Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

One of the reasons why I put up with the conundrums of university administration is because, if I allow myself, I can still be a student.  Each semester I read the works assigned in one of the courses being taught in the Master of Liberal Studies which I direct.  My job entails being up to speed on the curriculum in my program, I rationalize, never having really gotten over feeling that learning from the astonishing scholarship around me in the hallways is a guilty pleasure.  I’d go to class every week, if I could, but I make the students nervous.  (They’re fine if I show up once a semester, and all the better if I show up with food.  They also know I always fall for the line, “Dean Kamei, you haven’t baked us a chocolate cake in a while.”)

Over the MLS years, I’ve read some classics that I’ve skirted around: Oedipus Rex, translated excerpts of Tales of the Genji, O Pioneer!, The Stranger.  I’ve filled in more Jane Austen and Shakespeare.  Like the concert on the subscription series that forces ears into unknown territory, this reading discipline forced before me Luigi Pirandello and Tom Stoppard.  Actually, I was glad to finally get around to Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, common fare in humanities courses, although it was his Arcadia which really got me.

The work which has “gotten” me this semester so far is David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.  I haven’t seen the movie, and now am not sure I want to, because the mesmerizing aspect is his writing.  I’m in awed admiration of those whose who can hone and deliver on their own literary voice; to “nest” six stories together, each with a distinctive voice, has blown me away.  I figure I’m in good company, as Dave Eggers is quoted as saying this book is “one of those how-the-[blankety blank]-did-he-do-it? modern classics.”  Cloud Atlas is part of a fictional work line-up gathered together in one MLS course to analyze the rationale for reading and writing. 

Maybe if I were David Mitchell, I’d have an astonishing clever way of weaving together six of the many stories which have consumed my January and February.  But like any one of my MLS students contemplating a thesis topic, the more there is to say, the more overwhelming it feels to say it.  The good things going on in Akemi's life, contemplating ten years without Bing, the shifting sands of higher education, attempting to keep safe and secure This Old House, rendering ward choir successes with those untrained yet willing, spending four-and-a-half hours total with AT&T to sort out multiple phone plans. . .there, I dare anyone to nest together those six stories. 

But mostly over the past couple of months, I’ve been in a conundrum about this blog, my rationale for writing it, and whether I deliver on your rationale for reading it.  As my lymphoma marker has continued to slowly, but steadily, drop, I’ve moved beyond thinking of myself most days as the Cancer Patient.  Yet I have to accept, and still quite haven’t, that I can’t escape the need for some kind of ongoing treatment, at least until my heroes in science and medicine come up with some gene therapy.  I’ve been motivated to capture the family stories while I can write them down, but now that I feel better, I’m more motivated to live life while I can.  I've tried to stop thinking of more sleep and rest as being the equivalent of doing less, and that has meant going to bed instead of writing here (witness right now it is 11:55 p.m.).  This blog has been my companion, and yet, as with any relationship, it’s a companion who needs quality time, thought, and care.  

But I'm regrouping.  Tomorrow is my 25th treatment.  Who could have imagined?  Certainly not I, when all this started in August 2010.   Okay, let's look at what's good about 25 treatments: the 24 treatments have worked, and that I'm still here to be having treatments.  

Tomorrow I'll take to the hospital with me another book from the MLS course syllabus to read.  I promise to have more to write.  

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