Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chemo, happiness, travel...

This is totally not in chronological order and I don’t what happened when – and also, the photos are not necessarily linked to the text. Just another example of writing to remember (These days, how I treasure what I’ve written about travel in Asia with Leslie!).
David with Jake, CK, Phana - Ocean Beach, 2015
Last week I went with Phana and Kayleen to visit David and Charles. It was a great visit, full to the brim with activities – Golden Gate Park, Neiman’s, Castro, Four Seasons, Ocean Beach – all over the place. I backed out of some parts of the trip as I felt the focus should be on David, Phana, and Kayleen’s relationship.
We came back to Dallas on Monday, back to chemo on Tuesday, massage for Phana on Wednesday, chemo/pump out Thursday, dinner with Debora Thursday evening, rehab on Friday morning, and fly back to San Francisco on Friday. Yikes! In some ways it’s been a hard week for me – lots of sadness and longing. Yet good in many ways.
Some of the parts that were good were spending time with Phana and Kayleen (see below), spending time with Phana, seeing my brother John, finishing early with chemo on Tuesday (I was in kind of a dream-like state and then about 3:30 Phana said it’s done), the whole massage scene (see below), dinner with Debora, a rare dream, and heading back to San Francisco.
Kayleen, Ocean Beach, 2015
Massage – I had a dream about Jessica A. in which I was trying to ask her something, but couldn’t. I contacted her a few days later about who might give Phana a loving massage and she suggested our mutual friend, Kristina. I was so happy that I know someone I can ask about a loving massage AND who would understand what I meant by that term AND that Kristina’s name would come up. Kristina’s apartment was a lovely, high space – even a sacred space, so I was super-happy to be there – so grateful for the whole scene. By the “whole scene” I mean the connections within Atrium Obscurum and the good people who make it beautiful, and more immediately, what was happening that day.
Spending time with Phana was basically the same as always – good. Spending time with Kayleen was an opportunity to discover a rare mix of child and adult. At first, she manifests child, as in totally 17. Then over time, she reveals depth and maturity. She’s dealing with a lot and dealing with it gracefully.
Phana and I went to a government office to pick up an important document. It was a very busy office with easily a hundred employees and countless clients and in all that, the person who ended up helping, said that she knows who Phana is! And I was thinking that all of us (Phana, from Cambodia; the employee, from Vietnam; and me, a combat veteran of Vietnam) are all children of war, ending up together, momentarily, in that huge office.
Phana, Kayleen, David
This was after 7 phone calls to that office with hold times probably averaging about 5 minutes (so not bad in that respect) and 4 phone calls to other entities such as a Congressman, Phana got a call from the office: yes, they have her passport and she can come in Thursday to pick it up. And, "Do you know a Charles Kemp?" LOL. So they got some little pieces of my ass and a bigger piece of hers, which is profoundly dragging after this 2nd course of max chemo, but still a better choice to go in now vs. them mailing it. 
Onward Through the Fog!
Today, she's in one of the big chairs in the chemotherapy infusion room and this man comes over, rolling his IV along, and among other things happening, looks at me and asks, "Do you love her?" I really did LOL and said, "I can't believe you're asking me that question." And with clarity said, "Yes." Pinned to the wall by an old man named George, with tears running down his cheeks. We talked about what kind of love - agape and filial I think. He also talked about how we're all one. I thought at first maybe he was an angel - really. Now I think he was a man having a vision. 
I was at the corner of Duboce and Steiner in San Francisco when one of those long fire trucks with a driver in front and someone else steering the back of the truck. The person steering the rear was waving at children and when I waved, too, he waved at me. Good times in San Francisco! 
David at Golden Gate
I was some sad the past few days. It began to lift as Phana and I drove on I30 today. I realize now that part of the problem was likely that for several days I had abandoned the practice of each evening writing down three good things that happened that day – because so much good is happening. Ha! So much good, so much sad. Playing a little catch-up now. Good…
I know people who say, “Yes,” when I ask, “Do you know anyone who can give a good, loving massage?”
I’m looking so forward to being with David. Prodigiously forward to that!
I’m happy to be bringing Phana and Kayleen to see David. I’m glad to be with Phana and Kayleen.
It makes me happy that Nora is buying Leslie’s car – and sad, too.
It was a good thing to have dinner with John. He’s a good guy.
It is a good thing to think of Leslie – of how she was so many things (wife, mother, lover, get it done genius, beautiful woman, decent person, and more).
Bible study was good.
Kayleen and Phana - SF,  2015
Looking forward to seeing Kristina.
Glad to be returning to San Francisco.
Grateful for the Grateful Dead.
Grateful for sativa.
Go Cali!
For walking with David, Phana, and Kayleen and for having coffee with them.
For San Francisco.
For dinner at Italian place on 19th Street upstairs in the Castro.
For sitting here while Phana and Kayleen rest.
Good times at tastings at four Seasons and cake place in the Mission.
Beginning to get to know Kayleen.
Being on Haight Street.
Talking with Charles B.
Being in SF.
Going to beach with David, Phana, Kayleen, and Jake.
Lunch with everyone at the Slanted Door.
Haight Street, 2015
Walk with Kayleen, talking with her.
My apartment in San Francisco.
There was some sourdough starter (levain) dated 2/2014 in the refrigerator. I started the reactivation process and within 4 days, had a fully active levain (doubles in size, forms many bubbles, and has a good sourdough fragrance in ~8 hours).
I then spread the active material on a tray in the dehydrator and dehydrated it at a low temp for about 10 hours yielding crispy, light pieces of levain.
Then I dissolved 5 gm of the dehydrated levain in warm water and started the reactivation process again. Within three days I had a fully active levain! Then I replicated the process to be sure it would work. It did.
Sourdough, Arizmendi Bakery
I ran into someone I knew today. She was telling me about her son working in psychiatry with veterans and how the smaller women working in that setting were glad of this woman’s son – they feel protected because of his size. I didn’t have a good reaction to what she was saying, but didn’t understand why. I didn’t realize until just a few minutes ago that what this well-credentialed and uber-progressive person was saying about veterans with PTSD was that we’re dangerous, not to be trusted – haha (she was saying it with humor – it was amusing), they like having some muscle with them around the veterans. Hard to know what to say. I didn’t grasp it at the time, so went off on alternatives to the ineffective way PTSD is treated at the VA. But I get it now. I wonder how many shitty, racist or whatever things I’ve said and never even noticed…
To Phana: You asked if I felt tired after spending the day with you getting chemotherapy. I said something like “a little” – but later I began to understand. I wrote,
What I really feel after here is not tired, but… something. I’m not sure what. Except that I’ve been somewhere of import with someone of great import. I don’t feel at all glad in any way, but I would rather be here, right here, right now – than anywhere else I can think of: The Wind Rivers, San Francisco, anywhere (except, of course, with Leslie).
Our hotel was on this alley in Saigon, 2013
In the hall outside of the Chemotherapy Infusion Area I heard a man say, “I have a tough situation.” 
The last time I played golf was about a month after I returned from the war in 1967. It had been several years, so I wasn’t playing well until I reached a hard par 4 hole going back toward the clubhouse. I hit a perfect tee shot – long and right up the middle. I tossed my driver over by my other clubs and walked off the course. It was a good set of clubs, but I just left them there. That was it for me.
Now, several days later, sitting with Phana in an office in outpatient oncology, going over Advance Directives and Medical Power of Attorney, talking about how she is likely to pass, serious things.
Things that help with happiness (from Greater Good in Action Center at UC Berkeley - )
Three good things practice (every night) or gratitude journal
Mental subtraction of positive events
Savoring walk once a week vs. giving something up
Thank yous in word and deed; gratitude letter
New Mexico, July 2015
BP close to normal.
John calls to say, when I’m having a late day, let him know and he’ll fix dinner.
Went to dermatologist who took such good care of Leslie. She was extra sweet and used the word, “adore.”
Messaged with friend I haven’t seen in about 20 years.
Ran into friend who is police officer. He called about 30 minutes later to say, “You’re one of my heroes.”
Flying to Albuquerque from DFW. Lucked into right terminal and close to right gate.
Parked free with Purple Heart license plates.
Read a good article about Robert Frank (photographer of The Americans)
I wrote this: I’m hopeful! I don’t know what for. It just seems like there is some future out there for me, some potential. I’m fearful. I fear further disconnection.

And there was the whole amazing scene with Jim and Elisabeth in New Mexico!

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