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.
I guess you expected another alphabet challenge entry. As predicted, I got to k, and have decided that for me, having to write with a prompt just is no bueno. I have too much going on in my head at any given moment to be limiting it to a single character to capture it all.
Ironically, the next letter I would have written about was the letter L. Which is the type of work I am avoiding right now as I blog instead. Legal. I should be preparing my court questions for my hearing tomorrow. Or completing affidavits. I loaded up the flash drive on Friday to get this work done over the weekend. I was all about about doing work at home. I was….really. That said, because I knew I was going to do paperwork, I made a ham, cleaned my bedroom, organized my yarn. organized my art supplies, read some magazines, drank coffee, made a scrumptious salad with the ham, did laundry, napped, stacked books, watched tv shows I tivo’d, surfed the internet, pinned some shit, and made four hats. Procrastination 1000, Work 0. I will eventually get to the work stuff…probably at 11, and then I’ll get up at 5 am to do some more, because as my fellow baby snatchers know, the night before court is one restless night. No matter how solid your testimony is, no matter how much you have prepared, if you have to be at court, it’s usually because you are about to make one of the parties unhappy. And baby snatchers are disliked enough without having to deliberately make people more miserable. That’s not to say what I do isn’t necessary, and in the interest of keeping kids safe, but it’s never like anyone is all like…”hey, it’s CYS, hey how ya doing? Good to see you, I was just saying, I wish CYS would come by and visit, and uncomplicate my life” “oh we’re going to court? And you are going to testify against me and argue why my kids aren’t safe in my care? Well, come on in and let me bring you some cake!” So anyway, that’s why I will be up all night, tossing and turning – already I’ve got the burning knot in my stomach – and I actually enjoy testifying. I can only imagine what it is like for my co-workers who are uncomfortable with it. At least I now have a computer that has all the necessary keys present on the key board and isn’t possessed, throwing the cursor around wherever it wants and devouring whole manuscripts never to be recovered from the hell files again.
Anyway, I was pretty fired up this morning when I realized that if I touched my computer I might be required to work, that I decided to wait a little and see if the passion subsided. As those of you who have delighted in my work for the last couple years know, I love to watch the Sunday morning political talk shows – specifically Meet the Press, and Face the Nation. If you have read this blog long enough, you will also know that I am a liberal of the worst kind…an uber bleeding heart socialist who believes that the wealth should shared in this country, guns are unnecessary, death penalty is inhumane, people come in all shades, sizes, languages, belief systems, gender identities (or not) and love who they love, kum-bi-yah (fill in the rest of the typical derogatory references to my political ideology here). I am also able to see past “belief systems” and see the person, which is why, despite my super left leanings, I also have a number of conservative friends who love me and I love as well. OH SHIT, I forgot to say I’m also a feminist with minor in women’s studies and a thesis on Feminism in the Colonial Period, which also makes me an intellectual elitist. For those of you still reading after this disclosure, I should also add I am fat and poor in material wealth, and also non-christian. Whew.
So back to Meet the Press. The recording artist,Will.i.am, was on Meet The Press today. He’s a big supporter of the power of education to change lives. He has his own foundation. Of course all the political shows were heavy with people of color due to that nut job Sterling, but Will.i.am was not playing into it. He asked the politicians on Meet the Press, why does our country not care about making our children the smartest in the world and emphasizing things like project based learning. Then the politicos would open their mouths, and based on their political leanings, would blame the lack of funding for education by the Right or the stomping on State’s Rights by the Left. Of course, Obamacare is also to blame. And the Christian Coalition.
Now, I suppose you’ve dozed off by now, but I will continue writing. Because here’s what I found fascinating. Will.i.am’s only question was why are we doing it, not who is to blame, and if we really want to foster American’s exceptionalism, why is it that we don’t capitalize on American creativity, and make it easier for our own citizens to get solid educations and hands on learning? He asked if we all believe in the same thing, then why don’t we do something to make it happen? And that’s when the light shone bright on how screwed up our nation is and why we border on the edge of the decline of Western Civilization. No one walks their talk. I find it hard to believe that every Republican politician believes in his or her heart that abortion is evil, we should let poor people starve, and that God should be forced into our education system. Nor do I believe that every Democrat believes that guns are the root of all evil, we should never say the word God in public and that socialism is the only answer. Yet, once we elect a “democrat” or a “republican” – they have to toe the party line and object to anything the other party asks for. No more acting for the good of the electorate. Make sure you don’t act outside your limitations. Don’t live your beliefs, adopt the beliefs of your party. And of course, it once again made me lose hope that anything will ever change, as the questions continued and each politician in turn, didn’t answer the question, but said why the other political party was foiling all of their ideas. And so another day, week, month, passes in America, and teachers are forced to teach kids to take tests, and try to squeeze actual learning and creativity in and around the indoctrination. Sigh. I did however, enjoy the jokes from the White House Correspondents Dinner, and yes, I am a science and political nerd. Add that to the list.
I have so many more things that have been brewing in my brain to write about, and were stymied by following rules. Not that it wasn’t a good idea to start with, and I learned some new words, but 26 letters, that’s a lot for one month. While I have your attention however, or if you just skipped to the last paragraph to pretend like you read this, I encourage you to go to iTunes and download Ryan Young’s Anxious and Angry podcast. In episode 4, he interviews P22, the California mountain lion with mange from eating poisoned rats. I wish I would have emailed a question, to find out why they call him P22, and not ML22. Seriously though, its a great podcast, with very interesting discussions it’s swell being able to listen to Ryan talk with his guests and find that their lives are not entirely different from our own. It’s also quite effective in calming you down when you want to explode with rage at coworkers. Not that I ever would, but sometimes I am seething on the inside, and I wonder if they can hear my thoughts. Or if sometimes my thoughts are actually coming out of my mouth in a mumbly sort of way. So go download it. You can do it here. You should probably buy something on the website too. I mean, he went after a mountain lion with mange to try and reunite it with its family. That should make you buy a shirt. And be careful with the box, because there may be a note inside that you might almost recycle because when you tore the box open to get your shirt and flexi out, you weren’t paying attention. (Thanks for the note Ryan! – I will let you know if the flexi did its job in July – Harsh Realms is one of my favorite songs from Heart Burns btw) And there’s a link to the Anxious and Angry website on the right sidebar too. Just in case you forget to go here.
Time to get my life together for work tomorrow…here’s a picture of the flexi and the awesome note I almost missed – I would have take a picture of the shirt too, but it’s currently in the spin part of the wash cycle…
Oh, and before I forget, I believe the birds nesting outside my window must be eagles – they came swooping and screeching down this morning…definitely not sparrows.
It has been an emotionally draining week. It ended with my monthly road trip to Philadelphia and back, which is usually highlighted by the trip to the Asian food bar at Wegman’s. But even a box full of curried lamb and pot stickers have done little to lift the weight of world that’s settled onto my shoulders.
However, armed with my new trusty ipod shuffle loaded with several of my favorite bands (heavy on the OWTH, AM!, Fur, The Go Set and Pennywise but completely devoid of any Elliott Smith songs because it’s spring and Elliott Smith should only be listened to on cold rainy November days or if someone kills your puppy and eats it) and plenty of time spent driving in circles because all though it is alleged that Benjamin Franklin laid out the streets of Philadelphia in a neat grid form (LIES, ALL OF IT LIES) I was able to be alone with my thoughts for most of the day. (and again, thanks Jim Tanner, for giving me the wonderful shuffle to let me have music back in my life).
So there I was, sunroof opened, hopelessly turned about in North Philly, my phone GPS always two steps behind my current locations (aka being completely useless, as were my mapquest maps). Annoying those around me with my glorious alto voice, I kept returning to the events of the past few days that have left me feeling defeated, and basically like a desiccated corpse. It’s been a really rough week. So I tried thinking happy thoughts, because the job frowns on my driving around with a water bottle full of vodka and cocoa, at least on work time. I feel it is very important to share many of these valuable and fascinating thoughts with you, gentle reader:
- Dead skunks are the only true sign of spring. The poor fellows awaken, wander onto roads everywhere, and die. Their death is the sacrifice that brings on spring. Not robins. Not geese. Not onion snow. Skunks. You read it here first.
- There are too many drivers on the road that do not understand the purpose of marking lines on the road. The speed limit is a suggestion; lane lines are a rule. Stay in your own lane. If you can’t drive a large vehicle and keep it in your very ample lane, buy a fiat. And reenact the commercial.
- There must be a subliminal message in reality tv. Like ice cream, or irish soda bread, it gets in your blood and some how you can’t look away. Unless it has to do with duck calls or Kardashians. Then you must avert your eyes. Or you will turn to a pillar of artificial sweetener.
- Kid hugs can cure a lot of bad things. I’ve hugged as many little people this week that would allow it and not make me look like some sort of creeper. However the innocence of little children should be distilled and sold in tablet form. It kills a lot of the bad mojo that grownups cast off around me.
- A kid climbing a lingering snow bank on their way to school in the morning will always make me smile.
- I feel like there are far too many drivers from Quebec on the roads. Is there no fence being built to keep these Canadians out? (not all Canadians, just those who drive, from Quebec).
- If you have a car that is designed for driving fast, either drive it the way it was built to be driven or follow the instructions in number two, but buy a ford escort. No sense in wasting a fine italian car. And when I blow by you, don’t get all offended. You’re the slowpoke. I have things to do.
- This has been bothering me for days. If you open a Tattoo shop and you call it “Good Vibrations” and have a Jamaican theme, I have several issues. First, I would expect you to be from Jamaica. Second, if you are from Jamaica, and you have a tattoo shop, I would suspect that you probably enjoy the ganja. If you are from Jamaica, and enjoying the ganja, you are probably not going to be very successful with the whole tattooing thing, because while your creativity would be enhanced, there’s always a fear that your mind is going go from pretty unicorn with flower to cheeseburger and gravy fries, and I would hate to end up with a unicorn that’s made from french fries on my arm or leg.
Okay, all that thinking made me tired, but before I go, I finally came up with an idea for my 2 year cancer free tattoo (which was supposed to be my one year, but I couldn’t settle on a design that would incorporate all the ideas for honoring everything that pulled me through that dark time). Really the only reason I’m getting another tattoo is because everyone in the oncology department always asks if I have new ink, and perhaps a new tattoo will make them forget to stab and scrape at me next time. Of course, it will likely end up being a 5 year anniversary tattoo, because we all know how good I am at doing things a timely manner. Speaking of which, I guess I should take the Christmas tree down sometime before Easter.
PS. You know those stories about how people see feather or dimes on the street as a sign from a dead loved one. Well, a few months ago, I was musing in the car, and I thought, probably out loud, that if my dear dead friend Joey really could send me a sign, he should send a cardinal or maybe an owl. I forgot about it for a while. Cardinals are not uncommon here, but you don’t often see them near the highway, owls usually aren’t out during the day. Anyway, I’m speeding along today, and swoosh! Here comes a crazy kamikaze cardinal headed for the grille of the car! I don’t know how it lived, but I laughed out loud, because that was clearly a sign. I am just glad it didn’t hit the car because I drove around with the last dead bird in my grille for days until Andy got it out. So JC, I know you’re out there, so the next sign I need is a small stack of hundreds, k? And don’t throw them at the car, just set them on the seat.
Now I bid you a fond adieu! Time to fall asleep watching Dexter! or read. I probably should read.
I’m procrastinating. I was playing with my big girl designing toys and they are all over my bed, and I don’t want to have to put everything away (although, I can’t actually sleep in the bed until I do) so I thought I would write (and suck down two tylenol pm, because anxiety has been a bit of an issue lately, so pretty blue pills may me sleep – you know, actually most pills are pretty, but again, that’s another journal entry).
Actually, I’m feeling kind of jovial, and over-tired, and those of you near and dear to me know that lack of sleep is like lack of happy pills…my wit sharpens, my tongue (or in this case, finger) becomes razor sharp, and I get a little snarky, unless I harness the energy. So to prevent me from “throwing some shade” on facebook until I get tired, I thought I would do a positive, feel-good, unicorns-pooping-rainbows-over-a-milkshake-sea, furry-bunny, cotton-candy post. To give credit where credit is due, this is in response to something I saw trending on twitter, #50thingsIhate. I can’t imagine hating 50 things. I can’t imagine hating 10 things. That takes a lot of energy, and makes me sad. So, I decided this post should be about 75 things I love. And if you are one of my faithful readers, I challenge you to make your own list too. Some of you who read one of my old blogs on xanga…(does xanga still exist? I better check…some of my best writing is a journal there) I used to challenge the girls I worked with in my self-esteem workshops to find 10 things to love about themselves, something we don’t do enough of…we are always looking at what’s wrong, and what’s missing and what we need to fix, when the key is to count blessing, joys and good things about yourself. So anyway, I want to get the 75 things done before these tylenol take me to sleep.
These are in no particular order, except for the first two.
2. My friends
3. The sweet smell of cut grass.
4. The Pacific ocean in winter.
5. Storms coming off the Pacific ocean.
7. Babies laughing.
12. The Daily Show.
13. The Jesus and Mary Chain
15. Dalai Lama (he makes me feel joyous just looking at him)
17. Pebble beach near Pescadero. Not “The Pebble Beach”
18. Fast german cars.
19. Birds signing in the morning.
20. Porch Swings.
21. Ripe peaches.
23. Country drives.
24. Splashing in warm summer puddles during a thunderstorm.
25. Singing loudly to OWTH while driving fast.
26. Highway 84 to the beach/Old Pescadero Road.
27. Pumpkin picking in Half Moon Bay.
28. Going to the Zoo.
31. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
32. Sleeping in.
35. Sea Otters.
37. The Mavericks (not the team, the waves)
38. Tide Pools.
39. Warm brownies with white chocolate peanut butter spread on top.
40. Andy making me laugh until I cry/stop breathing.
41. Road trips.
42. Northern California
44. South Dakota
45. Covered Bridges
46. Taking pictures
48. Sylvia Plath
49. Pablo Neruda
50. Donnie Darko
51. Against Me! (especially live)
54. Shotoing stars.
55. The first snow (and that’s the only snow – it needs to go away in a day or two)
57. Good debates.
61. Finding lucky pennies.
62. Laughing hysterically.
63. Storm clouds.
64. Cool breezes.
66. Cotton clothes.
67. Indian food.
68. Chinese Festivals
69. State Fairs.
70. Spontaneous long drives.
71. Ice cream with cherry dip.
72. Making things.
73. Point Break.
74. Hugs from little kids.
77. Irish folk songs.
78. Sons of Anarchy
79. Tall goth boys in skinny jeans.
81. French doors.
84. Picking huckleberries.
86. Hanging out talking feminism and socialism and theocracies with my like-minded chicas.
88. Doing self-esteem workshops for kids.
89. Great Art
92. Ginger Beer.
93. Classical music.
94. Wood fires.
95. Crafting things.
96. Trying new things.
97. Making up words.
98. A good fan.
99. Air conditioning.
I was going to do 100 after I realized I had more than 75, but if I go to 100, then I will be compelled to keep going, and going, because there must be thousands of things I love. Like the massive amount of fireflies that you can see on 743 heading out of Hershey on a warm summer night. So there you have it…I challenge you to make your own list. It’s better that whining about what is wrong with your life.
So with the sleepy eyes of one who self-medicated with some tylenol pm (someone text me tomorrow and remind me to call for another prescription for percocet before Monday, so I can pick it up, ‘kay?) I bid you wonderful readerlings sweetest candy-apple dreams. Oh yeah, I love comfy blankets to. I’d like to also point out that not only do I love the things on the list, I am also quite grateful for them. Nighty-night.
(Special note to JMC: I know you know. Everything is energy and it’s all connected. Things fall apart and come back together – streetlights, snow angels, laughter, and bottlerockets. Good times my friend, good times. We don’t have to accept that time is linear. MYA)