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They finally let me out, a week later.  Oy.  They did the procedure on Tuesday (the one that makes no sense, involving talc, and seriously, don't even ask, because they've explained it to me fifty times and I'm not an idiot, and I still don't understand why this is a good thing to do to a lung).  They then spent three days trying to decide whether it worked -- finally concluded no, and they did it again, while I was conscious this time (since I already had a chest tube -- don't envision this, it will lead to bad dreams).  Spent two more days while they decided whether this had worked.  Concluded that it more or less did. Moral of the story:  don't ever believe  it when they say something is going to be easy or simple or no problem.  At least for me.  I am a FLUKE.  Statistics hate me.
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and on a different note

I don't usually get political here (and really, this isn't particularly partisan), but I am sad that Barney Frank is retiring from Congress.  Not that the guy doesn't have a perfect right to retire, but we will miss him so much.  Not just because he's hilarious, but because he's one of those old-style politicians who actually work with the other side.  Only a few months ago I heard him say on the radio, "I'll work with anyone, provided they're not a sicko, crazed homophobe."  Meanwhile, the current vibe in politics is that it's somehow virtuous NOT to work with the other side.  Playing well with others is no longer an electable trait.  We need these old guys who understand how you compromise and get things done without throwing your constituents to the dogs.  Sigh. 

I'm doing the surgery

Next week, AFTER the choral concert.  I had my lung tapped (to be more accurate, what they really tap is the fluid around the lung) last Monday, and it didn't make me feel better.  In fact, I felt fine going in and now I'm out of breath again.  Makes no sense at all.  I thought it was all getting gradually better, but if it's going to continue, and be this random, then I am ready to do the hospital thing.  Wildcat and I were looking at the hospital brochure.  They make it look palatial, like a really fine hotel, but somehow I suspect you have to pay extra for those fancy-schmancy rooms, and Blue Cross would probably not go for it.

This week I am just concentrating on the concert and fulfilling my musical obligations.  I am in a little small-group thing in the concert, so I hope I can still breathe okay on Sunday (if not I guess I will sneak breaths -- I'm good at that).

Rereading Fire and Hemlock, one of my favorite DWJs.  What I love in that book is the non-magical stuff, like the heartbreaking scene where Polly is wandering around Bristol, abandoned by her parents and her pride.  What I should be reading is the three manuscripts for tomorrow's crit group meeting.  I've read them all once, but need to reread and comment.  Sometimes I wonder why anyone would want my opinion on these things.

Thanksgiving was nice -- I made FOUR PIES.  And yet I still can't finish that ECS story about Dessert Guy....working on a new direction for it, but it's not quite gelled.

Love to all of you.

Lots of elevens today

So, November.  This year it's looking a lot prettier than October, as the leaves changed very late.  I wish that I were making good use of my time, writing furiously or something.  But this is the problem with writing short stories (at least if you are me).  You get one where you haven't figured out how to finish (I actually did finish it, but I know it's not right, and my Thursday group, big cheerleaders that they are, were decidedly lukewarm about it), and then what do you do?  At least with a longer project there's almost always something you can do with it.  If you're stuck in one place, you can work on a different spot, or you can outline (uh, if you're not me, that is -- I hate outlining and am lousy at it) or at least think hard about all the characters and work on their backstories and their relationships in your head.  But when stuck on a short story, if I don't know where it goes, what else can I do?  Start another one, which will soon land me in the same predicament?  Or try to finish one of the other half-finished ones -- and all of it kind of needs some sort of idea to descend upon my brain.

So, I wish I were working on a long project.  I wish the two interesting scenes I've got in my head went with even the vaguest notion of a plot or setting. Or that I knew what to do with the three or four novels I've started that fizzled out around page 60.  I used to be better at this.  I used to scoff at the idea that one needed "inspiration."  But I have to admit, I kind of do.  Send some, please, if you have any extra lying around.

Lung fluid is apparently coming back (according to X-ray Monday) but much more slowly -- I don't feel it at all, I'm not out of breath and can sing just fine.  The thoracic surgeon's office was supposed to call this week, I thought, but maybe they decided there was no emergency and they would wait before doing anything.  Notice I didn't call them. Meanwhile I keep getting things in the mail -- "Your stay at Brigham and Women's Hospital",  a brochure and giant package of advice about my upcoming hospital stay -- and from Blue Cross, an approval for my upcoming surgery.  And I'm like, WHAT upcoming surgery?  To my knowledge I haven't been scheduled for surgery, I've told them I really don't want to do the surgery unless it becomes absolutely necessary, which it obviously isn't at the moment.  It feels like a conspiracy, like whispered voices in my ear: "Do the surgery."  Hopefully it's just some sort of bureaucratic mistake.

Cats.  They are nice.  Even though they can also be incredibly annoying.  Teco has decided that, as part of her ongoing project to be around me every minute, she should drape herself around my neck whenever possible, like at dinner or when I'm on the computer.  This is all very sweet, what with the purring in my ear and so forth, but then the claws come out as she starts to slip down my back, and I scream and throw her across the room.  It's a little routine we have going.  Figgy is much more dignified and satisfies himself with walking all over the keyboard and accidentally typing Google searches for "++++++."

Now you can see that you all have way more interesting lives than I do! 

Thoughts on napping

Entre el vivir y el sonar
hay una tercera cosa.

-Antonio Machado

(sorry, I'm not so good at figuring out accents.  Good thing I'm not in Norway, eh?)

So I always thought the third thing was imagination or something like that.  Now I'm not sure, because I've discovered this weird, trance-like state of mind which I call "napping."  Admittedly, some of what I call "napping" is in fact napping -- there is actual sleep involved.  But a lot of the time it's just lying down letting my mind wander where it will.  It wanders into some pretty strange places.  Sometimes I hear characters in a story talking (I like that).  Other times it's like the most bizarre NPR broadcast ever, with someone who sounds like Gerard Depardieu and maybe someone who sounds like George Clooney, and me, and we seem to be at a cocktail party where I am explaining the secrets of astrophysics to them.  I know nothing of astrophysics but it all sounds extremely intelligent.  I always wonder, if I could get up and write it all down, whether it would be absolute nonsense or whether it is in fact some subconscious genius of which I am unaware.  Probably the former, but we'll never know, because to get up and write it down would break the state of mind, and part of the whole experience is that it is completely un-self-conscious.  Once I start thinking about it, beyond a vague objective feeling of "this is really weird," the voices stop and the party's over, and the NPR in my head is back to playing "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," although this isn't so bad since my mind does a pretty good imitation of Peter Sagal.

Also sometimes I look out the window and watch things really closely, like the time I watched a horned toad crawl up the wall outside my parents' house.  That's not especially weird, but it's kind of cool.

I'm not napping quite so much these days, which I think is cause for celebration.  As much fun as it is to live like a cat (breakfast, nap, shower, nap, lunch, nap...) it's really, really bad for getting anything done except, well, napping.  But I'd like to stay in touch with this "tercera cosa" just a little bit, strange as it is.  I never knew my subconscious was so interested in astrophysics.

Random amusing things from my vacation

Well, the liver counts are stabilizing.  I still look 9 months pregnant with elephant legs, but I'll take the stable liver, thank you.  Meanwhile I have done almost nothing except errands and maintenance to keep the house going.  I did type out that story.  It's okay but needs a little work yet. 

I never did a New Mexico post, and it's all fading now (except the wonderful smell of sun on pines, or the even nicer one after it rains, ahhhh), but here are some things that happened:

-On our way back home the first time, we stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque, and got on the elevator with several people dressed as witches and so forth.  "We," I told Wildcat, "have walked into a Con."  Indeed, it turned out to be called Bubonicon -- really!  Their mascot is a rat! -- and the program afforded us much amusement, as did the general atmosphere --- until we found out our plane was cancelled and Dr. C was put on hold for 2 hours before he gave up.  By then, not so amusing.  I was sorry I didn't feel better and couldn't wander the halls thinking of Deep Secret.

-Faust at the Santa Fe Opera.  Oh my goodness. the devil was so charming, and kept doing this master-of-disguises thing where he'd suddenly turn up somewhere, whipping off his outer clothes and revealing himself.  I have never heard a better, more rousing "Le veau d'or."  Who knew evil could be so much fun?  The crazy carnival settings worked for me.

- We went hiking.  Dr. C climbed four mountains.  Of course, two are right next to each other across a knife edge, but they have separate named peaks, so I'm totally counting it.  I worked myself up for like two weeks and went for a hike I once considered pretty easy.  I barely made it -- three hours -- but I was determined and I did it.  And oh it was lovely up there with the aspen and the ponderosa and the blue, blue sky.

- True to our usual pattern, we brought rain to a drought-parched land, providing several all-night soakers.  It's a good to have a talent.
I was going to make a nice post about New Mexico -- hiking, food, opera, etc. -- but life has tossed me a curve ball.

Went into the hospital Tuesday for a doctor's appointment and treatment, and found out that my liver counts were all way up and that bloated feeling in my stomach was not due to excessive green chile or ice cream, but due to fluid buildup in the abdomen.  So, no treatment, but had a CT scan unexpectedly, and indeed the old chemo (the one from hell) has stopped working.  So, started a new one yesterday (at home -- pills!  Fewer hospital visits!).  This is all fine except that my abdomen is still swollen and sometimes quite painful, and I itch all over my body REALLY BAD.  Which is apparently also a liver thing.  And this all freaks me out because it's the first time I've had symptoms from the cancer rather than just the chemo.  So, yeah, freaked out, in pain, itching, feeling lousy. 

Oh, and I forgot to mention how the laundry sink was full of disgusting gunk and I couldn't call the town sewer guys until Tuesday because of Monday holiday.  They did come out and fix it, but there is still a laundry backlog.  Heck, I still haven't unpacked from the trip!

Last night a crown fell out of my back tooth, and I was like, "Seriously?  THIS WEEK  you choose to fall out?"  So, today had to go to the dentist, who is a lovely man who unfortunately practices in Wellesley, half an hour of bad traffic away.  However, I have all my teeth again.  And I managed to wash towels, a long overdue project.

Anyway, I have a story in my head that's been there a week or more, and I haven't had a chance to write it or type it.  Too much medical/dental woe this week. 

Yo all

Just a quick post to say we are back home, and goodness!  there's a lot of back posts from friends to read!  It may take a while.  A pleasant while, though.

We got all reeady to come back on Saturday, went to Albuquerque to catch the plane, etc. -- and it was cancelled.  So we ended up staying four extra days in NM, which was not exactly torture :).  However, my chemo scehdule's been thrown waaaay off.  I haven't had treatment in weeks now, which is fun for me but maybe not so great cancer-wise.  Ah well, what can you do?  Hurricanes happen (thought hardly ever in Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire).

Evil Coffee Shop -- Blind Date

This one's still sort of in-progress.  I still don't love the ending, and it's definitely not one of the funnier ones.  But it has some good moments, I think.  Suggestions welcome.


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