Main

April 02, 2010

It's Been A Long Time Coming

I've been wanting to write this post for a long, long, long time, and now I finally can.

Bar results came out today.

I passed.

I probably don't need to describe my happiness and relief.

Now I can finally get on with whatever is next.

March 04, 2010

Second Chances

Last week I took the bar exam. Again. (Sometimes it seems like I’m in some kind of cosmic contest to see how many giant events I can fit into a twelve month period….graduating from law school, getting a job, studying for the bar, taking the bar, failing the bar, losing said job, studying for the bar, taking the bar, post-cancer surgery, etc. I’m totally winning.) It was…the bar exam. It wasn’t any easier or more fun the second time around. I was much calmer during most of the prep period, because I knew what to expect. I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I wasn’t worried about getting it all done because I knew that would happen. I felt more confident during the test itself this time, but I still don’t have any strong feeling one way or the other about whether I passed. I knew the answers to a lot of the questions…but I didn’t know the answers to a lot of the questions. And now there’s nothing left to do but wait.

About three weeks ago, the office that hired me last spring called one day while I was studying. I got the message at lunch time and hoped that maybe they were calling to offer me a job. But as I dialed the number, I began to think that maybe they were actually calling to tell me that they didn’t have any more jobs and that I should look somewhere else. And my mind kept jumping back and forth between those two possibilities as I listened to the phone ring and waited for someone to answer on the other end. Maybe they were calling to offer me a job! Or maybe not! I finally got in touch with the person who had left a message for me. You can probably imagine my happiness when she told me that she was calling to offer me a job. She told me that they wanted me to come back as a clerk while I was waiting for the bar results, and that once I got my license I would be reinstated as an Assistant State’s Attorney.

Since that phone call, I have spent a lot of time counting my blessings. I am so lucky not only to have a job, but a job that is essentially my Dream Job. I am humbled by the fact that they believe in me enough to offer me this position before I even receive the results of my second try. But the pressure! Oy vey! If I don’t pass this time, I will have to go through all the same pain and humiliation that I went through last October and the thought of that is almost unbearable. In fact, I’ve been trying not to think about it, because I can’t even imagine how it will all play out if it happens again.

August 04, 2009

And...That's A Wrap

Okay, okay…I hear you Gentle Readers. Thank you to those of you who have been sending me little nudges, wondering if and when I might pick up my pen (or keyboard) again. I am amazed that you are still reading, and I appreciate your tenacity and dedication. Now that I don't have any more breast cancer or law school to write about, I don’t quite know where this blog is going to go, but I’ll start with this:

In the five years since I started writing this blog, among other things, I have started law school, turned 40, been diagnosed with and fought breast cancer, won $10,000, lost all my hair, grown it all back, finished law school, gotten a job, graduated from law school, and studied for and taken the bar exam. Other than the breast cancer part, that’s pretty much how I was hoping it all would go. Tomorrow I start a brand new chapter, and this time it is much less predictable than the law school chapter was.

I am so lucky to have been offered and accepted what is essentially my dream job. I’m going to be doing exactly what I have wanted to do since the end of my first year of law school in the place I want to do it. Considering the economy and the dismal legal job market, I am very fortunate to have this job.

Almost exactly fifteen years ago I happily gave up my briefcase and heels and a career in the mortgage industry for a diaper bag and jeans and a career as a stay-at-home mom. It was my favorite career decision so far and I have loved every second of the job. Okay, maybe not every second, but I have loved a lot of them. I would not trade the time I have been able to spend with all three of my kids for anything. I think that my decision to stay home was the right one for my family and for me. However, I always knew that it would come to an end for several reasons. I knew that we would need my additional income in order send them all to college and to retire comfortably, and I also knew that there would come a time when my kids would be ready to leave and to go out on their own. I realized that when that happened, I would want something of my own, something that I enjoyed and that I could devote myself to the way I have devoted myself to them all these years. That thing turned out to be a career as an attorney, and here I am on my way.

Today is my last day as a stay-at-home mom, and I have mixed feelings about it. Of course, I am excited about my new job and about the income that comes along with it. I love the work that I will be doing. But at the same time, I am sad at the idea of leaving this era behind. I think back to the days that sometimes seemed so long that were filled with runs to and from preschool or swimming lessons or gymnastics, trying to work around naptime, shows like Gullah Gullah Island and Sesame Street, and reading the same book 10,000 times. It seems like just yesterday that I was filling up the kiddie pool in the summer or bundling little arms and legs into snowsuits to go sledding.

It is inevitable that your kids grow up and get older and that your life changes in the process, but there is something so bittersweet about leaving those days behind. I love the people my kids have turned and are turning into; I am continually amazed at how incredible they are and at how lucky I am to get to be their mom. I am always excited to see what they are going to do next. But I can’t ever quite forget the little people that they used to be, and there is a part of me that feels as if when I step out the door tomorrow morning, I will be leaving those little people behind forever.

March 12, 2009

Obsession (or The Hair Chronicles, Part 562)

I am obsessed with hair. I have spent more time in the last year and a half thinking, talking, worrying, and writing about hair than I ever thought that I would. I’m sure that this is just another one of those unexpected cancer side-effects, and I wonder how long it will last.

I am amazed when I think about all the different hair styles I have had in the last year and a half, many of them chronicled by photos on this blog. My hair has been long-ish, light blonde, dark blonde, shoulder length, chin length, short, crew cut, shaved, gone, curly, wavy, and straight. My closets and drawers are overflowing with wigs, hats, headbands, barrettes, elastic bands, and scarves. The cupboard under my bathroom sink is chock full of shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, pomade, serum, and hairspray for blonde hair, long hair, baby hair, short hair, straight hair and curly hair. My hair has had an identity crisis.

While I was going through the process of losing, mourning, and growing my hair, I wrote here about how I noticed everyone’s hair more than I ever did before. One of the first things I noticed about people when I didn’t have any hair was the color, texture, length, amount, and style of theirs. It is still one of the first things I notice, even though I have more of my own.

My hair started to come in a little straighter at some point in the last few months, until it began to drive me really crazy. I had straight/wavy hair on top and curls on the bottom, and I couldn’t do anything except put it back in a headband every day. I finally made an appointment with my hairdresser, took in an old picture of my hair circa 2006, and asked her if she thought we could make that happen now. She washed and highlighted and snipped and razored, and my hair now resembles my old hair. I have to straighten it each morning to get the ends to match the rest of it, but it is my hair. I kept trying to appreciate the curls while I had them, but all I really wanted was to have my old hair back.

Now I spend a lot of time touching it, running my hands through it, and reveling in the feeling of it blowing in the wind. I still have a “bad hair day” from time to time, but I find that I’m not as concerned about that as I once would have been. I have hair, and that is enough.

I was showing someone at work pictures of my family last week and we came upon pictures of me from two years ago. My hair was shoulder length and bright blonde back then, and he was taken aback by the image. I thought about it later, and realized that he has only ever known me with dark blonde super-short and curly hair—he never thought of me as a blonde with long hair. My cancer experience is so much a part of me that it is hard for me to imagine that people who are just meeting me for the first time now have no idea. They don’t know how it has changed me, because they didn’t know me before the diagnosis. They don’t think of me as “Kim who had breast cancer” because they only know me as “Kim.”

But when I think about myself now, I almost always think about my cancer experience. It is as much a part of me as the descriptors of “mom” and “law student” and “short.” I am surprised by that, and by my inability to escape it. When I was in the middle of treatment, I dreamed about the day that it would be over and that I could stop thinking about it. I am finding that even when the treatment is over, however, it isn’t something that is easily forgotten. And just as I am getting used to my new hair, I am still getting used to a new world order that includes my identity as a cancer survivor.

Pictures of the current hair style to come soon….

November 29, 2008

Blogger Meet and Greet

I’ve been up to my eyeballs in law school alligators this semester, so I am way behind on my story telling. But I am taking the day off from homework today, so I decided to use the time wisely by posting a long overdue update.

A month or so ago I got an e-mail from my friend Ree telling me that she was going to be in Chicago for a couple of days. We had been talking about meeting one another during one of her (not infrequent) trips here and it just so happened that she was going to be here on one of my school days. Everything fell into place, so I went to meet her one evening at The Reagle Beagle after class.

I walked into the nearly deserted bar, rounded a corner, and there she was. It was so much fun to meet her in person, and she is every bit as funny and kind and irreverent and fabulous as she seems on her blog. I was so thrilled to get to spend some time with her. I’ve met quite a few “internet friends” in real life over the years, and sometimes, as soon as you see them in person, you feel like you already know them. Meeting them in person doesn’t change anything about what you know…it just adds sound and movement to the picture in your mind. That is exactly how I felt about meeting Ree. And if you’ve never read her blog before you’re in for a treat. (And Ree, you can bunk on my couch ANYTIME you are in town!)

And as an added bonus, Ree had invited other friends of hers to join her for a drink, too. Since we were all bloggers, it turned into an official Blogger Meet Up. The conversation was fun and interesting and I was so happy to get a chance to meet both Kristabella and Stephanie. I had such a good time talking with them that I didn’t even realize that the theme of the bar we were in was based on 70s TV shows (remember the Reagle Beagle from Three’s Company?) until just before I left. They all laughed when it suddenly dawned on me that we were surrounded by pictures of The Brady Bunch and The Love Boat cast and that the drinks had names like The Tootie and Blair Cocktail.

Copy of IMG_2683.JPG
Kim, Ree, Stephanie, and Kristabella

November 04, 2008

Rock the Vote!

small vote.jpg

Today's the day. You know what to do.

October 17, 2008

This Time Last Year

On October 17th of last year, I was getting myself mentally psyched up for my seventh (and second to last) chemotherapy treatment. I was in the middle of the blog scholarship contest, and you were all lifting me up with your encouraging words and your thousands of votes.

Yesterday I got an e-mail letting me know that it was that time of year again. This time around, things are different--I have hair and I feel great, and there won’t be $10,000 waiting for me at the end of the month. Nonetheless, it is time for the 3rd Annual Blogging Scholarship Contest from CollegeScholarships.org. The entrance requirements are as follows:

• Your blog must contain unique and interesting information about you and/or things you are passionate about.
• U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
• Currently attending full-time in post-secondary education in the United States; and
• If you win, you must be willing to allow us to list your name and blog on this page. We want to be able to say we knew you before you became a well educated, rich, and famous blogging legend.

If you fit the criteria, why not enter your blog? If you know someone who does, let them know about the contest! It is well worth it, and I can’t wait to see who wins this year. I will post again when the finalists are listed.

August 18, 2008

Through The Looking Glass

Apparently each member of my immediate family is walking around with a big “V” tattooed on our foreheads these days. That’s “V” for victim. Karly’s car was hit with paintballs two nights in a row last week and Randy woke up last Wednesday to find that his car had been broken into during the night. The thief/thieves took his iPod and wallet and he spent the morning cancelling credit cards and talking to the police. My story of victimization, however, takes the cake.

I woke up Thursday to an e-mail from a stranger entitled, “Your pictures have been posted on a porn site…thought you’d like to know.” At first I was convinced that it was just a spam ploy to get me to click on the link enclosed in the e-mail to visit a porn site, but as I re-read the message it began to ring authentic. The message stated that there was a user on this particular website who had been claiming to have cancer. When other members questioned the veracity of her story, she posted bald pictures of herself in her site profile in order to “prove” that she was going through chemo. Several other members did a quick Google search and discovered my blog and posted the link on this porn website as proof that the pictures did not actually depict the user who was claiming that they were her. One woman followed the link, found my e-mail address, and sent me the e-mail.

I checked out the site but discovered that in order to access anything there you had to be a registered user. I was able to find an e-mail address for the site owner, however, so I sent an e-mail asking them to investigate these claims and to remove any pictures of me. As I thought about it some more, I became curious and decided to just go ahead and register for the site. Once I was officially a member of this porn site (I’m not going to post the link here, but if you want to know which one it is e-mail me and I’ll send you the link.), I began looking around. The members of this site can create a blog within the site and it only took me a couple of seconds to find this woman’s blog. She had removed the pictures by the time I visited, but I was able to read the posts on a thread where other members accused her of stealing the pictures and her responses to those accusations.

I immediately sent an e-mail to two attorneys I know who I thought might be able to give me some guidance as to how to handle this situation and then I went about my day. When I was finally able to get back to the computer later in the afternoon, I discovered that the woman’s blog was gone from the site as well as all the posts about my pictures. I discovered another blog, however, where people were talking about this and I decided to go ahead and post a response. In my comment, I talked about the fact that I am not this woman, that I never gave her permission to use my photos, and I suggested that she contact me if she was reading this and that I could give her some links to actual cancer support groups. I also wrote that there were probably better places for her to look for cancer support than on a bondage/s&m website message board.

I documented everything that was still available on the site with screen shots and then I called the police. The officer who came out documented my story, though he didn’t actually file a report. I hoped that would suffice if I needed to subpoena records from the website at some point.

I am grateful to the woman who contacted me, because I would never have known about this if she hadn’t told me. She said that her mother died of cancer and she was therefore disgusted that this woman was using pictures of me with no hair and claiming them as her own. She also offered to let me know if she spots any more photos of me.

And then some interesting things began to happen. Other users of the site began to post angry messages on the blog directed at me. They thought that the fact that I had suggested that this woman look for cancer support somewhere other than this website was my “small-minded” way of saying that the members of this website were somehow bad or flawed and that they couldn’t possibly support someone in need. These people were furious with me and let me know it in no uncertain terms, but I felt that their defensiveness was an over-reaction. In fact, one of the members apologized for the perceived “rudeness” of some of the posters and suggested that they were defensive because the bdsm community is not generally well-received. I returned to the blog again to posted a comment explaining that I didn’t mean to disparage the people on the site in any way and that I was sure they had as close-knit and supportive a community as any other on the internet, and that my intent was really just to offer cancer support resources to the woman who started all of this.

The following morning when I checked my e-mail, I had a message waiting for me from the woman who posted the pictures. She apologized for what she had done and noted that she had retracted her claims and that she had taken the pictures off her site. I wrote back to her, accepted her apology, and told her that as far as I was concerned this was all water under the bridge. I said that I understand that we all make bad decisions sometimes and that we really just have to try to move on from them after the fact. I also offered to share my cancer support resources with her if she needed them. She replied with some very kind words and stated that she was not yet feeling brave enough to explore any cancer support resources.

The most amazing part of this, however, is the number of private e-mails I have received from other users of this website over the past two days. Quite a few people wrote to me to tell me about their mothers or grandmothers or friends who have or had breast cancer. All of these women said that they had clicked on a posted link to my blog out of curiosity and then they started reading my story and apparently it resonated quite strongly for many of them. I find it astounding that out of all of this, a group of women that I would probably never have come into contact with have been moved by something that has happened to me. The internet certainly makes the world a smaller place, doesn’t it?

There is also a lesson here, of course, and that is that you have to be very cautious about what you put out there on the internets. There are a lot of crazy people out there, and unfortunately we take a risk when we open ourselves up to them the way that I have. I knew when I first decided to post pictures that I ran the risk of something like this happening, but I certainly never thought it would happen to me. I plan to leave my pictures up and easily accessible on this blog, but I will be removing the pictures of my kids so that there is no danger of something similar happening to them. (If I have posted a picture of you at anytime and if you want me to remove it from my blog, please let me know.)

August 05, 2008

Milking Our Fifteen Minutes For All They Are Worth

Saturday was media blitz day for The Chest Nuts. Not only did we appear on the local NBC morning news, but there was an article about us in the local paper, too.

Rachel, Diane, Karen, and Lesli and I met at my house at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and were on our way at 6:45 a.m. We were supposed to be at the NBC studio no later than 8:45 a.m. On a light traffic day, it takes about an hour to get into the city so I thought that would give us plenty of time to park and walk. As we pulled out of my driveway, one of my passengers reminded me that this weekend was Lollapalooza in Chicago. Then I began to get worried about making it on time. And sure enough, we hit traffic early in the trip. It was a good thing I had a car full of people to crack jokes about it, because I may have panicked if I was by myself.
At NBC5 in Chicago.JPG
At NBC5 Studios in Chicago

Despite the traffic, though, we made it downtown with time to spare. We used the extra time wisely with a stop at Starbucks, and then it was on to the studio. Rachel had some guests staying with her from out of town and they accompanied us into the city, so we had them snap a couple of pictures in front of the NBC building before we went in. Just before we knocked on the door, Kristi joined us on the plaza.

Per my instructions, I knocked on the “secret” entrance to the studio and the door was opened by one of the crew members. We were greeted by a staff member, shown the bathroom and the coffee maker, and then we were told to wait. The back of the studio was nothing like I had pictured it in my mind. There was no glamour or greenroom or craft services or hair and make-up crew. Instead, it was just a long narrow room filled with pieces of equipment and a few computers for the crew. There was a microwave and a coffee maker in one corner and there were a few stale doughnuts lying on a counter. There was also a refrigerator covered with 4 x 6 photos of various celebrities. Soon after we arrived, the producer introduced himself to us and explained that we needed to be quiet since the set was just on the other side of the curtain we could see at the end of the room.
NBC5 Studio.JPG
NBC5 Studio

NBC5 Greenroom.JPG
NBC5 "Greenroom"

The first thing we all did was use the bathroom, which was about 5 feet behind the green screen used in the weather broadcast. As we were standing there, we saw the shadow of the morning weather woman appear on the other side of the screen and adjust her jacket. We were whispering…okay, maybe we were laughing a little bit, too…about how funny it would be to go up behind the screen during the broadcast and make shadows on the back of it, when suddenly we heard the disembodied voice of the producer call for “QUIET in the back!!” I felt like I was in middle school and had been talking in class as we all clamped our hands over our mouths and tried not to laugh. Eventually we were able to laugh about how terrible it would have been if we had gotten kicked out of the NBC studios within 5 minutes of our arrival.

They let us stay, however, so we settled in for a 45 minute wait. Just before the show started, crew member Kevin appeared with a mike and asked me to thread it up my shirt. After I did that, he attached it to my collar and then attached the transmitter to the back of my skirt. (Note in the picture how Karen is watching to make sure Kevin’s hands don’t stray where they are not supposed to. Thanks for watching out for me, Karen!)
Getting miked.JPG
Getting miked by Kevin

Another morning guest was waiting in the “greenroom” with us. He was dressed in a lab coat with an embroidered label that told us his name followed by the letter “MD.” He had a metal briefcase filled with small opaque white plastic bottles labeled with masking tape. He opened the briefcase and set it on a table next to him, and then pulled out a contraption that looked like a small laser gun. Always friendly, Rachel soon engaged him in a whispered conversation and discovered that he worked at the Smell and Taste Research Foundation and that he was there to talk about how much people smelled. The laser-like piece of equipment was a smell-meter that he could use to detect smells in a room.

Dr. Smellgood (names have been changed to protect the innocent) was one of the first guests on the show, so we got to watch his segment from the back room. As we listened to him describe how smelly people are, we began to steal glances at one another and soon we were laughing hysterically. Even one of the crew members was chuckling and shaking his head. The title of Dr. Smellgood’s segment was “The Stinky Truth” and he discussed how much stinkier it is in bars these days now that we don’t have the smell of cigarette smoke to cover up the stink of people—mostly men. He said that men smell worse than women (and attributed that to their less acute sense of smell) and that men’s rooms rank right up there with pig pens and bars as the smelliest places. His solution to the problem? Axe. Let’s just say that TV is not Dr. Smellgood’s calling. He was definitely nervous, and we all began to wonder if he was actually even a doctor as he stuttered and babbled his way through his demonstration of his smell-meter.
Dr. Smellgood.JPG
Dr. Smellgood and his "smelpers"

I had a lot of sympathy for him, however, because I was definitely starting to get nervous at this point. By this time I realized that there wasn’t going to be any preparation…no one had said anything to me about what the newscaster (Ellee Pai Hong, for those of you in Chicago) was going to ask me, and in fact we had only seen her very briefly when she came back to talk to one of the other guests. (And by the way, she and the weather woman were teeny tiny. They were probably no more than 5 feet tall in their spike heels, and both had hips and waists no bigger than a minute. Since they look regular size on TV, we all began to wonder if we would look like an Amazon walking team standing next to them.)

The segment just before ours was called Firefighter Fitness and consisted of a group of Chicago firefighters demonstrating exercises on the plaza outside the studio. As they neared the end of their demonstration, Kevin came and hustled us outside for our appearance. As we stood there waiting for the producer to tell us where to stand, Ellee Pai Hong came over to us, introduced herself, and then asked me one question about the walk. She wanted to know if we had just done one already this year (she was confusing it with the Avon 2 Day walk). I noted that she was probably thinking about the Avon walk and explained to her the difference between that one and the Breast Cancer 3Day. (I had spoken with a 3Day PR rep a couple of days before to do some media training and luckily she had mentioned that this is a source of confusion, so I was ready with my answer to that question.) After that, Ellee was called back to be on air and that was it—that was all the preparation I got!

After that things happened pretty quickly. The producer placed us next to Ellee and the weather woman, they did a final weather forecast, and then we were on. Ellee was so nice and kind and asked just a few questions about the walk. At one point in the middle of one of my answers the camera man moved very close to us and the camera was within inches of my face. I can tell exactly when that happened when I watch the interview because I lost track of my answer and had to search for a word as I felt the camera get closer and closer to me.

Luckily Randy recorded the show, because I had no memory of what she asked me or what I said right afterward! I think the whole thing lasted maybe 3 minutes, although I completely lost track of time, as well. After we were done the producer asked us to stick around to be in the “crowd shot” at the end of the show, so we did.

After that we all had breakfast and went shoe shopping as we tried to fight off the paparazzi looking for photo ops and autographs.

Oh, wait a minute…that might just have been in my dreams. (We really did have breakfast and go shoe shopping, however!)
Breakfast at Nordstrom.JPG
Breakfast at Nordstrom

YouTube documentation can be found here. And see the July 24th post for a link to another article that appeared on Tuesday in the Spartanburg-Herald about Alison and Mandy!

July 07, 2008

Jenny

Here is a picture of my beautiful cousin, Jenny, and her daughters Maggey and Abbey. Thank you so much to those of you who have visited her site and left comments for her! I know that she really appreciates the kind and supportive words right now.
Jenny.jpg
Jenny, Maggey and Abbey

June 30, 2008

Update

Despite appearances, I have not abandoned this blog. After Randy asked me if I had decided to stop writing, though, I thought maybe I should post an update.

In the last few weeks I’ve finished up the spring semester, taken a summer session class, and started work (which I wish I could write about because it is fascinating!). During that time I have also continued to train for the 3-Day in August and I ran my first 10K in May. Yes, that’s right; I ran 6.2 miles(!). Six months ago I would never have thought I would do something like that in a million years. Of course, “run” might be stretching it just a little bit, because I didn’t actually run the entire 6.2 miles. I walked 3 or 4 times for about a minute each time, but I crossed the finish line nonetheless. And it felt great! I had a my six month check up with my oncologist a couple of weeks ago and things still look “perfect” (his word). As far as I’m concerned, that’s a good assessment. Next week I will be seeing my radiation oncologist for what I think might be a one year post-radiation appointment. It’s difficult to believe that it has been that long since I went through radiation, but I think it has.

I still have a few lingering side-effects from my cancer journey last year and some of them may never go away. For example, I still have some numbness and nerve damage on my left side under my arm and along my back shoulder. I notice a significant difference in strength on the left side when I try to lift something over my head or out to the side…basically anything I need to use my shoulder muscles to do. I still have my port, which isn’t really a side-effect so much as something that is just kind of constantly there. I don’t think other people really notice it, but I see the line running into my neck and along my chest every single time I look in the mirror. My hair is still short and has remained really curly. It’s kind of amazing to me and I’m still getting used to having brand new hair. I spent my entire life learning how to wash, style, and live with my straight blonde hair and now I have to relearn everything I ever knew about my hair. But I’ll take it…short curly hair is way better than no hair any day!

One of the side-effects that I’ve written about before is the early onset of menopause. I knew that some women revert back to their regular cycles several months after chemotherapy, but when I got to six months I was beginning to wonder if I would be one of those women or if I would be one of those who were sent permanently into early menopause. I’m truly happy to report that I’m not and that I’ve gotten at least some reprieve. Hopefully it will be a good long time before I have to deal with hot flashes and hormone changes on a regular basis.

While I am celebrating my health and life every single morning these days, however, it seems that around each corner there are constant reminders of what we are all up against every day. I will write more about those reminders in a separate post.

March 25, 2008

What's On Your Playlist?

My 3-Day and 5K training is going well and I continue to feel stronger every day. I still don’t know if I’m actually going to be able to run the whole 5K, but I’m going to try. I have been using the Couch to 5K training program (from coolrunning.com) to train and I found a podcast by Robert Ullrey on iTunes that guides you through each week. Once I’m done with the day’s running program, though, I switch over to my own music while I continue my 3-Day walk training.

I have had a great time compiling a couple of different playlists for walking and running. Sometimes a really great song will come on and I find myself wanting to sing or dance along. Am I the only one who experiences this? Do you ever have a hard time not singing along when you’re on the treadmill or out walking? People would think I was insane if I suddenly started singing “Apple Bottom jeans, boots with the fur” or “Goody two, goody two, goody goody two shoes” in the middle of the treadmill line so I usually control myself and save it for the car.

I’m going to post some of my playlists here in case you want to add any of these to your own list. I’m always looking for good training music and I’d love to hear some of your selections, too. Feel free to share!

Playlist 1
Sweet Talking Woman--ELO
Feedback—Janet Jackson
Elevator--Flo Rida
Hung Up—Madonna
SexyBack—Justin Timberlake
Check Yes Juliet—We the Kings
Stacy’s Mom—Fountains of Wayne
Whenever, Wherever—Shakira
Grace Kelly—Mika
Let’s Get Loud—Jennifer Lopez
Kiss—Prince
Low—Flo Rida
Goody-Two Shoes—Adam Ant (What? It’s a good workout song!)
Soak Up the Sun—Sheryl Crow
Island Boy—Baja Men
Proud Mary—Tina Turner
Pour Some Sugar On Me—Def Leppard
Fat Bottom Girls—Queen
Teenagers—My Chemical Romance
Dani California—Red Hot Chili Peppers
Shut Up and Drive—Rhianna
Have a Nice Day—Bon Jovi

Stay tuned for more…

March 23, 2008

Sanibel Pictures

These are a couple of shots of our recent trip to Sanibel with friends. You can’t see it in these pictures, but as the week progressed my hair turned from straight to curly. At first I thought it was just the Florida humidity, but the new curliness has continued since we have been home. Maybe I’m going to end up with that post-chemo curly hair after all.

Kim and Gayle.JPG
Kim and Gayle

Gayle and Rachel.JPG
Gayle and Rachel

Skip, Brett and Randy.JPG
Skip, Brett and Randy

March 21, 2008

Home Alone

It feels a little like that first scene in Home Alone around here…the one where everyone in the family and in the neighborhood is rushing around trying to get out of town for the holiday break. Today marks the beginning of spring break and it feels like the town is emptying out. This is Chicago, of course, which means that we’re in the midst of a snow storm even though it’s the second day of spring and that’s making it a bit hard for people to actually get out of town.

My family is leaving for a Caribbean cruise within the next few days. We are all looking forward to it and are rushing around trying to pull it together before we leave. Hopefully we won’t leave any of the kids home alone.

I’m planning to set up a couple of posts to post automatically while we’re gone.

March 11, 2008

One More Small Step

I have sent out a few resumes in the past couple of months hoping that I would be able to find a position somewhere for this summer. You may recall that I have felt some trepidation about the interview process and about a potential employer’s reaction to my post-cancer appearance and blog. I haven’t had much of a response to my search so far, so I haven’t had to worry too much about it yet.

The day before we left for Florida, however, I got a call from the recipient of a resume that I sent out the first week in January, which also just happens to be my number one choice of a place to work. I don’t want to reveal the place here, but those of you who know what I was looking for can guess the kind of office that it is. During the phone call I set up an interview for last Friday afternoon.

I was nervous going into the interview, but not for the usual reasons. I wasn’t nervous about what I might be asked or about my answers to those questions…none of that seems very scary anymore. I was nervous, however, about trying to explain why I didn’t have any legal employment last summer and I was nervous about disclosing my blog and my Google presence. I decided before I got to the interview that I would disclose the information up front. After all, it was entirely possible that the interviewer would have Googled my name before our meeting or that she would do it afterward.

The interview went well and ended with the interviewer giving me a tour of the office. Just before we began the tour, I told her that there was one more thing I wanted to let her know about. I briefly explained that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer last year and that I had a blog about the experience. I told her that if she Googled my name it would all come up and that I wanted to let her know about it up front so that if there was any problem we could discuss it. I also assured her that I wouldn’t write about work. And don’t you know, all my fears were for naught. She couldn’t have cared less about my blog or about how Google-able I am. It wasn’t an issue and I'm not sure if I even needed to bring it up. I was incredibly relieved by her reaction to the whole thing.

The best news is that as a result of the interview, I have an externship lined up for this summer doing exactly what I want to do. And even better? An excuse to buy new suits and new shoes.

March 04, 2008

The Weather Is Beautiful, Wish You Were Here

Greetings from warm and sunny Florida! Randy and I are on Sanibel Island (near Fort Myers) for a few days with our friends Brett and Rachel and Skip and Gayle. (Gayle and Rachel will be members of The Chest Nuts for the 3 day in August.) (How is that for an honorable mention, Gayle?)

Other than the fact that I spent the day in bed with a fever yesterday (a touch of food poisoning, perhaps?) it has been a wonderful trip so far. We are right next to the water and have enjoyed watching manatees swimming by our window, pelicans diving for fish and dolphins frolicking next to our boat when we are out on the water. I've been able to do some running/walking outside which has been a treat--it's certainly more fun than looking out at snow and ice through the gym window on the treadmill!

An ocean excursion to a shelling beach is on the docket for today, followed by some island shopping and whatever else might come our way. Pictures to come when I get back home!

February 05, 2008

Civic Duty is Calling!

small vote.jpg

If you live in one of the 22 states holding primaries today, don't forget to vote. You can locate your polling place or get other ballot information by using this website set up by the League of Women Voters. You can also find information about your state's primary on the site if it is not being held today.

If you are not yet registered to vote, you still have time to register before the November 4th General Election. (And if you live in Illinois, I can register you to vote, too!)

January 24, 2008

Changing Focus

As you may have noticed, the frequency of my posting has dropped off in the past couple of months. Part of that is due to the craziness of the holidays followed by a week of intensive school, but part of it is because I am at a point in my cancer journey where changes don’t happen every day. New news happens less often, thank goodness, and I no longer feel as if I need to journal every ache and pain. Mainly because I don’t have any aches and pains. I know that there are a lot of people still reading, however, and I want to keep writing. This means that I have to figure out what direction to take this blog and to come up with something new to write about. I will continue to update my progress, of course, but I hope there won’t be much more to write about other than the clean bills of health I will receive at each future doctor’s appointment and a documentation of the return of my locks.

One of the focuses of my life in the last nine months has been health. As you can imagine (or as you know if you’ve been down this road), a cancer diagnosis forces you to look at your health in a more critical way than you ever have before. One of the first questions I asked after my diagnosis was “why me?” The focus of the question was not “why is this happening to me?” but “why did I get cancer?” As a young, healthy woman, I couldn’t help but wonder what it was that made these cells proliferate in my body. Was it something I did? Was it something I didn’t do? Something I ate? Something I was exposed to? And the biggest question of all was—and still is—“what do I need to do to keep it from coming back?”

As part of the large amount of reading and research I have done about cancer, I couldn’t help but read about the many ways that food and exercise and environment affect the rate of cancer in any given population. There is a lot of information out there and much of it is confusing. Is red wine good for us or bad for us? Does exercise help prevent cancer or does it not make any difference in cancer rates? Do food additives cause cancer or is it just a completely random run of bad luck?

The American Cancer Society has said that women have a 1 in 3 chance and men have a 1 in 2 chance of developing some kind of cancer in their lifetimes. With statistics like that staring us in the face, my question is what can we do to lower our risk of developing cancer?

My plan is to share some of what I have learned. I will break it down a little at a time and share what I have found and what I am doing to prevent a recurrence. I don’t know if any of it makes a difference, but I feel as if I need to do whatever I can to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer or to prevent some other kind of cancer from developing. Improving my diet and my overall health makes me feel like I am being proactive and taking control whether or not that is true. And it certainly can't hurt.

January 04, 2008

To Be Continued....

Just a warning that things will probably be quiet here for the next week or so. Spring semester starts tomorrow with a week-long trial practice intensive. I'll be in class every day from tomorrow through next Saturday from 9:00-5:00. Add my daily 5 hours of commuting to that and you get little time for posting....or anything else! The laundry is done, the family schedule is semi-organized, and the pantry is stocked with quick and easy meals for the family. Let's hope we all make it through the week.

December 18, 2007

Catching Up

I know, I know…I’ve been MIA. I’ve been a bit preoccupied with finals and shopping and fighting spam bots, but I think I’ve gotten through the worst of it all. Well, I don’t know about the spam bots, but they’re at least under control even if they’re not yet completely vanquished. Finals prep is mostly to blame for the dearth of posting though. There’s something about preparing to write for 3 hours straight per test that totally messes up your writing mojo.

My last final brought a big sigh of relief. I can’t believe I made it through this semester and out the other side. I have no idea how I did, but I do know that I feel like I worked harder this semester than any other. My final final brought some comic relief, as well. The first sentence of the third and last question started like this, “John Smith is terminally ill with cancer.” When I first read it my heart sank, and I wondered if maybe I would end up crying while reading the fact pattern. I didn’t cry, though, and was able to write down something resembling an analysis of John Smith’s problem, which was that he wanted to have access to potentially life-saving drugs that had been banned by the FDA, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So finals are over and I fought the crowds to purchase the last Christmas gift today, so now it’s on to cleaning and cooking and preparing for a houseful of family over the next week or so.

And then I have to figure out what I’m going to write about. I’ve had more than enough to choose from over the past 8 months, but now that every day isn’t a struggle life has started to fall back into its normal, boring patterns for the most part. And I am so thankful for those normal, boring patterns. I love and appreciate how wonderful it is when my biggest concern is what I’m going to make for dinner or whose turn it is to carpool. I love being able to eat whatever I want and I love feeling good every day. But all this banality definitely cuts into my interesting writing material.

For today, I’ll leave you with an update about where I am. My hair is growing every day. It’s still short and thin and I keep it covered for warmth, but it’s very visible to everyone who sees my head. It has turned from light blond to dark blond (or possibly brown…it’s hard to tell what the color is right now). I also can’t tell yet if it’s going to be curly or straight. But I do find myself staring longingly at the top of my head in the mirror each night before I go to sleep, willing the hair to grow faster and longer and rubbing my hand over it to feel it. I also have new eyelashes! Unlike my hair, they are growing more rapidly than I would have expected. They are not very thick, but they are getting there. I even threw a tube of mascara in my cart while I was at Target this morning. I don’t think there is much to put it on yet, but I’m hoping that by next week I can actually use it. Small steps, right?

My nails are also growing fairly rapidly, which means that the part that was damaged by that last round of AC is on the top half of my nails now. The damaged part is quite brittle and weak so they keep breaking all the time, but it won’t be long until it’s all gone. I hope that I’ll be left with strong pink nails once the damaged stuff is gone.

Physically I feel great. Finals cut into my yoga time as well as my writing time, so I haven’t done much physical activity in the past couple of weeks. However, I think I am ready to go back to a regular work-out of some kind, and plan to do that once the holiday rush is behind me. Often when I wake up in the morning I find myself doing a self-check, half expecting to have some kind of bone pain or nausea. And each time I am immensely relieved and happy to realize that I’m done with that and that there’s nothing to keep me from feeling great every day. I suppose I have to begrudgingly thank cancer for teaching me to never take my health for granted, and to appreciate all the strength and health and vitality in my body every day.

I have a follow-up visit with the radiologist tomorrow and a follow-up mammogram scheduled for next week. I am already nervous about the mammogram, even while I’m anxious to get it done so that I know where things stand in there. It will be a diagnostic mammogram and I have scheduled it for the same place I had the diagnostic mammogram last April. On that day, the radiologist’s reaction to the films led me to believe that the lump I had found a few days before might be something very bad. My hope is that this trip to the same room has a very different result.

November 29, 2007

Next Steps

This was my last week of classes this semester. Up next...finals.

On one hand this semester feels like it has been the fastest one yet. On the other hand it feels like it has lasted for a year.

I have begun reviewing some of my notes in order to start my outlines, and I am beginning to realize how much I must have had going on in my head during the last few months. I don’t even remember discussing some of the things I have written down. I’m not sure if that’s chemo brain, or just the fact that I had a lot on my plate throughout the semester. Either way, it looks like I have some ground to make up in the next couple of weeks to prepare for these tests.

I saw the oncologist on Monday and he said that I look “pretty much perfect.” I need to have a mammogram done in the next couple of weeks and then I won’t see him again until February. I’m really happy to get to take a break from medical procedures for a few weeks, but it’s a little bit scary to think of being “on my own.” He warned me that there’s a high probability that the radiologists will see “something” on my mammograms in the near future and that they will recommend a biopsy. He explained that this was mostly because I had the bracytherapy radiation. Since it is a relatively new procedure, my mammograms will look different to them and they will recommend a biopsy to evaluate those differences. He told me not to freak out when that happens. And I’m glad he warned me about it, because I would (will?) freak out.

I am still feeling better and better with each passing day. As a matter of fact, I mostly feel completely normal. And then I catch sight of myself in the mirror and realize that I still look very much like a cancer patient, even if I don’t really feel like one. It’s a strange place to be…looking sick but not feeling or being sick.

I am going to be attending a conference in Milwaukee this weekend and I talked to one of the conference organizers about it earlier in the week. After I hung up the phone, I realized that it may have been one of the first times in the past many months that I have talked to someone who doesn’t know me as a cancer patient. She has absolutely no idea that I don’t have any hair, that I have been through a kajillion medical procedures in the past few months, or that I have spent the past few months identifying myself as a cancer patient to just about everyone I talk to. It felt good not to have that as a part of my identity, even though the gig will be up when I arrive at the conference tomorrow night. What I’ve been through will be pretty obvious when they see the scarf and lack of hair/eyebrows/eyelashes!

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I have so much to be thankful for this year.

I am lucky, you know. I am here and cancer free and well on my way to good health.

I have incredible people in my life and days full of love and happiness and a table full of good food in a warm house.

I am thankful for all of you...for your cards and letters and e-mails and phone calls and visits (and votes!) and support. My gratitude to all of you for helping me through the last 8 months transcends one single day of giving thanks, however. I have carried that gratitude through all the days since April and will carry it with me every day for the rest of my life.

Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving from me and my family to you and yours.

November 16, 2007

What Happens In Vegas, Happens at the Planet Hollywood

Or at least that’s what the marketing department of the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino want you to think.

Based on our recent stay there, I don’t agree.

We made reservations to stay at the Planet Hollywood during this trip because the location was excellent and we got a great price on the room. PH took over the old Aladdin Hotel and Casino earlier this year and we heard that they had remodeled and that it was pretty nice, so the grand opening room discount they offered sounded like a good deal. We were disappointed.

The casino has been remodeled with new seats and carpeting and lights. All the old Arabian onion domes and jewels have been removed and replaced with dark wood and wall paper and retro-looking column lights. The color scheme is beige and brown with accents of red and black and is carried out with a lot of geometric shapes and strands of lighted crystals. I think the feel is supposed to be understated retro Hollywood glamour, but personally I think it ends up being a bit more plain and boring retro Hollywood camp.

To me, Las Vegas is all about excess and glitz. From the awesome glass sculptures and the dancing fountains at the Bellagio to the giant Egyptian statues and pyramid at the Luxor and the Roman columns and fountains at Caesar’s Palace, Vegas often feels like Disney World for adults. Each casino is more over-the-top than the next, and you never have to guess at the theme of any given hotel. Based on what we saw this past week, I think Planet Hollywood lost sight of that somewhere along the way. And maybe they meant to get away from all of the cheesy Vegas excess. But they replaced it with dark and depressing, which isn’t very attractive or fun.

Our room was in the back of the hotel, with an ugly view of the theater roof below. That would have been bearable if the room was nice, but it was far from nice. We were on a floor that hadn’t yet been remodeled so the light fixtures still looked like genie’s lamps and the bedspreads were covered with pictures of jewels and silk cords. The carpet in our room was old and worn and dingy and the bathrooms, while clean, needed a good up-dating and some maintenance (and brighter lights!). The hotel staff wasn’t friendly, happy or attentive, although every single maid we encountered in the hallway was friendly and greeted us with warm hello.

We went to the pool the first day we were there and to get there we had to go to a different floor which was redecorated. However, I found the new décor to be worse than the cheesy old Arabian Nights-themed décor. The ceilings were painted a deep, dark gray and the walls were papered in a psychedelic dark gray and red circle print. The carpet in the hallway was dark gray with blood red interlocking circles throughout and the whole effect was dark and drab and made me think of a haunted house or a scene from The Shining. Once we arrived at the pool entrance, however, we were right back in the Middle East with colored tiles and stucco walls.

We decided that we had all the grumpy staff and dark colors we could stand and thought that we would try to find somewhere else to stay for our second night in Las Vegas. I got online and found a room at the Paris for Thursday night for nearly the same price as the one at Planet Hollywood. When I called the PH front desk to tell them we were checking out early, the guy I spoke with told me that we couldn’t check out early. After I argued with him for a few minutes about whether or not I could leave early, he transferred me to a supervisor who told me that we could check out early but that if we did we wouldn’t get the room discount we were initially offered since it required a minimum two-night stay. The discount was $20.00…I decided that $20.00 was well worth it to get out of the depressing atmosphere. Interestingly, the supervisor didn’t ask me why we were leaving or even thank me for staying there. I am beginning to wonder if condescending, reluctant customer service might not be part of their new theme.

So on Thursday morning we packed up our suitcases and dragged them down Las Vegas Boulevard to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino next door. The woman who checked us in gave us a room on one of the top floors overlooking the Bellagio fountains, with a view of the Eiffel Tower right outside the window. The staff was friendly, the room was updated and clean, and all in all it was a much better experience than our stay at the PH.

I know the Las Vegas shine and showiness isn’t for everyone, but I wouldn’t recommend the Planet Hollywood to anyone based on our experience. Unless, of course, you like your hotels to be brooding and serious and full of cheerless staff. In that case, it may just be your kind of place.

November 14, 2007

Recovery Update

I keep getting a lot of questions about how I’m feeling and I realize that I haven’t talked much about that recently, so I thought I’d better post an update.

I am feeling good…much like myself most of the time (except for a few lingering side-effects such as neuropathy and a lack of hair, among others). I get tired very easily, however, and I have to remember that I am not actually back to “full strength” quite yet. It’s easy to forget that sometimes because I feel better and better each day, so I end up overdoing it if I’m not careful. My hair is growing, although I think calling it “hair” at this point might be stretching it. What hair I have is still very fine and light blond and only about 1/8 of an inch long. It’s still pretty sparse up there…you wouldn’t be able to see it unless you looked very carefully. But there’s more of it everyday and it is getting longer.

I had a doctor’s appointment on Monday for a CBC and all my counts were very low. They didn’t give me Neulasta after my last treatment because they didn’t need my counts to recover before another treatment, so I was on my own. Since the counts were so low on Monday, the doctor ordered a shot of Aranesp which helps to bring the platelet counts back up. That particular shot really hurts going in, so I wasn’t thrilled about it. I have to go back for another blood test next week and then I have a follow-up appointment with my oncologist the week after that.

I went to a yoga class today for the first time since my short-lived attempts at exercise when I first started chemo. I was a bit frustrated because I couldn’t hold the poses very long and I don’t have much strength in my arms or legs. The teacher was very kind, though, and told me afterward that she had modified the whole class just for me. Even without a full range of motion or much strength, it felt really great to move and was very relaxing.

This is all far from over, of course, but I feel like the world is slowly beginning to return to its normal orbit and I feel hopeful that things will soon all fall back into place.

November 11, 2007

Las Vegas Recap

Las Vegas was sunny and warm and as relaxing as we could make it. We spent a lot of time eating and sitting by the pool and a little time walking around. We had a couple of excellent meals, saw (a Cirque de Soleil show) and stayed in two different hotels (that story to follow in another post). Neither Randy nor I are gamblers, so the extent of our gambling consisted of the $15.00 I lost within 3 minutes while sitting at a slot machine in the MGM casino waiting for Randy to pick up our show tickets. My legs held out for the limited walking around that we did, although my feet suffered a bit from the cute shoes I wore to the show and to the scholarship award ceremony.

Before we left, I threw my brunette wig in the suitcase thinking that I might want to wear it instead of a scarf if I dressed up for dinner. And indeed, when I got dressed on Wednesday night I decided that the scarves I had just didn’t work with the outfit I was wearing so I put the wig on. It was great to have hair for an evening, even if the wig itself drove me crazy all night. I spent a lot of the time worried about it slipping backward or forward and was so relieved when I was finally able to take it off that night. It was a strange experience to wear it since I have hardly worn a wig at all since I lost my hair. Apparently I have gotten used to people looking at me because I definitely noticed that they weren’t looking at me that night.

Every time I see this I think it’s a picture of Randy and my sister, Molly.
Randy and the Brunette.JPG
Randy and some chick he picked up in Vegas.

The award ceremony (or what I thought was going to be an award ceremony) was held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Thursday night. I was told to be there at 7:30 p.m. and that my award would probably be presented around 9:00 p.m. that evening. Not knowing exactly what to expect, I dressed in one of my favorite lawyer uniforms complete with pearls, pumps and pantyhose.

Randy and I arrived at the Hard Rock early, so we snuck into Nobu for some champagne and sushi (which was amazing) and then sauntered over to the designated room around 7:00 p.m. or so. As soon as we got there I recognized Daniel Kovach, the man who runs CollegeScholarships.org, and introduced myself to him. We talked with him for a few minutes and got the run-down about what was going on during the evening.
With Daniel Kovach.JPG
With Daniel Kovach.

Continue reading "Las Vegas Recap" »

November 05, 2007

Crazy Sexy Cancer...Crazy Sexy Motherhood

I heard about Kris Carr’s book and documentary about her battle with a rare, incurable cancer (epithelioid hemangioendothelioma--yeah, I don't know how to pronounce it, either) a couple of months ago. I mentioned her in this post, and have since read her book, seen her movie, and last week I watched her on Oprah. Her story is amazing and fascinating, and she is truly inspirational in many ways. She was diagnosed at a very young age and has spent the last four years fighting for her life. She has explored medical procedures, diets, spirituality, and new age healing in her quest to live. Her message is positive and attractive—take control of cancer, don’t let it control you.

Because she was so young when she was diagnosed, she has had to deal with things that many older cancer patients don’t have to deal with, such as questions about whether she will ever get married or have children. One thing I have learned about dealing with a serious illness is how significant a patient’s age is in how they deal with the diagnosis. Each stage of our lives brings a completely different perspective to such a diagnosis.

I enjoyed Carr’s book and documentary and I think that there is a lot that cancer patients—and indeed, anyone—can get out of her work. Her message is universal in many ways and can be applied to many different situations. I would recommend this book to anyone who is facing a cancer diagnosis or some other serious illness or who knows someone who is. I want to stress that there is a lot I like about Carr, her book, and her website and that I have gotten a lot of great information from her work. The entire time I read the book and watched the documentary, however, I felt like it was directed at someone other than me. Her experience is informed and shaped by her youth in a way that makes it dramatically different from mine in many ways.


Continue reading "Crazy Sexy Cancer...Crazy Sexy Motherhood" »

October 29, 2007

9,150-ish

…That’s my new favorite number, since it is the number of votes that put me well into first place and that makes me the winner of the $10,000 Blogging Scholarship.

blogging_winner.jpg

And the very first thing I have to do is to thank YOU.

The reason I won is because of the immense outpouring of support from all of you--friends, family and complete strangers all over the world. This award could not have come at a better time for me and my family, and we are all deeply grateful. I plan to use the money to pay some of the principle and interest on my student loans. As one commenter said recently, although $10,000 is a drop in the bucket of law school debt, it’s a pretty good drop nonetheless. And every drop helps!

I know that many of you have been sitting in front of your computer screen watching the votes and comments roll in over these past three weeks, and I appreciate your company. It has been astounding for me to watch it all happen, and is far, far beyond anything I expected or could have predicted.

I came upon a post somewhere about the scholarship accidentally one day a month or so ago just a few days before the application deadline. Later that evening, I sat on the couch, composed my essay, and then submitted it to CollegeScholarships.org as required. I mentioned to Randy in an offhand comment that night that I had applied for the scholarship, and then I forgot about it for a few days. You can imagine how excited I was when I opened my e-mail in-box on October 8th and found out that I was one of the 20 finalists for the scholarship.

That morning I composed an e-mail message which I sent out to 50-75 friends and family and to about 25 “cyber friends” thinking that maybe with their help I could get a couple of hundred votes. I had no idea what it would take to win or if I even had a chance.

And then it started. You all took it and ran with it. You sent it to the people in your address book, they sent it to the people in their address book, and then they sent it on. Some of you posted it on your blogs, and then more people posted it on theirs. I have received hundreds of e-mails from people all over the country telling me their stories and offering encouragement and support. I was surprised and encouraged by the initial reaction, and then I was stunned at the power of the internet and of word of mouth as the days progressed. The $10,000 pales in comparison to the amount of support I have received from all 9,150 of you in the last three weeks while watching all of this unfold.

Shelley Batts and Jess Kim, the second and third place contestants in the contest, will both receive $1000 and the remaining 7 of the top 10 contestants will each receive $100. I had the pleasure of exchanging e-mail with both Shelley and Jess during the contest and think they are both very intelligent and kind young women who will go far in their chosen fields. Both of them have excellent blogs and I encourage you to visit their sites, as well.

Daniel Kovach, the man behind the money, has invited me to come to the Blog World and New Media Expo in Las Vegas next week to accept the award. Thanks to some of Randy’s left-over points from his travelling days and help from our parents, we are going to be able to go and to spend a couple of days there, as well. It will be one of the most slow-paced, conservative visits to Las Vegas ever since I get tired so easily and can’t walk far, but it will be nice to get away for a couple of days.

Thank you all. My gratitude knows no bounds.

October 13, 2007

Desperately Seeking Reality

I had never watched a single episode of Desperate Housewives before last Sunday night. I was left alone in the family room with the remote control and the dogs all to myself that evening, however, so that the testosterone laden members of my family could watch the Chicago Bears game on the big screen in the basement. Given the choice, I decided not to subject myself to first downs and field goals and began looking for something else to watch. Pickings were slim, so I ended up watching the show.

I had been told that one of the characters had breast cancer and I was hoping that would be part of the story because I was curious about how it would be depicted. After doing a little bit of research this week, it appears that Lynette, the character with cancer, actually has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. However, it sounds like the type of cancer she has hasn’t been mentioned in the script since the end of last season, so viewers seem to be a little confused about exactly what kind of cancer she is supposed to have.

Now, I understand that this is a sitcom and that it is about as divorced from reality as it can be, but having a character deal with a cancer diagnosis seems to me to show some little attempt to ground the plot in some semblance of real life. I had several problems with the whole cancer storyline, however, and I’m not quite convinced that the writers were really attempting to show a cancer diagnosis rather than just using it as a vehicle for the treatment of other plot goals. I have to admit that I know very little about Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or about how the treatment for those cancers is similar to or different from the treatment for breast cancer, but from what I can tell Hodgkin’s patients and survivors are as flummoxed by the reality of the cancer storyline as I am.

During the course of Sunday night’s show Lynette had two chemotherapy appointments. She kicked her husband out of the first one because he was being insensitive and then asked her friends to accompany her to subsequent appointments. As far as I could tell, though, the show only covered a couple of days. Why was she having chemotherapy so often? And if she was having treatments that frequently, why was she feeling so great? Yes, she was wearing a scarf on her head. But she had eyebrows and eyelashes and she looked completely normal.

And it wasn’t just her hair...she’s battling an awful disease. Where was her suffering and pain and nausea and bottles of drugs to combat the side-effects? What about all the time out of her life for treatments and blood tests and other doctor’s appointments? Where were the oncology nurses and why was she drinking coffee and eating lemon meringue pie right after her treatment? When her friends saw her outside walking around right after her chemo treatment and asked her how chemo was going, her response was, “It’s not that bad.” Huh?! I want her treatments!

I am not saying that it’s all suffering all the time or that a one-hour sitcom could possibly depict all the difficulties of having cancer, but it would be nice to see a little more reality injected into the whole thing. It’s so much more than just being hooked up to an IV for a couple of hours. My descriptions of the experience on this blog are at about 43,000 words so far, so I think it’s safe to say there is a little more to it than that.

The good thing about it is that I know this is a popular show and that there are millions of people seeing a woman walking around in a scarf every week on TV whose friends are upset about her diagnosis of breast cancer. That’s something, anyway, and maybe in some way Felicity Huffman’s character will make it more mainstream to see a cancer patient on the street. But maybe the producers need to remove the scarf altogether and let her be bald.* And maybe they need to write in a flashback showing her reaction when all her hair falls out or an episode where she experiences a drop in her white blood cells and an infection and a subsequent trip to the hospital for antibiotics. The reality of cancer is so much more than sitting in a vinyl chair hooked up to an IV. In fact, that might be the easiest part.

Yes, I know, it’s Desperate Housewives. Maybe I need to stop looking for reality in black comedies and instead give in to watching the Bears beat the Green Bay Packers. Now that’s reality TV.

*I’ve been told that she did remove her scarf in the season opener to show her bald head. I still think the producers should let her be bald for more than just one scene.

October 12, 2007

Feeling Like A Winner

When I received the e-mail on Monday morning telling me that I was a finalist for this blogging scholarship, I decided that I would post the information on my blog and that I would send out an e-mail to my family and to a few friends in order to try to drum up some votes. I envisioned that maybe I would be able to get a few hundred votes, but had no idea how many I would need to win or if I even had a chance to win. I was so happy with the supportive responses I received from those family and friends and I was grateful when they told me they were going to tell their friends. I never expected the incredible response my little vote request has received in the past few days, though. As this has gathered momentum it has grown and grown and it just takes my breath away.

You can read the comments I have received on the blog, but what you can’t see is the hundreds of e-mails that have also flooded my in-box. I have heard from people whose mothers or sisters or friends have had breast cancer. I have heard from many breast cancer survivors and from some incredible student mothers. I have received e-mails from friends I haven’t seen in months or years and from so many more people all over the country and the world, both people I know and people I have never met.

Many people have posted a link to my blog or to the voting page on their own blogs, including complete strangers. I am continually astonished at the number of people who have gotten behind this, even if they don’t know me.

For the first few days I tried keep up with all the comments and e-mails by responding with at least a thank you, but I am now so far behind that I don’t know if I will ever catch up. I am still hoping to be able to respond to all of you, but it may be awhile before I get through all the e-mails.

I don’t know how to begin to thank all of you for this amazing outpouring of support. My family and I are so grateful to each one of you for your efforts to help me win this contest. Your response has been quite stunning and I don’t have the words to tell you how it makes me feel. With or without this scholarship, just knowing that there are so many people willing to rally around us at a time like this makes me feel like I have already won.

Thank you.

October 10, 2007

I Am Not My Hair

I know, I know…another post about hair. Well, what can I say? I’m a bit obsessed with hair right now, seeing as I don’t have any.

My friend Rachel recently gave me India Arie’s most recent CD. (I love it, by the way, and highly recommend it!) I like the messages in her songs and the music is incredible. A little more than half-way through the disc is a song entitled I Am Not My Hair. The first time I heard it I thought about how appropriate the song was for me right now. And then she started singing about a woman who had breast cancer and lost her hair because of chemo, and I cried. The chorus of the song says it all, and it goes like this:

I am not my hair,
I am not this skin,
I am not your expectations, no.
I am not my hair,
I am not this skin,
I am a soul that lives within.

I think that losing my hair has given me a glimpse…albeit a minor, temporary glimpse…of what it must be like to lose a limb. I imagine, based on my own experience, that someone who has lost an arm or leg must think about arms or legs all the time, their own missing one as well as those of other people. I wonder if people who are missing a limb look at people who have all of theirs and think about their unashamed lack of appreciation for those limbs. You hear stories about people who have lost a body part feeling a phantom body part in its place and I have even experienced that. There are times when I find myself reaching up to sweep my bangs out of my eyes or to tuck my hair behind my ear, only to find that there is nothing there to sweep or tuck. It is a strange feeling to touch air where my subconscious expects to touch hair.

I have been super-conscious of the hair of other people since I lost my own. I look at the hair of both men and women with admiration and longing and jealousy. I am frequently struck by the fact that people don’t seem to appreciate their hair the way that I appreciate their hair.

WhyMommy wrote recently about having dinner out with her husband and watching women walk past the place where she was sitting, touching and worrying about their hair and their appearance. As I read her post, I felt like she was reading my mind. As I have watched women deal with their hair and clothes and makeup over the past several months, I always think about how beautiful they all are and about how they don’t even realize it. I am frequently awed by the millions of colors and textures and styles of hair in the world in a way that I have never been before.

I often reminisce about the days when I felt like my hair looked simply awful. It wouldn’t do what I wanted it to or the weather prevented me from styling it in a certain way or a hair cut was growing out and it looked hideous to me. If I could go back to one of those days and give myself some advice, I would point out that the worst hair day imaginable was better than having none at all. I think that I will never have a “bad hair day” again for the rest of my life.

These thoughts about the beauty of hair lead effortlessly to thoughts about the standards of beauty in our society. I have spent a lot of time over the past several years talking with all three of my kids...especially my daughter…about the ways in which beauty is depicted in the media. We have talked about air-brushed photographs and the wiles of advertisers. I have pointed out the ways in which the people in our lives don’t look like the characters on TV and in movies or like famous actors or models, and about how the people in our lives are quite beautiful nevertheless.

Despite these conversations and my convictions about the problems in advertising and the media, I have found that it has been necessary for me to redefine everything I thought about beauty over the past several months. To look in the mirror and see a stranger…someone who doesn’t conform to her society’s standards of beauty…and to accept and to love that stranger as me has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. To face that person everyday and to see what truly makes her beautiful has been very difficult and at times heart wrenching.

In this constant assessment of my own beauty, I have found myself assessing the beauty of complete strangers in a different way. I look at someone who doesn’t meet society’s standards of beauty and wonder why people don’t see him or her as beautiful. I saw a woman at the train station yesterday who was not especially skinny and who was wearing rather frumpy clothes. Her makeup was slightly garish and her hair was a dull, over-processed blond in an out-dated style. That entire description, however, is based upon what most Americans consider “beautiful” and “stylish.” Most of you would not have thought of her as either of those things.

But she is beautiful. She may be a wife and mother, and I’m sure her husband and kids think that she is beautiful. She is definitely a daughter, and I’m willing to bet that her parents think she is beautiful and amazing and that they love her more than anything. She may be a brilliant banker or lawyer or professor, and I’m sure her clients or students or co-workers appreciate all the beauty of her mind and her talents. Or maybe she works in a retail store somewhere downtown and her customers appreciate her kindness and attention while her co-workers appreciate her hard work and willingness to take on the difficult jobs at work. Although her blouse seemed rather plain and frumpy to me, she probably took great care in choosing it when she got dressed in the morning. Her hair may have been over-processed, but she apparently likes the color and style, and had obviously spent some time getting it that way before she left the house. She is a woman, just like me, and she laughs and loves and desires and plans and talks and cries, just like me. She is not her hair, she is not her skin, she is not your expectations. She is a soul that lives within.

So this cancer diagnosis has given me something else. I like to think that I have always been able to see beyond the surface of people and to see who they really are underneath their hair and makeup and clothes. Being unceremoniously stripped of a feature that I took for granted as a part of what made me beautiful, however, has turned my assessment of true beauty upside down. I will never again look at my own appearance in the same way, and I will never again forget to look beyond the appearance of others in order to truly see the soul that lives within.

September 14, 2007

Bravery, Redux

I've obviously been thinking a lot about bravery recently and I remembered today that I had already written about it awhile ago. (I write a lot of posts that I end up never posting to this blog for one reason or another.) I wrote this right after that first trip to school with no hair.

In one of her comments yesterday, PT-LawMom wrote:

[P]eople judge bravery not based on whether you think you're brave, but based on what they think they would do in your shoes.

Those were exactly my thoughts a month or so ago when I wrote this, but I forgot that I had come to those conclusions. I think that's because it is truly difficult--maybe it's impossible--to see yourself as brave. As I discuss below, I am certain that this is exactly how the people who we think of as heroes feel about their own actions.

****************************

My friends Kathy and Connie both sent e-mails in response to my post about running the gauntlet on the train platform without hair. Both of them talked about strength and grace…my strength and grace…which seems to be a recurring theme from many people in my life these days. Both of them also commented about other people they know going through cancer or other hardships and about their strength in the face of something like that. Both of them talked about how those people deny that it’s strength or bravery, but say that “it’s what anyone would do.”

It’s hard to understand that statement, I think, when you’re not experiencing something like this. But it is true. I think it is what anyone would do. And to be honest, it doesn’t feel like strength or grace or bravery in any way. It feels like what I have to do. If this is strength and bravery, it’s nothing like what I thought those things would feel like.

When I contemplate my heroes, such as the soldiers in Iraq or Eleanor Roosevelt or Elizabeth Cady Stanton or firefighters, I admire their bravery in the face of danger or opposition. I am amazed at their ability to stand by their convictions and to continue on their chosen paths despite the difficulties they face. They are truly brave, in my opinion.

And yet I wonder now if perhaps they don’t (or didn’t) feel brave or strong, but if they just feel that what they do (or did) is what they have to do. Think about the news stories that we see on TV where someone rescues someone else from an awful or dangerous situation. In the interviews with those heroes, they always say that they don’t consider themselves heroes and that their actions were taken instinctively without much thought. I no longer think those statements are just an example of the hero being humble. It seems that bravery is only bravery to those who are outside looking in. My experience in handling a difficult situation doesn’t feel like the bravery I admire in other people. I don’t think any less of my heroes as a result of this revelation. If anything, I admire them even more, because I think that what I see as bravery and strength comes from somewhere deeper. It is much more than just steeling yourself for the battle. It comes from deep within you and is all caught up with conviction and belief and the ability, that I think we all have, to tap an inner well of strength and willpower. Some people tap into this reserve through their religious beliefs, some through more secular beliefs, but I think it is often a dangerous or difficult situation that allows us to find that well.

I think that as humans we are more resilient and strong than we know and that when you are faced with what you think is one of the worst things, you handle it because you have to. I find that I have untapped reserves of strength to handle this because of Karly and Blake and Matthew and Randy and my parents and siblings. At the very beginning of all of this Randy told me that he thought the kids are handling this as well as they are because they take their cues from me. It is imperative to me that I show my children that I am going to be okay, that I am okay, and that because of that they are safe and loved and that their lives will continue to be stable despite the upheaval of this cancer diagnosis and treatment.

But it’s not always easy. I don’t always feel strong. I have devastating moments of weakness and sadness and fear and anger, just like you would. They pass, and luckily, for me, there are more moments of strength, for lack of a better word.

What seems like it would be the most frightening about all of this, of course, is facing mortality. It is frightening to contemplate my death, and to have it be a very real possibility in a way that it has never been before. But it’s not really the most frightening thing when you have to face it. What’s worse is knowing that after December I just have to wait and watch and hope this cancer doesn’t come back in my breast or somewhere else in my body. It’s the idea of living with the unknown, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop, that is scary.

And even more frightening is the idea of leaving my children here to fend for themselves without me. Indeed, this is a paralyzing fear and something I have thought about every single day since I found the lump in April. It was my very first thought the moment I found the lump. I know that if I died they would be surrounded by friends and family who would love them and care for them. But I am their mother and that is little comfort, knowing that no one could ever love them the way that I do. It is horrible to think about not being here when they go to college, start careers, fall in love, get married, have children. They need me to be here for them. I need to be here for them.

I am astounded that so many of you seem to see something like strength or grace or bravery in my words. If that is what is coming across in what I write, then I am thankful. It doesn’t feel like any of those things most of the time, it just feels like the thing I have to do right now. I don’t think that I know any way to handle it other than they way that I have. And there is no planning out how I want to handle the next thing, whatever that may be. I have to take each day, each new side-effect, each new development, as it comes.

Where I do find strength and grace is in your words to me. You have all given me, and continue to give me, so much. Every single time I talk with one of you or read an e-mail or listen to a voicemail your words lift me up in ways that you might not even realize. I am so blessed to have the family and friends that I have. I have always thought that, but you have showed me the depths of your love and friendship throughout all of this, and I am humbled and honored and strengthened by you all every day, more than you will ever know.

August 09, 2007

Hey Batter, Hey Batter!

The second treatment is over. As Patty said when she unhooked my IV today, I'm now half-way through the AC regimen. The treatment itself was mostly uneventful, but I have stories to tell about my time at the doctor's office. I'm very tired, though, so the stories will have to wait for now.

When I got home this afternon I sat down on the couch with my laptop ready to start writing in order to regale you with the fun chemo stories I had been thinking about during my treatment. However, I barely got my computer turned on before Blake walked in the back door with a gash across his eyebrow that looked like it needed stitches. So I turned off the computer and took him to the emergency room. Sure enough, he's now sporting 8 stitches and a black eye and the doctor told him no contact at football practice for 10 days, which mean he's going to miss the pre-season game next Saturday.

How did he do it, you ask? He and some friends were playing baseball with an aluminum bat and a soccer ball. He hit the ball, the bat ricocheted back off the ball and conked him in the head. I'll post a picture later.

He's okay, and I was just happy that I wasn't the one having to have a medical procedure this time!

July 27, 2007

You Are the Best Part

For the past couple of months, I have been trying so hard to stay on top of my correspondence with all of you. I am woefully behind at this point, and will probably never catch up. Most of you know enough about me to know how much that drives me crazy. I want so desperately to be able to respond to each comment and e-mail, write thank you notes for your gifts, and return your phone calls and I just can’t keep up. And I am afraid it’s going to get even more difficult as chemo gets under way. I hate to have to send a generic thank you like this, but I want you all to know how much I appreciate everything that you all are doing for me and my family.

I don’t think I can even find the words to begin to express the depths of my gratitude to all of you, from my IRL (translation for those of you not hip to the techno-lingo: In Real Life) friends and family to my internet friends to the complete strangers who have visited this site. Your cards, gifts, letters, dinners, blog comments, e-mails, help with the kids and phone calls have been amazing and mean so much to me. Every single day I am overwhelmed by your love and support, and I read your words and listen to your messages several times. In the darkest moments (and there are some dark ones), and even in the not so dark ones, knowing that you are all out there truly gets me through.

I read The Diary of Anne Frank for the first time when I was in sixth grade in Miss Ellenwood’s class at Aboite Elementary School. I believe that was the first time that I had ever heard of Anne Frank, and I remember being incredibly moved by her words and by her story. I became fascinated with the Holocaust and I was horrified (and still am) by the atrocities that took place during that time. Knowing everything that Anne Frank and her family went through before and while they were in hiding and knowing that they were well aware of the horror of what was going on in Europe at that time makes the last words of her diary even more poignant. “[I]n spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Those words struck me immediately when I read them at 12 years old and I never forgot them because I have always felt the same way. Your powerful and unrelenting support for me since the moment I announced my diagnosis has proven to me over and over again how true those words are. People are more than really good at heart; people are quite amazing. Their generosity and kindness and love for their fellow human know no bounds.

No one wants to go through anything like this (and believe me, now I know that you REALLY don’t want to go through anything like this), but I hope that anyone who finds themselves on a similar path discovers the wealth and the joy in the love of their friends and family that I have found. I think I am actually one of the lucky ones, because I get to see and feel the outpouring first hand.

There are many bad parts of cancer. All of you, however, are the best part.

Thank you.

July 13, 2007

The Light at the End of the (Radiation) Tunnel

Today marks my fourth day of radiation. The last two treatments will take place on Monday and then that’s it for me. Radiation will be done. I’m still very tired, but it could just as easily be from not being able to sleep well for a week (because of the catheter) as from the radiation.

One side-effect of this type of radiation is skin irritation, just like the skin irritation experienced by patients who receive standard radiation. In regular radiation, I'm told, the skin irritation feels like a really bad sunburn. As Alison described it, “At first, it’s like getting a bad sunburn, but instead of staying out of the sun, you go the next day for your new sunburn.”

With the MammoSite treatment, of course, the radiation is inside your body. However, the radiation burn travels up through the tissue and eventually comes out as a burn on your skin. My skin above the balloon started to hurt a little bit last night, but I just tried to ignore it. As the day has progressed, however, it has gotten worse and now it does feel like I just spent 8 hours in the sun with no sunscreen, except that only my left breast was exposed to it. And it’s pretty uncomfortable. I’m really glad I don’t have to go back for a couple of days.

My plan this weekend is just to rest, to catch up on Evidence reading and lectures (and I need to start preparing for the final which is coming up in less than two weeks!) and to gear myself up for Monday’s catheter removal, which I am told will hurt.

Because we want to try to fit as many medical procedures as possible into as short a time as possible, however, Randy had a vasectomy today. He will be resting this weekend right along with me. He is currently “elevated” in his recliner with a pack of ice and the remote control at hand. So far he’s feeling okay, but many of you have so generously shared your vasectomy horror stories with him and he’s just hoping that he doesn’t end up in one of them. If nothing else, at least we can catch up on our Netflix cache.

June 27, 2007

A Thousand Words

I have finally set up a photo gallery. You can see the evolution of my hair (so far) over the last 6 months and photos of various family members by clicking here. There's also a permanent link over on the right.

June 02, 2007

What You Can Do For Me

Based on the reaction I’ve received about the end of my previous post, I want to expand on those thoughts a little more.

One common thread running through every one of your phone calls and e-mails and cards and kind words is your offer to help. You all ask me, “Can I do anything?” Well, I can finally answer your question. I know what you can do.

If you are a woman, learn how to do a breast self-exam; and then do it. Pick up the phone right now and schedule an annual mammogram if you haven’t done it yet. Take a few hours off work; get a sitter for the kids…whatever you need to do to make the time. Don’t put it off.

If you are a man, make sure that the women you love--your wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend--are keeping a close eye on their breast health. There is no cure for breast cancer—the only way to get rid of it is to find it and to treat it.

As Americans we need to get over our discomfort in talking about breasts in order to keep an open dialog about this. If it's out of sight and out of conversation, it's out of mind. Join me in keeping the conversation going.

And don’t make the mistake, as I did, of thinking that it can’t happen to you. It can. By all accounts I should be at a low risk for breast cancer. I have three children and I had them before I was 35. I breastfed all three of them. I’m no health nut (as those who have seen my proclivity for martinis, champagne, and decadent chocolate desserts can attest to), but I live a healthy lifestyle—I exercise regularly and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. I drink very, very little caffeine and I avoid NutraSweet like the plague. I have never smoked, I’m only 41, and I take calcium and vitamin D supplements. And yet I have breast cancer. (There is the possibility that my cancer could be caused by a gene. I will eventually have genetic testing done to determine if that is the case.) But whether it’s caused by a gene or not, the point is that you can’t do anything about it until you find it. And to find it you must look for it by doing monthly self-exams and by having annual mammograms. I found a lump in my breast by accident...but if I had been doing regular self-exams I probably would have caught it sooner.

If you want to do something for me, please do this: be vigilant about breast cancer. Do it for all the people who love you, but most of all, do it for yourself. I don’t want anyone I know to ever have to go through what I am going through.

I posted these links yesterday, but I think they're worth reposting:
Click here for a link to an online video from the Susan G. Komen foundation about how and when to do a self-exam.
Click here for an article from breastcancer.org about how to do breast self-exams.

In addition, click here for a printable PDF file containing BSE (Breast Self-Exam) instructions.

May 24, 2007

Meals on Wheels

Many of you who live locally have offered to prepare meals for our family during this time. Quite a few of you brought us meals after my first surgery and it was definitely wonderful to be able to feed my family a good dinner on those days when food preparation was the last thing on my mind. One day during that week we ended up with seven (7!) meals being delivered on one day! Luckily I was able to freeze several of them so we could spread them out over a few days.

In order to prevent the same thing from happening, one of my friends, Cynthia, has offered to coordinate future meals if we need them. I have mentioned to several of you that I don’t foresee needing meals again unless and until I’m going through chemotherapy and having a rough time.

If you would like to help out by preparing a meal sometime in the future during that time, you can contact Cynthia via e-mail here. Her e-mail address is also posted as a link over in the right hand column.

It’s difficult for me to post this. But we appreciate your kindness and generosity. Thank you.

Thank You

I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all of you who are reading this. Your outpouring of love, friendship and support has been incredible and unlike anything I have experienced before. I am humbled by the depth of your care and concern and have no idea how to thank you for it. Please know, however, that your support has been the reason that I have been able to make it through these past couple of weeks with some semblance of strength and with the will to keep moving forward aggressively. It seems that in my darkest moments one of you calls or writes, and your words allow me to focus forward again rather than backward. I have heard from old friends and new from around the country and around the world, from classmates and family and internet friends and neighbors, and each contact renews my conviction that there is a lot of good in this world. I am blessed to have you all in my life, and I think about that every single day these days.

October 30, 2005

Move Over, Martha

Today was one of those great days that brought productivity both as a mom and a law student. Because of the time change I was up early and got laundry washed, folded and put away, took a shower, and finished up a Jedi warrior costume all before 9:30 a.m. The rest of the day has been spent working on Civil Procedure reading and writing, as well as some research and case briefing for Legal Writing. Randy has had dinner simmering on the stove all day and we'll be sitting down with a bottle of wine and a movie later this evening. On the docket for tomorrow, pre-trick-or-treating, is more Legal Writing stuff, a Civ Pro hypo, and lots of Torts reading.

And yes, in case you're wondering, despite my lamentations about being a bad mother, I got my Martha Stewart groove on and whipped up a Jedi warrior costume this weekend for Matthew, our resident Star Wars fanatic. All the Jedi costumes were cleared off the store shelves, so I broke down and went to the fabric store to get a pattern to make one. Apparently there are lots of Jedi wannabes out there, because the fabric store was completely out of Jedi costume patterns. My solution? Matthew will be wearing a Wise Man robe from a nativity play costume pattern. I didn't show him the pattern picture, so he totally believes that he is Obi Wan Kenobi. When he tried his costume on this morning he proudly brandished his light saber while jumping into the proper Jedi defense position, then he excitedly proclaimed that he looked "just. like. Obi Wan Kenobi!" Hopefully when he's 35 he'll remember the coolness of the Force and forget about all the macaroni and cheese we've been eating for dinner lately.

September 04, 2005

On Being Different

I've been thinking a lot these past couple of weeks about fitting in. Because I feel like I don't. And it's okay, it doesn't really bother me; I've spent a lot of time in my life not fitting in.

It's human nature, of course, to look around at other people and to look for those with whom you have some kind of connection. That's just what we all do when we spend any time with a group of people. And many of us (maybe all of us?) compare ourselves to the people we meet. It's the unconscious comparison, I think, that allows us to find those we have something in common with. In my contacts with my classmates in the past couple of weeks, I have discovered several things about them and about myself.

I am, quite obviously, the oldest person in my section. How many times did I blog about that before I started? I kept saying that I didn't want to be the oldest one, and that I was certain that I wouldn't be. And I'm not the oldest one in my class. I know for a fact that there is at least one student who is, as the dean told us all on the first day, in his or her 50s. That student (or students) is in the evening section, however. Along with all the other students who are anywhere near my age. When I sit in class and look around at everyone else, they all look so young. They all are so young. I sit next to one woman in several of my classes who is only 6 years younger than me. And I know of one man who is 10 years younger than me. The average age in my class is 24, so most everyone else is significantly younger. I believe that in my Civil Procedure class I am the oldest person in the room, because I think even the professor is younger than me.

Continue reading "On Being Different" »