No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Meet my meningioma

It just keeps getting better.
That's a touch of sarcasm, in case you didn't detect it. I know, imagine that, me being sarcastic.

A meningioma.
That's what they found in my brain. It's a small little tumor of the meninges, which is the tissue that covers the brain. And it has taken up residence in my frontal lobe, which probably makes it sound worse than it hopefully is. So all those times I told myself, "Oh, don't worry, it's all in your head." I was right. It really was all in my head.

Literally. In. My. Head.

It's a small one, thankfully, only 1 cm wide, by 1 cm tall, by 1/2 cm thick. It's at the base of my left frontal lobe. And most likely it is benign. So there's that. I mean, I'd much rather the doctors say "most likely benign" than any of the alternatives. I mean, can I get a witness?!

And there's a cyst which has probably been there since birth, they said. Mr. Cyst is sitting on my right temporal lobe. Which probably explains my seizures. Why previous doctors didn't find this cyst is beyond me. But there it sits on my MRI, pretty as a penny, shouting out, "here I am!"

Oh, brain of mine, you so cray-cray!

So tallying up all the stuff, The Wifester and I, in our infinite wisdom, decided that this previously undiscovered gene mutation that I have is definitely responsible for all of my ailments: vision loss, seizures, migraines, and pfft, whatever else is bothering me on any given day such as allergies, hives, asthma, tummy trouble, you name it. Speaking of naming things, they'll probably want to name some new syndrome after me, I mean, of course they will! Why wouldn't they? Right?
You may read one day about Fortune Cookie's Syndrome, and then you'll know that you heard all about it here first. You'll look so cool and in the know. And you'll be able to say, "Oh, I know Fortune Cookies. The Fortune Cookies." And women will swoon and men will feel jealousy and envy and wish they could boast about such accomplishments in life.
You're welcome.

So, in full disclosure, I don't really have all of the info. on it just yet, other than we'll probably just monitor it and see if it grows before committing to any plan of action. I have to go in and see the neurologist on the 8th of October, and we'll talk about it then. So I'll probably be blogging about it shortly thereafter.

Until then, I'm gonna enjoy doing crazy, erratic things just for the hell of it, then I'll blame it all on my meningioma. Doesn't that sound cute? My meningioma. Kinda like My Pony, only different. I mean, if you gotta have a brain tumor, I guess this is the one to hope for compared to the other options, and then once you do have it you might as well have fun with it, right? I mean, what good's a brain tumor if you can't use it as an excuse for your inappropriate behavior?

Friday, September 13, 2013


It took me a really, really long time to realize that stuff is just, well...stuff. Whether you're talking about items, possessions, emotions...doesn't matter, it's all the same. It's just stuff. And the more I try to hold on to that stuff, the less I enjoy it. Letting it go is so much easier, and honestly, less exhausting. At some point I realized that stuff isn't worth what I thought it was after I've ripped it to shreds trying to hang on to it. And I'm so glad to know that now. People tell me all the time to hang on to what's mine, to "never let go of (fill in the blank) or to never forget (insert incident). Maybe those people enjoy the grasping and clinging and the feeling of "It's MINE! All MINE!!" But I don't. I figure if someone is trying to take that from me, they probably need it way more than I do. Let them have it. I mean, not my life. Come on. Let's be real. But mere possessions? Resentments? Meh. That's just stuff. I'd rather replace them with shiny, new things. Someone took my earrings? I guess they really needed them to feel pretty. I did a good deed. Someone took my mate? Good luck with em', I say, because obviously, you're gonna need it. Someone took the credit for my work, my project and went to the boss and got a big bonus for it? Okay, I'm not gonna lie, that one did piss me off enough to lose my really, really good job over it. But eventually I came to the realization that they did what I should have done, when I should have done it. That really was my own bad. So, someone took my sense of self-confidence? That's on me to regain it. They never could have taken it without my consent to begin with.
See what I mean? Stuff is just stuff. Let it go. Stop harboring all that angst and desperation that is needed for holding on. Just. Let. Go.
Sometimes its easier to do than other times. That's when I come here and write about it- like about birthday cards and such. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to remember how much better it feels to just let go. That's okay. I'm not perfect. I let go of trying to be that a long time ago. And you know what? I'm so much happier for it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why I'll never forget 9/11

"You'd better come see the TV."
"One of the Twin Towers just got hit by a plane or better come down here and look at this."
I pulled the covers away from my face and wiped the sleep from my eyes, letting the information marinate a bit. I was stunned and I think in shock a little.
"What do you mean a plane hit the Twin Towers? That can't even happ..."
"It did, or something did. Come see!"
I rolled out of bed and descended the stairs to find Liliana and her youngest son huddled around the television, with a look of shock and terror on their faces. I knew instantly why she was more mortified than anyone else in the room: her oldest son was out of the country, visiting their family in Italy, and at a time like this, you just want your family by your side, and she certainly wanted her son to be safely home, with her.
My own family was 3000 miles away, and on rocky ground with me, barely on speaking terms, and still I wanted nothing more than to run to their side and hug them.

As I poured my coffee and staggered my way toward the TV, I heard Liliana saying "Oh! My GOD, look at..."
That's when I saw it. The second plane hit. My knees buckled and my head spun. Did I just see what I think I just saw?
I did.
I had to set my coffee down and wipe my eyes, trying to discern if I was dreaming or hallucinating or, if this was, in fact, actually happening.

From that moment on, my life has forever been changed.

There's a pre-9/11 America, and a post-9/11 America. That's a given, but what isn't often talked about is how our individual lives changed on that day.
I know mine did. My outlook, my thought process, my appreciation for those I love and for those who I don't even know has grown more than I can possibly measure or express with mere words.
Before September 11, 2001, I never thought that I would live to see an attack of that magnitude on our own soil, with our own machinery even.
Before September 11, 2001, I never thought that my country would return to such paranoia, discrimination, and prejudice as that which we fought so hard to overcome in the 60's.

I remember sitting there at work later in the day, eyes glued to the TV instead of the medication cart, holding a coworker's hand and saying, "It's gonna be OK" knowing, that awful, deep inside your gut kind of knowing, that it definitely was NOT going to be OK.
And it wasn't.

We had another coworker there that day, sitting on the other side of Linda, holding her other hand... She was from Bali. She was a Muslim. I had never met anyone from Bali before, and for some reason it surprised me that she was Muslim. I guess I had just never thought about those things, like what religion is practiced in certain areas of the globe.

And we weren't thinking about them that day either. Sakti sat there with Linda, holding her hand, crying, praying...asking Allah to bring Linda's father to her safely. We all watched helplessly while Linda tried and tried again to call her father's cell phone, home phone, office...all to no avail. It was a horrible day for everyone, and I can only imagine what it must have been like for Linda.

I can't possibly imagine what the years since have been like for either Linda or Satki...

I saw people mistaking (insert various ethnicity here) for "A-rabs" and yelling foul, disgusting and obscene things at them. I saw some of the worst behavior I've ever witnessed in my lifetime.

I also saw some of the most beautiful displays of humanity.
The pendulum swung fully both ways in the days following the attacks.
On the day after, September 12, 2001, my then girlfriend and I rode around Sacramento and saw people standing on every corner holding candlelight vigils. Strangers holding hands and holding candles and waving flags and blotting tears.

I saw children collect water, canned goods, supplies of all sorts to send to the rescue crews.

This was indeed, a day that will stay in my memory and always illicit those thick, rigid goosebumps when ever mentioned. It is a single day, a horrific event that has helped to shape who I am and who I will be for the rest of my life.

And Sakti stays in my mind today, too. Of all my coworkers, she was the one who always reached out to anyone who suffered with the most genuine, sincere, and heartfelt empathy. She was the one who never spoke harsh words about anyone else, or at least if she did, we never heard them. She was the one who never complained about how much work there was to be done. She just did it. And she was the one who never engaged in any of the numerous debates that occurred within those walls, she simply walked into another room and prayed. Sakti left an impression on me. I always respected and admired her for her gentle spirit, her caring nature, and her ability to maintain composure. She asked me once, weeks or months maybe before the 9/11 attacks, if I too prayed to Allah, and I told her I prayed to no god. She smiled and said to me,
"That's OK, Allah knows you have love in your heart."
And for her, that was enough. She accepted me and my lack of religion as is...and we forged a friendship that was based on mutual respect and trust. I know a few "Christians" who could learn a thing or two about the Golden Rule and loving thy neighbor from Sakti.

I don't know what ever happened to my Balinese friend, but wherever she is, I hope that she is happy, healthy, and not suffering the effects of the viscous Islamophobia that has plagued this country in the time between then and now. She never judge me, or anyone else, and I hope she is being returned the same courtesy.

How did September 11th change you?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Opossums vs. Chipmunks

Do black bears get pissed off at deer and wage all out war to secure their territory? Do the opossums think the chipmunks are infidels? Do the bats and the woodpeckers have different gods with different philosophies? Have any of the frogs ever revolted against the snakes en masse?
I don't know when war is ever the appropriate answer.
I don't know when it is okay to intervene and when we should mind our own business.
I don't know why it is that we must do something now, but didn't do anything when 500,000 + people were massacred in Rwanda for no other reason than belonging to the "wrong" ethnic group. No one is striking missiles against Joseph Kony. No one batted an eye when The Rohingya were forced out of their homeland, denied citizenship status and were persecuted and dehumanized. So what makes this situation any different?
I don't know. I don't get why people can't just get along. I don't know why we teach children that fighting is wrong, and to talk out their differences, but then as adults we hand them guns and send them off to war.
I don't know. I don't understand and I don't think I ever will.