April 5, 2010 at 11:56 AM (Energy, Mood) (, , , , , , , , )

The weather has an inordinately strong effect on my mood. For as long as I can remember, it seems that a sunny, warm day brings out my doingest, most optimistic and energetic self; grey and cold, especially rainy and cold, drive me underground with a furrowed brow and a short temper. According to my therapist, this is giving too much power over my life to the vagaries of Mother Nature, especially here in New England – you know, “if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.” I should be much stronger than giving up a potentially good day in the face of crappy weather. Not to mention that this puts me in a pretty foul mood from, say, January through April.

Nonsense, I say. Ask Louis Armstrong: when you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you. Why shouldn’t the weather affect us the same way? I understand that I should be able to keep a civil and patient (I’m thinking specifically of my reactions to the short people in my house) tongue in my head on a truly gale-ful day in February, but I think it’s okay to grouse about it, too.

Potentially this has more to do with my dog-walking habits than any other reason: he and I have established a (lucky dog!) schedule wherein we spend 45 minutes to an hour every day in the local state park, a hundred-acre wooded and fielded dog’s paradise that could possibly give Mt. Washington a run for its money as the windiest place on earth. We’ve been there on hot days in the summer when you couldn’t stand to go outside after 10 AM, and on blustery days in winter with eighteen inches of snow and howling northwest winds, when I wore nearly every piece of clothing I own. But once in the woods, even on the snowy days, we find so much peace and quiet and kumbaya-good-for-you-hug-a-tree-nature that despite my hothouse-flower disposition I keep coming back.

Good excuses for my weather focus abound: neuropathy makes my hands and feet ACHE unbearably in the cold weather. I’ve gotten so temperature-sensitive that long underwear are de rigueur on any day below 40 degrees. But the less time I can spend at the park, the rammier and more annoying the dog acts for the rest of the day. So we go.

I imagine that, before our climate-independent lifestyles developed, before we slipped from warm house to warm garage to warm store and back to warm car, when you had to leave the house to do just about everything, most people felt better on days when they didn’t have to rub the ice off the seat in the outhouse. When being really cold was a bit more life-threatening than just needing an extra four ounces of latte on the next Starbucks run. So call me a throw-back, but I’m going to stick to being temperature-sensitive. I’ll try to maintain a civil tongue in my head, even when it’s freezing out.

My family, it must be said, are very excited that we’re having a warm and early spring.

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Non-Cancer-Patients Have Feelings, Too

February 17, 2010 at 9:31 PM (Family, friends, Recovery, WTF) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Before I was The Carcinista, I was known as the Fashion Nazi. Working hard at building a style consulting business, I was the go-to gal for advice of all sorts (“I have this wedding to go to…” or “Gee, how about we go to the mall this weekend? I’m looking for boots…”) and quite popular when friends or acquaintances wondered if this outfit made them look fat/out of date/mutton-dressed-as-lamb. Clients streamlined their wardrobes and lost fifteen visual pounds/years. Fashion review columns flowed from my fingertips. Withering red-carpet reviews became my calling card.

The downside, apart from wasting countless hours lost in W and on, was that in social situations, good friends and new acquaintances alike were constantly apologizing for what they were wearing. “Gee, Kate, if you’d told me Sarah was coming to the party, I would have dressed up!” I tried to explain that unless they were my clients, their appearance was their own business, and it didn’t matter to me what they wore, but I guess Clinton and Stacy’s reputations preceded me. No matter how much I reassured them, there were always sheepish mea culpas for all-black outfits, comfortable shoes, or un-made-up faces.

Now that my public persona has shifted a bit, although I’m still the sassy style arbitrix I always was (with occasional forays into the yoga-pants-and-oversized-sweater look on schlumpy days), I’m still getting bowing and scraping from people. Only this time, they’re apologizing because I have cancer. Everyone has gripes. Everyone has a lousy day, a sore muscle, a bad cold. But no one feels like they can tell me about it, because my cancer trumps any other life gripe.

Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your…what, grasp of reality? But it’s all relative. My reality is mine, and your reality is yours, and if you’re sore from shoveling snow, it’s okay to complain about it. I promise I’m not thinking, “Wow, what a selfish bitch she is, grousing about sitting in traffic; I have CANCER!” I actually got back in contact with a dear friend after a too-long hiatus, and she told me she hadn’t called in over a year because she’d been having confusing medical problems but they didn’t hold a candle to mine, and she hadn’t wanted to complain. Are you kidding me?

Look, kids, you love me, scars and all. And I love you, baggy sweatshirts and all. And I want to know what’s going on in your lives because I care about you and how you feel. So complain about the flunky at Starbucks who screwed up your chai. Cancel our playdate because you have a headache. There’s no measuring stick for a crappy day.

Just don’t tell anyone I dress you if you wear that out in public.

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