East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Lent- Day 36: Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

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My palms from Sunday, twisted into a cross. Please note, I have no idea how to do this and just kept bending until I got this.

 

On Sunday at church, we read from Matthew 27. Verse 46 always breaks my heart:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

 

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Lent- Day 29: 13 Reasons Why.

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(Image Source: Salon/Netflix/Beth Dubber)

 

Apologies for having no "Day 28". I spent most of Saturday binging Netflix's powerful "13 Reasons Why". It left me... not just speechless but wordless, to the point I couldn't post. I couldn't post on it or anything. Instead, I read a number of articles about it. From my favorite TV reviewer, Alan Sepinwell, published on March 23rd:

 

The tapes arrive in a box: seven old-school audio cassettes, with 13 of their 14 sides numbered in blue nail polish. They come with simple instructions: Listen to them all, then pass them on to the next person on the list. The tapes were recorded by Hannah Baker, a teenage girl whom everyone on the list knows terribly well, because she recently killed herself. And Hannah’s voice promises two things:

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Lent- Day 16: Heaven is a place on Earth.

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Kelly, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, left, and Yorkie, played by Mackenzie Davis, in "San Junipero", episode 4, season 3 of "Black Mirror".( Image Source: Nerdist)

 

I cried when I watched the "San Junipero" episode of Netflix's "Black Mirror". Whenever someone tells me they're going to watch the series, I tell them to look out for it in the midst of their streaming binge. I can't quite articulate what gets to me so much about it, and I don't want to ramble on trying to here. So if I'd have to make a quick statement, it's the treatment of death and the afterlife... and the deepest hopes we have for it. I cry similarly at parts of "Inception", watching Marion Cotillard's Mal become so engrossed with the dream world- a place of love, happiness and no pain- that she never wants to live in the real. 

 

But the premise of "San Junipero" is very much unlike "Inception", and without going into too many of the details of the plot, I'll just highlight what relates to this post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

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Lent- Day 10: Happily Never After?

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Chidi (William Jackson Harper) and Elanor (Kristen Bell), "soulmates" in NBC's The Good Place (Image Source: Vulture)

 

Alright, after yesterday's start in the 1990s before heading back to the 1690s, it's time we head back to the present, also known as "The Dumpster Fire That Started in 2016 But Has Not Been Extinguished Yet", or 2017 for short. I was talking to my friend Kiki a few hours ago (at this point, Kiki needs to be recognized for not just continually encouraging me to blog, but also providing me with topical material on which to do so), and we formed an instantaneous, mutual admiration society for The Good Place, the Kristen Bell-Ted Danson comedy that premiered on NBC last fall. If you haven't seen it, you can watch the entire first season here. One of the things I like about the show is how it readily and repeatedly dismantles the idea of soulmates (along with a ton of other things, but this isn't a spoiler post, so moving on...). When I think about it, some of the shows I've enjoyed the most in the past year, such as Insecure and Master of None, have done similarly. Maybe Millennials and Gen Exers are just over it? 

Writing at New York Magazine, Danielle Friedman says that "Happily Ever After" simply isn't cool anymore:

 

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Baby, I'm just soggy from the chemo.

 
 
On the April 12th, I underwent the first round of chemotherapy for the stem cell transplant at Northwestern. I was given a rather large, private room, complete with a spectacular view of the Chicago skyline and a large flatscreen TV that I never used on account of the fast hospital WIFI and having my laptop with me. 
 
The nursing staff was nice. Friendly, chatty even, but not too talkative. They knew when to take a bow. 
 
They were quick to provide me with Zofran to combat the nausea from the Cytoxan. Sidebar, but isn't Cytoxan such an appropriately awful name for chemo? Cy-TOX-an? Toxic toxin. Eww. Anyway, they also gave me Mesna and Lasix, which left me having to pee pretty much every ten minutes for a couple of hours each time I was dosed. And of course, every time I went, I was accompanied by my beeping, infusing buddy, large IV stand, pictured below in the background.

 

Yes, I still maintain my hippie style even at the hospital.


The actual chemo infusion went fine, but the stay overnight was rough. I couldn't sleep, which is totally normal for many hospital patients. But what did me in was an overwhelming, almost to the point of smothering, feeling of loneliness. There was a pull out bed in my room, but it was empty, with K being back at the hotel with Zoe. We spoke via FaceTime... or rather, barely spoke, an awkward silence doing most of the communicating for us both. The day, with it's heavy anxiety, had left us both stunned and stung.

At some point in the wee hours, my night nurse, Maria, checking on me during a pee run, noticed my sadness, and offered up some words of encouragement. Somehow our small talk turned to God, and with a thick Filipino accent, she shared how she prays for each one of her patients at the start of every shift, asking God to help her be an instrument for Him.

Still lacking words, I gave her a hug, me still tethered to old large IV stand, her in crinkly, blue, antiseptic gown and latex gloves.

I got home the following afternoon feeling surprisingly well. I had made several stops after being discharged to buy flowers (white lilies and pink daises) for our hotel room (really more of a studio apartment with a full kitchen) and to pick up the prescriptions I'd need for the next week.

Things were still awkward between me and K, but Zoe greeted me as if we had been separated for months. As the hours passed, I fell into a daze of exhaustion, finally conking out before 8PM. Around 2AM, I awoke to what felt like an actual wave of nausea. For the next 36 hours, that wave would submerge me into some kind of hellishness akin to labor pains, premenstrual cramps, and the most severe stomach virus ever... combined. I'd pop a Zofran, which, as far as life preservers go in an ocean of nausea, kept me afloat, but most certainly didn't save me. Food was a step away from gross. I wasn't even too keen at looking at it.

The only thing I wanted to see was my family. In fact, from my groggy, soggy chemo haze, laying in bed, I set my gaze on K and Z. It didn't take long for them both to question my stares. I mumbled out how much I missed them. Zoe shrugged, laughed and went back to watching TV. K met my stare with a look that crossed incredulity with being weirded out.

Again, I felt stung.

I had been warned that this process would leave me physically depleted. There were no side effect warnings for my emotions.


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