Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Roman Holiday - Day 3

Today we took a fantastic tour of the Colosseum, Palantine Hill and The Roman Forum. It is so crazy just walking around Rome and then you turn a corner and there's the Colosseum. Like it's just an everyday thing. How do people ever get used to it? Or I guess it's sad if they do.

An interesting thing to me, is that, yesterday the guy who tried to tour us at the Vatican, was from Boston, and today, one of our tour guides, was a bloke from Scotland. I'm 99% sure that I want to move somewhere cool and become a tour guide when I grow up or finish homeschooling, whichever comes first.

I didn't know it wasn't first called the Colosseum because of it's colossal size, which, it is, but rather it got nicknamed the Colosseum after a colossal statue of Nero that used to stand outside in front of it.

Very awe inspiring and sacred feeling site. I thought it would be really somber to stand in a place where the blood of martyrs was spilled for sport. And it was that, but it was kinda cool connecting the dots from the blood of the martyrs to the seeds of my faith. Made me very grateful for those who have gone before me. And an appropriate arena to feel and fill with said gratitude.
We didn't rent those motorbikes and ride around it like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday yet. I think there's a wee bit more traffic whipping around these days, but it's still on the wish list. As is the Mouth Of Truth. Dave hasn't even seen the movie yet, so he just goes along blindly with me as I weave in a little bit of Audrey along with the sacred and sublime.
Speaking of, we did make it to the Spanish Steps tonight. We met up with a friend from home and now Rome, Juliet, and took a lovely late night walk pass the Trevi Fountain and to the Spanish Steps, and then for a night cap of gelato! This time I had coconut. How much fun to come all the way to Rome and get to run into and around with a familiar face. Not to mention the most lovely one in Rome.

Roman Holiday - Day 2

I guess if you saw the pics we posted last night, you realized we unsnagged that snag and have internet in our room now. There is only a tiny little nag remaining. It is dial-up. Remember dial-up? Probably not. We all tried to forget dial-up. S-L-O-W-M-O surfing is dangerous. And Dave growls a lot.But at least we got to message with our kids a bit before we crashed from Day 2.

Took the subway to Vatcan City yesterday. It wasn't all underground. Crossed over the Tiber, instead of submarinish crossing. Fun sign in the treno.

Almost got scammed into a tour by an American who lives here now and does tours. (I'm thinking of doing this as well.) Anyway, he reminded me of my Grandpa Jeffries (who was a lot like the Jimmy Stewart character, Harvey) and that is the only reason we kept listening to his spiel. But in the end we ventured off on our own to crane about the Sistene Chapel. It was quite undoing to stand right there beneath it, gazing at the amazing painting by the sculptor. Here it is, one of the most famous paintings in the whole world, and all he wanted to be remembered as, was a sculptor....signing his paintings Michelangelo...sculptor. Made me thiink about how I'm hoping to be remembered and how I probably will be. I like how good art can get under your skin and make you itch like that. Especially sacred art. The very famous God's finger reaching out to touch man's finger who is reaching out to touch God's is probably the most sublime and true and piercing piece of art I've ever seen. Especially in person. Especially with a sore neck from not being able to take my eyes off the ceiling. It just seems to me to be the most succinct expression of life in all its meaning. It is the kind of beauty, truth and goodness that makes me want to weep a soul cleansing kind of weep, then to drift off into a deep sleep underneath it instead of stars, only to awaken and see it anew and instead of the sun. Sweet dreams.

The other thing that was especially moving to me in the Sistine Chapel was Michelangelo's self portrait in The Last Judgment. Just his shriveled up skin. Almost literally saved by skin of his teeth, even though his teeth really didn't have anything to do with it. Above him and to the top left is Jesus. He is in the hand of Saint Bartholomew, being carried to Jesus, but hovering over the boat heading to hell with the damned. The look on his face. Undoing. The humility was beautiful beyond words.

Poor Michelangelo. My head about fell off my shoulders in only an hour. I can't imagine his poor neck.

It's amazing how they say no pictures and everybody takes pictures anyway. And I don't think it was just Americans. But you've never seen so many cameras foisted up in mid air and clicking away. And then, every once in a while guards would go through and say "No Photographs!" and put their hands over people's cameras as they are unwittingly taking photos of guard's hands.

We also saw the Raphael rooms. I was excited to see The School of Athens, with Plato and Aristotle debating the spiritual and the here and now. And good old Socrates off to the side asking leading quesitons. And truly humble Raphael off to the obscure right side nearly falling off the wall. I had only seen pictures of it and had no idea it was a wall and not just a painting hanging on a wall.

The other Raphael thing that struck us was the Constantine themed paintings. Especially the one where the cross took the pedestal, knocking off the statue of a Caesar of the Augustus type, thinking they are god. I had never seen it before.

Then just as my camera battery gave out we headed over to the Basilica. I could've stood all day in front of Michelangelo's La Pieta statue. I think this was what he meant about being a sculptor, even though I don't know what's wrong with being amazing at two things. It is a statue of Mary holding her dead son and Lord. As a mum, this affected me down to my toes. The amazing thing to me, is how in the world did Michelangelo know how to get Mary right, since he's not only not a mum, but a man to boot!

We wrapped up Day 2 with an amazing candlelit dinner of lasagna and spaghetti carbonara, a bottomless glass of vino, tiramisu and cannoloni, and caffe americano, in a hole in the wall across the street from our flat.

All in all, a buona journo!

Ciao and Amore.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PS - Pics from Day 1

Trevi Fountain

Real live real pizza

(mint chocolate chip and strawberry gelato)

A bunch of liars!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Roman Holiday - Day 1

We're here! Safe and sound in Roma. Sitting at an internet cafe. 8:30 p.m. Although it feels like 3 in the morning a couple days from now. The plane did fine, but I'm lagging even after a post checking into our b&b siesta. Trying to stay awake to get on Rome time for tomorrow.

Our b&b does NOT have internet like it said on the internet, so we have a temporary snag with posting photos. We did toss coins in the Trevi Fountain and take pics of that, and WERE going to post those, as well as some of our first real live Italian pizza-chianti-espresso in a Roman sidewalk cafe, but alas they will have to wait until we can unsnag.

Notes on first real live Roman meal. Yum. Our pizza is nothing like this. But I think the atmosphere adds something you just can't get back home. They sell it by the slice and charge by the ounce. The chianti was so smooth it felt like velvet. It might have been my fave glass of wine ever, even though I'm normally a pinot noir kind of girl. The espresso gave me a buzz. Which felt extra crazy coming off staying up all night on the plane plus jet lag plus a desperate-rushed catnap plus my first glass of real live Italian wine at a real live Roman sidewalk cafe. Balancing the forces of the stimulants and depressants is a very delicate operation.

Something I did not expect was all the Pinnochios all over Rome. Sure, now that I think about it, Pinnochio is totally Italian. But I just had never thought about it much. I brought Dante, St. Francis, Umberto Eco, and a couple of art books with me to read Italian while in Rome. But I totally forgot Pinnochio.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Two Left Arms

I have a bunch of glam shots of my right shoulder sitting on the dining room table. Dave and I spent a long time staring at them the other night. Dave pretended to know what he was looking at, and I let him, because we were bored waiting for the kids to get home to watch LOST. But really all we could make out was my port, which I really didn't feel like looking at if you want to know the truth.

I spoke with my physical therapist briefly, by phone, yesterday. She said I have three things going on with my right arm: tendinosis in the rotater cuff, arthritis in the clavicle and shoulder, and a fraying of the bursa sac under the biceps tendon. I don't know if I said all that just right. I tried to write as she spoke...but I am right handed, and we are talking about my right arm. Plus I think my brain is still vibrating from the jackhammer they used on the MRI tube I was in when they took the pictures of my shoulder. Basically it was latent and pre-existing, and exasperated by the port. Which doesn't surprise me, as it has been so exasperating in general. A cortisone shot may be on tap, to see if I can tap into some relief. I have an appointment with my PT on Tuesday to find out the gameplan.

Meanwhile, I went ahead and played some tennis Friday despite it all. It was too nice a day not to, and besides, the courts behind my house looked like they needed some cheering up after the winter of their disuse. I ended up playing three sets and getting sunburnt. The first set my tennis bud Heidi and I got beaten by fellow tennis buds Aimee and Celina, 3-6. The second set Mikey and I got beaten by Aimee and Heidi, 3-6. The third set, Mikey beat me for his first very happy time, 6-3.

SO MUCH FUN. Worth the sunburn and the fact that I can barely move today.

On the flipside (of my shoulder) I have come to the rather inconvenient realization that the geography of my armpit has changed since the surgeries, rendering it nigh impossible to shave. Just a little kink in things that I thought I would mention, as I am a bit up in arms about it all. Which is not the most attractive thing in the world. And the truth is, I might think it's too inconvenient to do anything about. Even if I haven't mentioned any of this to my poor razor, who has already been through so much, to flippantly go breaking its heart again.

Monday, April 13, 2009

On the Way to Deuce by Way of Rome

Monday I had my Herceptin cocktail treatment number 7 out of 17. That is almost half way there to finishing this last flight of cocktails. In tennis terms, that means I am at advantage-out right now, but deuce is right around the corner, somewhere between 8-9 out of 17. And once I get to 9 out of 17, by my calculations, it will be Advantage Joules. I will have the edge.

Yesterday I had physical therapy and an x-ray on my shoulder. I had a different physical therapist that I really liked. Not that I don't like my regular one. But the one I had yesterday explained some things about some of the exercises that finally sunk in with me. I hope. I think I am impatient with a side of awkward and the exercises are precise and not a race. I guess this is one place my perfectionism doesn't kick in, because me trying to replicate the exercises they tell me, and use the precise muscles and relax others is like someone trying to dance fast with two left feet. I do this in tennis as well. I started playing about a year before this all happened, and since I have some natural athletic ability, it just clicked and I am a wee bit competitive so that helped, and I just really got in a tennis groove, 5-6 times a week. And I did ok. Now, I'm not saying this was a pretty groove. I've seen pictures. Hilarious awkward shots. Mystifying that they worked. But I don't think I was doing most of it properly. Really it was just a blast of a fluke that I could play well at all. But hopefully this "aha" I've had in physical therapy will translate to my tennis and I will be able to break it down, be a little less impatient and a little more precise, and be a better tennis player.

Speaking of, I got to take my racket to physical therapy yesterday, so she could monitor my shoulder on my forehand and backhand. And she gave me the green light to swing away with those two strokes. Not competitively, if I can manage it, but still, it's in the green box across the net from someone, hitting a tennis ball back and forth, trying to hit just one more shot than they do, to WIN!

Today I have an MRI on my shoulder at 1:15. The tests are just to have a look at the pinched nerve that doesn't seem to be relenting, make sure there are no tears that are adding to said excruciating pain, and make sure there are no other reasons that my right arm is being so troublesome in getting back into the game. We don't expect there to be any other reasons than just some scar tissue (from the surgeries) (not to mention the port sitting directly on my right pec muscle) inhibiting range of motion, and a very aggravating pinched nerve, which, thus far, has refused all attempts to be assuaged.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my breast surgeon's massage therapist, to also work on this pesky and persnickety pinched nerve.

And that, pretty much, is my boys' spring break, which I feel pretty bad about. But we have actaully had a pretty good week together so far despite it all. It has been nice not having the pressure of school. For me too. We watched our fam fave tv show: House and played Euchre past midnight Monday night. I took the boys shopping for prom digs yesterday after physical therapy. Today, the boys are still sleeping in as I type, so that's always a good spring breaky thing. Mikey and I are planning on going to hit some tennis balls after my MRI. Tonight is our other fam fave show: LOST.

My redheads have been amazing in rolling with things the way our rollercoaster has rolled. They really are the best. They are my angels. Amanda, Matt and Mikey, Mini-Mum is sorry you've had to roll the way you have, even if you have been fab about it.

Speaking of rollercoasters, there are a couple other twists to cover in this post: Amanda has changed her major from Biology on a Pre-Med track, to JOURNALISM with a creative writing certificate. My little apple, nestled right up next to me. Both she and Mikey have blogs if you want to wade into their worlds and words. Amanda's is: and Mikey's is:

The final twist and turn of this post has to do with seven hills. Dave and I have finally re-booked our annivesary trip that got derailed by my mastectomy. We are going to Rome at the end of this month! It is technically our 20th anniversary trip, even though, we've had another anniversary since then and our now at 21. Which is a lucky number when you get a Roman Holiday out of it!

They say that all roads lead to Rome. Who would've thunk this crazy rollercoaster of one would? But I am so glad. And I can't wait!

And the Rome Masters are on tap while we are there! To see Rafa play on Clay! Maybe introduce him to my Port Rafa!

Cheers and Ciao.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Other Side of Bedhead

So I woke up today and I think I have bedhead, if you can believe peach fuzz can manage that. Seriously, the peach fuzz on the left side of my head is a wee bit smooshed. I decided not to do anything about it, though, because I just thought it was cool to have enough hair to have a bad hair day.

Also, I don't know if you can read between the lines or not, but that also means that I slept on my left side last night. At least long enough to smoosh my hair down. The back of my head must've been so happy, since I've been sleeping on it since August 18th when I had the first surgery. I have been so looking forward to finding out if and when I would ever be able to sleep on my side again. Unfortunately, I slept right through the event. Which has it's good points, because I need the rest and all. Anyway, you'd think my head would be so flat by now, but I guess I am kind of a hard head. Which, as we can see, has it's benefits.

Something that has surprised me about all this peach fuzz is that it hasn't fallen out in the back of my head from sleeping on it, like a baby's first du does. Which I thought it might. But I guess my hair had some muscle memory or something. Anyway, just a small thing I thought about that made me happy.