Thursday, August 21, 2003

LoL#38: Lisa Baker & The Order of the Pheonix


Did you ever realize that everything matters to you when you're a kid? You can tell a class of fourth graders about the benefits of recycling and they'll all swear to never again throw a soda can in the trash but if you explain the same issue to high schoolers, they'll tell you that sometimes it's too inconvenient to hunt out a recylcing bin. Or when a nine year old discovers a dead bird on the sidewalk coming home from school. They'll usually either ponder some type of rescue effort, back away in horror, or with tearful eyes share the grisly scene with an adult. Same person a decade later might just as easily step over the carcass without a second thought or even kick it to the side so noone else treads on it. Kids are usually really good at being peacemakers too. They'll beg adults not to argue - wanting things to be right with the world and desiring happiness for everyone - only to grow up and find that they can wound and be wounded by words every single day. And children take joy in the smallest things too. Not only does everyone know what it's like to feel like "a little kid at Chrismas", but have you ever watched children on a playground? Those playing on the swingsets are sure that they have the ability to fly and even something as simple as blowing the fluff off of spring's first dandelions seems to be the most magical task in the universe.

I guess what I'm getting at is that there's a certain level of ideality, innocence, and sensitivity that we have as kids that this whole growing up process forces out of us. Now I'm not headed for nostalgia here. In fact, I think nostalgia may perhaps be one of the most fruitless emotions - truly it is a shame to miss out on the present or the future cause you're too busy longing for the past. But I guess lately there's a part of me that hopes I still possess a childlike heart. (And I'm not talking about being an optimist either. I know I've got that one down. In fact it could even be argued that I'm optimistic to a fault.....not that that's necessarily a bad thing....)

What I'm really trying to say is that I hope my life is always marked by taking joy in the good times and grieving in the sad times as well as a full experience and expression of everything in between. I'm not just saying this to give myself permission to be moody. See, I was culturing a tumor sample at work last week. The cells are actually growing too which means that our lab will have a new cell line to do research with. I knew when I took over the culture that it was a sample from a patient at Children's Memorial Hospital, but somehow the reality of what I was dealing with didn't quite sink in. Today though I learned the details. See, there's a four year old boy with tumors on his spinal cord. They operated on them last week and sent our lab a sample. But the tumors are spreading rapidly and actually growing toward the boy's spinal column. This means that he will most likely be paralyzed by five and will be considered a miracle if he sees the age of six.

Yeah. "Lisa On Life" is not always smiles, sunshine and funny stories, but truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way. I've decided too that this is why I can't become a doctor. I want to live a life where children dying of cancer breaks my heart. I think things like this SHOULD make me want to cry. I don't want to have to build up the type of emotional immunity where "after a while you get used to it" because "you can't let it bother you". And I want the emotions that I hold onto to fuel my passion for the work that I do and I want to find hope in the fact that someday there might be a cure and I even want to remain idealistic enough to believe that what I do today might even further that cause.

Now I'm sure at this point a few of you are very curious about the subject line of this e-mail but whether you're a Harry Potter fan or not, you might be familiar with the legend of the Pheonix. According to various lores and traditions, the Pheonix is a great bird that at the end of it's lifespan is engulfed in flames and once burned, rises again from it's own ashes. It sort of goes along with the whole point of #37 too that my life is rather circular these days, but even more so, I guess I want to live with a Pheonix-like heart. Pain and hurt and stress are always going to come - there is certainly plenty of evil in this world to engulf anyone's heart in extreme ache - but I want to always rise again and return to the hope that there is good in the world too. What it comes down too is that whether good or bad, I want to feel things in life. I'm reminded of the scene in Braveheart - and forgive me for not knowing the exact line and quote - where Robert da Bruce (brilliantly portrayed by Angus McFadyen) exclaims to his father "I don't want to lose heart!".

Anyhoo, I'm rambling and I really have to get back to work. Some of you, I know, will consider this the most introspective and inspiring LoL I've written. Others will delete it quickly because there's no hint of amusement to be found in it's overly lengthy content. To me, it's just some stuff I wanted to say.

Pheonixfully Yours,

lisa :)

p.s. Side note too is that this is also the first LoL that I've written directly all at once. Usually I'll start to compose and then hold it in my drafts box, editing here and there throughout the week. This time no drafts, no edits, just me being me. Forgive any and all tpyos. ;)

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

LoL#37: Circles, Surreality, Wal-Mart, & Circles

All my life's a circle. Surise and sundown - the moon rolls through the nighttime til the daybreak comes around. All my life's a circle still I can't tell you why the season's spinning round again, the years keep rolling by.
It seems like I've been here before, I can't remember when. And I've got this funny feeling that I'll be back once again. No straight lines make up my life and all my roads have bends, there's no clear cut beginnings and so far no dead ends.
I've met you a thousand times, I guess you've done the same, but then we lose each other - it's just like a children's game. But as I find you here again, the thought runs through my mind, life's just like a circle - let's go around one more time.
All my life's a circle. Sunrise and sundown - the moon rolls through the nighttime til the daybreak comes around. All my life's a circle still I can't tell you why the season's spinning round again, the years keep rolling by.

So in pondering how to start this craziest of crazy August LoL's I scoured my memory bank and came up with that. Brilliant and beautiful, ain't it?? I wish I could say that I wrote it but it's actually a song called "Circles" by Harry Chapin. A few of you coolest of cool people (Emily, Lauren & maybe Kristin?) will recognize it as the traditional end of the year NNHS choir concert song. But even without the music, it's a really pretty song/poem that makes a good point about the coolness yet oddly familiar state of my life right now.

Plus, for those of you that have been with my psychoses from the begining, you'll realize that as of next Monday I'll have been at my job for a full year which also means that this marks almost a full year of the LoL/Life of Lisa/Lisa on Life e-mail list! Woohoo! Now if you're looking at the fact that this is only #37 and realizing that a full year would technically be 52, you have to remember that as of this summer - and for most of winter - it's been a monthly and not a weekly thing. Also, I know with fall approaching some of you have graduated and gone on to bigger and better things (jobs, grad schools, etc) but if you have a new e-mail address let me know otherwise when all my messages bounce back to me I'll just figure that you've taken the change of address time as a chance to release yourself from my mindless ramblings.

Anyhoo, amidst the insanity that was my last e-mail some of you gleaned the the real truth to why I said my life was so surreal. And it still is, but now there's a bit more reality to things - no dream lasts this long, I MUST be awake. ;) Maybe I should have come right out and said something of what all is up with me, but I guess by now the word's getting spread fast enough that half of you will call this revelation "old news" while the other half will be spared from feeling like you're "the last to know".

But yeah, remember when I said some things never change? Well, it's true. See, day has always given way to night. Road construction has always been done at the most inconvenient times and places. Alternative rock has always been a genre dominated by groups of posers insisting that they're not a group of posers. Having to park far from the door has always meant that you get better deals at Wal-Mart. The Cubs have always been cooler than the White Sox. And I've pretty much always thought that Tony G is the spiffiest guy I know. Yeah, it is a bit bold of me to say that, but as spiffy as he is as my friend, brother, and Spanish teacher, he's now also my boyfriend. :) (Surreal, ain't it???) Yes, I know plenty of you have "seen this coming" since as early as the fall of '99 but let's just say the best things come to those who wait.

Like I said before though, it's not the type of thing that I want to sound boastful about nor do I want to seem fickle for dating someone after authoring the top ten list of "Why a Gameboy is Better than a Boyfriend" so to avoid all sappy girly girl comments (and for the sake of avoiding the discussion that my new title should be Super Smiley Girl) I'm going to skip right to the shoutouts. First off to the super spiffy 7ackie - and no that's not a typo, it's a 7 not a J, let's hang out sometime!!! - and again I totally forgot when your birthday is/was. My apologies too for majorly screwing people over on birthday shoutouts. I was really organized for a while there, but then I just lost it. Plus, I remember birthdays for really odd reasons - like if they're close in date to one of my family members or a holiday - but most of the time I suck at remembering. Basically if anyone didn't get a shoutout, drop me an e-mail and let me know NOW when your b-day is and you'll be guaranteed a shoutout next year. And a shoutout to Lauren too just in case I don't get another LoL out before your b-day on the 27th (even though you accused me of not giving you a shoutout last year, when I did!!!!) - just kidding L-dawg! Oh and a shoutout to Mr. and Mrs. Derek and Jacklyn B!!!!! Woohoo!! You two bring the number of married people on this list up to a grand total of five! And also a most random of random shoutouts to Cowboy Monkey! (...which is actually a place and not a person but I really just wanted the chance to say Cowboy Monkey in an LoL).

Wow. That's a lot of shoutouts. Anyhoo, for a random change of subject let me just give you my quick little two cents about Wal-Mart. Ever since the Route 59 store was built I've been a fan of Wal-Mart. Now in terms of finding cool stuff that you don't really need, I'm gonna have to say that Target (or Tar - jhey) is totally my kind of store. And if you're talking about the 3am let's go be slap happily silly trips you really can't beat Meijer (aka Meee - jer). But still I find myself undeniably recruited to be a fan of Wal-Mart (or if you prefer Wal-Market, Wally, Wally-World, or just Walls). First off their stuff is just cheap. And I'm talking necessity type stuff. Contact solution, shampoo, toothpaste, Lord of the Rings action figures..... Okay so that last one snuck itself onto the list... but seriously, it's one of few stores in town that not only sells them but sells them for pretty cheap. (And, yes, I know it makes me a big nerd but those of you that have seen my room can vouch for the fact that it's sort of my new collecting hobby). Anyhoo, it all started when Emily got me Saruman for Christmas last year because then in January I found Gandalf, and Frodo followed soon after, and then my mom bought me Pippin, and Samwise....and well, the collection was doing great except for the fact that I could never find my most favoritest character of all - Legolas! So yeah, to make a long story short (TOO LATE!), I was at The Walls last week and the place was packed so I ended up parking something like a half mile from the door but as I made my way around the store looking at everything and anything - I actually found the Helm's Deep Legolas action figure!!! The last one they had left! My sisters have always had the rule that the farther you have to park from the door, the better will be the deals that you find so I guess in this case it was true.

Man, that turned out to be a really lame story. Uhhhh......riiiiiiight. But, hey, Legolas is cool and Two Towers will be out on video soon and then Return of the King will be out in four months and probably a good third of you really couldn't care less! Yeah. So did you like how I said I was at "The Walls"? I did that just for the point of bringing up the ultimately Chicagoan phrase of "The Jewel". You know the grocery store Jewel? Or better yet, Jewel-Osco? For some reason in Chicago it's perfectly normal to refer to it as "The Jewel". I mean, what's up with that? "THE Jewel" - like there's only one??? Yet somehow for Chicago and Chi-town suburbia "The Jewel" is perfectly accepted regardless of the fact that there could easily be three of them within a half mile of your current location! Actually for real Chicagoans it's technically "Da Jewel", but that's another story!

So yeah, "The Jewel" annoys me which is actually funny because after realizing how annoying it is, I realize how often people actually say it. Stick with Wal-Mart though, it'll never do you wrong.... Especially when they have cool Legolas action figures... Ever since I read the first book I thought Legolas was cool and some things never change... And no I didn't just buy it cause Orlando Bloom is cute, it doesn't even look that much like him and besides I've got a cutie in my life now that's not an action figure. ;) And I know that's cheesy but let's just say this relationship's been predicted since even before I knew what the Rober H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center was... Which was even before I wrote "LoL #1: It Starts..." Which as you can see brings me all the way back to the start of this e-mail which was very appropriately Harry Chapin's words: "all my life's a circle..."

Circlefully Yours Circlefully,

lisa :)

p.s. Circlefully is really fun to say..... circlefully circlefully circlefully......