Thursday, January 10, 2013
Now there's a phrase for someone with myeloma. Shouldn't it bone marrow tired? (I'm sorry. Myeloma-specific jokes are so few and far between in the cancer world.)
Now through two cycles of chemo, I am starting (with little baby steps) to get the feel of my new digs in Cancerland. I liken it to being moved from the quiet country cottage out in the country to a dingy downtown apartment right over the main drag, with cars and trucks rumbling by at all hours of the day and night and an annoying neon sign flashing in the cigar store across the street.
Although I am adjusting, I haven't yet deciphered the new pattern of my energy levels. I am still overdoing it more often than not, running on vapors long after the gas tank has emptied. More often then not, I am bone tired. So in an effort to self-correct and restore some balance (and not fall flat on my face), I have been spending every evening and huge chunks of my weekends reading.
Lots and lots and lots and lots of reading.
I mean lots.
A partial list from mid-December to now: The Round House, Flight Behavior, The Last Book Club of Your Life, Feasting the Heart, Sylvia & Ted, Dearly Beloved (one of only two novels Anne Morrow Lindbergh ever wrote, for good reason), Appointment in Samarra (John O'Hara's debut novel), Drop Dead Healthy, American Band, Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase, the Shaara Civil War trilogy (Gods and Generals, The Killer Angels, To the Last Full Measure), The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, All Gone, Cottage for Sale, Must Be Moved, A Christmas Carol, Surviving the Island of Grace, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm (the new Phillip Pullman edition), Against Wind and Tide (Anne Morrow Lindbergh's letters and diaries, where she truly shines), Made For You and Me. I also tried, not for the first time, to read L. Frank Baum's Mother Goose in Prose, and sanchezed it yet again. Baum would hit his stride and change children's literature with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz three years later, but try though I might, I do not see even hints of that promise shining through the Mother Goose.
My dear husband Warren tends to work long days and late evenings, if not on Symphony matters, then on his own projects, including practicing. Compared to him, I feel like a slug, albeit a very well-read one. He helps me keep things in perspective by reminding me he's not the one in chemo, he's not the one who has to rest. From time to time, he checks on me, usually finding me ensconced on the couch under a blanket, the latest read in my hands.
Thoreau wrote, "Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky whose bottom is pebbly with stars." Will Schwalbe, who wrote The End of Your Life Book Club, wrote, "Reading isn't the opposite of doing; it's the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother's favorite books without thinking of her."
I think those two statements are intertwined. Being immersed in reading feels as if I am lying down on the edge of a fast-flowing stream, the words rushing by. From time to time, I thrust my hands deep into that stream and pull out a quote or two. But I am just as pleased to feel the rush of the language run through my palms as I look at the stream bottom, pebbly with stars.