my weblog

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking back I realize the last several years now I've composed a sort-of "year-end/year-ahead" entry. So here's another...

First- I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year- mine was very enjoyable! And I wish everyone all the best for the coming year :)

What to say about this past year? A life-altering one, for sure. Back in May I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. As I've referenced a few times, prior to the onset of sudden- and very painful- symptoms the beginning of May I had no inkling, no idea, that anything was remotely wrong with me. Absent symptoms, and absent any particular reason to do any scans, etc... apparently there would have been little way of catching this sooner (a colonoscopy typically isn't recommended before age 50; I'm still several years away from that.) May and June were bad months, dealing with multiple surgical procedures, as well as the realization that I'm likely looking at a vastly-shortened life-span than expected (my oncologists told me- because I asked- that the median prognosis with treatment is currently a little over two years.) My mom also had some serious health issues during that time that I had to deal with/manage as well. The second half of the year has been better in terms of a lot of things; I've felt/am feeling quite good, especially considering. I've been able to resume my normal schedule, work-load, etc... I've regained much of my physical stamina and strength. My med people tell me that I've recovered from the surgeries and all and have responded quite well to the chemo treatments (with minimal side effects- still have all my hair! Tho' I think the chemo has aged my appearance bit, waaaaahhhhh.) I have some great people working on my behalf. I believe that I've done pretty well dealing with the psychological impact of it all thus far. I'm currently in the process of getting into a position to have/make/take more "me" time in the coming year. And I've been very encouraged, heartened, and touched by the outpourings of concern and support that I've received from so many, from all of my walks of life.

What have seldom come easily to me are spontaneity and easy adaptation to change. Be it my relatively conventional nature or whatever but I often tend to be very much a creature of habit (several folks who may be reading this can attest to that.) One thing my illness has begun to cause me to do is to change that trait somewhat (understanding that 44 + years of habit and in-grained processes are difficult to change overnight.) I do have a tremendous amount of- what?- loyalty toward people that I know, and don't wish to unnecessarily or unduly rock their boats; that's just not my way. But I've also felt increasingly liberated, or maybe it's simply not giving as much of a damn, in beginning to do more of the things that I want to do in life. It's not in my nature to be a free spirit nor to throw all cautions to the wind- I'm not wired that way, and I make no apologies for not being wired that way- but, inexorably at times still, I have begun to break out of some of my more hide-bound ways (hardly limited to my TGism, BTW.)

I'm not sure what the coming year will bring for me; how healthy I remain will be the biggest factor. I've never been much of a resolutions kind of gal, and I really can't think of any that I want/need to make- with the exception of making better effort to appreciate my days and the people in them, now more than ever :)

What I'm Reading Now: Sixkill, Robert B. Parker (his last, alas;) Shucked: Life on a New England Oyster Farm, Erin Byers Murray

"Time waits for no one/No favors has he/Time waits for no one/And he won't wait for me..."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nice to see the city decked out for Christmas- looks pretty, all the lights, trees, decorations... Enjoying a bomber of Blue Hills Three Peak Holiday Stout while whiling away- shhhhh; it's in a glass, they'll think it's a Coke! It is getting nippy this evening... I hafta think about getting a new cell phone soon. I've never been a real gadget-geek; as long as something works reasonably well for me I'll stick with it until it drops. But my current phone needs replacement. I don't need a lot of bells-and-whistles, just something reliable, sturdy, and easy to use... Might attend this- T-Social Holiday Party- if I have the night free; Fenway Health (my primary health care provider) provides excellent care and support to the entire community, LGBT and straight... I'm not really sure how I feel about the whole Tim Tebow phenomenon. A lot of football pundits are correct; he doesn't (at least yet) possess many of the skills and attributes of the prototypical NFL QB. Doug Flutie, for all the critiques of him, did possess more of those, even if he also was an unconventional pro QB. But so far, as with Flutie, Tebow-led teams have found a way to win (much of this also goes to the Denver defense keeping games close enough to facilitate 4th quarter heroics.) But he's also a cultural phenom, with his "Tebowing." I respect anyone with sincere faith. And Tebow's seems to be sincere. Having said that, and maybe it's just my New England and/or Catholic background showing but I do find such public exhibitions of faith a bit- what?- unnecessary? There's a line in Scripture: "But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." (Matthew 6:6.) When it comes to football, I'll put my faith in Bill Belichick- beat Denver tomorrow! (Pats are favored anywhere from 7.5 to 9 points currently; I'm not playing it.)

What I'm Reading Now: Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano: Whitey Bulger's Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld, Howie Carr; The Speed Chronicles, Joseph Mattson, ed.

Items of note...
Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011: In Memoriam Agree or disagree with his views (I did both) the man was thought-provoking and entertaining. A loss.
Gary Johnson Hits GOP Candidates Over Anti-Gay Rhetoric I'll say it one more time; Gov. Johnson's candidacy deserved greater respect from both the GOP and the media than it received. (And just to remind the knee-jerk GOP-bashers out there, Pres. Obama and VP Biden are both on record as opposed to SSM. Some "change.")
A Brain's Failure to Appreciate Others May Permit Human Atrocities Social neuroscience has shown through MRI studies that people normally activate a network in the brain related to social cognition -- thoughts, feelings, empathy, for example -- when viewing pictures of others or thinking about their thoughts. But when participants in this study were asked to consider images of people they considered drug addicts, homeless people, and others they deemed low on the social ladder, parts of this network failed to engage.

And some holiday cheer:

"Come on, it's lovely weather/For a sleigh ride together with you..."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A lil early but... I've probably said it before but one of my favorite Christmas discs is The Ventures' Christmas Joy. For me this is a great Christmas collection; never been much of a Mannheim Steamroller or Trans-Siberian Orchestra gal. Another great one is A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector... I usually don't get thinking too much about Christmas until maybe two weeks or so before, and I don't put up my lil Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree 'til maybe a week before the holiday... If you need a lil more help getting into the Christmas spirit: Irish Eggnog. Slainte!

What I'm Reading Now: Cape Cod Noir, David L. Ulin, ed.

Odds and sods...
Your Brain Knows a Lot More Than You Realize Neuroscientist David Eagleman explores the processes and skills of the subconscious mind, which our conscious selves rarely consider. Who knew?!
Irish Accents Surpass French Accents As The World’s Sexiest, Supposedly According to a poll of 5,000 women worldwide, cited in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, ladies most desire to be whispered sweet nothings in an Irish lilt, followed by Italian declarations of amore. Work on your brogue, guys :)
Top 10 excuses for not being great Dare to be great!
I Don't Understand What Anyone Is Saying Anymore I'd say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me...When I was younger, if I didn't understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it's to people's benefit that I understand them but I don't, then they're the ones who are stupid.
Zen: What Catholics Should Know For those interested...
Garlic Goodness Good and good for you!
The Psychology of Nakedness Do people’s mental capacities fundamentally change when they remove a sweater? This seems absurd: How could removing a piece of clothing change one’s capacity for acting or feeling? In six studies, however, we show that taking off a sweater—or otherwise revealing flesh—can significantly change the way a mind is perceived.

"Have a holly, jolly Christmas..."