October 18, 2019
Week two has begun and the side effects have fully settled in. So far it’s still better than my previous experience, though it being different every day has been strange to navigate. One day I’m in bed for 10 hours and the next I feel fine except if I try to eat something. The “this is really happening” part has sunk in along with a strange sort of isolation that only those who have been gravely ill will understand. It is a mixture of feeling like the rest of the world is going on without you, tempered with your own alternating between wishing to be left unbothered and yet wanting more support than you feel like you’re getting and both at the same time. Confronting your mortality via illness is terrible. One can find strength in getting through it, but I would not argue that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger. It just doesn’t kill you - and it leaves damage in its wake that must be healed along with the body’s healing.
In other news, I am not just staring out a window contemplating my illness. Final edits have come in for a small writing project, and I’m nearing contract stage on another. The work goes on and the life goes on, even if I’ve downshifted to head up a mountain at the moment.
October 11, 2019
One week down. One treatment down. So far, the experience is not as awful as it was in my 20s, for which I am grateful. That being said, it still has its awful moments. Already noticing a marked difference in my short-term memory and instituting countermeasures against the cognitive fog. Blood sugar is up but not so far that I can’t adjust for it. Hopefully that, too, will stay where it is now and not get worse as we continue. Once again, I am fighting insurance over who gets to pay for my three months of misery. Once again I am also dealing with many more emotions around this than I hoped to or cared to.
But one week is down and I am alive and the hairdresser thinks I should keep my hair, and autumn has come to Portland, and Zigzag is being a very kind nurse. I have book projects and other work to keep me occupied, and beloved family bringing groceries and distractions. Outside my door where the leaves of the dogwood are falling in pink and crimson, three crows come by each day to greet me. Even if the rest of the world outside my door seems to be upside down in a trash can on fire, a few good things remain to remind me that there is more to life than any one bit of adversity, and the only way out is through.
September 22, 2019
I killed a laser printer. This would not bother me nearly as much if this printer wasn’t a replacement for another printer I also somehow managed to kill not six weeks ago, simply by printing. Through good times and bad machines have always been my friends, and now they are turning on me. At very least, a good warranty means there’ll be a new printer shortly. I promise, printer gods, that I will treat your new child with far more reverence. Have mercy on us, poor writers, now and at the hour of our deadline.
About Life getting in my way that I alluded to in a previous entry: In other news, far more important than my relationship with printers, I will be doing three months of intense medical treatment beginning in October. These words are less upsetting than the other word that was used, namely “chemotherapy.” I have done this before - even using the dreaded c-word. I’ll even be doing the same treatment I went through several decades ago, when it was done over a much longer spread of nine months. I know what to expect (TL;DR I get to feel terrible for a few months so I can feel better for the rest of my life). I am optimistic that this will be fine and that it’s the right decision.
None of this optimism saves me from a deep resounding “not again” echoing off the edges of my brain. I also am not enjoying having to tell people about what’s happening, so that they understand I may need more time and support as I manage the reality of surviving a medicine that needs to murder the cellular kidnappers holding part of my body hostage. Here’s hoping for a positive hostage negotiation.
September 1, 2019
I think I have fallen in love with typography all over again.
Thank you, Leon.
August 15, 2019
Writing to say there isn’t much to write about, except that’s not true entirely. There are things to write about. They are works in process, like the rest of life seems to be at the moment. It’s that part of the end of the summer when everyone else seems to be cramming in as much vacation time as they can, and I’m already preparing for a busier autumn. Currently working on negotiations for two book projects, and trying to finance the time I need to finish said projects. Publishing takes a long time when you’re not doing it yourself. Sometimes it takes a long time when doing it yourself as well. I announced a project I was publishing a couple of months ago, and it’s still awaiting a final edit and formatting pass, thanks to various Life that got in my way.
How patient can I expect everyone else to be with me when I’m not patient with myself? Some days I get very frustrated at how long it takes me to get to the things I want to do. Sometimes I also realize how many other bits of necessary work I must contend with, being the only person who takes care of myself, and I cut myself some slack. Today is much higher on the frustration at myself scale than the being realistic with myself scale. Good thing that tomorrow is another day to try again.
July 15, 2019
I took time off over the last few days, the first in a long while. I wasn’t able to clear full days - too many deadlines to make that work - but I carved out spaces where I turned off the phone and disconnected from everything work related and allowed myself to do whatever I felt like doing. There was sleep and leisurely breakfast and coffee time. There was reading, more than one walk around the neighborhood, and plenty of attention to the cat and the garden. I also took in an excellent narrative.
As a writer, it’s important to partake of other people’s writing. Something in reading and listening to others’ narratives helps you continue to generate your own. There’s a famous quote about how a writer who doesn’t read is no writer at all, but I can’t retrieve it out of my head at the moment and the great Google oracle is unhelpful. Nevertheless, it’s important to read, to watch narrative films, to listen to storytellers, to absorb stories as well as to tell them. Storytelling is a multifaceted, communal experience. So my weekend narrative exploration was mostly spent with the Castlevania animated series on Netflix, written masterfully by Warren Ellis.
Castlevania was a highlight of my late childhood. I’ve always had an interest in vampire stories, and I’d heard good things about this series, so it seemed like something fun to explore during downtime. I was not disappointed. It’s been some time since I’ve taken in a narrative of that depth. I may have to watch it all again to pick up on different things, since in typical Ellis style, there are several levels of narrative and not all of them are on the surface at any given time. The experience (and what an absolutely appropriate ending!) makes me want to write fiction again, and when something makes me want to write, I know it is doing what it’s supposed to do.