tangents & minutiae

musings of one who is easily distracted

Month: December, 2011

Rest and Recovery Addendum

Looking back at previous posts, I realized that I haven’t posted about the results of my biopsy. I have metastatic breast cancer in my right lung, collarbone and lymph nodes. In that moment I went from a “cured” Stage I breast cancer survivor to a Stage IV cancer patient. My oncologist is treating my condition as chronic, rather than terminal, and I started chemotherapy three weeks ago.

As a result, I’ve been hibernating a bit. Recovering from my chemo treatments and right now, from surgery to put a medi-port in so my chemo will be easier.

I really don’t want this to become a space where I recount my “cancer journey” (can I say how much I hate that fucking term?), but I may post more on thoughts about life, love and death.

But today is for curling up on the couch with Cooper and healing.

Waiting for Snow

Lovely, complex “Baroque Pop” song from Julia Holter, Marienbad from her upcoming album Ekstasis (March 2012), which as of now, I cannot wait for. The song is so dreamy with complex, interwoven melodies that it definitely recalls Resnais’ film  Last Year at Marienbad (1961.) 

I remember the first time I saw the film. I was in grad school at UCLA, taking a class in the French New Wave and my husband came with me to all the screenings for the class. We both loved it. Todd thought it was exactly what a FNW film should be, beautiful and incomprehensible, where the mood carries you through the film and there is no solution. I loved the visual formality that created an opulent and entirely artificial environment for equally constructed characters to interact within while confronting chaotic memories and feelings. I loved the mystery of the film and the unresolved melancholy of the characters.

Of late, melancholy has been a larger element of my life. Not in the way I, myself, am a melancholic, but in the sense of a bitter-sweet sense behind happy memories and lovely moments. I think it comes from the fact that I’m terminally ill (though with no expiration date in the foreseeable future.) It makes memories of Todd proposing at the Empire State Building, our honeymoon in Paris, the day we got our corgi Cooper, and all those other things hurt my heart a little. Every little show of love and care from friends and strangers makes me cry a little. I think that is why I keep waiting for snow.

I’m reading Adam Gopnik’s Winter lectures and his discussion of Winter in the Romantic imagination has really resonated with me. Winter is a period of the slumber of death, of the mystery of what lies dormant beneath the snow. It is bare, quiet and melancholy, and as I delve further into this period of treatment, surgery and possibly more surgery, the sense of silence and mystery is particularly appealing to me, so I wait and watch for snow.

One of the happiest moments of my life happened in the snow, which, for a girl who lived the majority of her life in Los Angeles is saying something. Todd and I had been together for a little over a year and he was really helping support me while I was getting my undergrad. He had talked his brother into giving us enough frequent-flyer miles to go to the College Art Association conference in New York. On our second night we took a cab through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a reception and viewing of a show of Lucein Freud paintings. Before we went in to the museum, Todd and I sat on the steps and looked back into the Park. It was magical with glistening trees and pristine snow on the ground. At that moment, I loved Todd more than I ever had before because I knew that everything that was happening was because this beautiful man was in my life. I told him this as we sat there looking at the lights, and he almost cried. These are the memories that make me cry, because I know that one day he’ll tell that story as a widower.

But, he won’t be doing it for a while, hopefully a long while. Until then, I plan to give him a lot more stories to tell.