My Wobbly Bicycle, 72

Posted by on May 21, 2014 | 23 comments

bookcases mayBookcases are up and we’re sorting, trying to come up with a better arrangement than “yours, mine, and ours.” I’m tired. I’m a little worried about how tired I am. Moving is stressful, but this seems like a preternatural weariness, accompanied by weepiness. Depression? I don’t think so. I would be dashing around, feeling quite happy, if I had the energy. My consulting physician just ran some tests and I’ll see her tomorrow, so maybe that will shed a bit of light.

Do I want this blog to be a report on my health? Not really. But it’s all a tangle, my writing life, emotional life, physical life, and my thoughts and reactions. Words for aspects of the same thing.

I have my one-year CT scan and X-ray June 3. On June 12, I see the oncologist to hear the results. Of course this fatigue concerns me. Of course I’ll spend the rest of my life with the cancer-cloud just off in the horizon. Will the wind dissipate it? Or will it crackle up a thunderstorm? I think what it was like NOT to have that cloud, what it was like to believe on some level that I’d live forever. This situation feels more real, for better or worse. Feet on the ground. That was an illusion. Floating.

Yesterday my aunt Jan died in Colorado. Also, yesterday evening my 96-year-old father had a spell of forgetting where he was. There’s other illness and disability in my close family. Old friends are having heart attacks and dying of cancer. This is the age, right?

We’ve just moved into this glorious space. I can see forever out the window. Right now sun is pouring in. We have two great restaurants three floors below, plus a gallery and other shops. We have walking trails. Good neighbors. We don’t have to shovel snow or take care of the exterior—the progress of age for those of us lucky enough to afford it. Yet I feel deep sadness. Not sure why. Simple exhaustion (emotional/physical) ? Maybe. Giving up our lovely little house? I don’t think so. Selling a lot of our belongings? I kept the things crucial to me.

I’ll keep you posted on this. I’ll bet you’re already thinking, well, sure, it’s [fill in the blank]. Easy to over-analyze. All I know is that it’s what I feel. Plus joy. All mixed up.

I got so far from poems I wondered if I’d be able to write again. I’ve been reading them, as a way to re-enter that territory where one sees into rather than looks at. Where one looks at and feels the texture, the shape, rather than the surface shine. Where one runs out of words but puts them down anyway in a kind of holy despair. Holy in the William James sense—transient, ineffable, noetic, and passive.

I start a poem. Penney’s calls to say the blinds we ordered are not available right now. That’s three phone calls, to decide what to do. Then Jerry hopes I can at least suggest which books to get to next in the shelving process. Ah well, things will settle down. Or not. Nothing to do but be here, in the muddle.

hair may 14Meanwhile, I’m into hair evolution #4. Gray, darker gray, light brown, dark brown. The authentic gray was pretty, but I felt washed out. This dark—which is close to where it was before I lost my hair—now feels artificial. I think I think I’m on the trail of what I’ll like best, somewhere between the two browns.


  1. Fleda,
    I, too, suffer from weepiness, from time to time. I think the problems we meet at our age are complex, and sometimes overwhelming, because we’re all too aware what the next stage is. I often find myself praying, and I never used to.

    My favorite is, ” Oh Lord, for tomorrow and its needs, I do not pray. Keep me my father free from sin–just for today.” Or….alternatively, “My the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in they sight, oh Lord, my strength, and my Redeemer.”

    Do you do yoga? It helps.


    • Yes, there are many kinds of praying. Meditation is, as Christians call it, the prayer of quiet. I oughta do yoga. I walk and ride my bike sometimes. Thanks, Marcia.

  2. Yes to all. Suddenly most projects within and without involve impermanence highlighted. And the involuntary preoccupation becomes survival…with some breaks. I found a good book on health by an MD called Healing is possible by Neil Nathan MD. on stuff MDs don’t usually address such as DHEA levels, iodine etc…But I’m sure there are many alternate approaches especially where you are.

    Different feel, isn’t it? Different ‘practice.” Grieving a part of it. “The genuine heart of sadness’ per Choygam Trungpa.

    • Genuine heart of sadness gets it just right. This is what it is. What else it is, if anything, I don’t know. thanks, Lynne.

  3. Dear Fleda: we don’t always know why we feel happy sometimes do we? I hope you can just rest, surrender to how you feel, and perhaps it will lessen. I hold you in my daily meditation. Elaine

    • Thank you, Elaine. So good to hear from you.

  4. I’ve found that too many changes all at once – wonderful, sorrowful, challenging, all flavors – result in me being tired to the bone. Especially now, when some of them point toward the future of my mortality. And now that I’m in a new decade…..
    Accept, adjust, adapt helps me.

    • Yep. I’m better today. Sunlight helped a lot yesterday. Nothing stays. Fortunately.

  5. the pain of Jars….you can lick the lid and still get some peanut butter but when you lick the label it is just glue….

    • And don’t eat the recipe. Right. Gassho.

  6. I have been reading your blog since my own diagnosis with ovarian cancer nearly a year ago. It is helpful to read your musings about this place we now occupy, and about your vibrant life. I feel mine is vibrant too and grateful for that – the people in my life, adventures we share, and poetry! Thank you.

    • It’s good to keep in touch with each other, isn’t it, so we don’t get lost in our own stuff. Thanks, Danna, for letting me know you’re there.

  7. When I think of how wiped out Gail and I were last month after a flurry of minor-league trials — three weeks of flu, a parent in the hospital, a sibling in marital crisis, etc — I can only say that your “preternatural weariness” is reasonable and to be expected. Hang in there. And, damn, girl, your hair looks great.

    • You know just what to say. I hate to be so succeptible, but damn, I am. Thanks.

  8. Paul Celan called tears “liquefied brain”. I suppose that means, among other things, that there’s been a boiling-down process going on, and the crying/weepiness is the release of whatever’s been boiled down. I’ll sometimes cry and almost float outside myself–I realize how silly this sounds–and observe myself crying. It’s nearly emotionless, but very intensely full of emotion. Moving always kicks this state, if that’s what it is, into high gear for me. Maybe this is something similar to what you’re experiencing?

    • You’re not alone, whenever I get unexpectedly tired for a period of time, I automatically think “heart” it’s clogging up again, because that’s what happens, you feel tired when you’re not getting
      enough oxygen. Or since I’ve had a stroke, I’m waiting for the next one, they just don’t quit forming.

      So you go on, join the idiotic crowd, smile in the sun, even at night, think what a great dream I’m having.


      • And this morning I had a pain in my chest and thought, heart, but I waited and took ibuprofen and it went away. Yes, let’s all be the idiotic crowd, dreaming. Love.

    • Yes, I’ll bet that has a lot to do with it, moving. A release. Ah yes, emotionless but full of emotion. The weeping that has no particular focus.

  9. There is a rose breasted grosbeak at the feeder and this year, for the first time ever, we have two indigo buntings coming. These things count. I’m not fatigued but I understand the sadness.

    • April (whoops, this year it’s late) is the cruelest month. But there are buntings! And Diane wrote me about bitterns and sandhill cranes!

  10. Just today Fleda, I can’t seem to pick up my feet, weighed down by a combination of jet-lag and sorrow. My mother passed away the day before Mother’s Day (always one to make a statement, she was), and the last few weeks of helping my 93-year-old father grieve, sort through clothing/etc., and keep going have been consuming. I think perhaps you are writing poetry, just not on the page yet. I hope that I am as well. Take care of yourself, beautiful poet.

  11. Thinking of you tonight and hoping you will know the joy of your Aunt Jan! Feel with you the pains of moving. Admire your book case and organization. Wonder if you know that Jan visited cancer doc for check up and was declared okay to go home and take Pepsid. After getting home she died while looking for it. No real known cause. Wish you could run away and join about fifty relatives and many other’s gathering for celebration of Jan’s life on Tuesday.

    • No, I didn’t know the circumstances. But I do know that the tests seldom catch anything–that’s what my oncologist says. Basically there are symptoms, that alert us to recurrence. I’m sorry we can’t be there. I’m sure the gathering will be wonderful. Where can we send flowers?

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