Archive for December, 2011


In which it’s the things you believe

December 30, 2011

Several years ago, I was alone on the boat, looking forward to another New Year’s Eve without a date — the Captain was out to sea — and out of boredom, I wrote a song.

It was the night before New Year’s Eve. The song, I’ve since forgotten, except that I’d written it in three-quarter time, which tells me I’d been listening to too much Aimee Mann, and this chorus:

It’s not what you know,
It’s the things you believe
On the night before New Year’s Eve.

I was trying to capture the feeling of winding down the year and taking stock before the parties to celebrate the new year begin. Clearly, this is the wittiest, most profound song ever created about the day before a holiday. I don’t understand its lack of popularity. It had a very pretty tune.

Anyway, tonight — another night before New Year’s Eve, I’m thinking about what I believe, and questioning it. “Certainty is the opposite of wisdom,” says some long-dead philosopher, and I give him a thumbs-up. Certainty gets you into the fight; wisdom keeps you out of it.

I’m no longer certain I’ll recover from my illness. My fear is not that I’ll kick the bucket in six months, but that I’ll linger on, getting slowly weaker, subsisting on caramels from the 99-cent store and being forced to live within an impossibly strict budget. That’s the worst thing I can imagine for my situation: enforced poverty and slowly declining health.

So, on New Year’s Eve, I’m going to light some candles, put on warm pajamas, and be as comfortable as I can. Maybe do a tarot spread for the coming year, have a glass of pink Champagne. Yes, I’m ringing in the new year alone. I feel relatively well, my mind is functioning, and it feels almost luxurious to not join the throngs of dancing, drinking partiers to get showered with glitter or balloons at midnight. I may do it next year, but this year feels like a good one to stay in and enjoy the warmth of home. I’m happy to be alone.



In which I am protected

December 28, 2011

The cat is in a high dudgeon following the appearance outside of two stranger cats, one orange, one tabby. There was some yowling outside, and Kong came running in to update me about this exciting situation, and lead me to the door so I could see the intruders. That was an hour ago, and he’s still amped up, and had to be patted while he ate dinner, to calm down.


I was on the phone with my good friend Tahmi at the time. I had asked her if she had ever been to my apartment, and she answered that not only had she been here several times, but that she had met my mother a couple of times, and met the Cyclone, and done my laundry. She said it completely without sarcasm, which was kind of her. I have no memory of her ever being here.

So, friends, now is your chance: apparently, since my memory is shot for large portions of this year, you can claim credit for almost anything, and I will likely believe you. Fruit basket? Foot massage? Thank you! I’m sure it was wonderful. I’ll even write you a thank you note.

Maybe I should be scared by these holes in my memory, but I’m more intrigued by the question of what else I might be forgetting. What else did I do in the last year? Judging by the entries in this blog, I unknowingly repeated myself a lot, cried for approximately
six months, and wondered when I would feel normal again over and over and over. I’m not under the delusion that I did something fantastic, like discovered a new element, but it is conceivable that I acted in a local production of Our Town, or something. Who would know?


In which I see some action

December 28, 2011

Your excitement and/or nausea at the prospect that I’m going to detail my sex life are unfounded. The action was all in a movie starring the ultra-intense Tom Cruise and a lot of explosions. It’s traditional in my family that sometime in the days after Christmas, we all go to dinner and a movie, and I always go along with whatever the group choice is. I don’t really care, as long as I get to go, so I end up seeing movies I probably wouldn’t have picked. Whatever, it’s fun, and truly: Tom Cruise’s wig in the final scene was, to me, worth the price of admission. (Full disclosure: my ticket was paid for by someone else.)

One of the previews shown was for the 3D re-release of Titanic, and I flashed on seeing it in San Francisco, in a theatre in the Marina. I used to have a phobia about movie theatres when I lived in that city. It manifested as a neurotic fear that I would be shot in the head from behind. It kept me out of most theatres for quite a while. Interestingly, I experienced that fear only in San Francisco, cannot explain why, and then forgot about it until recently. What was that all about?

In other news, there’s some kind of drama brewing, family drama. I got a hint of it tonight, but I don’t have enough details to, say, explain it to you in the form of a one-act play, or compare it hyperbolically to a much larger drama, say, the Hindenburg. (Sorry, I’m kind of stuck on explosions. It’s Tom Cruise’s fault.) The scant knowledge is making me a little uneasy, but I will let it go, as there’s nothing I can do at this moment.

Anyway, I’m going to bed. This morning, I woke myself up speaking a single word aloud, either “swell” or “still.” Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.


(Gratuitous photo of some pretty party dresses. I had another shopping dream last night.)


In which I consider a couple of things

December 26, 2011

A couple of things I’ve learned, that were probably obvious, but which took repeated lessons:

1. You can’t be what everyone wants you to be without draining your soul dry . This is a matter of self-respect.

2. You can’t be perfect, but do your best not to be an asshole. This may require attempting a point of view other than your own. Get your ego out of the way and try it.

3. Passive aggression can be fun, but will eventually make everyone wary of you.

4. You will regret ad hominem attacks, especially if you’ve put any thought into their accuracy and worded them cleverly.

5. The feeling of guilt can become a hobby, a self-centered hobby. So can worry. Save your guilt and worry for situations that really warrant them. Discernment is a virtue.

I’m not telling you what to do, I’m reminding myself.


In which I make, and then avoid, trouble

December 26, 2011

I had a little quiet time to myself this evening, which I used to overthink things and irritate myself. I also reread some recent posts I’d written, an activity that should take place more often, because: damn, do I repeat myself a lot, with the added charm of thinking each time that I’ve had some startling new insight.

I’d love to chalk this repetition up to chemo or opiates, but I may always have been this way. How would I know? Things to watch for in the future. I’ll add it to the list.

After a lovely Christmas, I felt the Bitch of Christmas Yet to Come sneak up, and she’s threatening to take over. Why? Partly tiredness, probably, and a myriad of little concerns that the anticipation of Christmas easily masks, for me, anyway. Well, Christmas has come and gone, and I think I just set a land speed record for racing to the top of Mt Crumpet, heart three sizes too small.

In the midst of my grinchiness, I picked a fight (minor) with the Cyclone. Unnecessary, but he seemed like a convenient outlet at the time. I believe that’s how most assholes pick their battles. Which is not to say I am an asshole. I’m really not, most of the time. Most of the time.

This was me tonight: (See illustration)



But with dark, unkempt hair.

Tomorrow, I’ll have to apologize and all that, and mean it. There’s probably some overthinking I can do about that, as well. Without getting into the nitty gritty, I will just say, in my defense, that the argument I started was not wholly unreasonable. It’s just that I didn’t really have to start it on Christmas, after what had otherwise been a beautiful day. Genuinely beautiful, with sun and presents and egg nog and everything.

In other news, I was driving downtown tonight, and a black cat ran across the street on the other side of the intersection I was about to cross. I am just superstitious enough that I hit the blinkers and turned left onto a side street, so that he wouldn’t cross my path. I can’t take a lot of chances right now.

Anyway, I’m going to put my troubles down for the night, spit out this gum I’ve been chewing, and watch Murder, She Wrote until I fall asleep. I hope that you’re all having sweet dreams.


In which I have visions of sugarplums

December 25, 2011

When I got home tonight, this was waiting for me:


It was unsigned, and contained a skein of mulberry-colored yarn, some lovely tea, a wonderful t-shirt featuring a sketch of bears arguing over a game of Guitar Hero, and in the toe, little candy bars. Thank you, Santa! It made me very happy.

The candy in the toe reminded me of one Christmas when I was very young. To see what would happen in the year between Christmases, I left one salted peanut in its shell, in the toe of the stocking my grandmother had brought from Denmark when I was born. It was made of burlap, and printed “God Jul,” with fir branches. I loved that stocking.

The following year, the stockings came out of the attic. Instead of the peanut, my stocking had a small hole at the toe, where a mouse had gnawed through the fabric to get at the peanut. The hole went unrepaired, and seeing it each year made me glad, thinking of my little secret experiment.

I’m in my apartment, in full present-wrapping chaos, watching A Christmas Story and just about ready to go to sleep.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, now.

And if you don’t celebrate the holiday, then have yourself a merry little Sunday, and let your heart be light.


In which things improve

December 23, 2011

I woke up this morning, and things looked brighter than they had the night before. Nothing has really changed, but a good night’s sleep and a little sunlight, combined with many supportive messages from you good people, were enough to calm me down. So: I sincerely thank you for that.

My phone seems to be on the mend. The sun is shining. There’s nothing I can do at this moment about any government-agency-related matter that directly concerns me. Or that doesn’t, for that matter. It’s time to turn my mind to pressing matters, like wrapping Christmas presents and watching the Don Knotts classic, The Ghost and Mr Chicken. Have you watched this? And if not, why not? I watched it as a child, and it terrified me. Somehow, I missed all the humor in it, and just focused on the ghost part. Another movie that gave me nightmares for years: William Castle’s The 13 Ghosts. That I’ve grown up to count those two movies among my favorites seems a good reminder to me that things uncomprehended can eventually be demystified and even loved.

Me so profound.