Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A Belated Merry Christmas

It seems crazy to me to put Christmas up on the 26th of December. We spend the whole year waiting for the weather to cool. Waiting to listen to festive music. Waiting for a long holiday break. And then––we pack it up lock, stock, and barrel.

Me? I like to keep Christmas around until nearly Valentine's Day. Especially this year. This year, I felt like I didn't get to celebrate Christmas until the very end.

Remember this post? Well, you all came through with your fun family pictures and videos of your silly kids, and it made me laugh. Now I'll tell you the reason for needing a distraction and the reason for almost skipping Christmas.

That evening, I went to the emergency room for what an urgent care doctor thought was appendicitis. Turns out, it was an ovarian cyst that burst. But on the CT scan, the ER doctor found some other things, too:
  • A kidney stone that may or may not pass on its own
  • An abnormally-shaped uterus that may make having children difficult
  • A tumor on my left adrenal gland and kidney that may be cancerous
  • A possible tumor on my right kidney that may be cancerous
The three weeks leading up to Christmas were filled with doctor visits, CT scans, and getting blood drawn. The urologist made it clear that I'd need surgery on my left kidney, but maybe not on my right. He said that because of my age and the size of the left tumor, he was concerned it could be cancer.

"Cancer" is a word I never expected to hear from my doctor. Other people get cancer.

So I spent the better part of December in a daze, really. I didn't expect to visit Georgia for Christmas. I got flowers from work colleagues and well-wishes from others. And lots of hugs and "I'm sorrys."

And then. I went to my urologist the week before Christmas, and he said what looked like a complex cyst on my right kidney was just a cyst and the tumor on my left adrenal gland and kidney seemed to be benign. Still, the size of the tumor could be a problem, so we have to keep an eye on it. In six months, I go for another round of CT scans and blood work.

It all seems like a weird dream, and in some ways, I feel like a ticking time bomb. Part of me just wants this tumor out. Part of me wonders what changed so suddenly from one appointment to the next. Did he miss something? Do more scans need to be taken? Does something else need to be checked?

I don't know yet, and for now, I suppose that's okay. I'm trying not to worry until there's something to worry about.

Thing I'm thankful for: a guest room for me at MommyDaddy's, whenever I need it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

You Speaka My Language

One of my sisters visited me this weekend with her family, and they flew out today while I was at work. I dreaded walking in my apartment door because I knew it would be quiet––no Summer to talk to, no Clay playing the ukulele, no Macy to snuggle with, and no Lily to pretend she doesn't need to snuggle.

Imagine my delight, then, when I walked into this:

Words of affirmation and a caricature. (Although they're stick figures, they're actually quite representative of us.)

My tree aglow and another funny note.

Money! (I know the placement of this note was difficult for Summer, as she is the runt of the family, but she was trying to put it at eye-level for me. It was perfect!)

Candy, all lined up in a row.

I could never love anyone as I love my sisters.

Thing I'm thankful for: People who get me.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I need a distraction.

As I was driving to the emergency room on Friday afternoon, I called my sister and told her what was up. She said, "Oh my goodness . . . Well, at some point, you have to laugh, right?"

And I guess that's true. I have to either laugh or cry, and I feel like maybe I got most of my tears out this year? Or maybe I got them all out last year. At any rate, I haven't cried all day. But I haven't laughed, either.

Here's a quick update: The ER doctor thought the lower abdominal pain was appendicitis. Turns out, it was an ovarian cyst that burst. But the CT scan showed some other abnormalities, too, so I have to talk to a specialist before I can understand them or understand what needs to happen to address them.

Until all this is cleared up, I have a request: Let me hold your babies and play with your children. Let me take them to the store to buy crafts and paint supplies. Let me color with them or watch a Christmas movie or two. Send me funny pictures of them or silly videos. Mail their unintelligible scribbles to me.

Kids––I am certain––are the best part of life. They are the most interesting humans on the planet, and they––more than anyone else––make me happy. It's difficult for me to be downcast and sad when children are around. I wish I had some of my own, but I don't, so I'm depending on you all to to distract me with the pitter patter of your little ones.

Thing I'm thankful for: Hangout videos in the hospital

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

One Thing Everybody Wants

It's Halloween, but candy, costumes, and haunted houses are not on my mind. What's on my mind is something altogether different. What's on my mind is love.

For some reason, I thought of "La La Land" this weekend, so on my drive to work today, I listened to the soundtrack. One of my favorite songs is, of course, City of Stars, featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Every time I hear it, I'm struck by the perfect way in which the songwriters expressed the human condition:
City of stars
Just one thing everybody wants.
There in the bars
And through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants––
It's love––
Yes, all we're looking for is love from someone else.
A rush,
A glance,
A touch,
A dance–– 
To look in somebody's eyes
To light up the skies
To open the world and send them reeling
A voice that says, "I'll be here,
And you'll be alright."
I don't care if I know
Just where I will go
'Cause all that I need's this crazy feeling–– 
A rat-tat-tat on my heart . . .
Think I want it to stay.

I really think that's it. That's what life is all about. We're here to feel love and to give love. I've felt this purpose more acutely in the last few years than maybe I ever had before, but boy, does it change things. It gives the world color and forces my understanding of things to be nuanced. It fills my heart with loneliness but also with gratitude.

"Love. All we're looking for is love from someone else." Such powerful words. I am resolved to remember them.

Thing I'm thankful for: a cozy place to sleep.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Carbon Is Where It's At

In the world of chemistry, that is. :)

I've loved carbon ever since I took organic chemistry in college. It's by far my favorite element. I mean, chemistry on it's own is like . . . okay. But add carbon, and things really start to get interesting! The chemistry of biology is so much fun for me to learn about and study, and until tonight, I didn't know it was so much fun to teach!

My sister messaged me today to say that Macy was "flipping out" about her 9th-grade biology homework and wanted to know if I could help her later. Ummmm . . . YES! 

So at 9:30, she called me, and I talked her through saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, carbon backbones, and reactants and products. It felt like Christmas. I don't know if I was a good teacher, but I sure had fun. Plus, I remembered more than I expected to, so that felt really great. At the end of the call, I told Macy that she could ask me for help with biology homework anytime, and I hope she meant it when she said she probably would.

I've been sort of sad about Macy and Lily's growth into adolescence lately. I miss their chubby little kid faces and tiny voices. I miss their cuddles and Care Bear costumes. I miss being able to hold them. But for a moment tonight, I thought, "This is an exciting new adventure as an aunt; I get to teach them about the subjects I love." Here's to hoping this wasn't the one and only homework help phone call.

Thing I'm thankful for: the sound of rain at night

Monday, July 31, 2017

I Finally Found It!

I started a blog post this afternoon that was all about today's Sunday School class and why I didn't like it, but several hours and a nap later, I decided it's just not worth writing about at this moment. Instead, I'd like to write about how––at age 35––I have found my favorite ice cream.

For a long time, it was mint chocolate chip, and then for a long time, it was chocolate or chocolate with almonds (a toss-up, really). Other flavors have entered the fray, but honestly, I never really felt comfortable announcing my favorite ice cream flavor. I mean . . . Ice cream is my favorite dessert! How can I choose just one?!?

Clay introduced me, however, to Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie last week, and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. I know the flavor's been around for a while, but for some reason, I had never tried it before. Who knew that it was right under my nose for all of my adult life?

And there you have it, world––I like Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie best of all.

Thing I'm thankful for: long walks

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The List

I slept for a REALLY long time today, and now, I'm baking cookies and listening to good music––two of my favorite things in life. All I've been listening to is New Order. I listened to them in high school just like any other well-adjusted teenager, but they sort of fell by the wayside as I started listening to indie music in the early 2000s. About a year ago, though, a friend reminded me of them, and I haven't been able to stop listening for very long since.

So as I've been baking and listening to New Order, I thought about a blog post I wrote long ago called Listenin' to Abbey Road, in which I listed my top three favorite rock albums, and I decided it was time for an update. Back in 2006, my top three were:
  1. Abbey Road, The Beatles
  2. The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
  3. The Blue Album, Weezer
It's funny how time changes things and how we change over time. A little over a decade later, I would say these are my top three rock albums:
  1. Substance 1987, New Order
  2. Louder Than Bombs, The Smiths
  3. Automatic, The Jesus and Mary Chain
It's highly likely that in another decade, this list will change again, and probably, it will change even before that. And why even make these lists, anyway? I guess I think it's an interesting snapshot into a person's life that shows what they were feeling, who they were influenced by, and what aesthetic affected other areas of their lives. For example, in my senior year of high school, I was all about The Cure and Led Zeppelin. (I was melancholy and passionate.) In early college, I was listening to The Strokes, The Shins, and Franz Ferdinand. (I was upbeat and confident.) In grad school, I was all about The Black Keys, The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, Atlas Genius, and Capital Cities. (I was upbeat and confident and interested in up-and-coming bands.)

What would I say about myself now? What do my top three albums say about me? Maybe that I'm nostalgic, bored of today's music, depressed, and sort of . . . stuck in my mind most of the time.

Thing I'm thankful for: lazy Saturdays