Cleaning up my act

There was a lot that was unfamiliar for me in the past couple of days. I kicked my usual do-gooding up a notch and instead of bringing friends food I’d cooked at home, I went to their houses to make soup. (Logistically, this is a better option.) I also went to a laundromat to do some wash for a friend who was feeling lousy after chemo, instead of toting it home to my own machine (I didn’t want to have to look for parking that many times).

So I wound up working in unfamiliar kitchens, and feeding quarters to unfamiliar machines. (I had no idea how picky laundry machines were about quarters, by the way.) Yesterday I just had this feeling there was some ulterior motive behind leaving my comfort zone, but I didn’t know what it was. 

It wasn’t until I was standing by the sunny window in the kitchen of my friend’s apartment, chopping veggies for the soup, that I realized why I needed to do this: I needed a change of scene. I have chopped veggies in my own windowless kitchen for years. Doing the very same thing somewhere else really opened things up for me. Suddenly, I think as I did the carrots, I started thinking again about an essay I’ve been trying to write for a year or so. And I had a new idea about how to structure it and what I wanted it to say. While I waited for the laundry to dry in the laundromat, which by some strange fluke was the very first laundromat I’d ever done laundry in since moving to NYC, I made some notes. I admired a bulldog in a jaunty sweater, who was waiting inside the laundromat. I went down the street to a café and had the most delicious cherry danish I’d ever had. (Actually, it may have been my first cherry danish ever.)

When I finished my kitchen and laundry duties, I drove back home and found a great parking spot. Such a great spot that I had to sit there and bask in it for a while. I opened my email to find another translation job offering! It reminded me of the weird concatenation of events that seemed to happen all the time when I was on Decadron and half-crazy from it. I think a lot of people are feeling half-crazy these days. (That is, those people who aren’t 100% crazy.)

I hope you will also go out and do something good for people, and also have good things happen, and that you don’t drive yourself bonkers trying to figure out if one thing caused the other to come about.

In transit

I spent much of today going back and forth on the train. In the morning, J and I went to the cancer center to get my scan results. They were good! Even the echocardiogram I had yesterday (right after the CT scan). I get echocardiograms because one of my medications has the potential to damage my heart. Thus far, it has not.

Nurse Practitioner K saw me today. She was her usual warm self, with what seemed like endless time to spend with me. I look forward to and enjoy my visits with her, although sometimes we have to remind ourselves to cover the matters at hand (duh, cancer, meds, side effects) because we’re too busy discussing everything else (life, politics, how Gen X might still save the world). When she was saying goodbye she said, “I love you.” I did too. I never anticipated this depth of feeling for a caregiver I wasn’t related to.

After my appointment, I tried getting new, better insoles for my shoes, but as of tonight I don’t think they’re working very well. My plantar fasciitis is better, but my toes seem much worse. Tomorrow I’ll have to spend a couple of hours in the snow (hopefully! Because they’ve already canceled school) so that will be the true test. I am pre-exhausted at the prospect of sledding. But also excited — the boys have had so few great snow outings this winter! And I think we even have cookie ingredients in the house.

Tonight, I took the train back to the city for a moving lecture on the life and death of Primo Levi. It took me back to my early years living here, when I had the time to attend lectures and readings without major upheaval. The fact was, tonight we were in a quandary: I wanted to attend the lecture, but there was also a parents’ meeting about the Common Core math curriculum at the kids’ school, which seemed crucial. We held our breath and decided that at ages 10 and a whisper away from 7, Young J and Young A could handle an hour unattended in the evening. J went to the math talk (I’m so glad he did), and I went to the lecture.

On my way home, walking up Fifth Avenue, it hit me that I was walking up the same block, in the same direction as I was nineteen years ago almost to the day, on my very first morning living in New York. I’d stayed overnight at my friend T’s, because the movers hadn’t yet arrived with my stuff. It was early morning and I’d taken the train into the city from Brooklyn with T, who had to get to work. I walked up Fifth Avenue, and right about the place where I was walking tonight, I hit a dip in the sidewalk. I took another step, and hit another one. I looked behind me, and saw the heel of my boot sitting on the sidewalk. I was walking on the nails. New York had already done in a pair of my shoes, and I hadn’t even lived here a full day.

So it’s my nineteenth Apple-versary, as I like to call it. If I try to catalog all that has happened in my nineteen years of living here, I’ll get dizzy. I am in no way the same person I was when I moved here, but that person is still part of me.

I got home and J reported that only Young J had done as we requested and taken a shower. As J filled me in on the math lecture, the boys’ bedroom door opened, and Young J came out, squinting. He’d heard my voice. I hugged him close, all clean and pajamaed and so unbelievably tall. He wanted to see the snow, but it was still hours away. I sent him back to bed. Just before shutting the door of his room, he saluted.


Good morning. Today is Scan Day #3,512.

I’d like to see someone try it.

It’s not MRI day, where I don’t have to fast or drink chalky barium cocktail, it’s not the day where I get the results of my scan while the scanner bed is still warm from my lying in it. It’s the other day. A CT scan of my chest, abdomen, and pelvis (just for kicks).

Last night I started getting annoyed about today’s scan. Like, really annoyed. Beyond reasonable measure. And this morning, since I couldn’t have breakfast, I dawdled in bed as long as I possibly could, until I was running late, and then the wrong train came twice in a row.

No amount of being annoyed about this makes sense. I realize that. It didn’t stop me from lightly shoulder-checking the guy who stood in the subway door as I was trying to leave, who couldn’t yield a couple extra inches to let people off. I didn’t yield either. The word for me today in Italian is scontrosa. That basically translates to peevish, but I think that word in English rather diminishes the sentiment. I could barely keep myself from rolling my eyes when the assistant showed me where to change and where the gowns were. I looked at the closet of gowns and thought, “Seersucker. Heh. Sucker.” Like it was a joke being played on all of us.

It’s kind of a new feeling, the feeling that this is getting old. I know I’m lucky. But I have known that for a while. I know I could have been dead instead. Does that make up for having to skip breakfast? Obviously it is hard to put those two thoughts in the same paragraph, but I’m that way today. I went there.

I just went in to get my IV placed. The kind female Korean nurse practitioner was the one I got this time. She is just as good and kind as the male Pakistani nurse practitioner. Somehow I don’t think he would have made me feel quite as bad for having a shitty attitude today. In the face of today’s NP, relentlessly cheerful and understanding and patient, I feel like a jerk. She asked me if it was still raining outside. Because she spends her whole shift in a windowless office jabbing IVs into the arms of people who are mostly a lot more freaked out than I am, because it is probably their first time.

Another assistant just recognized me and said hello. I’m starting to be recognized here. Yikes.

I just looked back to see when I wrote my post railing against improper scan day attire. That’s a whole year ago. Today my eyes have been assaulted by about six men improperly attired, six pairs of pale male legs sticking out of seersucker gowns with dress socks and shoes at the bottom. This isn’t doing wonders for my mood.

Results tomorrow.

Scan + ennui = scannui