Six years ago today, I started this blog. So, first of all, thank you, dear readers and friends, for visiting, emailing, commenting, sharing, and generally making this labor of love worthwhile. You have definitely put the ‘social’ in social media. I’m glad I’m still here.
Things I Did in 2014
1. According to all my requisite tests, I remained free of cancer. Or, at least, whatever cancer can be detected by means of these tests. You never know. You do what you can.
2. I took what might be considered an embarrassing number of mostly cellphone pix of my cat Fiona. And why not? She’s eminently photogenic. There are, however, several other reasons for this. Not the least of them is that she’s my one remaining fur baby. Since I started this blog, which was shortly after finishing acute cancer treatment, I’ve lost four of the five fur babies I’ve had the pleasure of living with in the past six years. Three of the ones I’ve lost were cats, including the inimitable Chloe, a glamorous peach-point Himalayan; a silly, lovely black Persian male named Jett; and the incomparable Teddy, a gray and white Manx who was more popular among my Facebook friends than I was. The other fur baby I lost was my dog, Foxy. I miss them all. One of the things I noted from the start about being diagnosed with cancer is that, while it frightened me witless, wore me out, drained my bank account, and pissed me off, it didn’t break my heart. Losing my fur babies? That broke my heart.
And this past summer, for a few awful weeks, I was afraid I was going to lose Fiona, too. She developed hyperthyroidism, a not unusual health problem for older cats. But it snuck up on us so stealthily that, by the time her symptoms become obvious, she quickly developed other symptoms that are sometimes called a thyroid storm. Not only had she lost a significant amount of weight, but due to the stress on her system, she also exhibited cardiac and respiratory distress, and neurologic symptoms that manifested as seizures. She’s fine now, back to her normal fluffy self, everything behaving as it should, and taking her methimazole twice a day in her nutritious wet food. I may only have her for a few more years, but I want every minute of them that I can get. Hers is the face on my little web avatar, resting on my computer keyboard when I post comments on blogs, and I intend to keep her there as long as I can. So, in the meantime, she’ll just have to put up with my picture-taking.
3. I shredded about 38 cubic feet of paper, or the equivalent of about 20 good-sized cartons. It continues to mystify me, in this digital age, that I end up with so much paper, but there it is. Most of this accumulation was a direct result of being completely poleaxed by cancer treatment. Cancer-related fatigue is a subject about which I’ve posted many, many times, and has undoubtedly been for me the most life-altering aspect of cancer treatment. Needless to say, when about all I could manage for days and months and years on end, after dragging myself home from work, was to collapse into bed for a nap, scrape together some food for me and my pets, make sure I paid my bills, and keep the house from falling down, keeping up with the disposal of extraneous paper was very far down on my to-do list. So, it would get piled up, then stuffed into boxes or brown paper grocery bags, which would then get stuffed into whatever corner I could find, and summarily ignored. Until this year. There are still a few more cubic feet to go. But I’m on it now, and I have a lot more floor space. More room to dance.
4. I turned sixty. So did several friends, and a lot of other people, like Rene Russo and Denzel Washington, as well as writer Anne Lamott, with whom I share my date of birth. So far, it’s been pretty good being sixty. I may be slower, but I’m also a lot wilier.
5. I divested myself of a lot of stuff. Clothes, mismatched socks, tchotchkes, broken patio furniture, dead batteries, electronica. I recycled where I could, and the Big Sisters got a lot of donations. Maybe it’s something to do with getting older, but I’ve gotten to that point where I just feel like I have too much stuff. I’ve even made a pact with some of my friends about it. We now try to gift each other with experiences rather than things whenever possible.
6. I planted new plants in my garden. My long-term goal is to replace as much grass as possible with plants. Lawns are so overrated. It’s also nice just to have a long-term goal. For a few years there, I was afraid to make any goals at all. Perspective, baby. Buzz off, cancer.
7. I created a few memorable internet memes. The most successful of these was the Pinknado meme, which was created for a post that kicked off that hideous period of pink merchandizing excess known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I don’t know what officially constitutes having a meme go ‘viral,’ but I do know that my Pinknado poster was widely and satisfyingly shared over various social media. I can also report that it was printed, with my permission, to poster size and is hanging on the walls of a few like-minded souls. It was also featured in an article about cultural resistance to the Pink Peril by writer Gayle Sulik for the Breast Cancer Consortium. Among my favorites, it was even used, poster-sized, as part of a college sociology class, along with a showing of the documentary film, Pink Ribbons, Inc. This caused one of my friends to joke appreciatively, “Fantastic! ‘I received my Ph.D. in Pinknado.'” Perhaps the most promising news is that the folks who made Sharknado, whose movie poster inspired me, also released Sharknado 2 last year, with plans to release Sharknado 3 this summer. We could both keep this up for years to come.
8. I started writing a memoir. No, not about cancer. About my frequently crazy, sometimes magical, always challenging upbringing. It won’t be a linear thing, but a collection of stories and vignettes. I have a long list of them. I’ve shared a few here on the blog from time to time, so there will likely be more. Stay tuned.
9. I kept my sanity. Once you know the depth and breadth of #8, you’ll appreciate why this is an unparalleled achievement. Every day, in every way, I am thankful to be relatively sane.
10. I had the love and support of my friends. Without them, I’d surely be unable to accomplish #9. Real world and online, I was lucky enough to make new friends and deepen my relationship with old friends. I also lost a few dear friends in 2014, and I keep their memories in my heart. Surely the best thing I did this year was to be, I hope, a good friend to those I love. I don’t make resolutions, but I always resolve to be a good friend.
So, I didn’t go bungee jumping or skydiving, but when one works as a physical therapist, such activities lose their appeal anyway. I didn’t write as many blog posts as I’d like, but the mental rest has done me good, and I have lots of notes for upcoming posts. It was a year when I had to avoid listening to the news quite a lot. But I helped a lot of my patients. And I read dozens, if not hundreds, of books. And I had fun. And I laughed. And I found something for which to be grateful every day. It was a pretty good year. On to the new one. Hope you’ll all continue to be part of it.