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.
So, massive doses of vitamin B, medication, meditation, and writing kept me from sinking into the sucking abyss. You can all go back to poking me with sticks without fear of my mental breakdown again. It’s something you can’t even explain, but I will try to – it’s like waking up one morning and you just don’t even care that you have no money, and no gas, and there’s nowhere in walking distance that you want to go, and the house is a mess, and you have a stack of bills, but that’s all okay, because you’re fine with just hanging out at home, and it isn’t even depressing. Like that giant safe that was dropped on your soul from forty stories above has been pushed off and you can breathe again, and think of sad things without having a sobbing meltdown. You eat things other than chocolate and ice cream. You don’t really care that you aren’t chasing every dream you ever had, you’re just happy that you don’t have to fight to get out of bed, that you are back to considering a future, and the physical feeling of drowning under the weight of your tears is gone. Boom. Like that. Even though I don’t have the power to turn my depression on and off like a switch, some times it comes and goes like someone else has the power to control it. It’s not like anything changed in my life to make it better, it’s just I woke up on a perfectly gloomy day, continued to do the same mundane things I always do, but suddenly, it wasn’t like physical torture anymore. And I am grateful for everyday it gets to stay this way.
This is a good thing because two year check up is in two weeks. I do believe my baby alien re-inflated itself after the last tortuous surgery, or at least that is what I am hoping. Actually, I’m not hoping that it did, I am just hoping that that is all that is wrong, because something is, and rather than whining about it, I’ve been just patiently waiting for the next day of probing to address it. It’s not like waiting a month would really make a big difference anyway, but I’ve got pain and weird sensations going on in ground zero and I know something is up. I’m pretty sure I’m still cancer-free, but I think that the poking around at the chrysalis in my former uterine cavity did little to eliminate the problem and was just a stop-gap, and at some point it’s gonna be either me, or a qualified surgeon, going in there with a knife and cutting that shit out. And if it is cancer, well, not much I can do about that except treat it – it’s not like it’s flesh eating bacteria or a bot-fly larva erupting from my skin. See? I come out of the darkness, and I’m all like, who gives a fuck? For the record, Vitamin B is nasty, but clearly works. Or I believe it works, and thus I prove the placebo effect valid once again.
Hopefully you are all breathing a sigh of relief at my return to normalcy. Normalcy is relative though, and I’m still pondering the secrets of the universe and scheming great schemes. Andy has agreed to go to Riot Fest with his mother, and I am buying his ticket for his birthday. The last time we went on vacation together was when he was five and we went to Disneyland for a week for his birthday – Riot Fest will be much like that trip, except, I won’t be charged with child abuse if I smack him in the head for being whiny. In other words, he will fall asleep in the car, whine about being hungry, complain about the music I am listening too, wander away and want to go in the opposite direction of wherever I want to go. And like when we went to Warped Tour to see AM! and Pennywise, he will spend all his money, and come looking for me only when he is covered in mud and has lost his shoes and is hungry. Mother and son bonding at its finest. If you want to join us, let me know – I will be staying in a hotel – he wants to stay in a tent – or the car – or on the ground – and as he will ditch me to see the bands he wants to see once inside the gate I will technically be alone. We’re driving because I love a good road trip. You can get tickets on layaway, which is the only reason we can afford it – because the universe has some sort of issue with me having a bank account with any sort of substantial balance in it (grasshopper).
Well friends, it’s almost time to make something for dinner. Maybe if you are lucky, I will make something amazing and you will be treated to pictures of it on FB. Have a great rest of the weekend, and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful dads out there, including my “son” Corey, and my dad, if he’s ever allowed to return from where he is being held hostage at my brother’s home (detention camp) in Maryland, and to all the moms out there who are filling in as dads. And the men who are like dads to the dad-less. Fight the power!
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.
so I thought I would combine food for the ears and eyes (and soul) with food for the eating – I am sharing a favorite poet and a favorite (easy, cheap) recipe
e. e. cummings is one of my favorite poets. I love his style because the words roll around on the page in chunks, and there’s no perfunctory punctuation to make you pause in wrong places. I think some people hate poetry because they’ve never read it aloud, or because someone who didn’t read it well, like a boring english teacher, made them listen. Some words must be heard aloud, read with intent and read well. Most people remember e.e. cummings because there’s always an obligatory poem or two in an anthology used in high school English or freshman english at college. Inevitably, the worst reader in the class is asked to read it aloud, and it loses the music it is meant to have. I find his work really evocative and visceral. I don’t typically like poems that rhyme, other than sonnets, and yet there’s something so rhythmic and lyrical in his work.
I offer you one of his works you might not be familiar with. There are tons of e.e. cummings scholars, and people who will tell you what his works mean, and how to interpret them. I hate that. I think the best artist/writer/musician creates universals in their work, things that you and I can identify with and still be a million miles apart in our understanding. And then come back in ten, twenty years and find some new way to connect it to our experience. Enjoy (that’s an e word too)
my mind is
a big hunk of irrevocable nothing which touch and
taste and smell and hearing and sight keep hitting and
chipping with sharp fatal tools
in an agony of sensual chisels i perform squirms of
chrome and execute strides of cobalt
feel that i cleverly am being altered that i slightly am
becoming something a little different, in fact
Hereupon helpless i utter lilac shrieks and scarlet
And there you have it. If you want to explore more go here
Now, let’s talk food. It’s the week before payday, and as often happens here at casa pietkiewicz, we are watching our dimes and eating on the cheap. One of the staples in our house is elbow macaroni, and one of my new favorite ways to make it is with curry…so without further ado, here is my fabulous curried elbows recipe
1lb box of elbow macaroni
red pepper flakes
hot madras curry powder.
Boil the macaroni. Cook until al dente. Drain. Put back in the pot. Using a tablespoon, scoop a chunk of coconut oil onto the macaroni and then add two-three tablespoons of butter (olive oil works too), salt, pepper flakes and curry powder to taste, mix it really well and serve. You can add some shredded jack cheese or a slice of white american cheese on top if you like, but it’s delicious without cheese too. If you expected measurements, sorry, I do everything by taste. But trust your judgment and I am sure you will be fine. If you don’t have coconut oil, use more butter or olive oil, but I really like the taste of the coconut oil. If you don’t use coconut oil, use less salt. And it has to be sea salt. So buy some. If you really want to splurge, throw in some cooked frozen peas. Or chickpeas. Or both.
And this my friends, gets me caught up with my alphabet challenge. I hope you are enjoying the new vocabulary words I am sharing with you. So back to my Game of Thrones marathon, but I leave you with this, to end my escapade with the enigmatic letter e…