Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Need to Get Away

I haven’t felt much like blogging because:

  1. My dad is in the hospital. He’s been there for weeks, battling pneumonia that just won’t go away. He’s on oxygen and forbidden from moving around (he doesn’t have enough breath for any exertion at all). We went to visit him last weekend. He was happy to see the girls, of course, but he slept a lot and the mask made communication nearly impossible.
  2. Meanwhile, we are to go on vacation this Saturday for a week. I’m worried that he will take a turn for the worst while I’m away. Or before, for that matter. The girls have been looking forward to this for months. Last year I had to abort a trip to LA because my nephew died. Dear Husband and the girls will go without me, and that will be a great disappointment to them. And of course I want a vacation, too. But I want to be there if my dad needs me.
  3. I have to have an excisional biopsy. What the stereotactic biopsy revealed is benign, but it can’t be left and watched because it will inevitably transform into cancerous cells. So, another excisional biopsy it is. And there’s always the possibility that the tissue recovered in this will show ductal carcinoma, in which case I will have to seriously consider another mastectomy. Given my history I don’t think I would feel safe with a lumpectomy or something less radical. Sigh. In any case, I will be revisiting tomoxifen. The oncologist wasn’t all that keen on it, because it offers either no or slim benefits for ductal carcinoma (studies are mixed), which has a low recurrence. But if it does recur… Double sigh. On the positive, I guess I would have a matching and gravity resistant set.
  4. Summer. I hate living in a sauna. I loathe being outdoors for even a few minutes while the hot wet blanket of air closes around me. I hate the sticky vegetation and persistent wasps. I hate garbage ripening in the heat. I hate the sickly smell of cut grass. I hate climbing into my car and gasping while I wait for the air conditioner to kick in. Summer in Georgia is utterly disgusting.

So I’m a bit draggy these days. Did I mention that school starts August 9? Preparations for that are breathing down my neck.

I really want that vacation, even though vacationing with kids is more like engaging in a strategic exercise than actually relaxing.

Friday, July 09, 2010

In which I briefly discuss being a human pincusion, and how much more fun it is to be alive than dead

The sky has drifted from blue to gray over the course of the afternoon. I love overcast days and the promise of rain. The greens look greener and the asphalt looks less harsh. No doubt it its still hot and steamy, but at least it appears more bearable – the light isn’t boring into my skin.

Speaking of boring, I had to have another biopsy yesterday, of my left breast. I am always amazed at medical science. They make such extraordinary leaps in technology and yet they cannot design any device for human comfort. Stereotactic biopsies aren’t painful – they shoot you up with lidocaine and then the extraction needle itself continues to inject lidocaine – but the contorted position you must hold for 30 minutes or so is. Perhaps it wasn’t that long. Perhaps it was just the incredible tension in my neck, which I was forced to twist to one side as I lay face down (“Don’t move!”), and the creeping numbness in my right arm, or the fact that the positioning device felt much like an unending mammogram. I greeted the lidocaine with some relief, although after a number of minutes of immobility, I began to imagine the remarkable discomfort had disrupted the flow of time and I was not entirely in the room but was perhaps also inside that computer screen just out of my line of vision. At times like these, doctors and techs display a remarkable serenity and deliberation, as if they are not in the same reality with you, the reality in which you are being compressed with some force into an unnatural state of being. Instead, they are in a world without limits, with an infinite amount of time to adjust, examine, adjust again.

Afterward the tech told me that they inject epinephrine along with the lidocaine. I asked why and she told me that it reduces bleeding. “When we have someone in here who can’t tolerate epinephrine, this whole room is covered in blood by the time we’re done.” I gave myself a little mental pat on the back for my good relationship with epinephrine. I was very grateful that I did not have to stumble out of the room slipping in my own blood.

I’m supposed to have the results in 5 days. I’m not unduly worried, because I simply do not have the energy to worry about it. It has reminded me, however, of how much I like life and this world and how uninterested I am in heaven. Sorry, but I would much rather be with my family than with God, and given that He created us to have fierce ties to other people and our own lives, I don’t think he should expect anything else. Lately I’ve wondered if I have any deep belief in an afterlife. When I was younger I thought it didn’t much matter – once you were dead you had no consciousness with which to be disappointed. It matters while you’re alive, while you’re alive and someone else is dying. You don’t want them erased or even “to live on in your memory.” Really, that latter is pathetic. I don’t want someone in my memory – I want them in the flesh. I find heaven difficult to believe in. I won’t even bother with hell, which is so obviously some sort of sick fantasy dreamed up to satisfy both our bloodlust and our sense of justice.

Besides the obvious desire not to miss watching my children grow up or travel around the world with Dear Husband, I find myself hoping that I don’t die without seeing the final Harry Potter films. And what a shame if I were to miss the next technological advance, or the emergence of the next great actors or writers or artists. Or even the next morning’s coffee. There seems to be so much to look forward to, even when I lag and am weary and depressed.

The wind is growing wilder and the sky is drawing close. I expect to soon see the first dark marks of rain against the pavement. I’m looking forward to watching movies with the family, or perhaps reading a bit, and then sleeping in as much as Firecracker will allow (DramaQueen would sleep until noon).

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Make Mine an O+, Please

Dear Husband and I have been catching up on Season 2 of True Blood. I do love me some vampires, and we’re just a-poppin’ with ‘em these days. I revel in it. Well, I haven't been able to get into The Vampire Diaries. Seems too much like Dawson's Creek with fangs. I think I will have to revisit it because of Ian Somerhalder, who plays bad-boy Damon (and with that name could he be anything but bad?) - he's dark, sexy, snarky and so much more interesting than his goody-two-shoes vamp brother. A goody goody vampire? Seriously? I mean it’s nice to be all noble about not killing people, but you need to at least let your potential menace shine forth.

Now True Blood, it’s crazy-ass Southern culture with fangs, specifically bayou culture with fangs, and that’s just perfect in my opinion. The idea of red-neck vampires is truly scary, and then there are the Southern gentleman vampires and foreign exotic imports to lend a bit of class. Lots of sex and naked people - these vampires are strictly adult content. And they look really, really sexy in a menacing way full of promise. (Well, not the red-neck ones, who look like they hide their coffins in double-wides with tires in the front yard.) Vampires are all about sex, anyway, and the deep dark recesses of the subconscious, your own private bayou, so to speak.

The great thing about these popular genres is the way they mirror the issues and obsessions of the time. While the literary novels are busy being cool and minimalist, or grungy and despairing, or poetic and earnest, the genre writers are down on the streets, not hesitating to be playful and trashy and ephemeral. In True Blood, vampires mirror gays. The vampires have “come out of the coffin,” and are trying their best to integrate into regular society. Meanwhile the completely cuckoo Fellowship of the Sun (a more genteel and better-armed Westboro Baptist Church) is all “God hates fangs” and sharpening stakes after Bible studies. Despite the fact that the vamps are swigging synthetic blood and really putting their all into living in the open and not sucking on unwilling humans (they seem to have enough willing donors to keep them from starving), they are still loathed and feared, when folks aren’t exploiting vampire blood as a recreational drug. People hate them yet profit off them. Yeah, that sounds like the world.

Sometimes these genre entertainments step into the sublime. In the midst of all the delightfully gratuitous sex and fighting off the bad guys, True Blood has its philosophical moments. Lately they’ve been rolling in some Greek mythology, a maenad hosting huge orgies and ripping out folks’ hearts in the hope of calling down Dionysus to devour her (and presumably everyone else). Yet when she talks about mysticism and how our culture roots out any whiff of the ecstatic, she makes perfect sense, even while she’s sauteing a human heart with butter and scallions. Truth and evil mixed up.

And, of course, you can’t have vampires without some reflections on mortality and the soul, evil and redemption. I found this scene of the vampire Godric choosing to meet the sun strangely moving. First there’s the sad parting between him and his "child" (and damn these two are gorgeous), and then there is this dialogue about God between him and the heroine Sookie:

“Do you believe in God?”
“If you’re right, how he will punish me?”
“God doesn’t punish - God forgives.”
“I don’t deserve it, but I hope for it.”
“We all do.”

Then he says that in her tears he sees God.

Man, it’s just full of awesome.

And did I mention that these two men are really, really hot. I mean, I would happily lick away those tears of blood. I have a very giving heart.