“Far Beyond the Stars” yet so close

'Far_Beyond_the_Stars'_sketchLast night we watched the classic Star Trek: Deep Space 9 episode “Far Beyond the Stars” (Season 6, Episode 13, originally aired February 11, 1998.) I had never seen it before; I had entirely missed the last two seasons of DS9 and was spotty on seasons 2-5 until our current re-watch.

The episode has aged very well; nearly two decades later, it is very, very current. The premise (not a spoiler) is that Captain Benjamin Sisko has a full sensory vision of himself as an under-appreciated science fiction magazine writer in 1950s America. The cast regulars play alternate characters in this vision, all without alien prosthetic make-up.

The episode is a success that can be appreciated on multiple levels: the illustration of hope and despair, of prejudice overt and insidious, of how far we’ve come and how much further we have to go; the geeky enjoyment of the portrayals of characters based on real science fiction writers; the actors playing alternate parts with interesting symbolism in harmony or contrast with their regular parts; the musings about the relationship between ideas and change.

The story ties in painfully well with such current topics as the need to even state that Black Lives Matter, and various Sad/Rabid Puppies droppings. For my money, actor Avery Brooks, who also directs the episode, chewed the scenery too much in the climax scene; however, it remains a very strong piece.

You don’t need to be familiar with the metaplot of the show to appreciate this episode on its own; see it on Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon. Read more about the episode here and here (spoiler alert.)

Day 15, Cycle 2: Not Too Bad!

cancer_crab_arabic_drawingMy second cycle of chemotherapy has been unfolding more gently than the first one. Things that really helped included getting white blood cell booster shots on Days 2 to 4 instead of later in the cycle, and improved food and protein intake. As a result, I didn’t become as weak as the first time and I didn’t dehydrate.

That has left me with the time and energy to take inventory and appreciate the good things:

The people in my life. My husband, family, and loved ones are so amazing. Oh, my friends near and far! You are so amazing. You may not know what a difference you make, so I’m telling you. All your wishes, kind words, visits, books, prepared meals, scarves, help, advice, it all buoys me through this.

2016-04-15 13.31.31
Nun of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Scarves and hats. I have received so many lovely scarves and hats from friends that I can accessorize with any colour combination, and wear something different every time. Some are stately and luscious fabrics, some are silky wraps, some are whimsical. I’ve received funny ones (like the Flying Spaghetti Monster cap) and geeky ones (like the D20 scarf), jewel tones and pastels, cotton and satin. Which is coming in really handy now that my hair is getting disgustingly patchy.  😦

Coffee. This time I felt better so I was able to keep on drinking my morning coffee throughout the low part of the cycle! You wouldn’t think that makes such a difference, but it does. Not wanting coffee is a sure sign of doom for me.

Dr. Valentine
Dr. Valentine

Felinotherapy. My cats are great providers. I’m attended by Dr. Valentine, Head Oncology Felinotherapist, supported by Dr. Ubaid and Dr. Phantom.

Kaiser Permanente. While I detest the American mockery of a health care system, and HMOs in particular are highly suspect, I have found the local Kaiser Permanente team to be great. It’s well integrated so that I don’t get bounced around between specialties, response is very quick, and the vast majority of people I have encountered seemed very competent and were courteous and helpful. And speaking of KP, their class on nutrition for cancer patients was very helpful in getting me to stay hydrated and eat more protein this time around.

Smartphones. It’s so amazingly useful to have an iPhone, every sick or disabled person should be given one for free. It’s an amazing assistive technology, at hand for everything from keeping in constant contact with one’s support network, to booking medical appointments, to looking up vital information, to storing details of your prescriptions.

Bitching. Yeah, you wouldn’t think that’s a good thing, right? But it is! This time around I was just well enough at the lowest point to bitch about all my little booboos, aches, sores, hair loss, etc. The first time around I was too weak even for that, all I could do was feel miserable. So bitching was progress!

And speaking of bitching…

Troll controls. Spam filters, the “Block” and “Hide post” features, comment screening, and all these wonderful tools on WordPress, Facebook, Google+, and Gmail. Oh yeah, trolls, you’re really so very interesting. Pfftt.