Speeding away

Public domain photo by Marsel Minga on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons
Public domain photo by Marsel Minga on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

I just finished my latest translation job. It had to do with cars, fancy performance cars, produced in a bleeding-edge state of the art factory in Italy that anchors the economy of an entire region. The interviews I translated were conducted on a noisy factory floor. It took me over fifteen hours to complete the job. I had to crank the volume up very high to be able to hear well, so I feel as though I have spent weeks on the factory floor, myself.

But my mom is visiting, and we went out for coffee this morning because it’s an off day for my meds, and I realized that right about now, three years ago, is when the whole metastatic melanoma mess began for me. Three years tomorrow since the lung biopsy that confirmed it was indeed melanoma, and three years ago the day after tomorrow that I realized my lung had collapsed as a result of the biopsy, and I wound up spending a day and a half in the ER, contemplating all that would come next.

This means that I have been trying to write an essay about that day and a half in the ER for three years now. It has been through more drafts than I care to remember. Now that I’ve finished my latest job, I’m of two minds — hoping some more work drops into my lap very soon, but also craving some down time, to get back to the writing. If I’m lucky, maybe both things will happen. 

If I’m lucky? Actually, I know I am. Because it has been three years since my cancer went deep… and here I am sharing that anniversary with you.



Sometimes it takes a constraint — I need to go to sleep soon, early wakeup for apple picking tomorrow — to get me writing again. It has been an eventful few weeks of wrapping up camp (Young A), packing up the car for a week at the beach, unpacking the car after a week at the beach, the week at the beach punctuated by the need for medication that was for once not mine (Young J had to bring a nebulizer on the trip). And then a visit with my parents, and then, at last, coming down like a long-awaited blessing from heaven, the start of the school year.

Here’s some proof it wasn’t (all) aggravating!

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Once the kids were back in school, meaning about an hour after they were back in school, I was back at my computer to work on my latest translation job. This time, television work, so I’m spending my days listening to and subtitling interviews conducted on a noisy factory floor. I still stop at certain moments and marvel that I have really done it, I have changed jobs, I have work I can do now. It is reassuring. This week, we bought a new dishwasher and had it installed. Knowing that the work I did over the summer paid for it felt so good.

Over the Labor Day weekend, we took the kids to see the 40th anniversary release of Close.Encounters of the Third Kind. It was a film I remembered fondly from my childhood, which I don’t think I had ever watched again. Seeing it forty years later, I was surprised at how much resonance it had for me. I wondered whether in fact the film had planted a seed in five year old me which would not germinate for nearly forty years. The film shares my very strong preoccupation with the importance of communication, the need to find ways to communicate with others by any means necessary. 

Translation is important in this movie, from the very first moment. 
The fact that music turns out to be the chief mode of communication is also not lost on me.

Nor was it lost on Young A, our resident budding pianist, who latched onto the alien’s riff and has been playing it incessantly. As I must have done after seeing the movie.
I have more I want to say about this film, but it may turn into an essay. I’ll save the rest, for now.

Taking my cancer medication every other day has been a joy. I hope I can continue this way indefinitely. Knowing I get a break every other day makes the fasting on the “on” days more manageable.