Dreaming …

kandinsky-stgeorge-RheumaBlog“Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?”

–George R.R. Martin

Wren Flies East for the Weekend


My photo of the New York City afternoon skyline on Friday, April 17, taken from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Jersey City on the Hudson. Ahem. NYC!!!

OK I’m not a bird, but I share that wee, brown, feisty-tailed featherfluff’s name. I might have had a feisty tail [wink] once upon a time, but today “feisty” fits my general attitude better. And while I don’t have wings, I still flew all the way from California to Jersey City, NJ yesterday. As I write this, I’m at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson, just back to my room after cocktails, schmooze-time, and dinner with 60-something other patient bloggers/advocates. It was a great start to the HealtheVoices15 event, put on by Jannsen and Everyday Health, and it continues tomorrow.

With RheumaBlog, I write about living well with rheumatoid disease, hoping to reach out to others, like you, who share it with me. Blogging allows me to share what I’ve learned about RD (and what I’m still learning!). It gives me a way to offer my support, comfort, and encouragement, and to let others who have this disease know that they are not alone and that I understand their pain, frustration, and fears absolutely. And blogging lets me build cameraderie and lasting friendships with everyone who stops by RheumaBlog to read. Writing it has been, and continues to be, one of the most transformational, hopeful, inspiring, and just plain fun things I’ve ever done. I’ve met so many incredible people!

My companions at HealtheVoices15 this weekend are patient advocates representing a large number of other diseases, including breast cancer, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, diabetes, prostate cancer, HIV/AIDs, Crohn’s disease, Hepatitis C, and more. Each one of

My rheum-mates Angela Lundberg (Inflamed: Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis), Britt Johnson Hurt Blogger), and Leslie Rott (Getting Closer to Myself) joined me in the Vu Cafe this afternoon! Laughter ensued.

My rheum-mates Angela Lundberg (Inflamed: Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis), Britt Johnson (Hurt Blogger), and Leslie Rott (Getting Closer to Myself) joined me in the Vu Cafe this afternoon! Laughter ensued.

them reaches out to others with the same need to communicate, to tell their stories, to help others not to feel alone, and to offer their support and encouragement. Sitting there tonight, sharing a meal with so many amazing, selfless, inspiring, and just plain nice people was an honor I won’t ever forget.

Jannsen and Everyday Health gathered us here to help us learn how to be even better patient advocates through the use of social media. I’m just a barely fledged Twitter tweeter, so I can stand to learn how to do it more effectively. And there are so many other forms of social media out there. It’s like having the world open up before my feet. I feel so honored, and humbled, to be chosen to participate in this historic (it really is!) event.

I’m feeling very accomplished. And very, very tired. So, although I’m not going to write much more tonight, please stay tuned. My typing feathers are preened and primed, and there’s more to come.

NOTE: Jannsen paid for my travel expenses for HealtheVoices15. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Today it rained a little …

… but I can hardly get myself to look out the window at it. It’s because I know this rain means nothing in this fourth (and now critical) year of drought. It can’t help us. It won’t fill the reservoirs to brimming again, even if it rains for days in the valley and snows in the mountains. It’s too little, too late. It’s a mean tease, like a couple of older kids who ask you to play ball with them, put you in the middle, then throw the ball to each other over your head, higher than you can reach even when you jump. You want to like playing with them, but they only frustrate you and make you feel inadequate and stupid, and in the end you just can’t.

That’s spring rain in California during a drought.

I’ll tell you about this stupid little rain. The parking lot pavement got wet and shiny black, and there are a few thin puddles. Water is beading on the metal hand-railings by the steps and on the on the leaves of the hedge gardenias outside the door. I don’t want to like this, because it’s too much like giving in, but the scent rising from the wadded-up little ivory flowers is sweet and heavy, but fresh, too. The beads of water form translucent pearls on the little dark green, blade-shaped leaves of the potted azalea on the back patio. The old fence is wet halfway down, contrasting dark above with light below. The traffic-y air smells washed and clean. There’s a sharp little breeze.

They say we’ll have some more rain tomorrow. It’s an awful tease, but I hope we do.

This is Day One of Writing 101: Building a Blogging Habit, WordPress’s free, 20-day writing course for bloggers. The assignment was simply to write for 20 minutes without preparing first, then posting it to my blog. I’ll be writing something new each day, following Writing 101’s prompts. I’m excited to see what shows up.


Writer/curator Maria Popova used the word “vintage” in a recent post on her delightfully fascinating website, Brain Pickings, referring to a children’s book published in 1971.

I love Brain Pickings (I love books, and art, and illustration, and it satisfies all three appetites), and I love Popova for her informed, whimsical style, but vintage? Vintage?

I was 15 years old in 1971, teetering on the cusp of high school. But yes, I know. That was, um, forty-three years ago, but I swear it only feels like 13. Maybe. So how can a book written in 1971 be vintage?

I mean, doesn’t that make me vintage, too? Since I’m … ah … even older?

When I think of something that fits the word “vintage,” I think of a really old bottle of wine. A vintage book, to me, is Moby Dick or The Last of the Mohicans. (A really vintage book might be anything by Plato). Vintage clothes, to me, comeVintage clothes from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and a vintage car is Packard, not a ’68 Mustang (which I owned).

But maybe I’m looking at the whole concept of “vintage” too narrowly. If I think back to how I perceived life when I was 30 (that was about five years ago, memory-wise), I saw things that had happened or were made around 40-50 years before as “vintage.” Meaning, of course, “old,” but in a fond, venerable sort of way. Some of those events, like WWII and Hitler and the slaughter of the Jews were horrifying, tragic, and mind-shudderingly awful, but they were also safely “vintage” in my mind, lost in a past, in times, and in circumstances I felt sure we’d never, ever repeat.

So it shouldn’t really surprise me that Maria Popova sees the 1970s and earlier as “vintage.” She’s about 30 years old, bless her heart. My daughter is 32, and I know she thinks I’m rather old. Given how I felt at their ages, I guess I can forgive them both.

And maybe there’s nothing wrong with being of a “vintage” age and era. Vintage wines, after all, are the best. Of course, if they turn to vinegar they can also be the worst, but in real life, a little vinegar now and then keeps us humble and honest.

I’d have never believed that I’d ever be “vintage” when I was 15 years old and the world was a vast, inviting, dazzling playground, filled with dreams and adventures and spread out in front of me like a magic carpet, inviting me to take a ride, but here I am.

And you know what? I don’t mind a bit.