Archive for February, 2012

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In which caveat emptor

February 29, 2012

Blog all u want
He will never be in love with you
You are full of lies
From my iPhone

If this message is from you, you might not want to read my blog anymore.

If you decide that you must express yourself in song, and that perfect song is “Crazy Bitch” by Buckcherry, you might not want to read my blog anymore.

Ah, Buckcherry. I remember when their drummer was still called Joe, and cut hair out of his mama’s kitchen in Boston. Listening to Buckcherry gives the impression that you’re a coke whore. Sending me a Buckcherry song as a subtle message, followed by an article on how to improve my personal karma, makes you seem mentally disordered.

Anyway, I plan to continue blogging all I want — it’s a free country, after all.

I’ve had this blog for a year. Things are very different now than they were then. That’s a subject for another time. Today, I’m in my cloud bed, napping with my cat. My karma, I think, is fine.

On another note: Davy Jones died today. Bye, little Artful Dodger.

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In which I see a little progress

February 27, 2012

So, my right thumbnail is mysteriously bitten all the way down to the quick. I must have had some kind of nervous moment while explaining my situation to member services at my healthcare provider’s office. Well, it was over the phone. I don’t know where they were. I was at home, apparently biting my nails.

I got some things accomplished, set in motion. I ordered up some lab tests, to see how my liver is doing. Well, who the hell else would order it? The inmate is running the asylum, apparently. The last email I got from my oncologist said, essentially, what a bother it was to get an outside referral (i.e., that she was not going to try), and that she hoped her note found me well. I laughed out loud.

That was back in September, and I haven’t seen or heard from her since. Am I just supposed to take the hint? Know that she’s breaking up with me and stop hanging around by her locker before math class?

Anyway, that’s why I called member services. Someone really needs to be in charge of me. Also, I believe it’s protocol for a doctor, upon receiving bad news on a patient’s behalf, to contact that patient in some way. Right now, I am the medical hot potato, being tossed from doctor to doctor. I am so fucked.

At the moment, my liver’s surface is …decorated, I guess, over more than 50% of its surface. The CAT scan is painful to look at, the lesions glowing white in the dark cavern of my abdomen. Sometimes I poke at my liver a little bit, and think, Really? Can’t you keep it together even just a little? Because honestly, at the rate these are growing, let’s just say that I don’t expect to be needing a 2013 refill for my Herm├Ęs agenda.

I’m feeling wry today, befuddled. I want to know how much time I have left, and I want to know where I’m going. I’m not scared, per se, but after years of sarcastic bait-and-switch by both my parents — each of whom loved teaching us a lesson, especially if social humiliation was involved, I don’t know what to expect. I want to be able to reopen the door after I’m through, peek my head out and whisper, “You guys! I made it! See you later!”

I guess we’ll all just have to wonder.

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Could this be a mystic wonder waiting to greet me in the afterlife??

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In which I get geared up

February 26, 2012

Have you met my oncologist, Dr Jolly? She initially was very comforting, but since things have gone awry in my innards, I find her so much less accessible. As in, on February 16th, ten days ago, I got the news that the chemo has not worked. I also had blood panels. I have not heard from my oncologist, who is supposed to, yet is obviously not, managing my care.

I am in limbo. So… Do I just die, now? Since no one is managing my care? I have lab results, but no real idea how to interpret them. They come via email from the lab. Um… Thanks! I’ll just file them away with these old results and these gum wrappers. That Bazooka Joe just never fails to bring a laugh.

Monday, in other words, means a lot of dreaded phone calls. The phone calls invariably make me feel crazy and ill-informed. But I’ll do it anyway — what the hell else do I have to do?

I need things taken care of, and sometimes, the only way to do it is to get a little batshit crazy via AT&T. I always start off pleasantly. I am generally pleasant, hee hhhhheeee. Why, just this morning, I had a very pleasant conversation with a girl in Utah who not only readjusted my smartphone plan, but granted me $189 credit. No yelling, no fake niceness.

I’m hoping for peace tomorrow.

My beautiful and talented cousin S texted me tonight to ask me my favorite color (emerald green). She’s starting work on a new painting that she claims I inspired. It is of a brilliant blue dragonfly against an emerald and violet-blue background, and it is five feet high. I cannot wait to see it!

Blue dragonflies have always — illogically — signified that everything will turn out all right. I love when they appear, and I take it as a little spark of enthusiasm, the sun glinting off their wings. They don’t notice me at all, but I have adopted them as a good omen. Sometimes, when I’m feeling cynical, I imagine The Onion‘s take on my little omen: Area Woman’s Dragonfly “Good Luck Charm” Actually Just A Bug.

But that’s when I’m being cynical. And sometimes, it’s ok to feel hope because you happened to see a glittering blue dragonfly. I grew up in Massachusetts. I understand how cynicism works. I guess I would rather look at a blue dragonfly stealing through the sky and think, beautiful, instead of, bug.

May you each find your own inspiration as you go through your day. Snark is easy, and if you need it, it’ll be there if you find you’re ready to go back.

I don’t have a picture of a blue dragonfly, but here’s this:

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This is my game face, for all my phone calls tomorrow. Also, I can see your thoughts. Yup, even you.

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In which there are little joys

February 26, 2012

I have several furry stoles around my apartment–things I found neglected in thrift stores and brought home. I drape them over chairs. It just doesn’t feel right to leave them moldering in some store when I could bring them home and honor the spirit of the animal who gave its life for someone’s warmth or vanity.

Kong has no interest in these furry things. He’s interested in birds outside. He’s interested in earbuds, and chasing the detachable wooden hand from my statue of St Francis.

Knowing his lack of interest, I was very surprised to be awakened in my cloud bed at about 3:30 am by the sudden deposit of a voluminous white fox fur stole atop my sleeping form. I guess Kong, the mighty hunter had gone on a midnight mission. I didn’t see him do it, obviously, but I wish I had: the stole is bigger than he is, for one thing.

It reminded me of an article my brother had sent me years ago, about a guard dog named Barney, a Doberman charged with guarding a teddy bear museum. Yeah. You can see what’s coming.

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He just couldn’t stand it any more, and after six years, he “went berzerk” and mauled 100 bears including one, a Steiff that had belonged to Elvis. (That raises its own questions, but anyway.) The Englishman who owned Elvis’s bear was said to be “absolutely furious” and “distraught” which I unkindly find hilarious. Unkind! Bad Violet!

Anyway, to cheer myself from some dreadful dreams, I’m watching one of the movies that invariably brings me happiness: Mr Magoo’s Christmas Carol. I know it’s not seasonal! Who cares?

I love this movie. The art direction is lovely, the songs are memorable. It makes me happy.

It’s the little things, right? Take pleasure in the little things.

Here endeth the lesson.

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In which I’m procrastinating

February 25, 2012

Today’s the day of my friend Steven’s funeral. Memorial, I guess is what it is. I missed the scattering of ashes this morning owing to illness (dull) so I am trying to rally. I cannot rid myself of the persistent misconception that I am actually going to see Steven. I have to stop and remember every once in a while that no, this is his memorial. “And you betta fuckin be there, bitch, or I’ll call the IRS on you and tell em you’re laundering money for the Black Panthers ladies’ auxiliary!

I wish we as humans didn’t have to think about mortality quite so much, but we do. Maybe if we thought about it more, we’d be less horrified by it, more like Vonnegut’s Tralfamadoreans, I think that’s who it was, who perceive all time at once, and can see a person in the state of their death or look back a little and see them in better shape.

Ok, that tangent was useless.

Anyway, I’m back home, now.

Everything went fine, except that the one person I really wanted to see was the person we were there to honor in memoriam.

I’m tired. I think I’ll sleep.

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In which I’m thinking about cancer

February 24, 2012

I can’t sleep, so my brain is racing.

I am fortunate to have a great group of friends to support me. I am grateful to the heavens.

But today, I got an email, probably the eighth or ninth identical email, from someone who claims to be a friend. I thought we were friends. The email invariably goes like this: “I miss you so so so so so much! Xoxoxo!” Sometimes it contains a vow to come see me “soon.” And then I don’t hear from her for two months. It sucks because not only is it transparent, self-serving and insulting, it’s disappointing. I know that people have different ways of dealing with illness — some people aren’t comfortable with it. So why not just send an email that just says hello, she’s thinking of me? Because, frankly, a message like the ones she sends translate to: “I would visit you, but I’m doing something more enjoyable.” Who wants to hear that?

It’s lonely, being ill. It’s frustrating being limited in mobility. It’s boring to hear about. I value the friends who stop in even if it’s for ten minutes. I love the cards and letters I get. I am not completely destitute or neglected, here, don’t get me wrong. Nor do I expect to be the center of anyone’s universe. But it is so much worse to make empty promises than it is to just leave me alone entirely.

Another tough one for cancer patients in general is, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” I understand it’s sincere, but it is so hard, speaking as a cancer patient, to be tasked with assigning duties. I am grateful for the help I get, but the people who do the most good are the ones who just pick a task and do it. Here are things cancer patients need help with: sweeping the floors, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry. Changing the bed linens is particularly hard. I’ve had a couple people come by, sweep something, and then say, “Next time, we’re gonna get you out of this house and do something fun!” Yeah. I’d rather get out of the house and do something fun, too. But I really need the floor swept. Good intentions noted.

I don’t expect everyone to inherently understand the rules of dealing with illness. That’s partly why I’m writing this.

It is hard to go through a long-term illness. It’s hard on the patient, the family, the friends. People forget about you after a while, and it seems attention-whorey to wave your arms and remind people that, thank you, you’re not quite dead yet.

I think that the empty promises are the hardest thing to deal with, though. “Oh, I’d love to help you, but I just don’t know what to do!” Make lunch. Wash a dish. Sit for ten minutes and tell me about your day. “I miss you soooooooooooo much! I hope to come see you soon!” No; you don’t. Or you’d do so. The girl who inspired this post has never once visited me, despite her dating someone in my town. Ok, fine! But don’t act like life without me is unbearable. It’s shitty. The last time I saw her was in October, at my birthday lunch. I picked a nice, reasonable restaurant. Afterwards, she sent me, accidentally, several texts saying that lunch was ok, but that she would have preferred to go to another place — where everything is a la carte and very expensive. The more I think about it, the more I realize she’s not, I guess, a very good friend. It doesn’t really matter, but I resent the insincerity.

You want to come see me? I welcome it. Just please, please don’t tell me that, gee, you really would come see me, but you’re doing something more fun. It forces me to be gracious — oh, yes, I am less important than your sand art class, or whatever — and pretend that it’s not only ok, but totally understandable.

I’m just having a lonely moment, and this latest email I got is making me look at people in my life and really evaluate their presence there. I’m fine with casual acquaintances — I am not the queen, demanding obeisance. But insincerity is another thing altogether.

I no longer have time for insincerity, and that includes my own.

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In which, Oh! I realize something that is likely obvious

February 23, 2012

I am raging, I am pulling out my bitchiest adjectives, I am raising my voice at some dumbass just-graduated lawyer, because it is easier to rage than it is to feel how fucking desperately sad I really am.

And I really am.

You probably already caught that. I should have learned it if not the first, then at least my second time through rehab, or whatever you call it. I’m not a drunk or a pill junkie, but I did try to off myself a few years back with a wicked combination I will not reveal here. Maybe Martha Stewart will have a maudlin Halloween show and I can call in with my recipe. Whatever. Didn’t work anyway, obviously. Anyway! Whatever program I went through after that, bandaged up and giddy and bitter. Not rehab, but close. Anyway, there, I learned that anger is a secondary emotion. Is that right? Have you heard that? Maybe I should Google it, but screw that.

It is easier for me to be angry and call some obstinate bureaucrat a fetid, desiccated sheep’s anus (did not actually do that) than it is to lie down and cry myself into a nosebleed because I’m terrified and my heart aches (did do that).

I’m here on the boat, what used to be our boat, lying in what was once half my bed, under the wonderful pale blue silk cloud quilt I ordered a hundred years ago from West Elm. I was just struck by the unconscious thought that it is nice to be home. It was a fleeting thought, but it hit me so hard, especially its inaccuracy, that I cried myself into a nosebleed.

And I realized that I am not angry about this not being my home, I am hollowed out with grief.

It is so much easier to be angry.

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That’s my cat. He’s moody, but I think I’m worse.