Conundrum

A funny thing happened the other day …

But first, the biopsy results are in and it looks like I dodged a bullet. The cancer cells were merely using my thyroid as a staging area. An invasion of my lymphatic system was immanent – which has now been terminated with extreme prejudice. One or two cells may have escaped into the hills, but rest assured we will flush the little buggers out and nuke ‘em.

… back to the funny thing. I’ve been following Susieee Mac’s blog, ‘Don’t be a Hippie … Then and Now’  for a long while. As usual, every time she posts something, I get an email, click on the link and away I read.

Not this time. Google Chrome kept telling me it couldn’t find her. I knew it was lying because I could search for her and she came up on the top of the list every time, but when I clicked on a link, GC (Google Chrome) closed its eyes tight and reiterated that Susie DID NOT EXIST!

I emailed Susieee and asked if she had recently taken on a non-corporeal existence. She checked all the corners of her mama’s wonderful jungle garden and emailed me back to affirm that she was indeed, still-corporeal. What’s more, everyone else on the planet agreed with her – except my GC.

I cleared my cache, rerouted my router, modulated my modem, changed search engines, tried the link on the two other computers in the house, consulted computer clouds, talked to techies – nothing worked.

It is a puzzlement, a paradox, a conundrum, an illogicality, an enigma.

Has anyone else had something like this happen?

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‘For me, writing a novel is like solving a puzzle. But I don’t intend my novels as puzzles. I intend them as invitations to dance’ Mohsin Hamid, writer.

Memento

Hurry to the hospital … wait …

Hurry to fill in the last of the checked and re-re-checked paperwork, and change into a one-size-fits-all (it doesn’t) hospital gown … wait …

Hurry into the operating theatre … wait …

Anesthetic takes effect … Cone of Surrealness finally shatters.

A rodent with razor claws sits at my throat and gnaws at it with poisoned fangs … I’m almost convinced it’s an hallucination.

“What is your pain on a scale of one to ten?” … “Eleven,” I croak.

The rodent continues its feast. I hurry up and wait for whatever painkiller they’re pumping into me to chase it away … wait some more …

I open my eyes to a large wall clock. Time has no meaning, but the second hand transits smoothly through each minute rather than ticking off each second individually. I am grateful, it saves me from counting each agonising one.

The painkillers kick in. My rodent friend disappears.

Bang! … rumble, rumble, clang, rattle. Elevator doors open, close, open again.

Rumble, swerve, clack, click, side-to-side jiggle. Thud-ump … stillness.

Another room, same clock with the sliding second hand. What is my pain level? Seven, with a twist of lemon, … that shifts gears and feels like a two.

… stop … wait …

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THANK YOU, Thank you, to all who called, emailed, and left comments. I am home again, sleeping lots, and healing as I ought. I don’t smell like hospital anymore so Widdercat is speaking to me.

All is well.

 

The Cone of Surrealness Closes In

Cone of Surrealness

Cone of Surrealness

My world has narrowed to a singular event. From this rather unique perspective, all that has gone before fades into a rainbow-ish mist. Anything ahead is obscured by the singularity … slated to occur 7.30am tomorrow morning. I wish this was the human/A.I. singularity, that Vernor Vinge, among others has theorised, but alas, mine is a far more mundane and mortal one.

 Time has behaved differently these last few days too. It has slowed to a stately halt so that I’ve been tempted to get out and offer to push, and then it has moved so fast I’ve barely been able to hang on to its coat-tails.

All my previous encounters with general anesthetic, although bizarrely fascinating (consciously entering oblivion) have been in order to put something in my body to make it work better. This time we’re taking something out to achieve a similar result. For some reason this offends my sense of propriety.

I will see all of you on the other side, where my horizon will again stretch as far as my minds eye can imagine.

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The last word goes to Vernor Vinge, whose Law, I think, applies not only to writing, but to life Herself: (I look forward to the advancement of my plot!)

“All scenes need to accomplish at least two of three things. 1 – Provide background information, 2 – Develop the Characters, and 3 – Advance the plot”Vernor Vinge, professor, scientist, science fiction writer.

The Interview

Don't let the smile fool you!

Don’t let the smile fool you!

I will admit, I was nervous. This twenty minute interview would have a long lasting effect on the rest of my life. Not something to be taken lightly.

I prepared as best I could, but in these situations most things work best when they happen spontaneously. “Don’t over-think it,” I reminded myself as I sat down in the faded, used-to-be-orange-and-green striped chair across a well organised desk from a large woman in an equally faded green uniform.

My interviewer rattled off the prerequisite yes/no questions like a friendly Gatling gun. Thankfully my answers corresponded with the one’s I’d given earlier in the written part of the interview.

She walked behind me and tinkered with some odd smelling machinery, took some rather personal measurements, and sat back down again.

With one be-ringed hand she handed over a booklet full of detailed instructions, asked me if I had any questions then bade me farewell and pointed me in the direction of the main exit doors.

I blinked away my moment of disorientation and waited for my brain to reconnect and remind me where I’d parked my car. Before I drove away, I paused for another moment, of reflection this time.

I knew I’d aced the questions at my pre-op surgical interview at the hospital, but like all interviewees, I did wonder if I got the job!

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“The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm” Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910, social reformer and founder of modern nursing

Cancer: The Convenient Device

Hidden cave at a nearby waterfall

Hidden cave at a nearby waterfall

So, I discovered I had thyroid cancer earlier this year (which I blogged about HERE,  and HERE )

Now we’re back into the ‘wait’ part of hurry-up-and-wait, until we hear from the hospital for a surgery date, predicted to be within the next six weeks, to take out my thyroid. (followed soon thereafter by radiated iodine to kill off any of the little buggers that dodged the scalpel)

UPDATE: The hospital rang today. (figures!) My surgery is scheduled for 2nd July. Let the games begin.

Apart from writing, and household chores, and general living stuff, I’ve been distracting myself by rewatching/watching some favourite TV shows and have come to an interesting conclusion … but first, and by way of introduction …

Today on Strange Ink, Kat Howard talked about ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good Characters’,  and what occurred on this weeks episode of the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’, based on the best selling ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ novels, by George R. R. Martin.

I started to comment there and realised what I was saying dovetails perfectly with this post, so I truncated my comment and saved the rest to go here … with a few edits – of course. I’m a writer, that’s what we do.

Ever since TV series were invented, we’ve been fed this line that heroines/heroes CAN’T die (what would happen to the ratings for one thing) because they have to be in next week’s episode. They’re called ‘anchor characters’ for a reason. What GoT, both the books and the tv show, did is turn that expectation on it’s head. Which I think is a good thing. Good for writers, good for viewers/readers, and good for the visual arts industry in general.

And here’s why. Each week the main character/s ‘MacGyver’ their way out of an impossible situation, or a force majeur to save the day at the last minute, or contracts a fatal illness/has an accident and is saved by a brilliant doctor. The list isn’t exactly endless, but the result is the same.

Writers have to ramp up the tension, not by having the characters succumb to these challenges, but to think up ways for them to survive. And the longer the series lasts the more absurd these devices become. (I’m looking at you, CSI)

(Joss Whedon (Firefly and Buffy, etc) and George R.R. Martin (A Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones) shattered this model when they killed off main characters. Other creators have done this but these two are mainstreaming at the moment, so they’re ‘it’)

Absurd and repetitious. And this is where the cancer thing comes back into the picture. In all of the shows I’m slowly working my way through, there have been at least two episodes per season where cancer has been used as a plot device, either by a main character getting some form of cancer, or a family member/friend dying or miraculously recovering from cancer. (this excludes Greys Anatomy because someone has cancer every third episode – just joking, sorta, kinda)

In my BC era (Before Cancer) I was vaguely aware of this, but now, where I see it everywhere around me, it’s right in my face. I’m reaching a point where I roll my eyes and drawl, “puhleeeeze” when the big ‘C’ wends its weary way across my computer screen. (this reaction might be a tad excessive, but hey, it’s my cancer party and I’ll overreact if I want to)

Which is very reminiscent of one of a writers greatest bug-a-boo’s, the repeated word. We all have ‘em. That word that stands out like a sore thumb when we’re editing. (I’m not going to tell you how many times I removed the word ’that’ from this post before publishing it, but it was in the double digits)

So, to pull all this together – if you write (for TV, novels, comics, cereal ads, etc) in a specific genre, pay attention to your favourite or default storytelling device and throw it out the window. See what else you can come up with. Not for always, but every now and then. The universe will not end – unless that’s what you’re planning … even then try something else and see what happens.

The same goes for life.

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“Passion. It lies in all of us. Sleeping … waiting … and though unwanted, unbidden, it will stir … open it’s jaws and howl. It speaks to us … guides us. Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love … the clarity of hatred … the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow. Empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we’d be truly dead” Joss Whedon

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What, exactly, are they plotting?

Blessed Beltane – Biopsy

Widdershins Mask1st May – Beltane – I had my second biopsy on that golf ball in my thyroid. For those who came in late, in March this year I discovered I had a lump in my thyroid that was cancerous.  I blogged about thecone of surrealness’ of that time and got on with life … until today.

Today was biopsy #2, wherein we hope to find some more definitive ‘anomalous cells’ that will give my throat-cutting guy a better idea of where we go next. It’s a fair bet that my golf ball has to relocate, and sooner rather than later. The rest is up for discussion. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

But here’s an interesting thing. Today I got to see the ultrasound image the biopsy-taking guy used to guide a very long needle into my throat. I’ve seen gazillions of x-rays of my knee in it’s various incarnations, from completely busted up to staples, screws and other hardware, but seeing inside myself in real time (in glorious black-and-white video) was … weird. I gotta be honest, it felt a little squicky, (like a slow-motion punch in the throat) but also absolutely fascinating. I took notes, mentally that is. It’s hard to write in my notebook, flat on my back with a needle in my neck. (It wasn’t really that long, but it felt like it, so therefore it was!)

There’s a story somewhere in this … maybe something about google glass’  that sees in all sorts of different ways, infra-red, untra-violet, see-through, (like non-dangerous ultrasounds or x-rays)  … and what would become of the people who couldn’t afford it … and what would happen to art if people only saw through the google glass? Who would clean the streets if no-one saw the mess? (sounds a bit like that Bruce Willis movie Surrogates’) I’ll work with it.

So, that was my Beltane. A little different, eh?

Blessed Be – Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! … and finish out the night with a bracing cuppa tea!

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P.S. Next post will be Episode 4 of ‘Identical’.

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“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things” Muriel Babery,  from her novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Awards Season

Widdershinsmask Among the ButtercupsWe’ve had five glorious days of Spring sunshine here in the Lower Mainland. This is notable because this area, climatically speaking, is a rainforest!

Lawnmowers are buzzing in the distance like a swarm of Steampunked bees. Daffs are blooming in the garden like there’s no tomorrow. A few geese and ducks have landed on Widderlake as they follow the sun back to their usual haunts far to the North. No trumpeter swans yet, but I have my binoculars at the ready.

Our neighbours must think we’re a little bonkers. Last Autumn Mrs Widders and I regularly stood on our front lawn (too many trees in the back yard to see much of anything) and got kinks in our necks watching huge flocks of ducks, geese, and swans drift across the southern sky.

We haven’t been pooped on yet this year, but I have high hopes! It’s good luck.

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This last week I’ve received two blog-ly awards, which given how blegghh I’ve been feeling about having cancer, have brightened up my days! Combine that with the sunshine and I’ve got a cheery that’s putting the daffs to shame.

First, a ‘Sunshine’ Award (appropriate, yes?) from Leah at AuthorTeaserReadings  

Sunshine Award

As I usually do, I’m going to answer the questions and leave the passing-it-forward to anyone who wishes to play. However, if you wish to uncover a few more juicy morsels about the Widder, (cue dramatic musical overture!) read on.

The usual suspects … erm … questions:

1 – What inspired you to start blogging?

For a writer in particular, blogs are an incredible multi-purpose tool. They teach us the discipline of deadlines, even if they are self-imposed. Now that the world of the gatekeepers is fracturing, it behooves us as writers to blow our own trumpets as loud and tastefully, of course, as we can. A blog as well as a social media platform is the best way to do that. I wanted to have an online platform to not only showcase my writing, but my world as well.

2 – How did you come up with the name for your blog?

It had to be something that included my name, well, my Nom de Voyage, for the above-mentioned branding purposes, had to include something science fiction-y, that was catchy and worked with the graphics I wanted to use.

3 – What is your favourite blog to read?

Heh, heh, I’ll pass on that one. I read a great many for many different reasons; writing ones, publishing/self publishing ones, other writers adventures, science and technology, lesbian ones, political ones, etc … all reflect facets of my life and what interests me.

4 – Tell me about your dream job?

This is it. Writing. I would however, like to generate a significantly higher income in the not-too-distant future.

5 – Is your glass half empty or half full?

Two different perspectives of the same glass, eh? There’s a third option, and that is what’s in the glass. Now there’s an interesting question!

6 – If you could go anywhere for a weeks vacation, where would you go?

Right now, somewhere where there were NO interruptions. Only me and my computer (without an internet connection) so I could finish up a dozen different writing projects that are squishing out in all sorts of challenging directions. And I’d probably stretch it out for a month!

7 – What food can you absolutely not eat?

Raw onions. Love ‘em, but my Anglo-Saxon digestive system refuses to have anything to do with them.

8 – Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

I know it’s not really chocolate, but white chocolate all the way.

9 – How much time do you spend blogging?

I’m going to assume that means how long do I take to write each post – It depends on each one. Sometimes the topic requires a lot of research and I’m a pushover for Wikipedia and Youtube links that link to other links … and an evening has just disappeared! But, on average, about an hour, to write the first draft, and another hour, maybe two, editing and getting the post to look readable.

10 – Do you watch TV – if so, what are some of your favourite shows?

No TV at all, but I do watch some shows via the interwebz. A couple of wonderful Canadian shows, ‘Bomb Girls’  and ‘Lost Girl’. The truly magnificent British drama, ‘Last Tango in Halifax’.  It only had a short 6 episode season in 2012, but they’re starting filming a full season in June this year so hopefully we’ll be seeing episodes by the Fall. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for the ever enchanting ‘Calzona.’ I also occasionally indulge in rewatch (or first-watch if I haven’t seen the show) sprees, the most recent one being Battlestar Galactica’,  the re-imagined one. (I love this link. It goes to a website that’s got lots of fun stuff from both series)

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The Second award – Epic Awesomeness! – from W.R.Woolf and her whimsically titled blog – ‘A Bolg!’

Epically Awesome Award

Share 10 facts about myself:

1 – I’ve lived in three countries of the British Commonwealth.

2 – I am legally married to my wife.

3 – I’m right handed, but I eat left-handed. I can swing a golf club both ways (heh, heh) but never hit the ball.

4 – I taught myself how to knit, crochet, and swim. (not in that order)

5 – I have thyroid cancer, but it’s not going to kill me.

6 – I am a Shaman

7 – I used to play guitar in a band.

8 – I haven’t seen or heard from my family of origin in over twenty-five years.

9 – I have Amarula cream liqueur in my half-full glass.

10 – I am blessed with a wonderful circle of online and offline friends.

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“I never met a chocolate I couldn’t eat” Danielle Steel, novelist