A Photograph of me without me in it

A Photograph of me without me in it
A photograph of me without me in it

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

DAR#22: What part of y'all don't you understand?

DAR #22: I was named for my grandmothers: Mary. I also have an aunt Mary Ann and an aunt Myra, which is just Mary scrambled up a little. I'm not sure if's it's Southern or just families, but there are a lot of recycled names in our family. My Granddaddy M. was Robert Thomas. My uncle Tommy was named for him. And my cousin Thomas. And his son Thomas. Mary Ann married my other uncle Tommy and Cindy married my uncle Tom, whose last name is Roberts, just to make it all fit together. We do have some outliers: Sylvia, Steve, Cindy, Susan, Jennifer, Isabella, but mostly we're all connected by names some way or the other. Both sides of my family were also white Southern Baptists, so some might say I was blessed and others might say I was doomed.

My name is just one way I fit in my family, but I never really fit in the South. When I was young, I was often told I seemed more like a Yankee than a southerner. This is not a compliment in the south, but I took it as one. (I have a habit of taking insults as compliments. Sometimes life just works better that way.) In a high school US History class we students took a survey of ideas to determine whether we were "conservative" or "liberal." To everyone's dismay, including mine, I came out "liberal." Classmates made be take it again just to be sure. None of us had guessed I would be so displaced.

It seems to me that belonging is culturally more important in the south than in the newer and more transient northwest. When I lived for a time in Dallas, I lived in a home surrounded  by octogenerians. I asked one neighbor, Johnny, who lived in the catty-cornered house, since I had not met them yet. "Oh," Johnny said, "Don't mind them. They're Yankees." When I asked how long they'd lived there, he said, "About 25 years." How long do you have to live here to be a Texan? "About three generations."

Coming out as a debutante (or "deb" as we said) was more popular than coming out as a lesbian, but when I came out, most of my extended Southern Baptist family embraced me and my partner in a way I would not have guessed or hoped for.

My parents' greatest fear, I think, was that my grandmothers would "find out." Each let me know in Southern code that she "knew" and was there for me. When Ann and I visited my Grandmother E. with my dad, as soon as Dad and I left the room to fix us all ice-cream (another inheritance), Grandmother said to Ann, "You're the one who lives with Mary. Right?...I thought so." And that was it.

With my other grandmother, things were never quite so quiet. My aunt Mary Ann had everyone over for Sunday dinner (the noon meal on Sundays). It's not a meal with this family unless there are at least 15 people there. Grandmother took a seat in the middle of the long table, seating Ann to her right and me to her left. The table conversation took its usual ADHD course: starting one conversation with someone down the table, then shifting to another in mid-sentence, all of it somewhat raucous. In the midst of all of this, grandmother would turn to Ann, say, "Who does the laundry?" and Ann would respond, "We both do." My grandmother would say, "Oh! That's good." Then she'd turn to me, "Who does the cooking?" I'd say, "We both do," and grandmother would again exclaim, "Oh, that's good!" before going on to the next chore of her life.

When I hear folks in the northwest talk about the south like it's where prejudice and backwardness reside, I think it's more complex than that. Though I am certainly more of a fleece-wearing northwestern do-gooder than a pearl-laden Southern lady, I am glad for my southern accent, for my tendency to exaggerate when telling stories, for a family that calls me by a name that belongs not just to me but to our heritage.

Ya'll have a good day now, ya hear? Mary

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

DAR #21: Near Death Experiences

DAR #21: Country singer Charlie Daniels, apparently, had a “near death” experience in January, I read in the MSN news today. He was skiing down a mountain when he felt numbness in his face and in his hand, signs of a stroke. Today, he’s back on stage. I always think it’s a miracle that any of us live as long as we do, what with falling in the pool as children, changing lanes on the freeway as new drivers, and walking up the basement steps as we get older.

I am sure that I am oblivious to most of my near death experiences, but I am aware of those instances where I thought I might be dying even if I wasn’t. When Ann and I travelled from the west coast of Costa Rica (an amazing place) to the capitol in order to fly home at the end of our vacation, we took a taxi to the “airport.” The driver, seeming to know right where to go, drove us a long way to an empty field, and put our luggage on the side of the road. We shrugged our shoulders and laughed. How would we ever get home if this was not in fact our airport terminal? Gradually, about ten other Americans dragged their luggage to this field and we all waited to see if a plane might arrive. There was a famous designer, Randolf Duke, maybe? (he was wearing a “Duke” baseball cap and I thought he was just another ACC fan), on the plane, and some of the better dressed women got very excited about him and goggled, something that I thought was awkward and a little intrusive.

Finally two small planes arrived. Our plane would take six of us: one in the front by the pilot, four in the middle and me in the back on a jump seat. The pilot, an overweight Costa Rican man in his sixties, heaved the heavy luggage of the fashionable ladies into the back of the plane. He sweated profusely. I was afraid he might have a heart attack, but he didn’t.

We all settled in and he started the engine. As we took off, a red light kept flashing. This seemed like a bad sign to me, but the pilot didn’t seem worried. We rose toward the mountain in front of us. Right toward it. In what seemed like the last moment, the pilot grunted, banked hard to the left and took a new run at the mountain. The red light still flashed insistently. This time, we made it over.

Throughout the flight, that red light kept flashing and we hit quite a few spots where the plane just dropped. Everyone except me started retching into those little bags. I just tried to find a place to look. As we bounced along, I thought about the possibility of death: at least it would be at the end of the vacation instead of at the beginning. It was such a good vacation with the colorful macaws and the leap frog monkeys and hatching baby turtles. I hoped someone would develop the film from my new camera. When we landed, no one clapped. Everyone took a deep breath and got out of the plane as soon as possible. We didn’t make the news.

On another vacation (I suppose vacations are dangerous, but they’re worth it), we took a safari into the Tanzanian Serengeti, the home of dangerous animals like lions and hyenas and zebras (Oh my!). The eleven of us (two guides who were also our drivers and nine Americans, mostly teachers named Ann), rose early one morning to see the animals in their most active time of day. We gathered around a fire at the end of the path that lined our tents, drank tea, and tried to wake up. My partner Ann, who is not a chicken, went back to our tent to get a morning snack, and when I looked up to notice that she was no longer in the group, I also noticed a lioness (the hunters are the women) heading towards our tent.

I yelled out to Ann to zip up the tent and stay in it because there was a lion outside; she zipped up the tent and looked out the mesh window to see only the lion’s tail: the rest was too close for her to see. The rest of us jumped around and yelled a bit and I sought out one of the guides, Paul, who would not believe that there was a lion even though he could see it. Finally, we all jumped in our two jeeps and our guide, Waziri, drove towards the lion and nudged it away from the tent. The second jeep pulled in front of the tent and yelled for Ann to come out. She ran out, picked up her tea cup from the front, asked if the lion had been drinking from it and at last got into the jeep with her teacup.

As our jeep sat watching the lion amble to a nearby tree, Pam asked, “If the lion had been able to get to Ann, would it have given chase?” Waziri responded in his pretty good English, “Oh no. it would have eaten her right there.” And as the lion rested in the shade, ever the guide, Waziri asked, “Would you like to take picture?”

In my hospital vacation after brain surgery, “vampire nurses” would come into my room at 11 pm and 3 am every morning to make sure I was still alive. They would take some blood (I don’t know what they did with it), take my pulse, and then leave. I learned to just throw out my arm as they entered the room, in the hopes that they would just take my vitals and leave me sleeping.

One morning at 3 am, the nurse also had me sit up so that she could check my lungs. I guess she was especially thorough, but I am an organ donor and have been told that I have excellent lungs (why thank you, I said bashfully and batted my eyes), so I figured someone needed my lungs and they were checking me out. Not dead yet. After that night, the doctors asked the nurses to skip taking my vitals at night.

Be careful and full of wonder out there. Mary

Monday, March 29, 2010

DAR #20: For Crying Out Loud

DAR #20: Saturday night I was so tired I cried. Sobbed. I don’t cry often, which I say not with pride but just as a matter of fact. Apparently, depression is common with people who’ve had brain tumors, so it’s good to cry, kind of like other folks eating their veggies, but I just don’t very often. And sometimes I cry for hope rather than fear. I'm not sure if that still counts.

I didn't cry much before my brain surgery either. I cried from fear when I got married (perhaps I should have paid more attention), divorced and even more when I came out (as a lesbian, not a debutante). I have always cried with that surge of hope when women’s professional basketball team starting line-ups are announced at the beginning of a game (I’m sure some therapist would love to interpret that.) I also cry when our congregation, a mix of folks devoted to social justice including many GLBTQ individuals and families, sing the hymn, "We Shall Overcome." I know it’s not my story, but when I sing, “Deep in my heart, I still believe, that we shall overcome some day,” I get choked up.

So I suppose it’s not surprising that there have been some tears with these tumors. I cried (both Ann and I did) when the eye surgeon told us that she might not be able to restore my ability to see with both eyes. I cried when I got so frustrated learning to walk again that I thought I might never do it. When I had the piggy flu, pneumonia and had started radiation I cried because I felt so crummy and was afraid this might be how it would be from that point on. I cried (we both did) when we learned I had a second tumor. Oh, and I cry at any tv show where someone has a brain tumor (“Six Feet Under”,” Gray’s Anatomy”…)

I cried (we both did) for joy when, after my second eye muscle surgery, the surgeon removed my bandage and I could see just one of Ann with both eyes. We cried when I walked without my walker (but with a lot of weights) the first time. I cried a couple of weeks ago when Ann put clean sheets on the bed. That seemed like the nicest thing that anyone had ever done for me.

And I suspect we’ll both cry if, on April 12, we learn that this round of radiation worked and the tumor is melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.

In this Easter week, here’s to tears of fear and hope--Mary

Friday, March 26, 2010

DAR 17: Watch your language.

DAR 17: One of the many fun aspects of teaching high school is that I get to see where cultural perceptions and the English language (and fashion) are going before most other folks my age. Way back before the turn of the century I worked in schools in Seattle's suburban neighborhoods. Some of my students gave me vocabulary quizzes on teen jargon just as I gave them vocab quizzes. That's where I learned that "rims" are "wheels" and other important vocab.

Now that I work in a poorer (and therfore, it seems, hipper) part of town, I keep learning. Today, for instance, I learned from a social studies teacher that when her students discussed what it means to "act black" one characteristic they noticed was smoking pot. When they discussed what it means to "act white" they discussed smoking crack. This would have been the opposite two years ago.

In my day (or "back in the day"), when we thought something was groovy we said, "cool." Several years ago I started hearing "filthy", especially when applied to sneakers (or "kicks"). Recently my sister tells me that my godson Sam is apparently the "dirtiest" point guard in New York state. That's a compliment, but I'm not sure if suburban New York is ahead of hip Northwes and filthy is yet to come or if hip NW is ahead and my godson will soon be "filthy."

Have a filthy day. Mary

Thursday, March 25, 2010

DAR #16: Euphemistically speaking

DAR #16: Today I went to work for just a couple of hours. Yesterday wore me out. I'll have to build up to those long six hour days. Since I work in several schools as well as at our district office, I've been seeing a lot of people for the first time since radiation. The most common comment: "You look great [pause] considering...[fade to silence]."

The comment makes me think of the other ways we avoid saying what we really mean. I have also gotten a signifinatly shorter haircut. The comment there is one I have used, and you probably have, too: "You got your hair cut." Somehow, avoiding a comment at all is rude. This is a statement of fact: no need to lie.

When my mother eats something she doesn't really like, she says, "This is interesting." That's  her nice way of trying to avoid saying, "I don't like this at all." She also uses this for clothes and entertainment. "How was the movie?" Ummm. It was interesting. When I was younger and would try on clothes, I would say, "How does this look?" and she would inevitably respond, "You're the one who has to wear it."

Other euphemistic phrases:
"This student is a pleasure to have in class" (Student is nice but doesn't understand a darn thing.)
"Thanks for coming over" (It's been nice to have you in our home, but you have to leave now.)
"That's a perspective I haven't considered" (You might be crazy.)

"Have a nice day." Mary

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 15: Unreliable Church News

Day 15: Today was my second day of work since radiation. Whew. I'm tuckered. One important concept that we try to help students learn is to identify reliable sources. I'm here to tell you that church isn't always a reliable news source.

The day before my last day of radiation, the prayer in the pulpit was for Mary "finishing radiation and starting chemotherapy" the next day. Apparently, they couldn't quite read my mother's handwriting. I have no idea what she may have written that looked like chemo.

A few years ago, our friends Terry and Marcia and Robbie and Mary were planning to come to dinner. Sadly, Mary's dad died and so we postponed the dinner. My partner Ann called Marcia and Terry, leaving a message saying that Robbie's partner Mary's father had died, so we would need to postpone. Terry listened to the message but didn't quite get it right. He shared the message with his wife Marcia, who said a prayer of concern at church on Sunday for my father who had died suddenly. I got a few awkward calls from good friends and my minister asking if my father had died. He hadn't. Thinking it was hilarious, I told dad. He didn't think it was funny at all.

Hoping for good news and laughter for us all. Mary

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day 14: Inappropriate Laughter

Day 14: I envy Mr. Kotter who could always keep his laughter "inside, where it counts." I am generally able to keep my observations of ironies and absurdities to myself, but often my laughter busts out. In a somewhat serious conversation, someone will turn to me and say, "What's so funny?" Wisely, I keep it to myself and they just think I'm a little weird. I'm hoping the brain tumor rumor will buy me an excuse for this.

Many times my inappropriate laughter is just a cannon shot, a quick burst that we can all ignore and move on. Every now and then, however, I laugh in that way where I gasp for breath, cough, start to cry and shake all over. Mostly, this happens in church.

A few years ago, a friend named Rob got up to read the day's scripture. It was long and had lots of names in it. He struggled through, pausing to take a deep breath and roll his eyes from time to time. At last he finished and sat back in the pew, clearly glad to be there. There was an uncomfortable silence. His wife leaned over to him. He rolled his eyes again and returned to the front. "It's another long one," he said as introduction to the second reading. We laughed so hard we giggled our pew the whole service. It was my favorite reading ever.

In college, my friends Becky and Catherine and my cousin Lori went to State University together and got out for their winter break later than I did, so I went to visit them in their dorm. Becky and Catherine roomed together and Becky was afraid to go into her room because Catherine was in there with a boy (alas!) and the door was closed. Lori, who reminded me of Lucille Ball with her red hair, blue eyes and exaggerated expressions, always specialized in spying and decided to dress as a spy in trench coat and dark glasses and see what was going on. She flung Catheirne's door open, jumped into the door frame, and shouted, "Ah!" Then she gasped, put her hand over her mouth, flung eyes and mouth wide--and ran. I think that was the last time I wet my pants.

As a child in a large Baptist church, sometimes folks would go to the communion table at the front and pass around the elements (that's what they call them), saying to one another in turn, "This is the body of our lord, broken for you." My cousin Lori and I found this hilarious. We were already laughing when we got there. When the bread came to me, I had just calmed down, but could only say to her, "This..." before shaking with laughter again and passing the bread on. Someone else's mother scolded us after church. I thought she took herself a bit too seriously, but this time I didn't laugh.

Here's to a good chuckle, outside where it counts. Mary

Monday, March 22, 2010

DAR #13 :"Not Waving but Drowning"

DAR#13: Oooeeehhh, as my Granddaddy Matthews would have said. Today I worked half a day for the first time since the middle of January. Fun, and I'm tuckered. When I get really tired, my face twitches, so today as I was working with some students my face went bonkers. Very distracting. My hair's off to those of you who work a full day, five days a week. That's really crazy.

As many of you know, I love my work. I get to work with teachers who want my help to improve their teaching practice. Many of them are already excellent teachers. I have a lot of admiration for (and sympathy with) struggling teachers. It is often, after all, the ones who have a vision and passion for getting better who are struggling. Otherwise, why bother.  In my observation and in my experience, teachers in their first two years at a school (even if they aren't brand new teachers) are the ones who struggle in that way that new swimmers struggle when they first get thrown into the deep end of the pool. So here are some ways you might recognize a struggling teacher. Please note that none of these examples are from this  year, but all of them are from teachers in their first two years and two of them are of me.

Struggling teachers might:
do their weekly grocery shopping at 3 am because this is a time when they're too tired to grade papers.
arrive at their desk at 5 a.m. to read the dictionary.
hand papers to their somewhat drunken friends during a party and call out the answers so that their friends can grade them.
call their students "little f%@ckers" and stomp out of the classroom.
develop the habit of inserting "shhh" into their sentences, like a tic that happens without their knowledge even when no one else is talking: ie "Good morning. Shhh. I hope you had shhh a good shhh weekend. shhh.
rewrite their daily lesson plan for the third time because their partner said the first two were "boring."
cry whenever another person says to them, "How's it going?"
grade papers in the stands while "watching" a jv basketball game.

Here's to you workers of the world in whatever ways you struggle. Happy Monday! Mary

Friday, March 19, 2010

DAR #10: "I Believe the Children are the Future"

DAR#10: This morning I awoke with Whitney Houston singing "I believe the children are the future" in my head. I have awakened to pop music snippets as long as I can remember. I had hoped brain surgery might cure me of this, but instead I think the music has just gotten worse. Like "I believe the children are the future." While I appreciate the sentiment, I have always hated these lyrics. Isn't that kind of like singing, "I believe basketballs are round"? I mean, they just are. No belief, is seems to me, is required.

Anyway, the song got me thinking about the ways that children responded to my eye patch when I was wearing it. Kids aged 3-5 or so were the most fun. Once, soon after going home from surgery, we went to Children's Hospital to visit some friends and their child. Their young child had undergone several heart surgeries. She looked great and continues to thrive. Her mother was telling us how many people came through Children's to entertain the young patients: singers with guitars, puppeteers, people with puppies, and so on. As we were leaving, Ann pushed me in my wheelchair down the hall and a boy about seven years-old came out of a nearby room, non-chalantly raised his hand in greeting and said, "Hi Pirate" as if he was not at all surprised to see a pirate in this hospital.

Another time, when I was waiting in the emergency room, a girl of about three came bravely over to ask me if I was a pirate. "Yes," I said, "I am a pirate. What are you?" Without hesitating, she said, "I'm a cat." And to this I wisely responded, "I thought so. That must be why you painted your fingernails." She simply nodded seriously and raised her hand to show the nails as proof to both of us. Many kids this age asked me this question. Those who were most excited were the ones who were going to get to ride on a plane with a pirate. All of them could answer without thinking what they were: a rocket, a bear, a little boy (as if to say, duh.)

My youngest niece Gretchen, however, had not yet reached the age of pirate fascination. As soon as she saw me in my patch, she screamed and wailed and went into a spasm of dry heaves (I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all glad that they were dry.) The next summer, when her mom asked her if she was sad that Auntie Mary wasn't wearing a patch, she responded emphatically, "No, I am not sad that Auntie Mary is not wearing a patch." That is one of my favorite sentences.

Finally, teenagers were generally compassionate but could be funny, too. The year after surgery, I completed an administrative internship in a school on the campus where I had worked for several years. The campus has a reputation as a tough place and there are indeed real issues associated with poverty and displacement (lots of immigrants and refugees), but I have always felt safe there.

As I left the building (using my walker and wearing my patch) late one afternoon, a group of boys was beating a trashcan to death. (Teenage boys sometimes do things like this.) From about 15 yards away, I hollered out to them to stop. They paused, glanced my way and continued. I moved toward them and told them they should move on. Again they paused to look at me. Their apparent leader said, "Run! Look what happened in her last fight!" They ran and I laughed.
Kudos to brother Matt for the first acceptance speech, and so gracefully done. A little background may help you: My sister Jenn had brain surgery two years before me as a result of an accident. We were afraid she might not live, and my brother, as an act of love, slammed down his toilet seat and broke it. (I think this remains my sister's favorite story about him--or maybe about anyone.) As you can see, she is alive and funny. What you can't see is that she has some unresolved physical issues: she cannot put a flipflop on her left foot without using her hand and she cannot raise her right eyebrow. For that, she is going to physical therapy, but I don't think she has a caringbridge site yet.

For those of you trying to rain on my milkshake parade, yesterday I courageously tested your theories about lactose intollerance. For breakfast I had cream cheese on my banana nut bread. At lunch I had yogurt and a glass of milk with my scrambled eggs and banana, and after dinner I had maple walnut ice-cream from Molly Moons. I slept like a baby...better, really, for those of you who've had babies.

So happy milkshakes to all you pirates out there who can eat them :) mary

btw Dad travelled to Seattle to get your IRA statement. Brother Matt

Okay, how many people clicked on Matt's website? Mary D.

You still continue to keep me in stitches! I even forwarded today's blog to my Dad, as he is an ECU Pirate fan. Thought he, too, might get a kick out of it. Every time I think of you, I see the same image in my head. You on the basketball court, taking aim and shooting. Apparently your form was quite memorable. Love, Kathryn

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DAR #8-#9: "'Twas a Rough Night" and Cultural Incompetency

• Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:46 AM, PDT

DAR#8: My health seems to be proceeding as expected. The doctor says my hair should stop falling out and start growing in again in about a month (Ann heard three months, but I'm sure it was one); my eyes should improve in 3-4 months. And my energy should return to near normal in 4-6 months. (That's half a year of guiltless napping). I'm also experiencing intestinal distress most nights and trying to figure out why. Maybe cheddar cheese, chocolate (horrors!), garlic, and sugar (horrors upon horrors! Will this madness never end?) I can see you, Matt, Jane and Pea starting to type now. No, I don't need the vaseline yet, but thank you.

My follow up MRI is on April 8 and the appointment to learn about the MRI results is on Tuesday, April 13. The doctors hope to see the tumor melting, like the wicked witch of the west, to show that the radiation has been at least partially successful. If I never have another tumor, we'll know that the radiation was completely successful. I'll have MRIs every six months to see.

Last night reminded me of the only line from MacBeth that I think ever gets a laugh: "Twas a rough night." I've had a lot of rough nights since brain surgery. Not only do I now deal with intestinal distress, but I've also been much more active in--and out of--my dreams.

Last week in the middle of the night, I woke myself and Ann. I was screaming. To appreciate each scene, you should know that Ann wears a mouthguard to keep her from grinding her teeth and tape over her mouth to help her breathe through her nose. So when she pops up to see if I'm okay, she sounds like a mummy, "Mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm." Not really especially comforting, except that it makes me laugh.

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamed that a Texas cowpoke was mocking my grief. I stood up to wallop him. I heard a mumbled scream, much like the sound of a mummy screaming. In my real life, I had thrown back the covers, drawn back my fist to punch him, and hit Ann in the gut.
Closer to returning home from brain surgery, I dreamed that I was outside and heard a russle in the bushes. When I looked closer to investigate, a vicious squirrel jumped out at me, arms wide like a bat. This was no ordinary squirrel, but a squirrel much like the rabbit in Monty Python's Holy Grail: "Run away!"  I screamed and ran. In my sleep as well as out of my bed. Again, the mummy saved me.

In yet another dream--or maybe a hallucination--I saw a man at our bedroom window. I screamed and would not be convinced he was a figment of my imagination until Ann showed me that the window I saw him in was also a figment of my imagination.

Brains are funny things. May we all sleep well tonight. Mary

Sometimes people do have experiences in life that might offer help to others in the future. In this case, I hope so. My Mom had radiation years ago & did experience guiltless napping for quite a few months afterwards. Nap away. Now, about those dreams... Are you sure that's not just a Pisces thing? Howard flails and hollers sometimes too, and his birthday is just a couple of days after yours (belated greetings by the way). We chalk it up to stress, safe to say you've had a bit. Tell Ann that she & I can talk about ways to protect ourselves later. I'm an expert with intestinal distress & suggest eliminating everything you love from your diet. Unfortunately, that will probably work. Try gluten free, or sugar free, or dairy free, or coffee free, or all of the above. You should know in about a week if your gut approves. It might even help the night terrors. Hope to see you soon, hopefully when you're awake. Karen S.

If you think there is only one line in Macbeth that gets a laugh, you didn't see our high school production. But then maybe it wasn't the lines. The knight falling off the 10 foot platform as well as armor popping open in the middle of a fight garnered a lot of laughs. And when I (Banquo) dressed in a night shirt came out of the same door that Lady Macbeth had recently come out in her night gown --- what else would red-blooded high school students think. (The staging was changed the next day). Keep pouring water on your tumor. It worked for the Wicked Witch. -John

Mary and Ann, a lullaby for both of you....
Bed is too small for my tiredness,
Give me a hill topped with trees.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.
Rock me to sleep in a cradle of dreams.
Sing me a lullabye of leaves.
Tuck a cloud up under my chin.
Lord, blow the moon out, please.
Sweet dreams! Rita and Linda

Oh my what dreams. They happen to me too and it ends up it's just my husband snoring. Poor Ann. Maybe you need a night light or a stuff bear. How about a bubble bath with lavender to soothe body and mind. I'm sure I'll be dreaming of you tonight after reading your journal. Love ya both! Auntie Susan

I am amazed at your ability to scream and punch people when you are having bad dreams. I am always unable to move and my screams are pathetic moans. I also must use a nightguard, so maybe that is why I can't scream. The thought of tape over my mouth, though, is terrifying. Poor Ann, she goes to bed gagged and then gets punched and screamed at! I am sorry for your intestinal distress. This has been a frequent companion of mine as well. You have probably been tested for lactose intolerance, right? I hate to rain on your party, but I am thinking about all those milkshakes. . . OK, the truth is, I have been thinking about all those milkshakes a lot, ever since you first mentioned them. I have been thinking about them with longing. Since I am lactose intolerant and currently off sugar as well, it is possible that there is some mean-spirited part of me that really does want to rain on your party, brain tumor notwithstanding. Oh well, there are always lactose pills! Jane, until you expressed it, I hadn't realized that I too think of Spell Check as a "he". I tend to ignore him, unless he is being very funny. Then I will often add a P.S. to my email to let my recipient know about the silly changes he has suggested. They probably don't get as big a bang out of it as I do. Rebecca

At your hospital, do they let you listen to music during your MRIs? I had an MRI at one hospital, and I got to bring my own cd and everything. It was much better than my 2 MRIs at another hospital, where they just give you ear plugs. Lame. Tressa

Your Okie and Aussie friends will go after any cowpokes who taunt you in your dreams! Jay

• Wednesday, March 17, 2010 12:05 PM, PDT
DAR #9: I'll tell you a secret. I have high hopes that this radiation worked. I try not to have high hopes, because I have often not gotten what I hoped for and found the alternative was a richer (and usually better) experience anyway. But my hopes are so high that I feel like I have an overfilled balloon in my ribcage. Okay, sorry for that foray into the inappropriate. I won't let it happen again.


Several of you have expressed concern that I may not be able to drink beer on St. Patrick's day. No need for concern. I seem to do fine with alchohol. It's just food that bothers me. When I visited St. Patrick's cathedral in Dublin ages ago, I was surprised to learn two things: 1) St. Patrick's heart was buried there but his body was somewhere else. (I found dismemberment a strange way to honor him after his death--though ceratinly better than before his death and 2) for the Irish, at least back in the day, St. Patrick's day is not a drinking holiday. It is a sacred day. If I remember right, that's kind of like cinco do mayo in Mexico. I forget what day that's on. (For those of you who don't speak Spanglish or drink beer, Cinco d Mayo is translated "May 5.") I guess both are easy examples that it's often hard to understand what's going on in another culture.

In another example of cultural confusion, a few years back I went to our sister community in El Salavador with two other adults and three youth (it was a particularly difficult group of youth, so we needed one adult per youth). We arrived the day after Christmas and left the community the day after New Year's Day. The tradition there is for the women (of course) to rise very early on New Year's Eve and make a gazillion tamales. During the day, neighbors visit one another and no one cooks, but every home offers you two tamales and a cup of coffee. We didn't understand that it's polite to say no thank you or to have only one tamale. I think Clarita counted that she had 15 tamales that day.

In another, more dangerous, case of cultural confusion, Ann and I had a chat-chewing, gun-carrying, oddball of a "guard" when we visited the Greater Rift Valley in Ethiopia. When he decided to leave us early and stay in a market town we were visiting, Ann didn't pay him as much as he expected. On the long and bumpy hour ride to our, um, dwelling, from time to time he would grip his rifle and turn to stare at Ann for a good three minutes. When we arrived back at the camp, he kept coming by to stare at her in our dwelling. Finally, we asked the drunken but English-speaking manager to translate for us, and we essentially paid them to take him away.

In a third example of such cultural confusion, when I was in my early twenties (so long ago), I went with three other Americans to a small community called "Camelote" at the foot of the mountains in Michoacon, Mexico, to do some service work: dental hygiene awareness and building latrines. The last day of our six weeks there, Juan (the only one of us who was fluent and had Mexican heritage), learned that the locals thought we were really CIA spies. Why else would rich American kids (rich by Camelote standards), traipse out to the Mexican jungle to dig doo-doo holes? They had a point. This explained why the clearly corrupt "mayor" steered us to specific homes, and why one earnest young man took us on a tour of the local marijuana farms. I guess it didn't occur to them that we thought THEY were interesting, even though they clearly found us a sight to see. When we visited the tanke (swimming hole), the first day and got in to swim, the fifty or so folks in the tanke got quietly out of the water and sat on the bank to watch us, like we were polar bears or penguins.

I love these experiences where my assumptions about what's happening are challenged. I wonder how you're doing in Vietnam, Susan, aside from being challenged by the warmness of the local beer.

Happy St. Pat's! Mary

Dear Karen&Howard Sitzberger-Miller, Mary DOES eliminate every food she loves. Quickly. That is the precisely the problem. Jane

I hope you realize what an awesome sacrifice your father is making to leave Raleigh and visit you!! He is missing (with me) 3 days of golf, 3 days of bridge, and a night of poker!!!!!! I hope you appreciate this. Do you know that I spend more time with him than your mother does!! Love, Alan P.S. Jill and I have really enjoyed your blog.

"If I remember right, that's kind of like cinco do mayo in Mexico. I forget what day that's on." Hey Mary, I got the joke. Mary D.

Brain Tumor Journal Readers People Choice Awards:

(Please picture the real Penelope Cruz opening envelope and saying in Spanglish): "And the winner for Entry that Generated the Most Responses Is....Brother Matt for Vaseline!!" (picture her being visibly pumped I won)

(As I'm walking/sauntering down aisle Tom Hanks steps into aisle to give me chest bump knowing this will equate into bigger payday when he plays me in upcoming film...Scarlett Johannsen attempts to kiss me but I explain to her I'm a married man)

"First and foremost I'd like to thank the brain tumor for making all of this possible. While this may sound perverse, it has taught me a lot about my sister Mary. For instance, I never knew she was funny until he/she/it reared its ugly head. When I need a lift I often think back to the homeless man insisting on helping Mary across the street when she actually didn't need to cross the street and then Mary crossing the street back to where she started when he was out of sight. That visual had me in tears and hopefully can be included in the film. More importantly (or maybe not I don't know) the courage (grace under pressure as I recall Hemingway describing it, and that little boogar certainly put pressure on Mary's innards) and resilience Mary has displayed through all these hardships is an inspiration to me and I am sure the entire Journal Reading nation. But enough about her, back to me. I have had to endure two brain surgeries (and to show I love you both, I broke a toilet seat in honor of my Dad calling to tell me good chance Sister Jenn Jenn doesn't make it through the day), a radiation treatment, the death of my beloved lab Stella, 9/11, and a financial meltdown I instigated all in the course of a decade. Where is the justice in that Brain Tumor Journal Readers of America??!! However, remain calm, for there are brighter skies ahead as Mary so poignantly pointed out...she represented my future in a jar of Vaseline and for that I thank her (weep weep). So, this award is not an ending but merely a beginning, and I invite you all to join me on an incredible journey into the back half of life at www.matttakesitinthekeister.com . Thank you!! Thank you!!! Brother Matt

Mary: Acceptance speech coming up, probably Friday, when I will have more than 10 minutes to take care of your website and Facebook both. Jane

Mary et al... It's hard to follow Matt's acceptance speech but since I am writing from Hanoi (again) I hope that will over-compensate for the lack of wit! And I am writing on a computer whose spell check only works in Vietnamese so please be gentle with me (I'm talking to you, Rebecca!). Hmmm. Mary asked for cultural experiences. One pops to mind. I got very sick in Halong Bay, which is one of the most beautiful places in Vietnam (and the most expensive part of our trip because we stayed on a LOVELY boat!). I was in bed pretty much the entire time (when I wasn't throwing up...and it wasn't from sea-sickness ...it was from food or water in Hanoi). Our guide, Son (not to be confused with Sun or Danan--neither of whom has made an appearance on this trip) was my guardian angel. He brought me rice and tea, sat beside me and told me stories of his childhood and family, wiped my face when I broke into a sweat, and even gave me a massage (as he used to do for his mother when she was sick or tired). Everytime he left my cabin I told him "thank you" profusely, as I was eternally grateful. He finally took my hand and gently told me "Don't say thank you. It creates distance between us. It implies I am doing something I wouldn't normally do". I asked him what I should say and he said I should just nod or if I really needed to speak I could add an "uh" (kind of like a grunt) to the nod. After that I grunted and nodded a lot and he smiled gratefully. Susan

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

DAR (Days after Radiation) #2-#7

• Wednesday, March 10, 2010 12:48 PM, PST
DAR #2 (Days after Radiation. Not to be confused with Daughters of the Revolution.) The moment you've all been waiting for: award announcements. Each winner is required to give an acceptance speech. Trophies and cash awards will be delivered as soon as I ask Ellen if she can find nine trophies at Goodwill for me.

1) Nominees for the award for deadpan humor go to:
A) Pam, "Sara said Poo poo."
B) Mary D. "You are very funny....I did not know that."
C) Rebecca: "Katharine Hepburn spells her name with an 'a' instead of an 'e'." And "I just wanted to add that Pam is a fine one to be commenting on someone else's language." And "What are you doing in Vietnam, Susan, besides drinking warm beer?"
D) Jane Soder for telling the story of her doctor, "No wonder she's light-headed."
Rebecca: "Katharine Hepburn spells her name with an 'a' instead of an 'e'." And "I just wanted to add that Pam is a fine one to be commenting on someone else's language." And "What are doing in Vietnam, Susan, besides drinking warm beer?"
Jane: for telling the story of her doctor, "No wonder she's light-headed."

2) Nominees for entries that generated the most response are:
A) Brother Matt for "Vaseline"
B) Sister Jennifer for "K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E"
Brother Matt for "Vaseline"

3) Nomininees for best musical contribution:
A) Sister Jennifer for "Spreading Rumors"
B) Heather for "Fairest Lord Jesus"
C) Pea for "You're Okay"
Sister Jennifer for "Spreading Rumors" (Though "Fairest Lord Jesus" was a close second.)

4) Nominees for best corny joke are:
A) Brother Matt for "Two Blonds Walking Down Opposite Sides of the Street."
B) Forrest for "A Cheeseburger Walks into a Bar"
C) Sammy and Willie for "Armies and Sleevies"
Sammy and Willie for "Armies and Sleevies" (Sorry Forrest. A bit of nepotism here. You just can't beat out my nephews. Though if it had been "Two Fruits Walk into a Bar" that would have been tough.)

5) Nominees for best book review:
A) Sister Jennifer for "Through Mary's Eyes"
B) Jane for "Dazed and Confused"
Sister Jennifer for "Through Mary's Eyes"
Jane for "Dazed and Confused"

6) Nominees for signing the guestbook from the longest distance in terms of space and culture:
A) Pea in Ballard
B) Angelique in Texas
C) Mom, Dad and Aunt Susie in NC
D) Sara in Belize
E) Brett in Austria
F) Susan in Vietnam
Susan in Vietnam (She is, after all, drinking warm beer, which is how she beat out Pam in Ballard.)

And a surprise: The annual Putting Up (not necessarily out) with your Partner goes to:
A) Dad for putting up with Mom
B) Mom for putting up with Dad
C) Ann for putting up with Mary
D) Todd for putting up with Jennifer

E) Kristin for putting up with Matt

I think you'll have to discuss this with your partner and let me know if you think you're a winner. I mean, you're all winners, but let me know if you're a winner in this category considering the stiff competition.


Of course, you're all winners (but you don't all get a trophy and a cash reward). Remember that as you sweat over your classes, Tom.

AND AWARD WINNERS PLEASE REMEMBER to write your speeches. No speech. No trophy. No quarter. No exceptions. Mary

OMG! I had no idea Jane was so funny! I vote for her to write my speech, especially since she and I share the award. Rebecca

I have to write an acceptance speech!??! Somehow I missed seeing that requirement in the past!! How can I do it and be suitably humble at the same time? I'll write yours, too, Rebecca, if you insist. But you might be sorrrrrry. (I'll give you 48 hours to write it yourself.) Jane

Don't worry about it Jane. I'll write my own. We'll see who can be the most humble (humblerest?) Rebecca

...so yes, I am still claiming 100% because I want to and I think I deserve 100% even if I don't do all the work. (Isn't that the way kids think nowadays??) So I still don't get the Roth thing, but if I say it three times does that count for something? Roth, Roth, Roth....Jane and Rebecca definitely get the LOL award. Where did all that humor come from? Diana

Hello Dear One,You look marvelous. You have been thru so much. You have taught all of us what it is like to go thru this with more than a positive attitude. You are always a teacher at heart. Love to you and Ann. Auntie Susan

Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:12 AM, PST
DAR #3: If you haven't figured out your birthday present to me on Saturday, March 13 yet, it's time to get on it :) In case you're wondering, I'm having enough fun with the blog that I'll keep going until my MRI next month, which will show if all of this has made a difference.
Thanks for your help fleshing out plans for the movie. Here's the update: (Changes are underlined)
Title: Can't Duck It
Writers: Mary Edwards with the Coen Brothers
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Actors and Actresses:
Hilary Swank as Mary Edwards (She's already made films as a lesbian and a teacher; she has short hair from The Aviator; she has big teeth. Perfect.)
Ellen Degeneres as Ann
Meryl Streep as Mary's mom Sylvia
Ed O'Neill, the older father on "Modern Family" and on "Married with Children" as Mary's dad Steve (confusing fact and fiction, he thought this meant he would be married to Gloria, but Gloia will be Alex and he will not be married to either Gloria or Alex. He will also not be married to Meryl Streep, who plays Mom. If he is lucky, he will continue being married to my mother.)
Penelope Cruz as Mary's sister Jennifer (as my niece Isabella pointed out, she'll need to wear heals. And she'll need an accent coach.)
Tom Hanks as Mary's brother Matt
Rachel Maddow as Mary's colleague in "el closet": Gangsta J.
Xena Warrior Princess as Renee
Sophia Vergara (Gloria from Modern Family) as Alex
Pea as Pea (though I still like Edna E. Mode from The Incredibles)
Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) as my Nurse Practitioner
Alan Alda as my Radiologist
George Wendt (Norm from "Cheers"), John Ratzenburger (Cliff from "Cheeers") and Woody Harrelson (Woody from "Cheers") as the receptionists at radiation
Kathy Bates as my minister (not really you, Jim. I just think she would have some compelling things to say.)
Judy Dench as a radiation technician
Research Editors: Rebecca and Marion --in charge of correct quotes, sources and spellings
Rebecca and Jane: in charge of Pea (good luck).
Original Music: The Dixie Chicks
Quotations and Words to integrate into the script:
"There's something nasty in the woodshed" (Cold Comfort Farm)
"We thought you was a toad" (O, Brother, Where Art Thou?)
"No capes" (The Incredibles)
"I'm not dead yet!" (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
"Up and at 'em" (Dad)
"Ooeehh" (Granddaddy Matthews)
"O, the Humanity" (The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon)
"So it goes" (Slaughterhouse Five)
"Let us go then, you and I" ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")
Words: tasty, excellent, unpleasant, ablutions, You're the best, Vaseline
See you at the movies! Mary

Dearest Mary, Wow! How do you come up with all this? I'm truly amazed! All the characters seem perfect. Although, I might make Jennifer Sandra Bullock. She's beautiful and talented and has someone who watches her back. Matt should be Ryan Reynolds, adorable, funny and sexy! Love you both, Auntie Susan

In honor of your birthday, here are some of my memories of your childhood birthday parties. First, they were always so cool in that great house with the game room and the wall to wall WHITE shag carpet (however did your mother do it?!). Is that shag carpet still there? Then there was the year my mother made me wear a dress to your party. I kicked and screamed and protested but she was sure all the other girls would be wearing dresses. So I get to the pizza place where we were to eat before seeing a movie, and you guessed it, all of your other friends were wearing jeans. My weird (cheap) parents always made us pay for our friends' birthday presents out of our allowance. One year I did not have much money. I went to Hickory Farms at Cameron Village and bought you a bag of candy from their candy bin. Unfortunately it was a few days to your party, which meant that I had time to eat most of the candy myself. By the day of your party there were only 12 pieces left. I put them in an egg carton, one piece per cubby, and wrapped your present. I was a bad friend. Have a wonderful birthday, Mary! :) Heather

• DAR #4: Still pretty wiped out but resting up for my birthday tomorrow (You do remember it's my birthday, right?) I'm going with a few friends to Alice in Wonderland at the IMAX and then dinner afterwards. Don't worry, I should be in bed by 8:30.

I loved reading your memories of my birthday parties, Heather. How funny that your mother thought we would be wearing dresses at my birthday party; we never wore them to church. And I don't remember the candy incident, so you can relax about that one. I think you're a bit rough on yourself: you were a good friend. After all, you came to my birthday parties.

And at your house I got to learn what it was like to have older sisters (I like being oldest best) and a very observant mother (not to say that mine wasn't). I remember once when your mom checked on us and knew that we were only pretending to sleep. I asked her how she knew and she said that people breathe differently in their sleep than when they're awake. I hae since studied people's sleeping breathing so as not to be caught again.

Now, when people think I'm napping so much, I'm really just practicing my sleeping imitation. I seem to have gotten quite proficient.

I'm glad we're back in touch again. I like you on email, too. Happy birthdays to us all! Mary

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARY!!! I hope that 46 is going to be your best year yet! It's hard for me to imagine being that old---seeing as I'm still a boyish 45, in the early spring of middle age. I'm thinking that George Clooney would work well in the part of an old college friend, Forrest, who is now living in New York as a "confirmed bachelor," with salt and pepper hair (slightly thinning) and undeniable sex appeal. No need to let me know your thoughts on this... as I can imagine what they might be. Happy, Happy 46th, Mary!!! With congratulations and admiration, Forrest

Let's see . . . . you will be how young tomorrow? I can't remember if I was 7 or 8 years old when you were born. Your mom is 15 years OLDER than I and you are 7-8 years younger. I should really be your older sister, not your auntie. At any rate, I hope you like my gift the best. It's in the mail. If you don't receive it on your birthday, blame the US Postal Service. Hope it's a blast! Love, Auntie Cindy

Why I called Mary a Day Late to Wish Her a Happy Birthday:
a. It is rude to wake your sister up on her birthday, duh.
b. Lucie hypnotized me (most plausible) so I thought I was Michael Jackson and tried to call Janet.
c. The Vaseline on my fingers made the keypad slippery so I kept calling Australia on the 13th.
d. Journal readers had no idea March 13th was your birthday.
e. a, b, and c, but definitely not d.
Glad you enjoyed, you sound great! Brother Matt

Hi Mary and all her faithful readers! Boy, you travel around Vietnam for a few days and you really miss some great bolg action! Not to mention that Rebecca was picking on me for using technology that doesn't have spell check! Oh well, I'll forgive her if she writes a good acceptance speech. I am having a blast , and this afternoon I even found a COLD beer. It was still Vietnamese (no microbrews here) but I'll take what I can get! We are way up in the mountains of Northern Vietnam (near the Laos and Chinese borders) among the Hmong people. Very beautiful and fascinating. For the record, it is (according to my iphone) 4:00 pm TOMORROW here in Vietnam, so I am officially living in the future, while you guys are all in the past. That should give you something to ponder while you try to catch up. I hope you've had a happy, radiation-free, tumor-free birthday weekend, Mary! We'll drink some COLD beer together when I get home (unless you order a Guiness...).Susan PS to Rebecca--there is no spell check so if you could help me out I'd really appreciate it!

This is directed mainly to Susan and her sad lack of spell check. Personally, I find spell check hysterical. It has such interesting ideas about what I probably really mean. Whenever I type ok, it wants to change it to wok. Once I was telling someone about our new Marmoleum floor and it wanted to change that to mausoleum! OK, so maybe those don't count because ok should really be okay and how could it possibly know about Marmoleum, but I believe it has once or twice tried to trip me up by "correcting" perfectly ordinary and properly spelled words as well. Someday, I'm going to let it change everything to whatever it wants to and see what I wind up with. Rebecca

This message is directed mostly to Rebecca, who has troubles with spellcheck. I agree, Rebecca, that spellcheck can be a pest. But, nowhere near as much as a pest as Mildred. Mildred is our GPS location-finder, on whom we rely for how to get to important places like church, Greenwood Market, and the University of Washington. Mildred does fairly well with finding locations, but she is certainly not nice about it! She is always saying sarcatic things like "Where possible, make a legal U-Turn." When we don't want to turn left onto Holman Road in heavy traffic with no stoplights, she gets downright rude, with a touch of disdane in her voice. We have figured out that she doesn't really like us very much! My question to you, Rebecca, is how do you handle Spellcheck? Do you just ignore him, as I do, or are you considering firing him? Jane

• Monday, March 15, 2010 6:12 PM, PDT
DAR #7: Several of you have asked for a guest book glossary, so I've created one below. If I left you out, please accept my deepest apologies and let me know so that I can add you. On the other hand, if you'd prefer not to be added, don't let me know. Mary
Alana: Teaching colleague—In my earliest hallucination, Alana is the teacher who brought her seniors to the ICU to do their project presentations.
Alejandro: Amigo from the organization that connects our church community to a community in El Salvador.
Alex: Longtime friend; Worked as the receptionist in a school where I was working after brain surgery and often gave me rides to or from school. I liked the heat and the music up but not too high, so she called me “Goldie.” Please note that only Alex can call me that.
Ally: Work colleague who is an ELL facilitator
Angelique (“ique”): Freshman roommate from college; When I visited her a few years back, I didn’t sleep so well because her cat kept walking across my face. When I awoke in the morning, she said, “I should have mentioned that one of my cats like to pace across that pillow.”
Anna: My cousin. The first time she visited Seattle she would eat only bagels. So the next time, we bought a lot of bagels and she didn’t eat any. She said she likes Thai, Italian, Ethiopian, whatever.
Auntie Cindy: Closer to my age than my mothers’. When she was a teenager in the 70s, she was a flirt, but now she’s all responsible and pretends she is in my mother’s generation. I’m not fooled.
Auntie Susan: Cindy’s older sister. When a friend and I visited from college, she served us wine in a Styrofoam cup. It reminded me, unpleasantly, of a urine sample.
Bernard: Colleague from work who is the Director of ELL and co-survivor of an Administrative program at the university. For a while, his cubicle was near mine. I loved to ask him how he was in the morning: “Como estas?” He almost always answered, “Enojado.” (Angry). I love it when people don’t say fine.
Brett: Student from maybe 14 years ago. One day after a class that hadn’t gone well, he said to me, “Don’t worry. You care about it more than the rest of us do.” I think that was meant to make me feel better.
Brother Matt (“MattE”): My brother who has just turned 40, six years younger than I have just turned. When I was in college and he had just started driving, he and his good friend Ken drove me (in my black convertible mustang) home from the beach. Neither one of them said a word the whole time. Once, going through a small town, Matt grunted and nodded his head. Ken grunted back and they both laughed.
Bruce: Friend who brings his dog Abby to church sometimes. I love that.
Carinna: Colleague with whom I get to work this year.
Colleen: Longtime friend from church. A group of us went to the beach years ago. Colleen found a kelp that had washed onto the beach and made it into a trumpet, or maybe a didgeridoo.
Connections Class: Richelle, Yessica, Roger, Jose, Genesis, Alina, Victoria, Stephanie, Masud, Lacey, Leslie: Students and their current advisor who were freshmen in my Connections class the year I was diagnosed as with a tumor. Now they are seniors and I am lucky to have them still in my life.
David: Ann’s colleague, a math teacher, who stopped her at the reception to tell her about a great math article he had just read. They’re a great pair.
Declan: previous colleague from a school that was rough on its teachers. He and another social studies teacher decided that one relatively new teacher was too tense, so they did a puppet show in the window of her door while she was lecturing. She didn’t laugh. (That’s my favorite part.)
Diana: church friend with an amazing soprano voice. She traditionally makes a pink jell-o salad for Easter that we call the pink stuff. Very 70s and very tasty. Diana used to get frustrated with their puppy Banana Milkshake. Their then four year-old daughter told her, “Maybe you should talk with Katie about this because he’s a therapist and this is your issue.”
Donna: Twin sister to Ellen and longtime friend. Loves potatoes.
Ed and Bettye: Ann’s cousin Michael’s parents (but I don’t think they’re Aunt and Uncle; they’re in the cousins some number removed department).
Ellen (E or El) Twin sister to Donna and longtime friend. She came to visit one day soon after I’d returned from the hospital from brain surgery. I was walking slowly with a walker. She knocked and I headed to the front door. Just as I got there, I heard a knock at the back door. So I turned around and headed back. Just as I got there, I heard another knock at the front door. I rolled my eyes and headed to the front. Just as I got there, the phone rang in the back. And then again a knock at the front. This time I just waited there (clever, eh). After that, she cut down coffee.
Forrest: college friend now an artist in NYC. Very hip and cute.
Gene: Colleague with whom I get to work this year.
George and Cory: church friends who have now moved to Atlanta. The day I returned home from the hospital from brain surgery, George had decorated the front of the house with green and yellow balloons tied to the handrails and a big “Welcome Home Mary” sign. I loved it. Each time I ascended a step, a balloon hit me in the face and made me laugh.
Heather: my longtime friend from elementary Sunday school. When I got my hair cut in sixth grade without having it thinned (teepee head), she mourned, ”Oh, your beautiful hair.” I had never heard anyone my age call my auburn hair beautiful before. Only old ladies in the grocery store.
Jan: Colleague at a school where I worked after returned from disability leave. Also a neighbor. When she got frustrated with a neighbor for loud house concerts, she threw a clod of dirt at their front door the next day.
Jane L.: Colleague from a current school where I work who has had the grace to sign in even though we don’t really know each other.
Jane P.: My brother’s mother in law. I’m sure in Spanish there must be a term for what she is to me.
Jane S.: Church friend who gave me rides to the university and to doctors’ appointments after surgery. She also read some of my reading requirements to me, but once I fell asleep. At the end she said it was interesting. what did I think? I said, “What did you find interesting?” Very clever.
Janis : Colleague in three different schools. Impressive.
Jannine: Church friend and fellow Storm basketball fanatic.
Jay: previous neighbor who has moved. We miss him.
Jerry: Church and pub night friend. Jerry and I are great together at an auction. Once we were bidding against each other for a vacation home and decided to go in together on it instead of bid against one another. Jerry upped my bid. Our partners don’t let us sit together any more.
Jennifer G. (“Jenny”) College friend. When I was having a bad night, once, Jenny journeyed from her dorm in the middle of campus to my dorm in the woods with a cup of tea. It took her a couple of hours to arrive. Jenny is night blind and got caught in a tree.
Jessie: Colleague with whom I got to work the year after I returned from brain surgery. Makes an excellent apple cake.
Jill: Colleague, amazing ELL teacher on a quest for wisdom.
Joanna ("gangsta J"): Colleague with whom I share a cubicle in our district office. Because we are fluent in Spanglish,we call it “el closet.”
John: Church and pub night friend. Excellent paella chef.
Judy B. Church friend who once told me, “I know how to handle the ladies.”
Judy E. & Kay: Church friends. I try to encourage them to sit behind us when they’re not in the choir loft.
Karen B.: Colleague and pregnant lover of Guinness.
Karen D.: Colleague from a current school where I work who has had the grace to sign in even though we don’t really know each other well.
Karen K.: Longtime friend. One year, for her winter solstice candle, she brought a candle made from a mold of her breast. Rose and I often wonder if she ever lit it.
Karen S.: Longtime friend of Pam and Kari’s and newer friend to us.
Katie (KT): College friend who came across the country for our commitment ceremony last year.
Kate: Colleague with whom I have gotten to work for several years. Kate moved here after a year or two in the Peace Corps in Namibia. One day, she returned to her basement apartment to find that the septic tank for the building had bubbled up through her bathroom sink. A turd lay across her toothbrush. After the manager had everything repaired and cleaned, she told Kate, “Um. We threw out your toothbrush.”
Kathy B. Church friend, another choir member with a lovely voice
Kathryn: My best friend from eighth grade. A gift from Facebook.
Kenny : My cousin
Kristin: My sister in law. When one of my nieces was in a phase where she was very interested in buttholes, Kristin scolded her, “Nobody thinks a potty mouth is funny.” As Kristin left the room, my brother said, “I thought it was funny.”
Leslie: Longtime friend who has just returned to church. It’s great to have her in our lives again.
Linda: Friend who taught me Tai Chi Chuh after brain surgery. It helps my balance. I should be better about doing it more often.
Marcia: Friend from church who once, by mistake, said a prayer of concern for me after the death of my father (who was not and still is not dead.) Dad didn’t think it was funny.
Marie : Longtime friend from church, originally a farm girl from Iowa. A few years ago, she stopped on her walk to a basketball game in order to help a drummer carry his instruments across a busy street where the traffic was backed up. They did not use the cross walk and a policeman stopped to ticket them. The policeman was rude, and Marie told him so: “No wonder people don’t like the police. What’s your name? I’m going to call that station to tell them how rude you’ve been.” The policeman said that he wouldn’t give her a ticket, but she persisted: “No, give me a ticket. I deserve one. I still want to know your name. You really shouldn’t be so rude.” The drummer drifted away as the conversation continued. In the end, the policeman gave Marie a ride to the basketball game and she decided he had learned his lesson and did not turn him in.
Marilyn: Longtime friend and colleague. Makes great granola.
Mary C.: Colleague who is recovering from treatment for cancer.
Mary D.: Church friend who was a private eye. I can’t imagine being a private eye. Apparently, she tells me, lots of folks information and pictures they shouldn’t on facebook. So if you’re going to do something wrong, don’t post it.
Marion (“Miss Marion”): Longtime carpool partner and friend. The only person I know (other than me) who got lost going to the school where she worked (No, it wasn’t new.)
Michael (CCM “Cute Cousin Michael”, Party-in-a-Person): Ann’s somethingth cousin somethingth removed. Last year, we were watching a basketball game with Michael in our back room. Our neighbor heard all the noise and asked if we were having a party. “No, that’s just Michael.”
Myra (“Auntie”, pronounced ontee): My dad’s sister, my aunt. When I was little, she would give me big bear hugs when she came to visit. My dad would roll his eyes and she would call him Archie.
Pam (“Pea”, not “Pee): Longtime friend. When we went to see Batman at the IMAX a few years ago, we ended up in the 3rd row. As the row in front of us entered, a woman unhappy with her date said to him, “I told you I didn’t want to sit in the second row.” Pam spoke up, “The front row’s wide open.” The woman and her date seemed not to hear Pam, but I think I saw him smile a little.
Rebecca: church friend who is somewhat quiet in social situations that I’ve seen her in. I always suspected she might be thinking dastardly wicked things.
Renee: Longtime friend. Once, when another friend forgot he was taking me home, I emailed her because she worked at a school just up the hill and she said no problem, just to meet her in her room at 4 pm. It was cold and rainy and I was using a walker at the time. I could go up a hill but not down one. So I got up to her school and the front door was locked. I knocked but nobody heard me. A teacher leaving one of the portables went into the office and said, “Do either of you know someone wearing an eye-patch and using a walker? She’s sitting in the rain.” Renee came out laughing, so I did too.
Rick: Principal of two high schools I’ve gotten to work in and with for years. Once, he came to a meeting on time. That’s because he had written the time down wrong. He didn’t make that mistake again.
Rita: Longtime friend of both Ann and me, but longer for Ann—they were in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia together from 1966-68 and the three of us travelled together in Ethiopia a few years ago.
Rose: My first friend in Seattle. She brought me chicken and rice when I was in the hospital. I was so grateful I didn’t wait for a fork. I can get away with lots if people know I’ve had brain surgery.
Sara: Previous student who served as editor of one of the pages of the school newspaper. (I should remember this.)
Sayre: Neighbor, inspiring gardener, mother to two children, two dogs and three chickens.
Shari : Colleague with whom I’ve gotten to work the last couple of years.
Sister Jennifer (“Sistah”, “Sistah Jenn”) my younger sister who has always been a source of support and inspiration for me. When she and her friend Ellen were in high school, if they were talking to someone who had a bugger hanging out of their nose, one of them would blurt bugger. See. An inspiration.
Steve (“Big E”, “Dad”) My dad who loves investing and the stock market and simply cannot inspire his older daughter to pay closer attention.
Stef and Lin: Stef is a previous colleague of Ann’s as an educational consultant and is now an artist. Lin was a PE teacher (no stereotypes, please) who now works for the Forest Service. Their home is in a small town north of here where they get a lot of snow. When we were there a year or so ago, we cross-country skied around their yard, my first ski since brain surgery. Stef generously took a picture from her front porch that made it look like we were back-country skiing so that we could impress all of our friends.
Susan G.: Church friend (well, sort of, but she doesn’t go to church nearly as often as I do), pub night friend and Spanglish amiga. Susan accompanied me on my first kayaking voyage since brain surgery. She fell getting in the kayak.
Susan R. College friend who started a candle party tradition our freshman year that I morphed and have continued ever since.
Sylvia (“Mom”) My mother who doesn’t try to make me pay closer attention to the stock market.
Todd (”Toddy”) My brother-in-law who is kind and funny. At our reception after our ceremony, the kids wanted pizza instead of the food that was there. Todd called for pizza to be delivered, but the pizza guy kept getting lost and calling. At first Todd was irritated, but when the pizza delivery guy finally showed up Todd hugged him.
Tom: church friend and amigo in our community connection in El Salvador. Once when the translator left, I served as the translator for Tom with a family we all knew. Tom greeted them with a culturally appropriate, extended greeting that went on for some time. I turned to the family and said in Spanish, “Tom says hello with a lot of poetry.” They laughed and Tom was surprised I was finished so soon.
Tressa: A previous student and editor of the school newspaper, for which I was ostensibly the advisor. Tressa is now dealing with Lupus and I think fondly of her every day, even though she did always tell me what to do.
Val : A friend who has re-entered my life after many years.
Wendy: A colleague with whom I work as much as I can.

Thanks for signing in! My MRI will be on April 8 and my meeting with the doctors will be the following Tuesday. Mary

Not only is Katie not on the friend list (apparently she doesn't write in the guestbook...she needs to get on the stick!) and her gender has changed (since she is referenced in my bio as he.) Perhaps that will get her attention. I LOVED learning more about your friends. What an interesting bunch of people. I am glad to be one of them. Diana

I love reading about the community you have surrounding you. Now I have a little redheaded girl of my own whose head gets touched routinely by old ladies in the grocery store. Heather
For the record I am still a private investigator although I'm looking for work back in IT. You are unique in that almost everyone I tell says that they would LOVE to be a PI. You must know what they don't: that it's mostly very boring! A lot of people also ask me if I'm packing heat and I tell them only when I have a hot flash. Mary D.

Did I really tell you what to do? I don’t remember that part. Huh. I thought you just stood back and let my bossiness free reign. Sorry if I tried to boss you around. *contrite* Thanks for your thoughts. I think about you too! I hate Lyme disease. It still blows me away that I can be this sick. Do you get that too? The unreality. *sigh* Thinking of you.Tressa

Hello My Dearest, How do you do that? You know some things will never be forgotten. I'm glad we shared drinking that wine together. Otherwise you wouldn't have that great memory!! I think I drank everyone's because you and the others were laughing and being grossed out at the same time. I enjoyed all the little bios of everyone. Love you lots! Auntie Susan

Monday, March 15, 2010

Radiation Blogs Part Two

Welcome back! Today I continue with the second half of the CaringBridge blog. If you're new, I started that blog when I was diagnosed with a second brain tumor this December. The purpose of that blog was to inform folks of my health status, especially as I started radiation, but I ended up having so much fun writing and reading that I've decided to continue. Tomorrow I'll post a summary and a glossary of guests in case you get lost and then Wednesday, we'll all begin together. Mary

• Thursday, February 18, 2010 3:37 PM, PST

Day 16 (For those of you paying attention, I actually miscounted so I'm one day ahead of where I thought I was...) Good job on the midterm. Special kudos to Diana who for sure got 100%, to Pea who named the section and to Forrest who told a joke. Who is Wookie? The kind of creature who is the hirsute Star Wars character, best friend to Hans Solo, Chewbacca.
Yesterday I went to see the primary doctor, whom I call Dr. Colombo, and his nurse, whom I call Nurse Ollie (after Anna's and Matt's dog) about my pneumonia. The good news is that I seem to be clear of the pneumonia now. This is how the visit went:
Nurse Ollie: "The doctor is running about 30 minutes behind. The doctor has been running 30 minutes behind for the last 50 years. I'd like to wear one of those sandwich boards or have a reader board that announces, 'The doctor is running 30 minutes behind' so that I didn't have to say it so much....We'll have plenty of time for your vitals."
Nurse Ollie straps the black armband around my bicep in order to take my blood pressure. It whirrs a bit and then flashes "ER84."
Nurse Ollie says, "ER84. Dead on arrival. Let's try your temperature....Same thing." She looks at me. “Not dead yet.”
Nurse Ollie wheels out the contraption meant to take my vitals like it's been a bad R2D2. She comes back in with a smaller, earlier model, takes it out of its case, gasps and rolls her eyes and says, "I'll be right back."
Nurse Ollie returns with a thermometer and black band for taking my blood pressure like the ones they used back in the day and triumphantly takes my vitals. "Here's your gown. I'll come tell you when to put it on so that you don't get too cold waiting for the doctor."
About an hour later Doctor Colombo shuffles cheerfully in, dropping his stethoscope. He shouts, "Hello Mary and... (I think I heard him mumble "whoever you are" to Ann.) He tells us two stories that have nothing to do with me: one about an uncle who survived WWII because he could sleep standing up and another about a patient who has whooping cough. He tells me I'm cured and we go out into the late afternoon sun.

I like your Dr. Colombo and your Nurse Ollie almost as much as I like my primary physician, whose sense of humor is a lot like yours, Mary.
Example 1: I'm talking with Doc in her office and her assistant comes in to consult with her about another patient. Assistant: "I can't get a blood pressure!" Doc: "ANY blood pressure?" Ass't: "NO blood pressure! Not bare-armed, lying down. I've tried both arms." DOC: "No wonder she's feeling light-headed."
Example 2: Doc is warning me about some possible side effects of a medication. Doc: "We don't want to kill you." Me: "Me neither! Are there any symptoms of being -- almost killed?" Doc: "No. Just being dead." (At this point, she jabs me in the ribs with her elbow.) Jane S.
Ollie loves today's shoutout! He's a semi-star now. :) Anna

• Friday, February 19, 2010 3:14 PM, PST
Day 17: When I woke up this morning, it looked like an auburn cat had been sleeping on my pillow. I'm losing a fair amount of hair (in the back, but not balding yet) these days. I had a flash of insight, a scroll unfolded with a poem fully written, much like Coleridge and "Kubla Khan" (though he was on opium and I'm on Tylenol.)
I've never seen an auburn cat.
I'd really like to see one.
But even if I never do,
In my next life I'll be one.
(Credit to Gelett Burgess, of course, for the form)
I'm preparing for my next life as a cat:
I nap in the sun whenever possible.
I let people pet me only when I feel like it.
I like to run around sometimes, but only for my own amusement.
I do have a couple of deal-breakers that I need to inform the gods of reincarnation about. I will NOT:
carry dead mice, spiders or bugs in my mouth.
go to the bathroom in a litter box.
fight with other cats (I'm a lovah, not a fightah).
hasta manana--mary

.Maybe in your next life you too will learn to enjoy carrying these things in your mouth in order to give them as a gift to your humans. Jane S.
Good for you Mary! Stick to your guns! Be your own cat! Rebecca
Oh my -my dearest Mary, I can't imagine what's like to lose my hair. You will look great no matter what. Remember when I did your hair when you where 12 or 13? We were at the beach. You looked great as always. Please know you are beautiful inside and out. All my love to you both!! Auntie Susan

• Monday, February 22, 2010 4:20 PM, PST

Day 18: Saturday I overdid it, so yesterday was miserable, but today has been good. Ann read some new material about radiation which recommended I eat a milkshake every day (I might have made up the every day part.) Dinner tonight? Milkshake and banana. Can't get better than that.
At the beginning of my brain tumor diagnosis, I decided to think of the whole experience as an adventure: as with many adventures, I would learn about people and places I have not known before. Lately, as my hair is falling out and other not especially lovely things are happening, I've been reminding myself of other adventures and how each had its hard times:
Grand Canyon Adventure: Difficulty peeing because the water was so cold.
Guatemala Adventure: Distressed bowel syndrome.
Safari Adventure: Ann almost got eaten by a lion.
Beauty Queen adventure...
After elementary school, I experimented with a variety of haircuts. The first one was my same long hair cut shoulder-length without thinning. I overheard one adult refer to me as "teepee head." So then there was the short hair cut (Dorothy Hammel was in, but my hair curled.) More than one mall custodian, mistaking me for a boy, stopped me from going into the women's restroom. Not so good for my adolescent psyche.
And then Auntie Susan gave me a do parted on the side instead of down the middle. My social life changed immediately: Everyone seemed to want to be my friend. Strange guys walked straight up to me and said to their friends, "She's beautiful" (as if I were a statue). Strangers took my picture at traffic lights. Guys in bars (I mean in church) said things like, "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Catherine Hepburn?" I found it all bizarre and fortunately seem to have aged out of such adoration.
Sometimes I worry about my sister and my mother, who have had to live with such adoration all their lives, and now about my nieces who seem destined for a similar fate. I hope that they, too, can see all this adoration as part of the adventure and avoid getting too upset about the small stuff.

1) I am so relieved that you don't have hemorrhoids.
2) Your haircut journey was remarkably similar to my own, except for the stage where strange men would come up and remark on my beauty. Maybe that is where I am headed next.(I seem to still be in the custodian stopping me from using the bathroom stage) Renee
Hello Dear Niece,
You know I remember that fun day at the beach. It was so much fun playing with your beautiful hair. I'll be glad to come to Seattle and see what we can do this time. I'm sure we can have such fun again--maybe some spray paint or glitter. No matter what, you will still be beautiful. How are your eyebrows and eyelashes? Maybe we can do them too! Take care you two. Hope to see you soon! Lots of love, Auntie Susan
I highly recommend trying peanut butter in your milkshakes or frozen blueberries. I could relate to your hair story, except the adoration part. :) My hair cuts were usually Farah Fawcett types or straight dorky bangs. When I shaved my head in support of my brother-in-law, I was petrified and then liberated. Who knew what was underneath would be a "nicely shaped head." It was like learning a new language, a part of me I had never known. I know mine was by choice, but I am confident you will always be beautiful. And have you seen the gorgeous scarves out there to fit your every mood and keep your head warm? Thinking of you...Allyson
Adventures ARE fun, aren't they?? I feel inspired to share some of my adventures and the hard times that came of these experiences, too:
Golf Cart Ride Adventure: skull fracture
Skull Fracture: got to spend a Saturday night in the ER waiting room in Miami, begging for morphine
Morphine Adventure: awesome.
Natural Childbirth: episiotomy (be very, very grateful if you do not know what this is.)
Law School Adventure: job making $15/hour. which is not bad: it's just that it is $77/hour less than what i have to pay the kids' tennis pro.
On another note (sorry, I don't write often as I am awfully busy with my bon bons so I have to get it all in at once here), I am so glad you brought up the subject of “Hee Haw”. I love that song with the ladies in their big dresses (and big hair) sitting around singing: "We're not ones to go 'round, spreading rumors. Really we're just not the gossiping kind. You'll never hear one of us repeating gossip, so you better get close and listen good the first time." Brilliant.
On a final note, as one who has truly adored you for my entire life, I can honestly say that that adoration has only gotten stronger as time has gone by, and that it has never had anything to do with your hair (and has been in spite of some of your fashion faux pas, which we will not get into here.)
Stay strong, sistah! And keep those awesome postings coming. I love you -- Sister Jennifer.
p.s. Katherine spells her name with a “K”. All look-a-likes are supposed to know that.

Um... not to be picky or anything, but Katharine spells her name not only with a "K", but with an "a" in the middle, not an "e". Or, at least she did. Rebecca
Oh, no, how embarrassing!! K-A-T-H-A-R-I-N-E: You are right, of course, thanks for setting the record straight. But not to end on a humble note... Sam and Willie were taking the midterm last night and wanted to submit the following:
Q: Where does the general keep his armies?
A: Up his sleevies!! Sister Jennifer

• Tuesday, February 23, 2010 6:37 PM, PST
Day 19: Nine treatments to go. The single-digit countdown.
I have been amused by many of your guestbook entries as I am often amused by my various tumor experiences, so I started thinking about what makes things funny. Here are some theories:
1) Repetition. I listened to part of Johnny Carson's master’s thesis on humor years ago. It was boring. He talked about how repetition, especially in 3s, is funny. My father and I sometimes shout to one another, "Ep." We think it's hilarious, so maybe this theory has some merit. When Dad asks me, "Have you sent the Roth information yet" x3, however, I am annoyed, so there must be more to humor than repetition.
2) Noticing the absurd in the everydayness of things. David Sedaris is my favorite in this category. One of my favorites is his description of a chilly day in a nudist colony and the couple who share a sweat suit: one wears the pants and the other the jacket. (David Sedaris and I, BTW, went to EC Brooks together in 1st grade. I don't remember him and I would guess he doesn't remember me. I was into kickball. I suspect he was one of the kids making clover necklaces in the outfield.)
3) Decontextualizing. Pea's comment on Sara's hike to Poo Poo point (“Sara said, ‘Poo poo’”) is an example of this.
4) Telling it like it is. Rebecca's comment on how Pea is not really one to comment on others' language is an example.
The thing is, I don't really know what makes things funny, but I know when I think something's funny. Deep today. Mary

• Wednesday, February 24, 2010 5:59 PM, PST
Day 20: Eight days to go. The single digit countdown has begun!
Today my friend Karen helped me maneuver the bathroom cleaning carts and wheelchairs as we walked down the hospital halls, and I was reminded of obstacle course races when I was in recovery from brain surgery and of health care workers who must have tried hard but been in the wrong field.
On Fridays in rehab we had "competitions." I imagined a good game of one-on-one (for Marion, that's basketball) or ping pong. On the last day I was there, we had obstacle course races. There was me, recovering from brain surgery and needing a walker to walk. There were a couple of people who had had leg amputations, several others pulling their oxygen beside them, several who were recovering from strokes. Surely, it occurred to someone that this was a bad idea. We downgraded from competition to survival and all made it through. I think the PT is now working with 9 year-olds at the YMCA.
Then there was the speech therapist that I didn't like. I'm a treasure when I want to be but a real pain when I don't like someone, especially a teacher of some kind. I still don't really know what the speech therapist was wanting, but he kept asking me questions and not liking my answers:
ST: "What would you do if your kitchen was on fire?"
ME: "Call 9-1-1 and then yell out for Ann."
ST: "Would you do anything else?"
ME: "No. But when Ann got there I'd ask her to help me outside."
ST: "Okay. Suppose you were cooking bacon..."
ME: "I don't cook bacon."
ST: "Suppose you were cooking bacon and your kitchen caught on fire. It's a grease fire."
ME: "That's a good reason not to cook bacon."
ST: "Okay. Suppose a light bulb went out. What would you do?"
ME: "I'd call 9-1-1 and then yell out for Ann."
ST: "Would you do anything else?"
ME: "I'd ask Ann to turn on another light."
The speech therapist didn't come back. I think he works for homeland security now.
Thanks for checking in! mary aka K-A-T-H-A-R-I-N-E

What do you mean you don't cook bacon! :) Heather

• Thursday, February 25, 2010 10:30 AM, PST
Day 21: Eight days to go in the single digit countdown. BTW, I'm pretty sure the guestbook has gotten more amusing than my blog. Keep ‘em coming!
Today my friend Chris is taking me to radiation. Yesterday it was Karen. The day before, Jim. And every Monday, Ann. My list of drivers has been very long. There have been so many offers that I may have to extend radiation so that I can get to spend time with each of you. And there are so many of you who have offered other rides as well over these three years: to and from work and the university and...So many thanks.
If you weren't so generous, I would take ACCESS, King County's transportation for those of us with disabilities. A fairly intelligent friend of mine once asked me if ACCESS is fun, so I'll give the rest of you who are fairly intelligent a sense of it:
Two summers after brain surgery I decided to attend a support group near our church in Wallingford (about a 20 minute drive from home). I scheduled a ride with ACCESS to take me and pick me up. When I got on the van, I joined seven others on an unusually full van. I was wearing a patch and using a cane at the time. Most riders have both physical and mental disabilities. Most drivers speak minimal English.
As I got in and strapped myself in, everyone was quiet. The driver started down the road, all the windows rattling and the wheelchair lift banging as usual. This driver put the direction finder on the speaker, so we all listened as the direction finder repeatedly said, "Turn left here." And the driver would continue forward. "Recalculating." "Turn right here....Recalculating....Turn left here....Recalculating." We came to the light near University Village. "Bear left here." The driver bore right. "Recalculating." An exasperated man in the back left seat shouted, "Let me off this van! I'm calling the police."
He kept shouting this over and over until a woman in the right front yelled back at him, "Shut up!"
He continued, "Let me off this van!"
"Shut up!"
"I'm calling the police!"
"Shut up!"
It went on.
When we arrived at the first stop, the two of them went in together. Must be an interesting home.
When, two hours later, I arrived at my destination, there was a sign on the door: "Brain injury support group cancelled today."
A few days later, I was the crazy one. More "recalculating" as we toured the south end for an hour or so. At the end I was the only one in the van. I told the driver to stop and I got off to walk home. The driver tried to get me back in the van as I crossed the street.
"This isn't safe, ma'am. Please get back in the van."
"No way. Have a nice day!"
"Please, ma'am."
"Have a nice day!"
The neighbors looked on.
Happy driving! mary

Hello Dear Niece, I can only imagine! I never ever thought I would be on unemployment and never this long. I'm sure you never thought you'd be riding ACCESS. It sounds awful but humorous at the same thing. What would we do without life's bumps in the road. Hang on dear one that's what I'm doing. Lots of love, Auntie Susan
I thought this would be the appropriate forum to thank you for large tub of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly you sent me for my 40th birthday. Actually I'm sure it's also from Ann or I would have merely received a regular size tub of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. You should've seen the kids’ faces when I opened the package! I plan to use it as you instructed and then send the remains back to you.  You Shouldn't Have (Seriously) - Brother Matt
I think Matt should create one of these CaringBridge websites to chronicle his journey with the Big Tub of Vaseline. Who's in? Pea
I've always wanted a sister--and reading Jennifer's posting confirms why. Keep smiling and keep the updates coming! xoxo Anna

• Friday, February 26, 2010 2:41 PM, PST
Day 22: Six days to go! This is a big decade weekend. Tomorrow is my little brother Matt's 40th birthday: as old as dirt. Our twin friends Ellen and Donna will be as old as rocks: 60.
Since my brother so clearly appreciated the generosity of the giant tub of Vaseline for his birthday, I've been thinking about gifts. I think this might have been the best gift I ever gave. In our family, when you turn 40 you have your first colonoscopy. My note to him was that this would be a practical gift and that it is NOT for his lips. He thinks he'll have left-overs. Maybe. If you do, brother Matt, give them to sister Jenn. I don't think she's scheduled hers yet.
They didn't put me under, but apparently if they do you have to go to a room with a lot of other people who have had the same experience and fart before you can go home. I'm sure Kristin will want to be with you.
That song from the church's annex for young children keeps playing in my head. The tune is the same as the Lord of the Dance, in case you'd like to sing along:
‘Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free. ‘Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be [I never understood that line: down from where and who decides where we ought to be?] And when something something just right We will live in the valley of love and delight.
You've probably noticed on your calendar that March 13 is my birthday. No decade, so don't make too big a deal of it.
This community of friends and family is such a gift to me. Thanks for being here. Mary

In reading the old notes I am struck by one relating to the fact that I have asked Mary for Roth info 3X. Perhaps it might occur to Mary that if she'd sent it the first time, I would have never had to ask 3X. BTW I still don't have it. (Consider this a fourth reminder!) Love, Dad
That song is, I believe "Simple Gifts", supposedly an old Shaker hymn.
I think it is "...come round where we ought to be.
and when we are in the place just right
t'will be in the valley of love and delight"
Didn't Judy Collins or somebody record that in the '60's? Rebecca

• Monday, March 1, 2010 11:17 AM, PST

Day 23: After today, it's the one hand countdown! Rough weekend. The radiologist says the next three weeks will be the hardest. This is the same doctor who said I seemed fine when I had the piggy flu and pneumonia, so I believe him when he says it will be hard.
Several of you have suggested I write a column or a book. Why start with print? I'm inspired by the Academy Awards, especially now that every movie gets nominated. I think I'll go right to the movies. Here are my thoughts so far. I'd love your suggestions.
Title: Can't Duck It
Writers: Mary E. with the Coen Brothers
Directors: The Coen Brothers
Actors and Actresses:
Hilary Swank as Mary E. (She's already made films as a lesbian and a teacher; she has short hair from The Aviator; she has big teeth. Perfect.)
Frances McDormand (Marge in Fargo) as Ann
Meryl Streep as Mary's mom Sylvia
Clint Eastwood as Mary's dad Steve (After his guestbook entry, I considered a downgrade to Ed O'Neill, the older father on "Modern Family” and on "Married with Children" but Ann, who has a kind heart, said I should stick with Clint.)
Penelope Cruz as Mary's sister Jennifer
Tom Hanks as Mary's brother Matt
Research Editor: Rebecca --in charge of correct quotes and spellings and Pea's character (what do you think? Amy from the Indigo Girls? Natalie from the Dixie Chicks? Edna E. Mode from The Incredibles?)
Original Music: The Dixie Chicks
Quotations and Words to integrate into the script:
"There's something nasty in the woodshed" (Cold Comfort Farm)
"We thought you was a toad" (O Brother Where art Thou?)
"No capes" (The Incredibles)
"Up and at 'em" (Dad)
"O, the Humanity" (The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon)
"So it goes" (Farenheit 451)
"Let us go then, you and I" ("The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock")
tasty, excellent, unpleasant, ablutions, You're the best
See you at the movies! Mary

Is there any way that you can work Kathy Bates into your movie? Just wondering..... Renee
I've been an engrossed reader up until now, but I have to write to point out that while your number sense is good, "So it goes" is from Slaughterhouse Five, not Fahrenheit 451. I'd hate to see a mob of English teachers blast the movie for inaccurate citations. Marion
I am so thankful for your journal and for all the support you have been receiving from your family and friends. Your grace and sense of humor during this "round of misery" have been an absolute inspiration. You mentioned your upcoming birthday - what fun it would be to know which day of the week everyone would guess you were born:
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works for a living,
And a child that's born on the Sabbath day
Is fair and wise and good and gay."
When I entered your dad's study yesterday, I found him laughing and crying at the same time while he was reading your journal - I left with tears flowing and chuckling at the same time myself. Thank you and everyone else for helping me through this "round of misery". Lots of love, Mom
Warning to you all that mom's challenge is tricky, don't fall for it!! (in other words, mary was NOT born on a sunday!!) Sister Jennifer
I thought Matt already had a colonoscopy... didn't he spend a couple of weeks in his apartment in Tampa with the shades down, staring at the blank wall because he thought he'd been violated by his doctor?? I don't think Vaseline was involved. Maybe that was the problem. Sister Jennifer
Oh for crying out loud, English teachers arguing over book quotations. It really is like being stuck in one those old humanities meeting—possibly like a character in Catch 22…or is that Slaughterhouse 5? Declan

• Tuesday, March 2, 2010 12:38 PM, PST
Day 24: After today, the little pinkie is down on the one hand countdown. Four days to go.  Since my radiation ends on Monday, there will be an exam on Tuesday and an awards ceremony on Wednesday. The exam will be the same format as the midterm (but with different questions). The concepts with which this group has struggled most (wookie, percentages and Vaseline) will surely be there.
The awards ceremony will be for guest book entries. I have thought of a few categories with some current contenders. Please suggest your own.
1) Nominees for the award for deadpan humor goes to:
A) Pea, "Sara said Poo poo."
B) Mary D. "You are very funny....I did not know that."
C) Rebecca: "Katharine Hepburn spells her name with an "a" instead of an "e"
D) Rebecca: "I just wanted to add that Pea is a fine one to be commenting on someone else's language."
E) Jane's doctor
2) Nominees for entries that generated the most response are:
A) Brother Matt for "Vaseline"
B) Sister Jennifer for "K-A-T-H-E-R-I-N-E"
3) Nominees for best musical contribution:
A) Sister Jennifer for "Spreading Rumors"
B) Heather for "Fairest Lord Jesus"
C) Pea for "You're Okay"
4) Nominees for best corny joke are:
A) Brother Matt for "Two Blonds Walking Down Opposite Sides of the Street."
B) Forrest for "A Cheeseburger Walks into a Bar"
C) Sammy and Willie for "Armies and Sleevies"
Thanks for making me laugh. Mary

I'm panicked! I have some cramming to do with only 4 days (whoopee!) left until the final exam. I missed the mid-term because I was in Nicaragua working with orphans (no...really...I was...I think I even have the giardia to prove it...I'll know by Friday). Plus although I've read all of your journal entries I'm way behind on reading the guestbook entries and know there's no way I can rise to the challenge of either your erudite, dry humor nor Forrest and Matt's 13-year-old jokes (love you guys...). I am, after all, the girl who, in her high school year book amidst quotes of rap songs and inside jokes about illicit parties quoted Albert Camus. I'm not making this stuff up.... Katie O.

• Wednesday, March 3, 2010 9:54 AM, PST
Day 25: After today, the ring finger goes down on the one-hand countdown. Three days to go. Holy cow.
I want to alleviate Katie's panic and any other anxiety about the final exam. It has been interesting to me that just the use of the words midterm and exam seem to arouse for some of you very capable adults a sort of anxiety.
The exam is only for you. No one else, including me, will know your performance unless you decide to share it. This is blog paradise, so there are no grades. The exam is a way for you to test your understanding in order to deepen your understanding. So take a deep breath.
What understanding should you deepen? My learning has been the idea that for me a brain tumor and its treatments are not a pause in the adventure of life, but are instead a part of the adventure of life. And this adventure, though not the one I would choose if I had a choice, allows insight into myself and the world that I would not otherwise have. Much of that insight is funny.
The second deep understanding is that this support system, my partner, family, friends, colleagues, students past and present, and sometimes strangers allow me to experience this tumor and its treatments as an adventure. I feel safe and loved.
This philosophy of learning is key to my experience with this brain tumor and to my experience as a teacher and a learner. So back to test anxiety. Think of this exam as your adventure. Happy travels (not travails). Mary

Phew..........thanks for that clarification.........I thought I was going to have to be a brain tumor drop out! Karen K.
what do you mean, "there are no grades." i have been studying ever since your last entry. You see, after you disallowed my essay on the midterm, I did not score as well as I would have liked, and I was really hoping that by nailing the final, I could raise my average on the adventure to something in the A/A- range. Sister Jennifer

• Thursday, March 4, 2010 3:27 PM, PST
Day 26: The middle finger is down (a relief to many of you, I'm sure.) Two days to go in the one hand countdown.
My dear straight-A sister Jennifer commented that I had disqualified her essay. Actually, I loved the essay. It was hilarious. Her daughter Isabella got an A+ for it. It put me in mind of others who have tried to take credit for someone else's work, (though to Sister Jennifer's credit she did have Isabella request that I give her mom credit on the midterm.)
My first year of teaching high school English a student turned in a Xerox copy of another student's paper as his own. He did take the time to white out the other student's name and write his own in. I'm not sure if I was more offended by his laziness (at least write it in your own handwriting!) or by the idea that he thought I wouldn't notice.
Later the same year, a student copied another student's six page paper word for word. Both turned it in. This time, I'm not sure if I was more annoyed by the idea that they thought I wouldn't notice or the fact that it took me three pages to notice.
A few years later, a struggling student turned in her mother's master’s thesis as her paper. It took me a while to figure that one out, but the fact that the student chose to write about T.S. Elliot's "Gerontion" tipped me off.
Further into my career, in the middle of a parent conference about a student's grade on an essay, an irate and frustrated father finally yelled, "I worked hard on that paper."
Remember, these tests, like all tests, are just part of the adventure :) Study hard. Mary

I think you missed some punctuation: "My dear straight, A sister ...." or maybe I misunderstood the point you were trying to make. Also, for extra credit, I thought I would send Steve MY Roth information -that would get me in good with both you AND your dad. I think that I have now found the name of my next band - "Blog Paradise", it's very web 2.0, yes? Pea
Your stories about high school essays remind me of one I heard about a U.W. student's essay. I don't know what the class was, or who the prof was, or even whether it is a true story or just an "old husband's tale." (Well, my prof husband Roger did tell me the story.) Anyway, a UW professor figured out by typing a few words of the student's essay on Google that the essay had been copied word for word from Wikipedia. Nothing unusual, so far. Happens all the time, so I hear. This time, however, when the prof discussed this with the student, she became angry. With her mother. She insisted that her mother told her that she wrote the essay herself! The professor told her that she would have to write another paper if she wanted credit. Dutifully, the student came back at the next class with another essay. This time, a Google hit showed that it was copied word for word from a different website. When the student was again questioned, she was thoroughly disgusted. "My mother! She did it again!!” Jane S.

• Friday, March 5, 2010 3:17 PM, PST

Day 28: Forefinger is down on the one hand countdown and it's just one thumb up. I think I'm gonna make it. I might start a diet blog next: how to lose weight and eat four meals, including one milkshake, a day. The diet goes like this: breakfast--banana nut bread with cream cheese and apple juice on the rocks; brunch: half a banana with four heaping teaspoons of plain non-fat yogurt and Gatorade; lunch: boiled egg with salt and a glass of milk; dinner--milkshake. Oh, between brunch and lunch, radiation. I think that's key.
Several of you have asked me how I knew I had a tumor. The short answer is that I had a cat scan (back when I thought I was an ordinary cat). But then such a short answer isn't much fun. My tumor was much like my gayness (if that's a word): there were hints along the way, but I didn't figure it out from the more subtle hints.
Before you read this, I should tell you that some of you will decide that you have an ependymoma. You probably don't. It's a rare tumor, especially in adults. The median age of someone with an ependymoma is 5 years old. It's more likely that you're gay.
Hint that I was gay: When I was taking home a bunch of female friends (from the basketball team, of course) in high school, I noticed a teenage couple walking down the sidewalk. "Why is it," I mused aloud, "that the girls are always more attractive than the guys?" The car got very quiet. I didn't ask that question aloud again. Years later I learned that four of the five of us in the car had come out as lesbians. Maybe I misinterpreted the silence.
Hint that I had a tumor: I used to blackout or faint from time to time. My junior high basketball team nicknamed me Casper because I'd turn so white. In a more dramatic move, I fainted while delivering a mini-sermon at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church (Baptist churches in the south do not have small congregations.)
What lightening strike finally informed me that I am gay? Ann
What lightening strike finally informed me that I should see a doctor? I started seeing double when I was biking. When I told Ann how cleverly I had solved this inconvenience (by closing one eye when I biked), she thought I should see a doctor.
So really, it's Ann's fault that I discovered I am gay and that I have a tumor. This will be on the final exam.
Keep those award nominations coming, and keep the inappropriate but funny ones (Pea) coming to my email. Happy weekend! Mary

Well, Mary, if being gay means having the impression that "the girls are always more attractive than the guys," then I guess I'm not gay after all!!! Thanks for clearing that up for me! Love, Forrest
I gotta run w/a little stream of consciousness here because I got behind in my reading with the whole aging process thing I got going on (Turning 40 btw Sweets always reminds of the apron you had that said "When you're pushing 40 that's exercise enough").
First of all who uses the word "ablutions" in a sentence and would feel sure anyone would have any idea what you're talking about?! I had to look it up and I received some "Dirty Old Man" soap for my birthday so think I have it covered.
Second of all, there was a midterm?? Must've been when I was an immature 30 something year old, so I would second that the final should count for 100% of whoever didn't take the midterm. Speaking of terms "midterm" and "exam," the first words that come to mind are "procrastination" (Jane, Hayden gets it honestly) and V-I-V-A-R-I-N (is that with an "a" or "e"?).
Concerning the movie, Vaseline, and colonoscopy, maybe we could implement the scene in the Nutty Professor where the dad yells out at the dinner table "I'll cleanse my colon right now!" Oscar worthy. Dad should be Alan Alda by the way and funny that Sweets (aka Mom) is the one that thinks George Clooney or Johnny Depp should play the part of me. Tom Hanks makes sense from the movie Castaway where he befriends Wilson the volleyball seeing as you were MVP of the high school volleyball team and all (and I wouldn't mind spending a few months on a deserted island - kidding!).
As far as Pea's idea for me to create a "Matt's Caring Bridge Colonoscopy" site, I think I should just schedule my appointment at Seattle General and have everyone show up and make a mini reality show - who wants front row tickets??
Also Jenn Jenn - Todd wasn't hiding behind the "Hippo Hunter" in Africa bc he was afraid of hippos it was because he read "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" on the plane ride over - literary reference for Brother Matt here, 5 points!
Please vote for me (this is shameless I realize) in the category "Nominees That Generated the Most Responses" against Sister Jenn Jenn for my Vaseline contribution, but not even I can bring myself to vote for my "2 Blondes" joke over Sammy and Willie's "Armies and Sleevies" joke because, well, it took me 10 minutes to get it. Good thing I look like a cross between George Clooney and Johnny Depp because I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. Mary, my older than dirt and more inspiring than Gandhi sister, finish strong, you are amazing! Brother Matt

• Monday, March 8, 2010 3:09 PM, PST
Day 28: The full fist pump...all down, none to go. I'm celebrating with a mint chocolate chip milkshake. Wild times ahead.
Ann took me to radiation today as she does every Monday. In case you don't know, Ann has beautiful white hair and I'm walking with a cane. I hold her arm while I walk. As we entered the hospital today, Ann overheard one of the volunteers say, "I don't know which one is the patient."
This has happened to us before. Earlier in the treatment, we were crossing the street in the crosswalk, and an elderly woman wearing her bathrobe and fuzzy slippers turned to me and said, "Thank you for taking such good care of your mother." When she noticed that I was the one using the cane, she looked confused and shuffled along.
Such confusion has often happened in airports. When possible, I call ahead for a wheelchair. As we come off the airplane, me holding Ann's arm and Ann holding my cane, we've often been asked if we need two wheelchairs. Ann makes me carry my own cane now.
Don't celebrate too hard. You'll get an ice-cream headache. Final exam is tomorrow. Let me know if you have questions you'd like to propose.

Alex and I will have a Negro Modelo in your honor. You are really inspiring a lot of beer drinking.
Congratulations! Renee
I look forward to the final exam, and I intend to ace it. Jane
YIPPEE! Love, Rose
I am writing from Hanoi and want a special award for the post from the fartherest distance. I am so glad radiation is done! HOORAY. Beers to celebrate as soon as I get home!! Hugs and love, Susan G.
Will the test be open book, open notes? Mary D.
Congratulations, Mary. I can just taste that milkshake now.... Katie O.
You sound in good spirits. I know you are a great spirit. I want you back as my coach as soon as possible. I need your help and counsel. Take care and hope to see you soon. My best to you - Gene
BIG DAY!!! I am guessing it's a lot like going into labor... you've been pretty miserable for awhile, and things are about to take a turn for the worse, but starting tomorrow, bit by bit, things are going to get better... Of course, it's not all good, you are about to lose your excuse to eat milkshakes... And then there are the people (unenlightened souls who don't know about the blog) who you haven't seen in awhile who will say, "Gosh, that went quickly!!" (or almost as awful, "Have you done something different to your hair?" calling aunt susie!!) Here on the east coast, I will spend the day cramming for the final, thinking good thoughts... Sister Jennifer

• Tuesday, March 9, 2010 10:01 AM, PST
Day After Radiation (DAR) #1: I hope you didn't celebrate too hard with all those milkshakes and that Negro Modelo last night. I went wild.
Your final exam will follow the same format as your midtern. At the end you will grade yourself (that's how my high school calculus teacher liked to do it.) Only we reported our scores. You don't have to. You'll just know in your heart how you've done.
Multiple Choice:
1. Which superhero does Mary most resemble? (Hint: Keep in mind her femininity.)
A) Incrediboy
B) Wookie
C) Elastigirl
D) Spiderman
E) Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman
2. Mary has completed 28 of 28 radiation treatments. What percent of her radiation treatments has Mary completed?
A) 0%
B) 28%
C) 56%
D) 100%
E) all of the above
3. Identify the best definition and usage of the word "ablutions."
A) Definition: debris from sea wreckage
Use: "Colleen ran down the beach after the storm, collecting ablutions that waves had scattered along the shore to use in her science classes since the hospital would not give her a DVD of her colonoscopy."
B) Definition: ritual cleansing
Use: "Before his colonoscopy, Brother Matt will need to use his new man soap and Vaseline for his ablutions."
C) Definition: congestion in both sinuses
Use: "During the piggy flu, Mary struggled to breathe during treatments because of her ablutions."
D) Definition: visual hallucinations
Use: "Ablutions of small dogs chewing on her tubes made Mary uncomfortable in the ICU."
E) Definition: red and pimply acne on the stomach
Use: "Ablutions have caused my mother to wear a one piece bathing suit all her life."
4. In preparing for a colonoscopy, one can use Vaseline to ease the pain. Where does the Vaseline go?
A) Around the butthole (that's the most delicate expression I could find. "Anus" just sounds bad.)
B) On the lips
C) On the proctologist's gloved fingers
D) On the camera
E) All of the above
5. How did Mary breathe during radiation treatments?
A) through her mouth
B) through her ears
C) answer A from #3
D) through her nose
E) all of the above.
Short Answer: Please record in the guestbook.
1) Write a review of the book that Mary might write to be used on the back cover. 20 points.
2) Words that a person might use in a search engine to find this site include: tumor, humor, brain, gay, blog. List up to five other words a person might use. +1 per word.
Bonus: 100 points to be spread through your midterm and final exam scores, as needed.
Send my father Steve your Roth IRA report. If you don't have his email address, send it to me and I'll forward it. If you don't have a report you can send, just make one up. That's what I did.
Mulitple Choice scoring:
1. A) Incrediboy--Because of his red hair and blue eyes, and because living behind a waterfall is pretty cool, you might have made this choice, but he is a fake, evil and a boy. No points.
B) Wookie--You really haven't been paying attention. -50 points. Better answer the bonus question.
C) Elastigirl--Auburn haired, blue eyed, flexible, good with a vacuum. Clearly the right answer. +15 points.
D) Spiderman--The fact that I thought the mask would make a good Spiderman costume might throw you off, but this choice does not show a deepening understanding of my character and clearly is not feminine. No points.
E) Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman--Though this is not the right answer, I like it. +25 points.
2.  A) 0%: You must be way behind on your reading. -10 points.
B) 28%: If there's an elementary school child in your home or neighborhood, you should ask them to explain this to you. -10 points.
C) 56%: See above
D) 100%: Most of you, like Ann, probably chose this answer. On the final day, it is true that as of today I have completed 100%, so since Ann chose your answer, you'll get +15 points..
E) all of the above: This is the correct answer. I have completed each of these percentages at one point. Because you are as clever as I am, you get +25 points. (Ann says this is a trick question, but she agrees that I am right. My nephew Jack agrees as well. We’re all so proud.)
3. A, C, and D: No points. Please learn to use a dictionary.
B: Correct Answer: +15 points
E: In defense of my mother's reputation -10 points
4. A) Around the butthole, Correct answer +15 points
B) On the lips. Only if there's extra. No points.
C) On the proctologist's gloved fingers. No, sister Jenn, a proctology exam and a colonoscopy are different things. No points.
D) On the camera. There may be some concern of smearing the lens and then you'd just have to do it all over again. No points.
E) All of the above. No points unless you're brother Matt. +15 points if you're brother Matt.
5. A) through her mouth--the mask is too tight. No points.
B) through her ears--Please return to your high school anatomy class. Do not pass Go. Do not collect any points.
C) answer A from #3--see above.
D) through her nose--+15 points. +25 points if you are Jane.
E) all of the above--See B. No points.

Hooray! Full fist pump. I'm going to have a milkshake today in your honor. It's Shamrock Shake time at McDonald's and it IS right around the corner from my office! xoxo Anna
"For me a brain tumor and its treatments are not a pause in the adventure of life, but instead a part of the adventure of life." Katharine Hepburn look-a-like Mary E. has survived many things: Wichita Falls, the deaths of Pepper, Sparky, and Tripper, big hair parted down the middle, desegregation of the North Carolina public schools, the Gettysburg Address, a schoolgirl crush on a motorcycle-riding junior high school volleyball coach, GG Anderson's tour of the Mormon church, a college modeling career, Camp Seafarer, a brain tumor, holidays with family, marriage, coming out, Africa, hallucinations, swine flu, pneumonia, and now radiation therapy. In this heartwarming memoir (soon to be an Oscar-worthy motion picture starring Hilary Swank as Mary, Ellen Degeneres as partner Ann, Penelope Cruz as beloved sister Jennifer and Pea, among others) Mary takes us from the horrors of the Seattle public transportation system to the joys of sharing life - with all its ups and downs, idiosyncrasies, and absurdities - with people she cares about and who in turn take the time to care about her. It probably won't make you want to have radiation therapy, but it will make you wish that you could see the world through Mary's eyes.
search terms: radiation, ependymoma, Roth, ACCESS, proctologyCongratulations, Mary, I love you!!!! Sister Jennifer
I aced the final! Or at least I will once I write the book review. 95 points on the multiple choice!! The extra credit for guessing "Wonder Woman" and for "being Jane" helped.
5 words to google: finger, vaseline, ablutions, recalculating, butthole. (Yes, I know butthole was only used a couple of times in the journal, but I wanted to include it anyway.)
I checked out my words by googling them, first with the "and" function. I got 8 hits!! None of them were this website, however. All but one appeared to be lists of random words intended to get you to open the site so that they could steal your identity. One appeared to be real and, yes it was. However in case there are any minors reading this, I will not give you the URL. Get it for yourself, kids.
I googled the words again, using the "or" function. I got 90,500,000 hits!! Surely one of these is this website! Warning: the third one down appears to be unsuitable for minors too. It is a Wikipedia article about computer scientists and features the word "finger." Now, on to the book review, if it's not too late. Jane S.