OLWG #10: “C” is for Cancel…

…as in, “Cancel that Cancer. All Clear.”

good news

TNKerr, the author of AOOGA-The Unofficial Online Writer’s Guild, as well as his own blog site, announced he received the good news that the year of treatment, positive thinking, listening to what his doctors, nurses, therapists, wife, children, friends and family told him to do, along with all the rest that goes into “battling cancer,” worked. He is fully on the mend.

Many of us are enduring cancer, either as a patient, or as someone providing additional care and moral support for another undergoing treatment. So, the news that someone made it through is uplifting.

The time was the prognosis was almost certainly fatal. As a child, I remember the overwhelming feeling of shock and sadness when we learned that a member of the family or someone we knew had been diagnosed. These days, the initial shock and sadness remains, but it’s followed by what would have previously thought unbelievable: A sense of hope, that, however awful, however trying the months ahead will prove to be, full recovery might just be possible.

I have to hold to this hope because so many in my life are, or have received cancer treatment. The most recent is my manager’s husband. His condition is such that she must take family leave. There are three other cancer diagnosis scenarios at my workplace in the past two years. A few years ago one of my sisters underwent a long 18-month ordeal with throat cancer. One of my brothers-in-law has undergone treatment for four separate diagnoses over the past decade, and currently is undergoing what can only be described as treatment for a cancer so aggressive, he must be routinely scanned and treated throughout each year of his life. He says all he can do is live life one treatment at a time. An old acquaintance has survived two bouts of leukemia and feels much the same way: Live life one day at a time/one treatment at a time and always hope for the best.

Of course, there are the losses, which is why we feel such dread when we learn of a diagnosis. A grandmother and an uncle were the ones to introduce me to the terrifying world of cancer, followed just a few years later by a brother. Cancer was thought of as something that happened to older people and chain smokers, not young men in their prime. Since my childhood, I can count on both hands the family, friends and others with whom my life has crossed paths who have succumbed to cancer.

I always dream of a time when disease of any sort can be, at best, eradicated, or at least, managed. I mean, who doesn’t dream of that outcome? Who doesn’t aspire to live life as best we can with a simple chronic condition, rather than a painful and debilitating disease, and with the hope that, when the time comes, we pass quickly and quietly in our sleep? Or die laughing, as my other grandmother did (Truly. While playing Pinochle with friends. Someone told a joke that really hit her funny bone. She let out a huge laugh and collapsed face down on the table of a massive stroke. Never knew what hit her).

Now, if you’ve read through the post to the end, you may wonder why I bolded a couple of words. The highlighted words are this week’s OLWG writing prompts: Unbelievable; Well, my wife told me…; I’ve dreamt that before.

Three cheers for my blogging buddy, tnkerr! I expect your celebrations involve something to do with NM, hockey, disc golf, drawing, family, friends, and, of course, writing!

OK redhead

(Looks nothin’ like me, btw…)

Where’s the Function Key for “Risk”?

When I saw the greeting card pictured here while out shopping with a friend, I busted out laughing so loudly, I gave my friend a start. The card now sits prominently on my desk at home (I wouldn’t dare display this on my desk at work. It doesn’t inspire confidence in those who are in positions that require they follow my lead).

I am not a risk taker for the sake of throwing caution to the wind.  In my humble opinion, to be that juiced is delusional. It seems not just careless, but indicative of a certain level of impatience and laziness. Nevertheless, I can’t help but envy those who exemplify, “with great risk comes great reward.” Actually, the people I admire are those who embody “with great risk comes no reward, in fact it completely failed, but, whatever, I’ll try again, or maybe just move on to the next thing.” They have a moxey I don’t.

When I’m inspired; not just daydreaming, but truly inspired, I am a risk-taker. I’m motivated to leap forward and take a chance. But mostly I fall into the, “I find the prospect intriguing, so it might be worth investigating” category, which means I’m a calculated risk-taker. I study, research, discuss, plan, and when I’ve exhausted all that effort, I take a little bunny hop into action. That’s why the greeting card cracked me up, because for all my planning, etc., I don’t hit the mark as often as I would like (plus, truly, I am bad with mathematics).

It’s not that genuine risk-takers neglect preparation. They just don’t use it like a safety harness, the way I do. If pushed, gamblers will admit to taking precautions, and will agree that skill—the kind that comes from a certain amount of preparation and training—is a solid foundation from which to set forward with taking risk.

But no one can call a genuine risk-taker, “calculated.” What sets apart calculated risk-takers and all-out risk-takers is spirit and confidence. Risk-takers are trail blazers. They give the rest of us the assurance that having faith in the untried is as important as the calculated risk-takers’ need to first assess the realm of possibility. For that reason, I am encouraged by genuine risk-takers.

Regardless my admiration, I will probably always remain as I am, for as Warren Buffet is credited as saying, “Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”  However, I try to push myself, because I think the following quote attributed to Ray Bradbury embraces the spirit of having faith in one’s ability: “…risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.”

The irony being I don’t like ice cream

You guessed it: Another re-post of an old post. Editing can be fun!


No-ice-cream-sign

Maybe I don’t like ice cream because it’s cold. I mean, I’m one of those people who prefers tap water to ice water. I’ve never liked Slurpees, Slushees, shaved ice, or frozen margaritas. I haven’t tried it, but my guess is I would prefer beer the way the Brits like it: at room temperature.

As a kid, I would always ask—politely, because my mother did not raise a wild urchin, as she like to remind us from time to time—to not be served ice cream with birthday cake. If there was one thing I hate, it’s melting ice cream all over perfectly-wonderful-by-itself birthday cake. I always get astonished looks. “Who doesn’t like ice cream?”

Well, me.

I’m also not a sweets-nut. I don’t hate sweets. No one really hates sweets. I’m just saying I can take dessert or leave it. I will eat the birthday cake, but not always the frosting. It used to crack my grandmother up to watch me eat around the frosting, mining out only the cake. One time when I was clearing out the fridge, I found a slice of cake way in the back. It had molded. I am not kidding. “Who lets a piece of cake mold?!” a friend of mine admonished (this is the same friend who asked the same question about ice cream). As I say, I can take it or leave sweet stuff, but I ought to make a more regular habit of cleaning out the fridge.

So, when I saw the prompt that asked to write about an ice cream flavor that is the essence of myself , I had to stop and think. Is it still “ice cream” if it’s not frozen and not sweet? What would that actually be? A bowl of Alfredo sauce? Perhaps. With lots of garlic. Sprinkled with roasted pine nuts and served over spinach fettuccine. Now, that I could eat a whole bowl of. Yum.


 

A slow news day

It’s fun to re-read posts from years ago. I had fun writing this one, so decided to repost:


newsLOCAL WOMAN MISSES ONE; POSSIBLY TWO CONNECTIONS

In a statement released to The WordPress Press early Saturday, a local woman woke on Friday with a feeling that it was going to be one of those days.

“I just had a feeling it was going to be one of those days,” she said.

A longtime resident of the North Neighborhood in Big Northwest City, the local woman stated she was already running late for a lunch appointment 10 miles south of Big Northwest City when she recieved a text from the lunch appointment asking to reschedule for a another day.

In the local woman’s released statement, the text read, “I SUCK! It’s a s*** storm over here today! Just noticed the time! Can’t break away! Pls reschedule ASAP! [angry emoticon/weeping out loud emoticon/sticking out tongue and squinting emoticon/flower/sunglasses/pink poodle emoji].”

WordPress Press contacted the local woman for further comment. She stated she replied in a text that a rescheduled lunch appointment would not be a problem, but that selecting a new day and time would have to wait until she returned to her place of employment.

“I left my calendar at work. It was very stressful. All I could do was reply with another pink poodle emoji.”

According to the local woman’s released statement, another connection was missed later that same day. Just as she parked her car on a street downtown at approximately 5:30 pm, she received a frantic cell phone call from the friend she was to meet. According to the local woman, her friend was stuck in traffic far away from Big Northwest City and would be running very late to meet her.

“He was very upset.”  She went on to say, “There might have been an accident, or stalled car that caused the backup, but the radio said something about three major high school/college graduations taking place in town, so maybe that was the reason.”

The WordPress Press could not independently verify her statement. Requests for an interview with the friend went unanswered.

In her closing statement, the woman said, “Ya know, some days are just like that. Whatever.”

###

Those Were the Days

horsedrawn-carriage-to-the-moon

Russia House. The movie. It was recently on TV.  Great thriller. I remember seeing it on video shortly after it was released. Little did I know at the time that several of the supporting cast members would surface 25 years later as some of my favorite British film/TV actors. That’s a fun part of watching old movies.

When I was very young, I didn’t understand my parents’ thrill when an older film popped up on TV. I always assumed their enthusiasm for all things World War II and farther back was because it was of their generation; an intense period in history that none of the rest of us could, or ever would understand.

Now that I’m in my 50s, I think I get nostalgia. I am giddy when I see a Laugh-In rerun (there are only a few of you who know what a “rerun” is). Seeing 70s era films and TV shows with groovy chicks, like I wanted to be, with their long, stringy hair, parted in the middle (which my hairline would never do), dressed in hip-huggers and halter tops make me wistful. It brings back memories of Krishnas singing and dancing in the street. Vietnam war protests, Flower Power stickers, and Michael Jackson, when he was just a cute kid I had a crush on; when he was just a sweet boy in a boy band with his brothers. Doin’ the Hustle at 7th grade cotillion instead of the Waltz or Foxtrot (my mother was so shocked), Watergate-blah-blah-bah, sneaking into the family room after everyone was in bed to watch Saturday Night Live (with the volume barely audible so as not to wake my parents), the Cold War and loving how naughty it felt to sing aloud “Back in the U.S.S.R.” when my father was in earshot. Standing at the school bus stop all through the full eclipse of the sun, seen only from my corner of the world at the time.

Every generation is sentimental for days gone by. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have at least one complaint about how much things change from their youth to their adulthood. I suppose Millennials are approaching a time when hearing an early LL Cool J song will bring back memories of how computers used to be these heavy, giant blocks of putty-colored plastic and the internet was something you dialed into from a modem that made loud electronic noises (and downloading a file took at least 30 minutes).

But, if you think your world is moving too fast, think about my grandparents.* For literally hundreds of years before they were born, the only way you got from Point A to Point B was on horseback, or on a horse-drawn wagon of some kind. For hundreds of years, that was how it was done. Then, one day, you hear about these things they call machines; this thing they call the Automobile. Hell, that’s nothin’! They put a goddamned man on the moon! (as one grandfather would have put it). You think things are changing fast these days? Try living in a time when horse drawn carriages, oil lamp light, no electricity or running water were the standard, and had been for generations, to the discovery of molecules, atoms, industrialization and putting a man on the moon, all in the span of 70-some years. It’s a wonder my grandparents entire generation didn’t curl up into a fetal position in an all-out, mass nervous breakdown.

My point is, if they survived the whip-lash change of pace, and challenges to the absolutes they thought to be irrefutable with the modicum of grace and civility they were able to manage, so can we.

So can we.


*All four of my grandparents were born in the 1880s to 1900 and died in the late 50s through the early 80s. 

 

OLWG #4: Dig Down Deep? Maybe Not.

I’m taking the essay approach to the Online Writer’s Guild prompt today. The prompts are: 

  1. Time to excavate our relationship
  2. A twenty dollar shine on ten dollar boots
  3. It’s a handicapped spot

Ah, the dreaded, “we have to talk.” We’ve all been there. But it shouldn’t be dismissed as a twenty-dollar shine on a pair of ten-dollar boots. The time comes when all relationships need excavating in order to get reacquainted with what forged and molded them in the first place.

Couples expect, at some point, they will have to open up and reveal themselves in order to determine either how to carry on, or if it is time to come apart. It’s the unspoken understanding when we enter into a romantic relationship. But, other relationships undergo a similar journey of discovery, or at least, ought to.

Professional relationships, advisedly, don’t wander into the touchy-feely, emotional-needs-being-met realm of human interaction, but they need examining nonetheless. You can have a department full of smart, experienced, talented, hardworking souls, but if they are not getting along, their potential won’t be realized. We all can attest to the ultimately destructive power of a snarky, gossipy workplace.

Now, friendships…Well, that’s tricky. Unlike romantic or working relationships, drilling down into what makes a friendship tick is not required. You hit it off with another and the two of you get along. It’s as simple as that. Contrary to other relationships, it’s unnecessary to explain the reason why a friendship works. And, when it doesn’t work anymore, that’s that. You part company.

Depending on the emotional depth of a friendship, unearthing what lies at the heart of a platonic bond can be misconstrued as a rude intrusion of privacy. There is a point at which that level of exploration feels pushy. I suppose it’s why we differentiate one type of friendship from another. Someone is just an acquaintance, for example. A friend of a friend. Other friends are considered akin to a sibling or close relative, signifying an emotional union. These friendships may be able to tolerate, “we have to talk,” moments, but, in my experience, only to a certain extent.

What’s fascinating about true friendships is their endurance and a high level of tolerance. We give our true friends leeway; a get-out-of-jail-free card we don’t typically hand out to our lovers and co-workers. Our true friends can commit some pretty egregious errors, even betray us, before we decide to sever our ties to them. It’s like being unconcerned if an able-bodied person parks in a handicap spot. It’s wrong, but, hey, whatever. And, our true friends can go for weeks, months, even years, without contact, but once reconnected, it can feel as though no time has passed. No one ever seems to resent the lack of communication. Try that with your sweetheart and you’ll definitely be greeted with, “we have to talk.” Probably over packed boxes and a returned set of house keys. The workplace certainly has a “zero tolerance” for lack of communication. It’s usually cited as the primary cause of workplace dysfunction, or why errors were made.

This isn’t to say friendships don’t take work. They do. Friends have to navigate hurt feelings, misunderstandings and negotiate neglect, by simple virtue of the fact that all relationships need care and feeding. Friendships may have it a easier than others, but all relationships take work. It is the price we pay for being a sentient creature.


I blatantly ignored the clock this time. Sorry! I need to go back to writing these during lunch hour.