ends & oddhealth & medical

First update

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So, it turns out that as far as cancer is concerned, I am not a mutant. No genes that make me necessarily predisposed to get this again. Though I will say that the genetic counselor made sure to let me know it is entirely possible that I am a cancer mutant, and that my particular mutation is as yet undiscovered. That’s a buzzkill, counselor! Apparently, if she were me, she would get a double mastectomy and have her ovaries removed as well. I will cling to as many of my lady bits as I can keep until they truly must go! That’s just how I intend to handle this.

In case you are wondering, I have drastically altered my diet and have begun taking supplements- some recommended by my probable soon to be surgeon, and some recommended by the lovely and talented TCM physician at Thank You Mama (to be fair, the surgeon is also lovely). I am also anemic and have to get that figured out and taken care of.

This morning’s appointment with the doctor was all about lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. No final final decision but I have to make it soon. Next up is to make an appointment to get blood work done- must check my iron again and look at my vitamin D levels with my GP. Then a consultation appointment must be made with a plastic surgeon. That is a sentence that I never thought I’d write! Then appointments for a second opinion, even though I do really like my probable lovely surgeon. I think it’s the right thing to do. This Friday I’ll be at Thank You Mama with my full test results to work up a complete game plan for the things that I can control (like what goes into my big ‘ol piehole).

I’m tired, but I’m trying to stay funny. Every once in a while I think about something that I need to teach the husband to do for the kids, just in case. You know, the mom things that I do. The stuff that just gets done and no one will notice until there is no one there to do it. And then I think: “Fuck it, just let him figure it out!” Ha! Just kidding. Then I push it out of my brain and try to go back to focusing on killing cancer, instead of focusing on the chance that it will kill me.

ends & oddhealth & medical

Now, I guess, it’s real

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I’m the type of person who works things out in writing. I make notes of my thoughts. I make lists. Facebook is the best, I swear status updates are like a combination of therapy and a vehicle for my need to feel like I’m entertaining people. If I didn’t write it down, or put it into font, did it happen? Maybe not.

Recently, though, I’ve been struggling with something that I haven’t shared online, for which I’ve taken no notes, for which I’ve just today started my first list of things to do. It’s been going on since September, really, and I’m just making my first list. Pretty easy to look back at the last few months and realize that I didn’t want it to be happening, but it turns out that I totally have cancer.

I did tell just a few people, family and some friends. My mother I told in person, because, you know, she’s my mom. My husband made some phone calls. I did send a few text messages. In regular life, I don’t do phone calls unless it’s an emergency. Texting is my favorite, but this time I would have rather not been communicating at all. I only told these people because I felt the need to explain why I’ve been avoiding everything and everyone.

The thing is, if you ask me how I’m doing, I will cry. If you ask me if my kids know (they don’t), I will cry. If you tell me that you care about me and will help out with whatever I need (I don’t know what I need), I will cry. I don’t want to cry in public.

I can talk about kids, the crummy school system, our new kitten, this hot and dry winter, the new Netflix series (or The Walking Dead, or GOT), TED talks, and podcasts, but not politics (not this year), and not cancer.

Initially, when we told a few people, it was a relief to not have to pretend anymore that everything is swell and that my new business isn’t quite taking off because I’m just moving slowly (I am moving slowly but I’m not taking my time, it’s totally cancer’s fault and apparently I’m also super anemic). Then I started to have to field phone calls and explain things that I don’t yet understand. I started to have to talk about treatments that I haven’t decided on, and listen to people cry as they tried to deal with things themselves. Opinions are beginning to arrive as well. I imagine that will only increase, and dramatically.

So, maybe this is as good a way as any, or even the best way for me, to share this with people. Hopefully they won’t call me crying, or ask me what I need (seriously, I don’t know. I could use a stiff drink but I read that it’s a no-no.) Hopefully they will still invite me out for stuff, and maybe won’t give me “the face” too much (the one that says: “I’m totally thinking sad thoughts about your cancer right now, I wish you would tell me how I can help.”) If you need to make the face, maybe make it toward my back as I walk to the bathroom.

If you want to know how I’m doing, physically, I have invasive ductal carcinoma in my right breast. It is stage 2 at 2.1 centimeters, though the cut off for stage 1 is 2 centimeters and my doctor initially was referring to it as “stage one, but kind of stage 2.” There is apparently no stage 1.5. The cancer is estrogen and progesterone positive, but HER2 negative. I hear that you really want to be HER2 negative, but when I met with an oncologist and made a joke about having “the good breast cancer” he did not laugh. I guess it’s not that good.

If you want to continue to know how I’m doing, physically or otherwise, you can check back here. I’ll need to keep working out my thoughts, and if you feel like you need to cry about it, you can get it over with before we hang out. Ha! (I do want to hang out, it turns out that people who close themselves off socially when they discover they have cancer tend to have a greater risk of death. My kids need me to live, so text me when you have time for tea. Hey! Maybe that’s what I need.)

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten axioms to get your New Year off on the right foot

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10. You can achieve everything you want, if you’re unambitious enough.

9. Politics isn’t left vs. right, it’s top vs. bottom.

8. Never get in line behind the Devil at the DMV, for the Devil takes many forms.

7. The speed with which a woman says, “Nothing,” when asked what’s wrong is inversely proportional to the intensity of the coming storm.

6. I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.

5. (for anyone in a relationship) Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?

4. War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.

3. The face of a child says it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

2. We don’t negotiate with terrorists, except for the price of the weapons we sell them.

1. If you don’t think it’s all about perspective, just consider the fact that the sinking of the Tiitanic was a miracle for the lobsters in the ship’s kitchen.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

creative writingfamily & parenting

A Poor Man’s Christmas

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Christmas was coming and my father was between positions again. It was the late seventies and well after his temporary gig driving the van delivering flowers in downtown Philly. It must have been between computer-programming jobs, possibly Textronix in Blue Bell and Arthur’s Travel in Center City, the job that would launch him to California and alter the trajectory of his life.

But in the winter of 1978 or ’79, my Dad had nothing. He was broke. I remember him hinting at this, but I don’t have a great sense of feeling any danger because of it. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten Christmas one-liners

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10. Santa’s elves are just a bunch of subordinate Clauses.

9. The office Christmas party is a great opportunity to catch up with people you haven’t seen for 20 minutes.

8. ’Tis the season to awkwardly walk by someone ringing a bell.

7. I once bought my kid a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying “Toys not included.”

6. As Mrs. Grinch said, “His heart wasn’t the only thing that was two sizes too small.”

5. Are we doing “Secret Santa” this year, because I accidentally bought some unsalted butter.

4. I am the ghost of Christmas Future Perfect Subjunctive, and I will show you what would have happened were you not to have changed your ways!

3. The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the naughty girls live.

2. It’s hard to believe, but there are 364 days until Christmas, and people already have their Christmas lights up.

1. I wasn’t planning on giving Christmas gifts this year, but then I heard about those Samsung Galaxy phones.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythinggames

Top ten most dangerous toys

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10. Easy Bake Microwave

9. Mr. Wizard’s Lobotomy Kit

8. Miss Piggy’s Big Bag o’ Pork

7. Black and Decker Silly Driller

6. Gasp! – The Saran Wrap Game

5. Hospital Waste Grab Bag

4. The Chris Christie Home Stomach-Stapler

3. Fisher-Price Choking Hazard

2. Baby’s First Nail Gun

1. The Electoral College
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

virtual children by Scott Warnock

Not letting the toy story end just yet

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First off, I hope my kids don’t read this column before Christmas, although I think I’m safe. Why? In a couple months, I will be living with three teenagers. They have their own interests. The house feels older, more serious. Christmas has followed suit. Presents come in envelopes. They have screens. They’re practical. Simply put, they’re not toys. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten Donald Trump picks

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10. Vice President: Mike Pence, a man who believes homosexuality can be cured by conversion therapy, opposes homosexuals serving in the military, signed the Indiana law making it okay to discriminate against gays and lesbians, believes in abstinence-only sex education, seeks to defund Planned Parenthood, and is a Climate Change denier.

9. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson, the somnambulant former presidential candidate who has publicly stated he doesn’t want to work in government and isn’t qualified to run a federal agency, is a Climate Change denier, and also believes that the Pyramids of Giza were not tombs, but grain silos built by Joseph, the Biblical son of Jacob.

8. Secretary of Labor: Andy Puzder, a fast-food CEO (Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s) who is, naturally, against raising the minimum wage, and fiercely against over-regulation.

7. Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency: Scott Pruitt, a fossil-fuel advocate, a sworn enemy of the EPA, and a staunch Climate Change denier.

6. Administrator of the Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon, a professional wrestling magnate and former wife of World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment wrestler/announcer Vince McMahon, who was aware that at least 40% of professional wrestlers were illegally abusing steroids, resulting in a death rate seven times greater than the general population.

5. Secretary of the Treasury: Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner, who wants to reduce corporate taxes, and has said his number one priority on the regulatory side is to strip back parts of Dodd–Frank.

4. Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross, who formed International Coal Group in 2004, a mining company allowed to be set up free of labor unions, health care and pensions, and who was well aware of his Sago Mine’s safety problems before a 2006 explosion that killed 12.

3. Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos, a fierce proponent of school vouchers that would allow students to attend private schools with public funding, and one of the architects of the Detroit charter school system, which even charter advocates acknowledge is the biggest school reform disaster in the country.

2. National Security Adviser: Michael T. Flynn, who has repeatedly fallen for conspiracy theories and hoaxes, helping to spread the rumor about Pizzagate, the absurd story that Hillary Clinton was running a secret child sex ring out of the basement of a Washington, DC pizzaria, a rumor that led a 28-year-old gunman to enter the pizzeria and fire off an assault rifle.

1. Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor: Steve Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart News, a far-right news, opinion and commentary website (famous for such headlines as “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy” and “Why Equality and Diversity Departments Should Only Hire Rich, Straight White Men”), who is an admitted member of the alt-right (aka, white nationalism, a movement associated with white supremacism, Islamophobia, antifeminism, homophobia, and antisemitism).
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten one-liners

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10. When my doctor emailed me asking me if I knew my “blod group,” I replied, “Typo.”

9. If you have trouble getting your gecko up in the morning, you may have a reptile dysfunction.

8. When I was young, I used to feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body, but all of that changed when I was born.

7. “Have I made myself clear?” said the chameleon standing in front of the sheet of glass.

6. I intend to live forever, and…so far, so good!

5. I put tape on all the mirrors in my house, so I don’t accidentally walk through into another dimension.

4. I just finished writing a book about poltergeists, and I’m happy to say it’s flying off the shelves.

3. I’m taking a levitation course and, on my very first day I went straight to the top of the class!

2. I’ve started sending Tweets telepathically — so if you think of something funny, that’s me!

1. Two parallel lines have so much in common, it’s a shame they’ll never meet! (although I guess, technically, that’s a two-line joke.)
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

books & writingcreative writing

Excerpt from Auggie’s Revenge

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In 2016, I was lucky enough to have a second novel slip out of the apartment and onto a publisher’s list. Here’s an excerpt you’re welcome to share and enjoy. If it leads to a few sales, I’m grateful; if it doesn’t I won’t sulk. Or, not in public anyway.

from Auggie’s Revenge, chapter 9, “Uncle Sam’s Blood Money”:

But the thought of murder, like most others, drifted away, and I resumed my daily grind. Taking attendance and grading papers. Designing lessons. Lecture or discussion. In class, expounding upon the poverty of philosophy, or at the very least the philosophy of my poverty. Making a jackass of myself in front of undergrads so certain they wouldn’t wind up like the sloppy joker in front of the room.

One afternoon while strolling to the street corner after classes, in the middle of my muddled thoughts on philosophy, Auggie, humanity, murder, et al., I spied a thick wad of bills. [Read more →]

art & entertainmenttelevision

Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life: Episode 4 recap.

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Subtitle: Meg Has Feelings.

Dear Gilmore Girls, I think I speak for all of us when I say: What. The Actual. Eff?

I’m going to insert the Read More tag here so that I don’t spoil things for those who have not seen the ending of Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life. Hold, please… [Read more →]

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Writing, technology, and class mannequin challenges

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Recently, I gave a talk at a high school about how college students today are learning online and with ed tech in general. The audience was parents, and it was interesting to hear how they perceived the learning their children were doing in front of/with a computer and how they felt about it. [Read more →]

art & entertainmenttelevision

Gilmore Girls, A Year in the Life: Episode 3 Recap

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Those hazy, crazy, something days of summer are here and the heat must be getting to those Gilmore Girls because things got cray in this episode.

Recap

Despite trying to convince the residents of Stars Hollow that she’s only home temporarily, we all know that Rory is, indeed, “back” and is signaling her commitment to letting her life go down the toilet via her wardrobe. Out go the lucky red dresses and jaunty circle skirts that attract men in Wookie costumes like moths to flames, in come the leggings and oversized tee shirts. She’s basically becoming Lane. Sad, sad Lane. Rory is bored out of her mind because no one clued her in to the fact that freelance journalists can, you know, work from wherever, so takes on the sad task of reviving the Stars Hollow Gazette. How sad is this endeavor? It’s Lane Sad, that’s how sad it is. It’s so sad that Rory has to enlist her MOTHER to help her deliver the papers around town. I mean, honestly, how big can Stars Hollow be, really? How exhausted can you be, really? You were just on the phone with Logan saying that you were bored, Rory. Then Jess finally shows up like the deux ex machina at the end of the opera, prompting Rory to finally see how very Lane Sad she’s become. He pulls his best Dr. Behr and tells Jo to just write what she knows, already. Oh, Jess. We can always count on you to slap Rory upside the head. Also, Rory is also becoming increasingly worried about Emily’s depression and gets no support from Lorelai on that. Lorelai really is like a child sometimes. [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten shows on Trump TV

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10. Touched by a Millionaire

9. 8 Simple Rules for Me Dating My Daughter

8. Mad Man

7. Arrested Developer

6. How I Met Your Mother While Cheating On My First Wife

5. Sexist in the City

4. The Fresh Prince of Hot Air

3. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Who Never Pays Taxes

2. The Blunder Years

1. The Amazing Racist
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

art & entertainmenttelevision

Gilmore Girls, A Year In the Life: Episode 2 Recap

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I just wrapped up the second episode of Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life, and any fears I had about it being too cutesy are out the window. This is pretty good, guys.

Recap

In a move that should have happened about forty years ago, Lorelai and Emily go to therapy together. Turns out Emily is still pretty bitter about that whole Lorelai-getting-knocked-up-at-sixteen-then-running-away-from-home-and-only-coming-back-when-she-needed-money thing. Who knew? Emily then invites Luke to dinner, where she gives him the information he needs to purchase a life insurance policy and also drops the horrible news on him that Richard left him a large sum of money specifically earmarked for the expansion of Luke’s Diner into a multi-location franchise. Well Luke and Lorelai are just livid at this. Livid! Damn those Gilmores. Giving Luke a ton of money to expand and hiring the best real estate agent in town, all to ensure that their daughter and the man she has chosen to spend her life with are taken care of. What a bunch of assholes. Emily eventually gives up on therapy but Lorelai keeps going. Emily takes Luke to see some locations for the first location of the Luke’s Diner empire, which will be run by Cesar, apparently? Lord help those patrons. Oh, and Luke and Lorelai lie to each other so that can’t be good. [Read more →]

art & entertainmenttelevision

Gilmore Girls Recap: Observations! Questions! Shenanigans! Coffee!

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This week, people all over the country sat down to enjoy what many of us have been looking forward to for the better part of a year: No, not Thanksgiving, the return of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. The Girls are a divisive entity, like Brussels sprouts or the music of Nickelback—you either despise them ore you’re all in. I’ve been all in for the Gilmore Girls since about season 3 and it’s been a lonely road at times. Once, while spending two weeks at my parents’ house recovering from minor surgery, my father actually stood in front of the television and said “I love you, but I am begging you to turn this off.” Sometimes, he still wakes up from Gilmore-induced nightmares, shaking and screaming “NO ONE TALKS LIKE THAT!!” [Read more →]

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingends & odd

Top ten Pilgrim pick-up lines

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10. “This is my last chance! We’re shipping out tomorrow!”

9. “Let’s say you and I ‘bury the hatchet’ – if thou catchest my drift.”

8. “I must compliment you on your magnificent spread!”

7. “Care for a little white meat?”

6. “Just because I am a Puritan does not mean that I am puritanical.”

5. “Indeed, I must unbutton my breeches, as they are on the verge of bursting.”

4. “If you’d just be a little more ‘giving’, I’d certainly extend my ‘thanks’.”

3. “I am still deciding which I prefer, a leg or a breast?”

2. “Thou art quite handy with thine bow and arrow. How wouldst thou like to place thy shaft into my quiver?”

1. “I doth ache to get mine Plymouth Rocks off.”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingpolitics & government

Top ten things Obama said to Trump during Trump’s White House visit last Thursday

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10. “Do you want to see the upstairs bathroom, or do you just want to save it all ’til you shit on the Constitution?”

9. “I made history by being the first Black President. And you’ll make history by being the first orange one.”

8. “Once you’re President, how long do you think it’ll be before I get stopped and frisked?”

7. “When it comes to honesty, I know your reputation. And just to let you know, I’ve counted the silverware.”

6. “I’m gonna introduce you to Michelle now, but if you grab anything, you’re comin’ away with a bloody stump.”

5. “If you ever have any questions any time day or night, I’m just a phone call away. And my number is ‘Five-five-five…’”

4. “So I guess you’re going to take the two-word phrase ‘White House’ and stick the word ‘Supremacist’ in the middle.”

3. “I’ll tell you all the secrets about Area 51 if you’ll tell me the secret about what that thing is on your head.”

2. “So Orange really is the new Black!”

1. “It must give you great pleasure to be doin’ your favorite thing in the world: evicting a Black family from their home!”
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

educationvirtual children by Scott Warnock

Portal

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My wife and I have been attending back-to-school nights for 13 years. Even though our youngest is in middle school and we have two high schoolers and know the routine, we feel a sense of duty to attend and support our kids and their teachers. This year, as I listened to each teacher’s energetic welcome and course description, I was really struck with the scrutiny today’s teachers are under. [Read more →]

adviceterror & war

Call It what you will … but MARK It …..

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, MD – Canadian Expeditionary Force (Died January 28, 1918 at Boulogne France)

Here in the U.S., one doesn’t see the poppies on people’s lapels so much, as we used to when were children ….. One of the most ridiculous victories in America’s ‘war of drugs’ was the declaration by ‘drug czars’ and their staffs that the poppy reminded people of addiction to drugs, rather than appreciation to those who gave the ‘last full measure of their devotion’ in service to their country. Such is not the case in Canada, England, and other countries that once formed the ‘Commonwealth.’ The paper poppies – and the fundraising for veterans’ relief that they represent – have been prominent in photos and video the past couple weeks.

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day ….. call it what you will ….. but find some way to mark this day. Here, in America, the focus of the day has been expanded to honor all men and women who, throughout history, have answered their country’s call to serve. There have been many in our own family, but – mindful of the origins of this particular holiday – I will tell the boys of their great-grandfather Frederick, a sergeant with the 102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, and his service in France during the First World War.

102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, in France

102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, in France