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[personal|cancer] Getting through another tough night - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2009-12-19 07:56
Subject: [personal|cancer] Getting through another tough night
Security: Public
Tags:calendula, california, cancer, child, personal, seattle, travel
calendula_witch and I are off to Seattle shortly, for tbclone47's party, then social time with markferrari and shelly_rae. A whirlwind tour, back to Portland tomorrow afternoon, then she flies home to San Francisco at 0:dark:stupid Monday. the_child and I will follow on Boxing Day.

Difficult night last night for me in cancerland. I've been oversleeping and napping a lot, as part of the healing process. My body decided about 1 am that it had had enough sleep, and I spent a couple of hours rattling around. Both sides are extremely uncomfortable to lie on, due to the two recent surgeries, so I tend to go to my back, which is an unnatural sleeping position. I wound up in the lounger in the living room, where I could at least cradle my body in a more comfortable position. I'm not in a lot of pain, but the discomfort borders on the extreme.

Awake, I was having weird anxiety thoughts. Last night, calendula_witch had been reading about one of my high school classmates in The New Yorker. I'd said something mopey about never being famous enough for The New Yorker, she gave me a funny look and pointed out we never would have met if I hadn't been a well-known public person, given that we met at a conference she came to in part to work with me as an instructor. I had to laugh at that. Still, the thoughts came back to me in the night. I'd given up reading my high school almuni newsletter in my mid-twenties, when I was a low level grunt in the advertising field, and my classmates were making their debut on the London stage or becoming directors of investment banks in the Caymans or whatever. That's the thing about going to a very academically competitive, very exclusive private school — most of the folks around you are loaded with privilege and brains, which is a hell of a combination. Frankly, I'm loaded with both too, not pleading any kind of poverty here, but the ladder runs much higher than my rung, and we all have that human tendency to look up.

So look up I did last night, and feel somewhat sad and sorry for myself. Add to this the string of minor domestic disasters of late (the moth infestation, the plumbing problems, the burning of the garlic bread last night, the hidden water somewhere in my car...) and I have plenty to be grumpy about if I let myself. This morning on our walk, calendula_witch and I discussed that line of thought. I am, of course, prima facie an idiot. My social media presence reaches about 5,000 people every day. Tens of thousands of people read my fiction. The me of ten years ago would have gazed in envious awe at the career I have today. Human nature being what it is, we always stand at the center as the world moves around us. I often need to be reminded that I am special. She does this for me, brilliantly.

Meanwhile, when I did sleep, I had some pretty classic anxiety dreams. My brother had died, in my dream, of a rather strange accident, and I was so drug-addled I kept forgetting this. My parents were trying to keep it together for me in my cancer-ridden state. And so we went round in a little parade of misery, most of this theatre of the emotion taking place on the Portland MAX train in my dreamland. Then my teeth started falling out unexpectedly.

I don't need a Joseph to interpret that dream. Oneiromancy is second nature to any competent writer, it's what we do on the page after all. Still, that was interwoven with my anxieties about my life. When I finally did give up and rise from the chair, everything hurt. Luckily, my temperament and lifestyle have equipped me to think in layers without unhealthy compartmentalization, so I am able to recognize that except for the pain in my left and right chest, I feel pretty good, and respond accordingly. Part of the journey of cancer is managing the things that pop into my head, and keeping myself on track.

Seattle beckons now, and we are close to being later than we mean, so I am off. I will see some of you later today. Regular blogging service may be interrupted tomorrow, due to traveling back, but we shall see. In any event, y'all play nice while I'm gone.
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2009-12-19 16:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I went to a university of that ilk. One of my former year-mates is an internationally renowned actress. Another owns her own very successful major business. I did the whole being 20 in the 80s thing, too, where success meant a high income, and I was getting by on scrap jobs while working on a PhD in a minority subject. And yet, and yet... When I see you, I see a writer who has stuck to his own vision and succeeded. And that's admirable, more so in my inner hierarchy than my thespian and business success colleagues. All about the creativity. (Plus you seem to have a very cool daughter who loves you and that's a huge achievement in itself.)

Kari
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Magenta: Fog
User: magentamn
Date: 2009-12-19 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fog
Fame is not all it's cracked up to be - ask Neil Gaiman. You're at a good level - people know you, love your writing, but you don't get mobbed or stalked. The child is not in danger of being kidnapped. People aren't going to write tell-all books about you.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2009-12-19 16:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know the kind of thing you're talking about when thinking about how I stand in connection to others, except that my alumni connections aren't as stellar. I run into this kind of mood in myselfr more when I'm in my writing circles, and then I have to remind myself that a lot of energy is going into an increasingly toxic Day Jobbe that in itself requires a bit of research and thought.

As for the sleeping pain--given the location of surgery and your shoulder injury, the recliner may well be your best option. It might be a very good gift to yourself to find the bestest, most comfortable recliner you like. Consider it a means to help you through cancer. I know that my DH completely took over one recliner post-ski accident and surgery (shoulder) because he literally could not get comfortable without severe pain in any other location. Others I've known who've gone through similar surgeries swear by the recliner.

Keep going and bear up well. Many of us are thinking good thoughts and prayers for you during this process. It isn't easy. I was on the outer ring of a support group when one of our teachers went through chemo, then radiation for breast cancer. Getting the port put in is one of the toughest pieces of the whole endeavour.

Virtual hugs, as I fear the real thing may be painful.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2009-12-19 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
So, write a piece for the New Yorker. Or the Drink Tank, it reaches a similarly large audience.
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shelly_rae
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-12-19 17:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You already know what I think about you & The NewYorker...but this little nudge should remind you. That story? The one that moved me so? There's a lot of us in the world that it would so move.
Anon
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Kate Schaefer
User: kate_schaefer
Date: 2009-12-19 17:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, yeah. It's interesting looking at the achievements of other privileged people. Me, I think I'm happier than my old schoolmate who picked a Supreme Court justice. I know I liked his performance on the court better than she did.

My brother is fond of the story about how if you could take a group of people and have them all put down their troubles in bags on the floor and then have them choose whichever set of troubles they wanted in exchange, at the end, everybody would choose to take the troubles they brought in rather than the troubles someone else brought in. I don't know if that's true for everybody; I suspect it's not. It's true enough for me, because I don't know how to disentangle my joys from my troubles.
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shaolingrrl
User: shaolingrrl
Date: 2009-12-19 20:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think I figured out how to help. If you like, while you and The Child are in SF I can bring up some more lemons. You interested?
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Evelyn
User: jaborwhalky
Date: 2009-12-19 20:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
OK
I will start working to get you in the New Yorker
It cant be that hard give me a few months.
;-p
You so know I can pull it off by sheer Evelyn power.
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User: quantuminsanity
Date: 2009-12-19 22:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You just reminded me of a reoccurring dream I used to have. I had it on and off for a month or so. I was always on an old fashioned sailing ship, and we were in a big storm, and all my teeth were falling out. It was really really bizarre. And very realistic.
Apparently dreaming about teeth falling out has a very specific meaning. I can't remember what it is because I don't really believe in all that dream interpretation stuff.
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shelly_rae
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2009-12-21 14:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Losing teeth is about loss of control or coming to term with things out of one's control. I dream of this as well.
Anon
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-21 14:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And you've lost teeth. :\

:: hugs ::
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Lawrence M. Schoen
User: klingonguy
Date: 2009-12-19 22:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are indeed special. At times, you are especially stupid. But then, that's true of the rest of us as well. It's always so much easier to see other people than to see ourselves.

And yes, it is indeed human nature to look around and compare ourselves to others. The trick to happiness is to look both up that ladder and down. And so I share the following bit with you from that famous Klingon author, rendered into the English for your ease:

Hamlet: My excellent good friends! How dost thou Guildenstern? Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?
Rosencrantz: As indifferent as children of the earth.
Guildenstern: Happy in that we are not overhappy; on Fortune's cap we are not the very button.
Hamlet: Nor the soles of her shoe?
Rosencrantz: Neither, my lord.
Hamlet: Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favours?
Guildenstern: Faith, her privates we.
Hamlet: In the secret parts of Fortune? O, most true! She is a strumpet. What's the news?
Rosencrantz: None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest.
Hamlet: Then is doomsday near.

Enjoy Seattle. Celebrating someone else will do wonders to distract you from yourself. And, if it should please you to do so, pass along my own regards to tbclone47.

Waffles, my friend. Waffles.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2009-12-21 14:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mmm, waffles
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melissajm
User: melissajm
Date: 2009-12-20 00:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWIW, I haven't read the New Yorker. I HAVE read your work.
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User: xjenavivex
Date: 2009-12-21 04:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Melissajm for the win!

I second this.
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Mary Kay
User: marykaykare
Date: 2009-12-20 02:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I HATE the dream where my teeth start falling out. Ick, ick, ick. Hugs to you and I hope things are a little better now that you're awake. Hugs. Verrrrry careful hugs.

MKK
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Karen
User: klwilliams
Date: 2009-12-20 03:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One of my college classmates, who was in all of my creative writing classes, won an Obie AND a Pulitzer AND a MacArthur genius prize all in the same year.
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