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Someone posted this on FB a few weeks ago, and it’s really gotten me thinking:

An old man once said, “There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

Now, I’ve no idea who said it, or if it’s an accurate quote, but I really like the sentiment. Especially the part about walking away from people who create drama in their lives and instead surrounding yourself with people who make you laugh.

A few years ago, maybe two, a friend told me that I could choose to be hurt and upset, or I could choose to be happy. To get over things. To live my life as my life.

Both of these feed into the philosophy that I’ve been trying to live for awhile now. There are days when I still take things too personally, when my skin is too thin to bear with certain comments or actions. But there are days when these things roll off my back, when I shrug and move one. Those are the days I’m comfortable in my own skin, that I’m happy being me. Those days are growing in number. And there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for the people in my life and the love and support they unconditionally give me, and in which I work to provide the same back to them.


I was doing some experiments on a super old computer today. Black screen, white writing. Not quite the old black and green, but still pretty ancient compared to my MacBook. And the machine it was hooked up to was 30 years old. It’s entirely possible the computer is also that old. We were using floppy disks to pull data off of it. Good thing there are still floppy disk readers around. Dunno how much longer the disks will last, though, and I’m not sure they’re replaceable.

It made me think about how much changes in a generation.

I used to write to my grandparents in college to tell them what I was studying, what classes were like, what I was doing. My grandmother once wrote me back that they were so amazed by what I was studying because when they had been in college, DNA hadn’t even been identified yet.

When I think about, my grandparents have probably seen the greatest generational change in terms of so many things, especially technology. Kind of astonishing, really.

But it made me wonder what my generational accumulation of change will be. Computers have gotten better and faster and more complex. Cell phones are now so much more than phones. That sort of thing. So things are improving, but the leap in improvement is no where near what it was. Even thinking about some of the scientific progress made in the last thirty years, it seems like we’ve definitely improved our understanding of the world, but not at the level of discovering DNA, from which all things are made.

I almost wish I could have lived through that change, to appreciate it as it came and went. I don’t know if we’ll ever see such a great leap in so short a time again.

But then again, I’m also hoping the world will change so much more, maybe in my generation, maybe in the next.

I’d forgotten that one of the toughest things about NaBloPoMo wasn’t necessarily remembering to blog every day, but rather coming up with something to blog ABOUT every day.

Plus, today was a long day at work, though things are moving forward, so I’m not necessarily feeling motivated to do anything other than sit on my couch and eat dinner when John’s done making it. But I had a good meeting with my boss and some experiments are looking good.

Not much happened today. So some random thoughts as they drift through my overextended brain:

I didn’t make it to the gym today. I’d planned to run a couple miles. I blame work. Why is work-life-exercise balance never easy? And missing today means, since I skipped Sunday, I have to go every day for the rest of this week to hit five of seven days. Man, I wanted Saturday off too! But I’ve rediscovered a love of running that is really helping the process.

I did vote. Just not today. By mail. Several weeks ago. I wish there was a way to let the campaigns know you voted so they would stop calling and emailing and snail mailing and putting ads on TV and the radio and just leave you alone! I’m fed up with a lot of politicians in this country, but I voted, and I voted the way I always vote. Millions and billions of dollars in advertising didn’t change my mind. My party may not be the best, but I still think it’s way better than the other party. I’m sure you probably feel the same way too. So long as you’re reasonable about it, I have no issue with you, regardless of the side you’re on.

Mmmm, steak and asparagus for dinner. Made by John. For me. Mmmmm.

The Sharks lost to Minnesota tonight. On a 5-on-3 power play goal. But I’m still impressed with Nitty, our new goalie.

Our neighbor, whom we already suspected was certifiably crazy, apparently has a warrant out for her arrest. A policeman stopped us last Saturday to ask if we could verify that the warrant picture he had was, indeed, for our neighbor. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to look it over and determine why. WHY??? This is now a vague obsession of mine. And it would be really nice if she were kicked out. Or just moved. So I may or may not have mentioned this to our apartment manager. Whoops. Does that make me a bad person? Oh well. Maybe our neighbor shouldn’t have been so annoying at all hours of the day and night.

My cats are getting old. One is in the early stages of kidney failure. The other has diabetes. They’re both doing okay on a new wet food, high protein cat diet. I’m not ready for them to be anything else. They’re ten years old, but I still want them to be around for awhile.

Except, maybe can I get a dog too? Puh-lease???

So maybe can we move and get a dog? That’s the plan!

My heart is aching a bit right now for two of my best friends, both of whom are suffering through some massive losses. Neither is my story to tell, but right now the world seems pretty cruel and unfair.

If I had to come up with one bad thing about love, it would be this feeling here: the feeling of utter helplessness when someone you love is hurting, and you wish so badly that you could take away their pain, give them what they needed to be whole, and make it all better. Instead, all you can do is be there for them. I know it counts for a lot–hell, when these people, and everyone else, were there for me throughout all the last two years, it meant the world to me–but at the same time it feels like so little in the face of so much pain.

I’ll try to be back tomorrow with happier thoughts.

The thing is, I haven’t felt like writing much lately. Over the last several months, really.

I don’t know why–good things are happening, bad things are happening, mediocre things are happening–but my first instinct isn’t to write them up any more. Maybe because my first instinct now is to say or do things with the people around me. The truth is, I’m far more comfortable in my own skin, with my own life, right here, right now, than I think I ever have been before. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. But I wonder if it’s part of the reason I’m not feeling the need to blog–to bitch, to complain, to lament, to celebrate, or to just say whatever is on my mind.

I dunno, but I do sort of miss it occasionally. I meant to start writing during NaNoBloPoMo, but November 1st came and went, with only a fleeting thought of “if I’m going to do this, I need to start today”.

But the lovely Laura posted a comment awhile ago asking how I was and said she was waiting to hear travel stories. And I did promise travel stories, didn’t I? So I’m going to try. I hope some of you are still out there to read them!

So, starting tomorrow (hopefully), get ready for Australia and Papua New Guinea!

Wednesday night, in an attempt to set a dish on the counter, I accidentally dropped it on the floor. Oops.

Thursday night, while putting my computer on the table, I knocked over a glass, which shattered perfectly around the middle into a shorter glass and a ring. Don’t know how I did it, but I did.

John asked, politely, if I could try not to break anything today, Friday.

So it’s a good thing that I took my breakfast out today on a plastic plate. I had to go get blood drawn before eating, so I took toast and a banana with me when I ran out the door. Then, on the way to the doctor’s office, some jerk pulled in front of me and I had to slam on my breaks. The breaks locked, I skidded a bit, but all was well and both cars remained intact.

The plate went sailing onto the floor, as did all my food.

At least my toast landed butter-side up!

And with just over an hour to go, I haven’t broken anything yet today.

Of course, with a scuba weekend ahead, there’s always toes and tanks to be wary of. Wish me luck!

I know I haven’t been posting much, and sort of trivial things, but it’s because I’ve been figuring out how to deal with what I’ve been feeling–I figured working through it in my head was a lot better than rambling on forever here.

Also, I’ve been working on a paper a lot lately, so I’ve kind of not felt like writing anything else.

So, the truth is, I felt for awhile there like I was two people, one very happy and one not so happy.

I was given some advice awhile back–that I could choose to dwell and be unhappy and let things get to me, or I could move on and get over them and be happy with the way things were. Difficult advice to follow, to be sure, but I decided it was worth a shot.

So that is what I’ve been working on for the last month. I’ve really begun to feel like I can just be happy with myself and my life and my family and my friends and everything recently. But I also felt like if I tried to blog about it before I was ready, it’d come out all negative, which would defeat the purpose.

Now, though, I think I’m ready to go back to writing. And definitely ready to go back to being happy and self-confident and self-loving!

So here are some of the happy moments in the last month or so:

I got to help with an Advanced scuba class awhile back that Sydney took, and it was great to work with our staff and her. Plus, we had some cool dives. On our night dive, an otter came and hunted by the light of our lights. Sydney also found an octopus, which I’m hoping the otter did NOT find! I also saw my first eel, a monkey-faced eel, down in Carmel on the boat dive, which was pretty cool.

I threw myself a kick-ass enchilada birthday party, somewhat delayed to make room for the advanced class, and the weekend Sydney had her birthday party, and stuff going on at John’s work. We heated our little apartment up to toasty levels with three burners and the stove going, but it was an awesome evening.

I did a big presentation for my department, and it went well. I made it through the talk, answered all the questions fully (I hope), and was told afterwards by people that it was clear and concise and I did a good job.

I got to spend part of the past weekend with the lovely Julie and her adorable girl Ella, and even got a smile and a hug from her by the end of the day. (Specifically Ella, but Julie did smile and hug me, too!) There’s nothing quite like a baby’s smile to make all right with the world. Plus, it was great to hang out with Julie and her family! Now to just wait for the third member of her family to come visit…

And last, there’s a hummingbird nest in the bushes by our front door. The poor thing keeps dive bombing us whenever we come or go, and if we had another door, we’d use it. But in the meantime, it’s pretty cool to watch her, and I can’t wait for little hummingbird babies!

See, now how can life be dark and dreary when I’ve got all that going on?

Well, the secret was. As in, it no longer is. Those of us who knew/know are a strange mixture of heartbroken and angry, but the people it most directly impacts seem to be coping well. With the way things have fallen out, I think that’s all I’m going to say. Sorry.

I’m not sure that I really need to keep it a secret here, except for two things. One, I said I would keep it a secret at the time, and now the conditions aren’t something that I would want bandied about if they were about me. And two, I wasn’t sure how much of a secret it would be here. Yes, I realize posting things on the internet isn’t really good at “secret keeping”, but I wasn’t sure who, if anyone, that I knew in person would be reading this.

After all, when I posted about my mom’s surgery, I hadn’t told many people and intended to keep it that way. Cara and James F. knew, as they were there on Friday when I found out that the surgery was moved. Sydney knew, and was very helpful, both as a friend and medically. She even didn’t describe anesthesia to me as “dangling someone on the brink of death” until after the surgeries were over! And finally, Nate and Shelly knew, as I had dinner with them that Wednesday night and was finally ready to talk about it, having heard that my mom was out of surgery and doing okay.

But I told no one else, save you guys, mostly because I didn’t want people asking me about it when I had no answers, especially during the 12 hours of waiting. And frankly, it was rather personal, both for my mom and for me, and I didn’t feel like sharing it with anyone more than my close friends and you guys, who have been great for moral support. And I wrote about it here because I needed to write about it.

So I was a bit taken back to have a classmate ask about it awhile later. Not upset, but surprised. I mean, I’m sure my lab mates figure out something was up when I jumped every time my phone rang, or when I was Skyping with my mom and she was clearly in a hospital gown in a hospital bed, and we were talking about all sorts of hospital-related things. Nonetheless, it was a bit startling to have someone else bring it up in conversation first. Not something I really expected, to be sure, when I was just trying to grab a beer and make my way over to my friends at happy hour. The sentiment was appreciated, and it was long enough over that I was willing to talk about it, but still.

So I think I’m just going to respect the privacy of my friends. I’m sorry to lead you all on. Any spare thoughts for comfort, health and happiness you could send out would be appreciated, though.

I can be pretty good at keeping secrets in some ways.

Not when it comes to John, which is probably a good thing for our relationship. But if I’m asked to keep things a secret from him, I can and will. I’ll keep secrets even beyond the circumstances or people for which they’re being kept, though I suppose that at that point, the secret isn’t worth much.

In this sense, I love to know the gossip, but once I know it, it doesn’t go much further. John’s not going to share it with people, and in any case, I get a good amount of my gossip from him. I also get a lot of trade secrets and work secrets from him. Those can be hard to keep within our circle of friends from his work, but I do my best.

Perhaps the thing I’m best at keeping secrets about is from myself with respect to how I really feel, not how I want to feel. I’m pretty good at thinking I’m doing okay until something comes up that sets me completely off-balance. Then I’m forced to concede that the outlook isn’t quite as rosy as I’d like to believe. Ah well, we’re probably all like this, much as we don’t want to admit it.

But every once in awhile, a secret comes along that has me wanting to jump up and down and scream and tell the whole world. A week or so ago, I was given just such a secret. It’s driving me nuts not to be able to tell someone, anyone, beyond the few people who also know. And it’s such a wonderful, delightful secret.

Thus, I’m bursting with this news that I can’t share with anyone.

But, oh, yay, such wonderful news it is!

(And no, Brat, I’m not pregnant. Note that it’s not my secret, it’s just one that I’m keeping!)

Note: I’ve been working on this post for two days, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to say, to describe how I was feeling about the situation. Debating whether or not all that I wanted to say was truly relevant.

And then today I found out that my grandmother experienced chest pains in the wee hours of this morning, which doctors are tentatively calling a heart attack. She’s in the hospital, and doing well, and that’s about all I know. Various aunts have promised to call me back when they can. I’m so thankful that my grandparents live down here now, just several miles away from relatives instead of a two-hour drive. Thankful, also, that if I’m needed, I can be there in just a few hours instead of waiting for a plane. So if you could keep my grandmother in your prayers, as well as my mom (see below), I’d be grateful.

Now here we go…


My mom’s breast reconstruction surgery was moved from April to tomorrow. We found out Friday that someone else had backed out, and my mom felt she was ready. So she’ll be in surgery tomorrow for 10-12 hours, and in the hospital for 3-5 days, and then at home for 2-3 weeks. Good thing I hadn’t booked tickets home for April, right?

You all have been so good about wishing us well and everything for over a year now, and I can’t tell you how much I do and have appreciated that. It’s made a huge difference on the days when I was freaking-the-fuck-out, but it’s also made a huge difference even on the days when I knew she’d be okay.

For all of that, thank you. And if you could think of her tomorrow, and keep her in your prayers, then hopefully this will be the last chapter of this saga. There are no guarantees in this game, I know, but for now I’m hoping this is going to be the end.

My mom has made it through an amazing amount in the last year–finding out she had breast cancer, finding out it was likely metastatic and already in her bones, finding out that it was only (thank God) stage 3C (the last and worst stage before metastasis, but the before part was all that mattered), going through weekly chemo for 6 months, going through genetic testing and having to wait a month to find out the answers, going through physical sickness and lack of strength and energy, going through anemia that resulted in her need for a blood transfusion, going through a double mastectomy, going through 5 weeks of radiation, going through an additional 6 months of the “good” chemo drug herceptin (a miracle drug, if you ask me). Going through pain and worry and fighting against her own body for control, for life.

But through it all, she’s been relatively okay. She’s always faced it instead of hiding from it, and she’s done so with grace and serenity for the most part. She’s made jokes, she’s been pretty cheerful. She’s said that if she dies, she’ll get to see her mother again. My grandmother died fourteen years ago from colon cancer, less than two weeks after my grandfather died from brain cancer, and I know my mom misses them. To her, it was a comfort to think of seeing her parents again. And so, to her, even in the beginning when we thought we had maybe two years together, she was fairly serene about any outcome. Worried, but serene. Granted, she likely had her moments of weakness, of freaking out, of anger and helplessness, but overall, she was stronger than the cancer. She always said she was going to fight, and that anger wouldn’t solve anything. True, it doesn’t. The situation is, was, what it was. And so she fought.

Tomorrow, for her, marks the last step in this horrible journey. She’s chosen to go with the longest and most intense reconstructive option. Implants are painful to enlarge, the radiation probably makes the tissue on one side less stretchy and thus it may not accept an implant, and they tend to leak and require more surgery every 10 years or so. The other option was to have a implants made from her belly fat, either buried up along her rib cage, or completely removed and reattached via microvascular reconstructive surgery. The first option takes muscle, and means she likely wouldn’t be capable of doing a sit-up ever again. The second option is a long and intense surgery, but she thinks it’s what’s right for her. There’s a chance the tissue won’t take, that it will die, or that she’ll need a second surgery to reattach it again. But when you lay out all the pros and cons, to her, having one big surgery weighs out over many smaller ones, and health and physical fitness and being able to exercise weigh out over possible complications with the tissue.

I have to admit that I’d be perfectly okay with her simply using prosthetics and having no more surgery, but that’s not what she wants and so I’m going to stand behind her and her decision. I can’t tell you want I’d do in the same situation, so who am I to judge? It’s selfish of me to wish otherwise, simply to not go through the worry during the surgery.

And believe me, worry I will. This will be the second surgery she’s had that I’ve known about in advance, and I’m just about as nervous as I was last time during her mastectomy. Who wouldn’t worry about their mom?

I mean, she’s had plenty of surgeries and hospital stays in the last however-many years. Pulmonary embolism while on a plane to New Zealand, but we didn’t find out until she was already in the hospital. Emergency gall bladder removal, then an emergency appendix removal, but in both cases my dad couldn’t get ahold of my sister or me until the surgery was over. Those are quick little surgeries, believe me. By the time I got home to the “your mom is in the hospital” note, it was over. In all cases, we were basically informed post-fact. We didn’t have the worry to go through during the actual thing. Just the recovery, and the relief that it had been dealt with and that she was okay.

Here, now, I trust that my mom will be okay. She has to be. And I have to trust that. She’s strong, and she’s never had problems before in surgery. I liked her doctor. I trusted him. Even if it’s a tricky surgery, and long, I have faith that she’s going to be okay. That he’s going to do a good job.

I reserve the right to, as I said before, freak-the-fuck-out tomorrow, but I also know I’m strong enough to be strong for her. For myself. For whoever else might need it now, or in the future. I may not have shown or expressed that over the past year, but I know I am.

I think that’s something that’s occurred to me only recently. I’ve expressed my anger and fear and helplessness when I’ve felt them, and again, I thank all of you who were there for me, but I’ve never really talked about the times when it all felt okay. When I knew we were all going to come out the other side, changed a bit but together nonetheless. At those times, there didn’t seem much to say other than “She’s fine.” She was, and I was fine, too, after all, and not consumed by fear. At that moment. So mostly all people heard about was when it wasn’t fine, when I wasn’t fine.

I think that that lack made me appear weak to some people, and the end result was that they didn’t trust me to be strong enough for them and for our friendship when they needed it, in spite of what fear and pain I might be feeling. They may have thought they were protecting me in the beginning, but when they threw it in my face, it became just another way that, to them, I’d failed them. And without ever having been given the chance to prove that I might have been capable, that I had the strength. That lack of faith and trust hurts a lot, much more than I’ve been able to put into words until now, but maybe it’s somewhat justified when the only face I’ve presented was the one when I was been scared. However, friends should, above all else, have faith in each other, right? I’d like to think so.

I was so astounded and hurt at the time by the accusations, all of them, that at the time I couldn’t put it into words, that I could only say what needed to be heard and not what needed to be said. It was fairly clear after a few moments that defending or explaining myself wasn’t going to be listened to–I’m not saying the accusations were completely unfounded, but it would have been nice to have my side listened to instead of spoken over or dismissed. So I just said the only words I could, that I was sorry. And really, I am. As much as I’ve longed to have that conversation back to redo, to express my side, my case, my hurt, it wouldn’t change anything, so I’ve tried to move on. In many ways, I think that the lack of faith and trust said all that needed to be said. I’ll admit to feeling better just to say this much, to get this much off my chest, so I can stop rehearsing what I’d like to have said. What I wish I’d been strong enough to say at the time. Instead I walked away, and my brain at times has mocked me as being cowardly for not having my say. It was a great friendship, and maybe worth fighting for, but this kind of incident also seemed to be a cycle we couldn’t break out of and which only lead to pain for both of us.

Being strong, I’m discovering, is a constant growing process. And being strong in some ways doesn’t translate to all situations. Maybe the strength to fight against cancer with my mom is different from the strength to stand up for myself against someone I thought I could trust. What I was strong enough to do, I suppose, was to philosophical shrug and walk away from a relationship that, although valued, clearly wasn’t healthy for the two people in it. It may have been cowardly, but I think it also took a lot courage to just let it go without making the situation worse by forcing my need to have my say.

And strength and health, both mental and physical, seems to have been a common theme in my life lately. Strength is something I’m working on, and I’m channeling it elsewhere now. Into a healthier outlook on life, into healthier relationship with those that do have faith in me, into relationships with those in whom I have faith. Into the strength to make it through 10-12 hours of waiting for word to come tomorrow.

In any case, I’ve worked through all this with many other people supporting me, worked through the fear and helplessness and anger, and I am and we are about come out the other side. In many ways, stronger together than we were before. I’ve had faith in myself to be strong for myself, for my sister, for my dad, for my mom, and I’ve had faith in my mom to be even stronger. I’ve been supported by many good friends, family and a wonderful, wonderful husband who has gone through a similar process with his mother and also lost his dad to cancer. In turn, I hope I’ve supported my family whenever they’ve needed it, and even when they haven’t.

And my mom? My mom has been incredibly strong, despite the weakness her body has caused her. She’s fought this terrible thing whereby her body is threatening her life, where the most outward sign of her femininity, where she nursed my sister and I, is turning against her. I can’t imagine how hard it’s been, but I’m sure it’s magnitudes harder than what I’ve been going through. There are no words to express how amazed and proud and happy I am to have her in my life, to have received this lesson in how to live from her.

And so, at the end of every freak-out, at the end of each day, I know that if she can be that strong for herself, as well as for me and my sister and everyone else, if she can appear to get through this as gracefully as she has, then aren’t I strong enough to stand by and watch and help how I can? Even if it’s as simple as sitting with her through a chemo session, or making dinner to give my dad a break? And though I sometimes need to cry or scream or eat chocolate or drink or cope how I can, I know I’m strong enough to see this thing through. Strong enough to believe that tomorrow, despite it’s scariness, will bring an end to this chapter and journey of my mom’s bout with cancer. I hope there’s not another one, but if there is, I’ll be strong for that, too.

And so, tomorrow, I’m going to be strong enough to go about my day, to hopefully not freak out, to simply wait for the phone call telling me she’s out of surgery and safely installed in intensive care, that she’s doing okay. Because if she can fight this, I can too. If she can be strong enough to chose surgery, and specifically this surgery, who am I to not be strong enough to simply wait 10-12 hours for her on the other end? After all, my waiting tomorrow is going to be the easy part. The hard work is hers in the recovery, and I’ll be there for her however I can.

But your thoughts and prayers would be greatly, greatly appreciated tomorrow and in the coming days.


May 2018
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