Siezing the good days

Prowling the streets of Paris (in our dreams)

There are four days per fortnight that I bite the magic bullet of chemotherapy. One full day at the clinic next to a Christmas tree of plastic bags full of pre-meds (meds that counter the side effects of the main meds) and chemo chems, plus iron supplements, etc. Then two days at home during which a small pump that can be hidden in a fanny pack continues to infuse more chemo into my bloodstream. And finally, Sunday, during which I am usually crashed in front of a string of televised sports events with a chemo hangover. It’s a period of low energy and low-grade nausea, no fun but tolerable.

So, needless to say, I am determined to make up for lost time during the rest of my days. Mindy and I have been doing a pretty good job of having fun lately. In August we drove down to San Diego County with my sister Claire to visit my parents, aunt and uncle, and a few friends. While we were there, my dad put the 26-foot trimaran he built a number of years ago into the water and we had a couple of days of great sailing: blue water, sweeping coastline, and plenty of dolphins to guide our way. It was inspiring, though a bit nerve-wracking at moments, watching my 86-year-old dad shuffling around the deck, setting up and breaking down the boat, and skippering to boot. Pretty amazing, actually, that he’s still up for it.

At night my mom put together jigsaw puzzles with Claire and Mindy as Dad and I watched baseball: San Diego, his team, and San Francisco, my team, have been battling for first place in the division for months. We managed to get my mom, also sprightly in her eighties, to go to a chick flick with us: Eat, Pray, Love. She was reluctant at first – the endless string of pearly whites in Julia Roberts’ mouth is off-putting to her. I enjoyed the movie, and especially liked the Balinese healer’s advice to smile from your liver. It’s my new practice.

A few nights ago, we went to a restaurant in Berkeley and 16 of our friends showed up to celebrate my birthday. I felt very blessed looking around that table at all those cherished faces toasting to my health. I’m surrounded by angels wherever I go. Talking to these pals all at once was like wading into a wonderful cross-sampling of cultural creatives: authors, concert musicians, athletes, opera singers, photographers, and designers. One friend in his seventies is suddenly determined to become a jazz pianist and just passed an audition to take an ensemble class at a Berkeley jazz school. Another, in his mid forties, just participating in his first Pro-Am slalom water skiing event. A woman violinist is just back from England where she runs an annual music camp for aspiring young classical players. Hanging around with these people makes me want to increase my IQ – illustriousness quotient. I started writing a new song the very next day.

Last Thursday, Mindy and Ben and I went to the Palace of the Legion of Honor to see the City of Lights exhibit. It was a gorgeous sunny day in our own City of Light, San Francisco. For a couple of hours, we immersed ourselves in the charms of the artistic community of gaslit Paris in the 1890s. The painters, poster makers, and photographers of the time whisked us off into another world. Afterward, M. and I hikes the sun-drenched trail along the bluffs overlooking the Golden Gate. (Note the photo of us wandering the narrow streets of the Left Bank, at least in spirit.)

When old man chemo comes a-courtin’ again, I’ll be amply fortified with memories of good times to help me smile with my liver despite my discomforts.