11.26.2004 thankful

We are not celebrating Thanksgiving until the weekend; the children were in school, our friends are working, Stella and Al are taking turns going down to London.

Tonight I cooked a big pot of soup and wondered what the people back home are doing. In 2003 Erin Scarum brought a chainsaw. In 2002 we had a three day party. Before that? I have no clear records but this holiday has always been an exceptional time to hang out with friends, cook, talk, and think about what really matters.

Now I have moved away. I'm following the example of the political and religious dissidents who fled intellectual oppression and literal persecution to create the United States. I've taken my family not to a new world, but the old one, and somehow this makes sense right now. This is a beautiful small city. I have my family, my work, my bicycle, my boat.

But what is the most important thing, what am I really thankful for? I am profoundly pleased to live in a place where everyone is entitled to health care.

11.25.2004 uk

Hey UK friends! I'll be in Edinburgh in April; do any of you live there? Does anyone have suggestions for bookstores to approach about a reading?

Other cities to suggest?

11.23 lights

Before the trip Stella went over to KRS and asked Toby to suggest some cd's to bring as gifts. She showed up with Shoplifting and Milk Man Deerhof, which we have not yet opened, and the phenomenally brilliant Stereo Total which is now on constant repeat.

Right after they arrived Al was reading the local newspaper and stumbled on a blazing controversy:

Santa has defended the choice of a punk band to switch on the Christmas lights in Cambridge.

Father Christmas, who will join the band's Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian on the balcony of The Guildhall for Sunday's switch-on, emailed the News to say he was looking forward to the event.

"I have no problems at all in sharing the balcony with The Damned," Santa said. click for more

Unfortunately we missed the penultimate moment, though we did see the Ice Queen parading through town on stilts as we walked by on our way to Grantchester.

11.03.2004 tour

I'll be gone until November 13. Hope to see lots of you on the road! Have a safe and sane election day.

Click here for Mamaphonic Tour Events

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11.03.2004 adequate

This morning I had an appointment in yet another special section of the Medical Oncology Clinic. There is zero chance that the variety of cancer that went marauding through my neck will recur so this particular annual check-up is never worrisome. In fact, I generally avoid it whenever possible. But the drugs that replace my lost organ are not yet widely used in this country, and I had to go to the specialist to receive authorization. The appointment was conducted at a round table in a conference room, with three extra doctors staring at me silently as I reeled off all the facts one more time.

I am really bored with this whole narrative. Now that my new scar has settled into a dull red glow I can smack some makeup over it and proceed with life. We can all go back to pretending that I am healthy.

Last night I turned in the first draft of the next book, and exchanged email with my publishers. They are the sweetest people I have ever had the privilege to work with.

Now I need to pack, and I am not at all prepared for this trip. My wool coat lost a few buttons and this town is so small I was not able to find adequate replacements; it was easier to go buy a new coat. But the only reasonably warm option that I could find is quite frumpy and rather huge, which is at least somewhat amusing. I feel like that kid who falls in the snowbank in A Christmas Story. Now I need to find a shirt or two and throw them in a suitcase. Or something like that.

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11.01.2004 halfway

I was halfway convinced that the whole surgery was a mistake, that I was a fool to let them cut me. But today I received a letter from the doctor verifying that the lesion was in fact cancerous.

In Seattle I had the best private health insurance available, and access to the finest medical centers and physicians. In Portland I went to a perfectly adequate HMO. The thing on my face was large enough that it must have been there for at least four years, if not longer, and no doctor of any specialty noticed it. I haven't had a tumor that large since I was first diagnosed in 1983, and there is absolutely no acceptable reason that it was allowed to grow. I trusted those doctors to exercise their professional skills and look after me, but it took a move to a nationalized health care system for anyone to notice that I needed surgery.

The system here has many faults, including appalling wait lists and incomprehensible scheduling systems. But the actual care I have received has been of a much higher standard than what I encountered back home.

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