Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Beautiful Letdown

I've been finishing a lot of chapters lately. Literal ones, and beautiful metaphoric ones. I've had to be a quite the speedreader (a latent superpower leftover from all those Mugascans?) to keep up, as life has been coming at me like the Orient Express. But I think I've finally stared down that train, which also turned out to be, coincidentally, the light at the end of the tunnel that I've been chasing for quite a while. If you're thinking "Veni, Vidi, Vici", I think it's cool if that train of thought led you to Rome and you couldn't resist that oncoming phrase. I just didn't want to say it myself and sound all boastful. And anyway, I can't really pronounce the Latin V without cracking myself up, so I think it really is for the best that I didn't let that train of thought derail this blog in the first paragraph.

Today I slept in. M&M are still catching z's as I begin tapping these keys. But I have shifted from the horizontal to a bit of an obtuse angle so I can get my caffeine on without actually spilling it on.

Basically I'm sitting here with a bunch of really pretty metaphorical books (and one literal) in a heap before me, that I'd like to review as I put them on the shelf for display.

The literal book has a working title of Shaken, not Stirred... a chemo cocktale. It is obviously the story of the cancer chapter of my life. Which, thank God, at press time is a closed book. In other words, it is in remission and the current work in progress is just a rewrite for re-syndication. I have written a preface and four chapters so far. That book is not quite ready for the shelf yet but as of this week, I go full-time into writing it. Chapter five (the lumpectomy) is at bat and six (the phone call and the C-word) is on deck.

On Saturday, I put away my teacher planning book, my grade book, and also retired all my red pens, as my boys, M&M, graduated from Grace Academy, our homeschool.

Matt is 17, and wrapped up his high school career with a pretty bow of a 3.85 GPA. He is Bearcat bound this fall as he has been accepted to the University of Cincinnati. Congrads my Mateo! Mum is so very proud of you!

I snapped this photo on stage at the grad ceremony!

Here is the text of Dave's grad speech he delivered in honor of our Matt:
Matt, you have always loved superheroes, and like me, Spiderman is your favorite. It's not uncommon for boys and men to admire superheroes, and to dream of being one. "Save the cheerleader; save the world."

But what is uncommon is to already be a hero in so many ways before you've even graduated from high school.

Whether it's rescuing your Mum or sister from spiders, taking off your shirt to wipe off a wet bleacher for your Mum, or defending your Mum, sister, brother, friends, or strangers from bullies and evildoers.

Whether its taking care of you Mum through her cancer and chemo, taking me to the ER in the middle of the night when you had just gotten your license, or just last week when Mum fell and cut her foot, whoosh, you flew out the door and drove to her rescue in an instant.

Whatever the need, whether it's noticing the unnoticed, loving the unloved, encouraging people, including me, at just the right time, Matt, you know how to save a life.

Maybe you're no Superman, and you can't do it all on your own, but you draw your strength from your one true here, Jesus. And I am as proud of you as a father can be!

Mikey is our resident Doogie Howser meet Barney Stinson, earning his high school diploma at warp speed and with excellence (3.87 GPA), just in time to turn 16 and get his license. He is not heading straight to college this fall. Instead, God willing, he will be spending his first year out of high school abroad, on a mission trip. He has been accepted to Youth With a Mission's Marriage of the Arts School in Germany, where he will spend three months being trained in filmmaking (which is exactly what he wants to do with his life). The film school is followed up with a 10-week filmmaking outreach in a third world county, TBD, which is followed up by a week of editing, back in Germany. God willing he should be back HOME just in time for April Fool's Day;) Congrads, my Meekah! Mum is so very proud of you!

Align Center
Also snapped this one on the grad stage. It's a bit blurry, but that's what it's felt like keeping up with teaching Doogie Howser!

Here is the text of Dave's grad speech he delivered in honor of our Mikey:

One of my company's slogans is "Leaders in time travel since 2023." Well, this news article from 2094 appeared on my desk the other day.

"Michael J. Evans, or Mikey, to his friends, went home to be with Jesus today at the age of 100. He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Revered by his family and friends as a loving husband and father and Christ-follower, Michael is perhaps best known and loved throughout the world for his movie making. Whether acting, filming, writing, directing or producing, Michael spent his life pouring himself, his gifts and talents, his love for Jesus, and his heart for the lost, into his movies.

Michael began his mission-minded movie making career at an early age. Having been homeschooled, he graduated early and promptly answered the call to the mission field. At only 16 years of age he left family and country, and spent 7 months overseas working to spread the gospel through the art of filmmaking. Though there were difficulties along the way, never one to quit, Michael pressed on and completed the mission, setting the direction for the the rest of his life.

Michael leaves a legacy of gospel influence throughout the world, and is largely credited with the rapid growth and spread of Christianity in the 21st century. From the Evanshire, to Germany, to Africa and Asia, to Hollywood, to the world. Infinity and beyond."

Mikey, I don't know all the plans God has for you, but He does. And you are so brave as you trust Jesus and go where he leads. And I am so proud of you! Godspeed, Son.

So yeah, after 16 years of homeschooling, I'm officially retired. It's been the best job in the world. But I'm not going to lie... it is good to be at the finish line with my retirement plaque and feel like I finished well. And that book was closed happily ever after:)

But seriously, I got a plaque:

It says, "After climbing the mountain you can appreciate the beauty of the view."

Not exactly a mountain, but a hill I had to climb this year was on the unlikely terrain of the tennis court. After I had my port removed in January and while going through the stressful time of having my post cancer/chemo scans (all of which came back with no signs of cancer, thank God, in case you are just tuning in) I had a little slump in the stats. By little, I mean I started out the season with a 1-6 record. As in I won ONE and lost SIX. It was a bummer of a hill. But I ended up the season with a 9-6 record. And my team won our division, to boot! Go Cincy Five Seasons Green!

Now that club tennis is taking a break for the summer, so am I. No, I'm not retiring my orange tennis racket. But I have decided not to play USTA and I am just going to play in my neighborhood league for the summer. With Mikey going off to Germany, and Amanda and Matt both at UC, I don't want to miss a minute I can spend with them before life at the Evanshire is just Dave and me.

This is going to be the best summer EVER! I can just feel it! Even if it's trying to start out all gloomy and gray outside today, on my first real day of retirement. I just don't feel like letting things rain on my parade. If necessary, I will totally kick off my shoes (they bother my soggy feet anyway) and splash around barefoot in the puddles. Maybe even channel a little Gene Kelly and sing in the rain.

I don't count yesterday as the first day since I had my "maintenance" visit with my oncologist. Nothing against her, because she sort of saved my life and I sort of love her, but it's not my idea of the way I want to spend my first day of retirement, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, it was a pretty good day still, even at the chemo cocktail lounge. Hung out with my chemo sister, Shelly, while she downed her chemo cocktail, number 7UP, which means she has only 6 more until she joins the "maintenance crew" with me! Go Shelly!

And got to hear lovely news from my chemo bud, Jean, who has been battling breast cancer since 1984. That's when I graduated high school a quarter of a century ago. And if that's not perspective, I don't know what is. Anyway, Jean's breast cancer, effing cancer, had come back and gone metastatic, in her bones. She had a tumor in her lung and another one, a 2 cm. tumor in her spine that was causing her pain to a ridiculous degree. She has been downing Tax-ALL in her chemo cocktail mix for two years, and she told me she will be on it for the rest of her life. Which made my soggy feet feel ashamed of themselves for complaining so much about the neuropathy the nasty Tax-ALL left me. It also helped kick cancer's ass in me, so I thought I oughta give it a little tax-credit. And especially after talking with Jean yesterday, since it is part of her chemo cocktail which has made both tumors, including the 2cm tumor in her spine DISAPPEAR on her most recent scans! Woot and Yay God! So happy with you, Jean. And so honored to lounge around the chemo cocktail lounge with you. You are like a superhero to me.

After cocktails with the girls, I went downstairs to the lab to play the part of a pin cushion due to my veins rocking and rolling all over the place. It took 3 or 4 sticks but in the end the nurse won the battle of my veins. My blood counts came out groovy, I "passed" my check-up, and don't have to go back for THREE MONTHS! So I guess I'm on the quarter system now.

I still have to stay on the super duper 50,000 mega dose of Vitamin D once a week until further notice. Someday soon hopefully, my body will learn to absorb enough that it will sing in the key of D without backup singers.

I am waiting to hear the latest results of my tumor markers. Should get a phone call in the next few days. Last time was the first time I got that info. Mine was 19. I didn't really research it because I didn't feel like getting all paranoid about some scary number. But I did talk with Dr. Lower about it yesterday, who told me my number was good, and I feel like she saved my life so I don't mind listening to what she has to say. Anyway, she told me that a normal range is 40 and below, and that nobody really has a zero. I'm just praying my number stays low enough so I can keep doing the limbo, and leaving it at that. She also told me that breast cancer tumor markers (CA 2729) are not really very good tests. Mostly they are just another gauge to keep an eye on at my "maintenance" check-ups. Definitely nothing to get all paranoid over. So I feel like following that advice. Paranoia stresses me out anyway. And I really don't need more stress. I'm retired now, and I just feel like kicking my soggy feet up and relaxing a bit.

And writing my book!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Comedy of Errors

First I should point out that the third word in the title is actually pronounced [ar-karz] and is obviously taken from the roots: our and cars.

Yesterday, Amanda, Mikey and I were getting ready to go downtown to take part in a fashion show for a breast cancer fundraiser. No, me being in a fashion show is not exactly what I meant by the first word in the title; although, as is common in writing, sometimes we writers write in layers we didn’t see coming when first we put pen to paper, but they end up working. It adds nuance, mystery and facets. When you add up a bunch of facets from a piece of writing, you end up with a multi-faceted work of literature. The technical term, I believe, is “layering it on thick”.

But I digress.

So I was trying to walk off some nerves before taking a shower and razing my legs so if this tree fell in the forest of the fashion show at least I wouldn’t be embarrassed about my smoothly shaven, not to mention toned (from the intended 6-mile walk) legs. Two things strike me about this as I reflect upon it today. The first is that I didn’t succeed in walking off said nerves. I don’t know if that is because I only walked four of the six miles or if my nerves are just superpowers left over from my last MugaScan? The second is that only today, have I come to realize, and appreciate, the sheer brilliance in whoever named “The Razor”. Whoever you are, you called it. Literally. Kudos.

Meanwhile, Mikey and Matt were waiting on a pair of boxers to dry. (I won’t mention whose because I’m not the kind of Mum who gets a kick out of going around and embarrassing her kiddos.) They were going to the club to work out. Mikey was to model tennis apparel that evening, so mere walking was not going to cut it. He was going to have to lift some barbells to accentuate those biceps when he took off his headband to flick it into the crowd.

In Clifton, Amanda was also taking a walk. Looking for her car. Which she couldn’t remember where she parked last Sunday night.

This is where the collision we like to call our Comedy of Errors began.

It was 2:40p.m. when I received that first foreboding tweet from Amanda: “Where is my car??”

I immediately called her and told her this was not helping my nerves. Which I’m sure helped her own stress, immensely. We hung up, and she called her daddy, who thankfully, played the role of “good cop” in this act, and in the end, her hero. But lest I give away spoilers to the story, we’ll fade out there, as the phone rings.

It was Mikey, and he and Matt had just made it to the club, only to realize that there was not enough time to work out. He was wondering if he should come back home with Matt, or if he could stay and work out, and could I pick him up in an hour?

It was 3:24p.m. I was weaving my way back to the Evanshire when I got another tweet from Amanda: “The question isn’t wherd I park, it’s who stole my car?” (I left the original typos in the preceding tweet, without [sic] comments because I didn’t feel like adding insult to injury.)

Quickly, I phoned Mikey back and told him to come home with Matt because Amanda’s car had gone missing.

It was 3:29p.m. This walking off the nerves thing wasn’t work wasn’t working. There wasn’t enough road. In frustration, I grabbed my iPhone and twittered: “Amanda’s car is not where she parked it on campus Sunday night.”

Mikey and I arrived home pretty much simultaneously. Now, we were in rush mode. To get ready and now, pick up Amanda on our way downtown. We were supposed to be there at 5p.m.

Before I jumped into the shower I called our insurance company to see if they had Amanda’s license plate number on file so she could properly fill out a police report when they arrived on the scene of her missing car. The super friendly and helpful receptionist said she didn’t in a way that made me feel lucky she carved out the time in her day to take my call. And then she even went above and beyond the call of duty by letting me know, just in case I might be thinking of making further claims on her time, that Amanda’s car only had liability. The commercials call that being “in good hands”.

When this story began, Amanda was on her way home to do our nails and don her high heels, which were in a box somewhere amidst her stuff in our storage room. The change of plans had Mikey playing the role of Prince Charming and searching for Cinderella’s shoes to bring them to her.

Leaving, take 1. Mikey and I jump in Rocinante (enter, my car, a silver Mini Cooper with a black racing stripe) and head off into the intense sunshine. We get to the end of our street only to realize we forgot the shoes.

Meanwhile, enter Dave, who has just arrived at Amanda’s to continue the search for her car while she waited for the real cops to arrive to fill out the missing car reports. Also meanwhile, exit Matt, stage right, to go pick up his girlfriend for a date. Then a tweet with happier tidings, from Amanda: “Found the car-freaking thank God”. It’s 4:56p.m. and things are looking up and the while doesn’t seem mean at all.

Leaving, take 2. Prince Charming grabs the shoes and we are on the road again. This time we make it to the left turn lane which is the entrance of the highway when we notice Rocinante is blowing heat instead of A/C. And I think I smell a burnt bread odor I distinctly remember from my childhood as radiator troubles. We check the gauges on the dash, and sure enough, poor Rocinante is overheating. Less than a mile and only three minutes into the drive.

I called Matt and asked him to meet me at the Evanshire so I could borrow his car. Then Mikey and I prayed we could coax Rocinante home. We rolled down the windows, blasted the heat, which is just what we needed, and after a series of starts and stops, made it back into our driveway.

Leaving, take 3. But first, we tweeted. It was 5:29. Mikey had about had it. He tweeted: “Can anything else go wrong?” I was not backing down. I twittered: “Some days are a Comedy of Errors.” At which point, Amanda chimed in on my twitter that she was, and I quote: “I’m struggling to find the comedy in it”.

It’s true what my friend Will said about all being well that endeth well. Or something like that. Well, this tale of our cars does have a happy ending. It is, therefore, a comedy, in the classic sense of the word. Which brings us back to the beginning of this Comedy of Errors; and thus, the original intent of the first word of the title.

We did make it to the ball on time. Cinderella got her shoes. The cars all stayed in the form of a pumpkin, which was an interesting twist to the story. But all in all, minus the plucking of my eyebrows, a good time was had by all, and more importantly, much good was done for a very worthy cause. Which was the whole point.


And now, I must bid you, adieu.

Really, good night. Farewell. End of story, people. No pictures, please.

Oh, all right... maybe just one then:

But that's all and this is really the end.