September

That my hair has not returned. That I have about 20 little white hairs scattered all over my scalp, about a half-inch long each. And nothing more. That I visited the dentist twice last week as part of the world's most-protracted root-canal procedure, and the temporary crown has fallen out. That my husband does not feel bad for nagging me. That he nags me because of the weight I gained since I met him, his nagging coming in the form of little unwanted suggestions about exercise. That he would say it's all about exercise. That I cannot control my paperwork. That paper is crowding all around me, and I feel guilty for gathering up the get-well cards and birthday cards from the mantel and putting them in a big envelope to give to children to make into boxes. That I am mired in yet another book review. That I forget words. That I couldn't think, for instance, of what to call that machine next to the radio, the Cuisinart. That I am a pause-er more than in the past because of this aphasia. That I've had this aphasia and gaps in my memory since I was 30. That I can't blame it all on chemo-brain. That I am tired. That I am more tired than in the middle of chemo. That people ask, When did they say your hair would be back? and "they" didn't tell me. That when I ask my friend Miz P about paperwork she tells me she saves every single letter and then reveals that she and her husband lease a storage space. That I tell a non-pack-rat about the invoice from 1982 for my payment as a stand-up comic ($10) and she says, You can't throw that away! That I have gone through this life-changing medical event and have not changed my life. That I can smell fishiness coming from the empty bag of salmon jerky in the trash, the same jerky that jerked out part of my temporary crown. That I am still wrestling with the novel or whatever it is that I started in the summer of 1981. That I read reviews in the paper and I'm jealous or envious of both the reviewer and the author of the book reviewed. That I'm not getting any younger. That I am dying. That a man in my new yoga class looks like my podiatrist, and that young people don't have podiatrists. That my heel hurts when I walk more than a mile despite the new orthotics and the silicone slip-on ankle-thing. That I have to finish the syllabus for class Sept. 18 and was going to print it out to work on it in the Little Cafe but I ran out of printer cartridges. That I had to get the air conditioner fixed yesterday. That we have that crack in the bedroom wall. That the mantel looks better without all the cards on it but also looks forlorn and sad. That I feel sad looking at it without its lovely cards bearing good personal wishes for my health and happiness. That my mother can tell on the phone that I'm walking and if I was in that good of shape she shouldn't be able to hear me breathing like that, should she? That the books have outgrown the shelves. That I'm not Grace Paley. That everyone else has more books (that they've written). That I have no disclipline. That I have no children, so where has all that time gone? That even people who've had children are so much skinnier than I am. That I have cassette recordings of things I don't care about any more but I don't want to throw away the tapes because it's wasteful but it takes too much time to record emptiness over them. That the pile of scratch paper is too tall. That you can't save everything. That I don't know if I'd regret it if I threw away the receipt of payment for being a standup comic. That I have a box of things I wrote in graduate school and haven't looked at them in years so why am I saving them? That I miss the cards on the mantel already, including one with woodcuts of cardinals on it from two years ago. That I am so foolish that my goose-lamp has a Cubs outfit I put on her. That it's September and I haven't sent out any new work to literary magazines. That the 15th is the deadline for a contest of recorded essays and I don't have a clue about the technology involved. That I don't know how many people are coming to dinner on Wednesday. That I haven't called the fish market to order the fish for it or decided whether it will be gumbo or cioppino and which did I have last year or both? That other people don't have six four-drawer file cabinets. That I didn't think I would have to keep ordering henna and fruit-ink from that place in California, almost six weeks after the last chemo treatment. That I plan to change oncologists because the current one seems bored by my case but he's leading a meeting about new treatments in cancer in two weeks and I'm afraid if I change before then he'll be upset when he sees me. That I bother to think that. That in reality he should be bothered by why I wanted to change, should use that as a cue to look inside himself. That really I'm afraid I'll feel embarrassed to see him. That I haven't sent out all the forms for pathology reports that I should, to aid in the genetic counselor's work. That I don't have a schedule or a routine. That I don't have discipline. That I have vitiligo. That B's sister had it but it went away after she stopped drinking milk. That I think about quitting dairy and then I don't. That I do for a little while and then I don't. That everything makes me weary. That the thought of carrying rice milk with me everywhere makes me weary. That I used to walk longer without getting tired. That I'm not sure what getting tired means. That I don't know if it's the body or the mind, the eyes, the sleepiness of the eyes. That I have hot flashes that melt the ink on my head. That the henna I bought on Devon Avenue faded on my head after two days, after G's lovely design job. That the bicycle seat needs to be raised. That everyone is ahead of me. That I don't know what I really mean but I know it's true. That I have on my desk a blank taxi-cab receipt, a brochure from a Portland restaurant about mindful breathing, a box of bills, my old planner and my new one, two Diet Dr. Pepper cans and so much more. That there is always so much more, including a monitor I haven't used in about two years. That I say to myself: If you throw that away, you might regret it, but you can live with the regret. That for months I did sun salutations in the morning and then for months and months I didn't and this morning I did one downward-facing dog because I was too lazy to unroll the mat. That I slept 14-1/2 hours today, and thus missed both an anti-war demonstration at my congressman's office and a BBQ for Obama. That I'm afraid I'm for Obama only because he's more exciting than Hillary. That I don't care who wins as long as s/he a Democrat. That I should decide. That I still resent the Obama for Senate campaign for sending us out to register voters without signage and without the capacity to really register them, we were in reality pre-registering them. That the papers are stacked and stacked. That I have four versions of a reading packet from teaching 10 years ago. That I know whole famlies live in houses the size of my office. That I am not mindful. That I don't like the pictures I glued onto the cover of my new calendar-planner. That they seem too chaotic. The central one is of Simon Rodia and Watt Towers. That I was in L.A. last fall and forgot to go see Watts Towers. That I want to build a Watts Towers. A monument. Something grand and crazy and built bit by bit. To last.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Your hair will come back, very soon now I think. It does take longer than expected because first it has to finish falling out. You've been through so much! The chemo brain also gets better; takes time, too. According to Susan Love, the regime I was on had the worst effect on IQ when women were tested 6 months after treatment ended--I think it was the prolongued exposure to cytoxin. (Also the most pronounced effect on hormones which may be why I'm still have hot flashes.) For a while I thought my foggyness was permanent, but then I actually felt it lift and voila I was smarter than I remembered being before the whole ordeal (so hard to know, of course, but I learned a bunch of Spanish in a week). All this is to say, things will get better. Dr. Wolter assured me that EVERYONE's hair returned--no exceptions ever!

Susan M said...

Nothing to be said in response to an inventory like this one except that I have read every word and believe I understand it in all its particularity.

Sam said...

Ok, you caught me.

I keep saying I can read these posts and just let them be, or that I can look at then and not really read every word - but you caught me with the first sentence and wouldn't let me go until I started typing.

Now I'm sorry I haven't responded sooner - many times.

Best wishes from an ex-student, or is that an eternal student who hasn't had you for a teacher for a while, anyway - hope to seee you again soon. With or without hair seems less important.