Hot damn, I'm loving my new job.

It's not only the people who, admittedly, rock, nor is it the convenience of being able to walk to work or the wonderful (if slightly insane) customers - it's the books. Specifically, it's the books I get first dibs on at a substantial discount.

Case in point: 'round closing tonight, we opened up a box of new reviewer's copies from some midtown magazine editor. Nestled in the bottom of the box was the sexiest thing ever: a copy of Jeanette Winterson's new novel, Lighthousekeeping. I'd shelved who knows how many copies of it already, but this one caught my eye. It was a British print. It was a first edition. It was in mint condition.

...And it was autographed.

Taking currency conversions into account the book, unsigned, would go for thirty bucks or so new. We'd sell it for fifteen. I'd get it for seven and change. Signed as it is, it should easily go for twice that with its price appreciating over time. I still get it for seven. Once it makes it up to the rare books room, my price would double, but the advantage of working in the basement is the ability to intercept these things before they make it to the vault.

I'm picking it up tomorrow. Can't wait.

If I traded everything - my job, my money, my car, my family, my friends, my skills, my mind, my style, my sexuality, my secrets. Everything. If I traded all those worldly things away – what would I have left? Something very basic – maybe the old fashioned view of character… for a long time – I thought it was more dignified to be able to walk away from the things that matter most. More strong.

I have walked away from many things – family, boyfriends, school. There were bad parts to those – and I just walked away, and never looked back. And moved forward into the future, as if the past never existed. I loved those people – and it hurt me to walk away. But, I didn’t need those people to live – and I proved it. I wasn’t destroyed. I survived and started over.

Sometimes, I fake no ideas and no skills, to see how people treat me. I put a hat on and wear baggy clothes so no one thinks I’m pretty. I go to places where I don’t know a soul. And this keeps me in check – education, skills, sexuality, being part of “something” – I like those things, but I can survive without them

To me it proved that I have a strong enough character to build up a life – but also a strong enough character to live without the comforts. It’s true that nothing lasts forever. And I’m ready for it. Friends and family die, relationships end, looks fade, skills become irrelevant. I’m ready. I have gone through the drills practicing for things to end. Painfully - over and over.

But, this is not the right way to run a life – to live through fear. As a result I have run away from some incredible people where the problems could have been worked out – instead of given up on. And it feels so lonely. It also gets very old to start over as a novice, when I knew I was quite good at something else before. So, it is the self-fulfilling prophesy, in acting on fear – I have created the fearful outcome – everything important to me keeps ending.

So, if you want to take a fool’s advice… work things out with the people you love… work diligently on your skills… don’t walk away from anything without measuring the consequences. Yes, it is strong to be able to take on the world and its harshness on your own. But, luckily, most of us have cushions to protect us. Don’t trade away those cushions. You need them and more importantly, they need you.

Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions

Well, it's been an odd couple of weeks. Christine (grundoon) recovered from the first lot of chemo with few side-effects (she said that the first five days were rather like having the flu) other than nausea and tiredness. And still a full head of hair. We await the comic side effects of some of the anti-nausea drugs (including eye-rolling and uncontrollable restlessness, tongue protrusion, and involuntary movements). These side effects are immediately stopped when you are given diphenhydramine, according to the manufacturer.

There was a wonderful Opus cartoon, in which a treatment for depression leads to unpleasant side effects, so another drug is administered, whose side effects are...you see the point. In the cartoon, the final symptoms were "turning blue, and breaking out in noses", if I recall. If anyone has a copy of this strip (a recent Sunday, I believe), please let me know - it's priceless. It's at http://images.ucomics.com/comics/wpopu/2005/wpopu050403.gif

Which do you want first, the good news, or...?

I, on the other hand, had some bad news from "home" - my house in Nottingham was burgled. At first, it didn't seem that much was missing, but now, I'm beginning to think that it's more serious, and I must try to get more information, and see what is to be recovered. I need to get some of the more important stuff out, and I know that I will be back in UK for a couple of weeks, mid-end of May, just to tie up some loose ends.

The wedding is now only a week away - May 1st! Due to the tiredness and so on, there's been a limit to the organisation we could do. Thankfully, there is a team of dedicated friends doing pretty much all of the background work, so thanks to Caroline, Sam, Jenny, Julie and Jim. And all the rest of you - you know who you are.

Grundy Medical Update

Warning - descriptions of medical treatment upcoming.
If there's one thing no-one loves, it's getting poked with needles, and yet it's one thing that you kind of have to get used to if you're a chemo patient. Or a carer. They take blood samples to make sure your blood cell count is high enough so the chemo drugs don't kill you, then they poke you again to administer the drugs through an IV.

Now pretty much everyone in the medical profession is trained in the art of finding veins and injecting patients, and obviously, the nursing staff at Sutter Davis Hospital's Infusion Centre are too. But it's pretty much inevitable that from time to time, more than one attempt needs to be made to get a good IV set up, or sample taken. All sorts of things can go wrong, from missing the vein altogether, to hitting a valve, and each failed attempt means more time, more pain, more discomfort.

It was rather nice, after the last excursion, to have a chemo session that was relatively painless, trouble-free and above all, shorter. All this thanks to a device known as a "port" (port-a-cath) inserted in the upper chest wall. It's basically a semipermanent IV site, comprised of a catheter leading through the subclavian vein to the vena cava, which is accessed via a self-sealing port just under the skin.

Now all the nurse needs to do is push the IV needle into the port, attach the lines and hey presto! the process can begin. So this time around, there was one small prick rather than several painful attempts, and a three-hour session rather than the previous six-hour grind. It makes a difference, whether you're the one having poisons run into your bloodstream, or the one watching it happen.

The nursing staff are just great. Every time we go there, we say the same thing. I want to just hug them all. Thank you.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

So after this last lot of chemo, Christine's hair started falling out. So after a short discussion, we decided that I should attempt to trim her some (largely so that there would be less hair left to lose, and less mess). Out came the scissors, off came the locks. We had a good laugh as her glory fell. I snipped, she winced, Tessie swept up. It will do, though the back looks like it was a revenge attack rather than a haircut...

We've been looking at wigs and hats and scarves, and wondering what she'll be wearing for the wedding, and thinking flowers. I'm ready for the shock of waking up with a totally hairless woman - after all, it won't just be her head what's bald, but her eyebrows, lashes, and, erm...everything.

Wedding Plans

So the wedding is going ahead. May 1st. Sam (an old friend of Christine's) will be marrying us, my best man will be Jim (another old friend of hers). She has a pretty dress (if it's bad luck to see the dress before the wedding, I'm shot!) and we have dresses for the flower girls. Now all I need is a decent kilt.

I wish you could all be here for the celebration, but there was just no way we could organise dozens of people, and it simply wouldn't have been fair on Caroline to add more. So no nodermeet this time ("maybe our first anniversary", says Christine). No wedding list, no shower, no nothing. Just best wishes for a happy life together. For as long as we can make it.

For those of you who are insistent on sending us stuff, please contact us first. There is stuff that we would like, and do need, but please, don't do anything until you've spoken to us. Oh, and thank you all for your messages of support - each one is precious to us!




(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits

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