Saturday, October 28, 2006

The C word

On Thursday I had my two year appointment at Sloan. My dad (being the ever concerned parent) picked me up at 7:15 at my apartment. What had I been doing from 6 o'clock on? Worrying. Not necessarily that I had cancer but Sloan is not a happy place to go to. Healthy people don't go to that hospital. It's an excellent facility, and I'm happy with my choice of hospital but really, I hate going there. Hate hate hate hate hate. Happily, my appointment schedule has been decreased to once a year. Why you ask? Because my new doctor told me "there is no evidence of the disease" which in his business means "cured," another word he used.

So after two years of my thyroid being removed, what did that mean to me...Surprisingly little. My dad was in the room with me and the doctor and was thrilled. My mom who I called later was happy and Plosk was also happy as can be. I felt little. Perhaps because I hadn't thought that I wasn't cured. The idea that only now, two years later, I am pronounced cured meant that for two years I was living with a false security. I'm not sure, but I'm happy everyone else was excited. It is infectious. Plosk called Alice yesterday morning and told her. Later that night I got a screaming phone call from a very happy Alice. That was the best reaction of all. Alice has wonderful reactions to things. When we told her we were getting married, it was the same thing. She goes completely nuts. It's fun. And last night I was in a terrible mood, so her enthusiasm was welcomed.

Why was I in a terrible mood? Cthulhu and Magneto were sliced open and their girl parts were taken away. They were terrified when I dropped them off at the vet. Absolutely frightened. I felt horrible because of it all day. And in the apartment their absence was noticeable. Even now, they should be crawling over my chest as I write, or snuggling under the covers up to our warm human skin. Plosk is picking them up in today while I go to a game in Newburg. It's an hour and a half drive. Bah. 8 days left of the season. I'm so looking forward to both having some free time again and playing on the club team. But today involves an 8 o'clock departure while I think of my little kittens.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Anxiety Attack

Grad School. Critique # 1.

This past week, I had my first critique. In the past I have had the occasional butterflies due to my work being read by my peers but nothing too stressful. This changed last week. I had a full anxiety attack, terrified what the seven other students in my class would say about the first 80 pages of my novel. I'm one of two first years. I came into the class with a novel in process. The majority of students are second years that are working on their thesis. This will be my thesis. Never before have I handed in such an unfinished vulnerable work. It's absolutely terrifying. Not only because it's unfinished but because the work that goes into creating a novel is so much more extensive than that of a traditional short story. It's such a different animal.

Plosk became nervous the night before because of my own nerves. But the next morning I went to class, calmed myself down and had one of the best critiques I could have hoped for. People were positive, impressed, and had great suggestions on what had as of now not been developed enough. Mostly it was fascinating to here eight intelligent people discuss something so personal and so much mine for two hours. The night before class I felt insecure as a writer, as an artist, and in basically every way possible. Perhaps that is just a normal reaction to such a vulnerable position. But my attack turned out to be for nothing. Grad school was an excellent decision. I adore my novel writing class. Most students don't take a novel writing workshop until their second semester or second year. It's like being thrown in the deep end as all the other writers have workshopped parts of their novels in other classes. This was my first. The first time anyone has read more than twenty pages. Terrifying and brilliant.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How many?

On the bus ride home yesterday from Brooklyn with the vball team, an interesting conversation came up. Children. The head coach and one of the players both said they would like 3-7 children. An odd number. I said, one child, then perhaps we'll see, but in my mind one child seems quite fine. I was shocked by the desire for what to me seems like an army of offspring.

Then it became a question of priorities and where family sat in the ultimate scheme of a life. K said that the best gift her parents have given her are her brothers. And that a future isn't worth having if there isn't a family involved. I agree, family is important but family isn't only blood. And I don't need a gaggle of children in order to have a close family. I'm very close with my parents, and then close with a few of my extended family and happy to know many more. But my day to day life doesn't involve my whole family, pretty much just my parents and Plosk. That's a small number of people and that's quite fine with me. My brother and I are off and on, off and on so he isn't as much a regular, but we still chat or keep up to date based on what our parents tell us. I said, I don't feel the need for a lot of kids. In fact, I think that would hurt my personal goals. One of the girls chimed in and said it was the quality vs quantity approach. And I said yes, exactly right.

Through this conversation I also realized that many people's ultimate goals in life are to have a family. Mine is to be a published writer, travel, learn, and if a family happens, that's wonderful too. I love marriage and didn't expect that. Perhaps a child will be similar. But it is not my goal. My goals are personal and frankly only involve myself. A family is a group goal/activity. So to me it is in a separate category. Plosk believes in my personal goals and has internalized them as I have with his, but they still only belong to us. Eh, now it just feels like I'm going on about it but what I can't quite wrap my whole head around is 'what's the point of a large family?' To me, the larger the family, the more the obligation, the less time for personal triumphs. Perhaps that's selfish. And I do think having a child is an important experience, and an amazing one, but more than one or two just seems excessive. After that number is reached I have to ask, is the point of living simply to procreate or is the point of living to create? Some would argue it's a mixture. But I have to say, I was baffled that anyone would want to spend 4 years of their life pregnant. No thanks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

2 years

This Saturday I will be two years cancer free. Two whole years since my surgery. My scar hasn't gone away like I hoped it would although Plosk says it's barely noticeable. I do notice it but then again, it is my body. Plosk and I ran through a list of all our accomplishments in the last two years and I have to say, there are many. As bipolar as I've been lately with my mood (frustration from being so busy) I am doing remarkable things that I didn't know I was capable of.

My job is going extremely well and the project I've been working on it finally ready to really launch. Yes, the last 4 months have been preparation! I'm writing daily and well into my novel. I'm really happy with my first draft so far. I am handing out a large chunk tomorrow in class so we'll see if others share my pleasure. Since that is the point, others reading my work. And as for volleyball, we are 8-1. Meaning we've won 8 and lost 1. That's a pretty great record. Oh, and this November I'm joining a club volleyball team so I'll be playing thank goodness. I miss sports.

Really, everything in the last two years I have set out to do, I'm doing. And I'm doing even more than I knew I could. So why am I going a little crazy. Perhaps I'm doing too much. Volleyball will be over soon and my life will become a little more mellow. I'll welcome that. The auction I'm working on will also be over and I can give my full attention to the main project.

So really, do I think about cancer anymore. It fuels my writing. I can call upon those memories at will and not feel them intensely. I know what it's like to be sick, to have a broken body and that works wonders for my prose and for my current novel. Do I wish I didn't have cancer? Oddly enough, I don't. It helped me become closer with Plosk, helped with my writing, helped with many things. But I am very happy to be 2 years healthy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An Activist

Spawned from a joke he got as a comment, Plosk has been calling me an activist. I've never been one before, always too afraid to act, too afraid that change isn't possible. But lately my attitude has shifted. My job has made me feel that change is something that can happen if someone goes about fueling it the right way. Nearly 100 colleges have switched to cage free eggs. Some of the big names include Yale, Tufts, Dartmouth, Notre Dame and Georgetown. I want Sarah Lawrence to be the next school to join. I've been working with HSUS to get SLC to join their campaign for cage free eggs on campus. They have been very successful. Yesterday I was able to sit down with the people in charge of dining at SLC. I spoke to them about cruelty associated with factory farming, about how SLC could be doing more for a more compassionate campus. They seemed interested and eager to know more about the non profit I work for and what we do. They even invited me to have a table next week at the health fair. "Decisions are made by those who show up." At the weekly meeting yesterday I was one of 4 students who showed up to talk about food on campus. I was prepared, had facts and news articles, concrete things for them to look over. Now I may be able to share information on factory farming at the fair next week.

I've never been an activist, but I'm becoming active- someone who believes something and then tries to change things for the better. I've always believed things and acted with personal responsibility. This is different. This is taking my beliefs and applying them to the larger world around me.