Kage Baker never wrote about her illness. She meant to – a thousand peculiar and fascinating things happened during her year-long journey through cancer. But she never had the energy and the time simultaneously.
As the time grew shorter and she got sicker, she decided she’d rather spend her strength on “real” stories, the stories she spent her life spinning and her career telling. Mind you, I thought what she was going through right then was story-worthy: but Kage rather turned up her nose at essay-writing. She said she wasn’t an agony aunt, and people could get their inspiration from someone else. She was only going to write about the cancer if she beat it.
I think she just didn’t like writing non-fiction – she hated doing essays in school. Only non-writers assume all writing is the same … anyway, she told me to remember things and I could write about myself, later, if I thought it was that interesting.
And I did, Dear Readers, and I have continued to do so. Thank you for your patience and attention; I have now been churning out these highly personalized essays for three years, which is amazing to me. But WordPress just send me a happy anniversary card to tell me so (along with my annual bill for diverse bells and whistles). And this particular blog post is also the 800th I have published here.
Along the way, I’ve finished a novel and a short story, and begun a half-dozen others. They too will eventually see the light of day, and here’s hoping I can get someone to buy them. But in the meantime, these little exercises have soothed my heart and strengthened my soul – and while I am prepared (and certainly arrogant enough) to cast them out into the void to see if anyone is listening – well, knowing that you, Dear Readers, are out there has been an enormous comfort.
And if my own damned health would just settle down, I’d get a lot more done.
Still, considering what has come loping up out of the Slough of Despond to bite me in the ass these last 3 years, I’m doing pretty well. Life is so very weird and amazing … and, true to Kage’s advice, I’ve found that the tale of our adventures is kind of interesting even to other people. We had rather a wilder time than I realized when we were living it. And even now, in my elder days, things continue pretty crazy around me. It’s still amusing, too.
The latest challenge is diabetes. I guess I brought it on myself – I’m 60, sedentary, and fat. Nonetheless, I at least managed to stay active long enough to hold it off for awhile. I’ve been shaped like a beach ball for 20-odd years, and only crossed the diabetic border now.
I’ve decided the best way to deal with this is to treat it like a new hobby: research the hell out of it, experiment with various approaches and disciplines, and learn the associated lore. I’ll spend the first few weeks obsessed with food, and build up a data base of important information – which foods have what, and do I need it or not, and how can it all be assembled into something interesting? Without, you know, killing me.
It’s the little things that make all the difference.
I’ve lost 8 pounds in the last week – on purpose, too. My blood sugar is going down. Reducing one of my hypertension meds has likewise reduced my dizziness. My shortness of breath has improved markedly. And on the side of a kinder Fate, the temperatures here in LA have been hovering around 75 degrees, and I defeated the hospital and escaped with my sanity intact.
I didn’t even have to ride out in a wheelchair, as I had annoyed my lead nurse so much she wouldn’t come into my room and sent a nice little aide instead to get rid of me. She said she was showing me the way out, but I think that, really, they just wanted to make sure I left. Leave ’em glad you’re gone, Kage used to say. I think she meant to make sure you had a good final line, but, you know – whatever works.
And so here I am, three years and 800 blog posts into the next phase of my life. Things proceed, and life keeps giving me absurdities to write about. Some of them are even still about Kage. And it’s hard, in these late and autumnal days, to get better than that.
Lovely post. Congratulations!
Ditto: I’ve been inspired, tickled, awed, informed, emotionally involved, and generally thrilled to read your stories. I enjoy where your mind goes and have enjoyed the ride along! I jumped the fence into diabetes last fall, so call and I’ll share what my diabetic and medical friends taught me about food and such. And please give us another 800!
Your posts are a wonderful part of my day. Thanks for being Kate.
Here’s hoping that your new way of eating and exercising will help you feel ever more awesome and ready to write, travel, enjoy friends old and new, and keep trying new things!
Congratulations, Kate! I’ve enjoyed and appreciated your essays for many reasons, not the least of which has been the opportunity to get to know you, and Kage, better. Remember, although we met more than thirty years ago, we somehow failed to become friends- one of my many mistakes. Even when fate finally led me to the Parlor that has become a second home, I didn’t take the time to get to know you better, and Kage…. well, Kage just sort of intimidated me, and I’m not intimidated by many people. Reading your essays, over the last three years has allowed me to know you both, far better than I might have, otherwise. Thank you, and here’s to many more years of wordsmithing!
Always a highlight of my day, M’Dear. I tend to save your posts to the mid-to-late evening, so that I’ll have a rich deposit of Ideas and Laughter to ride off on towards Dreamland. Thank you so much for all these wonderful essays.
You’ve extended Kage’s influence in amazing ways, and revealed yourself as quite an entertaining and earthy character yourself. Well done. I hope your health continues to improve.
My wife has been a Type 1 since age 57. I’m imagining yours is Type 2? Your approach to management is a good one. Keep it up and you’ll do well.
Yep, Type II; for once I developed something halfway normal for my age. So far, I am feeling markedly better just from eating at set times.
It sure doesn’t seem like three years and 800 posts, in so many ways. Your posts mean a lot to me, even if you don’t know it. And I promise, I won’t send you any “great diabetes recipes”… yet. 😉
I’ve just finished On Land and At Sea ( which I loved) and found your wonderful blog. I am so happy that you have taken on this journey and I’m really looking forward to reading your new projects too. Good Luck to you. I’m determined to stay in the loop. I’m a writer on the shady side of 55 and far too sedentary. Seems like a good writing day is rarely a good exercise day–which seems unfair!
Thank you – I am very glad you liked Nell Gwynne II! One of the scariest things I’ve ever done was sitting down to finish that, even with Kage’s notes, instructions and direct orders.
Yeah, writing and exercise so far have no meeting ground with me, either. I know some writers who use tape recorders successfully, but for me the actual physical process of writing is paramount. I need to be sitting here staring at the blank page (or screen) before it all starts flowing.