Triple Play

1. Just 'Cause I'm Morbid Doesn't Mean I'm Sick
I've heard from a few people, worried about me because I haven't blogged lately and because I talk about my demise in a recent post. I'm fine. I have a routine oncology appointment May 2, and will report on that. I'm going to be a keynote presenter at a conference in Iowa City on Friday. I went to step aerobics tonight and was my usual clumsy self, but didn't fall. One time I fell backwards when I was sitting down and using one of those colored elastic stretcher things. They're dangerous.

2. What Price Friendship
In case anyone wondered, I've figured it out. It's the difference between the cost of a house in Wrigleyville and one in Andersonville (2 miles north). We have been looking at condos and houses because L and I are going to live together full time, after four years of marriage. He still has his house in Gary, though he stays in my condo most of the time. My condo is big but there's no room for his furniture there, or for an office for him. We're planning to sell his house and find a place where we can both have offices, as well as a guest room. A few weeks ago we paid earnest money on a brick farmhouse around the corner. It's very close to B and S; some time ago S and I vowed to stay in the neighborhood. They live down the alley from us now. We found out today that it would cost, roughly, half the selling price to rehab the place properly. So we threw in the towel. We have to have vintage (or else I'll be depressed) and we have to have outdoor space for L. There's tons of vintage north of us, but I promised S. And so we keep looking. My parents chose their neighbors when we moved into a new house in the 1960s. The three families bought the land together and drew straws to see who would be in the middle. We were, with the W---s on one side, and the S---s on the other. The families are still friends.

L and I realize that in most of the world, my condo would house 30 people. I said this to my visiting friend D, and he said: I'm glad you said it because I don't like to criticize my friends. Later he sent me an email in French that said, Property is theft.

3. 85 Years
This year again I didn't go to the homeland (Texas) for Passover. Sunday was my mother-in-law's 85th birthday so we sojourned with her in Litchfield, IL, tripling the Jewish population there for two days. L's kids came from Indianapolis: daughter, son and his wife and stepdaughter. They're all Christian. I led a short seder Saturday night for us. A friend of L's mother's came, too. I used the 1923 Union (Reform) haggadahs on hand, published the same year that L's mother was born. It didn't mention the 10 plagues. I think this is because the plagues seemed too magical to the logical Reform rabbis who felt the need oh-so-strongly back then to differentiate themselves from the superstitious Orthodox. At the seder on Saturday L asked the group: [Cancer Bitch], my mother and I are the least religious people here. Why do you think we wanted to have the seder? Our stepgranddaughter, aged 7, said: Because you're Jew-iss? L said he likes Passover because of the focus on liberation, and the way that you can make analogies with other freedom struggles. I said I like that aspect and also I like to think that people for thousands of years were observing the holiday just like we are. More or less. I'd pointed out that the haggadah was male-centric and had been published only three years after women got the vote. We had our granddaughter open the door for Elijah and look for the afikomen. If I had it to do over, I would have used a simple haggadah written for children, without verbs that end in "eth" and without so much God. In Houston I use an amalgam of texts. Sometimes we just go with the The Telling haggadah, which is egalitarian and progressive and quotes Emma Goldman. How many haggadahs can say that?


Brie Mia Wright said...

I was very moved by your readings at the conference in Iowa City. During the question session at the end (which was dominated by a particular Pediatrics Oncology doctor) I think the entire atrium began to feel uncomfortable due to his rantings about accepting cancer and life when being around children with cancer. I wanted to scream to him--"what are you doing??? Do you not understand that this woman is sharing a part of herself with us, making human-to-human connections in a way that sheer conversation does not touch, reading to us her thoughts on life and love and cancer and dying and hate and blueberry scones???" Because you see, by being publically critical of you, he severed that human connection that you had established with everyone in the room. He made it seem as if you didn't know what you were talking about, and he forgot what you were here for. Somehow, the root of all my anxieties of going into medical school someday stems from people like him and comments that he made. It wasn't what he said exactly, it was how he said it: as if he knew the answer because he was the doctor and had such insight over everyone else. Well, nobody has anything over anyone else in this world. That's why writing is such a beautiful thing and transcends all of this disconnection that arrogance heeds. A favorite author of mine, whom also happens to be a doctor, William Carlos Williams, once wrote: "It is not what you say that matters but the manner in which you say it; there lies the secret of the ages." Well, kudos to you for saying what you say with such grace and wit and non-pretentiousness, and thank you for sharing it with the rest of us. Yes, everyone will die someday. It could be cancer, it could be old age, it could be a bomb. I know I'm young and don't have the most insight, but I do know this: We all yearn for human connections while we're here on earth. It's that feeling of understanding--understanding the past and understanding other people's suffering, understanding someone else's hurt, understanding our own happiness. It's that feeling that we're all in this together, and we're all, in essence, yearning for that same thing: connection.

You connected with me whether you knew it or not today, and I wanted to come give you a hug and tell you something rare and unique and memorable, but I didn't because I felt that writing would have been a more meaningful way of showing my gratitude. You have inspired me to start a blog--one of these days, because writing is sometimes the only thing that keeps us sane:)(And what not a better way to archive my thoughts, on a computer, it's ingenious! Much more practical than always writing in a journal.) From one woman to another, keep it up--and let your honesty shine, shine shine!


Cancer Bitch said...

Wow. Thank you so much. It was only the second time I've read from the blog in public to an audience and I was gratified that people were listening, especially doctor-type people. I didn't mind the questioner so much. I had a moderator once use me as a part of a cautionary tale: See what happens when you tell your children about the Holocaust when they're too young.
--c. bitch


Hi S.L. alias C.B.:

Glad to read you're fine!

How was Iowa City? Wish I could've been there :-)

Best of luck as U&L continue house hunting!



sue carrel said...

I was in your writing class in May, 2003. You're both a great teacher and writer. We moved to Seattle right after that but now we're back. When I heard your voice on WBEZ I wasn't surprised because I knew you sometimes contributed to them. But I was blown away that YOU were the Cancer Bitch. So I looked up your blog and caught up on your life for the past few years. Sounds like you're doing okay, and I like your short hair too. Will you be teaching any writing classes in the fall? Sue C.

Cancer Bitch said...

Hi Sue, I might be teaching in Highland Park again later in the summer.