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  • On Being A Constella ...
    Not that I always
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    Parentheticals. For
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Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.

Yay, it’s finally time for the Burning Man wrap-up and reflection. As usual I am writing this a few weeks after returning home, when the dust has mostly settled and/or been cleaned off most things, so some of the immediacy and detail has faded but some of the lessons and themes have finally clarified. I already sort of did a context-setting introduction last week when I talked about “returning” as one of the big themes that affected/came out of reflection upon this year’s burn, so I’m going to just jump right in to the day-by-day recounting here. As usual though, you are welcome to click here if you want to just skip to the end of all this detail and read the list of lessons and takeaways, and click here if all you want to do is look at the pretty pictures with captions. And if you are unfamiliar with Burning Man in general, you can go read some of my initial entries from 2011 in which I do lots of ‘splainin’, or click here to go to the official Burning Man web site which has more info and content and things to look at than you can possibly imagine. (But don’t get lost, come back here eventually!)

Josh finishing up the sign for the Pink Heart Water Bar This year’s theme was Da Vinci’s Workshop, which provoked some thinking about Makers and making things (and was a nod to the Maker Movement). Normally I am all in when it comes to making things, and as previous years have shown I like to make big art pieces to bring, but with all my health distractions this year the only things I managed to make for Burning Man were a new pink scallop-coat and the plaster bust art piece I mentioned in the previous entry. Josh however had committed to making a big new infrastructure piece for our Pink Heart camp: a new modular metal water bar to replace our janky wooden one (one of Pink Heart’s major gifts is that we serve ice cold cucumber water 24/7 to thirsty citizens of Black Rock City). Unfortunately, given how difficult and distracting our pre-burn summer months were (with readying for and executing a month of summer camp and my undergoing and recovering from major reconstructive surgery in July, plus a few trips), the way that project came together was through Josh working heroically hard and mostly by himself (with some last-minute assistance from me) to get it done in the couple of weeks before the burn. Then he went up early on Thursday for build (with Anjanette, in a big U-haul that in addition to the water bar was also able to take a bunch of our other big items, thank goodness), to help put together both the water bar and Pink Heart camp. I stayed behind to finish all the packing and get kids situated for back-to-school and then Mom and I packed our stuff into our trusty minivan and drove up together on Saturday, with an overnight stop in Reno at the Grand Sierra Resort. 

Julia and Emily all packed up and ready to leave for Burning Man. Look how clean we are!Mom and I had reasonably smooth sailing out of the Bay Area and up to Reno, and arrived in Reno at the GSR around 7:30pm. It was a GIANT casino resort hotel, and a little overwhelming to us with a lot of activity, but we checked in and got our room and were able to chill out for a bit. We were hoping to meet up with another few Pink Hearters in Reno (Ari, a burgin from Israel whom we’d never met, and our friends Kathy and Anthony who were rolling in from Phoenix), and after a flurry of messages and phone calls we did manage to connect up. We decided to see Ari in the morning (our plan was to meet up with him and Kathy and Anthony for an absurdly early breakfast at around 4am and try to leave around 5am to caravan out to Black Rock City together, hoping to avoid the huge long wait to get in by arriving in the early hours) but we wound up managing to have a late dinner with Kathy and Anthony at the GSR. This was the first time we’d met Anthony, and he was a true delight just as we’d thought he would be. It was so fun talking and reconnecting with them that we didn’t get to bed until close to midnight.


All The Updates, All At Once

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: wrestle , solipsistic , reflect , record , memory , life , lessons , inspirational , identity work , cancer , Burning Man

Well well, it’s been a while, eh? Rest assured that the delay was not due to lack of things to report on, but as usual that there were too many distractions. Josh and I went on a trip to Ashland (yay Shakespeare!), the kids went back to school, and mostly what kept me away from the computer was the usual time-and-energy suck of getting ready for and then being at (and now recovering from) Burning Man. Anyway it is clearly time for some updates. Maybe not ALL the updates, as the title of this post seems to promise, but at least a bunch at once.

Patient Patient Update

So how has it been going for the patient patient, you might be wondering? Well, I’m happy to report that for the last few weeks I have no longer felt like a patient, (which is probably why I stopped updating so often). In fact, I am feeling pretty strong and healthy, all things considered, and almost entirely back to a normal-to-me level of activity. Actually, as of around mid-August (when I was approximately 6 weeks away from the reconstruction surgery), I was feeling like I was mostly recovered, at least as far as standing up straight and using/moving my body. (I was still dealing with somewhat lower energy levels, which mostly made me want to nap more often.) I went to a follow up visit with Dr. Sbitany on August 19th where he basically told me that I looked great (from his “proud of my handiwork” point of view) and I could do whatever I wanted now with no more restrictions. He encouraged me to massage the scars and scar tissue and we talked about the final “clean-up” surgery (in which my areolas get made circular again and various lumps and bumps are addressed). That final surgery sounds like it will be relatively minor and not require a hospital stay or drains or a long recovery time or anything. (Whew!)  I have yet to schedule that surgery but am hoping it can be some time in early November (since I’ve already hit my deductible for this year).


Patient Patient Update, 19 Days Later

Posted by: julia

Tagged in: record , life , cancer

Patient patient update time again. I went back to UCSF today to see the plastic surgeon for a follow up. I finally got the last three drains out, which is a HUGE relief. The doc seemed very happy with how things turned out overall, and said that I should let things settle for another month and come back and see him again. He wasn't worried about any of the swelling or bruising or bumps and lumps and reassured me that everything looked great and we'd fix any and all issues with one last follow-up surgery in the fall sometime (which will not require any drains or even an overnight stay in the hospital). He also cleared me for lifting a little more, gentle stretching and raising my arms above my head (as long as it doesn't hurt me to do it), and said I could drive whenever it felt comfortable to twist and turn. I even specifically asked about handpan playing (which caused him to look up what a handpan was on his phone, and he seemed impressed) and he said it would be fine. The only thing he specifically told me to avoid for at least another month is "lifting heavy things", which in this case I think means anything heavier than a handpan. ;)

I think the key is to ease back in to things slowly and pay attention to how my body feels as I do things. If it hurts, don't do it. For example, I still can't quite stand up straight, but I can try to do so more actively now without fear of tearing or damaging anything internal as long as I stop when it gets too uncomfortable. I'm really hoping that by some time next week I'll be able to walk for some decent distance without my back muscles killing me from supporting my hunched over posture. And maybe even be able to sleep on just a couple pillows instead of the big foam wedge I've been using. That would be awesome.

So okay, a bunch more patience and one more time under the knife and hopefully this reconstructive journey will be both finished and satisfactory. Slow and steady wins the race.


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