Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Au revoir

I can’t deny it any longer; I'm just not able to keep up with this blog. I’ve loved it so much, but self reflection is just not a luxury I have time for anymore. Between work, school, remodeling our house, a time-intensive bible study, and the occasional amazing book, I can’t seem to find the minutes to create coherent thoughts. Instead they remain scattered throughout the day until I completely forget them all together.

But because I really do love blogging so much, I’m not going to shut this whole thing down. I’ll leave it up as a reminder of something I hope to get back to one day. And from time to time your RSS reader might just surprise you with an update from me.

Happy lives to you all!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sam and I just got back from an amazing trip to Colorado. We got to spend lots of time with family and friends, enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery. It was really hard to go home when home still feels like Colorado, but here we are back in Cleveland.

Getting stuck in Chicago for two days and making the best of it by seeing my sister

Mini vacation to Glenwood Springs

The scenery

The cousins

Favorite things not pictured: Seeing best friends, friends from work, bible study friends, and Sam's amazing family; meeting sister and brother-in-law's new dog; eating out roughly every other meal.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Back on the face of the earth

I have been on a mission. A mission to purchase a house. After 70 grueling days, my mission is drawing to a close.

When I started out I couldn't have imagined how consuming this task would become. Who knew taking ownership of a house could still be so complicated in this modern era. Then again, maybe it's this modern era that has made it so complicated.

Anyway, we close on Friday and then my life shall recommence.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Just a quick post

Here's a picture of the lovely
little fixer-upper we're trying to buy...
And here's my mom's new hair growth...

Have a nice day.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Back on tract

Great news - my mom's back home again. After several days of just hanging out in the hospital, her digestive tract decided to allow food to move through the shoot again. Though no one is certain about what exactly happened, it seems like the best guess is that her guts started adhering to other organs. We're not sure if this will happen again. Or whether other odd goings on are going on. But for now she'll stick with her baby-food like diet and Monday she'll be back at work again.

Who can say why these things happen. All I know for sure is that this Saturday evening all is well. We can't know what's in store. And for the first time in my tend-to-overplan life, I don't want to.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wait and see

My mom is still biding time at the hospital. No one is exactly sure why her body is behaving the way it is. So the plan for now is to just wait and see. The doctors hope that with time her intestines will just turn back on. I hope those intestines are aware of what is expected of them. I hope they got the memo. And I hope they're team players.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is this thing still on?

Well hello again. It's been a while, no? Life has been rather busy these days. I'm still working a lot, we've been enjoying the beautiful onset of summer, and we're trying to buy a house. I have lots of pictures to post but no time to do it at the moment.

Instead, I'm writing to introduce what feels like Part 2 of my mom's epic adventure. Since we last spoke, my mom has lost most of her fingernails as a result of the chemo treatments that ended quite a while ago. And yesterday, after suffering from rather severe abdominal pains, she was admitted to the hospital because of blockage in her intestine that was effectively shutting off her GI tract. At this point the doctors seem to think this may be a side effect of her surgery ... from seven months ago. I don't understand this at all yet, but I'll do some investigating and report back soon. Let's just hope those dark clouds forming on the horizon aren't the ominous type.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cavs 105, Hawks 85

Last night we caught a raucous playoff game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks. I was a little nervous about the game not starting until 8:00 because I am notorious for not being able to stay up very late, but the game was exciting enough and the crowd wild enough that I didn’t pass out until we got on the train to go home.

The night’s highlights:
- Giant indoor flame throwing
- Usher dancing on the sidelines to “Never Gonna Give You Up”
- Free t-shirts
- No-look passing, reverse dunking, and alley-ooping
- A 40-foot buzzer beating shot
- Dippin' Dots ice cream

Basketball doesn’t get much better than this.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Wright weekend

A few years ago Sam and I decided to get caught up on some of the cinematic greats from before our time. We watched movies like Twelve Angry Men and Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Apocalypse Now. While some appealed to us a lot more than others, we generally found that most of them were hard to appreciate. Even highly acclaimed films like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest just left us more stunned than anything. We grew up with such a different cinematic experience that it was very hard to grasp what had been so revolutionary about these classics.

So when we went to see some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural landmarks this weekend, I had was a little nervous that I would walk away feeling similarly disappointed by what has been hyped for decades. It was easy to imagine that what had been great in its time would no longer feel relevant, but fortunately I found this not to be the case at all.

First we went to see Kentuck Knob, a smaller residence built in the lush hills of Pennsylvania. It’s difficult to capture on camera because it’s got so much going on in so many places (plus we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside), but it was a beautiful and clever little house.

Wright was never formally trained in architecture which seems to have had two effects; first, he almost always underestimated how much steel was required to prevent nature from reclaiming his structures, and second, his ignorance of such facts allowed him to create uninhibitedly. Both of these effects are seen in the second house we visited, Fallingwater.

This house was such an amazing experience. One of the most stunning, yet destructive, features of this house is its relationship to the river. Millions of dollars have been spent to restore and reinforce what the water continues to break down.
There were so many interesting features like the low ceilings that fit the slightly shorter humans of the 1930's, the built-in furniture, and the rocks that moved from the outside of the house to the inside.
So fortunately this weekend turned out nothing like our movie experience. While the appeal of older films might be totally lost on us, I'm glad to say we thoroughly enjoyed our sampling of classic architecture.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekend recap

Like most humans, I’m so glad the weather is getting nicer. It really has been quite a while since I’ve seen the sun or really been inspired to be outdoors for any reason. But this weekend we got our money’s worth. First we visited some nice towns with pretty beaches and boats and blossoming trees along Lake Erie.

My sister came to visit and we went for a few long walks (and some short jogs) in the park. Then, along with many of our family members who live on the same street, we thatched FOUR yards. It was dirty hard work and it felt good.

We read on the back porch and tried to revive some dying plants and finally wrapped up the weekend, and Sam’s birthday festivities, with some bowling. And to think that this is just the beginning of summer!

Yay Summer

Here's a pretty tree in a pretty little town on a pretty stretch of Lake Erie.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sam!

If you'd never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.
Or worse than all that...Why, you might be a WASN'T!
A Wasn't has no fun at all. No, he doesn't.
A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.
But you...You ARE YOU! And, now isn't that pleasant!

-- Dr. Seuss, from Happy Birthday to You!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Circle of Life

I had anticipated chronicling the long and fruitful life of our first attempts at growing vegetables. Unfortunately our little plants skipped straight to the dying phase of life.

Things started out smoothly enough. We watered our little soil pellets to ready them for seeds from tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, and broccoli:

Then we gently embedded the plants to the specified depth:

Several days later we began to see hearty sprouts:

And then robust mini plants:

But then, freakishly, just a few days later the heads of the plants started falling off and plants were dying left and right:

Now all we have left is a tray of mostly dead seedlings. We're still watering them and giving them as much sunlight as possible in hopes of a miraculous revival. Obviously we have much to learn.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking back

I’m still working lots of extra hours as you can probably tell by my few and far between posts. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have information to share.

My mom is officially finished with her five-month round of chemo treatments. Her latest blood tests show that the cancer is losing the battle. So what does that make her now? Cancer free? In remission? The Terminator?

Not quite. According to the medical world, she is still thought to have cancer. Even if she gets good marks on all of her tests a few months from now, it may only mean that the cancer cells are at rest. But labels are tricky; often times they avert our eyes from the true essence of a thing, giving us a wholly wrong impression of it.

So what might be a more fitting description of her now? Personally, every time I talk to my mom or hug her or even argue with her (which never happens, I swear) I just see Mom. And that feels so good. I know that she’s not losing herself in this battle. She’s still my mom. And my dad’s wife. And bighearted and funny and a lot of other things that cancer can’t take away.

The book isn’t closed on this journey yet, but I’d say this chapter was pretty encouraging.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April showers bring May flowers

Up until this weekend, my mom has pretty much breezed through chemo. But a body can only gracefully tolerate poison for so long. This weekend the breeze died down, and well, she collapsed with a thud into the proverbial wall. She is achy and nauseous and in jeopardy of losing her finger nails. Plus she continues to suffer hot flashes and exhaustion.

The silver lining lies in the fact that she is very nearly done with chemo. This Thursday is her last scheduled treatment. As winter fades, her storm also should be quieting. And in its wake we hope to see sprouts on her head, strength in her body, and renewed hope in her life.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not so much to report

Just checking in to say all is well here. For those keeping tabs on my mom, she is doing great. Still hairless. Still tired. Still fuzzy brained. Still achy on occasion. And still fighting.

All in all life it cruising along swimmingly. Hope the same can be said for you.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Those lucky dogs

One morning in January I tried starting our car but nothing happened. Just silence. I turned the key a few more times, but couldn’t get it going. Oddly, when Sam came out to diagnose the problem, the car started right up. We took the car in to have the battery checked and sure enough, it was about dead. So we bought a new battery and life was back to normal.

About a week later it happened again. I turned the key several times, but the car just sat lifeless. I went back in the house for a few minutes and then tried the whole thing over. Just like the week before, the car started up with no problem. Now I was confused. It couldn’t be the battery this time, could it? Maybe it had something to do with the sub-human (and sub-mechanical) winter temperatures. Was the car nearing the end of its long life?

It’s been a few months now and I still don’t have any answers because our car has been running fine ever since. I am, however, beginning to see the faint outlines of another theme taking shape in my life. I’m calling this one Appreciation.

We all know we take too much in our lives for granted. We forget how precious certain things are. Or we assume we will always have them available to us. Fortunately life has a way of reminding us how to appreciate what we have while it’s still ours to appreciate. Like the car. For the past few months, every time I turn the key in the ignition, I thank God when it starts up. Nope, no more taking the car for granted.

This theme has come up in a lot of other ways since (thus dubbing it a theme), but there’s just one more example I want to share for now.

I started reading a book called Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung. It’s a true story about a family that emigrated from Cambodia to Australia just after the Vietnam War. The family was destitute and desperate. They had been living under an oppressive regime and their spirits were nearly broken. Upon arriving in Australia, they experience a life they never could have fathomed. They behold a government that protects its citizens. They watch cars yield to pedestrians. And they discover food is cheap and abundant. Their first trip to the grocery store is a thing of wonder. They buy a few simple items including some canned meat and the daughter writes:
Back in our rented weatherboard house…my mother cuts the [meat] into little pieces and makes a nice stir-fry. "It smells so good," breathes my auntie as she spoons the meal onto a large plate. My mother cannot help but smile with pride. It is only later when my family sees the television commercial that they realize who - or more accurately, what - the meat is for. "Wah, who could believe that they feed this good meat to dogs? How lucky to be a dog in this country!"

So the goal is to try to remember to appreciate the goodness of life – people, health, circumstances, and an unpredictable car – while it's still ours to enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

March Maple Madness

This weekend we drove to an old, old little town to celebrate the maple syrup season by indulging in all-you-can-eat pancakes, topped with the town's finest.

All across the Midwest, trees are thawing and sap is flowing. The sap is collected by the bucketful and boiled down until all that remains is a sweet, concentrated, amber syrup.

I learned that it takes about 50 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of pure maple syrup. I guess that's why it goes for around $60/gal. Fortunately, I think we got our fill for a while. And now I'm officially ready for spring!

Friday, March 13, 2009

This story has a point: Part 3

And it has an end. This is taking far longer than I anticipated.

ANYWAY, to wrap things up, I’ll summarize by saying that a few months after the failed career attempts, I ended up becoming employed by the library. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly wasn’t anticipating falling in love with it the way I did. And I discovered a lot of things about myself. For example, while memorizing lots of biological minutiae is not a strength of mine, it turns out working with people is. And though I probably would have made a lousy teacher, it turns out I make a pretty good librarian.

Looking back at college, I can see that there were things I was really good at, but because they weren’t the things I wanted to be good at, I overlooked them. And when I was trying to find work, I didn’t take into consideration what excited me. But once I recognized and decided to appreciate my strengths and not to sweat my weaknesses, I found my stride.

So finally, The Point: It’s been four years since I graduated from college and resolved that I would never return. But after a few course corrections, I’ve decided to try again. I’ve applied for and been accepted into a master’s of library science program and I’ll start in the fall. I think things will go much smoother this time around.

Seems like an awful lot of writing when I could have just said, “I’m going back to school,” huh? So why don’t I throw in A Moral, too? Here it is: Sometimes it’s only after we’ve strayed quite far from the path that we can recognize when we’ve finally found it again.

And just for good measure, I offer A Tip: From time to time, a little introspection does a body good.

The End.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This story has a point: Part 2

Right after college I applied for a teacher licensing program and a college ministry position at the same time. Just like when I was choosing my major, I didn't stop to think whether either of these careers were really a good fit for me. I was just eager to be doing something.

After a few months of phone calls and research and testing and interviewing, I found out that neither job would be an option. To get licensed I needed to go back to school and I just couldn't stomach that at the time. To join the ministry, I needed to attend a mandatory week long training that was scheduled for the same time Sam and I were planning to go to Mexico to get married.

I really didn't take this well. Not at all. I felt like a failure.

It turns out I had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to be that basically fell outside of the realm of who I already was. I resisted what came naturally and fought to be something else entirely...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This story has a point: Part 1

As a senior in high school, I only applied to one college. There was no doubt in my mind - I knew exactly where I wanted to go. The harder part was figuring out what to study. At this point in my life it probably would have been a good idea to do a little soul searching to really figure out what I liked and what I was good at. Instead, I put a check mark in the box that sounded the least UNinteresting to me: Journalism and Mass Communication.

I don’t remember thinking about my major over the next few months. I was just excited to be accepted to college. I dreamt about where I would live and who I would meet and whether I might find my future husband. Those things were much more critical to me at the time.

Early in the summer before I started college I received a letter asking me to confirm my major or select a new one. For about ten seconds I tried to imagine my life as a journalist and it just didn’t look right. I reread the list. I noticed biology. Then I remembered back to visiting a forensic crime lab on a job shadow day. That had been interesting. Ok, I decided, I’ll change my major to biology. And just like that it was done.

Thus began the hell that came to be known as my undergraduate studies. I loved my overall college experience, but classes were brutal.

By the time I realized I had seriously erred in choosing my major, I was half way done with it. Almost none of my science classes would count toward a non-science major and I wasn’t about to commit any extra time to correcting my mistake. So I pushed through my courses as fast as I could, avoiding studying as much as possible.

I finally graduated with a degree I was loath to use. And I had no idea what to do next…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brief Update

Right before my mom was diagnosed with cancer we took her out for a family photo shoot for her birthday. Because we were celebrating my mom, the photographer wanted to highlight her in a few shots.
I love this picture now even more than when I first saw it. Cancer is my mom's battle, but we're right behind her, supporting her however we can.
It seems like hardly any time has passed since she was diagnosed, but now here we are looking down the home stretch. Only four more chemo treatments to go, the last one scheduled for April 9. What a whirlwind it's been.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Library Pearl

Does anybody recognize this lovely lady on the left?

How about now?
Yesterday I got to attend a staff workshop with Nancy Pearl - the only librarian I know of who has an action figured fashioned after her. Perhaps you've heard her on NPR. Or perhaps you've perused one of her books looking for a good beach read. But have you hugged this woman? Yep, this is workshopping at its finest. Oh, and we also learned about reader's advisory.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Girl + Unpredictable Life = Chills

I’m not really a go-with-the-flow, role-with-the-punches kind of gal. Instead, I would really rather be in control, know what to expect, and have the universe unfold according to my comprehensive ten year plan.

Subbing at other library branches basically goes against my nature. The whole process, from trying to find the secret staff entrance to deciphering how the collection is arranged, is rather unsettling when you prefer mastery of your surroundings.

Despite the fact that putting myself in these situations gives me that I’m-so-nervous-I-might-pee-my-pants feeling, I think stepping out of my comfort zone 4-8 hours each week is a good idea. In fact, learning to deal with variability seems to be the main theme in my life since we left Colorado.

Obviously it’s taking some time for the message to sink in. And while habit is begging me to take detailed notes, instinct is just shaking its head because that’s the first lesson: life isn’t a thing to be's a thing to be lived.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I’m happy to report I made it through our taxes! We had to file with the IRS, Colorado, Ohio, and locally. I’m now suffering from wrist stiffness and form fatigue, but I’m confident I’ll make a full recovery.

Every year, even after obsessively checking and rechecking my work, I’m always afraid I missed one heinously important note or transposed two grossly significant numbers. It would almost be a relief to get audited just so that I could finally know. I’d prepare some tea and crumpets for the auditor, she would applaud my meticulously organized files from the past five years, we’d crack tax jokes, she’d kindly point out my errors but assure me how easy they are for anyone to make, we’d walk through the steps I need to take to ensure such a thing never happens again, and then we’d hug goodbye and I would sleep soundly that night.

That’s ‘Plan A’, anyway. ‘Plan B’ is to buy Turbo Tax next year.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I've been able to pick up more hours at the library as a sub, which is great except for the fact that now I have hardly any time to bloggercise. But don't worry, I'm trying to rework the daily routine because I know how important blogging is for my health.

Speaking of health, Sam and I just had our cholesterol tested and despite our youth and vigor, apparently we both have room for improvement. Sam's LDL number was great, but he needs more of the good HDL. My HDL number was great, but my LDL is really high. However, after comparing numbers with almost everyone I work with, I have become a little suspicious of our results.

Turns out you're not supposed to eat anything for about 12 hours before having your blood drawn. Funny, because neither of our doctors - from two different clinics - mentioned this to us. Do you suppose eating a box of Mac-n-Cheese an hour before getting blood drawn might possibly skew the results? I think I want a re-do. In the meantime, at least I have the heart-healthy benefits of blogging back in my life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The cancer antidote

My mom’s body is beginning to feel the heavy tax chemotherapy charges. The main side effects are super fatigue and deep body aching. To a lesser degree she also experiences brain fuzziness, shot phobia, and general apprehension about the future.

The good news is that she has found a miracle drug that seems to take the edge off of every imaginable symptom. It’s called my dad.

He’s been an amazing helper to my mom since the moment she discovered she had cancer. He has tended to her diligently and lovingly, like a man who’s only purpose in this world is to heal the woman he loves.

While trying to sleep a few nights ago my mom felt such pain in her legs that all she could do was writhe and moan. My dad began to massage her legs to ease the pain and sing to her to soothe her soul. If you’ve ever heard my dad sing, you know this gesture was done more out of love than talent. And it worked. The pain didn’t disappear, but my mom’s spirit was restored.

I do a lot of reflecting on life to try to make sure I don’t miss any big lessons or messages I’m meant to understand. As I try to interpret my mom’s illness, I keep wondering if one of the messages she’ll uncover is that she is worthy of being loved this profoundly.

Striking someone down with a life threatening illness might not seem like the most logical way to teach someone of her worth, but it sure has allowed for some great opportunities for my mom’s friends and family to show her love in new ways. My mom has given so much of herself throughout her life. Now it’s time for her to receive.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Statehood Confusion Update

I’m pleased to say I’m making progress from just a few days ago. I was reading an article that made a reference to Colorado, and I got that feeling of surprise deep in my brain wrinkles…similar to what I had just reported feeling toward mention of anything Ohio! I think this means the neurons are starting to fire.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This is not a paid endorsement

You know how they say smell is one of the most powerful memory evoking senses? I think taste has got to be a close second. (Well, technically we might only be able to taste that which we can smell, so maybe they’re one in the same. Anyway, not my point.) Last night Sam and I bought a pizza from Papa John’s for dinner and a tidal wave of memories washed over me.

Growing up in a small town I had less access to more culturally refined experiences such as museums and orchestras and fine dining. But once I went off to college, I began to sample some of life’s finer offerings….like Papa John’s pizza.

I can’t remember when I tasted my first bite of fluffy crust heaven and I couldn’t tell you where I was when I discovered that golden garlic dipping sauce, but Papa John’s endeared itself to me my freshman year and soon became one of my favorite indulgences. Coincidentally, this is exactly when I began to fall in love with my husband, Sam.

Sam and I both lived in cramped lodgings that year so whenever I think back to eating the pizza, I always picture us in some amazingly uncomfortable situation, like hunched over a pizza box on a dorm floor or balancing a pizza box on our laps in an unmade twin size bed. Plus we were usually trying to be quiet, which always made me giggle uncontrollably.

This combination of fervid happiness has indwelt itself in my brain. Now every time I eat Papa John’s pizza it tastes like falling in love. Yum!

Friday, January 30, 2009

The cancer dance

My mom had her first abdominal chemo treatment yesterday and so far all is well. She made sure to slosh the meds around with some professional hip swirls and periodic belly rotations. Die while I gyrate, mutant cells, die!

Deep freeze

What do you know?! It’s snowing in Cleveland…again. My monster shoveling biceps are still recovering from the huge storm that just passed, and well, here we are again.

Because it feels like it’s been snowing every other day, and because people keep saying I should be used to it since I’m from Colorado, I decided to do some research.

First of all, this article explains why I feel like the snow has not let up. As of three days ago, it had already snowed 21 days in the month of January. After getting snow on the 28th, the 29th, and now today, the 30th, we’re up to snowfall on 24 out of 30 days. So I guess I was wrong. It hasn’t been snowing every other day, it’s been….well, a lot more.

Then I looked up some snowfall averages. According to, Colorado Springs usually sees about 42” of snow per year, 5” of which come in January. Cleveland usually ends up with 55” annually, with 12” falling in January. We can already see that in an average year one would experience more snow in Cleveland than in Colorado Springs. But this hasn’t been an average year. Nope, in January alone Cleveland has already seen 42” of snow! Add that to October, November, and December and it just gets absurd.

Ok, I feel better now. I can go back to enjoying the season knowing that I don’t have snow delusions or weather amnesia.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All sales are final

My mother now comes equipped with her own operational chemo port. She's sore and swollen today and she can't shower for a week, but other than that, well who can really think of much else when you've got that going on? She'll be back to work tomorrow and then more chemo on Thursday.

With all of these upgrades her value is really gonna sky rocket...even in this down economy.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I guess I keep forgetting that we live in Ohio. It’s not like it ever slips my mind that we’ve left Colorado, it’s just that I continue to be caught off guard when I’m reminded that I now reside somewhere else.

It mostly happens when I overhear ordinary conversations - when people talk about where they went to high school or which highway had a traffic accident or which grocery stores have the best deals. My brain has patterned in some expected responses and when I hear something different, that’s when I find myself saying, "Oh yeah, I live in Ohio."

I’m sure my brain will catch up soon. In the meantime I can say that life is really full of surprises.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Confession is good for the soul

I have a freak left armpit. My right armpit knows exactly when to perspire: 1) when it's hot and 2) when I exert myself. My left pit, however, does not seem to be governed by such rules. No, the left pit has gone rogue. It sweats whenever it wants, regardless of the inappropriateness of such an act.

I can be sitting perfectly still in a well air-conditioned room, for example, and all of the sudden, with no provocation, my left under arm decides to make a scene. The right arm and I pretend not to notice, going about our business, forbidding left arm to participate in any gesturing activity. All I can do is wait for left pit's little act of defiance to pass. And it always does. But not without leaving evidence.

There, now you know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Update 1) I'm sure it's obvious because I haven't mentioned it lately, but I'll be waiting until August to start my Master's program. That's just the way the library funding works. No hard feelings.

Update 2) My mom attended her first cancer support meeting last night. It sounds like it was very positive and helpful. The group will meet again next month.

Update 3) My mom will be getting an abdominal port surgically installed (is there a better word for that?) on Monday, January 26. It's an outpatient procedure so it should hopefully go smoothly. The scary thing is that now she'll have the chemo meds inserted (again, better word?) directly into her abdomen and they'll start increasing the frequency which may lead to her feeling pretty terrible. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Winter shenanigans

At this frigid time of year one of the best ways to warm up to the core is in a hot tub. If, however, you do not own one, you might want to see if your neighbors will invite you over for a dip. If they agree, you may, in your excitement, be tempted to change right into your swimming suit and run over to their house . I would recommend, however, taking an extra moment to put some warm winter clothes over your suit.

My Sam is a fish and he loves his water, and well, he just can't think beyond the swimming suit part. Ok, at least he remembered his shoes. Hmm, and the hat.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bald is the new black

Chemo has a lot of side effects, but it seems that losing hair is one of the most distressing for some. I have two theories as to why this may be.

1) I think it’s easier to imagine life is still normal and therefore within one’s grasp when the battle your body is waging is unseen. Messes can be washed up and medicines can be tucked away and things go on as they were. However, when evidence of the war moves to the outside of the body, one is made to face the frighteningly unknowable future.


2) It might just have something to do with feeling freakishly out of sync with the fashion moguls.

This is all complete conjecture, of course, in the name of trying to understand my mom’s answer to the question:

How are you adjusting to being bald?

She said:

I love being bald and I wish it would come into style as a normal option for women. It's liberating to not have to color, cut, style, etc.

It's so hard to remember that I don't have hair… I chat with people and they don't say anything about it, so I don't even think about it.

I do feel like I get some looks, but it's not uncomfortable. One of the older men in my building said that every time he sees me with my little caps on, it reminds him of his wife who passed away from a brain tumor 5 years ago. Most people know somebody who has been through chemo, so I feel like I get knowing and compassionate looks. I smile at everybody who looks at me and I feel a responsibility to represent the disease well and not give cancer victims a bad name.

To me this sounds like someone who’s not afraid to live. My mom still wonders why she got cancer and she still worries about what’s ahead, but she’s confronting it bravely…with a smile and a hairdo that goes with anything.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Learning the hard way

Before my mom was diagnosed with cancer I read several novels about people living with various forms of it. Despite how eloquently an author can describe life with cancer, part of me was naturally detached. I just couldn’t grasp people who could spout off six syllable medicine names or tell you the most scenic route to different wings of the hospital. Part of me didn’t want to understand. If you weren’t a doctor but were still in the know, it meant you learned the hard way.

Considering my mom seemed perfectly healthy just a few short months ago, it’s surreal to me that she now possesses such knowledge. She’s had so many veins tapped she can tell you where the best flow comes from or when a vein has gone hard. She can tell you about the costs of blood transfusions and extra night gowns. She now knows, first hand, what bile looks like outside of the body. Yep, she definitely acquired all of this knowledge the hard way.

Fortunately this is only part of the story. I started interviewing my mom so that I could hear the words of a journey that’s hard to understand. I’ll post her answers to some of my questions over the next few days, but I want to start where she left off. It seems that the more you come to know of the bad, the better you can understand the good. She said:

Today I woke up and stepped outside and just the first breath of fresh air that filled my lungs almost made me cry it felt so good and tasted so delicious. Some little things have become so magnified and delightful. It's kind of hard to explain. I guess I'm learning to stop and smell the flowers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lost in translation

I like to think of us* librarians as information treasure hunters. On any given day I can get reference questions ranging from topics like running a small business to giraffe anatomy. I must then use my research powers to coerce answers from the universe. Trust me, it's that hard.

Sometimes, however, understanding the question can be more difficult than answering it. For example, you know how young children can have a difficult time pronouncing r's and l's and what should sound like "reading" sounds like "weeding" and "older" becomes "odor"? Well I had a sweet young boy come up to the reference desk yesterday looking for two movies..."saw one" and "saw two." Being the friendly and patient librarian that I am* I tried to help him sound it out.

Me: "I'm sorry, what was that? Sar?"

Boy: "No."

Me: "Sal?"

Boy: "No."

Boss, sitting next to me, asks boy: "Are you looking for Saw I and Saw II?"

Boy: "Yes."

Boss: "They're horror movies. Try searching the catalog under s-a-w."

Me: "Oh, right."

It turns out this sweet, innocent young boy did not have a speech impediment at all and in fact likes scary grownup movies. Yep, what I do is hard work.

*No, I'm not "technically" a librarian yet because I don't have my Master's, but it's virtually impossible to tell the difference based on appearances alone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Apparently I look a tad spooky in the last "new hairdo" picture I posted. And apparently the lighting is poor, resulting in few of the newly cut hairs actually showing up. And apparently it no longer reflects how I actually style my hair. So let's try that again, shall we?

Notice all of the snow on the rhododendrons behind me! We've already shoveled twice today, but you wouldn't guess it by looking at the two inches of fresh snow that lies there now. I love when it snows boat loads on days I don't have to go to work.

Friday, January 9, 2009

WHAT did I do?!

Just kidding. I'm not freaked out that I just cut several years worth of hair growth form my head. Sounds so gross when you put it that way. I've been wanting a change for a long time, and while I was driving home from work yesterday, courage struck me.

Here's my boring, long, straight, boring hair before:

And here it is now:

Please excuse the pasty white skin. Ohio gets many fewer days of sunshine than Colorado. Anyway, I'm barely recognizable, right?

I'll be donating the leftovers to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program. They make free wigs for women who have lost their hair from chemo. If it didn't take about six times this much hair to make a wig, I could have just cut out the middle man and knit one together for my mom myself.

One day this clump of hair will be a fashionable faux do on someone else's head. Make me proud, little hairs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I think Sam and I made our first friends in Ohio! Two friends (who are married to each other so it’s really a twofer) in five months. Not bad. In fact, I’m downright pleased with this statistic considering how stacked the odds are against general friend making.

Childhood is friend heaven. You have hundreds, if not thousands, of potential friends crowded under one roof for most of your young existence. Parents even set up play dates! Working to make friends is virtually unheard of at this age.

And then if you move on to college, not only do you have the school proximity thing going for you, but now you all live within one square mile of each other. It’s nonstop friend hysteria!

But when you move out into the real world and do something like get a job, you’re exposed to many fewer people who live much farther away and who have rigid, jam-packed schedules who are lucky if they can stay awake until 10:00 anymore.

So given the tough friend market of adulthood, I think we can safely say victory is ours!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy '09!

I love the beginning of a new year. The days are starting to get longer, spring will be here soon, and so many possibilities lay ahead. I've got a lot of plans for 2009 deo volente - God willing. First on the docket is to begin taking classes for my Master's degree. Depending on how exactly my employer's tuition reimbursement program works, I could be starting in two weeks or 8 months. I'll let you know how things work out.

In other news, my mom is officially starting to lose her hair from the chemo treatments. Chemo kills fast multiplying cells and apparently that's what hair follicles are. To prevent the shedding dog appearance throughout the house, my mom decided to shave her hair down to an easier to clean length. Here she is before the clipper:

And here she is after (posted with her permission, of course):

And here's a picture about a week after the haircut:

What a beautiful smile! And quite a cute noggin. She purchased several fashionable lady caps and is going wig shopping soon. She doesn't plan to wear a wig on a regular basis as she's heard they can get pretty uncomfortable, but there may just come those days when she wants to walk about town without being noticed.

Well I hope your new year is off to a good start. And if life throws you surprises, may they become epic adventures!