Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Wouldn't Marry Him Anyway

This isn't something that happened recently. This was a while back when I was still applying for teaching jobs.

It was a phone conversation with a very well known figure in the community's school system. This woman is in charge of most of the interviewing and hiring that happens with teachers here.

It's easiest to put it down the way it took place- as a dialogue, so here goes.

JACP: "Hey, I was given your number by _______, and was told you were the one to talk to regarding a teaching job for the coming September?"

HER: "Have you been to seminary?"

JACP: "Uh, no."

HER: "Well we only take girls who have been to seminary."

JACP: "But I got married right out of school so I didn't have the chance to even go to sem!"

HER: "What school did you graduate from?"

JACP: "______"

HER: "Oh, so did you have my friend _______ in 12th grade?"

JACP: "I didn't actually go to 12th grade. I graduated school at 16."

HER: "What? Why?"

JACP: "Because I was sick and I completed the whole high school curriculum while I was out being treated."

HER: "What were you sick with?"

JACP: "Hodgkin's."

HER: "What's that?"

JACP: "A type of cancer."

HER: "Don't say that word!! Poo poo poo!"

JACP: "Excuse me?"

HER: "That word is an ayin hara! Don't say it out loud!"

JACP: "I'm sorry; that word is a part of my life. I feel that by calling it Poo poo poo or spitting on the floor, you are putting down what I went through."

HER: "That word causes terrible things."

JACP: "In my opinion fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself."

HER: "That's YOUR opinion. The Rabbanim have said not to say that word."

JACP: "I'd like to have a talk with those rabbanim."

HER: "How old are you anyway?"

JACP: "Just seventeen"

HER: "And you expect me to give you a teaching job? What grades do you think a 17 year old can teach?"

JACP: "I'd like to teach any grade from 5th through 8th."

HER: "It's not going to happen. What makes you think you're qualified?"

JACP: "I have life experience. I'm married. I'm young and can identify with them. I graduated with top marks...What else do I need?"

HER: "Wait a minute. You were sick."

JACP: "So I said."

HER: "But you're married!"

JACP: "Uh yeah."

HER: "What's wrong with your husband? Is he divorced? Was he also sick? Why did he marry you?"

(It was a good thing this was a phone conversation. I would have strangled the woman in person.)

JACP: "My husband married me because it was bashert. Hashem put us together and that's the way it was meant to be."

HER: "But what's wrong with him?"

JACP: "What do you mean? Why does anything have to be wrong with him?"

HER: "Because a normal boy with a good background and from a good home doesn't just go and marry a girl who was sick with some life threatening disease."

JACP: "There's nothing wrong with my husband. He had struggles in his life as I've had mine and that made us stronger and better people and when the time came for us to meet it didn't matter what each of us had in our pasts, what mattered was where we were standing at that point in time, and as it happened, Hashem planned for us to be at the same place in life at the same time. What more can you possibly expect?"

HER: "But I would never let my son marry a girl who was sick!"

JACP: "But would you have a guarantee that your daughter in law won't ever get sick after her wedding? What? Do you think I was born with a stamp on my head that said 'I am going to have cancer--"


JACP: "-at age 16'? You think people know these things in advance?"

HER: "But still..."

JACP: "As a matter of fact, I am actually healthier than your son. I go to the doctor every few months and get scanned and have thorough checkups that your son will probably never get in his life. Every six months I get a clean bill of health. Can you son even say that he goes to the doctor every six months? Does he even know what's going on in his own body?"

HER: "So you can't control what happens later, but if I had the choice of having him marry a clean girl or a sick girl, I would never pick you!"

JACP: "That's just fine Mrs. ___________. Your son wouldn't be good enough for me anyway. See, I went through so much already that my neshama is cleaner, a little more elevated. My husband and I see the world a lot differently than most people do, and we are more than happy to be this way. Your son would never see eye to eye with me and I would never want to have to stoop to his level to see life the way he does. I'm so over that. I would never marry your son anyway"

(Besides for which, I'd never want her as a mom in law!)

The rest of the conversation was about getting the job I no longer wanted, so it's not important.

Just thought I'd share some stupidity.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Know it Looks Like Dirt but it Isn't!

I went shopping for school stuff last week at a store in my neighborhood. Its the kind of variety store that sells anything from notebooks to Tshirts to pots and soap. I went for the notebooks.

I was standing in line waiting to pay with JB in one hand (He refused to sit in his carriage) and 4 notebooks in the other hand.

Don't ask why I need 4 notebooks. I don't. I just have this thing for notebooks. I love having a bunch of cool journals lying around with a sheaf of neat lined empty paper just waiting for me to doodle on.

I used to use notebooks to write my poems in when I was younger but ever since I got a laptop my handwriting is sort of extinct. But I still like notebooks and I have about 40 lying around my closet and every September time I buy some more.

Well to get back to what happened on line at the cashier:

There was this lady in front of me who was deciding if the Tshirts she was going to buy were tzniyus enough. She was debating the neckline on each and every one of them and I was wondering if she was ever going to pay and if I was ever going to make it home before JB had another tooth.

Finally, the lady noticed that I was wearing a Tshirt very similar to the one she was about to buy. She came over to inspect my neckline.

She walked around me a few times and finally told me that I had dirt on my neck. She LICKED her finger and was about to wipe it off when I told her I knew I had a dark line on my neck. It was a scar from that biopsy I had when I was ill.

She looked at it again and then asked me if the neckline of the particular Tshirt she was contemplating was okay. I told her that I knew that the necks were a bit too open because my sisters owned the same shirts and they had trouble with them.

She asked me why they fit me so perfectly.

So I told her that I had Hodgkin's a few years back and that my neck was slightly swollen and the Tshirt fit me perfectly.

I have no idea if my neck is swollen. It just seemed like a good thing to say at the time. The shirt probably shrunk in the wash for all I know.

The lady gave me a horrified look and took all her stuff and went over to the next cashier.

Maybe she thought I was contagious.

In any case, I got home right on time. JB cut his second tooth last night!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blog Isn't Over!!!

Since my last post a few hours ago, I've gotten about 25 emails from people begging me not to stop my blog.

I never planned on it.

Let me clarify: The story of my struggle with the actual disease is pretty much over; that's true. But the reason I originally started my blog was so that I could vent about life after cancer- what it means to live with the disease always on your tail.

I had to put my story on here first, as background. It just took me over a year to get it all here. Now it's finally all on this blog and now I hopefully can continue writing about what I originally wanted to.

I found that when I was sick I got all the chizuk and help I needed. There were organizations prepared just for that. But then I found that after the illness is gone, there is a certain emotional strength one needs to carry on in life that isn't readily there.

I get the weirdest stories and comments all the time about my past, and really that's another reason this blog is here.

I know that there are so many people out there wanting to do chessed. It is amazing how good people are, and how much time and effort they are willing to give of themselves for others. I want to help too.

I want my blog to be an eye opener to people out there about how we, the other side feels. About the comments we get, the reactions we face, and the lives we live. I want to help you do your part, by telling you what it means to be a cancer survivor.

Up until now, my story was here for you to get to know me.

Now that you do, I want to take my blog further. I want to stop backdating my posts, and start posting in real time. Today. Cancer is 4 years in my past yet it is here with me always lurking in the background.

I want you to know what that's like.

Please continue to come back here as I fully plan to continue posting. Hodgkin's may be over, but my story sure isn't!