Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

Hi, this is Uma (a friend of Erica’s from college) logging in for an inevitably long and windy update. I certainly won’t be as eloquent as Erica, but I do have her looking over my shoulder to watch my language.

On my first day being a 27 year old, I flew to Boston to see Erica. I arrived at 7am and went straight to bed. Erica didn’t mind as she was up to sleeping till noon that day as well. When we awoke our first item of business was to listen to some kick ass mix CD’s that Mr. Erik Patterson created with his blood, sweat and tears. The most memorable moment in this montage was seeing Erica writhing around in bed and rocking out to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.

That night Jaci, Erica and I had a true girls night watching two of the best shows on TV: The Office and Grey’s Anatomy. We all got a little misty eyed when Bailey collapsed near the end. You know the scene.

On the 22nd, we were all invited to their neighbors’, Amelia and Mike, for dinner. They were dog sitting and their dog clearly had a crush on Lola (Jaci’s dog). After a scrumptious dinner, Mike took the dogs for a walk and came back after two minutes, quite panicked. A skunk had sprayed both dogs!! The next two hours went by as Amelia, Mike and Jaci showered the dogs with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap. Erica and I did the dishes and ate cookies. Needless to say, it was a great way to bond with the neighbors.

On the 23rd, lo and behold Jonathan Murray and Ted Sheets (also from the college days) arrived. Or at least we thought they did. They too arrived in the early AM but did not make contact until the early PM. When the boys FINALLY arrived we headed over to Erica’s friends’ (Gioia, Katie, and Evelyn) house for Afghanistan food (yummy in my tummy as Jonathan put it). After a thoroughly satisfying meal we settled into a game of Settlers. Yeah, you can probably guess what that means. A very complicated and therefore hard to learn game that had Jonathan rolling his eyes a lot and texting on his cell phone. Ironically, Ted and Gioia won, being the fully white team. Erica and I protested for our people (the darkies) but to no avail.

On the 24th we started our day with a lovely afternoon of arts and crafts. Erica painted a gorgeous depiction of Lola. Ted drew Lola in pencil and then quickly lost interest. Jonathan drew Ted who looked alarmingly like Adolph Hitler. He then proceeded to draw me, and I had grotesquely large breasts and looked like a relation of Beavis.

I then had the brilliant idea of going to Karaoke. Which was met with groans from everyone but my darling, Erica. We first went to another wonderful restaurant for Korean BBQ. You basically cook the meat on a grill at the table you are sitting at. The poor waitresses tried to cook for us but Erica quickly took over, eying the waitresses with suspicion anytime they tried to help.

Then we headed over to Karaoke and got ourselves a room with a strobe light, tambourines and books filled with lots and lots of oldies but goodies. We sang for 3 hours and Jaci, Jonathan and Ted sang the most. Yep that’s right. The groaners ended up Bogarting the microphone. Memorable tunes of the night were Ted singing Eddie Vedder, Ted and Jonathan singing from Phantom of The Opera, Erica and I jamming to Mmmmbop by Hanson and Jaci singing a beautiful Lisa Loeb song (JON!). The worst song of the night was all of us butchering Eminem.

On the 25th we decided to do a Boston day. We had covered Afghanistan, Korea, and Japan and we headed for somewhere more local….the Barking Crab. A lovely restaurant on the water where live lobsters (Jonathan ran away when we looked at them) and crabs are cooked for patrons to ravage. We got our bibs and went to town.

Ted named his lobster Uma (!) but like a true pansy refused to eat the head of her. Jaci and I had crab legs. She was smart and used her hand. I was not and used my teeth. Jonathan finished his lobster (who he named Bubbles – what is it with grown men and naming their lobsters??) but couldn’t bare to look at it after he was done. So he covered it with lemon pieces to show his respect. Erica topped us all and was the last woman standing as she ate from all of our plates and left no leg unturned. Our waitress said we did quite well for newbies.

The night was finished with a game of Balderdash (which I won!) and Taboo (which Erica and I won!).

And now on the 26th, it is noon. I sit with Erica as she eats her breakfast and we recall the last few days with giggles. I am sad that I have to leave this wonderful girl who is a like a sister to me but who I don’t see nearly enough.

- uma

p.s. Erica LOVES music and feels it is the best therapy for her. So, if you hear a great tune(s) send it our gal’s way because she will be sure to wiggle with glee.

Monday, September 18, 2006


"Careful, someone might say you're crotchety!", Jaci recently said in her hilarious sarcastic perfect way and we cracked up and I stopped my rant. Last night was the first Saturday night in a college town where if you're over thirty, you probably made a wrong turn somewhere or you need to move on or outward. From my open window I could hear laughter and parties in a 360 degree radius, to various volumes and wee hours. It makes me smile, honestly, because I remember scores of nights out with my girlfriends in college just like that. I live near a university (BU) and wouldn't expect or demand anything else, regardless of participation-- and I'm pretty sure I'm over it, sick or healthy. But on this occasion, I was cursing the stupid undergrads and their "gaity, jovialty, merriment" mostly to get a rise out of Jaci and my Mom, but also because I heard my own youth and naivete. My own assumption that everything was safe and ultiimately good. In its place, I now have apathy, or an acceptance that life is much more hard than soft. My former self would have called my current self weak, self-absorbed, and grossly pessimistic. Ha, my current self doesn't care what my former self thinks! Beautiful, yes?

It's certainly not just cancer, and a healable one at that. I should count my lucky stars that I am not in an Indian prison (read Shantaram, one the best books ever) or lacking in pleasant memories to relish and replay. And so, while I can extol my blessings and feel all the worse for their multitude in the face of my stubborn misery, I still never thought I'd be the "giving up" type. But I am. My dirtiest demons are dancing in my gut, whispering whispering whispering.

Ok, all you people that do believe in demons are freaking out right now, but don't. I'm just being dramatic.

So, guess I don't need to spell it out, but I have felt like CRAP for almost two weeks now. Take that word, CRAP, and spin it around, apply it, contort it; I mean it in every way. (You ungrateful pagan girl! You have everyone's love and support and your sister gave up everything for you and your Mom is there trying to make your room more hygienic and your boyfriend is willing to carry you so you can "hike" in st martin and kecia just had a party for you! what the hell?)

yes, all true. however, if I feel as I do this day or worse, as has been the case for too many inexplicable days, I plan to refuse chemo on wednesday whatever they say. not stop forever but i will not put more poison in me like this. this is not living. my mind and body are dying with all these pills and as i'm sure everyone agrees: death best is quick. torture under a fancy name and with big promises is not fooling me anymore.

hey, here's something juicy. in santa maria, behind our house on Blueridge Drive, I hear Unocal has been doing some overdue cleanup of Benzene. Benzene!! (google it- it's crazy carcinogenic in a world where we suppose cancer comes from magic). How Erin Brokovich is that? There's an 18-yr-old up the street who just got my exact form of leukemia (ALL) and rumors are swirling about other cases. I hope he's doing well and that he gets better. People with kids or who are younger need to fight. I dont know if he will ever really enjoy a carefree drunken college saturday night, but i hope so. i also hope for him to have the choice to have children. lastly, i hope that unocal buys him and his family a 20-million dollar ranch home with round-the-clock medical personnel in house, all the cars, boats, and other toys an 18-yr-old lusts after, and a perfect bone marrow donor so he can beat his disease long before he's legal to buy a beer.

one more complaint while i'm on my high horse and being crotchety-- i love that word! where does it come from?? gotta be the Brits. who's seen season 3 of Arrested Development, the best TV show ever?

Ahem, Please boycott, although if you haven't already bought it, you probablt won't, the book: The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I was a big Friedman fan in the past but he has turned into a typing mercenary sell-out and made millions from a simplistic, annoying, self-praising while tranparently self-effacing, six-grade-reader. His older stuff, history about the middle east told in a readable, detailed, balanced (i think, but what do i know) way is awesome. Pick up an old paperback of his From Beirut to Jerusalem or something and pls don't waste your money and time on this huge tome (i am listening to the audiobook and i have the hardcover- oops) that doesn't really tell you anythimg you didn't already know. Anyone else read this? Please share what you thought? i sort of feel like the insane hs history teacher that opines recklessly but cups his hand in his chin when the few students in the class who have done the reading offer opposing views. He gets a far away look in his eye and says, hmmm, yesss, that's very interesting Charles. Very interesting indeed. and maybe feels a little overly sheepish considering most of his flock are sleeping.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Erin popped in for breakfast last week, just in time for my usual bacony meal. What a joy to see her smiling face unexpectedly! I am so proud of her; she is officially a pilot now for Mesa Airlines and kicking some major butt. She has worked so hard and sacrificed so much for this; she is an inspiration.

Another not so happy surprise is my swiss-cheese brain. I mourned when I was informed that my central nervous nervous system radiation might cause slight brain damage, but really didn't notice anything of that sort until recently. My medical team says that it is caused by the chemo and that it should go away, but, as anyone who has ever blacked out before can atest, it is a distinctly disconcerting and frightening experience. There are periods of hours that are completely lost; things I've mailed off and have no recollection; movies that I can't guarantee if I've seen them recently or not. Although everyone around me is understanding (although somewhat startled), it is embarassing and scary.

As for other health issues, my counts are as my doctors expect- low enough to be fighting lingering leukemic cells, but high enough that I'm not in too much danger for pneumonia, blood clots, exhaustion, pancreatis, or other fun infections.

My spirits aren't too bad lately either; not sure to what I can atest that. Mostly the love of those around me- both strangers and friends/family. I am super happy that my Fletcher friends are back in Boston now too. Although it is saddening to watch them embark on their second semester while I languish behind academically/career-wise. However, I did stumble across a quote that might apply to me and how I am changing through this experience:

I am done with great things and big plans, great institutions and big success. I am for those tiny, invisible loving human forces that work from individual to individual, creeping through the crannies of the world like so many rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, which, if given time, will rend the hardest monuments of pride. -William James (1842-1910)

Right now, I'm in Atlanta enjoying a restful weekend with Luke and his parents. It is many degrees warmer here than in Boston, so I'm trying to soak up a few more rays of sun before summer officially vanishes.