An old college professor who had served in Vietnam used to say, “you pick the hills you’re willing to die on and everything else is flexible, and there should be very few hills you’re willing to die on.” Yesterday, I went biking with Chris Brewer from Livestrong (their senior communication manager and a much better biker than I) , trying to continue training for this 100 mile ride. He took me on a couple of hills, one which was absurdly tough. Still being a relative rookie on it, he destroyed me. I have been trying to learn the right gears to be in at the right times and after he destroyed me on the toughest hill, he said something casually about biking “one wrong shift on a tough hill and you’ll be way behind people and may never see them again or have to spend tons of time to ever catch up with them.” A few moments later going down hill with a steep turn, I almost wiped out. This seems to be my life right now, up hills, downhills and not sure I’ve done any of them right being such a rookie to a lot of these adventures.
The other thing that occurred on the ride was that I notice that everyone of his livestrong bracelets always seem spanking new so I asked him how often he replaces them. He told me that at events he often gives his personal one to other cancer survivors and it’s meaningful to them. I still have the original one now and its incredibly faded and it’ll mess with my heart if it ever comes off but it gave me a decent idea. Shortly after the biopsy, my friend Hugh gave me the model of a brain that had sat at my office ever since. I went to go visit the friend today who had the brain procedure and he also joked about how he’s not hanging out with me anymore since it gave him brain issues. I gave him the brain and congratulated him on that he looked great because as I’ve come to learn, as brain surgeries go, his was minor but there’s no such thing as minor brain surgery. How this will all come out for him is still up in the air but he’s hopeful but it was sad to have a nurse come in and say that there’s something curious going on and they’ll have to do another cat scan tomorrow. Interestingly enough, she demonstrated it to him using the model. I will be visiting tomorrow.
I went running from there and then went and talked to human resources, sitting with them reminded me of the old joke that they are neither. I don’t want to spend a whole lot of time fighting this because like when Kiana's mom left, she left with more than half the income and less than half the debt because those are just not fights I’m wired for. If we could find a middle reasonable ground without going with a bunch of attorneys, I’d sign it tomorrow because they really do good work there even if they, like many government agencies, don’t do it efficiently or gracefully always. That may not be what happens as today they politely blew me off and said they’d get back to me when they got back to me. Oh I am a dreamer.
I’m still pretty shaken up as to where the future lies but that may just be my new normal, uncertainty just being my address. I came back as soon as I could to this job even when the doctors would have let me out longer for it to leave. I tried to change my flight to get home faster to someone who would also be gone. I came with plans to change up a house, plant a garden, plant trees and I’ve done all that and it may be more realistic to sell that house now. I’m tired and people used to seeing me at a different energy level asked if I’m having a hard time getting up in the morning since that might be clinical depression. I’m not; I am just trying to figure what hills I’m willing to die on.
After the hospital visit, I went for a run and then I went to see the ultimate crowd. I visited a friend’s house who is willing to rent me out two rooms if push comes to shove and I get rid of the house. Oddly enough, it’s actually a nicer house than I’ve ever lived in in a nicer neighborhood than I could ever afford and with a school that’s solid. I tried to talk to Kiana about the possibility of a home change and she said she wanted to live with me as long as we kept puppy. My dog’s name is actually puppy because my ex kept bringing her in to the place where we were staying in the Marshall Islands and I kept telling her to get the puppy out of the house. Then when it came to leave the Islands, “Puppy” had become such a part of my heart that she was actually the first Marshallese dog (custom rules had to be created) to leave the island. Oh it’s fascinating the things we emotionally attach to.
Everything I tried to keep may be going away anyway… a friend who reads this and worries says that the one common theme in it has been Kiana and my connection to her and I don’t know what the polite way to say “Duh.” When I was in college (my degree were in religion and psychology), I did my senior thesis on the Akedah, the sacrifice of Abraham to Isaac which I think is a sucky sucky story. I’m sorry if I’m offending any Jewish or Christian friends but I don’t know how we spin that one correctly or accept it gracefully. If you read the rest of Genesis, Abraham and Isaac are never together again. And if I had to choose between God loving me and me killing Kiana, that’s not a God I’d want to serve. Anyway, whatever theological interpretations people make peace with that is their own belief system. But on a hospital bed, perhaps incorrectly assuming I was dying I spent too much of my effort only on her being financially cared for and not enough on emotionally. The last day before I flew out to Duke I took the day off to take her to the local Austin zoo. Right now, as the unemployment stuff sits, I’ve been taking her to daycare for much less of the day (I wish it was none of it but I can’t stay unemployed forever). I wish there was some damn clear view of what was best for her. When the divorce settled, there’s about a half dozen people (since for obvious reasons it was tough to trust her mom) who I said if there’s ever a time where you think Kiana’s better off with her mother, let me know because emotionally I will probably never get there by myself. None of them have said that yet nor do I currently believe it but whatever it takes to make her world better, I’ll be thorough and work on it.
I am going to Livestrong’s cancer and emotions class tonight and the only advice I have for that is do it better than me. In the journey for everyone there are ups and downs, hills which you may get wrong and other people will do better than you at or you may fall down or get close going down. My best race times are on hilly courses not flat ones but there’s a lot to digest still. Who the hell knows what’s coming? But what’s best for Kiana is a tough hill and I’m willing to die on that. And everything else is flexible.