Three Good Things [04.11.16]

photo credit anna jimenez calaf, a storybook life

It’s been a quiet last month or so around these parts, but not for the March-is-awful-and-full-of-terrible-things reasons that you might think. (I mean, I’m not letting the suckiest month of them all totally off the hook, but by and large, it was far better than last year.) I’ve been taking time away from my laptop to refill my “word tank” – spending lots of time reading, and listening to podcasts, and watching great shows like the end of Downton Abbey, and the start of the new season of The Americans, and as much West Wing as Netflix will allow (more on that below).

That word tank is starting to bubble over with lots of new ideas, so I hope to be back here (and elsewhere!) soon with new posts. Until then, here’s a look at what I loved, learned, and felt grateful for in the last month.

Three things I’ve loved lately:

  • The West Wing Weekly podcast. HELLO. You know my love for podcasts, and long-time readers might recall my mentions of specific West Wing episodes, including Two Cathedrals, aka the best hour of TV ever. Combine the two, with discussion from the show’s Josh Malina and promises of special podcast guest stars, and I’m officially in love. Wednesday mornings just got a lot brighter with this show in my feed. In the immortal words of President Josiah Bartlet, what’s next?
  • Remember the MIT Breast Pump Hackathon? Well, Babyation has built a better breast pump, and its Kickstarter campaign far surpassed its goal! Here’s to helping make an oftentimes frustrating and isolating experience a little easier for moms.

  • Measuring Tape is a Flexible Ruler. This essay by my friend (and Listen to Your Mother castmate!) Melissa Scholes Young took my breath away as it traces her family’s difficult days through her daughter’s infancy and her husband’s illness. I’ve measured in centimeters, too, and been the one to hand over my wedding ring just outside the operating room. I can’t imagine doing it with a baby. Melissa paints a gripping and beautiful story here, and I keep going back for more.

Three things I’ve learned lately:

  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the second-highest-earning romantic comedy ever (behind Pretty Woman). I’ve heard the sequel is terrible, but damn that first movie was fantastic. I love the charts and data in this piece, breaking down the movie’s success. But it says nothing about the boost that the movie must have given to Windex…
  • A baby was born from ovarian tissue that had been frozen since the mother’s childhood. This is a groundbreaking development for preserving young cancer patients’ fertility. Amazing.
  • The BRAF gene mutation doesn’t predict long-term thyroid cancer outcomes. Not long after I was treated for papillary thyroid cancer, it became standard to test for the BRAF gene mutation, with the belief that patients who tested positive for the mutation had a higher chance of recurrence. When my cancer recurred, I asked about being tested for BRAF, but my doctor said that given my recurrence, my BRAF status wouldn’t change my treatment protocol. I always wondered and suspected that I was BRAF-positive, though, and worried about what it could mean for my long-term prognosis. I realize that this finding may take a potentially helpful diagnostic indicator out of doctors’ toolset, but it has me breathing a sigh of relief.

Three things I’ve been grateful for: 

  • Books from Birth. Through an initiative that Dolly Parton started in Tennessee (Imagination Library), every child in DC will get a book every month until they’re 5. That’s 60 books for each kid if they start from birth! We’ve been lucky to have a house filled with books already, but I will never say no to a new book (for my kids or for myself). (As my girl Anna Q. says, “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”) But I’m also excited for the less-fortunate families in our city who will get to fill their bookshelves with new books for their kids, too. Awesome program.
  • I’m in good company getting rejected. In a month when a piece I’ve been pitching to sites for months got yet another rejection — does that make eight? Or nine? I’ve lost track — I was grateful for the reminder that even some of the very best writers heard the word “no.” If Lucy Maud Montgomery and J.K. Rowling hadn’t sent their manuscripts to just one more publisher, the world might never have known Anne Shirley or Harry Potter. And so, I’ll keep looking for the right home for my piece. Maybe the 10th pitch will be the charm.
  • On a related note, I Had Cancer featured my post, “8 Years Later, I’m Still Coping With Scanxiety.” I wrote earlier this year about the anxiety I still feel every time I lay down on the table for a neck ultrasound, now even more than eight years after my diagnosis. I’m grateful to I Had Cancer for running a version of that post, and to so many in the I Had Cancer community for sharing their own ongoing experiences with “scanxiety.” It’s reassuring to be reminded that we’re not alone.

What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately?


4 thoughts on “Three Good Things [04.11.16]

  1. That book program is amazing! I was impressed with Wren’s pediatrician, who gives a book at each well visit never mind every month. Wow!

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