Monthly Archives: September 2012

if you’re going to live out of your car . . .

seriously, no worries.  yes, i’m homeless for the moment but there’s just so many blessings to it. for one, i will never always look with compassion at someone who is homeless, without work, fighting addiction or depression, or just generally having a rough life —  it’s not that i am but i laughed this morning when i ran into a friend i hadn’t seen anywhere except on facebook this past summer and i said “what have you been up to?”  and he said “sleeping in my car a lot.”

laughing, but i could sympathize.  i spent two nights this week sleeping in my car.  we agreed that state parks are good, but not for a woman by herself and that wal-mart — yes, wal-mart — is the kindest to people who park.

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in general, i find it preferable to have a large stuffed animal (or, in this case a giant heart) to rest up against.  one can leave it on the passenger seat during the day with a certain insouciance–and your car doesn’t scream “arlynn slept here!”  blankets definitely should be folded up and put in the trunk.  keeping up appearances is important.

i was surprised this week when i realized what an extraordinary thing karma can be.  i sent out a request to facebook friends asking if anybody knew where i could land.  i had a lot of offers but nothing quite worked.  and my “home” was in the shop–i traveled so much last year visiting facebook friends that my tires were balding and my brakes shot.  i felt like my life was completely out of control.  it’s never a plummet to the gutter, it’s always a series of bumps. 

and i have it easy.  two nights last week i slept in my car but two nights i spent at the marriott because i discovered i had so many reward points from traveling last year that it was free.  plus i got breakfast!

then i got a call from facebook friend mike castagna.  well, i mean, he’s my facebook friend and a friend of longstanding.  still, i hadn’t heard from him in a long time.

“if you don’t mind staying with me and matt,”  he said, referring to his son who is also oddly enough my facebook friend as well.  “we got an extra bed on the porch.  it’s screened in, you’ll need some blankets.  oh, and in order to get to the bathroom you have to go through matt’s room.  he has a snake.  stay as long as you want.”

he spoke with such enthusiasm and force that i could only believe that he meant it. 

“i’m so grateful,” i said.

“no, i’m the one who’s grateful.”

and he reminded me of a favor i had done for him and his son matt several years ago.  i felt the whooosh of karma looping around me.

“no, i’m grateful,”  i said to mike.

“no, i’m grateful.”

“no, i’m grateful.”

“just shut up,”  mike said and hung up.

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even if i’m living out of my car, i like to decorate for halloween!

living with mike and matt and the snake is a temporary solution and tomorrow i drive out to meet with facebook friends indianapolis and beyond. 

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mr. clark, the mascot of the facebook adventures, is happy on the summer porch and will be happy sitting on the pink heart’s lap when i get back out on the road!

the friend i met this morning who has been driving out to state parks to sleep in his car was in surprisingly good spirits.  that’s how you have to be regardless of what life gives you. 

 

 

 


sharing is a good thing but . . .

i have a problem with this. when i drink, i sometimes say things i don’t mean, do things i later regret, and even lose relationships i value. so i have to say “goodbye” and really, alcohol, it’s not you, it’s me.

 

i posted about this on facebook as well.  my facebook friends and wordpress friends have been universally supportive.  i have been so lucky.  and then i got to thinking:

since facebook went public, it has been working very hard to show advertisers and investors that its greatest asset is information about its users.  and a mighty big asset.  sure, it’s interesting that you posted psy’s gangnam style video on your wall and that your cat pictures are soooooooooo damn cute.  but there’s a little more to it.  facebook wants to be able to “share” information about users that will predict spending habits, future needs, even weaknesses that can be exploited by corporate america.

facebook is working with a company called datalogix.  datalogix collects information from retailers using customer loyalty cards and combines this information with things like your regular email address, your alma mater, or postal address that show up in other data bases.  datalogix is not some new kid in the data world–it owns information about almost every american household and $1 trillion in consumer transactions. combining information about consumers allows advertising to be targeted very precisely.

i admit to unnatural lust for the diane von furstenberg copa wrap skirt in orchid. datalogix knows this and can even figure out if i  ever purchase it online or offline. and it can also predict what other items i might lust for. but does it know i lust for the white wine? of course.  even if i hadn’t posted about it, i did put a deposit down on a detox program with my credit card.

depending on how you feel about privacy and about sensitive personal issues, you might feel alarmed.  the only fear i have is that blue cross blue shield is going to suddenly raise my premiums or drop me altogether because i’m seeking help.

and then there’s this:  facebook holds a key to your history, your relationships, your emotions and your past. the idea that forgotten private messages might be made public and be prominently displayed for the world to see could be a frightening prospect for many users.  but that’s exactly what’s happened.

facebook has acknowledged reports, mainly from america and europe, claiming that private messages from prior to 2009 have been popping up on people’s walls.  ouch, that morning after passed out on the couch picture from 2008 that you thought nobody would remember is now out there on your timeline.  the company says there’s has been no breach, claiming instead that the messages were merely old public posts revealed again by a bug.  a little hard to decipher.

i guess i don’t believe in privacy anymore.  everyone can find out anything about anyone.  but i also believe in trying very hard to live one’s life with . . .

well, at least i try to!  and if i were to succeed, then i wouldn’t have to care who knows what about me.

 

i am facing an interesting, challenging, terrifying time and i am grateful beyond measure to every friend who has said “i’m with you!”  many many many thanks!


dear alcohol, we need to talk

dear alcohol,

it’s never good when a girl says “we need to talk”.. . . and this isn’t going to be good. but i have to do this.  i really do.

no question, you’ve been there for me all through the years. in cans, in crystal glasses, at parties, at bars, and sometimes when no one else wanted to be with me. best friends forever, you’ve always said!

i went to florida two weeks ago with some high hopes, and i didn’t think you were going to get so . . . . well, aggressive.  i was going to visit with facebook friends in tallahassee, tampa, and orlando.  i was going to bring my dad justin along with me.  we were going to bond.  you were going to be just something i had with dinner–or before flights.

bonding with my father is an ongoing process. he and my mother placed me for adoption when i was three years old. this is a picture of me and my new mother on the morning i was baptized, a few weeks after the adoption became final. i met my father and mother when i was twenty five years old–using a private detective to track them down.

 

the day before the trip, my dad texted me and said he didn’t feel he was up to traveling with me from his place in tallahassee to the other cities in florida.  i would stay with him and his wife on sunday evening, rent a car and sally forth throughout the state, returning on friday to catch a plane back to chicago.

but when i got to florida, i was surprised to discover that my father justin’s wife was going on a business trip.  and that justin was a lot sicker than i had ever imagined.  and that he was undergoing provenge treatment over the course of the week and the clinic wanted someone with him.  that person would be me.

i cancelled all the facebook friend visits outside of tallahassee. my friends were so understanding. i was going to bake a cake with jennifer in tampa and she said “no problem” and made the cake on her own and posted it on my wall. the cake tells the story of my visits to see facebook friends all over the world. thank you jennifer!

 

the first phase of the provenge treatment went well.  justin and i watched television while his blood was taken from one arm, processed through a machine and reinserted (minus white blood cells) into the other.  he was weak, he slept most of the days, he had no appetite.  he slept in the master bedroom, i slept in the guest room.

his wife came home on wednesday evening.  i volunteered to take justin to phase two of his provenge treatment on friday before my flight.  he would be given a very high dose of benadryl and his own white blood cells–new and improved by some mysterious process–would be reintroduced to his body.  he needed to have someone help him get home.  also, it’s just good to have someone be an advocate for your care.  especially since provenge is still in its experimental phase.

justin is actually the first person in tallahassee to get the provenge treatment. it went well, by the way, and he says he feels better. he will get two more treatments.  i’m not sure what happens after that.

the next morning my stepmother’s first words to me were “you need to get a hotel room because i can’t sleep with justin.  he snores and he disturbs my sleep.  he has to sleep in the guest room.”

i felt the hostility.  it’s always been there lurking beneath a surface of tight smiles–and it dates back to the total shock it must have been for her as a newlywed to have me show up saying “hi, i’m justin’s daughter!”  i sympathize.  i really do.

i sat at the dining room table.  she woke justin and an argument ensued between them, with each hushing the other as  if they believed i couldn’t hear.  she wanted me out of there. right then. it went beyond a desire to not sleep with a snorer.  and yes, i heard every word.

i felt rejected, belittled, demeaned, and exactly like a three year old who doesn’t understand why she can’t go home again.  to her real home.  why she has to be thrown away, because that’s what adoption meant to me.

and i would have left right then, walked out of the apartment and said “good luck to you guys”  but i was scared of leaving my dad.  she went to work.  i sat on the couch with him.  i said “this is exactly the horrible feeling that makes me want a drink.”  and he said “me too” and he got up, went to the refrigerator and we drank two beers.  it was nine thirty, alcohol, a little early wouldn’t you say?  but you were there for me.  and for him.

but that feeling, that wretched feeling followed me out of florida, back to illinois, everywhere i am, everywhere i go.  rejected, belittled, a failure, a wreck.  i’ve lost friendships, i’ve lost the respect of people i respect, i’ve lost love–the very things i have always wanted but you’re always there, aren’t you?  ready to console me.  ready to tell me it’s all right.   ready to tell me i’m pretty and witty and funny and i mean something.  and you keep saying you’ll never never leave me and i thought that was a good thing. what i’ve always wanted to hear.

but coming from you, maybe it’s not such a good thing.

i’ve tried breaking up with you before.  white knuckling it.  alcoholics anonymous.  a chinese acupuncturist who also threw in a few extra needles that were supposed to make me lose weight in addition to sobering me up.  nothing worked.  you always came back and always when i really need you and can’t resist you.

this time i’m getting outside help.  i’m scared.  i’m crying right now as i write this.  you have been a reliable friend.  but i can’t do this anymore.  i’m breaking up with you.

and really, it’s not you.  it’s me.

when i made a new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends, i met quite a few who have made the same decision, who have had the breakup talk with you.  some have been successful.  some not so much.  some have done it on their own.  some have needed what i’m about to do.  i hope all my facebook friends, all my friends, all my family can understand.  alcohol, i never meant for our relationship to be so . . . monogamous.

my biological mother gave me this picture when she met me. alcohol, this was a gal with promise and potential and i want to get that back.

 

 

 

 

 


millie and me. although really, my friend lanny jones and millie

i’m a little under the weather and i always welcome missives from friends who want to share with other friends.  this from lanny jones, a facebook friend i visited this past year.  he wrote “william clark and the shaping of the west” about my facebook friend and faux fiance william clark.  here’s what lanny had to say:

Three weeks ago, on August 28, a fire detection specialist named Steve Christman was riding shotgun in a lightweight Cessna 182 flying over the Gallatin National Forest in Southwest Montana. Below him was some of the most rugged terrain in the Northern Rockies — the Gallatin Crest, a rocky, heavily timbered crazy quilt of creeks, steep slopes, and 10,000′ mountain peaks. Sprawling just a few miles from the resort community of Big Sky, it is a region beloved by hikers and mountain bikers but inaccessible to just about everyone else.

My wife and I spend the summers in a cabin that borders this forest. On a map, you could draw a line south from our porch and hit nothing but trees, rocks, and lakes to Yellowstone and then to the Grand Teton National Forest and Jackson Hole before you hit a paved road. But in a matter of hours after Christman’s flight, we were to be engulfed in one of the largest and most public events imaginable. It brought with it acts of astonishing individual bravery, as well as the combined efforts of more than 500 firefighters, and the expense of at least $7 million of federal funds. All of this was produced by a mega-wildfire beguilingly named Millie.

At 2:21 p.m., Christman noticed a single plume of smoke rising from the south slope of Storm Castle Creek. A 25-year veteran of the Forest Service, Christman was not surprised; a lightning storm had rolled through the mountains the previous day. This year’s long drought had baked a region already weakened by bug kills into a forest of bones. The moisture content of trees had fallen beneath the requirement for kiln-dried boards sold in a lumberyard. The fire covered less a tenth of an acre, most of it creeping in the ground cover, but Christman immediately radioed for help. “It was in heavy timber and had fairly high potential,” he says. “I knew it would take a while to get an engine into it, and we needed to do something or else we’d have a fairly big fire.”

At 2:32 p.m., eleven minutes after Steve Christman radioed in his first report, dispatcher Kayla Lemire faxed a request that a Smokejumper team temporarily based in nearly West Yellowstone be flown up to the fire. The request was received by Dan Cottrell, a seamy-faced, deceptively relaxed 38-year-old who has been jumping out of the air into fires on the ground for more than dozen years. Smokejumpers are something like the SEALs of the wildland firefighters (though they would get an argument from the equally highly trained Hotshot crews). They undertake some of the most physically demanding jobs in the federal work force, though Cottrell likes to say that the most dangerous thing he does every day is to drive to work.

By 3 p.m. Cottrell and his stick of eight jumpers were circling over the fire, which by then had grown to a half-acre of flames, mostly on the ground. Cottrell requested a helicopter to bring in the “Bambi buckets,” 500-gallon dollops of water scooped from a reservoir and nearby lakes. The Smokejumpers chose a desired landing-spot a half-mile from the fire. They tossed several streamers out of the plane to gauge both wind direction and the best flight path to the LZ. They were carrying four “squares” — parachutes that work best in high winds — and four “rounds.” After the four squares jumped, they threw another set of streamers — but now the wind churning up the ridgetops was becoming dangerously turbulent. Cottrell decided reluctantly that he and the other three Smokejumpers would have to return to West Yellowstone and drive back in their truck – a journey of several hours.

Meanwhile, a local fire engine crew stationed at Big Sky had been ordered to the scene by the Forest Service. It would take 90 minutes for them to crawl up the gravel road to the fire. Among the four men aboard Engine 661 was Dan Kettman, a newly trained, 25-year-old rookie fire fighter who was on his first assignment. He had never fought a fire before. “We kept hearing traffic on the radio about the fire,” he remembers. “We knew it was growing, and I was starting to feel a little nervous.”

Circling overhead in his Cessna, Steve Christman saw that the fire had grown to 30 or 40 acres and was burning rapidly on all sides and up towards a ridgetop. He told the dispatcher that the fire had “a high potential to run.”

 

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View of Millie from my porch, August 29A little before 5 p.m., Dan Kettman and the crew of Engine 661 arrived at the Blanchard Ranch, a private inholding in the national forest with a few guest cabins and horses. They cut the lock to the gate and requested that the owners be notified to take out the horses. They then crossed Storm Castle Creek and took a Forest Service road to an overlook of the drainage. They were startled by what they saw. The fire had grown to 60-75 acres and was generating its own weather system in the treetops. “You could hear trees popping like Roman candles,” says Kettman. “It was too close for comfort.”

Concluding that they could no longer fight the fire on the ground, and worried about being encircled and entrapped, they backed off. “I was the new guy,” says Kettman, “so they had me stand on top of the engine to look and make sure we could get out.” As they were backing away, the four Smokejumpers who were first on the fire walked out of the smoking woods.

Kettman and the others were concerned about what wildland firefighters call “a blowup.” Here is what Norman Maclean says about blowups in Young Men and Fire:

“The chief danger from a ground fire is that it will become a ‘crown fire,’ that is, get into the branches or ‘crowns’ of trees especially where the trees are close together and the branches interlace … The crown fire is the one that sounds like a train coming too fast around a curve and may get so high-keyed the crew cannot understand what their foreman is trying to do to save them. Sometimes, when the timber thins out, it sounds as if the train were clicking across a bridge, sometimes it hits an open clearing and becomes hushed as if going through a tunnel, but when the burning cones swirl through the air and fall on the other side of the clearing, starting spot fires there, the new fire sounds as if it were the train coming out of the tunnel belching black unburned smoke. The unburned smoke boils up until it reaches oxygen, then bursts into gigantic flames on the top of its cloud of smoke in the sky. The new firefighter, seeing black smoke rise from the ground and then at the top of the sky turn into flames, thinks that natural law has been reversed. The flames should come first and the smoke from them. The new firefighter doesn’t know how his fire got way up there. He is frightened and should be.”

Steve Christman, still circling overhead and watching the fire gallop ahead, was running low on fuel. When he saw the Engine 661 pick up the Smokejumpers, he dipped his wing in acknowledgment. “When I saw that I knew we would be okay,” Kettman remembers.

By 6 p.m., Dan Cottrell was back on the scene, now designated as a Type 3 Incident Commander, the boss of the operation. He reported that the fire was now up to 150 acres, burning ferociously with a wall of flames waving 20-30 feet high. It was making runs through thick timber and up the rocky slopes. Additional resources had been ordered in: Helicopters, air tankers, a Native American Hotshot crew from Ft. Apache, AZ, and an “Air Attack Platform” plane to observe the fire. At 11 p.m., Cottrell reported “significant fire activity” near the Blanchard Ranch. He would soon bed down for the night, anxious about what the next day might bring, especially if the hot, dry weather continued.

Over the next 24 hours, on August 29, this fire — her sweet name of “Millie” apparently resulted from a dispatcher’s typo of “Miller” — erupted into one of the most devastating conflagrations of the season. Leaping from the dried-out grasses into the crowns of the subalpine and mixed conifers, Millie took a running start and jumped Storm Castle Creek, burning a swathe five miles long and two miles deep, torching and blackening everything in its path and consuming almost 10,000 acres. Firefighters reported large predators in the area – bears and a pack of 20 wolves dislocated by the fire. The largest predator of all, of course, was Millie. Writers describing fires almost inevitably fall back on an atavistic, primordial vocabulary. Fires are a deranged, feline creature — “crouching,” “creeping,” “licking,” “leaping,” and “waiting.”

Two deputies from Gallatin County Sheriff’s office placed us on “evacuation warning” on August 30. We moved our so-called valuables to a friend’s house and took our dog everywhere (in case we were prevented from returning to the house). We visited the fire camp — or, as the Forest Service calls it — the ICP (Incident Command Post), a mini-city of 550 souls, many of them living in tents in a former hayfield. By this time the fire had been upgraded to the level managed by the Great Basin Type 2 Management Team — a group of 30-40 experienced managers who travel around the country providing logistical support — food, shelter, sanitation, communications, finance, administration, security — to firefighters on the front lines.

My wife and I feel close to Millie. We have spent the past two weeks in her close company. Our house and those of our immediate neighbors are the closest structures to the fire, which, as I write this, is still burning five miles away — uncomfortably close to the same distance it moved on its first, intense day of rampage. The amount of energy released in a typical woodland wildfire is comparable to that of a nuclear explosion. Over the past two weeks I learned about about Bambi Buckets, Sky Cranes, torching, and spotting. I talked to people identifying themselves as Fire Behavior Specialists and Fire Meteorologists. I visited the perimeter of the fire, near the spot where Engine 661 picked up the Smokejumpers.

What did I learn? I learned that mega-fires like Millie will become increasingly common in the years to come, as climate-change clears our forests. And I learned that the men and women who fight fires in our country are the best we — and our government — have to offer. At one of the public Fire Information Meetings I attended, a local woman from Bozeman stood up and thanked “the foreigners” for the dedication and professionalism they had amply demonstrated at all levels of government — federal, state, and municipal. Witnessing this, it is difficult to understand why some politicians attempt to curry favor by denigrating the work of these and other public servants.

On September 13, the Gallatin County Sheriff rescinded our Evacuation Warning. On September 14, the Great Basin Incident Management Team turned over management of the fire to the Gallatin National Forest. We can unroll the rugs we had readied for a quick departure. But we are not yet ready to put the photographs back on the wall. Millie still sends up unnerving smoke columns when clumps of trees within the perimeter suddenly burst into flames, as if to remind us that she is still in the building. Current predictions are that she will still be burning until November 1.


if you don’t have something nice to say. . .

or even if you do . . . . there is always a negative aspect.  which somehow will become all that is remembered.

i left my father in tallahassee and his provenge treatment went well.  i met two new facebook friends–william taylor and ron winegar.  i wasn’t able to meet others i was scheduled to see, most particularly jennifer brand clair from tampa.  jennifer built me a facebook cake to celebrate what would have been our first meeting.

the cake is like an open book, with one page about facebook and twin laptops–hers and mine. the other page has an airplane flying down to florida to meet jennifer. she sent me the cake as an attachment to a message. buttercream frosting doesn’t taste as good when you’re trying to lick it off your screen.

 

i flew from tallahassee to charlotte and from there to chicago–the t.s.a. were definitely more attentive and they’ve implemented the “second look” policy at the gates.

this morning, i was surprised to find the following article.  i had forgotten that more than a week ago, a reporter called and wanted to talk about my new years resolution to meet all my facebook friends.  he kept focusing his questions on the negative. . . things that went wrong, friendships that weren’t good, unfriending, disaster.  and i think i sound like i am a more negative person than i think i am.

your thoughts?

oh, here’s the link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/sep/14/unfollow-unfriend-on-facebook-twitter

can i add this to the article? can i tape this to my front door? can i tack this onto the bulletin board at the starbucks? because i think words really affect us.

 


when a cake tells a story!

the trip to florida has not been anything like i expected–and instead of fulfilling my mission of meeting all the facebook friends i know in florida, i spent the week with my father justin.  my father is undergoing a new cancer treatment called provenge.  it is the first time this treatment has been made available in tallahassee.  justin’s wife barbara was on a business trip and not available to go with him for the first phase–when the technician extracts blood over the course of three hours, harvesting white blood cells to be shipped to a laboratory in georgia.

justin’s white blood cells, the fighter leukocytes, will be enhanced in the lab and are being shipped back to tallahassee to be injected back into his body.

 

later this morning,  justin and i will go to the clinic to complete the provenge treatment.  the lab wants him to have a chaperone and in general it’s always a good idea to have an advocate, a helper, someone to make sure you get home safely.  justin’s wife is back from her business trip but she is a professor at florida state university, in charge of a department of three hundred people, and must take a conference call.  otherwise, she would be there for justin.

one of the treats, and it really is a treat, of the florida trip is getting to know my father better.  he and my mother put me up for adoption when i was three years old and i didn’t meet them until i was twenty five.  it is always interesting to spend time with either of them.

but a treat i missed was finally meeting facebook friend jennifer brand clair with whom i have been corresponding.  she and i were going to bake a cake together in her home in tampa.  she bakes cakes for all occasions and could bake one for you too!  but this is what she baked for me–

this cake is a book that i will write about my year and a half of meeting facebook friends. on the left hand page are two computers–mine and jennifer’s–joined by facebook. on the right hand page is a plane traveling to florida, where i will meet her. not this trip, maybe, but next one!

it’s a beautiful story and i have had a beautiful time in florida and i must look at it this way–i have one delicious reason to come back!  thank you jennifer!

 

 


white knights. . . .

i came to florida with my usual mission:  meet facebook friends face to face.  learn from them.   enjoy their avocations, their joys, their fears, and their lives.  and take friendship out from behind the laptop or the cellphone updates and into reality.

but i got a little sidetracked.

my father justin is receiving provenge treatment for cancer. experimental? yes. expensive? try ninety thousand a pop. weird? yeah, they take all your blood out and ship your white blood cells to a lab to be enhanced and reconfigured and then they put those white blood cells back in your body and say “cancer begone!”

 

i arrived in tallahassee and was a bit surprised.  my father’s wife was heading out on a business trip and asked me to take him to his first appointment the next day.  this required a cancellation of friendship appointments for monday and tuesday but i still figured i could do wednesday.

white blood cells (leukocytes) are the ruthless knights of our bloodstream. they fight diseases–cancer, strep throat, ebola. without them, we are without defense. tomorrow (friday) my father’s white blood cells–with new shields and swords–will be reintroduced to his body.

 

my father was feeling poorly and i cancelled the rest of the week’s travels through orlando, spring hill, tampa–but two facebook friends stopped by tallahassee to take me to lunch.  bill taylor, who lives in the city, and ron winegar who drove in from panama city.  the distraction was a great gift!

tomorrow i will take justin to his appointment to get back those white blood cells back into his system and then. . . alas, i’ll try to make it out of the state of florida!

 


provenge, the white knights, and my friends

i know what i planned to do–drive from tallahassee to orlando to spring hill to tampa and back again to tallahassee and then fly to chicago–but then there was reality.

the provenge treatment my father justin is engaging in requires that his blood be extracted from one arm and then processed in a machine which sorts out red and white blood cells.  the white blood cells are harvested and then couriered to a lab where, even as i write, they are being enhanced and changed.

leukocytes, or white blood cells, are the fighter cells and without them we have no immunity to disease.  the provenge treatment means an enhanced armor, a better sword before they are shipped back to tallahassee.  my father is the first patient to have his provenge treatment conducted in tallahassee, as opposed to jacksonville which is several hundred miles away.  provenge is a treatment which costs approximately ninety thousand dollars. 

 

justin was feeling pretty awful afterwards and when he has the white blood cells reintroduced into his system, he will not immediately feel better.  in fact, he might feel quite a bit worse.  i have been told that he will need a chaperone as he did on tuesday–this time, there will be a sedative.  for him, not for me, damnit!

we came back from the clinic and justin immediately fell asleep.  i cancelled all my facebook friend plans and was so grateful that everybody was so understanding.  sure, i felt guilty but i was the one creating the guilty–nobody was putting more on me.

but there was one friend i was too late to be able to cancel.  facebook friend #330 ron winegar and i have been facebook friends for about a year.  he drove in from panama city to meet me for lunch.

ron is an air force and marine veteran. he was initially stationed in alaska and we shared stories of our common experiences of the 49th state. he’s a firm believer in ufo’s because when he was stationed there, he had some experience with them. i was fascinated! so much so that for nearly an hour i forgot that i was supposed to be taking care of justin. no worries, justin was still asleep when i returned to the apartment.  sometimes a knight in shining armor is just the friend who has lunch with you and let’s you forget the real world! 

 

i am so grateful for my facebook friends, the ones i see and the ones i haven’t had a chance to see. .. . yet.

 

 


first we take all your blood out of you. . .

at the southeast community blood center in tallahassee, florida, i am watching a frankensteinian experiment.  for the first time in tallahassee, a provenge treatment is being performed.  my father justin is the lucky patient, and lucky is absolutely the word.

provenge is a cancer treatment which promises up to three months of continued health.  it costs $90,000.  luckily, justin is covered by insurance.

when i came down to florida, i had an expectation of renting a car and toddling all over the place meeting facebook friends.  i had a great sense of anticipation. but i was anticipating something that isn’t happening:  instead, justin’s wife left for a business trip and i am a witness to history.  although provenge has been done in other parts of the country, this is new . . . for tallahassee and for justin.

nurses adam and denise are referred to as “vein whisperers” because they can get a needle into the very smallest of veins. over a three hour period, all of justin’s blood will circulate through a machine that extracts white blood cells.

justin’s blood will go through tallahassee airport. .. . i hope it doesn’t get stopped by the t.s.a.  and then . . . they’ll put the blood back into him!


when i’m gone. . . . this is where i’d like to be

get up in chicago, pile into the airplane and sit.

and sit some more.  our airplane had a problem, the pilot explained, one that required bringing a technician onboard to disable the lavatories in the “aft” compartment.  i’m not great on my aeronautical terms, but i figured out pretty quick that “aft” meant that the first class passengers still had a bathroom but the rest of didn’t.  and then, forty five minutes later, we took off.

i am in tallahassee where one of my facebook friends, my father justin, lives.  he is experiencing meta-fan-tastic prostate cancer and will undergo the experimental treatment provenge.  provenge is a one time only treatment that costs $90K and man, i sure hope it works.

it’s a good thing that i’m here, because justin’s wife had a business trip so she’s gone.  and tomorrow morning  justin and i show up for the treatment which involves all his blood being sucked out of his body and the white cells taken out to be sent to north carolina where they will be genetically altered and reinserted into his body in tallahassee on friday.

my plans of meeting facebook friends all over the state are a bit compromise.  nonetheless, i was so grateful that facebook friend william taylor, er, bill, came to visit me and my dad.  and took me to my favorite place in tallahassee.

in the old city cemetery in tallahassee, there is the monument to elizabeth budd graham who died in the late nineteenth century. some people believe that she was a witch because the inscribed face of the monument faces west. (please remind my sons joseph and eastman to face my monument to the east so that there’s no misunderstanding, although certain ex-husbands and boyfriends may beg to differ).

because we were meeting for the first time, bill brought a birthday cake that was a symbol of all the birthdays that we had missed as friends.  he transposed the numbers.  oops!

bill got a little confused: a twenty fifth birthday for moi? no, i’m actually fifty two but a gal can remember can’t she? i was grateful–and i was happy for his upcoming birthday in october! maybe when friends meet for the first time, they should celebrate the birthdays they have missed! and for bill and i that’s a lot of birthdays!

 

tomorrow i have to cancel some plans, some rentals, some tickets, but the most important thing is to take care of my father.  but the most placid picnic ground in tallahassee. . .


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