BEATS: Notes from chemo base camp, part 6

Part of the THIS IS THE MOMENT series

Saturday, October 20th, 2018

Well.

It’s been a rough two weeks. I should have had round 5 of chemotherapy last Wednesday, October 17th, but on the Monday, the usual day for my pre-chemo blood tests and checkup with the oncologist, I was red flagged (emphasis on the red): my hands, my poor, scorched 5 FU tortured hands, didn’t pass muster. Dr. Lougnarath looked at them for a matter of seconds and said (in French): Oh, well then, we’ll skip this week and give Mme Payette’s hands a break.

Empathy. What a beautiful thing. I really didn’t know how I was going to get through the torturous Friday that awaited me, when my hands swelled up like knackwurst on the bar-b-q again.

But the truth is that I really didn’t feel well and hadn’t for days. On Tuesday, I spent hours commuting, then a few more in the waiting room of a hospital associated with the CHUM, with Christian by my side, in order to be seen quickly by endocrinologists (something about an elevated TSH level, which turned out to be no big deal), then back on the metro and the bus and finally my car…and then home.

Through all of this, and for several days previous, I had felt shivery, unsteady on my legs, and 95 years old (or at least, how I imagine that might feel). And so, it came as blessed relief to find out that no matter what my hands looked like, I wasn’t going to have chemo anyway, because my neutrophils count was very low.

Fall, at our new home

You may have noticed all the underlined words. It’s meant to show even those of you who’ve never been near a chemotherapy ward, that cancer comes with its own reality that includes a language that patients and their loved ones become very proficient at in a hurry. Neutrophils—a friendly enough word—basically are those white cells that fight off most of the regular bugs you’re exposed to (in other words: you need those levels up in a hurry).

Monday, October 22nd

This is something that no one tells you about and that you cannot prepare yourself for in chemo. It’s that moment when you hit the wall: the nadir.

Chantal, my pivot nurse, told me today that with a 2-week chemo cycle, a person’s body barely has time to eliminate most of the poisons injected into it before it’s being assaulted again. When it’s your body that’s the experiment (literally: this IS part of a research study), it’s a reality that’s psychologically inescapable.

Fighting cancer Rocky Balboa style

October 23, 2018

I almost typed a different date. I had to stop and really consider where we are on the calendar. For a minute, I was lost.

It’s just one of the ways in which my life has swerved since July. Without the grounding work of teaching, which is so schedule-driven, my sense of time has started to wobble and fade. Even my hair-colouring appointments with Gabrielle, my friend and hairdresser, were as regular as a metronome. Alas, I am now hairless.

The only thing that stops me from floating off and away from “regular” life is the boxy tightness of my two-week chemo cycle. Tests and consultations are almost always on the Monday or Tuesday before chemo, which is every second Wednesday. Then there’s a lost period, that seems to vaporize my life into passivity, naps, lots of television and a feeling of biding my time until…well, at the most basic level, till I can walk and eat and do things like everyone else and then, looking a bit further ahead (dare I?), till I can rejoin life the way it was (I think there’s no going back to that). The way it could be? (Better).

Murray, Derek; Heart; Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre NHS Trust; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/heart-42850

I had a wonderful evening yesterday. My friend Cindy and I went over to the Hudson Theatre to listen to novelist Ian Hamilton talk about his astonishingly successful Ava Lee series of mystery thrillers. He was very sweet and unassuming and wry and sharp as a tack, and we had both read his books, so we were fully invested. We left with signed copies and the feeling that this man cared about the quality of his interactions with his readers. He mentioned the pure joy he felt each time he sat down in his basement office to write the books whose pages his imagination was filling up faster than he could type them. And that, of course, is where I found one connection with this man whose previous career took him all over the world to do business:  in the IMMENSE JOY that flows to him from his writing. This is what I asked him about.

In bed, all wrapped up under the covers at the end of the evening (it was rainy and cold last night), I thought about that kinship. Mr. Hamilton, you are a comrade, in a tiny but important way, because we share a common passion. Then, my phone buzzed, and it was Cindy, writing “Thanks for a perfect evening.”.

Lying quietly after reading Cindy’s phone message (actually, I had to turn the light back on and lean on an elbow to read it), I fell back under the covers feeling ….

Happy.

My goodness. After a pretty shaky couple of weeks, this is how I felt. Happy. I like typing it because it has been so absent. Happy, in the sense of content to be exactly where I was, in that moment. This feeling kept me awake. The unexpected, improbable, delightful lightness of it.

Because I wear ear plugs to bed (though I no longer sleep beside someone who snores), I can hear my heart beat as I lay my head down on the pillow every night. When Cindy’s message buzzed in, I was doing exactly that: listening to the pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, …of my beating heart, thinking: you are a wonder, little heart (it sounds little, inside its cage of ribs). How do you continue to beat in spite of everything I’m doing to you? pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh, …Does the chemo reach your cells? Is it wrong to ask you to spread its toxins around? pa-puh, pa-puh, pa-puh,  pa-puh, pa-puh, …Do you know there is cancer traveling in the blood you pump? Would you still beat if you KNEW?

 My heart has no choice but to be an accomplice in spreading metastatic cells. It can only beat and pump my blood and keep me alive. It’s the ultimate neutrality.

I hold nothing against it. This heart of mine. It’s rhythms, pa-puh,  pa-puh, pa-puh,  pa-puh, pa-puh, are mostly steady and the pressure it puts on my blood vessels, safe and healthy. It beats though I am in chemo. It beats though my cancer is stage 4. It beats, even when each contraction sends painful 5 FU to my hands and feet. It beats faster, and, I think, contracts harder when I cry. It beats slowly when I sleep.

Last night, I know it beat happily.

Pacquette, Elise J. M.; Protecting the Heart; Bethlem Museum of the Mind; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/protecting-the-heart-192960

 

 

MY DAEMONS

I’m up early, as usual.

It’s been rough of late.

Turning back the clocks this year has simply meant that I’m often up at four rather than five o’clock. This is a crummy new development and I’m still figuring out how to best live with it until I’ve reset my circadian dial.

Not long after the return to Eastern Standard Time and the darkness it envelops us in, my working life slipped into fast forward with new contracts coming in before old ones had reached their endings, and I’ve felt a little bit like I’m drowning (marinating?) in fluctuating stress hormones ever since.

At four in the morning
Tree at four in the morning (Photo: mine)

These passages are always anxiogenic.

I know this, and am frustrated with myself, because no matter how many such cycles just like this one my work puts me through, I don’t seem to get much better at warding off the waves that upset the balance in my life.

The moment I realized that I would only be able to manage all of the work (by manage, I mean do it well enough and with joy!) if I cut back on seeing my grandchildren and friends and suspended my writing, I began to feel a weight on my chest and a whispering sadness.

Time, lately, has been like a box that encloses me (or maybe this image comes to mind because, as the amount of online Christmas shopping I’ve been doing has increased, I’ve been piling up those brown shipping boxes).

It has also felt like a greased rope that’s slipping through my hands. It has felt like my oppressor.

This is both fact and figment.

I’m preoccupied with good reason. There aren’t really enough hours in the day. The balance is too precarious.

And yet, my students have been wonderful; my husband has been cleaning up a storm at home; my son Christian has been cooking up delights while his brothers have been the bringers of only good tidings and kindness; my grandchildren and friends have been understanding. And this teaching wave will crest on December 23rd.

Dusk in winter. Yesterday.- photo: mine

So: I’m not one iota less grateful for all of it, just woefully inadequate to the task of applying all of the wisdom gained from life experience, my yoga practice, and from being loved by good, good people.

 

I’m a slow learner indeed. Part of the problem—a very big part, I’ve come to realize—has been that making the adjustments to teach three new groups that all have very different needs, and balancing the seven others, has taken all of the time that I would otherwise devote to writing.

Writing—this thing that I’m doing right now—seems to have become necessary. I don’t know at what moment this became a fact, but there it is.

Early dawn under the maple-photo: mine
Early dawn under the maple-photo: mine

Writing is my daemon. Being separated from it causes me distress that only increases as the days pass. Being able to return to it this week, finally, has helped me to feel both relief and a kind of hopefulness.

Strange. The library blogs I was finally able to write this past week (in English and then in French) were about the recent, merciless unmasking of Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.

It was a new experience for me to write about an author whose work I haven’t even yet read, but something about the story of this woman being dragged against her will into the media spotlight last October 2nd really got to me.

The vast majority of the reaction pieces to Ferrante’s aggressive “outing” that I read were by women writers with whom I couldn’t help but feel a kinship. There’s the ominous scent of something regressive in the air these days and we are picking it up.

But I think that I connected to Ferrante’s fate for more personal reasons as well, because everything indicates that her ability to create and write are contingent upon her ability to walk the tightrope between fact and fiction that she believes is only possible for her in anonymity—that space that allows her to hide in plain sight.

She has been stripped of the conditions necessary to the practice of her art.

Winter sky at dusk. photo: mine
Winter sky at dusk.
photo: mine

It isn’t very Zen to state that there are elements upon which my happiness depends, but today, and every day previous, this has been so.

My existence as a living being is nurtured, like tree roots, by my connections to all of the people I love and care about—these are roots I want to continue to grow till they connect with the vastest possible network—and by those that I create through my work and my writing.

"Our winter sky at night, a sight to behold." -photo by Christian Daoust
“Our winter sky at night, a sight to behold.”
-photo by Christian Daoust

 

 

THE DISAPPEARING PAST

If you had to choose between happiness and longevity, which would it be?

It’s an impossible, terrible question, but I DO want to live a long life.

I have no guarantee of that of course. Mostly, I’m grateful for the years I already have under my belt and hope for many more.

Sitting here in the dark  of early morning thinking about my lifespan, the image stuck in my head is of a ziplock gliding along the top edges of a plastic bag: much like it, my lifetime has zipped by with smooth inevitability. Of course, a ziplock is also designed to move backward along its track in an action that can be repeated and repeated. Alas, there’s no such movement possible for any of us. Not in real time.

 

In partial answer to the question Why does time seem to speed up as we get older?”, Muireann Irish and Claire O’Callaghan write that:

Memory may hold the key to time perception, as the clarity of our memories is believed to mould our experience of time. We mentally reflect on our past and use historic events to achieve a sense of our self existing across time.”

We time-travel along the tracks of our memories, and our sense of time expands and contracts in relation to these; and somewhere within this interplay, a space is created for nostalgia.

I don’t think of myself as nostalgic—at least not in the way so many baby-boomers seem to be.

For instance, Facebook is full of posts with titles like Do you remember? featuring toys from my baby-boomer childhood including Etch-a-sketch, Barrel of Monkeys, Matchbox cars, Dinky Toys and Spirograph; gadgets like classic sixties home hair-dryers and cassette tapes; and photos of carefree children packed like luggage into the backs of station wagons.

They’re fun click bait for loads of people, but they mostly make me uneasy. What some embrace as “vintage” and “classic” reminders of more innocent and carefree times strike me as evidence of my generation’s built-in obsolescence.

And then there’s teenage nostalgia, and what it means to be old enough for a high school reunion to have any significance at all.

[It’s a strange irony that while Facebook makes reunions so much easier to coordinate, it’s also making them unnecessary]

I remember watching Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, and listening to South Park’s Matt Stone, a graduate of Columbine, talk about his high school years there and repeating the oppressive message he received over and over from as early as grade 6, that the path he set in middle school would determine the course of his life and which nearly convinced him that “Whatever I am now, I am forever”, when in fact : “[…] of course it’s completely opposite.”

 

There hasn’t been a high school reunion for my graduating year, but my husband attended his. I’m not sure what he was hoping to find there, but he was excited to go. I think that it was a mixture of curiosity—Who would turn up? Would that gorgeous girl still be as gorgeous? Who would remember him? Who wouldn’t? Who got fat? Who lost their hair? How had X and Y and Z’s lives turned out?— and the pull of nostalgia: a yearning for a time when he had so little responsibility, when he was young and strong and perfect and a star athlete.

 

To this day, he’s more likely to listen to music from that period of his life than any other. Those songs are the soundtrack of his memories. What some call Golden Oldies.

They too make me uneasy. They make me feel trapped in a time that I’m relieved to have left behind. They’re a source of tension between us in the car. He’s so much more sentimental than me.

 

If there were one held this year, I’m not sure I’d attend my Class Reunion, and yet, early in the summer of 2015, I connected with my oldest and most precious high school friend. I sought him out through LinkedIn. I hadn’t seen him or heard from him in more years than I want to reveal. For decades. Since the last day of school.

 

And so we arranged to meet for lunch at a restaurant near my home in mid-July. Our meeting was quiet and sweet. We smiled a lot. We were even a little bit bashful. I had found him because I wanted to tell him how much his friendship had meant to me during those years. I knew that he had no idea what my life was really like then, and he couldn’t have guessed what a difference having him as a classmate had made. I wanted to thank him. To close a loop that had been left open all these years.

What I hadn’t expected was how nostalgic he is for those years in his life. There I was, wanting to come full circle and there he was, wanting to revisit those years and reconnect with the people he left behind there and bring them back into his present. He has continued to track old classmates down and gather them together.

Nostalgia is described in online dictionaries as a “feeling of pleasure and also slight sadness when you think about things that happened in the past”, and also as a “bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past”.

At a birthday party with my sisters (left and centre)

 

The bittersweetness of nostalgia is a good thing. There’s a measure of pleasure and pain in almost everything we value in life. All things must pass. There’s a sadness in that too.

This September marked the anniversary of my son Christian’s graduation from LAMDA and my trip to London to visit him. For several weeks before and throughout the month, I was awash in wistful memories and felt a yearning to return there.

Portobello Road, London. England

Though Christian’s life has been happy and challenging and eventful since his return, I still feel (and I think he does too) that there’s unfinished business in England, and that there’s more to experience there, more adventures to be lived.

In this way, nostalgia propels me forward.

But beware of nostalgia when it mixes with fear of change and whispers Keep things as they are and We’ve always done things this way…

 My family’s plans for the future include pooling our resources and buying a property that will accommodate multigenerational living. Our timeline is three to five years. When that day comes, I’ll be forced to sell my house and move from Pointe-Claire, which has been my home since I was three years old. Leaving my hometown will probably be one of the hardest things I’ll ever do.

But the truth is that the Pointe-Claire of my childhood memories is irretrievable, and soon, my sons will feel the same way.

The fields I used to play in have all but disappeared, transformed into housing developments or replaced by meticulously designed parks. The small A-frame cottages that were built for the soldiers returning from WWII on beautiful large lots along Saint-Louis avenue have mostly been torn down to accommodate giant generic homes with no connection to that past. New neighbours arrive on my street year after year, starting a new cycle of childrearing. One local grocery store morphed into a sports equipment retailer, while another, the place where we shopped when we were newlyweds, was just demolished. There’s only flattened earth there now.

Post WWII veteran’s home, Pointe-Claire
Post WWII veteran’s home, Pointe-Claire
New home built on lot of former veteran’s home.
New homes being built on lot of former veteran’s home.

Time marches on.

Living a happy and long life often means learning to let the past disappear.

 

 

THE SUM OF GATHERED EXPERIENCE

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Original preschool artwork by Penelope Daoust, 2015-16

In recent days, I’ve been swept along by a current that I can’t fully understand.

I trace the start of it to a month or so ago, when I read a unique piece of fiction by Alan Lightman titled Einstein’s Dreams that I was drawn to like a magnet.

A short novel. A meditation on the value of time, presented as a series of dreams Einstein had during the long nights he worked and slept in the patent office in Bern, Switzerland, where he eventually developped his theory of special relativity.

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Alan Lightman

Why I alighted on this book, I can’t know for sure, though I think it started with my fascination with the author himself, who is both a physicist and writer, and MIT’s first professor to receive a joint appointment in science and humanities.

the_original_1920_english_publication_of_the_paperIt seems nearly impossible that anyone should have a mind both brilliantly mathematical and linguistic, but it is so.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be so lucky? Instead, I’ve always been drawn to the kinds of questions he asks without possessing the means to begin answering them.

I wonder what I would have become if there hadn’t been many others like Alan Lightman: extraordinary minds belonging to gifted writers.

People whose written work gives me a second home; a place to slip away into; a space outside of the mainstream of my life, using words in ways that expand my sense of what it means to be human, filling me up and helping me to see beauty and truth in a new way.

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In my experience, what we’re seeking and what we find often have a strange, synchronous quality that doesn’t feel predestined as much as it feels in harmony with life at that moment.

Does this make sense to you? Have you experienced anything like this?

This notion seems to have been confirmed by the fact that, at about the same time, I acquired a copy of Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air. I had seen so many laudatory reviews of this treasure of a book that I ordered it.

And here it was, and I immediately started reading it.

Kalanithi’s book, which is indescribably beautiful, chronicles the last years of his life and death, at the age of 37. He was a soulful, brilliant intellectual, a dazzling literary mind and exceptional neurosurgeon who wrote When Breath Becomes Air as a means, I believe, to making himself whole before meeting death— reconciling everything that he was and everything that he loved and hoped to give to the world.

Paul Kalanithi at the end of his life with his infant daughter Cady
Paul Kalanithi at the end of his life with his infant daughter Cady

It was hard to let that book go when I reached its end, and it stayed with me for days. I wish I could have stretched out that time and been able to prevent the space I inhabited while reading it from collapsing under the weight of life, but alas, it isn’t possible.

This is the stuff of happiness, real happiness. When we come to these moments that feel transcendent. When we experience snatches or stretches of time that are a kind of walking through the clearest, most distilled awareness.

IMG_2140

When I was seventeen, my great aunt Gertrude, who was in her late seventies, lost her husband. They had married late and had no children, but had always been close to my mother and so we saw them often and loved them too.

My great-uncle had died early in the day, and as evening approached, plans were made for someone to stay with Aunt Gertrude, and so I volunteered to spend the night with her in their apartment downtown.

The first night after his death, there we were, the two of us, in this home she had shared for close to forty years with her husband.

I remember that she passed in and out of a state of shock, absorbing then rejecting her terrible loss. I remember how she moved from simple chatting and cups of tea to restless, frightened and disoriented meandering through her apartment, like the victim of a tornado sifting through a life reduced to rubble.

I remember how, just when she seemed to have calmed herself down, she turned and noticed her husband’s glasses on a side table, picked them up, turned them over in her hands with tenderness and dissolved into sobbing as another wave of loss rolled over her.

It was a long night. I remember that we didn’t sleep very much, and yet I also recall that even then, she was able to smile and chuckle as she told me things about my great uncle.

I remember the next day: how tired I felt, and how I had such a headache. But what I remember best, what I walked away with, imprinted in me for good, was the knowledge that THIS IS LIFE. Pushed up as I was against my great uncle’s death and his spouse’s grief, this couldn’t have been clearer.

 “There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.
― Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air

IMG_2410
Painting by Suzanne Howard, from the series “People in search of new spaces”

I’m old enough now to live with the silent countdown of my days. It’s hard to say exactly when that shift in human awareness occurs, but for women, the biological clock probably hastens it : its ticking is too loud to ignore.

That’s okay.

My grade 1 photo
My grade 1 photo

If given the chance, I would never want to turn back time. It would feel like going back to an inferior version of myself—or maybe an emptier version is the better way to put it.

In my French classes this week, I had several of my groups finish the following phrase:

Quand je regarde mes photos d’enfance, je me sens…(= when I look at photographs from my childhood, I feel…)

This was a group of beginners, so they used their smart phones and came up with satisfying answers like: actif, vieux, détendu, souriant, …que mes souvenirs sont précieux…

(In english: active—I think maybe “energized” was the meaning sought here—old / relaxed / like smiling / that my memories are precious).

At first, I wrote “nostalgic and a bit sad”, but a more honest answer would have been that I feel that the person in the photo is a stranger. There is no sense of alienation from myself in this, but rather, there’s an awareness of ongoing transformation and adaptation through experience.

Whoever I was at 5 or 12 or 23 or even 37, I am no longer. I’ve evolved, and continue to do so, perhaps with greater will and a clearer intention because I know, as Paul Kalanithi knew, that my life doesn’t have a horizon, it has a finish line.

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These thoughts were very much with me when the phone rang on Monday morning, while I was doing preparation for the 8 groups that I teach french to. This was a terrible call. A colleague has been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer: could I take over two of her groups?

I felt sick. I also felt…prepared for this, somehow.

Of course I took her classes that Tuesday.

Her students asked about her. They were worried about her. The first group of men told me that she has been sick for weeks. They thought she had pneumonia. They had been helping her get back to her car after class for several weeks…

One small, shy man who had arrived a few minutes early got up and wrote the day’s date and weather in french, with a red dry marker, on the white board. Very dutifully, respecting the routine she had set up with them. It was such a bittersweet gesture.

I told them nothing, other than that I would be their teacher till the end of the contract.

Presently, the “human resources” of this same corporation are being laid off and let go by the hundreds and hundreds. The company is experiencing tough times and so are its people.

One of my students this week mentioned that this work climate was like a slow poison.

Another informed me and his french class colleagues that he had received his pink slip, and would not be coming back. He is a tall, quiet Chinese immigrant with two very young children. At the end of class, he lingered a moment because there were kind things he wanted to say to me. I told him what I honestly feel: that I think he has a bright future and this tough patch will soon be over. And I smiled.

When he left, my throat caught and the tears came.

I think that in our lifetimes, we experience many deaths, but also many lives.

I will share your joy and sorrow / Till we’ve seen this journey through.”
― Paul KalanithiWhen Breath Becomes Air

 

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Taking a Q

We’ve all seen–in real life or on screen–a small child peppering a wilting parent with the question: Why? But why, Mummy? Why daddy? Why do….? Why is….?

For the most part, parents keep their cool. Some—the really attentive ones—listen carefully and try to come up with an answer that’s in some way informative or at least one that will satisfy the child and put out the fire for a while. But some children have serious stamina, which wears their parents down to defeated shrugs and sometimes a state of exasperation.

Buried somewhere in every parent’s psyche is a fear of the questions themselves. Of not being able to answer them. Of not wanting to answer them. Of being exposed as an imposter (parents are supposed to know everything). Or, finally, of being asked the sort of profound philosophical questions that children are capable of throwing into a simple conversation, like: What is heaven, mum? What do you think it’s like?

Here’s the story behind those last two questions:

On a steamy summer afternoon when they were maybe 8 or 9 years old, I took my twin sons out for a drive. We were chasing a thunderstorm, which was my idea. We were following the lightning along the lakeshore (you could get a good clear view of it from there) because they were afraid of it, and I didn’t want them to be afraid. So we hopped into the car (a very safe place to be when there’s lightning!) and storm-chased.

WOW! Look at that one!

Oh! There’s another one!

It was so exhilarating. The wind blew and the darkened sky was lit up by bolts and sheets of lightning, with very little rain. The thunder rumbled and they kept pointing at new flashes. In a very short time, their feelings of uncertainty evaporated and were replaced by joy, and a happiness of the purest, simplest kind.

And that’s when those questions came up. What is heaven, mum? What do you think it’s like?

They now hung in the air. What could I answer?

IMG_1230Maybe it was because of the wondrous sky. Maybe it was because they felt, as I did, that this was a rare moment. What I remember most is that we were connected in that instant by a feeling of transcendence. All I know is that my answer came rather easily, and I still feel that I got it right (or at least, I can live with it).

What I answered was something like: «Well, I don’t know. No one really knows until they die. But here’s what I think maybe it is. How do you feel right now? »

They answered: «Great! Happy! Really happy! »

And I said: «Do you feel like being mean? Like saying something that could hurt someone? Do you feel jealous or angry or frustrated? »

They answered: «NO! NOT AT ALL!!»

 

And I answered: «Well, I think heaven must be like that. I think that when you’re in heaven, you always feel happy like that; you feel full of love. »

My twin sons, age 7
My twin sons, age 7

And to my tremendous relief, that was enough for them, and they just smiled, and we made our way home.

I think that our questions say a lot about us. They provide a window into our

preoccupations, our fears, our passions and our interests. They’re indicators of our inquisitiveness and of the life of our mind’s imagination and appetite for input.

Asking a question is always, in part, opening yourself to another—and perhaps even leaving yourself exposed. Which is why I think that our questions say something about the trust and confidence we have in each other.

Which is my long-winded way of introducing a new category on REEF. A new place to visit I named CHRISTIAN’S Q & A.

Some people never stop asking questions. My son Christian is one of them, and he can be relentless. You see, the gears of his creative brain never stop whirring and apparently, he has freakish recall (which serves him well as an actor!) and a capacity to store almost limitless amounts of information, factoids and esoterica. He’s also a cinema, comic book and graphic novel aficionado.

And so, just for fun, just to make conversation or just to watch me squirm, he throws these questions at me, when the mood strikes him.

Sometimes he gives me a headache, but mostly, he makes me feel good because he genuinely appears interested to know my answer.

The coolest thing about Christian’s questions is that under their geek culture cover, they’re actually challenging and expansive. Sometimes, they are so much so that I flip the question back at him so that he has to answer it first, just to give myself some time to think or in the hope that his answer will spark my own imagination.

I’ll end this post with a question Christian asked me yesterday. See what you’d answer, and then come back to REEF, and leave your answer in a Comment.  I’ll post my own answers…in time (maybe I’ll wait for yours, first).

QUESTION 1: If you had the ability to teleport, how would it change your life?

Teleport = to cause to travel by an imaginary very fast form of transport that uses special technology or special mental powers

For example, the character of Nightcrawler, in the X-Men comic series.