Sunday, October 31, 2010

All done

The Gene Simmons one was done by my son. I have to clean them up a bit tomorrow... Um, later today...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spring cleaning, anyone?

My new pc is here. If you're looking for me, I'll be on the couch, sneezing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bulls ...eye

So I was at Target today, and I walked up to my sister in law, and she didn't recognize me. My sister in law. The one I like best, and I see at least once every week or two normally.

It would be SO funny if it wasn't just a little bit discouraging.

I am TIRED of people saying "Oh, I (he, she...) didn't recognize you!" - it has happened several times in the past month, what with two school open houses, two PTO meetings, a school band concert, and yesterday seeing a neighbor whose husband died in July (and I didn't even know...because I was sick and exhausted then) . Let's not forget my niece and nephew hiding behind their parents because they were afraid of me. I mean, I'm trying, really, to forget that but...

My hair is so very different now. I was told a couple of weeks ago that I should keep it in perspective. It really hurt, because I think I've done a pretty damn good job not feeling sorry for myself over the past year and being VERY grateful that I skidded through this mess with a good prognosis. I was pretty verbal about that on facebook when my treatment was winding down, to the point that I was afraid I might get annoying with it.

I just want to look like I used to look, in part to feel like ME again, and in part so that I don't have to explain the past year to EVERY PERSON I RUN INTO. Because truly, I don't want to go on and on and elicit sympathy. I want NOT think about cancer, or how short / gray/ curly / red/ orange (ugh) / dark brown my hair is.... and I want to make plans for the future, the holidays, the spring time, and so on and so on. And I want to be supportive of my friends and neighbors who had someone they love die, because do you really think I don't care about people dying, internet? Please, tell me no.

Anyone who has never had the experience of looking in a mirror and not recognizing the face that looks back should think twice about how that might feel, and how it feels to be reminded again and again. The kindest thing you can say to a woman who's lost her hair and looks completely different is "You look great." Then stop there, and be quiet.

To be clear

The trees didn't stay IN my car. I have a skylight in my car, but I also have one over my desk at work.

It comes in handy on dark mornings. One of the droids does not like the ceiling light on - early in the morning I lierally walk through shadows to my desk.

Last week I asked for a desk lamp. When everyone heard that yes, the company will buy us lamps, guess who also wanted one??

At least I think so

I'm probably the only girl driving to work with trees in her car. They're not looking good and I hope some skylight time will help.

I have Sugarland's "Incredible machine" on loop. What is she saying? Holler? Call it? Someone please tell me.

I have a dr appointment tomorrow. Things should go smoothly. I don't feel 100% by any stretch(haha, like my joke about how I can't take off my jacket without saying "ouch" because my arm gets pulled too far back?) but I feel better than in August.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dear autumn

I love the leaves, but not so much when they decay and my allergies kick in - it's just about time. Soon I will have a full blown sinus infection. Yipee!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday art ?

The only thing I have managed to "create" today is this pie, which my friend Mrs. Smith started up for me. I added some cinnamon and sugar to the crumb topping and of COURSE I have ice cream waiting. (Of course I also got outside for a good 45 minute walk today!)

I'm currently watching Alex Guarnaschelli make all sorts of desserts. Mmmmm, bananas foster.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Don't tell me if I'm wrong

...but I think puzzles and games are an important part of recovering from chemo brain

(which still sneaks up on me from time to time...last month saw someone from The Bank, he was part of the division I was in, ... when he came to interview at my new company I couldn't think of his name... Oy vey... Yesterday I heard he got the job.

Exhibit 2: I told my boss my new pc will have 6MB of memory... D'oh! He kindly said 'can that run windows?')

Anyway... Playing Cut the Rope is bound to fix all of my cognitive issues right?? I started playing yesterday... So by the end of next week I should be all set ?

Friday, October 22, 2010


I have a nice drive to work now and I can watch various trees show off their colors. I drive a bit slower since I'm not on the highway, and the sun rises behind me and lights up various trees along my way. Beautiful.  I hate to see them get bare though...

I went running the other night. It might be my last outdoor run for a while  I tried once in August, and felt like crap for a few days, so I thought I should wait for a while. I didn't feel like trying again until this Wednesday when I took advantage of 60* weather. 

 I have been stewing over something I really don't understand.  So I really wanted to run to clear my head and loosen up all of the tight muscles in my chest and underarms- the incisions I had are making themselves known  now that I am trying to get back to "normal" and do some fall cleaning and so on. 

I have an app that leads you through the Couch to 5K program. (The whole to5K part makes me think of Y2K, and I can't shake that association.) The idea is to combine periods of walking and running and gradually run more and more during the total workout. The nice thing about this app is that I can put songs into a playlist, and of course it manages the "run now" / "walk now" part.

When the voice told me I was halfway through my workout I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't feel like falling down, and I no longer felt like my brain was going to melt from confusion and stress.

So... progress

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall flowers

Love mums. Love friends who bring me mums...

A joyful noise

There was a moment during the party when everyone was (in the kitchen, of course) talking and laughing and sharing all the food everyone brought. It was LOUD. I could barely hear myself think.

Somehow through the blur of it all, it registered in me, to remember that instant. I was SO very happy. It was such a pleasant contrast to the long quiet lonely days of lying on my couch not eating.

We had plenty of wine and plenty of people and chocolate desserts and white chocolate fudge which I really DID hide from everyone else. :)

The pictures that my sweet little friend N took are grainy and scattered and from a nine year old's height, but they are still pretty much perfect. Anyway, I'll remember.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No trombones

Today marks 76 days since August first, and 76 days UNTIL New Years Eve. (I can't read "76" without thinking of the old song "76 Trombones". What is up with THAT? Now it's stuck in my head...)

Time is speeding up again; no more long dreary days where I can really sleep and don't feel like eating.

Yesterday I made plans for where we will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. Happily for me (and my sad, sorry wallet) my hosting workload should not be as extensive as last year. Yipee!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A thank you celebration

Many people brought meals to my family while I was sick. We are very active in our school and parish and as much as I grumble about all of the time spent volunteering and NOT doing my own spring/fall cleaning, there are dozens of good people who took care of us and got us through this year. Chicken, lots of chicken, and lasagnas and mac and cheese and cookies and brownies... I could go on and on. There is nothing so humbly rewarding as having a dear friend make sure you get a warm meal when you really need one. I don't think I ever truly understood that until this year.

It also bears mentioning that people lovingly took my children overnight when I had surgeries, took them to school concerts and baseball practice and fun places while I was too sick from my chemo to do the things I normally do, and even rushed to comfort them when I got carted away in an ambulance that one time.

We are having a little party at my house this weekend to say thank you to our friends, and sort of celebrate the end of the most active phase of my treatments. I still have doctor visits and tests sprinkled all through my future, but HOPEFULLY the worst is over.

I still don't feel quite like me... one thing I have noticed is the weakness in my upper body, from four beautiful incisions and radiation and all of the necessary healing that goes with all of that, and that things like lifting my hands over my head or lifting a case of soda will bring me pain. The random nosebleeds come and go along with the quality of my memory and ability to focus on a challenging task on any given day. And the other day I was making apple crisp, with nice fresh apples from the orchard, and I was slicing and peeling and feeling all zen Mother Earth and happy. Then I felt a POP in the back of my hand. I looked at my hand, thinking, "I don't REMEMBER banging that on anything just now" and watched a bruise spread 2" wide before my brains kicked in and I iced the darn thing. Fck. Seriously? It will take two weeks to fade. Nice joke, universe.

At any rate I have been really looking forward to this party, because it is another step of closure on the big bad scary part. And while I can't have everyone there that I really want to, (every one of the many people who helped me, that is... because people have lives and commitments and are far away and things get crazy... ) I will have most of them, and we will be celebrating.

The funniest part, for me, is that I planned this so that I could make a nice spread of appetizers and some ziti and meatballs and carrot cake, and feed all of my beloved friends, and without fail they have called to RSVP and asked,

"What can I bring?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zombie pumpkins

These are some contenders for this year's pumpkin. (Thanks Marco,for the clown suggestion; the two at lower left are my favorites)

My son is going to try one this year. He's leaning toward gene Simmons, who didn't make it into this snapshot.

He also tells me that the thugs, um, vandals,! I mean KIDS who come by every year look for my pumpkins now... Heh.

Visit and buy 20 patterns for $5 via paypal. Tell them Carly sent you. They won't have any idea who I am, but tell them anyway :::snicker:::

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boo hoo

I hate Halloween. And it's almost here. But I am going to be cheerful about it this year, dammit... Drink hard cider (:::ahem:::), and give candy to dozens of kids I've never seen before,.... And carve a wicked pumpkin. These are little clips from my blog in '07, '08, and '09. Yes, I carved those. Patterns are my friend. Any suggestions / requests for this year?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Yesterday my son and his friend helped Mr paint my bedroom. It's blue; but I figured out today they had used the wrong blue (it was too dark and didn't go with the sample of rug I picked).

I was willing to just pick a new rug because it was a nice blue; it just didn't match the rug (which wasn't ordered yet) - but Mr C went and grabbed a gallon of the right color and redid it this afternoon. Everything was all torn apart anyway... It didn't take long to cover the "wrong" blue, which looked VERY purple next to the "right" blue.

The store clerk said that when we got the paint (back in July) they probably looked at my paint chip (which wasn't from their store) and picked something they had that was "close". So because I was still sick I had the wrong samples, wasn't there at the store, didn't notice, etc.

So D had slept over at his friend's after painting and we decided to mess with them.

We told them the paint had dried and changed color and asked them what they did wrong; we said that we wanted them to redo it tonight. We let them stew for about five minutes. It was almost worth all the trouble, to see their reactions - but still too much work! I hate painting !!

Sunday art

At 10:10 on 10/10/10 I was laughing at Stanley's new reading glasses, which open at the bridge of his nose and close via a magnet. (He likes to walk up to people and grab the outer part of the glasses and tug them open just to see people react as they split apart )

I needed a laugh because it's been a bumpy few days. I went to get my hair colored back to my favorite brown with a hint of red and ended up with hair that was VERY orange. Ronald McDonald was asking me to make him lunch. Post-chemo hair is wonky and doesn't always cooperate well with cosmetology.

I got it "fixed" but it's very dark. Not the "me" I am trying to find my way back to. Some people won't / don't understand I guess, but I have been longing to look at myself in a mirror and see "myself" and since my hair fell out I feel like I haven't been able to do that. I know my issues are small in light of - for instance - what Stephanie Nielsen is going through, but it is one more frustration on the path (surgery done, almost ready to go back to work, then my incision reopened. Chemo almost done, then I got a mouth infection. Radiation done, then I got a skin infection. Hair finally is almost a normal length, and I turn it into clown hair wanting this all to be BEHIND ME. Aaaaagh! )

So I ate TWO cider donuts today. Yummy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Not a ribbon

I thought this was pretty, so I ordered one...I saw it on Twitter. It's not so pink- ribbon -ish, but it will make people that are merely casual acquaintances nod and leave me alone about the whole pink for October thing. Ya know?

Lastly, I freeze a little too often at work and this might help. I love wrapping up in a big cute scarf. (Yes, I spent a few years at my last job sitting at my desk bundled up in scarfs and giant pashmina: shawls.)

Monday, October 04, 2010

A little frayed around the edges

(Photo is mine from last summer, edited with photostudio app for iPhone )

I am trying to work a little bit more this week. I usually work around 30 hours and alternate between telling myself I'm doing fine or that maybe I'm coasting too much.

Who doesn't like to roll over when the alarm goes off and mumble "I'll get up in an hour"? That's what I've been doing the last month or so, getting the rest of the house up for "get ready for school".

I need to start getting up with them and getting to work on time (8:00 is when I would LIKE to land) ... We have SO much work pending right now that I could make overtime this week, if I had the endurance to work that many hours

But today I felt like everyone was tripping over me this morning at home and I was SO TIRED after lunch - literally almost nodding off at one point. So we're having a bumpy start but hopefully I will sort it out.

And with that, it's lights out time!

Friday, October 01, 2010

I'm a survivor

Picked up my shirt for tomorrow's walk / run... I actually got two, because I registered for the 5k AND the family walk with my kids. The volunteer shook her head at me and more or less said "no... Just register for the run next time". Oopsie. Oh well. That's just like me... But its for a good cause, and so on.

I got a little emotional when I saw the shirt, and on the way back to my car. I am happy to be on this side of all of my treatments but I'm in an odd mood about the shirt. I'm not sure I can wear it. (glitter aside. Ya know?)

I am actually wishing I could go away for a weekend all by myself and let a whole bunch of emotions out with anybody I know around, but that is a fleeting wish now and then, and it doesn't really mesh with the reality of my day to day life. So I guess I'll have to blog it out, a little at a time. Sorry, Internets.

(For the record, this picture IS in my car but this post was not typed while I drove. Because I didn't kick cancer's ass just to die texting in my car.)


Being breast cancer awareness month and all, I have to be honest. I have a love / hate thing with the pink ribbon.

Poly is nodding already but for the rest of you, I will try to explain my feelings. (I don't claim to speak for her, or anyone else who has had breast cancer. Your mileage may vary)

The ribbon is good because it is kind people with good hearts trying to reach fools like me who never dreamed they would ever have to worry about cancer, and educate us, and remind us to get the checkups we need even when we are unemployed and depressed.

It's people who want to encourage me to fight, giving me scarves and hats and so on... All with the ribbon- many kind gifts of loving support.

But the ribbon is a trigger reminder of all things unpleasantly included in the package deal that I never wanted and oh look, there's "why me" and a bunch of other things that well up. Fear and pain and needles and medicines and being the only one awake in the house at 4:12 a.m.

It's a reminder that my life is forever changed. It's something I'll always have to have in the back of my mind. Watch for recurrence. Take the drugs. Keep the followup appointments. I basically lost eight months out of my life to a disfiguring disease, and sometimes it's hard not to resent the ribbon as a tangible focal point for al of those issues.

People don't always recognize me, as I've blogged about, and some days I still don't feel quite like me. And now and then I brood while I palpate the dents and gaps and tattoo marks left behind. It's over in most people's minds, and I try not to linger in that part of my past, but I haven't quite escaped.

But I come back to thinking about the generosity of so many people in my life, and I am immensely grateful for my family and friends, as well as for the dozens of medical professionals I have encountered in the past year. Nothing underscores that quite as nicely as the viral video going around (just search for Pink Glove Dance, on YouTube ) - dozens of people just like the ones who took care of me... I love it and it makes me cry all at the same time.

My son is organizing a charity baseball game with his eighth grade class and I have to go there and be brave and try not to cry. I am proud, very very proud of them, but nervous about going.

It's October, and pink ribbon time.