Saturday, August 11, 2012

I’ll Be the Judge of That

I haven’t gotten to be the judge of anything lately (except everyone my eye falls on), but hope to soon, because this is one of my favorite things to say.

After I received the Employment Development Department’s directive to attend the Initial Assistance Workshop and sent them an email saying I’m already getting job search assistance from my former employer, I received an answer which was not crystal clear, but I think the gist of it was, “You might or might not be getting such services, but we’ll be the judge of that.” (Thus awakening my desire to judge something.) It also said that one option was to just not make a claim for the week containing the workshop (this past week), so I did that. That is, didn’t do that.

A few weeks ago, about a month after my six-month mammogram, I started to have some pain in the breast that was treated for cancer (i.e., DCIS), some of it burning, some of it tending toward the excruciating. I called my surgeon, Dr. P., and he said he suspects it’s due to the periodic hormonal surge, though he said they don’t know why hormones cause extra pain in breasts that have undergone surgery. This appears to be a known phenomenon. He also said that breasts that have undergone surgery and radiation can have flare-ups of pain for an indefinite span of time, and he said if it still hurt in a week, to call him back.

I consulted breastcancer.org, and learned that sometimes this pain lasts forever, and doesn’t necessarily get a sympathetic response one’s surgeon.

It did still hurt in a week, so I spoke with Dr. P. again and he said if the pain waxes and wanes, which it does, it is likely to eventually go away, and he claimed this kind of pain has nothing to do with heightened recurrence risk. After hearing Ellen Langer, the author of Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility, on the radio, I decided just to notice when the pain is there and not, and in fact, it’s hardly ever there. It’s easy to think, “I have a pain! I’m stuck with this pain,” but in fact, it could be that most of the time, we don’t have a pain. Most of the time, I don’t have a pain.

However, when I do have a pain, it’s probably because of a surge of the exact hormones that also encourage the growth of cancer (mine was estrogen and progesterone positive), so that’s a little gloomy. It will be a relief when that is done altogether (and, yes, why didn’t I have my ovaries plucked out when I had the chance?).

This past Wednesday I had a phone interview for the full-time position at my former company. I spoke with a very nice recruiter for 20 minutes or so, and was impressed with her ability to ask meaningful questions regarding my past jobs, particularly since she has to do the same for probably many, many different positions.

I was able to force myself not to say, “Aren’t you guys making a colossal mistake even interviewing me?” and did my best to sell myself (why not?), except that I did say that the things I have implemented have been for particular groups, not for the entire enterprise, and when she asked about my analyzing business solutions, I clarified that they were technical solutions, not business solutions. I know nothing about business.

I imagine that’s the end of that, but it was extremely worthwhile preparing for this second interview. Preparing for the first one was painful and took a long time. It went much faster for the second one and now I’m closing in on a checklist/process which should come in handy.

In the evening, C. and I read together at his place for a while, and then had dinner at Radio Habana. My vegetarian plate consisted of a runny puddle of black beans, a mound of perfectly cooked yellow rice, and a salad of greens that were slightly past their prime and considerably over-salted, so that may be my last visit there, though the décor is very interesting and I liked the down-to-earth proprietress.

Toward the end of my walk on Thursday, I went by C.’s and kept him company while he readied a couple of his poetry books to mail, and then we walked to the post office. He went to a class at the Zen Center and after he returned, we met at Esperpento.

Yesterday I got a haircut and did laundry and C. and I went to Café La Boheme for dinner (lentil soup) in the evening. We sat with a couple of acquaintances of his, including a really nice woman named Hilma. At some point, C. stood up to sing a song and I said, “I have to go to the bathroom,” which Hilma thought was hilarious.

One half hour after C. and I returned to our respective houses, there was a bit of a giant upheaval on the phone. I used somewhat stern language, concluding with “Don’t call me,” which struck me later as kind of cheesy—just because you’re breaking up doesn’t mean you have to act like you’re on Jersey Shore.

I thought this morning of Howie, who I know would say, “You have the tools you need to get through this.” Noticing when I have drifted into the imaginary past or future seems to be helping. I can ask myself, “What is my actual experience?” and investigate: What is this like? What is it like to be sad? What do I feel where? What is truly happening, once I stop telling myself a story about it?

Probably the single best piece of advice I’ve ever encountered is this: do the next thing.

I also this morning received the sage advice of Carol Joy, who observed that all breakups are painful for both parties, but there are also some tried and true ways to make them worse, including anything that prolongs the process, so she strongly advised that there be no further contact before I leave for my retreat on Monday. I can scarcely think of driving away without talking to C. again without feeling slightly panicked, but then it is time to refer to the clause about the imaginary future. When I’m actually driving away, I’ll see what it’s like. Right now I’m sitting in my desk chair, typing—what is this like?

Margaux also spoke convincingly about the merits of going through this just once; not reuniting and breaking up over and over, only to have the same result in the end, but after lots more anguish.
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