Friday, October 28, 2011

Trouble In Paradise

(note: this was begun on the afternoon of Tuesday, 25 October)

Careful readers may remember me writing recently about the choices I was making in my life, and how pleased I was with them (it was only the second most-recent post; the most recent before this being the actual first essay I submitted to class).  Even if the cancer were to go away (I had discovered about myself and my path), I would still be taking my editing course.  It was quite exciting, to find myself actually fulfilling my needs and desires.

After a mere two classes, I am surprised to be finding myself not Utterly Thrilled, nor Over the Moon, but rather, Increasingly Hesitant about the prospect of becoming an editor.  

People, it takes a lot of work.  I don’t have time to be writing this post right now but I cannot get my brain to focus on any of the projects I am supposed to be doing,  because in the event, it has turned out that I really like almost all the other aspects of my life, and editing is threatening to make many of them go away.  In a nutshell, I can’t have it all.

There are several things interacting here.  One is that I have had two significant changes to my day-to-day life, between applying for the editing program and actually beginning class.  The first change was the introduction of medical cannabis into my care regimen.  I am discovering that editors must be driven, focused, and have high amounts of energy to speedily work through manuscripts . . . and I, to put it simply, really don’t, at least not at this time in my life. On the first day of class we had a proofreading exercise, a sample test, and I was quite mediocre at it.  My teacher did say that proofreaders are very detail-oriented—even compared to other editors—but I am finding that other editors are quite detail-oriented also. 

The second change was the meeting with ET the medium/healer, who removed a number of unwanted, unneeded anxieties.  How much of my “drive” before was inherited directly from my father and was not necessarily  “mine”?  I have felt significantly less anxiety and, concomitantly, significantly less guilt over my own lack of precision, in all sorts of things in my life since seeing ET. The result of these two things is that I’m sleeping more, I’m much calmer, I’m assuming the cancer is finally being eradicated, and all I really want to do is whatever I feel like doing at any given time.  I.e.: NOT homework.

Less recent physiological issues also affecting how I would be as an editor include my eyesight and, more generally, my physical health and fitness.  As far as my eyesight: I still have fluid and some small amount of cataract in my right eye.  To the best of my knowledge (if three years’ experience provides knowledge), the fluid will never again be completely gone.  My left eye had been perfectly fine up until recently (normal short-sightedness and astigmatism aside), when I started noticing an oval cloud over the upper right side of my focal center.  This cloud has not gone away.  I have an eye doctor appointment in a couple weeks, and I will have to get both eyes dilated.  In case the difficulties here are not clear, let me elucidate: Editors use their eyes A LOT.  Sometimes, I can’t look at a computer screen—or even a printed page—without feeling like I’m going to give myself a migraine. Other times, my eye issues are visible enough to me that I am distracted by the distortions and blockages.  Certainly, I cannot always skim-read something as quickly and precisely as I would like. 

Other than that, though—I don’t know that I want to sit down—physically sit down, or even stand still—for the hours needed to really be an editor. No, I think I can be even more honest:  I do NOT want to sit down that much.  I have found a level of physical fitness that I love, and I want to maintain it.  I think I’m a medium-fast reader, and mildly detail-oriented, but I’m beginning to suspect that I’m much more interested in doing a variety of things mediocrely than specializing in just one.   

(note: it’s now Friday, 28 October)

As you can see here, I do not have the same amount of time that I used to.  This comes as a surprise to no one but, as you can also see here, me.  Just after I left off writing last Tuesday, I called Ian (it was his birthday, but I called for advice, not with good wishes), and he talked me out of quitting after only 2 classes.  “There’s a learning curve,” he suggested.  “When I was working on my degree, there was a lot of stuff I had to learn how to do.  And now, years later, I’m pretty good at knowing what’s important, and what doesn’t need to be worried about.” He made totally reasonable suggestions for how I might think about my return to school, I snuffled a bit into his ear, and then I buckled down and did some work.  And I ended up very much enjoying class number 3.

The other thing that happened on the 25th after I stopped writing here was that I got email back from Deb, Dr Specht’s nurse, and she said that my tumor markers had reversed their trend and, instead of taking giant steps down, they had taken a disturbingly substantial step back up: instead of 5 and 56, I am now at 8.5 and 69.  Well, shit.

This led me to do some more thinking about my cancer and what I’ve done for it—I’m finding it harder and harder to hold back from the anthropomorphizing—and just how tired, bored, frustrated, and DONE I am with giving it so much attention.  Yes, folks, I’m tired of sharing news that upsets people (for those few readers who may be cheering every time it looks like cancer is regaining the upper hand, I’m tired of sharing news with you as well). 

I keep saying I don’t identify as a cancer patient—certainly not a cancer FIGHTER—but then, I have a hard time meeting anyone without revealing my breast cancer status.  I’ve been thinking about the difference between an excuse and a reason, and I think that, without even realizing it, I have allowed cancer to become an excuse.  For example, it’s reasonable for my horseback riding instructor to know my health history, and my current situation: drugs, fatigue, bone pain, etc.  But a random co-worker of Ian’s at a party? She doesn’t need to know why my hair looks thinner to me than it used to.  

In short, I'm going to take a break from I Thought I Was Done With This.  I’ll still write in The Dilettante Traveler (coming up: Kenya, 20 November and China, late February!), and we’ll try and keep up with Orcas Estate, and occasionally update Spoover, but I’m TIRED of writing about cancer. And so I’m not going to for awhile (feel free to send me an email and ask me directly how I’m doing, if you’re interested).  

Cancer doesn’t deserve so much attention.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wherein I Return to School After Several Years’ Absence

“Your assignment for next week is to write a one- to two-page, double-spaced essay,” said the teacher, “about anything you’d like.”
One to two pages, I thought.  About anything I’d like, I thought.  Easy! Child’s play! I write all the time—I’ll just pick a topic I can put in my blog! I thought.  And there the thoughts ended.
I lead a rich life, full of story fodder.  “There’s a book in that,” my mother is constantly telling me, whether I’m talking about my dogs or the horses I regularly ride; travel to exotic islands (Santo Antão, Cabo Verde; Necker, British Virgin Islands; Folegandros, Greece; Orcas, USA); or the breast cancer I’ve been dealing with for 12 ½ years now. 
Of course there are stories here.  For the past several years, I’ve written these stories out in blogs: in The Dilettante Traveler for all those exotic locations (dogs and horses occasionally included); or in I Thought I Was Done With This for the still-ongoing, often tedious and boring, and yes, occasionally petrifying experiences of living with cancer. 
The problem for me is that I write fluidly and fluently for my own pleasure, to tell my own story on my own terms in my own time; and that the moment someone issues a command, or just a request, or even the merest hint of a suggestion that I write something specific for them, the taps shut off and the trough full of rich, life-sustaining inspiration goes instantly, echoingly, frustratingly dry.
Ugh,  I thought, five days after class when I had yet to come up with a topic I wanted to write about.  I’m taking this class so I can learn to be usefully critical of other people’s writing, not get bogged down in my own, I thought.
Good thing I chose Editing and not The Art of the Novel.
Calin Taylor

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keep On

A quick entry as my cannabis seeps through my body, distracting me from . . . everything. 

I had my first post-Healer, post-Cannabis, post-Lapatinib experiment (remember, it crosses the blood brain barrier and the other drugs don’t, which is one of the reasons Dr Specht has been such an enthusiastic pusher) MRI today.  I didn’t sleep quite as well last night as I have been recently, but probably better than I usually do before scans (the drugs, they are my sleepy sleepy friends).  As I was lying there before sleep, though, I was thinking about what I would do if the scan came back normal.  Like, nothing at all. Well, a brain of course, but no lesions.  I imagined the looks on their faces, Dr Jason and Nurse Sarah, and it totally cracked me up.  But then I really thought about it—what would I do after that?  After evidence of a cure?  If I’d been freed from cancer, what would I do?

I would probably stop Navelbine as soon as possible, sure, so that I could start taking some high-powered antioxidants, but aside from that, I would do everything the same.  I’m really excited to be starting my editing course in a couple weeks; I’m really looking forward to going back to Kenya after 15 years;  I am interested in learning more from ET even if I don’t “need” his gifts; music, horses rocksboatsknitting . . .

I would do everything the same.  

I’m just so tickled that I feel that way, and that I somehow managed to notice. I don’t need to be freed to succeed.  (weed)

All of this leads up to, after a long, long multi-hour wait to be scanned, nurse Sarah coming through the exam room door saying “Whatever you’re doing works well for us!” Yep, early reports are for a stable MRI!  Nurse Sarah was the only one to read the scan by the time we saw her, but she had looked back and forth at several pictures and saw no new spots and no larger old spots! 

Who knew stasis could be so AWESOME.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Father’s Daughter

As per my usual when meeting a new health care provider, I prepared for my first visit to ET, spiritual healer and medium, by making a list of ailments and physical annoyances I’d been experiencing, in the interests of having a place to start, a road map, if you will, if he and my Guides didn’t come up with one themselves.  

Yes, my Guides.  ET talks to people’s Guides or Guardian Angels—and he distinguishes between the two.  A Guide is a spirit being that has been or could be incarnate (i.e. a dead human’s spirit could, I guess, become a Guide—I’ll need to ask); an Angel is a spirit being who is only spirit, and can never animate flesh; but aside from that they function very similarly in our lives (what their actual functions are, I am only just beginning to learn).  To prepare for a first meeting with a new client, ET does a meditation with his own Guides (and/or Angels) and mine, the morning of the appointment.  In that meditation, he is shown various pictures and given various words or phrases that are important to the client and the healing that is about to take place.  

Let’s just say that none of the pictures he saw had anything to do with my right thumb, which has ached off and on, with varying degrees of severity, for the last 5 or 6 years.  Or, since I learned to knit.  

My achy thumb was on the list because, I’m sure, it’s a relatively minor pain in the scheme of things (so if it can’t be healed, it doesn’t destroy my hope for larger issues?), and I want it to go away without my having to take pain pills, or give up knitting (which I don’t do in the summer anyway, but my thumb still pains me).  

Cancer was not on my list.  

How interesting it is to me, now, after the 6 ½ hour session and the things that transpired, that asking for relief for one modest physical issue was okay to contemplate—but that asking for relief from cancer was not. He is a healer after all. Why did I want to see him, if not to be healed?

In part, I wanted to see him because what he does, what he sees, if he is speaking the truth (and I believe he is), is so game-changing for the way this planet works, that I wanted to go and see if he could help me, so that maybe, just maybe, I can someday help other people.  For several years now I have been practicing the Tarot both for myself as a way of communicating with my Guides, and for various friends or relatives if they happen to want a reading.  I am also hyper-aware of how my body feels at any given time (these things are all interconnected). I am aware of my energy state (and have long been in the habit of ignoring it if it’s not FULL STEAM AHEAD!); both physical and more . . .let’s say super-physical.  We all have energetic bodies as well as physical ones, and I can feel my energetic body and the shifts and flows in it. 

I’m finding it difficult to write this post.  In part, it’s because I have, from some perspectives perhaps, nothing to write about.  If you don’t believe what I’ve put down here already, a blog post is not going to be the forum to convince you that I’m not only telling the truth, I’m also talking about reality.  The other reason it’s difficult is that the experience really was, I think, life changing.  It’s a bit too soon to tell how, exactly, the changes will show up, but some fundamentals are profoundly different. I’ll share with you some of the specifics of the appointment, and you can do what you will with them.

First, we sat on the couch in the living room of ET's rural King County house and he gave me about an hour’s quick tutorial on Spirit/Guides/Angels, on energy, on the transference and creation of different energetic forms, stuff like that.  He wrote a book several years ago, and I read it before meeting him, so I understood—or at least was familiar with the words—most of what he was saying (and some of it I had already heard from others or figured out on my own with the help of my Guides, through Tarot or the I Ching).

We then moved to his massage table, which was just behind the couch, set at an obtuse angle so that I lounged on my back instead of being flat.  The angle was, really, completely ideal—I remember noting it a couple times throughout the event? appointment? reading?.  I was comfortable throughout, and I was there for most of five hours.  Once I was settled, ET called his Guides and mine (mine, five of them, came dressed in Native American garb, so he said—I still can’t see them or speak with them directly), and asked them to open up my 7th chakra, the Crown chakra, so that he could get a better look at what was in there.  The Guides did so, stretching the chakra open behind me, so that the next time ET spoke to them, I heard him across the room, about 20 feet away.  

I think, for the sake of brevity—oops, too late—for the sake of finishing a post, I will focus on only one clearing he did, and leave the past lives (two were of import for this first visit) for another time, even though it all is connected.  

So.  Children mimic the energies of their parents to some extent.  When they are first born, and until adulthood, there are not a lot of choices kids have.  They don’t choose their parents (the physical, animal body doesn’t, at least), they don’t choose their schools, they don’t choose the books they first read, the religion they first practice, their nationality, their socio-economic group, you get the picture.  In learning how to be a part of their families, parental energies and practices are copied.  All of these things help form what ET refers to as the “default personality.”  In my particular case, something that happened in one of my two featured past lives set me up to be particularly good at taking on another’s energy, and so the energy I had from my father was not just my energy, built up to work with him and the family, but actually a lot of his energy.  “He was pretty messed up emotionally,” ET said (or something like it—I do have a tape, but have not transcribed it yet), “a lot of anxiety.  How old was he when he died?”


“Yikes! That’s not old!  This stuff really messed up his body!”

ET asked if I remembered anything from my childhood about Dad that might relate to me taking on his energy, and what I remembered was this: I was about nine years old, it was fall, and I had learned to blow a bubble when chewing gum.  My father hated gum chewing, not because it’s crass, but because it’s noisy.  Not really noisy, so’s you’d notice or anything, unless you were my dad.  Then it was noisy, repetitive, and the MOST ANNOYING THING EVER.  Unless you were clicking your ballpoint pen open and closed.  Or crink-crink, crink-crinking your pop can after you’ve finished your drink. Or anything else you did more than one time in a row.  I learned about his noise neuroses so early on that it never occurred to me to question them; I just took on the role of Daddy Protector, and warned whoever came to the house that my dad didn’t like gum chewing.  He also didn’t like open-mouthed food chewing, but that was another story.  In this story, young Calin ventures out to the barn where Daddy is working on a farm project.

“Daddy,” I said, going up to him as he came toward me, wiping his hands on his ever-present back-pocket grease rag, “I know you hate gum chewing, and I won’t ever do it again in front of you, but I just learned how to blow a bubble and I was wondering if I could show you.  Can I?”

“Sure,” said Dad, putting his still-filthy hand on my shoulder.  “Let me see what you’ve got.” 

I did my best and successfully blew a bubble.  “Okay,” I said, relieved and pleased.  “I’ll throw it out now.”

“You can keep chewing it,” Dad said, “just this once.”

I did keep chewing, for about 45 minutes, as I wandered about the barn and Dad went back to his work, but it didn’t feel right—I felt like my chewing was probably bothering him anyway—so I spit out my gum long before I normally would have.  I normally would’ve chewed a piece of gum for hours, until it was, literally, dissolving in my mouth.  You didn’t know gum can, in fact, be digested?  It can. In the mouth.

“I was going to say age 8,” said ET, after this story. “That seems to be when you actively took on his energy.  Well, he might want it back, and YOU certainly don’t need it! Is he still between lives?”

“Yes,” I said immediately.  Is he still between lives?!? How the hell do I know? But I DID know—I didn’t wonder, I didn’t think. I knew.

ET cocked his head, listening to something. “Yes, he is,” he confirmed.  “This is great,” he went on, “he can get his energy back, and maybe learn what he was supposed to from it, and not have to repeat this life, and you can get on with your own!”

He and the Guides did the clearing, and then cleared the energy associated with my mother as well.  

That evening, back at home in Wallingford, I took the dogs out for a late walk. I felt tall, and straight, and upright, and free, and calm.  I did my best to measure myself against the old mark on the kitchen door, and I looked one half inch taller. Better yet, the anxiety was gone.  I didn’t take a clonazepam that night when I went to bed, and I haven’t since.  

It’s been particularly interesting to be out at the Ould Sod for this weekend, taking care of the farm—to see all my old haunts, and think about them now that I am less haunted.  I’ve been spending time moving my energy around, flexing my chakras, bringing in Universal energy and Earth energy, feeling them swirl together, torrents of light coursing through me, causing involuntary shudders and gasps, and making me burst into laughter.  Yes, really.  I’ve also been taking my cannabis cure each night (I stepped my clonazepam down to half a pill when I started the marijuana, but it’s still interesting to not need any), and sleeping a lot (Ian and I are currently on diverging clocks: at sea, he’s up at 6:30 and in bed by 9:30.  Last night, I was in bed by 2 and up at 11.).  I’ve been climbing trees and leaping over fences, and walking to the pond, and picking blackberries, and I had L&S and Jessie-dog over for dinner and pie.  I’ve also been finding myself canceling appointments . . . and just resting.  

I’m amazed at how easy it is to take a break and lie down, when I’m no longer judging rest as useless, wasted time.  There will always be something to do.  It can wait for an hour.