Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Let me start by saying I am not a workaholic. If I were, I would not have watched near as much Discovery channel as I have. (And would not, for instance, have recognized the source of Dan Chaon's story in progress about the two headed baby.) Hodgkins just made that a legitimate lifestyle choice--I was sick, of course I watched television.

When I was sick for six months, a lot of my life just sort of slipped. Things got put off, like working for a living. I didn't write much besides the blog. I spent a lot of time checking other people's blogs. I read The New Yorker the moment it hit the mailbox. My only real goal was to go to Taos in May and even that got dicey when an infection delayed my chemo. I flew to Taos less than a week after my last treatment. I love writer's workshops. They're a lot of fun. They're also some work. After that I came home and got the freelance job I've been doing since then. By August I was working seven days a week, more than sixty hours a week.

I said in a previous post that both cancer and this job functioned a little like heroin addiction. They each became my life. When I started the work, still easily tired from chemo, being able to do the work became a full time job. Everything was about work. The balance of sleep versus the balance of work. Dishes--forget it, if I did dishes, I would be able to work less. Decisions were simple. Work was the house on fire. The important thing was to put out the fire. Worry about the aluminium siding later.

In some ways it was very hard, but it was also oddly simplifying.

Now the project is coming close to an end. I am a better Texas Hold'em player and even maybe a better writer. But I have also changed a bit in the last year. Awareness of mortality and all that. I worry about odd things. I cleaned out the linen closet because I have a sudden desire to see things in better order...in case.

I'm a chronic depressive but I haven't been particularly depressed--in the clinical sense--in the last year. My therapist said that a big component of my depression was anxiety. Always scanning the perimeter, so to speak, waiting for something awful. The awful thing happened (not so awful, actually, but at times it felt awful.) So in an odd way, I could relax. Everything was simple. Lymphoma, work, everything simple.

What will happen when I don't have work to make all the decisions so simple? When the Titanic is no longer sinking and not only do the engines have to work, the hull remain water tight, and icebergs be avoided, but dinner has to be served and the deck chairs have to be arranged in a pleasing pattern? I'm wondering if I've got some pent up adjustment to go through? I'm hoping not. I'm hoping that while I was working, some part of my brain was adjusting to the new world order of mortality. (We're all mortal, just now I know it better.) One thing I can pretty much gaurantee, I'm not significantly wiser than I was a year ago. Which is kind of a good thing, actually. I'd like to be wise, but sometimes wisdom is expensive. I'd rather be happy.

In any event, I've been doing a bit of cooking and baking over the last three or four days, and tonight I've got some bananas that have past their peek of freshness, as it were. I think I'll make banana bread. And the frosting I made Sunday night? To die for.

Chocolate buttercream. Real pastry chef stuff. Coolest frosting I've EVER made. Bob thinks so too.


Blogger SquidgePa said...

My life tends to grow and shrink in the space remaining outside of work. On special occasions, work has to take a back seat to life.

Remember, you're not alone on that ship. You have other members of the crew to lean on. There are always people in passing ships (and also your many loyal minions) willing to provide pithy advice and support when needed.


November 15, 2005 10:05 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

Simple is not necessarily a bad thing. I (who am responsible for everyone else's schedule as well as my own) yearn for simple, but don't expect to achieve it short of a crisis anytime soon. And all things considered, I think I'd rather avoid any more crises than I've got.

On the other hand, it's easy to organize your life around a crisis; I think that's part of the reason my older daughter seems to embrace drama. If a case can be made that the Titanic is sinking, then whatever she can do is the best that could possibly be done in that moment. On the other hand, its wearing on the soul and the stomach lining to live like that.

I think making banana bread is a solid plan. I'm going to make pumpkin bread tonight. (But I may go to bed dreaming of your chocolate buttercream. My version of that kind of decadence is a chocolate icing which is, essentially, 14 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate, a pinch of salt, and a cup of sour cream. Simple but deadly.)

Like the new title for the blog, by the by.

November 16, 2005 4:13 PM  
Blogger Autumn said...

I live in that kind of single minded if I do this, what can't I do later kind of state. It's rough. I've yet to figure out how to get out of it, and often wonder if my body will gift me with not needing too.

You have all done a great job with LCP, and it's been a blast. Thanks again.

November 16, 2005 4:47 PM  

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