Posts Tagged ‘joy’

Awesomely, I am cancer-free.  I’d call for a hallelujah but I’m not religious like that.  Oh come on, HALLELUJAH!

After hacking most of my arm off (no, not really) at the end of June and taking the sentinel lymph nodes to task for falling asleep on the job, I got a clean bill of health, well, at least as far as that no-good-piece-of-crap cancer is concerned.

The scar is nasty – pic at the bottom for you ewwwing pleasure – but I’m posting it as a service.  When they say “wide excision” and your general practice doc says “you’ll be a bit disfigured” and “your career, ha, as an arm model is out the door!” she’s actually NOT KIDDING.

So melanoma patients: I was a scaredy cat.  I read the survival rates online, got the shit scared out of me and ran for the hills.  I relied on my surgeon and dermatologist to provide the information about the cancer and methods of treatment.  That worked for me.  I DID try to research what a “wide excision of the arm” would look like with little luck.  I need more pictures people!  So it’s a public service to all you other searchers.  Look.

So, to recap, that mid-may diagnosis of melanoma turned out to be The Real McCoy but I am now cancer-free.  The follow-up for me is dermatologist visits every six months and the oncologist for chest x-rays and blood work once a year.  I can’t quite believe I’m a cancer patient, albeit the very best sort.  My last words on the topic?  You’re not too young to get it so get yourself to a skin-check.  It’s worth the 15 minutes of being stared at with a magnifying glass.  And some of you might enjoy that!



Posted: 15 July 2011 in the fantastic
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Today I taught a class of six Saudi women on a short exchange program to the university.  I had a glimpse of my old life, the one that remembers how to pronounce Riyadh, and though I missed it, I was delighted to be right where I was watching them peel back the edges of research.

We slipped into the stacks searching for a book on Princess Nora and when they found it their faces lit up.  They didn’t have the casual “that’s cool, whatever” attitude my regular groups of 18 years old have, which was a teensy reward in itself.  As I stood there, watching them search for books on the fly with shiny new ipads, I was struck at how far I was from every other place I’ve ever been.  From the six year old who swore she’d be an ambassador, from the college student who never used the library once in 4 years, from the foreign service officer who swore she’d never look back, from the grad student who was baffled that all of this information was online and yes, from the librarian who just wanted to spend the afternoon finishing her staff evaluations.

Today, I used an ipad to find a book on Princess Nora, watched a short video about her, found a biography and searched for a review about the book while I stood in the stacks, took a picture of a book I wanted to read later and cleared the holds from my account so I could check it out before I went upstairs.  My daughter has been born into a world of awesome.



A Real Page-turner

Posted: 10 May 2011 in observations
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I love love love this post by someone who does the same things I do.  Just yesterday, in fact, I walked home two and a half miles reading the whole way.  Although sometimes I have a proper book with pages and all, I find that the glare of the sun on the pages and the heft of the book make it so that reading while walking longer distances isn’t as comfortable.  A block?  No problem.  Any further makes my head hurt.  So yesterday, as I do often, I walked-read on a Kindle and angels sang a chorus the whole way home.

Walking while reading provides a certain amount of danger.  Negotiating curbs, rogue bicycles, malicious bees, traffic.  If you enjoy a little spice to your day, I suggest you try reading while walking from a flat area up a barely noticeable incline. A page-turner walk is even more fraught with peril than walking with a Kindle. Turning the page requires extra attention to the pavement and surroundings and a physical effort that could set you off kilter.  Any veering I’ve done while reading has been at the prodding of a paper page turned too quickly.

That said, reading while walking (in any format) means I’m missing out on what’s going on in the world around me.  Since I love seeing unusual cars (or people) pass, looking at balcony gardens or watching the bridge construction progress, I don’t read every day.  Walking is as much a meditation as it is time away from my child, my work, my life that I can devote to a few chapters of a particularly good read. Like Deborah Bryan says, it has to be a really good book to claim the cracks in my schedule.


Posted: 26 December 2009 in observations
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In the time we’ve been together, we’ve been building traditions.  We’ve got one or two here and there (a mix cd on Valentine’s Day, she scoops the pumpkin guts, staying home with appetizers on New Year’s Eve) but on Christmas, we’ve amassed more than a few.  Some of them are traditional and come from our families.  Some  traditions we don’t manage every year.  Some are more habit than tradition.  Some are you and me, every year, I love you traditions.

An orange in the toe of my stocking.  Chocolate coins.  At least one silly gift (this year, terrified pickles).  Stockings first, before breakfast even.  She wakes me with “Merry Christmas”.  If there’s company, then homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and turkey for supper.  Fried oysters on Christmas Eve (or tamales, depending on which side of the Mississippi we’re on).  At least one gift from Santa.  Marking the year on the bottom of new ornaments.  Making cookies, candy, toffee.  Small gifts (more expensive things happen on birthdays).  Every year, a wind-up toy.  Tears every single time I hang that reindeer ornament.

You might have some of these with your own families.  I hope you do.  Here’s to building more in the future.

Shirley Temples

Posted: 25 December 2009 in observations
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Shirley Temple

Fill glass halfway with ice
Pour lemony-limey soda onto ice
Top off with a tablespoon or two of grenadine
Add one maraschino cherry
Serve, drink.

We had a fantastic dinner last night at a local high-end southern restaurant.  The atmosphere was perfect.  For someone with splitting headaches, finding the careful balance of ceiling lights, spotlights and candlelight is a precarious undertaking.  Fortunately, there was nothing to interfere with my fantastic biscuits with honey, shrimp and grits or ribs.

The booth was cozy and under a heat vent – completely welcome on a chilly night.  The air was cheery; chatter from the bar, low conversation from leather booths, clinking glasses and soft gusts from the swinging door.  Normally, we’d have some inventive alcoholic beverage, but given we’re awaiting Vega’s* June arrival, we went virgin for this holiday.  Suits me, that’s one less headache trigger to worry about.  Neither she nor I could think of any virgin drinks to try aside from the super fruity ones, so I ordered a pair of Shirley Temples.  I know, how 7 yrs old.  We didn’t know what was in them but they were delicious nonetheless.

It was a perfect cap to a fantastic Christmas Eve.

I’m not sure why we don’t shop like this every year.

D and I usually exchange gifts on the 25th.  Small gifts generally, things we think the other would like.  We were going to skip that this year in favor of something bigger but scrapped it and were left with nothing.  So we braved the holiday traffic and mobs to drive an hour to a place where there are a lot of shops crammed together.  A mall I suppose, but outdoors.  With a $50 limit, I was planning to buy a couple of smaller things and focus on not panicking in the crowds.

So, plans in place, we went to sleep last night excited about our plans.  And then I woke up at 3 with a splitting headache.  Sure, it was the same headache I’ve had off and on for four days but it had been gone for a few hours earlier and I was hoping I was off the hook.  Lies.  So I spent the wee hours wishing my ache away and watching infomercials.  As you do.  At 5, I fell back asleep, armed with advil.  At 8, she woke me up and my headache jangled around in one eye, trying to shred my brain.  At 10, we left to shop.  30 minutes in, we had to stop so I could buy sunglasses.  45 minutes in, we had to stop so I could toss my breakfast on to the side of the road.  When we arrived, I gave in and took the medication that might be causing rebound headaches but it’s christmas and I don’t care.

I was prepared to possibly die today in clouds of aftershave, pushy, last minute shoppers and screaming children.  In fact, the only crowds I encountered were in the tech heavy stores (along with overwhelming cologne – seriously guys, lay off in a public place) and the only kid that screamed had every reason to, being short one coat in the freezing cold.  D and I shopped separately, leisurely, and both had a wonderful time finding things for each other.  We capped it off with a visit to a pet store that miraculously had the special food our special dog needs and lunch with a queer server.  Talk about a christmas score.

So, tonight we’re celebrating with a gift certificate to an upscale Southern restaurant that our realtor gave us and tomorrow we’ll unwrap those gifts bought with love and leisure.  Who knew christmas eve could be so mellow?

Gift Giving

Posted: 21 December 2009 in observations
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This gift giving season has been an awkward one for us.  The people we like to give gifts to need things we can’t always give – groceries, elder care, a job, a visit from social services.  We’re doing our best by providing toys, a weekend away from chaos, food and fresh fruit, and fun when there hasn’t been any.  At some points we felt awkward about picking something not specifically asked for and at others we were elated to have stumbled on a stroke of gifting genius.  Either way, we ended the day today happily confident we’d ended up more on the side of the latter than the former.

Somehow, we’ve let gifts for each other slide.  We usually reserve bigger gifts for birthdays but this year we agreed to get one thing that we’ve wanted but was too expensive to justify generally.  But you know, in the end it really was too expensive to justify and we can completely live without it.  So that leaves us with nothing to give to each other.  We’re both feeling it in the same way – I wish I had something to wrap and give to her.  It isn’t really a holiday without seeing her face light up.

I’m stuck though.  The things she wants are things she should pick out, costly, or intangible (and the same goes for me).  I like to give her things she didn’t even know she wanted but I’m stumped this year.  It’s not the end yet, we’re still mulling it over.  The bottom line – I’m surprised that buying a shiny new mutual gift couldn’t replace the joy of seeing her open something I’ve picked especially for her.  But it’s nice.