Saturday, May 12, 2007

A kind word

I took myself to a matinee of "Year of the dog" this weekend. Didn’t love it, but if a movie continues to make you think for hours after, in my book that's a good movie-going experience. The plot took several odd, long-way 'round moments before coming to its natural and not-entirely-unexpected-really-the-only-logical-conclusion, and it ventured a bit far into crazy dog lady territory than lonesome soul finding her passion.

However, a moment stands out. Molly Shannon's character announces she's become a vegan. She says (and I'm paraphrasing), "I never had a word to describe me. It feels nice". So, of course, it made me think of my word. Or words. One, two or a few to instantly express who we are and make us feel “part” of something (or, sadly, disparate).


It's the first word that popped in me head. But that’s just about work. I could say “writer” (sounds more romantic).

Then I get stuck. I bet most choose parent, husband or wife, none if which is me. Some of my words aren’t so kind.


I should think of the words by which I'd (likely) be eulogized. The words of how others see me.

Very funny

Perhaps that’s my message from the movie, albeit coming about in my own odd, long way ‘round; open my ears to the good words (which are too often to quiet) and not so much the bad that I repeat like Rainman inside my own head.

Doing so would be very Brave.

Friday, May 4, 2007


A friend of mine, a beautiful, vibrant, active and strong woman of 54, was diagnosed with cancer last month. Last week, she had both her uterus and bladder removed. Once she heals from surgery, she'll begin radiation and chemotherapy for the cancerous cells found in her lymph nodes. She now wears an external bag to relieve herself and always will.

Statistics show one in three people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer. So I guess, really, she was just the odd girl out. She worked for years at the Rocky Flats nuclear power plant. She did manual labor on the assembly line. Often times, the parts she lifted and carried were too heavy to hold at a 45 degree angle on her forearms. Instead, she carried them lower, with her arms extended, across her lower abdomen. They told her it was okay.

Yesterday, the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, a federal panel, delayed action on a petition filed by former employees for compensation and health benefits, " to allow coverage for only a limited number of workers exposed to neutron radiation between 1952 and 1958." (The Denver Post).

My friend didn't make the meeting. She's not walking much yet.

Over coffee this morning, we talked about her situation. As part of a younger generation, I couldn’t fully comprehend why someone would put themselves in harms way for a paycheck for years, if not decades. Any place you’re required to wear a protective suit poses a certain amount of risk.

Sounds like I’m blaming. I’m not. I’m grateful, really. Grateful I got myself an education that resulted in a career where the biggest health concern is (perhaps) carpal tunnel resulting from long hours on the laptop. Grateful that I don’t expect, never did, my employer to take care of me short or long-term. I don’t expect retirement, I plan and budget for it. You don't plan for cancer, though.

I hope my friend responds well to treatment and recovers enough to enjoy her retirement. Big price to pay for a nine-to-five.

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