Knowing


The night is soft and lovely as it settles over “The Hill”—Syracuse University.  The freshmen started moving in yesterday.  I wheel the Hill and wonder.

These kids—our children—come to the university with long, tan legs and eager faces.  Their parents accompany them—ahead, behind or beside, all depending—looking concerned or lost.  The kids mostly just want their
parents to be gone so they can set out on this journey alone.  The official schedule advises families that
they should leave campus after lunch on Friday.

I am a child of the campus.  My father was a college professor and so our
family life resonated to the academic schedule.
I got my first library card at the college library, learned to swim in the
college pool, was taught to drive by college students.  I have had a long and mixed relationship with Syracuse University—student, employee, volunteer, lecturer, friend.  I’m supposed to be writing “a thing” (what in
heaven’s name to call it?) for one of the professors, but my discipline lags.

A year ago at this time, as the chrysanthemums and
pumpkins appeared in the farmers’ market, I wheeled the Hill and wondered if I’d
survive the winter.  I didn’t give it better
than a fifty-fifty chance then but here I am now, a year later.  And what do I think about this, the beginning
of another academic year and the end of the harvest?

I am thoughtful and wistful; puzzled and hopeful;
sad and scared.

In the past twelve months, I’ve started two blogs,
both of which have been successful beyond my expectations.  I publish my writings and people read them.  Damn!  That’s the way it’s supposed to work!  There are multiple calls for me to produce a book.

Spiritually, I rejoined the church and watched it
abandon me again when I became too sick to cross the threshold, so I continue
on my solitary path.  I started a
prayer/bible/religious study group at my apartment building.  It was small and steady for many months until
I got too sick to continue to lead it.
Nevertheless, I gained two special friends from the group.

Two young women have become my helpers—I think of
them as granddaughters, and cherish them for their bright spirits, steady
hands, competence at all things electronic and, mostly, just for being young.  Such energy!

I have acquired a special friend who is as old and
wise and smart as I am on a good day, and as steady and determined as I fail to
be on a bad day.  He has patiently,
kindly, seen me through one disaster after another, accompanying me on a
journey to God knows where.  He sings to
me; I grin and figure I can make it through one more day.

And I’ve just come out of the hospital and am still
transitioning.  After being discharged, I
told a knowledgeable woman that the medical profession has given up on me.  “I know,” she said; “I read the file.”

“What’d it say?” I asked.

“Basically, that you’re on your own,” she answered.

I look around the room now, twisting to
escape this knowledge of being abandoned by America’s great medical industry,
and I see a pot of burgundy lilies, a chorus of bright pink gladiolas, a
cluster of vibrant zinnias, and a bowlful of varied sunflowers, and I think, “Don’t
count me out yet.”  I feel good!

And that is because I’ve got this Foley catheter
that lets me sleep.  Because of the
kidney damage caused by a physician not monitoring a psych med, I have not
slept more than two hours at a time in the past ten years.  You cannot imagine what that did to me.  You really cannot imagine.

Now I sleep.  This
afternoon I had a nap that was so splendid, so deep and restful, so luxurious
and healing, so—ah!  An Ode to
Sleep!  And it only cost the taxpayers
$25,000.  I spent three weeks in the
hospital and what I got out of it was a Foley catheter.  What you got were some interesting essays on
the ways and means of modern American medicine, hospital-style.

So, now that I’m on my own (oh, come on—seriously!  You’ve always been on your own and you know
it.  Everybody is on their own, they just
don’t acknowledge it.  Who said, “We live
by illusion and die by reality?”  Reality
is that we are all alone, so let’s get on with it.)  So now I’m going on the whole food plant diet, see also “Forks over Knives,” Dr. Esselstyn, Sanjay Gupta, Cleveland
Clinic, and my special friend.  He’s been
eating bunny food for about two weeks now and is at the testy stage of the diet.

Maybe it’ll cure his heart problems and my diabetes,
and maybe it won’t.  Maybe we’ll be
co-presenters at the conference in April, and maybe we won’t.  Maybe I’ll write a book or maybe I’ll get an
infection from the Foley catheter and die.

All I know for sure is that the jazz is smooth; the
night is as soft as it is dark, and I am going to sleep well tonight.

And that is all I need to know.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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6 Responses to Knowing

  1. Jack says:

    I first stumbled in after doing a search on The absolutely-ridiculous mismanagement of ridiculous Medicaid’s transportation-program.. when somehow I fell into your lap of writings.
    So now whenever you hit your Enter Key.. a little dose of you is sent directly into my inbox. This computer is really quite the machine isn’t it.

    And If I may ask you.. The last sentence on the “ABOUT: Anne C Woodlen” page.
    The last part seems to have been cut off for some reason.
    “.. During that time, I attempted%2 – then zip.
    That is where it ends.
    I’m thinking perhaps they only gave so many characters and not a single more.
    – I can’t use the words to express how deeply aggravating I find that.
    As if ‘we’ can’t figure out How Many words and letters WE Need, to finish our point or story.
    But instead need to be told when enough is enough. It’s Insulting, frankly.

    I’ve tried a few times to click around and find the missing portion – without any luck.
    Or maybe I just keep hoping there’s more there to BE found. 🙂
    Would you mind letting me know which is so?
    I would very much enjoy hearing more about you – and the beautiful choice of words you use.
    My favorite phrase is: “we are not the daughter’s of the revolution, we were it’s Mothers..”
    I too could picture your kin standing on that porch, babe in arms. Gave me goose bumps!!
    (ha!) Really !
    So if you indeed have a story to tell, and the ability to do it well.
    So if any one of those offers pan out as the means to write your story.
    Then do hope you will take the chance and do it!
    You basically have the ‘Outline’ already done – It Leaves me wanting to know more, more about you – About who you’ve been – Who you still are. How much of that woman on the porch is like you? What made that man the one whom your heart holds the closest after all these years. See? Details. We want details!!

    But most of all, we – I, want you feeling well. And happy.
    You have a new friend in upper New York, whether you were wanting one or not. 🙂
    Take care.
    – Jack

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Aw-w-w-w, Jack, you made me feel all warm and friendly all over. Thanks for the kind words, and I always enjoy getting a new reader–and hearing from readers! Of course, some of the things I hear are pretty harsh–angry people telling me what a terrible person I am. It takes all kinds.
      About the “About” thing–I’m guessing that you’re reading what’s at the bottom of a blog page. Instead, go up to the top of the page, right under the picture, where it says “Home” and “About.” Click on that “About” and see if you get the whole story of me. (Such a thrill; such a thrill!)
      And try not to take the number-of-words thing so personally. The guys who invented this weren’t trying to tell me what I could or couldn’t do (as if that would work!). They were telling a machine what’s its maximum capacity would be for a certain space. We all have our limits.

  2. annebrocklesby says:

    So Anne

    Seriously, I have just been in a small group of people seeing a dietician. It is so helpful. I now know how, when and where to eat.

    As for creative writing – go for it.

  3. Hi there Anne

    Yes, I agree, you might want to change what I said and insert the words ‘begun to’. That is fine. What I mean by what I said, is that for the time being. In other words, it is necessary sometimes to make that real effort to eat less, to try and avoid cravings, and make sure to drink plenty of water. Naturally, I do not always achieve this. But on the whole, I do know so much more about the process of what to eat, and when and how. But of course research is changing this all the time. Some people seemingly do not need to drink as much water, but I do.
    Keep on with the writing – it is great.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      If you eat more vegies and fruits then the fiber will make you feel fuller and you won’t have to eat less. Also, lack of sleep makes you hungry. If you’re tired then you produce less of the hormone that cuts off appetite andmore of the hormone that increases appetite. Did they tell you that going to bed fifteen minutes earlier at night can result in weight loss? Are you going for weight loss, or healthier eating?

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