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Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's February 1st! Happy New Year!

I started writing this blog at 5pm on December 31, 2013. In my adolescence,  I'd sit on my bed at this hour with a  clunky Sony boom box and listen attentively for my favorite songs of the year to come on the radio so I could make the ultimate mix tape (raise your hand if you did this too). Now thanks to MP3's and iTunes, I no longer have to waste my time listening for Chaka Khan and Brian Adams. I can write blogs instead (although if you must know, my favorite song of last year was a tie between Another One Bites the Dust by Queen and Basketball by Kurtis Blow, which means I'm officially middle aged and out of touch w/ today's music).

Trying to sum up 2013 for me is like trying to boil eggs with no water. It's like trying to tie your shoe while someone's tickling you. Or perhaps, more simply, it's like trying to play chess if you're me. It cannot be done. At least not yet. So instead, I'll just offer up this unoriginal but fitting sentiment: "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

If you require  more specificity, I give you my 2013 Best of Times "mix tape" of sorts.  What follows are my top 10  moments/events from last year in chronological order:

  • Waking up from surgery on February 12th and looking at my Facebook page. You guys know who you are, and you rock. I was blown away by the number of people who checked in on me and offered prayers and positive thoughts, and who wrapped me in my moldy green pig -in-a blanket of luv. I think all that luv had something to do with my fast and nearly pain-free recovery. I felt similarly supported and cared for when I posted  my very first I Had a Boob Once entry. I could barely sleep for fear of the reactions of putting myself "out there." I was still working for Lahey Clinic at the time and thought I might lose my job for talking about my boobs and my childhood glue sniffing habit but instead, the Human Resources Director emailed me about how much she loved the blog (and she's close to 70 I think...). So I felt much better. Then I left my job anyway to spread the gospel of family dinners, but I digress.

  • Having my head shaved.  I've already written about this in detail, if you want to review. Oh what a relief it was....

  • The Mother's Day Red Sox game.  I seriously wasn't expecting to enjoy that game as much as I did. Ben got us great seats and It was a beautiful day and despite feeling a little "off" from chemo and the kids getting really whiny by the 4th inning and getting in a near fist fight in the eighth, I had an awesome time. And I'd never been a baseball or a Red Sox fan. Now I am.  Red Sox games were a close second to Will Ferrell movies as the best entertainment during my crummy chemo days. 

  • Listening to my kids talk about baseball. Another fabulous yet free and simple form of entertainment this year. Mostly it was Ethan, the 7-year-year old "expert" trying to teach Jonas, the rookie. Here's what was overheard as the boys watched baseball this year:

Jonas: If we’re voting for them, we clap.

Jonas: Big Papi’s really good. He’s hit a lot of home runs.
Ethan: Actually he’s not that good.
Jonas:  What number was Babe Ruth?
Ethan:  50. (real answer: 3)
Jonas: Is Justin Pedroia dead?
Ethan: Yep. (real answer: uh, no. And his name is Dustin).
Ethan: "Yoshi" Berra was an MVP for both the American and National Leagues.

  • The Vermont College of Fine Arts writing conference. In 2012 I passed on this conference, citing guilty feelings about leaving my family and money as the reasons. Last year, shortly after learning of my cancer diagnosis, I emailed Ellen, the conference director, and said, 'sign me up.' I went away  for one week in August and had an amazing, soul-enriching time and I met some incredible people! (you know who you are if you are reading this). That conference gave me something to look forward to during treatment - But the real thing was even better. 

  • Our one trip to the Beach this summer. In Gloucester and despite the $45 parking ticket.  

  • Similarly, this one day with my family and my friend Jeanna at the lake house. 

  • The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I never wrote about this, but in October, our friend Sara walked in my honor in New York (her mother had also been a breast cancer survivor).  It's touching and also very strange to have someone walk for you when you're still alive (i can't really comment on what's it like when you're not). What is an  honoree supposed to do, exactly? We  went down to New York and met Sara and her family at the finish line. Her father, who I had never met before, gave me a great big hug. He'd read my blog, so he knew I was neurotic. Listening to the survivor stories, I cried. Quietly, behind my sunglasses  I heard variations of my own story. Those stories and the incredible number and diversity of people at the walk made me feel part of something much bigger than myself...even if I didn't want to be part of it. There was no getting out of it. I was now a life-long club member. And I found some comfort there.

What I realized most looking while back at the last year is how things or events that I'd taken for granted before or may have been just a blip in my mix tape the previous year, stood out the most. A trip to the beach and standing in the water up to my waist. A baseball game with ice cream. A boat ride with family and friends on a beautiful day. Just feeling good. It would be nice to hold onto that appreciation in 2014 (although not nice to have to go through treatment again to do so...). 

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year (and hope your January was lovely). xo