to fill a void, as it is about eating to extinguish a raging fire. A fire whose accelerants have been self-abandonment, extreme passivity and fear. It’s self-harm, but with cookies instead of cutting.

The compulsive cleaning/organizing seems to be in part about exhausting myself so that I’m too tired to feel anything. At my parents’ house there are endless projects to be done, though they are projects that no one is asking me to do. I spent one whole day organizing their chaotic garage, forgetting to eat and only stopping to bring my dog Lexie out for her regular walks. Lexie watched me work for awhile: breaking down boxes, putting all the tools together, tossing out dead ferns. She gave me a pitying look before leaving me for her favorite couch to snooze. By the day’s end I was absolutely ragged – too wrecked to feel any of the emotions that I needed to feel in order to create change in my life.

Last week the cleaning lady came and there was virtually nothing for her to do except vacuum and mop the tiles. I explained that I’d gotten a “little compulsive” and I think she understood. I mean the house was immaculate, like it had just been professionally staged by a real estate team.

I intuitively knew to tell my loved ones right away about my behaviour, I wanted to avoid the vicious cycle of shame and secrecy. My close friends know what I’m doing and they put up with my dark humour: “if I don’t start purging soon I’m going to gain weight!” Obviously there is nothing funny about eating disorders, but we all deal with our emotions differently.

I’ve been through therapy before and I’ll do it again if I continue with these destructive behaviours. In the meantime I’m trying to give myself one break each day to just feel and not do anything.

Art by Ashley Blanton, 2018

80’s Girl

You are cordially invited to
Mary Ellen’s
Dancing Down Memory Lane Party
Location: High School
Time: 1980’s
Attire: Goth, Punk, Mod, Preppy, New Romantic, Madonna, Jock, Hippie or Burnout
Please RSVP by calling 613-722-8181
Leave a message on the answering machine.

The first boy I ever loved in a truly, madly, deeply way was Luigi. He smelled like Ivory soap. I wanted to delay going to University for a variety of reasons, mostly because I didn’t want to leave him. But my parents were terrified that as the first born I would be setting a horrible example if I didn’t go directly – Do Not Pass Go – to school. So I spent weeks and weeks listening to Bryan Ferry’s “Slave To Love” while crying. And I mean crying. Luigi was the love of my life and my parents were tearing us apart. I mean true, we weren’t officially “a couple,” but still – he smelled like the love of my life. On the four hour drive to Toronto to drop me off at my dorm, I barely spoke two words to my parents; they were destroying my life after all.

I think it was Grade 11 when a few friends and I started a group called “The Glamorous Girls.” It was a tongue in cheek thing, there were no clique-y rules or mean girls. But, we did each wear an oversized faux gemstone ring, bought from those small coin-operated machines at the grocery stores. Our theme song was “The Glamorous Life” by Sheila E. We danced and vogued – before we knew what vogueing was – and for a few months it was a wonderful bit of lightness, a salve to soothe the sting of high school’s cuts.

Nothing says teenage angst like a messy bedroom with mood lighting. I had a hanging lamp over my bed and if I was really in the depth of misery, I would swap out the regular lightbulb for a red one. Then I would put on my giant headphones and listen to The Cure’s “The Hanging Garden” or “How Soon is Now?” by The Smiths. I remember one night feeling so, so horrible but I didn’t understand exactly why; I just knew that one girl was making my life miserable. Looking back it’s very clear that I was being bullied, (a term not much used in the 80’s), by a schoolmate who was jealous of me. She was controlling and manipulating, undermining me every chance she had. That particular night ended poorly, with me attempting to dull my pain by dying my hair a hideous shade of drugstore burgundy.

Years later when I lived in Los Angeles, I ran into this girl (now woman) at a dog park. I remember saying to my husband: “we need to get out of here immediately!” and so he and I and our Corgi fled. Talk about triggering. The next day I received a friend request from her on FB which I quickly declined. HELL NO.

When I went to high school we had to do five years – FIVE! Grade 9-13. By grade thirteen I had just had it, I was so over school. I knew I had to keep my grades high, so I was strategic about how and when I skipped classes. But I would guestimate that I skipped 1/3 of my final year. My friend Ali – who I still talk with every few days – and I used to play hooky together. We hung out in her super cool bedroom, which she had covered in tin foil a la Andy Warhol’s Factory. Drinking her mom’s boxed Pinot Grigio, we would smoke cigarettes and complain about the boys in our lives, all while listening to The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” on repeat. David Bowie was also on heavy rotation and I remember us dancing to “The Jean Genie,” spinning faster and faster to release the pressure valves of our psyches.

I grew up in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, which is right across the river from Quebec. Back then the main clubbing area was in Hull Quebec and it was owned primarily by the mafia. The owners didn’t care that we were fifteen with fake ID, in fact the Hull police would let the bouncers know when they were going to raid their club and the bouncers would kick us all out before the cops arrived. It was a system that worked for everyone.

I remember dancing to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax,” while wearing my Madonna style, pointy-toed buckled booties. The band’s original video for the song, which was pretty explicit, played on a giant screen. After twirling the night away, a friend and I went to a diner with a super sketchy dude who claimed to be in the mafia. Of course that became the story at school on Monday morning: we had met a real life mafioso.

Michelle wore long swirly skirts, armfuls of bangles, big turquoise rings and cowboy boots. She looked straight off of an album cover from the late sixties/early seventies. She had transferred from a different school so we only met in our final year. She introduced me to vegetarian food, herbal medicine, Isabel Allende’s books and Kate Bush. But she wasn’t just a granola-beauty, she had a bit of a tough vibe too. I felt like if anyone tried messing with me she would fend them off with her heavy silver jewelry – like a bohemian Wonder Woman.

Lying on the futon in her attic bedroom, we listened to Kate Bush’s song “Breathe:”
Out, in, out, in, out, in
Breathing my mother in
Breathing my beloved in

Dreaming about our futures and talking about guys and asking just how many rings was too many to wear? Laughing loudly as we crunched organic corn chips and salsa. Michelle was an only child and I had two crazy brothers, “the boys” I called them, so we imagined being sisters: two big haired girls, one blond, one brunette. Breathing life into each other. And thirty-five years later we still are.
Out, in. Out, in.


LOL. I think this was Grade 10 & I was wearing a 2-piece matching set ~ blouse & “trumpet skirt.” And of course teal eyeliner! I still have the skirt b/c I’m a fashion hoarder.

A few good tunes from my high school years:
1) Smooth Operator by Sade
2) A Blister In The Sun by The Violent Femmes
3) Borderline by Madonna
4) Raspberry Beret by Prince
5) The Tears of a Clown by The English Beat
6) Lips Like Sugar by Echo & the Bunnymen
7) In Between Days by The Cure
8) Town Called Malice by The Jam
9) What Difference Does It Make by The Smiths
10) Cloudbusting by Kate Bush

A Short List

I once dated a guy who was a gigolo. Of course I didn’t realize he was a gigolo when I first met him. I just thought he was a friendly dude in my apartment building. One evening he knocked on my door and there he was holding a plate of homemade spaghetti – smooth move. He was very funny and used to sing Tom Jones songs until I was crying with laughter.

I also dated a guy whose house was full of cockroaches. I had never seen a cockroach before, therefore seeing a bazillion of them when I turned on the kitchen light in the middle of the night was terrifying. It felt like I was in an 1980’s horror movie – with fabulous hair, makeup and clothing by moi of course.

There was the boyfriend who literally passed me over to another man, like they were farmers and I was prized cattle. We had broken up and he knew the other guy really liked me, so he said something like: “She’s yours now, take care of her.”

Let’s not forget the “give your girlfriend cocaine on her twenty-first birthday boyfriend,” because of course as young women that’s exactly the gift we dream about getting. Not jewelry, but hard drugs.

Oh and the boyfriend who had a thing for long finger nails! That was a problem for me because I was and still am a nail biter. But thankfully the drugstore lady introduced me to “Lee’s Press-On Nails.” I’m forever grateful to her for helping me keep my man happy.

There are more men and more stories, but for now this is it. Just a little fun list to jazz up your Wednesday.


Photo: Periodicult on Pinterest

The Mess

Life is all about the messy moments.

To get to the good stuff – love, creative flow and thriving – we have to live in the weeds for awhile. Sometimes we have to live in the weeds for a really long time and we’re not talking Instagram-pretty weeds displayed in a vintage mason jar.

We have to live in the ugly, prickly, yucky weeds and it ain’t fun.
But, then we get a few beautiful days, or months, or even just moments and it makes it all worth it. It’s like having six days of grey skies and then the sun comes out.

The messy is exhausting but also liberating, because when you’re really in the depths of the messy, knee-deep in the weeds, you kind of have nothing to lose.

Think of the messiness like your tripped-out, Burning Man alter ego who gives you permission to just say “Fuck It.” Spinning around on their 1970’s lowrider bicycle, your Burning Man alter ego yells out random bits of advice:

Ask for what you need, ask for what you want. If they can’t give it to you, then just Peace Out and Keep It Moving.”
“Dude, fall in love with yourself!”
“Take up more space. Why are you letting all these clowns crowd you out?!

And actually your Burning Man alter ego is pretty damn wise. They’re like having your own personal psychedelic therapist living on your shoulder. Best listen up. They’ll get you out of the weeds and into the sunshine in no time.

All The Candy You Want

It is both a beautiful blessing and kind of an odd curse to be so close with your parents. I cannot imagine my life without them.

Every time my mother falls, often hitting her head, I feel like I’ve been punched in the throat. Yesterday she fell while I was visiting and though I was able to help her somewhat, I was not able to lift her up. So I made her comfortable on the floor and I fed her ice cubes while we waited for my father to return home from golf (she did not want me to call 911). Apparently they had perfected a way of him lifting her up:

“He should be finished his game by now, but he might be having lunch at the club. Call the restaurant.”

I called and he had just left. God forbid my dad actually bring his cell phone with him. So my dog Lexie sat with us on the bathroom floor for 45 minutes and every so often she tried stealing ice cubes from my mother’s mouth, convinced they were treats.

Having just turned 80, my dad is in relatively good health, but recently he’s been looking much older. When it’s hot and humid out and he insists on playing golf three days in a row – even though he returns home looking haggard – I’m tempted to call the club and scream:

“How could you let this man play so many days? He’s going to die out there and I swear to God I will come for blood if that happens!”

Of course I am not that un-hinged, at least not yet, so instead I use my loving daughter skills to convince him to take a day off. I think he’s happy to have the rest. On some level he knows he needs it.

At dinner he regals us with funny stories from his youth. Like the time he drove an out of town date to a garbage dump to watch bears scavenge for treats (he grew up in Northern Ontario):

“You did not do that dad!”

His face lighting up, he answers:

“I did.”

Chiming in, my mom says:

“He was hoping the girl would jump in his arms for protection.”

Almost every day my mother falls asleep at the breakfast table. Many times I have found her slumped over, newspaper on the floor. Fearing the worst, I shake her frantically:

“Mom, mom wake up, WAKE UP!”

Though her feet and ankles are gnarled like old trees from arthritis, my mother still jazzes up her orthopaedic sneakers with brightly colored shoe laces. I love that about her. She also keeps jewelry in pill boxes and stays up until 3 AM writing cards to relatives. After her children were grown and out of the house, she went back to university and got her Master’s Degree and PhD. My mother lives for literature, ceramics, art and gemstones. Everyone loves chatting with “Mary” and everyone knows her:

“Oh is this cappuccino for Mary? Are you Mary’s daughter? Say hi to your mom for me,” Starbucks staff say.

The idea of my mother not being around to write me cryptic, all CAPS emails, signed “L, MOM” is inconceivable.

Until the age of three I was very happily an only child, when much to my dismay my brother appeared. According to family lore I tried murdering him by pushing his baby carriage down a steep hill. That sounds a tad dramatic to me, I mean I was only three. But my mother swears I tried to kill him. A year and a half later another brother came along and I remained un-impressed. I had loved being an only child and didn’t understand the need to complicate our lives with these loud, ridiculous boys.

Speaking of dramatic, my father has developed the most dramatic, terrifying cough, apparently due to “particles in his lungs.” Of course he only got that diagnosis (and an inhaler), after my mother and I badgered him for six months:

“You sound like you’re dying, could you PLEASE go to the doctor?” we pleaded. He keeps his inhaler in their antique writing desk and likes demonstrating the correct way to use it:

“You have to attach the inhaler to this thing – the chamber – and you have to inhale TWO times, not one.”

When my father needs my help with something having to do with emails, his computer, or things like vaccine paperwork, he often slips back into his “I’m a lawyer and you’re my secretary” mode and I have to check him:

“Dad, don’t use that work voice, I’m not your secretary.”

He loves wearing only one hearing aid so that multiple conversations are happening simultaneously:

“The Russians invaded Ukraine,” I’ll say.

“I know, there’s too much rain here,” he’ll answer.

The idea of my father not being around to drive me nuts is inconceivable too.

“When you were a baby we drove to New England with you in a laundry basket in the back seat,” he tells me over blueberry pie and ice cream.

“Ummm, that’s a little crazy!” I answer laughing. He loves seeing me get worked up over his stories.

Recently I said to my mother:

“You guys can’t die, I can’t live without you.”

“I know. But you’ll get through it. The grief will be horrible, but then it will start coming in smaller, less intense waves.”

Hugging her I said,

“No, I won’t get through it.”

“You can have me made into jewelry and wear me.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked my mother horrified.

“You can turn my ashes into a diamond, I read about it in The New York Times.”

“Jesus Christ.”

Then again, it might not be such a crazy idea. Better than a Catholic funeral. I remember my grandmother lying in her coffin in Hartford CT: the mortician had done a half assed job of sewing up her mouth. I leaned down close to her face, (closer than is proper etiquette), fixating on her stitches.

“But imagine if I lost you. Like if I lost your ashes-to-diamond jewelry?”

“Not a problem. You’re really good at finding things.”

That’s true. Whenever my parents lose something I usually find it within minutes.

Pre-grieving my parents’ death is of course an insane way to live, so I’m trying my best to stay in the present and enjoy every minute with them and write down all their stories:

“The neighbourhood boys tied me to a telephone pole because I wouldn’t give up my candy,” my mom recounted casually one day to me over shortbread cookies.

“OMG! That’s horrible, how scary.”

“I know and I was really upset because they took all my candy. When I didn’t come home from the store my mother went looking for me and and when she found me tied to the pole she said:
‘Mary, you could drive a saint to drink.'”

“That’s a horrible reaction, she was blaming you,” I said, but then we both burst out laughing. Later that night I noticed that there were several boxes of candy in the kitchen cupboard: chocolate balls, jujubes, hard toffee with creamy insides, turtles, mints…Now she gets all the candy she wants.

Maybe if I had kids of my own I would be too busy raising teenagers to spend so much time fixating on my parents. They would have loved to have had grandchildren. Instead my mother buys her grand-dog cozy velour blankets in every shade of the rainbow; Lexie has her own section in their hall closet. And my father adores her:

“You’re the best dog aren’t you? You’re the very best dog,” he says as he pets her lovingly.

In the TV room Lexie sits next to my father on the couch as he watches the news, or above his head on top of his giant reading chair as he reads The Wall Street Journal.

I’m fiercely protective of them and the older they get the more Mama Bear like my love for them becomes. Now if only I could find a way to keep them safe and healthy forever.

Spaghetti Can Flowers

Receiving wild flowers in a spaghetti can is not something a girl forgets, especially when they arrive with bacon, wrapped old-school style by the butcher.

“Mary Ellen?”

I was staying at a B & B in small-town Quebec when I heard the door knock. Checking that I was presentable, I put on my mask and opened it.

A thin, sun-hardened arm reached out and passed me the flowers. They had clearly been arranged with care, not simply tossed in the can.

“These are so beautiful, thank you, I-“

The other thin, sun-hardened arm reached out and passed me a package wrapped in brown paper.

“It’s for your breakfast with your friend. You’re going to visit her today, right? It’s bacon.”

Wearing a black kaftan, hair up in a bun, mask on, I stood holding the flowers and bacon. The moment felt surreal and for a second I felt like an actress in a scene from a quirky indie film.

Standing in front of me was the man I had dated when I was just twenty-one years old. Now, thirty years later, he stood before me with these sweet offerings.

I had traveled to rural Quebec for a late summer visit with one of my dearest girlfriends. Realizing my old boyfriend lived nearby, I had reached out to him thinking it would be nice to have a coffee and catch up. But that’s not quite what happened…

I ended up sitting on a lawn chair, in a field behind a workshop, drinking wine from a dirty mason jar. An alarming-looking fire in a metal barrel and a giant pirate’s flag were the only decor. Joining us were his ex brother-in-law and a fast-talking man wearing a straw fedora.

At various points in the evening the guys took turns urinating outside.

“If you need to go pee you can just do it out here, don’t worry, we won’t look and you’ll be safe. I’ll protect you,” said my ex.

Wait what? Peeing outside? What is happening?

On the walk over to his artist meets Hells’ Angels living quarters, I had struggled to connect with the man I once knew. He had a hard time making eye contact, was fidgety and clearly drunk.

I learned he had a grown daughter whom he deeply loved. That he knew how to survive in the wilderness (yikes, why?) and had spent time in Ireland. He’d also worked for years on large ships and loved to write poetry. That’s what I got, just a broad outline. But there were details. The details were in the scent he gave off: a blend of grief and complete despair.

“You know me. I’ve been trying to kill myself for years,” he said casually, just like someone might say, “you know me, I love ice cream.”

His pain completely overwhelmed me. I felt like any second it might swallow me up whole. Part of me wanted to run – fast – away from the field. But I also knew that his pain deserved to be seen, his pain deserved to be acknowledged. And so I sat in the field, drinking wine from a dirty mason jar and bore witness to it.

Later that night, alone at my B & B, I was overcome with sorrow. It shattered my twenty-one year old’s heart to see him so broken. I remembered him being wild and troubled when we dated, but also kind and romantic. One time he surprised me at the bus station:
I was returning from visiting a friend and there he was, hands in his pockets, staring at the windows trying to locate me, his eyes lighting up when he saw me. I distinctly remember thinking: “I can’t believe he’s here!” There were no cell phones or emojis back then, but if there were I would have texted my girlfriends:
“OMG he’s waiting at the station for me!💖😍🤸‍♀️👏💕”

Being presented with flowers and bacon the morning after such a crushing evening was not something I was prepared for. But, the moment was tender and real and awkward and despite the sadness I felt it was also beautiful.

#trauma #oldboyfriends #lifestories #quebec

The Thief

Back in the mid-1980’s if you were a victim of sexual violence you hid it behind your stacked rubber Madonna bracelets and teased bangs. No one talked about it.

As a teenager in that era sex was a fraught issue for me. AIDS was front and centre in the 80’s making it scary. Also, my mother was a recovering Catholic, her internalized shame about sexuality passed down to me like a piece of heirloom jewelry.

When I was raped in high school I was still a virgin. I told no one about the assault and when my attacker gossiped that “he’d slept with me,” I brushed it off like it was no big deal.

The trauma quickly morphed into a skilled thief, stealing years of my life.

I didn’t have sex with anyone for the rest of high school. In my early twenties came a brief stage of boyfriends whom I slept with. The men were not worthy of me, but at the time they were all I felt I deserved. My broken psyche did not like what she was seeing though:

“You’re dating total losers, you’re on a precarious path!” she screamed.

Like the Goddess Artemis, my psyche was my protector. But since she was broken she didn’t know how to best take care of me. Fearing for my safety, she went a bit nuts and shut me down completely.

“No men, no dating, no sex!” she yelled.

So I spent 3/4 of my twenties and the first few years of my thirties single. I was like a flower that had been planted, started growing and then just before it could blossom a crazy gardener came along and put a giant terracotta pot on top of it – killing it.

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single, but being single because of unresolved trauma is very different.

The trauma thief stole my entire early adulthood. Years meant for learning about myself and relationships. For making mistakes and exploring my sexuality. For learning how to trust my instincts and stand up for myself. For dating wannabe poets and having affairs with much older lovers. But I was completely Shut Down, so I lost an entire decade. Pouf!

I spent part of that decade in Austin, a city I loved. I made beautiful friendships and had a great job. But I spent most nights alone. No cute Austin musicians or Texas cowboys for me.

I still grieve for those lost years. Looking at photos of myself from that time I see such a lovely, lonely girl. Though I’m not a big believer in destiny, I do believe that had I seen a therapist during those years I would have stayed in Austin – that it actually was my destiny to stay there. I can totally see myself married, with a grown child, still living in Texas and fighting the Handmaid’s Tale tyranny of Governor Greg Abbott.

Since then I have had the luxury of being able to work with a couple of excellent therapists, but there will forever be a little nest of grief inside of me. I envision it like a small bird’s nest, but with some glittery grass, for even in my grief there is sparkle. There are no birds or eggs in the nest. It is empty, but pretty and it lives in my throat.

(In the ancient Indian text the Vedas, the throat chakra is associated with the ability to speak your personal truth.)

“Sanctuary” by artist Sarah Treanor

Snow Angels

When I was a child I used to make snow angels in our backyard with my youngest brother. Dressed in our bulky snowsuits, we would lie under the beautiful star-filled sky and move our arms and legs in rhythm. We would remain lying down and then just talk. I remember telling him all about the planets one time because I was obsessed with Saturn’s rings. Eventually we would get too cold, or our mom would call us inside, but before leaving we would admire our angels.

Now, this same brother thinks he is an angel, an actual angel. And not just any angel, but Archangel Michael, the only angel who is mentioned by name in the Bible, the Quran and the Torah. My brother told me this about two months ago when we were sitting outside on a patio on an unseasonably warm day. I was drinking wine and he was having a beer. I asked him what it meant to be Archangel Michael and he replied that he could create miracles.

I’ve been dealing with my brother’s mental illness for many years now and I sometimes use humor to cope. So in my mind I thought:

“Fabulous! If you can create miracles then can you please start by eradicating Covid, (or as he calls it, “the plague”) and then next can you please cure me of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

Instead I listened to him, nodding my head and I ordered a second glasss of wine.

In some ways my brother is lucky. He lives in a nice apartment on a nice street and he has enough money to live comfortably. My parents supplement his disability – disability payments put you living at the poverty line by the way. And my mom buys him new winter coats and boots and running shoes when he needs them. He needs new running shoes fairly often because he self-medicates by exercising obsessively. Dangerously long jogs and bike rides in the middle of the night. He keeps vampire hours staying up late, then waking at dinnertime.

He will not see a doctor, let alone a psychiatrist. Based on years of spending time with him and research, I’m guessing he’s on the schizophrenia spectrum, the autism spectrum and has OCD. Of course I could easily be 100% wrong.

Had he been born into a different kind of family, he could easily be homeless. One time I saw him walking down the street having a very animated conversation with himself and I thanked God for bringing him to our family where he is protected.

This holiday season, like so many others, I am burnt out. I have nothing left to give or say. I just want to take a Xanax, curl up under a blanket and listen to old Kate Bush songs. I don’t want to decorate or bake or cook or make conversation. But oh what I would give to make snow angels with my brother again. To have him back for just one night.

I Want It All

I know it’s not a healthy breakfast, but I don’t care. I want a croissant or pain au chocolat, with a strong cup of coffee.

I don’t need a giant Costco bag of apples, just one perfect crisp McIntosh will do.

I want to eat eggs from the happiest of chickens, the ones who run free on a family-run farm. Yes they are more expensive, but you can taste their joy.

My afternoon snack is a piece of cake with frosting covered in sprinkles. It’s a silly cake, the kind you might make for a six year old’s birthday, but it’s what I want and it makes me smile. Yes I will crash from the sugar high and need to nap like a toddler, but it’s worth it.

I want to cook dinner like my Aunt showed me, the one who lived in Paris. Cook anything in a cast iron pan with butter and white wine and it will be like dining on the Rue Mouffetard.

Speaking of wine, I want to drink mine from mis-matched vintage glasses, the ones that are etched with swirls and trimmed in gold. And I want to drink it every night.

Before sleeping I want to massage my face with a heavy rose-scented cream. Maybe it won’t take away my wrinkles, but they will enjoy the lovely rose scent and I will too.

I will read a fashion magazine in bed. Not a book about something important. Instead I will look at beautiful clothing designed by artists who paint our bodies with fabric instead of painting canvas. This is important to me and it will help me dream of magical adventures, where I laugh and twirl and love myself and throw glitter down on everyone sleeping, so that when they wake, they exclaim, “whatever happened last night? Why is there a rainbow of glitter in our bed?”

This is what I want. I don’t care if it seems fanciful or silly or not what I should be doing. For the only thing I should be doing is living as my truest self. The doctors said I would be dead by now, that my cancer would devour me, but somehow I am still here. A mystery to them. So while I’m still here, I want it all. And I want it covered in gold sparkles.