I had an awesome weekend with Ian and the girls. We walked four blocks to the grocery store, picked out a small Christmas tree, and dragged it home in our red wagon. Azalea herself did a significant share of the pulling. I smell a new holiday tradition for the family! Needless to say with this good health I will be going to work all of this week, except for easy chemo day (Wednesday). Speaking of work, I was invited to interview for the permanent scientist position that I applied for before I got cancer (see post "Hey, that wasn't so bad"), and my interview is Dec. 7th. That gives me one week to put together a knock-their-socks-off presentation. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
On Thanksgiving day I felt terrible with chemotherapy-related digestive issues and lurking fatigue. This led to the additional phenotype of being antisocial, which ordinarily is not a problem for a family event. However, Ian had invited a friend of his to join us for Thanksgiving, and I felt (still feel) bad for not doing a better job of drumming up conversations with him. He seems like an interesting person, he is certainly nice, and he made delightful funny faces for my daughters. I later realized that an additional part of my conversation deficit was due to the unfortunately few facts (half of which are unfortunate) that I know about him. I will call this my scaffold of him, which is as follows:
He served in Iraq, in the Army (I think). His mom passed away last spring, of multiple sclerosis. He and Ian enjoy watching Monday night football together. He shaved his head when Ian and I shaved ours.
I think of it as a scaffold because it is the beginning of my knowledge of him, just as assembling a scaffold signifies the beginning of a project. I hope to progress beyond a scaffold of this person, and I'm sure I will eventually, but you can see how this particular scaffold presented a challenge for me on the Thanksgiving holiday. We got a lot of mileage out of the fact that he shaved off a mole when he shaved his head, uncorking a large volume of blood from his scalp. After that, I couldn't think of an appropriate conversation to launch from my scaffold of him.
This got me thinking about the scaffolds that other people build about me. Most of you have known me forever and so your scaffold is long gone (except for when I need repairs in your regard), but what about strangers or new friends who are reading this (such as Bernice L. McFadden...how cool is that)? Inflammatory breast cancer is certainly a load-bearing post on their scaffolds of me, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I have had complete control over most other facts about me; indeed, I have worked hard to assemble this certain pile of facts. The cancer fact, however, is ugly and interesting, making it a likely component of all future Heather scaffolds. It's a part of my scaffold over which I have no control, analogous to the death of the mother in my scaffold of Ian's friend. I'm sure everyone has something like this in their scaffold, some horrible I-feel-sorry-for-you fact, but I'm pretty sure it's my first one. And eventually I'm sure I'll get used to it, own it, be proud of it. I just hope it doesn't wreck future conversations before they even start.
As a result of this thought experiment, I have added a blog feature called "Scaffold of a Person". I will feature someone in my life and present a scaffold that I would build of them if I were to introduce them to someone. Let me know what you think...this is clearly one of those things that could be more fun for me than it is for you, although you might find it fun to learn more about fellow commenters. I promise to only use first names, and to be nice. Also, let me know if you don't want me to build your scaffold on this blog, because you could be next!