Musings

On Diagnosis

The hardest part about being a writer is figuring out what "it's" gonna be "about."

When you write for a publication they pretty much tell you what "it" is because they know what "it" is their readers want to see. But when you're working on your own piece it's different. Even if you're David Sedaris, you can't write about two young kids falling in love because it's been done before and you can't throw in a curveball like a terminal disease because everyone's read that book on the shelf that already does that. They've seen the movie too.

At this point, then, what does it even mean to be a writer who writes what she knows? Does she have to turn the up the heat to make "it" worth reading? Add in aliens? Add in aliens with terminal diseases?

What's so wrong with reading the same type of book twice anyway?

Better question: what's sooo wrong with writing something that means something to you but isn't "about" anything? Why does there need to be a twist or a lesson or a call to action or a fucking alien with a disease? Why can't it just come from your heart or wherever else it's been brewing when you stare out the window on long public transit rides?

As a writer I've been tasked with this impossible duty to write about my mom's cancer. I've toyed with so many different ways of telling this story, of explaining what it is she's going through, what I'm going through, what my dad is going through. But none of those ways are really "about" anything. None of those ways tell you to go to your nearest mother figure and tell her you love her because time is fleeting and life is full of roadblocks. None of those ways are poetic or beautiful or melodically metaphoric like all my favorite writers make the most morbid things seem. None of those ways are this. But I settled on this.

My mother is what they call a fighter. I've always wondered what that means for people whose parents are Ronda Rousey or the Rock; do they have to carry ID to prove their parents are literally heavyweight champs? Do they get tired of the cliché "he was such a fighter" statements people throw around at their children's second grade softball tournaments? (Maybe they don't, but I sure do.)

Manny Pacquiao willing, I'll just say that my mother is a fighter. She doesn't belong to the UFC or even the WWA, but she comes close. I, on the other hand, inherited close to none of this fight that professionals would sell their first borns for. I cry at even the thought of a body piercing, and my last google search was "are you sure you can't be sedated while getting tattooed?" Present in this type of pain, of course, is the choice to undergo such struggle, for the promise of some aesthetic improvement. Don't let that fool you into assuming that if the pain is medically related I wouldn't be just as much of a wuss. I assure you, I would.

My mother, however, doesn't even entertain such thoughts. She's endured childbirth, a couple eye surgeries, (my entire bratty existence), and soon, she'll tackle chemotherapy and radiation. I have no doubt she'll make it out of this diagnosis with breast cancer with a stronger resolve, a happier mind, and a healthier body. I, on the other hand, am a crumbly mess.

I often think about how people are designated health versus disease. If there really is a God, I guess he knows my mom can handle anything, and that's why he gave this to her. I wish it wasn't true sometimes, though, I wish she was a little weaker so that whatever karmic being decided she could handle it would be forced to reconsider. I constantly flit between being confident in my mother's strength and terrified at the reality of what the c-word means, and what it now means to my family.

I think about the first time I accidentally sliced my finger and the loud yell that startled out of me, the tears and the outpour of blood. I think about how unprepared I was for that moment because my mother was always so calm when her body was put through worse. I think about how my children will one day witness the expression on my mom's face--pain over some accidental injury--and not realize the magnitude of her strength until they experience that same pain themselves. I think about how I hope I'll never have to physically feel the pain she will, but how I'll never truly understand what she's capable of until I do. And then I think about how guilty that makes me feel. Recently, I've been thinking a lot of things.

I do not truly have the words or understanding to convey what any of this means. I don't have a message for you. I'm not trying to teach you any kind of lesson. There is no call to action here. I'm just being honest. This isn't really supposed to relate to you or help you gain insight into my soul, or whatever. It's just the truth. Not every piece of writing serves the same purpose, I'm realizing. Not every piece of writing even has a purpose. But I'm glad to have written this one.

It'd be disingenuous for me to spout all that for the last six paragraphs and leave you with some pithy, perfectly placed one liner, but I'll try anyway.

Love your family (chosen or not), please. Give them the appreciation you might feel too jaded or broken or apathetic or cool to give them. It's worth it to care when nothing's wrong. It's worth it to be available to the people who love you. It's always worth it.

11/08/16

A few days ago, I sent in my vote for the President of the United States for the first time. It was an honor and a privilege to not only vote, but vote for a woman-- something I've been dreaming about since I was a little girl. Granted, a good amount of what Hillary has done and said I do not agree with, but politics is nothing without compromise.

It's easy today to think of escape: "which country can I legally move to?" "what's the process for secession?" "is it possible to sleep for four years?" The reality is, though, that none of these are solutions. Altogether, our generation voted 504 - 23 for a candidate who could be a champion for so many-- women, people of color, LGBTQ+, refugees, low income families, and much more. This is promising! But it's meaningless if we don't put in the work. Lots of work.

Don't let this election deter you from that work. We have a long road ahead of us! We have a lot to fight for! We have much to fix! Let's do it together.

Snippets 11/16

It's been a long while since I've done a complete brain dump, but I've been thinking about a lot of things recently so it's time...

First things first... got a new lens and I LOVE IT, get ready for more portraiture and ~~~artfully blurry pictures~~~ like the one above.

Entering my 20s with a bang and realizing that I still like Justin Bieber's music as much as I did when I was in my teens. Especially this song. "My mama don't like you and she likes everyone // And I never like to admit that I was wrong." There have been many times I didn't want to hear what my parents were telling me about any number of things: bad people, bad situations, bad decisions. But they were always right. Sometimes you've just got to accept your parents know best.

I'm learning that in life you often have to choose between doing what is 100% right for you and doing something that is maybe 75% right for you, but will also make someone else happy, or nurture a relationship with someone else. And sometimes, you have to swallow your pride and choose the latter.

In the last few months of trying to balance school / work / health I've put a lot of other things on the back-burner at the expense of those main three. It's taken a little while to realize that those parts of life don't necessarily add up to 100% every day, week, month or year. Personal happiness, friendships, family, mental well-being, and so much more also factor in... something I often forget.

The current "bug" infecting millennials involves holding back on our feelings at the expense of appearing too vulnerable, or indicating we care too much. As someone who thinks / talks / dreams / feels / hopes a little too much, this bug is hard to catch. Though I don't see myself donning a blasé personality anytime soon, I think it's a valuable lesson to learn: sometimes holding back on SOME of the things you feel is okay. It doesn't hurt to wear only half of your heart on your sleeve.

My newest goal is to stop being petty about things; probably my biggest flaw is acting childish when I feel slighted by someone. Rather than talking about what actually bothers me, I ignore people, or talk back like I'm legitimately five years old. More than it shows my complete lack of maturity, it doesn't actually solve anything, and it certainly doesn't make me any happier.

Thanks for sticking around to hear all that plagues me on an average day. HAPPY MONDAY!!!! May your week be merry.

PS. Despite, and in light of, recent events that have left the world we live in shaken and confused, I decided posting some more serious thoughts on this blog was in order. Though it was not included in my snippets, to all those affected by the past few days of turmoil, and even beyond, you are always in my thoughts.

Snippets 9/2

I've been back at school for one week. It feels, as it always does, like an eternity already. True, I'm nowhere near done with the semester (though I had a weird dream last night that I was a senior in college... Projecting??), but I am settling in pretty well. Among the millions of things I'm slowly re-remembering, here's a list of new observations I've made of late.

My favorite burrito place on campus now charges for, get this, guacamole AND sour cream. Guac I get... but sour cream?!

The library I used to go into solely for the purpose of using their clean bathrooms is actually really cool. Like. Really cool. The view looks like a forest on the east coast, and it's so calming. I never liked studying in libraries before I met this one. (You can meet a library, right?)

Grey skies almost make the campus more beautiful than sunshine. Is that weird? It's weird. But I love it.

I find that listening to Coldplay's latest album while walking around or studying is both relaxing and pumpy-uppy. I think it's because it makes everything I do feel more dramatic.

This campus is so beautiful that I find myself randomly smiling at one little thing or another. So. If you see me around, don't be alarmed at my cheesy grin.

Living in an apartment makes it feel like I can go anywhere at any time. Though I don't actually do that, it's nice to know I can just get up and go and don't really need to inform an RA or my roommate.

Related to the last one, I can show up at home with no warning on a whim. Yesterday, cause we had no school, I dropped by home and we went to Treasure Island at sunset. This was the result. I know. SO cool.

For now, I've got to get back to computer science homework (and taking advantage of my engineering trained parents.) Happy Tuesday!