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This is the three week anniversary of my brother, John's, funeral.

How does it feel to bury your two older brothers in 15 months?
fragile. lonely. cursed. broken. cold. tired. empty.

Dear Old Friend

Hello Dear Old Friend.

Its been a long time since I posted to this journal. Too long, I believe, since I chronicled the day to day aspects of my life in a public forum. And as all my stories go, things might not have always been good over the last couple years... but neither have they been boring. And that is probably the inscription that will be on my tombstone...

So much has happened in the past year alone I am uncertain where to begin. In fact, I feel that as I encroach my 28th birthday (god forbid!) that I have changed so much since my idealistic days when i first began this journal that my younger self would not recognize me today. Perhaps it is the lasting effects of completely having your life stripped to the bare bones and awaking in your worst nightmare, perhaps its the acceptance of your true self and your finding how deep your strength and endurance goes, or perhaps its just the maturity and wisdom that comes with the loss of youth and beauty. Either way the last few months alone have left their mark.

If I could go back in time there are a few things I would tell myself:

- Enjoy the moment and don't be afraid to take risks. You never know what tomorrow may bring and at the end of the day it is better to go to bed with memories than regrets.
- Don't be afraid to love. You will most likely end up alone at 3am with a broken heart, but as I stated above, at the end of the day you rather have tried and failed than not tried at all because in every failure is a lesson for the future. Just keep moving forward, dear friend.
- You are a much stronger person than you ever realized. Don't worry what others may think or do, no matter what be yourself
- Remember: You are a person who is loved and deserves to be loved. Do not compromise and do not believe the monsters at 3am that tell you otherwise.
- You are blessed with some amazing friends... and some really bad ones that will hurt you worse than you ever imagined. They will sort themselves out.and the Judases and cowards will show themselves for who they are. Just remember that there are your true best friends and there are your golf partners (yes, you will golf). Don't sweat it if not everyone can be your best friend. That's not a bad thing. Just enjoy people for who they are and what they can offer.
- You will learn two things from your corporate experience in finance (yes, you will work in finance): 1) Every action and reaction (or lack there of) has its consequences. So always be prepared for the unexpected as you can tell a lot about someone in how they react in the moment. 2) Everything has its cost. In the end, life is one big cost analysis. So choose your priorities and put your time and money where its going to be the most effective use towards those goals.
- Be patient. Life is full of surprises. Just because something isn't working now doesn't mean that it won't work itself out in the future.
- Take control of your own destiny.  Don't be afraid of failure.  The worse thing you can do is allow the river of life to take you under and drag you along wherever it wants... get yourself a paddle so you can enjoy the adventure.
- Never forget how to laugh and surround yourself by people that will help you laugh through the darkest of moments.

Yuck Fale!

Well, here i am sitting with my recently acquired laptop in the 1369 Coffee House in Inman Square, procrastinating on my report that was suppose to be emailed to my supervisor yesterday. (Sigh.) It didn't take long for me to return to my Harvard work ethic! (In other words, get a week of work done in two hours, a day after it was due.)

My long awaited return to the crimson stained shadows of Cambridge has been pretty low key thus far... but the ghosts of Harvard past and Berkeley present will be arriving by chariot and phoenix this evening. But it wouldn't be my story without drama, chaos, and all that ensues. I will be honest, having two worlds collide in the same location that already contains so many demons would make any girl nervous... so I am not surprised that my stomach is predicting that tomorrow will be a day talked about for years to come. But i guess that is why i spent the $350 in plane tickets and shaved my legs!

I spent yesterday afternoon literally wearing a hole in my boots by walking through my shadowed past. I realized for the first time how narrow sighted I was, and I will have to say narrow minded, during my days of walking through the yard. It was hard dealing with variety of emotions and palimpset of memories that this set of buildings and streets contain. If only I knew what I know now, I would have done things so much differently and taken advantage of the harvard experience more. But as Glen said last night, it's easy to look back and say how you wish you appreciated what you lost. It is more important to not repeat the same mistakes twice... so with that thought in mind I plan on taking full  advantage of the "networking" tomorrow's tailgating will provide (with or without the Berkeley audience.) It is my opinion that it is about time that my current friends meet the snobby, risk-taking, crazed, manipulative bitch of my harvard past. And what a better place to do it but with my trouble making cohorts in attendance.

Well, I should run to burdick's before the ghosts arrive so that I can pick up nancy's chocolate order. On tonight's menu is candelstick bowling at Sacco’s Bowl Haven, near my old haunt on powderbox ave. followed with some bar hopping in central. Then tomorrow's fun starts with picking Bea up at Out Of Town News at 9am... and after that only god knows!

So if I don't get a chance to update until after saturday, go Harvard and Yuck Fail!

My Horoscope: Aries (March 21-April 19)

For a while now, exciting promises have been going back and forth with someone else -- and today offers an opportunity for you to get to the bottom of it. Have courage: Face the risk of revealing that you care about someone who might not feel the same way. There's an ongoing game of phone tag that needs to end soon. So get on the phone and reconnect with someone who really needs to get a hold of you. You're in demand right now, and you'll need to get used to it sooner or later.

These horoscopes are eerie sometimes.... especially when they are correct. I better call the new boy back and make a date for the weekend.

Don't cry baby...

There is so much randomness to discuss, I have been doing what I do best... avoiding all of it. But don't be misguided, my young friends, silence from me means that I either haven't decided how I am going to react or all my fingers and toes are currently being occupied trying to plug the holes to prevent more damage. Either way, I will get to all my drama soon enough...

But this I will say: water, cherries, and almonds are oddly a fulfilling lunch time combination. That and small victories, all though small, are still victories. But that doesn't mean that you can get away with kickig a girl while she is down and then stealing her rusty old fan! Barbarians!

Joshua Radin - Closer

A must see newish artist... I promise you will fall hopelessly in love with his music.
Well, life definitely has been keeping me busy. Or maybe I have been keeping myself busy in an attempt to avoid dealing with life… Either way, I have been neglecting my journal entries.

My brother, John, was doing quite well after his first bout of chemo and agreed to start with the second round. Unfortunately, the second dose is kicking his butt. That, and I think the bad news that he has tumors in his liver and the cancer has spread to his lymph glands took its toll on his positive outlook that he might beat this thing. This morning he was admitted to the hospital due to the fact he is no longer able to swallow his food on his own. Perhaps I am odd, but I think him going to the hospital is the best news I heard in the last week as I think my sister-in-law needs the break and he needs the professional care. My sister-in-law still thinks she is super-woman and can take care of my brother on her own. But I doubt even superwoman could accomplish that impossible task… and although I tell her that is nothing to be ashamed of, she takes his admittance as a failure on her part to “fix” him. The doctors are mixed in their opinions… some saying that he should try to operate and remove the cancerous pieces of his liver… and other think that will only increase the cancer’s metathesis. At this point, I think he needs to fixate on gaining his strength back from his chemo treatments as they have literally brought him to the brink of life… and although the treatments have been stopped, they will continue to process in his body for another couple of weeks. More difficult weeks ahead I predict.

If it wasn’t for Joshua Radin, KT Tunstall, and Alexi Murdoch’s poetic melodies, I think I would have lost my sanity months ago. I highly recommend that you pick up their albums at your earliest convenience. Speaking of sanity, in a bout of retail therapy I made two important purchases: a fancy charcoal grill and a Pro-Form Treadmill. Talk about life changing events… my house has become grill central, which having good food and great friends around is great for chasing away the blues and reds… and more life changing, I have decided to train with Scarlet for a half-marathon in October. Starting June 1st, I began training literally two to three hours a day… which includes an hour on the treadmill, and hour of yoga and pilates, and an hour of cardio/weight training. Next week I will be adding water aerobics to that list. My new obsession, and I will admit it is an obsession, has been the only way I have been able to channel all the emotions from my family and work. I woke up one morning and realized that I don’t want to be unhealthy anymore… for if I am not going to be healthy at the age of 26, when will I stop making excuses and become healthy? Plus, to quote the great Lebanese council, it has the added benefit of helping me lose some weight… and become “hot.” I laughed a good fifteen minutes with that remark of the week:

“Leo, you do realize that this training will cause you to lose weight… and although you are almost the perfect woman except for the fact that you are overweight, once you lose a few pounds and shake lose of some of the drama in your life you will be irresistibly hot… and probably will be too good for the rest of us anymore due to your hottness.” - The Lebanese Council

At least most of my friends and family have been supporting and positive about my goal to run a marathon. The only two pessimistic buggers happen to my father and a certain Swede whose favorite hobby these days is to piss me off. My father is understandable (he has heard me make false promises about getting in shape too many times to count), but Solo’s remarks that the “only thing I will be running to is the bar to pick up more beer when I run out,” gave me more of a motivation to prove him wrong than any of the positive reinforcement I received so far. But like my brother, one can only deal with life one day at a time… one painful step in front of the other.

Other news: The next few months in Berkeley will be filled with many transitions. PB officially asked Pinky to become his wife last week in Panama! They will be moving in together when she returns in August. It looks like a summer wedding next year. Sparky and Oz turned in their Ph.D. thesis last month, as did my lovely German housemate, Viv. I feel like I am surrounded by “Dr.” these days. Viv starts her dream job in Germany in December. Sparky is moving to SF and will be working with a Chem. E startup trying to fix the world’s problems. The great Lebanese council will be leaving in August to work for the World Bank out of DC. But first he has “phinish” and hand in his thesis… if only I get him to sit down and write it. My parents and little brother, Peanut, might visit me for the first time in July, if we don’t go to Florida instead. Bea arrives back in Berkeley in August to prep for her quals… as does Scarlet. So we will see what the fall brings…in the meantime, I am trying to enjoy the arch street crew for our last summer all together and try not to mourn their loss before they are gone.

first day of radiation

Today was the first of radiation therapy to my brother's brain. After his treatment we had the pleasure of meeting with Miss Theresa to have her explain the process, Miss Cathy - the social worker - to clarify the emotional stress, and Dr. Dunn and Miss Laura, our oncology team to discuss future treatments. After 5 hours at the doctor's office even I was exhausted, and I am not receiving radiation to my brain!

The good news, however, is that the doctor's think that with chemo/radiation therapy combo they can "contain" the cancer to minimal levels and extended my brother's life for at least another year, but it all depends on if the cancer is in the lymph glands and how he reacts to treatments. But we won't know more until further tests next week. Either way, we have a long journey ahead.

As for me, I am exhausted. I go through moments of frustration where I want to jump on the first plane out of crazy town and the next moment I want to tell my brother that I will take the next five weeks off work and stay with him through his chemo treatments. However, after a long run I realise that leaving after the first chemo treatment will be difficult, but I also have limitations and have a life back in berkeley on hold that i need to deal with... including a cousin dying of lung cancer. So it looks like i will be back to berkeley the first week of may... i just don't know how long it will be before i jump back to florida.

In other news, my sister-in-law has been amazing the last couple of days. Her drinking is at a minimum and she hasn't had a full fledge "episode" for atleast a couple of days. However, when she falls asleep she has nightmares and wakes up with extreme panic attacks... and that makes me worry. But she is making progress... she is going to the doctor's tomorrow to deal with her health problems and I am proud that she is taking the initatice to take care of herself.

Unfortunately, the last two nights we have ended up in fights, however, because she feels that I am talking about her behind her back and that she can't trust me... all because i told her mama that i was worrying about her. ce la vie. I rather have her confront me about it then have her upset and I not know why. I just have to learn to be carfeul how i say things around her mama and what i say to other members of the family. Speaking of which, my daddy is coming tomorrow and i already know that a fight is a-brewing. So there is nothing i can do about that except plan a carefully timed jog down to the beach. :)

Well, I should listen to my concerned friends and go to sleep. Because god knows i was ready to go to bed 8 hours ago. but being exausted is a normal mode of operation these days...
Happy Easter!!!

I was awakened at the crack of dawn california time to the sound of my father's voice over the cell phone to remind me that I am in florida and need to get my jet lagged ass out of bed. My response was, "well good morning to you to, daddy."

For my brother, today was a good day. I managed to help him get his office organised and he didn't take a nap all day... which hopefully means that with the help of tranquilizers we gave him when he went to bed, he will sleep through most of the night.

My sister-in-law on the other hand is another story. God have mercy on whoever pisses her off at the wrong moment. I thought my brother and her were going to have another row this afternoon, but instead he ripped the screen door off its tracks and locked himself in the bathroom until he could calm himself down. Nothing a little pam couldn't fix... on the doors anyways.

i keep telling myself... one day at a time... one day at a time...
Perhaps no one has taught you the proper etiquette of how to deal with a friend or family member who is dealing with a very difficult situation, for example a brother with terminal cancer. Therefore i am going to give you some hints as to what NOT to do...

Step One: If someone calls you crying saying that they are "emotionally overwhelmed" and second-guessing their ability to handle a family crisis... you do NOT immediately interrupt them to discuss your itinerary for a vacation you are planning or randomly discuss the weather. If you are uncomfortable dealing with what they have to say, then tell them that. But under no circumstances do you interrupt their attempt to release some pent up emotions to discuss the minuet details of YOUR life that they obviously do not care about. Obviously they are not taking time away from their family crisis to hear about YOUR problems. Not only is it rude, it is quite insulting.

Step Two: I know how tempting it is when someone calls you up bitching about their problems to try to suggest ways or steps to improve the problem. BUT DO NOT DO IT. Particularly when it is clearly something you obviously know absolutely nothing about. For instance, if someone says to you that they are worried about their brother who is undergoing chemo because his blood sugar is too high, do not suggest that they should talk to a doctor. No shit sherlock. Don't insult their intelligence. Another example, when someone mentions that they are trying to think of constructive outlets for their family to deal with the anger and frustration of dealing with a husband/father/brother who has terminal cancer, do not suggest to tell their family that they should not be angry and should read a book on buddism on how to let go because shit happens. Um, excuse me? Unless you want to see some of that anger fist hand, don't even think about thinking something that stupid. And especially don't follow it up with a, "well, you can't truly help him until you detach yourself emotionally from the problem." Because, pardon my french, but i believe the response you will get is something along the lines of "FUCK YOU. You watch your brother/spouse/father struggling through a terminal illness and then you can lecture me on detaching your emotions you cold hearted bitch." Followed by a dead telephone line.

Step Three: If someone calls you and is upset, do not interrapt them to tell them you have to go because you want to watch a movie or have something better to do. For god's sake, lie and say that your freaking kitchen is burning down or your sick mama is on the other line. But the easiest way to make someone who already feels like shit to feel worse is to make them think that you can take time out your lazy ass schedule to talk to them for five minutes... even if it is true. Lie.

So to summarize: Step one... if you can't handle the fire, be honest and humbly remove yourself from the kitchen. But the rudest thing you can do is talk about your own pathetic problems. It just makes you look like a rude self-centered prick. Step two... when listening to people who have problems that are clearly out of your league, do not even think about making suggestions on how to "deal" with the problems and defintely don't suggest ways you think they can "fix" them... once again, it makes you look like a rude cold-hearted know it all. Step three... if you are a lazy, rude, self-centered, and/or cold-hearted prig that doesn't have the time to deal with your friends calling you in a time of need... then do yourself a favor and make up a whopper of a lie as to why you can't talk on the phone... that way both parties involved will feel much better about themselves in the long run.

When all else fails, you would be surprised how far a "hang in there kiddo" will go to make someone feel better. Or if you really want to make me feel good try saying something like "i don't know what to say right now because i really don't understand what you are going through. But please know that i love you and i am hear for you in whatever way i can be." that's it... its not rocket science... its just basic "crisis calls" etiquette.