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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Friday, January 31, 2003  
Library Heaven

I went to the opening of the Nashville Public Library a couple of years ago to show how proud I was of Rebecca Walk for having her photos on permanent display there. They are in the mezzanine on the second floor. It was so packed that day that it was hard to appreciate the place as much as I did today when we went. I just love it - the building is beautiful and has such a selection. I checked out some audio books in preparation for having something to listen to while I sort through clutter. The third floor is great with chairs and tables looking out over the courtyard below. Computers are all over the place as well as all kinds of places to study and work. Access to the courtyard is from the second floor. Provence has a cafe there which is definitely a treat, too. Emma and I had fun and really enjoyed the conversation and laughter. I didn't realize people from out of the county could get a library card there and am glad we can. It costs $25 a year to get one and is worth it.

More socializing tomorrow when Gena, her mother, and I head back to Nashville to have lunch and maybe go to a movie. News at 10:00.

8:20:00 PM

Thursday, January 30, 2003  
Friends and Family

Here is an article about my cousin Donna's husband Lynn's promotion to King of the State Troopers. It's in the Tennessean, and there's another in the Herald, but I didn't find it online. He worked his way up to this and will do a good job, I know. He's a really nice guy and such a good match for Donna. I'm happy for them both and glad they found each other. They didn't mention Donna in the article, but I wish they had.

My friend Jackie Jonas is a wonderful storyteller and also a former corporate trainer and has an MBA. She's been teaching computer classes at some colleges in Pittsburgh, and we've been talking about teaching and all kinds of things today on the phone. She never heard from the Renaissance Center about doing that one-woman show Middle Passage. They probably forgot about it and needed someone to promote the idea. I still hope this can happen because that was such a wonderful performance that it would be great for her to do it here. She's going to contact them, and we hope it can happen.

I'm planning to go to the Nashville Public Library tomorrow with Emma. I'm going to get a card which I'm excited about since there is a much larger selection and the building downtown is beautiful. I can return books to the Bellevue branch and go there some too. I wish our library weren't so dark and depressing. I've always felt at home in libraries and have way too many books in my own house, so it's sad that this is the first one I haven't liked. I really don't though.

You might have noticed the new link to Michelle's blog. She's made comments on here and is Michelle Bell from Dickson. I was her homebound teacher for the longest bout of mono on record, we think! I taught her an entire semester. Well, I taught her some things. She taught herself Algebra II, and we brought in reinforcements for honors chemistry there for a while since I still have nightmares from college chemistry and redox equations. Michelle was also Brian's first girlfriend, and those pictures from three proms bring back memories. She's married and lives in California now as those of you who read her comments on here know. She just began her blog and is making progress with it.

Do any of you know when the new movie theater is going to open? I'm really looking forward to this!

12:23:00 PM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003  
What Do You Make?

This has made the email rounds, but I wanted to post it just in case you got the idea I had only negative thoughts about teaching. I was pointing out some occupational hazards which are certainly accurate. I agree with the message I copied and pasted or wouldn't have continued teaching as long as I did. In fact, I made a similar speech to someone who had risen in the ranks of the insurance nazis by finding loopholes to get out of paying the people they'd insured and was a vice-president. This conversation took place during our one-and-only, brief date after he asked me what I made and then told me his witholding tax was larger than my salary. He continued by patronizingly stating that teaching was a noble profession. I told him I had no problem knowing what I did was important and that the only reason he made what he did was that in business they let each other get by with it. He made sure I knew he made over a quarter of a million dollars a year by referring to it in various ways. Apparently he needed to do that to compensate for something small I had no interest in discovering.

What do you Make?

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminded the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: "Those who can do. Those who can't teach."

To corroborate, he said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan," he said. "Be honest. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best."

"I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence."

"I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home"

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids wonder."
"I make them question."
"I make them apologize and mean it."
"I make them write."
"I make them read, read, read."
"I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, and definitely beautiful over and over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again."
"I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English."
"I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart... and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention."

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make a difference."
"What about you? What do you make?"

3:26:00 PM


Yesterday I felt relatively energetic and got some things accomplished. Most of it had to do with the sunshine, but I also felt elated knowing I was not at work and broke into a huge smile as I drove past schools. As much as I enjoyed teaching all those decades, I was thinking about how I just don't want to keep explaining things for a living anymore. Being in charge of the behavior of others is the worst part of the job. How many of you have jobs where you give others permission to go to the bathroom? For over thirty years I've told people where to sit, what to read, how to write about it, how to behave, but not what to think. Then I've critiqued and evaluated their work and corrected their papers and actions. I ask questions I know the answers to and expect to get my way. This leads to some habits and character flaws that are not particularly easy to translate into a social life. My cousin said the worst people they deal with at Social Security are retired teachers who say things like, "Well, I taught school for forty years. I guess I know how to fill out a form!" Then yesterday Dr. Phil was mediating between a wife and her mother-in-law whom he asked if she were a schoolteacher. She said yes she was retired. He grinned and said he knew it! The damage has already been done, I'm sure. But now perhaps I can pick up other bad habits when I do something else. Some might even counteract the ones I have and cancel them out.

While I was at Kroger yesterday, I looked at the books for a while. One caught my attention - What Should I Do with My Life? Since I'm trying to figure that out now, I bought it in hardback which I don't usually do. When I got back, I turned on the TV while I was checking email. That's when I saw Dr. Phil. Then Oprah had her entire show about that book I'd just bought. The author is one of those people who can't seem to avoid making money no matter what he does even though the book and his quest are about enjoying what he does. Following your bliss, as Joseph Campbell describes it. One of the guests on the show was a lawyer who quit and opened his own bakery in Washington DC that specializes in cakes. A screenwriter left LA and moved back to Pittsburgh to teach creative writing and to return to writing about the real people he felt distanced from in Hollywood. Another was a son of a Chinese immigrant who became a doctor and sent this son to Yale in order to follow in his career path. The son instead decided to teach. His father wouldn't support him financially as long as he followed that goal, so the son lived in low-cost housing and on food stamps until he could do better. There were others whose lives became happier and more fulfilled when they discovered what they really loved and wanted to do and did them. I do hope I've convinced some students to do that. I've tried. Now I get another chance to take my own advice. With that in mind, I've tried to decide how to translate my interests into another career.

1:03:00 PM

Monday, January 27, 2003  
Gathering Dust

Now that I can get out of my neighborhood again, I'm getting some things accomplished. I realize that shouldn't keep me from improving my immediate environment - I'm attempting to use phrases other than "cleaning my house," "organizing and arranging things," "clearing out clutter," and "bringing in a bulldozer." It shouldn't, but it does. After all those years of teaching and wishing for snow days, when they come now, I still feel as if I'm off and have a free day. Yes, even I see the irony in this line of thinking. I call it ironic, you call it illogical. Semantics! It's difficult to do less than nothing, but as you noticed, I managed that. No blog! Nothing! I took sloth to a new level. But not today! So far, so good! More yet to accomplish! I still haven't managed to go to bed and get up early. Early to me is around 7:00 or 7:30. It makes me physically ill to think about having to get up before 6:30 and always has. This is why it was hard for me to get to school early. Staying later in the afternoon was never a problem though. I like night.

12:14:00 PM

Sunday, January 26, 2003  
Paint Question

I've been watching Changing Rooms on BBC America (apparently the stations think everyone is watching the Stupor Bowl and are showing reruns) and wonder about something. The paint they use on there looks thicker than our paint. Why is that?

8:40:00 PM

Work is a four-letter word

Mother and I went to lunch today. It's been a really long time since we've eaten out after our marathon we had going on there for a while. We hadn't seen each other for a few weeks and needed to be together. It was fun commenting on people and talking about things. The weather began this morning sunny and clear but became cloudy and colder while we were out.

I've been wearing myself out trying to decide what I want to do. I really like being off and seem to recall saying even a year ago that I'd always want to do something even after I retired because I like to stay busy. Now I'm trying to think of ways to keep from going back to work. Perhaps the novelty will eventually wear off and I'll think of something, but for now, I really like being a lady who lunches.

8:32:00 PM

Friday, January 24, 2003  

I've been so lazy lately that I've even been too triflin' to write on here. I've been burrowing in and hibernating with books, tv, and warm cats. It's so cold! It was 0 degrees this morning. Hope all of you are fine and that no pipes have frozen.

Good news from the family! My cousin Donna's husband was promoted to Colonel of the Highway Patrol. That's leader of all the state patrolmen. The only one above him is the Commissioner of Public Safety. Well done, Lynn, and congratulations!!

11:17:00 PM

Wednesday, January 22, 2003  

Can you believe Pepys' Diary is now a blog? Check it out. It really is. I learned about it (as I have many fascinating things) from Scaryduck (I agree with his post today about Orwellian fears that are now realities). I tell you this at the risk of giving more reading assignments. Notice that I only suggested that you check out The Diary of Samuel Pepys online, not read it in its entirety, which of course I'm sure you did during the survey of English Lit course you took even though only the excerpt in your anthology was required. If you were like that in college, I'm sure I didn't know you. I was too busy trying to improve my social skills. My GPA is proof of that.

11:15:00 AM

Tuesday, January 21, 2003  

Yesterday after my doctor's appointment a friend and I met to eat and go to a movie. We have so many we want to see now but finally made the decision to watch Adaptation. I loved it and thought it was a hoot! There were some insights that will stay with me as well. The guy who wrote the script for Being John Malkovich wrote it, so it's definitely quirky. I'm glad I didn't know more about it than I did before watching it since I could get into it more that way. If you want to know what Roger Ebert wrote about it and read more about the plot, here's his review which is entertaining in itself. If you see it, let me know, so we can discuss it. Not only people who write (or procrastinate about writing like I do) will relate to the thoughts and angst of Nicholas Cage's character Charles but also those of us with insecurities about various things who wonder what will make us happier and have better lives. It's very human and universal in that respect. My friend and I have already had a long conversation about it and will have more, I'm sure. It triggers them.

10:52:00 AM

Hurry up and Wait

Dr. Burkey checked the scans and reports and then said for me to come back in April for an ultrasound of my thyroid to see if it's grown or not. Then he said Dr. Spigel will probably prescribe Synthroid when I see him. So what I'm wondering is why am I seeing them for thyroid treatment instead of an endocrinologist? I might as well branch out to as many speicalists as possible. Dr. Burkey said he wanted me to try this instead of having more surgery and said I've been through enough. I appreciated that.

I have a sort of dilemma. I've been taking this thyroid complex from Healthy Habits which is helping. Since I knew something was wrong with my thyroid or it wouldn't be enlarged, I discussed it with Jim and decided to try that. I felt better and my hair stopped falling out and thinning. Then to double check I stopped it for a while and noticed an energy lag again and hair loss and more thinning. So back to it again which made my hair thicker and the lovely punk fur that it is now. It's hard to tell about the energy level since many of my symptoms are the same for thyroid problems, chemo, lymphoma, and inactivity. I asked Dr. Burkey about the thyroid complex which, not suprisingly, he was emphatically against. It's understandable since those supplements are not FDA approved and regulated that doctors could be liable. Their malpractice insurance is high enough as it is. I think TN needs to have a cap on settlements like some other states do. I'll have the bloodwork and ultrasound in April and am planning to continue taking this. I guess it will let me know if it's working or not. Brian said I have to tell that I'm taking this, which I will and then go from there. Still it's a dilemma to know what to do!

A friend who has thyroid problems didn't do well on Synthroid and is taking what I am. She gets it from Wild Oats. It works for her better than the prescription drug. As we all know by now, I'm very sensitive to medicine and am not looking forward to experimenting with dosages to see what works. I have a foot in both camps - alternative and mainstream medicine. I told Dr. Burkey that, and he said to cover all my bases. He did mention something about expensive urine when I said I took vitamin and mineral supplements. He did agree that MLD isn't alternative but grounded in anatomy or whatever and is impressed with how well it works.

12:22:00 AM

Sunday, January 19, 2003  

While watching a commercial for Comcast that promised "no dial tone, no disconnects" and other advantages, I kept trying to check my email and get the Comcast homepage. After calling the customer service number, I got a recording saying there was an interruption of service but that we could access the internet. Interesting.

5:48:00 PM


The Golden Globes are on tonight and is one of the awards shows I always watch. I've never missed the Oscars since my parents let me stay up to watch them, which was probably around 10. We went to movies as a family, and I went with friends to matinees and then later on dates. I've always been a movie buff. I usually cry during awards shows (one of the things Brian makes fun of me about) because I cry when I see other people being moved by something touching or exciting. When I need a good cry and there's no award show on, I guess it's Oprah.

I read that Richard Crenna died. His role on "Judging Amy" was so good and brought warmth to that character. His death will change the direction we thought it might go since his and Tyne Daly's characters were getting married. I was looking forward to his being on there and will miss him.

Even though I don't watch sports much at all, I do know the Titans are playing tonight in a game that will determine whether they will be in the Super Bowl or not. It's sort of hard not to know that if we watch the news. Since I like to look at Jeff Fisher, I stay in the room while the sports news is on more than I used to or don't change the station quite as often. Anyway, I wish them well and hope they make it. Maybe Jeff Fisher will shave off that beard.

I have that appointment with Dr. Burkey tomorrow and hope I can get out of my neighborhood. Earl had no problem with it at all since he has a Honda hatchback with 4-wheel drive. Not only are there hills in all directions, but the Mercury Mistake won't get very far in any snow. Maybe I haven't mentioned this before, but I plan to go back to Hondas and never leave again. I'll try to make my appointment, but I called them Friday to let them know I might not be able to and didn't want to tell them at the last minute. They said it would be OK since it's because of the weather. I hope I can, but if not, I can reschedule. I already know it's not thyroid cancer and can wait about other news. Once I get out of this neighborhood, there's no problem getting to Vanderbilt. Somehow it never occurred to me when I bought this house during spring. Live and learn. Right?

3:12:00 PM

Saturday, January 18, 2003  
Always the Teacher

As Carl pointed out, I'm still teaching. When I retire, I'll have to say I'm a recovering teacher, but I'm not sure I'll ever get over it. Somehow it was never enough for me to just know something. I had to tell others about what I learned or discovered. Then it was so much fun to watch students discover things for themselves and really exciting when they made observations I hadn't thought about before. They usually told me to calm down and laughed because I was so thrilled and encouraged them to dig deeper and say more. If you are ever uncertain about personality flaws, fashion do's and don'ts (mostly don'ts), comedic material, opinions, and any other facet of your life, just teach school. They seem to think we are standing before them waiting to be critiqued. If only they paid as much attention to what we're trying to teach them!

Another blog I've linked is Dictated But Not Read by an Atlanta lawyer whose writing is always intelligent and thought-provoking. She's around Brian's age. I didn't ask her permission to link her site, so I hope she doesn't mind.

1:42:00 PM

Thursday, January 16, 2003  
Where are you?

Now that I'm feeling better have all my friends quit reading? Well, after all, the purpose of this was to keep you posted on my progress while I was sick. Makes sense, but I miss you. Let me hear from you now while you're off for snow days and possibly even all of next week! No comments, no email, nothing. How sad.

8:20:00 PM

Snow Day and Hell

The predicted snow is out there and really pretty. I hoped we'd have a good snow, and it looks as if this will be one. I got up early in an effort to turn over a new tree, or maybe a branch - a leaf won't do it, and noticed it was barely snowing. From habit I turned on the news to see what might happen about school and saw that it was called off sometime between 7:30 and 7:40. See? I told you I got up early. I'm trying to stay awake now. Brigit the dainty blonde cat is crazy-go-nuts playing in the snow. Columbo loiters in his kitty window seat watching her.

My friend Earl is expected today since he has to be in Nashville to pick up his youngest daughter at the airport tomorrow. His car has 4-wheel drive, so we'll venture out tonight to go to dinner and tomorrow for breakfast so he can flirt with his next ex-wife, he says. She's a young waitress. He's hopeless! Do any of you watch Leno? The Fruitcake Lady cracks me up when they have people ask her for advice. She's 91, attractive, and really speaks her mind. She's my new role model. I avoid confrontation so much that I only say how I feel when I'm really comfortable with people and know they'll still like me anyway. Then I try to make a joke so I won't offend them. Sometimes I do it when backed into a corner and am not effective then at all since it's a panic situation. I just react and blurt something out. I really admire people who can stay cool and have clever responses under duress, and any confrontation is duress to me! Maybe Dr. Phil or the Fruitcake Lady could help me.

A friend and I were discussing various things when Hell became part of the conversation. I'm sure this isn't that unusual. I started thinking about how it's probably unlikely that what got people there in the first place would be what they'd get to do for eternity. They'd be more likely to have to do the opposite, wouldn't you think? While reviewing the Seven Deadly Sins and knowing I have Sloth down pretty well, I realized my punishment would be to become Martha Stewart. I am so the anti-Martha that I still regret not ordering that t-shirt I saw in a magazine that said, "The only thing about me that's domestic is that I was born in this country."

Years ago the conversation in the English workroom of the high school where I taught turned to the deadly sins. Oddly, we teachers could name all seven of the sins but were hard-pressed to remember all the virtues. Well, maybe not so odd considering that crew. Mark Twain said he'd prefer Heaven for the climate and Hell for the company.

To end on a groan here, I believe in reincarnation, so your dogma is chasing my karma. I just never know when to stop, do I? Brian keeps telling me that. I should listen to him.

8:42:00 AM

Wednesday, January 15, 2003  

Last night on Judging Amy, Maxine (Amy's mother played by Tyne Daly) was talking about wanting things to stay the same while also looking forward to some major changes in her life. She wanted it both ways. I understand that. Here I am wondering what to do next for another job if I retire from teaching. Some people have the idea that teacher retirement isn't about half of my already sucky salary and that I can live on it. Not and stay in my house and drive a car and eat. I'd have to give up two of those at least. The job market is really bad now, and I'm at an age no one wants to hire. So I have some real concerns here besides change, working all year, and being expected to show up at work when it snows. It would be really easy to go back to teaching. I enjoy it and know how to do it, but maybe I do need to try something else. Some of you have made suggestions which I am doing; however, I'm going to need to have money coming in sometime this summer and will need a job. Fear of change? You betcha!!

One of the women at the monthly meeting of our support group last night said that treatment turns us into couch potatoes. This might be what's really going on here. I've been an inactive hermit quite a while now and am really liking it. Maybe I need someone to move in here with me so we can get things under control. Of course, it's possible I could turn them into a fellow dilettante (which is what I prefer to call this), and have company to discuss movies, tv, and other things. Besides, if we share expenses, we might be able to live on what we have.

7:57:00 PM

Tuesday, January 14, 2003  
Southern Exposure

One of my favorite blogs Scaryduck included a link to mine in his post today. He was writing about David Rocastle, a football player (we call it soccer) who died from NHL at the young age of 33, and mentioned that some people do survive cancer and live to write about it. If a fraction of those who read his blog, popped over and looked at mine, there would be more people in England reading it than do here in the US. I'm not sure what to think about that. I don't expect them to linger long, but if any of you drop in, let me say, "Welcome!" Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to comment or email. I'd like to hear from you.

9:12:00 PM

Monday, January 13, 2003  
Hello Dolly!

That commercial with the daschunds is good. I also liked that one about herding kittens. Some commercials stick with us for various reasons, and we can't get the jingles out of our minds which can be really annoying.

This brings me to Saturday when I was at the seminar. The guy who gave us a tour of the studio seemed really nice and lots of fun. He'd worked for Disney and lived in quite a few places. His comments about how friendly Nashvillians are and how much he liked it there explained why he wants to make it his home and not keep relocating. One of the women asked him about his family to which he answered that he was single and available in case any of us knew anyone who might be interested. I mentioned that I like to matchmake, so he immediately wanted to talk to me. After people asked other questions and only a few of us were there, I asked, "So - how old are you and what are you looking for?" The others said that was their cue to leave and did. What's amusing is that all I did was mention I liked to match people and all of a sudden I'm a matchmaker. He answered my questions and acted hopeful I could introduce him to someone. He really does seem to be a neat guy, very tall (6' 6"), and compassionate. I keep trying to think of someone tall who would like to meet him. Later on after the seminar, a man walked up to me and asked if I knew any songwriters. I told him I did. Then he mentioned that he was a songwriter and wanted to meet one to go out with. Then I understood the power of advertising, even minimal and poor advertising. It's about perception and very much the way my IQ miraculously increased as soon as I started teaching gifted students. Funny! What's interesting is that my new matchmaking career is a sort of "those who can" type situations. Perhaps I can do for others what I can't seem to do for myself.

On a similar note, I've been thinking about how menopause is named correctly. After a certain age, women become invisible to men. For the ones who can see us, those men pause briefly and then move on.

9:39:00 PM

Saturday, January 11, 2003  

I went to a screenwriting seminar today at NorthStar Studios in Nashville. It's an impressive facility. We had a tour of the building which was fascinating. I had no idea such a place was around here. The highlight of the day was learning about it and considering possibilities of my next career. This kind of place I could easily visualize Brian's working.

The guy who led the seminar is Robert Franke. It was informative and helpful and gave me more ideas now for how to structure my story. Information about the seminar is here.

It was really good to get out and do something like this today. I'm kind of tired but had a good day.

9:10:00 PM

Friday, January 10, 2003  
Fear and Safety

I want to recommend a blog I read that has a poignant, well-written post in it today. I don't know her but found the blog from the Blogger homepage when I sign in to write this one. The title of it caught my attention, and I've been reading it ever since. Her name is Julia, and she lives and works in Washington, DC. That's where I got the information about the Trent Lotté: separate – but equal – parts of black coffee and steamed milk. I'd have thought they would have been in separate cups with one significantly behind the other so no mixing would take place, but it's a funny addition to the menu - especially in DC. Here is the link. Let me know what you think. tequilamockingbird

Her post today made me think about when I was in school and how oblivious I was about so much. My mind was out in the ozone most of the time. I suppose I was a "have" in our little pond even though I didn't really think so. I've heard from others later on that they thought I was. I knew I was a "have" when it came to feeling loved and taken care of, but money has never been at the top of my list when it came to what I value. If so, I'd have more of it, I guess. I think those of us who grew up in the middle of the middle class and had enough to eat and clothes to wear and what we needed don't have a lot to get over which makes us more complacent. People who struggled and went without never seem to feel as if they have enough. I can understand that and know why they have to have security of some kind to feel safe.

Security and safety are relative terms, aren't they? I remember how scared I was when I first heard my diagnosis over six years ago. I didn't feel safe and knew I was vulnerable. I lived with it in the back of my mind and hoped it was gone. Then when it changed and I had to have chemo, my fears were realized. I still thought I'd survive it and might feel bad from the chemo for a while but would make it. Then when I had the infection and sepsis and was lying there on the couch writing letters to those I love in my mind since I couldn't write them with my hand, I felt at peace about dying but worried about Mother the most. How tragic to outlive your children. I was concerned about my own children and grandchildren and didn't want to miss spending more time with them. It made me wish I had things in order, so they could divide things more easily and take care of arrangements. There were many things that went through my mind. I had lots of time to think since I didn't sleep but one to three hours a day. I couldn't think too well during Labor Day week but felt as if I was sort of in and out of awareness. I was probably the most scared the Sunday after surgery when I realized how close I really came to dying and kept thinking about the "what-if's" and "might-have-beens." Then I finally cried for myself. I don't do that much at all and needed to.

I don't have the same fear that I did before all this happened. I'm glad I'm here and that it wasn't my time to go. I'm glad I'll get to meet Brendan and see him grow and to be with Kelsey, Kari, and Luke much more. Daddy died of leukemia when I was a little younger than Brian is, and I know how it is to still miss him. This isn't a patten I wanted to see happen. What cruel irony for Kathy to have found me and then for me to die. For many reasons, I'm really happy to still be here! I definitely value my friends, family, and others who are close.

I'm not sure but don't believe I'll have the same fearful cloud now. I experienced a rite of passage to get rid of the cancer. I faced death and lived. We're all the heroes of our own lives, and this followed the hero's journey. I'm returning home with the reward. As you remember, students, this journey is internal but played out in outer experiences, so now the emotional healing must begin.

1:37:00 PM

Thursday, January 09, 2003  

Interesting how you first hear about something and then there it is again. Last night on West Wing, part of the plot involved a goat that was there at the Bartlet White House (my President) for a photo to promote the Heifer Project. This is an organization that provides cows and goats to people in impoverished rural villages, so they will have a means of income. Then today Susan Sarandon and Goldie Hawn were on Oprah to promote The Banger Sisters. Susan had been involved in the Heifer Project, and a girl in Uganda who had received a goat was on the show to thank her.

I added a few things to the previous post about The Hours.

I took a nap this afternoon with the poodle cat Columbo warming my feet as usual. Soon I won't be able to call him that since his fur is growing after his haircut. For those of you who didn't read that part, the vet tech shaved him because of the out-of-control fur mats I wasn't able to get rid of. He looked so cute and felt like velvet. I was right about our making about the same progress since mine is getting thicker and growing back, too. Randy Shepard said I look like a Chia Pet. My hair feels like fur and has a mind of its own. It's curly anyway but now different parts of it go in all different directions. Eventually it will be back to abnormal just like the rest of me.

9:16:00 PM

Wednesday, January 08, 2003  
The Hours

I haven't read the book adapted for the screenplay or Mrs. Dalloway which was part of the movie and about a day in the life of an aristocratic English woman who was preparing for a party. She was known as a hostess and wonders if she's missed something crucial in her life. The acting was superb all through the film and the segues between stories visually incredible. I really liked it. The plots weave between the time Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman who is almost unrecognizable) wrote Mrs. Dalloway (1923) to other characters in later decades. We see her writing the suicide/farewell note in the first frame and then watch her put rocks in her pockets and wade out into the river to drown herself. She was 59 which brings thoughts of lists I made about people my age who are dead, but I digress. The other characters have their own stories which relate to the book. Julianne Moore plays a housewife who is totally unhappy, pregnant, and has a son (1951). She is reading the Woolf novel. A lot of time is spent baking her husband a birthday cake. Meryl Streep plays an editor who lives in NYC in 2001 with her lover Allison Janney and whose ex-lover or maybe husband Ed Harris is dying of AIDS. His nickname for her is Mrs. Dalloway, and both women's first names are Clarissa. She has a daughter played by Claire Danes. The pace was slow which gave time to enjoy their performances and let the events sink in. At the basis of it is the pain caused by those who cannot or do not love and how alone people feel inside. Well, it was more uplifting than that play Karla who was in purgatory after being executed for a double murder in Texas (when Dubya was governor, of course). Some of us who think like stand-up comedians have our dark sides and don't mind movies and plays that appeal to that part of us.

The Hours was the working title of Mrs. Dalloway and included a character, a reader, and a writer. Michael Cunningham is the author of the book and wrote about the inspiration for his novel in the glossy, informative program they gave us. Many of us commented that we've never received anything like this before at the advanced screenings. I get free tickets to some of them because I joined NIFF, the Nashville Independent Film Festival, and get more of them than the cost of membership. If some of you do this, too, let me know, and we can drive up together. They are usually at Green Hills or 100 Oaks.

I had lunch with Emma today and then we went to visit the president of our support group who has a recurrence of ovarian cancer. When she introduced me and said, "This is Joy from my support group. She has lymphoma." I thought, "I HAD lymphoma" but didn't say anything since it wouldn't have been appropriate. I was glad to realize that I've already made the transition to past tense. Yea!!

When I was driving to and from Chattanooga this weekend, I listened to the Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers tapes of The Power of Myth. I wish I'd gone to Sarah Lawrence and had Campbell for a teacher. He's wonderful.

6:10:00 PM

Tuesday, January 07, 2003  

After being tense so long, worried, and going through treatment and everything, now that I'm relaxing, I realize that I'm emotionally exhausted. This is how I thought it would turn out and what a relief it is! Except for the part about when I almost died, I knew I'd get over it. During that time, things weren't so hopeful. Then I wasn't sure my neck would ever be OK. It still has a way to go but is much better.

Even though it was wonderful news to be in touch with Kathy, all that dredged up memories and emotions I didn't know I had. Kari, her middle child, looked up at her as they walked in the house after hugging me good-bye Sunday and smiled, "Aren't you glad you found her?" How sweet!!

I'm ready to rest while I get the house in order which is something I'm actually looking forward to along with my various entertainments. I hope nothing else emotional happens for a while that requires any effort on my part. As I said, I need to calm down after all this and process things.

Brian and I are going to see The Hours tonight. We have free tickets to the advanced screening and are going to meet at Baja Burrito to eat before the movie. It's at 100 Oaks. I'll let you know how it is. I really want to see Chicago and have a feeling I'll want the DVD eventually when it's affordable. There are several movies out now and that I missed earlier that I want to see. When is the new Roxy Theater opening here in Dickson? I'm glad they named it that.

Thanks for all the comments and good wishes!! Thanks even more for being here with me through all this! Now we can babble about other things. Any suggestions?

2:42:00 PM

Monday, January 06, 2003  
How Do You Spell Relief?

R-E-M-I-S-S-I-O-N!!! Got a wonderful report this morning from the scans! All the nodes are smaller and the cancer is gone. Dr. Spigel wants me to have maintenance treatments of Rituxan once a week for four weeks six months apart, which will be in May since the last one was in November. I don't go back to see him until April. What another relief!! I am so glad!!

Mother and I went to breakfast when we left the hospital and then to Healthy Habits to get my vitamins and to Goody's to see what they had on sale. Didn't get anything. I went to Graham Ford Service Dept again to let them know the power steering fluid is low again. I just had the power steering pump replaced and the 30K mile service done on the Mercury Mistake. I miss Hondas so much and especially Jenkins & Wynne Honda Service Department. It's the # 1 Honda service dept in the nation, so I was spoiled. Anyway, they said the main power steering line that goes all over the car had a leak and would have to be replaced. Why didn't they notice that when they had it two days week before last, I wonder. So now I have to spend more money on the car having something done they should have noticed when they "fixed" it the first time. Pretty soon I'm going to need a telethon!!

I was talking to a woman in the waiting room who said she used to live in LA and that MLD was done before and after surgery there almost as a matter of course. California is more open to various things like that, but it needs to be offered in hospitals. They do have MLD therapists at Baptist Hospital, I've heard. People would heal so much faster, have little or no swelling, and minimal scarring. I'm going to do what I can to make them more aware of it here.

Let's all celebrate!!

5:03:00 PM

Sunday, January 05, 2003  
Back Home

It's good to visit and good to be back home again. Had a great time at Kathy's and really enjoyed seeing all them again. We played games and watched movies (Ice Age and Spirit). The only time I watch animated movies is with them. It's much more fun seeing them with children.

I'm watching the movie about Enron which confirms my biases against the greed factor of business. I wish the truth would come out about the corruption of more of them and how they are ruining people's lives. It's not an honorable way to live. There are businesses that make a profit and have leaders with integrity.

Thank you so much for the email and comments! It was great to have them to read when I got home. I hope all of you are doing OK. Please let me know. I'm out of the loop. Any news?

9:40:00 PM

Friday, January 03, 2003  

I'm going to Kathy's tomorrow and will be back Sunday. I haven't seen the kids for a while, so I'm looking forward to being with everyone. Feel free to comment and email so I'll have something to read when I get back. :-)

11:33:00 PM


I just talked with Dr. Burkey's nurse Sharon who told me the results of the biopsy Tuesday. It's not thyroid cancer!! Yea!! It's a benign mass of thyroid cells, she said. Apparently, the thyroid is enlarged or something, but they are not malignant, so I don't care. After Dr. Burkey studies the reports from there and TN Oncology PET Services, Sharon will call me Tuesday to let me know more - like if there's a plan or what. I am sooooo relieved! My neck has already been through too much, and I was dreading more surgery on it and radioactive treatments and whatever else might happen. Thank goodness, I can relax for a change, get my house organized and clean (yes, still on the list), find things, get rid of others, and do some writing. These last six months have been rough and so hard, and I feel jangled from them. I'm emotionally exhausted. Whew!! Good news to begin the new year! This is the first time I've relaxed a little in over eight months. I can really relax Monday if I hear good news from Dr. Spigel, too. All the tests, waiting, surgery, IV's, treatment, more tests, poking, probing, needles, prescriptions, chemo, and scans have made me feel invaded. Now maybe I can ravel back together.

2:43:00 PM

Geeks, Nerds, and Weirdos

While not being one myself, I have spent quite a bit of my life surrounded by geeks and nerds. I'll admit to being sort of weird, which I like to think is a synonym for unique. Yes, that can be taken several ways, too, but let's try to remain positive. I've always liked to be around intelligent people who are witty and creative and have learned a lot from them. Besides, they make me laugh which is always a good thing. An interesting and clever blog I read by someone I've never met made me think about all this. She mentioned being a geek magnet and having a rocket named for her because she was told by the rocket club guys that she was the smartest girl in the whole school. I wasn't in that category but more in the girls who run with beagles group. I like to think I became a woman who runs with wolves but might still be hanging with the beagles. They are good companions and have many endearing qualities. They are cute, social, clever, loyal hunters. They are useful, low-maintenance, and friendly. Now I'm wondering which breed would be considered nerds of the canine community. Whoever they are, they must like beagles.

11:54:00 AM

Thursday, January 02, 2003  

I just got home from having a massage at Debbie's. I don't have to have more MLD, but she is going to do some at the beginning of the massages from now on. I'm planning to have them regularly and am looking into what I can give up in order to afford them twice a month or every three weeks. I've found a few things so far, but I do like my gadgets and entertainment. We think if I keep having them regularly, it will help strengthen my immune system and keep the lymphatic fluid flowing which will definitely help. There are many benefits of massage. Also a reminder from your friendly MLD spokesperson that it makes healing much faster and more efficient before any kind of surgery as well as for anything swollen. I can tell a difference in my sinuses after the massage today, and they've been bothering me all week.

It's getting cold and rainy here with some predictions of snow. How is it in your part of the world? How are all of you doing? I'm behind in news from some of you and wonder what's going on. Email or call and let me know!

2:28:00 PM

Wednesday, January 01, 2003  
Happy New Year!

I used to be superstitious and think that what I was doing on New Year's influenced the rest of the year. Experience has proven otherwise, but just to be safe, I did eat black-eyed peas - unlike last year when it snowed and prevented my going to Mother's and didn't have any here to cook. Butch, Janelle, and I ate with Mother and then talked about class trips, among other things. That led to getting out the yearbooks to jog our memories. Mother and I commented on how no one was fat in the whole school. Now the US leads the world in obesity. All those decades ago we played outside, ate real food, and didn't have junk food around. Since the diet business is really lucrative, I wonder if all that diet food makes people fatter. We know the fast food places definitely contribute as well as inactivity in front of the TV and computer (where I am now). I really like gadgets and conveniences and don't think it was Utopia in the 50's. There were lots of good things about our lives then and have been since. I blame over-population for most of our problems and am working on a way to find a connection with obesity.

9:50:00 PM

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