East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Lent- Day 35: The Last Temptation of Alisha.

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Beloved, my husband brought home the cake pictured above. Along with a large tray of brownies.

There was a bakesale at his job, he said, and well, he brought me... a cake. And a large tray of brownies. 

As I mentioned earlier in this Lenten season, I gave up sweets until Easter. So I haven't so much as popped a peanut M&M since February.

And here we are, at the start of Holy Week, looking ahead to celebrating... and my husband, the man I vowed to love and honor before God, came strolling into our home with some kind of green frosted chocolate cake. And a large tray of brownies. Oh, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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Lent- Day 34: Why blog?

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(Image: John P. Weiss)

 

Yesterday's post, complete with cutie-pie pic of Z, got over 70 hits. Thursday's barely hit 20. My most popular post in this Lenten series got something like 150. So basically, I'm not even half a blip on these here interwebz.

Sometimes, I'll get discouraged. Afterall, I started blogging in April 2009 at Far Above Rubies, and it's sad knowing thousands of posts have pretty much collected the online equivalent of dust without having been read by more than 7 or 8 people.

At least, it would be sad if I primarily wrote for others. Thing is, I don't. You lovely Readers matter of course, and sometimes, I do write for you (I'm especially talking about Kiki, Thomas, Maria, and Xiamora... ya'll are loyal). But I owe my blogging longevity to my own desire to write. I started journaling around 7, and I wasn't consistent with it. Weeks or months may pass between entries, but inevitabaly, I'd be back at it. Writing is like my social awkwardness, introversion, or sensory neuropathy: chronic.

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Lent- Day 26: Congratulations.

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In Thomas Edison's workshop. (Picture, my own.)

 

Today, I took Zoe to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange (N.J.- um, if you aren't aware by now, I live in Dirty Jerz). While I found the place fascinating, full of actual history (a kinetoscope!), Zoe was much less interested. In fact, she doesn't want to go back. While she liked dressing up in old tyme clothes and playing with Tinker Toy blocks, she was sorely disappointed to be the only child there. A museum with ancient artifacts is one thing, but with ancient people, too? Nope, fail.

 

One of the park rangers there, Gage (true story, that's his actual first name... Ranger Gage is a superhero-in the making, just wait for it), spoke to us about Edison's inventions, legacy, and rivals (ahem, Tesla, ahem). After I mentioned a "Bob's Burgers" episode about Edison and Topsy (fair warning, the real-life story is hella grim, Guys. If you want to check it out, start here, but you were warned!), he even discussed the history behind that. I thought he may try to give me P.R.-approved answers to such non-flattering questions, but Ranger Gage kept it real.

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Lent- Second Sunday: Blessings.


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(Image Source: Genius)

 

"If I ever took a loss, I learned a lesson"
"Blessings", Lecrae

 

I lost three followers from this blog's Facebook page over the past week and a half- you know, since I started these daily Lenten posts. Ha.

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Until you return to the ground.

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By the sweat of your brow
    you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
    since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
    and to dust you will return.”

-Genesis 3:19

 Ash Wednesday- actually the whole concept of Lent- jolts me. I grew up Holiness/Pentecostal, belonged to another such church during college, and then spent another five years as a member of a nondenominational Evangelical fellowship. So yeah, I always find myself shocked by the starkness of this day.

The verses read, including the one above, are blunt. We're going to die. All of us. And we, as in humanity, really stink. We are the worse. We oppress others, are selfish, and a quick skim through Isaiah 58 shows that even when we are supposed to be doing something holy, like fasting, we tend to get all self-righteous and conceited.

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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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I am not my hair.

 

 
"Breast cancer and chemotherapy
Took away her crownin' glory
She promised God if she was to survive
She would enjoy every day of her life, oh
On national television
Her diamond eyes are sparkling
Bald-headed like a full moon shining
Singing out to the whole wide world like, hey"
- India Arie, "Brown Skin"
 
On Wednesday evening, I walked into the bathroom, slid open the medicine cabinet, pulled out a small pair of scissors and paused for about five seconds. I took a deep breathe and cut a large hunk of my hair off on the left side. In less than ten minutes, the sink was full of fro. I was done.
 

 

 
I had decided a long time ago that I'd rather get a hair cut before receiving the chemotherapy that is part of the complex Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. The staff at Northwestern Memorial let me know from the jump that I'd lose all my hair. Unlike with many chemo treatments prescribed for patients with cancer, the use of chemo here will be so intense that the hair wouldn't just thin. I'd look like a honey brown cue ball within two months. No ifs, ands or combovers.Not wanting to resemble a 2016 female version of George Jefferson when clumps of my afro begin to drop out, I planned to go to a salon and get my first real, professional haircut since college.
 
But plans have been failed aspirations lately, and with less than a week before I'd be back in Chicago to finally get the transplant, and not wanting to spend any additional cash on strands that wouldn't be around to greet the Summer Solstice in a couple of months anyway, I got my Edward Scissorhands on. 
 
Zoe doesn't like it. Not in the least. She wants my "old, better hair style back". K... well, he's said he likes it, but only did so after I asked him straight out. So, yeah. 
 
I like that I haven't had to do it since I washed and styled it that first night. But I feel a little... I'm not even sure. Unfazed? I thought I might've gotten a bit moved by it all. I now have the shortest hair in the house.
 
My husband, with his shaved, two-strand twisted fauxhawk, has longer hair than me. And still, my emotional reaction could be depicted like this emoji
 
I've thought about it and I truly believe going natural while pregnant with Zoe pretty much took the sting out of this. I heard some of the nastiest comments when I let go of the relaxed locks. My appearance, value, sexual appeal and femininity were all questioned and even ruled quite lacking based on the texture of my hair. Why worry now when I barely have any? In those people's eyes, I've been ugly. 
 
I cried then, but their taunts toughened me. There I was, in my last year of my 20's FINALLY getting it. My value is not in my appearance, and certainly not in the capricious opinions of others on said appearance. As India Arie sings, I am not my hair. I'm not my skin, either. I learned that lesson quite well as I got scar after scar from IVIG treatments, medicines, and surgically implanted ports. 
 
I don't have breast cancer, but like the woman in India's song, I've done my praying and have decided to enjoy each day, "Bald-headed like a full moon shining".
 
 
 
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Forever 28. Three years old.

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Friday marked the third anniversary of my sister Joscelyne's death.

 

Around 8AM, I pulled the black and white photo of her, ensconced in a shiny, mirrored frame, off the bookshelf, and placed it in the center of the piano. I set out a couple of candles, and searched through a closet for the least tacky plastic flowers I could find. I wanted fresh lilies, but due to a sprained ankle I've been nursing for three weeks, that didn't happen.

 

I found some pink and purple ones, part of a bouquet that she had purchased in 2011 for our mom that wound up in my possession. They surrounded the candles, which I lit and watched flicker. Their light could barely be seen because it was bright in the living room. November 20th of 2015 was sunny, unlike the gloomy and overcast 20th of 2012.

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Lent- Day 24: Euphoria in aporia.

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A drawing of Soren Kierkegaard I did yesterday.

 

 

I haven't been sleeping well the last few nights. My thoughts, during the day and night, are on my daddy, who's been on life support since last week. We- the family- know, but are still grappling with the reality that we are nearing the end.

 

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Lent- Day 10: Bookends.

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Our poor little Civic. :-(

 

 

 

I started the week feeling frightened by my father's declining health. I'm ending it feeling shaken by a car accident.

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Lent- Day 5: My tears have been my food.

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"My dad is dying."

 

 

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Way down in the hole.

 

My interview with Tray Chaney who played Poot on "The Wire" was so much fun, I wanted to keep it going. See, I've caught some flack from a couple friends over my enthusiasm for the show... and you know, I wear that as a badge of honor.

 

I do like a number of other shows, though (ask K about my borderline obsessive knowlege of all things "Simpsons"). As it turns out, some of those shows have writers who share my feelings for "The Wire", and quite casually work them into their episodes. So off the top of my head, here's some I've spotted over the last few years. If you can think of more, please comment below.

 

Speaking of "The Simpsons", in a season 23 episode, "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", Krusty lands a new adult-themed show on "HBOWTime" thanks to his new (and former) agent Annie Dubinsky (voiced by the late Joan Rivers). While the show airs, things go awry, and Moe, watching it live at the bar is left wondering why he pays extra for the channel.

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Some Saturday Stuff: January 24th.

 

Happy Weekend.

 

We woke up to snow this morning here in Jersey, and we may get some more early next week. Or not, since some meteorologists said we would this past Wednesday and there wasn't even a dusting. So we'll see.

 

Snow is plain depressing to me. Actually, most of winter is. Not enough daylight or sunshine makes for one sad Alisha. 

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Water, ice and crumbling pearls.

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(Screenshot, "Boss") 

 

"I wonder what it's like to take the shape of the space you're in?" -Tom Kane, "Boss"

 

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Some Saturday Stuff: November 15th.

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(Source: @sarahcpr, Twitter)

 

 

While the Internet went cray (but, alas, not broken) over Kim Kardashian's oiled-up cakes on the cover of Paper magazine this week, I was busy binging on the cancelled Starz show, "Boss", which centers on corrupt Chicago mayor Tom Kane and his battles with political enemies and his own body. Kane, played by a scarily beguiling Kelsey Grammer, is diagnosed with Lewy bodies, a degenerative neuro disease with no cure that will eventually lead to incapacitation and death.

 

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On Robin Williams and depression.

Like millions, I was shocked on Monday when I heard the news that beloved comic actor Robin Williams had taken his life. I wound up in tears over my iPad, my nephew Justin offering a brief but heartfelt, "I'm sorry". 

 

I grew up watching reruns of Mork and Mindy on Nick at Nite, and I'd still happily dawn a pair of rainbow suspenders today. My favorite Disney movie is Aladdin, and of course I watched HookMrs. Doubtfire, and Jumanji. I even liked his decidely creepy turn as a villian on Law & Order: SVU. 

 

It was actually that one episode guesting gig that popped in my head as I emailed my friend Aja on Monday night. She wrote that he "seemed like such a sad person" despite "all of his comedy and shenanigans" and I have to agree. There was definitely something dark there, and his sudden death shone a bright light on it.

 

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Some Saturday Stuff: July 26th.

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Zoe with her new birthday gifts from my nurse, Stella- a puppy purse, a Cabbage Patch, and a tiny stroller.

 

 

 

Happy Saturday, All, and a very Happy Birthday to my cousin Ean. I can hardly believe the cute little curly haired toddler I loved to squeeze is now 26. I feel ancient.

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The fault in my stars.

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I've never been into astrology.

 

Not just because I was raised that in fell into the category of the "occult" and was not to be dabbled in, but because it made very little sense to me. At least the way it was told to me, that your life was predetermined based on your birthdate and what type of moon and stars you were born under. So everyone with the same birthday should have the same exact horoscope, the same personality type, the same predilections in love?

 

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She's still dying on Facebook.

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Joscelyne's Facebook profile.

 

 

Yesterday morning, I nearly choked on my coffee. The near-choke came while reading "She's Still Dying on Facebook" at The Atlantic by Julie Binton. The story recounts the last days of Binton's former BFF Leah which is on display in perpetuity on Facebook.

 

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