Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cogito Ergo Somnambulance

It has been difficult for me to write publicly about my life these past couple of years.  When blindsided by a potentially terminal illness, my life quickly morphed into me, gazing through a tear-streaked window at a far less anecdote-friendly landscape. Talking about the ins, outs, and others of my sickly body makes me sound like every other bedpan malcontent.  Blah blah, my ass hurts...BLAH.  It's fucking boring to write and boring to read and from what I've seen happen to others, it is just as often a bid for attention as it is a letter to whomever about the suck of living with sick pukery. No thanks.  I'd rather just write it down in private and not become *Tina the Talking Tumor...a Happy Cancer Mascot...twirling the cane of Juicy Decrepitude. Or...the Worst Thing Imaginable:  becoming addicted to the attention one receives as a result of their illness. A Münchausen mainliner who speaks of lists of symptoms but whose only accomplishment is as a mitotic sprinter in the Cancer Olympics.  Maladies marching out of mouths like goose stepping soldiers, spilling in straight lines and invading the boundaries of every nearby ear they can find.  Battle cry, "Cancer Nazi Ear Fuck...incoming!!!"

No thanks.  Goodbye.  I sure do thank you for the huckleberry pie.

Also, the medication(s) I take can make me inarticulate and, as I've oft described myself of late, a couch manatee.  Tired and flailing weakly and motivated to do little more than sleep and couch.

For serious...nothing externally noteworthy HAPPENS to people who are in the Cancer Trenches.  Not in any way we can properly articulate until we manage to survive long enough to forget the  burpy aftertaste of the force-fed Cancer Kool-Aid on our weary little tongues.

The Cancer Experience is all about inner life, both literally and metaphorically.  Reflect. Rejoice. Regret. Rewind.  When things get ugly and you're damned close to drawing a flatline in the sand, you realize that you'd eat the chubby toes off a glowing newborn baby for just one more heartbreaking love affair...or yes, even the delicious darkness of lamenty regret.  Ohhhh, when you're alone, laying in a dark, beeping hospital room, those emotional memory shadows glide all over you like a swarm of velvet jellyfish.

Oh LIFE.  Dirty, filthy life.  Please, PLEASE let me make it out of this sterile hospital jungle of tubes and blinking lights so that I may toil in your glorious, muddy fields once again.

Ahem.  So to be fair, I've come to understand that part of the need to drench others with details about the effects of being a Sicky isn't always about the attention. It's an attempt to reinsert oneself into The Matrix.  In other words, an attempt to return to the blissful reality of the vagueness of mortality instead of the alternative...which is a cold, skeletal hand constantly tapping, "Don't get too comfortable..." in Morse code on your shoulder.

Within this understanding, I think I've reached the point where I can talk about where and what I am....without tearfully mourning who I WAS or symptom listing.  I can explain things without speaking solely in the language of list.  So, to the joy of my one to two loyal readers...I'm going to write here more often.  I may not have something to say that enlightens or even informs...but I'll do my best to entertain. Like a romantic comedy.  With more cussing than kissing.

So, I'm doing my taxes as well as filling out a new round of forms for yet another surgery.  And shuffling through this pre-burial mound of boring details, I thought, hey...this is WAS now. I have perspective.  And I think I will write about it and naked(v.) the past few years out to the public.   

When I pictured myself involved in this world of disease, I was really looking forward to the romance of a bloody lace hanky into which I coughed and gasped.  "No, no,' I'd say, 'I'll be fine." 

I'd be all breathy and noble.  Onlookers would admire my bravery. There'd be quiet murmurs of admiration and down-turned eyes. Oh yeah. It'd be full-on Wuthering Heights. 

Pfft.  Forms and boxes to check and sign-here drudgery. I generate more paperwork than a small business. This is such tedium for someone who is supposed to be all noble and sick.
As a child in a Lorde-esque torn up town, I dreamed of being a secret agent.  Ok, a Space secret agent, sort of a cross between Han Solo and Evelyn Salt. I'd be a hardass with an attitude.  A Bitch who doesn't blink when she shoots...but who secretly has a Heart of Gold.  I would get captured and be escorted into a room where a generic henchman would whip the hood off my head (they always make you wear a hood when they manhandle you into the interrogation room) to reveal a random, smirky, Cut Cookie Authority fondling a thick folder marked "dossier."  Agent Cookie tossers the folder condescendingly so that it slides across the shiny table, an insensate, cardboard sinistro that knows me better than I know myself.

Secret Agent life seemed far more attainable than my other goal: to have machine parts that made me **Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.  

Fast forward...and I do kind of have a dossier now.  Except it's not a thick file.  It's a very large crate full of health records.  Last year, I did my best to simply ignore them because I had a good excuse. I was recovering from surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, heart failure...aaaand I need not go on.  This really isn't about what's WRONG with me or what was or will be carved into my person.  It's really about the weirdness of it all. And what I've become. A new kind of romance.

This year...well heck.  Already with one surgery under my belt, I'm heading in for another in a couple of weeks.  An upgrade to previously installed hardware.  A very, very fancy piece of work that, among other things, is more or less a walking life-support system .  With a fucking PASSWORD. No shit.  I was warned that people could potentially hack my life-support system.  Wowzers.  That's something else.  I've finally achieved one of the fantasy lives I lived as a kid:  I am part robot. 

But one of the weirdest and most unexpected silver linings of Serious Sick is the conscious physicality of it all.  Other than having a rather...ahem...adventurous sex life, my body didn't ground me or provide me with much of a noticeable connection to the rest of the world.  In fact, I used it to connect with other people.  Now, I'm in it. Ghost in the Machine, baby.  I live in a very damaged meat monastery that is constantly under attack.  Defending this structure for the past three years has really made me feel much more tied to it.  Connected with it.  Less in need of another hand touching it to make me aware of it. 

What I really love about that is that it is the Robot parts of me that are primarily responsible for making the smushy parts recognizable (in a blinky-eyed awareness kind of way.) When you see and feel machines inside you that are keeping you alive and giving other people and other machines access to your FUCKING is...paradoxically the least and most life affirming state of being I've ever experienced.  Literally...I'm cognizant of my own existence within the DMZ twixt two binary opposites (flesh and machine).  COOL.

So.  Ok.  I live outside the Matrix.  But I still have ports and machine parts and am constantly nipping in and out of the Grand Illusion.  And I think I'm finally ok enough with that to send reports from time to time from my place in existence (however long that lasts.)

And I know I sound rather sluggish and sloppy.  This is my first time back in the field and my sentence Witch Crating is a bit distorted. I'm still collecting myself.

*I'd actually like to see this as an amorphous Plush Toy.

**It is no accident that I cite Daft Punk here.  They have provided a profound narrative that gives my new Machine Fortified Heart a Killer Set of Beats.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Half Passed

The toxic kill gravy that juices my tumor into submission (I hope) is pushed through my body every three weeks for about 8 solid hours. At first, I chose to remain as awake and aware of the process as possible...but frankly, the only time cancer is real for me is when I'm there. With a fucking spike stabbing into my left shoulder because the right side of my body is fucking my symmetry all to hell. It doesn't hurt but it reminds me of how fucking NOT ME I currently am. Now, I choose sedation. I don't want to be aware of being NOT ME.

I'm halfway through the hardcore shit and I grow more terrified as the time comes when the uber chemo ends, radiation begins, my tits get sliced off, and I begin a five-year process of a less toxic form of chemotherapy...and hope like a motherfucker this shit doesn't come back.

The beginning was easier because it wasn't real. But the unreality that changed my DNA also changed my psyche. Who am I now? I have no idea.

This post is erratic. Fuck you. It's the cancer talkin'.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

This is the Thing...

My hair has been "my thing" for most of my adult life. When I was a kid, my mother cut it short. I had gorgeous, silky blond hair...but I was never allowed to let it grow. My sister...yes. Me, no. You know how in some families, one kid gets scapegoated? Well, heck, that was me. I was a weirdo from day one...too sensitive for most of my White Trash, beer swilling, loud mouthed family and my mother, being one of the most sadistic, abusive cunts I've ever had the misfortune to know, derived a great deal of enjoyment in making sure I looked (and felt) as ugly as she thought she was. Ok, so yeah, I've still got a wee bit of bitterness tucked away. The logic behind all her bitch ass bitchery was that I looked very much like my Auntie, who was the town beauty and who got all the attention. My mother, who actually isn't really that ugly, still had to fuck for attention. Hence, three kids by the time she was 19, unmarried, miserable, and eventually, an alchy part-time prostitute. With a beautiful daughter that she routinely punched in the face and forced to dress like a boy.

I digress. Sorry folks.

The point of that rant was that now, I am in my 40s. I wear dresses (that I make myself) and had waist length hair, still blond (with just a teensy bit of help), and so fucking pretty I would spend hours brushing it, braiding it, girling it up, etc. I wanted to look like the Princess that I wanted to be as a child...and frankly, I DID. Princess hair, Princess clothes. I was Princess all the way. I still have more hair products in my bathroom than that of a thousand Drag Queens. What a funny kind of rebellion. "Dear mother, I'll show you who's boss! I'll wear a dress! See that? Do ya??!"

Alas, I get to keep the dresses. The hair, however, is now in the hands of Locks of Love.

My oncologist told me that the chemo I'd be receiving would render me hairless in less than two weeks. I cried over it. I bemoaned that that twist of fate. Then...I said to myself, "FUCK this."

I had to think seriously about what defines me. How long can this "I feel pretty...oh so pretty" rebellion really go on? I had to think about it without the bullshit soul-searchy, dumb ass book (that gets made into a movie starring Julia Roberts) kind of way.

So, ok. Cancer might kill me. I accept that as a possibility. But I will not go down without a fight. Fighting means becoming (yes, it sounds cliche) a Warrior. I will look the part (I'm method that way).

So. Tuesday morning, exactly one week after my 43'd birthday, one of my oldest and dearest friends (Tomm) shaved my head at my request. Later that afternoon, I was surrounded by a throng of women (all friends and Warriors all in their own way) at Acme Bodyart where I had a dragon tattooed on my now hairless head, another tattoo on my arm, and a piercing in my upper left ear. Everything except the scalp tattoo was fairly painless. The scalp pain...was beyond anything I'd ever experienced. The artist (Dusty Palmer...who is a wonderfully brilliant inkster) was wonderfully supportive, stopped and re-started when I needed a break...and talked me through everything. He even said that I was a beast due to the amount of pain that I was enduring in relative silence. I've never been called a beast in my life! I'm a delicate sort of gal. Really little...I need help lifting a bag of cat food! And now I'm a beast! I loved it! I could spend hours writing about how positive and professional an experience it was...but I think I've written enough for now.

I feel fairly odd. My body...has been modified inside and out this week.

On an "up" note...I have gotten a gazillion compliments on the tattoo...from (get this) OLD ladies! They love it! I thought they'd be afraid but they all seem to think it's a hoot.

Cancer ladies, I hope you'll consider the non-wig, scalp tattoo as an option. I feel (and look) like a total badass. I loved my hair but losing it did not make me feel like the victim my mother tried to create. It made me the Bitch who isn't afraid of her OR of cancer. Fuck 'em both. Fuck 'em right in the ear.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I have cancer. Big, fat, donkey fucking cancer.

Yep. Finding out you have cancer during breast cancer awareness month (not to mention a few days before your birthday) is a total goddamned pain in the ass. Turn any which way and it's all about cancer. Cancer for dinner, cancer for lunch. Cancer coming out my ass. Actually, it's coming out my tits but that's neither here nor there. I've had this shit for TWO years before I knew about it. All I knew is that I was always exhausted. I thought that's just what happens when people get older. Alas, not so much. It's what happens when your jiggly bits go mitotic. So if posts are even more sporadic than usual (which, let's be honest, I'm not a constantly posting motherfucker, motherfucker)it's because I'm trying to stay alive.

I've given a lot of thought about what kind of Cancer Chick I'm going to be. First off, NO wigs. Once the hair starts to go, I'm shaving my head and tattooing it. I thought my head shaving days were long gone. Shaving your head in my twenties and during the nineties is...well, not that unusual. In my's just kinda lame. Unless you have cancer, in which case, it's mandatory. So I'll be head-shaved, tattoo Cancer Chick for now. I'll keep everyone updated on any further ancillary Cancer Chick fauna that I attach.

I can't help but make a lot of jokes about it because it's so surreal for now. But I don't want to be "funny" Cancer Chick because she's always the one who dies first in those Lifetime movies. I'm gonna be sardonic for now. Again, updates as things evolve/progress.

P.S. Yes, this does suck.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


I've been on an obsessive Sofia Coppola train for the past couple of weeks. I've finally decided, after having watched "Marie Antoinette" for the second time in six hours, that the next person who rags on her to me will be the unfortunate victim of a bitch slap.

Seamlessly meshing of my most cherished songs (Ceremony) with the Palace of Versailles...makes me hope that someone tongue-kisses her every single day.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Get On Board

Meet Andrew Bowen. He has decided to investigate this thing we call "religion" from the inside out, spending an entire year immersed in one religion per month. What a full-on, badass thing to do.

Then again, you might wonder why a guy in his right mind would do this. Actually, the answer to that is rather paradoxical (or at least I think it is, I'm not in his head). ONLY a person in their right mind does this.

If you read his blog from the beginning, he journals his days as he is living within the boundaries of the religion he is practicing that month. Right down to the food they (he being part of "them") eat. We (the batshit masses) can then read what he has to say and chill the fuck out the next time we sit next to a Muslim on an airplane or a Christian at a Planned Parenthood.

Juan Williams, are you listening?

Lots of countries insist that its citizens earn their right to live there. Civil service, a year in the army, or some other such hoo-ha. Since the United States is such a "melting pot" (yes I did type that with a cynical smirk), I think Andrew's mission is probably one that wouldn't kill the rest of us to try. 12 months learning that the other guy isn't going to kill us in our sleep? I think that'd be swell indeed.

Bowen calls this mission "Project Conversion: Twelve Months of Spiritual Promiscuity". I call it fucking awesome.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Monkeys with Car Keys

"All we are, basically, are monkeys with car keys."
-Northern Exposure (1990)

I read (and so should you) a great essay this week. It's all about the film (and philosophy behind) I Heart Huckabees. It's a nicely honed, much less expletive laced (than anything I am capable of producing) way of explaining (what I call) Transcendental Nihilism.

It turns out, a lot of people think this way, though they might not call it the same thing. I'd be worried about being unoriginal if, at this point, I believed it was possible to be interconnected (and I am very certain we all are) and "original". The thing is y'all, we think the same thoughts, often at the same time, but for many different reasons. Our different reasons are usually just by-products of our different experiences. Our different experiences and the cortical pruning that happens as a result, make us who we are. But, as Woody Allen's Grandma said in the classic "Northern Exposure", we're still just monkeys with car keys...sitting on the branches of infinity, chittering subconsciously into our stomach-ears.

I continue to arrive (like I said a couple of posts ago) at the same conclusion: many of our woes are caused by separation anxiety caused by the illusion that we can actually disconnect from one another. At this point, I don't even bother trying, other than earplugs.

Interdependence. It's what makes being life such a fucking hay ride. That, of course, and NyQuil.

Yes, I know I've been wearing Bossy Pants this week. I like to share fun where I find it.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy Mewes Year

More "If you haven't, you should" advice for the New Year: tune in to the Kevin Smith/Jason Mewes Jay and Silent Bob Get Old podcast. Each of the first ten or so, if nothing else.

Beware: this isn't your run-of-the-mill Jay and Silent Bob tale. The stories you'll hear aptly illustrate the similarities and vast differences in the lives of the real vs. film versions of both men. This isn't just what happens when Jay and Silent Bob get old. It's what happens when Jay (Jason Mewes) has a 10+ year struggle with heroin addiction, Smith's unwavering faith and loyalty to his friend (and arguably, his soul-mate), and the cast of characters surrounding them both. If the two of them ever decide to make a film based on their twisty turn down Hubert Selby Jr. Lane, it may finally get Smith the writing accolades he has so deserved for so long.

As far as the cast of characters goes, Smith's wife Jen stands out in his stories, as she did in his Too Fat to Fly tale, as the voice of reason. Sensible and supportive, she is the rare individual with a steely backbone of kindness. I think I might be somewhat in love with her too.

The great thing about this podcast is that it doesn't gloss over the illness but somehow keeps you laughing. It's difficult to put into words how rare it is to be able to grasp that level of desperation when you're trying not to spray your shorts. Or panties, in my case.

It's not child friendly. Dirty, in a John Waters kind of way (yes, you'll hear dick and fart jokes aplenty, very graphic and very descriptive) but I'd think you'd expect that by now. For all us who have been with these guys since Clerks., it'll feel like a surreal high-school reunion.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rapt in Plastic

If the cut of your gib is to make plans to do something different from year-to-year starting from the beginning (it's the time of year for that sort of planning, y'know), consider watching the films of David Lynch. Seriously, it's a gift I gave myself years ago and I've never regretted a moment spent with him.

The only man I've ever known (through his art, of course) who actually seems to possess a modicum of compassion and understanding for self-destructive women. He really should be teaching philosophy.

Uber Alles Doesn't Live Here Anymore

It's official...I've given up hope that my iPod will ever return to me. The last time I saw it, it was swimming in a drawer full of pens and markers. Earbuds are rare creatures in this universe: they carry a special, viral kind of entropy, enabling them to become entangled like christmas tree lights into even the most pristine, uncomplicated environment. The last time I saw them and all my DK bootleg tracks, they were nestled in the back of a dusty drawer. One I thought I could pillage at my leisure.

My poor neighbors. Every day is Dias de los Muertos Kennedys when you have a treadmill and desk speakers.

And happy hour is now enforced by law.

Monday, December 27, 2010

White Girl's Blues

Portishead's live DVD, watching Lynch films over and over, and re-reading "The Stranger" have provided a scratchy, newsreely kind of backdrop for the past couple of weeks.

This, plus many cups of Earl Grey tea with Irish whiskey, gives me the weekend, Chelsea Hotel taste of a rough patch in life that I'm just getting over. A receding wave and the relieved feeling that marries me to it: no matter how bad things get, I'll never know what it's like to be ordinary. It makes ordinary people look a lot the insects they always were, temporarily made bigger by the light they were blocking.

Finally, the end of a year of trying to see my reflection in the dusty carapace of an annoying insect (or a series of them). When faced with the silent glare at the end of that kind of buzzing futility, I tend to seek comfort in the things I forgot to love.

Twin Peaks

Portishead (Click the link at the beginning of this post for a glimpse)

The Stranger (Matthew Ward's translation)