Sunday, January 18, 2015

In Praise of Sabbath

Instead of taking on huge resolutions as I did with last year's mania, I boiled things down to their essence this year and resolved to "be kind to myself." (You can read about what that means in this post.) It turns out that this isn't quite as simple as it first appears, but hope springs eternal. My approach to this umbrella goal, which I hope will eventually include changes in my diet, exercise, work, and home habits, is to start slow and go slow, but keep progressing.  With that in mind, since I've last checked in here, I've done three things:

  1. Worked to incorporate waterwaterwater into each day. I hadn't swapped water out for soft drinks; I just wasn't hydrating much at all. Drinking plain ol', life-sustaining water isn't actually that hard once you commit to carrying a water bottle with you everywhere you go. I use a 24 oz. one I picked up at Connemara, which was the home of the magnificent poet Carl Sandburg. It's not that far from where I live and it's well worth the drive (and hey - they have the descendants of his wife's prize-winning dairy goat herd!), but you can, of course, use anything you want. 
  2. Tried to expand my diet by including new foods. I've never been much of one for eggs, so I started with that. They're not expensive, can be fixed in a hundred ways, and are chock-full of nutrition, so it seemed like a sensible starting place. I found a frittata recipe and discovered that adding salsa - YUM! I can make a batch and eat off of it all week, thus guaranteeing to start the day with protein.
  3. I've gotten serious about keeping a "Sabbath day." Traditionally, Sabbath is a rest day, generally used for worship. Denominations get (to go Southern on you) "all tore up" about what day Sabbath should properly be and there can be all sorts of rules and regs about just what's okay to do on that day. I cut through all of that, although I respect the conclusions others come to in that regard. FryDaddy and I talked this one over and what we're striving for is a day during which we do not work, beyond simple household chores. "Simple" being the key here - a load of laundry and making the bed is fine; raking the yard is not. Puttering around with flowers would be fine for me, since I enjoy that, but digging a new flower bed is BSS ("beyond the scope of Sabbath"). If we manage to pull this off consistently, I'll rank it among the highest achievements of my adult life - thanks to electricity and computers, it's far too easy to blur work and home. I have to actually make an effort to NOT check work messages from home and with a new book project, I constantly feel like I should be getting more done. But I've seen the results of regular breaks and I'm determined to do this. In fact, the reason I didn't post yesterday was because it was Sabbath for us this week and blog posts are BSS.

In Very Fetching Hat news, I've been cleared by the oncologist to begin radiation treatments, which will be followed by a five-year course of tamoxifen (that treatment may, of course, be altered once we see how I tolerate the drug). Later this week, I'll go for my "simulation" - I won't actually receive radiation therapy on this visit, but will get measured and prepped and even tattooed so the radiation can be very narrowly targeted. It's actually a fascinating thing - my medical team will now include a physicist! So at the moment, I'm post-surgery, pre-radiation, but this will shift in the next two weeks. It's not as scary as I thought it would be, no doubt due to the marvelous care I've been received and the outpouring of love, concern, and well wishes I continue to receive. I'm interested in making some dietary changes to increase my energy level and keep my mood stable as I go through this next stage and I've gotten some excellent advice on how to do that without totally breaking the bank. (Oddly enough, molasses is strongly suggested.) So it's "Onward Sloth!" at this point!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Forward!

Here it is - the end of 2014. A traditional time to reflect and resolve. I did that this year and - scratch that. What I did was OVERdo that this year! Well, no sense pummeling myself about that. Instead, I've been using that experience as a means to figure out what is to be gleaned from that experience.

Mind you, I had some incredible successes this past year and some wonderful "mountaintop moments," including the publication of Wanna Cook? and seeing FryDaddy complete his graduate studies and come home to live with me and be my love full-time. I reached my goal of competing in a 5K race and, along the way, discovered that I like my version of jobbling. I attended my college reunion and caught up with a number of women who helped form me into the person I turned into. Likewise, I attended the Whedon-based Slayage conference and connected with an amazing circle of scholars who helped shape me professionally. Honestly, it was a very good year in many, many respects.

But the ending needed work. I took on too many challenges, both personally and professionally, and I buckled under the weight of all those obligations. That would have been fine, but I refused to admit that I am not Supergirl and that led to some long, dark nights of the soul. And - oh yeah - cancer diagnosis.* So in some ways it was a pretty lousy year.

Therefore, the key question was what to do, what to do?

Colanders & sloths. It's a thing.
Then I had an epiphany. (Not the Epiphany party I've thrown for years, though. That's one of the things going by the wayside this year as a concession to December's surgery.) I don't want this coming year to be about outside things as much as I want to make it about inside things. Yes, I hope that side effects of that will be a return to healthier habits, but my focus this next year is going to be just on being kinder to myself. As corny as it may sound, the cancer diagnosis, with all its attendant fear, uncertainty, and occasional moments of actual terror, has been a bizarre sort of gift. I've had to slow down. I've had to let others take care of me and no one wanted to hear me apologize for it. I honestly can't list all the kindnesses that have been shown to me during this ordeal, nor can I list all the people who have been so joyous when I had good news to share at different stages of this misadventure.

So - my resolution for 2015 is simple - be kind to myself. Instead of crash dieting and setting checklist and checklist for myself, I want this year to include changes such as:

  • Not eating lunch at my desk while I check e-mail every workday
  • Eating a lunch that consists of real food, not just a meal shake and a granola bar
  • Building breaks into my day instead of having meeting after appointment after conference
  • Making time off a requirement instead of a "wow, wouldn't that be nice?" Seriously, religions that observe a Sabbath are on to something in this regard.

Oh, there's plenty more I'd like to do, but it's a very, very good start that will already require me to make some real changes in order for me to put my own well being at the top of the list in ink instead of tentatively writing my name lightly in pencil at the very bottom of the page.

It sounds so simple, but I think it might be harder than it looks.

Onward!


*By the way - surgery was a few days before Christmas, which made for an interesting holiday, but I was so glad to get it done! And - calloo, callay! - the pathology report came back excellentwonderful with a report of clean margins on the excised tissue, which translates into "we got it all." You'll hear more about continued treatment for the next few months (radiation is coming and I doubt it gives me superpowers), but things look good, good, great on that front!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Hurry, Hurry - Now Wait!

I've been putting off drafting this post, hoping a few things would snap into focus and I could write definitively about them, but that's just not happening, so let me get you up to speed as best as I can.

The fall semester is over. Grades are turned in and there was the usual gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, and marking in red. Some students pulled things together and amazed me and some - well, some just didn't, or they misread the syllabus, or, or, or. At any rate, it's done and in the record books at this point, which means it's time to get ready for the holidays, right?

Well . . .

Even by my standards, Dec. 19th is a little late to be getting a tree, but that's how the Casa de Guffey rolled this year. On the plus side, waiting until the 19th means you get a really, really cheap tree.  On the minus side, it's a little on the funky side from being cut and tied up for so long.  We now have our second year of learning "just how much tree will fit in a sedan?"  (The answer for a Ford Focus is "about seven feet," by the way. Just drive carefully and stay on the back roads.) A good friend brought his sons over and he gave the trunk a fresh cut, we wrestled it into the stand and it's now slurping up water and letting its branches relax and hang out.  Hopefully, we'll decorate it (and get the last few thingamabobs up in the house) tomorrow, which is also a major family feed day. Yum!

As you know from this blog, the main reason the holidays are so discombobulated this year has to do with my introduction into the Pink Ribbon Club. That's kept me (and FryDaddy, as my personal chauffeur) hopping lately, with consultations and appointments galore.  Let's see - among the things I've learned would be:
  • I don't have a genetic predisposition towards cancer - it's just one of those things that could (and apparently, often does) happen. That's not nice, but it's good to know that I'm not at a high-risk for recurrence.
  • Surgery is expected to be a "lumpectomy," although I don't actually have a lump. On the day of surgery, they'll insert teensy guide wires to tell the surgeon "start here!" and "stop here!" I'd think a felt-tip marker could do the same thing, but no. When I whined about this, FryDaddy reminded me that, yes, I have many accomplishments, but going to med school isn't one of them, so maybe (just maybe) I could hush up about this part. I hate that he's right.
  • Surgery will be outpatient, which thrills me to no end. Get me home, please! We've got comfort food in the kitchen and I hope to have a few hot meals lined up before we leave on Monday.
  • When you remove tissue, the body doesn't like it much and wants very much to fill that void with fluid, which is bad and can be painful. To avoid that, the idea is to compress everything and hold everything very, very still. So I'll be wearing a garment I've spent my entire life avoiding - oh, it may be medically-indicated, but it's still essentially a tube top. I want sequins and blue eyeshadow to go with it, but apparently that's not an option.  At least not one covered by insurance.
  • Due to the (still fingers crossed here) change in date, Christmas is going to be very interesting. But honestly, I want this done.  As in DONE. So I jumped at the date change. Looks like the 23rd of December for me. I'm scheduled to go first that day, so we've booked a hotel room close to the hospital rather than make the hour-long drive at 4 AM.
  • The date was switched because a pathologist managed to get the slides from my biopsy, examine them, and say, "By George, the doctor's right in her surgical plan!" With that done (they weren't expecting the pathologist to get the slides so quickly, but that Very Fetching Hat seems to have some magical powers), there was a slot on the 23rd, so the hospital called me, and I began a whirlwind of phone calls to schedule what felt like thirty-seven separate appointments. While not physically exhausting, it's been a draining day.
  • The 23rd of December. That's sort of funny in the "non ha ha" way - a year ago, I began jobbling as part of my "I'm going to take better care of myself" pledge.  (My first jobble was on Christmas Eve, I believe.) Now this.
I am amazed beyond belief at the kindness and gentleness of people during this stressful, weird time. (And judging from the quote in the picture, I know a LOT of very, very strong people.) It's nearly overwhelming what friends will do for you in times of trouble. With cancer, maybe it's a little of that primitive lizard-brain at work - "If I do this, the Angel of Pink Ribbons will fly over my house;" I don't know. What I do know is that my yard and gutters are leaf-free, I have a Christmas tree with a fresh cut, my workplace is being beyond understanding, I have the promise of fresh homemade food, and dozens of friends have given/are giving us gifts of time, talents, kind thoughts, and errand-running so my house can get through this rough patch with as little disruption as possible.

It'll make you pause.

And maybe that's the lesson in all of this.

Be safe. And don't wait to tell those you love that you love them. If you get another chance to do it, tell them again. Won't hurt.  Might help.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

November - Checking In!

Poet Thomas Hood didn't really care for November, once writing:
No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
November! 

Right there with you, Tommy.

All throughout 2014, I've been "checking in" on the resolutions I made in January. Back then, I set five challenges for myself and all year, I've been reporting in my progress, setbacks, and "ack!" moments. To review - I picked six classic books I hadn't read to complete this year, I picked 24 "good movies" I'd never seen to watch this year, I determined to keep a household budget and tame the credit card monster while I was at it, I said I'd take the FlyLady system further into homecare, and I said I'd train to run a 5K race before the New Year's Eve.

OK. No one ever had me stand on a stage to receive the "Sanest Woman Alive" medal. There's been progress, sure - I've read three of my six classic books (along with a slew of other books that weren't on the list), seen 12 of my classic movies (again, along with a slew of classics that weren't on the list [I especially recommend Fritz Lang's M, by the way]), the budget comes and goes although we've done very well on keeping credit cards in a drawer, the basics of the FlyLady system are in place, although my zones are hit-and-miss, and - my big triumph - I've run 3 official 5K races, along with several "virtual" ones where you run and post your time online.

In the meantime, work has been driving me into a state of frantic "I can't get caught up," I feel like organizations I deeply care about are getting about 70% of me and that's squeezed in, my writing projects feel like chores rather than opportunities, and my beloved husband, who took me 40 years to find, feels a lot like an amiable roommate some days.

Clearly, something had to give.

I was not expecting it to be a diagnosis of cancer, although that'll pull you up right short in a hurry.

Cornhole - lot of missed shots there!
I wrote about this in my last post, but a quick recap and the latest news. I have been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS"), which is both good news - it's not life-threatening in and of itself; it's what it can turn into that's worrisome and bad news - it's gorram cancer. I've had two biopsies done and am scheduled for a third Monday morning. OK, now for the funny.  400 years of the scientific method and the best position for a patient to be in for a breast biopsy is to lie flat on a table, with the (ahem) body part in question stuck through a hole as if a backyard game of cornhole has gone dreadfully wrong. There's clamping and needles, and bandages, and teensy portable ice packs and uncomfortable sleeping for a few days and a day or two of sharpening your sponge bath skills.  In short, while not nearly as bad as any other number of medical procedures (at least you get to go home), it's not a barrel of monkeys, either.

After Monday's "third time's the charm" procedure, it's time to pick a surgeon (I'll be a patient of this doctor for a number of years, so we need to get along and also, how far do I want to have to travel for check-ups? These questions, along with, "You received your Board certification when?" and "You've performed this exact operation how many times in the last year?" are ones that will need be asked.) Hos much tissue will need to be removed (lumpectomy or full-on mastectomy), what sort of surgical follow-up (radiation, chemotherapy, both, or neither) and what kind of recovery time is expected - these are questions that cannot yet be answered.

Part of the Colander Commandoes
I've had what I'm being told is a very human reaction to all of this - and the first person to quote Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to me gets strangled with a pink ribbon. I see the massive "bummerocity" in dedicating this year to getting my diet and exercise habits in better order only to be hit by a cancer diagnosis. I am grateful for medical technology that found the "bad spots" years before a traditional mammogram could've picked up on them. I'm profoundly humbled by the kindness of friends and complete strangers who have come to my aid during a time when a certain slant of light makes me tear up. I have cards, presents, prayer shawls, silly pictures, and a list of names as long as my arm of people who are willing to help out. (Need your leaves raked? Dog need some attention and a place to romp? How about some casseroles and soup so you don't have to fret about cooking?) You learn that you're sick even if you don't exactly feel sick. And you learn that life keeps spinning and that it's not all going to break your way just because you're sick - we had to put our young gray cat down due to (you guessed it) cancer this past week and that was a Very Bad Day.

Very Fetching Hat
And you know what one of the most profound lessons in all this has been?  Yes. 

Yes, I do have time to be sick. Yes, I am far, FAR stronger than a half-teaspoon of malignant tissue. And yes, I am worth being loved and being taken care of. (There was a time I wasn't too sure about that part.  Really wasn't too sure about that part!) Yes, deadlines can be re-negotiated without the person on the other end thinking you're some sort of couch slacker. And yes, you can fight with a Very Fetching Hat and dozens of friends who are willing to wear colanders for the battle. 

I have cancer, yes, but that's far from all there is to me. Going into December, I figure my final challenge for 2014 is going to be one that I maybe should have put first - every day, I'm doing something nice for me. Maybe I'll bake something to share (hey, nice to me can also be nice to others, you know!), maybe I'll make time for a manicure (waiting in doctor's offices leads to me picking obsessively at my cuticles), maybe I'll take a half-hour and read for fun. At any rate - it's the Season for Being Nice - and yes, that should count me.

Be well.  And to quote those grand philosophers Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, "Be excellent to each other."




Monday, November 17, 2014

So You Think You Had Plans . . .

As I wrote in my last post, my regular, run-of-the-mill mammogram didn't look so good, so other tests were ordered. Then an ultrasound. Then a biopsy. OK, at this point, it doesn't take a Rhodes scholar (which I'm not) to figure out that sumpin just ain't right in Boobtown. And true enough, the biopsy was clear as dawn - ductal carcinoma in situ ("DCIS") which translates into "yay! you've got the very least bad form of breast cancer!" What I've got hasn't invaded beyond the duct into surrounding tissue or into the lymph nodes, but let's not kid ourselves, this is still Pink Ribbon territory.

And I'm scared.

Friends and family have been great and things are chugging along - I have an MRI scheduled for first thing Wednesday morning and after that, I'll pick a surgeon (think of it as a really bad game show, probably airing on Fox until public outcry becomes too much to ignore) and we figure out how much of me is left and how much of my Amazonian cosplay takes on an air of true authenticity.

Time does funny things at this point. I want everything to just stop. Just. Stop. I want to curl up into a very small ball and hide under the covers, not even coming out for comfort food like pie or Chicken 'n' Stars. I just want things to stop. But things, of course, don't stop, not least of which is because I have attained the status of a Grown-Up and am expected to carry on with things. There is work to be done - papers to grade, laundry to fold, writing to do, pets to care for, errands to run - all the things that go into creating a modern life and yes, they have to be done. And they have to be done even when you're feeling weak, and fragile, and impostor-ish because with DCIS, you just barely have cancer at all, and so many other people have it so much worse, so for God's sake, buck up, girl! (You think this because your brain is certifiably crazy, by the way.) And someone gives you a hug or buys you a cup of tea and you just collapse into a shallow puddle. If you're lucky, you choke out, "Excuse me" and get to the bathroom before you begin sobbing and no mascara is really that waterproof. Screaming seems like a logical course of action, but it would scare spouses, co-workers, small children and/or pets, so that's out, unless you make an excuse and go for a drive. Then, make sure the windows are tightly rolled up and have at it.

And then there are the times where you're okay and you can fret over everyday things, like not being able to go for a jobble because it's raining too hard and you're pretty sure you could've made good time today. And you make jokes and wisecracks because it's what you know how to do and it feels normal and you want to feel normal but damn, this is weird. People in nurse's uniforms and sensible shoes are treating you like you're a chart, so you take to wearing a ridiculous hat just so they stop for a split second and look you in the eye.

You try not to worry people around you, but you just don't know how to answer when someone asks you, "How are you?" That simple question becomes a big, honking deal. You just get through the day as best you can with lists running through your head as you pigeonhole your life - medical stuff, insurance stuff, work stuff, family stuff - and invariably you drop something.

And you just want to curl up into that very small ball - all from a microscopic cluster of cells that don't belong there. Roller coaster of emotions? Hell, that's easy. Try a gorram Tilt-A-Whirl. But I keep being told to "feel what you're feeling" and right now, I feel overwhelmed. People are thinking about me, and praying for me, and making me gifts (gorgeous, gorgeous gifts) and being so kind to me that I feel so crappy about feeling crappy.

But I am assured that this, too, shall pass.

Leaving what in its wake, I have no idea.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

October - Checking In!

Way back at the start of the year, I set five challenges for myself and I've been reporting in my progress, setbacks, and "ack!" moments all year. To recap - I picked six classic books I hadn't read to complete this year, I picked 24 "good movies" I'd never seen to watch this year, I determined to keep a household budget and tame the credit card monster while I was at it, I said I'd take the FlyLady system further into homecare, and I said I'd train to run a 5K race before the New Year's Eve.

Clearly, I was clinically insane to think I could take on all of that. Add in the fact that I work full-time at a job that I greatly enjoy, but one that is quite demanding and I have relationships that I care about keeping healthy and positive, and oh,yeah - I had a major commercial book come out (Wanna Cook?) and nearly immediately jumped into the next project - yes. Insane. Bonkers. Loopy. A sandwich short of a picnic. Round the bend. Crazy as a rat in a coffee can.  All of those terms, plus more, probably have applied.

So I'm practicing something that isn't on "the list" - something that I strongly suspect isn't on any of our lists, but jolly well should be. I'm practicing saying "enough will do." FryDaddy and I just finished a quick swoop 'n' clean of the floors in our little, lovely home. It had gone on too long, and what we just did will do. While I didn't pick up another heavy "good book" from my list, I've enjoyed reading Hedy's Folly (about movie star Hedy Lamarr's contribution to torpedo technology, as well as cell phone technology) and Factory Man (about keeping furniture manufacturing jobs here in the Southeast despite the flood of cheap Chinese imports). I haven't marked any more movies off my list either, but I've seen Fritz Lang's M, which I somehow had missed - amazing, incredible film about justice, vengeance, and insanity. The Babylon 5 project isn't moving as quickly as I'd like, but we're still okay on that. "Enough will do."

Budgeting is the tough one. It's just too tempting to eat out on busy, busy days. I'm hoping with the coming of colder weather that stews, soups, and casseroles become staples in the household. Easy to fix ahead of time and you know what you're having before you get home from work.

Following my doctor's report, I gave up tracking my food (just in time to go nuts with Halloween sweets), then got a KA-BLAM! dropped on me in the form of a "not so good" mammogram report. Long story short, additional tests indicate some calcification, so I have a biopsy scheduled for later this coming week and I'm scared. Hint - if something like this ever happens to you (and I hope it doesn't and that your life unrolls in front of you like the finest Chinese silk), screw being brave and stoic. Tell people. And let them help you. Let them cook for you and keep you company, and sit with you over coffee, and talk about something completely else, and offer you support, and prayers, and cartoons, and well wishes. And be so very glad you have people. They're a little scared for you too, and this helps them about as much as it helps you. So suck it up, sunshine - and let people help.

One thing I've learned in the last twelve years or so is that it's fine to be scared, you just don't let it stop you. So you do it scared. So this morning, I woke up to a dark, cold, blustery-with-rain day and went ahead and jobbled the "Rhythm & Roots" 5K race. My time was so-so - I was hoping to be under 35 minutes, but with the cold, rain, and crowd, I came in at 38:38. Still - that means I've done three 5K's this year and a year ago, I didn't even own a pair of running shoes and was flailing around a church parking lot.

Enough will do.




Sunday, October 12, 2014

What a Week!

 It's been an eventful week here at the Nest - both for me personally and for a far larger population.

To start with, I had my first full physical since I took up running at the start of the year. I have a fantastic doctor and, I'll admit, I was hoping that the needle of the dreaded doctors' scale would give me number I could preen about after all the exercise, food tracking, water guzzling, and so on.

Nope.

In fact, according to that lying piece of cheap machinery, I've gained nine pounds, which I'm pretty sure means I weigh the most I ever have. What the what? I was quite dejected about this. On top of which, I'd bought into an idea on a running blog and had started doing ten straight days of running. Yes, I'd kept most of the runs short (which for me means under two miles), but my calf muscles had started screaming at me the day before my appointment. So now I feel hungry (blood tests meant fasting), grumpy, achy, and generally unsettled.

By the way - all of that goes to prove that it's all attitude. Before I saw the number, while I felt hungry, all the rest - including the achiness - wasn't there. Instead, I felt good - like I was taking care of myself and doing the right things. I'm telling you, I'm half a step from crazy three days a week.

This is why you need a doctor you can actually talk to. I laid out my concerns - I'm stressed with multiple deadlines and responsibilities, I have a book contract to fulfill, which is a fantastic opportunity, but a heavy load of additional work. I'm getting older, the weight's creeping on, and I hate tracking food and exercise; it makes me feel additional pressure. I have a wonderful husband I want to be around to enjoy. What can I do?

Gently and with good humor, she explained to me that what I truly need to do is get over it. Seriously. The numbers that concern her - blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, and those more arcane test numbers from (ahem) bodily fluids - all of those were stellar. Far better than they had been, and she had been happy with them before. Muscle does in fact weigh more than fat and my clothes are fitting just fine, so - keep running, but pay attention to twinges and take regular rest days and I'll see improvement more quickly than if I try to become a Navy SEAL. Eat food that's good for me, but don't track it if I don't want to. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and go to bed at a decent hour to guarantee that I get enough sleep to be sharp and function. Take time every day to rest and stretch and focus. In general, just be kinder to myself. And treat myself to that latte on the way home, although making it with skim milk isn't a bad idea.

Holy smoke. A doctor who talks sense to a patient who's maybe a little too harsh on herself.

I shook her hand and leave the office feeling much better about things and hied myself to the coffee shop where part two begins.

I took my latte and pastry (remember, still fasting at this point) out to a sidewalk table to begin enjoying the sunshine while I pondered the whole get over it thing. Within four minutes, I had a surprising opportunity to mend a fence that had been broken for a decade. Like most people who have passed forty, I've got a past and part of that past is a relationship that ended badly but has both of us still in this same small town. We run in different circles and rarely - very rarely - even see each other. While neither of us hisses and spits on the ground, historically we don't get along, each blaming the other for the demise of a relationship that (let's face it) was bad from the get-go. At any rate, he was walking into the coffee shop, said a cautious hello as he passed my table, and we wound up spending maybe five or six minutes chit-chatting about a huge legal issue facing our state (we're both lawyers, although I don't maintain a practice). I think the hatchet's buried, which is rather nice. We've both moved on and I know I'm in a far better place that I wouldn't be in if I hadn't come to this town and I followed him to this town, so . . . I doubt we send each other Christmas cards, but that's okay, too. Dr. King's right - hate's too big a burden to bear.

So that legal issue we were discussing. Two years ago, North Carolina put gay marriage up to a popular vote in a primary election, when turnout was guaranteed to be low. The language used in the constitutional amendment (we already had a law, but that wasn't good enough for some folks) was harsh and broad, prohibiting not only marriage, but also any form of civil partnership. It was ham-fisted, unfair, and badly thought out. It also passed easily.

Fast forward to this past week. When the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari to any of the same sex marriage ("SSM") cases up for consideration, it created some chaos. The Fourth Circuit, which includes North Carolina, had ruled that Virginia's law violated the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause, but what did that mean for the rest of the states in the circuit? As a practical matter, it meant that SSM was legal in all states in the Circuit, but there was a flurry of filings. Interestingly, most of the focus was on a case in our Middle District. While our attorney general has refused to defend the law, based on the Fourth Circuit ruling, two politicians who used taxpayers' money to hire outside counsel, filed to intervene. While the judge there gave the potential "intervenors" (a fancy word meaning "I'm not a party to the case, but let me in to plead anyway") until 3 pm on Monday to get their act together, a judge in the Western District presiding over a different case (this one involving clergy who maintained that their First Amendment rights were being violated by prohibiting them from performing SSM ceremonies), relying on the Fourth Circuit ruling, struck down all laws and statutes prohibiting SSM in the state of North Carolina.

All laws and statutes. I had been obsessively refreshing my Twitter feed, yet missed the ball. I genuinely thought nothing would happen until Monday. Safe to say, North Carolina sort of exploded - some with happy tears, glitter, and cake, others with frustration, condemnation, and ashes - but the sky remains firmly in place.

As I said - quite a week.