The title is only partially appropriate, as it is hardly ok to compare one’s mother to Lady Macbeth. (Sorry, mom!)
Still, there is a spot (two, actually) which must come out. On that front, we have good news!
My mom has now had two doses of chemotherapy. (She had the most recent one on Friday.) Shortly before her last chemo, she mentioned that the lump that initially made her worry is now almost undetectable. She said that if she didn’t know it was there, she wouldn’t be able to find it.
A few days later, her oncologist verified that she’s right! The lump is indeed getting smaller! This is very good news, and a sign that the chemo is doing its job.
It will be important to remember this triumph if the most recent administration of chemotherapy brings about any ill effects. The chemotherapy doesn’t seem to have much of an impact the day of the procedure, but a couple of days later the tiredness begins.
To move to the topic of cancer in general, one thing that I am consistently seeing in my reading is that sugar and simple carbohydrates are bad news.
Oh sure, different dieticians, nutritionists and doctors might champion some specific/unique foods or practices, but pretty much everyone agrees about the sugar! From what I have read, cancer just looooves sugar.
I need to specify here that I am talking about simple carbs and not demonizing carbohydrates in general, which are essential to your body and brain. (You’ll never make me give up my lentils, beans and fancy rice!) The not-so-great stuff is the junk that your body breaks down quickly; the white-flour, white-sugar crap that we all love to snack on.
I have a sweet tooth myself, so this is a real bummer. However, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that if you’re worried about cancer, you should look at your sugar intake. (Hey, aren’t you already sweet enough? 😉 )
Mom seems to be handling this whole thing remarkably well. I was afraid initially that she would make everything worse on herself with stress and worry, as that would be easy to do! Instead, she has been doing a commendable job of focusing on the things that she loves and that are important to her. She spends a lot of time in nature.
In fact, I was lucky enough to share a hike and a fire with my mom and dad last Saturday. I can assure you, my mom has been the opposite of anxious, depressed or self-pitying over this. It’s almost as if she is committed to refusing to allow cancer to bring her down.
You can see it in her insistence on wearing hoop earrings and red lipstick to chemotherapy sessions. It’s there, in her eyes and in her smile,
I haven’t cried yet. It’s a thought I’d been having occasionally over the past couple of weeks. Of course I knew it wouldn’t last. I knew that it was only a matter of time.
A couple of days ago, that time was up. I don’t know what it was exactly, but once I started I couldn’t stop. I cried while my mother talked to me on the phone (she sounded tired!). I cried when a friend sent me a kind message. I cried to myself on my lunch break as I sat at my desk. Great fat tears rolled down my nose. I made ugly sobbing noises.
But mostly, I just knew that the dam had broken, and now I would be crying off and on about my mom’s cancer.
Hopefully not too often. Hopefully not in front of my mom. But that lump in my throat is still there, and I am afraid that I will hear a pretty song, or a sappy commercial and just shatter into tiny pieces.
The Cancer Plan
I’m going to divide the rest of this post under a couple of headings. I couldn’t find a very cohesive flow, I’m afraid! Guess I’m feeling a little disjointed myself.
Some further scans have come back, and they actually turned up a second lump in the same breast. As well, the cancer seems to be affecting six lymph nodes, rather than two. The plan remains largely unchanged. The cancer-killing starts with 18 weeks of chemo. My precious mother has to undergo 18 weeks, consisting of 6 rounds of intense chemotherapy. She had the first already. They have also given her a port to simplify the administration of the chemo drugs. For the record, a port is like a way more badass piercing than any of the ones I ever got. (Think your mom is punk? Mine has a subdermal implant!) She says she’s fine, and I know it’s necessary, I just don’t like the thought of mom having to undergo any kind of surgery at all. (Silver lining: increased “borg queen” vibes.)
After the chemo, there will be more surgery, including the mastectomy of one breast, and possibly the removal of some lymph nodes.
They might need to do radiation after that. It depends on how things go.
It’s the very epitome of “Thanks…I hate it.” Yes, chemotherapy saves lives. Yes, this is the approved medical route, but these drugs are no joke, and this is a long-ass road ahead.
I find it hard to deal with the fact that Mom was fine up until the time she found the lump. Living her life with no idea that this was brewing, and no outward sign of sickness. Cancer can quietly creep along as you lead a full and healthy-seeming life.
Treating it is so harsh. It really turns a person’s life upside down. I can’t wait until she’s well again. (Uh-oh, here comes that lump in my throat again.)
Mom is Still Mom
My mom is an active lady, who routinely makes me wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life. I am constantly in awe, because the woman just gets things done. If there is a problem, mom addresses the problem and moves on. She doesn’t need to meditate or sing a song about it (or write a blog post) she just gets it done.
I’m happy to report that mom is still my mom. She is constantly off to do something, like taking her fancy car out, or taking the dog in the woods with my dad, or working on some other project. She did have a couple of more “blah” days after the chemo (more than understandable!) but she is back to being almost as active as before. (The challenge may be in actually getting her to relax!)
Cancer and Diet?
I find myself wondering about cancer and diet a lot. Here’s the truth; I don’t understand! Firstly, I wonder about the overall effect of someone’s diet on their likelihood of getting cancer, and what diet can do to prevent it. Secondly, I have questions about what a person should eat once they have cancer.
Of course, the hippie in me wants to find some sort of “miracle” fruit or nutritional supplement that knocks out cancer, (so I can give a giant bowl of it to my mom) but so far, I haven’t figured anything out.
Normally, I would think that a sick person needs lots of healthy foods. To me, that means plant-based fare with a balanced selection of healthy proteins. Maybe some green juices and smoothies to really amp up the vitamins and minerals coming into the body.
By that logic, I should be at mom’s right now, throwing spinach into a blender.
The only problem with that is, cancer cells are hungry, fast-growing cells. So, aren’t all of those great nutrients also feeding the cancer? Would something like a green juice actually help the cancer grow? Is it better to eat Burger King? I honestly don’t know! What does someone who has cancer eat to minimize cancer and maximize their health? (If anyone has an answer, I’d be more than happy to hear it!)
My mom has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She starts chemotherapy tomorrow.
I don’t have a great way to introduce this topic to my blog, but I think that now is the time to do it. I think I need to talk about it. Plus and I want to document this journey.
Ironic, since I don’t even like typing the phrase “my mom’s cancer.” It feels so foreign. It’s like it must be someone else’s story. Unreal. But it’s not. It’s right here, with us every second. We are a “cancer family” now, as uncomfortable as that is.
My mom’s cancer is stage 2, with a grade of 3. She has been told that it is an “aggressive” cancer, so her medical team is starting treatment right away. She will have a port installed in early May.
The news came as a shock. I think we are a pretty healthy family. My mother is an active woman in her early 60’s, with a fantastic history of fitness and perseverance. (She actually became more athletic after 50.) She’s an internationally-ranked powerlifter with more gym buddies than I have by far.
Now that one of us is actually sick, and it feels as though all of our lives have stopped.
I have noticed that if you get cancer, everyone has suggestions for supplements, foods, books and special potions to try. We are all guilty of this. I suppose we are searching for every weapon we’ve got. My sister suggested the CBD oil. I suggested getting into a meditation practice and that she try juicing again. (Ha! She’s none-too-interested in drinking green stuff!) My Dad advocates her taking more time to relax and sleep. One of her close friends is insisting she eat 2 cups of blueberries a day.
Basically, we’re all going to drive her nuts by checking in on her constantly. It’s well-meaning, but I am sure it is challenging to make sense of it all. (For instance, I found one book on cancer that recommends against fasting, and another that says that patients who are undergoing chemo should try to fast.)
Although it is up to my mom to choose what she will and won’t incorporate into her life, the good vibes and the well-wishes do matter. Everyone rallying around her matters. Talking to people who have had cancer and conquered it…all of it matters. It matters to us, but most of all, it matters to my mom. (We have already had so many people reach out to us. I know my whole family is grateful!)
As of right now, my mother is not “sick.” For now, the treatments are still in the future. During the past few days, my mom could be found pumping iron at the gym, home with her dogs and my dad, or cruising around in her fuschia-pink Challenger. (No joke.)
She’s planning to shave her head and get ahead of the hair loss. (She’s been told that with the medication they’re putting her on, it’s all but guaranteed.) The head-shaving is going ahead on Saturday. I’m not worried about how it will look. Personally, I think women with shaved heads can look totally badass, and that this is a chance to experiment with her style. I also know, however, that this look is fully outside of my mom’s comfort zone.
But you know what? At least she can rest assured that she will never be going through this alone.
I’ll try to be back to post updates on a regular basis.
Header Image: created by Rizon Parein for United Nations
Lately, trying to write anything at all has been nothing but a series of starts and stops. I’ve revisited this piece off and on for the past week. I write a little. I rearrange it. I delete it. I get tired of it and shut off the computer. I come back the next day and try it all again.
Ironically, despite the “extra” time that I now have in my schedule, my creative output has dwindled down to nearly nothing. It has not meant more words on the page. In fact, I’ve been feeling like writing has become this insurmountably hard thing.
I hardly know what to say. I’ve never gotten deep into thought over what would actually happen during a pandemic. I think I might still feel shocked. It’s weird for me to not be able to write, but lately it’s like I can’t find any words. It’s shut me right up. Anyone who knows me knows that this is atypical. In fact, I feel like I am half-forcing myself just to write these words.
Half-forcing, while the other half remains desperate to communicate.
Hey everyone! How are you? I hope you’re doing alright considering the state of things! Did I mention that I miss seeing you? Did I mention that I love you?? Do you even KNOW how much I LIKE you?!??? *Explodes into a rainbow of emotions*
I’m done putting this thing off, though. I’m going to post on this stupid blog tonight, come hell or high water. Even if I can’t muster up any sense of flow. Even if I can’t manage to polish this post up to some kind of ideal standard.
Ugh. I don’t even care if it’s pretty anymore.
Look, I’m half-afraid to post because I feel like my privilege is showing with every word. I feel like a total moron complaining about my “lack of productivity” while the world is in turmoil. It’s like…
No one cares about your damn blog, Jennnq.
Fair enough. But then again, I guess I care. I don’t have much to offer beyond words on a page, but they matter to me. Even if they serve no more purpose than my own brief entertainment, that’s ok. That’s something.
When this whole thing started, and I began working from home, I’ll admit that I thought of the silver linings. There’d be no more commute. I’d have more time with my family. (Well, immediate family, anyway.) There’d be more time to write and for creative projects. Less time spent on trying to look nicer. Less time spent packing lunches.
I never counted on how I would feel. I never counted on becoming reacquainted with insomnia and my sleep schedule upending itself. I never counted on how emotionally frozen I would feel. I’ve lost motivation and focus.
But like, it’s a pandemic, not a fun little experiment in telework. Therefore, I am reminded that I must cut myself some slack. The news and reality of what is happening in the world weighs on my soul, just like I’m sure it does for everyone else. I was wrong to assume that I could corral my life into a tightly orchestrated routine.
Maybe it’s affecting you in weird ways too. Maybe you haven’t had much of an appetite, or maybe you want to eat everything. Maybe you’re a little more emotional over things. Maybe you are feeling more surreal and detached. Maybe you are having trouble sleeping. Maybe you are sleeping too much. Maybe you’re channeling your energies into something constructive. Maybe you just can’t handle that right now.
However you feel, this is a reminder that that is ok. If you are still having some big crazy feelings about the pandemic (and also of course the current US situation), then that is normal. Your unique response to the pandemic is ok. If you haven’t been your best self, that’s alright too.
I also want to say hello. (Desperate to communicate, remember?) I’m still here, although I’ve been quiet. I really miss being around groups of people. (Right now I actually have this crazy craving…I really want to go to an all-night sweaty dance party. I want to be 25 and dance forever to techno music. It’s totally impossible!)
I have a feeling you’ll be hearing from me more often now. I am hereby forcing myself to write. I’m so done with being frozen into nothingness. I’d like to return to being my fiery self.
Today I put on a real outfit and makeup, as if I was going somewhere. I even added dark lipstick and a fancy scarf. No use in going halfway.
I did it for myself. Jason certainly isn’t someone who is hung up on whether or not I wear makeup, and I don’t think my teenage son could be convinced into caring.
But I care, and I guess that’s the point. Bothering with lipstick and straightening my hair is kinda stupid right now, even I know that. But it’s NOT stupid really, if it makes me feel better. These actions play tricks on the mind. I feel better and more productive if I’ve bothered to “pull myself together.”
I have other friends who don’t seem to need this. They have fully embraced being at home. They have dispensed with rigid schedules. Some have even taken to drinking at odd hours, and/or rolling out of bed in the afternoon.
I don’t judge these friends, but I know I can’t do it. In fact, a part of me might envy them just a little. I can’t handle the guilt. Not for me. Maybe some people are better able to relax. Maybe my definition of “relax” has changed over the years. All I know is, I’d rather feel good.
It’s so poetic and counterintuitive that there is freedom to be found in structure. Weird to say, but I guess I like structure. I like having a morning routine to set me to rights, and a night routine to put myself to bed. These things can become indispensable companions in a world that’s topsy turvy.
But that’s just how I am. I have to take myself in hand as if I were a toddler. I have to almost forcefully apply direction to my life. There must be a schedule. I must get dressed. I must attempt to log my food and keep up with my water drinking. I must have a list of things to do, and I must keep working on it.
I KNOW that right now feels like the perfect time to indulge, but ultimately, eating and drinking too much in my PJ’s is not going to make me feel like my best self. Instead, it will make me feel depressed and out of shape. I cannot just hang around and watch movies, unless I want to experience an unrelenting guilt spiral about how I’m wasting my time and squandering my talent.
We’re clearly not all built to cope the same way. Some of us are a little more high-strung in general, and you know who you are…
My anxiety-prone friends, I am talking to you! You are NOT like that person you know who has adopted a “no rules” approach to life during these trying times. You can’t do that and feel right in your own head. YOU need to feel like you’re doing something. (Trust me, I know you!)
If I could pass along one piece of advice, it would be this: make a dang schedule. Even if you are the only one forcing yourself to adhere to it, treat that schedule as sacred and follow it to the best of your ability. Get more done. Feel more accomplished. Give your day defined tasks and significance.
Oh yeah, and exercise about twice as much as you think you should! (Especially if you’re working from home.) I’m finding lately that even though I have to force myself to go for walks, they are truly a miracle for my mood, and I always need to go for about twice as long as I initially want to. Getting outdoors makes a person feel more free, which we all need right now!
Oh! And lipstick. Never underestimate the pick-me-up power of a great lipstick.
Yours in light, life, love and isolated fabulousness,
It never makes you look any better. It’s not exactly endearing or cute. Because it’s such a negative feeling, it is often assumed that jealousy is to be fully avoided. After all, being jealous does nothing to improve your life, right?
Worse, since it is seen as a “bad” feeling, most of us will do our damndest to pretend it’s not there at all. We’ll shove it aside, ignore it or try to out-think it. I’m not jealous! Of course I applaud my friend’s successes! We assure ourselves that we’re happy for that coworker who just went on her dream vacation. We can’t stop smiling about so-and-so’s fabulous wedding. We’re genuinely excited to see that acquaintance’s impressively-ripped fitness selfies!
Except of course that we’re all human, and watching other people succeed can make you feel like your own life is lacking. That’s ok. Experiencing jealousy is completely normal. Wait, let me say it again, just in case you missed it…
Getting jealous is normal.
It doesn’t make you bad, or immoral. It is not proof that you are a terrible person or a terrible friend. It doesn’t mean that you are weak, or that you have failed. It only means that you’re jealous, which is a thing that happens sometimes, and when it does happen it’s worth exploring.
Why? Because far from being something we should shove aside and deny, jealousy is actually useful. Jealousy shows us what we’re missing and where we can improve. It can illuminate your path for you. What if your jealousy is really a compass, trying to show you which way to go in life?
You may notice that you never get jealous of people doing things you have no interest in. Instead, people tend to develop envy around others with similar backgrounds, experiences and life goals. You’re more likely to be jealous of someone who is a lot like you, but who has accomplished something that you haven’t. .
For instance, there is a much greater chance of my experiencing jealousy over someone’s successful writing career than over how well they play football. I may be able to admire a player’s physical strength, ability and speed, but I can’t imagine watching a football game and feeling envy! But then, it’s not as if I ever dreamed of becoming a football player. It’s not something I have any emotional connection to.
Jealousy, on the other hand, is deeply emotional. It awakens a dissonance within us. It reminds us of the distance between our actual achievements and our dreams. This internal dissonance between reality and our goals is a wonderful clue as to where we should focus our efforts. You don’t need to internally reprimand yourself for being jealous. The important thing is how you deal with it.
Because, yes, there’s definitely a wrong way! There’s a reason why jealousy has a bad reputation. Shoving down your jealousy until you can’t take it anymore, denying it or letting it fester will almost certainly produce disastrous results. Instead, we must strive to hold jealousy up to the light for further examination.
Notice that I am not talking about blaming yourself, I am only saying that you should acknowledge those feelings. Observe them without judgement. Ok, this person has inspired this uncomfortable feeling. Why? What’s this person got that you ain’t got? (Be as specific and detailed with yourself as possible!) What do you feel is lacking in that area of your life? What can you start doing to change that? This type of analysis is insanely valuable. Your jealousy is really motivation in disguise. Use that jealousy to help you uncover what is making these successful people so successful, and then channel that fire into your own efforts.
A funny thing happens when you analyse jealousy, too. It tends to fall apart. Seriously! Typically, once you’ve teased apart your jealousy enough to understand your own motivations, you’ve taken all of the vitriol out of the feeling. After all, YOU got jealous because something is unfulfilled in YOUR life. Now that you’ve acknowledged this (instead of burying it), it’s easy to see that the target of your jealousy is not the problem. If anything, they were just the messenger.
Once we take on the jealousy and work through it, it will lose its power. Then the jealousy becomes a little friendlier. Softer. Much more socially acceptable. Boil jealousy down into its component parts, and I believe that you’ll ultimately be left with inspiration. And feeling inspired to work toward the life of your dreams is something you can be proud of!
Everyone’s storm story is different, and hell, I’m home now on the EIGHTH DAY, so I may as well tell you ours. Oh, and I’ll try to throw in a few pictures along the way!
Last Thursday, January 16th, I actually went to work. (God, it feels like it’s been so long now!) Almost as soon as I got there, I could hear my coworkers around the office buzzing about the storm. There was much chatter about the projected snowfall, about how heavy the winds would be, and about when and if schools and businesses would be closing. I overheard calls to loved ones at home discussing what provisions were needed. I heard one lady say to another, “Geez, if we wind up coming to work tomorrow, we won’t be fit!”
True enough, but the comment made me smirk a little, as I felt it was safe to assume that we would be off work the following day. “Even if we get the low end of the estimate; 40cms, it’s still more than enough to shut everything down,” I mentioned to my workmate Alex. He agreed, and I think we both figured we were getting a four-day weekend out of this. Honestly, the anticipation made for a bit of a fun day. (An extra day off here and there does wonders for office morale!)
The only thing dragging me down was this nagging headache I had going on in the front of my face. It wasn’t debilitating, but it was there. pound. pound. pound. I had often wondered if I was one of those people who got headaches because of barometric pressure changes. This seemed like evidence to support that hypothesis. There was nothing else wrong with me, so I got an ibuprofen from someone in the office and I moved on. The pill seemed to help quite a bit.
That was good, because I was also instructed to change my desk that day. Kind of annoying, but there have been a lot of changes at work lately, so this wasn’t a surprise. I took most of my possessions to my new cubicle assignment on my break. The new spot was two floors below me, and I like my workspace to feel like home, so it was a bit of an undertaking. I moved the rest of my things down at the end of my shift. I took my time cleaning up the old desk for the next person, but left a bit of a mess at the new desk downstairs. No big deal. I could get fully up to speed before work on Monday. I’d probably have the new digs in order by 9AM on the 20th. Perfect.
I went home, and we generally made sure things were as prepared as possible. Shovels inside and at the ready. A bucket of salt in the basement as well. Nothing left outside that that could blow around. Electronics charging. My stash of candles accounted for (I make ‘em, so there’s always a box somewhere!) plus a couple of flashlights, of course.
As for food and basic supplies, we are fortunate enough that I knew we had at least enough for a few days. Plus, we’re both pretty dang creative with food when times get tough; him through training, me through cheapness and previous moments of desperation. All good, as far as we knew.
We heard that schools as well as the Metrobus service were preemptively cancelled for the next day. “You know it’s going to be bad if they’re cancelling the buses now,” Jason said. He had a point. I couldn’t remember the last time they’d done that.
Day 1: FRIDAY
No school and no work and it’s no surprise! We awake to a storm, and it keeps up all day. In fact, it gets worse in the evening, when the winds pick up. The gusts are well in excess of 100km/h, and all the while the snow continues coming down. It really is something to watch. I feel worried for anyone who needs to travel. I think about all of the essential services people. I also think about my friends in radio. Those guys are amazing. (Mad respect to everyone who made it in to work, and who wound up staying there for a few days!)
By evening, the windows have acquired an intricate pattern of snow spray, preventing us from getting much of a view. Not that you’d see much if they’d been clear. The storm is intense. White-out conditions all over the place.
I’m not feeling great My headache hasn’t really gone away from the day before, but now I also feel a little queasy and very cold. I eventually quit watching the storm and head for the bath. (Jason gives me a flashlight, just in case!)
The lights flicker, but they never go out for more than a few seconds. Each time they go, I think, Oh, this is it! But no, we manage to keep our power throughout the storm..
I stay in the bath for a good long time, with Jason periodically knocking on the door and telling me, in disbelief, how high the snow is. “It’s nearly to the top of the patio railing!” “It’s just at the top of the patio railing! You should see it Jennnq, it’s crazy!” By the time I come out, the snow has filled the patio, it is now drifting over the sides of the railing, and it is indeed “crazy.”
We watch the storm in wonder and listen to records late into the night. The drifts get to be taller than me and then taller than Jason. Crazy indeed. This is a serious amount of snow. We also slowly realize that we have fewer and fewer options for exiting our home. The front door has a storm door that opens out. That is now blocked by a huge drift of snow. The side door is the same. The basement door was a possibility until snow finally filled that stairwell in too. That leaves the windows. One of us is headed out the window tomorrow.
Well, that’s something to look forward to. I do so relish the opportunity to use the word “defenestration” in a sentence.
Day 2: SATURDAY
I wake up feeling like I’ve been run over, and I haven’t even lifted a shovel yet. Not good.
At least there’s no rush. We’re under a State of Emergency, so everything is shut down. It’s easy to see why. The snow is piled in great, unbelievably high drifts. Some places don’t look too bad. Some places are 8 feet high. Sweet merciful. The work we’re going to have to do to get out is nearly unfathomable.
We’re very much shut inside, and the window in our living room is the best option out. I had thought I would be out first, but I just feel so awful. Jason is the hero who goes out through the window. (He isn’t thrown out the window, so technically, there is no “defenestration.” The word rolls around in my head all the same.) Jason digs his way toward our front door while I stay inside and try to remember how to human.
I get a shower and some tea, but after half a bagel, I feel queasy and like I’ve eaten too much. Strange. I feel as if I have a brutal hangover, and I have had precisely nothing to drink. Ugh. Unfair.
Within about a half hour I’m outside with him. I take out a waterproof speaker, and we listen to everything from Anthrax to Caravan Palace while we tackle clearing the deck and regaining access to the house.
We shovel the deck for a few hours. It is very tiring, and sometimes I stop and take breaks. By the afternoon, I notice that my breaks are coming with a side of hopelessness. I just keep getting this feeling every time I stop…a feeling of deep despair. It’s like something inside my body is giving the activity of shoveling a great big “NOPE.” I do my absolute best, but at a certain point I have to call it quits.
At the end of the day, the driveway still needs to get done, but our deck/patio is 80% clear and you can get in and out through all the doors. (Accomplishing this was much easier with two!)
That evening, even under many layers I cannot get warm. The power stays on, which I am thankful for. I wear a toque as I sit on the sofa under blankets. Every time I lift my arm, a shiver courses through my body. My throat is scratchy, and the headache…It’s more like POUND. POUND. POUND now. It occurs to me that this may not be because of the barometric pressure.
I take my temperature. 101.8 degrees. Oh. I see. I’m actually sick. I realize this explains why my body just wanted to give up earlier. Awesome. Jason seems worried he may catch something too. He hugs me close anyway. Good man.
I barely eat and go to bed, hopeful that I will be of more use tomorrow.
Day 3: SUNDAY
I still feel gross. I shovel for a short period of time, but Jason takes care of the lion’s share of the driveway snow with the snowblower. I am thankful.
Inside the house I read for a while, but when my queasy stomach seems less-than content with that, I listen to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods on Audible. I love it. All of the different voices make me feel like a child hearing a bedtime story. (Ok, it’s a pretty racy bedtime story, but Alan Rickman is one of the voices! How cool is that??)
I have no desire for my beloved espresso. I still barely eat. The only food that appeals to me right now is oranges. All that I want is an orange. I fantasize about cutting into one, and the sweet juice running out, and I imagine biting into the fresh cold flesh. Yes. All I want is an orange. I imagine the taste on my tongue, and imagining is all that I can do, because guess what we don’t have???
The state of emergency is lifted in St. Philip’s so that during the day people can run out and get essentials. Jason is still outside struggling in the driveway, so when Mom calls here to check on us, she gets me. “You sound so stuffed up! I’m heading out to get a couple of things. Need anything?”
“ORANGES,” I blurt, as they are currently the only thing on my mind.
Sure enough, a short time later Jason comes back inside with two oranges in his hands. “Your mom dropped these off.” He says.
I cut into one almost immediately and am surprised to find a blood orange. It’s colour is unexpected and striking. It is almost ombré inside. I wish I had the skill to paint it, but instead I eat it quickly and enjoy it immensely. It’s funny how the body must know what it needs. I don’t recall ever wanting an orange this badly.
Tonight, for some flipping reason, the weather stirs up again. 15 fresh centimeters fall overnight. More work to do tomorrow.
I am somewhat relieved to learn that the State of Emergency continues. I would not take my nasty fever to work anyway, and this way there is no sick day required. A little silver lining.
I sleep fairly early hoping that I will be back to myself tomorrow.
Day 4: MONDAY
I still seem to have a slight cold, but I feel a lot better. I have some energy, which is good, because we now have yet more snow to shovel, and the driveway (did I mention that our driveway is one long hill??) could still use some work.
We work on the driveway and Jason and I bicker about nothing. I think being cooped up is getting to us.
Jason is also bummed because we had tickets to see Jim Gaffigan, and the show (scheduled for Sunday, aka “Day 3”) was cancelled.
The slightly-disappointed Jason works on widening the driveway with the snowblower. I go inside and eat my second orange. It still tastes like everything I want it to be. (Oranges, man.)
Espresso still isn’t tasting good to me. Must be a residual thing from the cold. This seems like a good time to actually go with it though. Hadn’t I been meaning to break the addiction? If I can drink less coffee, that’s great. I’ve been sipping black tea instead. For some reason, it continues to taste much better to me right now.
Nothing much else happens. We spend time with the cats. I spend a bunch of time on Facebook and start to feel like I’m not doing enough with my life. It’s not exactly time well-spent. Not too kind to the ol’ ego. Social media really is poison sometimes. Also so distracting. I resolve not to let is take up too much of my precious time in the future.
Day 5: TUESDAY
Yay, I’m better! No more temperature, and I actually feel alive!
This is great for me, but I’m probably driving Jason nuts. More energy means more talking, singing and dancing. Especially since we’re largely cooped up together.
We have all of the shoveling done except for this one area of our deck. It is a giant leftover drift from Friday’s storm. It’s not impeding our ability to come and go, it’s just this giant snow mountain on the patio. And now it’s really compacted and heavy. We had put it off, but it’s not great to leave snow on your deck. It can freeze, get really heavy with rain and damage the wood.
Today we both get out there and tackle it. We hack at the snow mountain with our shovels. It takes a while, since it has a hard crust on the outside, and the snow inside it is anything but light and fluffy. We get the tunes going again and it’s a damn good workout. The best part? In the end we can say that everything is finally clear! Woohooo!!
We’re still under the state of emergency, but today in St. John’s the supermarkets are allowed to reopen from 10-6. People go a little crazy. The lineups snaking across the parking lots are so long that they make the news. Hundreds of people turn up to wait for the stores to open. They’re anxious to stock up!
Jason and I don’t go, as we have no interest in battling the crowds, and other than the orange drama, we’re not really that desperate.
Jason had made a bunch of pizza Saturday, and since I was sick and couldn’t eat much of it, it’s lasted us for a while. (I was SO sad I couldn’t really enjoy fresh pizza!)
I use some of this extra time today to dye my hair. I clearly can’t be left in the house with hair dye for this long and not touch it! Nothing too crazy, I just take what’s already there up a notch. A little yellow. A little green. Some hot pink. (Ok, so maybe it is a little crazy!) I was really wishing I had some blue, but somehow I don’t think blue hair dye counts as an “essential” right now.
Tonight, Jason and I bust out Mario 3 and play it via the Wii. I love it, but I still kinda suck at video games. We play for a while, and then I switch it over to Dragrace. I haven’t felt very fabulous during the SOE, but hey, I can dream!
Day 6: WEDNESDAY
Day 6 of the State of Emergency dawns with an unstoppable blue sky, and a winter sun that my skin would have to be mercilessly coated in SPF to withstand. It is, in a word, beautiful. It makes the absolutely insane amount of snow surrounding us sparkle like so many diamonds.
We both need to get out of the house so we head to the grocery store. I’m damned excited to go. Thankfully, yesterday’s lineups are nowhere in evidence. We get what we need (more citrus, yay!) and we head back home. There. We can at least feel like we’ve accomplished something today.
I am still reading a lot. This is good. Since I’ve been a little more depressed and anxious the past couple of years, I haven’t read nearly so much, and I have always loved books. I’m going to try to keep a list of what I read for 2020. I can always try to beat my number next year!
I’ve just finished one called The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. It was ok. Good encouragement at least. I’ve been sober for 11 days now. It’s a start.
Later, I go see my Mom. We talk about nothing for a couple of hours and watch the “Baroness Von Sketch Show.” I can do this visit because she also lives outside of St. John’s, and St. Philip’s actually isn’t under a state of emergency anymore. It’s just St. John’s. Just like how people can go to work now if they work in Mount Pearl. It’s kinda weird.
I get official word that my work building will be closed tomorrow and Friday. Wow. This kinda sucks, because that big mess I left last week at my new cubicle will remain exactly as is for the next three weeks. I’m scheduled to go elsewhere for training starting Monday. My new desk must remain a cacophonous explosion of quotes, origami figures, books, notes and lipgloss for the next while. Nice first impression on my new work neighbours. Also, a bit annoying if you’re like me and can be just a little fussy about your stuff.
This snow has now derailed the city for an entire week!
Day 7: THURSDAY
I coughed all dang night last night. (Just when you think you’re done with it, ugh!) I still don’t feel like myself, and it’s such a bummer. I’m still heavy on the tea and water. (Haven’t gone back to espresso.)
Huh. No wine and no espresso or coffee. I’m pretty cheap, lately!
I try to leave today (car needs gas) and succeed only in getting my car stuck in the driveway. It takes me an hour and a half to free it. Even after all of that shoveling, it’s still iffy in that driveway. I blame the incline.
Afterward, I still feel energetic, so I do an at-home workout. (If I don’t stay active, I may crack up in here!) I walk on the treadmill, do some squats, planks and bridges. I don’t cough, even a little bit. Jason smirks a little, as there is more Lizzo involved in this workout than one might initially expect. (She’s so fun though!)
Later I decide that I need to finish writing about this, so I can finally post it! Things are almost back to normal.
The latest word is that the city will be fully operational as of 6AM Saturday. Hooray! It would appear that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We’re nearly done with this State of Emergency business.
I get a couple of edits into this thing, and somehow I wind up watching Doctor Who instead.
Day 8: FRIDAY
The SOE is basically over, as far as I know. Everything should be lifted early tomorrow, as I mentioned yesterday.
I have read more, not had anything to drink and I’ve even given up coffee in my time off. I feel as though I’m coming back to reality as a slightly improved version of myself. 🙂
Now, can we please hurry up and get everything back to normal?
It started at 5:45 this evening. It began as a tiny whisper. Something about it having been a “stressful” Monday, and how nice a big glass of red would be.
Just one. It nagged at me, as it tried to convince me that one glass of wine was downright healthy. Perfect with dinner. A great way to unwind. You deserve to unwind!
The gremlin kept up, off and on, in the back of my mind, but still somehow “present” until about 9:30. I think at that point it finally realized that I meant business.
What a strange mental phenomenon. Kinda fascinating when you try to observe it impartially. It truly rears its head like a separate voice. It talks to you. It tries everything it can to reason with you. It has a twisted sense of logic.
It’s pretty gross that this thing can be borne in a person’s head, just because of alcohol. I definitely don’t want for my gremlin to grow. Nope. Don’t need anymore voices in my head. I’m already stocked up, thanks.
After saying I was going to quit red wine, I did a thing that a lot of drinkers do; I decided that one last “hurrah” was ok. You know, to say a proper goodbye. That opportunity was perfectly presented to me yesterday.
My partner, who shall henceforth be known as Mr. Stardust, decided that we needed to have a get-together last night. He had invited a few couples and wanted to treat or friends to a meal.
A few people came out, and we actually wound up having a really nice time. It was great to see everyone, and we all seemed to enjoy ourselves.
Although my memory gets a bit hazy. It was a bit of an indulgent evening. Of course red wine was poured, and I faced a question which was barely a question. Maintain my resolve, or give in to the last-goodbye. Dear reader, I drank the wine, and then some. After all, I had already half-convinced myself to give in, and I was already home, with no one depending on me. What the hell. One more time. I had been thinking about it anyway. It’s just a little wine.
So the wine flowed, I laughed and talked and was social. We played fun music. Overall, a great time was had, and all parties left with a full stomach. However, after drinking the equivalent of about a bottle, I don’t fully recall how my evening ended. (I managed to get every bit of my inky eyeliner off though, and I’m still not sure how it happened!)
I spent this morning and a portion of this afternoon in utter hell. I felt so ill, I didn’t particularly want to stand up. I was incapable of enduring the very thought of food. No position was comfortable. My head pounded and my stomach was unpredictable.
It’s awful to feel wretched. A sorry state I was. The part that surprises me is that really, by some people’s standards, it’s not like I even drank that much. Indulgent, yes, but I would have expected this level of illness from shots of vodka, or something equally powerful. Nope, one bottle of red wine, and every part of me will loathe last night’s Minerva the following day.
I remembered what booze can do. Viscerally.
On the upside, this experience ought to help keep the demon off my shoulder for a day or two. I also took some other steps to make this a serious project now, and to tighten my resolve. I downloaded a sobriety app to chart the number of days sober, and I also called my sister.
That last bit turned out to be a great choice. It would seem that my sister is also becoming both wary and weary of alcohol. She doesn’t like how it makes her feel overall, and as a single mom, she really doesn’t time for hangovers of feeling run down.
So now we’re doing this together and I have real, in-my-face accountability. (It’s still uncomfortable to admit that I messed this up here though, I don’t want to do this again!)
That means that I have: my sister, an app, a new resolve, and a stomach that lurches at the mere thought of alcohol…let’s do this!
Er…about that… Yep, you guessed it, regrettably, this effort did not stick. I don’t think that I took it seriously enough. I backslid. I fell back into red wine, and also I drank fancy gin and tonics over the Christmas holidays. (I highly enjoyed them. Amazing with limes.)
However, I owe it to myself to give this another go and to actually quit drinking. I don’t want to get all “new year, new me” on you, but now seems like an appropriate time to revisit this goal.
Also, since I am actually blogging all the time now, I can update you regularly on my progress. (Accountability! Why not?)
In completely different news, I filled the most darling little potion bottle with something to boost my confidence and efficacy at work the other night. Perhaps I should give more detail tomorrow. That way, I can finally put something on this site under “spells”? It seems rather a shame to let that entire heading go to waste.