Tuesday, October 21, 2014

40 things that I loved about my 30's

It's my birthday.

I am 40 years old.

My goodness, I don't even know how that happened... but it did. And, all things considered, I'm glad that it did.

My life has been awesome. I've known the most incredible people, and I've had so many downright hilarious things happen to/around me. I am, truly, blessed.

I've loved my life. Maybe not every day of my life... but I have loved my life, nonetheless.

I'm not a woman who's ever struggled with getting older. I've always been able to own my age, and I've never wanted to turn back the clock and have a re-do. I am who I am because of where I have been, what I have done, and the people I have known. I wouldn't change any of it. I've never struggled with a milestone birthday, and I've never wanted to deny my true age. I figure, I've earned it.

I have loved every birthday. I have loved every year. I have loved every decade.

And I have loved my 30's most of all.

So, today, as I say goodbye to my 30's, I pay homage to them by listing...

40 Things I Have Loved About My 30's

I learned to stop wishing my life was different, and started to really appreciate all that I do have.

Moving to "the valley".

Speaking of which... I have loved living in this tiny apartment for the near entirety of my 30's. (I moved in, just a few months after turning 31. And now I am 40.) It was never my plan to park myself in a 600 sq foot apartment and stay there for a decade, but I'm glad that it's worked out this way. I love it here. It's big enough to meet my needs, and small enough that living here has never exceeded my means.

Living within miles of two (count them, TWO) theaters that play classic movies on the big screen.

I stopped thinking I couldn't wear that skirt because it was too short and my legs were too chubby.

Exploring San Francisco with Mich and G.

I stopped caring if my hair didn't do exactly what I wanted it to do, and decided to appreciate this glorious head of hair for what it is. (And it is, quite simply, a glorious head of hair.)

Sunday Dinner. (Yeah, I capitalized both words. Because it's that important to me.)

Girls' trips to Disneyland.

Bacon Night with Jo and Mon.

I've learned that it really is the way the pants fit - not the size listed on the tag - that matters.

Ball Girl Baking Retreats.

I stopped throwing fits. I'm not sure when or how or why, exactly, I stopped being super dramatic and emotional when life threw me a curve ball. But I did, and I'm really glad.

Living 3 miles from Jo again.

Panda Express has been "on the way home" for the last 9 years...

Mint Kit-Kats

I've learned that everyone has their own path, that what is right for one person isn't necessarily right for another. And that's okay..

The DC trip with Judy.

Grown-Up Cousin Bonding. (Again, I capped every word. Because I love it that much.)

For real, I love my cousins so much that I'm totally going to talk more about that... right now. I love that I have most of my cousin's numbers in my phone. I love that we text can text each other at all hours of the day and night across state lines, that Beth facebooks me and/or calls from England. I love that we have a weekend together with just the girls at Aunt Deb's. I love that Julie comes and stays with me, that we sit by the pool and soak up both the sun and our time together. I love that John's girls make me care packages when I have surgery. I love that I can sit on the floor and laugh - and/or cry - with Debbie's girls. I love that Amy and Holli drove over 6 hours, just to spend 90 minutes in the same building as me, at my Jester'z fundraiser. I love that Greg, Doug, Julie and I were in open competition for over two decades over who was going to be the first to "get" cancer. I love the matching necklaces that Linz had made for us. I love that we share our lives - and our recipes (yes, my real, actual, recipes) - on the facebook. ... I love my cousins. More than I ever thought I could, back when I was a kid and saw some of them maybe once a year, or when I was a teenager and Beth and I were pen-pals and wrote letters back and forth, or even when I was in my 20's and lived with Julie and G&D were in our ward. Across my extended family, those relationships have deepened and broadened and blessed my life. I am so incredibly grateful for all my friends who are also my family. I wouldn't be who I am without having had them in my life.

Warm winters. (There's been ice on the sidewalk in front of my apartment once in the last nine years. One night, in nine years, it was cold enough to freeze water where I live. Isn't that glorious?!)

Weekends in Vegas. -- I cherish memories of being in Genevra's home. Sometimes, there were six of us under her two-bedroom roof, and sometimes it was just the two of us. There is a calm and peaceful feeling that I get when I'm with her, anywhere... but especially when we're on her home turf. I love it there, and I'm so grateful for all the times she's welcomed me into her home over the last 10 years.


Getting to watch Roomie, Rook, Cili, Maggie and Sally get big.

My relationship with Amazon.com. (For a nominal fee, those people will mail me anything I want!)

"Book Club" dinners with Jo's kids and my nephews.

Staying up all night - literally, all night - talking with Chris.

Seeing so many of my good friends get married and start families. It's been so great to see so many fabulous people in my life get what they wanted the most. (Christine & Melanie, I'm talking to you.)

Taking cake decorating class with Christian and Christine.

I've learned so much about my body; what it can withstand, what it can live through, what it can recover from. It's astonishing, really.

And while I'm thinking about my body, I have to say that I'm grateful for my doctors, for the surgical staff and nurses who've taken care of me... so many times. Being the blood-and-fluids-woosy-woo that I am, down to the core of my soul, I cannot understand what makes people choose the medical field. But I'm glad that they do, and I'm grateful for all that those people have done for me.

I have loved what being sick has done for my relationships. While I wouldn't wish this on anyone ("even on my worst day" - ha!), it has been such a great clarifier for all the important relationships in my life.

I have loved the time my surgeries have given me with my mother. It's not the best/most fun way for us to get to spend time together, but I have loved that she's been able to be here with me. For weeks at a time. Every time.

Kazoozles were invented. (Willy Wonka is THE MAN!)

It's been great to watch my church girls grow up. When I met them, they were between 8 and 10 years old, and I was their Primary leader. Now, I talk to those same girls and they are the most incredible young women. I'm so grateful that I've been able to see them grow up, that... for better or for worse... I've had a hand in how they all turned out. (They're all awesome, so I figure I didn't do any permanent damage.)

One of the single greatest life lessons I have learned: Roll with the punches instead of fighting them. They're going to come, no matter what I do. I now know that if I don't waste energy fighting change, I'm better able to adapt to my new reality.

I've learned that choices are cumulative. I am where I am and who I am, because of where I have been and the people I have known. Choices I made in my late teens and early 20's continue to impact my life; professionally and personally, I am who I am because of who I was. Being aware that the choices I made over twenty years ago have shaped who I am helps me to know that it's incredibly important to make solid choices in the here and now.

I've learned to live and let live. Other than grammar and punctuation, I don't really feel the need to stand in judgement of another person. It doesn't do me any good to judge someone, and it sure isn't going to help anyone else if I'm standing over here, feeling superior.

I've learned that I really do lead a charmed life. ... I mean, I always thought I did. But now I know it. I've been incredibly lucky to have known so many amazing people in my life. I have always known that my friends and family are generous, thoughtful, kind and loving. ... I never knew that I would stand in literal, physical/temporal, need of their thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity. But I have. And they have been there. ... I'm so grateful.

I've learned that love really is the most powerful force on earth.

Life has been good to me. My 30's, in particular. ... I'm grateful for where I have been, and I'm curious to see where I go from here.

Happy Birthday, to me!

Monday, October 6, 2014

And then there were eight...

As most of you are aware, last Thursday was scan day. Which means that Friday, I got the results.

And the verdict is... I have a new tumor. On my left ovary. (Turns out my brain isn't the only organ that thought it would be a bad idea to even think about trying to put a baby in this body. Ever.) And I'm officially inoperable. So... chemo.

Rather than starting chemo right away, Dr. H asked if we could push it out six weeks, for a couple reasons:

1) The chemo he'll put me on is BRUTAL and he doesn't want to make me that sick until he absolutely HAS to.

2) He'd like to use Thursday's scan as a base and run another CT to see how fast it's growing before he starts a drip.

So, I have a scan scheduled for 11/20. If that scan shows tremendous growth, he'll admit me and start chemo asap. If the November scan doesn't show tremendous growth - and if I'm still not experiencing life-altering symptoms - he'll push it another six weeks.

My pain level will always supercede any scheduled scans. If I start waking up at night because of the pain, or if I start coughing and cannot stop, or am nauseated every day of my life, etc., I am to call and he'll do an emergency admit and start the drip.

I didn't get the name of the chemo. (Truth is, I didn't even have an appointment with H on Friday. My appointment was with G, to get the results of the PET. ... But the results of the test mean that I need chemo, and H will be my chemo doctor. So, H, out of the goodness of his heart, made some time to come in and talk to me for a few minutes. ... I love that man. ... I need to make an appointment this week, so I can go back and ask a few follow-up questions.) What I do know is that this chemo is one of the two hardest out there. It will be ugly. He'll admit me for 4-5 days for every round (yeah, I'll live in the hospital - for days - for every round of chemo... sounds groovy, right?), and then let me rest for three weeks between rounds. They'll do two rounds, then do a scan to see if it's shrinking. If it is shrinking/holding, we'll do more chemo. If it's growing, then we'll "do something else". Don't ask me what that means, because I'm not sure. ... I asked, and he was evasive. (Awesome. Possum.)

What I do know:

The PET showed four hot spots: a gland in my neck (remember how I told you that I was so tired that my teeth hurt? ... well, there was enough swelling there that it showed up on the scan), two spots in my left side (these little dudes would be what is now coming up from the tissue left behind in my last surgery) and Leftie. (This is what I have named my new little friend.)

I don't know how big these new friends are. What I do know is the SUV uptake on Leftie is more than twice (almost three times, really) that of the larger friend in my left side, and while that's a little freaky, I'm choosing to believe the S in SUV really does stand for "Shiny" (this is what G told me on Friday, to help me both understand and come to terms with all the shiny/sparkly bits of my body that popped on the PET), because somehow, it feels better to think my left ovary is sparkly... and not maybe dying.

How I feel about this new ovarian revelation:

Ehhhh. (That's right. I feel "ehhhh".) It might be because I'm in shock, having recently seen the sentence, "Ovarian metastisis is suspected." appear on my PET report. It might be the copious amount of Dr. Pepper that is, even now, racing through my veins, numbing all internal sensitivities. It might be that I know, deep down, that, truly, nothing has changed. That my body has been doing what it's been doing for months... and that the PET just gave me the information. On a lot of levels, I knew this was coming. And while I wasn't expecting Leftie to fall, I have been waiting for a shoe to drop. And it did.

So, I will do this.

And in the meanwhile, I'm grateful that I have October.

I may not have all the energy I'd like to have, but I'm glad that Dr. H's plan is giving me my birthday month before there's a real possibility that I'll start to lose my hair and my lunch on a regular basis. Go ahead and call me Pollyanna, but I am deliriously happy that I get this ENTIRE month for myself and all of my silly celebratory ways. (Speaking of which... Anyone want to take me and all my tumors to dinner, while we can still eat anything we want?)

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Universe Loves Me

It really does.

Listen up, and I'll tell you how I know.

First off, EIGHT SOLID HOURS of sleep last night. (Who cares if those eight hours started at 9:00 and I was wide awake at 5:00? Not me, that's who! Eight hours of sleep is eight hours of sleep, and it doesn't matter when/how I get it.)

By 6:00, I'd packed the Jeep with my bags of returns and hit the road.

Too bad WalMart is the only place that's open that early, so I didn't get to run all my return errands. But still. I was able to return two full bags of crap there, and that made me happy.

After trolling through WalMart, picking up all the stuff I didn't buy when I was there, just last night (light bulbs for the bathroom... because I can't seem to keep all three lights in there alive at the same time, liquid plumber, because stress makes my hair fall out... and I've been a little stressed lately, the brown shrug I knew I should have grabbed up yesterday when I heard it calling my name), I was headed home.

And then hunger struck.

Raging, angry, hunger.

So I did the only thing a hungry woman who was only 2 miles away from home could do... I pulled a u-turn in the Jeep and backtracked to Taco Bell.

Yes, at 7:00 AM. Don't judge. ... I happen to love bean burritos and nachos for breakfast.

I placed my standard order (bean burrito with extra red sauce and sour cream, nachos supreme and a large mountain dew) and the girl gave me the total... And then the mic crackled and a male voice came over the speaker, telling me they'd emptied the fryer for cleaning that morning, so they couldn't make my nachos (*bonus -- I now know that Taco Bell fresh fries their chips... also, they clean their fryers... who'd have guessed? .... on both counts, really).

I was on the verge of bursting into angry tears, but then the man told me that, since I couldn't have nachos, he'd give me anything I wanted on the menu (that wasn't fried) FOR FREE.

You heard me. I got a free Taco Bell breakfast. ... After 8 solid hours of sleep.

Like I said: The Universe FREAKING Loves Me.

Today's gonna be awesome.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Yup, I'm that girl.

You know the girl.

The one who buys herself whatever she wants.

Just because...

But especially on a hard day.

Yeah, I'm that girl.

I just love daisies.

They make me smile. Always.

But, especially when they're in MY house, on MY table, in my blue vase that always makes me think of You've Got Mail ("a vase... a vaaaaase?"), they make my smile.

I may not always get what I want, but I'll be damned if I can't buy myself flowers any time I want them.

So, here I am. 

At home. 

With daises on my kitchen table and the smell of clean laundry in my bedroom. 

I love it here.

Let the weekend begin.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bucket Lists

As anyone who's known me for, say... half a minute knows, I am a list-loving FOOL!

I make:

Grocery Lists
Shopping Lists
Packing Lists
Cleaning Lists
Baking Lists
Lists of Lists...

Seriously, I am a list-loving fool! (One year, one of my girlfriends gave me a list-o-graphy book. It's like a journal, sort of. But it's organized in lists that tell the story of one's life. I love it!)

Anyhoo... I am a lover of a list. I like writing my tasks down, and I like scratching them off. Lists bring me joy.

And yet, there's one list that I simply cannot bring myself to make: The Bucket List.

It's funny, I never knew that I had strong feelings about TBL (yeah, I totally just made that acronym up) until I had the cancer.

There are all these songs about bucket lists, movies about bucket lists. Most people I know have a Bucket List (at the very least, in their head). But not me.

Here's the thing... as much as I do love a list, I only like to write things down that I know I'm going to be able to cross off. And TBL, by its very nature, screams to me that there may not be time to get it all done.

I don't know... it makes me nervous.

So, I don't have ABL. (Did you catch that? A Bucket List, acronymed. ... I must be slap happy, because I am breaking grammar rules left and right, making up acronyms and VERBING "acronym", while I'm at it.)

Tonight, Gone With The Wind was the classic movie at the Cinemark in my neighborhood. It's been on my calendar in my phone for weeks, if not months. I'd been so looking forward to seeing one of my most favorite movies of all time on a big screen... but here's the thing: My spine feels like it wants to pop out of my body. Usually, I get enough rest and down time on the weekend that I start the week w/o pain, and then it just gets gradually worse throughout the week... but this week has NOT been typical in that way. I woke up in pain on Monday, and it's gradually gotten worse.

I was still planning on going to the movie, until about 4:00 this afternoon, when I realized how much it hurt to sit up in my chair at work... which meant that going to a theater to watch a four hour movie that started at 7:00 wasn't in the cards.

And, luckily, seeing GWTW wasn't on my (imaginary or otherwise) BL, because... as much as I would have loved to hear Tara's Theme in surround sound and look at a larger than life Rhett Butler on the big screen, my body needed me to ground myself to my couch tonight.

Once again.

I sort of hate that I've had to break plans twice this week (and it's only Wednesday), because I'm too tired and worn down to do anything in the evening after work... but, at the same time, I'm glad I've been able to put in some extra hours at work in the last few days, because the next two days will be shorter work days, due to my medical schedule.

And I'm glad that my laundry is done, and every dish in my kitchen is clean, and that I have actual, bonafide, vacuum lines on my cheappie carpet.

And I'm glad that I don't have ABL, because it was a bitter enough pill to swallow that I couldn't see the movie in the theater tonight, because my body needed me to stay home... if I'd missed a chance to cross an item off A BUCKET LIST, I would have been truly bummed.

But since seeing that movie on the big screen was just Something I've Always Wanted To Do (and not Something I Want To Do Before I DIE), I was okay with sitting at home, watching the dvd, and typing this random post.

Sometimes, I think it's super awesome that I have this brain that's all over the place, because it helps me have Pollyanna moments in my own living room. (Other times, I just give myself a headache. But tonight, I'm happy with my DVD and glass full of tap water. And, for that, I am grateful.)