Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I like this picture, but I'm not sure about all the brown I'm using for the colors in the blog itself. I'm not a big fan of the color brown, it's so drab. Unfortunately, it seems to match best with the picture.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New look!

Blogger Template Designer = Best Toy EVER!!! I literally just spent a couple of hours playing with it. There are infinite design possibilities! It's amazing! Next time I have ADHD chemo brain I am totally playing with this thing. Who am I kidding, I'll probably keep playing around with it all day today, and tomorrow, and maybe the next day... basically, don't be surprised if the look of my blog changes frequently over the next few days. I'm not sure if the colors are a little garish right now, but I'm craving bright colors these days because fall has finally come, and with it the grey, rainy weather! I need brightness!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My brother didn't have as exciting of a game this week as he did last week, but his team did win, so they are 3-1 for the season!

I'm feeling better today. I had a bit of a chance to rest, and my crazy chemo brain has finally finished. Chemo brain is an unfortunate side effect for many patients that makes it difficult to concentrate, analyze, remember things... I've had some not-so-major memory problems from chemo before but the crazy chemo brain I get when I have IT chemo and Vidaza in the same week is insane. I feel like I am completely ADHD, unable to concentrate on anything, unfit for anything besides curling up in a ball on the couch to watch TV. Glad that's over!! Hopefully I won't have those scheduled on the same week again. The results of my lumbar puncture on Monday came back leukemia-free so I'll be able to taper off the IT chemo.

Another busy week ahead! I'll be starting training to be a one on one literacy or ESL tutor with a local nonprofit. I haven't decided yet if I want to tutor for literacy or ESL. I have a lot of experience with ESL from when I was in France, and I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure if changing to literacy might be a nice change of pace and also more useful in the future.

Sorry for the boring, business-y update. I'll try to be more interesting later this week!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wanted: A day when I can actually sleep in!!!

I'm tired. I've had to get up between 7 and 7:30 every morning for the past week (it seems... might only be five days). I'm sure to many of you working folks that sounds like a luxury, but I'm used to getting to sleep until at least 9 AM. I have cancer, give me a break!

The weekend would normally be a good time to sleep in, but I spent an epically long day in synagogue on Saturday because it was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Jews atone for our sins. This is perhaps worthy of it's own post, because although I sat in services for hours on end, it didn't do a lot for me. Honestly, how much can I possibly have to atone for? I spent most of the past year in a hospital!

Not only do I have to wake up freaking early for the rest of this week too, including Saturday, but it's a mega-treatment week. I had a lumbar puncture with chemo yesterday (no leukemia found in the spinal fluid, yay!), chemo from now through Saturday morning (at 8 AM so that we can hit the road for my brother's football game), and ECP tomorrow and Thursday. At least these all involve sitting in chairs, which is hopefully conducive for napping.

Good news from the weekend: my brother had a great game! Yes, he rejected the cultural heritage left to him by Sandy Koufax and played on Yom Kippur, but apparently G-d smiled on him and he ran back a blocked field goal attempt 75 yards for a touchdown, had an interception, a blocked pass, and several tackles. That G-d, such a jokester. My brother skips services and has a great game, I sit through them and get nothing spiritual out of it at all and a couple of completely ridiculous sermons to boot. That'll teach me to try to be a good Jew!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

This is amazing

I literally cannot stop laughing!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I've had an interesting few days. I got an email from the Directrice of V School with some news. One was that they apparently sent me a package of drawings the kids made for me that I never received, which was really disappointing. I have received similar packages from my other schools, in addition to all the drawings the kids made for me while I was there, and I treasure all of them. I hate La Poste!

She also said that they are going to have an American assistant this year. Last year they had a local person teaching English, not an assistant, so the position still belonged to me, in a way. I was devastated when I read it. I wanted to curl up on my bed in a ball and cry. It's the final nail in the coffin of the experience I had in France for two years - it's really over. Someone else has my position now and she'll be the American assistant. All the kids will run to give her bisous when she walks into the school yard, she'll get to chitchat with the other teachers at recess, she'll shop at Monoprix and my bakery. Someone else really will be living my French life. MY French life. They are MY schools, MY students, MY coworkers, MY friends!

I was really feeling lousy, so I had a little discussion with myself (we're pretty good friends, me myself and I). I had a good time in France, but that isn't my life right now, and I'll never be able to have that exact same life again. Even if I get back to France someday it's extremely unlikely that I'll be an assistant in that same town and working in the same schools. It was great while I was doing it, but it's over now. Not on pause, over. On the positive side, I'm still in contact with a lot of my coworkers and those are friendships that will last a long time. They won't like me any less just because there's a new American in town. The kids obviously still remember me, and I can keep buying their love by sending them more packages of candy. I'll always have the memories of my time there, but I have to redefine my relationship to this place that means so much to me.

It's been very hard for me to let go of my time in France, harder than for most people because my situation changed so drastically once I got back to the US. I was yearning for a time when my life wasn't dictated by treatments and doctor's visits, I was independent, blah blah blah, I've written about this before. I think I'm okay now with another American taking my spot. I've come to terms with the fact that I won't be able to get back a life that was over a year ago. I can't get back the past. All I can do is work on the future.

And in my future I foresee a trip to France! Like I've said before, probably after the New Year, maybe April-ish? I should start planning now if I'm serious about going!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shanah Tovah!

Shanah tovah means "good year" in Hebrew. Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, starts tomorrow at sundown. Rosh HaShanah, along with Yom Kippur, is one of the high holidays - the two major Jewish holidays. It's a time for reflection and introspection, where we think about the year that has passed and resolve to make changes for the coming year. It's also a time of joyfulness and hope; we made it through one year and hope for all kinds of good things in the year to come. It's traditional to eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. Honey cake is another sweet treat that many people enjoy at this time. Sadly, I'll be skipping the honey this year because of the risk of botulism.

And like all Jewish holidays, you're supposed to spend a considerable amount of time at the synagogue for religious services. Services are punctuated by the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn, which can be seen and heard here. Yes, the shofar has broken through on youtube!

The sound of the shofar is supposed to call us to repentance and reflection. Isn't it a haunting sound? The shofar is my favorite part of the service.

Also an Eid Mubarak to all! I love it when everyone's holidays coincide. It reminds us that we're all more the same than we are different.

L'shanah tovah, and may we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saturdays at the Big House

Guess where I was today?!?!

If you guessed the largest stadium in the US, you would be correct! Michigan Stadium, home to the University of Michigan football team and affectionately known as The Big House because it is BIG, was recently renovated and rededicated this afternoon for the opening game of the season. Official capacity is 109,901 and today we set an all-time attendance record of 113,090! That's a lot of people! (and a lot of germs!)

We've had season tickets to Michigan games for several years now. Unfortunately now that my brother plays college ball on Saturdays this is the only game we could go to, but it was worth it to come for this game! Michigan won 30-10 over Connecticut and looked pretty solid overall. The quarterback is amazing - he runs, he throws, he IS the offense. You can see the renovated press box and new luxury boxes above the traditional bowl shape.

There's nothing like sitting with almost 115,000 screaming fans in the wind, rain, sun, snow.... you name the weather, I've watched a football game in it. It's such a vital, life-affirming experience. You KNOW you're alive when the kid behind you is jabbing his knee into your back and you can smell the Jack Daniels the guy next to you smuggled in while the band is blaring "Hail to the Victors" and the student section is screaming like banshees!

These are all pictures of the marching band from the pregame show, and taken on my crappy cell phone camera. I was too busy during the game to take pictures of the guys playing! The band marches down the field in a big block M, then they separate and the team runs out between them under a banner that says "Go Blue! M Club Supports You!" Check out our seats! We're on the 30 yard line now!

I also got to meet Rick Snyder, the Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. I bent his hear a little about health care. He had some good things to say, and I was excited to meet The Nerd!

For the rest of the fall I'll probably be going to some of my brother's games, which are significantly less exciting, but we're hoping that he'll have a good season for himself. At least at those games when the weather gets bad we can go sit in the President's Box where they have free food and drinks. Small time football programs definitely give you a few more perks!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Instead of worrying about my real health problems, I usually get derailed worrying about weird, fake, paranoid health problems that have absolutely no bearing on anything important. It's a delightful vacation.

My teeth, for example. I worry a lot about my teeth. I'm sort of obsessive about flossing and brushing and using mouthwash. I worry that they'll just start falling out! I mean, it could happen, right? I bite into a nice, crunchy Greek salad one day and find out that the olives weren't properly pitted and crack! Out falls part of my tooth! I also worry about them being too sensitive, about gum recession, how white they are, how despite three years of braces and wearing a retainer at night for years they still aren't as straight as they should be ... but mostly that they'll just start falling out. Totally normal thing for a 26 year old to worry about, right? Needing dentures and fake teeth?

My other paranoid fear is my skin aging. I remember the days when I had a smooth, unlined forehead. Now my forehead is full of fine lines! I should have started using anti-aging products ten years ago! Why didn't I stock up while I was in France? Half of the space in every pharmacy there is devoted to anti-aging products! Now it's probably too late to reverse the damage and I'm going to end up with the skin of a 60 year old while I'm still in my 20s! I'm really good about my skin care - I wash my face every day no matter how late I get back from wherever, and I always wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, every day, no matter what the weather.

So, I decided that there's no time like the present to try to prevent new lines from forming and try to minimize the appearance of the fine lines I already have. When I was at Target a couple days ago I bought Olay Total Effects Revitalizing Foaming Cleanser. It's too early to know if it's making a difference, obviously. But then, I did a personalized skin care quiz thing on the Olay website just now, and according to them I treat my skin like garbage! They said that in addition to everything I already do I should be using toner, two different face washes, moisturizing twice a day and using some special anti-aging eye cream to reduce puffiness and dark circles! I have to go back and buy more products! Obviously that's exactly what they want, for me to spend more money, and of course the products they recommend are a little more money than I feel like spending on skin care. Or is it? I mean, can you really put a price on clear, youthful looking skin?

In any case, I like trying out different face washes and moisturizers, so I can at least have a little fun with my bizarre skin aging paranoia. Anyone have any tips for helpful products or brands?