When Andy was 2, I made thanksgiving dinner for just the two of us. I spread a sheet out on the floor in our dining room, I fixed our plates, and cut up his food. We sat together on that sheet and had a thanksgiving picnic which rapidly turned into a food fight. We laughed and laughed squishing cranberry sauce on each other’s head and spitting peas. Somewhere I have pictures of Andy after the food fight – he’s wearing a striped shirt and denim pants. I can still picture every moment of that dinner today.
I cooked Thanksgiving dinner today. The last time I did was in 2011. Since then, I’ve been too sick or depressed or both to do it. I just didn’t have the strength to put the whole show together. I mean, I’ve made a turkey or reasonable facsimile once or twice, and we’ve eaten with other people or gone out. But I did not put out the full spread for four years. So today, we had turkey, ham, kielbasa, homemade handwhipped instant mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans sauteed with bacon, biscuits, stuffing, pineapple-dijon sauce and for dessert – lemon pumpkin crunch cake with real whipped cream. I ate a little, because today is back on the Tamoxifen. It was even almost all ready at one time. It was delicious, no beyond delicious, scrumptious. I’m still picking at what I wasn’t able to eat every now and then because I don’t want to waste it.
That’s not what I will remember most about today – I’ll remember how excited Andy was when he saw how much I really did cook today. Things he’s loved his whole life. And the sheer joy on his face when he was eating, how he went back for seconds, then sat with me watching tv and belching. We haven’t had a lot of those moments in the last few years. I wanted to make it a thanksgiving he would remember – we haven’t even so much as snarled at each other all day – it’s just been a good, happy, satisfying day. We’re still lounging around in pajamas, napping on and off. It’s a good day. A just right day. Every day should be a just right day. But I am grateful for just having this one. More than you can know.
Unfortunately, I am curious. Some might say fortunately, but no, curiosity is curse for someone like me.
Why, you ask? Because I like to learn things. I read articles, watch “educational programs,” (and yes, my fair share of reality TV, including some Real Housewives and yes, Dance Moms, but only to increase my knowledge of pop culture, haha), I have recently added to my bucket list (note to self: find out the origins of “bucket list”) the task of reading 1000 books before I die (and with my current medical issues, this may be a more gargantuan task than normal). I love to listen to stories of people who have lived lives different from mine. I like to learn about opposing opinions when people can articulate them well, rather than resorting to what they learned from talking points. I like knowledge. But when I learn things, I get angry. And things I learned today made me super angry.
Before we go there, I will tell you a little story. I once had to read a fairly boring and dry book by and about some historical figure in graduate school. I had to be the person who presented the book and led the class discussion, but I stopped reading the book around page 400 of a 500+ page book because it was redundant and narcissistic (not unlike my blog in that respect) and it was unlikely that anything the author said in those last 100 or so pages was any different than anything he had not already said repeatedly in the first 400. I believe it was called The Education of Henry Adams – supposedly a book from the American Studies “canon”. This was the book that showed me that cemeteries are great places to read, because you have no distractions.*(see footnote) I believe the general premise was that Mr. Adams had the best education ever and every educational system that was not like his own personal experience sucked, and that he was the best educated person he knew. Anyway, that simple classroom exercise later influenced my teaching practices to include making my students read a book about a person they did not admire – and learn something from them. The point being, that even the things that we hate or despise or loathe, can teach us something if we force ourselves to see through the eyes of the things we do not like. To educate ourselves about the things we oppose in order to properly hold that opinion So with that in mind, we shall begin.
So the things that are pissing me off today are:
Homophobes, misogynists, men’s rights groups and their counterpart, father’s rights groups, racists, sheeple, badly designed facebook business pages, and their counterpart, shitty business websites, the health insurance industry, poverty, injustice, political corruption, poor education and standardized testing, the absence of the McRib (okay, that’s really not pissing me off, just makes me sad) cancer, mistreatment of LGBT foster kids, the apathy of Americans toward their political system and war. And sex trafficking. And genocide. And bad grammar. And the Oxford comma. And climate change deniers. And using religion to justify pedophilia, and hate homosexuals. And pedophilia and child abuse and neglect. And people who bully. And the labeling kids bullies, rather than just naming their behaviors. And child psychiatrist who just put kids on drugs instead of encouraging parents to step up and act like parents. And I am sure there’s more, but that’s enough for today.
Oh, I forgot – pro-life groups. Stay the fuck away from women. We don’t need you to make our decisions. If we want you up in our uteruses, (uteri?) we’ll invite you.
Okay, so I snuck out of the house with the car to go sit by a lake and blog. Against medical advice. And two days without effexor so if my flow is a little off that is why. I escaped the tower. I went and got my effexor. I covered a bounced check while I was at it too. Time for sharing. Effexor acts on your serotonin and norepinephrine parts of your brain. Now messing with serotonin is not that much of a biggie, like when you stop taking anti-depressants that just impact that neurotransmitter, you just kind go back to being depressed as the drug wears off, and your brain is still not responding correctly. The norepinephrine, now that gives you wiry brain worms if you miss more than a dose. What are wiry brain worms, you ask? Well, you know that zzzzzzzt sound an electrical short makes? Imagine that in your head ALL FUCKING DAY. Like your brain is short circuiting all day. What I did discover is that singing loud in the car will make that sensation goes away. However, I do not sing very well, but I do it loudly, and no one can just sing all day. Of course, the other way to make it go away is to take the medication, which is why I snuck out of the tower, because I could not go another day with my brain attempting to implode. Now I am happily medicated, sitting by a lake because I needed to self soothe and no one brought me a puppy or baby to cuddle.
(Note: I have a lovely car full of potential clients unloading next to me to have an outing at the lake. Grandma (obvious meth head, or salter) her barely 18 yo daughter and the daughter’s child, and teenage male all have sprags hanging out of their mouths ( not the baby, of course) and hot ashes are sprinkling the baby. Lovely. F bombs all around. Job security. OH wait, there’s another teen mom unloading. And another! Three teen moms all came out of a car clearly not big enough for three car seats. Damn it. Caseworker brain off, and they are here to have a photo shoot with grandma and child #1 on a dock at a boat launch with no safety floatation devices, (my guess is that none of them can swim) and if the child falls into the water, guess which great bald-headed whale is going to have to jump in to save said drowning child? Well on the plus side, it will at least soothe the child’s burns from the cig ash.
Back to my anger fueled rant. I am not going to point out the stupidity of any of the things that I am angry about today, but rather, since I did some “tuning into self and others” on my way here, I am just gonna ramble. First, there was a female college student who was apparently murdered because she turned her school’s rugby team into the administration for chanting a vile hateful chant about rape and necrophilia and it was caught on tape. The school disbanded the rugby team, whose members then decided to threaten this young woman’s life. When the young woman told the administration, they said there was nothing they could do ( I paraphrased here – here are some articles http://jezebel.com/entire-college-rugby-team-suspended-over-recorded-fuck-1692488876 and http://jezebel.com/college-accused-of-ignoring-threats-before-murder-of-fe-1703069555 – these articles do not link the two events, but others do) And now she’s dead – strangled at school. And men’s rights groups are cheering about it, with comments like “she took one for the team.” Disgusting vile pigs. Not men, beasts who think only of their needs and selves. And if you are one of those men’s rights assholevists, fuck you and your misandry. You have lost no rights, you have no fear of violence anytime you are alone, no one fails to take you seriously because of your gender, you still make more money, get more opportunities and have more advantages in this messed up culture than me. If you want to take on “reproductive rights”, then how about you make sure you don’t “accidentally” get us pregnant? Take responsibility for birth control. That is a right no one is interested in taking that away from you. You can’t expect a woman to include you in the decision about what to do about an unwanted pregnancy when you did nothing other than ask her if she was on birth control before it happened. Wrap your shit up. Not only does it minimize the likelihood you will become a surprise dad, it also shows you respect her enough to not give her whatever STD you had and forgot to mention. Oh, right…when you passed on those genital warts, you did really think about whether or not she would have cervical cancer because of your gift later in life, because there were no obvious symptoms for her, until she got that uh-oh it’s cancer biopsy.
Now right about now, those people who want to inform me that none of this is a logical or valid argument are like, I’ll set her straight. Don’t waste your valuable typing skills. I don’t care. I will delete it anyway. (for the record, meth grandma is back at the vehicle). I can be Judgey Mc Judgeyoants here, cuz it’s my blog. And truly, while I can be judgmental, and I will admit that, I do try every day to catch myself when being hateful and mean, like with grammy meth head. I remind myself that I don’t know her story, and I try to send thoughts of well being and compassion out to her. It doesn’t make judging her right, and I wouldn’t want to live in a world where we were all the same, but because we live in a culture that tries to make things fit in the right/wrong/black/white mold all the time, we grow up assessing things My job is about assessing things, particularly child safety. But sometimes I am that w. word. The one that rhymes with bong. My goal in life is to accept people without judging, particularly the people I disagree with. I can accept the person and I can continue to reject their philosophies/belief systems when they are detrimental to others, especially those who are culturally “The Other.” If you want to have a debate with me, I’m down for it, but blog comments or facebook posts are not logical debate forums, rather they are opinions. I like lively discourse, but I won’t tolerate pedantic statements and high brow insults. Don’t try to appear the sophisticated intellectual, because dude or dudette, when I turn my serious academic brain on, I will not back down.
Well, I left the lake and returned home. Upon opening the laptop, I discovered I had accidentally deleted a large portion of my rant. I am sure it will come back to me another time. In the time that has passed, I was also re-angered by more cultural stupidity. Seeing that I have already blathered on for three or so pages and who knows how many thousands of words – I’ll end it here. I am really tired, and now that I am happily medicated, maybe I can fall asleep at a reasonable time. If you are wondering about the whole cancer thing, scans are Friday and I am tying to focus on other things until then, like, going to see that feminazi film, Mad Max. Oh, there are pictures of my trip today too. I am just too tired to post them now. Bed time.
*well, there are those squirrels, woodpeckers, bits of foil, grass, chuck-chucks (aka groundhogs), sticks, robins, chipmunks, lawnmowers, clouds, a breeze…
Okay, it was three days, but that would make a super-long title, and I was trying to be succinct. (As if that ever happens.) I bet you thought I was going to write about Chemo Day, but that’s today, and hasn’t technically happened yet, except for the pre-gaming with Decadron and water and the daily cancer killing tea. I still need to shower and pack my stuff for the day, and am faced with the usual decision of do I take my cute pink back pack and carry the lap-top separately or do I take the black one with wheels? I am leaning towards wheels today because it fits more and well, has wheels, and I’m not feeling my best but I don’t seem to have a cold or ebola, and I don’t have a fever – which is awesome because I was scared I would be sick today and then have to postpone today’s fun fun fun. My chemo-buddy today is Kellie, who I know is thrilled beyond anything to be accompanying me to today’s festivities.
BUT! This entry is about the best three days I have had in a long, long, long, long time. If you have reading my blog, you know Off With Their Heads is one of my very most favorite bands. Listening to their record In Desolation (“Drive” video here) got me through my first six weeks of radiation and all that first round of chemo and their music accompanies to nearly all of my drives to and from Hershey over the last 3.5 years. When I remember my headphones, I listen to Ryan’s Anxious and Angry podcasts at work, or in the car. The music has become part of my support system. Well, Thursday, Andy and I drove to Pittsburgh on what was supposed to be a beautiful day to see OWTH play at Howler’s Coyote Cafe (note: saw no coyotes – I would make a cougar joke here, but I find the term cougar offensive, I prefer tigermom). Their show was amazing, the energy and passion of the band was amazing. They played songs from all of their records, and Ryan was awesome. The energy was awesome. The opening bands – World’s Scariest Police Chases, Barons, and PEARS – were all incredible. I met an internet friend, Erica, her husband Brian and some of her friends at the show – we became friend because we both like OWTH and punk music in general, and surprise, we are both work with kids in the system – I snatch ’em and she assists the ones that the court declares incompetent. After the show, I got to get hugs from Ryan and talk to him for a little while, which is always fan-girlie for me, because I can’t believe someone that I look up to takes time to talk to me. I got to introduce him to Andy too, which was cool. I had to have a drink with him, but alas, Howler’s is a bar that allows smoking, and by the time the shows were over, I was dizzy and shaky and a little nauseous and just wanted to go home. Ryan said they would probably be playing in Philly in September, so I hope to have that drink with him then. It was an amazing night. I also got to meet and talk to Zack from Barons while I was standing outside the bar waiting for Andy to bring the car around. Fucking stupendous night. (and if you read this Ryan – THANK YOU for being who you are – you made my night)
Day two was supposed to be the Warhol Museum, but Andy and I decided that even though it was snowing, we were doing the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, because when I have to choose between becoming more cultured or seeing animals and making animal noises, I will ALWAYS choose the latter. Bring on the Komodo dragon, red pandas, and giraffes. And very sad elephants. And PUFFERFISH. Several different kinds of pufferfish, evil, evil pufferfish. Did I mention that the Zoo is on a hill? Or should I say a mountain? Because it’s a mountain. A huge mountain. And Andy would not push me in a “safari cruiser” IE. wheelchair. So I had to walk. Wearing heavy Doc’s sandals. Carrying water. It was brutal. We probably walked at negative 1 mph. Lots of heaving breathing and a frequently sweating head that was frosted by the subzero wind chill and flurries. It was fun though, spending time with Andy, telling him about the trips to the zoos and aquariums when we lived in California, making animals sounds, trying to find the animals that were clearly not home, and making flattened pennies like when he was 5. Afterwards we went back to the condo, got some great Italian beef sandwiches from a tiny place called Tooties (yum!), then just hung out and watched non-cable tv and napped. Later we got pizza from this greek pizza place called Ephesus, and again, awesome food. We just hung out and talked and slept the rest of the evening.
Saturday, we got up, cleaned up the condo, packed and headed out to an overlook to see Pittsburgh from the top of one many hills. Pittsburgh is an awesome city. We found an overlook, not the one we were looking at because in addition to sucking at taking night pictures all of the sudden, my phone’s GPS takes us to places that don’t exist. Or rather, when asked to take us to a location, it agrees but then leaves us in spots that are clearly not even remotely near where we asked to be. We did get to see a lot of Pittsburgh though, and Andy is even considering going out to Pittsburgh to finish school (YAY, FUCK YEAH!) Fortunately, the GPS cooperated with taking us to Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Studio, where I stalked cars pulling into the parking lot to see if there was a real Dance Mom getting out for class. None were available, but there were the cutest little people being brought to class. The studio was less impressive from the outside that it appears on the TV, but it was still cool to see it. Then we headed to Philadelphia. Did I mention it was FREEZING? Like super freezing. And snowy. We got to Philly by about 4, and hung out with Blaine and Lizz and had a delicious dinner from a real Mexican restaurant called El Jarocho that made scrumptious lamb tacos. Then we headed to see TBR/The Wilhelm Scream/ Pennywise, which was a fabulous show, but in my opinion, lacked the energy of the bands on Thursday, although it was very cool to realize that Pennywise has been a band for longer than Andy is alive, and I finally got to see them with their original vocalist. I hadn’t seen them since 2008. Long time. Unfortunately, I got a horrible horrible pain in my side and had to go stand in the back to try to work it out – we ended up leaving before the last song or two, but at least the pain subsided for the most part. We caught a cab back to Blaine’s to get the car, and headed home. But not before we stopped at Wawa, and got to see two drunk girls in ridiculously high heels almost wipe out several times in the store as they tried to outlast the state police DUI checkpoint. Good times.
We finally rolled home about 2 am. The house was freezing, but honestly, it was a small price to pay for such an awesome weekend. It felt so amazing to be among my people, enjoying simple things with my son, and talking about life and lessons and futures and hopes and dreams, and meeting awesome new people, singing at the top of my lungs to songs I love, and finding some peace in all of this. I basically slept through the next day – I was exhausted. I made it to work on Monday, and realized that if I died that day, I’d have no regrets – not like I don’t have plans for the future – but I was pretty damn happy, and would be okay if there wasn’t anything else ahead – I’d made peace with what could lie ahead. And made arrangements with Andy to be turned into fireworks whether things end in the next few years, or 50. I’m okay with it all. That’s not to say that I am not concerned, and wouldn’t prefer to live another 50 years, but whatever is ahead, I’m gonna be okay with it.
I’m actually finishing this early Thursday morning – post chemo. I’m going to stop here, and write about my Dr. visit and chemo later today, because I decided to wind down tonight with a cocoa-vodka/oxycodone mix, so I can sleep pretty soundly tonight. I also drank a lot of water today, so I am trying to avoid waking up ever hour to run to the bathroom. And I’m still feeling okay with my life, and what’s unfolding in it. The three day trip really refreshed me, reminded me that despite the horror of the last year and a half, from the time the pain started to today, dealing with this stupid fucking disease, I’m learning about me and what matters to me again, and finding the strength to make plans again, even if I still can’t act on them. Life is still hard, I’m still not always making the best choices, but this weekend reminded me of the person inside, and what brings me joy. I just need to bring more of it into my life.
So with that said, here’s some of my favorite pictures from the weekend – I didn’t take any pictures at Blaine and Lizz’s house – I don’t know why because their puppy Pancake is a sweet dog and fun to play with. It was great to see them again, and just hang out. But I am derailing again – here’s the pictures, including the evil pufferfish, enjoy them and come back later today to learn what the Dr. said my future looks like…sweet dreams my dahlings, I will have a peaceful early morning rest, hopefully, before the sickness starts.