Category Archives: Coping

Has it really been that long?

I can’t believe my last post was on March 7—I knew it had been awhile since I’d written but yikes! I would like to apologize to those of you who may have worried in the absence of an update. The good news is, it’s all good news!

Way back in April I quietly marked the ten year anniversary of my diagnosis with NSCLC. That’s right; a decade. I am absolutely understating when I say that I never, ever thought I’d live this long. Heck, my oldest child is thirty now and my youngest turned eighteen in April. I’m fifty-five—old enough to qualify for a senior discount at the Salvation Army Thrift Store (a privilege I don’t let go to waste).

Speaking of kids, my oldest son August came for a wonderful-if-too-brief visit in mid May and I had the pleasure of all three of my children’s company for a blissful 24 hours. We threw a party in my loft and celebrated any number of momentous occasions.

Peter, Jemesii, Linnea, August.

Peter, Jemesii, Linnea, August.

I’d also like to do a little bragging about my other two children: Jemesii manages a store on Beacon Hill called December Thieves—they just received Best of Boston and Boston Best Awards. And Peter is interning at the Koch Institute this summer—doing research on pancreatic cancer! Proud, proud mama.

May was also the month that my excruciatingly painful, protracted and expensive divorce proceedings culminated; everything is signed, sealed and submitted and will be final on September 1st. I shall write a bit more about this particular part of my journey at a later date. In the meantime, I am just so happy that the most difficult part is over with and that I can turn my focus to other things.

Fortunately, I am feeling really, really well (more than a year of stability on the PF-06463922 clinical trial) and my physical energy is generally exceeded only by my creative energy. I’ve got so many projects in the works, and one of the biggest is The House of Redemption: my combination studio/second chance clothing venue. I’ve been working behind the scenes for more than a year now, but the doors shall (actually! really! finally!) open on July 31st. Inside will be a splendid selection of both vintage and fine used clothing and accessories—as well as an artist (me) painting away in the back of the shop. More details and photos to follow!

Home of brave new art and second chance clothing.

Home of brave new art and second chance clothing.

In some ways I feel as if I am experiencing an unprecedented personal renaissance. The art school atmosphere of the lofts is a big part of why—this community is creative 24 hours a day. Much interaction is delightfully spontaneous—conversations, meals, sitting around an outdoor chiminea. There are also movies, parties, museum visits and gallery openings. And it’s not just about art—If we are in need of something, a request goes out on the community email (a ride, a pet watched, an extra pair of arms). If we have something to share with our neighbors, a similar email goes out. Frequently I come home to flowers (Rufiya!), some food treat left outside my door or an invitation to dinner. Sometimes I feel as if I have found my Oz (as in, Land of).

I am also doing my part to maintain good health by staying active; walking remains one of my essential pastimes. I am always shooting photos on these jaunts (my camera being my iPhone!) and shall soon be printing and displaying a large number of these images on the wall outside my loft.

Pipe dreams

Pipe dreams

In addition to exercise, I pay careful attention to how much I sleep. An interesting side effect of this therapy is that at higher doses it seems to induce a state similar to sleep deprivation, which might explain some of my cognitive challenges early on. At this lower dose I have few troubling side effects (neuropathy and some arthritis—still to be determined if the latter is drug related). However, I do require a lot of sleep—a minimum of ten hours nightly.

I am also increasingly mindful of what I eat. Sugar and white bread are for special occasions only, meat is kept to a minimum and vegetables rule. I have a plot in a community garden and a raised bed here at the lofts as well, so the salads I eat each day are grow your own.

Writing remains my greatest challenge; sadly it no longer comes easily. However, I am well aware that there is only one way to get over this hurdle—put one word in front of another.

I don’t even know where to start


I decided several days ago that I would no longer complain (as in, I’m over it). So I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to where a complaint ends and an explanation begins. If that makes sense.

Let me try to explain.

One definition of complaint is:  ‘a statement that a situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable’.

This has been a difficult (scratch that…sounds a little complaint-ish)—this has been a challenging year. Learning to live alone again, the death of my mother, our (ongoing) divorce, managing my cancer and the side effects of treatment.

However, (and this is why I am absolutely determined to abstain from whining/complaining), I am alive.

Remarkable, really. In fact, I am coming up on the ten year anniversary of my diagnosis with non-small cell lung cancer.

It’s been an amazing decade—packed with experiences I didn’t think I was going to have. I am beyond grateful.

However, you can’t be in treatment for cancer that long without a bit of collateral damage. I told Dr. Shaw some months ago that I felt like someone who had done a lot of hard drugs. Her response? “You are someone who has done a lot of hard drugs.”

Which brings me to my explanation (not complaint). Words don’t come as easily to me as they once did. I speak more slowly and I think more slowly as well. I have difficulty remembering things and impaired memory is now listed as a condition on my medical chart. The combination of forgetfulness and inability to focus means that it takes me much longer to accomplish even seemingly simple tasks.

So I have put off writing.

Really, it’s rather ridiculous. Writing is probably exactly the thing my brain needs most right now and goodness knows I’ve missed all of you. And besides, sometimes it’s just a matter of mindset. Oh man, I really need to update my blog and it’s stressing me out is switching it up to I’M ALIVE AND READY TO WRITE ANOTHER DAY!

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JUST SAY IT!

 

Keeping to myself

You know, it’s been a hell of a year. Enormous change, too much loss and an awful lot of heavy lifting—both emotionally and physically. I am stronger for it all but weary as well. Make that exhausted.

Mom’s death knocked me out of orbit more than I could have imagined—as I feel I may have lost the person who cared for me the most.

I say that in a quantitative sense: Evalynn loved her children heaps. However, from a qualitative perspective, our mother did not always love us well. Strong willed, occasionally self centered and histrionic, her affections were like a wild fire, and sometimes we got burned. Once upon a time I tried to reason with her: ‘Mom, just because you will do anything for me, it doesn’t mean you can do anything to me.’

Grieving has been complicated. I miss the hell out of her but am also tasting that bittersweet broth of relief and confusion that happens when a very passionate but emotionally destructive relationship falls out of one’s life.

Make that two relationships. David and I were a couple for over twenty-five years. There are many parallels between the bond I had with my mother and that which I shared with my husband. Duration, intensity, depth of love, degree of difficulty–but also importance.  My mother and my husband have in many ways shaped the arc of my life.

Perhaps because I am the one who moved out of our home, there are those who felt my decision to leave David was selfish. I may go into more detail at a later date but I can assure you that getting divorced was never my first choice. And under the circumstances it was and is hardly easy. Again, a conversation for another day.

I realize most of you come to this blog to read about lung cancer, and that some of you have been on pins and needles as to what is going on with my lung cancer. I am feeling well—unexpectedly well—and I am also acutely embarrassed and even ashamed that I have not shared that update with you sooner. However, my illness has not been foremost in my mind these days.

There is an op ed piece in the New York Times this morning, The Problem With Collective Grief. In reference to the response of the Dutch public to tragedy, it struck a personal cord with me:

“The sad thing about mourning is that it really is quite unshareable, that it involves an extremely individual emotion. People have the right not to show their emotions and not to share them, even when it comes to soccer and calamity.”

And then this:

“…that we are often indifferent, that we are busy enough as it is trying to provide emotional succor for those closest to us, and often don’t even succeed in doing that, seems to me not so much a sign of our inhumanity, but of our humanity. Were we to actually allow the world’s suffering to sink in, we would quickly become psychiatric cases…”

I share these observations with you because they help explain my own emotional state. I’ve been grieving one very important relationship only to suddenly have another come to an end. And because life doesn’t hold still, I’ve attempted to maintain some semblance of order and sanity, all while starting a clinical trial, working on a fairly contentious divorce, attending to my children’s needs, worrying about my financial future and contending with the side effects of treatment. I’ve hit most of the high notes, but it’s been a bit hit and miss when it comes to communication. At least one friend has jumped ship and others may follow suit. I’m saddened by this inattention on my part—but it’s been all I could do to take care of my own.

Last week Peter got his driver’s license and the two of us have been busy painting walls and moving vintage clothing into my new studio space. Yesterday I had the Moh’s surgery for the basal cell on my shin. There will be a memorial for Mom in Fort Collins on Saturday and Peter and I will be driving to Colorado. We were to leave early this morning but I just couldn’t get it together in time.

It’s a good thing sometimes; pushing pause. An extra day gave me that space I needed to finally get this blog written.

We will hit the road first thing tomorrow, with Peter doing his fair share of driving. Should be a fine mother/son adventure.

Losing our first love

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Two of my favorite photos of Evalynn

Early Monday morning—early enough that it couldn’t be good news, I received a phone call from our stepfather Jim. My mother Evalynn had passed away unexpectedly.

Mom had been in poor health for a long, long time. Two cancers, chronic back  pain, and advanced macular degeneration that left her almost blind. She’d gained a lot of weight, had limited mobility, and was in the early stages of dementia. Jim, who is eighty one but has the mental faculties and constitution of one years younger, provided all of her care.

Given her poor health, we all knew Mom’s time was limited and yet I often joked that she would outlive me. Truth is, I thought she might.

Mom was tougher than nails, one of her pet expressions. Meaner than spit sometimes too, if you didn’t see things her way. I was her first born; she liked to say I was the one she made all her mistakes on. John and Bink might argue that she saved a few for them.

However, there was no mistaking the fact that she loved us all dearly. Our conversations usually ended with “Do you know how much I love you?” or “Do you know how proud I am of you?” And we did—those things we never questioned.

She was, undoubtedly, our first love. It was her face and voice we memorized; her arms that held us. One of my earliest memories is the smell of the sun on her skin.

The three of us are putting together her memorial service and my sister emailed a list of fond memories to my brother and me. I think it nicely captures Evalynn, although I couldn’t help but add a few comments of my own (in italics):

Driving a motorhome and a massive boat as well

Backing up a hitched trailer flawlessly

Teaching us to paddle a canoe (stealth like, like Native Americans)

Always being the first to spot wildlife

Hitting a pitched ball with a bat (far, far, far)

Saying, and meaning it, that we’d never be able to run as fast as she could

Painting, Drawing, Sculpting (making just about anything with her hands)

Designing and decorating homes

Riding Motorcycles, Shooting a pistol

Dancing to any style of music (fabulous dancer)

Singing (even harmonizing)

Swimming a mile (diving beautifully; used to be a lifeguard)

Playing a musical instrument (the saxophone)

Mastering multiple sports (tennis! swimming! baseball!)

Fundraising for organizations she believed in (charitable work)

Baking coffee cakes

Reading in the bathtub

Charming her way out of speeding tickets

Charming most people, for that matter (quite the practiced flirt)

And laughing so hard she’d fall down

Beautifully said Binky. I’d also add that Mom was absolutely devoted to two out of her three husbands (sorry Dad!), adored and doted on her parents Effie and Roy, and never stopped looking up to her older sister Claudine. She played an important role in the early lives of Jemesii and August and my brother John’s daughter Shannon, as we were both single parents at one time. Our mother Evalynn was smart, beautiful, talented, capable and one of the strongest and bravest people I’ve ever known.

I miss her terribly already.

Loud uncle paired with a quiet whine

Yesterday was a humdinger. Two treatment-related mistakes in, I realized that not only am I over-overwhelmed, it’s time to do the big ask: Help!

Shortly after after posting my previous blog (and following much back and forth), Dr. Shaw and I decided that canceling my mediation was not a good idea. The prospect of getting three lawyers to readjust their schedules just felt too daunting. And, until we reach a settlement, I am still completely dependent upon David financially and that is not where I want to be.

Alice (Dr. Shaw) very kindly opined that medically it would be okay to wait a week. I emailed back that I would then delay wash-out and continue taking my Xalkori for one more week. This was her adorable response:

Yes. Twice per day! 🙂

Well, evidently I overdid it by one pill, and because of that the trial start date could be delayed (really?). That was mistake number one. The second screw-up was getting confused as to the time of a scheduled MRI and arriving fifty minutes late. They graciously squeezed me in but it easily could have meant another trip/potential delay.

So let me describe my little day from hell. I was up at 6:30 am with the intention of getting on the road by 7:30 for a 9:30 am dermatology appointment. A mere 24 hours earlier I had been looking at my left shin with my glasses on. I have very long legs and increasingly poor eyesight and if my glasses aren’t on, anything below the knees is blurry. Well, there’s a mole mid-shin that a dermatologist at MGH has been watching, and what I saw when I looked closely was concerning—particularly the numerous small black spots that now peppered the surface of this little ‘beauty spot’. I had a basal cell cancer removed at the age of thirty and my father Ollie had numerous basal and squamous cell cancers as well as melanoma. My chart must have me ID’d as high risk, because when I called for an appointment they marked it urgent and got me in yesterday.

Anyway, that’s the back story. I got on the road by 7:45 and realized I had missed Peter’s 7:20 wake-up call. Placed that–we’re getting this routine down, and as silly as it may seem, I love speaking to him briefly each day. And then I settled into what is always a horrific commute. What can take half an hour turned into and hour and a half. I got to dermatology just before my appointment. Fifty minutes and five magazines later I asked the receptionist if I’d be seen soon—as I had more appointments over at Yawkey starting at 11 am. Oh dear. Seems she forgot to let them know I was there…she was very apologetic and I was seen shortly thereafter but it was some additional stress I could have done without.

Anyway, one look at the mole and the dermatologist said ‘biopsy it’. His feeling was that it represented a basal cell, but given the pigmentation and appearance, melanoma could not be ruled out until the pathology report came back.

I had a punch biopsy performed and I will hear the result in seven to ten days. As the doctor said (a wee bit too glibly, I felt). ‘You don’t want to hear back from me.’ If a nurse calls, I will know it is reassuring news. If it’s the doctor, do you think hanging up would make it go away?

I had to practically run back to the Yawkey building (a challenge at this point) as an Echocardiogram was scheduled for 11 am. I was ten minutes late and breathless to boot, but the test proceeded anyway. Evidently I shall have these periodically during the upcoming trial, as there have been some (asymptomatic) reports of prolonged QT interval.

After that, it was labs and an EKG on Yawkey 7B. I spoke to the trial nurse and my scheduler, and ended up with just enough time for lunch before I had to begin fasting for my pre-trial abdominal CT scan. I enjoyed my rushed meal but for dessert I had a brain fart—thinking I had time to sit in the MGH cafe and browse on my laptop before heading over to Chelsea where the scans were scheduled. Oops. At 3:20 I realized my brain MRI was supposed to occur at 3:15. I placed an apologetic phone call and did my best to rush over—something that is impossible at that time of day. Forty five minutes later I arrived at Imaging in Chelsea and (because sometimes you do what you have to do), drank one of those hideous barium shakes. I did beg off the second one.

Well, it looked as if my MRI would need to be rescheduled, but bless their hearts, they squeezed me in. It was almost 7 pm when I left. Exhausted.

So here’s the ask. I’m an independent sort by nature and a good deal of my journey with cancer has been rather solitary. Sometimes that has sucked but mostly I have managed (got my own back sort of thing). However, I confess to harboring a small amount of envy for those cancer patients who have a lot of support. Medically I’ve got the best squad a girl could ask for but I’m thinking I could use a little…Team Linnea. Family/friends/folks who might be willing to go to appointments with me. I’ve got some long ones coming up as I start the trial and it is always easier with company.

As soon as it is finalized, I am going to publish my schedule. If you’d like to spend a day in the life of a patient in a phase I clinical trial, don’t be shy! All comers welcome!

And while you’re at it, please cross your fingers that the skin biopsy comes back benign (best) or basal cell (better than the alternative). I don’t need any more wrenches thrown into this affair. My son August sent me this e-card, which nicely sums up my current sentiment:

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Digging out

What's not caked in snow is coated in ice…

What’s not caked in snow is coated in ice…

I am rather certain I’ve used that particular title before, but it really can be so apt. My trip to Baltimore came to a conclusion on Sunday, just after the storm that passed through. The back of my car was nothing compared to the front (although I had only a CD case with which to scrape off the layer of ice):

There's a car under there somewhere…

There’s a car under there somewhere…

A plastic coat hanger filled in for a shovel and a mere twenty minutes later, I pulled out of the airport parking lot (thank goodness for four wheel drive).

That was forty-eight hours ago and I’ve squeezed more excitement in since. However, real life beckons as do the looming pile of boxes. So—tonight, I will begin recounting the events of the past few weeks. Hasta la vista…

Some self reflection and personal transparency

Self portrait in the ladie's room at Western Avenue Studios

Self portrait in the ladie’s room at Western Avenue Studios

I am in the midst of another break from packing; making the rounds of my gracious friend’s homes (thank you, thank you, thank you all). This has been a time to visit but also to decompress—and I’ve done just that, taking two naps in one day.

Despite my upbeat and can do attitude (at least I think that’s the tone I’m setting), I will acknowledge that this may well be the most difficult task I’ve undertaken yet. Disassembling a marriage is complicated no matter the circumstances; getting divorced while also battling cancer is crazy hard.

I am, on so many levels, stepping out into the complete unknown now. It has been years since I have been gainfully employed and financially, I am a persona non grata. Had a good friend not offered to cosign, I would not have qualified for my lease. Losing my independence was never meant to be part of marriage and yet somehow I let that happen.

I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge how anxious this all makes me, but I keep moving forward in the faith that better times are ahead. I am thankful for not only the support of friends and family but also the timing: were Peter not boarding, the separation of households would be so much more difficult. And as it turns out, I am glad I didn’t qualify for the PD-1 clinical trial and that by default, extended my break from treatment. Otherwise, I don’t believe I’d be able to manage, either physically or emotionally.

As it is, I am rather proud of what I have accomplished. It took some frenzied research (and a bit of luck) but my future home (and of course, Peter’s) really is promising. I just about nailed the amount of rent I felt I could afford and by relocating south will remain a reasonable distance from Peter’s school and yet move significantly closer to Boston and Mass General Hospital. The lofts have onsite laundry facilities, are close to a commuter rail, parking is free, heat and air conditioning included and I won’t have to worry about shoveling snow.

As a plus, Lowell has a thriving cultural scene (did you know Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell?) and I am moving into not just an apartment, but a community. The day I signed the lease, my neighbor across the hall invited Sadie and I (along for the ride) into her loft. I think making new friends is going to be a cinch.

And there is some entrepreneurial potential as well, as open studios happen once a month. The wall outside the apartment is mine to use as gallery space and–I’ve been hatching this plan for a year now–I will also have the opportunity to sell vintage clothing (which I’ve been busy amassing) alongside my art at open studios. Woohoo!

securedownload-1So that’s a bit more of the fun stuff. Of course, in prelude to moving in, I’ve been packing up. I have singlehandedly transported carload after carload of boxes to a storage unit. And I’ve lined up a small band of merry movers (again, a preemptive thank you!) and will rent a truck to haul the furniture and boxes come December 1. And then I’ll move the vintage stuff into the storage unit.

I’ve also been working on the health insurance piece; worst and best case scenario. It is of utmost importance to me that I keep the same providers.

So, that’s a bit of an update. Tomorrow I move from one household to another…stages in a journey.

A space similar to the one I'll be moving into....

A space similar to the one I’ll be moving into….

The yellow brick road starts here…

ups and downs

ups and downs

I don’t know what’s up with me and WordPress but I can’t seem to set up a gallery of photos and I’m too tired to fight about it. So, I’ll just figure out another way around this problem. Multiple posts! With, of course, the added benefit of making me look really productive in a publishing sense.

Truth is, there is much I’d like to share but little time in which to do it. My father Ollie used to say ‘three moves equals one fire’. There are all sorts of ways to interpret that apt observation (not originally his own). I think he may have been referring simply to the damage moving inflicts upon one’s belongings—that which is lost, broken, nicked and dinged.

I prefer to think of it in a more spiritual sense, and this time I’m definitely burning  down the house.

Of course, once the smoke has cleared and the ashes cooled, I’ll be sifting through the wreckage for what is salvageable. And then I will begin to build anew.

I’ve signed a one year lease on a work/live loft in an artist’s community in Lowell, Massachusetts. I will move in on December 1 and having a known destination has provided me with a solid sense of direction. I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel and (thanks Melinda) I’m fairly certain it isn’t a train.

The photo at the top is of some very colorful stairs leading to an amazing warren of artist’s studios located in the old mill adjacent to my future residence. Studios such as this one:

creativity abounds

creativity abounds

“Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’.

Moving on

A sign

A sign

This is a tough, tough time. Not just for me of course, but for David and for anyone who is close to either one of us. It is also a particularly confusing time, and our children and some of my own siblings are struggling too.

I am the one who initiated this separation and I think that might make me immediately less sympathetic. However, I can only say (without going the whole dirty laundry route, which I have no intention of doing) that it is complicated. If I felt I could stay in this marriage, I would. But I can’t.

Oddly, (or maybe not) my cancer has played quite a role here. Were I healthy, I believe we might have separated some time ago. I am grateful to David for his persistence and patience. However, as risky as it may be to jump out of this leaky boat, I’m tired of bailing and would rather swim for a spell.

So, I’ve been busily packing and planning and looking for an acceptable place to live. Fingers crossed that maybe I have found one. The night before I went to check it out, I dreamt about Martha Stewart (I’d been invited to her home for appetizers but asked to leave before dinner–she’s always rude to me in my dreams). Anyway, while touring this complex, I came up the stairs to see Martha’s beaming face. Say what you will, but I think it’s a sign.

Of course I have my moments of chest constricting panic. I mean, this wouldn’t be an easy thing to undertake under any circumstances and mine are hardly ideal. However, there’s only one way to go now and that is forward.

Last night I had a dream that struck me as particularly poignant. I was swimming through the aisles of what appeared to be a submerged store. I attempted to come up for air, only to discover that the surface of the water was sealed over with a sort of plastic. I recognized I was in a bit of a tight spot but thought to myself, ‘I can do this’. Continuing to hold my breath, I swam to the end of an adjacent aisle where I was able to gasp for air through a gap in the plastic. There was nothing frightening about the dream; it just felt strong and somehow apropos.

Another yes from the universe:  yesterday I felt a little like I was listening to the soundtrack of my life; thought I’d share two. The first selection is one of my favorite songs ever, sung by Mama Cass. The second one is a little out of character (mine), but damned if Will.i.am didn’t steal my line (and his pal the Bieb even repeats it three times!). Enjoy, and don’t forget to click out of those annoying advertisements (I know, we wouldn’t be here on the internet without them. Sigh.).

One big party

Oh, how I have enjoyed this break from treatment. In fact, my entire family has benefitted: for the first time since he could likely recall, Peter’s had a mother who felt great and was possessed of sufficient energy to do all sorts of mom things. Staying up late, and watching movies. Cooking and cleaning. Going on walks and having long conversations. Acting as de facto driving and swim instructor. Shopping for school clothes (button down shirts and pastel colored pants—our own little preppy). And, first thing every morning, sneaking in a little snuggle. It’s been grand.

Although not nearly as important as being able to be present for Peter, I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in some of the other perks of non-treatment. Mental clarity but then again, the ability to kick back and de-stress. I’m talking about alcohol. Nothing over the top, but rather the simple, adult pleasure/privilege of an occasional glass of wine or a cocktail. For a year and a half, my liver enzymes made it necessary to completely foresake alcoholic beverages—if I may say so, there is something intrinsically unfair about having cancer and not being able to drink.

I got used to it. Discovered mocktails, and congratulated myself on my ability to abstain. Then, several weeks into this break (having gorged myself on grapefruit, another long term no-no), it occurred to me that I could have a glass of wine. The first sip or two felt a little foreign, but just like riding a bike, you never really forget how. I was, so to speak, back in the saddle.

Again, it’s been fun. On one memorable afternoon, I was shopping at Salvation Army. When I went to pay for my purchases it became apparent that I’d left my wallet at home. I called David and asked if he might consider bringing it to me…and, I added some incentive. I would take him out to dinner. My dime, his choice.

He made it to the store just prior to closing. Treasures in hand, we headed (in our separate vehicles) to Republic, our new favorite hangout. It was a lovely evening and we sat out front on the patio. I ordered a martini and David a margarita. A young man at the table behind us asked about my white circle tattoo. I commented on the shirt the fellow to our right was wearing (adorned with magic 8 balls). The couple to our left soon engaged us in conversation. Before long it was ONE BIG PARTY. I got through two martinis that night, made at least four new best friends and a good time was had by all.

Perhaps a week later, we dropped Peter off at school. David had an appointment in NY the next day and I a CT scan in Boston. After my scan, I should have gone straight home and walked the dog, but I was feeling a little anxious and didn’t really want to be alone. On a whim, I stopped at a local restaurant and sat down at the bar. I ordered a martini, up with an olive and a twist of lemon. After one sip I realized that this was a serious martini, and that I was in over my head. A woman sat down in the empty seat to my left; ordered a glass of wine, an appetizer and began to read from her Kindle. Suddenly she turned to me and asked if I came there often. I confessed that at the age of 53, this was the first time I had ever sat at a bar by myself and ordered a drink.

Well, we got to chatting. Soon she was sharing her appetizer with me and before I knew it, three hours had passed and my new friend and I were convinced we were married to the same person. Thankfully we never got beyond a first name basis.

I followed the yellow line home (I know, I know—I truly just had one drink). Buddy was fed and let out for a quick pee, and I fell straight into bed. I awakened briefly around 11 pm, still under the influence. At 2 am I woke up once again but sober as could be. No hangover, which I attribute to my Swedish heritage but which David says is actually due to the chemical simplicity of vodka (compared to a complex alcohol like wine).

And, I’d had the strangest dream. Anjelina Jolie and a friend of hers were at my house drinking wine. Evidently it wasn’t very good, as they’d mixed themselves another concoction (but thoughtlessly, not one for me). I had to excuse myself to go wait on some tables. Suddenly I was back at Mr. Steak, the restaurant I’d worked in when I was seventeen. I was taking the order for a large family (what we referred to as an ‘eight top’), and they were trying to convince me that they all qualified for a student discount. The mom had a flamboyant scarf on her head, spoke with a german accent, and looked like a drag queen. The children were dressed head to toe in 1970’s style denim. When they asked me to describe an item on the menu I said I’d have to go ask the cook; I’d not worked there in thirty years. The cook was a real old guy—maybe one of my former co-workers was having the same dream.

Anyway, as I lay there thinking, I remembered a review in the NY Times by Dwight Garner concerning Lawrence Osborne’s new book, The Wet and the Dry, as well as a memorable quote from Mr. Osborne:  “Vodka; it’s like an enema for the soul.” Well, I’d certainly just proved that. My mental slate wiped clean, I fell soundly back to sleep.