Monday, August 26, 2013

This post is full of questions.

Last week, my mother began a new chemotherapy treatment. After having no real therapy for quite a while, the three days of medication really took a toll on her. 

Over the weekend, I asked my sister what she thought my mother will do if the now stronger-than-ever-cancer treatment doesn't work. That's not a question I asked with a song in my heart. She thought mom would be realistic about it, but I told her I wasn't sure. Last week I was talking to my mom about what she wanted me to write in the email I send to our friends and families about her treatment, and my mother said to write, “Thank them for their prayers and support, and to continue to pray that this time the medicine will work.” She choked up when she said it, and I did too.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m letting my opinion of my mother’s Christianity-fueled “magical thinking” cloud my judgment. Maybe I’m the one with the “cup is half empty” theory. I totally realize that I need an attitude adjustment about this. The thing is, it kills me to see my mother sick from chemotherapy. It makes me angry to see the affects being sick has on her. To see her exhausted, and gray, to see her lose her sparkle (but not her edge, not totally). Yes! It pisses me off that she’s being used up this way.

Is it wrong to wonder, what if we stop these toxic treatments and just let things take their own course? Would it be better to be well for six months or whatever it is (and who knows how long she would truly have? Not even her doctor can say; certainly not me) or to be sick for a couple of years? Is the feeling, “This time the medicine will work” greater than “Today I feel good for the first time in ages”? Is it worth it? We keep telling her to fight, to be strong, but what does that really mean? Where does peace of mind come from? From knowing you’re letting medicine and your doctor manage your disease or from knowing you've done all you can? Is "giving up" a failure? 

It doesn't matter what I think because it’s not my decision to make. In the same situation (and please, please, please, to whoever has control over this, may I never be in this situation), what would I do?  

The other day my mom and dad were talking to me about their funeral plans, and about their final resting places (which will be wherever I and my siblings see fit, apparently; that was news I wasn't exactly prepared to get). The whole conversation had a level of hilarity and yet total realism that I wasn't expecting. We could have been talking about where to park the car, if parking the car was funny.

I've been talking a little bit about the things I do and don’t believe in with a friend. These have been interesting, text-based conversations. I don’t say everything I intend to say, and yet, sometimes I say more than I would tell someone, were we actually speaking. And then there are all the things I imply, that I think are clear or obvious. Sometimes I over-clarify, sometimes I even undersell the information I'm sharing. It’s true that I’m prone to over-sharing, and it’s true that I like words in my head but not necessarily in my mouth – but these conversations have been making me think about the difference between the things I really believe, and what I say I believe.

Is that how you know when you have grown up? When you’re consistent in what you think and feel and exhibit in your actions? Or is it when you accept your inconsistencies and failings as part of you? I'm not sure if the ideas at the beginning of this post match the one at the end, or maybe they do. I definitely don't feel like I have the capacity to self-analyze the things I am thinking about, certainly not right now. 

At lunchtime I listened (for the first time in a long time) to the recording that was made at the recital I played in when I was 11 months pregnant. My performance starts out a little off out of tune and has it's wonky parts, and my breaths were ill-timed and so loud... but then there are moments I hear of total sharpness (and I'm not talking about tone) and whatever that quality is that I love about my own playing, that I put out in my performance and somehow had the technical ability, to play exactly how I felt about that piece of music (La Flute de Pan, the first movement, by Jules Moquet), that it has always made me cry to listen to it. Every time I hear it, I cry. And not because I think I'm so great or that I'm trying to say that I performed the piece brilliantly. I totally didn't. I think that's what makes me cry, that I did a pretty good job and finally sort of heard what it means to be expressive. This is a totally unbalanced paragraph that I should revise, but I think I won't. I've been trying to figure out how to work in an extra walk or bike ride and not feel guilty about not spending that time with my son, and though I believe the goal of losing weight and being healthy is worthwhile, in listening to my own totally imperfect performance and yet hearing that thing that I love about music, what I really should be doing is getting in some practice time on a regular basis. Maybe that, the sound, the method, the repetitive exercise, will help me clear my mind and feel better about things that I can't control. Isn't that what all my questioning is about, anyway? I think it is, actually. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fed up with ThredUP

A couple of months ago I heard about this great place called ThredUP, which recycles gently used clothing and then sells them (discounted) on the internet. And, you can send in your stuff for cash or credit. It sounded great. I did a little shopping, found some cute stuff, and then I cleaned my closet and sent in a bag. This was in June.

About three weeks after sending my bag, I received an email from "James Reinhart, CEO" that they were experiencing a lot of interest and so processing my bag had been delayed, but that I could expect to receive my payout by August 4.

Hey, a month and a half to process 1 bag seemed a little crazy, but it was nice to receive an email from the CEO, so whatever, I waited. Also, I kind of figured they were functioning on the "underpromise, overdeliver" theory, so I totally expected, based on the fast turnaround on my order, that I would hear from them sooner. If you're apologizing for a delay and giving an estimated date to fulfill your promise, why not tack on an extra week anyway? Then when you do it sooner, won't the customer be thrilled to receive an answer sooner than you said? Maybe I just expect people to work faster when they know they're behind?

However... August 4 was Monday. I haven't received my payout. I emailed them on Wednesday, with no response. Not even an "we received your email and will get back to you as soon as we can" (I know those emails are autoreplies; still, it would have been nice). I emailed again yesterday, early: no response. I went online today and checked my account on their website; still no payout information. I tried chatting with them via their "Need Help?" link, and hey guess what? No agents are available right now. Right now! It's 10 a.m., right now, dudes, and you're in San Francisco. Where is everybody? It's a little early for Ghiradelli ice cream.

I also left a message (the line, of course, is not staffed by a live person). I'm starting to get worried. Some of the clothes in that bag were high-end things that I didn't want to give to the Salvation Army, though now I'm thinking the tax write off would've been better. Where did they go? My clothes, the people at ThredUP?

Of course, doing a "thredUp review" search now has revealed that they have a history of poor customer service, which (obviously) I think sucks. It's a great idea, and a good way to get nice, gently used clothing. I really liked the things I bought. I'd also really like for them to honor their commitment.

I'll post an update from them if I ever hear anything. For now I suspect I can kiss those clothes goodbye.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Panic at the (aquarium)

This past weekend, we went up north for a family reunion. We visited Santa Cruz, Aptos, Monterey, and Watsonville. We've been going every year for about five years. We had a great time. It's so nice up there, and every year my family grows more beautiful.

On Sunday, before we came home, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was incredibly crowded. J. loved it. I've been there before but never in August. It was insane. After we’d been there for a while I left J. and Patrick at the bat ray exhibit to find a bathroom, and on the way back to them, I had a panic attack. It took me by surprise. It's never happened before.

(Though, after in retrospect, I have had major coughing fits in crowded situations - Dodger games, movie theaters - or places where I felt I could not easily get out. I don't know if this is related. Nothing to this extreme has ever happened, though.)

The restrooms are outside of the main exhibits, by a little cafe. In order to get back to where Patrick and J. were, I had to go back through the dark, incredibly crowded exhibits, and I couldn't do it. It was different because we’d gotten to the place I left them from another part of the aquarium, so I didn't recognize anything. I kept texting Patrick to come out and get me, but his phone died. It sounds dramatic, but I’m not exaggerating, I was literally scared to go back in. My body was hot, especially my head. It was so weird. I actually walked a few feet into the exhibits, felt the crowd around me in the dark, and had to walk back out again. I sat down on a bench outside of the exhibits. I got teary. I felt so stupid. When Patrick didn't answer my texts or calls, I tried emailing another friend to see if they could talk to me and help calm me down, but they couldn't talk.  

Finally I walked up to someone working there and like a 5 year old who had lost her mommy, asked for help. She was incredibly kind, and drew a line back to the bat rays on a map for me. It took me at least a half hour to get it together. I was pissed that Patrick didn't come out to find me (later he said he didn't want to leave the last place we had been, which makes sense, logically, but didn't really do it for me in the moment), and when I finally got to him, we had a bit of a fight. Then I just shut up and we left. 

J. fell asleep in my arms on the way back to the car. We spent about 3 hours there so it was fine. We need to talk about this more, because we didn't handle it well, either one of us. I should have known something was up with me because Saturday night, we left the party for a little while with my brothers and Dan’s partner Joe to go to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which was also very crowded. There was a point where there were so many people, I just couldn’t go any further, so Dan, Joe, Patrick and J. kept walking, and me and Andy hung out and looked at the beach. It seemed so obvious to me that there were just too many people, but we were able to get away from that, and I had someone with me. It worked out.

Yesterday I was talking to a co-worker about this. I know that she has some issues with speaking in public and we'd sort of talked about that before, so I felt like she would know what I was saying. She was totally sympathetic and sweet about it. We were talking out in the hallway, by the elevator, and while I was telling her the story, I felt a tingle on the skin on the back of my neck. I guess now I know what it feels like when your "hair stands on end." It was such an odd sensation.

I've talked about it now with a couple of people, and they were all nice about it. One was my boss, and she said that this used to happen to her mother all the time, and then we laughed about all the things our moms did when we were little that used to annoy us that are now happening to us. Is that all this is? Age? I don't know. I need to think about it some more, and figure it out.

I took the day off today to relax and hang out. I'm watching "Grosse Point Blank," the movie with John Cusack (playing an assassin) and Minnie Driver. I've seen it before, but I'm loving it so far. I think I'll make a bowl of popcorn and go watch on my iPad in the bedroom. Maybe take a nap. Maybe think about things; maybe not.