Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Swim Brain

One of my favorite, but relatively dull lines is in Twelfth Night, I iii, "I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." In graduate school, a colleague, knowing I was then entirely vegetarian, gave me a button bearing those words. Well, I am not a great eater of beef. I made the mistake of eating a single tiny bite of corned beef one year ago today and it literally nearly killed me.

My younger son, to whom I still refer as Tyke (his older brother, a jazz musician, calls him T-Bone), is a swimmer part of the year and plays baseball the rest of the year. Swim season just ended and he came home so laden with clanky medals, trophies, pins and ribbons that we will have to start a Wall of Fame right next to the multiple Michael Phelps posters (oh, and the now "commemorative" Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal boxes which we could sell on eBay) in his room. A few days ago he was looking online and happened to discover that not only had he garnered a bunch of team records this year, but he was also second in the state in one event and third in another. Surprisingly, he has not developed a swelled head about this.

However, I believe he HAS developed some sort of encephalitis or mental problem from spending too much time in the pool. This calls for a new button, which should say, "I am a great inhaler of chlorine, and I believe that does harm to my wit." For here is an exchange between us from the other day:

Me: Why is it still so cold? It's actually somewhat spring-like outside, and I'm never cold, but today I'm really cold.

Tyke: Mom, think about what the badger said.

Me: ??????

Tyke: The gopher.

Me: ???? [staring at him] You mean, the GROUNDHOG?

Tyke: Mom. Whatever. Stop making fun of me.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello, and soon (I think) I'll be back

Dear Friends,

I know you've all given up on me and ever seeing any more posts on this blog. It's been months, and might be a couple more. I might even decide not to come back to it; every day is a new story, and the last months have changed my entire perspective on life. Even though I try to read your blogs and keep up, I am not so good at the formerly loyal and regular commenting. It doesn't mean I'm not reading you when I can. No, I didn't fall off a cliff, but the life situation feels very close to that.

I got overwhelmed last summer, and just when I thought the kids would go back to school and I would have some moments to write and do other independent things that I actually WISH to do, the 16-ton weight fell (not a cartoon one; a real one): my beautiful, talented-jazz musician-composer-vocalist, 16-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer. Not that it's ever a good thing, but there also couldn't have been a worse year for him to go through this--he's a junior in AP courses who also attends a second high school, an arts academy, and has countless rehearsals, performances and competitions, not to mention APs, ACTs, and SATs on the horizon.

With his diagnosis, the rest of the world immediately started to look trivial. Things I would have thought were stupid or funny and certainly would have written about and mocked suddenly didn't rank as worthy of a moment's attention. I already lost both parents to cancer and my father-in-law has been in treatment for nine years. I'm so sick of watching this that I want to take the anti-nausea medicine myself.

So, at the end of last summer, my full-time job became keeping my fabulous kid alive. I have spent countless days and nights in clinics, hospitals, CAT, PET, x-ray, chemo, radiation, pharmacies, incessant driving/traffic, and just plain endless waiting. I spend days scheduling tutors, scheduling treatment, staying home during the tutoring to facilitate, communicating with teachers, and making sure the work gets done even if everyone is tired. I sleep in the family room especially on the nights when he is scared or just wants to sleep in the comfy chair in case he needs help, or we suspect he might get a fever and need to go to emergency.

I schmooze with oncology and nuclear medicine nurses instead of visiting with friends. Nobody hears from me on the phone anymore--I don't know what to say and don't have time anyway. I've heard that there are rumors going on among the parents of my other child's sports teams that I don't exist and I'm just an unsupportive slacker beeutch who doesn't care about her kid. Well, F--- them in capital letters. I have a bigger task than sitting around a swimming pool gabbing or parking my butt on baseball bleachers playing parental one-upmanship gossip games. This is not to say my other child isn't important. Of course he is; but we parents have chosen roles to keep the whole very feeble, creaking machine working.

Sure, fortunately I still have my editing contracting to periodically distract me, and am even going whole-hog on National Poetry Month and Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day this year. When I find small things and a small amount of time to do something that makes me happy, I do, if I can remember to try. A couple of days ago, in celebration of my kid's hair starting to grow back, with his witness I chopped my own horrible witchy hip-length hair off with sewing shears and felt better. It's yet another task to force myself to be happy sometimes. I'd prefer to avoid any more tasks at the moment.

Not all's bad. Because of our bizarre time being artificially together, my son, one of his tutors, a classmate and I have turned an AP US History project from a molehill into a mountain. Maybe some publication potential, but too early to say; like the lymphoma, it's day-by-day change and revelation.

But this time lymphoma WON'T be the terminator. And like the Terminator, the famous hair will be back!