Wednesday, January 3, 2007


I. Ate. So. Much. Can't. Hold in. Stomach. The nurses warned me that some patients reach a point where their appetite decides to turn on. Yeah, I'm there. I had like, two, three ish dinners. Healthy, mostly, but still. Lots of food. I suppose that's good though, better than not eating anyway.

So, the good news. My doctor promised to sneak me outside today. He finally came through, around 6:30 pm. It was dark outside. But it was outside. I got to walk around my building. It sounds lame, but I have been inside for 20 straight days. I was willing to take whatever I could get. Gown, mask, and gloves, yes, but it was outside. I felt air. I felt wind. Oh man. So that was a good thing.

The thing is, the "sneak out" couldn't have come at a better time. I pretty much reached my breaking point last night and during the day today. Couple reasons: Last night, I read White Oleander, Janet Fitch's first novel. So, firstly, this woman is the most amazing author I have read in a good long while. Her language is so beautiful. Just about every word that I read last night cut me straight through, seared my emotions, left my heart bleeding. It also made me terribly depressed because I realized that I have nowhere near the intelligence nor the command of the English language that this woman has, the ability to write engaging and beautiful prose. And then I realized that's why I'm going to school and majoring in English. So I can study these authors and eventually master my own writing style that other people will want to read. And Then I remembered that I'm not going back to school until September. And then I got sad. And this was at about, um, 4:00 in the morning. And then during the day today, I finished her book. I recommend it to everyone. It's fantastic. But pretty much, everything just snowballed in my head. I thought about how hard I worked first semester, school and non, how at the time I was so happy doing it. I was so exhausted, but I was doing what I wanted. I was working, doing well in school, had friends I saw occasionally, living in Boston. But then it stopped. And here I am, unsure why I worked so hard. What was the point? I have a sick camera, okay, that's cool, but I would have gotten it eventually. I'm trying not to let myself think that if I hadn't pushed myself so hard, I wouldn't have gotten sick. Because that's crap. I didn't give myself cancer. It eventually would have popped up, just possibly later. But what would have happened if I hadn't worked so hard? Gah. These are terrible things to think, because they don't have answers. So then I got to go outside. I got to walk around. And it cleared my mind a bit. I still don't have any answers, but I'm a little more okay with the questions now. There's nothing I can do about first semester now. I'm in a good place to start the school year again in the fall. What's going to happen is going to happen. There's a good probability that I'll go back to Boston and work myself too hard again, but that's who I am. I push myself to my limits because I can, because I need to. And that's what's been up today. My blood cell counts are all going up. I'm doing really well, in terms of recovery. I should be out of here in 10 days. Okay. One day at a time. Let's go.


Megan Amanda Steffen said...

"But what would have happened if I hadn't worked so hard?"

You know this answer. You would have been bored. Because you're Caroline and you have to be doing something useful and constructive to feel healthy. And then your cancer would have "popped up" and you would have gone to the hospital and you would have become even more bored because you wouldn't have had anything to look forward to once you got out.

I feel like your cancer and your work ethic are entirely unrelated except for the fact that the latter will help you fight (with little boxing gloves [red ones, the cancer has gross whit ones that are stained with what we hope is urine]) the former.

I know you took a whole class on this and my conception of it is probably misled, but in ninth grade my spunky teacher from Singapore defined tragedy as the loss of human potential. Five years later, I feel like it's a little more complex than that; I feel like for something to be truly tragic, the loss has to be triggered by a conscious act, a human flaw that could be fixed but isn't out of stubbornness. I don't worry about your life becoming a tragic story because I don't think you have the ability to consciously allow yourself to flounder and waste opportunities or potential. You've always struck me as the type of person who is flexible, who is willing to work--even too hard--to accomplish goals.

So to put it succinctly for those who were patient enough to read through the ramblings, I think you worked so hard because your work itself was the ends and not the means. After living with you for, well, I'm going to call it a year and a half, I really don't think you know how to live any other way. I also don't think that there's anything wrong with that. You told me you got through high school by looking forward to things, and now you get to look forward to going back to the work. It's like you said: "I push myself to my limits because I can, because I need to."

You're Caroline. It's how you do.

PS: I'm working on a full-on critique of your poem. If you want quicker responses, you can check out (the www is important in this case). It's the poetry site where I used to get crits. It's kind of died in the past couple months, but if you start posting, I'll start posting again and maybe they'll get some new blood and it'll start a revolution! It's amazing how much more I wrote once I knew someone would read it. I'll let you guess which fragster is me.

baps said...

First of all, this is a day belated because I fell a day behind on my blog reading. But there are a few things I want to say!
1) If anything, I think your hard work just empowered you more, because really, even though your life focus isn't currently academic, athletic, or any other of the normal workings of life, this fight right now is still HARD work in sooo many ways. And you are doing absolutely incredible. You are so admirable.

Succeeding must make you happy or else you wouldn't have the "I won't settle" hard work ethic that you do. So don't settle, keep going. Run with it.

2) Yes, Fitch's prose are quite beautiful (though I've only read bits and pieces) and anyone would feel extremely gifted to be able to write beautifully like her. But let's compare her to other authors. J.K. Rowling for example, as a COMPLETELY different kind of writing style. It is not beautiful prose, but yet she sells millions of books, many more than Fitch, I'm sure. Point being, you are a fantastic writer, you have your own style, and there are people out there who are bound to love it. I do! :)

Yeah, ok, that's it!