Monday, October 09, 2006

Seattle Hope

picture of st maarten

Did anyone see last Thursday's Grey's Anatomy? (right, who didn't?) well, i really identified with two characters (you might be thinking meredeth with mcdreamy and o'donnel fighting over who gets to warm up my nueropathetic feet, but no). First, there was a young patient in for surgery due to lung cancer. This woman said that she had never smoked a cigarette in her life, never smoked pot, never even drank. She excercised, ate right, was faithful to her cheating husband, etc etc. And now, she was going in for a surgery with a 40% chance of survival and she felt that chocolate- boxes of it- were now her due. She was binging on cakes, racing other patients in their wheelchairs, even managed to seduce a "poor" intern into a quickie in the bathroom.

If you saw it, or if this little summary makes sense, I just wanted to say that I heard her hysterical confusion at her diagnosis crystal clear. The "why/how" questions cannot be answered in most likelihood, so I have not spent much time considering them. Was it God? Carcinogens I was specifically exposed to? Stress? A voo-doo curse? People wonder if I'm disgusted by smokers, but I'm not at all. God bless those 100-yr-old alcoholics or those people (not naming any names) who haven't eaten a vegetable in their entire life and are fit as a fiddle. It just goes to show, you never know.

The other component of her story which I could understand though, thankfully, not through first-person experience was the issue of regret. I have been so fortunate in my life to have had opportunities come my way, whether they be travel, love, jobs, education, adventures, and I have rarely (I almost want to put never) said no. Some people think you should wait until you're married so that you can experience So-and-So place together, or some people think there will be other chances to do X and put it off, or they credit others' flaws for not giving in to love or forgiveness. When I quit the Foreign Service, I thought I finally understood regret. But from this vantage point, alive for one thing!, living in a beautiful city with my amazing sister, those regrets which would make my stomach turn and my heart ache, have all but melted away. I get strength from perusing my photo albums; I think they almost have to remind me of who I am or was, and I'm kinda proud. (No shit! I hiked that!) I'm deeply sorry for the woman on the TV show said "no or maybe later" so many times but I've said to many of my friends when we're chatting about this disease: "I'm just glad I said yes." Cuz, well, you never know.

It's almost cliche, but if you died tomorrow, would you have regrets? If you had a near-death experience, would you be struck by all the things you still have yet to "do"? Perhaps it's all the drugs I've been on, but I am so grateful to report that YEEHAW I feel like I've done and seen more than most and could die tomorrow with neither fear nor regret. [I guess the flip side of that coin is that I often want to die tomorrow because i'm such a wussy about my therapies and have so far led a pretty active lifestyle. But let's stay positive here.)

Wow, third paragraph and I'm still talking about Grey's Anatomy?? Apologies; this one will be quick. The other patient I identified with was a young man whose brain tumor caused him to say basically whatever he thought. He'd comment on people's body odor or point out obvious chemistry between his docs, etc. I found him to be a really likeable character (but he dies). To some degree, I find myself a lot more honest, to the point of probably being rude. A friend of mine, after a stressful divorce, mentioned this same thing to me. Maybe it's a mixture of that apathy that comes when you realize life sucks way worse than your little optimistic mind had thought, plus a thicker skin all around. Whatever it is, it's fun being a little more direct or assertive or gross, as the case may be.

So, Uma pretty much summed up the haps here. Btw, I am using the paints you brought me and would almost say I'm sort-of addicted, like how i am to crosswords. such activities really take you away. oh and i got four responses for pro-bono guitar lessons, so hopefully that'll start this week. we'll see how long each diversion lasts! If there was an Olympic sport for mediocrity in as many disciplines/sports/languages/subjects as possible, I would proudly bring home the Gold.

after uma left and the hospital gave me the green light, i flew down to st martin for 5 days. 9/28-10/3. i guess now it's been my sixth or so time on the island, but it never seemed so beautiful. there's something in my body that is crying out for nature, clean breezes, natural smells and sounds. my visit there was like medicine. sigh, just writing this makes me want to go back tomorrow. i used a non-digital camera, so today i get that old-fashioned fun feeling of picking up my photos! so, i'll post more soon.

unfortunately, that trip pretty much left me too exhausted to jump on another plane two days later and I missed one of my best friend's wedding. we tried to do some webcam thing so i could at least see it while it was happening but what bride should be fiddling with her laptop on her wedding day. anyway, i am so sad that i wasn't there, but I am so happy for them. Miss you Sandy-san!

the unexpected silver lining of the canceled trip to Madison was that I was home alone. Yeah, just that. I hadn't realized that I have not been alone for more than a stretch of hours since February. and you know what, it felt good. thankfully, i had some energy, so i just ate and slept and worked* whenever I felt like it. I went to a party and saw tons of familiar Fletcher faces and had a blast. I am so grateful for the Fletcher community, which has remembered me and treats me like one of their own. I just want to know who's hosting the next party and how long I can go on being, you know, "that guy" who doesn't actually go to your school but is at all the parties.

Ok, this is too long and it's too late. G'night!


joyce said...


First and foremost, accept my apologies for not having posted on your blog for so long (but hey, I did call you last week...)

Secondly, you have more than a year to plan your trips to St. Maarten before Oct. 27, 2007, so if you have any excuse for missing my wedding, then I will just have to personally come and fetch you from Boston to attend our special day.

I have always admired how you have had so many wonderful experiences in your life. I remember using your pink heated washlet toilet in your apaato in Ebisu, and always taking an extra minute (after I was done, of course), to study the numerous pins on the world map of all the countries you had travelled to (btw, that was my map and I have yet to replace it). I do hope you have many more trips and continue to say yes to all the knocks of opportunity.

Now, given that you are an inspiration to all, do you think you can work that 'saying yes' concept on Kent? He is considering buying a Warmlet/Washlet toilet for our apartment, and I want the pink one... :)

Miss you heaps,

Ben said...

Thanks for being "that guy" at our party! We had a great time, and were super psyched that you were one of the merry partygoers. Also, props for mentioning grey's anatomy. I don't really watch that show because it makes me homesick for seattle (is that weird?), so I think I'll just read your reviews from now on. ;) See you at the next party!

joyce said...

Ha! Two postings in 25 hours!

Erica, if you are looking for other ways to challenge your brain, have you checked out the website, There's a little section with 5 words and their synonyms. I am hopeless at it, but once in a while, I get 5/5 and I feel smart for all of 2 seconds.

Something you can do if you need a break from those crossword puzzles...

TheDarkerUma said...

love you erica-san. love the grey's and your analysis.
post your painting of lola!

and jaci, thank you for the stay at your guy's home. thank you.

Randi said...

Hey Erica,

My name's Randi, I'm a current student at Oxy. We're having a bone marrow drive right now, and I just wanted to tell you we're all thinking of you, and that you have the whole Oxy community behind you. God bless.

Anna said...

Hi sweetie!
Your entry was so uplifting with its optimistic poetic meanderings. I am humbled by the way you're embracing your situation and giving us all food for thought and encouragement. Thank you so much for our conversation the other night, it was sorely needed, and I feel so lucky to have you in my life. I haven't had a chance to follow any of the tv shows that are supposed to be so good. I've even forfeited Dancing w/ the stars for shaolin. I really need Tevo! Much love to you, Jaci and Lola. besos.

artineh said...

I must say I'm out of the loop like Anna. I know, I know, it's crazy but I haven't seen one full episode of Grey's! I guess I don't watch tv much because if I do, I feel guilty that I'm not working on my dissertation... so instead, I take Dino for a walk :)

and I second your friend Joyce... you have almost a whole year to plan to be at my wedding on August 25th and it won't be an event without you there so you better plan to fly out for st. maarten the day after!

glad to hear you are feeling more optimistic and you know how i feel about all your adventures and the fact that you have no regrets today!

Anonymous said...

Hey sweetheart. This blog made me cry. You are so brave and such an amazing woman. I am glad that you have been able to experience so much. I have learned a lot from you and your trials. There is a song that was popular when we were in high school, by John Michael Montgomery. It is called Life's A Dance, do you remember it. I have made it my theme for life recently. "Life's a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don't worry bout what you don't know, life's a dance you learn as you go." and "Sink or swim, you've gotta give it a whirl." Love you sweetheart....