Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apropos of nothing

Before November 8 of this year, I had never watched an entire football game. That, plus the fact that I've never actually been to a football game, has pretty much left me out of contention for the coveted America's Greatest Football Fan title.

What was different about November 8 was that I had bought tickets for my spouse (a childhood Red Skins fan) and my son (a true-blue Bostonian Pats fan) to watch their two teams play at Gillette Stadium. For some reason, I felt that I needed to share the experience with them by watching the game at home on TV.

Now, my family was raised on baseball. We could see Wrigley Field from our house. My mother was a childhood Cubs fan, and so were we. My favorite sports-related factoid about myself is that, as a Cubs fan, I never knew that there was a Post Season. I thought that baseball just ended in early September. And the World Series? That was just some additional contest between two random teams, neither of which ever seemed to be the Cubs.

Anyway, I'm writing about football because, much to my suprise, I have found it to be a rather perfectly-paced game.  Baseball is graceful, filled with metaphors, and a statistician's dream. We don't play when it rains, and the game revolves around what has been acknowledged as the hardest feat in all of sports - hitting a 90+ mph flying object with a stick.

But it's slow. On TV, baseball is a napper's dream. You lie on the couch, you watch for a bit, you doze off, and, with the exception of the occasional amazing play, you can wake up and find that you haven't missed all that much.

Basketball is the opposite. It's fun, but it's too damn fast. You can't even look down to get your salsa properly placed on your chip without running the risk of missing a basket or two.

Football allows you to follow what's happening (especially with those very helpful magical black and yellow stripes on the field), but you can also check your email or take another dunk into the seven-layer dip if you need to.  And, overtime notwithstanding, there will never be a 33-inning football game.

But don't worry, Cubbies, I'm not abandoning you. But I have found a way to stay entertained during these cold, dark winter months.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let's Make a Deal

Here's a dramatization of a thought that's been going through my mind:

Scene: Lexington, MA 1999

Gina: Who are you?

Cancer: I'm cancer.

Gina: What are you doing here?

Cancer: I'm here to end your life.

Gina: Well, I'm afraid that's not possible.

Cancer: What do you mean?

Gina: I mean that's just not going to work.

Cancer: Why not?

Gina: I have two little kids. They're five and eight. There's just no way that I'm going to have their mother die at that age.

Cancer: Right, but...

Gina: No "but." That just isn't going to work for me. At all.

Cancer: What if I come back in five years?

Gina: Ten and thirteen? Not much better, wouldn't you say?

Cancer: Ten years? That's fifteen and eighteen - pretty grown up, I'd say.

Gina: I wouldn't. They'll be teenagers. High schoolers. Not acceptable.

Cancer: Alright, Gina. I want to make this work. I don't even know why I'm saying this. I've ended the lives of countless mothers and fathers, and children even.

Gina: Your point?

Cancer: I'm going to give you fifteen years.

Gina: Fifteen years?

Cancer: Fifteen years, cancer free. Just raise your kids, enjoy every second, and don't worry about me. And then I'll come back for real. That's the best I can offer.

Gina: Thank you.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Last week I got a portable oxygen tank that allows me to walk much farther than I could otherwise. When I breathe in, it gives me an extra little puff of oxygen, which makes me sound a bit like a cyborg, but you get used to it.  Before that I could only walk as far as my lungs would allow on any given day - sometimes just around the block, sometimes a big farther.

On Wednesday I took her with me to the grocery store. (I know, she needs a name.) I'm reminded of the first time that I took my son out for a stroll after he was born. It was like stepping over the threshold of our apartment into a new identity. As if there were a huge neon sign floating above me with an arrow pointing down that said, MOTHER. It was terrifying.

This wasn't quite so dramatic. I am, after all, twenty-four years older. Still, it was odd. I knocked a few boxes down in my quest for oversize Ziplocs in which to brine my turkey, and some random woman came over to pick them up. "That's really OK," I started to say. "You don't have to..." Then I just stopped and let her pick up the boxes. When I checked out, the cashier asked me if I needed help getting my groceries to the car, which I didn't. "Did anyone ever ask you that before?" a friend asked. Nope. So, overall it was fine. I was just this generally healthy-looking person with an oxygen tube in her nose.

Later that day I was walking down the street, and I waved at a little toddler as I usually do, but this time I was a friendly person waving with an oxygen tube in her nose. The toddler smiled and waved back, as did his mother, so there's that.

Then yesterday at the movies, I was standing up facing the row behind me as I took off my coat, and the woman who sat facing me just stared full-on with an entirely unpleasant look on her face. I'm thinking - hoping - that she didn't mean to have that look. I'm guessing that she was thinking, "Hey, what's this young, healthy-looking person doing here with an oxygen tube in her nose?" I looked straight back at her, and in our silent conversation I responded, "Yes, I am young and healthy-looking, and I do have an oxygen tube in my nose. Now why don't you work on making some sense of that before the movie starts?"

Anyway, that's where I feel I am now, a walking reminder that people are going through all kinds of stuff - some visible, some invisible. If you're going through stuff, you are not alone, and you don't need to be invisible about it. And if you're not going through stuff, be humble and grateful.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sorry, Californians!

I have been taking lots of long, hot showers lately. They just make me feel better. For most people who, like me, have basically as much water as we want, there's that critical point in the shower when you've washed, you've rinsed, and now it's time to get out. And yet you're still standing there under the hot, wonderful stream. For some people, the problem will be solved because the hot water will simply run out, and why ruin a great shower with a lukewarm finish? But for me, the only thing to get me out is either the clock - if I'm showering because I have somewhere to go - or my conscience. Don't waste water! Think of that ad with the fish who can't breathe out of water! (Oh, wait, I think that one's for asthma consciousness.) Think of what a big, bad, wasteful country you live in!  Usually that one gets me out.

Lately though, I've said "Fuck it." I figure that in a year I probably won't be showering at all. And no matter how long I live, in the end I'll use way less water than I ever thought I would. So, with apologies for my blatant overuse of the Earth's resources, I shall go on enjoying my too-too-long showers.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Trigger Warning: Throw Up

This morning I woke up early and decided to use the quiet dawn hours to label some old pictures. Pictures that my kids will probably go through one day and not know who some of the old folks are - people whom they never met, like my grandparents - or places that they may not recognize, like the home that I grew up in.

Then I stopped because I had to throw up.  (Well, actually, I seem to be one of those people who can't throw up - but that doesn't stop me from trying.)

This is odd, I thought to myself while kneeling on the bathroom floor. My last chemo treatment was a week and a half ago, and I haven't felt nauseous from it for nearly a week.  Maybe it's the Thai greenbeans that I ate just before bed last night.  Yes. I did.  Even people with cancer have their moments of weakness.

Then I thought, Well, Hell! I just spent an hour preparing to not exist. If that isn't enough to make a person want to throw up, then what is?

I liked that thought a lot. I'm all into embracing what is, and all, but sometimes the truth that I'm living with just makes me want to throw up.

In the end, though, it was probably the greenbeans.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Multiple Choice

Reasons why a person may go for a solid month without posting on her blog:

A. She forgot the url.

B. She forgot how to type.

C. She has recently come to accept the fact that she is going to die much sooner rather than much later, and now she is wondering whether everything that she wrote before was total bullshit.

D. Her dog ate her computer.

I'll let you ponder these possibilities, while I ponder whether or not I have the courage to keep writing.