Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009: fresh with no mistakes in it.

i've had so much on my mind to try and put down my thoughts about.... but none of it has been particularly uplifting. not that blog posts need to be super chipper -- but i'd rather they're not always super glum either.

i'd also rather i don't ring in the new year on such a low note with blogman! this is the post where most ppl run down the year.... the lessons they've learned, the people who've helped shape them, best and worst memories of the annum. i'd rather skip the exercise this year. i've been harbouring a sinking feeling that i'm in the exact.same.place as i was this time last year. usually all kinds of progress is self-evident. but this year, if nothing else, i'd say i am more lost. BUT that is the reoccuring theme isn't it! the more we experience and the more we know, the more we realize about how little we really know.

here is to filling the next year living our dreams instead of chasing them. here is to finding even more ways to share our love with the bunnies in our lives. and here is to really, really, really good food.

here is to 2009! happy new year's to you all :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the confusion sets in.

there was a death in the family today. he lived in india, and i grew particularly close to him during my stay. the death was sudden, and a combination of poor health and poor healthcare. when i first heard how serious the situation was, no one could fully explain anything. and i literally mean anything -- the reasons for his sudden demise, an explanation for the bleak prognosis (<1% of brain function), potential for recovery....

it is so odd; any bioethical question that has been posed to me to date, has been based on the assumption of information. deciding whether or not to take someone off life support is based on a summative picture of information, and despite all my training, reading, "professional experience", i have never come across a situation lacking such vital information. and as shocking as the death was, it was perhaps more shocking because some of us invested a lot of energy in ensuring he would survive. he even opened his eyes! there was talk of coming off the ventilator within a week!

and then i hear about 72 hours straight of no dialysis, for a critical patient in ICU with renal failure.... who clearly required constant dialysis. and when the details, however few and far between, are finally flushed out, it is extremely difficult to feel anything but angry. if he had received the care he needed, the care any human deserves, this would not have happened.

i have been bouncing between shock, blind anger and heartbreaking sadness. but for the most part, i am on Dead Inside. so much for moving past that "emotion" :)

the power of distraction is a fantastic coping mechanism, and it was my best friend today. my other weapon of choice -- intense overanalysis -- has also come out full force. there was a family emergency recently; nothing to be concerned about! everything turned out a-okay. but it reminded me of that overused cliche about living each day as though it were our last, blah blah blah. amidst all of my career aspirations to be abroad, it had never crossed my mind that if today were my last, i would want to be RIGHT HERE. surrounded by my loved ones, my immediate family, my nearest and dearest. and no career aspirations are worth that kind of sacrifice. and yes, the family emergency turned out to have a happy ending... but what if it hadn't? it would have changed my world drastically. how does one embrace that possibility in her life plans without living in fear of it? such a fine line. but it was the first time that i had even considered that i might actually want to be here NOW. not a few years from now, not after i complete X, Y and Z.... but now.

and yet, the death today is a clear indicator that my time in india was well spent, and as heartbreaking as it is to admit, was also well timed -- had i gone even 6 months later, i wouldn't have gotten the quality time with him that i was so lucky to get. so my immediate family, many loved ones and my entire All-Star team are here in North America.... and nearly my entire extended family is abroad. and time spent cultivating my relationships here is time not spent cultivating my relationships abroad.

i have never seen this situation so cloudily before. it was always pretty clear: move abroad. when the cancer hit, it became even more clear: no, seriously... enough of the schooling, just move abroad. and now, for the first time, my head and heart are both in a constant state of confusion, BOTH giving me diametrically opposing advice. add to that the protection of my own health, an economic recession that makes jobhunting feel like pulling teeth without anesthesia, and i am utterly confused.

last summer, i was so incapable of planning for the future that i was hellbent on enjoying the present. and oh boy, did i! so much so that i was ignoring all potential consequences at any given moment. it was the birth of the Dark Secrets to My Soul era, and a rather self-destructive way to live life; i was in a place that i hope i never find myself in again. and now, in an effort to swing the pendulum a little closer to normalcy, i have found myself consumed by the details of every.single.decision -- is this what i really want? no, is it what i REALLY want? okay, but seriously, do i want it? and that train of thought lends itself to a different kind of self-destruction, one that is so critical of priorities that it, too, is rooted in fear of the future.

it is almost ironic, actually. i have been so obsessed with choosing my path in a way that i will enjoy each step of life, that while ensuring i do so, i am not sure how much i'm enjoying life!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

chin up, keep muddling through.

lately, i have been asking myself why i ever started blogging to begin with. in truth there were three reasons:
*update numerous people at the same time about my health / whereabouts
*release thoughts and feelings i was having difficulty processing
*prevent myself from entirely shutting the world out during some fairly dark times

in the three years since, my thoughts about blogging have gone through a myriad of changes. sharing thoughts in a public space comes with its challenges, especially if an author is writing to maintain perspective on her life (versus providing movie critiques or political views, which can sometimes be less personal).

i wish to keep my blog public, because i like the check and balance of having to assume that literally anyone is reading my thoughts. to me, private blogs merely create an air of privacy. maybe i just have deeply rooted trust issues, but there is still no guarantee that the only people hearing my thoughts are those invited as readers. so, as someone who has constantly been an oversharer, i would much rather stay real about it and try to draw some boundaries... which, for me, means staying public. i also think it is much more challenging to share difficult thoughts or experiences -- and thereby force ourselves to face them -- than to bury them deep inside. i had promised myself years ago to stay honest and direct about what is on my mind, and making my blog private would be a step in the wrong direction.

what i have been struggling with most about my blog, is the inevitable misinterpretations or assumptions that come along with reading personal entries in a public space. i am not sure if it always existed, has become heightened over the last few years, or if i am simply noticing it for the first time... but miscommunication has become quite a sensitive issue for me. like in all venues for communication, people hear what they want to hear. they see what they want to see. and they read what they want to read. the difficulty with blogs is how little control the blogger has over who can potentially misinterpret posts. if i engage an Auntie at a community function in a discussion, and later discover that 1 of 100 points was taken (incorrectly) to be my underlying premise, that will be incredibly frustrating for me. and yet at the very least, i can know from the onset of a discussion that my audience may completely miscontrue my words. the difficulty with blogging is that literally anyone can make similarly (incorrect) assumptions about my thoughts, frustrations and life. as someone who is rather direct, and sometimes confrontational to a fault, i struggle a great deal with this aspect of blogging.

it started to wear on me so much that i disabled my blog entirely. for months, i had no desire at all to re-post. and once i started feeling the urge again, the thought of individuals misinterpreting my words, especially if as a result of unwarranted judgment on my thoughts or actions, was enough to keep me at bay.

what is bringing me back is, funnily enough, the same three reasons that i ever began blogging. my health is much less precarious these days, but still comes up often enough to warrant updates to all of my loved ones (who are spread out globally!). my whereabouts change on a constant basis, and i have missed my blog's role in letting people know where i am and how i'm doing while i'm there. i am definitely having trouble processing some thoughts and emotions, and my blog has been so good to me in the past on difficult insomnia-filled nights. the lack of sleep is starting to get to me once again, and my BlogMan helps like no other to sort through my ridiculously overworked mind. and although the dark times haven't been entirely cancer-related, they seem to have returned. i have spent a few months feeling unhappier and unhappier, and i have definitely started to shut people out again. knowing that my thoughts are posted up publicly somewhere made it easier to talk to my loved ones during chemo, and i'm hoping it will have the same effect now as well.

soooo, onwards and upwards! a quick update on the numerous happenings of the last few months:
  • i returned from india. it was exhausting and yet amazing to see so many people i had been missing so much. i still miss india daily, but remembering how good it felt to spend time with my loved ones keeps me from dropping everything and hightailing it back :)

  • i came home with low levels of malaria. i was asked to stay in north america and let my body recover. it was also gently suggested that i keep my homebase here and do shorter work abroad. this is the first time in my life i have had to (maybe) accept that i cannot do exactly what i want to do, and the mental adjustment has been slow and painful. i sulked about the suggestion for a solid 2 months, and slowly started looking for jobs here -- in exact tandem with the global economy imploding. great time to be jobhunting, right? i assure you, it is disastrous.

  • i have been travelling within north america an exorbitant amount. i've been to nyc, boston, texas, the bay, and many other places... it has all been worth it! although my hurting bank account might disagree.

  • my sister had an all-star birthday weekend, which ranks among the top weekends of 2008. it was filled with our favourite people, which is feeling more and more precious as we all keep moving farther away from each other. i have known these fools since we were 8 years old, and this year was probably the LEAST we have ever seen each other. and yet, our playtime just keeps getting better and better! this weekend can still make me smile daily -- hooray for us :)

  • i attended one of my closest friend's weddings. it was one of the most sincere events i have attended, and i spent most of the weekend resisting from hugging the bride and groom every time they walked into a room. i am so thankful that i was in north america and could be a part of such a memorable occasion for people i care so much about.

  • 2 of my closest friends are also marrying each other soon, and i am very excited for the occasion. it might be one of the only times where i am actually friends with both parties, and i'm looking forward to being there! again, so happy i am around for the celebration (even if it's not in hawaii anymore, coughcough) :)

  • i am really, really excited about the holidays this year. moreso than i've ever been. i know it's blasphemous to say, but i've missed the snow and the cold. we have so many activities and pasttimes at our disposal that other people only ever read about -- how crazy is that?! i am exciting for some sledding and skating, and i am hoping to try some things out that i haven't tried since i was a child. i love hearing the christmas tunes on the radio, and feeling the tingles of warming up after being ridiculously cold. i love looking at twinkling lights all over a city blanketed with snow (it just doesn't look the same without the snow!). i had the chance to make some christmas ornaments with my sister (which turned out fantastically!), and i'm excited to cross more christmas ideas off my to-do list. and i do believe we have started a new tradition this year of eating s'mores during the holidays, since i am now craving them on a daily basis :)

  • i have spent a solid amount of time feeling like i'm sinking. drowning might be a better word. between re-evaluating my career path, a jobhunt in a global recession, 2 close family members with recently compromised health, and discovering some incredibly deeply rooted anxieties about relationships i had never previously known about... it has been less than pleasant. the silver lining, i have realized, is that my meter has moved off of Dead Inside. while absorbing (and emitting) negative energy is far from how i would like to live my life, it means i am one step closer to absorbing (and emitting) POSITIVE energy! which the Dead Inside setting does not leave room for. it makes me feel excited to feel happy again. not in that, smiling on the outside while feeling torn up inside, way. more in a, smiling from the warm fuzzies radiating from deep inside all the way out, way. i can already tell that blogging is going to be an important step!

happy December, folks. it was going to be my new year's resolution to resurface in the blogosphere... but i thought i would get a headstart. what exactly is so magical about "january 1st" anyway?! December 3rd seemed like as good a time as any :)

here's to keeping stiff upper lips!