Friday, July 07, 2006

7.07.06, Paradoxical Necessity

BTW, DZD: In case I don't grab a phone in timely fashion today, happy birthday to you Ms. One more year and you'll be blessed no doubt with some numerological gift that comes from 7's, maybe you should head to Reno and drop some nickels next time. For now, happiness and love.

For me, Franky Scale: a wavering from 6 to 7. The nausea is much better today — yesterday kicked my ass, to put it plainly, and I decided to heed the voice that advocates severe napping. Restorative sleep therapy I think it's called. During these second and third days after the IV chemo I've been trying to take this pill called zofran, trying means "remembering to." Part of me, if it's possible to have some Depression-era attitudes about money that might have been passed to me from my parents, that's what the part is, hesitates when I'm about to pop a zofran. Even on the cheap side of the agreement between my insurance company and CuraScript, they cost something like $59 a pill. Almost enough to make you choke on it. They are supposed to help with nausea for twelve hours though and they seem to work all right. Too, I've been eating more ginger candy (thanks to sender), which does help in the short term, when it kind of wells up in your throat in those sudden moments. There's also compazine, metoclopramide, and lorazepam (under the tongue for fast relief, or something like that).

The paradox alluded to above has to do with "work" — that which you get paid for. I had to go into school today to seem friendly, persuasive, and intelligent (tall order all at one time) with a group of interviewers from Korea who are deciding whether my nameless university in Seattle will be awarded a substantial chunk of money for a special Korean Studies center grant. Doing my part, I figured. Plus they asked me to come out for it. They wanted to tour a special library exhibit we're doing on rare books from the "Liberation Space" period of 1945-1950, when Korea was actually one Korea and for a few years of the five the country was yet to be divided or occupied in North or South by larger imperial interests. It's the one period in the 20th century when the Koreans had a shot at their "own voice," and I wrote the catalog essay for the exhibit so I had a minor role to perform. Our librarian kindly told me how pale I looked, however, but perhaps not everyone saw what she saw. (And I ran into a member of my dept who hasn't seen me in two months and thinks I look like ever before, which means either "good" or at least "normal" — more evidence that in reality I'm doing well with side effects.)

The oddity was how getting out for such a meeting and going through the formal work motions seems to have some positive distraction aspects to it. On the other obvious hand, it's not always a joy to get back out to work. Then, too, the unpleasant realization I think most of us would have when you're forced to take account of "your life" that your work has been Work and a necessity for most of us, that it's not always the dream some people assume it is. The grass always being greener. Like "summers off" and similar myths about academic life. Yes, summers off, if you count "off time" as those three months when you need to publish articles and try to finish book manuscripts. Still, there's something therapeutic about it. I mean, if you're not working, what will you do? That's another surprising realization in "times like these."

So many people have encouraged me, with the best of intentions, to go do that thing you've always wanted to do! Have you ever really sat down to think that through? Do you really have one thing, or a few things, you've just always wanted to do? If I just do X, then my life will be complete! It seems that life's winding down is more mundane than dramatic, a tougher piece of information to swallow I think. I'm of the mind now that it doesn't really work that way, that the One Thing will make you complete. Rather you're faced with everything you have managed to do, to date and that's about it, and you get to ask yourself, "Is this enough?" And you're forced to answer, or at least consider seriously, "It may not matter, because this is what's been done." So work and other paradoxical necessities might not hold all the answers and yet they might still hold a primary structuring place in our lives.

Thoughts to end the week with, or to start the weekend with. You choose.

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