22 September 2017

And Cancer Sucks

I confess that I wrote yesterday's post a week ago, scheduling it to run yesterday because yesterday would have been my mother's birthday.

But on Tuesday - two days before Moky's birthday - I learned that an old friend had died. She had had lung cancer for years - almost a chronic condition. She was in good shape, making plans to travel to Europe, volunteering as an archivist, doing what she did. And Monday morning, she woke up and had trouble breathing and called 911 and died.

She's the one that told me about Lungevity when my sister was diagnosed and was looking for support. She contributed to my Lungevity walk-a-thon with a donation a couple of weeks ago. She'd never smoked.

I am just shattered.

Lung cancer sucks.

Arlene, I miss you.

21 September 2017

Birthdays Are Hard

A couple of weeks ago, my sister gave me a bag of ephemera: my baby book, a box of our grandfather's letters & schoolwork in German, a folder of congratulations on the 1925 birth of a baby girl whose mother once upon a time lived across the street from my mother, and an envelope of photos. This here picture is my mother, in about 1995, with my cat Yoyo. I think it was taken in the crazy days leading up to my wedding, because it was in with some outtakes from that event.

Today would have been my mother's 82nd birthday, but that she hadn't died 8+ years ago, of lung cancer.

In her memory, and because cancer sucks, and because my sister has lung cancer, I'm doing something I have never ever ever done before: I'm participating in a walk-a-thon, raising money for Lungevity.

If you know someone who has had, or who has, or who has died from lung cancer - and you surely do - please help. Lungevity funds scientific research, educates on early detection, provides patient support - helping "people live better with lung cancer and dramatically improve on the current 18% five-year survival rate", and they have a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.

Click the Donate button above, or use this link: https://lungevity.donordrive.com/participant/36990

When you've done that, treat yourself to a popsicle. Red. In memory of Moky.

And thank you.

01 September 2017

The Stories I See

My commute to NYC is not short, but it affords me the luxury of time to read. I read the inky, unwieldy Times, I read books from the library. I read long form articles that I print on the backs of discarded spreadsheets and copy drafts, because I digest paper words better than digital. I do the crossword, easily on Monday and sometimes with glee on Friday (though I occasionally cheat and check cranky Rex, justifying it as a learning tool - cheating today will mean more chance of success tomorrow.)

Today, I pulled a paperback out of my bag - not a library book, but something I'd bought at a warm and funky independent bookstore in Saugerties. Because it's mine, I felt no compunction about marking a phrase that jumped off the page at me:

"It was interesting to consider ... that a story might merely be a series of events we believe ourselves to be involved in, but on which we have absolutely no influence at all."

The subway pulled into 14th street. On the platform, I could see a 20-something couple, lips locked in a theatrical embrace, one of her feet in the air. They stood rock still, like they were posing, and as I exited the train, I looked for their photographer. But there was only me to record the scene.

Later, as I walked up Broadway, I mentally dress-coded a young woman 10 feet ahead of me. Tight black knee-high boots, black t-shirt, and tailored plaid short-shorts, her butt cheeks were visible at every step. Between us, an older woman in jeans delicately reached back and traced the arced outline of her own butt cheek. I wondered - was her action a subconscious reaction to Plaid Shorts? Or merely an itch?

The passage above, from Outline, came from a bit where the novelist/narrator is teaching a class in creative writing, and has asked her students to "tell me something they had noticed on their way here".

Reading begets noticing; noticing begets writing. I stand outside myself, etching stories into my head, speaking them softly into my phone, involved yet not at all.

When Plaid Shorts turned into my office building and got on the elevator with me, I refrained from commenting on her attire. Because her story is hers to tell and my place was not to interfere.

And yet I am involved.