Sunday, June 01, 2014

Still Grateful.

And so our Mom--Demetra Allender--has had another Mother's Day with me, and another (milestone!) Birthday--75 as of the 28th of May! We are overjoyed to have her here, with us. And yet....sorrow is growing, over what may never be, again... Mom, running, exercising to the point of sweat and joy. Mom, walking. Mom, standing. While we continue to have great hope, and while we see beauty in Mom's new attitude of steroid-fueled strength, and balance, and confidence, aided by a new hair color (soft brown), we are bereft. Bereft of what was, and all the while, still quite grateful, for what is.... Peace, kids.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Auspicious Anniversary: May 7th

It was one year ago, today. "It's cancer, Lisa. I have cancer.", said our Mom, somewhat breathless, and I heard her, but immediately went into what is known as "denial mode". "What? That's not possible, Mom. I think you should get a second opinion..." My voice, and my belief that this was a "mistake", trailed off, into oblivion. So, here we are. My sis--Tina and I, her husband Tom, my husband Hansoo, and Mom--Demetra's lovely grand-daughter, Breaz, all shell-shocked from this. Traumatized, made numb. I must add that our Daddy--John Robert Allender--is also devastated by this diagnosis. Daddy is well aware of doctors, hospitals, and illness, having survived several heart attacks before finally quitting smoking (after a (temporarily) "fatal" heart attack, on January 17th, 2004), and having been diagnosed with Stage 5 Kidney Disease, last year, just a few months before Mom's diagnosis. Daddy and Mom have been divorced since 1986, which means they have been divorced just about as long as they were married....and still. Neither ever re-married, though both had numerous opportunities, and very interested partners. So, today is the Anniversary of Mom's diagnosis of cancer. But just as a divorce does not mean the end of Love, neither does cancer mean the end of Health. Mom is, in all other ways, healthy and bright, and beautiful as ever. We head to the facility and staff that helped us to get where we are today--with our living, breathing, loving Mom-- Cancer Treatment Centers of America, tomorrow, for Laser Surgery to shrink the tumors in her brain which have just now re-surfaced, and begun to grow. We will be successful, but it's tiring to hop into "treatment" mode when she believed she had finished up all this, last August. But cancer comes back, tries again. But we--we try, harder. Peace, kids.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Carpe Diem! Actor's Express does 1955.

How many of us fantasize about "simpler times", or long for a chance to live in the (perceived-to-be-kinder) past? For a few decades now, Americans have been told by mental health professionals, pop psychologists like Dr. Phil, and especially by that former queen of TV--Oprah Winfrey-- that we can "re-invent ourselves". That there is much dignity in discovering WHO we can be, by slipping into an as-yet untried persona, by getting "outside[our]comfort zone". But what if we could re-invent ourselves by living in a place where time means another time, where living day-to-day means shedding our former selves, and all the hurt we've accrued as a result of our painful, in-the-moment, living? The premise for escaping to a place where one can re-invent oneself, is at the white-hot center of a remarkable new play, Maple and Vine, currently running at Actor's Express. A young urban couple who are dealing with a recent trauma, make the leap to living in the 1950's--not generic 1950's --but 1955, to be exact. It's 1955, everyday, always. An enterprising group affords them an opportunity where they can be fully present, by living in the past. Playwright Jordan Harrison has fashioned a stylish, stylized 1955, complete with gleaming, grinning, happy-homemakers and their steadfast, blue-collar husbands, coming home to their crab-puff-making ("...I know crab is exotic, but....everything is better with cream cheese...")wives. Director Kate Warner has truly seized the day (and time!) by casting a terrific ensemble that, at a recent Sunday matinee', had us laughing until it hurt. The fun thing about actually living in the past, is that both husband Ryu, (a poignant Michael Sung-Ho) and wife Katha, (an effervescent Kate Donadio) get to create a new history for themselves. It's not all fun-and-games, though, as 1955 reveals itself (how soon we forget!) to be less inclusive-- a place where secrets are held, and there is a code of denial, when secrets aren't secret, any longer. The repression is real, and palpable. Stunning interactions between Ryu, Katha, and Dean, (John Benzinger, with acting chops as a sharp as a fully-loaded .45), Roger/Omar (a tender Jeremy Harrison), Ellen/Jenna (a vulnerable, revelatory Tiffany Morgan) make this a "must-do" theatre event. Special notice must be made of the lighting (Mike Post), sound (Joseph P. Monaghan III--the music is captivating, effectively setting the tone for the play), and scene design (Isabel A. and Moriah Curley-Clay)that literally feels like a window into this 1955-world. Costume designer Sydney Roberts appears to have had great fun with this; the costumes (think early-"Mad Men") will make you want to play dress-up . I plan to see the show again, and think organizing a dress-like-1955-night would be genius.(Hint, hint, marketing department at Actor's Express). Maple and Vine runs for two more weeks at Actor's Express. Box Office: (404)607-7469, or order tickets online, www.actors-express.com. Please note this production contains brief nudity.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Missing Mom....

It's cold and rainy and gray, and it's March and I'm missing our beloved Mom--Demetra. She was here for a few days, just five weeks ago, and before that, she was here for several months, but I miss her. I miss her. Mom is at the home shares with my beautiful, kind, sister and bro-in-law, and I know she prefers being home, in the warmth of south Florida, over the unpredictable weather here in north Georgia, but still, I miss her. I wonder sometimes how I will ever deal with the loss that all of us must face: that of forever losing a parent. I have been shy about even mouthing these words, as it hurts to even imagine such a scenario, yet nearly everyone currently in my life, has lost at least one parent, while my sister and I, are blessed with BOTH of our parents, living, and thriving, despite their harsh, individual, diagnoses...Sis and I are both also blessed with both of our "in-law-parents", too. I have been shy about mouthing these words, because in our American culture, denying death is something we do, every single day. We deny our death, our mortality. We all---perhaps especially me--live as though we have "forever" to accomplish tasks, to meet up with dear friends, to finish writing our play, or finish editing our two books of poems....I try to live by Carpe' Diem--I really do, but the inertia and I suppose--a kind of darkness that has swallowed me up over the past 15 months, has blunted my repeated attempts to feel...indeed, TO BE...productive. I'm hoping Mom will be back up here, before her follow-up in late April, with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I know this for certain: I felt productive, caring for her. The poetry, was in the doing, in the loving act of cooking for her, assisting her with walking, laughing as we looked over old photographs, crying at the movies ("12 Years A Slave", which we saw shortly after it debuted at a nearby theatre), talking about our old beaus (mine, and hers!). The rain has stopped, but it's still not warm enough here for Mom, yet. I'll light a fire, until she comes back. Peace, kids.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Fulton County Animal Services: We're at it again! This time, we're taking 39 dogs...

Fulton County Animal Services: We're at it again! This time, we're taking 39 dogs...: We're at it again! This time, we're taking 39 dogs and 1 cat to rescue groups in Virginia and New Jersey! MANY volunteers helped u...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Actively Practicing Peace

Practicing gratefulness even when others are rude, show little gratitude, or are just. plain. mean..... Yeah, it's been that kind of (so far) evening..... I think if someone asked me, "What do you want your 'legacy' to be?" I'd answer with the following: "I would want people to remember that I was kind--even when I didn't have to be; that I treated others--humans and non-humans--with respect; that I tried to live in PEACE-- even when others created war around me, even when others wanted to argue over nothing (and seemingly, everything)." I want my legacy to be that I lived a good life--not perfect mind you-- just good. I enjoyed life--I loved, I stood up for what I believed in, I spoke up for those who could not (the downtrodden, what the Bible calls "....the least of these."). Sure, I love writing, and getting published. Discovering what it is I need to say, simply by writing it down. And I adore acting, and getting cast. Finding myself, in the role, especially a role which challenges me to look at the hardest, darkest parts of what it is, to be human...and yet. The most important thing in my life, is to be kind. And one day, to be remembered for that. I hope that speaking up and stating that kindness is important to me, and that I believe I AM kind, does not subtract from this quality. I hope this is not about "ego". How about YOU? What do you want your legacy to be? Peace, kids.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Trying to be grateful, in the midst of (impending) loss.

So here we are, mid-February, and just-past my 7th Wedding Anniversary (Hansoo and I married February 10th, 2007), and, though I have much for which to be very grateful, I am sad. Sad over Mom, who, though she is improving and living well in Florida, is...in Florida. Faraway from me. Her home is there, and she is where she wants to be. My sis, Tina, has now taken on the role of primary Caregiver, the role I took on for so many months, last year. Mom's primary residence has always been there at Tina's, but it still hurts not to have her here, with us. I am immensely grateful for the extreme care I see Tina pour into Mom's life. I think seeing my sister be so kind and gentle with our Mom, makes me feel even closer to her, and like most siblings, Tina and I haven't always been so close. Daddy is much improved (he lives in yet a different part of Florida), and my in-laws are better, with "Appa K" (my father-in-law) addressing his cancer; he now has two kinds: prostate and bladder) health issues, too. So, why the melancholy? I know my loved ones will die, and I cannot fathom being without them. I also have deep concerns about the health of other relatives, and friends. I also am just beginning to realize, how very, very challenging, all of this, is. It is hard to see people you adore, begin to fall into decline. As I posted to a Facebook Wall, earlier today, "The aging and disease has got hold of her/him, and won't let go. There's a human being still in there, who loves us. And we got to love her/him, right back." Here's to Caregivers, everywhere. You are not all alone. There is Peace in the universe, and the way to feel that peace, is to breathe, and remember that this responsibility is only for a short time in your life. You will never, ever, regret "being there" for your parents, your sibling, your spouse, your children, your extended family... Peace, kids.