Monday, June 27, 2016

From A to B to Z then back to J or P or ...

While having lunch with a friend on Saturday, she began to tell me a story about someone she knows who has developed a fear of flying. “But,” she said, “someone who hasn’t had a fear before, that doesn’t develop without some kind of traumatic event -” She seemed to be implying that because there had been no near death experience via flying that there couldn’t or shouldn’t be any reason why this person would now be afraid of getting on a plane.

“I’m afraid of flying now,” I shared. She blinked and said nothing so I continued. “Ever since the cancer last year and the surgery, I’m afraid of flying and that was never the case. I’m okay after the take off but before that my stomach churns, I am jittery and afraid. Fear of death will do it, I guess.”

She nodded but didn’t seem that convinced.

I realize I put her in a bit of a spot because is she really going to argue with my assessment? That’s the thing about mentioning the C-word, it has an unfortunate ability to shut things down. The laying down of the Cancer card isn’t anything I do intentionally, nor do I really even like bringing it up. But this wrong idea that the brain always works in such a linear fashion made me want to speak up. I was a psych major for a reason; the way that the mind is constantly making connections, trying to make sense of the world or the way it can sometimes misfire is fascinating really.

If I spend time psychoanalyzing myself it isn’t that hard to figure out why the fear of flying has come into play. Being diagnosed with cancer and having to have body parts cut out in order to cure it, then spending weeks waiting to hear if the cancer had spread, there was no controlling that. Nothing I did could change the trajectory of that life event. Flying is a bit like that, right? Once I’m on the plane, whether I make it to my next destination isn’t up to me. Of course, we could say that about pretty much any action I take every day of my life but to worry and be on high alert every minute of the day would be ridiculously overwhelming so let’s thank the brain for choosing to only do this when I have to fly. That’s manageable, mostly because I don’t do much traveling!

Still, I’m hoping that with a little more time passing, the anxiety around flying will fade away. Just because I can pinpoint it to a particular traumatic part of my life doesn’t mean it makes it any less annoying to have to deal with.

0 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies | Health | Cancer

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Hodge Podge

When I revived the blog I said I was doing it because there were things that needed to be written. That remains true. Writing has always been cathartic for me, it was a way to get the swirling thoughts out of my head in a way that made me process emotions, ideas, aspirations, fears, anger, etc. Everything that happened last year should have been accompanied by heavy bouts of writing but I was so out of habit, not just with blogging, but with actual writing that I didn’t do it. As a consequence, all of these words continue to live in my head.

The problem is, I don’t want this to be the cancer blog. I don’t want to have entry after entry of just depressing content. Because, that’s the thing about writing in public, isn’t it? It isn’t just a therapeutic exercise. It’s the creation of “content”; the understanding that the words, once given life outside of myself, are going to be processed by others and that changes things. This isn’t a bad thing, this isn’t a condemnation of living our lives, part of our lives, in public spaces. It’s just a layer. How much that matters is up to each of us.

As I chafe against having every entry be about the cancer, and, hell, if I’m honest the cancer isn’t what I think about or cry over on still a very regular basis. It’s the infertility, stupid. That’s the root of the sadness. So, because I don’t want this to be entry after entry about how that has affected me, I don’t write. I don’t write despite knowing I need to write.

So, for now, I’ll just do a bit of a brain dump:

  • Thing one: I finished A Tale of Two Cities. I had a hard time finding a groove because of the style of writing. The story itself I enjoyed very much so I know I’ll go back and reread it at some point. I also greatly enjoyed having the chance to discuss the book with someone; so the mini-bookclub was a success in that regard. I realized that while I was aware of the famous first line (It was the best of times…) I wasn’t attributing another famous line to this story. When I read the last line (It is a far, far better thing that I do…) I gasped and thought, “Oh! That is from this book?!?” I know know exactly why I find that note worthy and yet I do. Next up for the mini-bookclub is Atlas Shrugged. It’s one of those books that people reference a lot (especially lately) but that I can’t speak to having never read it. From the little I know about the book the reading and discussion should be interesting.
  • I am so close to being done with the cross stitch project that I intend to give to my mother on Mother’s Day. I’m generally happy with the way it’s come out. It has been a few years since I worked on a project this big (it’s an 8x11 cross stitch) so it’s given me ample time to become aware of the short cuts I take. I imagine that may improve if I stick with the plan of stitching on a more regular basis. Though I don’t want to impose such a tight deadline on myself for anything else. Getting this done for May has meant putting aside other activities and that’s definitely not a sustainable way to live my life.

Hmm. I thought I had a third thing but maybe the beginning of this entry was thing number one. This will do for now.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Pinch me if I’m dreaming

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced sharp, lucid dreams; dreams in which I am aware that I am dreaming. In doing some reading about this, I’ve read that some people have reached the point where they can direct the dreams. I’ve never tried to accomplish this. One, because I’m not sure how one would go about doing that. Two, while they happen often enough, they don’t happen so often that this is top of mind for me.

Some of the dreams can be fun. There was the one where I was a superhero and was kicking badguy ass left and right. I had a super cute superhero suit and super speed. The part of me that was aware that I was dreaming thought, “Cool. It’s like my own little comic book movie!”

While other dreams are emotionally intense and leave me quite disoriented upon waking. Like the dream within dream where my dream baby died. I remember thinking, while dreaming, that it was an awful dream and I wanted very much to be able to wake up so I tried to do that. I woke up relieved that the awful dream was done and that my baby was well. The part of my brain that knew all of this was just a giant mind game knew things were still not right. So when I finally woke up from this multi layered brainscape I had to work hard at understanding my reality. “Wait. Do I have a baby? Is my baby dead? No, right. I don’t have a baby. Thank god that was a dream.”

There I lay in bed, both relieved and sad that I had no baby to lose but still wishing my life wasn’t child-less. Can I tell you how hard it is to process that many feelings and sense of confusion so early in the morning and still get up with some energy to get to work? I probably don’t have to tell you. You can probably guess.

I was told I had cancer on a Friday morning, as I’ve previously shared. Friday, January 22nd to be exact. And from that day on, for about two months, I woke up every day with the feeling that that call had been a dream. All of the fear, the tears, the confusion, the anger, the grief; it all seemed surreal. So surreal that I was certain at any moment I would wake up thinking, “My god. That was the most detailed dream I’ve ever had!”

Each day there was the waking up with the confusion and the slight hope that this horrible thing would magically go away. Each day I was forced to accept that this was my life now. It’s gotten better; I don’t wake up every day believing the cancer was a dream but it would be a lie to say that, even a year out and with a clean bill of health, I don’t sometimes wonder when I’m going to wake up and be able to put this nightmare behind me.

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Sunday, March 06, 2016

Forty-three


I turned 43 yesterday. For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed my birthdays. Even when I didn’t have anything planned and spent the day alone which made me a bit sad, I still managed to feel generally happy about the day. This year there was no anticipation, there was no joy, just sadness.

It’s a strange place to be in to have to feel grateful that the fertility assessments were the things that made it possible to catch the endometrial cancer. There’s no way to know if I’d feel any less sad, any less lost and grief stricken if a regular doctor’s visit had caught the abnormal results. I just know that I spent a long time thinking that maybe this year would be the year that I’d have a baby or be trying for a baby. Instead, I’m just one year older, infertile, and living under a cloud of sadness. Which isn’t to say there aren’t good moments. Oh, there are. Thankfully a good many of them. Underneath those moments, however, are always the undercurrent of grief, sadness, and this vague sensation of being without purpose.

But, I’m still here, right? I’m a few months away from paying off a ridiculous amount of debt I’d racked up in the last decade and by this time next year I expect to be living on my own again. In the summer or early fall I’ll make appointments with the appropriate people and start exploring my adoption options so that too is something to be hopeful for. So there are things to look forward to. I just have to keep reminding myself of that and things will be - if not fine - at least okay.

3 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Friday, February 12, 2016

Parking Lessons

Years ago I had to park my car on the street for a good stretch of time. You’d think that that would have made me an even better parallel parker but it did not. Unless I could easily steer my car into the spot I would bypass it and go in search of something that wouldn’t cause me to have visions of bumping into all the cars ever made. Sometimes I ended up far away from home but that was preferable to struggling to park the car.

I saw nothing wrong with this habit. My father, however, did. On the way back home from lunch one day we drove past a spot he deemed perfectly acceptable. “No way I can get my car in there,” I said and drove on. We circled back around a few minutes later and the spot was still there. “Park there,” he said. “I can’t,” I replied and drove past it.

You’re smart cookies so I know you know I ended up circling back around and of course the spot was still there. Are you getting the picture of how tight this spot was? With obviously very limited parking in the neighborhood this spot had been left empty for a good while. “Park there,” he said. “I-”

He interrupted with, “You’re parking here.” The tone of his voice made it quite clear that despite my 30-some years he was pulling the dad card.

It took a lot of inching back and forth and a lot of careful watching as he guided me into the spot but I managed to wedge it in there.

“See,” he said, “it wasn’t that hard and now you know you can do it.”

Now that I have a car again and am back to having to parallel park the car in the city, boy, am I ever so grateful that my dad took the time to force me to improve my driving. That lesson comes in handy often.

1 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

We don’t all have to be friends, right?

Someone was telling me recently that he felt an obligation to attend a social function.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because…”

“Are you friends? Do you care above the normal ‘I wish everyone well’ level of caring about this person’s future? Because if you don’t, then I don’t see the need to go. And by going you’re actually giving the person the impression that there is a friendship here and you shouldn’t do that.”

There was a little bit of back and forth which ended with, “Patricia, you’re mean!”

This is not the first time I’ve heard this. It likely won’t be the last. I know how I am perceived, I know I’m not perceived as the nicest apple in the playground. I am okay with that because I am not actively mean. I do not actively seek to hurt people. I take pride in not being a “mean girl”.* However, because - like any good introvert - superficial connections are something I dislike and avoid, I don’t see the need to push myself to do something when there isn’t a true established connection.

But, Patricia, you’re saying, what about social niceties? You’re right. We can’t ignore them, they’re important in a civilized society, if you don’t want people acting like narcissistic heathens. I encourage people to behave in mannerly ways. I hold the door open for someone if they’re immediately behind me. I put my hand in harms way to stop the elevator doors closing if I see someone rushing to get in the elevator. I give up my seat for someone who seems to need it more. These things I do because they should be done but I don’t for one second imagine that this has established a connection, the person I just gave my seat to are not suddenly BFFs. Why do we feel this need to label everyone as a friend? Does this mean we can only be nice to friends? What’s the harm in doing something nice for a complete stranger knowing that you’ll probably never see them again?

Having and using good manners does not mean you have to try and be friends with every single person you’ve ever met. Who has the time and energy for that? Plus, there’s an authenticity to simply doing something for the sake of doing it and not because it may win us popularity points. Which is why I balk at pretending to be friends with someone who I’m not friends with. If I do that, in my mind, I’m diluting my true friendships. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just trying to rationalize being selfish with my time. Maybe deep down I mind that people label me as mean or bitchy.

I’ll ponder that some more later when I’m home enjoying my time and not out forcing myself to have superficial interactions that don’t add positive energy into my life.

*Though, of course, anytime I write that I take pride in being something or not being something, I immediately think of several examples of moments when I was or wasn’t the thing I’m saying I take pride in. But, hey, I’m human, I am flawed. I am a work in progress. I can aspire to be something while at the same time acknowledging that there are areas of improvement. Moving on, or, since this is a footnote, moving back.

2 comment(s) | Filed under: Dailies

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Yes, I Googled


Several jobs ago I was asked to draft a contract amendment. I’d never drafted a contract amendment and there were none in the office to look at so I turned to your friend and mine, Google, and searched for something that I’m sure resembled, “how to draft an amendment for a contract.” I remember (why do I remember this so vividly?) that the very first link gave me exactly what I needed. I drafted the amendment, the boss was happy with the work, and life went on.

Nearly a decade later I still sometimes turn to Google to help me with my job. While other people worry about inappropriate links showing up in their search history I worry about the powers that be looking at all of my “how do I do xyz?” queries and wondering why exactly they pay me to show up every day.

When Confessions of a Shopaholic came out in 2009 it included the scene above. Upon seeing it, I laughed much harder than the other folks in the theater because it was entirely way too familiar for me. So now, each time I find myself doing one of these searches I think of this scene and the line, “Yes, I Googled” pops into my head.

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