Friday, October 10, 2014

on surviving.

I have lunch breaks now. Lunch breaks, a commute, a time sheet, a department, a 401k, obligations, a workplace. I drive about a half hour to a suburb where there is a huge warehouse-type building full of people who collectively produce wonderful stop-motion features, and I am perched on the very lowest rung where things need to be cleaned, fixed, installed, stocked, and polished.

But perhaps I should rewind.

This summer was going to be all about wandering about outside. Being cooped up for multiple years was a struggle, was a prison. I just wanted to be where I belong with water, mountains, trees and sky. I wanted to slowly sort through the newness of my survivorship, assess where I wanted to head, reconnect all my disparate parts and ease into life on the other side of my time in stasis. Instead, a friend of my brother's suggested I take over the job he'd been promoted out of, and before I knew it I was being called in to interview. They must have liked something about me because here I am three months later, blogging on my lunch break.

Why has it taken so long to update? I have not stopped moving since Maui. Now that autumn is here, I find myself scaling back on the hyperactive pace with which I have been careening through my days and actually taking the time to reflect. 

Imagine you have spent three years in a dimly-lit room with very little exercise or stimulation. You have infrequent opportunities to interact with people outside a very small subset of those closest to you. You have a limited diet, and every so often you are in some way drugged, maimed, or poisoned. One day, the forces at play decide to back off and give you respite. You are slowly eased into basic tasks, and the poisoning et. al have been discontinued... but the lights are usually off or very low. As soon as you have regained enough strength to perform the basic tasks of survival and your body can function without intervention, you are pushed through a door at the end of a friendly enough hallway out into the open air. The simple daylight is blinding. Everything is louder, chaotic, feels more. You have to remember how to do all the things you took for granted before. You have to remember how to interact with people outside of the room. You grip fiercely to whatever hand will hold yours and wobble about, or run at full speed until you slam into a wall. Eventually, your eyes start to adjust and your legs get firm beneath you, but it takes time to feel like you are a whole unit that takes up space and deserves to be away from that room and is a dynamic presence in the rest of the world. There is a quiet, giddy power that starts to fill every small space between your organs and overloads your synapses. Maybe you start to shoot laser beams from your fingertips. Maybe you can stop time. Maybe you are bulletproof. The fear of being back in that room slowly is overshadowed by the euphoria of being away from it. You are hungry all the time; for every sensory experience, every challenge, every sweeping vista. But you find a number of blurry spots in your brain that don't always take to sharpening and sometimes you wave your arms about and forget that in all this space there are so many people and objects. That's when the euphoria dulls and you find yourself feeling overstimulated or confused. The road doesn't look right. The sky is an off color. Nothing has changed, but now you don't belong to any of it. It's time to stop, reassess, and figure out where to go from here.

This is me in the first year of surviving the cancers. I've had a bit of a hard time adjusting to working at the studio. I have to think five steps ahead all day, which is taxing when it's a rusty skill. I now have breaks mandated by HR, which has eased the stress of reworking lost synapses quite a bit. I am actively dating, which has been a weird experience as not only a cancer survivor but a woman in her 30's who hasn't dated in about four years or more. Dating has been an online freak parade and a couple of pleasant-but-meh dates with guys with whom I've been set up. There has been one lovely exception, one truly delightful interruption of a string of "I don't think I want to date if this is what I slog through," but I am not going to tell you about it right now because we just had date numero un and I am not keen to kill the mojo with the internet. I will tell you he's just so awesome I floated into work on a cloud chariot pulled by two dozen tiny birds this morning. But that's it. Everything else is none of your business because I don't know what's going to happen next and blabbing all over the internet about it with my typical semi-candid verbosity is just uncouth.

That is pretty much where I am at, folks. So much has happened over the summer that I would love to go on and on but here my lunch is coming to a close and I need to prep the weekly Friday Party. Until next time, well-wishers...


  1. I know the feeling of wanted to experience every event, emotion, and every minute of the day. Life is so beautiful and exciting, that to not appreciate every minute is like a waste.

    But, I also know the burden it feels like you are carrying. The constant reminder that life is short, and this won't all be here forever. It's a shame that now that you are finally released from the dungeon into the bright, chaotic wonderful world, you also have a grave understanding of having to be an 'adult' with responsibilities, because you know the import each time sheet is in case the big "what if" materializes.

    I think I'm finally transitioning back to the real world. I was actually grumpy this week, a sign I'm already taking for granted the ability to work and take ownership in my life. I guess my wish for you, is that some day you will feel so normal again that you can feel grumpy? Maybe?

    Maybe not, I still think I would go back to appreciating every minute of every day, wanting to squeeze every good drop out before you fall asleep at night. Enjoy this time, it's crazy, but it's so special!