The Strega's Story
A blog about one writer's life and literary adventures. A "strega" is an Italian folk healer; my great-grandmother was one, and my book explores her life, and much more. The opinions expressed here are strictly those of Ms. Strega, and specific facts about my life may be altered at times for confidentiality.
- Name: Joan McMillan, aka Ms. Strega
- Location: Silicon Valley obverse, Felton, United States
This blog is about my book, The Strega's Story, which is partially a memoir, partially historical fiction based heavily on truth, of my Italian-American family. I have an MFA in Creative Writing and my work has appeared in Poetry, Quarry West, Onthebus, Chattahoochee Review, Blue Mesa Review, Comstock Review, Saranac Review, and many other journals. I am a lecturer in English at the same university from which I received my MFA.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Too Long a Wait
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Becoming a Caregiver Almost Overnight
I apologize for the long silence on this blog. My life has taken a very unexpected turn in that I have become a full-time caregiver, while still dealing with my own health issues and continuing to teach at university (and even write--I am polishing my first nanowrimo novel)..and yes, even dancing, though I have had to give up some of that for now.
I can't tell much about the caregiving in this public forum in terms of exactly who the "caregivee" is, except that they are thriving under my care and, strangely, so am I. At first, it felt like a tsunami had swept through my life and that of my family and I was overwhelmed, with many new decisions to make, all of a sudden. I have had to rearrange many aspects of my life and am now making peace with the fact that my career, for now, may be impacted in that I might not be able to do everything I wanted teaching-wise or even writing-wise this year. Still, what is most meaningful to me is that I am making a very profound difference in another person's life. Giving of my time and love like this is also changing my heart and mind in very deep, almost subterranean ways--I find I don't worry about as much because I can't afford the time and energy, for one thing. Plus I think I got all the worry out of my system when I first entered into this venture a few weeks ago!!!
Thank you all for still visiting this little corner of the Internet, despite my silences. I hope I can post a bit more regularly this autumn. Peace to all.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Another Incentive to Stay Here
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
My sister died after having lupus and related health problems for eighteen years. I wonder at times how long I have (I have also had lupus for eighteen years as of December). Zen has brought me to a place of peace about my own impermanence, with a sense of "yes, of course there will come a time when I won't be here," and that is a resolved fact of life with me. I have not been through as much as others go through, but what I endure is plenty for me.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I used to play the above game, Moon Cresta, when I was just a young undergrad. Today I happened upon a YouTube video of it. In the era of games I really can't play well (I haven't even saved the princess yet in Mario One), itt was nice to see dear old Moon Cresta again, in a time when my health has yet again given me challenges. Sort of like the visualization of "good" cells getting rid of the ornery ones.
Still, I am back at work, happy to see my students and ready to start a new year, however creakily I am doing it right now. I went through months of recovery from pneumonia and other respiratory problems and am now recovering from a life-threatening asthma attack last week (ambulance, hospital, intense IV prednisone and a long high-dose course of prednisone also). I am grateful, inordinately so, to be alive right now. Each day is precious, and for me, each day is Zen as well. As a Buddhist, perhaps the images on a long-ago video screen may be in appropriate (I took Dharma vows which include nonviolence), but the little cartoonish images of meteors and rockets are a bit silly and goofy, and so I allow even this little thing from long ago to be part of my healing. Healing is merely the willingness to forgive and invite goodness in, after all, and anything can symbolize it. The personal symbol is something I really like to explore and talk about as a professor, too--we will be doing a lot of that as I work with my new batch of folks this year.
And grateful for learning the preciousness of the moment, the real life, this gift of having my footsoles fastened to the earth a little while more. One day at a time.
A monk asked Chao-chou, "I have just entered the monastery: please give me some guidance."
Chao-chou said, "Have you eaten your rice gruel?"
The monk said,"Yes, I've eaten."
Chao-chou said, "Then go wash your bowl."
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Slow Recovery, Again
I had pneumonia for at least two weeks in May and the beginning of June without knowing it. I only felt very ill with a respiratory infection. It wasn't til last week that I actually thought to have my doctor check it. He's the one who has helped tremendously with getting my asthma under control. He came to the conclusion that I had viral pneumonia and to get home and rest.
I have to say that, though it was definitely not a walk in the park to get pneumonia, my lungs seemed to have survived it fine. It is a testimony to how far I've come healthwise in a year; last year, pneumonia would probably have ended things for me. This week I am back at dance. For my body's ability to heal, I am incredibly and forever grateful.
I also turned 52 on June 7th, with quiet and gentle birthday celebrations all 'round. Since my sister died at age 53, I am well aware, sadly so, of my mortality. Time seems so precious these days.
I have also been a practicing Zen Buddhist for a year now and truly see how it is changing my life in very slow and subtle ways, all with just a willingness to try the meditation and be patient with myself and the unfolding of an entirely new spiritual life for me (though I joke that Zen is the perfect spiritual path because I get to sit for a great deal of time each day!)
Monday, April 11, 2011
What I Dreamed, I Did
I feel sad for anyone who still maintains the idea that lupus is not a real disease. I have had it for eighteen years and can feel how much it has taken out of me at this point. The good part for me is that I fully believe, even at this point when so much is up in the air for me, that I can achieve a remission.
Every day is so precious, so irreplaceable. That is the gift I am getting out of this time, that the time on earth we have is such a treasure.
Monday, January 31, 2011
I am currently on the last leg of my novel The Pleasure Palace, and it should be ready to send off in a couple of months (including time for edits). I'm really happy about its progress and it is quite fun to sit down with something in which I can run free with my particular brand of humor. I will miss it when it's done, but there is always the sequel (this will be a three-part series, loosely).
That's all for this week!
Labels: writing and teaching