spiralflames: (black_cat)

TD, (Tom, Tommy) Mischke. used to host a late-night local talk radio program. he wasn't political- his programming would be about anything and everything: interviews with people from authors and musicians to baseball players, occasional improvised manic beat-boxing raps, stories about "big time Minneapolis" and "good old St.Paul." he had a cast of regulars who'd call in almost nightly: greatgreatgreatgreat grandma, calling from her nursing home. undertaker fred, who'd want to sing an old-time song with him. a catholic priest who was raising money for an orphanage. jim the cabbie, who seemed to be more than a few sheets to the wind and who every couple of sentences would say "hey mitch!"...never actually knew what mischke's name was, and somehow never quite believed anyone was listening. i'd tune in on the way home from work, and got used to hearing his voice most late nights. i somehow always imagined tommy in a darkened studio with only a single light burning, talking about his home town. he was family. he'd tell stories, we'd listen and nod, and it was good. hanging out with mischke was like talking to an old friend- you'd meet only seldom, but when you did, you'd be Yourselves again in no time and not question it.

https://youtu.be/bBux_DMBvxE poem

once (twice?) he left the air for months- no explanation. when he came back, he talked about his depression. it surprised me- someone so inventive, so sharp? now we're smarter- we experienced the shock of robin williams' death. and we know inner life and outer life diverge.

but tommy came back. KSTP changed its format altogether (i think they're running a sports station now) and Tom went to work across the river at WCCO. it was on at a different time, i was working, so i lost track of him. after awhile, he left that broadcast, saying he was just radioed-out.. didn't know where his future lie, but he didn't think it was in nightly talk radio any more. here's his farewell:

https://youtu.be/80uXvn2NOIE farewell

so. fast foward a few years. my sister karen texts me: "nan! there was something from mischke on my FB friends feed today- he's got a podcast and he's asking people who have had a terminal cancer diagnosis and survived to write to him! do it!!!"

so i did. feigned casual, told him i was 10 yrs cancer-free from stage IV ovarian cancer, where i'd found out there was a 15% chance of me making it alive 5 years.

he wrote back.

i suggested coffee, figuring he'd want to know if my story was what he was looking for. "nah, too noisy for a recorded interview. can you come to my place, or can i come to yours?"

i said i'd go there- my cat freaks out with strangers who come to the house, and i didn't want him (cat, not mischke) latching on to my leg with teeth bared as i tried to talk about Serious Stuff. so i drove to his house in Good Ol' St Paul. comfortable house. comfortable man. we sat at his dining room table, set with a glass of water on each side and a recorder in a flowerpot in the middle.

i talked, high-speed and close to non-stop. he'd ask a question and i'd be on to another part of the story. he was easy to be around, and i've had almost 10 years to think about my story.

there were two questions he asked that stopped me short: (interestingly, neither made it into the edited broadcast) 1) you were sick for such a long time...that makes me wonder, didn't you care about your life? 2) you don't mention having much of a support network throughout all of this...

i don't remember the answers i gave. they should've been simple: 1) fear trumps everything in my life. i was terrified and felt i might lose everything from my life on down to the dishware. once this got started- and trust me, i KNEW i was sick- there'd be no retreat. 2) i felt totally abandoned by the people i loved most, and whom i thought loved me. parents? scared. sisters? absent- also scared. my biggest supporters were people i hardly knew, who in a way had the least to lose- my nurse friend patti in kentucky. bob, who i'd met online years ago and who i'd get together with to watch movies. then, there was the time factor. by the time i got out of the hospital and started my chemo, people were DONE with me. i went through that alone. nobody ever offered to bring a meal or clean my house.

the next morning, i wrote mischke a long email: (lightly edited for continuity)

dear tommy-
warning: brain dump ahead...

i've been thinking over yesterday's talk with you. part of me wishes i could do it again- part of me wishes i could've responded more thoughtfully and been more profound, since that's probably what you were looking for from someone who'd been to the moon and back...but so it goes.

a few things, tho, because you asked me 2 questions (when i let you get a word in edgewise...(nervous much? radio celeb, recording...aiee!) that threw me a bit, and that's what i wanted to address tonight.

first, you remarked that when i said i'd been sick so long ("woman" problems, lack of energy, depression) that it almost seemed like i didn't care. not true at all- i'm the only one that keeps my life going, and i'm all i have. part of it was that lonnnnnng and minuscule down-swing..there was no drama, just "issues"...and i'd been taught not to complain, because i wasn't Interesting if i did, and who else was going to pay the rent? i've built up a sweet little world here- business, piano, cat...but it's all hinging on me to keep it going. nobody else can teach my students- pay my bills- take photos with my eye and camera, make the music i've made. so it seemed reasonable that my greatest fear was losing my life. i'm a suburban girl. i wouldn't do well being homeless. sometimes i'd get on the road and just drive and drive- as long as i was in my car, i'd feel enclosed and safe from that scary "what if."

so i cared. i cared a lot. i was just plain terrified.

the 2nd Q was when you said you hadn't heard me mention a support network too much. you're right- i felt like i was in this totally alone. which, to me, i was. people like to do safe, colorful things to "support" people- banners on FB, 5-K runs to raise funds. happy, productive stuff. they don't want to visit people who haven't taken a shower in awhile because they're too weak to stand up, and nobody knows what's wrong, and they can't be "hopeful" because there aren't any more platitudes to offer. when someone WOULD get in to see me, i'd see their sad faces...omg, she looks AWFUL! well yeah, i did. i'd been in bed for 6 weeks and in the hospital for a month. good to see you, could you help me to the bathroom? thanks for the candy, but i really can't eat it, and what i NEED to do is get to the bathroom. i couldn't subject my friends to that.

i also found that people want to hear about you....twice. the first time, it's shock, info-gathering, and suggestions- special foods, books, treatments, clinics. oh...and stories. who in their lives got better because of, got worse in spite of. after that, when nothing has changed? silence. i would've liked someone to come and not talk, bring a book or something and watch bad tv with me. nobody got it. you want company, not talk, and for GOD'S sake not advice.

scuze me, dammit, i'm crying now. there was still and always an expectation that someone i was going to "beat this" to "figure it out" to buck up, little buckaroo, listen nan, when my MOM was sick once, she...

i couldn't do it. before surgery, i was too sick. afterwords, i needed to come back to my Self and my writing and my music. staying at the nursing home for three months helped that happen. i don't know how it was determined that i could stay there that long, but i did, with one last complication from surgery, a huge pelvic abcess/infection, which landed me in the hospital for another 7 days over halloween, with 21 days of IV antibiotics and tests after that. grim.

but finally before christmas i was home. nobody really volunteered to sit w/me through chemo- later, i made plans for a celebration at the end of my 8 months chemo- then at my last appointment, dr boente said, as long as this is going so well, let's really kill this thing- and go for another year.

party canceled.

in january i went back to work, scheduled chemo on tues and thurs, and taught piano lessons after that. buck up, little buckaroo!

damn. i'm bawling like a baby. yesterday's chat w/you was a weird deal- almost like a job interview or coffee date where you put your best foot forward and don't want someone to think you are still obsessing about something that happened ten (TEN!) yrs ago. "but aren't you SO GRATEFUL to BE ALIVE????" someone might ask. well shit yes. but they can't know how scary it is. how sad you are, how you can't let yourself think about how hopeless this seems, how..hell..you should've cleaned your house better, you didn't KNOW you were gonna be gone for 6 months! it was 7 years before i even got a kitty- i was afraid to take responsibility for another little life when i couldn't be sure of my own.

so mostly, i don't talk about what's inside. it wouldn't make any difference if i did or didn't. i don't know what i'd do if cancer did re-appear- boente said, "if we get it all, and your numbers are low, then we might talk about a cure. if it comes back, then you're out of chances."

so i don't know if my life is "changed" or not. people seem to expect that it has. it makes them relieved when i say yes, when what they're really thinking is "wow, i don't think *I* could go through all that." we all go though "that" in one way or another. sometimes we make it, sometimes we don't. one wednesday, you have an ice cream cone. the next weds, someone aces your car and you're a quadriplegic. it's all one cosmic crap-shoot. i'm thankful for my life- i'll never take any sweet moment, any sunset, any ice cream cone in august, for granted again.

but then, mischke, i've always been that way.

thanks for letting me babble. don't worry, i won't bug you regularly. but i thank you sincerely for the serendipity of asking me questions, and i hope the surface responses to your questions didn't bug you too much.

best to you,


Td Mischke responded:

I am happy you wrote. It's something I too would have done after such an interview. Don't apologize. I think you're going to very much like the show in its edited form. In fact, I'm sure of it. All that time with you gets edited down to the real essence of it all, which is about 15 minutes. Same with the other two people i interviewed. You'll be pleasantly surprised by the presentation, I believe.

i wrote back:

Thanks, Tommy. That all brought up some stuff I really hadn't processed before, which surprised me...I wrote through 12 journals in about 2.5 years after I got back home..and really thought I was "done"...guess I wasn't. Thank you so much. (btw, won't be really "done" til I'm in the ground, and even then, there are people who deserve haunting) (as she puts the grown-up, civil mask back on and prepares to teach little fingers how to play.) Someday maybe I can play Brahms for you.
Take care.

for O

Mar. 5th, 2012 10:45 pm
spiralflames: (Default)
so devastated for [livejournal.com profile] popfiend

love to him, and to you all.

spiralflames: (seasonal)
thanks for the halloween card and kind words! it TRULY made my day!!
lakewood autumn49, mpls MN- sfx
spiralflames: (scenery)
dialogue w/ bob laudon, a former musicology prof, age 89. i was to go fetch him and help him do a few errands, which i do on occasion.

bob: (answering phone) "laudons!"
nan: wie geht's? (how's it going?)
bob: "immer etwas muede" (always somewhat weary)
nan (in english) ohh..i'll try to be gentle today then."
bob: "just be honest."

they ARE the Greatest Generation.

he's working on another volume of poetry and also writing a scholarly book on the symphony from berlioz to liszt. and today he needed to get a new mobile phone because his old one had bitten the dust. 89, dudes and dudelets. 89.

have a lily.

starlily1, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (scenery)

today: bright sun. huge heaps of snow have melted. 1st day of time change means later sunsets. lakes opening soon. summer's afoot!
last night i went to a PARTY. damn! it's been ages since i went to a gathering of people who were somewhat dressed up, festive, offering food and drink! verna decided to make a Large Cake in celebration of my 5 yrs cancer-free. it was an interesting and diverse crowd- my sister-warrior and her usually-silent husband, who got into animated conversation (!) with a nun, who HAPPENED to be the COUSIN of my friend john, who hadn't seen her since they were children (!), evelyn, who is so beautiful and radiant that you just want to take her face in your hands and give her a kiss, linda, who's had an incredibly challenging life and is doing Amazing Things now, lori who's always sweet, frank who's Mr Personality and T who's more to herself, 2 cats vaulting around underfoot..it was WONDERFUL.

there are PEOPLE in my life. there are THINGS TO DO AND PLACES TO GO, singing women who make me happy, spiritual things that don't seem intrusive or judgmental, energetic things that seem positive, and NEW GLASSES which allow me to...SEE CLEARLY for the first time in years.



Dec. 29th, 2009 12:13 pm
spiralflames: (lifeguard)

i'll be glad when it's over.

High, white path of the Rational Mind: appreciated, needed, required- if only temporarily.


Dec. 27th, 2009 12:14 pm
spiralflames: (hugs)
here's a link to jesse's obit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/startribune/obituary.aspx?n=mac-walton&pid=137850903

waves- shine, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

he was 58- he was a fascinating man...meet him, and in 5 minutes you'd be swept up by the gentle force of his personality, his smile, his manner- you were his new best friend and had always been in his family. he was a speculator- always on to the next Big Plan- job, adventure, travel, helping, caring, listening, laughing. and you wanted to know how you could help. he was a writer (his blog is http://www.daddybstrong.blogspot.com ), a poet, a social activist, a challenger to be the best You possible.

I saw him the day before he died. the doctor had asked him what he wanted to do. "Fight". what he wanted, how she could help. "want to live."

no giving up with jesse.

he touched lives, he touched spirits and minds, and Tomorrow was the best day ever.

his memorial service will be on tuesday- lorelei, an oboist i've worked with forever, and i will play some schubert. he was a blues-and-jazz lover, but schubert touched his heart. i didn't know him all that well- he was the life partner of a close friend of mine, and i'd hear about jesse more often than i'd see jesse himself. but his fight with cancer was a proud and truly courageous one- when i saw him sunday, he'd wanted to schedule himself for chemo the next day.

never give up.
today is a quiet and thoughtful day- i'll go over to my sister's house to do a little LifeGuard duty there, and then out to dinner with verna tonight. it's been an odd holiday, with a friend's passing and a major blizzard in the middle.

wishing you quiet and calm, and always the Good Fight.

spiralflames: (Default)

and may light, thought, peace and happiness be yours in the year, and decade, ahead. blessings.


Dec. 23rd, 2009 11:26 pm
spiralflames: (Default)
here's a picture of mac that i took last summer.

jesse1 (fx), originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

he passed away monday night after a truly heroic fight with cancer. i will never forget his humor, his determination and his wisdom.

tonight, he's teaching the angels that good jazz, good writing, good conversation, and good coffee are one and the same.

two harbors, mn38...jetty, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

travel lightly, mac. it's All Right.


Dec. 20th, 2009 12:14 pm
spiralflames: (lifeguard)
going to the hospital to sit w. a friend whose partner of 25 yrs is probably exiting this existence within the next couple days. please send energy, prayers, love, reiki, to her for strength and to me, to give her what she needs and to stay calm.

the day

Nov. 29th, 2009 10:39 pm
spiralflames: (freedom)
it was a lovely birthday- too much sugar consumed, much silliness, new insight, new resolve, surprising greetings from musicians on facebook and friends here and there..and a happy b-day text from my DENTIST. life continues to have surprises.
moron-quote-of-the-day: the server at don pablo's: "wow, it's nice to see a woman actually HAPPY about her birthday!" i looked at her (i mean, HOW many kinds of WRONG is that statement? let me show you them) and said, "well, i guess when you've been close to losing it, any celebration of life is a good thing."
but friday was a "party"- haven't been to one in ages, with lots of people and food and women in Spangly Shoes. looking forward with immense pleasure to *TWO WEEKS OFF* over the Holiday. if there's any possible way i can afford it, i'd like to drive somewhere for a few nights and just remove myself from speaking to anyone i know. with all the crap that went down this summer at my former place of employment, i didn't get any summer break- i haven't had ONE WEEK WITHOUT STUDENTS since LAST CHRISTMAS. no WONDER i'm about ready to spit nails.
had an opportunity to meet a new man last week, but he did 2 things that pissed me off- i gave him my cell number, and he CALLED ME AT 7:30- *A.M.*. huh? even bill collectors don't call before 9. then, when i DID call him back and suggested we get together for coffee, he said "or maybe i could just stop over to your place." huh? um, NO. for what? contemplation of my Depression Glass collection? i laughed and said "nnooooo." and he responded "oh, that's OK. i'm not angry or anything."
HUH? angry? because i'm telling you you can't come over for SEX when i've never MET YOU??? why SHOULD you possibly be ANGRY?
people. no loss, there.
got into a Serious Conv w/friend wendy at the fri nite party. we were talking about men and she said "when it hurts more to be alone than it hurts to have a relationship go bad, i'll put myself out there again." i thought that was pretty well-wrought.
this should be a good week. wishing you the same.

spiralflames: (wise_words)

autumn colors3, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

what he said, twice: "i like THIS nan better than the one last week."

he meant it kindly- last week i was sick, depressed and scared.

what i would have LIKED him to say- or mean- "i like you, period. but is there anything i can do for you to make you happier?"
why do i ALWAYS get the feeling that how cheerful and non-problematic i am has a direct relationship to a man's *approval*?

my Ex used to tell me "you can say anything to me. be yourself."

a few times, i risked it. i realized that what he meant was "be yourself..as long as it reflects *me* well, because if YOU'RE unhappy, it means *I* am a failure."

"be happy"..why? because it's healthier? or because when i'm not, it causes YOU stress?

"be happy"..why? because you have enough going on in your OWN life (the one without me in it) and you count on me to be supportive and amusing for you?


conv. tidbit #2, unrelated. a female friend said "you need some new friends."

well, duh. and you're going to facilitate this magically how? to me, that's like saying "you need a much more fulfilling job with much higher pay." well, sure. let me know if your own corporation has a position for beethoven specialist, won't you?

advice/comments. sometime i appreciate and learn. other times? you can keep 'em.
spiralflames: (Default)

was smelling something a bit odd...realized it was..umm..FOOD. i don't HAVE actual food in my house too often. i got a to-go plate off grilled turkey and cheesy potatoes from last night's BBQ. they are nuked and being chomped at present time. hmm. this alien concept of "cooking." should one try it?
naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. it was nice sharing food with friends, tho. i made rum punch, which knocked me on my ass- that was fun. i haven't gotten silly-smashed in ages.
right now i am just a relaxed, happy, photography-obsessed, contented girl. and THAT, gentle reader, is a fricken rarity.
wishing you the same.

giant sunny2, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.


Aug. 26th, 2009 11:44 pm
spiralflames: (obscure)

if i were to get caught in an anomaly in the time/space continuum tomorrow, i can say that tonight, i saw the most amazing sunset ever. i took over a hundred photos. usually i keep 6 or so..i kept 30. i couldn't give them up. many people sat on the bank of the lake and watched in silence. what an honor.
oncologist appointment this morning. having a GYN appt at 8:30 in the AM. ouch. all the way around. BUT..the good news? my CA-125 number, the number that measures ovarian cancer, is holding stabe at 4point5. that's FOUR-POINT-FIVE. "normal" is between 0-33. mine's four. take THAT, you FUCKING, scurrilous, gut-wrenching, life-stripping, heart-breaking, hero-taking disease.
next week i start practicing piano. hours for the Day Job at the Studio- only weds and thurs. my tues hours i will be doing AT HOME at my convenience, checking email, internetting and (such a hardship) updating the Studio's facebook page. i also got a handful of new students there, and the one i was worried about being a bratlet, seemed controllable and was able to focus. life is good.
friday i drive 400 miles again to bring ann to master jim at spring forest qigong. she says her one qigong session has made her feel much better. brilliant!
i love my life, despite occasional rumors to the contrary ;-D


Aug. 7th, 2009 09:14 pm
spiralflames: (lifeguard)

olmstead county, MN...bounty, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

today i did Life Guard duty- scooped up my friend ann (the one who's just been diagnosed w/ALS) (90 miles to get her, 90 miles back in driving rain) and brought her to Master Lin for a qigong session. ( http://www.springforestqigong.com ) we had lunch and then i took her home (90 miles each way again.)

on the way home she talked about how disheartening it is to have people she barely knows asking her about her illness. she's a public figure in that area, pianist/professor..and she's getting stopped in the grocery store with "ann! what happened to YOU?" i said, don't PUT UP with that. just say "respiratory issues- getting better every day." i firmly believe that every time you SAY "i have cancer" or "I have ALS") the universe hears it- and agrees with you. and, as i pointed out, it's different to say "i am fighting ALS" rather than "i have ALS"..but really, it's nobody's damn biznis. sometimes "do you have a diagnosis?" is as personal as "how much money do you make?" or "how often do you have sex?" the minute you label yourself, people can treat you differently- and that sucks.

*edited- MB pointed out that it's not good to stuff, or avoid-- and i agree-- but damn, i've known people who've gotten a diagnosis- and they view it as a death sentence-- and every cell in their body and brain responds to that concept. there's GOT to be more than cell differentiation about why some people die from diseases and others don't...

i gave her a serious 'talking to' about taking charge of her own medical info as far as not feeling she has to fork details to everyone she meets in daily life. it made her feel a little more positive and in control, i think.

LifeGuard duty. it's what's for breakfast. :-D


Aug. 6th, 2009 09:58 pm
spiralflames: (photography)
last saturday= One Of The Best Days Of My Life So Far.

it was a beautiful day, so i decided to drive down to rochester, about 90 miles south of here, to visit my friend richard. i haven't seen him in awhile. we had a truly lovely day- chatted, went for a random "square box" drive- (i just go mapless, 30 miles up, 30 miles over, 30 miles down, 30 miles back..you sort of always find your way.) clear skies- county roads. came upon a really sad abandoned cemetery, and this amazing school/church/meetingplace- almost covered in vine, just being allowed to go back to the earth..but what detail and scroll-work on the outside!

i'd been talking about my photography a lot, and he said he'd like to buy a camera. i said i knew exactly which one I'd choose, i'd been doing some research. we stopped at a best buy and he bought a nixon coolpix. then we had dinner and went back to his house- played piano, talked more. he gave me a clock- he buys old clocks on ebay and rehabs them..i now have a new antique mantle clock with a soft voice which makes a lovely contribution to the quiet here.

then, as i was leaving, he said, "here, take this too!" and he gave me the nikon we'd chosen! couldn't believe it. his generosity was so out of character i actually said "you're all right, aren't you? not terminal or anything??" i'm blown away.

someday, i WILL get a fancy, spendy SLR..but right now..being able to carry my camera in my WALLET and having it with me at all times? priceless!!!

people will NEVER cease to amaze me.

thank goddess.

persistence, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

short note

Jul. 12th, 2009 01:20 am
spiralflames: (trees)
1) remind me to tell y'all about wally's cremains.

(that'd be an excellent first sentence for a book)

2) thank Goddess for good friends.

3) fabulous day full of good food and good conv.

4) maybe under dead of night we'll steal wally's cremains.


PS the "micbael jackson ghost video" is lame.

spiralflames: (OvCa)

she dances, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

today my heart is full. three things, and i may or may not have detail later. first, re-connection with a friend from the past. second, amazing experience at drum circle last night. third, participation in a Croning ritual this afternoon where i will embrace the second half of my life. today will be the best day of my life so far.

wishing you the same.

spiralflames: (wise_words)
(fascinating...i've tried to write this twice now and somehow it's disappeared. i'm so exhausted i think i'm barely functional)
my sister patty had a little white poodle named corky. he was a profoundly empathetic little thing- he'd synchronize his breathing with yours and lean in and just rest. sometimes, when the fam gathered at patty's, corky would walk up to me, stand at my side and turn toward the crowd of people, sitting tall and almost quivering with 7-pound importance. i finally realized he was Guarding me- saying, silently, ok assholes, just TRY and come closer, Make My Day. everyone started to notice his actions and realized that there was some special bond between the little dog and me. earlier, our dad suffered a psychotic break, and corky had Guarded dad as well. we were the only two he'd ever Guarded. dad got better, and later i spent some time beating the hell out of cancer.
i am now one of a statistical miracle. i am in a group of 5 percent survival rate for my type of cancer. i have come more and more to know that i am indeed a superhero, and my job is to be a Guard as well.
i'm not all-powerful. in fact, i may not have any power whatsoever. but i will stand with you and let it be known: bastards, just TRY to get at my friend or relative. c'mon. Make My Day.
you might need an ear or a shoulder- you might need practical stuff like taking in your mail or feeding your kitty or waiting in the doctor's office or the E.R. you might need to be driven to wisconsin with Schubert on the car stereo and no words spoken. i can't take away your pain, and i can't save you from whatever might be eating your insides. but i will be there, i will answer my phone, i can be out of the house in 5 minutes to pick you up and I Will Not Quail.
Make My Day.

Fruehlingstraum, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.

spiralflames: (Default)
my friend michael brown has published a book.

he worked on it for forty years.

well, he worked on it for seven- lived it for 40.

it's a thing of sadness, depth and beauty.

you should have one.

[livejournal.com profile] writerspleasure

yep. you should have one.

blue is the color of regret1, originally uploaded by spiralflmz.


spiralflames: (Default)

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