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Why don’t I feel worse?

Why don’t I feel worse?

Is it denial that keeps me from feeling worse about my new and not so great circumstances? About life in general? After all, my country is on the brink of war.   Global warming is reaching critical mass.  The world is full of discord.  Full of sad news.  And what of my personal life.

I’m thirty-three years old, my favorite number.  An aspiring and by all accounts, very talented singer.  One part of a gifted band of musicians all full of dreams.  The only child of a warm hearted native Oregonian with the unflinching will to prove it.  A child of one of the summers of love.  The lasting legacy of a heartfelt but short lived interracial coupling that sprung from a time full of promise and potential.   A graduate of my state college.  An unlikely homecoming queen.  Popular then and now.  Friend to many.  Enemy to only the very deserving.  A gym rat.  A guilty yuppie.  A girl with many an old boyfriend most all of whom she still calls friend.  A traveler.  French speaker.  And the latest title, cancer patient.

Cancer patient? No cure? Chronic health issue? Does not compute.  You must be kidding.

Written 1/13/2003


Life in 2001

Teisha Helgerson

(living on SE Raymond, the muse for “You Belong to Me”)


“The name is Teisha Helgerson, she sings for a local group called Say Uncle, and it says here she’s going to be a star.  Knockout voice, exquisite sense of rhythm, plus a joyful presence…” Phil Stanford, Portland Tribune, August 2001

Background:  Soloist and choral experience throughout musical career with strong background in gospel, jazz, pop, R&B.

Professional experience:  During 2000 – 2001 performed with Randy Porter, Jazz Pianist; Bill Beach, Jass Pianist; Say Uncle, six piece band; Everyday Silver, four piece band.

Jazz performances:

  • Nike Corporate events in Vancouver, BC (December 2000), Seattle, WA    (April 2000), Newburg, OR (July 2000) September (2001)
  • Hayden’s Restaurant, Tualatin, OR  (January 2001)
  • River’s Restaurant SW Macadam


  • Say Uncle has played the following venues in the last year (2001):
  • The Bite of Portland
  • The Taste of Vancouver
  • The Taste of Beaverton
  • Ash Street Salon, SW Portland
  • Berbati’s Pan, SW Portland
  • Bitter End, W Portland
  • Buffalo Gap, SW Portland
  • Edgefield McMenamin’s, Troutdale
  • Hayden’s Grill, Tualatin
  • Kennedy School, NE Portland
  • Mt Tabor Theatre, SE Portland
  • White Eagle, NE Portland


  • Ringo Starr,   I wanna to be Santa Claus, Christmas 1999, back up vocal
  • Say Uncle, Self Titled Debut, Released April 28, 2001, Lead Vocals
  • Downstream Sound LLC, October 2001

Education:  University of Oregon: Bachelor of Arts, English Literature  


Centre Pompidou, Paris

November, 2010.


Special Showing of Teisha in Concert

“The members of Amelia hear sounds in their heads. They

wake up to voices that whisper in

their ears and rhythms that rattle through their

spines. Individually, they couldn’t tell you when they

first realized that they were soaking up this music.

Nor could they explain why the noises made by fingers

on keys and strings and wood make them feel the way

they do. They couldn’t tell you why they spend so much

time trying to get closer to the thing that makes the

most and the least sense to them.  But they would tell

you that together the four of them feel like they are

each other’s best chance of solving the puzzles they

keep scrambled on the inside.


Amelia sounds like a small jazz band that doesn’t play

jazz or a bossa band that doesn’t speak Portuguese.

They like to cry like Roy Orbison, brood like Tom

Waits… or persuade like Etta James… but they aren’t

pretending to be something they aren’t. They sound

like they mean it.  They feel young – but they know

they aren’t kids anymore.  They pay special attention

to the spaces between the notes, and are almost

reverential to the songs the notes create.


They might drive you across the desert in a

convertible or serenade you from beneath your window.

They might make you think of somebody you wish you

still talked to. They have had their hearts broken,

but they’re feeling better. Most of the time anyway.

You won’t regret letting them plant a few sounds in

your head.”

Written 7/12/02

On film the concert played for the recording of the Amelia Por Avion record.

Join us for a lovely evening to watch with friends. She’s funny and having fun at Mississippi Studios.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

7 – 9pm

Mississippi Studios

3939 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
(503) 288-3895

http://www.mississippistudios. com

A special blessing goes to Jim Brunberg for being the one to make this happen so easily.

Order a happy meal and refreshment from Bar Bar at 7:00pm and then settle in for the concert at 8.

I hope to see you there.

Deb, Teisha’s Mom



“I don’t want to die right now” I said with my head curled up in my mother’s arms “I’m not in the mood, I’ll do it later.”  I tearfully lamented this morning about the unknown future and the taxing task of going back into treatment. And then I took a deep breath and mom laughed and said “that sounds like a song, would you write that down.”

This morning I was having a not so teeny tiny cup of feeling sorry for myself. Despite reading in the Sunday paper about oil spills and immigration woes and a brief but studied walk with my eyes across the obituaries, I lay on my side, hands by my head in the cozy upstairs room of mom’s house and had a good solid cry. I let it all out.

Earlier today, I looked at one of the only blogs I’ve ever seen that belongs to a friend of a friend. She is remarkably talented, viciously productive, a charming writer who takes wonderful pictures, writes books and is happily married to a male nurse I’ve met in the hospital who is extremely kind and enjoys making movies about Keiko. I kid you not. Her blog is beautiful and well made and a happy read. I wondered as I sat in the bed with itchy red skin how my new blog about cancer land during early midlife would resound. Would it make people feel crummy maybe or depressed and/or sorry for me and my situation. Be that as it may, I just need to write things down as I brave (with the help of my family,friends and dogs), the path of the unknown that lies ahead.

Chemotherapy starts this week for two days, and then I have a month off before the next treatment. They can’t say how long I’ll be in this routine because it depends on how I respond. Word is that this is not a terribly hard round of chemo - that my hair most likely won’t fall out and it is administered to me as an outpatient so I won’t have to shack up at the hospital. Good news.

For today the plan includes playing the guitar for at least one full hour and going out into mom’s garden to see the number of slugs that climbed into the empty tuna cans of beer she left for them overnight. When I was a kid she used to take out slugs with salt but letting them slurp their way to a happy ending with a six pack of bad beer seems to make her happy. Yesterday for the first time in many years I helped pull some weeds in the garden with a mask on my face and gloves on my hand and it was fan-fuc&ingtastic. I had forgotten how centering it is to dig in the dirt, how good it feels to work in the yard.

If you want a little pick-me-up go see my friend’s friend’s really amazing work at:

Written 5/2/10


Another Birthday Come and Gone

Photo by Sherri Diteman

Happy Birthday



The Fall

The Fall

Down slippery steps made semi-professionally of Home Depot wood many years ago now. Repaired and repainted several times so that as the freshest layer peels away and other color preferences are revealed. In this case Pink.

The pair of Korean style slippers gifted to her by her most gifting giving gifted friend would remain gently splayed and clearly abandoned at the bottom of the step. No breath is making it in or out and this moment in time feels like the body on pause, or stop. Remembering as she is a similar experience when she was a small child is a form of self-talk geared toward keeping her from racing panic. She crawls along the wet cement driveway on her hands and knees and wills the body to take a breath. Sullenly, it does. She groans, loudly as she winds her way back up the stairs and into the house.

Mom is the first call. “Really?” she says, “I’m on my way.”

“I’m alright I just scared myself” she replies, but the strangled loud and painful delivery of these words explains that there is real pain and the brevity of the conversation reveals that it will be an hour or more before it feels funny.

She is and has always been of the frame of mind that falling is always, sooner or later, a laughing matter. In this case it will come once call number to Judee B arrives to check out the five paramedics announcing “cute!” as if either one of them could make hay with this information. By the time third call Spider has crossed the crisis line, noting to himself that the slippers seemed to have been drilled into their casual placement, there cannot help but be humor. She laughs and rolls into her fetal ball again and stays like that until she has to wave him away or allow her midriff to be ravaged by jags of laughter and not enough air.

There would be x-rays and a phone call to explain the new term “compression fracture” of the 7th vertebrae — aka in the care-giving circle as a “broken back.” In my own limited The Learning Channel education a broken back does not allow for much movement. There is traction, pain, immobility. This is a new era then, for me at least. Everything moves. The body has remained bandage free. No bruises save the one cursory emblem on the mid right arm.

There is pain, though encumbered by excellent medication, it remains there. A dull and deep attention getter. Providing a persistent canopy under which remembering not to fall becomes a matter of fact. Cautiousness where there had been none. An understandable, possibly temporary, loss of ignorance. Another peek into a world where things can happen to you. This is what casts the illumination on a character of person who consistently remembers not to dwell too whole heartedly on those ghosts under the bed, nor the wicked stings they bring. This is what the laughter is for. Rendering the unexpected, the daunting, the unpredictable a gas, a hoot, something to celebrate instead a stake through the heart of lighthearted movement about the world. Be unafraid, not because you don’t have reason to be. Be unafraid anyway.

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