Archive for August, 2011

Not the Last Lecture

August 20, 2011

This week I needed to go back to the place where I get my annual mammogram. I’ve had to do this each year for the past three years. It’s always been that the x-rays they took missed some view or were unclear…never because they saw something they did not want to see. So this year when I had to go back I was annoyed, thinking this place just wasn’t especially good at taking scans. I wasn’t scared at all, until the technician told me they saw a mass that needed further viewing. After more x-rays and then an ultrasound with some time to wait and worry I learned that it was only a benign cyst, and nothing more needed to be done.
I hadn’t had much time for anxiety to really set in…maybe forty minutes to an hour. In that time I didn’t think that it was going to be life or death…more like an easy life or a life interrupted by a lot of visits to doctors, calls to friends, losing hair, painful biopsies, and worst of all, whether and how I would tell my mother, who is frantic pretty much on an hourly basis. I wondered how I would deal with the car pool, when I would do my work, who I would call for a second opinion. When the scary bits were behind me I did not think…ahhh, now I understand what it is to appreciate every day. I did go running over to Starbucks and bought myself the medium (Grande) sized latte, plus some sort of pannini, plus a croissant for my son.
The truth is that for me it is impossible to live each day as though it were the last. If I really knew I had one day left of my life, well I’d waste it by being in a tizzy all day long. If I thought I had a month or two I suppose I would spend a whole lot of time with my family, maybe try to crank out more yellow gloves with more pages of Ulysses on them. I don’t think I would read a lot but I would sign up for netflix and watch a lot of movies. If I had a year or two that’s when things would get tricky. A lot of what I don’t want to do and what I imagine I would like to cut from my life are social obligations. The sort of thing where you are invited to do something and to not do it would be rude, and messy because in this idiotic tiny state if you don’t follow social mores you are extremely likely to run into the person you stiffed. So, if I knew I were dying in a year or maybe two but I still looked great I would probably still have to answer to those sorts of obligations or I would have to answer every invitation with “gee, I normally would love to come to your talk, show, event, but you see, I only have one year to live…maybe two and I am just not that into you”. I mean…that isn’t going to happen. I think if I had a year or two to live I would be as obligated as ever, and just more resentful about it.
The very night of my breast cancer scare I had agreed to go to a talk at a gallery about collecting art. I signed up and made a reservation because I knew a few of my art friends would attend, I know one of the speakers, I know the woman who runs the gallery where the talk took place. I wanted to go…but I partly wanted to go to network with said artists, curators, and collectors. If I knew I was dying I probably wouldn’t bother to network. It’s such a slow process and usually yields no results except for another few friends on facebook. But I was fine and so I went. I didn’t mind the talk though I was sad that the main collector in RI does not collect my work. And I was also sad about a few other things, which always happens to me when I go to a social event like that. I find myself thinking too much and fretting about my stature or lack of it and I think everyone else is swell and doing fantastically and I just want to run home to my dog.
I stayed. I smiled, I muddled through and talked with people. I made a witty comment everyone seemed to enjoy. I found people to add to my facebook friends list.
I am so glad I do not have breast cancer. But if I did, I don’t think things would have changed in the way it seems to change some people. I have friends who have had to deal with cancer. They do seem better at holding on to the things they enjoy, and making choices that make them happier. I am close to one person who was given a diagnosis of one to two years to live. I think about her all the time now. I wonder how she is dealing with this new reality. It has not changed who she is though I think it has changed what she does. Sometimes I think about her when I am deciding whether or not to do something. Right now that’s as close as I have gotten to living my life as if each day were the last. That’s not profound, but it’s the truth.

Someones and Somethings Update

August 2, 2011

I want to let people know that I took action. I called the Someones who I thought had been ignoring me. As is usually the case in these matters, they were very busy and were delighted (or sounded delighted) to speak with me on the phone.
I e-mailed the Someone who had received the Something from me but had not responded and this time the Someone responded immediately and told me that the Something was in the hands of a Big Someone.
So, at least I can put those two issues to rest for a while.
Now I am hoping to hear from the Big Someone about the Something in her hands. If I don’t, I know it won’t be anything personal this time. But it will be a disappointment.
If I do hear from the Big Someone I will write a post about it because Everyone will want to know, and be happy for me, I hope.