Friday, October 30, 2009

Beyond Settling

So really. How do you know when you're supposed to be content with something, seize the opportunity available instead of the one you might have wanted, and take things as they come, versus when you're supposed to hold out for something better? How do you know the difference between contentment, resignation, and settling? I've asked these kinds of questions before. Here's a new context for them.

You may have noticed that I keep obliquely mentioning I need to replace my car. Bela Corolla, serviceable as he has been, is rather ailing these days. Even though three years ago he got all new brakes, new tires, a new battery and a new starter, and even though last year he got his wheels re-applied (when they almost fell off) and a couple of other things, this year he's burning oil so that I have to put at least a quart in every week, I can't see how fast I'm going at night (due to all the interior lights having died), and the struts are shot. The car basically clunks along, no matter how smooth the road surface . . . and in Central Massachusetts the road surface is not always very smooth (regardless of ongoing attempts to fix this). There are also more minor cosmetic issues, like the fact that when a droplet of water hits a fabric surface in the car, it spreads to an unremovable stain 1000 times its size. And the fact that one of the lights on the passenger's side is taped on with packing tape.

Car-Shop-Dave, from my church, has been helping me in my quest for a replacement vehicle, and the other day when they were moving cars around at his dealership, he discovered a 2005 Nissan Altima with only 52,000 miles and an excellent Carfax, that he thought would be just what I was looking for. Even though they want to sell it to me for $1000 more than the maximum price I was willing to pay (since I am not entirely sure I have the money for this venture to begin with), yesterday I went in to look at the car.

As soon as I sat in it, I uttered an involuntary sigh, and thought to myself, "I had no idea my car was so uncomfortable!" Car-Shop-Dave and his car shop let me take it home for the night so I could have my mechanics check it out this morning, and naturally, the more I drove it, the more I loved it. But . . . it is still $1000 more than I was willing to pay for it. And . . . I discovered that Bela's trade-in value is only $1000. Not only are all those things wrong that I mentioned before, but I'm sure my Corolla's Carfax tells all and sundry that one particularly rough year, I crashed him. Twice.

There are people who would say God doesn't care about my car needs, mundane as they are, and I'm not one who subscribes to "prosperity gospel." (I find it kind of horrifying, honestly.) However, I do believe He cares about the details of our lives, and I also believe He is able to do, as the Bible says a few times "more than we ask or imagine." I have a pretty good imagination, so that's saying something.

So let's say I had this pipe dream of an expressly environmentally-friendly, safe car which I could somehow get for under $10,000, at payments of only $200 a month. Unlikely, but God can do anything, right? So . . . do I hold out for this? Or, when the opportunity arises to get a car with an excellent reputation and history, which is more comfortable and more spacious than I could have hoped for, but which costs slightly more than I had wanted, and when my car's trade-in value is less than I'd hoped for (though honestly probably better than I should've expected), and they tell me I can make payments of $202 per month, do I take it? Does $202 count as "more than $200 a month"? Or is this some kind of divine dig-in-the-ribs, where God's saying, "Oh no, darling--you don't get out of making an actual decision that easily." (Interestingly, today I saw a car with a license plate saying "UDCIDE." It felt a little more personal than the last one. Who are these people?) Another factor is that the dealership's interest rate isn't that good for financing, but my bank that could give me a better one apparently doesn't deal with them. On the other hand, the car's so good that if I don't decide to buy it by tomorrow at 2 p.m., the dealership owner wants it.

So really. What am I supposed to do? I'm asking. This car's pretty great. I want it. I do. But it's kind of none of the things I asked or imagined. Does this mean I'm settling, or that it's more than I asked or imagined? It doesn't feel like more. It just feels like different.

I have less than 24 hours to figure this out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cancer Updates

Since pretty much last Thursday, everyone's been asking, "So, how were the ultrasound results?" And I kept having to say, "Not this past Wednesday. Next Wednesday."

Today I went to the Ultrasound Place and they said, "Oh. You were supposed to be here last week."


Fortunately, they were able to "squeeze me in," which turned out to be a pretty apt turn of phrase, since I got a mammogram as well as the ultrasound. Neither diagnostic test showed anything alarming at all. The technician said, "We're about 96% accurate, so I really think it's safe to say you are okay."

I'm going with it. Thank God.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Have I Told You Lately That I Love . . . My Dog?

Well, I do. I love how he follows me around everywhere and comes when called (didn't used to do that) and is starting to figure out the whole "playing" thing. I call him buddy and sweetie-pie more often than I call him Oscar, which, you know, is really saying something.

The other day I was looking at, not because I want to "cheat on" my beloved dog, but because twice in one week close friends suggested I should get a second dog so that Oscar can keep learning how to be one. I had previously considered this myself, since he likes other dogs so much. I can't afford a second one, and I kind of like having him as my "familiar," going to hotels with me when I go to Emmylou Harris concerts and going to my Grandmothers' with me and such.

This morning we were at the full-service gas station right near the church and as the guy pumped the gas into my car, I explained to Oscar why cars need gasoline. It wasn't until I was finished that I realised how ridiculous that was. Sometimes I think I subconsciously imagine he's a toddler and if I repeat the same words enough times, one of these days he's going to come out and start talking. This would probably still happen with a second dog, but I kind of like the weird verbal bonding I have going on with this dog who doesn't bark.

So, I have no immediate plans for altering Oscar's and my tight little Pack, but there were some other cute dogs on Petfinder. Little white, curly-haired dogs to attractively contrast with Oscar's black curly-haired-ness.

I clicked on one of these and read the description of her. It said she had been a breeding dog. It said she had spent her whole life in a crate. It said she was shy and quiet and had a little trouble with housebreaking. It said she was good with other dogs, and needed to be touched on her own terms.

Oscar was a breeder's dog, and I have wondered all these things about him. Right now he's going through a phase where he won't sit with me on the couch (even though he refuses to let me out of his sight), and before that, when he would sit on the couch, he'd lie at the far corner, as far away from me as possible. But in the mornings after our walk and before my work-out, he comes up and leans against me to be patted, and when I'm washing the breakfast dishes (or, um, more typically the dishes from the night before), he sits right up against my legs.

Things that seem like they should be instinctual for a dog don't seem to come naturally to him, and he'll probably always be quirky. But this is my dog we're talking about. How could he not be quirky? Meanwhile, we've bonded, and he's blooming, and he really is a sweetie-pie.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oscar is Now a Local Celebrity

Click on the link and scroll down. We're so proud . . .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Like many people, I have an "alternate email address." This is the address I give to grocery stores and Borders Booksellers when I sign up for their rewards cards and don't really want to get their advertising interspersed with the email I actually want to read. This means, though, that sometimes I miss out on some deals I might be interested in. (Not usually, though.)

Today I was checking Alternate Email and noted that CVS was offering to let me "Choose My Free Gift!" Woohoo! Of course I knew enough to be fairly certain it was going to be a choice between items they might want to give me for free which I might or might not be actually interested in. Sure enough. The choice was between a four-pack of CVS-brand disposable toothbrushes (Aren't all toothbrushes ultimately disposable? What makes these special? Do they dissolve in water? And isn't that counterproductive?) and a chocolate bar. So . . . basically? Between dental hygiene and not dental hygiene, evidently.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Celebrity You May Actually Have Heard Of

I seem to recall having made name-dropping disclaimers on this blog before, but the fact is, as you've probably observed, I like having connexions to famous people. Does anyone not like this, actually? I mean, maybe someone doesn't. I just don't know what that's like. So, just this once I'm going to stop fighting it and stop pretending I don't actually care, and am going to let it all out, okay? We've covered the (tenuous) Rob Bell connexion and the (late) Lloyd Alexander connexion. Here, as far as I can remember, are the rest of them.

My uncle, Phil Madeira, is one of those famous people you have to be in kind of an elite crowd to have actually heard of. No, I'm really serious--he hangs out with famous people and writes songs for them and plays in their bands, and his name is in all kinds of album credits, but unless you really pay attention to stuff like that (and, lately, listen to country music), you might not necessarily know his name.

When I was in high school, I was also a lot more into "Contemporary Christian Music" than I am now, so it was pretty cool to get autographed black and white tour photos of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Even cooler, since my tastes have always been a little fringe-y, was hanging out with Phil Keaggy and his family, and Ben Pearson and his, at a party during fall break. And best of all was having breakfast at a Nashville pancake house with Steve Taylor and his amazingly talented artist-wife Debbie. (We went to their house briefly afterwards, which is how I found out Debbie was amazingly talented.) Since I'm being all braggy right now, I'd just like to observe that I met both Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson before Donald Miller did (for his Blue Like Jazz movie) . . . but neither of them offered to make a movie of my life.

A few years later, I went to a Steve Taylor/Newsboys concert and, after a brief reintroduction, Steve remembered me and suggested that all my friends and I get together with him for a photo. (Maybe I'll scan it in here one of these days . . . although I'm pretty sure I was in a bad-hair phase at the time.) He should have. My brother and I had black and white tour photos of him, too, and he had signed my brother's "Any nephew of Phil Madeira's is a nephew of mine." So when it came time for me to get my photo (the day of the pancakes), he just wrote, "Any niece of Phil and El's . . . Your loving Uncle Steve."

In more recent years, Uncle Phil has been has been hanging out with the likes of Buddy Miller, who I met in Greenfield, MA a few years ago. But this year, both of them are playing as two of Emmylou Harris' "Red Dirt Boys." They were played in Portland, ME on Saturday, and Uncle Phil managed to get me two passes to get in. My friend Folk-Musician Gale drove up with me and Oscar, we put Oscar up in the hotel room I had booked for the night, and we went to the concert.

It was truly amazing. The music, if nothing else. Also, can I just say that Emmylou Harris is, physically speaking at least, my new post-sixty-year-old hero--she could belt out an entire concert of songs and wear a sleeveless tunic and strum a guitar, and she never acted tired and there was no upper-arm jiggle. Not even a little. How does she do that? (I should note that my parents are my other post-sixty-year-old heroes . . . but I'm pretty sure even my mother wouldn't try the bare-armed guitar-strumming thing.)

Also, I was so proud of my uncle. Other band members just played their drums, or their guitars, but Uncle Phil? He played piano, guitar, accordian, and sang in a trio with the lady herself. It's cool to be related to him because of the connexions, but it's cooler to be related to him because of himself. Still, I don't mind, as a final punch, posting this photo:

Is the Definition of Crazy Ever to Do Something Different?

I was studying at Denver Seminary when I first stumbled across NaNoWriMo. This semi-acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's this crazy internet endeavour to get a bunch of writing freaks to churn out 50,000 words of unedited fiction between November 1 and November 30. At the time, I thought it sounded cool, but I also thought I was in grad school, and I probably was also in the process of packing up my life to move back East. (Unless it was earlier in the year. In which case I was having personal problems and might not have had the emotional stamina for such an endeavour anyway.) So I sat there for a minute, imagined how much crazier my life would be if I signed on, said, "Nah," and probably shut down the computer. Or sent an email. Or wrote a paper. Or something. I didn't even have a blog back then.

I'm fairly sure NaNoWriMo crossed my mind at some point in the next three years, but I know I never returned to the site. Then I started this blog, and met other people through their blogs (or, as in the case of Scott, sort of got reintroduced) and then suddenly I knew people who actually did the NaNoWriMo thing. (A Musing Mom and Scott are the two who come to mind, but if you're a blogging buddy and a Wrimo and I'm leaving you out, please register your dudgeon (not dungeon) in the comments).

After that, every November someone I knew was talking about NaNoWriMo, and people like A Musing Mom have kids even, and I felt really wussy for never taking on the challenge. But I just couldn't, you know? You don't really get enough sleep as an up-at-3.45a.m. Starbucks employee anyway. And what do you do about Thanksgiving? And how about, you know, a social life?

Plus, although it has occurred to me that if I just sat down and started writing whatever came into my head for 30 days, it might be interesting to see what happened, I haven't had any story ideas in years. Ever since Trees, people have been asking me, "What are you writing now?" And the truthful answer is that all I have are two stalled novels, one of which has been stalled for eight years and the other for five. Even though, over the summer, I had a sudden and uncharacteristic burst of motivation and sent out a bunch of proposals to literary agents (after I found out the one I had was fraudulent) for one of them, I haven't heard anything back from any of them and that, my friends, is not a good sign.

At some point a few weeks ago, I had the fleeting thought that I should try NaNoWriMo this year; for one thing, I'm not a Starbucks employee anymore. And for a little while I thought I might be up for surgery again (who knows? I still might); what better way to spend recuperation time (besides, you know, working from home) than to churn out words? But then I remembered I'd probably be starting a Semlink course at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and so I'd probably be spending my recuperation time working on that.

Then suddenly, within the last two days, I've had a new story idea. I think a bunch of people have wondered whether I'd get a novel out of my cancer experience. I wondered about the same thing. But I'll bet none of us imagined the kind of idea I just got for it. I've been mulling over the concept of chemotherapy and how opposed to it I've become, and how Weapon of Mass Destruction on a Microcosmic Scale it seems, and suddenly I had a fantasy novel going on in my head instead of a "young woman survives (or doesn't) the ravages of cancer" story. Hmm, I thought. Too bad I'll be taking Semlink courses soon. And then this morning I found out the scholarship the church was planning on using to fund my education has already been disbursed this year, so I have to wait until sometime next year anyway. And so all of a sudden, at four o'clock this afternoon, I found myself registering for NaNoWriMo. Yikes.

Fifty thousand words sounds like a lot. But the powers that be over at that site say this:

Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

I suspect this is true. So I'm telling you.

One Step at a Time . . .

So on Wednesday I went to see the Surgeon. He said, "I don't feel anything." But he scheduled me an ultrasound of the area just in case. That will be happening next week (on Wednesday).

Either I was over-reacting (which the Surgeon said he'd prefer for me to do, given my history), or he's somehow missed it (last year he didn't think I had anything to worry about either), or, as our Pastor Barry says, "maybe there was a small miracle."

In any case, the verdict is still out. I'll continue to keep you posted. So far there's nothing definitive, but at least it sounds like there may well be good news . . .

Thanks again for all your prayers and support the last week.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Global . . . Snowing

So, I know that Colorado already had snow in September or something. Maybe more than once. But they also had the biggest blizzard I've ever experienced in my life, in 2003, so I might kind of expect it.

Last night, on October 16th, it started snowing here. What.

It was still snowing this morning when Oscar and I took our First-Thing-in-the-Morning walk, and we were both probably still too groggy to do much with it, though it occurred to me to wonder whether Oscar had ever seen snow before, from his kennel in Arkansas.

When I let him out a little later, he was much more fascinated by the stuff, getting thoroughly distracted from his "Business" by the fascination of munching the cold white stuff off the grass. He probably would've tried to eat it off the whole yard, if I had let him. In which case he really would've had some Business to attend to.

The snow was mostly melted by 10 a.m., but it had stuck around enough to accumulate a little before that, and it was weird-looking. I mean, the trees haven't even finished undressing for the winter yet. They've scarcely begun. The effect was kind of like putting a slinky ball-gown on over the flannels and overalls you were just wearing to muck out the barn.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here We Go Again

It used to be that every year between September and April, I would get a run of about four flu/cold-type maladies that would last for at least three weeks each. Sometimes I would be sick for about 80% of that time. They incorporated everything: sneezing, coughing, runny nose, congestion, digestive issues--you name it. Because Starbucks never closes and can't really function if one of its scheduled people doesn't show up, I would go to work anyway, feeling terrible and trying not to alarm customers or sneeze into their beverages. (Sometimes I probably tried less hard than others.)

Now, is the new thing cancer every winter?

Last year, during all that cancer diagnosis/surgery/radiation nonsense, I didn't get sick once. I think I might have gotten a cold sometime in March, but it only hung on for about five days. I didn't even get a flu shot.

This year I got a flu shot, because I wasn't planning on getting cancer again and I figured I wouldn't have anything to trade in the colds for. But on Monday morning . . . I discovered another lump. Same side, different location.

I'm hoping it's nothing. Just like I hoped the last one was nothing. But none of the doctors are saying that to me anymore. Nope. Already had this problem once--now they want to see me as soon as possible. I expect my Surgeon (or his nurse practitioner) will call me imminently to set this up.

Meanwhile, if you get into praying at all, would you please pray that this will go away? Completely? I don't want to do this again, and I sense the Valley of the Shadow of Chemo coming into view. Can I just tell you? I'd rather die than have chemo at this point. I'll talk some more about that later. Just for now . . . please pray for me. I've known of--and expected--greater miracles than this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Do You REALLY Feel?

I have an idea that it's politically incorrect to make a statement like, "I love Jewish novelists," even though it's a positive statement and it is, to date, true. Or at least I can accurately say I love the novels that Jewish novelists write. Chaim Potok, Bernard Malamud, and now Saul Bellow, are the writers whose books I love. I suspect I should and would love the works of Elie Wiesel also, but somehow I seem to have missed them thus far. Don't ask me why. (We could also include the Coen brothers in this, but they're not exactly novelists, and some of their stuff gives even me pause, though I have huge amounts of respect for them.)

Now what I'm trying to figure out is why I like Jewish fiction so much, and maybe also why, by and large, I find Christian novels so unappealing. There are exceptions, like C.S. Lewis (obviously!) and Tolkein (of course!), and I'm sure there are some out there today who write compelling or thought-provoking stories. I think the "Christian Publishing Industry" (can an industry be a Christian?) is trying to raise the bar these days on the kinds of books that hit the bookstore shelves, and three cheers to that, I say! But I haven't read the new generation of Christian fiction, because an enormous percentage of the small percentage of Christian fiction I have read is, in my opinion, just not that good. (That is probably not politically correct either.)

Even though I feel free to have strong opinions about this and to air them on the internet (potentially to my own undoing if I want to have any more play in arena of getting-books-published) I don't really feel very qualified to talk about this much because, as I say, I'm really only comparing the novels of three Jewish guys with the novels of a spattering of Christian ones, and I can't say that this is really a very well-researched point of view, or that there's a very representative cross-section of these books.

But here is my hunch. There are some similarities among the books of the three Jewish authors I'm citing. Often the action in the stories takes place as much in the characters' heads as it does internally. The characters may be at varying levels of Jewish Orthodoxy, but somehow their identity as Jews is ever-present. On the other hand, it is often not very overt. You can't forget that you're reading about Jewish characters in these books, even if they're not actually directly talking about it. The people in the stories are sometimes sort of caricatured (for example, Moses E. Herzog, about whom I'm thinking a lot right now because I'm reading Herzog), but they still ring true. They have identifiable thought patterns--either ones I've had myself or ones I must, come to think of it, have experienced others having. They struggle with the identity they impose on themselves, and with the one the world imposes on them. There's always a morality and there's always a message, but it is rarely if ever spelled out; the reader is, in a way, left to his or her own devices at the end of the book, to come to an interpretation themselves.

In the Christian fiction I've read (previously named authors mostly excepted, although even Lewis gets bogged down in his message sometimes), the characters generally seem flatter. The books are more plot-driven, and the plot, it seems to me, is often contrived. The characters usually have struggles, but they get worked out in the end, under the auspices of Christ. All the people the reader comes to care about (if the reader comes to care about them) become Christians by the end, if they aren't already. Things tie up neatly. There's an Answer. And just in case we didn't get it, it's usually spelled out for us.

This makes some people feel comfortable. I guess it makes evangelicals like me feel like the message got out there or something. But the problem is, I don't know that the people who we wish would hear the message are usually going to get it in this format. I think it's too bad. I think there is an Answer, and He is Jesus. But I don't think He usually ties up loose ends, exactly. I think walking with Him involves getting mad at Him, and trying to run away from Him, and fighting with Him, and then getting to the point where you realise life is often going to stink no matter what, but that you'd rather go through it all with Him than without.

Friday, October 09, 2009

How I Almost Got My Head Shaved

I've mentioned Bledi before--he's the guy with the scissors. I go to him and his fancy salon for the best haircut ever. I really don't go there to get into theological discussions. Apparently, though, he likes to argue with me, because he keeps bringing it up. I guess we feel more comfortable with each other than when I wrote about him last. Our discussions are still not always entirely helpful ones. Today's mostly went like this:

Bledi: But see, I look at science.

Me: I look at science, too.

Bledi: No you don't.

Me: Yes I do.

Bledi: No you don't . . .

You get the idea.

The last time I was there maybe our discussion was a little more intelligent, but he got told off by his boss later, evidently, for talking too loudly with me about controversial religion-laced subjects.

He said it's a bummer I'm not hanging out with the Milk Guy anymore, because they probably would've gotten along. You know what? I think they would. And I wouldn't even have minded hanging out with the two of them together, although probably I would've felt a bit beleaguered by the end of it. I find these discussions, if not always stimulating, at least entertaining.

You know what drives me crazy, though? The current fad of blaming the spread of Christianity on some combination of the emperor Constantine, conspiracy theory and politics. Even if Constantine's conversion was not genuine (and I don't really see how anyone can prove it was or it wasn't), if Jesus had needed some power-mongers to spread His good name, the Church would've died out long before Constantine, and there would've been nothing to spread. I think it mostly drives me crazy because there is usually so little thought that goes into this accusation--it's just something somebody heard somewhere, very few people check out the facts, and they get exactly as dogmatic about it as any Christian might get about, say, the divinity of Christ.

This came up today, too. I got a little heated. I still got the best haircut ever, but next time I decide to get heated, I'm going to make sure I'm not in the hair stylist's chair. You know. Just in case . . .

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Writing About Myself

It turns out that, though I love writing about myself so much that I have two blogs, I really don't like it all that much when I have to do it. Like, for a proposal to a literary agent. Or for a seminary application . . .

I just thought I'd, you know, procrastinate a little bit to tell you that. By writing about myself.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So, I am no longer the newest staff person at church. Last week, Pastor Barry officially started as our church's "settled minister." Everyone's pretty excited about that, although of course with any new person, there are always adjustments, and some people are already balking at change.

Even though Pastor Barry and I had met and have been shooting emails back and forth for a few weeks regarding programmes and such, it wasn't until yesterday that we were able to really sit down and talk and get to know each other. I have decided I like Pastor Barry. (I suspect I will like his wife, Mrs. Wendy, too, particularly as she was named after Wendy from Peter Pan, but I've had even fewer interactions with her.)

Last week had started out a little uneasily, because the Sunday school staff had decided to have a communion service once a month and Pastor Barry, on hearing this, was not happy at all, since he doesn't consider it to be communion unless an ordained person is administering it. I hadn't really thought this through much, but I thought it through a lot after that, and while I do believe communion should have a certain "set-apart" feel to it--it's not just french fries and soda and no thought involved--I also don't think you have to have a piece of paper from an acredited institution giving you permission to administer it, though I decided it wasn't worth arguing the point.

Yesterday, though, we had quite a nice chat, and I was impressed. First of all, I trust his book selection. Of the titles I could see at a near-to-middle distance on the book spines on his shelves, he has Celebrating the Disciplines and Prayer by Richard Foster, Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris, and Soul Friend by Henri Nouwen. Also, I was telling him about my car situation (about which I shall probably tell you one of these days), and he was very supportive. He said he didn't know anybody selling right now, but he seemed like he thought it was important for me to get an new (or at least improved) vehicle, and like he might actually look into it for me a little himself.

He was also really supportive of my getting ordained. Did I tell you I was thinking of getting ordained? I didn't really know I was either--at first all I knew was that the church wanted to pay for me to get some extra training. Then, right before they left, Pastor Ron and Mrs. Dona said they thought I should ditch the Christian Education training track and go for an MDiv. Given the fact that the last time I went to seminary before I quit, the classes I actually liked were the Bible ones, this idea did have a certain appeal. Given the fact that I have had, in the last four years, a complete reversal in my thinking about women in professional ministry that I wasn't even looking for, it doesn't seem like a complete non-sequitur.

I'm still trying to figure it out, and Pastor Barry said, "If this is something that God is calling you to do, I definitely support it." Right then, apart from the books, I decided I liked him. I'm glad he brought God in as the condition, not as an afterthought, and that he didn't just say, "What do you feel like doing?" I don't think God totally discounts our feelings (although in my more cynical moments I might say He doesn't discount them at all--He gauges them and then finds something for us to do that's exactly the opposite). I also don't think it's all that easy to discern what God wants all the time. But it matters to me, and I was glad to have His role in the process and in our lives in general acknowledged and reminded to me.

The church has some scholarship money available, and so I had written to the Trustees about the possibility of using it, but when I told Pastor Barry this, he said, "It's not just about handing out money! A decision like this needs the spiritual oversight of the church, too. You need to bring this to the deacons." I liked that, too. I also liked that he got right on it, telling me he was meeting with the deacons that night and I should send him my request that afternoon.

Apparently the deacons were enthusiastic about the ordination idea, as Pastor B was pleased to tell me this morning. "Now," he said, "we can take it to the trustees." I need to get cracking with my application, I guess!

I like this guy.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Things I Wonder About Sometimes

1. Hybrid Words:

Why do I like making them so much? I was going to say, "Not only was the last post my cancerversary post, but it was also post number 444." Groundhog Day was the Milk Guy's and my e-niversary. I was inordinately proud of the word guacaritas the other week, and there have been a few others on this blog, like Buxerati. See if you can find them all. I can't!

And yet, hypocritically, I hate when other people do this. Actually, maybe I just hate when famous people and corporations do this. I liked it when the Milk Guy called his chihuahua/min-pin mix a doberhuahua or a chihuaberman. But daycation and staycation give me hives. Adding holic to the ends of words similarly makes me want to tear my hair out. I don't really know why.

2. Accords

Why in the world did the Honda corporation's advertising department never jump on the Pirates of the Caribbean craze and spoof one of the many scenes where a pirate says, "Do we have an Accord?" What? Because it doesn't look piratical? Psshhh!

3. Forgetting

Why do I never write this stuff down so that when I finally decide to blog about it, I only remember half of what I wanted to blog about?

Saturday, October 03, 2009


A year ago today, a game of phone tag with the man who became "my" Surgeon ended in a conversation like this:

Surgeon: Jennifer. It's never easy to give news like this, and I'm really surprised because the mass definitely didn't feel like this at all, but we got the results of your biopsy, and you do have a small cancerous tumour.

Actually, I'm not sure it was much of a conversation really. Probably some "oh"s and "uh-huh"s from me while the Surgeon said some things about what he anticipated the prognosis to be (good) and what things were going to happen next. I don't really remember too much about that, although I do kind of remember my brain going something like:

Brain: Oh. It's a cancerous tumour. Well, I guess that's what I got it checked out for. I knew it was something. They all said it was nothing, but I knew it was . . . wait a second . . . I have a cancerous? tumour? I have cancer. Oh my God [that was me not taking God's name in vain, okay?] I have cancer.

I remember me trying not to cry on the phone. Then the phone call was over and I called my parents. "Hello?" said my mother. I thought I was going to say something, but instead I just burst into tears. She's my mother, so she knew exactly who it was and exactly what had happened.

Then I called my brother. Then I called the Milk Guy. Then I talked to Heather-of-Six for a long time.

I remember thinking about dying, and not feeling afraid of it at all. Being with Jesus finally would be nice, I thought. Things had been pretty stressful for a while. It would be nice to just go rest with Him instead of dealing with all this stuff here. I was afraid to talk about any of this (wanting to die without wanting to kill myself) in this blog, because I thought someone would misunderstand and get alarmed and . . . well, it would just get complicated. But now I'm just remembering.

In the end, I didn't die, and although there were a whole lot of upsetting and difficult steps in the process, I have kind of a nostalgic feeling about the time from October through December 2008. It was kind of the best of times and worst of times for me. I don't know how I got the support system (all over the world) that I have, but they've always been amazing, and last autumn they really pulled out all the stops in ways I could never have predicted. The Milk Guy hung in there and helped me think through my medical decisions instead of abdicating all control to the doctors. My parents flew back and forth from their Alternate Country to be with me during the scariest parts.

Now it's a year later and sometimes I forget I had cancer at all, and sometimes I feel guilty that I "got off so easy," because most people don't. I am cancer free, I didn't have chemo, and after my last check-up my doctor said, "I don't know what you're doing, but keep doing it--you're in great shape." I am on tamoxifen, and it does kind of wreak havoc with the rhythms of womanhood, such that, for example, I had PMS for the entire month of August (if you didn't see me in August, be thankful). But when I think of what it could have been, and of what, in some cases, I was told it was, I'm so grateful to be in the state I am now.