Monday, June 03, 2013

Work Log 060313

Today I looked over and lightly revised eight poems.  I send them to a friend to look over before sending them out.  When I do send them, they will be the first written poems I've submitted anywhere.

In the afternoon I didn't write, but spent a few hours finishing Jay Atani's The Leaving of Things.

In the evening I watched Crash, as researching for my upcoming meeting with the author of Swirling.

Friday, April 12, 2013

This Blog Has Moved!

It's official.  My new domain is barringtonsmith.net

and you can find my latest posts at:

barringtonsmith.net/blog

Hope to see you over there! :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Slowly Moving This Blog

Transitions are hard for me. You can take a gander at my new home HERE.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Under Construction

This blog is going to look pretty funky for a few days--or maybe weeks or months.  I'm in the process of trying to build a website around the blog, which seems like a good idea--but I'm not exactly sure how.  So I'll be experimenting with the whole thing, and hopefully not deleting seven years' worth of blog posts in the process!

 It's been on my list to have a writer's website for awhile, but it came to a head recently. As I've mentioned, I  have this staged reading coming up...

(Wait--I need to insert an announcement here:

MPW Stage and Screen Festival
Staged Readings of Three One Acts
APRIL 7th
7PM
ELECTRIC LODGE
1416 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

Note that if I had an "events" section or page it would be there, but I don't, so it's not...yet)

I have this reading coming up, and the director asked me, "do you have any actors you want to recommend?"

There was a time, when I belonged to small a theater company here in LA, that I would have had twenty actors I had worked with directly and would love to use.  Nowadays, I have some friends, and friends of friends, who are actors.  They are not "Wow, I know this person would be absolutely perfect."  They're more like, "I think they could be good--they seem the right type, and speak in complete sentences at parties."  But I haven't worked with them.  Also, I don't know the director very well,  he may have actors that he works with and really likes working with already, which, in these circumstances, seem ideal. So, basically, I have a small group of folks that I'd like to have the opportunity, if there are some openings, but I'm not ready to be solely responsible for casting them.  In this town, that happens A LOT. 

In this case my thought was, "I'll send their websites to said director. Then he can look at their headshots and reels, evaluate their training, experience etc"

The trouble was NONE of them had a website.  I ended up sending pictures from Facebook, IMDB links (one had a link with no picture) or their bios from posted play or film sites.  I still put them out there, but it was harder, and they don't look as serious.  

And I have to wonder, is that happening to me?  I doubt I'm missing out on a feature film assignment, but I meet a lot of people who have projects.  If they happen to idly think of me, am I making it easier for them to give me an opportunity, or mention me to someone else who might?

Not so much.

So it's time for a website--and as loyal blog readers, you'll get to witness its growing pains!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

I'm not just a writer of blog posts, I'm a reader.  You know how (some) folks say that you should read more than you write?  For the most part, that just doesn't happen?  When it comes to essays, short stories, screenplays, and my new-found interest, poetry, the ratio of write-to-read hours is vastly skewed toward the writing. It's a flaw,  but since there are more deadlines for writing than reading, and since even though the chances of being paid for anything I write is miniscule, the chances of being paid for reading is none, it seems likely not to be remedied soon.  It is possible, however, that I actually read as many blog posts as I write--if not more. There are two reasons for this:

1) The bar is pretty low, since I am a sporadic blog-poster.

2) The existence of Google Reader.
Reader is an awesome feed with an easy link from my Gmail page.  After I check my mail, I can give it a click and check my list of blogs.  When someone has updated, it shows up in bold, if not, it doesn't.  It shows me how many posts I have not yet read.  In this way, it's easy to keep up with other sporadic bloggers.  I don't have to check directly everyday, get frustrated, and eventually give up, only to miss a post when it appears.  It's awesome.

And it's going away.  The last time I clicked over to my Reader, I received a message that Google was "retiring" Google Reader come July,  And today, when I went up to my menu, the link to the reader page was gone.  You can still get to it, but it's harder.  So check out is in July--but apparently the maid is going to keep knocking, calling "housekeeping" every half-hour until we decide to leave earlier.

So I'll be transitioning, probably to one of the products described in this article. Transitions of any sort are not my favorite, because they usually involve having to make decisions about what to toss and what to keep.  And I have some blogs on my list that I've kept for awhile that are pretty much defunct, but I live in hope regardless.  Jane Espensen might  decide to start posting again, right?  And the same goes for many of my friends who began blogging at the same time I did.  I don't like to give up...but it's probably time to start letting go.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Should I Be Embarrassedd?

In one of the "lighter" of the several excruciatingly awkward moments of Girls this last week (Season 2, Episode 9), Marnie decides to do an impromptu performance of her own arrangement of Kanye's "Stronger," at the party of her ex-boyfriend phone-app start-up.  Her voice is good.  The arrangement is interesting.  The moment and the audience were both ill-chosen, and witnessing the whole event was so very very painful. 

When it's all over, her boyfriend takes her into his office, and she says, "Should I be embarrassed?"

The possibility of these kinds of moments terrify me, and the the reality of them horrifies me. Right now I have flashbacks to the lingering camera angles on all the hipsters in the office watching her performance with pained expressions.  It's not just an embarrassing thing that happen like a strap breaking and a boob flopping loose during your ballet recital.  That's embarrassing, of course, but it's an accident that happens within a prescribed setting, in the course of a prescribed activity.  Especially if your ballet teacher chose the costume, none of it is a result of your bad choice.  It's not because you just don't get it.

Fear of being that person who just doesn't get it is the monkey that I've carried on my back for almost as long as I can remember. In fifth grade, a large portion of my friends were mortified that that one girl didn't wear socks with her loafers.  It didn't matter an iota about her socks.  I was only mortified that such a large number of people were voicing mortification and that the girl knew nothing about it.  Fuck, if it could happen to her, over this--it could happen to anyone, over anything.  And it did.  Clear through adolescence, as one might imagine--and into adulthood. There were people who spoke up at the wrong times at meetings, and people who spoke to the wrong people on set.  They didn't understand the dynamics of power, the etiquette of being near, but not of,  celebrity. They just didn't get it.

I've been having wrestling with the monkey lately, maybe because I've been trying to put myself out there when I can--be as honest as I can, give all I can when I think I have something to give, navigate the treacherous territory of social media. Lately, I've been making some mistakes (or, alternatively, lately I have tottering self-esteem and think I've made mistakes even when I haven't, or maybe I have), and sometimes  I can feel the mortified looks. Too often I feel like a ridiculous white girl trying to cover Kanye to a room full of unforgiving eyes. And whatever I have just done, I have to grapple with the fact that the people who have witnessed it may never see me again without remembering it. And I have to engage in the spinning self-interrogation that seems obligatory in the wake of faux pas.  What was my intention?  What was I trying to do?  Was I being arrogant, self-important, above myself? Was I compensating for insecurities? Was I trying to prove something?  There are so many possibilities, it seems impossible to even admit the possibility of altruistic motives.

At the same time, again, for almost as long as I can remember, I've realized that at some level--the real level-- these social mistakes don't matter at all. Loafers without socks--don't matter--it's just a construct.  So are all the aspects of "knowing your place" that are imposed on people based on gender, ethnicity, class, and around here, the Hollywood class/power structure.  It goes without saying, that kind perpetual second-guessing is really non-conducive to doing good creative work or just being a happy individual. 

So then I have to breathe for awhile and put my mistakes into perspective.  After several minutes of breathing I can accept that in vast scheme of things,  my sins are usually about the equivalent of coming to school in loafers with no socks--social sins that carry the same weight of punishment as a crime in a world of fifth-grade fashion aficionados, but in the moral universe are almost utterly unremarkable.

In other news, there was no yoga teacher to teach class at the gym today, so I got up and led the class. I tried to do a good job, to be clear, set a good tone.  Some people walked out early on, as I often want to do when another student gets up to teach. Some people seemed genuinely pleased and grateful--they'd driven through traffic to get to class, and they got to have class.  I think I did it because I have a love for yoga, and thought I had enough experience to be able could give something of value where nothing was being given.  But if you said I wanted the limelight, on what grounds could I refute that? After all, what else is a blog but a platform for a spotlight to shine on, a tacit admission for one's need for attention?  Should I be embarrassed?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Vegas, Baby

This past weekend, Paul and I helped move his parents from Chatsworth--about an hour away from us--to Vegas--five hours away.  His father recently retired.  It was mostly an economic decision.

The morning of the move, my mother-in-law stood by the kitchen window, looking out at the garden she had created and maintained for years, and she said to me, "Lucky. Lucky I am not sentimental. Because I would feel sad right now, because all of this, I made it with my own hands, and now... But I don't. I am not like that, I don't like the sad feeling, so I feel it and let it go--fast." She waved her hand to show how she pushes the sad feeling along on its way. "When its time for something to be over, it's over. That's all." She set her face and looked back at the plants she was leaving.

This Feels Weird, Right?


CASTING REAL CANCER PATIENTS - FEMALE
PRINT SHOOT FOR CANCER RELATED ORGANIZATION

We are casting REAL CANCER PATIENTS - FEMALE ONLY - (must currently be bald from chemotherapy) for a print shoot for print materials for a cancer related organization.

You must be in the greater Los Angeles area.

Pay: $2,000

DETAILS:
CANCER PATIENT - Female ONLY / All Ethnicities / 30-50
Current Cancer patient undergoing or recently finished treatment - MUST CURRENTLY BE BALD.  Cancer may either be currently active or recently in remission.

Buyout for 2 years in North America only.

                                                                                                                     
I'm on a list that sends me emails with entertainment jobs and opportunities, from production and writing work to reality TV casting. This was in my email last night.  Weird, right?  On one hand, completely logical--because it feels equally weird to look at a cancer-related image featuring a cancer veteran, and to think that they picked a healthy model to portray that...so from that angle, kudos for finding someone "real."

On the other hand, it's a reminder that cancer is big business. It's supporting profit making organizations and non-profits alike. It's a brand that's come to have a specific look:  A bald woman.  A bald, attractive, appealing, not-too-old woman, to judge from this advertisement. They've come to the conclusion that an attractive, bald woman best sells what needs to be sold, or elicits compassion / action / funds, or inspires comaraderie.  

I should have something incisive and insightful to say about this--and there IS something I think, I just can quite articulate it at this moment. So for this moment I'll just say--it feels weird.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

 So here is a nice thing that has happened.
2013 MPW WRITING FOR STAGE AND SCREEN COMPETITION RESULTS
The initial reading committee and final judge for the 2013 MPW Writing for Stage and Screen Competition have made their final decisions. After much consideration, three scripts were selected by the final judge, Julia Cho (playwright, BFE, Durango, The Language Archive; TV writer, Big Love, Fringe).
First Prize:
POWER POINTS, a play by Caron Tate

First Runner-Up:
THE COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE OF LITTLE RED, a screenplay by Barrington Smith-Seetachitt
Second Runner-Up:
A HUNDRED MAYS, a play by Kiera Nowacki

Congratulations! Caron will receive a $500 cash prize; Barrington and Kiera will receive $250 each. Additionally, all three winning scripts will receive dramaturgical guidance and be presented as staged readings by professional actors and directors at the 2013 MPW Writing for Stage and Screen Festival on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California. The event is free and open to the public. Details and RSVP info to come


 So, if you are in Venice, CA in April--you should come! I'm looking forward to meeting my dramaturg and director, and going through the development and staging process.  I know both of the other winners, and they are great ladies, so that makes for an even more rewarding evening.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dreaming of a Break...Literally

Monday night I dreamed it was the weekend, but when I woke up, it wasn't.

Last night, I dreamed it was Christmas vacation.  Somehow it had completely snuck up on me without my noticing, and for some reason, none of my family was coming for Christmas--which is not what I would want in real life, of course--but in the dream I realized I had that whole time from before Christmas to after New Year's Day, and it was just such a relief--like the answer to all my problems.

If I were to glean my problem from this dream, I would say that lack of time is a problem. I don't have to glean such information from dreams however, as I am quite aware of it in my waking state.

Lack of money is also a problem, but I haven't yet dreamed about money.  Maybe this is because when I play Bejeweled on my phone while waiting for the train, I fantasize that someone has come up to me and said, "However many points you earn on this next game of Bejeweled, I will give you that many dollars." It's not a realistic fantasy, I understand.  Still, it raises the stakes for each game.

In unrelated news, my face is starting to slide off my skull, and my gray hairs are emerging as fast as little hatching spiders spill from an egg sac.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chris Beat Cancer with Nutrition

There's a blog I've been following intermittently for a while, called Chris Beat Cancer.  I don't know Chris and he doesn't know me, but from reading his blog I can determine we are kind of "cancer twins."  We were both diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2003 (both at a rather young age).  We both had surgery but declined the recommended chemotherapy.  We both embraced nutrition rich diets that included lots of vegetables and juiced vegetables.  And we are both alive to tell the tale (with no recurrence of the colon cancer).

Chris has devoted the entirety of his blog to a cause I believe in deeply, educating people about their options in fighting cancer.  His most recent post on cancer fighting vegetables is an excellent reminder to some things you may (or may not) already know, and contains one of my favorite things--a link to the original study in Food Chemistry journal. 

The day is coming, slowly, slowly, when there will be separate tabs on this blog for cancer and health related posts and resources, but until that day, I'm going to add Chris Beat Cancer to the sidebar here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lately

I'm sick--just a cold, or maybe the flu.  Everybody talks about the awfulness of the flu, but when I look up the symptoms of flu vs cold online, every cold / flu I've ever had seems to fall right on the line between two.  Are muscle aches and fatigue really just the purview of the flu? Well, maybe it's the flu..

Whatever the diagnosis, I stayed home for two work days, and now I'm staying home through the long weekend.  I have very little will to do...anything.  You know how they say the "mind is a good servant, but a bad master"?  It's a kinda buddhist thing to say, about how you have to restrain your mind and not just let it run rampant as it likes.  This restraint requires a certain kind of determination that at various times in my life I have had, and at present do not have.  My mind has no desire to do disciplined things like stay still for meditation, apply itself to writing or even pay pay attention to a conversation.  If you call me, there's a good chance I won't pick up the phone, because holding a conversation, even with you, seems like too monumental an effort.  My mind doesn't want to do anything on its own steam, it wants to have its hand held and to be entertained.

And in my current state, my mind wins:

I let it watch two seasons of Downton Abbey in two days until I was bleary-eyed and my brain was sodden and saturated with the stream of soapy input. (Everything in italics is a spoiler, avert your eyes.) She's pregnant with the new heir of Downton. She's slipped on a bar of soap left by the wicked servant and miscarried! The heir of Downton is lost at war.  He's miraculously returned! He'll never walk again, or bear children.  Oh my god, he's walking! But he's about to marry the wrong woman. No, wait--she has Spanish Influenza...she's dead! The Season Two finale provides some beautiful closure with a proposal on a snowy night.  It was a good and convenient place to stop for what I hope is a long while.
On the third day, I let my mind read seven scripts for the Good Wife.
Because it is not related to writing, it will sometime accept forty minutes of Illustrator CS5 instructional videos, so there's that.
And of course there is sleeping.




Sunday, January 27, 2013

Duck Day Afternoon

Have I given up on this blog? 
I have not.

Today I dragged Paul to Franklin Canyon Park, which is a very nice and sort of hidden park that's not far from our house.  We went on a non-strenuous hike while he grumbled about nature.  It was fun.  We saw a large duck pond, with several very pretty ducks, and one turtle.

Then we went to the Chinese shop in North Hollywood and bought one of the whole, cooked ducks that they have hanging in a display case.  We brought our duck home and ate a lot of it.

(Take that, Nature! Paul would say, if he thought of it.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy 2013!

 

December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays to our Family and Friends!

Some years we do a better job of keeping up with friends and loved ones than others, This year...might have been one of the others. Please know that we think of you, and enjoy seeing glimpses of your lives—a new child or pet, a recipe gone right or wrong, publications, accomplishment, or philosophical pondering. 

2012 was such a year of ups and downs, it’s difficult to write a “year end re-cap.” Most of spring revolved around work: Paul made the final push to finish post-production on his first feature film. I began my first paid re-write gig and transitioned to part-time at my “day job” as a secretary for the Department of Philosophy at USC to accommodate this.

As we reached the middle of summer, final drafts, and final cuts, our focus suddenly shifted: I got news that an endometrial sample had shown evidence of cancerous cells. Summer turned to fall as we ran the gauntlet of tests, doctor-shopping and decision-making that accompanies such a diagnosis.  We were grateful my mother could come to California to help after the surgery. Ultimately I received good news—I was now cancer-free and there was no need for further treatment.

The final months of the year have been a time of recovery and re-calibration, of feeling deep gratitude for life itself and every day as it comes, but at the same time mourning visions of the future that are not to be.

Other things notable: Paul’s movie, Rock Jocks premiered at Atlanta “Dragon Con,” which was fun, and allowed us to see friends in the area. Paul and I discovered the pleasures of the “mini-break,” treating ourselves to a night at a downtown LA hotel along with a couple of movies and a dinner—adventures made more exotic by the opening of a metro rail stop near our house. Car got totaled with Paul and his friend inside—but everyone was okay. We had a party! We cleaned out the garage! I developed and addiction to Mad Men binge watched four seasons in too short a time.

Throughout the ups and downs, it is small, everyday things that continue to give us joy.  We often see my siblings and family on Sunday evenings: Our niece, Solea, is seven and our nephew, Aidan, is nine. Paul plays fancy board games with different groups of friends. His infectious enthusiasm for Top Chef and Project Runway lures in anyone in his radius. LA has opportunities for many movie screenings, and we try to take advantage. I continue to take night classes courtesy of my employer, USC (this year’s favorite was on Fairy Tales) and enjoy the nearby LA County Museum of Art.

We’re both excited about 2013—we have lots of things we want to do. We hope you are looking forward as well, and wish you good health, the fulfillment of wishes, and joys big and small in the new year!

Barrington and Paul

Monday, December 24, 2012

Materials vs. Pattern

You're crossing the ocean on a wooden ship. One of the boards rots, so you replace it with another that you've stored on your hold. It is still the same ship? Most people will agree that it is. But what if, bit by bit, as you make your journey, your ships sustains more and more damage, so that by the time you reach your destination, you have substituted each piece with its counterpart and not a single piece remains unreplaced. Now is it the same ship? Why or why not? How much of a thing is its pattern and how much its physical material? *

They say that our cells die and regenerate at a pace such that every seven years they are completely replaced.  Seven years from today there will be nothing of us that is here today, but everything that is there then will look and function like what is here now.  So we will be like a replicants of ourselves, with implanted memories from our former selves.

If each of us has a soul that resides within us somewhere, lubricating the space between the quarks perhaps, does it simply remain through this changing of the guard?  Does the soul differentiate between the old and the new material?  Does it remember and perhaps mourn the distinct identity of cells that once were?  Does it feel abandoned? Does it tire of greeting endless parade of new cells, each believing it is authentic and that knows more than it does?




(*Quoted from Kevin Brockmeier in the anthology, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

West of Memphis

I saw a screening of West of Memphis the other night--a documentary about three teenagers who were convicted killing three children back in 1994, and about a criminal justice system that seems committed to maintaining the status quo even at the cost of innocent peoples' lives. 

There was a Q and A afterwards.  Having been in Los Angeles for awhile, I am fairly used to seeing actors sitting in front of the screen after a movie, talking about portraying other people.  I don't usually bother to take pictures. But it was strangely affecting to see Damien Echols on the stage, and to think--this isn't an actor. This is a person who was imprisoned for 18 years for a crime he didn't commit.  He spent 18 years in prison, and now he's on this stage, answering questions. It was kinda surreal, and I wanted to remember it, so I took this blurry overexposed picture with my phone.


It was a good movie.  If you get a chance, you should see it.

We Had A Party!

Last Saturday was my birthday, for the first time in many years, I had a party.  (I might say"we" had a  party, but Paul insisted on referring to it as "B's party" for most of the preparation period.) I used to entertain more frequently, but since returning to Los Angeles a few years ago, life has seemed to fly by.  I was too busy with school when we moved in to have a housewarming party, too busy with work by the time I graduated to have a have a graduation party.  Birthdays seemed always overshadowed by deadlines of various kinds, Paul's movie left put him in constant worry.  But this year, my birthday landed on a Saturday, Paul's film was finished, my rewrite is long out the door, and, well, I could be dying from cancer, but I'm not.  Oh, and there was a rumor that the world might be ending in just a couple weeks. If it wasn't time to have a party, it never would be.

I had the house cleaned in the week prior, and stayed up late with my mom making tasty treats to serve.  The day of, she helped me shop for things that would not have fit in the fridge, and Paul re-arranged the furniture and made the lights look pretty as I knew he could and had warned him I would expect.  I researched recipes for hot cider and wassail drinks, and borrowed extra slow cookers so that I could brew different variations (vodka spiked, rum spiked, and virgin).

Two hours before the party, the downstairs neighbor came home and offered us all the leftover desserts from the party she had thrown the night before for her teenaged daughter.  My downstairs neighbor is an event planner / PR person--so the set-up for her teenage daughter's party was far more sophisticated than everything we were putting together--there were matched, brocade christmas linens on the tables, a buffet of steamer trays, desserts on risers--and a chocolate fountain. 

The party was well-attended and, I think, a success.  Although I over-prepared and over-shopped and had a few moments where I questioned the wisdom of the endeavor, I did not feel overly anxious.

In the future,  there are a few things I might do differently.  I would invite people using other methods besides Facebook, and I would issue a reminder--as we received a few disappointed, (and I believe in most cases, sincere) messages from those who had missed it due to Facebook hiatus or had let the date slip by.  Also, I would take some pictures of the party--of the people who were there, and our house looking beautiful--or at least better than usual.  As it was, only two pictures were taken by a guest.  Here, my friend Nikki partakes of the chocolate fountain outside in the courtyard.















And here is a picture of us on the landing. (I include it so you can see my new dress.)










 These pictures are after the fact by a few days--
the foil swirly things I hung in one of the rooms. 


And me, eating old cake in the sun-room lit by lanterns.

We also had string lights and these cool fiber optic lights over the "dance floor."  One fell to the floor with a thunk, scaring the house guest sleeping on the couch the other night.

After the party, Paul congratulated me and said it was very nice, that he felt bad for not having faith--and that maybe next year he would even invite people he knows that aren't on my Facebook.

Maybe next year I'll have another one.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Slowing the Sixth Mind

I've mentioned the fairy tales class I'm taking, right?  It was only five weeks long and this week is the last week.  Right now I'm reading an essay by Aimee Bender called "Character Motivation." She says,

In Murakami's short story "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day," the main character is a writer.  In describing the act of writing to a tightrope walker, he says, "What a writer is supposed to do is observe and observe and observe again, and put off making judgements to the last possible moment."  I think that is a beautiful description of writing; it lets the world be, but also there is a moment, finally of some kind of opinion.  There is that moment, but to hold it off is a lovely and worthwhile goal.
 Reading this brought to mind for me something that I actually think about not infrequently--in fact I may have mentioned it before. Back in 2004 I attended lecture by Soygal Rinpoche in Melbourne where he talked about the Eight Minds, or Consciousnesses.  1 through 5 are our sensory consciousnesses--eye consciousness, ear consciousness etc.  6 through 8, Rinpoche described as "Mental Consciousnesses," and of these he said that 6 and 7 were active, while 8 was inactive.

The 6th consciousness he described (in my memory at least, I've never found it written or recorded in exactly the same way) as a consciousness of perceiving, of observation, of taking in. "It is broccoli. It is green, It has a texture, a taste.

The 7th consciousness was about judgment--but not necessarily in a good way--because it is about attaching a positive or negative value to the perceived thing.  "I hate broccoli. It tastes bad to me."  The 7th consciousness inserts the "I" in a strong fashion.

The 7th consciousness is problematic.  When we are very attached to our opinions, and our identity as opion-havers, we can create our own little prisons, and make ourselves unhappier.  If "I hate broccoli" then I have created a world in which I must avoid broccoli, or at least have negative feelings whenever I am confronted by broccoli. My hatred of broccoli might even be so great as to poison my enjoyment of other things--a meal, or event in good company.

Soygal Rinpoche's suggestion, then, was to elongate the 6th mind and thus delay the 7th.  If one can slow or repeat the perception--"It's broccoli," keeping judgment and opinion at bay for an extra moment or so, then we buy ourselves some time to be alert for the negative thought and perhaps temper it in some manner.  We exert a little more control over our own processes, and withhold some of that control from our wayward minds.

I believe, that with practice, I can sometimes retreat from the 7th and go back to the 6th--especially when I can feel the 7th exerting an influence that isn't really beneficial.  It does not benefit me to hate broccoli, or feel aversion to the pain of going to the gym, or dislike talking to stranger at a party. So I try to go back to the state of perception I try to simply observe, again, in greater detail--the physical sensation that I have defined as pain: where do I feel it?  What is it's intensity? What is the sensation of walking up to a person at a party, absent of the feeling that I myself have attached to it?  Sometimes it works, and, over time, certain things become less disagreeable to me, and I am able to then navigate the world in a way that is less encumbered by my own "baggage."

So Murakami's words reminded me of this. Is this what he or Bender is talking about?   I'd say the context is quite different and any the connection tenuous.  However, when I see a few paragraphs of keen observation, absent of opinion, I think it allows me, as a reader, some life and activity that would otherwise be confined.  As a writer,  it might allow one to reach a different conclusion than one might have, and perhaps, having come to a conclusion, the writer decides to leave the spaciousness, or perhaps writer goes back and uses the discovered information, threading it in earlier, depending on the case.  In this way, the writer is kind of like the mind that influences the process...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving

So....tired...at the end of a good day. 
So much to thankful for...but again, so tired.  Only have the energy to talk about one thing...and that shall be: Cranberry sauce.

Never really understood the appeal, but this year I made the cranberry components, and have to say, I am starting ot understand more what the fuss is about.

Last night I made a raw cranberry relish--cranberries, apple and orange each chopped in the food processor then mixed together, along with sugar.  It was fresh and light feeling.

This morning I made a cooked sauce--orange juice, maple syrup and cranberries, boiled and boiled.

Truthfully, I still didn't eat much at dinner--I know people like it with their turkey, but there's a lot of other food options happening...but the flavors are excellent.  I think I should just call hte cranberry sauce "compote" and put it on some pancakes.  That would be delicious.

That's all the I have the strength to say.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blind Date With Surgeon - August 30, 2012

AUGUST 30, 2012

Today Paul and I met with the surgeon I've been referred to, Dr. Y---. It went...okay.  On the plus side, she was extremely clear in her explanations of things.  On the minus side, there was some social awkwardness.

I should start (as we did in the appointment) with the scan results from the CT/PET. The good news--I guess--is that the scanners did not detect any cancer in the colon or chest or neck or anyplace other than the uterus and maybe one ovary.  I'm not jumping up and down, because it hadn't occurred to me that there would be cancer in any of those areas--but of course it happens:  Something is detected in one area, and then they find out that it has spread to their spine or their lungs or their lymph.   So, from that perspective--I should be--and am--very grateful that there weren't any bad surprises.

There were however, a couple of surprises which weren't exactly good.  The right ovary looked normal on the CT, but it "lit up intensely" on the PET, which shows metabolic activity.  Dr. Y--- said that this could be due to ovulation, and not cancer--but that she would recommend removing it in any case, to be on the safe side, so even if it turns out to be clear, I'll still be out an ovary.

We talked a lot about something called "standard of care," which Wikipedia defines as "appropriate treatment based on scientific evidence and collaboration between medical professionals involved in the treatment of a given condition."

Standard of care, I gathered, could also be interpreted as the amount of cautionary action required for the circumstances--so it depends not just on the general diagnosis, but the specifics of a particular case.  Like the STAGE and the GRADE of the cancer.

I was familiar with the idea of stage, which is the degree of spread of the cancer, but grade is a new vocabulary word.  It is a measurement of quality, not quantity.  The grade evaluates the behavior of the cancer--ranging from non-aggressive: Grade 1, to the most aggressive, Grade 3.  The second surprisish" thing is that my cancer, because the biopsy reports it to be a "clear cell" cancer, falls in the Grade 2 to 3 range.  Dr. Y-- referred to it as Grade 3 during the course of our discussion.

With a Grade 3 uterine cancer, the standard of care would be to take the uterus and both ovaries and some--or all of the lymph nodes in the area.

There's a point in first dates, job interviews, conversations at dinner parties, where you can sometimes suddenly feel things begin to go south.  I'm not exactly sure where that turn happened in this case.  I think maybe it started when Dr. Y was saying something about perhaps "preserving" the left ovary--which, I understood, was a departure from the strict standard of care, so probably, in her mind, a generous offer.  I asked--since the right ovarian activity might have been due to ovulation, if it might make sense to have another scan--perhaps at another time of the month?  I think there was surprise in her voice when she asked "Would that with a view to preserving both ovaries?" And maybe there was a slight edge there too, because I found myself saying, "Well, maybe?" With a question mark at the end.

Then it got a little worse when I mentioned that the last time I had cancer, I hadn't done the required chemo. 

"So you are telling me this to say, 'ha ha I didn't do what the doctors wanted but I am okay'?"

All the sudden I wasn't sure why I had told her.  I thought I was telling her to let her know we might not always want to take the conventional path, but maybe there was an element of truth.  "I want someone who wants to be on my team."

"It is my job to give you the information.  You can do what you want to with that information.  I had one woman who listened to everything I said, and then she told me she didn't want to do any of it, she was going to shoot green grass juice up her vagina."

"How's she doing?" That was Paul asking--not a question that went over very well.

"We didn't stay in touch."

The meeting wrapped up pretty quickly after that.  She seemed ready to be done, and I felt flustered. I forgot to ask for her email, and we never set anything up for a second scan for the ovary, so I sent an email through her coordinator asking about those things.  I am left with mixed feelings.  I guess it's just part of my "cancer personality" that I want everyone to like me.  But then again, wouldn't anyone want the person wielding the knife over their abdomen to like them?

I'm sure I'll feel better about the whole thing when she emails or calls back--it probably wasn't as bad as I feel about it right now.  In the meantime, I'm packing for Atlanta--Dragon Con.




Monday, November 12, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Six weeks from the surgery, flown by.  In some ways like it never happened (though of course in many ways like it did.)  Into my third week (or is it fourth?) back at work.  And it's also the third week of my second course for the semester--a five week intensive on the topic of fairy tales, combining readings of tales, critical readings, and writing workshop. 

To this end I am trying to write a revised fairy tale by Thursday, as well as a free-write for an exercise in class, a response essay to the readings (which I need to read) and notes on classmates stories.  All as we enter the home-stretch on my Tuesday night class--more reading, watching, written responses and generating material.

Truth be told--I'm having a lot of fun, exercising my mind and body, being alive and stuff.

Blog is falling to the wayside, but I am determined to pick it back up soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TV vs Film in the Privacy of Your Own Home

Currently there are four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix.

I've always figured it would be one of those series that would be fun to plow through hours at a time when the opportunity presented itself, and with my recent illness and end of my writing project, I thought the time was right.

I'm halfway through season two, and it has been fun, but I've discovered this:  Watching lots of television drama, even the shows I really like, makes me kind of depressed, while watching movies, even ones that I don't think are particularly good, does not usually have the same effect.

I'm guessing it's because television shows make one want a kind of arc for the characters, but as an audience member ones desires are always frustrated--always pushed into an indefinite future. Another way of saying this is that it is hard to watch the characters make bad choices episode after episode, and grow (if they do) at a glacial pace.  (If I want to see continued self-deception, I have ample opportunity in my real life.) In the past, a separation of a week probably mitigated my feelings--not so when I have four seasons  at my disposal.  No doubt there is a rush of satisfaction at hitting "next episode," akin to being able to reach for another chocolate after the first--but in both cases, I fear the lack of portion control isn't the best for me in the long run.

Which is why I have temporarily abandoned Peggy and Don for the movies, where, in most cases, people realize their mistakes and make changes, they live through their tragedies and move on. I understand that one might actually consider this a flaw, citing Hollywood's penchant for happy endings, but I'm talking just about my own personal mood control here. 

The other night, when I felt the cravings for Mad Men, I substituted with an On-Demand movie...Larry Crowne.  Wow, if there was ever a movie made to go straight to video, this was it.  but even though I cringed at the too-easiness of Larry's sudden relationships and life changes,  I was inspired in spite of myself...and as the credits rolled, I didn't feel an uncontrollable desire to see another episode of Larry Crowne.  The experience was incredibly complete.