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Life and the Fun-Guy

Much I have learned about life and death in the last three months of 2009.

The past fall, because of my trusted doctor's error, I was given medicine for three weeks longer than was necessary.  My red and white blood cells fell, as did the platelets, to life-threatening levels.  And there were complications, which I won't bore you with.  I couldn't rage against my doctor, because he was the angel who saved my life eight years ago.

Since September, I'd started to lose weight and I spun into a deep depression.  When my weight fell steadily down to 103 pounds, I knew I was in deep trouble.  If I remained in a funk, I would spiral down that dark rabbit hole and never be able to hop out.  I can't die now!  I have responsibilities:  I have too keep my mom from sleepwalking.  I have my dad to entertain.  AND I have three months to go on Forget Sorrow, the graphic novel.  I need to live.

So I started force feeding myself.  People laughed when I said they wish they had the same trouble of losing weight during the holidays.  It wasn't funny to me.  I'd been skeletal before:

In 1999, I had a mere two weeks (so my doctor told me years later when I was out of danger), but the graphic novel about my great grandfather I am currently working on kept me alive.  Back then it was unfinished and unsold.  Great granddad arrived in a dream to say he wanted me to send his story out into the world.  (He was in a wheel chair and resting in a shopping mall.)  So I started to push up and out into life.  I started to gain flesh, going from under 80 pounds to a normal 115.  I learned to walk again-at first with a cane--to gather enough breath to talk again.

When you decide to live, when you have mustered the deepest, strongest desire for life, you feel it in the dan tian, that place just a few inches below your belly.  You begin to force your "chi"-the breath of life-to expand.  I don't want to be dramatic, but I know I made a choice to live this past fall.  I could also have decided to die.  It was a conscious decision. I've talked to nurses having lost patients who had every reason to live but chose to die.

A friend is now in hospice.  She is in a coma.  She'd lost her husband a year ago.  She didn't want to continue breathing.  (At the edge of her the rabbit hole, I'd kissed her on the forehead.  She smiled even as she fell.)

Once I made that decision, I also took up a hobby just the right pace for me at the moment.  I'm now a mushroom hunter, armed with my field guide.  Shrooms don't have legs to run away from me but they are ephemeral.  I have a great longing to be a good observer, to get back down to dirt level on my knuckles and knees.  The get muddy, to touch living entities.

This mushroom began as a mushrump or just "shrump" for short.  A shrump is the sign of an emerging mushroom  beneath pine needles or clumps of earth.  I've visited shrumps in my backyard multiple times the last couple of days.  From decay, push, push, push into the air and  breathe.  Mushrooms love to breathe.  I, too, am pushing into the air.  I am shaking off the clods of earth.  PUSH, PUSH, PUSH. I want out.  Give me air.  More chi for the fun-guy or gal.

Below are a few photos I've taken.

PS-I love being a beginner.  Everything is exciting and rare for the beginner.

Look at these fun-guys push!  I think they are Agaricus bitorquis or marinus, both species love hard, compacted soil.  So watch for the cracks they create.



 I'm watching these ones everyday!  They are emerging from the base of a dead pine.



Found this beauty beneath a cypress


Belle Yang's Redroom retrospective:  Words and Images

Youtube--"Forget Sorrow"



22 Comment count
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I had no idea you were sick.

I had no idea you were sick. :(
I thought you just were busy finishing your book. How are you doing now? I guess you can't be doing too bad if you're chasing mushrooms all over creation.

Anyway, I do hope you get better real fast.

Many hugs and blessings.


Eric P. Nichols
P.O. Box 56235
North Pole, AK 99705
(907) 488-0483

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I read about the ones growing from snow melt!

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I love the photos, and your story gives heart--

I had no idea you'd had such a struggle.  I absolutely believe you about the writing giving you the motivation to push and care for yourself.  

The photographs with your cheerleading made me cheer, too!

I teach workshops on writing and healing at the Wellness Community (cancer patients and their caregivers), and these always fill up.   The wisdom of the participants nurtures me.  These writers don't have time, energy, or interest in bullshit (unlike academics!) 

I was sorry though to hear about the loss of your friend.  I admire the way you respected her choice, even as you veered from it.

Thanks, Belle!  Rock on, strong love, Marilyn 

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Hi, Marilyn

Sometimes we don't have a choice, but many of us do.  I sensed that boundary when I arrived there.  We have and don't have a lot of control over our body.  Great to hear from you.

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I saw you this fall and had

I saw you this fall and had no idea how ill you were.  You must have been sensing your need to live, feeling it in your dan tian; you were forcing your chi to expand.   So I am in awe of your capacity to push forward, to live, to keep going. 

I love these photos, but more than that, I love the shrumps.  I am going into the backyard tomorrow, under the oaks and Monterey pines to find some there.  I know I will.

Thank you for telling us what has been going on with and to you these past months.  As you know, I miss your voice here.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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I'm fine now


Jessica, check out this link.  Notice my hat looks like the cap of many a mushroom.  It was inevitable.

And if you become addicted to fungi, you'll never be able to run in a straight line again, J.  You'll be looking for the shrump to the side of the path

I have to tell you the news about Ericka's beloved husband was a real shakeup within an awakening for me.

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Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

Belle, nor did I know you were battling cancer. My prayers and luck are yours.

Your fascination with mushrooms might enhance if you watch a 17 minute video which was my blog entry of Dec. 31, 2008, "Six Ways Mushrooms Might Save the Earth." These seldom heralded organisms are eeriely unique.

And...Belle, don't pay a penny for the wrongly prescribed medications or the three months of physician's office visits, hospital bills incurred, or any procedural and lab testing costs during that period. As a doc myself, I can say your doctor is more than pleased that you are not suing him for negligence. The very least you should receive in recompense  is to not have to pay for the unnecessary and injurious treatment. Nicely say, "I don't think I should have to pay for any part of your mistake." He will leap to agreeing with you.

And don't be surprised if some attorney in Red Room or a collegue friend of such contacts you in the near future.

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A immune disorder, Doctor Shay

Something a notch below cancer--that's what they tell me  My doc is very honest.  He said he nearly killed me.

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Yay Belle!

Let me just say "ditto" to the folks welcoming you back. I love the idea of the determined little mushrooms, full of chi.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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Thanks, Hunti

From decay to life.  I'm coming back in the next life as a fun-guy.

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Hi, dear Belle.  I am happy

Hi, dear Belle.  I am happy to hear you are feeling better, stronger, more like your ol' self.

2008 was a tough year for so many people.  Let's hope 2009 is a vast improvement.


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Was it ever a long

holiday.  Apart from health, I had no urgent problems like mortgage and job, but seeing millions so unhappy doens't allow me to feel too perky.  Thanks, Ellen.

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Thank you so much for sharing all this with us

Very beautiful and powerful.

I wish you speediest, easiest recovery and many, many happy years as an old woman who marvels at mushrooms like the universe just invented them!

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Demystifying lichen will be my hobby when I hit 80.  Meeeow.  Happy 2009, June--yes, June and the other months, too.

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"Demystifying Lichen"

That sounds like the title of an Edward Goreybook.

Huntington Sharp, Red Room

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Oh, Belle--

 I'm so relieved to hear that you are growing stronger. As someone who was not supposed to make it beyond three years of age, I salute you and your mighty will.


Cheryl Snell www.shivasarms.blogspot.com

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Thanks, Cheryl

Hope the extra years you were graced with have been excellent.  Onward with poetry in mushrooms.  Emily D. wrote something about them.  I'll have to dig that piece up.  Yes, dig it up.

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Hey there Belle. :)

What a post. It's left me struggling to post a comment for two days! I am so glad you chose to stay in this life and keep bringing light to the world which certainly needs it.

More fabulous 'shroom'  piccies! You really make me smile. :)

Take care and hope you are feeling well.

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Oh, my goodness!  What a

Oh, my goodness!  What a beautiful and harrowing and honest post! I had no idea you were ill, Belle.  I hadn't spent much time in Red Room since early December, caught up with holiday/family things (including my own aging mother.)  Such a shock to come back and read first about Ericka's loss, and now about you.  So glad you made the choice to stick around and are doing better!

Take care!


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Makes me a bit embarrassed

that I wrote the piece, as I don't like attention, but felt I needed to explain it to myself before I could go on and begin a year in RR.


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Wow, glad I happened upon this blog. Great correlation between what seems so simple and the complex.Your "shrump" didn't choose to have to push through hard packed dirt, what choice does he have? People don't choose to get sick or grow up on the wrong side of the tracks.What an inspiring message!

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Wow, glad I happened upon this blog. Great correlation between what seems so simple and the complex.Your "shrump" didn't choose to have to push through hard packed dirt, what choice does he have? People don't choose to get sick or grow up on the wrong side of the tracks.What an inspiring message!