Archive for June, 2011

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June 30, 2011

And this break-out is on my chin. I don’t like it at all. Is it the end of the world? No. There is Clearasil.

But I feel like I should be waiting for the home room bell, or the rad limo to take me to my junior prom.

Carry on. I’m sure my date will be here soon.

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June 29, 2011

I am not feeling like a cancer warrior today. I do not feel like kicking cancer’s ass, fighting the good fight, or keeping the faith.

(And this is the place where I’m supposed to add “But… I will!! but I’m not going to!)

There are a lot of ups and downs on this cancer roller coaster, and I think if the current trend were represented on a graph, you would see a long downward slope representing both my test results and morale. I’m hoping for an upswing, or at least a leveling-off.

A while back, when I was still crying a lot over the Captain and the Cyclone was witness to a lot of tears, he would get frustrated and tell me that he didn’t think he was doing me any good, that he didn’t know how to fix things. I finally told him that girls don’t really want guys to fix things, that they want to be comforted and told that everything will be all right. This is a generalization, but in this case, it served my purpose, so I went with it.

I went to my therapist today, and we talked about the possibilities: that the chemo is doing its job and I will eventually be fine; that the chemo is not working, and that I will be daid; that I will be hit by a truck and the whole chemo thing will be moot. I cried and cried and worried about who would take care of my cat, and then thought about all the people who have to worry about leaving children behind, and cried more.

When it was time to pick up the Cyclone from work, I tried to cheer up, but I started crying in the parking lot. To his credit, he reached over and rubbed my shoulder, and told me everything was going to be all right. He’s going to make some girl a fine husband some day, and I hope I’m around to see it. I plan to loudly take credit for all his good qualities.

In the mail today came a book that my dearest friend Sue B sent, called Cancer Vixen. It’s by New Yorker cartoonist Marisa Acocella, and is a graphic novel about her bout with breast cancer. I started reading it in the waiting room at the therapist’s office, and it is engaging. The author has a lot of things I don’t, including a career as a cartoonist and a fabulous New York life, but I like her attitude and her style, and her habit of putting on MAC lipstick in the chemo chair.

I don’t have to be a cancer warrior today, or tomorrow. I can lie here with my cat and my Cancer Vixen book and these Mallo-mars and my purple wig, and be myself. With lipstick, even.

(I don’t really have any Mallo-mars.)

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June 28, 2011

Ok, that’s an exaggeration. What I have is a rash. I just looked in the mirror in the process of washing my face before bed, and noticed that my chin has broken out, and more dramatically, my chestal region has erupted in a constellation of red dots.

I was warned by my doctor that the last chemo I got could give me a rash, but nothing happened until today, and I feel so gorgeous! I can’t wait to see what I look like in the morning.

The rash, as I mentioned, doesn’t itch, it just looks virulent. It seems like having a vivid, noncommunicable rash would be useful for pranks in some way. I’ll talk to my brother, he always has good ideas.

In other news, go to YouTube and search for Asian Leopard Cat, and watch the videos with kittens in them. They’re spotty! They make startling sounds! They eat watermelon! Or, one does, anyway, on a blue leather sofa, to boot. My cat was bred from an Asian Leopard Cat and something else, so I have a special fondness for the creatures. Anyway, watching wild kittens keeps my mind off the rash. I’m sure you have something distressing in your life to avoid, too. Avoid it with kittens!

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June 27, 2011

I’m not really trying to get down to the heart of the matter. I just wanted you to have a Don Henley song stuck in your head. And isn’t that a nice way to treat you, my loyal readers, putters-up-with of all manner of complaining and poor syntax? I’m sorry. Forgive me?

And that brings me to the topic of today’s sermon: Forgiveness.

A month or so ago, I went with my mother to the Healing Room, where I sat with three sincere and kind people who put their hands on my head and prayed for my recovery. Suddenly, one of them said that he was getting a message that there were a lot of people I hadn’t forgiven. He looked at me, not unkindly, and I thought, “That’s probably true of everyone!” But as I sat there, I realized that it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s true of everyone: if it’s true for me, I need to deal with it.

So, here is a list of people I haven’t forgiven:

1. My father. Oh! Is this one a surprise to you? A girl with daddy issues. Call the Smithsonian! We have an amazing new exhibit! Anyway, my awesome dad lives somewhere in Mexico with his wife, who looks like she should work at the DMV. Of course, she doesn’t work — they took my father’s inheritance and headed for Mexico, where each Christmas he humiliates himself by dressing up as Santa Claus and singing for the “natives.” I know this because my brother came across our father’s Flickr account, and we both spied on the pictures until nausea at his self reinvention as benevolent colonialist overtook us and we raced each other to the bathroom.

2. My cousin Mary. Jealous that the Cyclone was interested in me instead of her, she ratted me out to the Captain for having an affair, and then, in a move worthy of the shoddiest Melrose Place subplot ever, began a barrage of suggestive text messages in an attempt to lure the Captain into having an affair with her. He says he resisted, and I for one believe him, because while she might have a cute figure, her face looks like it was carved out of Monterey Jack with a chainsaw. Anyway, she doesn’t know I know what she did, but she stopped talking to me because I bring too much “drama” to her life. Keep it real, Mary!

3. The Captain, for promising me he’d never again ignore my phone calls, and then reversing his policy. And for lots of other things.

4. The Captain’s girlfriend, for being a man-stealing skank, and for crimes against grammar, good taste, logic, and penmanship.

I can’t really think of anyone else, so I’ll mention some people I have forgiven, to illustrate that my heart is in the right place:

1. A boy I’ll call Keith B., who, just as I got up to deliver a speech on the history of superstition to my ninth grade English class, loudly whispered “Too-Tall Jones!” to Brian Risk, as a comment on my height. He was small for his age, and didn’t know any better, and I like to think that every time he’s waiting in a barbershop for a combover trim and leafs through a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, my smiling face and lanky, elongated form taunt him from the pages and he cries little midget tears. Of forgiveness.

2. Pam, Pam, Pam. Oh, I remember her last name, but I won’t print it here. I met her at a crazy church camp run by two homophobic women known as The Mothers, who were later revealed to be in a secret Lesbian relationship. Pam lived at this camp. It was more of a compound, I guess, but it’s a real place. Episcopalians would pay to go there to be bossed around in the spirit and do manual labor to benefit the residents of this compound, in between watching the compound members perform shows by Gilbert and Sullivan. All of that is true, but is unrelated to my point, which is: Pam, one of the privileged compound members, always well-groomed and polite, loudly announced one day in front of a large group that I had “naturally messy hair.” I forgive her because her family, who was rich, was forced to share their home with the nastiest, bitterest pair of ex-drug dealers-turned-religious-maniacs I have ever met. Ha ha!

That’s about all I can think of for now. Clearly, I have some forgiving still to do.

I will get right on that.

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June 27, 2011

Several years ago, I awoke with a little poem of sorts in my head, which I wrote down. It goes:

Mothers sigh and mothers die
As endless as the sea
And the broken boys they leave behind
All find their way to me.

Dramatic. I should probably win some sort of prize for poems written while sleeping, but alas, none seems to be forthcoming.

I was thinking of this poem, or Master Work, if you prefer, because every major relationship I’ve had has been with someone who’s lost his mother in their teenage years. Well, except for Carson, my ex-husband. His mother wasn’t dead, just had all her sons in a vice grip that precluded normal relationships. She recently wrote to me to say how sorry she was for being a cunt while Carson and I were married, albeit using slightly different words, and I thought we were cool, but she ignored the ultimate test of friendship: Facebook. Yes, she ignored my request, thereby rendering her apology hollow. I guess. Or else she didn’t want me to be privy to her pictures from the last kerazeee Red Hat Society bash. Either way, I don’t really care.

Anyway, I realized last night that three of my boyfriends, no, four, had lost their mothers early, and one boyfriend had lost his father as a teenager. The thing all these boys had in common was a pathological terror of commitment. And, lucky me, I was drawn to them all! I’m sure there’s some pathology in me that believes that I am not good enough to commit to. The Captain used to laugh in a dramatic and, I thought, unnecessary manner when people would ask if we would get married. Oh, no! The Captain, the great and independent Captain, get married? It is to laugh!

It is, actually, to laugh. He will get married not when he finds the right girl, but when some girl offers him things he cannot find on his own: a house, say. The illusion of security, say. And in return, he will hand over his balls. Deal! That’s love, folks. Love on a very tight leash.

I was thinking about all this last night as I lay next to the Cyclone, watching him sleep. I escaped, at his invitation, to his apartment last night. It was a welcome escape. Although we are no longer lovers, there is something so comforting about tangling our limbs together and drifting off to sleep. I had been having a sad evening, and he suggested that I stay with him, and watch “Training Day,” a movie he apparently knows every line to. He fell asleep in the middle of it, with me gently scratching his back. Every time I stopped, he wiggled so that I would start again, and I would laugh.

He is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend right now, although in truth, he’s closer to a pet. It doesn’t matter. There are times when a girl needs a strong arm around her, and someone telling her everything will be all right. I’ll take what I can get.

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June 26, 2011

with nothing else to do, I have been reviewing the list of side effects that come along with my medicine. I can’t quite match everything up. For example: the backs of my legs are cramping. Does that fall under “body aches”? It seems like there would be a listing for “leg aches” specifically, so maybe my leg issue is separate from the chemo. I should probably talk to my doctor, but it’s Sunday, and she’s not around. I’ll take another percocet and hope I don’t end up at the mall, buying eyeshadow I’ll never use.

In another news, my mother a) has not left and b) is apparently looking for a place to rent in town, and c) has apparently been sending her friends emails telling them that there is “no medical hope” for me. I know this (c) because she forwards me their responses, which typically say “if Violet really wants to heal, she will.”

I would tear out my hair, but it is falling out on its own.

I was really hoping for a quiet night at home alone. Apparently, that is not to be.

I’m feeling like everything is out of control. I’m ok with that, but I want to be able to lie down and take a nap by myself. I want to not have to run the water when I throw up, to prevent anyone from hearing me. I want to walk into my kitchen for a glass of water at 3 am and not worry about waking anyone up. I would like to have a boy spend the night. Not that boys are lining up to spend the night. I would like to throw myself on my bed and cry like a Jane Austen heroine.

I look around when I’m downtown and see people whose entire lives are contained in shopping carts, who measure out their hours by doing jigsaw puzzles in abandoned storefronts, and sleep in the bushes. I have a comfortable bed and good medical care, and I’m complaining that I don’t have enough, enough, enough. No matter what I have, it’s never enough.

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June 25, 2011

The chemo I got yesterday is kicking my ass in the form of a blinding headache that nothing will alleviate. It’s making me a little crazy, this inability to close my eyes, open my eyes, move, stay still, or think without feeling like the top of my head is going to blow off.

It’s the strangest headache I’ve ever had — focused somewhere behind my eyes, extending up through what’s left of my brain.

The list of side effects included headache, but this is absurd. This is not like any headache I’ve ever had. It’s like a stabbing red fog that extends past the physical boundary of my skull. And, yes, I agree: that was the best description of a headache, or anything else, ever. Obviously, I am experiencing some kind of genius creative peak, with the logical outcome being that I write this century’s Alice in Wonderland. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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June 24, 2011

The chemo lab is oddly relaxing. Two rows of chamois-colored recliners, a bustle of nurses, and several whirring pumps. If you stretch your imagination, the whirring noise of the pumps can masquerade as ocean waves.

Today, there are five occupied chairs. I’m in the last one, hooked up to one of the whirring pumps, across from two girls discussing hair loss. One girl has lost all her hair, down to her eyelashes, and this morning, wears a rhinestone-enhanced Harley-Davidson bandanna to cover her head. The girl across from me has her hair, but participated in a conversation about the possibility of wigs being available at no cost from the American Cancer Society.

I, myself, did not participate. I got my two wigs — one deep purple, one periwinkle, from Tiffany De Michele, on Etsy. I haven’t had much occasion to wear them, but my hair is decidedly thinner, and the texture coarse and frizzy. I am curious as to whether I will lose it all, but not really vested in the result: I have a deep purple wig, so I can cope with hair loss.

Because my mind is idle here in the chemo lab, my thoughts are wandering over to what has become my new favorite song. It came out in December of 2009, but I just heard it for the first time a week or two ago. It’s called “Many of Horror,” and is by a band called Biffy Clyro. They are big in the UK, and other parts of the world, and have already played Wembley, but obscure here in the US. All this, by way of explaining that my obscure, new favorite song is neither new nor obscure.

I cannot link to it at the moment, but you can look it up on YouTube if you’re curious.

You say I love you, boy
I know you lie
I trust you all the same
I don’t know why

The opening lines, sung in a little more than a whisper, drew me in, and suddenly, I had a new favorite song, a song that perfectly expressed my feelings about my relationship — former relationship — with the Captain, in full-blown teen angst.

But when my back is turned
My bruises shine
Our broken fairy tale
So hard to hide

Harriet (Spy notes, there’s a link to the right) said it reminded her of certain Peter Gabriel songs, and I agree. Were I trying to win the Captain, “Many of Horror” is the song I would choose to blast through a boombox held high above my head, as I stood outside his window in the early hours.

Our future is for
Many of horror.

What? I don’t know what that means, but those lines come with a great swell of music, and I find myself not caring about its ungrammatical nature. What’s our future for? Many of horror! Yeah, it’s pretty emo, but it beats putting on black jeans and bumming out to the Smiths.

You said love is letting us go
Guess what our future is for.
Many of horror.

I am Lloyd Dobler with his boombox. I am Little Pete from The Adventires of Pete and Pete, instantly in love with a song and madly tracking it down until he can play it himself on the electric guitar.

I dreamt last night of blue hyacinths, my favorite flower. I am determined to surround myself only with people and things that support and nourish me. Despite what the song says, my future is not for many of horror.

In other news, I ordered Stephen Colbert’s new, Jack White-produced 45 last night. Waiting for it to arrive reminds me of being a child, and eagerly awaiting the mailman’s visit, hoping he would bring my reward for sending in box tops, or soup can labels. It is a familiar feeling, but in this case, misguided: I do not own a record player.

No matter. I will eagerly await the arrival of the 45. Maybe listen to “Many of Horror” a few more times. I like having something to look forward to.

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June 23, 2011

I have to admit that when my doctor told me that I could go to the hospital and get a blood transfusion, my first thought was, “Cool!” I have never had a blood transfusion, and while it didn’t sound as great as, say, a free trip to Paris, I’ll take what I can get, thrill-wise.

It really wasn’t so bad. There was a lot of sleeping involved, and waiting around, and I had my blood pressure taken a few dozen times, but overall, I’d give it a thumbs-up, as far as experiences involving the blood of a total stranger go. Whose blood was that, anyway? I couldn’t help but wonder. And how does it all fit inside my veins? It wasn’t like I’ve been losing blood. I seem to still have all my blood, so where does this new blood go?

Anyway, I lay in a bed and watched the blood in all its deep burgundy glory drip slowly from the bag hanging by my bed. And watched a little Murder, She Wrote on my phone, the images so small that even when the murderer was revealed, I couldn’t tell who or what it was.

Later in the day, my brother came in, and the Cyclone, and my friend Linda. And I got a miniature lemon meringue pie, so that was worth the experience.

But the best thing that happened was that my friend QB called my mom and very kindly talked some sense into her, so much so that I came home to a perfectly clean house, with all my laundry done and folded, and fresh flowers on the coffee table. And a departure date: Sunday. If you ever need someone to mediate a difficult family situation, QB’s your girl.

So, it’s good. My mom is off the hook as far as staying here. Not that she doesn’t want to help — she does. But she’s more of a shopping companion or someone to go get a pedicure with. I think mothering comes very hard to her, despite her best intentions.

Tomorrow, I go back and get the chemo I was supposed to get today. It’s another couple hours of sitting around and watching things drip, maybe a little more Murder, She Wrote.

Tonight feels better, though, since there’s been a detente of sorts at Villa Violet. My mom and I are in our pajamas, watching Jon Stewart. My cat is stretched out to display his spots to maximum advantage. My sheets are clean. Peace reigns.

And so it is.

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June 23, 2011

So, the news is not good. The lesions are bigger, and there are new ones. Thanks, chemotherapy! Fucking slacker.

My mother insisted on coming with me to hear the news, and for some reason, brought her husband. They are driving me fucking crazy, making jokes and misunderstanding the doctor’s instructions so that everything has to be repeated three times, when I understood it the first time.

I have to have a blood transfusion, which will take all day, into the night, because my red blood count is low. Or something. Nurses, feel free to weigh in! You know you want to.

So, now I’m at the hospital, waiting for a blood transfusion. My foul mood is complicated by my mother’s hovering and her husband’s non sequiturs. This is going to take all day. Maybe instead of making a list of things I’m grateful for, I’ll start a list of shit to give away. Who wants a three-quarter-length shawl-collared mink coat in excellent condition? Psych! Just kidding. I already promised it to my friend Miss Tsunami, but trust me, there are lots of other goodies to be had. Distribution will be determined in order of sincerity of sucking up, so get those superlatives flowing!

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