Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big Fish

I love the movie "Big Fish." If you haven't seen it, a man recounts the stories that his dying father has told him of his life and the people he's met. The son doesn’t believe any if it, but at the end, when the father dies, all of the characters from his stories (albeit a more reality-based version thereof) gather to remember him. They did exist; pieces of his different lives. They all come together in the end and authenticate him, his stories, his history, his life.

I've been feeling rather nostalgic lately, and felt drawn to contacting several people from my past: old friends, old boyfriends, people who have made a significant impact in my life; people whose relationships with me made up all of my different lives; people whom I missed; people whom I felt I owed an apology, or wanted peace with; people whom I loved.

For a few days after making some of these contacts, I was overly emotional. Every email or call with someone made me cry. Every picture I looked at, every memory that surfaced saddened me deeply. I wanted to figure out why I was so drawn to reconnecting with my past, and why it was so sad to me... and why I was still so drawn to reconnecting with my past, even though it was so sad to me. I concluded that there are two reasons I felt this need. The first one came to me rather quickly: I'm being robbed of my future, so I'm holding on to my past. I guess it's a sort of defense mechanism, or reflex or something. The desire to live is ingrained in us. Knowing that it is going to be taken away, I grasp for what makes me real: my history. While I can understand my own desire to want to hold onto life in any way I can, I also know that it won’t work. I cannot spend the rest of the time I have holding on to the past, hoping that doing so will keep me alive... I still have more living to do, and I have a whole lot of it to do in a little bit of time. I don't have time to waste. I’ve pondered our “earthly time” a lot lately. What is my time here for? What is my purpose here? Do we all even have a specific purpose? Have I contributed to the world in any way? If nothing else, there is one thing I’ve accomplished, that I know affects the world positively. I helped bring to life one of the most beautiful and amazing women I know. What an honor.

The second reason for my trip down memory lane came to me the other day when I was talking with Joss about the time to come when I am no longer here, and I said to her “don’t forget me.” Of course I know she will never forget me, but my feeling that I needed to say this to her made me realize what really scares and saddens me. The same fear that freaked me out while filling the time capsule: disappearing. Sometimes I try to picture what the world will be like when I am no longer around. People going about their days, proceeding with their lives – everything the same except without me. I know that some people will never forget me, but the idea of being just a memory is disturbing nonetheless. No matter how vividly I am remembered, the fact remains that I will go from being a real, living person, to nothing more than memories. Memories fade. Will I fade the same way? Had I begun fading already, since to the people in my past, I was already just a memory?

When I started finding people I went to High School with, I would always ask if they remembered me. All did, and for some reason it surprised me every time. Perhaps because I, myself, have forgotten the person I was then. In finding these people, I’m refreshing memories of me so that they may remain vivid a bit longer. I’m gathering the characters from my life, like the characters in Big Fish gathered, proving the storyteller’s reality. I’m hoping that my existence affected something. I’m striving to leave proof that I was here… that I was real. I’m carving my name in the Tree Of Life.

It brought up lots of old memories, revisiting my past, and left me with such a deep yearning to go back to those times, that I felt misplaced for a little while. I remembered a story my Mom once told me about a girl who grew up near a big mountain. She loved this mountain. She’d climb it all the time, and would have picnics on the top. She planted flowers on the mountain. She went there to think, to laugh, and to cry. It was a very special place for her. At one point, she moved away. For years and years she thought of this mountain, and how she wanted nothing more than to go back there. One day she finally did go back but when she got there, all she found was a simple, bare little hill. Nostalgia tends to warp our memories. Romanticize them. Much like the characters in the stories of Big Fish were exaggerated: Siamese twins were really just normal twins; the giant was actually just a very large man; and the witch was, in reality, just a woman. Mom told me the story of the mountain one day when I was feeling homesick for Rhode Island. All of my family had since moved away, and there was really nothing significant left there for me, except the memories. Had I gone back, I would have found just a bare, little hill. She’d remind me of this lesson from time to time by presenting, where appropriate, a line I have heard a hundred times: “You can’t go back to the mountain.”

I’ve moved on from seeking my mountain. I’ve renewed some special friendships, and let go of some that were lost and should have been let go of a while ago. I’ve touched what were previously just memories, and confirmed their existence – and my own. I’ve put back my romanticized versions of my life stories, because I like them better that way. Then I spent some time remembering everyone I’ve known who has died, so they won’t disappear.






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Friday, December 18, 2009

Some new pics



My Dad & Diane's house and yard in Maine:










The plane I jumped out of






Baby James with his carrot stained face.  He's getting so big.




My Js

Back to the Earth I’m Falling

There is a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to blog about, but haven't been feeling well. Last week in St. Pete I went skydiving! It's something I've always wanted to do, and decided now is the time. I have a video from the jump, but my cheeks are flapping in the 120 mile an hour wind so much that I decided not to post it.

The jump was amazing! First I donned a very geeky looking “jump suit” and immediately wondered if this was the origin of the term “jumpsuit.” I was given a very quick lecture on what to expect, and what to do, and then boarded the plane with Randy, my tandem dude. There were maybe 10 jumpers in the plane, most licensed and jumping alone. I think we got up to about 10,000 feet when some of the lone jumpers started stepping out the door, with absolutely no hesitation. It was a bit scary seeing them through the windows, jumping into nothing and then falling. I actually said “holy crap, they are nuts” and then realized I was about to do the same thing. I kept waiting for the fear to come, the butterflies, the hesitation, but it didn’t. Until I got to the door! I was strapped very tightly to Randy and it was difficult to maneuver to the door. Once I got there, I was immediately terrified! I looked down and could not see the ground because of the clouds, and I think that may have made it even scarier. Jumping blindly, knowing the earth is 13,500 feet below me, but jumping into a cloud. A CLOUD… as in, in the sky. I panicked and started yelling “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” to which Randy very appropriately responded “Shut up!!” I quickly did, since he had the chute, closed my eyes, and a second later, was falling. The fear only lasted a few seconds. The wind was intense. Much more than I thought it would have been. I had to consciously start breathing, and concentrate on holding my arms out like I was instructed. I guess I kept wanting to look down because I remember Randy kept tilting my head back. The wind was loud and strong, and the feeling amazing. Then suddenly – quiet. Randy pulled the chute, and immediately everything changed. The intense noise quieted. The cold rushing air became soft, warm and gentle. Suddenly I could see everything as I calmly floated down towards the ground. It was beautiful, and serene, and lasted several minutes. I landed, as instructed, with my legs straight out, landing on my butt. The touchdown was so gentle, I was amazed.

When I landed, the camera guy asked if I would do it again. My response was “Hell yeah!!!” The freefall part was so intense, and fast, and new, that I don’t feel like I fully experienced it. I definitely do want to do it again, and may do so in January. When I was given my video, I also got a roll of film that was taken (how antiquated, huh?) I plan on having it developed and hopefully then will be able to post some pics of the jump.

When I got home from Florida, I happily checked off “Skydive” from the book.


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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow day

I looked out the window like a kid on a snow day, eager to see what the winter would bring today. "It's snowing!!" It was the light dry kind of snow that is not so great for making snowmen but is easily blown around by the wind, creating snowdrifts with ripples that resemble a white desert. It was coming down fairly hard. School and business closings flashed along the bottom of the television and brought the familiar line "no school Foster-Glouster" to mind. I piled on gloves, a coat, and layers of socks and headed outside.

Dad and I visited the goats, who didn't seem to mind the cold at all. They stuck their snow sprinkled heads through the fence to greet us, hoping we had a treat for them. Dad pulled a pine tree branch to reach them and Lucy and Ricky quickly devoured it. We fed them a few animal crackers from a large coffee can and Ricky's entire head soon disappeared into the can. We had only been out a few minutes but the harsh winter air was stinging my face. With a red nose and snow stuck in the fur around my face and wrists, I went back inside. The house smelled wonderfully as Diane prepared lunch: home-made turkey soup, which was not only delicious, but also suited the day perfectly. I had two bowls!

After lunch, Dad, Diane and I sat down together and played a card game. The snowfall, and our game, continued until dark. Diane and I looked at some pictures of my last visit to Maine, in 2004, and of my two favorite Js and then we watched some television. Soon the house again began to fill with the aroma of Diane's cooking. She is a great cook and made us pasta with meatballs and sausage for dinner. We had cheesecake for dessert, and then settled in to watch a movie. Before I knew it, it was time for bed. I crawled into my comfy bed and drifted off.

I love snow days!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maine

I traveled up the entire east coast in 3 hours and arrived in Bangor! It was great seeing my Dad waiting for me! He and Diane took me to Hollywood Slots, a casino in Bangor, where we had a delicious buffet dinner, complete with piles of crab legs! After eating we played penny slot machines for a while, and Dad ended up hitting big for $75!! I lost $10, which was a bargain for the hours of entertainment it brought. It started snowing on the drive home, and that reminded me of my childhood, and growing up in RI. I had forgotten how beautiful it is up north.

Tuesday morning I met the goats, Lucy and Ricky. They are so friendly and cute! We fed them animal crackers and tried to keep Lucy from knocking Ricky out trying to get more than her fair share.

We went for breakfast and then to see a movie. I loved riding around the little towns. It’s wonderful here – quiet and quaint. Nature everywhere. The snow, the trees, and the lakes all working together to create amazing landscapes. The buildings fit into these scenes perfectly. A general store, a small town church, or a town hall the size of a bedroom, add to the charm and make me smile at the simplistic beauty.

There is another snow coming tomorrow, and I plan to go out and throw a few snowballs. I haven’t done that in years! I am also eager to play more with Lucy and Ricky.






Lucy and Ricky









That's my Dad!










My Dad and Diane walking into the movie.


Parking lot at the movie's that Dad and Diane thought was "crowded"


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Chillin' in St. Pete

I arrived in St. Pete Friday evening. The weather was cool, and rainy. I had reservations for Super 8, but wasn’t sure where it was in relation to the airport. By the time I was done dilly-dallying with my GPS trying to find out if it was a walkable distance, all of the cabs at the tiny airport were gone. I decided I would just walk there, and asked some random dude to point in the direction of 34th street. He told me it was too far to walk, but I asked him to point anyway. He did. Off I went. About an hour and 15 minutes later, I arrived at my weekend home, wet from the rain and eager to dry off, but happy I was able to walk the entire way without my back hurting. It does seem to be getting better since surgery.


Saturday morning Neil came down and we spent the day together. The weather was not as nice as we would have liked, but it was a lovely day anyway, which we kicked off with a quick cup of coffee at the Super 8. We then headed to this really cool Italian market called Mazarro’s (I think). It was really nice inside – looked just like Italy, and the ├ęclairs were amazing!!! A young boy in the kitchen looked just like my son-in-law, Dominick, and I tried to get his picture but was not able to get a good one.

Next we went to the Salvador Dali museum. I had really been wanting to go there! It was fun. Unfortunately they don’t let you take pictures inside, which I don’t understand at all since the Louvre allows picures. After the museum we had a delicous lunch at Fourth Street Shrimp Store. Neil told me that he and my Mom used to go there. I wondered which chair she may have sat in.

Sunday I rented a car and went to the beach. I drove around a bit, not sure where, but it was nice. In the afternoon, I took a nap and then sought out Italian food. It was a very low-key weekend and I wanted it that way. When I returned the rental car on Monday, I noticed the number on the license plate was 665 – my favorite number. I think just my family knows why .

Monday – off to Maine.










Sunday, December 6, 2009

Clearwater Beach

The sand is soft, fluffy, and white like confectionary sugar. It’s warm enough to welcome bare feet, but cool enough to start the pins in my feet that the chemo causes.

I sit on the sand, wrap my feet in a towel, and look out at the ocean. Its gray color matches my mood, as does its lack of sparkle. I can relate to its attempts to roll up a good wave. I can see the effort, and how they then just fizzle out and give up. The usual powerful roar of the ocean has been reduced to a serene, tired moan.

There are just a few others here, but I wish there were less. I think back to the beach in Nice, where everything was perfect. Where nothing could invade my mind but the beauty around me. Where everything was new and awesome and nothing tied me to my past. Or my present. Where I was completely alone at the most beautiful place on earth. I could have spent days there…weeks even, staring up and down the surreal French shoreline, picking up colorful rocks to add to the collection in my pocket, and letting the waves roll over my legs. Sitting on the literal edge of the world.

The water in Nice also matched my mood that day. Light, vibrant and playful. The waves teased me and the sun shone brightly creating diamond-like sparkles across the sea. Life was so different during my three weeks in Europe. Simple, yet everything a new adventure. No personal history at all, just me and the moment. Certain thoughts never crossed my mind when I was there. The fact that I am sick, the fears I have of the future, the anger at what is being stolen from me, the very few, yet very painful regrets in my life. I wonder which time zone it is that those things could not cross.

I decide to stroll and look for shells. I put my shoes on to ward off the pins. There are lots of tiny fragments to be found, but I want to find a treasure. I start to dig in the soft sand, letting a tired wave rinse the sand away and reveal the buried shells. Immediately my fingers get the pin pokes. I hate chemo. I hate cancer. I allow myself to shed a few tears for what cancer has taken from me today as I walk away. Tomorrow I go back to trying to sparkle.

I give in today and realize that I need this type of day too. I spend the majority of my time cultivating a good attitude, looking at things positively, appreciating every moment, laughing and having fun at every occasion, but I am also grieving, and should allow myself some time to do that. I want to stay positive but cannot deny the fact that I am angry, feel cheated, and am sad. My heart breaks for those who love me. It’s a blessing and a curse, foresight. I’ve been given the gift of realizing how precious each moment is, how love is so much more important than anything, and how dreams will only come true if you make them. I’ve also been given the burden of mourning my own death.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Racking 'em Up!!

Why is it that we treat aging like a curse? It’s really the best blessing we could be given: Life. I mean, the only alternative to aging is dying. We want to live long, yet we complain about aging. We try to hide our wrinkles and gray hair, when we should be flaunting them. Each gray hair is evidence of days we were given to live – each wrinkle, a scrapbook of our time here.

My Mother (a very wise woman as you who’ve read my blog faithfully have probably gleaned) celebrated every birthday with a humorous amount of enthusiasm. She took the entire month of May as her “birthday month” rather than limiting it to the 24th. She loudly sang what the family now considers “her” birthday song: “Happy Birthday” from the 70’s feminist musical “I’m Getting My Act Together And Taking It On The Road.” She never made attempts to hide her age, or had any desire to. She would talk about how she loved each birthday, and wanted to “rack ‘em up.” I always liked the way she looked at aging, but never really related to it… until now.

Today I am 41. I have a few gray hairs, and have recently started developing crow’s feet. Nothing is quite as “in place” as it was 20 years ago. I have lots of aches, pains and stiffness.  My memory is getting worse, as is my eyesight. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I hope to collect a lot more birthdays, wrinkles, gray hairs, sagging, squinting, and forgetting. I will never again complain about any part of aging. Instead I’ll consider those who never made it to 41. I’m glad I have. I hope to make it to 42, 43, 44…

Embrace the aging process, as it’s also the living process. Be thankful that you have been given more years than many others. And celebrate your birthday for the entire month!

Mom's Birthday Song.


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lightning Crashes

I have a book titled “2001 Things To Do Before You Die.” Joss and I both have a copy actually. We bought them together about 6 months ago, and have spend hours on several different occasions going through them together, talking about thing things we have done and could check off, discussing the things we want to do, and making some plans to actually do some of them. Since my new diagnosis a few weeks ago, we’ve gotten them out again several times, and made a much more sincere effort to cross things off.

One of the items in the book is “Start a tradition,” which prompted the peanut butter and jelly blog from a few days ago. Another is to bury a time capsule. Joss and I decided a few weeks ago, that we would do this, and that she and her children would dig it up in 20 years. I thought this was a great idea that she and her children would love in the future. We discussed including letters to the kids, pictures, items from our era, etc.

I thought about how I would have felt had my Mom left such things for me. It would have literally amazed me to find things that she was the last to touch and that still held her essence. I would have spent hours flabbergasted by the whole “time” concept. I do this often, like tonight when I came across a picture of my mother on her wedding day, standing with her mother. They were both gazing into a large mirror that I now have. It is mind-boggling to me, that the mirror that I have, once held her reflection. That the day that picture was taken was at that time, the present, just as today is for me. That when our time capsule is opened, the present that’s so real to me right now, will be just a memory in pictures of the past, the same way. I wondered if my grand children would find this buried treasure as valuable as I would have.

We planned the date to bury the time capsule for this weekend. I wrote to the family members who visited over thanksgiving asking them to bring any items they would like to include. To my surprise, they all did. Tonight I began packing things up in the capsule, which is an army ammunition can that I intend to add several coats of Rustoleum or sealer, and caulk closed. I am also putting all of the contents inside several vacuum sealed bags (another great use for the FoodSaver). I finished bagging and labeling everyone’s contents and started gathering my own. I started with the basics: a letter I wrote to James trying (but failing) to express to him how much I love him and how much fun we have together; a letter to Jocilyn with pretty much the same failure; a mouse, a cell phone, and a remote control, sure that the 2030 technological comparison would be fun; and some family pictures. I wrote on the back of all the pictures so that they would know who everyone is. I put in a dollar bill (which may very well be obsolete in 2030) sprayed with a perfume that I often wear, and sealed that in a vacuum bag, hoping that my future family will be able to experience the scent. I took a video of me and the family talking and going through all of the things we were including, and intend to add that also.

I then looked around for other things to add. I thought about adding a lipgloss, a lock of hair, or something that I had actually used, and maybe held a bit of my spirit. I started collecting more and more things. I wanted to write more letters, add more items, put more and more of me in this time capsule. It then hit me, very suddenly in a crashing jolt of reality, why I wanted to put so much in this box. Why, to my surprise, not everyone thought it was as important as I did. Why I didn’t want to seal it but wanted to keep adding everything.

I'm trying to get in the box.
I don’t want to disappear.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

To My Family, I'm Bequeathing Peanut Butter & Jelly

I have the absolute best family. I’m sure most people think that, but I really do. We never argue. Seriously -- never; we have no reason to. We cherish every visit we are able to have together. This has been the nature of our family for as long as I can remember, but the attitude was certainly amplified by my Mother. She had an amazing outlook and always knew what was really important. If others would say that they “don’t have enough room” for someone to visit, or that they “don’t have enough food” to include someone, Mom would never understand. I can literally hear her voice saying “there’s always room; we’ll sleep on the floor if we have to” and “there’s always enough food; we’ll order pizza if we have to.” I’m delighted to have inherited this attitude from Mom. There have been occasions when I’d invite a bunch of people over, and would be asked with a tone of concern “do you have room for that many people?” I am always somewhat bemused by such a statement, and say something like “Of course! There’s always room."

While talking with Neil last week about what we might be having for our Thanksgiving dinner, he said (right in line with our family axiom) that we could have peanut butter and jelly and it would be wonderful, as long as we are together. He was absolutely right, and I decided that we should celebrate this attitude! So in addition to the huge antipasto, shrimp, ravioli, meatballs, turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, bread, cranberry sauce and a plethora of pies and cookies, we also had one peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I cut the sandwich into small cubes, and at the start of the meal, explained to everyone that my intent was to create a new family tradition. I told them that I hope they will all keep up with this tradition and pass it down. (I’ve not asked if they plan to, or if they think it’s completely stupid, but we’ll see how it goes.) I explained that sharing the peanut butter and jelly sandwich would serve as a reminder of the importance of holidays: that it doesn’t matter what we have, as long as we share it together. I then told my family how glad I was that we were together today, and everyone ate a small piece of the sandwich. (Thanks to all for amusing me).
I think it might be cool, especially after my time here is up, and even more so in future generations, if we kept this tradition, and I hope that it always does reiterate the fact that holidays are not about what you eat, what presents you give/get, how your house is decorated, if your plates match, or how many chairs you have. My Mom would say that it doesn’t even matter what the date on the calendar is. Holidays are about spending time with people you love, enjoying their company, sharing, laughing, loving, and appreciating all that we have.

I was fortune this year, to have spent Thanksgiving with Neil, Al, Don, Jeannie, Jocilyn, Dominick, James, and Mark.  My Dad and Diane could not make it, but I hope to see them soon!!  I hope everyone also had a wonderful holiday!
Special note to all of my family: I’m eager to know if any of you have PB&J at Christmas dinner!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Super cute pics of Jamie Jame
















Grandmama gave me a cookie!!



Two Li'l Monkeys



Sweet Baby James



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gal's Night Out!!

I'm finally getting to posting pics from GNO last week.  Lulu, Cyn City and I had a blast with Art, our super cool limo driver!  We went to Comedy Zone, and then downtown for hot dogs from Sandy (the new runner) and her boyfriend. 

Who rents a limo for Comedy Zone and hotdogs?  I have awesome friends!










Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chemo bites too!

It's 5:43 Thursday morning, and I haven't slept a wink since 6 this morning. I've been tossing and turning for hours, and finally accepted the fact that I am not going to sleep tonight, and got up to poke around. Today I learned that my recent nighttime fidgeting is attributed to the chemo, and that today's dose may increase that. Yep. I already suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (a/k/a "jimmy legs") so it's quite uncomfortable. Not to mention I am having to wear gloves and socks because of the cold sensitivity one of my chemos causes. I cannot turn the heat up because I am always so hot, so even "room temperature" foods and drinks are too cold. I had to nuked some juice for 20 seconds and that made it drinkable, though not nearly as refreshing. I am also cloudy headed and having body aches in my back, legs, and ankles. The effects from the last treatment were not nearly as uncomfortable, and the nurse told me the effects should not be cumulative because it should clear out of my system between one treatment and the next, but I am definitely having more trouble this time. Maybe I will call the Dr. later and ask her why.

Here's some good news though... My Dr. said that she will be able to move some chemo dates around so that Joss and I will be able to go on a mother/daughter cruise in January. We are hoping to go January 23, for 7 days, visiting Belize, Honduras, and Mexico. As long as she can survive that long without James, we are going to have a blast!! She is in the process of getting her passport, and then we will book.  I am very excited about it. My Mom and I went on one and it's some of my best memories.  We had such a great time -- just me and her, laughing hysterically about 18 hours a day.  Joss and I will surely laugh at least as much. 

And more good news... Joss and I were talking today about having a "Pink Poker Party."  A very pink and girly poker night.  We'll have snacks, and cosmos or something, and play poker for chic-prizes.  Anyone interested?  Please let me know if so.  My fear in planning parties is always that no one will come.  I'll make it fun, I promise!

Well my alarm is going off in the bedrooms, so I guess it's time to get up for work.  Unfortunately I don't think I am going to make it today - at least not this morning...which sucks because I was excited about the new phones we are getting today.  Luckily I am blessed with the absolute best and most understanding and supportive workplace.

OK, I'm off to turn off the alarm, and then watch Married With Children.  Maybe I'll make some cocoa too.  Today's challenge:  do something that makes you smile. Wear a tiara, stand with your back to the door in the elevator, color in a coloring book, buy yourself some flowers...anything :)
 
I love you all.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

OK, Call Me Obsessive...

My favorite line from The Wizard Of Oz:
Dorothy:  If you don't have a brain, how can you talk?
Scarecrow:  I don't know.


The one that annoys me the most:
Dorothy to the Flying Monkey (talking about broomstick) Can we have it?
Flying Monkey:  Yes, and take it with you.


OK.  I will shut up about the W.O.O. now.

A Little "Wizard Of Oz" Trivia

Sunday:

I am watching the Wizard of Oz, which I've seen a zillion times (like everyone, except for my freaky stepfather (he's not really freaky; he's awesome!), and my sister, neither of whom have seen it, which is weird.  Really weird.  Especially for Neil, who is over 60.  I mean, how can you live 60+ years, and NEVER have seen the Wizard of Oz?  Anyway...) but never noticed  this detail, that tonight I noticed.  It tickled me.  So, if anyone else already knew/noticed this, comment and let us know!!!

When Dorothy and the crew first go into the forest to seek the witch, what are they each carrying? 
(scroll down for the answer)


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Answer:  I had to rewind it to catch all of it, but here it is:

Tin Man:  His axe, and a HUGE pipe wrench
Scarecrow:  A big stick, and a gun
Lion:  A butterfly net, and one of those old fashioned pump exterminator things
Dorothy:  Just her basket.  Girls are bad-ass and can take on a witch with just what is in our purse...or basket.

What an awesome movie.   Gotta run now... The Wizard is digging in his black bag!!

DAMn, Virginia, Stomp Your Feet!

I've taken a few pictures over the past week, and have finally got some time to sit down and share them. First off, Oliver and I took a ride to Virginia last week. No particular destination, just got in the car and started driving.

First we stopped for sausage biscuits.






Then we drove north and came across a dam.










Next we stopped at a Goodwill and got some books for James for .35 each! While walking out of the store, I met a kind elderly woman who beat cancer and we chatted for a few. Sadly, I didn’t think to take her picture.

We then drove home, and saw the most amazing HUGE harvest moon. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but it was really big and beautiful!






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Joss, Jamie Jame and I had dinner at Cici's one night:








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Yesterday (Saturday) was fun. First I did some Christmas shopping and had my car washed:






This guy worked really hard to remove a pretty nasty white mark where some douchebag must have hit my car with their door REALLY hard (Rude bastard...I hope karma gets him!)  I didn't intentionally photograph his ass, just didn't wanna get up from the grassy knoll.






Then my son-in-law took me, Joss and James out for lunch:


Look at those handsome men!!!




Then Joss and I went to a Step competition at Dudley High School. It was called "Stompfest" and featured several schools from around the state. It was fun, and a couple of the teams were really impressive!











My chin is cut off because I had to crop out Jocilyn's infinite cleavage.

Remember to do something fun this week!  Think of one thing, and then be sure to do it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I have found my limit

I have posted a lot lately, trying to remind everyone of the brevity of life. I have tried to inspire everyone to do things now, enjoy life, take risks, and have fun because life is short. I’ve tried to show that you can do things you want to do. I have now discovered that I too have a line, which once reached, I give up and say “I can’t do that.” Apparently my line is a terminal diagnosis.


It’s a bizarre feeling, to know that your end is near, that you are being robbed of decades, that the thing that will kill you is already living and working inside you, and yet have no idea how it will play out, when it will come, how it will come, or how functional you will be. It has certainly given me a lot to think about over the past week.

For the past few days I have been thinking that I would soon need to make the decision that trumps all others: how to spend the rest of my life. The reality started to strike me, that the “rest of my life” isn’t as vague and seemingly infinite as it was a week ago.

I considered lots of possibilities, and ways I could choose to spend the remainder of my life. I came up with three scenarios:

1. Status quo: I do whatever the doctors say to prolong my life as long as possible, while continuing to work as long as I physically can. I spend as much time with family, especially Joss and James, and try to take an occasional vacation between chemo and hurling until I am too bogged down by sickness and oxygen tanks, and then eventually become hospitalized, hopefully not for too long, and hopefully without much suffering, until I move on to hopefully be with my Mom.

2. Just be with family: Finish this round of chemo, see what the scans say, and based on that, determine when to start traveling between Maine, NC and Florida spending lots of time with my family.

3. Go out with a bang: Finish this round of chemo, see what the scans say, and based on that determine when to take off to Europe. I’ve started feeling a strong yearning to return. A sadness even, that I am no longer there. This is not necessarily a specific desire just to be in Europe, but also and more so a longing to return to the place I was mentally while there. The complete freedom, lack of responsibility, and sense of newness, adventure and beauty in everything. Had I been born rich instead of beautiful, I would go back and spend at very least, another month there, mostly sitting on the beach and picking out little rocks. If I could do anything right now, I’d give anything to be there.

These are a few of the choices I thought I had, and have been thinking about, along with the basic question of quantity vs. quality. Should I do everything I can to extend my life as long as possible? What would the point of that be, though, if I were suffering for much of it? Having cancer in my lungs, my doctor informed me, could mean an oxygen tank in my future. We did not discuss what the effects of the liver tumors could cause, but I’m sure it would not be pleasant. Then there is the possibility of developing tumors in other organs. There will also be many rounds of chemo, along with its side effects. Is it worth living an extra year, if I spend that year puking, suffering, and feeling like a burden to my family? Is it better to live less time but enjoy that time more? Is it fair to my daughter and grandbaby to choose quality? Is it even fair to my purpose of being here, whatever that may be, to choose to shorten my time for my own enjoyment, or ease of discomfort?

While trying to mentally work all these things out, I realized I really don’t have choices at all. I have a house to pay for, and now a new debt from my trip, as well as taxes and all that good stuff. Sure, I could sell everything and live carelessly, but what if I live longer than anticipated? And I certainly want to leave Jocilyn with as much as I can – at very least, a house. Not only could I never even consider leaving my job, but I will need to do whatever necessary to keep it as I get sicker, because I am dependant not only on the income, but equally on the medical insurance. While I would undoubtedly be trying to inspire a person in my shoes to live their dream, do whatever they wanted, not feel held back by anything, and convince them that the details will work themselves out, I, on this side of the situation, resign myself to the fact that this choice is made for me. I am actually surprised to learn this about myself, and in a way it ties in with self discoveries of my Europe trip. I’m disappointed in myself, and would work on it if I had more time to. At least I recognize my limitations, and can accept them. Maybe my outlook will change as my journey progresses. Maybe I’ll start playing the lottery...winning that would certainly change my outlook. Maybe I’ll just live out my life like it is. Things could be a LOT worse!

I promise to go back to funny and adventurous posts soon.  And pictures!  Really!  Check back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's funny how everything can change in a second

I've ridden the euphoria from my Europe trip to its end.  It lasted well beyond my return home, so that's a blessing.  It probably would have continued another few weeks had today's events not happened.  But they did, so I'm working on accepting it and announcing it, so I can work on changing it, or at least enjoying what I can.

My scans from yesterday showed a recurrance of cancer.  It's popped up in "splatters" on my lungs and liver.  Not nice big localized spots that can be removed or zapped with radiation, but speckles that can be treated only with chemo.  My doctor has told me today, that this will kill me.  The question of when depends on how I respond to chemo.  Most likely, I have less than two years.

My first thought, seriously, for a fleeing second, was "I'm so glad I went to Europe!!"  Next was "how can that be??"  It's only been a few months after surgery, and after my surgery it didn't sound very serious.  I put off my chemo because it didn't sound serious.  Now I'm wondering if I killed myself by not taking it seriously.  It doesn't seem right that I could be months away from death, but feel normal. 

My doctor started me on chemo immediately, so I had my first round today.  I got two new chemicals while at the cancer center (all day) and went home with the pump like I had before, with the same 5FU chemical I had before.  I will wear the pump for 2 days, then have a 2 week break, and then do the entire procedure over again, every two weeks, for twelve weeks.  After that, we will repeat the scans and hope that the chemo made a difference. 

Telling my family was the worst part.  Especially Joss.  It breaks my heart to know that she is going to have to suffer the loss of her mom.  I know how much that sucks.  I love her more than anything.  Telling my Dad, Brother, Neil, and Dave sucked too.  I love them and don't want to bring them pain.

I am seeing my surgeon tomorrow, and will beg him to do my reversal now, even though I am currently in chemo, so that the rest of my time I can feel as normal as possible.  I am not sure if he will.  I will also ask him for a referral of an oncologist at Baptist, to get a second opinion on my scan results. 

Everyone keeps telling me how sorry they are, but I am the one that is sorry.  I'm sorry that people who care about me will be in pain.  I'm sorry that I didn't take the chemo right away, and could be contributing to that pain.  I'm sorry that my baby will have to lose her mom so young.  I'm sorry that my little precious beautiful grandboy won't get to know me and how much I love him.  I'm not sorry for me.  I'll be fine... I'll be with my Mom, so be happy for me.  I won't have to deal with the upgrade to Windows 7!  I lived my dream!!  I do know, though, that no matter where I go, I will miss my baby girl.

My brother said in passing, something that really struck me --  I don't have to work on dying - that's being handled for me.  I just have to work on living.  So I am going to try my best to let this affect my life as little as possible.  To spend time with my family and loved ones.  To spoil my grandbaby.  To tell people how I feel about them.  To have fun!  To fill my book as much as I can before the pages go blank.

That's all I feel like writing right now.

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lobsters, Chalupas - Edible Babies!!!!!


Halloween pics!  Here they are:

Uncle Joe and Baby James



Little Lobster Baby!


Lobster baby and kid feet

Giggle!!


How freakin cute is this???!!!


Yummmmm... got some melted butter?


the Chalupa!!! 


Chalupa leaving with half my candy.  What a cutie!


Little kids should be put in costume much more often than just Halloween. It's so adorable, and they really owe us...the least they can do is entertain!


 

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