Archive for November, 2011

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In which sometime I wanna get you low

November 30, 2011

There is one empty chair, on the other side of the room. Five out of six are filled — one with me — and we are all hooked up to various tubes and whirring machines. I’m just here to get IV fluids, which I wasn’t expecting, but when I came in for my visit to the oncologist, my blood pressure was like 4/17 (note: exaggeration, but it was low) and so here I am, back in the chamois-colored chair, listening to the pumps whir.

I haven’t been feeling well lately, and I’ve been sleeping a lot, a real lot, and I’ve been dizzy, so I guess there is something going on. I just don’t know how I am supposed to feel, so it’s hard to know what’s normal and what should be alarming.

It’s all kind of alarming, but alarm, stretched out over a year or more, feels more or less like resignation.

For your viewing pleasure, the chamois chair:

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May your day be gentle on you.

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In which I wait around

November 27, 2011

On this unseasonably warm fall day, I’ve opened the windows for a bit of breeze, which has caused my cat — yes! I’m mentioning my CAT again! — to go full jungle alert and whine desperately to go outside. I don’t think so, cat. You are going to stay in with me in my new, matching aggressive paisley pajamas, and wait for Laura to come on KTLA.

Laura, starring Gene Tierney, is one of my favorite movies, and although I’ve seen it a dozen times, I will happily watch it again, despite the necessity of accepting Vincent Price in a romantic lead. It’s ok. I can hack it. Here’s a picture of Gene Tierney, in case you’re unfamiliar:

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There are more beautiful portraits of her, but I like this one for the way her hair goes a bit unruly. It makes her seem more human.

Anyway, as I say, I will wait for Laura to show on television, lying around in pajamas and trying to keep the cat entertained.

In other news, last night I had a vivid dream in which I was learning to scuba dive with a team of investigators. We were searching for something in murky water, and I was eager to dive in. I’ll have to consult a dream journal. The most obvious thing I can think of is that I’m looking for answers about my disease.

Yesterday, my mother advised me to sell my family heirlooms if I needed money. She wanted me to offer them to a certain branch of the family first — a branch of the family so snobby that we have nothing to do with one another. I can’t imagine contacting any of them and explaining my situation, then offering to sell them material goods. My mother seems to think that because we are linked by name, these people should have first right of refusal of any family goods. My feeling is that these people probably could not care less whether I’m alive or dead, so why give them preference over anything? I might as well drive up in my Mary Kay pink Cadillac with a case full of samples, and offer free makeovers. I’d probably be better received.

Anyway, I guess I’m looking for clues and feeling like the waters are murky. It’s true, I don’t have a lot of information right now, and hovering over my head is the knowledge that I’ve already had this disease for two years. I wish someone could tell me with certainty the exact date on which I will die. I could put off doing so much stuff until the last minute! I am an excellent procrastinator. Ah, well. None of us gets this courtesy in life, although it would certainly be useful. When I rule the world, things will be different. Stay tuned!

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In which I say GFY… Good for you

November 26, 2011

Oh, my god, Thanksgiving is over, and it’s like all anyone has to do is sit around on Facebook and type in their entries for Most Awesome Life. “Sitting under the money tree on the lanai, sipping cold Impressive Chardonnay and getting ready to light the BBQ.. Tri-tip later… Ahhhh, the good life!” I consider myself a fine human being for not typing “Go Fuck Yourself” after every one of these entries, and yes, you can congratulate me.

I’m not someone who goes for the numbers on Facebook. I generally just have people I know and like on there, so where are all these smug bastards coming from? Whatever. I’m sure I can on occasion be accused of being a smug bastard myself. “Pobody’s Nerfect,” as those whimsical resin signs from the ’70s remind us. You can probably still get one at Spencer Gifts, if you look around in the back.

Here’s what I wish for today: I wish that smoking was not bad for you. Because if it wasn’t, I would wangle an invitation to go sit on the lanai and wait for the barbecue to be lit, and smoke one million Dunhills. Because it’s fun. And relaxing. Oh, well. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Here’s a picture of my imaginary house:

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I don’t know who lives there, but I am sure they will agree to hand over their home to me, based on my assessment of its cuteness. It’s set down in a little dell, surrounded by leafy, sunlit trees. When I take possession, you can come over and sit on the porch with me and drink whatever you like, and while away whole afternoons.

No smug bastards need apply, but if you’re skilled at grilling, I might consider allowing you to visit for short periods of time.

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In which I’m curious to know if you can see yourself as clear

November 25, 2011

Well, maybe it’s the color of the sun cut flat
And covering the crossroads I’m standing at
Or maybe it’s the weather or something like that
But Daddy, you been on my mind.

I heard that good old Bob Dylan tune, as interpreted by Judy Collins, as Thanksgiving dinner was being prepared yesterday at my aunt’s house, and felt like I’d opened a door into my recent past. I remembered hearing it last about ten years ago, on the record player at the same aunt’s house, around Thanksgiving, and having the same nostalgic ache.

Hearing it yesterday, I felt like I could reach through that window in time, take the hand of my younger self, who was so frightened and insecure and new in town, and say, “Everything is gonna be all right. It will not be at all what you expect, but it will be all right.”

Maybe yesterday was a good day to give thanks for perspective. Maybe that’s true of every day.

These are thoughts to keep my brain distracted from what I have come to see as a toxic night flower blooming inside me. I visualize it wilting and curling into nothing, but those visualizations are contradicted by a constant fatigue, and a vague pain under my ribcage. It makes me tired, and it makes me sad, like when my cat doesn’t understand why I don’t want to play with him all the time.

There’s not much I can do about the night flower, which I picture as something curling and multi-limbed, like a Datura, maybe. I take my chemotherapy and I rest. I try to keep perspective. Because this is not at all what I expected, but it will be all right.

Here was my view across the valley yesterday:

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In which I tell you what to do

November 24, 2011

Give thanks.

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Cos you got it all.

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In which I give thanks

November 23, 2011

On this Thanksgiving eve, 2011, here are some things I am thankful for:

    Videos about inter-species animal friendships
    Sable
    Percocet
    Hermès perfumes
    Rice Krispie treats
    Effortless good hair days
    Surprise visitors
    Shows about ghosts
    Taxidermy

Here are a couple of things I’m not that thankful for:

    People who refer to Bob Dylan as “Robbie Zimmerman” to show that, like everyone else on Earth, they’re aware that “Dylan” is a stage name.
    Dipping sauce. Look: it’s dip, ok? Fuck the sauce.
    Restaurant terms being used in the home. No, I don’t want a “side salad.” But, yes, I’ll take some of that salad there, if you’re offering.
    Patchouli-based scents of any kind.
    Loud people
    Cancer

Here’s a picture of the exterior of the Hotel Congress, where on Thanksgiving of 2000, I inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that would instantly and permanently change my life:

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Wishing you a lot of happy and productive change this year.

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In which it is an anniversary

November 22, 2011

A year ago, I got myself out of bed, headed to the oncologist’s office, got a pump installed in my arm, and then rode down to Hollywood for my first radiation appointment.

I remember feeling apprehensive but hopeful, and also certain that the treatment would be successful.

To a certain extent, I guess it was successful: the original tumor was killed off through a combination of poison and radiation. Of course, it had already sent emissaries streaming through my blood, which latched onto my liver, and which is proving more pernicious than the original enemy.

In the last year, I’ve gone through optimism and certainty that I’d be fine, to fatigue and a sense that this will never end, that everyone around me is bored with my ailment. Not that I expect rapt attention, mind you — I just feel like life is moving on without me, that I am unable to participate. I no longer know what to do with myself. I get vicious emails from the Captain’s ex-fiancée, telling me I’m “fucking pathetic” and laughing about the fact that I’m reduced to blogging from my bed, posting pictures of my cat.

A lot has happened in the last year. I’ve been CAT scanned, prayed over, operated on, injected with chemicals. I’ve had hope every time I’ve gone in to get results of the scans, and eventually learned that hope is kind of useless. It’s a way of keeping myself upbeat before the negative results come back.

I was going to post a picture of what my liver looks like, but it is so grotesque, I thought I’d better not. Instead, I will post a picture of a car that looks like Valencia, my old unreliable BMW that took me from San Francisco to Tucson, Arizona, and led me to a world of adventures I never could have imagined.

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I post it also to remind myself that we really do not know what lies in store for us.