unfinishedthinking

Some thoughts on living and dying.

Month: February, 2013

Still unfinished.

Most of my posts on the unfinishedthinking main page have been about how I’m dealing with my cancer and hospice treatment. Some of my more masochistic friends have asked me to share my unfinished thoughts on other topics. That’s what I’ll use this page for:  http://unfinishedthinking.com/still-unfinished/

There’s also a link at the bottom of this page.

For now this is still under construction. Give me some time to get it figured out. Thanks.

Graduating.

Someone quoted me to me today.  It was a slightly pompous quote about “how life is measured.” (Yikes.)  I couldn’t remember where I said it, so I tracked it down using the Spotlight function on my Mac.   Turns out it was exactly where you’d expect to find a slightly pompous quote:  it was in a graduation speech.  I delivered the commencement address at VCU in 2010.  Rereading the speech, I cringed a few times.  Maybe I was a little more than “slightly” haughty.   Of course, I once again talked about me, me, me and my cancer.  But I also talked about my curiosity.  Here’s an excerpt from that talk.   

         I am an incurable optimist. I am energized in my efforts to make my company better and my family happier.  I’ve become insatiably curious.  I want to know everything — and I want to know it now.  I go to TED conferences, New York TimesTalks and Google events.  I want to see all the small, interesting movies — and I don’t want to waste my time at the predictable blockbusters.  I want to read every magazine and newspaper.  I want to do things that mean something.  I want to learn…

         Life is measured only superficially by heartbeats, breaths and brainwaves.  Life is doing.  It’s learning and it’s engaging and it’s thinking. 

         We have entered a time that demands continuing, lifelong education. Today’s young scholars don’t need to know their multiplication tables, the capital of Wyoming, the date of the Magna Carta or the structure of the government in Kenya — all of that information is available to you in seconds on the computer phone in your pocket.  You don’t need to memorize facts the way my generation did. What you do need to know — even more than we did — is how to think.  How to put information into a meaningful context.  You need to have a philosophy about how to apply the lessons of science and history and math. It’s hard for all of us to be open-minded enough these days to make progress possible. Liberals, conservatives, moderates, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, even independents have their beliefs set in cement these days. I’m guilty of that — and so are many of you. Yours needs to be the generation that’s smarter and deeper than that.  Today’s event is called a commencement because the real learning begins today.

If I have one lesson for you today, it’s to be attentive to and active in society’s smart discussions and debates.  There’s no one right way to think.  There’s no one right opinion to hold.  From now on, the grades don’t matter.  Maybe they never mattered.  The learning is what matters. I tell you, that is your obligation to yourself and to all of us:  go out and find your education.  Get it out of books, computers, libraries.  Get it out of your experiences.  I didn’t learn how to learn until I was long out of school.  Don’t make that mistake.  Learning isn’t what’s served up to you — it’s what you go out and get.  Go out and get it…

Preaching to the cancer choir.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being a closing speaker at The American Cancer Society’s annual leadership conference. The executives at the Society, agency clients for the past five years, asked me to introduce a new battle cry and to challenge the organization’s leaders to redouble their efforts. Here’s the talk I delivered on November 16, 2012.  That evening I’d fly to New York City, hopeful about starting my new trial program at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

It’s an honor to be here today with my fellow volunteers. 

A few weeks ago I told some of you that it shocks me to find that I’m in my 60s.  I remember when I was in my 20s or 30s, smiling at the old folks who couldn’t find their keys.  I was never going to be one of those grandpas who called one son by another son’s name.  I wasn’t going to still have the laundry tag on my shirt collar at 4 in the afternoon.  I wasn’t going to constantly push the wrong buttons on the remote control.  I wasn’t going to expect to get credit for something I did 20 years ago.

Now I do all those things.  I can’t help it.  I’m in my 60s.

The American Cancer Society is 99 years old.  And sometimes, we just can’t help it:  we act like we’re 99.  We move a little slower. Organizations one-tenth our size seem so much sleeker.  We can’t lose weight as fast as they can.  We can’t ski down the slopes like teenagers do:  we’re too afraid of falling down. We want credit for things we did in years long past.  We want respect for the undeniable successes we contributed to 10, 30, 50 years ago. We can’t help it—we’re almost 100 years old.

You know, there’s some undeniable truth in that feeling, but it isn’t really fair. Unlike people, organizations are infinitely renewable.  Coke and IBM are both 100-plus–and they’re doing just fine on the black diamond slopes. Hundred-year-old General Motors just jumped up three places to #5 on The Fortune 500.  Berkshire Hathaway, P&G, Johnson & Johnson and UPS are all stronger today because of the lessons they learned and the momentum they gained in their first 100 years.  There is no guarantee of wisdom as you reach 100, but there is experience, there are successes to build on. 

This is a time for renewal at The American Cancer Society.  It’s time for the official sponsor of birthdays to celebrate its 100th birthday—and for us to turn that birthday into a major opportunity.  This is the time to push the reset button.   It may not be smart of a politician to admit shaking up the Etch-a-Sketch and getting a fresh start, but our mission is too important to do anything else.  Change is exhausting, but when it starts taking hold, it can be exhilarating. 

We must behave like a transformed organization.  We won’t apologize for our size or our reach or our ambitions.  You don’t shrink to greatness.  But we won’t be bloated either.  We’ll be nimble, bold, a challenger.   Remember when skinny Oprah rolled out that wheelbarrow filled with the fat she’d lost?  She was triumphant. That’s what we will be.

We need a little edge, attitude… anger even.  Name a great cause that ever gained momentum without a dose of righteous indignation.  Here’s what we want the world to know in no uncertain terms:  The American Cancer Society, the largest, most experienced and most successful army of cancer warriors in history, is closer to victory than ever before.

Now the doctors, caregivers, researchers, donors, patients, families, friends, professionals, partners and volunteers of the American Cancer Society are stepping up their efforts, ready to finish the fight they started 100 years ago.

Success won’t come overnight, but new technologies, insights and research will make progress happen faster than ever before.  The Society itself has been streamlined—we’re structured for the way progress is made today.  More than ever before, the emphasis is on what’s important:  helping patients and their caregivers, investing in the most promising scientific explorations, raising funds, helping families develop healthier habits, finding cures.  Cancer won’t be and can’t be eradicated on any one front: prevention, research and patient support are all essential.  Complex questions must be addressed:  How will expensive new treatments be paid for?  How will resources be allocated?  How will policymakers be brought together for the general good? 

With 100 years of experience, with more success stories than any other organization in the battle, with real progress to point to, the ACS is about to embark on its most ambitious crusade ever.  As the official sponsor of birthdays, we are more determined than ever to eliminate cancer from the face of the earth.

I would love for all of us in this room to commit to making 20 years of progress in the next ten years. Think for a minute about the people you’ve lost from your life.  Your parents, maybe, or your grandparents.  Your siblings or your friends.  Maybe in some horrible cases, a child.  Think what you would give today for just a few more years with those people.  If we could eradicate cancer, we’d add years to the life expectancy charts.  We’d add billions of birthdays for billions of people.

We’ll never reach that goal without massive local activation and grassroots support for the society.   We need a battle cry to keep us motivated. The “It’s Morning in America” or “Think Different” or “Just Do It” idea that filters down through everything.  “Official Sponsor of Birthdays” is that kind of battle cry.  It’s that kind of big idea.  “Finishing the Fight” is another one. And Finishing the Fight will be our mantra as we enter our second century.

Of course, words alone won’t finish the fight, only actions will.  We need an audacious commitment to inspiring, headline-making actions.  Our 100th anniversary events will be built around stretch goals for the Society.  We will tell the world what our big ambitions are. —and we will set bold, ambitious goals.  If we want to make 20 years of progress in the next ten years, we’ll need fresh and gutsy commitments to take to the marketplace.

There’s another reason it’s hard for me to believe that I’m in my 60s.  In 1998, two weeks after my 50th birthday–and even though I’m a lifelong non-smoker, I was diagnosed with lung cancer.  I said earlier that I’m a volunteer—but I guess the fact is, I was drafted.

Back in ’98, I was told there was an 84% chance I’d be dead in five years–and that if I were in the lucky 16% that survived that five-year limbo, I’d be cured.  Five years came and went.  The cancer never went.  I’ve been in stage IV lung cancer since at least 2005.  I’ve had one lobe removed, multiple radiation treatments, at least seven or eight types of chemotherapy, multiple biopsies, a lung collapse and a pulmonary embolism that was almost certainly brought on by the cancer. (When I get together with others my age, we start the conversation by agreeing we’ll limit all health-related talk to ten minutes.  Otherwise we never get to anything else.)

My doctors tell me that no one really knows quite why I’m alive today.  I suppose it’s even possible that I’d be alive today even if I had never undergone all those procedures– even if I hadn’t spent one summer of my life at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge in Baltimore.  But I tell you what I believe.  I believe—I know–some of that stuff worked.  And I know beyond doubt that just about every procedure I’ve had, every regimen I’ve undergone was developed at least in part with help from this amazing 100-year-old organization.

To me, there’s no question that I’m alive today—and loving every minute of my life– because of the persistent, amazing care I’ve received from my persistent, amazing wife.  And there’s no question in my mind that I’m alive today and that I’ll celebrate my 65th birthday next May because of The American Cancer Society.

At my ad agency, we work for some wonderful clients–Walmart, Kraft, Morgan Stanley, many more.  You can blame us for all those crazy GEICO commercials.  But of all the great organizations we work for, none encourages me to challenge them more than this one.  Dr. Seffrin, Greg Bontrager, Greg Donaldson and Andy Goldsmith invite us to speak up, to be critical.  And we’re tough critics.  ACS’s long list of accomplishments over the past 99 years give me confidence that you can get things done—no one is more grateful for those breakthroughs than I am.  But at the end of the day I don’t care what you’ve already done.  I’m a cancer patient.  I care about what you’re going to do tomorrow.

So I challenge you to embrace new ideas.  For example:

         •I’d love to see this organization embrace and enlist the Silicon Valley geniuses who are developing new technologies every day–to get them to do more to help us in our cause. 

         •I’d love to see you raise billions more this decade than you would normally raise. 

         •I challenge you to encourage Congress to declare a new national holiday in honor of all the caregivers for all the diseases.     •I challenge you to become the International Cancer Society. 

      •There are clearly too many cancer philanthropies in the world today.  Of course, from where I sit, I’m glad there’s more than one.  That said, I challenge you to take the lead in reducing the duplication of efforts among your various friends and competitors. 

         •I challenge you to make Relay For Life into something more than just one-day marathons.  Turn it into something that makes us all healthier:  Instead of having just one-day events, give people the option of committing instead to walk, ride, bike or wheelchair at least 10 miles a week for a whole year. 

         •I challenge you to double life expectancy for at least five of the most deadly cancers in this decade. 

         Those are ideas I like.  Many of you in this room undoubtedly have better ones.  We clearly can’t do everything:  we always need focus.  But let’s do some things in a really big way.  We all know that famous quote from the architect Daniel Burnham:  Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood…

Let’s go forward with ambition and with confidence.  Do not let the lousy economy and the Washington gridlock and the doom and gloom of the nightly news slow you down.  I repeat:  you are the largest, most experienced and most successful army of cancer warriors in history—and you are closer to victory than ever before. 

I take great pride in being part of your marketing team.  I promise you that we will be careful with every penny—and frankly, we’re not starting with many pennies.  It’s even tempting to say, let’s not put anything into marketing.  But the fact is, marketing can be one of our most important catalysts for transformation.  It can crystalize our message. It can reenergize the troops and point them in the right direction.  It can help us raise money.  It can help us save lives.  It can help us finish the fight.  It can help us give the world more birthdays.

People think they know what The American Cancer Society is.  We need to show them what we can be.

I’ve had lung cancer for at least 17 years. I am living, breathing proof that ACS can help make miracles happen.  You comprise the largest, most experienced and most successful army of cancer warriors in history—and you’re closer to victory than ever before.

Thank you for letting me preach my little sermon and make my big challenges. Thank you for letting me poke and prod and make naïve demands.  Thank you for letting me act as part of your great organization.

Let’s finish this fight.

 

 

The future.

It’s easy to lose myself in the past these days.  The comments from friends on this site and the postings on the other site— the one crazy Joe Alexander and his crew created for me (http://wealllovemike.martinagency.com/)–give me so many memories of great times with great people.  I’m a little embarrassed about how much time I spend every day re-reading these things. I’m grateful all over again for all that I’ve been given over the past 64 years—  family, friends, experiences, opportunities, all of it.  The past is well taken care of these days—  but it’s never been where I’ve wanted to spend my time. 

What’s weird right now is coming to grips with how to— or even whether to–think about the future.  I’ve always fallen in love with ideas—  whether mine or someone else’s.  To make it worse, I’m a complete failure at prioritizing:  I’ve always had way too many balls in the air, too many projects that were special to me. And I never give up on any of my projects.  (They tease me at work because I’m still trying to sell in creative ideas we developed for clients who are no longer our clients.  Harry Jacobs once said I was still trying to rewrite ads that appeared in last week’s newspaper.) 

I’m not particularly successful at bringing ideas to life, but nothing excites me more than the challenge of moving a project forward. Something strikes me as a good idea and I want to breathe life into it tomorrow.  But what do I do now that tomorrow is so much less certain?  As much as I’ve liked shedding the tyranny of to do lists, I miss the ability to make plans.  The big Christmas gift I gave my family this year was “ten days anywhere in the world this summer.”  If it weren’t for my diagnosis, we’d be debating where we’d be going right about now.  I hope they make the trip even though I won’t be joining them.  But I suspect it would be hard for them to plan it now. 

At first, Ginny and I couldn’t talk about the future—  her future–without biting back tears.  Still it’s important to me to know that she has things to look forward to.  I want her to have plans that excite her. I’m not panicked about this.  Ginny is good at taking care of herself.  She has wonderful friends.  She doesn’t need the reassurances:  I do.  (We always knew that even though Ginny’s a few years older than me, I had to be the one to go first.  I would be totally helpless on my own.  In fact, if I’d never married, I’d still be living with flattened beanbag chairs and a lava lamp.)

Now Ginny is making exciting plans.  If everything works out, we’re going to sell our beach house and she’s going to live roughly half the time in a place near Carley and Jason in Beacon.  We’ve loved the New York + Richmond dual life we’ve been living.  This will make spending time with The Beacon Hugheses even easier and more inviting. 

Now that I think about it, the future doesn’t seem so bad. 

Ginny. An update.

We learned yesterday that Ginny’s lymphoma has not spread to her bone marrow.  Whew.  She needs another scan (there’s always another scan), but then she’ll be able to start her chemo trial program.  It’s a 48-week program, but the side effects usually aren’t too bad.  If the trial program isn’t effective–there will, of course, be more scans during the 48 weeks–she’ll switch to more conventional treatment.  We’re very optimistic about all of that.

I worry much more about her than I do about me.  She’s much healthier than I am, but it still feels funny that she waits on me.  I can’t believe I’m the cancer patient giving the other cancer patient orders.  She pushes herself too hard. 

Which reminds me.  My cousins are sending me word that I don’t mention my heroic sister Patti enough in these blogs.  Patti’s been cooking, doing the laundry, cleaning up.  We have no idea what we’d do without her. 

It’s another reminder of how lucky we are.

“How are you doing?”

That’s the first question many people ask when they see me.  They tell me how good I look, and then they ask, “How are you doing?”

It’s a nice question to ask, but it’s a little tricky to answer.  If I know someone has a great sense of humor, I might say, “Well, I’m dying.”  But usually what I say is that for the condition I’m in, I’m doing pretty well.  I mean that both physically and psychologically.  If I have a couple of sickly days in a row (as I did last week), I confess that I start feeling a little sorry for myself and I cancel scheduled visits.  If I’m feeling pretty good, on the other hand, I get optimistic— and the visits energize me.

The hardest moment for me was a few weeks ago when my granddaughter Ella was going back home to New York after spending some time with us. I’d been feeling pretty bad and couldn’t help wondering if I’d ever see her again.  That was tough.  She’s been here again for the past week, and I wasn’t nearly as teary when she headed home yesterday.  I’ve been feeling pretty good for the past five days, so I’m pretty sure I’ll see her again.  There’s nothing scientific about that, of course; my prognosis is what it is.   But that’s what a couple of good days will do for you. 

I love the time I’ve had over the past few weeks with Ella’s parents.  They’ve clearly bent over backwards to carve out time from their incredibly busy lives in New York to spend time in Richmond.  I appreciate every minute with them.

An e-mail.

From: John Behen <John.Behen@martinagency.com>
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 11:49 AM
To: Mike Hughes <mike.hughes@martinagency.com>,
Subject: Unfinished Lists

From your blog:
 
“There is one list I can’t help feeling guilty about abandoning. When I was a senior English major in 1970, the world was going a little crazy. Protests, students taking over University, riots, Kent State, etc. Of course (of course!) we couldn’t take tests in that environment. So a skeptical but graceful professor in my “Modern British Novel” course, made us pledge that we read five specific novels. I took the pledge and immediately lost the reading list. I’ve been meaning for the past 43 years to see if I could find it to finish my assignment. I’m not sure, but I’m betting that’s not going to happen now.”
 
Nice try, but you aren’t getting out of this one.
 
Last week, we spoke to the Washington and Lee registrar…
…who talked to a lot of professors…
…and talked to a lot of retired professors…
…then talked to the daughter of your professor…
 
 
…who talked to your professor, her dad.
 
Here is the list, fresh from the 1970 presses:
 
1.       The Good Soldier: A Tale of Passion, by Ford Madox Ford
2.       Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad
3.       Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf
4.       A Room with a View, by E. M. Forster
5.       The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, by Laurence Sterne

 
We in ITS have the books ready for your iPad, coming your way shortly.  Happy reading.

Life.

Today was day one of our four-guys weekend:  it did wonders for me.  It gave me more energy than I’ve felt for months.  They even wheelchaired me out for lunch–the first time I’ve left the apartment since a doctor’s appointment twelve days ago. 

We picked up immediately where we’d left off eighteen months ago at our last fathers-and-sons getaway.  We put questions in a hat (literally–a Walmart baseball cap.)  The questions ranged from politics to “what would you do if….?” to personal things about our lives.  It was amazing to me how quickly four grown men let down their guards and became so emotionally open.  (You’d almost think we were women.)

Engaging with these three intelligent, funny friends was the best medicine I’ve had in weeks.  And to make it even better, Ginny and Ella came back from their adventures in time to join us for dinner.  I’m more convinced than ever that I have the best wife, the best son, the best son’s family, and the best friends on the planet. 

I can’t wait for day two.  I feel alive.

 

 

 

You.

Twenty-some years ago, a reporter interviewed me for one of the trade publications.  Later he told our PR director the interview went well, but the whole time we were talking, he couldn’t take his eyes off my head.  She asked him why.  He said, “It’s the size of a beach ball.”

After the last few weeks, my head probably is approaching blimp size.  I’ve often said that if you want beautiful women to tell you how good you look, get cancer:  they’ll start every conversation telling you how good you look.  Apparently, if you want people to tell you you’re some combination of Gandhi, Shakespeare and Bernbach, tell them you’re dying of cancer.

The emails, the Facebook posts, the personal letters, the notes and the comments on this blog have been over-the-top kind and generous.  I’ve read each one at least two or three times. The messages have buoyed me every day.*  I’m surprised and humbled and proud of the way you see me.  It’s undoubtedly good that it’s not the way I see myself.

I hope I’m keeping all this in the right perspective.  I know how lucky I’ve been my entire life and even now.  From the day I was born, I was destined to be a tall, white, American male with a reasonable head of hair.  All of that stuff shouldn’t matter, of course—and there’s nothing fair about it.  But it does make a difference.  (It would have been nice if my DNA had also made me slim, handsome, musically gifted and athletic—but you can’t have everything.)

I grew up in a great and supportive family—and later a great and supportive family grew up around me.  I had wonderful opportunities in my brief career as a journalist—and even better ones in my career in advertising.  I never struggled to find a job; I never had one I hated; I was never fired.  I worked a lot of hours—way more than 60 or 70 a week—but since I enjoyed the work, I never resented the lost nights and weekends—except when they threatened my marriage, which they sometimes did.  Ginny was right to be worn out by my unpredictable workdays; I should have found ways to get on top of them.  I never did.  But even when she was barely tolerating my workaholism, she never stopped loving me.  She’s a remarkable woman and I was born under a lucky star.

I have been fortunate in many other ways. More than 20 years ago, Ginny recognized signs of depression in me—signs no one else suspected at all–and encouraged me to be tested.  It turns out I had a severe case with symptoms I’d been suppressing for years.  It also turned out that medicines could cure my symptoms almost overnight.  (What a relief!  What a gift!)  It also led me into long-term therapy programs with a very helpful (and patient) psychiatrist.  Every minute with him was well spent. 

My personal wheel of good fortune spins on and on.  My whole career I’ve been surrounded by smart, imaginative and creative people who let me share in their accomplishments.  I’ve had adventures in every part of the world—and I’ve known how fortunate I’ve been all those times in all those places.  (When Ginny and I are abroad, our most common conversation begins with, “I can’t believe we get to do this.”)

There have been hard times, of course.  We will never, ever recover from the loss of our older son Preston in 2001.  Parents are not meant to outlive their children.  There are times for both Ginny and me that memories of Preston will creep up on us and leave us in tears.  (It happened to me about eight weeks ago, while Ginny and I were talking to a filmmaker outside a movie theater in NYC.  One minute I’m OK, then I’m not.)  Overall, though, a few awful times don’t erase the joys of the good times—including many good times with Preston. 

So I see myself as very lucky.  But the notes I’m receiving these days tell me others see me differently.  I’m pretty sure I’m right, but I’m at least going to linger for a while in the glow of your correspondence.  Thank you.  You’ve made this typically insecure copywriter feel a little more confident.  Maybe I’ll even pick up a little swagger.

*Forgive me for not replying directly to each of you. I’m not sure what the etiquette is here, but I just don’t have the energy to address all the messages.  I hope everyone understands.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A work in progress.

This blog isn’t called unfinished thinking for nothing.  This post meanders, screams for editing and screams for an ending.  I’ll try to get back to it later.

Two weeks to live.

 

Eighteen months ago, Jason and I spent a three-day weekend at the beach with a good friend and his son, who is also a good friend.  The four guys ate wonderfully (thank you, Jason) and had some fabulous conversations.  It was among the best weekends of my life.  Father-son conversations get better when the son’s an adult; there aren’t any secrets or taboo subjects.  You can talk about things in a deeper way.  But, alas, when everyone’s an adult with adult responsibilities, get togethers like these are hard to schedule.  We planned to make the beach trip an annual affair.   But, as I said, 18 months have passed…

            We’ve planned a mini-version of our beach weekend for next week.  I can’t wait.  (This time there won’t be a beach to get in our way:  we’ll do it right here from our apartment.)  This year we’re posing some questions to each other in advance of the meeting—some things to think about.  Larry, who is my age (in fact, he’s actually much older than me), had the nerve to post this question:

            If you were told you had only two weeks to live, how would you spend them and with whom?

             Sensitivity isn’t Larry’s long suit.

The others will give hypothetical answers to the question.  I guess I can be more specific. 

When Ginny was first given my two-week “sentence,” I was in New York and feeling awful.  None of us thought I’d make it two weeks.  There were times when I didn’t want to make it two weeks.  Somehow, with a lot of help from my longtime Martin Agency partner John Adams, Ginny got me back to our apartment in Richmond.  I immediately felt better.  Not great, but significantly better.

Now I wanted to live forever.  Now I wanted time with Ginny, Jason, Carley, Ella and Patti.  I wanted to see people I loved.  I wanted to check in at work and see what was going on.  I wanted to make the two-hour trip to our beloved house at Virginia Beach.  Maybe take in some movies. 

It was a great feeling. But first I needed to take a nap.  And then I needed another one.  And another one.  I love it that my two-week sentence just passed the three-week mark—and I love it that I’m actually planning a “four guys” weekend for next week—but it quickly became clear that I couldn’t do much.  Sometimes I feel kind of queasy, sometimes I’m very short of breath and sometimes I’m flat out exhausted.  We now “triage” guests.  Most days I meet with one or two groups of three or four people for about an hour each.  It’s all I can do. 

I have a lot of relatives.  We’ve asked them to visit my mom at the retirement center instead of visiting me.  I can’t see her much—and their visits mean the world to her (and to me.)  I love them more than ever for doing that. 

Friends in London, Texas, Oregon, Pennsylvania, New York and India (I think) have wanted to fly in to see me.  It breaks my heart, but we’ve instructed them not to come.   The fact is, we’ve had to cancel some of our scheduled in-town visitors with less than an hour’s notice:  it would be crazy to make a long trip with my schedule so uncertain. 

 

More to come.

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” Oscar Wilde

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