Today's my birthday. That allows me the indulgence of waxing nostalgic, right?
Am I where I thought I would be 10 years ago? Hmmm, let's see: September 4, 2000...
I was a fresh faced newlywed, barely home from my honeymoon. I felt officially "grown up" and I reveled in the novelties of domestic life with my new husband: grocery shopping, tending to our apartment, figuring out the little day to day joys of married life. I was in the middle of my first major exacerbation. I didn't know it yet, but the double vision that plagued me for months was the first tell tale sign of many that something was wrong. But we soldiered through it, trying to (unsuccessfully) figure out what was going on with my body.
At the time, Keith and I were playing in a band called The Maccabees. (No, not the UK dance-rock band; we picked that name waaaay before them in 1998). The book of Maccabees is one of the books not part of the King James/protestant version of the bible, so being the lone Catholic in the band, it was kind of a silly joke. The band was going strong; we went on a small tour the previous summer and put out a couple of EPs. We were talking to a small independent label called Tree Records that was interested in signing us with one caveat: tour, tour, tour.
That's why we picked our wedding date - alllll because of the potential of touring (that date, coincidentally, was also Keith's grandparent's wedding day). As it turned out, my health problems, in combination with personal problems of other members in the band, caused an implosion and The Maccabees just kind of fizzled out.
I graduated from college the previous December with a degree in English Literature. I never really wanted to go; I wanted to tour and be a full time musician. But my parents played the "something to fall back on card" and since they so selflessly set money aside to pay for my education, I didn't feel like I could blow it off. Not that a degree in English Literature sets you on a career track for money, power and success. I like to read. So, that's what I picked. I ever-so-briefly entertained thoughts of going to grad school to be a professor, thoughts that never saw the light of day. But just having a degree opened doors for me. I started as a Staffing Coordinator at a small staffing firm in Brandon. And, 10 years later, I'm still a Recruiter. It's not bad work; I can't complain. But when I was 5 years old, I don't remember saying, "When I grow up, I want to be a Recruiter for a large market HR Outsourcing Firm!" Not quite up there with Astronaut, Cowboy, Doctor, or Rock Star. But it pays the bills and the set up (working from home) is perfect for me because I can still contribute to my household/society in a professional capacity and not have to a) worry about navigating outside of the house with my limitations and b) feel like a complete waste of space.
Is music still in my life? Absolutely - 1,000%. It's one of the reasons I breathe (aside from, you know, the whole needing to breathe to stay alive thing). And I love that I play with my husband. We work well together (aside from occasional times we become The McBickersons) - well enough to play in a band and run a small record label. The label is a labor of love. No money made there; it's only because we want to hear good music and if that means we pay to have the CDs pressed, so be it. Of course, it's a little more involved than that and Keith handles the business side. I'm more of an opinion/advice contributor, which is enough for me.
So, back to my birthday... There are two significant things inextricably linked to my birthday:
1. On September 2, 1998 a good friend of mine was on Swissair Flight 111 when it crashed in Nova Scotia en route to Switzerland. It was two days before my 21st birthday. Jon Wilson was an amazing person. He was the friend that fought to keep our circle of friends together, despite all of the petty silliness that comes with youthful friendships. Every year since, our friends (it's a different hodge podge of people every year) meet at his graveside and then go to dinner to fellowship, hang out, reminisce. Most of us are still good friends. Some have moved far away, and we're all busy with work, kids, family. But we always make time for September 2nd. It's not sad anymore; we remember with happiness and tell stories about our friend. Naturally, there will always be a tinge of sadness to the gathering, but it's overshadowed by our memories of him. It's always good to hang out with old friends and that kind of kicks off my birthday celebration.
2. My mom went into labor on Labor Day, so my birthday is always on/around a 3 day weekend. Score! That's it. Not really as significant as #1, I just felt it was worth mentioning.
I got a card yesterday from a friend with a quote from The Birthday Book. She wrote, "You are quick, volatile and tempestuous and carry a point by force of will. You have a keen, brilliant mind. You like to work things out alone and are sometimes impatient in your haste to get them done. You are a true and loyal friend." Now, I'm not sure how I feel about dates on a calendar signifying key points of your personality (I know, I know: stars, planets, moons in houses, yadda yadda) But some parts of that are uncanny, especially the working things out alone/impatient in your haste part (and the keen and brilliant mind part, bien sur). Am I volatile and tempestuous? Uhhhh, not so much. Maybe there's a Bizarro Susie born on this day on the other side of the world who sets fire to her ex-boyfriend's belongings and keys cars that park too close to her. I am the anti-volatile: passive aggressive and non-confrontational.
And in 10 days, I will be back in the hospital. My impatience is probably what necessitated me going back in for a second venogram. If I'd just waited. If I'd just had the MRV before so he would've seen what's going on inside my skull, in the sigmoid sinus - maybe I would've only had to have one venogram. But there's really no point in wondering about how things could be different. In contacting my doctor I've set off a chain of events that have allowed many others to be treated. I'm a trailblazing guinea pig, if you will And it's not as though I'm heading in for open heart surgery - it's an outpatient procedure with minimal risk. At least I know what to expect this time around (and now I'll have matching quarter-inch scars at the top of each thigh). But ahhh, hindsight. It's a bitch.