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Parentheticals

A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.
Tags >> memory

Year End Reflections: 2016 Version

Posted by: julia

Once again I am stealing some time away amidst the familiar familial hurly-burly that is our Stinson New Year’s tradition to do some reflection on the past year and record it for posterity. 2016 will definitely be a memorable year in my book, mostly for purely selfish and personal reasons (helloooo cancer! And also, goodbye!) but also because this past year has definitely felt like a turning point in history, especially with the election of Donald Trump and all the accompanying upheaval in American life. We are certainly living in some interesting times and I am doing my best to stay solid in my values and my determination to keep loving and creating and making the world a better place for everyone.

But before I get too far down the rabbit hole of predictions and solutions for what kind of looking glass country we seem to be dealing with, let me go back to the point of this post, which was to record and reflect on what happened to ME in the year just past (because after all this is my solipsistic storytelling space). With the able assistance of my calendar and my photo log, I ought to be able to at least remember the highlights in vaguely chronological order.

January started off quietly, which was definitely welcome after so much upheaval (cancer surgery and treatments, holiday hoo ha) in the previous months. For my birthday weekend Josh and I got all dressed up and went to the Edwardian Ball in SF for two nights with a bunch of friends and had a terrific time. A few days later we also went to see the Wood Brothers in concert but it turned out to be kind of a bummer show since the band was sick. The week after that I had my first chemo treatment, at which I did not have a terrific time but at least it turned out to be less horrible than I had so fearfully anticipated.


This bounty is no longer quite so largeA year ago today I had my first breast surgery (a lumpectomy and reduction). A week ago today I had what I fervently hope is my last breast surgery (tweaks to finish the DIEP flap reconstruction I had back in June). So I have been this new, smaller-breasted person for a whole year now. It still feels strange and unreal, though I’m finally getting more used to it. Being done with the reconstruction also brings with it a mixed set of feelings: on the one hand, “yay, that’s it, I’m done!”, where I’m happy to finally be through all the trials and tribulations and relieved to be relatively pleased with the results; and yet on the other hand, I also am feeling “oh, that’s it, I’m done?”, where I’m realizing that the form I’ve got now is what I’m going to have for—God willing and the creek don’t rise—the rest of my life. And it isn’t perfect, as it never is, but whatever my minor disappointments, now I must begin the journey back to body acceptance and self-appreciation all over again. Having done body acceptance work slowly but surely for decades already, it’s a little disheartening to have to do it again (and so relatively quickly). Do it I shall, with as much focus on the silver linings and bright sides as I can manage, but today is an anniversary where I mourn, just a little, the way things used to be back before I was a “modified” human.

The other thing that I’ve been mulling over the last few weeks (in between all the election hoo ha and the emotional rollercoaster that has created, which will have to be another post), is the “now what” feeling of existential angst that I mentioned in the last post. Other than the next 5-10 years of prophylactic hormone therapy, I am officially done with the active phase of my treatment. I'm excited about that, oh hell yes I am...but I am also feeling a little discombobulated and lost. I feel like a wild animal in a catch and release program—I got caught, I thought I was going to die, but now here I am thrust back out into the place where I started (more or less) and not sure about how safe it really is anymore or whether I truly belong there. Don’t get me wrong, I vastly prefer it out here to back in captivity, but I’m uncertain about what to do and where to go next. I guess I’m just going to have to put my focus on the first half of the “patient patient” moniker while I move away from the second, and see what this crazy, complicated, contradictory, unpredictable, and ever-interesting universe throws my way next.


Julia's hat on the dash as we waited in the Exodus line

Monday we got up as early as we could and spent three or four hours striking and mooping our own camp area and loading up the van and the Uhaul with all our stuff. We said goodbye to all our remaining camp mates and then Mom, Josh and I caravanned together with Kathy and Anthony to the Exodus line. We were expecting it to take a long time to get out and at first we were happy and perky hanging out in line with our friends and other random folks around us, but after hours and hours and hours of that we got tired (like you do) and cranky. I spent time writing in my journal and listening to BMIR. We didn’t hit pavement until nearly 9pm, which meant that our traditional stop at the Black Bear Diner in Sparks was not going to work (they closed at 10). So we decided to go back to the GSR to get some food (casinos are open all night, after all) and maybe see some other Pinkies there. Once we got into cell range Mom called Dad and we called home and spent a nice long time (maybe an hour?) talking to our eldest (youngest had already gone to bed) about what had been going on for him in the first week of school, which was great.

We got to the GSR around 11 and changed clothes and wiped down in the restroom there and then promptly ran into Alex, Lionessa, MissyKat, Halcyon and Millie. We had a late dinner with Kathy and Anthony and Millie, and then eventually got back on the road around maybe 2am. We were all tired but especially Josh, who’d been driving most of the way. I took over from him for the last hour or so, and had to fight to stay awake, especially when we hit morning rush hour traffic around Vallejo. We got home just before 7am, and the kids were already up and about getting ready for school (though my poor Dad was asleep on the couch waiting for us to get home). It was so great to see the kids (and they were happy to see us too) but it was also great that they left to go to school and we could finally shower and fall into our own comfy bed for a couple hours.


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