The cancer fight has left me victorious. I went into something like a fugue state. Yes, I did other things. But my priorities were extremely focused. I had a battle that sapped my strength, but it was important enough to be the top precedence in any situation.

Then it was officially over. Nothing but checkups and a few prescriptions. Let the battle stay won!

After battles, it is well known that soldiers have trouble returning to civilian life. That’s where I’m at. I have been used to a situation in which life and death were part of every choice. The simplest things like food water and rest had to be fought for.

And now.

But now?

What now?

It is easy. Mostly. Is this how it used to be? Do I remember how it used to be? 

The nights of insomnia wishing the die-ease would end. Misty fantasies of strength and endurance—dreams of long strides of thoughtless grace and competence.

Was I kidding myself? Was I every really capable and strong?

More importantly, will I every be so in the future?

I aspire to ordinary.


As a homeschooled teenager in Alaska, I had no one to compare myself to. Was I keeping up? Was I behind where I should be?

Was I at least ordinary? Then and now I was hoping I would be better than ordinary.

The song comes back to me, still popping up on the radio—the radio no longer forbidden to me now that I’m grown—Duran Duran on their comeback hit Ordinary World

What has happened to it all?

Crazy, some’d say

Where is the life that I recognise?

Gone away

But I won’t cry for yesterday

There’s an ordinary world

Somehow I have to find

And as I try to make my way

To the ordinary world

I will learn to survive

For months the song has haunted me with it’s lyrics. I made my choices with the dream of the ordinary world.

Big week of ordinary

It’s been a big week in my house.

It’s been an exciting week as I emerge from the poison into the normal. Normal life means I get to be part of the mass of humanity, rather than the dramatic star.

In the broader world, there were interesting days on the calendar.  Here’s the list

March 14th

March 15th

March 17th

March 14th as we write it here in America 3-14. That’s the first three digits of pi, that number we use to figure out the circumference and area of circles. Out town is a college town, and so we often have a pi day celebration. 

On thursday the 14th  Chris did an errand downtown and reported: “There was a line around the corner at the pizza place downtown,” 

Oh Yeah! Pi (or pie..or pizza pie) day. 

With this reminder, my coupon king husband found that more than one pizza place had coupons to celebrate. The excitement has spread from the math department to the marketing department.

So we got a pizza with a free personal pizza that Veronica got to take to school the next day. Pizza for days!

Importantly, Pizza leftover to the next day: March 15th.

That day in march known to the ancient romans as the ides of march. And to the slightly less ancient Elizabethan English audience of Shakespeare’s play Julius Ceasar, when they heard a creepy street oracle tell Julius “Beware the ides of March!” they understood. 

They knew that he knew what the oracle meant:

March 15th

What J. Caesar didn’t know and Shakespeare was foreshadowing was that his BEST FRIEND was gonna murder him that day.

Et tu, Brute? 

Even you, Brutus? 

Tragic betrayal that echoes down the centuries.

My husband said 

“We should have a Ceasar salad.”

We hear them in my household still, but the echoes are getting fainter.

Ceasar salad would go well with Pizza. I went down to trader joes to get a salad kit. 

The women at the checkout asked me how my day was going.

“It’s the ides of March. I had to get a ceasar salad,” I said with a smile.

Her face crinkled up “what?”

Ahh. The echoes had not reached her ears.

I told her a bit of the story—Shakespeare, Roman calendars, betrayals. 

She was listened, nodding, and hearing this new information. I ended with
“..and don’t listen to street oracles.”

She replied “That’s so interesting. And true! That happened to me—there was a street oracle in San Francisco this one time…”

But there was another customer waiting his turn and I wasn’t able to hear about the San Francisco street oracle.

And this takes me to Sunday: St Patrick’s day. The activity of this day is my daughter’s karate tournament. Not very irish. 

Then again, she’s competing as a green belt.


Thomas Kuhn, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, found a pattern in how new ideas come to be accepted.

First there is the idea—the accepted idea that everyone knows is the standard. Common knowledge is another word for it. The science that society had come to accept and teach. The codified unquestioned way things are

Until someone has another idea. An idea that can be demonstrated. An idea that has proof and science behind it.

But the first idea a has society behind it. There is inertia in continuing to believe it. It’s working. Changing things is too hard.

Until more people come to see the proof of the new idea—the revolutionary idea. There is a


After some struggle, the new idea is adopted, and becomes accepted and taught. When it is prepared to be passed on, it gets packaged so it can be absorbed.

I am in the middle of a personal revolution. My life was thrown into a new reality last year. I wrestled with the new idea of who I was and what I could do.

I re-calibrated my expectations. I made it through.

Until now. The old idea is overthrown. Both of them.

My world is not what it was before the cancer.

It’s not what it was during the cancer treatment.

I spent all last year in the land of medical poisoning. I’m 3 months into the new year. To be fair, I was radioactive until a month ago. I’ve been dumped back into my life that I longed to return to.

I’m in the revolution. I’m casting about for a way to explain myself to myself.

I remember Kuhn. I’d like to find a structure to the chaos I feel.

Revolutions are messy. That is well-known.

King of the hill

It’s a kid game. Pick a high spot and shove everyone else off that pinnacle. Get to the high point! Be the one on top and triumph in the victory.  Be the king!

Until someone pushes me off and then I am no longer king. The top position changes so rapidly.

I’m in the position I longed for more than a year, undisputed victor in the war over cancer.

I Won!

Until the next thing comes along. And I am jockeying for the top position in another contest.

As uncomfortable as surgeries and chemo have been, at least I didn’t wonder if I was doing the right thing. I was very clear on my priorities.

Now that I’m on the other side, that clarity got a lot fuzzier.

I am thinking of a TV show I watched for a while “the Riches” had a scene. In a complicated case of mistaken identity, the main character in the head of a corporation. He is a swindler, but he asks the employees what their dreams are. In comparison to his unearned fortune, their requests are tiny. “My own parking place.”

What are my priorities now? I want to spend this hard-earned life well.

It’s worth a re-evaluation. What did I go through all that pain for? 

I just finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An inquiry into Values

 This is the second reading of this amazing book and I can’t sum it up. But I can talk about this part:

The narrator is trying to find a method of scientifically capturing quality.

Also known as goodness or excellence.

How can you tell what is of good quality? Is there an objective measure?

He’s wrestling with the disparaging evaluation of quality.  “It’s just whatever you like.”

This bumps into my personal style guide: avoid the word just.

And Pirsig (the author) corrects that almost immediately. 

What if quality is whatever one likes?

It’s a mashup of science and hippie ethos. I can almost smell the vegan chili at the potluck.

Since I fought for this life I’ve been given, do I really get to decide what is worth my time based on what I like?

My perspective has changed, and I am willing to make greater space in my life for what I like just because—no—I will make greater space for what I like without needing additional reasons. 

I climbed the hill.