A note to the Metastatic Cancer Babes, in response to someone who has just had another rediagnosis, and hit the wall -

I'm also a shower cryer, and a friend has recently lost someone to glioblastoma, dammit.

I had been saving eggshells in a jar on the windowsill and I had no idea why. They were brown, and pretty. We made a bunch of other recycled jars and wine bottles into all the awful things we'd been though - cancer, death, seizures, loss of trust, -heart surgery, chemotherapy...I marked them with sharpie markers. Some of them were silly - Pants on the Ground. My friend, whose dad it was who died, made about SIX that just said SEIZURES. The cancer one had walnuts in it because they are so hard to break. The death one was full of the eggshells - so fragile. The loss of trust I filled with icky toadstools from the yard, and fabulous poisonous blue metallic berries. I told her NOT to let her kids touch them, much less play with them. The brain tumors jar has an orange and a lime. What a stupid comparison - how about, it's the size of a small hand grenade? An orange is way too fucking benign.

Deardra is having the hardest time with RAGE. So we are planning to take all the bottles and heave rocks at them, as hard as we can throw. Until they are all broken. Thoroughly.

I have now topped up to my sixth round of treatment - three rounds of chemo, seven weeks of radiation to my chest, ribcage, and front and back of collarbone, and two gamma knife surgeries.

The trouble with having a reputation for being brave and cheerful is when I'm NOT - it's when I'm grieving or mad RAGE RAGE RAGE or in denial and the real answer to How are you? is FUCK YOU! FUCK CANCER! FUCKING JUNGLE!! FUCKING QUICKSAND! STEROIDS SUCK, AND I HATE YOU! I hate this, I hate CANCER, and this SUCKS! So you might have to resort to movies and martinis. For me it's pre-mixed margaritas, and the people who really, really understand..and NOT the toxic types.

Right now my rageful friend is a tonic - I can be as mad, hateful and grumpy as I want, and she just grins. Then the next day she is mad, hateful and grumpy, and I get it. Those friends where you can call and say, I need to VENT, and they say I GET IT...call them. And have a gin and tonic. I am gammagirl, my survivor friend who actually had glioblastoma is gliomagirl, and if I ask for a double vodka on the rocks at 11 am once every six months she DOES NOT FUCK WITH ME, she just gives me a vodka and cranberry juice. Or a margarita. And lets me vent.

We are navigating a path no one else has before. No one survived this cancer in the way we are..they ALL DIED... until about 8 years ago. Truly, three percent were alive after fifteen years, and that is LESS than the typical rate of spontaneous remission in the average cancer, which is five to ten percent. Breast cancer,when it returned, was a serious killer, until between 2002 and 2005. We are all making it up as we go along, and navigating the hard parts as well as the BRAVE parts is apparently something we all have to figure out. I wish you luck, and broken rageful and grief bottles if you need them.

xoxo, Chris

I arrived home a few hours ago from a Thanksgiving spent 300 miles or so northeast with my family. Yesterday, I drove 170 miles from my father's house to a friend's house in middle Massachusetts. I left at around 1:30pm and arrived around 5:30pm. Along the way I was involved in two accidents on the road. One was nobody's fault. One certainly was. This is their story.

Accident the first: And we Dance the Semitrailer Tango

When I left, it had snowed for a couple of hours. Not too heavily, but enough to leave a good inch to two inches of the white stuff on the ground. That isn't in itself a problem. The problem was that the temperature, according to the exterior thermometer in my steed, was exactly 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A bit more in the sun, and in the shadowed valleys, around 29 degrees. I was traveling on a two-lane U.S. Interstate - ordinarily, one of my favorite roads for the beautiful scenery and gentle but noticeable curves. Yesterday, though, the left lane was mostly obscured under slush and snow, and the right lane was generally two 'clear' wheel tracks with snow and slush elsewhere. To make matters worse, there were an enormous number of black ice patches where the snowmelt had refrozen in the just-below-freezing temperatures - but underneath the snow and slush, it was really hard to see them.

So I'm going around 60 miles per hour, southbound. This is roughly the speed of the (sparse) traffic. I'm in the right (clear) lane. About a hundred yards behind me, in the left lane, is a semi-trailer, also going around 60. We'd been pacing each other for perhaps 5 miles, he staying just clear of the spray from my snow tires. Oh yes; I'm driving a V8, rear wheel drive sedan, with snow tires on. This is a perfectly safe thing to do, if you aren't hopeless at driving. People drove (at high speed) in winter for years and years before all wheel drive or 4WD was invented. Anyway.

We reach a gentle right-hander. It's not sharp enough for me to worry about car control (not nearly) but it is a blind corner, curving as it does around the side of a rocky hill. Because I know this road, I know that around the corner, an entrance ramp joins the highway from the right, on the inside of the curve. Although there is an acceleration lane, it isn't that long, and the plows tend to miss those, so people merge quickly. I don't know if anyone is coming, but no point in taking chances.

I signal a left. The semi blinks his lights twice, indicating I should lane-change in front of him, so I do. As we come around the corner, I'm maybe 200 feet in front of the semi, having slowed slightly as I moved onto less certain road surface. As the ramp comes into view, I see a Subaru station wagon moving perpendicular to the highway, about to make the right turn to follow the ramp and merge onto the highway. I congratulate myself on having had the foresight to give the ramp a wide berth.

The Subie reaches the turn. However, instead of turning right to move parallel to our line of travel, the wagon instead goes straight, jouncing over a slight curb and a slight earth dip, and plows straight across the highway perpendicular to the line of travel.

-I realize it will end up hitting the guardrail in my lane, and I have no idea what will happen then, but it's likely it will hit right around the time I reach its estimated point of impact. I immediately steer right, attempting to move to the inside and cut behind it.

-My car starts to slide, the rear end moving to the left. I steer into the skid, taking my feet off the accelerator and brake. After two wobbles, I recover, now aimed at an angle behind the Subaru but pointing towards the guardrail on the inner side of the acceleration lane.

-The Subaru hits the guardrail in front of me and to my left. I pass behind it. As I do, it bounces back across the road, missing my back left fender by perhaps a yard. At this point, I am attempting to recover to the left so as to avoid passing across the narrow breakdown lane and into the right-hand guardrail. I manage to turn left, but my car is unbalanced, and the rear continues around and starts to slide out to the right.

-At this point, the semitrailer BLASTS past me on the left, just as my car regains some grip and I start into the tightening wobble of the second skid recovery. It and I have passed to either side of the Subaru as it bounced back across the highway. I recover my front end, and the back of the semi misses my left front fender by perhaps two or three yards before passing in front of me (brake lights luridly red) and throwing up a massive curtain of slush and spray. I instantly lose vision through my windshield. My wipers aren't on, and I don't have time to worry about them

-I recover the car, and ride the brakes past their antilock limit, before bringing my car to a stop parked in the right-hand breakdown lane. I sit there, car in neutral, hazard flashers on, and just start to shake, hands on the wheel. My engine is idling quietly in neutral.

-Meanwhile, behind me, a car which had been behind the semi and cut to the right to avoid rear-ending the braking truck hits the Subaru on one corner, pretty damn hard. Another car, behind that one, cuts left to avoid the two cars in front of it and scrapes the left guardrail, before all of them come to a halt some dozens of yards behind where I'd managed to stop.

...the truck driver, running back from where he'd parked on the shoulder ahead of me, reaches me as I'm getting out of my car, knees shaking in reaction, and grabs my shoulders to shake me roughly while whooping enthusiastically re: my recovery performance and the fact that neither of us hit anything. I slap him on the back roughly, and we jog back to the main accident.

Nobody's hurt. The Subaru is trashed; hitting the guardrail pushed its radiator back into its engine, and it has damage to two corners from hitting guardrails and being hit by the third car. The third car has a fender pushed into a tire, but is otherwise OK; the final car has a 'racing stripe' scraped into its left front fender from the outside guardrail. We push all the cars off the highway. It turns out that the Subaru, while coming down the entry ramp, had blown its left front tire, which left the driver unable to turn right to follow the ramp. It's not his fault.

We all walk away.

Accident the second: Accelerating away in a haze of Schadenfreude, middle finger firmly extended

As I reach the Massachusetts border, I have been (for the past fifteen minutes) the third car of a four-car convoy in the left (fast) lane. We have been driving with nearly-perfectly maintained separation between all four cars, at between 80 and 85 MPH, and are all comfortable with each other's driving. Two of us are in German luxo-bombs, the lead car is a Cadillac CTS-V (USA! USA!) and the tail-end charlie in my rear view is a Jaguar, what looks like a late-model XK or XKR. The temperature has risen to 38-40 degrees, and it is snowing - thick flakes of it. Those of us who have survived the Vermont freezing zone, however, are scoffing at the weather - all that's on the ground is a very thin coat of water, no ice, no snow- so we maintain speed as we cross the MA border. Immediately, we run into slower traffic - those entering the highway in these conditions haven't just spent over an hour driving through much worse, and are driving much more cautiously. However, they are all properly staying in the right lane, and none of them are even misbehaving as so many Americans will by cutting into the left lane with completely inadequate clearance between themselves and the overtaking car. So the four of us maintain cruise, and are passing slower traffic with a differential of around 20 miles per hour. We drop back to maybe 75 MPH at this point.

About 5 minutes into Massachusetts, I notice headlights growing in my rear view mirror. Surprised, I look up, and realize that they don't belong to the Jag, and are growing at a rather high closing rate. Just as I'm considering whether to get to the right and let them by, two things happen:

-I notice that I am overtaking a red four-door at around the normal 20 MPH closing speed, and do not have the space to brake hard (especially with the guy behind me coming up quickly) to make the lane-change to the right. I start to speed up slightly so as to be able to get over as soon as possible when I've cleared the car I'm passing.

-The headlights in my rear view mirror dive to the right. Whoever they are, they've decided to perform a swooping pass on my right (blind) side, without even indicating the lane change. I watch the headlights angle into my right-hand blind spot, and a gold VW Jetta barrels up my right side. Just as he pulls nearly level with me, the red sedan in front of him (which I was overtaking) is perhaps 35 feet ahead of my front bumper, closing me at 20 MPH and closing him at around 40 mph. He starts to cut directly left, into my right-hand passenger door. His front bumper is still only level with my front passenger door as he starts this, obviously assuming that I will stand on my brakes - or maybe never even seeing me, I have no idea.

I've decided there's no way I can brake fast enough, so I drift left as far as I can - not far, there's a concrete jersey barrier about four feet from my left front tire - and grit my teeth, preferring not to be hit with my tires already loaded by hard braking.

At the last second, he realizes that a) I'm there and b) I'm not getting out of the way, and he flinches back to the right - just in time to ram directly into the rear of the red car at 40MPH of closure. The red car wobbles hard, and by that point, I'm past it, sweeping off downroad.

I lower my window and raise my middle finger over the roof, aimed backwards.

Then I missed the exit for my friend's house and had to go back one. When I arrived, I had a large amount of whisky.

Iron Noder 2010

Iron Noder Progress

Pretty much a fail. Only four wus in the past two weeks, and with a couple simmering I might make the halfway point. The only consolation is that I have contributed more than 30 wus in a month before, just not during Iron Noder. I have quite a few quite complicated wu's in various stages of research, so if I can get these out at a rate of one a week, I'll be happier about how I did this month.

Last time I noted that I had a few misgivings about why I even bothered noding, and had one reply about that misgiving. I had two minor spats with admin since then. One was about the use of noting site issues on edev, which prompted that person to /ignore discussion on the group. The other was taking an admin to task on poor editing of a wu, which prompted that person to tell me they didn't care what I thought, and promptly ignored me. Should I have stuck my nose in at all in the first place? Given their reaction, no, no I shouldn't.

So I think that instead of trying to be helpful, I'm going into lurk mode. Write some, keep my head down. Try not to let things get to me.



Everything2 Idea

One of the contender blurbs for the front page is "Our fiction is more entertaining than Wikipedia's" and this might be a good title to this project. Using recipes for 'scratch cards', create a postcard promo showing a simple wikipedia entry that when scratched off shows the e2 entry. If any reader has suggestions, please let me know.



Day Log

I walk into and home from work most days, often following a path along the Water of Leith from Stockbridge to Dean Village which is treelined and flower-lined, and with the rushing waters below. Last spring, the artist Antony Gormley installed several statues in and near the water. In late October, a man made of leaves and wearing a cap and wellies was sitting on a bench along the walk, with a coffee cup held out, as if collecting pennies for the guy. It made me grin, and quite happy.

Over the next few weeks, new leaf people have been added: a female companion for the guy on the bench, a young child pointing at the water, a teenager leaning over the railings at the water, and another sitting down by another iron railing. This family is probably made of a chicken wire fencing frame with leaves stuffed in, and the person or people behind this hasn't been revealed (I'm guessing it's a groundskeeper).

Over the past two days, over a foot of snow has fallen in Edinburgh. Heading to work in the snow, I knew the only way to go was by the leaf people, and along the gorgeous snow frosted river banks.

They are still there. The young child has been removed, but the couple on the bench have a small dog next to them. Someone had made them a snow baby.

It was a pretty good weekend, and in some ways went better than I expected. I was invited to spend Thanksgiving weekend at my friend M's father's place out in the Shenandoah Valley, where his family would be doing Thanksgiving, and that worked out very well - it was good to see his family again, I got more caught up on my studies since I didn't have access to the internet, and best of all I actually managed to keep my blood sugar numbers in the green.

Also, when I weighed in this morning, I'd lost almost four pounds. I thought I might have lost weight, but since I'm too big for normal scales, I couldn't be sure.

Well, back to the books.

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