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katemikkelsen
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Artsy fartsy gal at home in Wisconsin.
Recent Activity
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I’ve written and rewritten todays post, alternating between feeling bold and feeling uncomfortable. Here goes bold: Abortion made me a good mother. When I was 17, my birth control failed. I knew immediately that abortion was my choice. I knew I was supposed to feel bad about it, and I did some performative dramatics about it, but truly all I actually felt was deep relief. And a little embarrassment.. I WAS careful, I did know how to prevent it, I thought I did everything right. It still happened. But what didn’t happen, thanks to a legal abortion clinic in my... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at girl at large
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It’s the most embarrassing time of the year. The windows are open and Mama is hopin’ that no one can heeeear! The family is yelling, the neighbors are selling To get out of heeeeeere! It’s the most embarrassing time of the year! There’ll be voices to lower, Unless there’s a mower! Siblings are out of control Soon the whole block will know It’s the most embarrassing time of the year! Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2022 at girl at large
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Me: I’m exhausted. I sleep all day and am still exhausted. Radiation Oncologist: Fatigue is normal after treatment. Me: I forget things, I can’t focus, I feel like a constant failure at work, I’m easily overwhelmed. Therapist: Try making lists. Me: My nails are still brittle and cracking down to the quick. Nurse: Oh nails are the worst, they take the longest to go back to normal after chemo. Me: My joints ache so much and I feel weak. Physical Therapist: Do your exercises! Me: My tongue is gross. No one: nothing, because I didn’t tell anyone about that, ick.... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2022 at girl at large
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Start painting again they said, it will be good for you they said. It will help your anxiety my therapist said. So far my accomplishments include spending the kids college funds on supplies, hiding off camera during video classes and defending my water bowl from Stevie the cat. A few sketches and paintings have worked out as intended, but, in the way paintings can do, a few images have turned against me. This little house in New Harmony, Indiana for example…I’ve been up nights trying to get the damn thing right. A happy little travel study has morphed into a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2022 at girl at large
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“Sorry honey, I had a big cabbage slaw salad yesterday.” “That’s ok, I just dropped a huge bomb in the bathroom” Happy 10th anniversary my love. Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2022 at girl at large
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I’m helping Mom complete an online health questionnaire, an important one for an upcoming appointment. It’s long, it covers a lot, and it’s challenging to do even without vision loss. I’m reading from the screen… Me: “Ok, Mom here are the social support questions. Answer either True, Mostly True, Somewhat True, False, Mostly False, or Somewhat False—‘I have someone I trust to help solve my problems.” Mom: “False” Me: “Really, are you sure about that?” Mom: “Totally, I don’t trust anyone to solve my problems” Me: “No one? You have no one to help with your problems?” Mom: “Not that... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2022 at girl at large
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I haven’t hit upon a charming story to tell about our First Born Spring Break Road Trip. It was fun…but it wasn’t. The weather was crummy, and I was sooooooo tired, but that wasn’t the problem. It just wasn’t…the same. Some parts of the journey felt as heavy as the cloud cover; the buoyancy of the past trips was missing. Two years have passed since our last Spring Break Road Trip. Two terrible, roller coaster, frightening, serotonin-sucking years. I’ve changed, I’m still changing. Mom is slowing down. Felix is no longer content to be toted around odd museums and yarn... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2022 at girl at large
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I’m alive! Crap, I almost died. Wait, I could still die of this, I’m just in remission. Chemo worked! Hooray for medical science. Chemo nearly killed me, how the hell did I get through that? I’m so happy the scan was clear. I’m so angry this happened to me. Omicron! Back to masks! Spring! Off with the masks! One of the side effects of the cancer defense drug Tamoxifen, which I started taking again this week, is intense mood swings. This also applies, I can say now from experience, to cancer “recovery”. I’ll take it over the alternative, of course.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2022 at girl at large
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I’m processing last week’s good cancer news, though it’s been a confusing jumble of emotions. Switching from crisis mode to maintenance mode is not speedy. I feel that I am experiencing many of the emotions I set aside in the past sixteen months, unleashed all at once. Also, I have medically induced PMS (another story for another day). So, I’m fun. The kids are continuously processing their losses and fears as well. Some days are deep discussions of death and questions about religion; other days are equally emotional requests for pizza and Mario Kart. The world is also a tumultuous... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2022 at girl at large
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Cheesy triumph pose, Bayfield Wisconsin 2021 It’s cliche and cheesy, the breast cancer survivor photo. This one was taken after I made it up a steep walk through a root-covered woodland park in Bayfield this September. I was celebrating using my last squeeze of strength that day, and most satisfyingly, having surprised my family. They thought I was resting on a bench waiting for their return. I thought I was resting on a bench waiting for their return! But after they disappeared into the leafy ravine, I willed myself to get up and try. I was only five months out... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2022 at girl at large
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I’ve been dragging my chemo-fatigued ass across town each Thursday night after work, shuttling Felix to his rock climbing class. The parking is terrible. It’s dark. I worked all day. And it’s cold. Did I mention the parking? But I love seeing him suit up on his own and scramble up that wall with growing confidence. And I adore our time together, just the two of us, encouraging each other. Tonight, I had a conflict and Paul took him instead. And tonight Felix, for the very first time, MADE IT TO THE TOP! I screamed with excitement when I saw... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2022 at girl at large
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photo by Charlie Rossetto, b. 2016- Lemons are my comfort food. I slice them and eat them straight, I have since I was a kid. Not great for tooth enamel, but excellent for eating my feelings. Mom once sent me a boarding school care package that contained only a Prange’s sweater, two sleeves of saltines, and a bag of lemons. Oh, and a post-it note that said “mom”. I’m in a bit of a seasonal funk and have been taking a bowl of lemons to bed each night. Today, Paulie ran to the store for a few essentials… Mind of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2022 at girl at large
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It’s cold and miserable outside, and I’m forced to work from home again (thanks a lot unvaccinated virus mutating hosts). To battle the predictable winter blues, I’ve done a few zoom watercolor classes and some paint sketches of our trip. It’s pleasant to doodle in my front sunroom, though I can’t decide which I prefer—the cold chill of the single pane windows behind me, or the annoying crinkling sound of the wind against the plastic wrapped windows in front of me. Either way, only the images I create have any warmth. Speaking of creative outlets—-this morning, Charlie appeared at the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2022 at girl at large
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Fairhope, Alabama It’s been a strange holiday season. The new variant has scrambled plans; we didn’t feel comfortable doing inside family gatherings while my body is still processing chemo for another three rounds. But after two years of practice with masks and the kids finally fully vaccinated, we can navigate a road trip and outdoor public spaces. I feel a nagging discomfort about those choices—-will we have a break through infection any way? When people say they understand, are they just being nice? What risks are we taking that we didn’t see? What time with extended family and friends have... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2022 at girl at large
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On the first day of chemo my doctor gave to me a puncture and an IV. On the second day of chemo my doctor gave to me two mouth sores, a puncture and an IV. On the third day of chemo my doctor gave to me three barf bags, two mouth sores, a puncture and an IV. On the fourth day of chemo my doctor gave to me four shooting pains, three barf bags, two mouth sores , a puncture and an IV. On the fifth day of chemo my doctor gave to me fiiiiive kinds of poooooop, four shooting... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2021 at girl at large
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Back story: We’ve been working on cleaning up the disastrously cluttered basement, and have unearthed some forgotten projects. Paulie hung up a swinging cocoon chair for Felix, taking two or three attempts to find a spot to anchor it securely in the old lathe and plaster bedroom ceiling. He left one rather sizable hole. The Hole the kids call it. The Hole has produced a few nightmares, and at least one stink bug. Today’s story: Over the summer, Felix accidentally saw our Elf (of the famous Shelf). At the time I hastily invented a very unbelievable story about parents having... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2021 at girl at large
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Should I Eat These Crackers (nuts, cookies, olives, etc)? Are they unopened? —-then probably not. Are they a brand you don’t recognize or usually see in the cupboard? —-probably definitely not. Are they fancy? —-oooh, probably really shouldn’t. Is it December? —-Danger danger danger Did you answer yes to two or more of these questions? If so, don’t you dare eat those crackers, they are for COMPANY. COMPANY! Continue reading
Posted Dec 12, 2021 at girl at large
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Next year, I might give the kids gifts on Thanksgiving. By that day the kids have outgrown last years jackets and are down to one glove between the two of them. My resolve to hide their new coats, gloves and hats is gone before the pumpkin pie is. This morning, Felix was distressed that he couldn’t find his coat. Not in the house, not in the van. He gets so anxious as it is (mornings are tough), I was glad I could be the hero and not just the parental nag for once. Up from the basement I emerged triumphant... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2021 at girl at large
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My favorite ritual is nail night. Charlie pulls up a chair and plays salon. The first time that he asked “Can I tell you about my day?” I thought oh can you ever! Sometimes it’s his actual day, but more often it’s a pretend day, all the yummier. Charlie: “I went on a journey with my family for work. We took a train, to Texas, yes Texas I think. We had to inspect some some concrete, yah concrete. Then we built a house close to Japan. Then we came back home for a little snack and then I came here”... Continue reading
Posted Nov 20, 2021 at girl at large
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In a valiant effort to reduce our TV time, we’ve designated nightly themes—Monday Movie Night, Tuesday Game Night, Wednesday Art & Crafts, Thursday Cozy Book Time, etc. We love TV, and our iPads and our phones and I don’t feel any shame in that. We consume what I think is the very best in education and entertainment…The Muppets, The Simpsons, etc. But winter is coming; when it’s dark and cold we do screen overload. So, week one of Mama’s big plan. We’ve watched The Little Mermaid, played something called Clack!, doodled and painted, and had a nice quiet evening reading.... Continue reading
Posted Nov 12, 2021 at girl at large
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I have an email account for Felix just for the purpose of two apps, a by-product of Covid remote school. Sometimes I look at it to see what it’s like to have an empty inbox. To feel the cool, fresh breeze against my brain. The nothingness, the sweet calm. No one asking “Did you get my last email?”. No one reminding me to resend the attachment that was, in fact, attached. Not a need to reply “per my last email..highlight highlight highlight”. No chains of Reply All that have NOTHING TO DO WITH ME OR MY JOB. What is that... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2021 at girl at large
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Charlie asked me to explain Daylight Savings Time to him on the walk to school today. After fumbling and failing miserably as we walked across the school yard, I said “Shush we’re walking through all the sixth graders and I still have anxiety.” I then proceeded to explain Anxiety with the knowledge and confidence of a TED speaker. History zero. Mom one. Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2021 at girl at large
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Some of it is rather twee, and I am very very rusty, but I’m doing this again. And by this I mean spending all my money on supplies. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2021 at girl at large
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My nurse navigator shared some “interesting news” with me this past week. At a big Breast Cancer conference, a study was released that shows Kadcyla (my post surgery infusion chemo) is radiosensitive. In layman’s terms, it makes the side effects of radiation much more intense, and they start sooner. NO SHIT I TOLD YOU FROM THE FOURTH RADIATION DOSE. Apparently they are now revisiting all their patients on the same regimen currently in radiation and “watching them closer.” You’re welcome. I’ll never forget saying I can’t swallow and they said “already?” Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2021 at girl at large
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I use my work calendar as my personal calendar too, for tracking appointments and school events, things like that. And doctors appointments, lots of doctors appointments. I copy or “invite” Paulie to them so we can arrange pick ups, etc. Very handy for the usual family logistics. Today I was double checking my schedule when I noticed that I had invited a Paul to my gynecologist appointment next week. A Paul. Not MY Paul. To my gynecologist appointment. That I had titled “Kate’s Coochie Check Up”. I invited a CUSTOMER. AND HE ACCEPTED. Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2021 at girl at large